Category Archives: Family

A Day in the Life – Summer 2016

Sunday July 3rd, 2016

Steve is 39

Laura is 35

Kai will be 2 in 12 days (hold me)

This day in the life was recorded as we were camping in Door County for the holiday weekend. It will probably be slightly less detailed than usual but I will do my best. Also WordPress editor is being a jerk and will not let me add spaces between paragraphs. Maddening.

7:37am – I hear Kai awake on his side of the camper after rough night of sleep. He was up crying for a few minutes seemingly every hour starting at midnight. I’m pretty sure it’s because he was over tired from camping (this was our second night of three). I change his diaper and get him dressed, and then pour his milk and set him up with his videos in the camper.

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8:05am – Kai is ready to head outside, so I help him out of the camper and he goes to sit with my mom. I make much needed coffee for my mom and myself.

While drinking my coffee, I whip up some pancakes on our outdoor camp stove. I forgot to bring syrup, so my mom rides her bike over to my aunt and uncle’s campsite to borrow theirs.

Pancakes are literally one of Kai’s two favorite foods, along with mac and cheese. Today he is being a stinker though, and refuses to eat anything for breakfast until we offer him cheerios.

After breakfast we get ready for a bike ride. A bunch of family members arrive at our campsite on their bikes and we are ready to go. I load Kai into the Burley bike trailer and put his helmet on. He selects a dinosaur, a giraffe, and his yellow car to accompany us on the ride. Kid loves bike rides.


9:00am –  We leave for the ride. We take a scenic road with great views of the water and decide to make a stop at the lighthouse to enjoy the views. Please excuse my sweaty helmet hair.


10:15am – We arrive back at the campsite. My mom and Joe leave to go play tennis. I start packing up all of our stuff to head over to my aunt and uncle’s house. We are bringing Kai’s pack n play and all of his sleep equipment in hopes that he takes a great nap over there so it will be possible to take him to the fireworks tonight. He probably had a snack and watched some videos so that we could get ready.
11:15am – We leave and make the 10 min drive to the house. I get Kai’s stuff set up in my cousin’s bedroom and we hang out for a bit.
11:45am – We walk over to the tennis court/playground area where Kai watches a little tennis before hitting the swing.

Though you can’t see it in his face, Kai loved swinging with Auntie Beth and Grandma Joanie.

We all played at the playground a little longer, just hanging around.


12:15pm – We walk back to house. There is a conversation about the perfect blue sky today, and how we could not have asked for better weather this weekend.


Back at the house, Kai eats strawberries and string cheese for lunch. There is also half of an iced donut on his plate that he refuses to touch. Crazy kid.
12:55pm – Kai goes down for his nap and everyone else attacks some snacks that have been put out on the counter for lunch. We all just hang out for a bit, and I sit down on the couch. I am so tired. I also have no pictures from this entire part of the day apparently. Oops.

2:00pm – Steve leaves to go golfing with a few of the guys on the little community par 3 course. Almost everyone else goes to the pool, and I take full advantage of a quite house by falling asleep on the couch for 30 mins or so. When I wake up, Kai is still asleep and I browse the internet on my phone. I find a sweet pair of shoes that I decide must be mine. You know, for the olympics and such.

3:15pm – The guys are back from golf. I show Steve the shoes and he basically offers to get them for me. He’s a keeper, I tell ya.
3:25pm – I crack open a Mang-o-rita. OMG is is so sweet, like drinking syrup. Not until I am almost done with it do I get the idea that it would be much better mixed with a beer like Corona or something. Too late. Kai is still asleep. I am SO glad he is taking a long nap as he needed it so bad.


4:00pm – Some of the family returns from the pool and my cousin’s dog starts barking so freaking loud. Kai is awake. Oh well, three hours is a pretty darn good nap. I get him changed and he wants to find Grandma of course. I get him a plate of chips and pretzels and he goes out on the deck to eat.

For the next couple hours we all hang out, eat snacks, and drink wine. At some point before dinner we all shower. Normally Kai loves being in the shower with Daddy, but today in an unfamiliar shower you would think he was being tortured with razor blade water or something. He screams the entire time, and Steve does his best to get him clean quickly so he can get out. Very traumatic. I enjoy my solo shower and actually get to shave my legs (it’s kind of difficult in our tiny camper shower). We are all fresh and I hang out on the couch for a bit with Kai.

My cousin Emily and her friend Nicole make banana cream pies and show them off.


6:00pm – The pizza’s arrive for dinner. The family completely demolishes five large pizza’s, two salads, and a vat of mac and cheese. Kai steps up his game and actually eats the Kraft Dinner even though it is not his beloved Annie’s mac. I am shocked, as last time he tried the Kraft he immediately spit it out and wouldn’t take another bite. After pizza we enjoy the pies with whipped cream and frozen custard. Kai says he wants ice cream, but won’t try it when I offer him chocolate custard.
7:30pm – We leave for the fireworks in Egg Harbor. It’s a 10 minute drive, and we find a parking spot that is about half a mile from the target area. We get one block away, and Steve realizes he left his phone in the car. He gets it, and I ask him if he wants to bring his fleece jacket since we are still right by the car. He responds that he’s fine, it’s not cold out. Earlier in the day, some of the family members stopped and set out a bunch of chairs and blankets to save our spot. It was right down in front, perfect.

Kai immediately demands to walk around with Grandma. My mom and Joe take him for a walk and are gone for quite a while.

We hang out in our chairs and drink a beer.

We are right by the water, and the sunset is gorgeous. As the sun sets, it gets chilly and Steve is cold. He walks back to the car for his fleece.

My mom and Joe return with Kai, and we pose for a picture with our firecracker shirts circa 1992. Not everyone still has theirs, but six of us busted them out for the occasion.

I give Kai his flag and try to get a picture of him smiling. Not so much.

Steve plays with Kai, giving him a shoulder ride and then flinging him into the air, resulting in my favorite pic of the day.

