Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Our Florida Vacation

At the end of January, we took a family vacation to Florida, with the main event being a visit to Disney World.  While it didn't all play out the way I had planned or pictured, it was still a good trip overall and it was very fun seeing the kids experience and enjoy so many new things.

Day .5- January 23rd, 2017: After Ryan came home from work, we packed up the car and headed up

to the Twin Cities.  We were spending the night at Ryan's parents house, so that we wouldn't need to get up quite so early in the morning to get to the airport.  After the kids were in bed and Ryan and I were just chatting with his Mom and Dad, the phone rang and his Mom, Mary, had to hurry out of the house.  It turns out that our nephew had sustained a concussion with whiplash and spent all night in the E.R. so Mary spent the night at their house with 2 of the grandkids.  She got back home just as we were walking out the door in the morning.  As of now, 3 full weeks later, he is still experiencing symptoms of his concussion and is continuing to heal.

Day 1- January 24th, 2017: We're off!  We got to the airport nice and early, shortly after 6am.  We checked our bags without a hitch and walked right through security with absolutely no wait.  We found our gate, went and got some breakfast and kill a little time. We got back shortly before it was time to board.  The flight was smooth, the kids thought takeoff was cool, but were a little bored by the rest of the flight, and we arrived in Orlando early.  Things

slowed down a little bit from there.  Getting our rental car took a bit longer than it should have, but still, everything went smoothly.  We picked up our Disney tickets, stopped for a few groceries and headed to the apartment we had rented.  We got all unpacked and settled in, then took the kids to the main building to play a little pool.  It felt great to be there and the weather felt wonderful.

Day 2- January 25th, 2017: To my horror, my biggest fear for this trip came true.  Bryleigh woke up in the middle of the night with the stomach flu.  She spent the night feeling awful and the rest of us felt awful for her.  Instead of going to the Magic Kingdom like we planned, we spent the day taking it pretty easy while she recovered.  Ryan took Brennan to a really cool

park while Bryleigh and I stayed back and watched a movie.  By late afternoon, she was feeling well enough that we made the hour drive to Cocoa Beach so that the kids could see the ocean.  Bry was definitely still moving really slowly and had not eaten much of anything be she was still able to enjoy it.  The ocean was beautiful.  The kids had fun running in and out of the waves (they insisted on swim suits even though it wasn't really warm enough) and sinking their feet into the sand.  We picked up some shells and took some pictures.  They were impressed by just how salty the water was!  We made it back to our apartment and got everybody cleaned up and put to bed.

Day 3- January 26th, 2017: Finally we made it to the Magic Kingdom! We knew that we wanted to stay for the light show and fireworks, so we went a little after the park opened. The kids were very impressed by Cinderella's castle and had fun riding rides!  Brennan's ride highlight for the day was Space Mountain while Bryleigh loved Big Thunder Mountain. They also had fun meeting several characters and getting autographs in their books.  Their Gigi & JuJu (my parents) had sent some money with each of them to pick out something special they they really wanted.  They both found that something special.  Bryleigh found a Little Mermaid bubble wand that lights up and plays music and fell in love with it.  Brennan spotted another boy with a stuffed

chameleon (Pascal from Tangled) and knew instantly that it was what he wanted.  So we had to track down where in the park to find that specific animal- we had success!  The day went pretty fast, but we sure did wish we had a double stroller!  There was a lot of lap riding and debating about who got to rid or who got a piggyback, or who had to walk.  Needless to say, we decided that a trip to Walmart for an umbrella

stroller for the rest of the week was in order! The fireworks show was awesome, and Bry was in awe of how Tinkerbell flew out of the castle and over the crowd.  She kept calling for her to come back!  Getting out of the park after the fireworks was fairly slow, but about what we expected.  The kids were totally zonked by the time we made it back to the apartment and sleep felt goooood.

