Thursday, September 30, 2010

Twins Game!

Finally!  We've been planning a church-wide outing to a Twins Game at the new Target Field for months...  and tonight was the night!

We had 65 people meet at the stadium for a fun night out.  Our seats were in the family section WAY up high (the hubby and I were against the back wall!) - but it was a beautiful stadium, a gorgeous night, and so fun to hang out with people outside of the church building.  Our team lost - REALLY lost - but we had fun anyway...
(Beautiful, isn't it?)
(My buddy, Bennett.  Love her.)
(Gorgeous night to be out and about!)
(We had such hope at the beginning of the game...)
(I love these people!)
(Yowsers.  Look how empty those stands are!  We stuck it out...  Ha!)

Things I am thankful for today:

1.  A short work week.
2.  Dinner out with the hubby at Rock Bottom Brewery.
3.  A coconut chai microbrew beer.  Sounds weird - but tastes oh, so good!
4.  Outdoor baseball!  Woo-hoo!
5.  Perfect fall evening for a game!
6.  Target Field - amazing.
7.  65 church people out in pubic together!  Awesome.
8.  Still thinking about the Storyline conference...
9.  Life in general.  It's so good.
10.  Free parking in the city - gotta love it.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Portland, Oregon - Storyline Conference

What an AMAZING weekend - cold and all!

Saturday morning, Jill and I headed to the airport - both with the sniffles, but ready for our great adventure!  Our flights went great.  I re-read the entire Don Miller book, "A Million Miles in a Thousand Years" to prepare for the conference.  I forgot how funny it was - and more than once laughed aloud to the dismay of the woman sitting next to me...  Once we got to Portland, we took the train from the airport to within two blocks of our hotel (The Mark Spencer in the Pearl District) - perfect!  And cheap - $2.50.  Gotta love public transportation!  We settled into the hotel, took a short, refreshing nap, dosed up on our cold drugs, and headed out to explore.  We had dinner at a local pub just around the corner from out hotel...  Visited Powell's Bookstore (that's an experience all in itself!).  And found a wonderful little Gelato place for a late night treat.  A perfect end to our first day...
(The Mark Spencer Hotel - a nice place to stay!)
(Powell's Book Store - a place of dreams!  A new and used bookstore that takes up an entire city block - and 4 stories tall.  Wow.)

Sunday, we woke up, enjoyed breakfast at the hotel (toast, fruit, yogurt and a chai tea), and headed out for more exploration!  It was a typical Portland morning, I think - a little cool and rainy.  But nothing that was gonna hold these Minnesota girls back!  We walked all over the city!  Eventually, we got ourselves to the Saturday Market (yes, it's open on Sunday, too!).  It's an art fair that happens every weekend - and features only local venders.  Very cool.  After the market, we continued wandering aimlessly, taking pictures, and enjoying the freedom to explore.  We eventually ate lunch at a great little deli - Kenny and Zuke's - right across from our hotel.  YUM.  Pastrami on rye.  Gotta love it.  A nap was once again in order - before we headed to the conference itself.  (I was too excited to sleep...  So it was really just time to rest...)
(Gotta love it.)
(Beautiful parks!)
(Love the statues all over the city!)
(I LOVE a city that asks people to turn off their cell phones in restaurants!  We saw this in a few places.)
(Hello, yumminess...)

The conference started around 5pm at the Armory Theatre.  A perfect venue for this event!  Trendy and cool, beautiful and comfortable.  As we found our seats, a trio was performing Irish music on the stage - a great start in my mind!  Don Miller finally took the stage - and like a man after my own heart, invited his dog, Lucy, on stage with him.  So cute.  The night ended up being an intro into what it could mean to do something amazing with your life - he brought out friends to tell their stories, he shared stories that some of us were already familiar with (from reading his books), and he introduced the winner of the essay contest - someone who had a story she wanted to live and needed help to get it started...  Then his friend, Brandon, a music video and commercial producer, took the stage to share his story.  A great story that ended in the making of a movie.  Our surprise that night?  We got to go to a "test screening" of the movie!  I'll tell you more about it someday when the movie comes out...  For now, we're not supposed to share much...  (I kind of like the sneakiness!)  It was a great night.  So fun.  Uplifting.  Inspiring.
(The theatre - two blocks from our hotel.)
(Jill - registered and waiting for the fun to begin!)
(A little Irish music to start the evening...  Nice.)
(Brandon Dickerson...  You may learn his name in the coming years.)

Monday morning we got up, ate breakfast, and headed back to the conference.  A full day of inspiring stories, challenges to make our lives into stories that make a difference in the world, and lots of deep thinking about what my story will be...  A break for lunch at the Deschutes Brewery - Delish!  Then back to work... I have a workbook to fill out and work through to jog my brain and make me think a little bigger and deeper about the future - I'm so jazzed to get started!  This conference has been amazing - I wish it was longer than two days...  I feel like there's so much more to soak in...
(Mmm... Sweet and spicy mac and cheese.  So good, I made it when I got home!  The recipe is on the website!)

