Happy October!

I can’t believe October is here.  We’ve been lucky here in Minnesota to have mostly beautiful fall days .  Warm in the sunshine outside, cool in the mornings and able to have the windows wide open all day long!

We’ve been busy trying to soak up the fall in Minnesota since it is arguably the best season here.  Last weekend we took Will apple picking at a small family owned farm just east of Saint Paul.  Will had a great time in the pumpkin patch and hanging out with the chickens and turkeys.  IMG_2241 IMG_2245 IMG_2275 IMG_2306 IMG_2345 IMG_2369 IMG_2379 IMG_2384Will also LOVED eating the apples.
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And a little flash back to a year ago!  Sound asleep even with the sun in his face.  I’m pretty sure he slept through that whole day in the carrier through apple picking and hiking at Taylor’s Falls.

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Sunday

Sunday was a fantastic day!

After a few days without Grant, Will and I were thrilled to have him home and we enjoyed the day together as a family.

We had a leisurely morning, two people took naps, one spent some time knitting and writing on the blog.

We went to a bike shop and a coffee shop that are next door to each other in Minneapolis, a favourite combination around here.

We enjoyed a longer than planned afternoon bike ride.  Longer not because we were lost, but because we decided that we wanted to go around Lake Harriet just one more time because we were having such a good time!  The weather was perfect, the company was fantastic… and the people watching… well, it just doesn’t get any better than this!

We headed over to church next and enjoyed the fact that we could be a little late because we didn’t have any responsibilities requiring us to be early this week.  We had good conversations with new friends and now familiar faces.

At home we had a sleeping baby and a delicious dinner and favourite tv shows.

Yes, Sunday was a fantastic day.  And you know what?  I don’t have a single photo from the day!  I left my phone at home by a happy accident and rather than spending time trying to capture memories, we enjoyed making them instead.

Happy Birthday!

Yesterday was Will’s first birthday!  I can’t believe he is a year old already and what a year it has been!  It is exciting to see just how much Will has grown, learned and changed in a year.  A year ago I was so excited to meet what I was sure would be a sweet, dark haired, dark eyed little boy–and in turn we got a very sweet and VERY spunky red head with blue eyes!  He is the wonderful miracle I have ever witnessed and I am so proud to call him my son.  Happy birthday baby boy!!  We love you.

We are having a party for Will in a couple of weeks so we decided to save his birthday cake for then, so instead we made him a donut cake!
(Donuts are from A Baker’s Wife in Minneapolis)

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Will has had pieces of these donuts before, but never a whole one for himself!

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IMG_1008 IMG_1010He liked it so much he was licking the crumbs off the table.

We’ve Moved!

We have officially moved! Not far, just across the street from campus. But oh has it made a world of difference.

I liked our old apartment quite a bit. It was small and cozy and it was where we first brought our son home from the hospital a year ago, so it was sentimental too. It had a crazy amount of kitchen cabinets for such a tiny kitchen and was in a building that was full of life! Sure, some days “full of life” was more accurately “noisy” but for the most part we enjoyed our time there and will miss it. The problem was that our son who is almost a year old is getting mobile and his stuff is starting to take up more space. His parents were tiring of brushing their teeth in the kitchen since his crib was practically in the bathroom in the one bedroom apartment. When we found out that Grant could stay in the same position, just oversee a different set of buildings, we decided to jump on the opportunity. Our apartment isn’t huge, but it is lovely and growing on me more and more each day.

Not comparing my experiences with anyone else’s, just my own. I have decided that moving one block is by far worse than moving states or even countries. Sure, it is nice to be able to move things over a little at a time, and it wasn’t necessary to wrap up all the breakables. But we were so much better prepared to move from Illinois to Minnesota or from Alberta to Illinois then our 3 block move within Wheaton and our across the street move here in Minnesota. But we’re thankful to be feeling settled, to have the apartment clean, boxes broken down and pictures hung on the wall. I’ll post photos of the apartment in the next few days. In the meantime, I’ll leave you with a glimpse of one of my favourite spots.

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11-months

It is hard to believe that in a few weeks we’ll be celebrating a birthday in our home.  Not only is it his birthday, it marks when this couple became a family, a move to a new state, new job and new roles for everyone.  Phew, I can’t believe it!

But that’s not what this post is about, it is about this kiddo who is SO MUCH FUN.  I had a hard time choosing photos from his 11-month photoshoot.  Not because they’re all perfect and in focus or because we caught him actually looking at the camera.  It is because they show so well the personality of this little boy.  He is so ridiculous and spunky and so full of energy and has one crazy thick head of hair.  He discovered that he likes when we laugh so he’s started to fake laugh that inevitably turns into real belly laughter (for all three of us).  The best part is when he starts the fake laugh, he always looks up to gauge our reaction.  How do they learn this stuff?

He also chatters all day long, but the only words we understand so far are “mama,” “dada” and “hi mama.”

Anyway… enjoy the photos!  We love you little man.

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Trying to grasp Sophie the Giraffe!  Our feeble attempts at getting him to stay on his back.IMG_0718

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(Click here for more on how to make these monthly onesies.)

The Pizza Farm – Stockholm, Wisconsin

I read about the Pizza Farm on another blog and I knew instantly that it would be the perfect thing to do to celebrate Father’s Day.  Grant does love pizza after all.  It is a working farm and on Tuesday’s from around May through October they open their doors (and fields) to urban dwellers and serve wood fired pizza.  Most of their ingredients are grown or raised on their farm and it exceeded our expectations.  The pizza was delicious and the setting was perfect.  We could not have asked for a better evening and it was totally worth the 90-minute drive to get there.  We’re already plotting our second visit.

