Momming

Written by me in 2016, with revisions in 2020:

Mothers. Mothering. Being mothered. I’m so blessed with incredible women in my life: my mother who exudes unconditional love, my daughter whose joie de vivre shines in her mothering, my sister-in-law who is raising amazing, compassionate humans and my stepdaughter and aunts and cousins and friends and all who are gracefully teaching life lessons to children – their own or the children of others.

It’s hard work, mothering, but such important work. Reading the origins of Mother’s Day is humbling and reminds that mothering doesn’t start and end with flesh and blood.

In 1908, Ann Jarvis petitioned to start mother’s day in honor of the passing of her mother, a peaceful activist who cared for soldiers on both sides of the Civil War.

She was a blessing and being a blessing to everyone you meet and lifting them up so that they can also bless others is great important work, as well. Maybe the greatest.

Hope everyone had a fantastic Mother’s Day! Virtual hugs to all!

“Life began with waking up and loving my mother’s face.” George Eliot
“She taught me that fear is not an option.” – Diane Von Furstenberg, on her mom.

“If at first you don’t succeed, try doing it the way your mom told you to do it from the start.”
“Being a mom has made me really tired and so happy.” – Tina Fey

2010-2019

The end of the year is a reflective time for me. I’ve seen other people summarize their decade succinctly – that’s not me. One word? Uff. But thanks to this very blog, it wasn’t hard to see what the last decade has been like for me.

2010

  • I started this blog! Walkietalkiebookclub.com was started in February of 2010 as a place to plan book club and discuss books. It started very bookish.
  • I started my yearly Ferragosto Vacation!
  • I started Cosmo Girls (conceived at the initial Ferragosto!)
  • What a creative year!

2011

  • I was released from my job as a school social worker after 18 years.
  • The last Harry Potter movie was released.
  • I began with readalongs and book blogging in earnest.
  • I read “Anna Karenina”
  • I saw Bruce Springsteen for the first time.
  • Our family traveled to Denver together

2012

  • I started working at Mayo Clinic on 1/30/12 – my reading game suffered greatly due to the increased need for brainpower!
  • I traveled to NYC – twice! In June and October! Broadway was calling!
  • I saw “Once” for the first and second times.
  • I started driving a 2-door Honda Civic – not my favorite
  • I saw Bruce Springsteen for the second time.

2013

  • Marissa got her bachelor’s degree and started her master’s degree, moving to Minneapolis!
  • I read “Gone with the Wind”!
  • I met Chris on 7/1/13 and we had many epic dates.
  • I traveled to NYC for my birthday again! Jimmy Fallon show!

2014

  • I went to NYC in January with Koni – walking tours and Broadway shows!
  • I got engaged on 7/7/14 and married on 10/1/14 – in NYC! #woohoowedo2014!
  • Marriage brought three stepchildren and our first grandgirl!

2015

  • Emma – our second grandgirl is born!
  • I became a MINI Cooper owner in March and we drove it all over Colorado in July – including up Pike’s Peak!
  • August is born in September!
  • Our birthdayversary is spent in the metro area and includes staying on a boat (Covington Inn) in St. Paul.
  • We saw “Once” – my THIRD time!

2016

  • We got passports – the world is open to us!
  • We went to Canada – twice! Once for an hour and once for a few days.
  • Marissa got engaged and Chris had jury duty
  • We took a road trip to New England (through Canada) and saw fall foliage and spent a few nights in NYC!
  • Mom and dad are both retired and move to Rochester

2017

  • We traveled to NH in a blizzard – our flight is cancelled so we rent a car and drive – so that we can honor Granny at her funeral.
  • Marissa and Adam are married in Cancun on Cinco de Mayo! Much celebration ahead of the wedding with a great week of family togetherness after!
  • Dad is diagnosed with cancer and receives treatments
  • Our birthdayversary is a train trip to Chicago to see Hamilton!
  • We bought our house together in June! Become landlords of the townhouse.

2018

  • We have a MILESTONE vacation with the family to celebrate 50th anniversary, 50th birthday, teenagers, 30 year old, and general awesomeness.
  • Marissa celebrates her 30th birthday in Disney! They announce that grandbaby #4 is on the way!
  • Juniper is born in October!
  • Mini Takes the States 2018 takes us on a 5900 mile road trip! We visit some family along the way and enjoy most of the minutes we are together in the car.
  • I turned 50 and threw a fiesta! We saw Hamilton in Minneapolis!
  • Deadra and I celebrated our birthdays and friendship with a Pack Up and Go trip to Seattle!

