Posts tagged ‘vacation’

Third Anniversary Extravaganza!

Last night concluded a 6 day celebration of our (Justin and I) 3rd Wedding Anniversary. We were married on a sunny (read 98 degrees with high humidity) day in Minnesota at the bible camp that has been part of my life pretty much since I was born, Good Earth Village. It was hot, it was beautiful, it was a huge party! Here we are on that day, July 16th, 2005:

Weren’t we cute in our little wedding outfits? I have to say, Justin looks much better in a skirt than I do! πŸ˜€

Anyway…every year we go to McGregor, IA for our anniversary (the first time we did this trip was for our honeymoon, so we just repeat it every year). First, we stopped in Postville, IA, which is where my sister and her family live. We stayed there Friday and Saturday nights.

Saturday afternoon, we took off on their boat and hit the MIssissippi for some swimming, tubing, and sunburning! Here are Justin and I racing down the river:

We spent the day watching Hannah splash in the water, eating PB & J samiches and just having good old river fun. As mentioned above, I got a bit burnt, but it’s down to a nice tan now πŸ˜€ Here are some images from the day!

Cruising down the mighty Mississippi with my brother in law, John at the helm.

My older sister, Shannon and her youngest, Hannah looking at the camera for a picture!

Having fun splashing around. Hannah called this “Her boat”. She would get in and either Shannon or Justin would push her around in the water.

My oldest niece, Nicole, attempting to avoid the sun.

John and Shannon also have an inner tube that they pull along behind the boat and give people rides. Justin decided he should give it a try!

Here they are, getting ready to head out – John driving and Nicole as spotter, just in case Justin falls off (that would NEVER happen)!

Oops…guess I was wrong! Justin fell off about 10 seconds after John took off…to be fair, John said it was his fault because he didn’t get up enough speed. They tried again and Justin was able to hold on for another try. He actually went out 2 times. I think his arms were pretty sore in the morning!!

Justin and Hannah had a really good time in the water! He would throw her in the air and catch her and she would giggle. At a certain point, Shannon decided it was better if she didn’t watch any more! Hannah loved it though. She would go back and forth from the water to the beach to be thrown over and over again!

We spent most of the day on the beach/river, but eventually it was time to head back. Here is a great picture (I think) of my two nieces on the way back:

We got back to the dock and John put the boat on the trailer. Nicole spotted a beaver/river otter in the shallows by the dock and we watched it swim. We also saw what at first appeared to be a river snake, but I think it was actually a big crayfish.

After the boat we headed into Lansing to put the boat back in storage and then went to a local restaurant for supper. We then went back to Postville to their house and played cards and drank fuzzy navels for the rest of the night. It was a really good time, and nice to spend time with my 2 nieces (or the nieci as Justin likes to call them). It was nice that Hannah is starting to recognize who I am and call me by name (even if she calls both Justin and I Mae-Mae).

(2 cool dudes after a day of swimming and playing)

We got up the next day and after lunch with the family, we went to McGregor, IA for the 2nd part of our trip. On the way out of Postville however, we were stopped on the highway…for a TRACTOR PARADE!! Yup, that’s right. We had to sit in our car in a line while a tractor parade drove through. Welcome to small town Iowa folks!

Our first night was at Pikes Peak State Park for a day of camping and hiking. The campground overlooks the Mississippi and Wisconsin Rivers.

We set up our camp and decided to go exploring. Our first stop was to the peak to look out at the rivers. Here is what you can see from the deck:

It really is a beautiful view and on a clear day you can see very far! In front is the Mississippi and in back is the Wisconsin River.

A picture of Justin and I with the rivers behind us.

After viewing the rivers, we took a short hike. They have a few trials at the campsite that have a “sidewalk” that lead you around. The forest was beautiful and it was the perfect day for a hike. There and back it was probably only about a 1/2 mile, but it was fun. We went out to view “Bridal Veil Falls”.

It’s a very pretty little waterfall.

If you’re dumb enough, you can climb off the trial and stand behind the waterfall on the rock shelf. Of course when we got there, there were 3 teenage girls behind the falls in there nice clothes, huge purses and flip flops, standing on the slippery rock and taking pictures of themselves. They then decided it was a good idea to climb up the STEEP path behind the falls and up the hill, while holding their purses and slipping in their flip flop sandals. Smart those girls! We headed back to camp and got ready for supper.

