Sunday, July 31, 2011

A Weekend Away...

I didn't realize how much time we dedicate to Ava until we have some time away from her. This past weekend, Scott and I stayed at a B&B in Osceola, WI, right on the St Croix River. It was great not being woken up by hungry dogs, or a chatty child, but...we both missed her a ton. We know she's in excellent hands with Grandma Deb and Grandpa Whitey, and we also know that it's important to take a break once in a while. But, I have to say, when she walked through the door today, in her cheery yellow shirt, with her sunglasses on, and the sassy ponytail swinging, I was awfully happy to see her, hug her, and squeeze her!

We did have a great time this weekend, and it gave both of us the chance to catch up on much-needed sleep. On Friday night, we went to a local bar, Tippy Canoe's, and enjoyed some live music with our dinner, as well as a few rounds of thumb might have influenced the skill level at that point! I made friends with a server while in the bathroom, and she gave me a shot on the house! It featured UV Vodka's Cake vodka (YUM!), pineapple juice, cream, and grenadine...and tasted like, you guessed it, a pinapple-upside down cake! One other thing I realized - 20-something girls are *really* annoying. Especially loud ones.

On Saturday, we took our time getting up, enjoyed breakfast on our deck and attempted to walk along the St Croix River. And then a storm like you wouldn't believe came along, so off to the movies we went! We saw Friends with Benefits, which was pretty funny! After the movie, we made a second attempt at walking by the river, and succeeded...and on our way through town, we decided to go on a boat ride down the St Croix. It was the perfect way to end the afternoon, and completely exhausted us for any future evening excursions. That afternoon sun was HOT!

We stopped at a local pizza joint, had some dinner, and then took it easy back at the hotel. Another incredible storm rolled in that night, so we watched the lightning and listened to the thunder - and were very happy to be inside!

We came home this morning, and of course there are a million things to do - but that's ok! It was nice to have some time to shut down and forget about the everyday things.  It's SO important to take time off to enjoy the little things in life!

The view from our deck

"It's coming...!"  Down by the river when the storm rolled in...

Random art on rocks

Walking down by the river

I was quite intrigued by this bug - not sure if it was two bugs stuck together, or one long one...odd!

Waiting to board the Taylors Falls Queen

Rock climbers!

We passed the Taylors Falls Princess on our way downstream

The view from the bed last night - I could get used to that!

Ava's a Busy Girl

A few weeks ago, we had an evening play date with my friend Amy and her oldest daughter, Kelsi.  Kelsi is 11 months older than Ava, and so much fun to watch. It's like seeing where Ava will be one year from now!  We had dinner, went to their pool, and even watched a Barbie movie!  Kelsi asked if Ava could spend the night...not this time, but very soon, I'm sure!

Fun in the tub, after the pool.  Clearly, something was funny - they're both laughing! Squinty-eyed Ava!

The next day, the three of us drove down south to visit the Winfields.  I remember thinking my friends always had waaay better toys whenever I would visit their houses.  Looks like Ava feels the same way - she made herself at home with Isabel's toys, while Isabel was napping!  Isabel and Ava always have so much fun do the four of us adults.  For the millionth time, I wish they hadn't moved so far away - we miss our best friends!

Our little chef!

Muffins for Darren and Daddy

Getting ready to watch a movie

Already looking forward to our next play date with Ava's (and our) friends!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

The Joys of Summer

One of the great things about the hot MN summer is how well our plants grow.  We had a cold spring this year, so our garden went in a little late this year, but the past week has seen it take off!  This year we planted 3 different types of tomatoes, several different kinds of peppers, sugar snap peas, onions, and brussel sprouts.  Along the side of the house was the perfect spot for pumpkin and squash - they can vine as much as they want, and it won't take out any of the other plants!

Scott really takes care of the vegetable garden, while the flowers are more for me.  Every year I try a few different kinds of plants - some work, and some don't!  Petunias, geraniums, and pansies are my standard...begonias and daisies were new additions this year.  Still not quite sure what to do with the begonias - the hanging basket that I have is not looking so pretty right now!

The garden is pretty well fenced off so no dogs, children, or wives can get into it, but my flowers are available to all to enjoy.  Ava's started picking off the flowers to wear behind her ear.  If she's not happy with the one she choose, she'll choose another...and then another.  The other night, we had a whole bouquet of flowers in our hands! 

It seems that a number of my friends are growing mint this year, so mojitos seem to be the drink of choice this summer.  Last weekend was River Falls Days (in WI), so I went to my friend Lisa's house for a mojito party!  She makes an excellent mojito!  In the past, there would have been pictures of us having fun - but this year...just a picture of their son, Jake...eating strawberries, with one lone Cheerio on his cheek.  (We still had fun, even tho there aren't pics to prove it!)

Yesterday was very hot and what better way to be even MORE hot and sticky than having s'mores for dessert!  There are now square, flat marshmallows which are PERFECT for making s'mores!  Ava certainly enjoyed hers!  I love how she's eating it so neatly (ha ha) in this first picture.  Needless to say, she got nice and messy!

After she went to bed, Scott and I stayed up and enjoyed the fire.  There are a lot of fireflies this year, which always adds a bit of magic to a warm summer evening.

I think we're going to go to the pool today for a bit - it's supposed to be hot and miserable today.  No better way to cool off than to splash around!

Monday, July 4, 2011

Happy 4th!

We've had a great holiday weekend so far! Ava and I went to the SSP Splash Pool on Friday. She had a fantastic time playing in the water and with all of the fun water features. Even better - we met another family who lives just 2 blocks away, and they have a daughter just 3 months younger than Ava! We are already looking forward to getting together with Lizzie!

On our way to the Splash Pool!

Having fun with her sand and water table...and a bucket.

Princess Ava!

Even princesses need to take a break at times.

We had an odd storm come through on Friday night.  The west side of the cities was hit much worse than we were.  We just had high winds, some rain, and an odd colored sky!

On Saturday, Ava and I headed to my friend Tina's house for playing in the "park" (the playset in her backyard), a bonfire, and s'mores!  Tina's kids were so good to Ava.  Ava was especially fond of Tina's son, Spencer.  Boy, does that girl like boys...!  At one point, I heard Ava say to Spencer, "Spence, Spence, Spence!  I'm afraid!  Carry me!"  So he did!

Tina and me, chillin' by the fire

Ava and Spencer

Ava has a knowing look on her face, like, "Yeah, he's wrapped around my finger...!"

Taking a break - that would be Ava under the blanket!

On Sunday, Ava headed over to Grandma Deb and Grandpa Whitey's house...they went swimming, and enjoyed the nice, hot weather.

Meanwhile, I went with my friend Emilie to a water park, and was able to relax for several hours in the hot sun.  We then went out to dinner at Boca Chica in St Paul, and then headed to Hudson, WI, for the city fireworks show.  We got front row parking, and got there just 15 minutes before the show started.

After that, we decided to check out the band that was playing at the celebration - it was Boogie Wonderland - one of my favorite bands to see in the area!  It was a great night - and we couldn't have planned it any better, even if we had tried!


My cutie came home this morning...funny how quiet the house is without her!

Tonight, we're going to try to find a fireworks show close to home so Ava can see what it's all about.  It's been such a great weekend - it will be hard to go back to work tomorrow!

Happy 4th of July!  Be sure to celebrate your freedom!