It's About Me, Praises, The Husband, The Relatives, Traveling

Family Time

On Sunday, more home projects were completed (including taking down a lattice wall and chopping down a dozen trees in the backyard) but we also found time to play some games together.

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I brought two new games with me… Exploding Kittens and LCR Wild and we had fun with both but there is a little bit more of a learning curve with the Kittens. And of course, we had to revert to the new family favorite of 4-Up 4-Down.

We had hamburgers on the grill before Jim had to leave for his return flight home.

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I am so happy that Sue had all three kids home with her for a few days.

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The best gift ever!

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Carl and I had a somewhat less eventful return trip home. After boarding our plane and getting comfortable, the pilot announced that due to weather in Orlando, the FAA was holding our flight for an hour. So instead of arriving back in Orlando at 7:30pm on Monday, we arrived at 8:30pm. By the time we got our luggage, took the shuttle to the car park lot and drove the 2+ hours from Orlando, we arrived home around midnight. YAWN!

It was a hectic but great weekend away and we are so grateful for every moment of family time. Until next time!

It's About Me, Praises, The Husband, The Relatives, Traveling

Sue’s Birthday

Saturday morning was spent completing all sorts of home maintenance projects for Leslie and Sue/Karl. Carl went over to Leslie’s house to help her with trimming her bushes.

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Jim worked at Sue and Karl’s house setting up automatic sensors on all of their outdoor light fixtures (so the lights go on and off by themselves). I worked on all of their electronic/technological needs :).

After attending mass together, with Marilyn, we took Sue out for dinner at a nice Italian restaurant.

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We all returned to Sue and Karl’s house for after-dinner drinks.

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Sue opened all of her cards from family and friends.

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And then we had one more surprise for Sue…an Ipad from all of her children. It’s a great upgrade from the Amazon Fire tablet Sue has been using for years.

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It was a great day (and weekend) spent celebrating a very special woman.

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I am grateful for the role-model that she is of patience, kindness and love.

A very happy Birthday to Sue!

It's About Me, The Husband, The Relatives, Traveling

Surprise!

After finally getting to Memphis and crashing at Marilyn’s house for the night, we woke up and got ourselves ready to finally surprise Sue at home. Carl’s sister, Leslie, met us at Marilyn’s house and the four of us drove over together. Marilyn rang the front doorbell while we hid to the side. After Sue answered the door, Marilyn said “You forgot something last night” and we popped out and greeted Sue. It was great fun and Sue got all teary-eyed, so it was worth it!

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We sat around and visited for the afternoon. Leslie left for a while to go take care of her kitty and when she returned, she had surprise #2…Carl’s brother, Jim, also surprised Sue for the weekend.

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So Sue had all three of her children home with her…what more could a mother ask for?

Marilyn, a truly gracious and hospitable friend, had us all over on Friday night for a great BBQ dinner and drinks. We are so thankful for Marilyn helping us to make the surprises happen and for putting us up at the last minute after all of our delays. Thanks Marilyn!

 

It's About Me, Praises, The Husband, The Relatives, Traveling

Memphis Weekend

It was my mother-in-law’s MAJOR birthday (I’m not allowed to mention a number but it’s the same year that the Wizard of Oz was released and the Worlds Fair opened in New York) over the weekend so Carl and I thought it would be a special gift to fly in for the weekend to celebrate with her. But first we had to actually get there.

We started by buying round trip tickets on Frontier airlines for super cheap to go from Thursday until Sunday. Unfortunately, the tickets were out of Orlando but they were direct flights.

But a week prior to leaving, I woke to an email asking me to call Frontier regarding our tickets. Turns out Frontier canceled all return trips on Sunday. There were no other options until the following Thursday. Nope, that’s not gonna work so we accepted $250 vouchers each for our canceled flights. After investigating all options, I finally found some decent return flights on Southwest for Monday.

