Ramsey County Fair

My entire family went to the Ramsey County Fair this year. All of us. Every single one. Including both of my brothers. It was so strange. I really cannot remember the last time we all went out and did something together.

We went on a Thursday night, my first full day of not working at Globe.

This has been so long ago now (July 22 I started typing this, about 10 days after it happened…it is now September 25, over two months later) that I am not sure I can remember everything. So I am just going to post the photos and caption what I can.

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My three favorite children.


In this one, the uncles took the kiddos down the slide. Nick holding Cam, Zack holding Arionna (they were too short to go by themselves) and then Simon went alone. But he was scared at the last second, so Uncle Zack is holding his hand as they slide down.


Arionna and I on the Tilt-A-Whirl, ready to get spinning.


Simon and I on the same ride….we wouldn’t all fit in the photo, so we did it in increments.


This little boy won this green dog all by himself and was so proud. And a ticket for rides was covering part of my camera lens.

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Playing a game we know Cam can win.


Cam won the hammer at the fishing pond.


Just because.


IN this one…I wanted to ride the Tilt-A-Whirl, because I love it. My favorite ride. So I asked Simon and Arionna but they wouldn’t go on it. So I shrugged and grabbed Cam to go do the ride. As soon as they saw us lining up, they were all in. So I took all three kids. Unfortunately, I forgot how much force Tilt-A-Whirls exert. By the time the ride was over, Cam was bawling. Ooops. Not for 18 months olds. But the bigger two liked it, so we went again.


I also took all three on the carousel. I still love carousels as well. I never grew out of them.

And thus endeth the brief tale of how my entire family went to the RC fair. It was fun, and a beautiful summer night. Ranks as one of the good memories of the summer of 2014.

Natalie and Paul’s Wedding

If you recall, my friend Natalie got married at the end of December. My whole family went to the wedding. It was the first family wedding of theirs held away from their family church, so it was pretty different.

Here’s some photos:
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Our long row of family. Simon ducked out at the last second….
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Ooh, I just love that.
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I just wanted one cute shot of them, in their matching clothes, as they kept saying they were each others “date”.
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I swear, almost seven is harder than almost one.
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Look at that beauty. Isn’t that fantastic? One-Take Auntie Livi, that’s what they’re calling me now.
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My parents looked so nice….my dad is the dorkiest picture smiler ever. (Yes, Lane, even more than you.)
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Ah, but then, just when you’re reading to give up….look what they give you. Everyone looking, smiling and in matching outfits. I just love this photo (and yes, it is in my blog header). Love it, could be my favorite photo of the holiday season.
As I was entertaining the baby (who knew babies don’t care about weddings?) a friend offered to take a photo of us together.
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Too bad the baby clammed up around a “stranger” but it is still a lovely photo.
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The first dance….
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My favorite shot of them.
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Father/daughter dance.
The mother of the bride, Kathy, came up to me later in the evening. She told me she was mad because they always do “father” stuff at weddings. She said that she married off five daughters (she didn’t say it like that, I’m paraphrasing) and she wanted a moment. She asked me to come up with a song that she could use to dance with all of her girls. A mother/daughter dance.
I recommended “You are the Best Thing” by Ray LaMontagne.
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This is that dance. It was sweet for about 60 seconds, until….
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Her five sons-in-law got wind of the idea and bribed the DJ to let them crash the sweet dance. The music changed to ”
I’m Too Sexy” by Right Said Fred and the boys were….um…grinding on their mother-in-law. It was funny, yes, very funny, but I felt bad for Kathy. She wanted one simple thing and was denied that.
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“Macca” and Hayden, her daycare boy. Macca is his word for grandma. She is not his grandma, but he calls her that, it’s so sweet. He was thrilled to see her at the wedding.
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 This picture makes me laugh. Jamie (the brunette on the floor) is such a lady….
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My sister with Colleen, the oldest sister of the bride.
And, lastly, Arionna wanted to dance all night long. But when you’d get her near the dance floor, she’d get nervous. Finally, her mommy got her to dance and she loved every minute.
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You can’t tell, but she’s laughing very hard.
It was a fun night and a lovely wedding. We had a good time and the kids were exhausted. Well, not Cam. His other grandma came and got him about 8pm so he could go home and sleep. But Arionna and Simon were wiped out.
And that’s it. All five girls are married. No more family weddings to attend, it’s kind of sad…