When the conference was over...  Jill and I once again decided to do some more exploring.  So many places to see!  We found some fun shops.  Bought a couple small keepsakes.  Stumbled upon a beautiful little park on a warm day - the neighborhood kids were playing in the water fountains while the parents met up with friends.  I loved it.  I could live here in a heart beat.  Seriously.  This city is laid back, beautiful, funky, smart, easy to navigate, friendly...  I just loved it.  I can't wait to get back again! 
(I could live here...)
(Great, quirky shops!)
(Gorgeous flower shops...)
(Stunning parks...)
(Jill and I - enjoying the warmth and sun of a fabulous fall day!)

Our night ended with dinner at Jake's Crawfish - a funky little bar/restaurant featuring amazing seafood and beer!  We had a great time chatting about our travels, our thoughts on our conference, and life in general.  Jill was the perfect travel companion - so fun!  (Oh!  And of course, we had to stop by for one last scoop of gelato on our last night....  That place was addicting!) 

Funniest part about our last night?  We got back to the hotel room - exhausted from another busy day - and what do we end up doing?  Staying up til midnight, watching the first "Sex and the City" movie.  I've never watched an episode - but Jill quickly brought me up to speed!  We had a lot of laughs - and had every intention of turning it off and going to bed... but just couldn't do it.  What a funny way to end our weekend!

Tuesday, it was up and at 'em - to the train, to the planes, and home.


Yes, I still have a little bit of a cold - but I'm energized and excited to see what my story will be!

Things I am thankful for today:

1.  A WONDERFUL trip.
2.  Great cold drugs that kept me going.
3.  A fabulous friend to travel with...  we might have to do it again sometime...  :)
4.  Inspiration.
5.  Finding another place I can't wait to take my husband to!
6.  Don Miller - what a great personality and what generosity of spirit!
7.  Getting to be a part of making other people's dreams come true, too.  Amazing.
8.  Tears of joy.
9.  Spending some time thinking about the future...
10.  Coming home.

Friday, September 24, 2010


Geesh.  This has been a miserable week.  It started as a simple cold - sore throat, fatigue, stuffy nose.  And then it just kept getting worse and worse and worse!  I finally gave in and went to the doctor - and got the usual "diagnosis."  You have a virus.  Go home.  Get rest.

Not helpful.

I'm supposed to leave for Portland, OR, for an awesome conference tomorrow...  With a friend - who from the sounds of it, is also sick.


I hate not feeling well.  It's the pits.

Things I am thankful for today:

1.  An understanding staff all week - It was helpful to be able to still get things done in between naps, over email and phone!
2.  DayQuil and NyQuil.  My friends.
3.  Neti-pots.  Try it.  You'll be glad you did!
4.  Mashed potatoes.
5.  Hot showers.
6.  Soft blankets.
7.  Books to read for work.
8.  Looking forward to a fabulous weekend!
9.  Movies.
10.  Got a new camera tonight!  Finally!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Happy Surprise Birthday Party, Mom-in-Law!

Uff-da!  What a weekend!

We drove to the Milwaukee-area on Thursday for a weekend with the in-laws.  The hubby's mom thought we were just coming to do some work on her house and have the usual September birthday party for Mike, his twin sister, and his mom.  Which was kind of the plan.... 

We arrived late Thursday night and enjoyed some chatting with Mike's mom.  Then, Friday morning we were up and at 'em to start some work!  Mike began with patching the driveway...  I painted the eaves and overhangs of the house...  Hubby laid some pavers...  There was plenty of work to do - but it was a gorgeous day and everything went pretty smoothly!  We ended the day with dinner at the local church fish fry and chilled out the rest of the evening (resting for the events planned for Saturday!).

Saturday morning we got up early and headed to our nephew, Brandon's, football game.  This was his first season playing - and he enjoyed the support and encouragement.  It was early in the morning...  We got lost on the way there...  It was cold and raining...  And our team lost.  Buggers.  A dreary start to the day - but still fun to be there and see him play!

Next, we went home, changed clothes, and got ready to take Mom-in-law out for a "nice lunch."  We told her the rest of the family was running late and would meet us at the restaurant.  In the meantime, Hubby's sister asked if we could stop someplace quick...  So we did.  And lo-and-behold!  When we walked in, there was a room full of family and friends from near and far!  She loved it.  She doesn't normally like surprises, so we were pretty nervous this wouldn't be a good thing...  but she LOVED it.

It was a good day.  Smiles all around.

