Spirit Week 2014

Every year the Things' school hosts spirit week.  The week leading up to homecoming.  Which in and of itself is a bit comical because their school does not have a football team.  No big game where alumni return or we cheer late into the crisp fall night.  No dress up dance or flowers or senior night or cheerleaders.  Yet since the Things have been at ERA they have enjoyed this week.  Maybe it's the opportunity to escape the fashion confines of the plaid uniform for a few days.  Simply put, it's a fun week.  Various themes for each day, upper and lower school participating in it all.  Wacky Wednesday, class color day, homecoming shirt day, business professional day and western wear for the finale.  All tying into the barn dance on the Friday.  The highschoolers meet at Minnesota Harvest for a night of bonfires and dancing and s'mores and hay rides and fun!  This year all three of the girl Things were able to attend the dance.  And lo and behold this Mama did not take a single photo of the three of them together.  I did however capture them with their friends who joined us for dinner before the dance and the caravan in Betsy (our van) to the dance.  I think it was a good night. 
Thing 3 and her friend, ready to go!
And so fierce.
The lovely group of girlies!
My Things before school all gussied up in their Western wear.  Complete with cowboy boots and Minnetonkas, because Minnesota.
So that I may never forget this proud Mama moment I will end with this.  These Things take their wackiness, I mean school spirit, seriously.  As evidenced below.  Not sure what exactly Thing 4 is trying to accomplish with his pose, but I give him an A for effort.  Love the enthusiasm. 

A Recap of Fall Break

As has been the trend lately I am playing catch up yet again!  This time fall break, which technically wasn't that long ago.  We didn't travel or take any road trips this year.  Just a quiet week of work for Husband Jared and myself, late mornings and relaxing for the Things.  There were sleep overs and plans with friends and impromptu treats which was just the best kind of week in every way.  Here's our week in photos. 
This Thing and I went into the city so she could take photos for a project.  It's one of my favorite places here, Stone Arch Bridge and Mill City Ruins.  Bonus, I had her all to myself.  We walked and people watched and jumped when we realized the railing was covered in baby spiders, then we sipped coffee and laughed and walked arm in arm.  Not to mention she captured some great shots for her assignment.

We took a family walk on a gorgeous afternoon.  All seven of us, Polo pup included.  The leaves were showing off and all golden and beautiful, dancing in the light.  Then I looked up and my people were all in front of me and my heart skipped a beat.  Man, I love them.

Light peeking through.  If I said it before I must say it again, I have never before witnessed such blue skies.  God gave a gift to Minnesota there.  Bluer than blue.  Especially this time of year. 

There were fallen trees everywhere, I'm assuming from our summer floods.  This boy couldn't resist a little "tight rope" walking. 
Thrilled to be hiking...just keepin it real.
Reluctantly, or maybe because of some bribery, these two Things accompanied me one of my work days.  My day was so much better because of them.  Even when they hijacked my phone and took selfies!  We drove all over, visiting schools, delivering paperwork and then a full afternoon grocery shopping.  My favorite assistants! 
Family fun day.  We all took a day off from everything but each other.  The weather was gorgeous and we drove to Franconia Sculpture park, near Taylors Falls.  Our drive was beautiful.  Fall foliage every which way we turned.  Then our destination, which we had never visited before.  The park was founded in 1998 and included acres of sculptures as well as an artist house where the artists themselves reside while creating said sculptures.  Fascinating.  Some of the works puzzled us, had us tilting our heads to understand, others were forward and simple and others interactive.  We all had a favorite.  The one below caught our attention and as soon as we saw it Thing 3 said, "Dorothy, we aren't in Kansas anymore".  Classic.  And the selfie above is in front of a piece titled, "Deeramid".  Yes, those are real deer, stuffed and stacked and we are smiling in front of them.  Maybe our Christmas card?  We couldn't resist the irony. 

On our way home from the park we visited Eichtens, an institution apparently around these parts.  Known for their bison and cheese.  We had a gander around the market, did some taste testing and then went on our way.  Now we can say we've had the experience.  From there the Things voted on Burger Jones for a linner, what we call a late lunch, early dinner.  And how could we refuse?  Cheese curds and burgers and and and.  All six of us around the table sharing our favorite sculptures our views on others and questioning quite a few.  My favorite ending to any day.
On the last day of break this Thing was a student at a cooking school.  She had been given a gift certificate last Christmas for a class and finally a cupcake session was on the school's schedule.  Right up her alley.  The fruits of her labor; all from scratch and decorated by our resident baker herself.  Carrot cake with cream cheese frosting and chocolate monster cupcakes.  Delish!  Way to go Thing 3!
I shall leave you with this gem.  Thing 2 and a friend walked to a nearby farmers market and came home with these baby pumpkins.  This Thing wanted a photo with hers so here you have it.  Bless. 
What a week.  Somewhere in the midst of all this there were also parent teacher conferences, dinner with friends and I think even a movie date night for Husband Jared and me.  Here's to fall break.   