Kai plays with his cousins, and is especially smitten with Mason this weekend. Mason is 13, and he is so great with the younger kids, they all love him.

While the big kids do sparklers, we bust out Kai’s dollar store glow wand, and it is a big hit.


9:30pm-ish – The fireworks start. Kai is sitting on Steve’s lap, and after the first few go off, he says “again!” Great, he likes them.

Then they start going off a little more rapidly, and Kai says “turn it off!” Haha. He says it a few more times, then says “I sit by Grandma.” He went down and sat by my mom on the blanket, and then all was fine. From then on we got a running commentary through the whole thing. “A green one. Oh, a red one. White lights, etc. etc.

Towards the end of the show I look down to see Kai sitting with my mom next to Mason, and he is holding both of Mason’s hands. So cute.
10:05pm – The fireworks are over and we walk back to car. When we get there, I decide to lay Kai’s pack n play mattress on the grass and change his diaper and get his jammies on since it might take a little while to get out of there with all of the cars.
10:27pm – We drive back to the house to drop off my mom and Joe at their car. I also run in to grab Kai’s milk that I accidentally left in the fridge. He downs it immediately. We drive back to the campsite and let Kai watch videos for a few minutes while I quickly get all of his sleep stuff set back up.
11:15pm – We put Kai down for bed. I really hope he sleeps well tonight with going to bed so late. Thank goodness again that he had a great nap and we were able to make it though the fireworks. I am so tired at this point, my mom goes straight to bed, and Steve is making a fire. Really, so late? He says it’s our last night and he wants to enjoy one more fire. I agree to sit out there for a few minutes with him and Joe.

11:45pm-ish – I go to bed and leave the guys out there. Pretty sure I am asleep almost immediately. I do not even hear Steve come in to bed. Good night!

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Filed under Family, Holidays, Miscellany, Travel

Door County Half Marathon 2016

This past weekend, Steve and I went on a little weekend getaway to Door County and ran the half marathon there on Saturday. Steve got off work a little bit early on Friday, and when Kai woke up from his nap we loaded up the car and headed to Steve’s parents house, where Kai would be spending his weekend. We got him all settled in and hung out for a bit before hitting the road around 5:30.

We originally planned to eat dinner in Sturgeon Bay, but I realized we wouldn’t be there until around 8pm, so I consulted Yelp and found a brew pub in Green Bay instead called Titletown Brewing.

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The restaurant was across the street from the actual brewery, and inside of an old train station. The beer was excellent (we both had the IPA), and the food was delicious as well. I had a cranberry turkey melt which was served on freshly baked zucchini bread. Genius.

After dinner we made the rest of the drive up to Door County, arriving in Fish Creek around 9:15pm. We stayed at my aunt and uncle’s house and they have been having problems with their internet, so Steve worked on that for a little bit while I passed out on the couch watching Modern Family. Super exciting start to the weekend!

Saturday was race day, and I think I woke up a little after 6am. The race didn’t start until 10am, so it was nice not to have to rush around. I had my coffee and then around 7:45 I ate a larabar and a banana.

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We left around 8:25am and made the 5 min drive to the park. Once inside the park, we had another few miles to drive to get to Nicolet Bay where the race was starting. I was wondering where they were going to park all of the cars, and when we got there we found out the answer – on the campsites! We ended up parking on a site that was really close to the one we camped on last year. We walked over to the beach and picked up our packets, then headed back to the car to wait. It was around 54 degrees, and I couldn’t decide if I wanted to wear arm warmers or not. There was a cold wind coming off of the lake, so in the end I decided to wear them and ditch them on the course if I got too warm. I ate another half of a banana around 9am and sipped on water with Nuun until the race start.

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Pretty soon it was time to use the port-o-potties one last time and head to the start. Little did we know, the start was actually a 5 or so min walk from the beach, so by the time we got to the starting area (along with many many others), they had already sung the national anthem and it was minutes until race time. We snaked our way up in front of all of the slower pace groups because I didn’t want to get stuck running around people for the first mile or two. Pretty soon it was go time. I gave Steve a kiss and we were off.

I didn’t have a major goal set for this race. I knew that it was hilly and though I am in much better shape now than I was a couple months ago, I still don’t feel like I am in great running shape at the moment. I figured I would be happy with a 1:40, and my main goal was to enjoy the course. Peninsula State Park is my favorite place in the world to run (and one of my favorite places to be period), so I was excited to take in the scenery and see some areas of the park that I don’t normally get to see.

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I hit mile 1 in 7:38, and was surprised to see the 7’s. I felt like I was running over 8 min pace, so it was a nice surprise. The first 4 miles were fairly flat compared to the middle of the course, with some gradual and rolling hills. Miles 2-4 went by really fast, splits were 7:21, 7:14, 7:27. I thought maybe I was going a little too fast, but I knew there were some major hills coming up and I decided to just go with it since I was feeling good.

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The biggest hill on the course started just before mile 4 and ended just after mile 5, so it was pretty much uphill for a whole mile. My legs were feeling the lack of hill training that I did, and I knew I was slowing down. I made a new goal to have all of my miles under 8:00. My watched buzzed for mile 5 and it was 8:05. Dang. At least the huge hill was almost over, and there was an aid station at the top of the hill that was run by pirates, complete with a wooden pirate ship. I ate a gel here, hoping it would give me a boost. Miles 6-7 were 7:48, 7:55 and my legs did not feel like they were recovering from the big hill.

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Somewhere in these middle miles, my attitude about the race became really laid back, which isn’t like me. I just didn’t really care that I was slowing down. I was still enjoying the course and I guess I kind of decided that I wasn’t going to kill myself in the second half. My stomach was not feeling great (what’s new) and I just didn’t feel like pushing it. Not much of a race mentality, but whatever. Miles 8-9 were 8:01, 7:38. Mile 10 was 8:03 even with the start of a big downhill in there, and then we were back out onto shore road for the last three miles to the finish. I was kind of dreading the last miles thinking they would go by really slow, but they didn’t. In fact, the entire race seemed to go by really fast. Miles 11-13 were 8:02, 7:51, 7:36. Before I knew it, I was crossing the finish line.