Day After Day

Friday:
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Close up…
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Later that night:
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Saturday:

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Close up…

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Sunday:

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Close up…

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(please note after two full days of icing and elevating, it is STILL so swollen)

Monday:

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Oh yeah…at my desk.

Close up…

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Out of focus, but you get the gist.

 

I broke my toe. Or jammed it. It’s impossible to tell. It hurts, it’s swollen, it bruised up very nicely, and I can’t wear shoes (only flip flops don’t hurt). Thank goodness it’s summer.

I caught the edge of a cabinet in my bathroom on Friday morning. I assumed I stubbed it. I cursed, no doubt about it, and I saw stars when it happened, it really hurt, but I figured I’d be fine. I shook it off.

Then, I went to work and about six hours later as it was still throbbing, I glanced down and saw that it was bright purple (see photos 1 and 2). That was when I realized I really hurt it. I’ve had it elevated as much as possible. I taped it for work on Saturday. I ice it all the time. Yet, four days later it is still extremely swollen and bruised and painful. Superfun.

Also, my plumbing backed up and sewage from the toilet is now in my bathtub. Awesome. I couldn’t do anything this weekend (except gag from the smell) so a plumber is coming today and my awesome dad will meet them and get it fixed.

And how was YOUR weekend?

 

Birthday Party – 33

Does it seem like a long time for everyone else, or just me?

It’s been less than two weeks, but for some reason…

Okay, let’s dive right in. I hosted my 33rd party in downtown St. Paul. My plan was simple. Everyone meet up and then we’ll bar hop. While hopping to and fro, I devised a “photo hunt”. That’s what I’ve been calling it, but maybe there’s a real name. At any rate, I created a list of challenges for my friends to complete and they had to photo themselves doing the challenge and then text me the photo for credit. They worked in teams, assigned by me, but could use anyone to get a challenge done.

I spent so much time searching for ideas and creating the list of challenges. I really wanted it to be diverse and fun, but also I was trying to find challenges that I thought everyone would enjoy. From the feedback, I’d say it was successful. Rather than detail the whole night, I’m going to just publish the pictures of the challenges.

Let’s begin with the people who came, my beautiful friends and family.
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It was so great to have such a high turnout. I know people were freaked out by the idea of this, and many didn’t understand what I was planning, until that very night. Still, they came and they participated (most of them!) and it was terrific. It also left me with so many pictures of the people I love, that was the best present I got that night, without question.

One of the rules was that a team member must appear in the photo, because obviously I want my friends in the pictures, not just random snapshots. One challenge was “take a picture of a mustache” and I got so many pictures of strangers with mustaches. Weird. Plus, two different teams sent me the same picture of these two old guys with mustaches. How funny is that! But, I did get:

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The guy on the left is Ben, who was on a team. (Yes, he has a real mustache under there, I jazzed it up for fun). The other guy is Greg, who is a former employer of mine and now owns a pizza restaurant in St. Paul. We stopped there during the evening and someone used him for this challenge, so I counted it.
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This challenge had them finding a coaster that carried a name of a beer that I drink: I got a couple more pictures, but just of coasters…no people! I also, somehow ended up with a coaster in my bra at the end of the night. Not sure how. Tom used me as his model for this, which is good, it’s nice to be included! I gave him a bonus point, because I was hardly asked to be in any challenge photos!
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This challenge had contestant drinking a margarita, which I don’t think any of my friends actually drink. Yes, Elena is in there twice. Two teams sent me a picture of her drinking that margarita. And, unless I’m mistaken, Frodo then borrowed Elena’s margarita. So that’s 4 photos, 3 people, and 2 margaritas.

