Saturday, March 12, 2011

Winter fun and new babies!


I have some fun winter photos to share; some are from before Puerto Rico and some are from after, so this is not quite chronological order, but oh well.

Here are a couple from Winter Carnival, back in early February. We put Willow in the carrier and walked all the way from our house down to the end of the Tech campus and back to look at all the snow statues. It was snowing pretty hard that day. This one, with Josh and Willow, you can see one little snow statue in the background and also a broomball game, which we stopped to watch for awhile. Funny story: one of the broomball teams' uniforms is a T-shirt with a huge Elmo face on it, and some of the team members live across the street from us. One day Willow and I were playing out in our yard, and the guy came out of his door wearing the uniform. Willow got super excited and pointed and said "MELMO!". Ha. I had to yell over to him that Willow thought he was Elmo.

This picture shows one of the snow statues a little better. It was a Harry Potter theme. It's always hard to get good photos of those snow statues since everything is white. They sure are amazing though.

Mid-February, Willow, Beth and I cross-country skied in "Ski for Heart", a fundraiser ski at the Swedetown trails. It raises money for the Omega House (a hospice) and also the local ski trails. It was really fun (perfect weather helped that), and there was yummy food at the end. I definitely want to do it again next year. Willow fell asleep during the ski.

Here are a couple pictures just playing in our front yard. One day Willow and I (mostly me) made a snowman. She loves snowmen and was pretty excited about it. She even gave him a kiss. We made him right outside the window so she could look out from inside and see him. She says "No-man!". We kept him there for a few days until eventually he melted enough that I had to sneak out and flatten him - he was starting to look pretty grisly and I didn't want to traumatize her, haha!

Then last Friday night we went up to Calumet to watch the start of the Copperdog 150, a sled dog race! it was really, really fun. We went up at 7-ish and weren't planning to stay very long since Willow would have to go to bed, but she was having a great time, so we ended up staying pretty late (meaning, like, 9:30 - late by our current standards!). We watched the doggies, then we went to this area where they had two big bonfires, food, drinks (they had this awesome hot spiced wine - $3 for a huge cup!), live music, and then at the end - fireworks! There actually were a lot of little kids there too, but all the grown ups were partying it up! We all had a great time. Here's Willow on my back watching a dog team race by.

And one of me and Willow - she's making a weird face.

This video is pretty intense - you may want to turn down your volume before you start it. It has fireworks plus an 80s cover band. :)

You might think it couldn't get much better than hearing a cover band play Cheap Trick while simultaneously watching a fireworks show, but actually, the most exciting thing about the past month was that two of our best friends welcomed new babies and we got to meet both of them! First Ava Rae Martell was born on Febuary 10 (I hope that's the right date Am) and our friends Mark and Amy adopted her a couple days later. They live in Minnesota, but we were able to go visit after we got back from Puerto Rico - we took one extra day off of work so we could swing it. Here's a photo of Willow with Ava. She was sort of interested in the baby, but not too much. She didn't seem quite ready to hold a newborn by herself, so Josh held Ava next to Willow.

Then two weeks later, Ruth and Chad welcomed Margot June! She was born while we were in PR, so we were doing a lot of texting back and forth down there to hear the progress. We went over to visit as soon as we could. Here's a pic of me holding Margot, and I don't know what's up with the expression on my face - I'm not high, really. You can see Willow down there by my legs. I think she might have been a little jealous.

We are so happy for you guys!! I can't wait to go camping and stuff with all the girls in a couple years. Willow will be the "big girl" of the crew, hard to imagine.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Puerto Rico!

Hi everyone,

Willow had a very exciting second birthday: she had her first airplane ride! We went to Puerto Rico for a week with the Jenson's, Auntie Jill, Janna, and aunt Joan and uncle Ray. We had a great time and I have a whole lot of pictures to post.

We drove to Hastings on Friday, Feb. 18 and our flight left early Saturday morning. it was a direct flight from MSP to San Juan, and thankfully we had no delays or other flight issues. We were a little nervous about flying with Willow, but she did really well on the way down (the way back, not so much, but I'll spare you). Here she is in her seat with a snack. She enjoyed the takeoff and the landing and said "wheeeeee!" and then "again, again!"