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Official Stats:

Time: 1:40:39, 7:41 average pace

19/943 women

6/169 age group

I am happy with how it went (I did say I would like to run a 1:40 after all, but I would have like to be a little under rather than a little over). I hung out at the finish line waiting for Steve, who finished in 1:48. We walked back to the car to get our warm clothes (it was probably in the upper 50’s at this point and I was freezing). Then we hung out and watched the awards while drinking our free beers from Door Co. Brewing Company.

We stopped at the grocery store on the way back to the house for beer and snacks. At the house we devoured almost an entire wedge of aged apple cheddar with crackers and then his the hot tub. We also played a game of horse in the pool (I lost) before heading back to shower. We waited for the cable guy to come and luckily he was able to fix the internet problem. By the time he left it was almost 6:30 and I was famished.

We went to dinner at The Cookery because they were one of the restaurants that was offering a free beer to racers. Steve and I split fried cheese curds, pulled pork nachos, and a club sandwich, all of which was delicious.

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After dinner we drove into Peninsula State Park again to check out the campsite we have reserved for the 4th of July weekend. On the way out the sun was setting, so we parked and walked down by the water. Imagine our surprise when we saw two huge bald eagles sitting in the tree!

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So cool! Once the sun was set we stopped for frozen custard for dessert, obviously.

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I am slightly ashamed to admit that I could not finish that turtle sundae. We were pretty beat by this point, so we headed back to the house, watched a movie, and went to bed.

Sunday was Mother’s Day, and I wanted to take advantage of the opportunity to sleep in so badly. Of course I woke up at 6:25, womp, womp. I spent a nice early morning relaxing with coffee and my iPad before I finally woke up Steve because I was starving. We went out to a late breakfast at Julie’s before heading home, and it was just nice enough to sit outside.

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I was missing my little stinker pants and couldn’t wait to see him. He was still napping when we arrived to pick him up, so we went in to wake him. Instead of being excited to see us, all he wanted in his tired state was Grammy. Ha. Once he was fully awake he did seem happy to see his parents after all. We hung out there talking to Steve’s parents for a little while before heading home. We had stopped to get flowers for Steve’s mom, and Steve also bought me a beautiful waterfall orchid. My goal is not to kill it like I have every single other plant I have ever owned.

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Mother’s Day evening was spend unpacking, giving Kai a bath, and eating Qdoba (for some reason I was craving a burrito bowl). Even though Kai was really acting up last night (I’m sure he was tired and a little out of sorts from the weekend), as I put him to bed I couldn’t help but think about how lucky I am to be his Mom. He brings me so much joy and so much frustration and everything in between and challenges me on a daily basis to be the best Mama I can be for him.

I also can’t finish this post without a shout out to my own Mom (we gave her her Mother’s Day present on Friday before we left). She is the most selfless, generous, amazing lady around, and I don’t know what we would do without her.

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Filed under Family, Holidays, Kai, The run, Travel

Cruising on the Norwegian Escape 2016

Photo credit

The last week in January, we took a break from wretched winter and boarded a ship bound for the sunny Caribbean. It had been seven years (since our honeymoon in Belize) since we took an actual tropical vacation, so I was just a little bit excited to blow the literal popsicle stand that is Wisconsin in winter. We were traveling with my mom and her husband Joe, and my step brother Justin and his family (wife Ashley, kids Ashtin (2) and Lily (11 months)). It was so nice to be traveling with family that has kids the same age as Kai, as he is right in the middle of their two kids.

We left on Friday 1/22 and boarded a 6:10am flight to Fort Lauderdale. We woke Kai up around 3:30am, and though he seemed a bit confused, once he was up and dressed he was running around the house ready to go. We used a private parking lot near the airport that had a valet service for a very cheap price, so we were able to leave our car at the entrance and hop right on a shuttle. We got to the airport, checked in and went through security with no problems. There was a kids play area near our gate, so we let the kids get a little bit of energy out before boarding.

We flew Southwest so there were no assigned seats, but luckily families with small children get to board right after the A group, so there were plenty of seats left when we got on.

Of the whole trip, I was the most nervous about the flights. We took Kai on as a lap child, so he did not have his own seat. The flight down was totally full, so we had another person in our row. She ended up being a super cool lady, a marine going to FL for a drill weekend. She even offered to help with Kai if our laps got tired because she was the oldest of 5 kids and was used to taking care of them 🙂 I was relieved to have an understanding person with us in case he started to act up.

Kai enjoyed looking out the window and watching the de-iceing process. Then he was asleep within seconds of takeoff. I was both surprised and relieved.

He slept for about 40 mins, and for the rest of the flight we kept him entertained with toys from the dollar store and a few small toys from Christmas that we had put away for this purpose. He also watched some videos for a while towards the end. Two other passengers commented on how good he was during the flight, and I was so happy not to have a screaming toddler on the plane. It did get a little long for all involved when the plane ended up having to circle for an extra 30 mins before landing because of weather, but overall Kai’s first flight was a success!

Finally we landed in Fort Lauderdale, got our bags and found our shuttle that would take us to Miami.

There was a small problem when we got to the shuttle, in that they only had a booster seat for Kai instead of a carseat. Justin and Ashley had brought their own carseats, but we didn’t, knowing we couldn’t use it on the plane. Definitely not an ideal situation but there was nothing we could do about it (and carseats actually are not required in commercial vehicles in FL). So Kai rode in a booster seat made for a much larger child, and Steve kept his arm across Kai in case of a sudden stop.

Kai loved looking out the window until he passed out for the last 20 mins of the trip.

