Cali...A Recap

There truly is so much to write about, so many stories, so many memories and so many photos of those sweet nieces of ours.  Let's just begin with the first few days and we'll see where that takes us.  After the whirlwind weekend I enjoyed a few days with just the Stucks, J, Corynn, Gianna and Olivia that is.  We ventured to story time, lunched at In N Out, because you can't come to California with out that, had dinner out at the Stuck Resort, learned how to juice, watched a documentary, shopped at the Farmer's market, went to the park, visited Poppi and Nani's to pick fruit in their orchard and grill steaks and I was even there for Olivia's first bath. Can I just stop right here and give my sister in law a great big shout out?  Not even two weeks postpartum and she is out with baby in tow looking fabulous as ever.  Now a mother to two beautiful girlies and she is taking it all in stride.  What strength!  Here's to you Corynn! 
This little one was splashing in the pool while her Daddy grilled our dinner

Going for a bike ride

Super Mama

Olivia's first tubby time
Racing down the slides
Gianna ran circles around  me.  That girl has endless energy and I tried to keep up best as this Auntie could.  She is completely and totally enamored with her baby sister.  Always wanting to know where she is, why she's crying and giving her tender kisses.  So very sweet to watch.  Speaking of Olivia, upon her arrival home she gave her big sister a stroller for her very own baby doll and Gianna ran around the house pushing her baby doll.  I was so very fortunate to have this time.  There was even one night I had Olivia for nighttime snuggles and then again for early morning kisses so her parents could have an hour or two of uninterrupted sleep. 
I just can't resist those baby cheeks, let alone that baby smell, ooh and don't even get me started on the precious little bum.  So in love with this girl.  And her sister too of course. 
That sums up the first few days at the Stuck household.  There were stories read, sleepy time kisses and tucking in, breakfast made, movies watched and more fun.  More on the latter part of the week coming soon.  Hint: It involved a beach trip, a boat ride and one niece who doesn't care for the sand very much.  Just wait for that. 

A Plane, A Wedding And A Baseball Game

It began early on a Saturday morn.  Like before the sun was even up.  We had stayed up late the night before waiting to hear the stories from Thing 2's monumental trip, packing, actually me throwing clothes, toiletries and shoes on the bed and Husband Jared folding it nicely and arranging it in the suitcase and then the hugs and kisses that I just couldn't stop giving, had to smell their necks one more time and then a few hours of sleep.  Only for the alarm clock to ring to early and remind me that I'd be leaving these 5 for a week.  Sometimes when I have left them my heart aches so badly that I just don't know if I'll be able to board.  Other times I'm grateful for a reprieve..  Usually a combination of the both.  This time though, I found myself at a loss.  Scattered and not ready to miss any summer time with them.  Strange.  Yet still I entered the airport and was looking forward to seeing my brother and his family and meeting their newest addition, my niece.  Isn't it remarkable the connection one can feel towards their siblings?  'Tis for me.  Here's this person who shares the same history.  Who has known me the longest, next to my parents of course.  Seen the struggles, the victories.  Been a part of the fights and yes some rescues too.  And now we're all grown up, at least that's what the numbers tell us.  Significant others, children, life has happened.  Here we are celebrating a new life entering in the world and it just couldn't be any sweeter. 

So, back to the plane.  I boarded.  Stopped in Colorado and was so thankful we made it on the tarmac.  It was a bumpy ride.  Like so turbulent I closed my book and my eyes and prayed.  Trying not to let on that I was the least bit bothered by the flight attendants having to take their seats and not continue the drink and snack service.  Yep, that's me.  Despite all that I made it.  I saw my bro and his first born and all was well once again.  And then I met her, sweet Olivia.  I hugged her Mama's neck and there were tears of joy.  Love at first sight. 

Then there was more excitement as Framma and Aunt Tina stopped in for a quick visit.  A surprise that made me smile once again.  Love my Framma and have so many precious memories of our camping and cribbage playing days.
All smiles before she hit the road!
And then this weary traveler hit the ground running.  So to speak of course.  There was a wedding of a long time family friend's daughter where Ms. Gianna was the flower girl and this Auntie was employed to help.  We loaded one tired Gianna in the car with her friend, the ring bearer, and were off for pictures and an afternoon of celebration.  I was so looking forward to watching this union of love, I used to babysit the bride and her parents are two people whom I call Uncle and Aunt.  They are more than friends, they are family and some of my earliest memories of childhood include them. It was an amazingly beautiful day. I have no pictures of the bride and groom because I might have been too busy chasing around this cutie patootie.  That's aright though, I enjoyed every minute of it.  Hugging the necks of family and friends that I don't see very often, dancing under the stars and watching love and laughter multiply. 
 Waiting for the ceremony to begin, this girl had been outside for over an hour in the California sun, being ever so patient and easily entertained, needless to say she was ready to get the show on the road!  And other than refusing to carry her basket or wear the bow in her hair she walked down the aisle and made her Mama, (and her Auntie) proud!

