Florida: A one post recap

Thing 1 turned 18.  Way back in February actually.  For said birthday her grandparents gifted her with a trip of  her choice, within reason of course.  Initially the destination chosen was New York City.  I was absolutely giddy about this since I was asked to accompany Thing 1 and Nani.  We planned, chose a date and dreamed of our time in the city, making list after list of the sights we wanted to see and the restaurants we were wanting to dine at.  The entire trip seemed so far away and then all of a sudden it wasn't.  The end of February came and our trip was scheduled for March.  Then one bone chilling winter day Thing 1 sent me a text that went something like this; It is freezing here, I want to escape winter and spend time with you and Nani on a beach somewhere.  If we went to NY we would be running around all day and not relaxing.  What do you think?  What do I t think?  I think that the hotel has been booked, the flights are scheduled and the city lights are waiting for me.  After much huffing and puffing though, I relented and instructed Thing 1 to discuss the matter with her Nani, who of course wanted to be wherever Thing 1 wanted to be.  Harrumph.  In the end I  decided being with the two of them was much more important than any destination we could have chosen.  So our plans changed and Thing 1 landed on Clearwater, FL.  And it is there we spent almost a week together.  A blissful, sun and sand filled week.  Here is a photo journey of our time in Florida.  

Leaving snowy and cold MN

The view from our room

Nani and Thing 1 happy to be at the beach (the start of our first full day)

Lunch at the Bait House, one of the best meals we had

I dared Nani to jump on this platform from the dock...and she did it.  
I'm not sure who was laughing more, her or me.  

Umbrellas lining the pier for the sunset fest

Girl with fire hair, as titled by Thing 1

First magical sunset on the pier

Thing 1, waiting until every last piece of the fireball was beneath the horizon

Stingrays showing off for us- as seen from the pier

The very best way to end a night on the beach, ice cream cones for the win!

Day two, well actually day three, but only our second full day together, began with a bike ride to breakfast, which turned into lunch, pool time with fruity mock-tails and a boat ride to dolphin watch. 

Quick stop for a selfie on the bridge- mid bike ride

Riding through the neighborhood

Our view at breakfast, made the bike ride across the bridge worth it, 
Maggie Mae's was quite the eatery!

Pool, sunshine and fruity drinks as our reward after all that bike riding

Thing 1 was a fan of the pina colada mock-tail!

Look at us, we're on a boat!

The view

Shells on the island we stopped at during our boat ride- the tide comes in and washes over leaving behind bits and pieces to cover the island.

On the island, mid shell hunt

I'm not sure her allergies agreed with the ocean air, we spent this night cuddled up, eating room service and watching movies. 

Day four or three, whichever way you want to look at it, began the way everyday seemed to, a walk on the beach, breakfast at a local cafe, a work out in the gym and a drive into Ybor City for flamenco dancing and dinner at the infamous Colombia.  

Morning shell walk

Breakfast...enough said

Waiting out the storm before our field trip

Taxi Ride to Ybor City

Unique cafe we stumbled on, part of the regentrification of Ybor City.  It's a coffee shop, shared work space and clothing and textile store.  


I love old buildings...these reminded me of Bourbon St. in New Orleans

Nani and Thing 1

Hidden door way outside Colombia

Thing 1 and the Knight

See what we did there?  Tricky. 

The spread.  I can not even begin to describe the amount of food we indulged in this evening.  So very much.  And all of it so delicious.

Flamenco dancer.  The preciseness and intentionality with which these performers danced was remarkable.

Happy birthday to you, my 18 year old.

Ybor City, night time.

Peek a boo!  Being silly in the hotel lobby.

Our final day.  There were sad faces all around but we decided to make the most of it.  We chose a new cafe this morning and it did not disappoint.  Clarabelle, Nani's alter ego, made an appearance as well.  Following breakfast we had one last look on the beach and then off to the airport we went.  Memories and suitcases overflowing.  

The waiting list

Breakfast faces.  "Clarabelle, you're table is ready". 

A windy start on the beach.  

Shadows.  As seen by Nani.

With bellies full we made our way to the airport.  
Said our farewells and thank you's and see you laters.

Thank you Nani for a splendid week on the beach and thank you Thing 1 for turning 18 so we could celebrate you!  

March, April and May

Time to play catch up here.  Sure I've written and posted and been taking photos but nary an update has been uploaded to this site.  And now it is time.  We will dissect March, maybe even the last of February, head into April and end it all with May.  The events have been plenty, footie season is in full force and the end of school is nearing.  There is much to discuss and share.
So here we go. 