Eventually we arrived at the hotel only to be told that our room was not ready yet. It was about 1pm and official check in time was 4pm. I had called the week before to request an early check in, but apparently they couldn’t make it happen. The lady at the front desk was less than helpful and slightly rude, and when I asked about a restaurant within walking distance where we could get lunch, she recommended a steak house. Mind you we are 4 adults and 3 less than happy kids 2 and under. It was raining, but I consulted Yelp and found a Gastropub about 5 blocks away that sounded good.

We ended up having a delicious lunch, and the waitstaff was awesome with the kids. Good choice! We got back to the hotel around 3pm and our room was ready, finally. We stayed all together in a 2 bedroom condo type deal, which worked out well. Unfortunately, the crappy weather stuck around all day so we didn’t get to use the pool or anything. We just kind of hung out, ordered pizza for dinner, and got excited about boarding the ship in the morning.

Saturday 1/23/16 – Embarkation day

This morning we basically got up and started to get everyone ready to leave. We had the front desk call for a cab around 9:30 I believe, and the cab company sent a regular sized car to transport 7 people and a mountain of luggage. After much standing around waiting for a bigger cab to arrive, a minivan finally showed up. It was not really big enough for us, but there’s no way at that point that we weren’t going to make it work. We sat 3 in the back with a kid on each lap and one in the front.

A short while later, we arrived at the port. We got checked in for the cruise and headed to the boarding area where we met up with my mom and Joe. They were in boarding group 4, and we were in 10. We just went in with them and pretended it was all legit. At the boarding gate where they were letting people onto the ship, there was some kind of hold up (mechanical problem with the gangway I think), so me, Steve, my mom and Kai got held back after the rest of our group had already gone on. We waited for another 20ish minutes until they finally let us board. We met up with the rest of the group who had already gotten a table for lunch. I immediately ordered a cocktail and felt like vacation had officially begun.

I also had chicken fajitas which were tasty, Kai had a grilled cheese, and Steve had a burger which he said was not good. After lunch we went to our rooms to see if they were ready, and they were! We immediately checked out the balconies, and Kai was super excited.

His running commentary at this point was awesome. “A ocean! A fish! A cars!” He was so excited to point everything out. The best part about our rooms was by far the balcony situation. Our three rooms were next to each other, and we were able to open the balcony dividers so we basically had one long triple balcony where the kids could run around and we could go from room to room. We hung out for a little while before it was time to go to the safety drill. Kai fell asleep in the stroller and slept through the whole thing, which was perfect. He is used to sleeping and napping on a pretty consistent schedule, but he was a champ about going with the flow as far as sleeping on the whole trip. After the safety drill we headed outside to watch the ship set sail at 4pm, with more cocktails of course. We had the unlimited beverage package which was a promotion when we booked the cruise, so we definitely tried to take advantage 🙂

Bye bye Miami, see you in a week!

Somehow I have no more pictures from this day. We all went to dinner at 6:30pm, and there was a problem with our reservation which involved waiting and a makeshift table for 9. I remember having some sort of steak and ordering mac and cheese for Kai. He was really excited about it until he tasted it and it wasn’t the same as his Annie’s Mac that he has at home. He promptly spit it out and wouldn’t try it again at all. Thus began his weeklong diet of french fries, banana bread, bananas, chips, cereal, and the occasional grilled cheese. He did also eat some sort of pancake or waffle and bacon most mornings, and of course he drank plenty of his beloved milk each day. I’m sure no one was up too late this night, as we were all tired from traveling still.

Sunday & Monday, 1/24-1/25/16 – Sailing

The first two days of the cruise were at sea. The weather, though much better than WI, was a bit of a bummer. It was low 70’s and kind of windy and overcast. It wasn’t ideal for swimming or water slides, but luckily there was other stuff to do on the ship. Each morning the Guppies program had an activity for kids under 3 with their parents at 9:30am. We took Kai and Ashtin to it on Monday, and they got to paint a picture with vegetable based paints. We were very glad we stripped them down to their diapers before starting, and most of the other parents followed suit.

Kai and Ashtin were hard at work on their masterpieces.

Their artwork was hung on the wall when they finished.

There was a very cool ropes course on top of the ship that Steve and I did.

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It had beams and ropes to walk across, as well as zip lines and a plank that literally walked off of the side of the ship and was wobbly (see above). I did not do that part because I am a chicken, but Steve did. The whole thing was challenging but fun. I don’t have any pics of us doing it because we weren’t allowed to have anything at all in our pockets, so we left our phones in the room.

The ship had a bar that was all craft beers, so naturally we hit that up several times throughout the week. I got the Dogfish Head IPA every time, it was so good.

We spent some time exploring the ship and Kai did some laps on the running track to warm up for some Bocce Ball.

Kai and Ashtin both wore their animal backpacks that they got from Grandma and Grandpa for Christmas pretty much any time we left the rooms. Kai’s was a monkey and Ashtin’s was a dog, and they both had a detachable “safety tether” (AKA leash) on the bottom. Yes, we put our kids on a leash, and yes, it did come in handy on more than one occasion. Those kids are fast, man. Kai’s backpack held some small toys, his water cup, and some hand wipes, so it was nice to have that stuff along anytime we were eating as well. He loved putting it on because he knew it meant we were leaving the room.

There was a Guppies playroom that was open all of the time where you could take your little kid to play with toys. We took Kai there a couple times, but he only really played in there for 5-10 mins before he wanted to get out of the room and sprint down the hall.

Our first towel animal was a dog notifying us that there would be a time change so we would have to set our clocks forward.

We hung out on the balcony while my mom and Joe went to a show, and we stole all of their bedding to keep us warm.

Monday night, we signed all three kids up for the Guppies Nursery where you pay $20 per kid and drop them off from 6:30-8:50pm so that all of the adults could have a nice quiet dinner. We started at the wine bar where they had a delicious cabernet that I went back for several times later in the week.