One fun challenge was “a team member holding a ball” because there usually aren’t balls in bars, so it was fun to watch them be creative.
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That bottom photo? Mindy and Tom. Exactly what you’re thinking. Definitely bonus points for that.

“Entire team standing on chairs” was one I thought would get me more creativity, but I got the same picture from each team…in the same bar.
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The top left? Niki and Ben. You’ll notice how it looks as though he is cupping her breast? He’s not. But it looks like it, so I gave them a bonus point (first bonus of the night, actually) because they are brother and sister.

“Have a team member eat something” turned out to be more clever than I expected.
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Chad was in a pizza joint and ordered a single piece of pepperoni (not a slice of pizza–just a pepperoni). Elena ate a life saver. Niki chose to eat Frodo’s ear (bonus!) and Kelly, bless her, chugged ketchup straight from the bottle.

“A teammate on someone’s shoulders” was another one I envisioned differently.
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Chad and Kelly partnered up, from different teams. I’m impressed that tiny Elena can hold Niki and she is standing up. The top right is Tom and Mindy, who were going for difficulty points. Tom has Mindy on his shoulders, while moonwalking down a yellow line. Three challenges in one. Awesome. Bonus points.

“Team member with an animal”
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Not too many completed this. The reason I am in there is that while we were arriving and trying to find a parking spot, this random guy was walking down the street and he was wearing skinny jeans and this ratty t-shirt a ball cap, converse and had massive tattoos. He was an anomaly. We actually talked about him in the car. Then, we arrived at the last bar of the night and he was the bartender! So I asked for a picture and realized later that he had an elephant on his shirt and I counted it.

The bottom photo I’ll discuss later in detail, but the ladies are wearing animal print. I counted that for Tom and Mindy and gave them a bonus point for creativity. (see a pattern here?)
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As it turns out, this is actually pretty impossible with a camera phone. I wanted a photo of them in the air while jumping. Not one person could accomplish this. But the pictures are funny.

“Team members taking a shot”
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How funny is that top picture? My parents wouldn’t take shots, but my dad came up with this idea. Bonus! The one of me and Chad was late in the evening, but I gave them another point for it.

“Olivia and a neon sign”
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I wanted a team member and Olivia and a neon sign…came close. The one of Chad and me was an accident, but I counted it, and it is the second after the picture of us taking a shot above (before and after, if you will)…yikes.

“Reenact the Abbey Road album cover”

Turns out, not many of my friends knew what this meant. This was EASY…all you needed was four people. And I guess no one thought to Google it.

The actual cover looks like this:

(courtesy Google images)

and these were the only TWO who even tried it.

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They are both good tries and got the points, even though I don’t know why the one on the right (Dad, Mom, Kelly, and Mark) looks like they’re doing the Robot across the street.

“Walk the yellow line” (and try not to get killed)  was another challenge. I didn’t realize that streets in the city don’t have yellow lines. Whoops. Suburb girl here. Still, two teams managed to find one to walk…

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Tom–as you saw earlier

and my Mom, who was certainly creative in her solution–that was also proposed by my dad, I believe. I wish he would have participated more, because he is certainly creative.

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These are just some random snapshots of challenges. I didn’t have enough good ones of each to create a collage, so I did this. Starting at the top left:

Hats: was supposed to be a team member with a strange hat on. This was the ONLY one that qualified. I got lots of pics of strangers wearing a weird hat.

Gift: Amy and Elena gave me a car. I didn’t count it because I couldn’t keep it…but it was still funny.

In common: find someone else in the group you have something in common with. Mindy and Kelly. I’m guessing here, but Mindy has a child in 2nd grade and Kelly teaches 2nd grade?

Photo of the clock at 11:11pm: ONLY one who had people in it. Muffy’s eyes and the top of Tom’s head.

Chug a beer with a stranger: I didn’t get many of these, but this was funny because he was our waiter at the first bar–and this was while he was working!

