Father’s Day Weekend 2017

Father’s Day weekend may have been the best weekend our family has ever had. (I’d probably be more certain of that if I’d been keeping up with memories on this blog). It was one of those weekends where time passed so slowly. You could really pause in the moment to reflect on how good it all felt. Grant traveled Monday through Thursday for work, and he would be traveling a bit the next week, so I think we were extra-determined to make the weekend a good one. And a good one it was.

Friday actually started with a bust-The Stone Arch Bridge festival that said it started on Friday but hadn’t actually started yet. One music tent and a couple food vendors does not qualify, especially when you have to walk through hundreds of not-yet-open tents to get to the few that are open. We did however handover a few bucks to play an oddly satisfying game of driving a large nail into an old tree trunk stump. Grant’s coworker joined us, and in case anyone is wondering, yes, I won. I also paid for all of us to play, so maybe I shouldn’t be so pleased with my win.

On Saturday we checked out the Mill City Farmer’s Market, and it was so great! Basically I wanted to buy one of everything that all the food vendors were selling, so naturally I didn’t buy anything, but the breakfast tacos and chocolate croissants looked delicious. Emily was in Heaven looking at all the puppos while we sat on the steps overlooking the river. I even went for a run after we got back from the farmers market and discovered a new park and destination for our walks.

Father’s Day necessitates a trip to the local fly shop, and Bob Mitchell’s Fly Shop in St. Paul did not disappoint. Grant looked at back/fanny pack (but obviously way cooler than a normal fanny pack) that he’s been wanting forever and FINALLY decided to pull the trigger! That’s what a big fat paycheck after nearly a year of no pay will do to you ūüôā He’s now trying to figure out all the ways he can use it other than fly fishing since he wasn’t able to bring his fishing stuff along to Minneapolis.

We were extra spoiled on Saturday with tickets to the Twins game, courtesy of Grant’s company. It was an absolutely beautiful day, and Emily even behaved for a good while.

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On Sunday we kept Emily home from church because of a cough that we didn’t think anyone would want their children to get. Because Emily usually ends up with (aka takes) toys that aren’t hers, this seemed like a pretty high possibility, so we took shifts at church at home, and Emily was able to take her morning nap and keep her cough to herself.

Father’s Day had a few fun little surprises for Grant: a jug of the most delicious chocolate milk, Manchego cheese, guacamole, “dad jokes” tshirts, and a photo book. The afternoon was so warm and sunny. Our walk took us to the park I discovered the day before. We sat in the grass and did our best to encourage Emily to walk between us. Not much success there (she is a stubborn girl), but the sunshine felt wonderful.

At dinner Emily reminded us how much she loves avocados.

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Definitely a weekend to remember.

 

Boulders and Sand

I think I spend more time wishing I was keeping up with this blog than I would spend writing if I actually kept up with this blog. [insert eye roll emoji] My latest mental lament involves an analogy of boulders and sand, and this one has stuck with me for weeks, if not months. It goes like this: without more than iPhone photos to jog my memory of the moments that make up our days, all I have is boulders, the big, sort of “remember-when-we-did-this?” or “wow-it-was-so-fun-to-see-so-and-so” moments. While boulders are great, they can’t do much keep the sand in its place. Instead, if all our memories were somehow kept together in a jar, the sand that fills the gaps between the boulders, the sand being they real emotions of any moment and the little things between the photos, would be (and are) falling through the cracks. To someone as overly sentimental as I am, that’s pretty disappointing. So here I am, back in the saddle again, trying to gather and preserve the boulders and the sand between them.

Surprise! We’re back in the Minne-Apple. Although I guess if you only read our blog and didn’t actually know anything about us (who are you, and why are you here), you’d never know that we left the Minne-Apple a year ago to begin likely one of the most wonderful chapters of our lives. But we’re picking up where we are, which is here. We’ve been here for two weeks, away for nearly a year, and yet in some ways it feels like we never left. We’re living downtown again (although arguably in the “cooler” part of downtown-we’re just so hip), going to church with the same ward (aka congregation), and I’m even assigned to my old office at work. But in many ways, it feels very different. And naturally, every day we’re overthinking being here. Do we want to move back here permanently? What are we even looking for? How can we find that? The big questions keep popping up.