We went to dinner in one of the smaller dining rooms, and the service was so.slow. It was awful. The food was great as usual, but we were there what seemed like forever waiting for our food. Around 8:15, our pager went off from the nursery and we were told that Kai wouldn’t stop crying and we had to go check on him. Ugh. I was surprised because he does fine at the gym day care at home all the time, but when we got there he was really upset. I’m not sure what set him off, but it was clear that he wasn’t going to calm down, so we had to take him with us. Now we had one kid at the dinner table (past his bedtime), and still no main course. By 8:40, we STILL did not have our main course and Justin and Ashley now had to pick up there two kids from the nursery because it ended at 8:50. They got back and we now had three cranky kids at the dinner table late at night. They finally brought our main course and we ate, then requested our desserts be sent back to the rooms. They weren’t going to do it for us, but finally the waiter said ok, probably just to get us out of there. The whole thing was ridiculous. Dinner should not take 2+ hours to come out, especially when you order everything (appetizer, salad, main course) at the same time. So basically it was a waste of paying for daycare, since we didn’t even get to enjoy the quiet dinner. Oh well.

After dinner we hung out on the balcony and noticed the very apparent shift in temperature. Warm Caribbean air at last!

Tuesday 1/26/16 – St. Thomas

Around 8am on Tuesday we pulled into port in St. Thomas. Again, having the balconies was so cool because we could go outside and watch our ship approach the island. It was a perfectly sunny, hot day, exactly what I had been waiting for! We had plans to go to Sapphire Bay beach, and meet up with my friend Robin who lives on the island (I know). After eating breakfast at the buffet, we got off the ship. Now, there were open air taxis right there that we could have taken for about $8/person, but my mom said last time they were there they walked “just a couple blocks” and took a bus to the beach for $2/person. Ok great. Well about 2 MILES later, we got to the bus stop, dripping sweat from pushing the strollers and carrying our beach bags. I declared then and there that we would be taking a taxi for the return trip.

We were finally dropped off at the beach, and after walking down a huge hill we were treated with the beautiful Caribbean sand and water.

We got situated under a tree for shade, and waded into the water. True to form and unsurprisingly, Kai was not a fan. He didn’t want his feet to touch the sand. He didn’t want to be held where our feet were touching the water.

He whined and whined until we finally asked him if he wanted to sit in his stroller and he said “stroller! stroller!” So we had the one kid at the beach who just wanted to sit in his stroller. Figures, he is such a pickle sometimes.

After a little while my mom took him for a walk and he thankfully fell asleep for over an hour.

We just hung out and soaked up the sunshine, and a little while later Robin arrived with her two kids.

It was great catching up with her, as I hadn’t seen her since Kai was a little baby and she was in Wisconsin for a visit. Kai eventually woke up, and lo and behold, he warmed up to touching the sand. Before long he was actually enjoying himself with the beach toys we brought.

We ordered some food and drinks and hung out a little while longer before heading back. My mom and Joe opted to hike back up the hill and take the bus again, while we opted for a taxi. It ended up being $10/person, but at that point it was worth it. Steve, Kai and I got dropped off at the shops right by the ship, and we did a little shopping. We were waiting for Robin’s husband Matt to get off work. When he did, we met up again and went to one of the bars nearby for some beers. Kai played with their kids while the adults sipped some cold drinks.

It was great being able to hang out with them for a while, but before long we had to board the ship again.

Bye bye St. Thomas!

This night my mom and Joe offered to go to dinner early and then watch the kids while Steve, Justin, Ashley and I went to dinner. We took the kids to the buffet while they were eating, and then it was our turn.

We stopped for a glass of good wine from the wine bar before dinner, and then had a nice meal without the kids. After dinner, we stopped back at the room to check on things. Kai was asleep, and Justin and Ashley put their kids to bed before the four of us headed to the show that we had reserved at 10pm. The show was Million Dollar Quartet, and it was so good. It was probably the best show I have seen on a cruise ship, all of the actors were so talented. It was about a day at Sun Studios where Elvis, Jerry Lee Lewis, Johnny Cash and Carl Perkins were together for a recording session for the first and last time. The music was awesome, and I stayed awake for almost all of it despite being out way past my bedtime.

Wednesday 1/27/16 – Tortola

When I woke up on Wednesday, we were already docked in Tortolla, and a brief downpour produced quite a rainbow.

My mom and Joe got off the ship bright and early to go on their excursion to The Baths, and the rest of us opted to stay on the ship all day and enjoy the less crowded swimming areas with the kids. We were only in port until 3pm and there was really nothing for us to do on land that didn’t involve a taxi, so the ship it was.

After breakfast, we took the kids to the splash pad for some fun. Again true to form, Kai did not want to be put down or get his feet wet for a good 15-20 mins.

After a while he warmed up to the idea, and before long he was running around.

Lily is just so darn cute with her little teeth.

After the splash pad we dried off and got the kids dressed back in the room. There was some talk of getting off the ship to check out the shops, but in the end we decided to go get lunch at the buffet. After lunch, I decided to take a nap when Kai did, and Steve and Justin went to the hot tub. We dressed up for dinner that night and I literally have no pictures. I’m pretty sure the kids were being terrible and this was the last time we attempted the big group dinner. It was just too much for the kids and they were miserable waiting around at the table for dinner to be finished. The only picture I have of Kai in his fancy outfit. Total fail. Kai had also developed a runny nose this day, which lasted through Thursday and he had a pretty bad cough for the rest of the trip. He probably caught it in the nursery, but what are you going to do.

I think this night involved drinks on the balcony and possibly the bar, I can’t remember. Oh, the vacation life.

Thursday 1/28/16 – Sailing

Thursday was our last ‘at sea’ day, and we spent it enjoying the fun stuff on the ship like the waterslides.