Day 4- January 27th, 2017: This was our day at the Animal Kingdom.  We
started off with two strollers, so that helped a lot!  Bryleigh was excessively tired, so she ended up taking one or two little naps throughout the day.  We saw the Tree of Life and Mt. Everest, which are both so cool.  We saw a couple of different shows- Finding Nemo and The Festival of the Lion King, which were totally different but both really great.  We went to "It's Hard to be a Bug" underneath the Tree of Life, which was our mistake of the day!  The kids were terrified of the short hornet part (I didn' know about
that!!) after their wasp swarming a couple of summer ago and were crying

and begging to leave. We got through it, got the kids back to feeling better, and went on with our day!  I think our favorite thing we did all day was the safari ride. We saw a ton of different animals and it was a really cool ride.  When we got off of that ride, we let the kids each pick out a stuffed animal from a little shop nearby.  Brennan picked a rhinocerous and named it Thickhorn, and Bryleigh picked a cheetah and named it Tigie. The animals are adorable and such a fun way to remember that awesome highlight of the day.

Day 5- January 28th, 2017: The nightmare continues!  Brennan now got sick during the night and we spent another miserable stretch of hours just trying to get through it.  I felt so terrible for him- for all of us!  We did kind of a reverse of the day that Bryleigh was sick and she went to the park with Daddy while Brennan and I stayed back and rested.  It was rough and definitely brought us all down.

Day 6- January 29th, 2017: Brennan did fine overnight and was feeling ok the next day, but definitely still very weak and slow. We decided to head to Hollywood Studios because we knew we would be watching a lot more shows there, riding very few rides, and that the park was smaller for walking around.  We saw several shows that were very enjoyable- The Voyage of the Little Mermaid, The Frozen Sing-Along, Indiana Jones, and Disney Junior Live on Stage.  I would have loved to see Beauty and the Beast, as well, but Brennan was so exhausted and it was so chilly that day that we decided to just go back and rest instead.  One of our highlights from the day was meeting Moana.  The kids are very into the new Moana movie!

Day 7- January 30th, 2017:  Epcot day! Ryan and I both love Epcot.  It is probably our favorite park of all. Everybody was feeling good, so we were ready for a great day!  We made excellent use of our fast passes which allowed us to do everything we wanted to do at Epcot.  We made sure to be at the park when it opened.  Then the first thing we did was zoom over to Test Track. We walked right onto the ride, which was so awesome! The kids absolutely loved it and wanted to ride it again, but we had already decided to head over and ride the Frozen ride that was in Norway in the World Showcase.  We know that the lines for that get just insane. We ended up waiting for around 20 or 25 minutes, but got to ride that one, too. Shortly later, we had a fast pass for Soarin' so we got on that quickly as well. It was chilly in the morning to start, but got pretty nice throughout the day.  We spent a lot of time doing all of the other rides we wanted to do- Living with the Land, Ellen's Energy Adventure, The Seas with Nemo, Spaceship Earth, Pixar Short Film Festival, and of course, playing with the jumping water.  We also got to meet Mickey, Minnie, and Goofy, too. After we had used all of our fast passes, we were able to request one more fast pass to Test Track so we could go back and enjoy that one more time.  We ended up staying almost all day- long enough that it was dark by the time we left and go to see the ball all lit up.  It's so beautiful and the kids thought it was so cool.  Epcot was a great day!

Day 8- January 31st, 2017: With our last Disney tickets, we went back to the Magic Kingdom.  The weather was beautiful again!  We repeated a few of our favorite rides- Space Mountain, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, and Buzz Lightyear Space Ranger Spin, and also did a few new things like rode the Peoplemover and did the Monster's Inc. Laugh Floor.  The only ride that we didn't get on that we had really wanted to was the Seven Dwarves Mine Train.  There was always a very long line for it and we were not able to ever get a fast pass
for it.  Oh well! We soaked up the sun and made the day a little more relaxed since it was more of a repeat day. We stayed at the park until early afternoon and then headed back to get packed up for the trip home.Daddy volunteered to pack up our stuff while I took the kids to the pool.  With the weather the way it was and the circumstances of the trip, we hadn't been to the pool yet!  At least we got there for one swim.  The kids had a great time splashing around I enjoyed feeling the sun on my skin and a little dip in the hot tub with the kids, too. We made sure to get to bed at a decent time because we knew we'd have to get up and moving in the morning.  The last thing we would want to do is miss our flight!