Flower girl and Ring Bearer, stealers of the spotlight

Pops, Mom and Me at the wedding
Following the night of endless celebration was Father's day.  I was beyond grateful to be able to spend it with my Daddy sharing in his favorite pastime, baseball.  Jason and I gifted him and Mom with tickets to Petco Park to watch the San Diego Padres take on the AZ Diamondbacks.  The drive was scenic, winding through the California rolling hills and when I saw the ocean I took a deep breath and inhaled.  How I love the sea.  Petco park, where the Padres call home now, is quite a stadium.  More like it's own private city within a city.  I remembered watching the Padres when I was a girl at Jack Murphy and let me tell you they have made it to the bigs!  This place incorporated old warehouse buildings into the design, there are ocean views of Coronado island from some seats and even a sky way that connects to a hotel.  Wow!  Dad was wide eyed taking in all the sights.  The game flew by, we shared a Padre dog, had a craft beer and up until the 8th inning the game was tied then a Padre hit a 3 run homer and that was it.  We walked around the Gas Lamp district, found a little cantina where we ordered fish tacos and sat and people watched for an hour or so.  A fun day and a few photos.
Just the three of the game!

Waiting in line to enter

 From our seats

Outside the stadium, that brick building is part of the park,
 notice the sign to the right of it.
Spending the day with my Daddy (and Mom) on Father's day was a gift.  Not to mention fun!  We grabbed some caffeine and made the drive back to Chino, or cow town, as I lovingly call it.  The Father's day party continued with the Jaques family (my sister in law's family) at Pizziaoli.  They graciously allowed us "Stucks" to share in their tradition.  I was reunited with Gianna and Olivia and the day was complete.  More pictures to document the occasion.
Pops and his kiddos

Jaques - Stuck Families

Stucks and Hanson
That my friends completes the tale of the plane, the wedding and the baseball game.  It was a sublime ending to a long yet full two days.  More to come on my Cali adventures soon.

My Man And His Days

Long time no see.  I haven't been very present in this part of my world.  Needless to say I am back now.  (DUH)  And here to fill you in on the last few weeks.  Husband Jared's birthday falls on Flag day and is usually quite close to Father's day.  He was a celebrated man recently.  For his birthday we let him choose our plans for the day.  I know, you don't need to say it, we are a generous folk.  Thing 2 was absent from the festivities as she was on a field trip visiting the Creation Museum and the Field Museum in Chi town.  We missed her exuberance terribly.  Anyhow, we laid low around the house.  Homemade breakfast, a massage first thing in the morning, grilled turkey burgers late in the afternoon, chocolate cake with candles and some lounging by the pool.  Does it get any better than that?  It did actually.  I stole him away for a few hours for a date.  We visited the Dangerous Man Brewery in Minneapolis where we enjoyed a delicious pint and then munched on pizza at Element.  There was conversation, quiet moments of stillness, much laughter and cheer.  I do believe Husband Jared was a happy man!
I'm sure that wish came true!
Unfortunately I wasn't able to spend Father's day with him and the Things as my flight for Cali left out early the following morning.  On that day there was a field trip planned to the horse races.  The weather had a different sort of day in mind so they were able to catch a race or two and then they headed for the hills.  Or home.  The hills sounds way more dramatic though.  Sunday, the day of Fathers, was spent at church, watching football (soccer) and taking care of dear old Dad!  The Things were under strict orders.  None of which were necessary, they sure do know how to love.  Coffee and breakfast were ready before Husband Jared even came downstairs.   His favorite meal was prepared for dinner and I'm sure he didn't lift a finger all day.  So thankful my Things took care of their Daddy and I was able to spend the day with mine.  More on that later. 
Suffice to say Husband Jared was loved, celebrated and  then loved some more.  These Things and me are sure grateful for the man that he is and we are all better because of the way he loves and leads us.  Thanks Husband Jared, here's to you!