2019

  • I had cataract surgery
  • Chris changed jobs – twice!
  • We took two road trips – up-north in Wisconsin and up-north in Minnesota.
  • Cosmo Girls celebrated 10 years with a trip to Las Vegas! Very epic!
  • The townhouse is sold and we made our home cozy and welcoming for guests –
  • We hosted Chris’s dad and his friend Carol for a week in June! So fun…
  • We bought a Jeep! Snow tires or Topless – I love to drive it!

Some Things Change…

  • I’m married!
  • I have grandchildren!
  • I moved from a townhouse to a house!
  • I changed my job!
  • I rarely blog anymore!

Some Things are the Same…

  • I still love books and reading and book club!
  • I keep track of my books (you can see previous lists on the blog!)
  • I still love movies and keep track of what I see and love.
  • I still love theatre and musicals – It is a constant in every year!
  • I still love to travel – NYC is a favorite but seeing all parts of the country is wonderful. Looking forward to putting my passport to use!
  • I still love music and seeing live music – Every year brings great music into my life!
  • I still love being with my family and can’t get enough!
  • Ferragosto and Cosmo Girls are still going strong! To think that they started at the beginning of this decade…

Live music I saw in the 2010s…

Bruce Springsteen (x2) * Jeremy Messersmith (x2 or 3?) * Taylor Swift * Billy Joel * Paul McCartney * Glen Hanserd (x3) * Barenaked Ladies * Dwight Yokum * Sheryl Crow * Dan Chouinard * The Skivvies * The Swell Season * Needtobreathe * Trans Siberian Orchestra * Bon Jovi * Rick Springfield * I’m sure I forgot some… remind me!

The Stage – Broadway and beyond in the 2010s…

Once (x3) * Priscilla Queen of the Desert * Nice Work If you Can Get It * Peter and the Starcatcher (x2) * Newsies * Avenue Q * Forbidden Broadway * Cinderella (x2) * Matilda (x2) * A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder * Beautiful * It’s Only a Play * Fiddler on the Roof * If/Then * The Band’s Visit * Phantom of the Opera (x2) * Hamilton (x2) * Waitress * Almost Maine * Blood Brothers * Philadelphia Story * Don’t Hug Me * Bring It On * Our Town * The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee * Billy Elliot * On the Town * Book of Mormon! * I’m sure I forgot some… remind me!

Authors I’ve Met…

I love to meet an author and listen to them talk about writing. Here are a few authors I met in the last decade… Ann Bancroft * Lian Dolan * Jenna Blum * Paula McLain * Lorna Landvik * Liz Dolan and Sheila Dolan * Julie Kramer * Elizabeth Berg

What will the next 10 years bring???

Our 2019 in Song

A brief synopsis of our 2019, as told through our Spotify Playlist (Our 2019 in Song). 

I had cataract surgery on both eyes in March and April 2019, so I CAN SEE CLEARLY NOW! It was the first time in my life I had an IV (age 50!), which was the freakiest part for me.  Otherwise it was uneventful and successful! 

Chris started a job search in earnest in 2019 and was hired in August for a regular 9 TO 5 job at the factory that makes Vanicream… it was nice to have him on a Monday-Friday schedule, but it was less than stimulating, so he kept looking. ONE THING LEADS TO ANOTHER and in mid-October he took a job at a truck sales and service company in Rochester and is working 4-midnight as a service advisor! He loves it and feels that all his life experience has led him here, so how cool is that? 

I still work at Mayo Clinic in the Emergency Department – it will be 8 years of WORKIN’ DAY AND NIGHT in January! I lead a supervision group for social workers working on their clinical licensure and enjoy that immensely. I also love my colleagues and this year a few of us on our team applied for Individual Achievement Awards through the Department of Nursing, acknowledging our involvement and expertise, and we were awarded with a beautiful night at the Mayowood Mansion with social work and nursing leadership. It was a great and memorable night. 

