Friday, June 26, 2009

A Bike Fit for a Princess

Last week, after struggling through yet another day of trying desperately to teach Allie how to ride her tricycle (we've been working on this now for the past year), in a moment of sheer parental stupidity genius I told her that if she could work really hard and learn to ride her tricycle well, then she would be big enough to have her very own princess bicycle. I was fairly positive I wouldn't have to make good on my promise for quite some time as she wasn't even close to coordinating her feet with the pedals, let alone being able to steer with the handlebars.
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Two days later, while I was gone teaching flute lessons, a stunned Ben called to inform me that Allie was racing around in circles on our back patio happily requesting the delivery of her princess bike:
The next day I took her to Toys R Us where I was positive we could find a princess bike. And even though the salesman suggested Allie try out the Barbie bike as well, Allie was insistent that she needed the princess bike. Lucky for us, the princess bike was on sale, so we left the store with one bike in the trunk and a very excited little girl who had happily declared to everyone in the store that she was the very proud owner of her very own princess bike.
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That evening Ben quickly put her bike together and the majority of the following day was spent with the newest bike riding member of our family practicing her skill.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

In Lieu of Weight Loss Wednesday...

Since I started exercising this past January in an effort to lose some extra poundage, Allie has been more than enthusiastic to join me while I do my work out DVDs. Although I usually work out during her nap time or before she wakes up in the morning, there are a few times during the week that I reserve my work out for a time when Allie will be awake because I know how much she enjoys exercising with me.

Her favorite work out DVDs are the Pilates videos facilitated by Ana Caban. Here's Ana: In fact, I think Allie secretly wants to be Ana. It is not unusual for me to overhear Allie quoting Ana throughout her day, perfectly mimicking Ana's soothing, yet gently encouraging voice, while also effortlessly modeling Ana's pretzel-like poses. A few months back I walked into the kitchen to find Allie doing the splits while echoing in Ana's tranquil tone, "reach...reach...stretch...one more time..."

Since I began doing the 30 Day Shred with Jillian Michaels, Allie has been begging me to let her do this new work out video along with me. She was especially excited because Ben told her she would be able to do jumping jacks in this video and even though she had no idea what a jumping jack was, she was completely sold.

So, a few weeks ago when I asked Allie if she would like to join me in doing "The Shred" and without hesitation she raced down the hall, grabbed the DVD with Jillian smiling on front, and flipped on the television, I thought for sure Ana Caban would be taking a back seat to make way for the new appearance of Jillian Michaels in our home.

Allie did pretty well keeping up with Jillian's quick paced routine until about 3 minutes into the workout when she began complaining that the jumping jacks were getting just a little too hard for her.

After we both made it through and were doing our final stretches, I asked Allie what she thought of the new work out. She stared at me for a moment, contemplating her answer, and then responded in a very serious tone, "Well, I just think that the lady with the dark hair...the one that did all the talking and yelling...well...I just think she kind of has a mean looking face."

Trying to contain my laughter, I went on to ask her to explain why she thought Jillian was so mean looking to which she responded, rather logically, "Well...her lips and her eyes were just kind of scrunched up and she was telling those other two ladies what to do the whole time...and sometimes she wasn't even doing the extracises!"

And that was it...I was on the floor, laughing hysterically.

Jillian Michaels, T.V.'s toughest trainer...so tough she can even strike fear in a three and a half year old.

In fact, after looking at that picture, I'm feeling a bit terrified myself....

Monday, June 22, 2009

Vacation...

is finally here!
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Boating, relaxing, biking, swimming, grilling, tubing, wake boarding, shopping.....
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HERE WE COME!
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I scheduled a couple posts this week to publish while we are away soaking up the Nothern Wisconsin sun and most likely not spending any time on or near the computer.
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We look forward with anticipation to this getaway week all year long and I'm sure vacation 2009 won't disappoint.
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This year we get to celebrate Ben's birthday while we are on vacation...Ben is especially excited as he remarked to me that this will be the first birthday in a very loooong time that he won't have to work or even think about work. We are planning to rent jet skis to celebrate the day and Allie is very excited to participate in Daddy's "Jet Ski Birthday." She is convinced we will be having a jet ski cake...hmmm...
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Here's hoping for sunny weather and a great vacation week!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Our "Perfect" Son

Just look at that cute, handsome, harmless 1-1/2 year old little boy who spends hours upon hours outside perfectly entertained by pushing his favorite red wagon around the entire yard (his new favorite pastime).
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Let's take a second glance at those chubby legs and pudgy cheeks....that little button nose and those dimpled elbows. *sigh* Isn't he just the perfect picture of innocence?

