Sunday, August 19, 2012

Another Trip to Colorado

A few days after Katherine and Sam's wedding in July, my mom flew out from Colorado.  Mike and I had been invited up to a lake house with a bunch of friends of ours, and Mike's parents were busy that weekend, so my mom was kind (and brave!) enough to fly out to stay with our three boys while we went and had fun with our friends.  We left Friday morning after taking Zach and Drew to vacation Bible school.  Jake was sad to see us go, but he got over it.  While we were gone, Grandma and the boys went to the zoo, played at a park, went for a bike ride/walk, and did some other stuff.  It seems like they all got along just fine.  And Mike and I really enjoyed our trip to Clear Lake with our friends BJ & Susan, Katie & Brian, Jaime & Kevin, Jenn & Johnny, Tom & Anna, and Kim & Brent, who hosted.

So part of the plan with my mom flying out was that once Mike and I returned from our weekend with our friends, my mom, the boys, and I would drive to CO for the week, and Mike would fly out at the end of the week to drive home with us.  That was kind of a win-win situation.  We didn't have to pay for a bunch of expensive plane tickets and a rental car, and I never had to drive all the way with 3 kids and no adult help in the car.  Plus, Mike could work almost a full week (he flew out to Denver on Friday morning).  We thought about leaving on Monday, but there was a golf tournament that Zach really wanted to play in on Monday, so we decided to leave Tuesday instead.  This allowed me time to get some laundry done and get everything packed and ready to go.

Here's Zach before his tournament.  Apparently I already wrote about this tournament in a different post, so I don't really need to do it again.

Tuesday morning we were up and out the door by a little before 7:00.  I had breakfast ready for the kids to eat in the car.  Somehow our drive-to-Colorado breakfast staple has become Honeycombs cereal.  I don't buy it any other time, but I feel like it's pretty easy and tasty to eat without milk in the car.  Drew and Zach totally associate it with our drives to CO, so I guess I kinda like the idea that when they're grown up, they'll see a Honeycomb box and hopefully be reminded of the fun and exciting drives across Iowa, Nebraska, and eastern Colorado.  Good times indeed.

My mom and I made pretty good time.  We drove the 2 hours to Omaha and stopped just on the west side at a rest stop so everybody could potty and stretch their legs.  Then we put in a movie, and that kept the boys pretty happy until lunch time.  We had made lunches, so we ate in the car and when we got to Kearney, which is about the halfway point, we stopped at a park to play on the playground.  Once we left the playground it was nap time.  We stopped only one more time, in Ft. Morgan, CO, to gas-up and take another potty break.  By the end of the drive, Jake was definitely sick of the car.  But he found some entertainment in writing on himself with the washable dry-erase crayons I purchased just for the trip.

It was definitely a relief to get to Grandma and Grandpa's house.  Tuesday night we just had a casual dinner and got the boys in bed early.  Wednesday the boys and I met up with Becky, Cam, and Myles at a big aquatic center near my parents' house.  That evening the boys enjoyed some of the original Little Rascals on DVD at my parents' house.  This is not a great picture, but I like how it shows all the boys, with Zach and Cam, the two oldest, being sure to nab the comfy seats, while the little boys are stuck on the uncomfortable chairs.

That night I got to meet up with some high school friends.  One of them lives in Denver and is expecting her first child, and the other two live far away (NYC and Spain), but just happened to be in town at the same time as me.  I was so thankful to get to see them and catch up.

Thursday the 5 little boys, Becky, Grandma and Grandpa, and I went to the Denver Zoo.  It's such a good zoo, but almost too big for kids as young as Jake.  My favorite moment was when Drew and Jake were on the carousel.  Drew was concerned about there not being seat belts, so when I let go of him to put Jake up on his seat, Drew got after me about not letting go of him.  Same thing when I took the picture below.  As we went around and around, Grandma Ruth was there on the side waving to us.  I told Drew to wave, and he said, "No! I can't let go!"  Jake, on the other hand, waved every time we passed Grandma in his funny, sideways wave, and kept pushing my hand off the back of him and saying, "No," if I tried to hold on to him.  

The zoo  has a new elephant exhibit, and it was really cool.  We got to see part of an elephant show, which was another favorite part for me.