Our trips this year were mostly of the ROAD TRIPPIN’ variety. In June we travelled Up North from MINNESOTA, WI via a lot of backroads on the Trans Wisconsin Adventure Trail. We drove the 4Runner on ATV trails, stayed on Lake Superior in Ashland, WI and visited MADELINE ISLAND and Bayfield. The end of July, Chris’s dad and his friend Carol flew to Minnesota and we explored a bit of Minnesota with them!  We didn’t see THE BIGGEST BALL OF TWINE IN MINNESOTA, but many other sites – including the Eagle Center, the SPAM Museum, Lark Toys, French Lake and a paddleboat on the Mississippi!  Labor Day weekend we flew to Colorado for a wedding and we rented a fancy car and drove many roads in the ROCKY MOUNTAIN WAY. The weather was great and we had a wonderful time! In August we bought a new Jeep Wrangler for my winter travels – it is pretty luxurious! THINGS IN MY JEEP include heated steering wheel and seats and SXM radio! For our 5th Birthdayversary, we drove the Jeep Up North in Minnesota and stayed at Bluefin Resort on Lake Superior a few nights and explored the backroads with and without tour guides. We saw moose in our travels in Minnesota and Colorado this year (THE PLURAL OF MOOSE IS MOOSE)! 

I continue to be involved in BOOK CLUB and read more books in 2019 than I have in a long time.  I may have joined a second book club at the end of the year and continue to promote book club type reading at work! The Cosmo Girls are celebrating 10 years of monthly meetings this year and we celebrated in a big way with a trip to Las Vegas in October (VIVA LAS VEGAS!). We had an amazing time together and I cherish the friendships I’ve made with these wonderful women! We enjoyed the warm sunshine poolside, spent hours laughing and dancing and singing (TRUTH HURTS – but what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas!). 

We no longer get DEAR LANDLORD letters, as we sold the townhome last summer! Thankfully being a LANDLORD was relatively painless, but it was still a relief to have one less mortgage in our name. Consequently, we were able to make our CASTLE ON THE HILL a little more cozy and inviting for guests. We would love to have you come visit us in our HOME

Our KIDS and grandkids continue to bring us joy. We always enjoy family time – gotta KEEP THE FAMILY CLOSE, you know! Marissa, Adam, August (4) and Juniper (1) live in St. Louis Park and are busy busy busy! It’s hard to keep up with them – I wish you could bottle their energy! Sierra, Kaydee (8) and Emma (4) now spend most of their time in Austin with Sierra’s significant other, Zach, but still attend school in Rochester so we see them when we can. Sierra is expecting a new bundle of joy in February so we can’t wait to meet her! Kevin (21) loves to travel and do work on computers and Tyler and his wife are expecting their first any minute! For August’s birthday we went to CIRCUS Absynnia at the Children’s Theatre and for Kaydee’s birthday we saw CINDERELLA. What a treat to bring the kids to these events! 

THE SEASON’S UPON US when we gather with our families and revel in the season. The attached photos show the joy that we get from being with each other, from being with our family and friends, and from our travels. We hope that this letter finds you well, that you were SATISFIED with 2019, and that 2020 brings us all continued joy and happiness!

One Day More!

This January I challenged myself to two things: Yoga with Adrienne’s daily Dedicate practice and sober January. One more day and I’ve successfully completed both!

I must say, I am most surprised that I was able to do yoga daily but I just proved that it’s possible, even with my crazy work schedule! It just takes planning. Who knew? One day I was able to get up bright and early (4:30AM) to do yoga before going in for my 6:30AM shift, but all other early days I did yoga when I got home (after 7PM). Granted, as you can see by the calendar, her practice varies from 15 to 30 minutes, with tomorrow’s final Dedicate practice the longest of the month, but still. I did it.

And I printed off a February calendar where she gives suggestions of videos already available on YouTube to build a practice of Love. I’ll keep going and see if I can continue to work on this daily practice! Woot!

As for sober or dry January, no big deal. I think there was a grand total of two days that I wished for a glass of wine but I just made some yummy herbal tea or had sparkling water and moved on. It certainly saves money at restaurants if you don’t add the $7 wine or $10 cocktail to the receipt at the end!

What will February bring? Not binge drinking, certainly, but a few new cocktail lounges opened late 2018 that I can’t wait to try! Do you have any monthly challenges for February?

