Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Red Wing Anniversary Getaway

Jesse and I decided to celebrate our 4th wedding anniversary (7.5 years together!) by getting away for a night. I sensed we really needed more than a night out to dinner and suggested we check out someplace within an hour or two from home where we would spend the night. We settled on Red Wing, MN since we'd be heading south anyway to drop Riley off at Grandma and Grandpa's house.

Red Wing actually holds a lot of history for me, but I've never gone there just for the enjoyment of it. When I worked in the adoption field I had to go to the hospital there to visit with birth and adoptive parents. And when I was really young I spent random weekend days with my parents visiting my brother in juvie.

Red Wing 1977? One of my favorite pictures of my brother.

My parents were divorced at the time so my memory either includes driving with my dad in the 1969 Custom Newport Chrysler to visit, or hopping on the Greyhound bus with my mom who was going blind. The bus driver was nice enough to drop us off at the bottom of the hill to the juvenile center instead of dropping us off in town. While these weren't terrible memories, I was excited to add a visit as a tourist. I was looking forward to exploring the city of Red Wing and what it has to offer - even if we were going to be there for less than 24 hours.

The plan was to drop Riley off with grandma and grandpa, but when we got to their house they weren't quite home yet. So naturally, I took this picture and texted my mother-in-law " Hope she's still here when you get home. See you tomorrow". Luckily, grandma and grandpa pulled up right after that. Who knows what would have happened. : )

We arrived in Red Wing around 1:00 pm on Saturday afternoon and walked around until we found a place to eat. Actually, we parked the car and followed the smell of grilling burgers to Bev's Cafe. I really wanted to have a burger because it smelled so good, but couldn't bring myself to do so since I technically had two the day before (one regular beef, one wild rice turkey). Instead, I had the crab salad wrap and Jesse had the gyro salad. They were both ok, but I think the gyro salad was the winner of the two.

Check in to the hotel was still at least an hour away after we ate lunch so we took advantage of the sunny day and warmer weather (although still way below normal) and hiked up Barn Bluff.

There are numerous routes to the scenic view at the top and we decided to take the most difficult - the North trail.

The North trail runs along the Mississippi river side of the bluff so the view is a little more appealing than the South route.

We saw guys rock climbing, and ran into a guy named Mike G (at least that's what was on his coat). Mike was a nice, older gentleman who shared the story of the quarry that we just passed.

There wasn't a ton of snow, but this is where we saw the most snow the whole time we were in Red Wing. They obviously had less snow overall than the Twin Cities. We got about a half mile in when we came across a 'closed' sign and had to turn around. It might have been nice if they had noted that at the beginning of the hill, but I'm glad we went that route for the view alone.

We headed back down and took the south trail which wasn't exactly easy either. It was a long steady incline to a set of stairs that took us to the very top. I was still feeling the strain in my legs and knees several days later.

Once we got to the top we got to take in a great view of the city and the river. It was perhaps about 44 degrees that day and the motorcycles and boats were out soaking up every bit of the sun and warmth that they could... and we could see it all from about 400 feet above the river.

We ran into a lady who shared that the flower below is the first flower to bloom in the spring. She and her friends were beyond excited to see a whole bunch of them sprouting up from beneath the dead, crunchy grass. They took multiple pictures of the flowers and once they were gone I did too. I can't remember what she said the name of these flowers were, but surely a good sign to see them.

Another good sign? Bugs! Gnats, actually. Normally, I would not be a fan of these, but I welcomed them as an indicator that spring was here (never mind that it snowed the next morning).

After our hike, we explored a couple stores in town. Of course we had to check out the Red Wing shoe store and museum, but we also wandered into a furniture store and walked out with a dresser. Well, we didn't buy it right away, but we did fall in love with a Paula Deen dresser. Yes, Paula Deen of food lore. Apparently she makes furniture too. Who woulda thought. We'd been looking for a new dresser recently and hadn't found something that we liked enough in our price range. Thankfully, we were able to afford this gem due to a very slight crack on the bottom. Jesse wanted to go home and take more measurements (even though I had them in my purse), but I wanted to commit to it. The next morning I told him I would be sick if we lost out on that dresser so we headed back and purchased it. And now we have an excuse to go back with my dad's truck for a day trip with our kid to pick it up.

After shopping we checked into the Country Inn which we found to be quite nice and modern. I'd go there again.