We’re trying to slow down and take it all in, and really, we’re doing ok at that. It helps that we’ve got this incredible view to take advantage of:

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Although if I’m being honest, we’re both (surprisingly) a little freaked out on the balcony, so we mostly just poke our heads out of the sliding door to take it in. Our apartment has a super-classy “retractable wall” that turns our bedroom and living room into one big space. Not ideal for noise levels and baby sleep, but great when baby is awake and wants to have free roam of the place. And it has brand new carpet. Hallelujah.

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We moved here with only what we could fit in our car, so we really didn’t bring much. Emily and I each fit our clothes into a carry on-sized suitcase. We’re renting furniture. We’ve borrowed housewares or guilt-tripped our friends and family into lending (or offloading) housewares to us. Our kitchen cabinets are mostly empty, and Emily loves opening them all and pulling out the few pots and pans that we do have. We’re hoping that this forced-minimalism will encourage us to want to throw out lots of our stuff when we get back to it. We brought a few toys along, but we’ve found that boxes, envelopes, and other random items make great toys. Also the big kitchen means there is space for a baby high chair and no more food thrown onto the carpet!!

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Please notice how she crosses her little ankles when she sits in her high chair

This girl is quite the drama queen when it comes to meal times. Fortunately she is more or less a garbage disposal. She will eat almost anything, which I am super grateful for, but she also has a terrible habit of casually tossing her food onto the floor. I can’t quite put my finger on why she tosses certain foods on the floor. I think she does it when she is no longer interested in a certain food, or when she just doesn’t want a certain piece of whatever for some most likely high maintenance reason. Grant recently asked if I think she will play softball because her casual tosses have turned into launches across the kitchen. Yay.

Emily is OBSESSED with dogs. We call them puppies, so naturally she does too. Except, she doesn’t say, “puppy.” She says, “puppo” or “puppu”, and it is the CUTEST. She gets so excited when she sees them when we’re out on walks. (And so sad when they go away.) She has a couple of books with pictures of dogs in them, and whenever she opens them, she just says “puppo” over and over until she gets to the page.

There’s a playground nearby that we love, but right now we are limited to the swings until someone starts walking. (I definitely have mixed feelings about that.) Regardless, it’s a good destination for our thrice-daily walks.

We’ve also visited the children’s section of the public library a few times. We affectionately refer to the library as the “really nice/ghetto library” because of the less-than-bookish crowd that generally hangs out at the beautiful, modern, downtown library. And of course, what would Minneapolis be without a few cruises through the skyway?

And I’m not going to lie, one of the best things about being in Minneapolis (one of, not THE best) is being back in the land of TARGET. There is one close in any direction, and most of them are SUPER TARGETs. I have no shame that I enjoyed my recent 10:30pm-on-a-Friday-night visit or that I broadcast my fandom on Instagram. Boston just does not have a very good Target scene.

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We love the town of Stillwater and decided to venture there between naps on a Saturday. Even though it was still early in the day, it was hot hot hot. Our over-priced Minnesota Mexican food was good, but perhaps not quite worth the price tag. We walked mainstreet and didn’t really go in may shops because they either had steps and we were too lazy to lift the stroller up the step, or we just didn’t feel like going in. We sat on the grass underneath the only shade we could find down by the river to give Emily a chance to crawl around. And of course, no trip to Stillwater is complete without a stop to my favorite shop:

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See what I mean? Mostly boulders, not much sand. We’ll get there though.

Normal

“Normal day, let me be aware of the treasure you are. Let me yearn from you, love you, bless you before you depart. Let me not pass you by in a quest of some rare and perfect tomorrow. Let me hold you while I may, for it may not always be so. One day I shall dig my nails into the earth or bury my face in the pillow, or stretch myself taut, or raise my hands to the sky and want, more than all the world, your return.” -Mary Jean Irion

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I can’t even believe that right now is real life. After only six months, our “normal” here in Boston has become so special to us, for so many reasons: this city, the people-oh the people, the learning, the ways we get to spend our time, the time we get to spend together, the opportunities around us. We are so so grateful that we get to have this experience. I want to record this experience for us to look back on, to remember what made this time in our lives so special. While these days have become our new normal, this won’t always be our normal. As much as we wish it could, it just can’t. Perhaps that’s part of what makes it so special to us. ¬†But maybe if I make the effort to record the little things, this experience will burrow its way even deeper into our hearts and minds.