An interesting group photo: I didn’t get many of these, which made me sad. I love group pictures. I got one, actually. This was Chad trying to get the group himself, while in the picture. It makes me laugh.

Two of my favorite challenges were based solely on results.

The first was ” a photo of a team member with a celebrity” and I LOVED the creativity of this.

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It was also the most results I got. I actually added Elena, because she is a celebrity to me. Tom and Mindy used Greg, as he was our boss when the three of us met, which sort of makes him a celebrity. Frodo said, “I don’t know how anyone could find a celebrity” and my dad said, “I’m a celebrity to her, I’m her dad” which is how I got that. It’s not true, but it IS funny. What is funnier is that Elena used Frodo himself, because we call him that as he looks like Frodo Baggins. Self portrait, maybe, Frods?

For sure some of my favorite photos.

This last set was based on sheer humor. Not that many photos, surprisingly, but a lot of creativity.

 
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Kelly is a pro at looking passed out. My sister is funny because she’d been there for 10 minutes…and already passed out.

Ben’s is also funny. Who passes out on a newspaper machine? With a lit cigarette in their mouth?

The large one on the right is Frodo. He stole a lampshade off of a working lamp in a building, then went into a public bathroom and laid on the floor for this. Possibly the best photo of the night. I’d say top five, for sure!

That covered the majority of interesting picture challenges. I did have some video challenges, but I am having trouble getting them to load. That might have to just be a separate post.

I do, however, have a bunch of photos I want to share, whether they were challenges or not.
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These two were teammates. Unfortunately, they only did like three challenges before giving up. However, they did send me this, not as a challenge, but just to…make me laugh? It worked. They went into the bathroom and changed clothes. He’s wearing hers and she’s wearing hers. They even switched glasses. Imagine if all that humor were channeled into the game!
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Likewise, this was not for a challenge. My mother took a picture of herself using the toilet and text it to me. I love it!
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Someone took this. I thought, the moment I saw it, that it looked like an old time photo, you know, where people never smile? Obviously, my mom and I are smiling, but perhaps it is the poses? Or my dad’s hands, folded on his lap? I put it in sepia to enhance the connection…either way, I love it.
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I spontaneously kissed her and her partner, Amy, made me do it again for a picture. And it is one of my favorites of us!
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I actually took this one. I was being silly, resulting in the laughter, but these are my GW peeps. My gang. I love this group of people. I was honored Niki came up from Madison for my birthday.

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And this. There are a scant few photos of the three of us and I wish there were more. They are two of my favorite people in the world. I was so happy they were able to make it to the party, and if you hadn’t guessed by the bonus points alone, they were the winners of the evenings festivities. No surprise there, they are the perfect pair. Next year I might separate them and see how they fare?
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Speaking of Tom…

This is a photo of Tom with five hookers. Okay, I don’t really know that they are hookers…for sure. But we were walking down the street and following these girls, not one of whom looked old enough to drink. Their shorts were so short and tight that they were wedged up in their buttcracks. No lie. Mindy and I were miming our disgust with these girls, get a little self-respect, hmm? Then I had a brilliant thought. I told Mindy, “5 bonus points if you get a picture of your husband with all five strippers” (yes, I was using strippers and hookers interchangeably, then and now) and she was game. She sprinted down the street and caught up to them, just in time to overhear them saying, “we need to find ourselves a white man” which was her cue. She offered them her husband…for one picture.

I LOVE IT!

And while we are STILL talking about Tom, he also features in one of my favorite photos of the night. I don’t know how it happened, I might even have taken it, but it is so completely awesome I can hardly contain myself.
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That’s right. That is Tom and my MOTHER. He’s rarely that animated in photos (but he should be, could he possibly look any more fun?) and I think it is odd that I have a picture of the two of them. I lovelovelove it.

Lastly, someone did organize the group photo, which is how I got this, my all-time favorite photo of the evening.

