Happy Place

One of the Roc’s favorite places to visit is the beach and we got to go many times in the two weeks we spent visiting GC’s family over Christmas vacation.

We went in sunny warm weather,


IMG_3036with Marcello while he was still in town,

IMG_3049and with the Roc’s cousin Aiden when he came up to stay at Nonna and Nonno’s house for a few days!




We even took our crazy dog to the beach one evening!






It wasn’t sunny every day, but even light rain won’t keep the Roc away from the water.





While we spent most of our time walking on the beach, the Roc and I finally hiked a little trail at the state park (that I won’t step foot on in the summer — poisonous snakes!) and he loved this awesome tree.

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IMG_3409I love that the Roc wants to be outside as much as I do.

We also stopped by the marsh and freshwater lagoon one afternoon so I could photograph birds.




The Roc is working on his patience while I work on my photography.  We both have a long way to go.

The beach is my happy place too.  Especially when I’m with my boy.



SC Christmas + Cousins

A few weeks before Christmas we decided to road trip to South Carolina to spend the holidays with GC’s family.  We hadn’t spent Christmas with his parents since 2006.

We were in good spirits on our drive down,

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even the dog.


GC’s parents were on a cruise so we spent the first couple days in their house without them.  The Roc and his Nonna made some Christmas cookies together when they got back.


IMG_2791The Roc was very excited to be with his SC cousins for Christmas.  He was most excited to sleep at his cousins house on Christmas eve and wake up with them on Christmas morning…which is what GC and I were most worried about.  Our Christmases have always been quiet and calm.  This year would be so different and we could envision many things that could make the Roc melt.  We did a lot of prepping before we left home and crossed our fingers that things would go smoothly.  I was still worried a little until my sister-in-law Andrea texted me,

“We love Roc so much and will be there to help if he has a rough time.  It will be different for him to be here and we totally understand that.”

There is nothing like family who love your kid just as he is, understand that things may be hard for him, and are willing to step in and help.  We are so lucky.

The Roc spent Christmas eve morning playing on the iPad and continually asking when we would drive down to his auntie Andrea’s house.


When we got there the fun began.  The kids were so joyful.  The Roc and his cousins immediately got together.  They spent the night laughing and dancing.




IMG_2853The Roc and his cousin Bella even made up a dance and performed it for us.  They are so cute together.  Bella is a gift.  She is sweet, playful, and so wonderful with the Roc.  She reassures him when he is anxious and she is willing to play all night.  She is a very special girl.

IMG_2928The kids weren’t the only ones having a good time.  There was a lot of laughter in the kitchen.





Guinness found a friend in my youngest nephew Anderson!  He tried to hide his face but I captured this shot this funny little guy.


My mother-in-law shed a few tears when my brother-in-law from Colorado surprised us all and showed up!  We were so happy to see him!

IMG_2921At the end of the night the kids all opened new pjs from their Nonna and Nonno.

IMG_2931Before the kids went to bed my nephew Aiden read, “The Night Before Christmas” to all the younger kids.  Almost all of my pictures of Aiden on Christmas Eve are of his blurry face as he slid in front of the camera or waved his hand in the corner of my frame.  Except this one.  He’s a good kid.

IMG_2957A moment the Roc still talks about.

The next morning the Roc expressed some anxiety before leaving the bedroom to open presents, but after a little pep talk he told me, “Okay, I’m ready now.  Let’s do this.”

IMG_2958The kids had a blast opening up their gifts.



We spent the rest of the day eating and relaxing before we headed back to GC’s parents house.


The holiday was a success all around.  The Roc had so much fun spending time with his cousins and he was very well behaved.  As we drove out of Andrea’s neighborhood GC and I looked at each other and he said to me, “I think that was my favorite Christmas yet.”

Last year, for reasons we never figured out, the Roc had such a hard time on Christmas day.  So we are extra thankful for such a family filled fun holiday.

We made wonderful memories.


July: South Carolina

July was awesome.

