Tuesday, April 29, 2014

5th Anniversary - Nordeast Style

Jesse and I just celebrated our 5th wedding anniversary. We've actually been together for 8.5 years so sometimes it seems silly to say we are celebrating 5 years. I want credit for those extra 3.5 years - they were some pretty awesome years.

Our anniversary was on the Monday after Easter so it was pretty low key... like any other Monday. We decided to delay our 'celebration' until the next weekend when Grandma and Grandpa were able to take Riley for an overnight. After a little research, we discovered that the traditional 5th wedding anniversary gift is wood. Initially, we thought we might go on a nature hike together as it was something we used to do more often pre-kid (and sort of 'woody'). I also realized that we had to go over to our rental property to do some spring maintenance before we left for our trip in a couple weeks. Jesse then suggested we spend our day doing things that we did when we were dating. I know it doesn't sound very romantic to spend part of the day changing furnace filters, and fire detector batteries at the rental property, but that's where I lived when I met Jesse and after a year of dating he moved in with me so that house was a big part of our early years.

But first, after dropping Riley off at her grandparents, we went to eat at Whiteys. This was my favorite restaurant when I lived in NE Minneapolis and am ashamed to say I haven't been there in years. Whitey's doesn't look like much, but they have really good food. Their burgers are my favorite and Jesse says that they have the best pulled pork. I love that they offer fresh fruit with their meals and it's always really fresh and tasty all year round.

Luckily, our rental maintenance time didn't take too long so we headed off on the next leg of our date. NE Minneapolis has a really great walking/biking path around the river. I've spent a lot of time on that path and miss it so. From my rental we headed through the neighborhood that Whitey's is in (so many new restaurants since I lived here!) and towards the Stone Arch Bridge.

Jesse took this picture in 2006. He needs to start taking more pictures again.

Jesse brought the good camera along and the tripod. I assumed he wanted to get some good pictures of the river (he likes taking landscape pictures while I take pictures of people usually). Turns out he carried that tripod for the sole purpose of getting a picture of the two of us. Ahh, he's so cute. Oh, and that's him holding up 5 fingers below for 5 years, of course.

As we continued across the river we noticed a lot of people decked out for prom. I assume it was prom even though it was only 2 in the afternoon. It was fun to see all the different styles and photo shoots going on.

We looped back over the Hennepin Avenue Bridge and then under it and across Nicollet Island and Boom Island and then cut across back to the rental where our car was. Along the way we reminisced about many of our dating moments. Like how we went to Pracna's on our second date and then walked across the Stone Arch Bridge where we held hands for the first time. Or when we used to go to the outdoor concerts at the Mill City Museum. We talked about the many different paths we would take and Jesse's favorite running route... We both talked about how much we miss the neighborhoods (seriously, the food options alone make this a great place to live), but we also agreed that we love our house now and won't be moving back here anytime soon. We do have to make it a bigger priority to check out some of these new restaurants that moved in since we moved away.

Edit: How could I forget to mention the naked screaming guy? Before we got to the Hennepin Avenue bridge we noticed a couple cops scaling a rocky hillside where there was a naked guy screaming. Oh Minneapolis, how I've missed you.

We talked about when we took that photography composition course and took pictures on Nicollet Island like the one above. 

Jesse took this picture on 4/21/06 which is sort of funny because our anniversary is 4/21/09

We talked about our favorite houses on the Island and how peaceful it seems there compared to our old neighborhood.

One of my favorite photos Jesse took of this area in 2007

One of my bus stops when I lived in this hood.

After we left NE Minneapolis, we  thought about picking up some sherbet to eat while watching a movie (it's what we used to do), but decided to make a stop at the new Yogurt Lab near our house. Close enough to feel like we were reliving that part of our dating experience.

We ended the night with a movie (Wolf of Wallstreet) and a decent night sleep. I even got to sleep in to 7 am. Haha... not quite the sleep in I would have had back in the dating days, but still a pretty luxurious feeling. All in all, it was a wonderful day.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Mini photo Shoot

My sister in law had requested that I take pictures of her youngest son (Evan) back when I did my nieces pictures (his cousin), but we never really coordinated our time. After a number of email interactions we determined that I would take pictures on Easter. The goal as I understood it was to get some pictures  of Evan to select from that she could put on a card or even print out and to include his brothers if possible. Unfortunately, one of her sons, Graham, couldn't be there that day, but her oldest, Quentin, was able to join in. Hopefully, I can get a picture of all three in the future.

I was excited to take these pictures as it would provide me with more practice. Plus there were additional challenges: Evan would only be there for an hour and I would have to take pictures in the middle of the day -  in the high sun. Oh, and I was working with my brother's yard. In these pictures it looks like he's got a big woodsy backyard, but that's not really the case. There are actually a lot of houses surrounding him and they are quite close. (One of my favorite spots with good light also had the neighbors pink canoe in the background - a little adjusting and I was able to avoid the canoe in the picture.) I'm pretty happy with how it turned out.

I learned a lot about working with people - whether it was the people I was taking a picture of or the person making the request (mom). Also, I discovered that I could pull off some decent pictures even if it wasn't my ideal lighting situation. I wish I would have explored other areas of the neighborhood to get some more 'backgrounds' and lighting options. Good takeaways if I do this again.