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Thank you to everyone for coming. It was an incredible night and oh-so-much fun. I have a ton of memories (yes, even some that I didn’t blog here!) and am delighted at another birthday of being spoiled by the people I love most. Thank you all so much. Love you!

Happiest birthday to me. Helluva way to kick off 33!

(p.s. remember my post about picnik? every single photo was edited there and all collages were created there…I’m really, really going to miss it)

One Year

In an unusual twist, I’m blogging on a Saturday. Why?

Because, today, January 14th, is the one year anniversary of the day that I went here:
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with her:
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to meet him:
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and, most importantly, to get this:
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I can’t believe it has been a whole year. I still remember every moment of it, meeting my favorite singer (and actor!). It was surely a night to remember. If you somehow missed the original post, you can read it here.

Happy Anniversary to me!

Elves and Holidazzle

For like the 382nd year in a row, Macy’s holiday display is “A Day in the Life of an Elf”. I wish it didn’t suck so much, though there were new bits on display this year.

We took Simon through, just my mom and I. It was fun to watch him. I think 4 might be the perfect age for this display. He might have liked it even more if it weren’t so crowded in there. Me too. Definitely not going on a Saturday again.
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I love this because it looks like he’s IN the display or a part of it.
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Stopping at a new section of the display, the reindeer stable. Very cute, but if they’re going to spend money, I wish they’d change the display.

I wanted just one good picture of him, and asked him to stop by the only part I like, the singing Christmas trees. This is what I got.
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Yeah, he’s a dork, but he’s our dork!

I finally took this picture. I’ve been through this display probably a dozen times. Every single time I’ve been through I’ve thought, “why do they make the mailman so scary?” All the other elves are cute, but this guy:
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Weird, right?

Then, I wanted to get one cute pic of him and Grandma before it was over. Simon was resistant. He didn’t want to do pictures. So I told him, “how about one silly one first?”
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How cute are they?

Then I took the “real” one.
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Which is also very cute, my mom’s happiness leaps out of the photo. But I almost like the silly one more, it captures their personalities just perfectly.

After Simon declined to meet Santa, again, (and thank goodness this time, that line was atrocious) we headed out to do some shopping.

Then we hiked through downtown to a food court for dinner. Simon got McDonalds and my mom and I got screwed. The place we wanted sold all their food before we ordered and refused to make more because it was 30 minutes to closing. So I went to a taco place and paid too much money for crappy food.

Next up was the Holidazzle parade. Simon was overjoyed at this. He loves parades. We told him it was time and he was bounding out of his skin. We all bundled up. It was about 35° but downtown you are subject to the Venturi effect. For those who didn’t read the link the last time, this means that wind speeds up when going through narrow passages. So, in a downtown, the sections between buildings seem windier than average. As it was actually windy outside, unless you were blocked by a building, freezing arctic wind nearly blew you over. Unfortunately, we had to stand in a spot that was NOT protected by the buildings. We were chilled and frozen, through and through.

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Think he looks cold and miserable? Plus, we were out there early to save space for Em, Chad, Arionna, and Chad’s parents.

He was ready to pack it in before we even began.
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Grandma and Arionna, who was the most bundled of us all, but would not wear her mittens. Her little hands were frozen.
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I kept checking, but he was so cold he never looked like he was having any fun.
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An idea of why we’re crazy enough to do this. The parade floats are cool, and all lit up. The people who walk in the parade are also lighted from head to toe.
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Mommy and Daughter-sicles.

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This was one of the cutest floats. A zoo train. The animals inside are small children in costume, all lit up. Darling.

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Our frozen little group.
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A blurry family photo to commemorate her first Holidazzle. I think my hands were shaking from the cold.
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The Wizard of Oz float.
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Em and Arionna watching the Aladdin float pass by.

We made it until 6:45 (the parade starts at 6:30). By then, Simon was freezing. We went inside to warm up. We could not see from inside. Once he was warm, he wanted to go back out and see the rest. Unfortunately, we didn’t know it was only a half hour long! By the time we came back out it was 7pm and it was over. He was really disappointed.