Now for a closer look at that perfectly innocent face:

Ack! What happened to my perfectly innocent baby?!

Oh, yes, I remember now, it is called the Terrible Twos and apparently we are perfecting that stage early.

Not only has Zach perfected the art of the temper tantrum, but he has also become rather learned in the art of getting his big sister in trouble. You should see the way he grins after Allie gets into trouble for running around the kitchen when he instigates the running in the first place by chasing her throughout the whole house.

And speaking of instigation, Zach has also perfected the art of making small splashes toward Allie in the bathtub and is most satisfied when his tiny, almost unnoticeable splashes lead to Allie's humongous splashes, resulting in her being scolded for soaking the whole bathroom when in fact he was the one to begin the splashing in the first place.

He he has also spent much time perfecting the pro-football tackle, often taking Allie down when she least expects it by sneaking up behind her and lunging his entire 30 pounds onto her back, knocking her swiftly to the ground.

Along with tackling, Zach is perfectly happy to greet Allie by whacking her on the back of the head with whatever toy happens to be in his hand at the time.

And, just when I thought my son couldn't get any more perfect, he exceeded all my expectations tonight when a sobbing Allie held up her arm to reveal four little red tooth-shaped indentations in her skin, perfectly matching the four little bottom teeth in Zach's mouth.

Although it was soon discovered Zach's canine response was in retaliation to Allie's forceful declaration that he was not allowed in her fort, biting is not something we ever tolerate in our home.

For the remainder of the evening Zach has been perfecting his favorite new sentence: "NO BITE!"

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Weight Loss Wednesday

Operation Weight Loss 2009:
Weeks 22 & 23 (6/3 - 6/16)
Weight Lost Over 2 Weeks: -3.0 pounds
Weight Lost To Date: -43.4 pounds
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Well, despite the Founder's Favorite ice cream I consumed at Coldstone in celebration of our wedding anniversary in addition to the piece of coconut cream pie, pumpkin bar complete with cream cheese icing, and German chocolate cake with coconut-pecan frosting I devoured in celebration of my birthday, I still managed to lose 3 pounds over the past two weeks!
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Other than those four sugary indulgences over the past two weeks, though, I have stuck strictly to my diet plan, not allowing myself any "wiggle" room at all. The good thing: over the past two weeks I ate four of my most favorite foods and still lost weight. The bad thing: I had a killer stomachache to show for the mass quantities of sugar and fat that made their reappearance in my digestive system after a 6-month hiatus and, even though eating those foods made me feel like crud, my inner sweet tooth has come back with vengeance and I'm all of a sudden craving more sweets than I have in months.
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Don't worry, I have not succumbed to throwing out my plan in favor of indulging my apparent emotional need for sugar (nor do I plan too), but still, it's frustrating that I am still craving the very things that I know are not good for my health in addition to making me feel so nasty. I'm beginning to think that ending my love affair with sugar may be a life-long battle...
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In other news, I'm still running...outside...IN PUBLIC! I know-I can barely believe it myself. Anyway, it takes me about 15-20 minutes to run about a mile and a half, weaving through our neighborhood streets and bike paths. I prefer to run in the morning, before Ben leaves for work, because it isn't as warm outside and I like how quiet and calm the neighborhood is at 6 AM when most people are still in bed or just waking up to get ready for work.
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To better keep track of my distance when I run and go throughout my day, I bought a pedometer this morning. It has actually been fun to see how many steps I've taken and how far I've managed to walk since 11 AM when I first put it on. So far, it's 6:20 pm and I'm at 6,226 steps and 2.95 miles. Let it be known that 500 of those steps where taken while making, eating, and cleaning up lunch with the kids today. Good grief. It's a wonder that between all of those steps I was able to eat myself! I'm thinking that between my daily exercise and chasing after the kids, I should have no problem gettting in the recommended 10,000 steps.
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Just a reminder...no Weight Loss Wednesday next week due to our upcoming vacation! Although I'm not throwing out the diet or exercise plan for our week-long vacation in the northwoods of Wisconsin (tempting as it is...), I'm definitely not taking a scale along. So, check back in 2 weeks for my next installment.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