Usually when we’re camping, I’m the one that’s in charge of starting the fire. Having worked at a camp and started fires almost every day for 4 summers, I can get them up and burning quickly. I’m always mocking Justin’s fire starting skills, and decided it was time I gave him an opportunity to shine! He started the fire with one match (which is amazing enough, but there were up to 20-30 mph wind gusts that day, too)! I was so proud of him! It was a really good fire too, and I had to sit there and bite my tongue while he was building it so I wouldn’t shout out pointers to him. I wanted him to do it all himself, and he was amazing!

Here he is tending to his masterpiece.

We had hobos that night (some might call them tin foil dinners, but GEV always called them hobos, so that’s what they are to me). We also made orange cakes, which is a hollowed out orange shell filled with cake batter, wrapped in tin foil and then stuck in the coals. Mmm…they were pretty tasty! We’ll have to do them again!

The next morning we made Egg GEV Muffins…another camp specialty. We packed up, then headed into town. Had lunch at the Beer & Brats Marina as we do every year. Forgot to take a picture of it though 😦 We hit the PIggly Wiggly (grocery store) in Prairie du Chien, WI across the river for a few things and then checked into the Little Switzerland Inn, Bed & Breakfast. We’ve stayed there for the past 4 years, and 3 of the years were in the Alpine Suite (last year we didn’t book early enough and so were in the Rob Roy Suite).

Here’s a view of our room from the door.

We love that place and Becky, the owner is so hospitable and kind. This year we got a special treat Justin’s mom was nice enough to pay for the room for us for our Anniversary gift! Thanks MommaT!!!! We were also greeted by another nice surprise – cheese, wine and chocolate covered strawberries!!

It was all WONDERFUL, and the Strawberry Wine was from the next town over, Marquette, IA. It was so sweet, and a nice way to celebrate our 3rd anniversary.

The chocolate covered strawberries were amazing! The wine was very good as well and we picked up an extra bottle the next day to bring home. We went antiquing that day as well. MacGregor has a lot of really neat little shops and antique stores. I got a stuffed doll of the Wizard from Wizard of Oz and Justin found some nice Mason jars for our canning project later this summer. That night we went to Prarie du Chien and saw the movie “Wall-E”. I HIGHLY recommend it! It was amazing and everyone should see it, purely for the social commentary on the way our world is headed, if not for the wonderful story of robot love! Justin and I were both bawling by the end of the movie. We hit Eddie’s Irish Pub for dinner, then back to the B & B where we watched the fantabulous Justin Morneau of the Minnesota Twins won the home run derby. It was an amazing TV baseball experience watching Josh Hamilton of the Texas Rangers hit a record 28 homers in the first round. Unfortunately he didn’t win the whole derby but my boy Morneau was persistent and ended up winning and graciously acknowledged that Hamilton was the real hero of the day!

Next morning we were up in time for the Breakfast portion of the Bed & Breakfast. We ate with Becky (the owner) and her two other guests that night, a grandfather and grandson from Texas. It was a nice meal. After breakfast we packed up the car to head back to Chicago – but one more stop first!

We began a tradition on our honeymoon of stopping at Happy Joe’s Pizza in Galena, IL for lunch. We then play the arcade games, win tickets and get cheap crappy prizes! We usually get one little guy to put on our car dashboard. This year we got a cactus wearing a sombrero pencil topper. Here’s me winning some of our tickets:

I almost feel bad making every basket, as it’s made for kids and I can reach out and touch the rim…but then again, the highest you can get is 10 tickets!

We headed back home and went to pick up Malcolm from the babysitters. He seemed pretty excited to see us πŸ˜€ Went home that night and crashed.

Yesterday was our official anniversary so we decided to go out for dinner. Justin had gotten a $100 gift card to Lettuce Entertain You restaurants in Chicago a long time ago, so we decided to dust it off and go to Maggiano’s. It was really fun, and good food too! We got all gussied up and headed downtown.

Justin even wore a suit coat!!

Our food was amazing. We started off with calamari and tomato mozzarella appetizers. Justin and I each ordered a special new item. He got some brazed beef thing, and I got the lobster/sausage pasta. Both were delicious!

Here I am in my fancy dress enjoying my pasta.

For dessert we got an apple crostada with caramel sauce and ice cream:

It was pretty and tasty!

It was a nice way to cap off a good vacation and time spent together. I can’t believe we’ve only been married for 3 years, and then again, I can’t believe it’s been 3 years already! I love you Justin, and I can’t wait for what the next 3 years will bring us!

