Duluth trip to the North Shore

We had planned a trip to our favorite vacation spot Isla Mujures but with the [insane] overall lack of knowledge about the level of risk of Zika virus there (I called around for all the medical and statistical details I could get my hands on!) we had to cancel as soon as we found out I was pregnant. #sadface We were sooooo looking forward to some island time! But, that had to wait until I was no longer splitting cells.

That’s not Mexico! 🙂

Luckily, it’s shockingly easy to be refunded for flights to regions affected by Zika when you have a doctor’s note indicating you are with-child. I mean, no cancellation fees, no waiting period, like IMMEDIATE REFUND. Where does that even happen…immediate refunds?! I can’t think of one instance. Actually the refund came in quicker than the actual credit card charge came due, which confused me for awhile because it threw off everything by a few thousand that month and the following! We hadn’t even been charged for the flights and already had a plus on our Amex. I think that’s one of the only by-product-good-things I’ve ran into during pregnancy. We were loaned a large credit on our credit card for one month – woohoo.

The long view of Two Harbors from our cabin

So instead of beachfront, we swung the pendulum over to the North Shore beachfront. It was local and there were no mosquitoes in sight, ha! We stayed at Grand Superior Lodge in Two Harbors. This was no ordinary “lodge” however– we stayed in their beachhouse. The beachhouse was an amazing cottage that was perched direction on the shore. I mean directly. You could hear the waves all night long, it was amazing. Super romantic, unless you have kids in tow! But seriously, we had an awesome time. Ross was less than confident we were all going to fit comfortably in the beach house but I called ahead and they assured us a pack-and-play would fit fine. He thought the boys would get bored in the small space, but the exact opposite happened. They piled up next to the window and watched the waves come in – they never got tired of it! There was a red rock in the waves they named Lightning McQueen – kids are so creative aren’t they!?

We used the pool in the lodge one day and luckily the hot tub wasn’t boiling hot so Georgie and Julius were able to dip their toes in with us for a minute. We took turns getting massages and ate at the restaurant one night. All in all, it was the perfect vacation for us at that time. But we are going back to Mexico next winter –sorry Two Harbors! We need to warm our old bones. But oh, how we love #Minnesnowta

View of the shoreline from our window

Lake Superior’s biggest fans

George slept in a sleeping bag and Julius slept in his pack-and-play

Our little cottage was so cozy and comfortable!

Dictator

We stopped at McDonalds; it’s just too easy when the kids are hungry! George was not giving Julius fries. So Julius starts screeching, of course….

 

George (to Julius): “No, you can’t have any fries, Julius.”

Me: “George, quit being a dictator.”

Ross cracks up.

Me: “What…?”

Ross: “I thought you were going to say ‘Quit being a dick,’ and that would have been awesome.”

I haven’t yet resorted to calling my child a dick. But I’ve been close.

Chimney expansion (to cover chaseway)

Once upon a time, we bought a house and loved the brick chimney, but didn’t love the duct work and chaseway that ran alongside. We ran through our options, and decided on the most difficult (of course)! We sourced old yellow (Chicago-style) brick for about two years off Craigslist at cheap or free prices. Then came the hard part – the cutting out of the old brick and tooth-ing in the salvaged brick to expand the chimney. Not for only one chimney – but for four different areas in the house! We had four areas to add brick:

  1. the kitchen chimney that had horrible yellow cabinetry next to it hiding duct work
  2. the duct work in the dining room we wanted to cover
  3. the plumbing (toilet) pipe on the opposite side of the dining room we wanted to cover
  4. the chimney in the upstairs master that ran alongside a heating supply run duct

It turned out amazing and we are really happy with the results. The salvaged brick and new mortar isn’t a one-to-one match with the old stuff, but there is no way it would ever be…that  chimney is over 100 years old! The expanded chimneys are such a unique architectural feature and really make the room unique, versus just cutting up some drywall to cover whatever pipes and duct work need covering. It makes the house look like there are more chimneys and although they’re not functional, they add texture, age and color to the rooms. I LOVE THEM! In the next house we fix up, it would be awesome to somehow include some old brick in every room. I wonder how Ross feels about that idea….

Taking out the corner pieces of the kitchen chimney so we could make it longer/wider

Longer/wider brick to cover the chaseway

Slow-going piecing one brick in at a time

Almost finished – just the top brick remaining, to reconcile with the ceiling

The finished kitchen chimney – looks like it was meant to be!

Before and after! I would never cook anything in the kitchen on the left…gross

 

Football-themed baby shower

We threw a baby shower for a gal in our book club and she loves the Minnesota Vikings so we chose a football slash Vikings theme. Everything was purple pride! It was more fun and creative than any other shower we’ve done, including a robot-theme baby shower which was super cute too. At first, it was tough to find football theme stuff, but after a few google searches and some trips around town, everyone found what they were looking for. Personally, I was frustrated trying to find Vikings-theme stuff for decor and food. I thought it would be relatively easy to find Vikings food flags but I looked everywhere and couldn’t find anything! Eventually, I just bought purple and gold glitter tape from Target and made my own. What a pain in the ass. But everything turned out beautifully. Have a look!