We spent the whole month of July in South Carolina, staying with GC’s parents for most of the time, except for one week in which my parents flew out and the five of us stayed in a house right on the ocean.


Being ocean front was marvelous.  The view from the porch was gorgeous any time of day.IMG_1059


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IMG_0293The Roc was very excited again this year to go to the ocean.  Last year was the first time he actually spent time in the water, running and playing in the waves, carefree in the sun.  I was looking forward to watching him in the ocean, getting in the warm water myself, and playing in the sand.  I was doubly excited that my parents were with us this year.  I’ve talked about the magic of South Carolina for years and it was so fun to share it with them.  The big thing this year was boogie boarding!  The Roc tried it for the first time and really enjoyed it, though he got pretty frustrated when he couldn’t catch a wave just right.




The Roc’s cousins came up from Charleston and spent some time with us at the beach house.  The kids all had a blast.IMG_0325


GC’s parents came over a few times and it was fun watching the guys play soccer on the sand.IMG_0713

It went by fast, but we had a great week.IMG_1155

GC spent some of our time in SC working, (since he works from home and can work anywhere!) so there were many days the Roc and I headed out to the beach just the two of us.  We stayed for hours and constructed a lot of sand castles.2014-07-22 11.42.48

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One morning, after a bit of a meltdown, the Roc and I went walking at the state park beach.  We were in calf deep water and all of the sudden the Roc said, “Look Mommy!” and to my left this was swimming by:2014-07-22 17.17.08

The Roc did really well most of the time we were in South Carolina, but of course, he had a few moments, and there was more than one time I thought I may lose my mind.  I never stayed mad for too long.2014-07-20 11.26.57

IMG_0119Pomegranate margaritas also helped to take the edge off.2014-07-19 13.10.28While we did spend the bulk of our time at the beach, GC, his mom, and I took the Roc mini golfing for the very first time.  He loved it!IMG_1196

We also spent a lot of time at the pool!

2014-07-19 17.34.00Quickly our month came to an end and we were back in the car headed home.

2014-07-26 14.34.49Until next time….






Arizona (The Highlights)

The Roc and I escaped the Minnesota deep freeze and went to Arizona to visit my parents last week.  We were there for eight days.  Eight days of no alarm clocks, lots of hiking, sun, geocaching, sun, eating, plants vs. zombies, sun, and (almost) daily margaritas.

But first we had to get there.  A midnight snow storm made for slow going at 3:30 am when we left for the airport.  Luckily we got there with plenty of time.  Enough for the Roc to get some quality time playing plants vs. zombies on his iPad (a new obsession.)

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Soon enough we were on our way.

2014-01-18 06.45.29The Roc was so excited when we touched down in Arizona.  “YAY!!  Now let’s GO!  NOW!” was what the passengers surrounding us were subjected to after we landed.  It was loud and we were in the very back of a very large plane.

On the drive to Tucson we stopped at Casa Grande National Monument outside Phoenix.


IMG_2869The Roc was not used to the sun and he was feeling the effects of getting up at 3 am.

IMG_2872He actually fell asleep in the car for a bit.

2014-01-18 14.35.02We spent the first couple days taking it easy, walking around the neighborhood,

IMG_2897playing a little plants vs. zombies,

IMG_2907going for a short hike,

IMG_2922and to eat downtown–where I had a yummy prickly pear margarita!

2014-01-19 15.06.53The Roc got to climb in the empty fountains.


IMG_2976Then we got busy!

On MLK day we hiked to the Gordon Hirabayashi Recreation Area, which was once a prison camp and then an internment camp during WWII.


IMG_2998(A geocache)



IMG_3006(Another find!)

We also went to Sabino canyon, a favorite of the Roc’s, specifically for the water.  We rode the tram in and then walked the 4 miles back out.




IMG_3131(I told the Roc to see if he could run up this giant hill at the end–he did!)


He also found a geocache!

IMG_3141Something new we did was a cave tour and a hike at Colossal Cave Mountain Park one day.





