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    Archive for 2008

    The Clauses Next Door

    Sunday, December 21, 2008

    I know that I usually take the time to blog on Tuesdays, but with this week being the week of Christmas, I figured I better take the time to do our weekly entry when I've got time!!

    Our friends/next door neighbors invited us along with a few other friends over to their house for a Christmas party on Friday evening. A surprise guest was rumored to be coming as well and we were all excited! Benjamin and I baked eggless gingerbread cookies to decorate at the party and even decorated some of them beforehand to eat ourselves. Katie and Jason had quite a spread of goodies to eat and all of the kids enjoyed running around and decorating cookies. After dinner, a knock at the door signaled the important visitors - Mr. and Mrs. Santa Claus!! The kind people willing to dress up and let our kids sit on their laps were the parents of Katie and Jason's live-in Nanny, Melissa (she also was one of Benjamin's teachers at daycare before she left to watch Ethan full-time). Some of the kids were more open to socializing with the Clauses than others, but luckily Benjamin was one of the more comfortable of the bunch. He was able to tell Santa what he wants for Christmas and Santa even had a couple of small fun gifts for him. It was a wonderful evening!!

    On Saturday we received a sizeable amount of snow in a blizzard that lasted pretty much all day. I'm not exaggerating when I say that I think we have about 2 feet of snow on the ground around our house right now. So much snow has fallen that we have run out of room on either side of our driveway for the shoveled snow. Unfortunately, as Sunday approached, so did very very very cold temperatures and I think our high for today was -11 degrees with a -40 windchill. SICK! So we couldn't even enjoy all of that snow.

    Even with the horrible weather, we still were able to get out and do some Christmas shopping, visit the library and have dinner out on Saturday. However, on Sunday with the cold temps we decided to just stay home and catch up on some projects. Mike reorganized some cabinets, Benjamin caught up on his artwork and I made 1/2 of a practice cake for Andy and Jennifer's wedding. It was a very productive day.

    I know that I keep saying this, but I cannot believe how close the holidays are now. THREE days until Christmas! Ai yi yi!! It should be a fun one though, we are all excited. We still have some wrapping to do and I have to make some Andrzejewski meat pierogis to bring up to Mom and Dad's! Mmmmmm.


    Tuesday, December 16, 2008

    We had a very low-key weekend, which actually began at lunchtime on Friday because Mike is trying to use up his vacation days before the end of the year. He had a 1/2 day off on Friday and the whole day off on Monday. We had so much fun just staying indoors and snuggling up while the temperatures outside reached lows of -6 degrees with a -30 degree windchill. We were able to sneak out to get some Christmas shopping done and Mike went to a holiday gathering with some running friends Saturday night.

    Proud boy who just learned how to write his name

    Benjamin has been very into learning his letters lately. He constantly asks us questions like "What letter does towel start with?" He is able to read all of the alphabet letters now, so he's been moving onto recognizing short words and writing the letters. We use a white board to show him a letter and then he copies it. After practicing individual letters with us for a while, he was able to write his whole name on his own. The letters are a bit askew, but he gets the idea.

    Mike introduced Benjamin to some of his GI Joe toys from his childhood as well this weekend. They spent nearly all day on Monday playing with them together, it was great. Benjamin calls it "playing trucks" and they both love to make all of those sound effects that only boys can make! When Mike brought the box of toys up from the downstairs storage closet, Benjamin was beyond excited. I think it was really special time for Mike.

    Benjamin introduced to GI Joe toys

    Always good for a giggle

    Saturday, December 13, 2008

    Benjamin wanted to share this with the internet - it is his favorite video and we all love to sing along.

