When we have each other, we have everything.
Ben, Mia, and I joined Lolli and Pop on a trip to Slovenia and Venice, Italy. It was truly an amazing trip on so many accounts. Family time, delicious food, hiking with beautiful scenery and views, and watching the trip unfold through Mia's eyes. Each day we hiked, she was game to hop in the backpack. She enjoyed the breaks every few miles, but was right back in for the rest of the adventure. She had her first ice cream. She was a trooper while adjusting to the time change. I had mentally prepared myself for the challenges that may come up with traveling with a toddler, but honestly, Mia was a fun little adventurer to have along! Slovenia is a beautiful country and I would love to make it back some day! We spent a few days in Venice toward the tail end of our trip. Very cool city and I am glad we saw it. Admittedly, it felt a little overwhelming coming from so many days of hiking in nature with very few people. Glad that Lolli wanted her birthday trip to be the adventure that it was! We enjoyed every minute!
Traveled with good friends to Fiji this spring break! Ben's parents were sweet enough to come hang out with Mia at our house for the week. Mis loved her time with Lolly and Pop and was able to stay in her routine pretty well. Getting to Fiji was a hop, skip, and a jump from Minneapolis...but oh how worth it the effort was. The location was stunning just as we would have guessed. Pristine beaches on picturesque little islands. We stayed at a smaller resort on a remote island called Malalo. The staff was phenomenally kind and hospitable and knew our names when we would walk around. The food was OUTSTANDING!!! The attention to detail, the flavor, different choices each night...wow...out of all the places we have traveled, I have never enjoyed the food as much as I did there. We enjoyed a lot of lounging in hammocks or at the beach, diving, kayaking, eating, visiting, playing dice games, and going to bed early. It was a week that filled my cup and loved experiencing this special place with Mike and Ali.
Mia, my mom, and I went to Ireland in August. We averaged 7 miles a day over 6 days and walked The Kerry Way of The Ring of Kerry. The scenery was beautiful and my walking companions were even more perfect!
We had so much fun in spite of the day in which we were poured on for 8 miles. Mia rode in an Osprey Poco Plus backpack. Most days we had her in a Tuffo (rain suit) to help keep her dry or warm from the wind. After packing diapers, wipes, clothes, hiking backpack, carseat, travel stroller (BabyZen Yoyo) etc...we were at 4 checked bags and two carry-ons. Hard to travel light with a baby...but I didn't think we did too bad!
We booked through KimKim / Ireland Walk, Hike, Bike. They planned the route, the transportation for pickup/dropoff from hikes, lodging, etc. This was super helpful and definitely the way to go when you are trying to coordinate carseats moving through different means of transportation! I have always planned our trips in the past, but to be honest, it wasn't that expensive to do it this way and I felt that we had a much more efficiently planned trip!
- Boating a lake to get to the start of a hike
- Amelia had scones/tea (cream tea) and black pudding (very English, so my Grandma Alma would be proud)
- Amelia started mimicking animal noises we made on the hike
- She loved passing all the animals on our walks and seeing the animals at the Dublin Zoo
- Navigated 4 flights, 2 trains, 4 trams, 1 bus, multiple taxis with a lot of stuff and a baby
- Changing diapers while Amelia is hanging in the air (on the rainy day and the ground was too wet)
- Everyone's comments / surprise that we were walking on The Kerry Way and that we were traveling with a baby
- Mia's first time at the zoo and at a park
Here are just a few of the many things we love about our fur baby:
1. She buries her bones all around our house. Some might find it annoying to move your pillow in the middle of the night to find a bone. However, she is so methodical when burying it and swipes her nose as though she is moving dirt. Gets it just so and leaves it behind. We find them everywhere...laundry baskets, beds, corner of the staircase.
2. She loves to play soccer. This was discovered by accident when we came across a soccer ball on a walk. It is her favorite game in the summer!
3. She is a dogs dog. She loves playing with her friends out at the farm and comes home nice and muddy every time!
4. She travels well. She has been a rock star on every road trip to Arizona. Even at 1 yr old, she just knows when to settle in.
5. She loves her new sister. Although she can be a little overly eager to clean Amelia's ears...she is for the most part very gentle and patient.
We are lucky to have her as part of our family! Love you Beanie!
After 6 canceled trips due to COVID, Ben and I were able to go to Moorea after passing a COVID test. What an amazing Babymoon getaway it was! We napped for the first few days straight and it was glorious to catch up on sleep! The weather was perfect every day. All mornings started with a big breakfast and lounging by the water. We explored the island one day in a rental car, but mostly took advantage of all of the downtime. Life is going to change dramatically!
Ben and I jumped up to Alaska for a long weekend and stayed in the town of Valdez. It was a long drive up from Anchorage, but the scenery made the drive go by in a flash. Jagged mountains capped with snow surrounded us and it was absolutely breathtaking.
Valdez is a fishing town and is situated on an inlet. It was fun to watch the fishing boats come back and observe fisherman process the fish as we were enjoying dinner at the Roadside Potatohead. There were several really tasty restaurants that we visited, but the Roadside Potatohead had delicious fries and sandwiches.