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July 17, 2008 at 12:48 pm 2 comments

July 4th in Madison

Well, as promised – here is my blog on our weekend in Madison with the Brekke’s! Or, I should say, the Brekke’s and Soiney’s. Justin and I headed up to Madison, WI on Friday morning to spend the weekend with Susie, Erik and Jannah. Susie’s parents, Dee and Steve were there as well for the weekend so there was much fun to be had! We did a LOT of stuff in three days, so here goes!

We arrived a few hours before the party, so there was time to chat, play games and play with Jannah! Susie had just gotten a new play car at a rummage sale for Jannah so we pushed her around that for a while.

This is Jannah doing her “all done” sign language. It was really neat to see a baby using ASL to communicate what she couldn’t say yet. She also uses the sign for “drink” when she is hungry or thirsty.

The Independence Day party was scheduled to begin at 7pm, but we fired up the grill and cracked open the keg a bit early! Justin and I had brought lamb burgers (they were VERY tasty). The keg got a bit shaken up during the transporting process, so we had to let it settle in our glasses first, of course! We decided a pitcher would be much better for the job, but all Susie and Erik had that wasn’t being used was the coffee pot! It was pretty funny to see people walking around the party with a coffee pot full of beer! I think ALL coffee pots should be full of beer! πŸ˜€

This is me, enjoying the “beer coffee”. In the back is Karen (a Brekke neighbor), Steve (Susie’s dad) and Dee (Susie’s mom).

Jannah, never one to turn down a party, joined the festivities by doing a “Keg Stand” (don’t worry, no babies were harmed in the taking of this picture – nor were they given any actual alcohol, it was purely for a laugh people, jeepers!).

There were many yard games to be played at the party. We played badminton, Kubb (which will be explained later) and “Frisbeer”. Basically, the point of Frisbeer is to knock a beer bottle off a PVC pipe with a frisbee. You can only use one hand (obviously, because the other one is holding your beer!) and you get points for knocking down the bottle by hitting the pole or by hitting the bottle itself. it was pretty fun. Miller and I lost the game, but I don’t think I did too badly considering I haven’t caught or thrown a frisbee since I was in LVC and my roommate, John, taught me how!

Here is me throwing a frisbee at the opposing teams pole. I had one awesome shot where I hit the bottle and the next shot I hit the pole!

The Madison fireworks can be see from the rooftop of the Brekke Manor. Actually, I think the fireworks were from a “suburb” of Madison, but same thing. We all climbed up the rickety ladder to the steep roof (after passing a sober test first of course: “Are you sober?” “Yup” “Okay, go ahead”) to enjoy the show. Of course, the pot of beer was passed around during the show, so several of us were probably a bit more tipsy than when we first went up! It was fun though. Miller, Erik and Susie attempted to sing a few patriotic songs, but it was a pretty lame attempt, as no one else was willing to join in.

Here are our hosts enjoying the show on the roof. In the background if you squint you can see Miller and another party goer.

After we all got down of the roof, we headed inside for some more games . We played a ping pong game called “Around the World”. Here is some video so you can figure out what that means…

It was a good night, and we all went to bed late. Of course, the next morning, Miss Jannah was up bright and early! Justin and I were in basement on the couch (we started the night on the air mattress, but half way through the thing had deflated, so we moved to the couch) so we heard her running around and decided it was time to get up. We then all loaded into a couple of vehicles (that is: Susie, Dee, Jannah and I in the Brekke-mobile and Erik, Steve and Justin in the Soiney car) and headed to the Madison Farmers Market. It was all around the capitol building – so it was huge! There was a lot of flowers and CHEESE for sale, as you can expect since it was in Wisconsin! Justin and I purchased some rabbit meat, real maple syrup and some rhubarb. I’m hoping to make some rhubarb crisp later this week! Mmm…

Poor Jannah was PASSED OUT (no, not from the Keg Stand!) after the walk around the market. She had her face planted into Susie’s back! It was pretty funny.

From the Farmer’s Market, we headed to the Henry Vilas Zoo. They had some great animal exhibits. The first we saw were the lions, and I was amazed at how close we were able to get to them! We couldn’t have been more than 10 feet away from them at one point, and the only thing between them and us was a chain link fence and the wooden observation fence. I’m assuming that the chain link was electrified, but I don’t know that for sure. It was neat to see them that close, but also a bit freaky!