The most random collection of photos from our last six months representing a smidgen of some of our normal days-

Living above a construction site. While noisy at (nearly all) times, it provides endless entertainment for babies and grown-ups alike. Not the greatest photo, but it really has been so fascinating.

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Even though life at HBS sometimes means life in a construction zone, this place is PRETTY, like completely picturesque. And so fun.

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The colors of the fall here are nothing short of magnificent. Each time I thought fall was about to be over, I was surprised with a new autumnal display.

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Yes this looks like a picture of an adorable, chubby-cheeked baby wearing hearing protection it is actually¬†exactly that¬†a picture of the fun we’ve had supporting the Harvard volleyball teams.

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And then, there are the people. These people are so so good. Already the thought of not having them around forever makes me want to curl up in the corner and sob. Dramatic? Yes. Inaccurate? No. In the past six months, they’ve lent us their furniture when we’ve had none, shared with us their precious time and¬†insight when we needed it most, played games and shared laughs late into the night, and most of all, been the best friends and examples to us. (Even that seagull wants to know them.)

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Their children are sweet, adorable, kind, and a testament to the good people that they are. (And are already teaching Emily a thing or two about sharing.)

I never could have imagined that this experience could fill our hearts so full. We are truly so grateful for the ways this experience has already given us a day-to-day that is anything but normal.

 

Catching up (part 3)

The third and final leg of our little catching up series takes us through the holidays and the end of 2015.

Let’s just say I started out this part of the year scoring some MAJOR wife points. Accompanying¬†your husband to the Harley Davidson museum in Milwaukee when you are vehemently opposed to him owning a motorcycle will do that. I think I need to remind of this gesture of love more often…

From the Harley Davidson Museum we continued on to the Land of Lincoln (or is it really?) for a short stay in Illinois. The fall colors were still really lovely, the sun shine was magnificent, we got to spend time with friends and family, and you just can’t go to Chicago-land without enjoying some Portillo’s Italian Beef.

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We got to spend Thanksgiving in North Dakota this year. We are grateful that we have family that lives close enough that we can get there by an only-kind-of long-car trip. We spent Thanksgiving in North Dakota last year, and we were reminiscing on how absolutely freezing it was at that time last year, but there wasn’t a flake of snow to be shoveled or sub-zero temperature to be had this year!

 

Shortly after Thanksgiving, we got our first dusting of snow in Minneapolis. The first snowfall never fails to feel so magical and lovely.

Continuing the travel streak, I took a work trip out to California. My purpose was more or less to be a glorified paper organizer, but I was grateful for the opportunity. It was a quick trip, which was kind of nice, and it was a great learning opportunity, so i’ll take it. Unfortunately it wasn’t too warm in Los Angeles (like 40 degrees and windy) which was a bummer, but there was still plenty of green and sunshine, which was wonderful.

I really really really love Christmastime. It feels like everyone is just a little more joyful, hopeful, kind, and festive during this time of year, and I can’t help but really get into it. One Saturday while Grant was away, I decided that I was going decorate our apartment for Christmas. I thought it would be really nice to have a nice pot of evergreen boughs or something that would at least be somewhat reminiscent of a Christmas tree. I decided to go check out a Christmas tree market near our apartment, and that’s where the best thing ever happened…I bought a REAL¬†Christmas tree. I’ve never had a real Christmas tree before, but now I totally understand why people do it. The smell of evergreen was intoxicating and overcoming in all the best ways. I had no idea there were so many different kinds of Christmas trees! Among the hundreds of big, beautiful, never-in-a-million-years-going-to-fit-in-our-car-trees, there were just a few smaller, 4-5 foot trees that would fit perfectly in our home and in the trunk. So I took the plunge and bought the tree. I was SO giddy. I’m not sure i’ve ever been that excited, at least that’s what it felt like at the time. I had to call my mom and tell her what i’d just done because I was just SO excited. Then I went a little crazy with the decorations in our apartment.¬†And let’s just saw when Grant came home to the surprise, he LOVED it.