Photo credit

The green and blue slides on the left are the “drop slides,” and the blue one on the right is the tube slide. The yellow slide on the left is a small basic water slide. Steve was most excited to try the drop slide, and I was most nervous. You stand in a capsule, and when the guy pushes the button the floor slides out from under you and you literally fall straight down before going halfway upside down and finally coming to the bottom. The whole thing lasts only 8 seconds, and I don’t think I have ever screamed so loud in my life. It was very cool and we ended up doing it twice. The big tube slide was fun as well. Steve and I went together on a double tube and if you look at the picture you can see a small clear section in the slide. That part is over the side of the ship so you can look right down to the water. I don’t have any pictures from during the day on Thursday, because we left our phones in the room. This one was on the balcony.

After a day of fun, we enjoyed a beautiful sunset on the balconies.

This was another night where my mom and Joe ate early, and we took the kids to the buffet before going to our own dinner. We also saw another show this night, After Midnight. It was ok, but not nearly as good as the first show and I could not stay awake to save my life.

Friday 1/29/16 – Nassau, Bahamas

We were scheduled to be docked in Nassau from 12-7pm on Friday, so we had the morning to enjoy on the ship. We took the kids to the farewell disco party in the Guppies room where they each got a little stuffed Nemo fish to take home.

The party was complete with music and disco lights, which was cute.

A little before noon, we watch the ship pulling into port. The air was cooler, which didn’t surprise me since we were pretty close to Florida again, but I was bummed that we had left the tropical feel of the Caribbean already.

Steve and I booked a SCUBA diving excursion this day, and the rest of the group went to the zoo. I have no pictures of our dive trip because we didn’t bring our phones, and I never picked up a disposable water camera to use. Really wish I would have, but oh well. The dive trip was not the greatest. It was a 45 min shuttle ride to the dive shop clear on the other side of the island. The first dive was a wreck dive at about 70 feet of water. Steve thought it was cool because the ships were very intact, but I thought it was a little boring. I much prefer reef dives where there are tons of corals and marine life. We did see a big sting ray and a shark, but that was about it. It was windy, so the seas were rough, and back on the boat after dive one I was freezing cold and getting nauseous. I really didn’t want to dive again because I was so cold, but I knew that I would get sick if I stayed on the boat.

The second dive was a “reef” dive, again about 65-70 feet of water. We were told it was one of the top 5 dive spots in the area, and honestly there was not much to see at all. It was less of a reef and more of a mound of sand with a few corals, kind of disappointing. We did see a big sea turtle which was cool, but not much else. It seemed the seas were even rougher when we surfaced, so between that and the diesel fumes on the boat I was just trying not to be sick on the way back in. Once back on dry land I felt fine, and we made the 45 min trip back to the port. Overall, I do not think diving here was worth the money we spent, but then again we have been spoiled with our last dives done in Cozumel and Belize.

The rest of the group had fun at the zoo, where there were apparently a lot of flamingoes.

The boys were wearing their matching outfits that day, but of course it was impossible to get a picture of them.

Steve and I didn’t get back to the ship until 6pm or so, and again my mom and Joe went to dinner first. We spent that time packing since it was already our last night on the ship 😦 When my mom and Joe returned, we put Kai to bed since it was already almost 8pm and he had only napped for 10 mins in the stroller all day. Then we went out to enjoy our last dinner. I sure will miss ordering a 5-6 course meal every night, including chocolate lava cake. Can’t believe I don’t have a picture of that one, as I enjoyed it 6 out of 7 nights. We didn’t stay up too late the last night because we had to be up and off the ship by 8:30am.

Saturday 1/30/16 – Debarkation

I woke up around 6am on Saturday and took a quick shower, then Steve and Kai were up shortly after. We finished packing up our last few things and went to the buffet for one last breakfast around 7:30am. We opted to carry all of our luggage off the ship ourselves because otherwise you have to wait until at least 10am to get your luggage back, and we needed to get back to Fort Lauderdale for a 12:40pm flight.

The debarkation process was very smooth, thanks to Justin and Ashley having an extra luggage strap that we could borrow to make a luggage train with our four suitcases.

Once we were off the ship, we went through customs and found the shuttle we had booked to take us back to Fort Lauderdale. They assured me they had a carseat this time, but when we arrived at the shuttle we saw it was actually a high backed booster seat. Whatever. At least we could buckle Kai in with the full seatbelt this time. We arrived at the airport about three hours before our flight and waited in a huge long line to check in. Then we made our way through security and to the gate, where we had maybe an hour and a half more to wait.

Don’t even care that he’s laying on the airport floor at this point. On Southwest, families with kids under 6 get to board right after the A group. This is huge, because there are no assigned seats on Southwest, so this pretty much guarantees that families will be able to sit together. My mom carried Kai on and Joe carried Ashtin so they could board with us too. The flight was once again totally full, so my mom sat in the row with us, Joe sat right behind on the aisle, and Justin & Ashley’s family was right across the row. This time it took Kai a good hour before he succumbed to a nap, which he needed badly. He slept for about 40 mins again and then we entertained him with some videos.

Back in Milwaukee while we waited for our bags, I let Kai get out of the stroller and after he ran around a little bit he had a full blown meltdown when it was time to corral him and put his jacket on. He screamed, cried and kicked the entire time we walked out to the shuttle and rode the shuttle back to the parking lot. He finally calmed down when he saw our car with his own familiar carseat, and I was glad that it was the only full boar five alarm meltdown of the trip. We made it back home, and it definitely took Kai a few days to adjust to being back on his schedule. The first few days were a little rough with a super tired and crabby toddler on our hands. It was totally worth it though. As always, the entire vacation that we had looked forward to for nearly a year was over in the blink of an eye. Until next time…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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‘Tis the season

Well, here we are almost halfway through December. Sheesh. Though I absolutely love the holidays, I hate that time is flying by so incredibly fast. I know that I will wake up tomorrow, Christmas will be over, and we will settle in for a long winter. So far our Wisconsin winter has been very kind to us. It has been unseasonably warm and we have had only one snowfall thus far. Knock on wood, I know.