My history with 7/7

10 years ago on 7/7/7, Marissa and I thought it would be fun to stay at the lake and head to the casino to try our luck (7s are lucky, right?). We headed there with her friend, Ashley, and we found that the water at the lake was murky and green and stinky.  We decided to take out the boat – something I’d never done on my own – and we got instructions about how to do that.  We took the boat to the middle of the lake where the water was clearer, the girls could swim, and we could breathe in the air.  We brought the boat back up to the dock to make lunch and when we next looked, the boat was sitting on the bottom of the lake (which is less than 3′ deep at that spot) filled with that green stinky murky water.  The plug had fallen out somewhere during our ride and the boat filled with water.  Family back home was chuckling while we were buckling down to put in a new plug, bail the water out and then hose down and bleach out the boat.  And remember, the lake water is murky and stinky and green.  Ugh.  Needless to say, I haven’t taken the boat out by myself since – and really have no desire to!  7/7/07 was not a lucky day for us!

And 3 years ago on this day, Chris and I got engaged (7/7/14 – 7+7=14!)!  We drove to Cabela’s and sold some of his guns for cash and then went ring shopping.  The ring I’m currently wearing is the one that I first tried on.  We looked in a few other stores but I was always looking for this ring.

Today we are both going to work after another week off – a week filled with more organizing and settling in our new house, with family time at the lake, and our first dinner guests. Looking forward to more continued goodness!

Happy July!

It’s May!

It’s IMPOSSIBLE to land on May 1 and not think of the song from Camelot – the Lusty Month of May (as evidenced by two blog posts in my history referencing the song!). So go ahead, take a minute and have Alexa play it for you or find it on YouTube…

Ok. So I’ll forever think of that and sing it often – in my head and aloud – throughout the month.

Since it’s May, that means it’s TIME FOR A WEDDING!  Last March (2016) Marissa got engaged and dreamed of a destination wedding – so here we go!  She and Adam are celebrating their marriage on Cinco de Mayo in Cancun! How fun. We are all looking forward to warm weather (upper 80s during the day! 70s at night!), family time (every Grimsrud child and grandchild will be there!), and fiestas galore!  I’m hoping I’m not a blubbering fool because it’s going to be a joyous day – so I will do my best not to blubber! I worry about finding words of wisdom or having an eloquent speech, but actually there is lots of life ahead to share wisdom, so I’ll try not to stress about that.

More about the wedding when we get back… it will be a memorable time!

Haven’t done a post in a while, so I’ll just blather on here a bit about what’s been making me happy in these last few months.  So much to be thankful for (always!).

  • We have been searching – first casually and then more seriously – for a new home. It all started with wanting a gas stove.  We tried to see if it would be possible to update the kitchen in our townhome. And then we started dreaming about aspects of our dream homes.  Me, I wanted big windows, lots of light, an open floor plan, not too big but big enough to be able to host gatherings. Chris wanted a fabulous bathroom with tile shower and a glass door and granite countertops. We both wanted that elusive gas stove.  Well, we found it. It’s just big enough for us but with that open floor plan that will make it fun and possible to host Christmas and Thanksgiving and singalongs and game nights and backyard BBQs.  But it’s small enough that we won’t have to spend all our free time taking care of it. It’s just perfect. More on that later, as well!  We will close in June, so this summer will be filled with changes!
  • Movies – not as many of those lately, but we did get to one movie during the International Film Festival. We saw a Romanian film called Two Lottery Tickets. It was a funny little film.  So glad the festival is here in Rochester and so glad that I got to at least one movie.
  • Books – I’m on a bit of a reading streak, so that is fun!  Book Club is meeting MONTHLY so that helps!  Recently we read “The Light Between Oceans,” “Euphoria,”  “Big Little Lies” and “Thirty Rooms to Hide In.”  Next is “The Supremes at Earl’s All-You-Can-Eat.” I’m also reading “When Breath Becomes Air” for a book club at work. Looking forward to beach book time in Mexico!
  • Food – We haven’t been going to as many restaurants because we are cooking at home! We have now tried Marley Spoon, Hello Fresh, and Blue Apron in the past few months. We are going to stick with Marley Spoon, because all the meals were so very tasty, although the most challenging to make, and you have control over the meals you get (unlike Blue Apron) and have an option for 2 meals in a week rather than 3 (unlike either of the other two).  We find it hard to cook at home 3 days out of a week and most need to be eaten within that time frame. So we have had some really good food at home recently – today we had a spicy rigatoni with lemon ricotta.  Looking forward to cooking on our gas stove in the new house! I do love having the house smell like good food!
  • Wedding Wedding Wedding! – There have been showers, bachelorette parties, a USA wedding, too-many-to-count Mother of the Bride dresses tried on and returned, and the various ablutions that come with a fancy to-do. So that has taken up quite a bit of time recently!  The day-long mermaid themed bachelorette was an incredible time on a beautiful April day (April 1!). We had mimosas in the morning with a Beyonce drag show, failed an Escape Room in the afternoon, had a patio party at Betty Danger’s in the evening and then went clubbing into the wee hours. Oh my. So fun! Looking forward to more such shenanigans in Mexico!