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We got to spend Christmas with all our family in Utah. I’ve never been there over the holidays, and let’s just say that seeing¬†beautifully snow-dusted mountains at Christmastime was nothing short of magical. I just love looking at those mountains, and with a little bit of snow? Amazing. We were there a whole week, and it was a busy one. We ¬†were so fortunate¬†to see and spend time with so much family and so many good friends. We even got to be at Dan’s (Grant’s cousin) wedding, which was so fun and beautiful. Of course we ate as much Cafe Rio as we could and even bought some stuff at the BYU book store. I’ll let the pictures tell the rest of the story.

Over the New Year holiday, we completed the family visit circuit with a trip to Illinois. It was a nice, relaxing weekend after so much traveling in the past two months. The drive down was really lovely with all the perfectly-frosted trees, and while we were there, we even went to the Field Museum, which is totally out of character for us, but it was really fun! Also, I got a new selfie stick…so look out.

And there we go! Happy 2016. Now i’m technically only a month behind.

Catching Up (part 2)

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Part two of this “Catching Up” series takes us to the end of summer/early fall.¬†I think Garrison Keillor once said something like, “Fall is a season of nostalgia and regret.” Really, that couldn’t be more true. I absolutely love fall: the slightly cool, but still sunny days, the changing leaves, everything pumpkin and apple and cinnamon, and soups, and looking forward to the cozy season. But, here in Minnesota, fall also brings with it a sort of regret–regret that I just didn’t spend enough time outside in the sunshine-y summer, and regret that well, after fall comes old man winter, and even though the first few snow falls are magical and fun, -30 degrees is NEVER fun, but always seems to happen anyway in January. So, before the cold truly set in, we took advantage of some of the things fall in the midwest has to offer, and it was really great.

My mom came to visit!

We just love having visitors, and that could not be more true when it comes to our parents. We were lucky enough to have a weekend with my mom in Minneapolis while she was in Minnesota for work. Although I didn’t take many photos, it was so fun. We checked out the Chipotle Cultivate festival in the park by our apartment, ate some delicious food at Bar La Grassa and P.F. Chang’s, watched and laughed with Jim Gaffigan, and just had a wonderful time together.

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Wedding season

At¬†Christmastime, I love when our fridge gets covered with Christmas cards. Well this summer/fall, our fridge was covered with wedding announcements and invitations. We were fortunate that so many of our friends chose to get married or celebrate their marriages here in Minnesota, and that we could be there with them! I don’t have pictures from all the celebrations, but here are a few:

The Minnesota State Fair

Minnesota has a pretty epic state fair. I mean, if giant butter sculptures, cheese curds, and a $1 all-you-can-drink milk stand don’t draw you in, I don’t know what will. Actually, if I’m being honest, my favorite thing at the fair is these $1 apple juice popsicles. I could eat those alllllll day and pass completely on the cheese curds. Fortunately for Grant (and his appetite for fried cheese curds), our dear friends James and Megan invited us to take advantage of the fair with them.

Anniversary!

I don’t know why, but looking back on this, it feels like we should be celebrating more than one year of marriage. ¬†Perhaps it’s because I just can’t help but think that it’s really amazing, the things we have learned and done and¬†accomplished¬†together in just over a year. I feel so fortunate that our individual journeys¬†led us both here and that out paths crossed in a way that allowed us to be together forever. He is just the best. We were fortunate¬†to celebrate our momentous year together with a long weekend (yay Labor day!), and we took full advantage: going to a beautiful wedding, staying at the Hotel we stayed at after we got married (it’s amazing), doing a little outlet shopping, watching the BYU-Nebraska game (and that incredible Hail Mary to win it at the end), removing the tint from our car windows (thank you, state of Minnesota…), a Sunday drive, and spending some time with wonderful friends who have so enriched our lives.