We set up a concession table with food and drinks…we had non-alcoholic (and alcohol) mimosas

We had a watermelon football helmet full of fruit (I got all the fruit at Aldi!)

I cut up my cinnamon coffee cake and used cupcake holders so they were easy to grab. These were my Vikings food flags that took way too long.

Glitter tape food flags…in theory, a great idea. Until you start cutting and assembling.

Football-shaped Chinese paper lanterns

Football vase centerpieces made out of beer bottles

Game prize bags made with craft paper – aren’t these the cutest?

The gift table. I made a diaper cake too, in record time (the night before!)

Diaper cake making in progress

Diaper cake almost complete

The guest of honor. We all wore Vikings jerseys or purple, of course!

 

Blue fish

I’ve been wanting to share this video because it is probably my favorite video of Julius to date. At his 18 month appointment, his pediatrician thought he wasn’t saying as many words as she would expect, and she suggested we might have him evaluated by a speech therapist. We were totally on board because neither of us even remember how many words George was saying at 18 months or how clear his speech was…turns out, Julius was speaking at about a one year-old level. His cognition is very high, above average for his age, actually, but he has expressive disorder or trouble expressing himself verbally.

I’m extremely happy with the results of speech therapy so far. I bring him twice per week for half hour sessions with a speech therapist. We are hoping he is caught up by my delivery date – he has made great progress so far. One of the things I didn’t realize was children who have trouble communicating have more tantrums. This was certainly the case with Julius…but we just thought that was his personality. He has given himself bloody noses from throwing himself around his crib, for example. Kind of a nutball, he is. But now that he can use his words, he does less flailing around and physical outbursts and whenever he is upset, instead of falling back on crying and screaming, we push him to use his words to explain what is wrong.

We’ve also had a few laughs as he’s learning. He’s starting to add ending sounds onto his words when before it was just one syllable. This week it was him learning the word “spider” but the best he can do is “spy-spy,” which is still better than previously, when he wouldn’t have even attempted the second syllable. Our favorite is his pronunciation of the phrase “blue fish,” which refers to Dori, of course.

So now whenever Ross and I are annoyed by something we say it’s a bunch of blue fish. This is why I love my kids…for bringing this kind of blue fish into our lives!

Progress Update #5!

The weather has been so weird….umm climate change anyone? We had like 50 mph wind gusts the other night. I kept thinking of the deer hiding out in the woods for some reason! Also praying there were no humans out in that wind, of course.

I did a video tour back in November, which was very warm with temps almost to 70 degrees! Everyone was all “Yay, it’s summer again!” but I was just plain freaked out. Still am…how does it go from 70 to below freezing that quickly? Anyway, the video tour is bright and sunny (balmy) so that explains that. I’ve been meaning to post it for awhile!

Ross installing our fire detectors in the dining room

Walking into the downstairs bedroom which is right off the dining room

View from the downstairs bedroom into the dining room

Entry staircase we need to refinish and under-stair storage -we are storing brick there temporarily!

Kitchen – we have appliances and that’s about it!

The downstairs bathroom – can’t believe it is the same room as before…INCREDIBLE!

Downstairs living room (those are brand-new toilets in the boxes, ha!)

The upstairs bathroom is such a gem! I LOVE how it turned out…even better than in my head.

The sink-side of the upstairs bathroom with new frosted window

The upstairs hallway with refinished floors and new staircase window to let light in

 

The upstairs master is both my and Ross’ favorite room…it’s super cozy and we love the chimney

We stole some space from the bedroom for a large walk-in closet (not original to these old homes!)

We haven’t painted the second upstairs bedroom but I’m going to stage it like a nursery

This closet is original! And small! Perfect for a nursery.

Grumbly mumbly

Quote

As of today, I’m no longer stacking laundry baskets in the hallway. It’s one of those little things that piss off your spouse and you never really knew it. It’s good to figure out those little things about your spouse so you can change your quirks or habits early. Well, typically people find out about those things when they’re dating or newly married. Seven years in, we’re still finding out about each other. I love it though, because we make a huge joke out of it.

On our honeymoon in Fiji, I told Ross I was pretty sure the tide came in and out at the same time every day. Knowing I was wrong, he said “Oh, you know a lot about the tide?” So now, whenever I’m talking out of my ass he says, “You know a lot about the tide?” and it makes us both laugh. Or sometimes, we just get all grumbly mumbly when we disagree…like on where laundry baskets should be kept!

Ross:”Why do you always put the laundry baskets in the hallway? There’s plenty of room in the laundry room.”

