Monday, July 16, 2018

Swimming Lessons & New States

Michael:
has longer days than we expected at the VA and that has been sad to get used to. He placed his first implant this week! Which is something he'll be doing a lot of after residency so he's looking forward to doing a lot of that at the VA during this rotation. He went to the splash pad with us for the first time this week and we had fun watching the boys and laughing at the way they were experiencing the water. He also made it off work in time one day this week to get to Westin's swimming lessons and watch, then we went straight from there to a co-resident's house for a barbecue and swimming. 

Maddie:
 had my parents here the beginning of the week after they drove us home from Utah. And then on Sunday night I left for a quick trip -- my 30th birthday is creeping up and I've had a 50-before-30 goal forever (all 50 states before I turn 30). Before this week I had three left, so I flew to Fargo, North Dakota to explore around there and Minnesota. So random, I know! But this has been a goal forever and I was so, so, so happy the whole time. Now I only have one state left and it's coming up in September :) The best part was meeting my sister there and just laughing with her the entire time. I'm putting our trip details below so I can remember it.

Westin:
started swimming lessons! And he loves them. I really stressed about this because I knew I would be in North Dakota for his first two swimming lessons and I was nervous about how he'd handle them. My parents took him and his teacher is really great. Westin hated the water last summer, and I couldn't give much attention to that issue because Bennett was only a few months old still. But this summer they both have so much fun and it has been way better. I want to read more to Westin but at night he always asks for "stories from your mouth" which means make up a story rather than read to him. And he loves to make up stories too, and those can go for quite some time :) He also has an imaginary friend he named "Stop Sign" who seems to get into a lot of trouble and we have to talk about that a lot. He doesn't love our summer time walks much since it's so hot here now, but he looks forward to swimming lessons each afternoon.

Bennett:
doesn't talk much still but he sure does Meow. He meows SO much and it makes me laugh all the time. Maybe Kitty taught him to talk. He does say All Done and More a lot now, and he has started pointing to body parts when I tell them to him. It's so cute when kids point to their eyes. He loves to chase Westin and be chased, though inevitably their playing ends in someone crying. But it's still really fun before they get to that point! :) He loves stroller rides, loves putting on shoes, loves watering plants outside. I'm debating if it's time to get rid of the binky or not. We have one more little trip at the end of this month so I wonder if I should wait for that drive to be over, but it seems like there's always something. I can't believe he's so big!

North Dakota & Minnesota Trip:
I left last Sunday night for a 7pm flight to Denver, and spent the night in the airport. I thought I'd be able to find a spot and get some sleep but honestly it was impossible. Motherhood has made me such a light sleeper. And after making myself do nothing but try to sleep for 60 minutes with my eyes closed in a random airport spot, I gave up and watched Grey's Anatomy the entire night. Honestly, it was a party.

Ali met me in Denver the next morning and we ate some protein muffins I brought for breakfast before our flight to Fargo. Once we were on the plane I put my head in her lap and instantly fell asleep for 100% of the flight. So at least I was running on 2 hrs of sleep instead of none once we got to North Dakota. 

From there we picked up my rental car, and then did a gas station mystery shop for some quick snacks! Michael gave her the mystery shop bug. Then we drove to each of the state signs and tourist centers and met the people there. The ladies at the Moorhead, MN tourist info spot were SO nice and fun. They told me we needed to eat some North Dakotan food while we were there, and I said, "What even is that??" They said we had to eat Fleischkuekle (see here, but they literally said it like Flesh-keegle, which sounds so unappetizing) and Knoephla soup (see here) which is a chicken dumpling type dish.  Cedar High had the greatest German teacher in the world so Ali and I both knew Fleisch is Meat in german, so we talked to them about that. They said it's actually a "Germans from Russia" recipe so it has ties to both countries. Families in North Dakota have ties to Germany, who had ties to Russia, and they spoke with a Canadian-type accent. It was really fun to talk with them, and they told us a few other fun spots to visit and food to eat, and marked it on a map for us. Then we bought matching t-shirts (we have a specific kind/brand that we are both obsessed with and they had two Minnesota t-shirts in our size on clearance so we had to get them) and went on our way.

From there we went to the Fargo tourist center in North Dakota and had them add some spots to our map and to do list. They were super nice as well, and we went from there to check in early at our hotel. The older lady that worked there was absolutely adorable and she was just so happy about the fact that we were just sisters traveling together to meet my goal. (Ali met her 50-before-30 goal already, so she just came along because she's the best.) She upgraded our room and gave us some water bottles and was just the sweetest to us. She said we needed to experience "North Dakota Nice" and honestly the vibe from all three of our first stops just had me feeling Midwest feelings and majorly missing Indianapolis.