We stayed at a luxurious resort called the Gran Melia about a half hour outside of San Juan, near Rio Grande. It was on the ocean. Each couple had their own condo with a full kitchen and a nice deck. This resort is not all-inclusive, so we did a lot of our own cooking in the kitchen.

The first full day down there, Josh and I left Willow with the family and went to San Juan to meet up with our friends Yesianne and Carmello, who live in Cayey, which is about 45 minutes from San Juan in the other direction. We met them in Houghton when Carmello was going to grad school at MTU. They moved back to PR last year. We were very grateful to have such knowledgeable tour guides to show us around!

Here are Yesi and Carmello:

They showed us around Old San Juan. It was very beautiful and historic. San Juan is a very old city...I am almost certainly botching the historical details here, but it's either the oldest or the second oldest city in the Americas, I think it was founded by Ponce de Leon in like the 1400s or 1500s. It was attacked many times by varous countries and the city is surrounded by these huge walls with these turret things called garitas (I think). The garitas are where the sentrys would watch for ships coming to attack the city.

These cobblestone bricks lined many of the streets and they're also very, very old. They were apparently made from leftover iron ore from a mine. They're very pretty, smooth and blueish.

We toured one of the city's two historical forts, which was very interesting. I took a lot of photos there but I just can't include as many photos as I'd like to or I'll be writing this post all day. The photo of Yesi and Carmello above was taken by the entrance to the fort.

I like this photo of one of the narrow streets of old San Juan. A lot of the buildings were bright colors. I wish some of the suburban subdivisions in this country would have each house a different bright color like would be a lot more interesting than the boring shades of beige that they use, ha!

Thanks again, Yesi and Carmello, for a great day and for being such wonderful tour guides!!

The rest of the week was mostly spent lounging by the pool and/or the beach. It was very relaxing! I was able to completely forget about work for at least a few days. Ahhhhh.

Here's Willow on the beach:

...and in the pool. There were a few different kiddie pools.She had a great time going in and out and in and out and in and out of the pools. Luckily, with six adults around to watch her, it wasn't too exhausting of a task to keep her safe.

Here's Willow and Janna rinsing off their sandy feet in the shower by the pool.

The beach had a lot of cute little hermit crabs, which we had fun catching and inspecting. Here's me and Willow watching one crawl (you can see him on the ground in front of us if you look closely). One day we put a couple in a pail with some sand and shells. I asked Willow what she wanted to name her pet crab, and she said "ya-ya", which is what she calls Linda. I think she really missed Linda that week.

Here's Willow and Grandpa walking together at the resort:

Willow's first kiddie cocktail (this was a pina colada - yum!)

Sometimes the stress of chasing a toddler got to us (or a least me) a little. ;)

Here's Willow feeding an iguana. They had iguana feeding for kids every day at 10:00. We went a few times. Willow enjoyed it. Iguanas were wild there, darting in and out of bushes. It was pretty cool to see.

And also feeding the koi. She was the only child that showed up for this one the few days we went. She seemed to take the job very seriously.

The resort had a kids playground that wasn't much at all - just one little slide and a plastic playouse. It was more than enough for a 2-year-old though, and Willow played there at least once every day we were there. She loved the slide.

In addition to it being Willow's birthday when we were there, it was also Jack and Jill's 60th birthday (they're twins). There was a lot of cause for celebration! We went out to a couple nice dinners at the restaurants at the resort. Once for Italian and once for sushi. Having Willow in fancy restaurants was not ideal, but it worked out ok. We took turns taking her out for walks outside the restaurant while we waited for food, etc. Here's Willow in once of the restaurants looking at one of her birthday cards.

Here she is modeling the new sweater that Auntie Jill made her for her birthday. It wasn't needed down there because it was so tropical, but it was nice for the restaurants, which had the AC blasting.

One day we went to the El Yunque rainforest, which was only a few miles from our resort. We went on a little hike up a hill to a lookout tower. It felt good to get out in nature a little. Willow ended up falling asleep in the baby carrier.

Here is the one photo I have of the whole group (minus Josh; he took the photo).

Thank you to Jack and Jean for a wonderful vacation!!