A Little Catch-Up Post

The summer weather has returned to the northlands and it has me spending much less time in front of the computer screen documenting all of our family activities and funny stories. Plus, I've just rediscovered the joy of reading and have found myself lost in a book most nights after the kids go to bed, time I usually set aside for blogging.
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Since I'm in between books right now (and trying desperately not to start another one because I'd like to save it for our vacation next week in addition to having lots on my to-do list in preparation of our vacation...suffice it to say, I don't get much done when I'm engrossed in a book), I thought I would share some of our more memorable moments over the past few weeks or so.
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And since lists make me oh so happy (you should see the multitude of lists I have already made out for vacation), I bring to you our familial highlights, in list form, complete with bullet points:

  • Zach spoke his first 3-word sentence the other morning while picking out a DVD to watch before I was going to hop in the shower: "Cars Go Fast." It is still up for debate whether this can be considered a true sentence or is simply a collection of 3 of his favorite words said quickly and consecutively.
  • The potty chair has made it's reappearance in our bathroom in an effort to help Zach become more aware of his bodily functions. While he has become an expert at sitting, naked-bummed, on the little potty chair while also chiming in to the tunes of the "Tinkle-tinkle-on-the-potty" song (led boisterously by big sister Allie), I'm afraid that we have made absolutely no progress whatsoever in bodily function awareness.
  • My parents got me a humongous birthday card that plays "Celebrate Good Times, Come On!" when opened. I honestly thought the battery would have gone dead by now. Do those things have batteries? Please say yes...and please say those batteries die quickly.
  • I mowed the lawn again and I didn't break the mower this time. Unfortunately, I didn't complete the whole yard, though. It was so hot and sticky and my arms were all sore. Let it be known that we do not have a self-propelled mower. Thankfully, Ben gladly stepped in and completed the rest of the lawn in less than 10 minutes (I'm sure it would have taken me at least a half hour to complete it).
  • Allie declared last night that "Girls can NOT build bridges!" to which Ben quickly responded "Oh yes they can!" Allie, with a look of complete shock and disappointment on her face, uttered in the most pathetic tone "But, Daddy, I really don't want to build bridges when I grow up!" Apparently, instead of building bridges Allie would like to go grocery shopping, drive a car, teach some flute lessons, and watch some kids (all this sounds entirely familiar to me...)
  • I've gone on a few more outdoor runs which Ben mapped out for me at about a mile and a half. I've taken my IPOD along and have concluded it is much better and easier to run with music, except when some strange accapella version of "God Rest Ye Merry Gentleman" starts blaring in my ears. I guess I need to make myself a playlist.
  • The first sunburn of the season has made its appearance on Ben and I. The kids were so slathered up in sunscreen when we went swimming at the local pool that they escaped with no color at all. Swimming was a big hit, as exemplified by Allie crying the whole way home from the pool because she wanted to swim longer, and I have a feeling we'll be spending many days this summer at the pool.
  • We had fun looking at all my sister's wedding pictures and Allie had a comment for each and every one. She especially liked the ones of herself and was happy to declare how cute she looked in them all.
  • The kids love picnics...whether outside on our table, on the green grass, or at a park. So, yesterday I packed up the Burley and we all headed to a park that is about a couple miles from our home and enjoyed the lovely day, complete with a picnic by the river.