    Santa Claus is Comin' to Town

    Tuesday, December 09, 2008

    Breakfast with Santa

    Benjamin has taken to quickly relearning all of the Christmas carols he knew last year. It is amazing how short-term a toddler's memory can be. He totally does not remember last year's Christmas AT ALL. So though it has been slightly repetative for us to reteach him all of these things, it also provides an opportunity to relive the most special moments all over again. We decorated the Christmas tree last week and every single ornament was brand new to him. Each time we pulled off the tissue paper that protects them in their storage boxes, Benjamin would let out a hearty "COOL!" Every glimpse of Christmas lights out of his car window is just as exciting. He's always on the lookout for a Frosty or blow up Santa or some facinating decoration. Last year we took him to a Macy's store in Illinois for their Breakfast with Santa event along with my parents. He was pretty scared of Santa back then. Well, really he was scared of anyone in a costume. Mom and Dad are living up here now, so we were hoping that the Macy's stores in the Twin Cities did the same event. Luckily, sometime before Thanksgiving Mom found an ad in the paper and immediately secured tickets to the breakfast at the Ridgedale Mall Macy's in Minnetonka. Once again we were highly impressed with the event! It was held in the restaurant attached to the store, which is just gorgeous. The Santa there was very cute and they even had elves on hand for face-painting and balloon hats/animals. The breakfast was okay - french toast, bacon and eggs. Benjamin had a blast, well ALL of us had a blast. He was definitely less afraid of Santa this year and more just in awe of him. All of the kids were given Christmas Wish List to fill out with what you wanted to ask Santa for and Benjamin/Grandma Chris dutifully filled it out and gave it to Santa. I wonder if he'll make the connection between those items and the ones he finds under the tree.

    Mike and I once again ran the Reindeer Run race (how many synonyms of RUN can I get into one sentence!) around Lake Harriet in Minneapolis again. Katie tagged along this year as well.

    Me and Katie at the Reindeer Run

    It was cold and snowing first thing in the morning, but eventually the snow stopped and the sun came out, it was beautiful. There are quite literally thousands of people who run this race - many of them in elaborate costumes. It is lots of fun! After the race Katie and Dan had us over for some tasty chili at their new-ish home. We spent the rest of the weekend at Mom and Dad's watching football, dodging the snow and relaxing.

    Benjamin started some preschool classes last Friday through Community Education. His daycare is also a preschool, so he won't attend a separate school until he goes to Kindergarden, but these classes give him an opportunity to learn and make friends outside of the daycare center. This week they learned all about Hanukkah and they will continue to learn about holiday celebrations around the world. So far we are big fans!

    I honestly don't know how it can be that Christmas is only a little more than 2 weeks away. I am not ready! It certainly looks like Christmastime outside lately though - we just received another 7 inches of snow last night on top of the couple we already had. Time to pull out the sled!!!

    New Look

    Wednesday, December 03, 2008

    Well, as you can tell, the Familie Schmitt blog has a new look - which is possibly temporary for now until I can figure out a way to do what I really want to do with it. I was tired of the old green look, hence the change. Anyhoo, onto the more interesting stuff...(warning: this is gonna be a long one)

    We celebrated Thanksgiving and did a variety of other things with the Schmitt family last week. It was quite a "marathon weekend" sans a marathon! We drove up to Cottage Grove on Wednesday night and Mike and I wandered down to Hastings for the evening to pick up packets/register for the Gobble Gait 8k race. We knew it was going to be a really fun race with the race headquarters at a bar and registration volunteers all rockin' beers at packet pickup! The race was at 8:30am Thanksgiving morning.

    Dan, Katie, Mike and I braved the cold start area with approximately 2,000 other runners. The course is a nice loop around Hastings with the beginning running along the Mississippi River, which was quite scenic. There were a couple of real steep hills along the course and a nice downhill, but overall it was very fun and a nice way to sneak in some exercise before gobbling down our turkey. Cindy made a tasty Thanksgiving meal, which we all enjoyed. Andy and Jennifer along with her Mom and Stepdad joined us later in the evening for pie after we played a couple heated rounds of Left Right Center with Great Aunt Alice, Bert and Cindy.

    On Friday I busied myself with baking cakes for Jennifer bridal shower, but we were all very excited all day for a big surprise. Jen had reserved tickets for the three of us, along with Joe, Jen and AJ to ride on the Polar Express! We didn't tell either boy about what we were doing, but dressed them in their pajamas and drove out to Lakeville to the train depot.

    Funny enough, both boys passed out in our respective cars on the way. When they woke up we let them in on the surprise and although they were still a little groggy from their naps, they were extremely excited. The event itself was so well done. The depot was all decked out in holiday decorations, a tv showing the movie, toys for the kids to play with and a mini-train for the kids to ride on throughout the parking lot. When their mini-train ride was finishing up, the big train pulled up and I honestly have never seen the boys so excited! It was magical. We walked to the Polar Express and a conductor asked each child their name and checked to make sure they were on his "list." Then we boarded the train and took our seats on a commuter car (which suspiciously looked like a Burlington Northern car).