Mike arrived early Friday morning, and that day we met up with Becky and her boys and some childhood friends of ours, sisters Ange and Adge and their kids.  Ange has been one of my best friends for over 30 years, and she has 2 boys that are just a few months younger each than Drew and Jake.  Drew was very excited to see Ben, Ange's oldest.  Drew was a few minutes late because he had been at the railroad museum with Grandpa Dick, which he enjoyed tremendously.  Once he saw Ben at the park, he ran right up to him, said, "Hey, buddy!!" and gave Ben a big hug.  Ange and I met when we were a little younger than Drew and Ben, so it's so fun to see our kids enjoying playing together.  And Adge (short for Adrienne) and Becky have been friends for the same amount of time as Ange and I have been, but they get to see each other more often since they both live in CO.  Adge has 6 month-old twin boys that are just so cute, so it was fun to get to meet them.  Unfortunately, I didn't take any pictures.  Dumb move.

We wanted to see Becky and Tom's new house (which is very nice and so spacious!), so Mike and I decided that we would stay there for the last couple of nights of our visit.  Friday night we had some yummy pizza and the boys watched a movie.  We put Drew to bed on the floor in the room Mike and I were going to sleep in, but when we went to go up to bed, we found him dead asleep on the floor by the stairs.  He said the next morning that it was just too dark in the bedroom.

Saturday Becky and I went for a run, and it was great to run with one of my sisters again!  I really miss doing that.  After breakfast we headed out to a big park where the boys played hard.  One of the last things on our summer bucket list was "Go on a hike," and I knew CO was our last chance for that.  The park had some trails through a wooded area, so Uncle Tom turned it into a bear hunt, which the boys loved, and they considered it a hike, so we were able to cross that off our list.  After a little time in the park's splash pad, Tom went and got McDonald's for all the kids and they enjoyed a picnic.

We got home and got the two little boys in bed for their naps, and suddenly I heard a very familiar sound from my childhood that I knew my boys had never heard before- the ice cream truck!!!  I could not resist letting the boys partake in this little piece of Americana (at least that's how I think of it).  They thought it was pretty awesome.

Sunday morning we headed out, leaving Becky and Tom's house around 7 or 7:30.  Mike and I made even better time than my mom and I did, probably due to the fact that we never stopped at a park to play.  In fact, we only stopped twice- once at the rest stop in Julesburg, CO (just inside the CO border) for a potty break, and once for gas and potty breaks later in the day.  We did stop to pick up pizza for dinner as we arrived back in our own hometown.  We made it home in about 9.5 hours, which rivals the times Mike and I drove that drive before our kids were born.  Jake had some moments of definitely frustration in the car, but again, he really did pretty well.  Snacks, little toys, things to color on, and VBS songs to dance to helped a ton.  

The trip was the perfect end to our summer.  The only thing we didn't get done on our bucket list was a trip up to see Anders, Aunt Sandy, and Uncle Will.  Hopefully this fall we will get that fit in!

Monday, August 13, 2012

Katherine and Sam's Big Weekend

I finally have uploaded pictures from Katherine and Sam's wedding, which was July 21st.  All of June and the first part of July were definitely a countdown to that big day, at least in our house.  The boys were excited to get to the point where Sam officially became their uncle.

Friday night we had the rehearsal dinner, and I couldn't resist dressing the chance to dress the boys similarly.

We practiced the ceremony three (?) times, and the boys were very good and patient, but they were definitely ready to get outside as soon as possible.

After the rehearsal, we headed over to Sam's parents' house for dinner.  Mike and I decided we would give Sam and Katherine their combination wedding/graduation gift.  We had this piece made at an awesome place here in town called Sticks, which is a place that makes custom pieces out of birch, poplar, and driftwood.  After struggling for months to decide what we would get Katherine and Sam for both their wedding gift and graduation gifts, one Friday night I was watching a show I DVR'd and happened to hit stop right when a commercial for a Sticks trunk show was on the screen.  So that got the wheels turning, and Mike and I started brainstorming, I sketched out a rough draft, and a few days later we met with an artist and explained everything we wanted, and voila! This piece was born.  We were super excited to give it to them because we felt like it turned out even better than we had hoped for.

The day before the rehearsal we dipped the boys' hands in paint and used them to make heart-shaped handprints with the boys' names in them inside the back of the piece.  It's a large piece- 24x24 inches, and it's about 4 or 5 inches deep.

I think Katherine and Sam were pretty surprised.