Me:”I don’t really know. I guess I just got in the habit of stacking them in the hallway.”

Ross:”xyz@*&%…(grumbly mumbly).”

Me:”What?”

Ross.”What? Oh, I just said I love you.” –lands a big kiss on me–

Me:”mmm…hmmm.”

This was our flight to Fiji (yep my hair was almost black here). This was the newlywed aisle and we all got free champagne! I heart Southwest.

This was our flight to Fiji (yep my hair was almost black here). This was the newlywed aisle and we all got free champagne! I heart Southwest.

Don't eat spanish mackerel. No matter what the locals tell you. Just don't.

Don’t eat Spanish mackerel. No matter what the locals tell you. Just don’t.

Poolside at our house in Savusavu...dreamy!

Poolside at our house in Savusavu…dreamy!

For a few years there, my dermatologist scared me away from the sun. I've since recovered, but was slathered in sunscreen the first few years of our marriage.

For a few years there, my dermatologist scared me away from the sun. I’ve since recovered, with a normal level of caution regarding overexposure, but was slathered in sunscreen the first few years of our marriage. 😉

 

George’s 4th Birthday Party

I’m way overdue posting about George’s 4th Birthday, but it was great weather and we went to the greenhouse again like last year. The greenhouse is quickly becoming a tradition because they have so many fun things for kids to do and it’s a beautiful time of year to be outside.

George and his girlfriends

George and his girlfriends in the gazebo at the greenhouse

I love the boy George is becoming. He loves being around other kids – boys and girls equally. When we were trick-or-treating, he ran up to a little girl dressed like a princess and said “Wow – I really love your costume; it’s so pretty!” My heart just melted because of the sweetness…!

George and his friends riding on the train

George and his friends riding on the train (Julius didn’t want to go!)

We bought a PJ Masks birthday cake edible frosting top on Amazon for like $9 but it ended up being kind of a fail because it needed to chill overnight even though the directions said 3 hours. It was still kind of sticky and tacky so I was pissed. I’d totally try it again but it’s going in the freezer for an entire day and night before the party next time. I managed to salvage the characters off it and the cake still looked decent – just not as nice as if the entire cake top was intact. Ross laughs at me because I always try crazy shit to save money and it usually bites me in the ass. It either takes more time than is worth the savings or it’s just a total fail. It makes for good stories though. One time we bought a shower curtain at a dollar store and put it up and it was as thin as saran wrap…no lie. It wrapped around your legs instead of actually staying put because it was so thin!

We invited George's friends from preschool

We invited George’s friends from preschool

I know George enjoyed his party, and that’s all that matters. He didn’t know the difference with the cake and I think as parents we put too much pressure on ourselves. All he cared about was the fact everyone was there to celebrate with him. ♥

When the kids went stir-crazy they could go on the playground equipment

When the kids went stir-crazy they could go on the playground equipment

Pumpkin carving ’16

We had a blast last night carving pumpkins. To put Ross in a chipper mood, I turned on Pandora “Hello I Love You (Doors)” Mix – that’s actually our song ♥ and it brought back a lot of memories! It got me feeling pretty good too. George picked out a pumpkin bigger than himself (of course) and Dad agreed to carve it, so we went with it, and even carved a spooky face on it.

We had a little more fun with Julius’ pumpkin because we got to decide the design for him, so we did Lady Liberty! Because #landofthefreehomeofthebrave. We even showed George pictures of the Statue of Liberty and did a brief history lesson because he wasn’t sure what it was. We had way more fun than previous years – George still doesn’t like to get his hands gooey but we hope that will change soon. Julius is all about the goo – but he was absolutely terrified of George’s spooky pumpkin – mommy had to hold him to calm him down because he was not sure what we were up to exactly. Also, the pics are really dark but it was actually dark when we took the photos, so yeah. Happy Halloween from our fam….!

Daddy and Georgie carving his monster pumpkin

Daddy and Georgie carving his monster pumpkin

Gooey hands and silly faces!

Gooey hands and silly faces!

George and Daddy with the masterpiece

George and Daddy with the masterpiece

Calming down baby Julius (yes, I'm wearing Ross's boxers because 'dat baby belly)

Calming down baby Julius (yes, I’m wearing Ross’s boxers because ‘dat baby belly)

Our boys with their pumpkins

Our boys with their pumpkins

Julius finally warmed up to the spooky pumpkin

Julius finally warmed up to the spooky pumpkin

Spooky pumpkin and Lady Liberty!

Spooky pumpkin and Lady Liberty!

 

 

Overheard while playing Go Go Thomas

Every once in awhile we let George play “Go Go Thomas” on our iphones (it’s a racing game) if we need to distract him to clip his toenails or something. I love how he tries to repeat and understand what we’re saying even if he’s not really sure what we’re talking about:

Ross: “You’re neck-in-neck!”

George:”Yah! There’s gonna be a neck and a neck!”