Day 9- February 1st, 2017:  Home is calling!  We got moving with plenty of time to spare, just in case it took longer than anticipated to return the rental car or catch our shuttle to the airport.  It did take a lot longer to get the rental car originally.  Luckily, this time the whole thing was quick and easy.  We made it to the airport with plenty of time.  As we were waiting in line to check our bags, I spotted a scale and told Ryan we should weigh our bags, just to make sure we were under weight.  Sure enough, they were over!  We spent 10 or 15 minutes redistributing weigh amongst our backpacks and the bags, but we were able to make it work.  We checked the bags, headed to our gate, and waited. The flight back was completely uneventful, and Ryan's sister arrived to pick us up and bring us to our car.  We had a lot of fun, but it felt great to be back in MN and nearly home.  When we actually got home, we found a banner on the garage that had been put there by my Mom.  She also had some flowers waiting inside on the counter!  What a great surprise and a great welcome home!

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Beautiful February Weather

We were blessed with an incredibly nice stretch of weather in the middle February. This meant a few things for our family.  First off, we got a new roof put on!  We had hail damage from a storm last fall, so our insurance paid to replace the roof. :)  
 I was also able to get the kids out to take some quick photos.  I have been wanting to get a current, really nice photo of the kids, but our latest plumbing project made that want even more necessary!  We had to cut a hole in our bedroom wall in order to replace the master bathroom shower faucet.  We decided to cover the hole with a piece of Masonite and will be covering that with a canvas photo of the kids, in order to leave access to that faucet AND have it look nice!
The photos of the kids turned out great, and I've had a hard time deciding which is my favorite.  I love their big smiles and how much they really love eachother.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Baby News!

I'm so excited to announce that my little sister, Haley, is pregnant! Haley and her husband, Joe, are expecting their first baby, or first baby without fur, I should say. I had the pleasure of taking a few pregnancy announcement pictures for them a couple weeks ago. They are due on July 22nd and are super excited. So are we! This will be our 12th niece or nephew and make six on each side! They will not be finding out the gender ahead of time, so it'll be a long wait until we know if it is a girl or boy.

I have had the opportunity once before to take birth photos for an awesome friend of mine. Haley and Joe are also planning on allowing me to take birth photos for them.  I'm so excited! Of all of the photo shoots I've ever done, the birth photography (and the adoption photos I took once) was by far and away the most overwhelming and incredible to experience.  I can't wait to do it again!

Congratulations Haley, Joe, and Maybelle (are you supposed to congratulate dogs on their owner's pregnancy??)! This time will fly and that sweet baby will be here before you know it.

This was my favorite of the announcement photos.  The weather turned out to be perfect for what we wanted to do and this was such a fun way to showcase baby's first picture.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

I'm Back!

Hi everybody!

It's been such a long time since I've written a post.  Life with 2 kids, a pet, a house and all of the responsibilities that go with that has just gotten in the way of my blogging.  I don't expect that I'll go back to blogging several times a week, or doing many reviews and such, but my goal for 2017 is to try to write a blog post at least once or twice a month.  Maybe if I'm lucky it will be even a little more often than that!

A lot has changed since my last post in 2014! The kids are now coming up on 7 and 5 years old! This fills me with mixed emotions.  I love that things are getting easier, they are becoming more independent, and we are able to do a lot more things as a family, but I do miss having really 'little ones' around.

Brennan is in 1st grade and loves school.  He is both an excellent student and friend.  He he does quite well with math and science (taking after Dad), but also is a good reader has has an incredible vocabulary and all around grasp of the English language (Mom's traits).  He loves Legos and still loves dinosaurs.  He is cute, smart, funny, witty, clever, strong, and a joy to have as a son.  I'm remarkably proud of him and the little man he's growing into.