Taking this picture from above helped me avoid the neighbors pink canoe to the right

My sister in law noted that she could take a picture, but was having a hard time getting her boys to smile so I knew that my goal was to get some smiles out of them. I also wanted to get pictures that captured their personalities... even though I don't know them super well, I do know a little. As you can tell just by their style they are a little different from each other, and it was fun to see these differences shine through.

These boys are tall so I probably should have had a chair, but I was able to find a wall in one part of the yard that I could get a little higher than them and those are probably some of my favorite pictures. Another good takeaway for me.

Also, I was looking for good light areas initially, but some of those areas would have included less than desirable background scenery. I didn't initially plan to use the woodpile, but these are also some of my favorite pictures.

Thanks to these guys for letting me take these pictures and to their mom for suggesting it! I had a lot of fun, got to know a little more about them, and got in some valuable practice.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Easter 2014

Last year there was snow on the ground for Easter. It was sad, but we made the best of it with an Easter egg hunt indoors which is really all I remember doing when I was young (and in this same house!). But in the days leading up to Easter Riley shared that she wanted to do an Easter egg hunt outside. We crossed our fingers that the snow would be gone and that it wouldn't rain. It was a little damp out, but we were able to make it work. It ended up being a beautiful day - the first of it's kind in a long, long, time. Jesse woke early (as in he couldn't sleep and got up at 4:30 am) and hid the eggs outside so they were all in place by the time Riley woke up... at 5:30. We waited a bit and headed outside sometime shortly after 7 am.

Dewy morning

Some one was beyond delighted to get this Frozen CD and a Frozen book (and some silly socks, and Ariel t-shirt, a Doc McStuffins coloring books and some Wonder Color markers) from the Easter Bunny. As you can imagine, we all have the Frozen soundtrack running though our heads since we have to listen to it all the time. I put it in my computer one day and she just sat staring at the booklet that comes with it - following along with each song. Some serious Frozen love going on over here.

Um, yeah... pretty sure this is the remnants of a dead bunny. You may not be able to tell here, but that's fur and the outline is very bunny like. We steered Riley clear of this part of the yard, obviously. No need for creating Easter PTSD.

After the egg hunt we went inside to read Riley's new book and color in her new coloring book. It was a long and lazy morning.

So confident that she's not going to fall. She's been lucky so far - knock on wood.

We then got ready and waited for grandpa to come over. My dad is always early, but he arrived over an hour early. He got his times a little mixed up, but that was fine because it gave us a little extra time with him.

Showing off her Easter outfit

Reading the Frozen book for about the 5th time that hour.

My dad gave Riley a bunch of treats, and then we headed off to my brother's house. My sister in law asked me to take some pictures of her sons so I did that when I first got there since one of them had to head off to work that afternoon (more about those pictures in another post). After that it was a lot of hanging out, eating, taking pictures, and checking out new baby Sawyer.

My sister, Judy, and my dad

My brother, Chuck, put together a few games for the young kids (James, Alex, and Riley). Prior to Easter he emailed me to let me know that Riley could win 'valuable prizes'. Haha, ok. But when it came time to play the games she didn't want to join in. We encouraged her to give it a try, but she said no so we didn't push it. Jesse later commented that if the games revolved around books or coloring she would have been all over it. A few family members kept on Riley about playing like they were going to be able to convince her. It reminded me of when I was a kid. I hated the pushing people would do. It was as if people didn't trust me to make my own decision. I know they were well meaning and just wanted to let Riley in on the fun... and the valuable prizes, but I could just feel the pressure on her.

James (5) and Alex (2 or 3?) played the first game while we watched from the stairs, but when Chuck gave darts to the boys for the second game we all hightailed it off those stairs.

The popping of the balloons bothered our kid who hates loud noises so we went inside to snack on more appetizers and then out in the back yard to play with the bubbles (one of the valuable prizes) Riley was given just for being there.

Eventually, the games wrapped up and everyone trickled inside or out to the back yard. My nephew's wife, Jenny, got Riley to go out front with the boys and play and then played some other games indoors (including hide and seek). I have to give Jenny a big kudos because she's always been so great with Riley. Much of my family are outspoken Italians that mean well, but can be overwhelming to some... like my kid. Jenny has always applied the right touch with Riley. Once when Riley was about 3 months old and still a little colicky I took her to a wedding shower for my niece. Riley was on the verge of crying whenever anyone looked at her, but she actually let Jenny hold her and fell asleep in her arms. It was pretty amazing and I've always appreciated Jenny for that.

Not sure what this game was, but it looked really fun.

The newest baby in the family

We were about to get ready to eat when Jenny shared with us that Riley went to take a rest after playing games. I found her in my nieces room where she insisted that she wanted to stay there and rest. That's not really like my kid, but she hadn't been feeling well or sleeping the greatest so it didn't totally surprise me.

Shortly after, Riley decided to come out and join us for dinner, but mentioned a couple more times that she wanted to rest. Definitely not feeling her best.

My brother in law, Jim

But before you know it Riley was running around with her cousins and playing with bubbles again.

First we give kids darts and then we place them next to open water...

It was a fun and eventful Easter day. I'm always a little torn about Easter since we aren't really religious. It seems like an excuse to give you kids candy and gifts they don't really need... but I also like holidays for the chance to get together with family. One day I will explain to her what Easter is really about (besides the Easter bunny), but for now it was just fun to see her delight in the day.