Schools Out...Scream and Shout

People we made it.  The end of the 2012-2013 school year descended upon us and has officially been laid to rest.  Thank the Lord.  The girl Things survived finals and papers and studying and late nights and cram sessions and all that.  So did Husband Jared and I.  There was no lack of celebration around this household at 11:45am last Friday.  The weight had been lifted and when the Things walked through the door we promptly loaded up and went for lunch at Lion's Tap where we toasted to summer and shared our high's of the year.  And guess what, this last year there was copious amounts of learning and growing that took place.  This will not be the post to address such things though.  We are talking about celebrating here! 
Group selfie? 
 Do you still call it that when it includes other people?
Per the Things request we drove around  with the windows rolled down and blared the country music loud, I mean loud enough for the entire city of Eden Prairie to hear.  Good times.  After all, we're all about making memories.  Traditions are important to these Things so our annual kick off to summer ice cream party was next on the docket.  A healthy day of eating for us, which may or may not have included donuts to jump start the Things and their friends on this morning.  We had so many kiddos with us we were forced to take two cars to our favorite donut shop, Yo-Yo!  To make the day even sweeter it was National Donut Day.  How could we have missed out on that one?  Free donuts, at least all the ones with  holes in them.  Yum! 
Ice cream celebration!
So many treats, so little time.  The day was full of ridding the Things' rooms of all school related paraphernalia, tossing papers and folders into the trash, taking care of a few chores and then more dancing around!  More time with friends, a graduation ceremony, loads of teenagers at our house, a little covert ops for one girl, a sleep over for another and too many late night giggles and shenanigans than I care to share here.  It has been a full weekend and summer has only just begun.
Another notable moment this week was Thing 4's promotion to the Upper School at ERA.  Moving from 5th grade to 6th.  Our days of elementary education are behind us and it only seemed right to document the occasion here.  Thing 4 gave a speech at the ceremony.  He stood up in front of 70 classmates and their families and shared what his first year at ERA was like for him, what he learned, how his teachers helped him and all that was accomplished in 9 short months.  Husband Jared and I are thinking we might have a politician on our hands.  And for the record I do mean that as a sincere compliment, the child can talk.  There were no "ums" or "like" used, the words flowed.  The moment was sweet.  Thing 4 then received his certificate from his teacher and the classes spent the afternoon at the park, partaking in root beer floats and running around exploring. 
And once again the blog has done this to my photos.  I have tried to download differently, rotate, save, blah, blah, blah.  To no avail.  My apologies.  I must include this photo because just look at that smile.  Come on people, what's this Mama to do? 
So summer kicks off today.  The Things are sleeping in.  There are cloudy, overcast skies outside and we are all hoping for a pool day soon.  Fingers crossed it will happen today.  Nonetheless, we are beyond thrilled that schools out.  We have done our fair share of screaming and shouting.  No doubt the fun will continue. 



Thankful Thursday

Mema's cat, taken by Thing 1
3073.  funny statistics shared by a friend
3074. hugs from Things at school
3075. jazz music loud through the speakers
3076. Husband Jared, Mr. Fix It
3077. for my Mother in Law
3078. picture of Turkish coffee from Brother
3079. sweet text from sister in law
3080. school, almost out for summer
3081. a book being shared with some special friends
3082. new recipes to try

This State....