Jannah loved the otters! She stood against the glass for a long time and watched them swim right by her! It was pretty cute to see, and the otters are always fun to watch!

Here’s Justin as a baby polar bear! Isn’t he cute?? The zoo had a ton of these type of cut out for pictures…

Here’s me as a penguin!

And Jannah as a penguin!

And Susie, Erik and I just Monkeying around, as Orangatans!

We headed back to the house after the zoo. Had some lunch and I played with Jannah some more. She has these really fun Sesame Street potato sack racing toys. Cookie Monster says “Get out of way!”

This is my favorite picture of Jannah from the weekend, taken by Justin. She’s so cute!

Well, as usually happens when someone has their dad in town, work projects were done around the house! The big one was moving the kitchen cupboards up 2 inches to make room for the microwave that Susie and Erik just got. Justin loves doing that kind of stuff so he happily pitched in! I helped by staying out of the way and documenting the process with photos!

Here’s the crew moving the cupboards off the wall.

Jannah at this point was taking a nap and slept through almost all of the noise! Including the drill and the saw cutting a new hole out of the back for the outlet to go through. After that, Justin, Erik and Steve went over to the neighbors house to help hang a new storm door. We had decided to go swimming later in the neighbors pool (and hot tubbing that night over at another neighbors) so Susie and I went out in search of new suits! It was good to get out and have some “girl time” with my best friend. I don’t get to see her nearly as much as I’d like to! We hit a few places and both had success at Kohl’s – all the suits were 50% off, but mine was still stupid expensive, but I really like it. When we got back, we ate some delicious pizza hot dish that Dee had brought from home and then went to jump in the pool. It was ICE COLD but we stayed in for a bit and then ran over to the hot tub! Of course, with 5 of us in there (Steve, Erik, Justin, Susie and Me) it was quite crowded and we ended up splashing a ton of water out! When we got out, the top jets were no longer covered and started attacking poor Steve who was still in the tub! Oops…we called the neighbor and let her know and then went back and changed into dry clothes. We played a few rounds of Aggravation and then called it a night.

The next morning we woke up to head to church. Before we left there was time to play a round of Kubb. We’d been playing it quite a lot over the weekend so decided to squeeze in a few more. The basic goal of Kubb is to throw some sticks at some bigger sticks and then knock down the biggest stick last. You can read the Wikipedia explanation if you’d like to.

Here’s Erik, Susie, Justin and Steve demonstrating this Swedish game.

While the grown ups were throwing sticks around, Little Miss Jannah was creating masterful works of art with sidewalk chalk. She really loves that stuff!

After church we went to Applebee’s for lunch, dropped off the keg and headed back. Justin took a short nap while Susie and I defeated each other in another round of badminton, and then it was time to head back to Chicago. We had a fabulous weekend! Malcolm spent the time with Randy and “Uncle” Albert. I think he’s still sleeping off the fun he had πŸ˜€

That’s it for now. Next weekend will be our annual anniversary trip to MacGregor, IA for camping, boating and bed ‘n breakfast-ing. It will be our 3rd Anniversary on the 16th of July. Can’t believe it! The traditional gift for a 3rd anniversary is leather…Hmmm…I’m sure I’ll think of SOMETHING to get for Justin! I’ll have more pictures and stories to share when we get back on Wednesday. Cheers!

July 8, 2008 at 11:57 am 1 comment

An Update of my life…

Hello all! Thought I better update before I got way behind! I’ve had a busy week! Last Saturday (that is, June 21st), Justin and I met my sister and her family up at Wisconsin Dells at the Noah’s Ark water park for a day of sun and slides! Justin and Nicole went on practically everything – twice! My sister Shannon did a few slides, while John, Hannah and I claimed the kiddie park! I’m not really a fan of water…or slides…or being wet, but I had a good time in the wave pool and the 2 lazy rivers! Hannah LOVED the red slide at the kiddie park, though she did not so much like getting water in her face! I think she went down that slide about 100 times! By the time we got to supper she was passed out! Poor baby. Here are some pics from that day:

Hannah also liked the turtle shaped slide. Here she is with her daddy, John.

There was a bucket at the kiddie park that will fill with water and then douse anyone who was standing under it…can you find Justin??

After the water park, Nicole hopped in our car and came back to Chicago with us for the week. This is a tradition we started the first year Justin and I were married and living in Chicago, but unfortunately last summer it just didn’t work out. This year we made the most of it though!

Sunday night we had people over for dinner and I made Chicken Coconut Curry then watched X-men 3. Nicky lounged on the couch.