Once we cleaned up we headed out to the Falconer Winery to sample some wine and eat some food. We showed up at the tail end of a busy period where we were able to experience a bunch of inebriated people sipping on their wine samples. It took a bit for us to get service, but once it started to clear out our server gave us her full attention. Jesse is a fan of red wine and, well, I am too, but I can't drink it so I sampled some white wine while Jesse tried the few red wines they had. They had a lot more white wine so I didn't try them all, but the ones I had were quite good. In the end I walked out with two bottles while Jesse had none as he wasn't in love with the red wine offerings. The food was delicious. Many of the ingredients were apparently grown on site. Actually, the desert (brownies with melted Ghirardelli chocolate) was to die for. To DIE for. I'd go back for that alone.

As we were heading back to the hotel after the winery we decided to stop at Walmart like any good couple celebrating their anniversary. Actually, I sorta hate Walmart. I don't mean to offend anyone, but I just have issues with their business practices. At any rate, we were given a gift certificate over a year ago to Walmart that we hadn't used yet. As we waited at a stop sign with Walmart straight ahead we decided now was the time to use it. My husband declared that they were winning if we didn't actually use the gift card so that's how we ended up buying a video game, some kids clothes, and a bead bracelet making kit for Riley while slightly liquored up.

It was still fairly early (8:00 pm) when we got back to the hotel, but we're not the partying type so we were a-ok with that. Jesse read while I watched cable. We got rid of cable long ago, and even though I came across some interesting shows I still found myself surfing through all the channels repeatedly. No regret that we no longer have it at home. Jesse fell asleep by 8:30, but then woke as I was posting the following picture on Instagram. He wasn't all that exited about that, but he married me so I assume he knew what he was getting into (I like to take me some pictures). Happy Anniversary, Babe.

Sleep wasn't as glorious as we hoped. Some neighbors came 'home' around 1:30 and stomped around. Plus, even though I probably only had the equivalent of two glasses of wine, I had about 5 different wines which I think contributed to me sleeping poorly and feeling cruddy in the morning. 

Even though the hotel provided free breakfast we decided to check out the St. James, partly because it was recommended and partly because Jesse was craving an omelet. While eating breakfast we had a nice view of Barn Bluff in the distance. It actually looks like someone is standing up there which seems ridiculous because it was snowing and then started to rain.

It was at breakfast that I talked Jesse into buying the dresser so we swung by the store just to see if they happened to be open and they were. It was still fairly early and most stores were closed so we debated about what to do after we sealed the deal on the dresser. We wanted to check out the pottery mall, but that didn't open until 11. Finally, we decided to head back so we could pick Riley up before her nap. Plus, we knew we'd be back in a couple weeks for the dresser and could check out the pottery stores then. Not that I am huge into pottery, but it's the thing to do while there, right?

Not long after we arrived at Jesse's moms' house Riley asked us if we wanted a 'spot of tea'. Well, of course, my dear... especially if you are offering crumpets (aka animal crackers). Where does she get this stuff? So cute.

Seriously, this trip was so amazing even though it was short. I love my kid, but it was so delightful to have a conversation with my husband at a restaurant where we weren't constantly interrupted. I almost had forgotten that it was possible.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Day in the Life - Spring 2013

With prompting from Navigating the Mothership, I present another Day in the Life - Spring 2013 edition.

Thursday, April 18, 2013
Riley - 3 years, 2.5 months

1:01 am - I wake up and head to the bathroom. I'm sort of surprised that I don't feel like lead since that's the way I often do when I take a sleeping pill. I have a chronic pain condition (Myofascial Pain Syndrome, Diffuse) and it was causing me a lot of discomfort on Wednesday. Normally, (if stretching/exercise doesn't help) I take a pain pill, but I also try to avoid taking the pain pills if I don't have to. So I thought I'd try a sleeping pill to see if that would at least help me get a good nights sleep without my discomfort getting in the way. And for good measure I fall asleep with the NatureSpace app playing 'Infinite Shoreline'... aka ocean sounds. I did wake at 10:30 when Jesse came to bed, but then was out again... until 1 am, that is.

It wouldn't be a day in the life if I didn't take a picture of my clock

2:08 - Up again. I go to the bathroom just in case that's why I am awake, and hop back into bed. Just like at 1:00 I fall back to sleep fast.

4:18 - What the hell. I TOOK A SLEEPING PILL! Why am I up again. Usually, when I take a sleeping pill I feel so heavy with sleep, but not really this time. I still wake up 1 - 2 times a night, but not nearly this much. Luckily, I fall right back to sleep after going to the bathroom again.

5:05 - You have got to be kidding me. This time it's a leg cramp that has me bolting out of bed.