So, happy birthday (early), Joan!  It was fun to be in on the surprise and see your face as all of these people surrounded you with love for a day! 

(I'm a little selfish when I celebrate your birthday...  The gift of your life, gave me the gift of your son's life - and he has been pure joy and love in my life!  So cheers to you and the blessing you are to so many, Joan!)

Things I am thankful for today:

1.  The surprise worked!
2.  Seeing Brandon play football for the first time!
3.  Coffee.
4.  Seeing family from far away - good to see Dawn, Keith, Kate, David, Amber and the girls!
5.  Hearing more stories of the fun that people had at our wedding - 7 years ago!  (They're even requesting a 10 year anniversary party!)
6.  Talking polka dances with Uncle Charlie.
7.  Seeing how adored my hubby is by his mom's friends - too cute.
8.  Playing with the nieces and nephews.
9.  Today was Rally Sunday at church - a new beginning to a new school year!  Looking forward to another year with our awesome youth!
10.  A quick trip to Winona to see my little sis, Kayla, today.  A beautiful drive and a fun dinner at Bub's!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010


"Is your home as cozy as you would like it to be?  Does it reflect who you and your family are?

"...List the dwelling places of your life, according to the age [you were when you lived there].  What did you love about them?"
--Sarah Ban Breathnach, "Something More"

Yes.  My home is cozy and comfortable.  Warm.  Friendly.  Casual.  I love it.  I think it represents my hubby and I very well.

As far as dwelling places throughout my life...  Uffda.  Get ready.  It's a long list!

1.  An apartment in Colorado.  Only lived there til I was 6 months old or so...  I'm sure it was splendid!
(Mom and me...  That bench we're sitting on?  It's now in my entryway.  Fun.)

2.  A duplex in Illinois.  We lived here until I was 4ish.  I remember red/purple shag carpet and our cat playing in the bathroom sinks.  But most of all I remember my Grandpa playing "dress-up" with me - he'd take me on dates...  Too cute.  I have pictures of some of those moments with him.  Priceless.
(Ha ha ha.  See that typeboard in the background?  I have one just like it in my living room...)
(Grandma, me, and Grandpa - chillin' in Sycamore)

3.  We moved to a little white house, on a brick road in Ohio, and lived there til I was about to start 6th grade.  I loved a lot about this house:  it had a front porch swing, tire swing and sandbox in the backyard, my own room, bunkbeds...  What seemed like a HUGE kitchen to "ice-skate" and dance around in.  A screened-in back porch.  Heat vents in the floor (awesome to stand on in your nightgown on cold winter mornings!).  A fireplace in the living room - perfect at Christmas time.  Lots of kids on the street!
(The kids on our street: Me, Melissa, Jacilyn, Brian, Jamie, and Jenny)
(A perfect Saturday morning - bunny slippers, flannel nightgowns, Care Bears, and sitting on the heater with my little sis, Emily.  Best spot in the house!)
(A picture-perfect Christmas on Kibler Ave.)

4.  Next was a townhome in Southern California.  I got to decorate my own bedroom here - a peach and sea-green color scheme, a new full-size bed, and pictures of teen heart-throbs on the walls!  Our kitchen windows were often visited by hummingbirds, and we had a community pool where you could see the fireworks display at Disneyland!  We only lived here for about a year and a half - so one of the best parts about it, was getting to do all kinds of cool things in California (beaches, sea-side towns, Disneyland, Universal Studios, etc, etc.).  We affectionately refer to this time as a very long family vacation!
(Our porch...  complete with pool toys in the background!  Pretty sure this was a "first day of school" picture...)
(One of the cool parts of living in California for a brief time - weekend afternoons at the ocean.)

5. We briefly lived in a little townhome when we moved back to Minnesota...  The best thing about that one?  My sister and I shared the master bedroom  - the only time I would have a tv in my room!
(Not many pictures here...  We only lived here for about 4 months.)

6.  Finally, when I was in 8th grade, we moved into my family home.  It's gone through many changes over the last 20 years - but it's felt like home the whole time!  The kitchen is small and cozy - with a round oak table that has made it through generations of my dad's family.  I love that table and all the stories that go along wth it!    Our dining room has a table that can fit the whole family - including the husbands and boyfriends!  As the family grew - it just became cozier.  The giant fireplace in the living room has always been a focal point of warmth and festivities...  I can't imagine the number of family photos taken in front of that fireplace!  Several years ago, a 4-season porch was added onto the house - a favorite place for the whole family!  The perfect place to wrap up in a blanket and watch a movie or read a book - most of the time whoever you're looking for wll be found out there.  And of course, there's the big yard and beautiful flowers... and the neighbors.  This street has been a blessing to my family - full of friends that look out for each other and have fun together!
(Games around the ol' kitchen table - Kayla, Karlin, and Emily)
(A nap in the porch on Christmas Day...  Perfect.)
(Another family photo in front of the fireplace!  Me, Emily, Grandma, Trent, Kayla, and Jane)

7.  The dorms.  Throughout college I had 3 different dorm rooms - and loved each of them.  I had the coziest - by far - of the dorm rooms in my building!  My walls were covered with art, I had real plants, the room was decorated with warm, rich colors...  The room was always pretty clean and ready for company - so it became a place for people to hang out.  I loved my dorm rooms for their inviting feeling...  At the end of a long day, I just wanted to go back to my room - where all was right with the world.