After that we drove to see the Hjemkomst Viking Ship (see here, a replica of a viking ship made by a high school teacher who since died of leukemia, and his family had it sailed to Norway in his memory). Then we explored Lindenwood Park and we were surprised at how hot it was. Humidity is a pain you quickly forget. Then we drove downtown to get an early dinner. While we were sitting on a bench on main street someone asked us were a park was. Ali immediately looked at me while he was talking to me because she KNEW it was Tobias from Arrested Development. I didn't think it was actually, actually him but I did think it was funny how much he looked like him. We told him we were visiting and we weren't sure, and while he looked at a city map with his little kid and friend, Ali looked up a current photo of him. It was totally David Cross. That was so funny to me. I wanted to ask him for a picture but we kind of got the vibe that he knew we figured out who he was and his body language was totally closed off from us from that point on. But it cracked us up. We also met another guy right after that who was too friendly and I answered every question he asked me with a lie. He left thinking I was Sara from San Francisco who was a programmer and here in Fargo for work. Ali was so weirded out by how quickly and easily I made answers up and is convinced I do that all the time now. Which I don't. When in Fargo?

We ate at the Boiler Room and it was delicious, and then we had a wild and crazy night of picking up Insomnia Cookies and milk from Wal-Mart and eating them while watching HGTV in our hotel. I was so tired from my 2-hour night and I slept 11 hours straight in our hotel room that night. #nokids

The next morning we explored more of the Minnesota side of things but we were sad that the lakes and hikes were a little too far away to make before our flight that afternoon. Quick, quick trip. I wanted to go to the headwaters of the Mississippi, but I guess that'll be for my next Minnesota trip. :) We then went to Kroll's diner for brunch to eat Fleischkuekle and Knoephla soup. I'm not going to lie, it was far from my favorite meal I've ever had... when in Fargo again? While we were eating (and laughing) two girls and a guy from the table next to us came over and told us they managed the social media for the diner and a few other clients. They asked if they could photograph us and share the images, and I told them that was fine and that the matching outfits might throw off the photos. The photographer said that was only adding to the situation and the guy asked us if we had a story behind that. So we gave him the sisters/50-before-30/we-own-all-the-same-clothes backstory and he was intrigued. Basically he was so curious about what someone does when they visit Fargo, ND because it's such a random spot.

We talked to them for a while about the Fargo/Moorhead relationship (apparently Fargo is more liberal than most of North Dakota so they identify with Minnesota more and have "state envy", and there's hardly anything in Moorhead besides residential areas so they work and shop and play in Fargo), about seeing Tobias (he's the one that told us David Cross had a comedy show that night, and that Fargo actually has a swanky jet center north of the city so celebrities will sometimes stop to fill up and avoid more crowded spots -- he saw Tom Hanks grabbing biscuits and gravy downtown one day), and about how they survive the winter there. He said they just drink it away, and that North Dakota drinks more beer per capita than any other state. I told him that didn't surprise me because the night before I had wanted to grab some milk and I saw 6 liquor stores before I saw a grocery store. He said, "You wanted... milk?" And I said, "Yeah, to go with our Insomnia Cookies! That's not weird! Plus we don't drink." And he said, "You're on vacation and you went out and got milk? Did you go crazy and grab the whole milk?" And then I just started laughing so hard, because Ali literally opened the door in the milk aisle the night before and said, "We're getting 2%, we're on vacation -- we'll start being good again after this week." I told him that and we were all dying. Sometimes I forget just how bizarre the mormon lifestyle is to the world. But I have no complaints about chocolate chip cookies and milk, ever. And all through that conversation the photographer was snapping photos and it was all just so random and fun.

From there we filled up the car, returned it, grabbed a North Dakota deck of cards, and got on our flight. Traveling with my sister is so, so much fun. She's the only one who will get this list but I'm leaving it here to laugh at later:

-Filling up her water bottle at the gross drinking fountain
-Car Manuals and gas fill ups
-Kum & Go, then Kum & Go, then Kum & Go
-Kohl's and Kroll's
-"Do I put ketchup on this?" "Oh no.. don't do that."
-Forever 21 hours don't apply
-"We're together."
-"Where are you staying?" "Over there."
-"Is that good?"
-"I sell a lot of shirts. Where'd you get those shirts?"
-Searching for the Boiler Room

 North Dakotan Cuisine

Knoephla Soup & Fleischkuekle

David Cross Sighting
Midwest Cornfields! Because this was the Minnesota side, which is apparently still Midwest but over in North Dakota, not so much.


Lindenwood Park


Little bunny at our hotel.

State 48!

State 49!


We are so happy every time we get a message asking us to watch Rosie girl!
Swimming lessons! Westin loves Colby and he does a great job getting Westin comfortable with the water. I was so sad to miss his first two lessons but my parents sent lots of pictures, and honestly maybe it was better he didn't have me to cry to :)
First week of swimming lessons down! Westin goes every day for 2 weeks of fast-start swim, and then beginning in August he will have a weekly lesson through his preschool year.

Sunday, July 8, 2018

Happy Fourth!

Michael:
Finished his first week at the VA and they were pretty long days. It's hard getting used to new rotations. And he has to pack lunches now, which is the worst... He was happy to have us home again this week! He's the best! Right after we got home this week he had to go set up for our ward Fourth of July breakfast, and he's had a couple meetings this week too. He's so busy and we love him.