Here's an explanation of what we had put on the piece, starting at the top in the center and going clockwise:
-St. Olaf- the college Katherine and Sam both just graduated from.  The crest in the middle is the St. Olaf symbol.  It also has 2012 on it.
-The building on the right is St. Olaf's Old Main.  Katherine and Sam were amazed at its likeness to the real building.
-The circular symbol covering part of Old Main represents Oxford, where Katherine studied for a semester last year.
-Below that is the blue EMT symbol, which is for Sam, since he was an on-campus EMT for a few of his years at St. Olaf.
-Next to that it says X + Y = Z, to represent the fact that Katherine was a math major.
-Under the math equation is a pennant with St. Olaf's cheer of Um Ya Ya on it.
-Inside the heart it says K + S.
-The lower left corner is a person thinking, which represents Katherine's philosophy major.
-Above that there's a double helix to show Sam's biology major.
-Above the DNA strand is a mortar and pestle, because Sam was also a chemistry major.
-Finally, in the top left corner, those are not spatulas, they are the equipment used in broomball, which Katherine and Sam both played intramurally.

We also were able to put stuff along the sides since they are 4-5 inches wide.  So along the top side, we have, "Congratulations Katherine and Sam!  We love you! -Mike and Sarah."  Along the bottom we have, "We love Aunt Katherine and Uncle Sam! -Zach, Drew, and Jake."  And along the sides we picked 2 quotes.  The first is a piece from the ever familiar 1 Corinthians 13- "Three things will last forever- faith, hope, and love.  The greatest of these is love."  And the other side says, "To get the full value of joy, you must have someone to divide it with," which is a quote from Mark Twain.

Here's our family photo from the rehearsal dinner.  Notice Zach doing bunny ears behind Mike.  Always the jokester, that Zach.

Jake enjoyed testing out the temperature of the beverage containers.  I thought it was pretty cute.

The next day was the big day!  Woohoo!  After a run in the morning, I gathered up my stuff and headed to the mall to meet the other bridesmaids, Katherine, and the 2 moms, so we could get our hair done.  I never liked my hair on my own wedding day, but I was too shy to speak up, so that was one piece of advice I was sure to give to Katherine.  Then I ran into the same problem as I sat there in the chair, where this lady, who maybe was pregnant, but maybe not (weird elephant in the hair salon, especially when I asked if she had kids and she said "not yet" but didn't go on to say she was pregnant or anything, leaving me wondering the whole time), curled and curled and curled my hair, and then started pinning part of it up, and I could tell I was not going to like it.  She asked my opinion at one point, and I felt like I couldn't say I hated it, but I did say, "Well, could we make the part not so long?" because that was the nicest thing I could think of to say that would prompt at least a subtle change.  So she changed the plan some, and while it was better, I wouldn't say I loved it.  Maybe it was because I am just used to my hair being straight and the curls threw me for a loop.  It looked awesome in the back, but I really cared more about how it looked from the front.  Anyway, when I look back at pictures now, I don't dislike my hair that night, but I wouldn't necessarily ask for it to be done that way again.

Anyway, after getting our hair done, we met back at Kevin and Cynthia's house for lunch.  Katherine's two personal attendants, Hannah and Brianna.  These two ladies were incredibly helpful all day long!

After lunch we headed to the ceremony site, which was an old church that has been converted into a cafe and art gallery.  Katherine's best woman (no maid of honor here!) got her this neat hanger for her wedding dress.

The other two bridesmaids and I decided that Cynthia, Katherine's mom, should help her get her dress on.  When we told Cynthia this, she suddenly got choked up.  This got Katherine choked up, and then also got me choked up.  It was a sweet moment to be a part of.

There were some tricky buttons on that dress that required a little extra help.

Time for the veil!

I love that Katherine opted for fun purple shoes instead of basic white.

Katherine and Cynthia before the wedding.

Me with my lovely sister-in-law and mother-in-law, obviously before Cynthia and I got our dresses on. I really like this picture a lot.

Here is Katherine's bouquet.

Getting her lipstick on before pictures.  This totally reminds me of a picture I got of my sister Becky applying lipstick before her wedding almost 9 years ago.  I think it's just such a neat angle.

Finally, the three bridesmaids got dressed.  We all got to design our own dresses, which was a cool thing to do.  In addition to myself, Katherine's bridesmaids were her friend Kate (best woman, in the center), and her now sister-in-law Kelsey, who is married to Sam's brother.  Kelsey was about 32 weeks pregnant in this picture.

Here is the ceremony site.

Bridesmaids' bouquets.

Unity candle area.

Here are the two moms- Sam's mom, Tracy, on the left, and Cynthia, Katherine's mom, in green.