I fall back to sleep and have a weird, disjointed dream that involves bad driving, unbuckled kids in the car (one was mine - not sure who the other was), driving through water, and sleeping over in a basement filled with partying young people. I've been having a ton of random dreams each night this week which does not contribute to a good, deep sleep so I am grateful I only remember this one dream.

6:00 - Alarm goes off, and I feel ok for waking up so many times during the night. I get up, get dressed, and head downstairs. I hear Riley making noises and Jesse gets up with her. We eat, brush our teeth, I put eye drops in, and we get ready to go.

Last clock picture, I swear.

Yuck, snow.

Eye drops and citrocel - morning ritual.

More snow on the way today.  What the heck.

6:50 - Jesse calls his mom so he, Riley and I can sing happy birthday to her, cause... it's her birthday. We get her voice mail and sing away. She usually does this for us on our birthday's so it seems only appropriate to do for her. Over the weekend we will see her and Riley will present her card and soap she made. Plus, we plan to hire a photographer to do a family photo shoot (as her birthday gift) when Jesse's brother is in town in July. I can't wait.

6:55 - Leave the house with Jesse and Riley. Jesse drops me off at the bus stop and the bus arrives around 7:04. I talk with a co-worker at the bus stop about this ridiculous weather we're having. It seems almost impossible to have a conversation with anyone in this state lately without talking about the weather. It's stupid - the weather, that is.

7:30 - Arrive at work and catch up with my co-worker and dive into emails, and various work stuff. I put more eye drops in. I've had dry eye for years, but it got waaay out of control 6 plus months ago. I now put eye drops in about 5 times a day and after 5 attempts to get punctal plugs to stay in my eyes they seem to be put. It's helping a little, but I have to stay on top of the eye drops and rest my eyes a fair amount.

9:00 - Text my friend, Joanna. Joanna found out just days after our girl's weekend that her dad has cancer. It's aggressive and he likely only has a couple weeks to live. She's leaving to go see her dad on Friday and I want to check in with her before she goes and see if she needs me to feed her cat. She doesn't, but is clearly hurting. I want to take my friend's pain away, but I know that's not possible. I pull up the Caring Bridge site her family created to keep us informed of how her dad's doing and I find myself getting really emotional at work. I can't help, but imagine myself in her position. I close out the Caring Bridge site and focus back on work.

11:30 - I have a one on one with my supervisor - basically a monthly check in. We talk about a number of things including my health issues. I'm a little uncomfortable sharing this sort of stuff as I don't want to be identified by it, but it's important to our conversation so I decide to trust that it will be ok.

12:17 - My conversation with my supervisor runs over so I eat lunch a little later than planned. Leftovers of tilapia with capers, brown rice, and carrots. I overdo it on the capers as my tummy feels messed up after I eat.

1:00 - Back to work - emails, phone calls, etc.

1:30 - Oops, eye drops. Usually do this at noon, but just remembered.

You can't tell, but it's really snowing here.

2:00 - Spring Fling! It's quarter launch time at work which can sometimes be fairly stressful. To help get us through it all we have a quarter launch squad that plans some fun activities usually based around a particular theme. This quarter's theme is prom. Over a two week period we get treats dropped off at our desks, free coffee, ways to win things and usually some fun event. This time it was the spring fling where some people submitted prom pictures for a contest, we got to play bingo, and there was a dance thing (Wii?). Oh, and there was cake and punch. It was fun to take a break and get a good laugh at the prom pictures submitted.

I have two pictures here - #15 and #16.
I went to a Catholic high school. You could say my dress was frowned upon.

Prom was at a car dealership - hence the car and gas pump in the background.

Update: I did not win the prom picture contest, but was still told by a number of people that my pictures were their favorites so it's still a win. 

Most of my team (why am I standing like that?)

2:45 - back at my desk getting phone calls and sending emails.

4:33 - After a day of looking at the snow pelting down sideways I get to head outside and wait for the bus. This winter I have been lucky with the buses being on time during bad weather, but today I know I better and decide to hop on the first bus that comes that will get me near my house. I usually wait for the one that drops me off a half block from my house, but who knows when that will arrive so I jump on the one that drops me off two and a half blocks from my house.

5:07 - Still downtown and a ways to go before we jump on the highway. I usually get home at 5:15 so I text Jesse to let him know we will be late. I read, or try to read... I'm sitting near a talker who can't stop checking the news on her phone and then complaining to her friend about the bad wi-fi over and over. I'm reading the Turtle Catcher by Nicole Helget, a local author from Mankato. I read her memoir which I really liked even if it made me uncomfortable, really uncomfortable, at times. This is good, but I don't love it quite as much. I'd still recommend reading it.