Actually, when we got back to the car, he was so overtired that I asked him what he thought and he said, “I hated it. I hate all parades.” And then fell asleep like 30 seconds later.

The next day, though, he told his mom all about it and how much he liked it. But, next time I’d aim for a night that isn’t so cold or else be there early enough to get a spot protected by the buildings. Or inside.

Still, it was a fun adventure and I haven’t been to a Holidazzle parade since 1998, when I worked at Dayton’s downtown and my family came down and met me. We snagged a great spot on a skyway to see the parade.Next time…

O Christmas Tree!

We are fresh tree people, we make a day out of going to a tree farm and picking out trees. One for my parents, one for Em and Chad, and for two years now, one for me. Three trees and a lot of driving about, setting them up at various homes. It’s a big day.

This year, we had both Arionna and Simon with us. I decided we should do something different, ala cut down our own trees. My dad was not too keen on this, and we made him go on his birthday, but he agreed, because this is something the kids would enjoy.

We went to Krueger’s tree farm in Lake Elmo and realized that there are many, many acres to hike. Luckily, it was a beautiful day, nearly 50° outside. There wasn’t even snow on the ground, which is unusual for tree shopping.

After much debate and discussion of tree styles, Chad and Em found theirs first.
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Simon was watching my dad saw, but then realized the tree would fall soon and is scampering out of the way. Kind of like his life depends on it, which it does not, but it is better to be safe than sorry, I suppose.
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Em is holding it while my dad saws and Chad prepares to catch.
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Auntie Emmy explaining something to Simon.
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Simon really wanted to carry the saw. My dad let him and he was so proud. He is so careful…he is following Grandma trying to get her to pick one so that he can help cut it down.
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This one needed to be carried the whole time because the ground was so spongy and uneven she kept stumbling. Plus, she walks way slower than needed on a large trek.

However, isn’t that a beautiful mommy/daughter picture?
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I said to him. “Give me your best, ‘I’m holding a saw’ smile” and I got this. He’s so darling. Minus that dumb hat.

My dad and Chad carried their tree to the crest of the hill. When my mom found one, Chad came back to cut it down, and then we needed someone to carry it. My mom volunteered and I got what I think may be the cutest picture of the day.
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There are not many pics of these two together, but this is so darn cute.

I was the only one not to find a tree to cut. They don’t let them get cut down unless they’re really big and I wanted a smaller tree. Mine is only 6.5′ this year, which is plenty. I found one in the pre-cut lot, and it is beautiful. They aren’t as wildly beautiful as the natural cut-your-own, but I still love it.
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While we were waiting for the trees to be prepped to take home, we ran into someone special. Simon was scared and wouldn’t go anywhere near him. Em carried Arionna over….
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…and she immediately buried her head in Mommy’s shoulder. Shyness took over. But, after some coaxing, she warmed up, just a bit.
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He was a really nice Santa. I wish Simon wasn’t scared of him, but….

We delivered Em and Chad’s tree first, and helped them get it up. When I say “helped”, I mean, Chad and Dad put it up, Emmy told them what to do, I made wisecracks and took pictures and Mom and the babies watched.
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Good times.

Then to my parent’s house, to put up their tree.
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During this process, I actually do help. I’m allowed. It’s a system we’ve perfected over 20+ years of practice. Dad secures it, Mom holds it steady, and I direct them to make certain it is straight. I have a good eye for that. We get it right every time.
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Here’s mine, all ready for decoration. Isn’t it all lush and beautiful? Even though I was aiming for (and achieved) smaller, it is still huge.

As promised, here is a picture with the lights, that doesn’t suck (ie, from my camera phone)
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Unfortunately, I forgot to take a picture with the ornaments on until AFTER I uploaded…so you can’t see that one, not until I upload again, probably after Christmas.

Ah well, something to look forward to, or else just stop by to see it!

And that long adventure is the story of how we got our trees this year. Merry Christmas!