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Be of love (a little) more careful than of anything.
— E. E. Cummings

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May you find many things to be happy about in this Lusty Month of May!

A Foodie Post!

Chris and I eat out a lot.

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Nupa is a favorite on a day off

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Hefe Rojo on 2/1 – our attempt to have date nights on the 1st!

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In NH we hit an Italian favorite – Bertucci’s

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And another NH favorite, delicious sandwiches at Christopher’s!

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We brought some Fluff back with us from NH – I see fudge in the future! 

I told Chris that in our 3rd year of marriage I wanted to eat at home more – it’s healthier, it’s cheaper, and it could be fun to cook together!

But it isn’t easy. When we work our long days, we don’t eat much at home except fast breakfasty foods – poached eggs, yogurt, frozen waffles. I’m terribly out of practice with meal planning and prepping. And on days we aren’t working , we are recuperating and don’t want to plan meals or clean up after cooking. (Excuses, excuses.)  So in an effort to try, I signed up for a few food subscription services!  I also heard about a meat counter in a little grocery in Minneapolis that has the best meatloaf, so we picked some of that up and cooked it at Marissa’s for her birthday (read about it here – http://heavytable.com/meatloaf-everetts-foods-meats/)!  Easy peasy!

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Wow. Meatloaf from Everett’s Foods with Lingonberry sauce from Ingebretson’s – a delightful combination! Let’s do it again! 

The first subscription service arrived this week. I tried Martha Stewart’s Marley Spoon. Had a great coupon and received 3 recipes in my first shipment.  See below for packaging.

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The shipments arrive in Rochester on Tuesdays by FedEx.

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Each recipe is packaged in a brown paper bag.

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The meats and cold items were under a false floor with ice packs.

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The ice packs in question. Anyone need ice packs? Otherwise they are recyclable and I’ll dispose.

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The box is lined with this batting material.

The first recipe I made was a Parmesan crusted chicken breast with basmati rice. We didn’t eat the lettuce salad that came with that day but saved it. The second recipe we made was for a Vietnamese style turkey burger with quick carrot and cucumber slaw.

Yum. The prep time was longer than stated, but I am out of practice in the kitchen. It took about an hour for the turkey burgers but that really isn’t too long.  Sunday we will make a broiled beef stir-fry with broccoli and sweet onion.

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Portions of butter and parmesan!

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The parmesan crusted chicken with rice. Pretty good – a little dry, but could have been the preparer!

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The recipe card – it’s important to read before starting!

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The bag with fresh carrots, jalepeno, ginger, and cilantro!

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The items ready for preparation.

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I did get lots of help! He’s not as excited as I am – it’s not his goal, after all!

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The finished product – oh my! This was delicious!

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Garnishing his sandwich. Delicious quick pickle.

I look forward to more Marley Spoon recipes next week and Hello Fresh! in March.

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Delicious!

2016 – Things We Learned

Grandchildren are the best, aren’t they?

  • Emma turned one last January (1/18) and celebrated at the Bounce House and Valentino’s with pizza and cake. She toddles around, loves her pets, and always has a smile on her face.
  • August turned 1 in September (9/27) and celebrated with a space-themed party on Grimsrud Way in Rushford. He loves the kitties, the Zoo, dancing, bath time, books and bubbles. He’s always on the move! We Skype frequently and I love the smiles when we talk!
  • Kaydee just turned 5 (12/11) and we had her favorite foods and birthday cake while playing with the pink tractor she wanted for her birthday! She loves to learn and is so fun to talk to!

Our “children” are now all “adult children”!

  • Marissa turned 28 in February, Tyler turned 24 in October, Sierra turned 20 in August and Kevin turned 18 in November!

Retirement looks like fun!

  • We celebrated the “Permanent Vacation” of Mom and Dad Grimsrud in February with a tropical themed family gathering. They spent 6 weeks after basketball season in the warmth of Florida and with the sale of Grimsrud Way this December they downsized to a townhome in Rochester, and are looking forward to the ease of worry-free travels and living!

Family Time is Precious!