5:29 - There is a particularly nasty spot where two directions of one highway merge onto another highway. I look up to see we are sitting in the midst of it and a car in front of us is stuck. One guy is trying to push the car and is successful in getting it to move forward. Then our double long bus attempts it and nope - we're not going anywhere. We are blocking one lane, but the back of the bus has started to move towards the middle. The driver is trying to take it easy as each time he attempts to move the bus forward, the back of the bus slides a little to the right. Cars keep flying by us and even hop over the piled up snow between the two lanes. A bus patron finally gets up and motions to cars to stop and eventually one does. In the meantime I look down to see a woman texting while driving in this mess.

OMG, quit squeezing by us. Let us try and get out of this.
Bus driver dumping sand under the tire. One of the other buses I could have taken is behind us.

Jack-knifing. Fun stuff.

Picture from MnDot? 

The driver gets out multiple times to put sand under tires and then rocks back and forth. We start to make headway, but the bus is slowly jack-knifing to the right. We are now blocking the right lane and cars are going around us to the left, including two buses that I could have waited for instead. Of course. The bus keeps getting closer and closer to the cement median on the right side of the road. Just over the median is a large drop off. I don't have fear that we'll go over, but we only have a couple feet to the right before we hit the median. The woman next to me shares that this is only the 5th day she's been riding the bus. I assure her that this is the first time it's happened to me in the over 5 years I've been riding the bus. She doesn't look very convinced.

6:00 - Another bus comes by and offers to take on passengers. I am lucky to get on, but about half the bus has to stay behind as there isn't enough room. I see a few guys just start walking and hope they don't get hit, because it's stupid slippery/slushy out. On the new bus I start talking with a woman who works on my floor. I see her multiple times a day, but this is the first time we have a conversation and exchange names. Turns out I had responded to a request she put out for daycare referrals. The woman on the other side of me taps me on the shoulder to show me a picture of our stalled bus that someone put on twitter. Someone must had taken it from a building nearby.

As we drive away the new bus hits the stuck bus multiple times. It's not super hard, but enough that I'm going to guess there are scratches on each of the buses.

Update: The stuck bus eventually gets towed. Our driver reported that he was out of there by about 7 pm.

6:21 - The bus drops me off and I call my dad during my slushy walk for two and a half blocks towards home. For some silly reason I didn't wear boots, but I walk down a tire track on the street and am ok. I know my dad will want to know I am ok so I call him first. I am relieved to know that his neighbor came over and helped him shovel. I walk in the door and Jesse heads on out to shovel, but first lets me know there is a corn on the cob for me.

I am starving so I gobble up the corn and don't care that it's super messy. I then play with my kid and get her bath going. Jesse took her shopping and got her another car from the Cars movie along with some goggles (always with the buying stuff!). We take them out and play with them... and take them into the bath.

Showing Riley how they work.

Obviously the only picture I took with the good camera this day.

7:14 - After Riley's bath we head upstairs where Jesse gets her jammies on her and then I help with brushing her teeth. We read a couple books that she and Jesse picked up at the library earlier in the day and she gets into bed for sleep. We do our usual conversation of walking through what Riley did that day. I get a heck of a hug ("I pulled you hard" - yes you did, kiddo) and a kiss and say goodnight.

Library book written by former football coach, Tony Dungy, and his wife.  Didn't expect him to be a kid's book author.

7:40 - I jump in the shower and then make a plate of cheese, salami, crackers, and apple since corn on the cob isn't really a full dinner, but I am too lazy to make something 'real'. I sit in front of my computer while Jesse has CNN on and is playing a game on his computer. I hear Riley cry out multiple times and hope she'll eventually fall asleep (and she does). I start to write this post, but then get up to clean up the kitchen a little. Jesse goes downstairs to watch TV or play a game. We were going to watch a movie, but it was just too late to start something.

9:30 - Still on the computer. I realize I am still hungry so I have a bowl of cereal.Not my typical dinner routine to eat various items throughout the night, but certainly not the first time I've done so.

9:46 - Start path to bedtime. Brush teeth, and am about to go downstairs to say goodnight to the hubby when he comes up. I give him a smooch goodnight and head up to the bedroom. I get clothes set out for the next day and crawl into bed shortly after 10 pm.

But first I take a picture of the joy happening outside.