That's all I can think of for now! This week is all about vacay preparations. We are so excited to be heading up to a cabin in northern WI to spend the entirety of next week boating, swimming, biking, relaxing, reading, walking, tubing, grilling, wakeboarding...and not working.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Birthday Recap

I apologize for my silence since Ben hi-jacked my blog last week to wish me a happy birthday. In fact, I was unaware of the hi-jacking until Ben informed me of it when he got home from work that evening. Poor guy...apparently he was waiting for a phone call from me literally all day long thanking him for posting childhood pictures of me, complete with the chubby one-year-old depiction and the unforgettable snapshot of me dressed in a pink bunny costume.
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Anyway, I had to remind him that in addition to shopping with my mom and the kids all morning at the Albertville Outlet mall, indulging in a celebratory lunch complete with a cream-cheese frosted pumpkin bar and a piece of coconut cream pie for dessert and running some errands on the way home while the exhausted kids snoozed in the van, the fact that the van refused to start so I could pick up my bridesmaid dress from the dry cleaners (which I later discovered had been lost), kind of took up the majority of my day.

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The whole van thing put a bit of a kink in our plans, but it was no biggie. The glorious sunshine beckoned us all outside after dinner where Ben worked quickly to replace the battery in the van while I took the kids on a long bike ride near the river.

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With the van semi-working (Ben took it in later to make sure the alternator wasn't to blame ...and it wasn't-yay!) and my legs aching from biking 5 miles while hauling over 50 pounds of trailor plus kid, it was high-time for some birthday cake. While I savored my ginormous piece of German Chocolate Cake, complete with coconut frosting (my all time fav!), the kids and Ben who are not fans of coconut, happily devoured their chocolate cupcakes.
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It was a great birthday full of my favorite people and my favorite foods. And, although the kids were quite crabby the next day due to the excitement and lack of sleep the day before and I woke up at 4 a.m. with such a horrendous upset stomach (hmmm...maybe I shouldn't have eaten the rest of that piece of cake after the kids went to bed...or that coconut cream pie...or that pumpkin bar...), it was all well worth it as I celebrated my membership into the "late twenties" club.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Happy Birthday!

For those of you who do not know me my name is Ben, Jennifer's husband (see other blogs for pictures and stories). I have been meaning to pirate my wife's blog for a long time. At first I was thinking that a mysterious "not me Monday" post could be funny, but in the end I went with the surprise birthday post!
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For those of you who are not yet aware Jennifer takes her birthdays seriously. Rightfully so because celebrating the day that you were first introduced to the world is momentous occasion. One that Jennifer usually counts down to starting the day after her birthday (i.e. tomorrow will be 364 days until the next one!).
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At first I thought that this was just a Jennifer thing, but I have come to realize that it may be genetic. Jennifer, I believe, has passed on the birthday gene to Allie. Yesterday Allie asked when her birthday was coming and began listing out different options for birthday themes such as a Gisele birthday form the movie Enchanted or a Pinkalicious birthday from some of Allie's favorite books. She has even planned Zach's Cars birthday party. Allie even asked Jennifer where the cake was this morning and when all the people would be arriving for the party. Allie was mortified to discover that adults do not celebrate birthdays with quite as much gusto as kids.
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This raises the question of what are the plans for the birthday girl today? First, a fun filled day with Allie and Zach, with a visit from her mom. Second, some balloons that this blogging guy is scheduled to pick up for her on his way home (is it really a birthday without balloons???). Lastly, a trip to Cafe Latte for German Chocolate Cake with Coconut frosting...the birthday girl's favorite.
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So without further adieu...
HAPPY BIRTHDAY JENNIFER!!!
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Here are some picture of my lovely lady through the years. Isn't she gorgeous!!!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Zoo Outing

Last Friday, before the rain clouds and gloom set in for the remainder of the weekend, we met up with some of our friends at Como Zoo in St. Paul and enjoyed a great (and beautifully sunny) summer day together. Ben had worked quite a few hours last week, complete with a lot of time spent on the road driving to various job sites in Nowheresville MN, so he was more than happy to take the day off on Friday and come along with us.
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Although the zoo was incredibly busy (apparently we weren't the only ones who realized this would be the last great sunny day before the onslaught of terrential downpours and temperatures more reminiscent of April than June), we had a lot of fun.
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We spent the majority of our time riding the rides at the little kiddie park that is adjacent to the zoo than actually looking at the animals. But, that's okay. We visit this particular zoo quite frequently, but rarely do we treat the kids to the rides. So, as an extra special treat, we bought the kids unlimited ride wrist bands and they had a blast riding the same rides over and over and over again to their little hearts' content. Although Allie remembered the rides from last year, the experience was new to Zach. I was unsure how he would respond, but after his first ride, it was quite obvious that he was a fan.
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The train was a definite favorite:

Zach could not get enough of these cars:
Allie tried her hand at the kiddie go-karts. She struggled a bit with the concept of pushing the gas and simultaneously steering the wheel. Actually, it was quite hilarious to watch her. I believe at one point she pushed the gas, closed her eyes as tightly as possible, and drove straight into another car and declared "I wrecked, AGAIN!" when her poor little neck jolted forward then back. She even had the attendants doubled over in laughter as one of them followed her around the entire time to rescue her from her many wrecks. Upon leaving, they handed her a kiddie driver's license to which she responded, "I don't think they should give me this...I had way to many wrecks!" Good thing we still have a few years before she learns to drive the real thing:
All four of us rode the historic carousel:



Allie on the Hopper...apparently she did not inherit my fear of heights:
I wish I could provide audio for this picture as all 3 kids were squealing happily at the top of their lungs:
Of course, Zach had to take a turn in the red car:

Oh boy...these two are gonna be trouble once they get their licenses:
Zach was too short to ride the teacups without a chaperon...so here I am riding the little midget cups with the kids:
The horse drawn chariots were another favorite of the kids:
The Aladdin ride was also quite the hit:
After a picnic lunch, we headed home for naps. Everyone was pretty tired after an eventful morning.
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The fun continued after dinner when we all decided to ride our bikes up to the local park that is on the river. We walked out on the dam and then decided to try out some of the hiking trails in the park. Allie picked wildflowers (which I realize was probably not quite allowed) while Zach insisted upon navigating the sandy trails all on his own. What a great evening to enjoy the outdoors and a perfect way to end a fun family day!

Weight Loss Wednesday?

How can it be Wednesday already? As you might have already guessed, I completely forgot about Weight-Loss Wednesday. I had a doctor's appointment yesterday that conflicted with my normal Weight Watcher's weigh-in time and figured stepping on the scale at the doctor's office was enough weight measurement for one day.

I don't really have much to report today anyway. The highlight of my week was when the doctor officially changed my "overweight" status on my patient record to "lean." That's right, L-E-A-N. I can't remember the last time anyone has called me lean, so I was pretty darn happy with that status change.

I also forced Ben to weigh himself this week because I was pretty sure I would weigh less than him. I have never, since I've known Ben (around 13 years or so), EVER, weighed less than him. And, before passing judgement regarding this fact, please consider that he is 2 inches shorter than me and has the metabolism of an espresso bean. So, you can imagine I was pretty excited to discover I weigh 7 pounds less than him! Ben, on the other hand, was not quite as elated as me. . . .to clarify, he was happy for me, but a little disappointed at the numbers reporting his current weight.
In other news, I'm hopelessly addicted to Quaker's caramel corn mini rice cakes.
The ranch and sour cream and onion flavors aren't bad either. I am not, however, a fan of the chocolate ones that taste like fake chocolate covered styrofoam. The cheese ones taste a bit like a cheeto-wanna-be and pretty much, if I'm craving a cheeto, a cheese flavored rice cake wannabe cheeto is not going to cut it.
I'm also obsessed with these new salad dressings from Wishbone and at only 20-25 calories per serving, both flavors are delicious!


The Tuscan Romano Basil reminds me of the house dressing at Olive Garden and the Simply Santa Fe makes for a great taco-style salad.

I've also gone twice this week for an outside run in our neighborhood! This is huge for me and although I'm not quite sure how long my route was, I did run the whole entire time without stopping to walk. If I had to guess, I would say I ran about a mile, maybe a tad bit more. I have decided that I need to get some type of holder for my IPOD, though, so that I can listen to some tunes instead of focusing so intently on my pounding heart and heaving lungs.

That's it for now. An official Weight Loss Wednesday next week, I promise.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Happy Anniversary!