And Then There Were Only Two Days Left

Where did I leave off?  Regarding our house guests that is.  I believe it was Sunday night.  Yes it was.  So, we arrived home from our adventures in the cities to an empty house.  The girl Things were right behind us, returning from their retreat weekend.  None of us felt much like cooking so Poppi bought us dinner, thank you Poppi, you're the best!  We dined in our happy pants, on the sofa, watching Once Upon A Time and sharing stories from our weekends during the commercial breaks.  This was a rare treat.  Big Bowl, the game, was up next.  I can't even begin friends.  The hilariousness that ensued cannot be explained even with the most advanced vocabularies.  We were rolling on the floor in hysterics for much of the duel.  That is all I will say.  After everyone was tucked in for the night Thing 4 and Husband Jared returned from their travels and all was well in my world. 
The Things were granted a free day that Monday to spend with Nani and Aunt Theresa and I couldn't have been more grateful to not have to set an alarm.  Husband Jared was scheduled to fly out early that afternoon and the rest of the fam had a date with the apple orchard.  Aunt Theresa had never picked apples before, she was in for a treat!  Unexpectedly Husband Jared's trip was postponed and the eight of us were headed out for some fall fun together.  What a gift.  The first orchard was fresh out of you-pick apples.  Disappointed, we piled in our vehicles and took the scenic route for the next best option.  A sure thing at Emma Krumbee's. We roamed the trees looking for the very best Harrelson and Fireside apples we could find.  Our mouths already watering thinking of all the applesauce and apple desserts we would be making with our harvest. 
All the pretty girls!
Aunt Tree and warty pumpkin
Aunt Tree and the Things

My Things
Nani and the Things
After all our outdoor fun we took our apples home.  There they were washed and prepped for apple pie and apple sauce and we readied ourselves for rock climbing at the gym.  Thing 4 is a big fan and he had been wanting to show off his skills for Nani and Aunt Tree since they arrived.  We were finally able to make it for open climb and we all gave it a go.  Under Thing 4's instruction of course.  It was quite the work out.  Once I conquered my fear of heights I was able to make it up one of the easiest courses all while Thing 4 scaled the walls like spider man! 
We were able to capture photos of everyone in action with the exception of Nani, sneaky lady!  Thing 1 was working so she missed out on the fun and Husband Jared was running for his work out. 
Thing 3
 Thing 2
Thing 4
 Aunt Tree
Me, looking a little apprehensive
How we all felt after an hour and a half of climbing!
Off to family dinner.  We had worked up quite an appetite and that homemade apple sauce was calling our names.  Apple pie was made while dinner cooked away, Nani and Thing 4 played cribbage and then we feasted together.  Our last night was spent laughing around the table, sharing highs and lows of the day and the week and then of course we indulged in a friendly Just Dance competition. 
Thing 4 and Nani

Home made apple pie with vanilla ice-cream for dessert, delicious!
Fuel for the dance competition!

Godmother and Goddaughter busting a move!

Nani and Thing 1, not sure who won this battle but it was a good one for sure!
The night came to an end all too quickly and with an early departure for the airport in the morning hugs were given and goodbyes said before bed.  In typical fashion the Things begged for our guests to stay, "just one more day", and we all wished they could.  Our time had come to an end.  It was a week spent making the very best memories and I am so grateful.  Until next time, Minnesnowta awaits your return Nani and Aunt Tree!


Night and Day in the City in Pictures

Saturday we woke late, watched football, drank way too much coffee and then drove into the city.  Checked into our hotel in Minneapolis and then made our way to the other twin, St. Paul that is.  Grand Avenue was our destination for lunch at Brasa and man oh man was it scrumptious.  We craned our necks and looked at all the houses lining Summit Avenue, took in Como park and the Cathedral and all that St. Paul had to offer. 
Mom finally getting cash...for posterity's sake.

After lunch and strolling we were off to a concert, Rend Collective at University of Northwestern.  The three of us were volunteering at the Compassion table, Mom and Aunt Tree for the first time.  Aunt Tree was introduced to Compassion that night and what an experience it was.   Before the concert of course we had to indulge in a few selfies by the water.  What scenery we had.   
Selfie at the Compassion table.