Our anniversary is today so Grant decided to turn his Father’s Day outing into an anniversary getaway and the three of us spent the night at a B&B in Stockholm.  Another experience that did not disappoint… there will be a few blog posts this week documenting our less-than-24-hour adventure.

We took way too many photos and kept saying over and over again, “this is amazing!”  We also enjoyed the fact that we ran into a few friends we know from the Twin Cities confirming my theory that most who visit are not only from a different state, they agree that 90-minutes is not too far to drive for this pizza.

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IMG_5374With no signs or advertising we were amazed at how many people found their way here!

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I think even our little boy had a great time.  Happy Father’s Day hon.

It doesn’t get better than this…

Lately I have had a lot of complaints.  The weather this winter was terrible, we live far from friends and family, we moved out of my dream house and into a college dorm, we are lonely, tired, overwhelmed, etc.  It is embarrassing to admit how long the list can be on a really hard day.

The other day Grant was playing with Will on the floor and I felt an unexpected swell of gratitude.  It just doesn’t get much better than this.  Sure, some of my complaints are legitimate and I need to be honest with myself about it if I’m ever going to deal with them, but I realized that all of the truly important things are so very, very good.

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We have friends and family that love us.  We feel welcomed and celebrated when we return home, whether that home is in Canada, California, Illinois and beyond.  We have parents that love us and have sacrificed so much for us and who love, love, love our son, even if their requests for photos and videos of him are a little excessive. (All four of you… you know who you are)  🙂  I have an incredible husband who loves me, makes me laugh harder than anyone, understands our inside jokes, and checks out bicycles as he goes by, not other girls.  He is the best dad to our son, even better than I could have imagined.  He is great at the fun things (taking the kiddo for bike rides, making him giggle) and great at the hard things (middle of the night feedings, poop, poop and more poop).

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And then there is our son.  He is just the silliest, most fun and happy kiddo.  He loves to yell, giggle, and squeal.  He’s figured out a way to run-crawl since regular crawling is simply not fast enough.  And he sleeps from 7 pm – 8:30 am most days…. yes, you read that right.  He is very kind to us.

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We are blessed and I am so thankful that even in the midst of my hard-heart, grumpy days I can still be overwhelmed by gratitude.  It doesn’t get much better than this!

Ps.  These were all photos from today.  Happy Father’s day!!

Homesick

I am homesick.  Homesick for family.  For friends.  For my home…

Since 1999, I have lived in five different cities and eight different moves between those cities.  I’m no stranger to picking up and moving–starting over.  This last time was different, though.  This past July we moved from the Chicago area to the Twin Cities in Minnesota.  5 years may not sound like a long time, but a lot of life happened in those five years.  I started and completed two master’s degrees.  I met a guy, we got married and almost had a baby while we lived there (our son was born 10 days after we moved). I lived in an apartment alongside college students for four years, we bought our first house and made it our home.  Our church became family and relationships with friends deepened.  See what I mean?  A lot of life.

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People told us that we were crazy to move, end jobs, start new ones and have a baby all within the span of two weeks.  I often wish that I could give my 30-year old self advice from my 31-year old self (not to mention my teenage self… but those are stories for another day).

I was telling someone a few weeks ago that I know exactly why we decided to move.  The reasons are still clear and are still good reasons.  I honestly don’t think we made a mistake but I do know that if I was faced with making the same decision again the outcome may be different.  We loved the idea of a full time job with benefits, for me to be home with our son and able to work  part-time.  We wanted Grant to do something he loves, has experience in and is trained for.  Not only good, but great reasons!

What we didn’t realize was just how important it is to have friends and family close by, especially when life completely changes after welcoming a child!  We miss the community we moved away from and the friends that had become family.  (It still holds true that we don’t have family in Illinois, but we didn’t realize that Minnesota would feel so much further away.)

I didn’t realize just how much time I would spend at home and how much our space and the harsh winter would affect me.  How isolating it can be to have a newborn and how important it is to have people around who get what that’s like.  How much I would miss our house and our porch.  I mean, look at this porch!

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I’ve had days where I’ve been thrilled that we’re here too.  Like I said, the reasons we moved were great reasons and they hold true even now.  I adore our son and I love being a mom.  I love that I get to spend so much time with him, to watch him grow and learn new things.  I love that I know his finicky nap routine, his favourite toys and how to make him giggle.  He is an incredible blessing.

I am thrilled that Grant has a great job that he loves and that he gets to work with people that he enjoys.  It is amazing to see him grow in confidence in his gifts and abilities and how much he cares for his students.  I love seeing him as a dad and how much more I love him when I see him care for Will.  Our marriage is good and continues to grow and we’ve been able to spend a lot of time this year as a family, even if that means we have even more ridiculous inside jokes.

I love spending time with good friends who live in the area and reconnecting with friends I’ve been out of touch with.  I also love having the time and space to create and learn new things.

And I have hope.  Hope that a second year will feel more familiar.  Hope that our community here will grow and that friendships will deepen.  And hope that the loneliness and tears will have purpose, that there will be beauty that rises from the painful moments too.

First Snowfall

A week and a half ago we had the first significant snowfall in Minnesota.  We spent the day indoors playing with our kiddo and it was one of the most relaxing day’s we’ve had in a long time.  Will loved the snow from inside.  He wasn’t too thrilled by our brief outing to get the obligatory photo of the baby in the snow which, of course, ended in him throwing up inside his snow suit.