Nauvoo

Nauvoo, Illinois is now just a small town on the Mississippi River near the western border of Illinois, but it was once one of the largest cities in Illinois. Today it is also a historical site for our Church, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Many of the early Latter-day Saints lived in Nauvoo before crossing the plains to eventually establish homes and cities in Utah. Their stories of faith and perseverance are really incredible. We figured this would be a really lovely late-fall trip, and we were not disappointed. Nauvoo is spectacularly perched above the river, and the little town is just so quaint and lovely. We stayed in the coolest log cabin, learned how bricks were made, watched the blacksmith do some cool stuff, attended the temple, and watched the senior missionary couples perform the most endearing little musical about the pioneers who lived there. We were even lucky enough to have our dear friends, Emily and Jesse, join us for our weekend of church-history and log cabin-staying.

Apple Orchard & the Candy store

One really shouldn’t go through fall in Minnesota without visiting an apple orchard. We had a blast with Emily and Jesse (can you tell we kind of really love them?). We may not have actually taken any apples home with us, but we got plenty of target practice in with the not-so-good-anymore apples and even organized a little game of baseball (base apple?) with a giant stick and some of the apples that were laying around. Apple orchards are just so perfectly-fall. And, if you’re really planning ahead, you’ll choose to go to the apple orchard that is only a few minutes from Minnesota’s Largest Candy Store.

Catching Up (Part 1)

I can tell this little blog actually means something to Grant because when I go too long without posting anything, he starts asking if I’m going to write another blog post soon. It truly warms my heart to know that he appreciates our little space on the Internet even when I might act like I don’t. (But I promise, I really do). I told him it’s been so long (yes, 5 months) that I don’t even know where to start. His reply: “You’ve got to start somewhere.” So, that’s where i’m starting, somewhere after our last post about a Sota Sisters wedding/reunion in Utah in mid-summer. I’m hoping to post a few “catching up” posts in the coming weeks, and then be ready to actually post about our lives in a much more contemporaneous way. I’ve noticed lately that I haven’t been so good about taking pictures of the everyday things, and I’m quite certain that’s because blogging has taken a back seat. I’m hoping that getting back in the blogging saddle will fix that. So without further adieu…the remainder of Summer 2015.

4th of July

We were so excited that my sister Mackenzie was going to be with us to celebrate the Fourth of July in Wisconsin. After her train arrived something like 8 hours late (after what is only supposed to be an 8-or-so hour voyage…), we headed over to Wisconsin for the weekend. It was a wonderful weekend of fishing, boating, delicious food, and good company, which made going back to work even more disappointing.

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(I HATE holding the fish)

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Grandma & Grandpa!

My grandma and grandpa got tickets to see the Twins-Yankees game in Minneapolis, and we got to be their chauffeurs to the game. Before the game they spent some time at our apartment and even took their first selfies.

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Aren’t they the cutest?

Utah and Yellowstone

At the end of July, we traveled to Utah for the first-ever Boren Family Reunion. It was such a fun time. I got to meet the rest of my Boren-Family nieces and nephews, spend time with my oh-so-amazing sisters-in-law, and they are all just so so great. I could not have asked for a better family to marry into. I really loved how much we took advantage of the amazing hiking opportunities in both Utah and Yellowstone. It was just so fun to spend time getting to know everyone better in such¬†magnificent and beautiful places. Heading into the experience, I didn’t know what to expect from Yellowstone, but any expectations I had were blown away. It is a really really lovely¬†place.

 

While we were in Utah, we also got to catch up with some dear friends. It’s so wonderfully refreshing to have friends with whom you just pick up right where you left off, despite the distance and time between visits. It’s so wonderful, and i’m so grateful for our wonderful families and friends.

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That selfie stick sure came in handy this summer.

Sota Sisters in Utah

June ended with a Sota Sisters reunion in Utah for Tori’s wedding. I was the last to arrive on Thursday evening. After my beeline to pick up some Cafe Rio before leaving the airport (priorities), wonderful Ali whisked me away to meet up with everyone. Although it was a quick trip, we all were pretty excited.¬†So¬†many emails, texts, gifs, plans, and excited emotions were shared in the months leading up to it. I’d say we did a great job setting the tone for the weekend.

Friday began¬†with a short hike not too far from where we stayed in Bountiful. It was really lovely. “Hike” might be a generous term, but we found the most amazing waterfall at the end of our short trek, and despite the sweltering heat that day, it was cool and beautiful¬†at the waterfall.

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And of course, we couldn’t resist taking an excessive amount of pictures.