A dear friend of mine and I went on a scouting trip to Franklin.  Her family was considering a move there and she asked me to be her tour guide of sorts.  I am not sure how helpful I was considering we haven't lived there in over five  years but I so enjoyed the time away with her and of course being back in Tennessee.  We stayed at Union Hotel in downtown Nashville on our first night and I was smitten.  The building was the old railway station and it has been preserved so remarkable well.  In fact that is the only photograph I have from the weekend.  Look at the ceiling.  Breathtaking.  There was sushi and Loveless cafe and Mellow Mushroom and walking Main Street and taking in all the sights and all the housing developments and all the change that seems to be overtaking that area.  Oh and early nights back at the hotel in jammies watching movies in bed.  Good times were had.

Union Station Historic Hotel

Shortly after that trip Thing 2 met her best friend in California to celebrate her 16th birthday.  The Durbin family flew Thing 2 to LA and they spent a few days touring Hollywood, Universal Studios and Magic Mountain.  Shopping trips were marathon and they ate all the good food and shared lots of belly laughs.  A sweet treat for the girlies.  They've been friends since we moved to Franklin when they wore pig tails and collected rocks.  And now they're making memories as teenagers and readying themselves to be world changers together.  Friendship like that is such a gift.

Thing 2's friend gifted her with a stack of letters at Christmas time, this was one of them.  

Yep, these two are friends for life, I can see the adventures ahead!

Not too long after that Nani and Thing 1 had their Florida trip planned and I went along as a chaperone.  Originally we were scheduled to spend the weekend in NYC, when the cold weather blues struck and Thing 1 did not want to tour the city in the slosh we headed South for the sand and sea.  Good choice I think.  This trip will eventually have it's own post because I have a plethora of photographs and many stories to tell but for now I will leave with you this teaser.  More to come.

Sunset from the pier

With April we began Spring break for the Things and Easter weekend.  Nothing was on the agenda for break and that seemed to suit everyone just fine.  Husband Jared took a few days off  and we had family footie afternoons and late night taco dinners at our favorite taco place.  The days were still a bit chilly and we watched movies and played games, all the usual.  We held our traditional day of Easter egg dyeing and Italian cookie baking.  There was a field trip to my favorite coffee house to see baby chicks that were visiting from a local co-op.  Easter was spent worshipping together and sharing a special meal around our table, just the six of us.  Once again the golden egg was found by none other than Thing 1, scoring herself the prize for the third year in a row.

Nana's Easter Cookies

 Family Post - Worship Selfie

Golden Egg Winner!

Baby Chicks from the Co-op

Family Footie

A rally was held on the UofM campus sponsored by International Justice Mission to raise awareness of the human trafficking bill that was in the Senate.  It was the first bill of it's kind that allocated monies to be used in the prosecution of traffickers in specific countries.  Thing 2 signed up and asked her friends to come along to help out.  So we made signs and headed to the U.  People were offered the opportunity to sign a petition in support of the bill and overall our goal was to simply raise awareness around the injustice that is human trafficking, over 27 million people are enslaved globally.  More today than any other time in history.  Husband Jared and I sat back and watched these kiddos stand for their beliefs and boldly engage in conversations.

Helping to raise awareness and stand for freedom.

Shortly after that Thing 2 flew half way across the world to attend a global conference focused on the 4-14 ministry age group.  She was chosen by our church and to say it was an honor would be quite the understatement.  Her team was exceptional, three adults and three teenagers, traveling together, experiencing a foreign country, soaking in teaching and worshipping with people from all over the world.  The stories she has shared about her time there, what she learned, the people she met, they will be with her forever.  She was changed and her heart marked for eternity.  Here are a few of her photos from her week.

Look at that water.

Global worship, let the heavens rejoice!  Or more like heaven came down!

Rice terraces.

This little lizard was impressed with the offering too.

While Thing 2 was making her way back to us in the North I headed South again to run the Country Music Half Marathon with Jeff and Natalie in Nashville.  Thing 2 was supposed to be running with us but in light of her international travel she was unable to join me.  Boo hoo.  Anyhow, I spent time with Autumn and Gemma, met a dear friends newest baby boy, spent an afternoon with two lovely friends, watched swim class, took a new yoga class and ran the half with my sister and brother.  A very full weekend.  While there were no PR's this time around I finished and that, after a two year race break, was no small feat for me.  The medal came home around my neck and that trip is in the books.

Pre-race with the Nashville skyline...notice the smiles.

Post race selfie!  We did it!

 Aunt Natalie celebrated a birthday!
Yay for cake made by Uncle Jeff!

Gemma was trying to wake Gpa for family dinner

This peanut had her last soccer game and a party at the park.  
I love her and her cupcake face!

Next, Thing 4 took a belay class for rock climbing and worked on becoming a certified referee this month.  As of posting he has already been the AR for two matches and is earning his keep.  He loves being on the pitch, anyway he can!

Look at my badge, I'm official!

First time on the pitch as an AR

Thing 3's braces came off and with that an already beautiful smile is now metal free!

