Tuesday, August 28, 2012


Having a life-long friend is something of a treasure:  The joy and laughter, the ease by which your relationship flows, the memories you share over your lifetime of experiences together.  And although you both grow and change, maturing along the way, it is truly special to have a relationship with someone other than your family that has known you and loved you forever.  I'm so thankful that Allie, already in her almost seven years, has a friend just like this.

October 2005

June 2006

August 2007

January 2008

July 2009

July 2009

December 2009
August 2010
November 2010

November 2011

August 2012

August 2012

Rachel and Allie, it seems you have grown from tiny babes to little girls in the blink of an eye.  Know that it has been a joy for your moms to watch your friendship grow right along with you.  From the moment we laid eyes on the two of you together, we knew you'd be a dynamic duo...the room is always filled with giggles and squeels when you two are together.  Thankfully, your years of playing dress-up and dancing together like princess ballerinas aren't over yet.  And bitersweet as it may be, when those days sadly do come to an end, we know you'll find plenty of new adventures together!  

Sunday, August 26, 2012

MN State Fair 2013

It has become somewhat of a tradition for our family to attend the Minnesota State Fair each year.  While we always attempt the Fair on a weekday, somehow hoping to beat the crowds (umm...ya right), we usually attend during the second week of the Fair.  This year, however, it worked out best for us to visit the Fair on opening day. 

So, last Thursday, we woke up bright and early, ate our breakfast in the car, and managed to arrive at the MN State Fair on opening day at approximately 8:30 am. 

We were immediately struck by how fresh and excited everyone seemed.  No tired out vendors...no annoyed carnies...just pure delightment from most everyone! 

We began our day at the Fair with a ride down the Giant Slide:

The Giant Slide is always a hit with the big kids and Olivia was more than happy to take her turn this year as well.  I was a little concerned at how she would do (she went with Ben), but when I heard her giggling all the way down, I knew she was just fine.  In fact, she got right back up and headed toward the stairs to go up again!

After the Giant Slide, we made our obligatory stops at Sweet Martha's and Tom Thumb's for chocolate chip cookies and mini donuts.  Ben and I hadn't eaten breakfast yet, so we were in need of some fine nourishment.  I've never known our kids to turn down cookies and donuts...so, it was a win-win for everyone!

After ingesting more sugar than one should probably consume in an entire month, we decided to visit the kid's farm.  Along the way, we made a few stops to grab some free loot (namely, free hats of all kinds...the favorite being the chicken hat).

We finally arrived at the kid farm, suited up, and were ready to do some farm chores.  Olivia was completely thrilled the entire time!  She loved performing all the tasks and would have stayed there the entire day.  Zach and Allie also had a good time, but Zach especially was only in it for the free food he was going to secure at the end of the experience.

Next, we hit up Home Depot where the kids got to make a free project and Ben secured his free orange Homer bucket.


Then, it was on to the pet barn where the kids enjoyed begging us over and over again for a puppy, but ended up settling for merely patting a few on the head. 
We also visited this inflatable laser light show thing where we were promised we'd be "transformed" by the calming artistry of lights and colors.  When Ben heard that description, he went running for the hills, but apparently I'm a sucker for that kind of talk, so I bought a ticket.  Basically, it was a total rip off (I should have just thrown $4 in the air and called it a day...thankfully the kids entered with me for free or I would have been really upset) and although I'm not the claustrophobic type, I couldn't get out of there quick enough.  The kids were thrilled by the whole experience, so that's all that matters, right? 
After the rip-off transformation experience, we snagged some seats to watch the lumberjack show.  It was corny, but fun.  The best part were the two old guys seated behind us, one from California and the other from Nebraska.  They were brothers who travel every year to the MN State Fair because they claim it to be the best fair in the entire nation.  They let the kids eat their Kettle Corn and had plenty of fun stories to share.
Since the sun finally decided to make an appearance at the lumberjack show, we were heating up and in need of refreshment...so Dippin' Dots to the rescue!  Ben secured our treat while Allie, Zach, and I waited in line for this kids' free fishing clinic put on by Gander Mountain.  Although we weren't lucky enough to catch any fish, we did secure yet another hat to add to our collection (so far we have:  the chicken hat, the John Deere hat, the corn hat, and the fish hat). 