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Later in the day we visited this super-fun drink place called Fizz Drinks. They make fun drinks using different sodas as a base (Sprite, Dr. Pepper, Mtn Dew, etc.) and then add delicious sugary things like fruit puree, syrup, or whipped cream. They also have amazing cookie-gelato sandwiches. (Grant and Josi, it’s super-close to your house) If any one checks it out, I highly recommend the North Shore drink and the honey oatmeal gelato sandwich.

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Tori’s wedding flowers also showed up at her apartment the day before her wedding, which meant that we had to convert her apartment into a refrigerator until the reception. Let’s just say it was a liiiiiiiittle chilly in there that night.

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Friday’s main event was the “Not-rehearsal dinner” hosted by the Sota Sisters for the wedding party. Ali’s parents live in Salt Lake City and have the cutest home and the most beautiful, perfect backyard. Even though it was 100 degrees outside, the massive tree, the misters on the fence, and the twinkling lights zig zagging across the yard provided the most perfect setting for everyone to get together. We had a pi√Īata, which was so fun. (Talise is a genius.) And the GIANT ice cream sundae was a huge hit. (Ali is an amazing hostess.)

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Friday was really great and it wasn’t even the reason the brought us all there. Saturday was Tori’s wedding day! The Salt Lake Temple is such a beautiful, inspiring place.

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It was really wonderful¬†to be there with Tori and Bridger as they were sealed together for time and all eternity. I was just so so so happy for them.¬†Marriage is the best ūüôā

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Here they come!!

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Selfie with the newlyweds!! ^^

Since Tori and Bridger got married on a Saturday at the Salt Lake City Temple, it was pretty much a mad house once everyone got outside to take pictures. Even with the 100 degree temperatures, it was so fun to be out there. I just love seeing all the couples and wedding parties and thinking about how they are feeling in that moment and their journeys up to that point and where that will go from there. So great. Also, Tori and Bridger’s bridal party and family looked amazing in their ivory and gold. She seriously has the CUTEST nieces and nephews.
There was a wonderful lunch for friends and family after the wedding. Tori’s brothers and father are so funny. What a great family.

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Please note the most adorable photographer you’ve ever seen. ^^^

Their reception at a country club high above Bountiful was really beautiful. I couldn’t resist a few pictures of the sunset.

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After we bid Tori and Bridger farewell with sparklers, we had a surprise in store for Talise. Not only was Saturday Tori’s wedding day, it was also Talise’s birthday. (And the big 3-0.) After we hauled everything back to Tori’s apartment, we announced that it was time to go for a drive. We all piled into Ali’s dad’s truck and headed back to the place where we had our hike the day before. It has a beautiful overlook of the valley below. Ali made some amazing ice cream sandwiches and we uncorked some Martinelli’s to toast our wonderful friend Talise. We talked about lots of things but of course we had to finish the evening with each of us sharing something we love about her.

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Emily and I surprised Talise on her birthday morning with a balloon barricade in front of her door. She kind of loved it ūüôā

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After church on Sunday, Talise and I headed to the airport. It was a whirlwind weekend but so great. As we drove to the airport, we talked about how very special it is that we have a group of friends willing to fly or drive halfway across the country to be together and support a friend at her wedding.

Adios Utah…

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Hello Minnesota! (And my wonderful husband)

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Visit From The Borens

In June, we were lucky enough to get a visit from Grant’s wonderful¬†parents. It was really fun to have them here and to spend a little time showing them around our city. Although, they actually did quite a bit to show themselves around the city while we were at work. They went on a really great bus tour and came back telling us all about the things they learned while they were on their tour. After we heard about all the places they visited on their tour, we realized that we had to scratch a few ideas off our lists because they had already been there and done that.

We decided to check out the Mill City Museum, which turned out to be really fun. It was so great I decided that we needed to buy a Minnesota Historical Society pass, so we now we have a better excuse to visit all the awesome historical sites around the state AND we can take friends. (Split Rock Lighthouse anyone?)

At the Mill City Museum, we learned all about the growth of Minneapolis and the history of the flour mills in the city. The museum has a really fun blend of things for adults and kids.

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We also got to take in some really pretty views from the top of the flour mill.