There was some card playing going on between Mike, Tyler (best man), Kate, and Alex, Sam's brother.

This is the table where the programs and the guest book were.

Katherine and Sam's guestbook was really cool.  It was a photo book with pictures from their engagement photo shoot, and it had prompts on some pages, such as, "Where do you see us in 20 years?" or "Give us some good ideas for a date night," etc.  I thought it was a really clever idea.

Almost time for our pictures to start- so Mike had to get his boutinierre pinned on.

The beautiful bride and mother-of-the-bride.

Mike and Katherine.  Doesn't seem so long ago that Katherine was in our wedding, but it was 11 years ago and she was only 11!  I just love this big brother/little sister picture.

Katherine and her dad.  Another cute one!

Kevin had some sort of button issue, but I think maybe Tracy, Sam's mom, solved it.

Mike's mom and step-dad were a HUGE help to us on the wedding day.  Not only did they go to our house while Jake was napping so Mike could leave and come to the ceremony site, but they also brought the boys to us and then drove to the reception not once, but TWICE (a good 25 minute drive each way) to pick the boys up in shifts (Jake needed to leave earlier than the older two) so Mike and I could stay later.  Then they stayed at our house until we got home after 1:00 in the morning.  They were incredibly helpful, and we couldn't have been more thankful to them for helping to make the day so much easier for us for allowing us to really enjoy the reception without worrying about our kids falling apart out of exhaustion.

Anyway, here are all my boys after they arrived at the gallery and we got them in their tuxes.  So handsome, if I do say so myself!

Kate took a quick family photo for us, which turned out pretty good.

The boys did well during photos before the ceremony, and then retired to the basement to wait it out while the guests arrived.  We kept them happy with fruit snacks and an episode of Mickey Mouse Clubhouse that was on my phone.

The rest of the group relaxed before the big moment.

The ceremony went very well.  One thing Katherine and Sam did that I thought was really cool was that they had their attendants, Sam's brother Alex and his wife Kelsey, walk down together first and stand together on Sam's side, and then Mike and I walked down the aisle together and stood on Katherine's side.  Then Kate and Tyler walked down together and stood on either side of Katherine and Sam, and then Zach, Drew, and Jake walked down the aisle together.  I can't remember at this point if they held hands or not, but Mike thinks they did.  It was fun to hear the audience kind of do a collective "awwww" as the boys came down the aisle.  Then Drew went and stood with Sam, front and center, Zach sat down next to Grandma Cynthia and Grandpa Kevin, and Jake came up to Mike and me.  We quickly got Drew sent to the right place, where he stayed throughout the ceremony.  Jake was sort of up and back a few times between the seats and Mike and me.  I had a bag of tricks right there in the front row with the boys, including snacks, books, coloring books, etc., but I did not want Kevin and Cynthia having to worry about keeping their grandsons entertained when they really wanted to watch their only daughter get married.  There was one moment where Jake put down a coloring book and then Drew picked it up and Jake wanted it back, and there were some raised voices (mostly by Drew, if you can imagine), but we got it under control pretty quickly, and I don't think it was too distracting.  I wish someone had videotaped the homily and vows, because I really hardly paid attention to them, as I was so focused on making sure the boys were super quiet and well-behaved.  Thankfully, Katherine's uncle, who presided over the ceremony, kept it pretty short.  That was very helpful.  On the whole, if I had to rate the boys' behavior/performance at the wedding on a scale of 1-10 with 10 being perfect, I'd give them an 8, probably.  

After the ceremony Mike and I got to ride in the limo with the rest of the wedding party, and Grandpa Kevin drove the boys to the reception site.  The reception was at a golf course, so we went out on the course and took some more pictures.  Then the party started, and it was so much fun.  I was super nervous for the toast Mike and I had prepared, but I think it went pretty well.  I did get one picture of Katherine and Sam during their first dance as husband and wife, but that was the last picture I took.

There was lots of fun dancing and good food, and just a general good time was had by all.  As I said before, Curt and Linda helped us out by coming to pick up the boys in 2 separate shifts, and Mike and I closed the reception down as though we were recent college grads and didn't get home until after 1:00 a.m.

The next morning there was a brunch, which was nice because we got to chat with Cynthia's family a little more.  We were all exhausted, though, that's for sure.

It was definitely an amazing weekend and we were so happy and honored to be a part of it.  We are thrilled to officially have Sam as part of the family, and the boys couldn't be happier to have a new uncle.