(The boy can HIKE)

After a picnic and another geocache,

IMG_3212we spent one afternoon at the Desert Museum where the Roc asked me to take his picture,


just like he did a few years ago.


At the museum I finally get to see the coyote,


catch a sweet shot of a hummingbird,


and get a picture with my boy.IMG_3246We had one overcast day and we took the Roc to Coldstone Creamery and then for a short hike at Saguaro National Park.  The Roc was super silly and I couldn’t get him to stand still for a picture with my mom!



His silliness went away a mile later when he got a very small splinter in his hand and he spent the rest of the hike agonizing over it’s removal, which my mom was able to do when we got back to the car–thank goodness for a Grandma who hikes with a first aide kit!  (I have no photographic evidence of the splinter.)

On our final day in Arizona we went for a long hike and I soaked up the sun, knowing that we would be heading back into sub zero temperatures the very next day.

Gabe Zimmerman trail head.


IMG_3384Lest you be fooled by all the smiling photos in this post, the Roc fell apart at the turn around spot on this hike.  He had complained of hunger and so my mom and I sat down with him to eat while my dad went on to find a geocache.  When my dad came back, after finding the cache, the Roc lost it.  He wanted to see the “treasure” and proceeded to sit down, scream, and throw his hat and some rocks.  He was disappointed, sad, and frustrated that we wouldn’t go on so he could see what my dad had found, and instead we were heading back to the car.  We had a long way to go, over 3 miles, and we needed to start back to make sure we got there before the sun set.  I felt for him and was frustrated with myself as I had a feeling he was going to be upset when my dad came back and he realized he had missed out.  He wasn’t happy for a lot of that hike back, but eventually he followed close to my dad, and I didn’t hear most of his tirade.

IMG_3360We were bound for home the next day and the Roc and I were both sad to leave.  He was happy to have a treat at Starbucks near our gate at the airport,

2014-01-26 11.22.59and play plants vs. zombies while we waited to board the plane.

2014-01-26 11.59.42Which is what he did the whole way home.  I tried to get him to watch a movie, but he would have none of it and continued to play the game, while wearing headphones–which caused him to very LOUDLY exclaim for me to, “LOOK AT THIS!” and “WATCH THIS!” jolting me and the poor couple seated in front of us.  But I reminded myself how I had to entertain him by reading books, doling out snacks and crayons, and watching movies with him when he was younger and we flew across the country, and I felt a little better about the loud exclamations.

2014-01-26 12.26.42We landed and were both shocked by the below zero windchill!

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Back to real life and our routine!

Charleston with Christa

Last year Christa and I went to Key West and had a wonderfully, relaxing time.  This year we decided on Charleston, South Carolina.  We had driven through Charleston back in 2010 when we took our very first trip together, which was a road trip!  We didn’t get to see anything downtown though, and so this was a perfect destination for us.  Beautiful scenery, lots of history, tours, and of course, awesome southern food.

I took the first photo of the trip while I had a layover at the Atlanta airport.


Christa picked me up in Raleigh, North Carolina and we drove down to Charleston.  We started our historical tours the next day with the Aiken-Rhett house.  A very informative self-guided tour.





and then the Nathaniel Russell House.

IMG_1973Both tours were worth the time.  I just wish I could have taken pictures inside the houses!  While we were in town we toured two other houses, the Edmondston-Alston house,

IMG_2034and the Calhoun Mansion, which we regretted as it wasn’t so much a historical tour as it was a house jammed with stuff a really rich person collected.  The house was huge and gorgeous, and the grounds were really beautiful too.


IMG_2017There was also a cat, which made my day.

IMG_2008I had one of my best meals at Dixie Supply Bakery & Cafe.  (A restaurant that was on Dinners, Drive-ins, and Dives!)


Shrimp and Grits – YUM!


The best dessert from Toast!


We actually had dinner at Toast one night, went back the next night to grab dessert to take back to our hotel,

IMAG0813and then got up early on our last day to have breakfast there.

IMAG0818We spent some time walking around downtown peeking into gardens and I took lots of pictures of the beautiful houses.