Love her and her dimple

On to May and the month of end of the year activities.  Art expo, band concerts, field trips, etc.  And this Mama is beyond ready for summer time.  I mean really, really ready.  As are the four Things.  We are counting the days and our senior started her senior slide last quarter.  I must state here though she made the honor roll for the very first time in her high school career and we couldn't be more proud.

 Thing 4's art work being showcased

Thumbs up for our friend's drawing!

Honor roll for Thing 1

Band Concert, on the cymbals and snare drum

This month Thing 3 had a birthday and took her permit test.  We now have one licensed driver and two permitted drivers in the house.  Wow!  Her birthday day was spent home from school, picking up retainers, taking her permit test and having lunch with me.  The family celebration in the evening included her usual menu of bbq chicken, homemade mac and cheese and chocolate coffee cake with nutella frosting.  Oh, I almost forgot.  There was an early family dinner where we all sat around the teppanyaki table at Osaka and caught vegetables in our mouth, or lemonade in Thing 4's case and an unsightly mask was placed on Thing 3's head while the drummer drummed and we sang an Asian pop version of happy birthday.  Does it get much better than that?  I think not.  Memorable to say the least.

Catching shrimp...or sake?

 The birthday girl, mask and all

Permitted driver, beware!

All hail the birthday princess


The girl Things and I ran in the Donut Dash 5K, a fundraiser for Eagle Ridge Academy.  We sported our race gear, ran the 3.1 miles and ate our donuts afterwards!  From there we raced to cheer for our favorite special olympians, Rachel and Finn.  The area meet was held at Roosevelt HS in Minneapolis and we wanted to cheer on the competitors!  Rachel took first place and made an appearance on the podium.  What a sight it was to witness the community surrounding this event and the support the olympians had.  Loudest cheering section ever!

Me and my girlies

The Finn-ster and part of his cheering section!

There is a Rachel in there, surrounded by my girls.  Group hug for the super star!

Mother's day was next on the celebratory agenda and we did it up right.  The entire day was all about me and I was spoiled from sun up to sun down.  Breakfast on the couch in my jammies while watching footie, lunch with my peeps at a yummy pizza place where we played in the photo booth and took silly pictures, a church service with friends where we sung one of my favorite songs and dinner with the same friends at a burger joint that makes everyone smile.  Such a good day.

Extended Siblings - the only photo I have from Mother's Day...It doesn't get much sweeter than this.

From there we are on to prom weekend.  And it really was the weekend.  Our house was full of girlies from Friday afternoon to Sunday morning.  I wouldn't want it any other way.  There was a movie  premier night, the entire getting ready process where there was more make up than I've used in my entire life, girls and Mamas everywhere, photos at the lake, dinner at Chipotle(love), prom itself and then an after pancake party here until the wee hours of the morn.  The girls were beautiful and what struck me while I was watching all this activity was that each and everyone of them, my own two included, have a style unique to themselves and their dress choice showed that.  No two were alike and it was so refreshing for this Mama to see.  Not to mention that they are gorgeous girls inside and out.  Husband Jared and I were thankful the Things and their friends wanted to be at our house and we willingly made pancakes and played their music and then went upstairs and listened through the vents to their giggles and whispers.


Thing 2

One of my favs, nice photo bomb Mama North!

Thing 3 helping out Madi

Thing 2 and her date, Marissa, these girls never stop laughing!

Prom Queen and Prom Princess


Thing 1 and Anna, love those smiles.

Thing 1.

Pancake after party!

The group, love these kids.

Also in May, we hosted a dinner for a new church, Turning Point.  About twenty people, mostly strangers, gathered in our home and sat around the table.  It was beautiful to witness.  I cooked and loved every minute of the prep and planning, even setting up the tables.  Although I wasn't able to make the rounds and sit and hear stories from everyone the low roar that was steady throughout the night was enough to fill my heart.  I didn't share our toast and a prayer or say any words about how sacred the table is to us.  At first I was frustrated that I didn't take the time to do that, to share my heart with these new comrades.  Then I was reminded I didn't need to.  They got it. When everyone was sitting and eating, they were the ones that created the sacred space, made the night holy.  I couldn't have manufactured that.   That my friends is a beautiful thing.

The messy preparation for launch team dinner.

We also managed to squeeze in a professional footie match.  To clarify, the football played with your feet.  Proper football in this house.  Some dear friends of ours had never been to a match before other than their own child's so we took it upon ourselves to introduce them to the phenomenon.  Our two families went to a Minnesota United FC match at the National Sports Center in Blaine.  It was quite the night, beginning with our picnic dinner in the parking lot, also known as tail gating by us Americans.  United FC won 3-2 and we learned their chants and watch super fans light smoke bombs and cheer wildly.

Tailgating- family style!

Kind of a selfie, we caught Thing 3 eating snacks, oops!

And another selfie!

So thank you to March, April and May.  As of this posting June is almost over, we've had one celebration after another, more house guests than I can count and are preparing Things to depart from the nest for summer activities.  More posting to come.  Fingers crossed.