    High schoolers dressed up like elves led some games and songs and later a woman read the Polar Express book to us. The elves also handed out cookies and hot chocolate ("HOT! HOT! HOT! Oooh we got it! Hot, hot, hot - Hot chocolate!") to everyone. After all of this excitement, Santa and Mrs Claus made their way into our car and spent time talking with each child individually. If they proved to Santa that they believed they were given a sleigh bell (just kidding, all the kids got bells). Benjamin was just thrilled with the whole thing, what an awesome experience for all of us.

    Saturday was Jennifer's bridal shower. Andy is the last Schmitt boy to get married and so she will be the last sister-in-law addition to the family and all of us females are thrilled to finally even it up (with the exception of all of those darn grandSONS)! Katie, Jen and I threw the shower, which had a winter wonderland theme, at Jen's house. I finished the cake Saturday morning and successfully drove it to Jen's house without any damage, though for once I had to not drive like a Chicagoan to get it there in one piece! Everyone had a great time and Jennifer and Andy received some awesome and unique gifts. When the shower was over the entire family drove out to Stillwater to celebrate Alice's 90th birthday.

    After dinner Mike, Dan, Katie, Jen and I were able to spend some adult time away from kids and we had a blast! We finished up our weekend by watching the Packers game on Sunday at Cindy and Bert's.

    Our Christmas tree and holiday decorations are all finally out and we feel finally like the Christmas season is upon us. Benjamin is full of questions about every little thing to do with the holiday and we are trying to do our best at answering them. But how does one explain to a 3 year old exactly what myrrh is - I'm not even sure I completely know! As the good Catholic family we are, my family celebrates St. Nicholas Day, which is a tradition Mike and I have taken on as well. Benjamin will have a full stocking, but I'm sure even more questions - "did Santa fill our stockings" - "no, St. Nick did" - "what is the difference between Santa and St. Nick?"

    OH BOY!

    Wednesday, November 26, 2008

    Benjamin: "Daddy, can I watch a movie?"
    Mike: "Absolutely!"
    Benjamin: (obviously not understanding) "After Lucy???"

    Thursday, November 20, 2008

    Despite feeling extremely under the weather, I packed up the bags Friday afternoon so we could travel up to the twin cities for a busy weekend. First we drove up to Mound to stay with Grandma Chris and Grandpa Ed. Mom and I were supposed to go to a craft fair Friday afternoon, but I wasn't up for it, so we just spent a relaxing evening at their house. We also ate some magical Thai food that had some crazy healing powers because I was feeling much better when I got up Saturday morning. We had big plans to meet Joe, Jen, AJ and John at Macy's in Minneapolis for our yearly tradition of visiting Santa and seeing the Auditorium display. We met them about 10:30 and went straight up to the "A Day in the Life of an Elf" display, which luckily didn't have too much of line yet.

    I think the boys really enjoyed seeing the animated figures of elves dancing around. After winding our way through the colorful scenes, we hopped in another line, this time to see the big man in the red suit. The Santa there this year was definitely better than we've seen in a while

    and it was the first time the 2 older boys could sit on his lap by themselves, without crying! Benjamin was able to tell Santa that he wants a "Mickey Mouse toy" (no idea what that means!) and a "REAL guitar." I was able to get some really great pictures with my new fancy camera!!

    After our Macy's excursion, we went back to Joe and Jen's for a neat treat - they brought in a lady to do a Traveling Vineyard party. You are able to taste and order 5 wines and then there are cheeses and chocolates and stuff to munch on. It was really fun! Later that night my three lovely sisters-in-law took me out to celebrate my birthday.

    They surprised me with reservations at W.A. Frost & Company in St. Paul. The food was awesome and the ambience was so fancy! We dined like queens.

    I must have pushed myself a little too far on Saturday with my cold because I felt even worse on Sunday, so I spent the day napping at Mom and Dad's house while everyone (Mike, Andy, Bert, Dan, Benjamin, Mom and Dad) watched the Packers/Bears game. The Schmitts were happy with the Packers win.

    Tomorrow's the big 3-0 for me. Wonder if I'll feel any different - maybe weaker knees, fading memory, a little more gray hair!? Haha!!