  •  We had a few weekends where we could all get together at French Lake this summer. The cabin hasn’t expanded to fit the growing family, but there are tents pitched, a new platform on the dock, and air mattresses galore, so we make it work. Memorial Day, Father’s Day and the Fourth of July were familyfun-filled.
  • August’s birthday and Thanksgiving were the last big events at Grimsrud Way. When we’re together, we always eat well, laugh a lot, play games, and enjoy each other’s company. That won’t change, wherever we gather!

Friendships are so valuable and valued!

  • Cosmo Girls continue to meet monthly September to May since 2010 – we learn and grow together, and laugh – a LOT!
  • Ferragosto at French Lake has been a yearly tradition since 2010, as well! This year was rainy, which meant more books and movies, but the time spent with friends is always appreciated!
  • Marissa said “YES” to the dress at the first bridal salon and then spent a fun day with girlfriends picking out bridesmaid dresses – the wedding in Cancun is coming up quickly!
  • Trips to the MN State Fair, the MN Zoo, The Minneapolis Institute of Arts, The Little Mermaid, chick flicks, book club, or quick walks and lunches. SO thankful for my many girlfriends!

We love adventures – big and small!

  • We got our passports in 2016, so we are ready for international travel! We broke them in by visiting Canada twice (Thunder Bay, ON in June and Niagara Falls, ON/Montreal, QE in October) and are getting ready for Mexico in May. We look forward to working on our international bucket list!
  • Chris’s birthday wish was to go “Up North” – I guess he’s fully Minnesotan now??? We road-tripped to Grand Marais and Duluth, exploring the North Shore of Lake Superior. This was our first venture into Canada – Thunder Bay for Tim Horton’s lunch on Chris’s birthday! Great food (Betty’s Pies! Gunflint Tavern! Grandma’s Saloon! Amazing Grace!), beautiful accommodations and perfect weather for sightseeing… we do travel well!
  • MINI Takes the States 2016 – a coast-to-coast motoring adventure for MINI COOPER owners – went through MINIapolis this summer and we joined in the festivities for the day! We met MINI owners from Minnesota and beyond. It happens every 2 years, so we hope to join more fully in 2018! This year our 2 week road trip to New England was a priority!
  • Road Trip! Driving the MINI to New England was a whirlwind tour, to be sure – we were on the go! We stayed in Niagara Falls and Montreal before heading in to New Hampshire to spend time with Dad Walsh and Jen and her family; we stayed in a mountain lodge in the White Mountains, we drove up mountains and on beautiful scenic byways. We had a great time with extended family (Chris’s maternal aunts and uncles, paternal aunt and granny), visited friends Tony and Tien in Rhode Island, and spent a few days in NYC with Troy. In RI we toured the Vanderbilt mansion, The Breakers, and walked in beautiful old neighborhoods. In NYC we saw two Broadway shows (Fiddler on the Roof and Waitress), saw the New York Public Library, the Strand Bookstore, the Museum of Natural History, ate at Carnegie Deli one last time before they close, and walked a LOT.
  • A few things we learned on our road trip:
    • Chris wants to pass ALL the cars on the road. He drove most of the time, including into and out of NYC. A skilled driver he is! No “souvenir” speeding tickets obtained!
    • Chris was right about the fall foliage in New England being unlike anything we see around Minnesota.
    • Flip-flops are great travel shoes.
    • I always over-pack.
    • Bunk-beds only sound appealing in theory.
    • EZ Pass is the way to go.
    • A road trip playlist for daily listening is an excellent idea!
    • But, I still would make up words to the songs, even after 12+ days of listening to them!

Working these crazy shift jobs means more days off without using PTO!

  • Chris has been working at Land O’Lakes for more than 4 years now. He is working 12 hour overnights (5P-5A) as a cheese dryer operator – one of four operators making the cheese powder for Cheetos! He works every other weekend, so time off during the week gives us opportunity for some of our many adventures.
  • Chris spent a good portion of November serving as a juror on the US District Court in Minneapolis. He spent 11 days in court, so missed about 8 days of work. He enjoyed the metropolitan lifestyle for a while and learned a little about non-compete clauses.
  • I have been working at Mayo Clinic for 5 years this January (2017), still in the Emergency Department. It’s a 24/7 job, so there is opportunity for a variety of 12 hour shifts, and every 3rd weekend means days off during the week with Chris = #dayofftogetherness. We can run to the Cities to see Marissa (or August) on a Wednesday night, or get tickets to events or touring plays during the week (If/Then or Louis CK), see late-night movies, or have epic dates on a Tuesday. So far it’s working.