Bryleigh is in Pre K-4 and just like her older brother, she LOVES school.  She loves her teacher, she loves her friends, she loves doing crafts, and she loves learning.  She has been doing an excellent job learning her letters and their sounds, and she's already had her numbers and colors down for quite a while already.  She likes dolls and all stuffed animals, being outside, and going to Gigi and Juju's house (grandma and grandpa). She is funny, incredibly caring and loving, girly, beautiful, kind of a spitfire, goofy, smart, and so wonderful to be around.  

The cat, Rocky, A.K.A. The Rock,  is doing well. He just turned 3 at the end of December and he definitely isn't lacking in attention or love.  He gave us quite a scare last summer when he disappeared for over a full day.  He had definitely been gone for several hours or for part of a night in the past, but he ALWAYS had come back for his meals!  We were so relieved when he showed back up completely unharmed and happy.

Ryan just started a new job, but he is still at the Mayo Clinic.  He is now a Technical Specialist in the specimen processing area of Mayo's Biorepository. This was a promotion he has been wanting for quite a while and I'm thrilled for him.  He no longer works as a volunteer EMT in town, but instead he is on the city's ambulance commission and gets to help to make decisions about how the ambulance service runs and functions.  He ran for city council in 2016, but unfortunately was not elected.  The competition was stiff with 12 people running for 3 positions!

Ryan and I have both officially joined the 30-something crowd.  I'm busy as always between being a stay-at-home Mom/Jane of all trades at home, my part-time photography business, and telecommuting part-time from home for a company in Dallas, TX.  I've done quite a few home improvement projects and well as countless different crafts during my blogging hiatus.  I also worked hard in an effort to change the animal ordinance in our town to allow for raising a small flock of chickens within city limits.  Though it was originally voted down for some very silly reasons, we are now starting the process over with the new city council that just took over this month.  I'm very hopeful that within a few months I might have a few chicken of my own!  Get ready to start handing out name suggestions!  But perhaps my next news is more exciting than chickens.  I became a God-Mother twice over to our good friends' second son, Jaxon, and to one of our nephews, Beau.  It was such an honor to be asked in both cases!

My oldest sister dressed as Santa for this fun Christmas shoot
that my other older sister did.
That leads into another huge thing that happened during my blogging break.  My oldest sister had triplets!  This was such an incredible blessing after they lost their first son during labor and delivery.  (I did blog on this before.)  The triplets were born in June 2015 and are now happy healthy 19 month olds!  There are 2 boys, Beau and Wyatt, and one girl, Savannah.  We love following along with their lives through all of the many Facebook photos and videos, but do wish it was easier to visit!  Texas and MN aren't the closest...

We've also gained another niece and nephew during my break!  Reagan is 15 months old and lives in Texas.  She's Ryan's brother's second daughter.  She's adorable and I hope to get to know her more through visits over the years.  Tyler is 11 months old and is Ryan's sister's 4th child.  He's got a killer smile and his siblings can't get enough of him.

Both Ryan's and my families are doing well.  My Dad had a hip replacement last year at 60 years old. It's made a miraculous difference in his life.  It had gotten so bad that he could barely limp around. SO glad he got it fixed!  

Libby just days before
her surgery.
My parents' dog, Libby, is now 13, coming up on 14 years old.  She had a very close brush with death this summer after suffering of Pyometra. Pyometra is a uterine infection.  It was unclear for quite a while what was actually going on with her, but it was very clear that she was near death.  My Mom decided to try the surgery, which is basically a hysterectomy, in hopes that she would pull through.  This was an incredibly hard decision considering that Libby was an old girl and had already lived a long, full life. It turns out that Mom made the right call because Libby recovered well from the surgery, and has been acting more like a puppy than she has in years.She's always dragging toys around, jumping, and skipping everywhere she goes.  We believe that she had actually had a minor infection for a few years that had been making her feel somewhat sick, because she's a new dog. Hopefully she has a few more great years!

Well, that's enough for now.  Hopefully that sort of brings you back up to speed.  I definitely want to go back and post some photos of the projects I've done and tell some more detailed stories of other things that have happened over the last couple of years, but this is a start!

Thanks for reading!