    A Groovy Surprise

    Tuesday, November 11, 2008

    Jessica's 30th Birthday Party - Amber, Jessica and Kristen

    I was surprised with an early 30th birthday party this weekend thrown so brilliantly by Mike and my parents. The theme was the 1970's and several people really got into the spirit by dressing up! It was awesome!! My cousins Roland and Cicely and my friends Kristen and Jamie with their little guy, Gavin, even drove up from Illinois for the party, I couldn't believe it!

    My friend Lora and I went scrapbooking all day on Saturday, which was really fun. I didn't know what was coming, but I had been expecting that something may possibly be happening. People kept trying to throw me off track though and it was working pretty well, I just wasn't sure what to expect! When she suggested going out for dinner afterward, I kinda thought maybe a party was planned, but still didn't know for sure. I may have had my suspicions but I was certainly surprised to a) see so many people there and b) see my husband dressed up like Mork from Mork and Mindy, haha!! The party was at my favorite restaurant, Whistle Binkies. Mom and Dad had blown up HUGE photos of me through the years and decorated the walls with them, it was so funny.

    The cake even had a classic picture of me on it! Mike put together a Jessica trivia game for everyone to play and the winners (Kristen and Jamie) got a Bozo the Clown record - one my childhood favorites!

    Benjamin was busy with all of his friends at the party - Sidney, Reese, AJ, Ethan and Gavin all danced to the 70's music and played together so well. I received so many cool and generous gifts, but the best was from Mike and Benjamin. They got me the new camera I had been hoping for!!

    I have been spending lots of time practicing with it. I think Benjamin is already tired of me taking his picture. You can see some of my handiwork on our flickr site. The camera does so many cool things!

    Fortunately, for me, my birthday season is not over yet! I have a celebration planned for Saturday by my sisters-in-law and I am even treating myself with a couple of days off of work on my actual birthdate and the day after. I'm trying to stretch this thing out as long as I can......

    Tricks, Treats and Trails

    Tuesday, November 04, 2008

    What a busy Halloween weekend we had!

    Benjamin was pretty sick all last week with a fever on and off, so we took it easy Friday (Halloween) during the day. Luckily, he felt better in the evening and he was well enough to trick-or-treat for about an hour or so in our neighborhood. Mike and I also dressed up in our costumes before taking him out and we got some pretty nice comments from the people in our neighborhood about all of our costumes. Mike was Marty McFly from Back to the Future, I was Lucy Ricardo from I Love Lucy and Benjamin wore his homemade T-Rex costume. We all looked great!

    After roaming the streets, we packed up and headed over to Laura and Eric's house for a small Halloween party with the kids and adults. Everyone there looked great in their costumes, especially Jen and Nate who got extra crafty this year, dressing up as a crayon and Rubix Cube!

    On Saturday morning, we were supposed to depart for the Tomah/Sparta area for the Rails-to-Trails Marathon that Mike was planning to run, but Benjamin was still pretty sick. Luckily, Grandma Chris and Grandpa Ed came to the rescue and drove down to stay with Benjamin at our house until we got back on Sunday. So Mike and I had an unexpected night away, which gave Mike the opportunity to get a night of uninterrupted sleep, for which we were both grateful! The race began at 8am on Sunday. It was a perfect day weather-wise for running, though the wind did pick up a little toward the end of the race. While Mike was off with some of our Rochester running friends who were also running the half marathon, I drove to my spectating spot (in the middle of nowhere Wisconsin!). I had big plans for an awesome cheering station with Benjamin's cd player, a cd full of fun running songs, a pink wig, a red boa and some cowbells.

    When the batteries pooped out about 4 minutes into the cd, I should have known that the great day we had hoped for was not to be! I cheered my heart out for Mike, our friends and the other runners at about miles 4 and 7 of the half (I think) and mile 20 of the full. When Mike ran up to me for the second time, at about mile 20, he told me that his "wheels were coming off" and he was cramping up big time.

    After he passed, I got in the car and raced down to the finish line/mile 23 (yes, they made the runners run PAST the finish line for their last 5k of the race, just cruel). Mike looked pretty haggard at mile 23, but he was probably going to pull off the 3h:45min run that he had planned on. Unfortunately after he passed us the cramping got worse and he added some more time to his finish of 3h:57min. I know he is disheartened at his performance, but he learned so much about his limits and what not to do/what to do for next time. This was his ninth marathon and to wait until now to turn in a bad race is pretty darn good, I think! He is planning to do the Colorado Marathon in Fort Collins in May for his next race.