Overall, it was a very low key trip, but we did go to Wrangell National Park. Don't feel too bad if you have never heard of this national park before. We hadn't either, but funny enough...it is America's largest national park at 13 million acres. This is not the easiest park to observe. The road in is incredibly rough and it takes almost an hour and a half to get to much of the "Easy to Observe" areas of the park. The wild thing about this park is that it is surrounded by a lot of publicly owned land and so it feels like a hodgepodge of activity and very unlike a pristine national park.
If you make it to the center of the park, you will have the opportunity to go to a historic and beautifully preserved mine. After crossing a bridge, you pay $5 to some locals to haul you up in a bus to the mine. We paid for a tour and learned a ton about the area and saw the inside of many of the buildings. Tour was great...but it was a VERY LONG wait to get back on a bus to go back to the car. If I hadn't been pregnant, we would have huffed it down the hill on foot. Ate at Roadside Potatohead in the park and then made the drive back to Valdez.
Other than the national park, we visited a hatchery that had sea lions swarming. I could have stayed there all day and recorded them! So much personality! It was a great little getaway and fun to see another part of a state that we enjoy visiting!
After about 4 years, Ben and I were ready for a new dog to join our family. We set out on the hunt for a great standard poodle breeder and found one in Idaho, Stunningly Sweet Standards by Megan Williams. She is a focused breeder with only 2 litters a year. Monty and Rogue (pictured below), Nala's parents, are both around 40 pounds and we thought that would make a great size for a family dog!
Nala was born on February 6th in a litter of 7 puppies! I loved her from the start because of her little elf ear picture (if you look at the puppy in the yellow collar, you will see her little ear stuck out)! Her call name was Hugs in the litter as they all had a Valentine's day themed name.
Here are her weekly pictures and descriptions. We pegged her pretty quickly as one that we would want based off of description alone.
We "raised" her in Montana for the first few weeks prior to bringing her to Minnesota. She loved the snow and she loved Poppy. Anything Poppy did, Nala was game. Not so sure the feeling was mutual from Poppy initially, but they became buddies after a bit!
A few highlights: She has only had 3 accidents in 3 weeks. She loves to play fetch and she sneaks up on her tennis ball. She sleeps on her bed next to Julie now that she is working from home. She sleeps through the night in her kennel. She seems eager to learn. She seems to take care of her "forest friends" just like Lucy did. If you knew Lucy, you know that I will love this trait because it was one of my very favorite things about her.
A few things to work on: Puppy biting is real with this one. Especially when she goes into her "crazy" mode. She loves people...so off leash potty time is no longer an option as she now has to go greet everyone. She does not like coming inside. She would play outside all day if we would let her.
Over Thanksgiving break, our family flew to Kauai from three different states: Colorado, Minnesota, and Washington! We stayed in the little town of Hanalei on the North Shore of Kauai in the Taj Ma Hale rental home. It was the perfect fit for our group with 5 bedrooms and 4 bathrooms. Plenty of room to spread out in many sitting spaces including the porch with a view! Costco run, Ono Cafe, and Hanalei Bread Company kept us full the whole trip. We even enjoyed apple pie from Hanalei Bread Company and it was by far the best pie I have ever had!
Although we had a lot of activities planned, we had a lot of down time to relax on the beach that was a block and a half from the house. The fam tried boogie boarding, we coordinated outfits for a family photo, and walked several times to the local ice cream shop. Dan, Liz, Ben, and Julie bravely fought sea sickness in order to dive Sheraton Caverns to see the turtles that are abundant in that area. The seas were rough with about 8 - 10 foot swells. Julie was sick the entire time, but still made it through both dives. Liz got certified on her open water dives and was a pro in the water from dive 1.
Everyone except for grandma and Garrison ventured out on Cap'N Andy's for a dinner cruise to the Napali Coast. Although it was rough seas again, we all took Dramamine to help curb the motion sickness. Worked like a charm! We enjoyed a delicious 3 course meal and the views were stunning. Didn't see any marine life, but still an amazing voyage.
Drove to Waimea canyon for the day and went on a trail that was super muddy. Didn't get as far as we wanted once the mud was ankle deep, but it was still a beautiful day and both the Napali and the canyon were clear, perfect views! We know how rare that is, so we soaked up the scenery while we could! Ended the day with dinner at Bubba's in Poipu and some ice cream from Lapperts.
One activity that I enjoyed much more than expected was the kayak trip up river in Hanalei. We have wanted to do that excursion the last few times we visited, but it never made the itinerary. Finally did thanks to Mom for pushing! Beautiful scenery and was very relaxing. Especially when we turned at the "rapids" and traveled back down river. We hardly had to do a thing to keep ourselves moving :).
Celebrated Garrison's 1st birthday all together! It is so fun to see him explore and experience new things like the sand on the beach. What a pumpkin he was! Entertained us thoroughly and I loved being able to see him every day.
The phrase "Invest in Memories, Not things" comes to mind when I think about this trip. We invested in time together that was precious and made memories that will last a lifetime. I love my family!
Ben, Julie, and Amelia