The trees were starting to turn, so pretty.
Light show...beach ball to follow!
 Obligatory concert photo.
We dined late night style in the city, viewed the lights from Prohibition and slept on puffy hotel beds, giggling into the wee hours of the night.
The next morning began at Colossal Café, which really isn't so colossal at all.  Another Triple D suggestion and one that did not disappoint.  The apple, walnut, brie pancakes were amazing.  And as big as your face. 
Enjoying our coffee al fresco.
The not so "Colossal" Café
Much debating took place over the table that morning.  Where to go, what to do.  With the weather being so glorious we chose outside activities.  A walk around Mill City Ruins and the Stone Arch Bridge.  We could not have ordered a better day.  Sun shining, clouds sparse and the sky bluer than blue.  There was a charity event at the museum so we were even treated to live music while we explored.  The lock was in use and for the first time since living here I was able to see it in action.  Fascinating.  We were silly and tried to replicate Thing 1's senior photo shoot.  Then we tried to be all artsy and find letters in the metal and the bricks.  And then we decided we were  hungry and thirsty so we headed over to Surly brewery. We dabbled in corn hole, toasted to a great weekend together and soaked in more sunshine bliss before returning home to the Things.
Mighty Mississippi River

Nani and Aunt Tree...tourists

My guests were insistent upon having a photo of this vintage sign,
not too shabby from the car.
"Senior" photo...fail.

Selfie at the Ruins

Learned the rules and scoring of this Midwest classic
Recycled beer can art?
That's a wrap of our 24 hours plus in the city.  Good times people, good times.
The apple orchard, Just Dance tournament and goodbyes up next. 



A Mom and an Aunt in Minnesota...The First Few Days

Call it what you will but towards the end of summer, beginning of the school year I became a bit homesick.  Homesick for my Mom.  I know, I'm 36 years old.  Maybe it was the familiarity, maybe the known or the friction.  There was something I was needing and I begged for her to visit.  Lo and behold she obliged and with her came my Aunt Theresa.  I was beside myself giddy anticipating their visit.  Plans were made, tickets booked and then they were here. 
They arrived late in the evening on a Wednesday and Things 3 and 4 could not even wait, they insisted on accompanying me to the airport.  Where they danced on the concrete, made faces in the windows and took selfies on my phone while we waited not so patiently for our visitor's delayed flight.  Needless to say we were all about excited.  We brought them home, put them to bed and were up early the next morning to send the Things off to school.  Us ladies however sipped coffee and made plans for the day.  First, a hike around the bluffs in our neighborhood.  Polo was adamant.  He showed the prairie off, took them to drink fresh spring water and then panted all the way home.
And then another trip to the airport for us.  Husband Jared was returning from his business trip and we promised him lunch with the three of us.  Lucky man.  Off to Excelsior, a walk around Lake Minnetonka and lunch at one of our favorites, Lago Tacos.  Our guests had to try the walleye tacos.  Let me tell you there was plenty of oohing and aahing at our table.  Over the food that is.  And because sometimes we act like teenagers and need to take selfies everywhere we go be forewarned that this post will likely be chock full of them.  In their defense, they were on vacay and it needed to be documented.
Just look at that brilliantly blue sky

The four of us, all smiles
An after lunch coffee and treat while we walked along main street, yes please. 
Family dinner was originally scheduled for this night, with it being one of the only nights we were all going to be home together but alas plans changed.  As they often do in this house.  Husband Jared and Thing 4 were departing in the wee hours of the morning for a road trip to Michigan for football, there was training to attend, errands to run and one Thing working.  All that to say, we decided to divide and conquer.  Best choice.  We all reunited later in the evening where I informed the girl Things they were staying home from school the next day.  Win one for Mama.  We also were able to celebrate our sweet friend's birthday.  Finn blew his candles out over and over again in our kitchen to loud cheers from his family and ours.
Then we woke before the sun and Husband Jared and Thing 4 boarded the bus to Michigan for a weekend of football.  A momentous occasion to say the least.  This was the first team trip for Thing 4, where the entire team traveled together on a coach bus, stayed together in the hotel, participated in team meals and meetings and learned the ins and outs of traveling as an academy.  Eventful and memorable to say the least.

Love this boy of mine. 
I ran back into bed for an hour and then woke to snuggles and excited girls for our day together.  A nature walk, lunch and shopping were on the docket.  The sun was shining and I was so very grateful to be able to show off some Minnesota fall beauty to our visitors. 
Everyone but me, I love these ladies.

Fairy houses

Our tree hugger, look at those leaves behind her. 
We were greeted by frogs, snakes and other wildlife on our walk.  Nature indeed.  Then we ran home to pretty ourselves for lunch and shopping.  Edina Grill here we come. 

Godmother and Thing 3 bonding over a mini spa hand treatment at Lush, Thing 3's favorite.  Aunt Theresa treated us all to bath bombs and we laughed our way around 50th St. soaking in the time together.
What better way to end our girls' day then with everyone's favorite caffeinated treat, Sbux. 
Thank you Nani! 
Of course the day was not officially over, the girl Things were then on their way to a Crave retreat and us older girls were left to our own devices at  home for the weekend with no one but Polo requiring our attention.  What an unexpected treat.  We opted for a night in, playing cards, cooking dinner together, watching chick flicks and dancing of course.  I have no photos to show, as I always say, too busy being present.  Right?!
Moving on, Saturday was a big day as we were headed into the city for exploring, a concert and late night adventures.  What's a trip to the Twin Cities if you don't see both twins?  And with that I will end this too long of a post and share the girls' weekend in my next installment.