8.  My first apartment after college never really attained the coziness-factor.  Maybe that's why I moved after only 9 months.  It was nice...  White walls, beige carpet, small square rooms...  But boring.  It felt empty and cold.  (Not to mention I was the youngest person in the building by 50 years and in order to afford living there, I did all the mowing, cleaning, and shoveling...  Yuck.)
(No pics here...  No inspiration...)

9.  Moving on.  My next apartment - NOT boring!  It was in the upstairs of an old house on the main street of the small town in Wisconsin where I had my first youth director job.  The walls of the living/kitchen area - bright, Crayola green!  Original wood floors.  Windows that looked out at a wetland area - full of birds and wildlife.  The bathroom had red floors and a blue tub and sink...  The bedroom had old-lady blue wall-paper paneling and dark brown paneling...  Oh!  And blue shag carpet.  Ha ha ha.  I loved the quirkiness - and I was able to decorate it in a way that was whimsical and fun.  I loved it.  Once again, I had a place to come home to that I could just be myself in.

10.  The next move was to Illinois, where I would move into the apartment that my husband had been living in for a year (his bachelor pad).  Oh dear.  Cozy?  It got there.  Overstuffed loveseats, tapestries on the walls, candles, rugs...  Eventually the warmth crept into another generic apartment.  My favorite part?  We had a balcony that overlooked the pool and the river.  A wonderful place to sit in the evenings - many Scrabble games were played on that deck by candlelight!
(Still looking for a picture of this one...)

11.  Next was the first house we would live in - and be able to decorate however we wanted!  It was a house that probably should have been torn down, but the park district that my hubby worked for had bought it (with the intention of making it into a parking lot in the future)...  For now they wanted it cleaned up, renovated, and ready to rent out.  They gave us a budget to work with, and extremely low rent - and we went to work!  We tore out dirty shag carpets and refinished wood floors, we painted at least 2 coats of primer and 3 coats of paint on every wall and ceiling in the house to make up for the decades of smoke residue left behind, we laid carpet in one room and floor tiles in two others, we painted all of our kitchen cabinets (bright orange and yellow!) and replaced all the hardware, we bought a new fridge and stove, we wallpapered in the bathroom and had a shower installed, etc etc etc.  It was a LOT of work in a very short amount of time!  But I have to say - I LOVED the sunroom: bright yellow walls, tons of windows, our tiny little bistro table... It was lovely.  And I LOVED our kitchen - bright and cheerful!  It was a fun little place to kick-start our married life - and because it was a house with a yard - this was the place that our little puppy first called home.  I have to say, that was the best part of the house - playing with a new puppy in the yard!

(My cheery kitchen - loved it!)
(The hubby picked this color...  I thought he was insane...  But I really liked it!)
(My little Bailey when she first came home.  Adorable!)

12.  We're getting close!  Less than a year after moving into the Fraser Ave. house, I took a job in Minnesota... and we were on the road again.  We moved into a temporary little apartment in a quiet community...  Nothing spectacular about that apartment, except the giant screened-in porch.  I loved that.  Breakfasts, dinners, reading, Scrabble games, wine sipping, and long conversations all happened in that porch.  (And we could walk from this apartment to one of our favorite cafes - Jensens.  Yum-o.)
(Breakfast with our friend, Mark, in our little porch.)

13.  Finally!  At age 28, after 2 years of marriage, we bought our first home.  A nice townhome that we got to help build.  We got to pick out everything from carpet to light fixtures, molding to appliances, paint colors to doorknobs.  So fun!  Our house now is everything we've hoped for - warm, cozy, inviting - a sanctuary from the world around us.  My favorite part?  The kitchen!  I love to cook and trying new recipes - and it's so much easier when you have space and good equipment!  I also love our loft area (family room) - between the magic couch and the breezes coming through the windows - it's the perfect place to kick back in warm or cool weather.
(The living room...)
(My kitchen...)
(The nature area in our neighborhood - a perfect place for evening walks!)

So there you have it!  The places I have called home so far - and what I found lovely and cozy about them!  I've been blessed my whole life with warmth and joy in the places I've lived...

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