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A visit with us always requires¬†learning about the fun¬†and intricacies of a selfie stick. (Don’t hate it ’till you try it. I promise i’ll make you a selfie-stick believer. They’re just SO handy.)

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Visiting the St. Paul Temple and the park where we had our wedding reception and ring ceremony was really great. The sky was so blue!

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And of course, we had to take them to some of our favorite restaurants: Bar La Grassa and Brasa. (Similar names, NOT similar food.) I didn’t take any more pictures, but maybe that was because we were having too much fun to stop and remember to take pictures.

Sunday¬†also happened to be Father’s Day and a week before Grant’s father’s birthday, so we celebrated accordingly with hamburger steaks; potatoes & gravy; trifle, and some lemon meringue pie. (His favorite.)

Also on Sunday evening, the singer/vocalist, Alex Boye came to Minneapolis and shared some of his spiritual conversion at a fireside at our church building. It was really great. Not only is he so funny and so entertaining, but he is British, so he has the most amazing accent. I was instantly hooked. He finished the fireside with the most incredible, powerful, and moving rendition of “How Great Thou Art” I have ever heard. I cried. I couldn’t help it. Those words. His voice. The air was so full of love while he was singing. You can listen to him sing a really cool African/English version here.

We had such a wonderful time with Grant’s parents. We are so grateful for the time we had to spend with them. We are so grateful for our friends and family who are able to visit us when we are so far away.

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Camping. Round Two.

Recently we set out on¬†our second-ever camping trip. This time however, we decided it would be more fun with company, so we invited our new friends the Cobells. Like the first time, we stopped for dinner on the way up. I know this really isn’t the full “camping” experience and probably at least a little bit humorous, but when you leave after work on Friday and have to set everything up once you get there, tin foil dinners cooked over a fire just don’t have the same appeal. So, we compromised with a fun little restaurant that had great reviews located in a tiny town along the way there.

A few days before our camping adventure, I realized we needed a certain item to really complete the experience for everyone. And fortunately, Amazon Prime could get it here in two days, so without any hesitation, I ordered…a selfie stick. After having it for about a month now, it has come to be one of the best $20 purchases i’ve ever made. The proof lies in the pictures…

We ended up camping in Wisconsin because there weren’t any drive-in campsites (I know, hardcore) available within an hour of Minneapolis. I think we are all pretty happy it worked out that way because we ended up in a really beautiful location. Emily and Jesse (the Cobells) are from Washington (the state) and the said it looked like we were out there.

The boys expertly put up the tent for all of us.

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We went for a short, sunset hike that was really spectacular.

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A camping trip is never complete without a fire and s’mores. Also headlamps that make your nose glow red are a must.

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Unfortunately it rained on us quite a bit the next morning, so we had to delay all the hiking we wanted to do. It really wasn’t that bad though because we had delicious Scandinavian donuts to help us wait out the weather.

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Once the rain finally stopped, we got to go on a few short hikes that were really incredible.

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There are a lot of glacier “pot holes” in the rock along the river. The pot holes were formed by round boulders that would grind the rock in a circular motion when the area was covered in a glacier. (Or something like that) Some are massive, and some are quite small. This one is sort of medium-sized.

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In case you didn’t know, lush, green vegetation inspires deep thinking.

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The mixture of rocks, trees, and so much green was really beautiful.

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We even got some people on this river boat to wave to us.

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We were really surprised to find a Transformer in the rocks.

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Despite the rain, we had a really great time hiking. Perhaps we will even get in a second camping adventure this year??

 

Courtyard Tea Party

Once the temperature finally warms up after a long, cold winter and everything becomes, beautiful, lush, and green, all I want to do is be outside. When the winter is as bad as it is in Minnesota, you never really forget it, and you have to take advantage of being outside when you can because before you know it, winter will be back again.

My dear friend, Ali, gave us the most wonderful reason to spend some time outside together-a tea party! She is seriously the best hostess. She makes the most delicious food and does everything with so much thought and care. She made scones, muffins, bread, cucumber sandwiches, baked ham and cheese puff pastry-esque sandwiches, and had fruit and so much other good stuff. It was all so¬†perfect and so delicious. As if the food wasn’t perfect enough, the company was even better. I’ll let the pictures tell the rest of the story.

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