Can’t Cure Chris of his Car Craze

  • Chris learned that his Honda CRZ did not hold its value.
  • He thought he’d keep it forever (or longer than 18 months) but he is now driving a Toyota 4Runner.
  • He has great ideas for modifying the MINI Cooper, but I’m fine with my Pumpkin as she is.

Ever learning, we are! We can’t wait to experience the adventures of 2017. We hope that you and yours have a blessed holiday season and that 2017 brings you joy and happiness! Merry Christmas! Happy New Year!

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#HappinessHappens

Where has the time gone?* 

Summer of 2016 is marching on.  Today is National Happiness Happens day (8/8/16), so I thought I needed to catch up on what has been making happy memories for the summer of 2016!  *the question I ask myself most frequently on the blog

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Gathering with friends and family:

  • At graduations – a few friends had kids who graduated this year – fun to watch them get through this emotional time with grace!  Gracie also graduated from 8th grade, and boy, does she have grace.  She wrote a letter to the principal and he read it to everyone…. uff. There were tears.
  • At the cabin – Several weekends in June and July have been spent with family. We kind of thought Memorial Day would be the only time we would all be together there, but there have been so many wonderfully relaxing days spent there.  Looking forward to Ferragosto 2016!
  • At Berne Woodfired Pizza – We went in June with Sierra and family and enjoyed a beautiful night with great music.  I went again in July with various family members. It was a HOT night but mom and dad got there early and scoped out a perfect spot in the shade of those big trees and the nice breeze kept it so very comfortable.  Definitely a must-do in the summer!
  • At Whistle Binkies on the Lake – birthdays, book club, and “no-more-class” celebration all at Whistles!  Also met with Troy and Cheryl there for a lovely lunch on their patio.  He had to see the place that is such a big part of us!  So good to see him anywhere!
  • At Four Daughters – the social work department is attempting to promote more social activities! The first was at Four Daughters. We were a small group but we were treated to a tour of the wine and cider making equipment and had a delicious dinner together.  And the ED social workers kept the party going by visiting various rooftops in Rochester.  A fun night out!
  • At Thursdays on First – Also had a fun night with co-workers listening to music at Thursdays, followed by eats and treats in various locations.  A great night!
  • At the Minnesota Zoo – We spent a steamy day at the zoo in July!  What fun to wander there with grandkids and to watch them watching the animals.  Such a great day!
  • At the Minnesota Twins – We had prime seats to watch the Twins (vs. Chicago White Sox) on a beautiful day! It was Chris’s first game at the Target Field in Minnesota – he thought it was only for concerts and food & wine shows!  Even though they lost, it was a great game (extra innings) and good fun with the family.
  • At Skyline Raceway – with Chris’s work family (ha!) we rode go-karts, played mini-golf, and ate great food.
  • At Flapdoodles – we’ve visited the new south Flapdoodles a few times… have to celebrate National Hot Fudge Sundae day, and National Ice Cream Day, and whatever else needs celebrating….
  • At various new (to us) restaurants – we’ve tried out some new places, in addition to our favorites.  Luna Rosa Wine Bar in Stillwater with Marissa and Adam, Pittsburgh Blue in Edina after a hair appt, Fogo de Chao in Minneapolis for Chris’s birthday, Hen House Eatery for breakfast downtown Minneapolis, World Street Kitchen and MilkJam Creamery for dinner before a movie in Uptown, and Modist Brewery before the Mini Takes the States gathering in Minneapolis.  Ah, good memories!

A Birthday Road Trip –  Chris and I took a road trip in June. We celebrated his birthday at Fogo de Chao and then the next day we headed north: destination #1 Grand Marais! We motored in his Honda and stopped briefly at our hotel in Grand Marais (incredible view!) before continuing on up to Thunder Bay, Ontario for dinner at Tim Horton’s!  First passport use together!  Grand Marais is beautiful, and home to the World’s Best Donuts, so of course we had to try that for breakfast.  The next day we motored our way back to Duluth, with stops at Cross River, Split Rock Lighthouse, Gooseberry Falls, and finally our hotel in Duluth. We ate at Grandma’s Saloon, Amazing Grace for breakfast, toured the William F. Irvin shipping boat, and then made it back to have some dinner at Rochesterfest.  We know how to pack in a lot on a road trip!  We are planning our great big Birthdayversary Trip to the East Coast now – so much fun to anticipate these trips!