State of what you might be wanting to ask.  Well not that kind of "state".  What I mean to say is I am referring to the state I live in.  My posting relating to the weather has ran the gamut.  This I know.  And I'm positive that it might sound like I'm being a whiny baby here.  It is quite possible I am.  This grand state of Minnesota, land of 10,000 lakes, yada yada has not been my favorite geographical location that we have resided in thus far.  Now don't mistake my disdain for this state for lack of love for it's people or the beauty of creation that surrounds.  I just don't know that I have the heartiness within me to make it here.  There seem to be statistics showing that I have had more sinus infections these last two years than ever before.  I may be the only one sure that it is because of this state.  The self diagnosis of allergic qualities to this state did not meet Husband Jared's high standards of approval.  Nor did it make him say, "alright, pack it all up, we're out of here!".  Quite frankly, I'm not too certain those were words that I actually wanted to hear anyway.
It was a moment of weakness.  Utter frustration.  I don't make for a very good patient when I am ill.  Not at all.  I much prefer to be on the side of administering the care and the medicine.   And thankfully for Thing 1 I was on that side just yesterday.  Seems she has her Mama's inclination towards the sinus-ear infection combo.  Unfortunately this is happening during finals week.  Poor girl.  We came home early yesterday, parked ourselves on the couch and tried to breathe through clogged everything.  You don't need those details, right? 
Anyhow, back to the weather and the correlation.  It is June.  Not that  you would necessarily know that here.  At least I wouldn't. I suppose I'm more of a Cali girl than I thought.  I do love a rain storm.  The sound of drops hitting the window.  Watching them dance on the sidewalk puddles.  The seasons here in this state seem to come later and later.  Or just not end, ever.  It really is no joke when the locals tell you that it won't be "warm" until July.  Last year was an anomaly.  This year, maybe too?  Seems to me that the rain hasn't stopped and if it has the colder temperatures haven't followed suit.  Strange.  It fluctuates from the 50's to the 70's and back again.  Clearly I am no meteorologist.  I am just a transplant in this state hankering for some vitamin D.  On the bright side, I haven't needed to water my newly potted flowers and the land surrounding us has the most vibrant shades of green invading.  Something to be thankful for. 
This might about sum it up.  Although I do feel like I need to make a list of all the "things" I like about this state.  I will.  Maybe not ALL, but at least 10 things I like.  Let's end this post with positives, glass half full.  This weekend, well at least Saturday the forecast shows sunshine and 70 degrees.  Doing my happy dance here. 
 And now, the list.
1. all four seasons, whatever their duration may be
2. water, every which way
3. late night sunsets in the summer
4. walleye
5. nature trails
6. bridge over the Mississippi
7. museums and theatres abound
8. arboretum
9. starry skies on clear nights
10. new adventures are around every corner

This Season

I am here.  Waiting and wishing for summer.  But as soon as those wistful words land on the page I want to take them back.  For if summer is here then that means the Things are another year along in school and we will be celebrating the onset of summer vacation and growing up and camps and all that is to be.  Here in 2013.  So I'm here.  I'm here.  I'm going to be present in the now.  In the chaos that is May.  Shout out for all the Mamas that wrestle through schedules and all the lasts that this season brings.  The last choir concert.  The last art show.  Last test.  Last school play.  Last, last, last.  I don't know that the word itself does me any justice.  Why do the months of May and June necessitate this?  After almost 11 years of schooling I still do not understand this phenomenon.  There are graduations and promotions and goodbyes and all that comes with it.  Why oh why do we put more on ourselves in these months.  And for those of you with littles nipping at your feet summer often means everyone home, all day, everyday.  Oh my.  Yes, I remember.  It can also mean no schedules.  Sleeping in late.  Getting messy.  Creating.  Laughing.  Staying in pajamas.  Building forts.  Catching lightening bugs. Playing flashlight tag.  Sidewalk chalk.  Popsicles.  Yes, even for those of us with teenagers it can mean all these things.  At least I hope so.  For at least one more year.  Pretty please.

So as I beckon summer and it's long, lazy days I am grateful for this.  The scattered, overwhelming now.  Where there are two football matches a week, late Wednesday nights, study sessions with note cards and candy, a little fretting over finals and the countdown of Mondays until it's over.  I will be ever the optimist that these days are few and far between and I won't fret that we have only two more summers with the eldest Thing.  And so, so much to learn.  Agh.  I'll be ever present and then soon enough we welcome in high regard our summer.   

Last Weekend and The One Before

There has been some activity around here.  An art show at school in which all the girl Things had pieces on display.  A visit from a cousin and a football tournament.  Not to mention we are still struggling with the weather here.  Let me rephrase that, I am the one having a hard time.  Last weekend at the tournament we were bundled up.  Yes, winter coats and beanies on the sidelines.  Here it is almost June, scratch that, today is June 1st, and that just couldn't go without being documented.  I do wish I had photographed the silliness of it all.  Moving on, as I do agree I've never talked about the weather so much before living here in the great White North.  Here are a few photos sharing what this family of 6 has been up to. Well, here's what happened, I uploaded about seven photos and every last one of them turned when I posted them on this page.  Hmm.  When I uploaded and saved them they were all the right direction and edited and such and now, I can't even get them to turn the right way.  So frustrating.  Such is life sometimes.  I don't have much else to say as I was going to expound a bit more with my captions.  Bummer.  What rambling I have left you all with.  Now I've decided to post the wrong way photos, at least so I have them preserved here on the site.  Just don't get a kink in your neck trying to look at them.

Thing 3 and her palm tree art work

Thing 1 and her b&w photo of the guitar at Hard Rock, Chicago

Thing 2 and her collection of faces, including Thing 4, Thing 3 and Polo

Girl Things and Eden bowling

Cousin love

Thing 4 and Eden enjoying DQ after the tournament