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The Saturday after Thanksgiving was our annual trip to cut down our Christmas tree. We found the perfect one, and I thought it would be great to get a family photo by the tree before we cut it down.

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Nailed it.

We actually did get one decent family shot despite the shadows.

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That night Steve and I decorated the tree, and Kai saw it for the first time the next morning.

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All of the little ball shaped ornaments have since been moved out of reach, because little man just could not keep his hands off of them, and as Steve found out while we were decorating, they do shatter. Kai has been pretty good with the tree, but he does like to remove certain ornaments over and over again.

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This past Saturday we took Kai and his cousin Aiva to see Santa. Kai was not impressed.

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There was no way he was about to sit on the big man’s lap, and could not be bribed with a candy cane.

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St. Nick stopped by our house on Saturday night, and Kai opened his stocking to find a pair of cozy dino slippers and some assorted snacks.

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Obviously the snacks were the best part, but we did get him to wear the slippers later on, and he didn’t take them off for the rest of the day.

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Kai wasn’t sure what to make of our first snowfall, but he did have a lot to say about it while looking out the window.

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We didn’t get a chance to play outside in the snow before it melted, but I’m sure we will have another chance soon. I love having a kid this time of year, and I can’t wait to show him our Christmas traditions, as well as make some new ones of our own.

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35 in Chicago

A few weekends ago (October 17-18), we headed down to Chicago to visit my brother and sister-in-law and celebrate my mom’s and my birthday (hers is the 7th, mine is the 18th). We arrived around 11:30 on Saturday and hung out at their condo for a little while while I fed Kai his lunch and put him down for a nap. While he was sleeping, my brother Mike made the rest of us lunch and we made a plan for the rest of the day.

Kai slept for about an hour and a half, and then it was time to go. My brother suggested we check out Maggie Daley park, so we drove downtown and parked in a garage. We had debated taking the L, but thought it might be a pain with the big stroller, and it worked out just fine to drive the couple of miles.

I had never heard of this park before, as it just opened in 2014. It was probably the coolest park I have ever been to. It is 20 acres, and right at the Lake Michigan shoreline within Grant Park and near The Bean.

Here we were walking on the ice skating track and to the left you can see the four huge rock climbing walls. The park had tons of different areas to go into, and a sign on the outside of each one said what age groups that area was geared towards. A favorite was the garden of mirrors.

Of course we had to go on the swings.

We checked out the nautical themed area next.

We didn’t go into any of the areas that were geared towards older kids, but the slides and play equipment in those areas looked really cool. I highly recommend this park as a family activity if you ever happen to find yourself in Chicago. We will definitely be back. Once we were done at the park we walked over to The Bean for a photo op, because how could we not?

Nerd alert:

We walked around the area a little bit more, but once the sun started to dip behind the buildings it got cold in a hurry, so we headed back to the condo. Mike got started on his famous home made pizza crust, and I made Kai a grilled cheese for dinner, which he did not eat. He wore his skeleton jammies because I knew Omoleye would love them (she is an orthopedic resident). When she saw him, she immediately went and changed to match.

Kai went to bed around 7:30 I believe, and somehow I have no photographic evidence that the rest of the night happened at all. We ate pizza, drank wine, sampled several chocolate porters, ate pie, and played games. It was a wonderful night. Guess I was too busy enjoying it to take any pictures.

Kai, Steve and I all slept in the same room, and I remember not sleeping well because I could hear Kai moving around, his sound machine was going, etc. So I was the first one up on Sunday, my birthday. I sat on the couch with my iPad for a while until my mom came up and made coffee in the French press. Yes.

Our plans included going out to brunch. Unfortunately Omoleye was on call and had to go in to do surgery on a broken elbow, so she wasn’t able to join us. We walked to the restaurant, and though Mike warned us that we needed to be there at 9am when they opened, we didn’t arrive until 9:20 and there was a 30 min wait. We walked down the street to a park (Chicago has the nicest parks, I swear!) to pass the time.

Kai was obsessed with this bridge and probably went across like twenty times. Mike and I showed off our jumping skills because we are cool like that.

And Kai did some more swinging with Daddy and Uncle Mike.

Brunch was delicious (again no photos, darn it). I had a bloody mary and portobello mushroom and egg tacos. We walked back to the condo and hung out for a little while longer before packing up our things and saying goodbye. We timed it to leave at Kai’s nap time so he could sleep in the car. He fell asleep for about 40 mins (his usual max in the car). Since he was awake, I decided I wanted to stop at the outlet mall on the way home to spend some of my birthday money. Sadly, I found nothing to buy. Also on the way home, we stopped at Kopp’s for some frozen custard when I discovered they had turtle sundae as the flavor of the day. Coincidence that they had this amazing flavor on my birthday? I think not.

After we got home and unloaded our stuff, we all walked to the park near our house so Kai could burn off some energy after sitting in the car for so long. More swinging!

Then he got brave and wandered pretty far away from us.

Once Kai was fed dinner, bathed, and in bed, Steve picked up some Chinese carryout for us to enjoy for dinner. I had a sushi roll and a veggie stir fry while watching a movie, the perfect end to a great birthday weekend.

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Halloween 2015

I have a lot of recaps that I need to write up for the sake of my own memory, and they might come a little out of order. We have just been so busy this fall I haven’t had time to gather my thoughts.

First up: Halloween! A couple of weeks ago Kai and I visited a pumpkin patch with Steve’s sister Jamie and her daughter Aiva. The place was really neat, with lots of activities for the kids. Kai started things off with a rousing game of pumpkin checkers.

We also spent some time jumping around on a giant bouncy pillow.

Pretty soon it was time for a hayride out to the pumpkin patch to pick out our pumpkins. I only succeeded in getting a blurry selfie to commemorate.

The kids had fun running around the pumpkin farm and picking out pumpkins.

Note that Aiva is exactly one year older than Kai and they are virtually the same size.