Maddie:
Drove back to Fresno with my parents on Tuesday, and the boys did great. The more you make a drive, the shorter it feels. We had fun at our ward breakfast on the Fourth, but I should've dressed my kids in their swimming suits. I didn't think they'd be into swimming but they totally were. Westin starts lessons this week and our ward is doing weekly swim days, so we're about to be in the water a lot more. My favorite part of my week was going out with Michael on Saturday night. We went to a yummy Mexican restaurant we hadn't been to yet, saw a movie, and then got smoothies and went for a walk. 

Westin:
was sick for a couple nights early this week and that was super sad. He had a fever and threw up and he still keeps talking about his stomach, so we don't know what's going on. We are working hard on helping him learn how to respond to frustration and anger appropriately. He's smart and sweet and good, and his temper overwhelms him some days.

Bennett:
is becoming more independent and opinionated. He's a picky eater with a super sweet personality and I'm so happy he came to our family. We hiked Rancheria Falls again on Saturday and he loves those Ergo rides. He has also loved having grandma and grandpa around this week.

Rancheria Falls


Sweet Rosie is so funny. We love watching her so much.

Jungle Party at the mall


Bennett took a while to warm up and then was belly flopping into the ball pit by the end.

Westin kept making this face in the bounce house and it was cracking us up.


Reenacting Coco.




Fourth of July Breakfast







One of our three trips to the Green Show before we left Cedar. The boys LOVE it.


Monday, July 2, 2018

Southern Utah 2018

Michael:
had a lonely week without us and I always feel sad for him when he's home alone. He went on a hike by himself on Saturday because he's cool, and Friday was his last day of internal medicine. He's now officially a third year and starts his VA rotation tomorrow morning. Our favorite golden retriever friend was with him this week so at least he wasn't ALL alone. And he said our garden survived our time away and he's been having fun harvesting. I'm heading home to salsa plans!

Maddie:
has soaked up Cedar City this week and I am always so rejuvenated and refueled here. I spent a good part of two days working on a project with my friend Kindal which was the BEST. We have so much fun working together and we haven't been in the same place in way too long. I also went to the Cedar City temple for my first time this week. I went to the open house in November but this was my first time back here since it has officially opened, and that was such a sweet experience. I've been having fun playing with my boys at Grandma and Grandpa's house and wearing them out with lots of fun with cousins.

Westin:
loved our Kleinman reunion (my dad's mom's family) this weekend, especially riding in the back of a truck and riding a horse -- in that order, according to him. The reunion was at the Kleinman family cabin on Kolob Mountain and I haven't been there in years. He also liked the kids' watermelon eating contest, chasing a human pinata, and painting rocks. Kids are so happy outdoors, so happy with cousins, and so happy with yummy food and treats. Reunions are the best! My favorite conversation with Westin this week was this:
W: "Are horses supposed to poop in their trailer?"
M: "Well, they mostly poop on the ground, but they just poop anywhere really."
W: "So do they poop in their trailers?"
M: "Yeah, sometimes they do."
W: "Well how does the trailer get cleaned up?"
M: "With water, or shovels."
W: "Oh... But, horses don't carry shovels?"

Bennett:
has so much fun with his cousins too, and really loves following his older brother around. His new words/sounds this week are Uh Oh, All Gone, Bird, More, and the start of Brother. I love this language stage when they understand so much and are JUST about to talk to you a lot, too. It was hilarious to see how dirty he and Westin were after playing at the cabin. 

These last two weeks have been filled with SO many family and friends. I have been overwhelmed by how lucky and grateful I feel to have the connections that my family has in life. A network of extended family and friends does so much for our sense of who we are and what I want to teach my kids. I am so grateful the last 2 weeks lined up the way they did so that we could experience an overflow of family and fun. I hope Westin can remember these two reunions.

Happiest boy when we're outside with cousins. Kids love reunions!



The Kleinman Family Reunion -- members of my dad's mom's family, her sister's family, and her brother's family.

Westin started this ride by himself and then got a little freaked out, but he did great once I jumped up with him.
I wondered if he would be up for riding the horses since he was pretty scared of them last time he was around them.
He did great!

Watermelon eating contest



First the guys' round, then a ladies round, then the kids round. All three were so funny.

Westin had such a funny frantic look during the watermelon eating contest.






Nature Walk Scavenger Hunt



The fire in Pine Valley is so sad. It literally looked like a volcano on our drive home.
Caused by a poorly extinguished fire by hikers. Utah needs rain so badly right now.

Julia is such a cute little mom to everyone around, no matter their size.


My little buddy.

Building a fence so the cows won't knock over the outhouse anymore :)


Cedar City Temple. I saw so many people I knew there that day and it made me so happy.


Westin the Snake! Hotel pillows provide endless fun.
I still remember my dad building pillow forts around us on vacation mornings.

Lewis and Ali having fun! Well, Lewis is ALWAYS having fun.

South Elementary with DaNae and her boys. It's so fun having good friends with boys the same ages.


Working on a project with Kindal -- waking kids up at 6:00 a.m. is dedication :) Her dad was so nice to help us out.
Little bible boys. :) I can't wait to share more about this project soon!



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