Last Thursday, our trip started with driving in a torrential downpour to Orlando. After finally getting there and getting to our gate in plenty of time, we sat and waited for boarding. Shortly before boarding, they announced that they were “Swapping Planes” and we’d be leaving from a new gate. After getting to the new gate, Carl stood at the window and watched them start loading luggage onto the plane. Then he noticed them standing around the engine with tools. Then he watched them start unloading luggage from the plane. The aircraft staff (pilot and flight attendant), who had been standing near the gate waiting with us, suddenly disappeared. And that’s when we looked up and noticed this:

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After a confusing 10-minutes, they finally announced that we needed to return to the check-in counters at the front of the airport for further instructions. After making a beeline to the front and waiting in line, we were finally given papers that gave us the option to 1) cancel the trip and get $500 vouchers from Frontier or 2) rebook on another airline (with the cost to be reimbursed by Frontier) and get a $100 voucher each. We went with option 2 and frantically got on my cell phone and attempted to book new flights with United Airlines before everyone else got all the seats. Done, but unfortunately they were not direct and we now needed to travel to Houston first.

After starting to run to our gate for the flight leaving in 1-1/2 hours (originally it was scheduled to leave in 1/2 hour but thankfully, it was delayed an hour), we stopped and said “WAIT! What about the luggage?” only to read the notice on the bottom of the paper that said we needed to pick up our luggage at baggage claim and recheck it with new airline. Done.

After starting to run to towards security, we stopped and said “WAIT! What about our TSA Known Traveler Priority Access?” (because the security lines were ridiculous and we didn’t have time to wait), we returned to the United counter and got new boarding passes with our TSA Precheck.

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Finally, we got to our new gate and made the flight and arrived in Houston with a two hour wait before our final flight. Shortly before that flight was to board, we again heard those dreaded words “Folks, we are going to have a slight delay while we swap planes.” SWAP PLANES…again? We were sure that meant that they would end up canceling it and we’d be stuck in Houston for the night but luckily, after an hour delay while they changed a tire on the plane, we were in the air, arriving in Memphis at 1:00am.

Instead of arriving in Memphis at 5:30 pm, Ubering to Marilyn’s (Sue’s friend) house, where we would walk in and surprise Sue as I had arranged with Marilyn, we got to Marilyn’s at 1:40am, used the key hidden under the door mat, quietly snuck upstairs to the guest bedroom and crashed for the night until we could surprise Sue the next day.

WHAT AN ADVENTURE!

The Family, The Relatives, Traveling

Chicago Weekend

About a month ago, when I found out that my youngest brother, Brad, was flying to Chicago for the first time in 6 years and that my other brother, Rob, was having a big birthday celebration for two of his kids and that my oldest brother, John, would be driving up from southern Illinois for the weekend festivities, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to be together with all three of my brothers…the first time since Rob got married 6 years ago! I knew that my mom would be over-the-moon to have us all home together!

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I tried to make it a surprise for them but my husband accidentally let it slip when I was talking to my mom on the phone the week prior. It was good because it gave her time to prepare and make sure she had clean sheets and plenty of vodka on hand! Ha! When I walked into Rob’s house for the party, he just smiled and said “Hi Kris” like he was expecting me all along.

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Pretty much the same thing when my dad saw me too. At least my sister-in-law, Lisa, was surprised! I’m glad that my Aunt Gale and my niece, Bryanna, came also so I could spend time with them too.

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There were probably about 40 adults and 20 kids running around the backyard. Rob and Lisa had all provided kiddie pools, bouncy house, water slides, tents for shade and lots of good food. It was a little bit of madness on a hot and sultry day! The party reminded me of the wild and crazy family parties that Carl and I would have each summer when we lived in Illinois when we would invite all the relatives on all sides, along with friends and neighbors.

The next day, my Aunt Gale had most of the family (Rob and Lisa were recuperating from the party) over to her house so that we could eat some Chicago pizza and visit with my dad in a little calmer setting.

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Of course, because it was Gale, we spent some time “in the position” with martinis.

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It was really nice of Gale to have us all over to spend some more quality family time together. Thanks Gale!