Eventually we selected our pumpkins and boarded the hayride back to the main area, where the kids were super thrilled about having their picture taken.

I tried to have Kai stand in front of the ruler so we could start a tradition and recreate this picture every year, but this is the best I could get. Kid does not stand still. Ever.

A few days later Kai decorated his pumpkin. I bought some washable paints and taped off the eyes, nose and mouth of the pumpkin.

Then Kai went to town painting. He was skeptical of the wet paint on his hands at first, but once I demonstrated what to do he got into it a little more.

After he was finished, I let the pumpkin dry for a few minutes before peeling off the tape. Once it was totally dry I took it outside and sprayed it with a clear coat spray paint to set it. I think the finished product turned out great.

The day before Halloween, Kai wore his costume to Kids Club at the gym and he got to be in a parade around the indoor track. My mom came to watch and we both ended up walking with him and the other kids. It was super cute.

For Halloween itself, we went to a party at my cousin’s house. We surprised everyone by showing up as a family of minions. It was a huge hit.

Unfortunately the weather was pretty crappy, but we did walk to the downtown area to see the parade, and luckily it stopped raining for trick or treat. We weren’t sure how Kai would do trick or treating, but he was an old pro.

He insisted on walking and carried his own pumpkin the whole time, which was basically the cutest thing ever.

We only went to four or five houses because Kai obviously doesn’t need any candy (and neither do we!). Back at the house, we changed Kai into his skeleton jammies and he was able to enjoy the fruits of his labor, a dum-dum.

I can’t wait to do family costumes every Halloween from now until Kai is old enough to be too embarrassed by his parents.

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Devil’s Lake Camping Trip

A couple of months ago, Steve and I decided we wanted to do one more camping trip this year. I have very fond memories of camping at Devil’s Lake when I was a kid, and I thought it would be beautiful to go in the fall. This past weekend we headed up on Friday evening. We got there around 6:30, checked into our site, and got set up. I don’t have any pictures of the first night because it was dark and I was trying to feed Kai a quick dinner while Steve was setting up the camper. It always takes a while to get everything set up, but we eventually did, and I think we put Kai to bed around 8:45 that night. He has always slept great in his pack n play and in the camper, which is awesome. Steve and I roasted weiners on the fire for a late night dinner because we are super classy like that. We followed it up with s’mores as camping law requires.

Saturday morning we all slept in a little bit (for me at least) and I think we all woke up around 7:30-7:45. I made pancakes in the camper and Kai and I ate them all up (Steve is not a breakfast person, which I will never pretend to understand).

After breakfast we all took a walk down to the camp store for a trail map.

Devil’s lake is surrounded by bluffs and is known for it’s awesome hiking trails. By the time we left for our first hike it was probably almost 10am. We decided to start at the north end (where we already were) and headed up the East Bluff Trail.

I carried Kai on my back because I knew I wanted Steve to carry him on our more difficult afternoon hike.

We stopped at a few look out points and snapped some photos. It was so pretty up there.

We didn’t hike too long because before long it was time for Kai to eat lunch and take a nap. We headed back to the campsite and I made Kai a sandwich. Kid loves dining al fresco.

Steve got to work setting up the new to us screen room on the camper. Not really necessary on this trip, but we wanted to try it out. Verdict – love it!

Kai went down for his nap, and Steve and I enjoyed a beer by the fire. Yes.

We also made pudgie pie sandwiches for lunch.

Kai slept for about an hour and a half and then he was ready to party. He loved walking around the campsite (and into the road, silly boy). Good thing we brought his cage play enclosure along.

For our afternoon hike, we drove around to the south shore of the lake to do the Balanced Rock Trail. Let me just say that since it has been years since I hiked this trail, I did not recall exactly how difficult and treacherous it is. Thank goodness Steve was carrying Kai and felt confident in his footing, because there is no way I would have felt comfortable with him on my back. The trail is all steep rock steps that are uneven and slippery, and some of them move. One wrong step or slip and you could literally tumble down the bluff.

On the way up we somehow missed the off chute of the trail that leads to the balanced rock itself. The views however, were amazing.

On the way back down we did find the balanced rock and stopped for a photo op.

I took this shot on the way back down so you can see how steep and technical the trail is.

Once we reached the bottom I stopped having a heart attack and spotted a giant rock that I knew I must pose atop of.

After the hike we stopped at the concession stand and I got ice cream, obviously. We let Kai loose to play on the playground there for a while before heading back to the camp site. I should have snapped a pic of the playground because it was pretty cool. Instead of wood chips, the ground was covered in ground up tires so it was nice and soft and bouncy.

Back at the campsite, I put Kai in his snuggly suit because it was kind of cold and windy, and because it is adorable. I made him a quesadilla for dinner which he would not touch (even though it is one of his favorite foods at home).

Kai was pretty worn out and I think he went to bed around 7:30 this night. Steve and I made tacos for dinner and sat by the campfire. The wind was a little ridiculous and was blowing the smoke every which way, but we finally figured out where to put our chairs to get the least amount of smoke in our faces. I practically fell asleep in my camp chair before calling it a night. I slept horribly this night due to the wind being obnoxiously loud and a pole above our bed in the camper falling on me no less than five times (yes, the parts have already been ordered to fix this little problem for next time). Kai was up around 7am Sunday morning, and I made pancakes again. We all felt lazy and hung out in the camper for a long time before getting motivated to start packing up. Kai made himself useful in rearranging one of the cabinets.

I chased Kai around the campsite while Steve popped the camper down.

Turns out our little man is very handy like his Daddy and helped get the trailer hooked up, no problem.

We tried to stop at the nature center on the way out because I thought Kai would enjoy it, but turns out it was 300 yards straight up a steep trail from the parking lot. After all of our hiking the day before, Steve vetoed that plan immediately. It turned out ok, because Kai was asleep with in three minutes of leaving the park.

And with that, Claudette is safely stored away, ready for the camping adventures that await us next year.

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