Malcolm really liked having Nicky around all week! You can see he has laid claim to her in this photo.

On Monday, Justin took Nicole to the Hancock building downtown and also to the Cheesecake Factory for lunch. They walked along the lake front, looked at the shops downtown, and Nicky got some photos of graffiti. Here are some pics:

Nicole on the platform, waiting for the ‘L train

A view from the Hancock Observatory…they had a BEAUTIFUL clear day to see the city! Justin got one shot where you can see a building all the way up in Wilmette!

The monster piece of Cookie Dough cheesecake that Nicky had for lunch that day at the Cheesecake Factory!

On Tuesday Justin took her to Devon St, the Indian/Pakistani neighborhood. They had Indian food for lunch (I hear the curried lamb was fabulous!) And hit a bunch of the shops. Nicole got a beautiful Saree that is pink, purple and orange. After Devon St, they headed for Belmont St. and hit The Alley as well as a few other shops. Nik got some really neat books from The Alley. Sorry, no pictures for this day!

On Wednesday I took over and we headed to the Shedd Aquarium and the Field Museum. The aquarium is always my favorite. I love all the fishes and other water creatures! Beluga whales are my favorite to watch! At the Field Museum we went to the Mythical Creatures exhibit. That was one of the main things I wanted to do while Nicole was down here, because I knew she would enjoy it! Unfortunately they didn’t let us take any photos inside the exhibit. But here is a neat one of the Belugas…a mommy and new baby!

Thursday was our shopping on Clark St. day and going to the Oriental Institute at the University of Chicago. On Clark we hit a bunch of different shops including few antique stores, Bon Bon’s, the Paper Trail, Kopi, the Brown Elephant (where Nicky found some plaid pants) and ate at Huey’s Hot Dogs. After lunch, we drove downtown and picked up Justin after work and then went to the Oriental Institute. Our good friend Sarah works there and was going to give us a tour, but turned out she had to move that week, so it didn’t work out…we still had a great time there and got to see my favorite kind of stuff – Ancient Near Eastern artifacts!!

Description from the OI website: “This colorful striding lion, its mouth opened in a threatening roar, once decorated a side of the ‘Processional Way’ in ancient Babylon (the Biblical city of Babel). The ‘Processional Way’ led out of the city through a massive gate named for the Mesopotamian goddess of love and war, Ishtar, whose symbol was the lion. Each year, during the celebration of the great New Year Festival, the images of the city’s deities were carried out through the Ishtar Gate and along the ‘Processional Way’ past some 120 lions such as this one to a special festival house north of the city.”

Here is Nicole and with the “lamassu”, the bull (which is Sarah’s ‘boyfriend’). Again, from the OI website: “This colossal sculpture was one of a pair that guarded the entrance to the throne room of King Sargon II. A protective spirit known as a “lamassu”, it is shown as a composite being with the head of a human, the body and ears of a bull, and the wings of a bird. When viewed from the side, the creature appears to be walking; when viewed from the front, to be standing still. Thus it is actually represented with five, rather than four, legs.”

And here is Nicole with King Tut!

Friday was a day of driving to Minnesota. Justin and I had a wedding reception that night, and of course I forgot to bring my camera!! Grr…argh! Hopefully I can get a few shots from someone else (hint hint Susie!). We had a good time and it was fun to see some old friends I haven’t seen in a long time πŸ˜€

On Saturday my mom, grandma, Nicole, Justin and I headed up to Rochester for some shopping and family time. I got a few new work shirts (which I needed desperatly!) and Nicole found a new pair of pants and a RECORD!! Yes, actual vinyl, not a CD! I’ve introduced her to to love that is vinyl records and gave her my old record player that’s been sitting at my mom’s house for the past 5 years collecting dust. I’m so proud!

Sunday was a birthday lunch for my little sister Robbin. We had ham and salads and DQ Ice Cream Cake…Mmmm! It was good to spend time with the family. Here’s a picture of my dad and Hannah playing together (my dad is wearing Hannah’s hat).

July 4th is this Friday, and we’ll be heading to Madison to spend the weekend with my best friend Susie, her husband Erik and our goddaughter Jannah! I really can’t wait. I’m sure I’ll have another post next week with pictures from the weekend! Malcolm will be spending the holiday with Randy and “Uncle” Albert (the basset hound). Happy holiday to you all!

July 2, 2008 at 11:59 am Leave a comment


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