Movies – At home I’m binge watching The Gilmore Girls in preparation for this FALL!  Can’t wait to catch up with them all again!  So not many movies on Netflix of late…. Seriously, just checked my “recent activity” on Netflix and it’s all Gilmore Girls and episodes of Grace and Frankie!  I love Grace and Frankie and recommend it!  It’s a Netflix series with Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin. I thought Season 2 was better than Season 1.  Good stuff!

In June I did buy a streaming live ticket to see She Loves Me live from Broadway!  Invited some girls over and we had Ice Cream during intermission (“Ice cream! He bought me ice cream!”).  It was fun to see a Broadway show and exciting to know that it was LIVE!  There were technical difficulties in the beginning so that was a little frustrating but we got through… and it was great fun!

In the theatre:

  • Me Before You – Thought it would be all book club mamas but there were a lot of teens in the audience!  It is a good rendition of the book.  Not as detailed but the things they left out were ok.  Shock ending to those that hadn’t read the book!
  • Don’t Think Twice – So. Fun. For weeks I had on my calendar that there was a showing of this new movie written and directed by Mike Birbiglia, playing in Minneapolis.  When I went to get tickets eventually, it was sold out.  So I was thrilled to get the newsletter from Mr. Birbiglia saying they added another show and I quickly bought tickets.  He was there at the end for a Q&A and it was very fun.  Chris got a high five from him (he collects high-fives from famous people, evidently – well, Mike Birbiglia and Glen Hansard, two of my favorites!).  The movie was great, as well.  An improv troupe in NYC is facing changes as they all strive to be noticed for national television shows (ala SNL) and their theatre space is being closed for some big expensive NYC thing.  I recommend you see this if you can – and it is being released in Minneapolis and other big cities, so you can!  Good stuff.
  • Ghostbusters – took a crew to see who was ‘fraid of the ghosts!  I realized that I wasn’t a super fan of the first movie but this was great fun for me.  It was great to see all the cameos, I was just scared enough (I hate being scared) and knew that it was silly fun scaredy-stuff, and the ‘busters were fun to listen to.
  • Jason Bourne  – we watched all the Bourne movies at home over the past year, so this was the first one seen in the theatre.  Uff.  It’s a wild ride.  When I’m at home I can walk to the kitchen, remaining in ear shot, and avoid the stressful stuff.  In the theatre I just closed my eyes a lot.  A. Lot. Not going to overanalyze the Bourne, just enjoyed a night at the movies!

I’m reading Books again – Since my last post in June about the 3rd Provence book, I’ve read a few books!  Maybe I’ll legitimately reach my book goal for 2016!

  • Circling the Sun by Paula McLain (author of The Paris Wife) – so captivating! Based on real people and real events, a story of ex-patriots living in Africa. The main character is Beryl Markham, a fascinating woman with a fascinating story. Highly recommend!
  • Life’s a Beach by Claire Cook – a light summer read. Nothing earth shattering or remarkable. Just something to keep me reading!
  • Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly – for FC book club. A story of three women in WWII and how their lives connect. It was up to the brink of horrifying (WWII is so filled with horrifying stories) and led to great discussion at book club. As usual, I finished the book in time to wipe away the tears and run off to discuss it. We had good discussion (about the book and otherwise – also, as usual!).
  • All Fall Down by Jennifer Weiner – a compelling book about a successful woman’s spiral downward with addiction to pain pills. It showed the hard work she had to do to maintain her addiction, her lifestyle, and then the hard work she had to do to start on her road to sobriety.
  • Currently reading All Summer Long by Dorothea Benton Frank.
  • Also currently listening on Audible to Hamilton by Ron Chernow.
  • And  Four Friends by Robyn Carr (taking too long, may drop it).

Phew!  I’m tired.  This is a glimpse into our life. So much to be happy about!  Right now I’m looking forward to Ferragosto 2016, hoping for relaxation at the end of the dock for days and days… more books, some movies, good talks with good friends. What else could you want?  We are also having a lot of fun planning our East Coast adventure this fall.  We are going to do some leaf-peeping, hoping for a good showing of autumn brilliance, but most importantly we will see the people that are important to Chris out there!  Looking forward to meeting the people he talks about.  And seeing his dad again. 🙂

So enjoy your August, enjoy the photos below, and if you feel so moved, let me know what is making you happy!

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