Famished from our sugar-only consumption, we made a stop at Pronto-Pup for lunch because the Fair just insn't the Fair without a corn dog.  Then, it was off to the sky ride.  The kids had never gone on the sky ride cars, so they were pretty pumped for their first time. 

Immediately following our round trip sky ride, we hit up the International Bazaar where the kids toured the historic circus train and we secured our yearly family Christmas ornament.
Then, it was PARADE TIME!  We sat on the edge of the street, ate yet more cookies, and watched the parade of marching bands, horses, floats, and (we counted 'em) THREE humongous cow statues. 
Since we hadn't seen any animals (except house pets), we spent the remainder of the afternoon exploring the animal barns.  By that time, the kids were getting pretty tired.  The highlight?  Olivia and Allie got to feed a horse a peanut butter rice krispie treat!  Olivia was a little taken aback when it appeared the horse was going to bite off her hand, but she ended up with both hands completely attached in the end.  Oh, and we also added yet another hat to our arsenal (pig ears!). 

By about 3:00 pm, it was quite apparent we needed to get going in order to avoid full meltdown.  So, we secured one last milkshake (my goodness, YES, we OVER SUGARED THE CHILDREN!), and made our way to the exit. 
With all three kids loaded in the wagon, we navigated our best through the shoulder-to-shoulder crowded streets (someone really ought to inform the general public that you cannot stop while pulling a wagon loaded with over 120 lbs of kid...it is IMPOSSIBLE...especially while going downhill...seriously, if you see a person with a wagon full-o-kid, get outta the way...it is truly for your own safety!). 
Olivia fell asleep, sitting up, about half way to the exit.  So, Ben miraculously stopped the wagon so I could scoop her up and carry her the rest of the way out
We transferred her to the bus...asleep...
And, then we transferred her to her car seat without her even opening an eyelid.  She slept all the way home (or at least until we stopped for pizza...because, yet again, we needed some quality food to eat besides SUGAR!).
We had another great year at the Fair full of fun and sugar...the kids are already talking about what hats they plan to secure next year!

Company Picnic at Como Park

Last weekend Ben's company held their annual family picnic at Como Park in St. Paul.  In addition to lunch, the kids also enjoyed free ride wristbands, face painting, crazy hair, temporary tattoos, carnival-style games, and a frisbee painting craft.

We arrived at Como extra early to secure a parking spot and then spent the majority of the morning enjoying the park grounds and zoo. 

Prior to lunch, the kids were super excited to get their faces painted and hair crazied-up:

Ben, not ever being one to turn down a dare, also sported some crazy hair of his own. 
A little background:  A couple years ago Ben placed a bet with one of his Vikings fan coworkers that resulted in his coworker dying his hair green when the Packers advanced to the Super Bowl.  When this particular coworker noticed Ben taking up the dare, he made certain that Ben's hair was a retaliatory Vikings purple.  Ben spent the remainder of the day trying to explain to onlookers why in the world he was wearing a Wisconsin Badgers shirt while sportin' Vikings fan hair! 
After lunch and all the kids' festivities, we made our way over to the midway where the kids enjoyed the rides.

While Zach and Allie would have gladly stayed all afternoon riding rides, our trip to Como Town was cut short after Olivia tossed her cookies.  Let's just say, red slushy is not as much fun coming up as it is going down....
Thankfully, she was able to get a little nap on the way home...two out of three down isn't too bad:
Fortunately, after just a few washings, all color was successfully removed from everyone's hair.  Granted, I did have to scrub the bathtub that evening. 
All in all, it was a fun day and Ben's company did a fantastic job of organizing the days' events to cater to kids and families.  We are incredibly thankful for such a great company that Ben is privileged to work for!