I didn’t take a picture of this awesome red door the first time I saw it and Christa was nice enough to walk around and try to find it another night.  She spotted it and the owners were actually standing in it!  We waited around, I took pictures of the gate next door until they went inside, then I was able to get a pic.


We went down to Kiawah island one day and even though it was cloudy and we got rained on, it was still a beautiful day.



Our very favorite tour happened on our last day.  We toured Magnolia Plantation and Gardens.  We started with the “Slavery to Freedom” tour.  Our tour guide was wonderful and very informative.  There are four of the original 1850s slave quarters still onsite at Magnolia.









We also went on a tram tour to see the grounds and wildlife.






We took a tour of the house,


and also walked the gardens.






At the end of our afternoon I found another cat.  Sylvester.


Neither one of us was ready to leave Charleston.  There was so much we didn’t see and do while we were there.  It’s a place we think we would like to go back to one day, and we joked about retiring to the area.  It was 80 degrees while we toured the plantation!  A far cry from the cold that awaited me back in Minnesota.

It was a wonderful trip full of fun, laughter, history, beautiful weather, and good food.  I am so grateful for this friendship, for my friend.  There are not enough words to explain my respect and admiration for Christa.  She has been the best friend to me in the few years I’ve known her.  I am lucky, so lucky.

I can’t wait to see where we end up in 2014!

Indiana roadtrip, a photo story

My mom and I took the Roc to Indiana at the end of August to visit my grandmother.  We drove…

Until we were stopped by the police because of an accident and the helicopter that needed to land on the freeway.

IMAG0680That night my mom had a (huge!) drink.  (I think spending 8 hours trapped in the car with the Roc and I may have had something to do with her desire for alcohol.)

IMAG0681I decided against the drink, and the Roc and I shared a dessert instead.  I will always pick chocolate over alcohol.  Even after spending 8 hours in the car.IMAG0683My grandmother lives in a small town and there isn’t too much to do at her house.  This can spell disaster for a guy like the Roc so we took him to a nearby lake to wear him out.  He will only smile once, so you had better catch it if you want a happy picture.

IMG_1283Otherwise you get this face.  Still cute…to me.

IMG_1284He is usually smiling while he’s swimming.

IMG_1294Especially if you swim with him.


But don’t try to take too many pictures.

IMG_1329The Roc enjoyed watching my uncle and cousins on the tractor.  So did Zora the dog.

IMG_1369GC flew in just for the weekend, and he enjoyed hanging out with the family.  Even if his face doesn’t always show it.


The Roc ended up watching movies, coloring, and playing with play dough at the house.



We saw lot more of this face as the weekend wore on,

IMG_1402(I’m working on writing more about this face…the sound(!) that goes with it, the aftermath, and words that sting.  It is not easy.)

and I tried to get him out of the house when I could.  I even got him to go running (well, walk/run, with more walking than running) with me.  We would go to the end of a dirt road and back, about 3.75 miles round trip.   A couple times we caught a beautiful sunset.

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In all we had a nice visit with my grandmother, aunt and uncle, and my aunt’s mother.  It was nice to see my grandmother smile and spend time with her.



In the end I was ready to get back home and get started on the new school year.  Back to structure, routine, and a little break each day (for me.)  We just had to drive all the way home.  I reminded my mom that I had a pair of ear plugs she could use…


What happened to May?

What happened during the month of May?

Life happened.

Big things.  Little things.  Progress.  Setbacks.  Tears.  Four Steps forward.  Screams.  Laughter.  Two jumps back.  Learning.  Spring (sort of.)

Oh, and San Diego.

Gorgeous, blue sky San Diego.






A few days in which my mom (omg, thank you mom!) took care of the Roc, while I walked in the sun, logged miles along the marina, jogged the convention center steps, acted the part of tourist,



(I didn’t see any ghosts–thank goodness!)


read a book by the water,


watched the sun sink into the clouds,


and soaked in the colors.



Oh, and time spent with this guy.


I came home to a very happy Roc.

San Diego was one of the best part of May.