Since we had some time before the party of Saturday morning, John, Laurie and I partook in their favorite hobby of geocaching.

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We found two of of the three caches we looked for, including the tarantula token hiding under a light post.

After Brad found out that I was coming in, he told mom “I’m not playing any games!” After we harassed him into playing and taught him how to play the new family favorite of 4 Up and 4 Down, he actually liked it and played with us willingly each night.

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We followed up with an episode each night of the Netflix Series, Russian Dolls, and now we all have to finish the season and report back to each other on our weekly video call on Sunday!

It was a short and sweet (just Friday afternoon until very early Monday morning…what was I ever thinking in booking a return flight home at 7 am????) visit but I am so glad to have spent time with my family, especially all three of my brothers and my mom, this weekend. Can’t wait to see them all together again in 6 more years…maybe at the new house that Brad plans on buying in the near future!

The Family, The Friends, Traveling

Other Celebrations

While Carl was watching 260 dance numbers all weekend, the rest of us spent the weekend partying. On Saturday evening, Kelly and Avram hosted a BBQ at their house with Avram’s parents and grandparents. It was so nice to get to meet Avram’s grandparents and visit with his parents again (Carl and I  met Avram’s parents before if you remember).

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Avram’s brother, Dan, also came for a short while, as did Ollie and his family, the boy that Kelly has been a nanny for for many years, although none of them were around for the photo. We all really enjoyed them all and were happy to give Kelly and Avram  BBQ hosting experience!

On Sunday, we invited our friends, Steve, Kathy, Ron and Deb to visit at the Airbnb for another BBQ. Unfortunately, Ron wasn’t feeling well and couldn’t make it. Booo.

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Steve and Kathy brought their son, Joey with them.

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Both evenings, Carl returned home in time to visit with some of the guests for a short time.

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On Monday morning, after saying goodbye to the grandparents and Bryanna, Carl and I took a drive through our former city, Chaska. We stopped by for a short visit with our old neighbors, Lou and Neil. We also stopped for a quick lunch with our friends, Julie and Kent at their lake home. Unfortunately no photos were taken of those two groups.

It was a short and sweet weekend spent celebrating and catching up with family and friends. We are grateful for those moments and wish they could happen more often. The weather was also unbelievably beautiful….after 95 plus degrees in Florida already, the 70 degree temperatures were glorious! Minnesota really is a beautiful place with lots of rolling hills and lush green vegetation. Sigh, almost makes me want to move back. If it weren’t for all that darn snow!!

Until next time, Minnesota!

 

 

 

Education, Praises, The Kids, Traveling

Kelly’s Graduation Celebration

Since Carl was busy all day Saturday and Sunday, we planned Kelly’s Graduation Celebration for Friday.

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Since it turned out that the Airbnb that we rented for the grandparents was adorable, with a beautiful backyard, we decided to hold the party there. It had a cool spiral staircase in the backyard that was a lovely place for some photos of the graduate.

We spent the afternoon talking, laughing, eating and playing games in the backyard.

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We ordered Chipotle catering for dinner, just like we did for Anthony’s graduation.

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Kelly’s best friend, Jill, came by to visit after work.

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It was a great day celebrating Kelly!

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We are grateful that Sue and Karl drove all the way from Memphis for the celebration.

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We are equally grateful that my mom and niece, Bryanna drove from Chicago.

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Congratulations Kelly!! We are all so proud. Your clinic and clients are going to be blessed to have you as their therapist.

Side Story: Carl spent all day Saturday and Sunday videotaping dance recitals as the videographer for KC Video Productions. This is our 15th year taping for this particular dance studio, our biggest client. In a terrible coincidence, this is the first time in 15 years that all three of the dance studios that we were currently working with (one also in Minnesota for 12 years and one in FL for the past 3 years), all had their recitals on the same weekend! So we were only able to work with the one studio this year. Hopefully the other two studios will have us back again next year but chances are they will just continue on with whoever they worked with this year, unless they were really bad….so here’s hoping that our replacements were lousy!! Ha!