June 7, 2009 marks 6 years since I put on the most glorious white gown I have ever laid eyes upon and, escorted by my dad, walked down a rather steep staircase accompanied by the soft piano melody of "My Jesus I Love Thee" toward the front of a church... where my best friend, dressed in his black-tie finest and wearing possibly the biggest smile I have ever seen, waited eagerly in anticipation...
to take me as his bride.
I can hardly remember a happier and more perfect day in my life than that sunny, beautifully warm Saturday in June of 2003 when Ben and I pledged our lives and love to each other and began our new life together. Although we have had our fair share of joys and challenges throughout the past 6 years, I am thankful to God that He has blessed our marriage through a continual growth and maturity of the love that Ben and I felt for one another on the day we first became husband and wife.
Experiencing my sister's wedding last weekend and seeing her and my brother-in-law go through those same emotions of excitement in anticipation of their own wedding ceremony found me feeling a bit nostalgic.

And, as they leave for their honeymoon this week to the Mayan Riviera in Mexico, the same place where Ben and I honeymooned exactly 6 years ago to the day, I feel like it was just yesterday as I vividly recall the freedom of the warm ocean breeze blowing through and tangling each and every strand of my normally combed and carefully styled hair. I can still taste the dry sting of salt on my sun-cracked lips after a refreshing swim in the crystal blue waves and I remember fondly the fine white sand crystals lingering between my bare polished toes as I walked hand-in-hand with my new husband across the beach while admiring the fiery sunset. The sweet smell of fresh strawberries from the endless supply of free non-alcoholic daiquiris mingled with the pungent aroma of synthetic coconut arising from the several layers of Tropic Sun slathered on our already pink skin still lingers in my nose as I picture the both of us, newly married, content just to be in each other's presence, relaxing under the warmth of the sun on one of the most beautiful beaches I have ever seen.
And, although we haven't celebrated each of our 6 years of marriage underneath swaying palm trees while lying on a beach for days on end, we try to make an effort to do something special in celebration of our wedding day each year. Whether it be an intimate dinner at a quaint French restaurant in St. Paul, complete with crisp white table linens and a single red rose on each table, followed by viewing "Shrek 2" on the big screen (as we did in celebration of our first anniversary) or spending a long weekend at a resort in Duluth where we climbed to the top of towering waterfalls, toured historic light houses and mansions near Lake Superior, and marveled at my growing tummy in anticipation of the new journey we would begin together that Fall (as we did in celebration of our second anniversary), we were still happy and content to be in each other's presence.

Even though our anniversary celebrations have sometimes been as simple as having a friend watch Allie so that we could enjoy a meal at a new restaurant, subsequently discovering that Ben and I really do enjoy Asian cuisine, followed by some much needed shopping for new clothes at the local mall (both tasks that are much easier and much more enjoyable without the presence of a 7-month old baby along) like we did in celebration of our third anniversary, we still enjoy the opportunity to make bigger plans in commemoration of our wedding day.

This brings to mind our fourth anniversary when we arranged for Allie to stay with Grandma and Grandpa for a few nights while Ben and I spent a long weekend in downtown Chicago where we saw "Wicked," took in the sites at Navy Pier, worried far too much about Allie being away from us for the very first time, and watched more HGTV than I care to admit while I rested my very sore and intensely swollen pregnant feet in our luxurious high rise hotel suite overlooking Lake Michigan. And, while the food we ate was delicious and the sites we beheld were breathtaking, we were still happiest to just be in each other's presence.

Whether we're celebrating our fifth anniversary with a family day and a dinner out on the town for just the two of us or are celebrating our sixth anniversary by sending the kids over to my parent's house to spend the night while we browse the local Barnes and Noble, eat dinner at Chili's, attempt to buy tickets to see a movie at the theater (only to discover that the rainiest day we've had in over a month has resulted in every movie we want to see being sold out), head over to the local mall to do a little shopping for some new shoes, eat a celebratory bowl of Coldstone Ice Cream, stay up late watching movies because we know we won't be woken up at the crack of dawn the next morning, and after a lazy and uninterrupted breakfast the next morning going out for our first run together, we are still happiest and most content just to be in each other's presence.

Happy Anniversary, Ben! I am so happy and content to be sharing our lives together.