    I got news that an acting opportunity that I did a few months ago finally came to fruition recently. The History Center of Olmsted County (the county Rochester is in) is recreating the election of 1872 on their website with a series of taped campaign speeches. I wrote the script for and performed the Victoria Woodhull (first woman to run for president) speech. Visit this website to view the videos and vote in the election! The results are supposed to be revealed on December 1st, hopefully I (Victoria) win!

    A Tale of Two Cities

    Monday, October 27, 2008

    Jessica set off on a road trip early Friday afternoon and I worked from home while watching Benjamin. She drove to Round Lake, IL to visit The Rogers and attend a concert from a classic band from her youth - NKOTB (aka New Kids on the Block). She had an absolute blast and likened the experience to The Beatles playing at Shea Stadium due to the fact that at certain points in the show it was difficult to hear the music over all the women (notice I didn't say girls) screaming at the top of their lungs for those "heartthrob" boys. The rest of her weekend was spent catching up, lounging around, and overall relaxation. Then on Sunday Jessica got to fulfill part of her obligation of being the maid of honor in Erin's wedding by shopping for bridesmaid dresses.

    With Mommy away - I had the awesome opportunity to spend the weekend with Benjamin - just the two guys. I had a lineup sure to fit any child's dream. We woke up early on Saturday morning and made our ever famous farmers market run. Among our top finds were: eggplant, swiss chard, heirloom apples, Japanese Kale. On the downside there were no Brussels Sprouts - they were out before we got there :( From the market we went to coffee with some runner friends and Benjamin's friend Abby.

    That afternoon we made our way to Historical Hysterical Halloween being held at The History Center of Olmsted County. Most of the activities took place outside so thankfully it was a gorgeous autumn day. Benjamin got to dress up in his T-Rex costume that Jessica slaved over for the past two weeks. What are you going to be for Halloween? The array of activities consisted of making pumpkin bead necklaces, colored sand art, musical instruments, a spooky schoolhouse, a tractor ride, a train raid, roasting marshmallows. We were there for about 2 hours and left no stone unturned. We spent that night watching old school Scooby Doo and the Muppet Show - two of my (our) favorite classics!

    As you may know the weather here in MN turned bitter cold here on Saturday night and wind started howling! That was followed up by a nice dose of rain and yes SNOW on Sunday! I decided rather than sit inside and watch it all come down that we would have our own road trip to Kellogg, MN, home of Lark Toys. They have an exquisitely ornate merry go round with hand carved animals. We rode that

    ate pumpkin ice cream (thankfully it contained no egg) Mmmm pumpkin ice cream on my face!, and played with their vast amount of toys all afternoon. Benjamin's favorites were the toy horse along with a puppet stage, and a hand carved wooden circus.

    Of course on the way home we just "had" to stop at Pepin Heights apple store to sample their various apple varieties and world class apple cider.

    Mommy came home about 5:30 and we spent the rest of the night together as one big happy family.

    Tuesday, October 14, 2008

    Apparently Benjamin is all set for Kindergarden, or at least that's what the good people of the Rochester public school system told us on Friday. In our city, kids have to go through a screening process sometime between the time they're 3 years and 3 months and the summer before they begin school. The screening involves a hearing test, vision examination and several small "games" to look at their readiness. He has great hearing, perfect vision (literally) and did really well at the activities. He did struggle with a "repeat after me" game where the teacher said a number and then asked him to repeat it. She started out small -- teacher: "2" Benjamin: "2" teacher: "6" Benjamin: "6" teacher: "9 3" Benjamin: "4 8" teacher: "7 2" Benjamin: "1 5." He just didn't give up, it was so funny. She'd say 2 numbers and he'd come right back with 2 of his own. It wasn't that he isn't capable of repeating her (he did it fine after she explained it in depth to him), but he just had to throw out 2 numbers of his own like it was some kind of one-upping game. He wasn't trying to show his abilities, he was trying to BEAT her at her game!!!

    We spent the rest of Friday at Oxbow Park, which has a small zoo, hiking trails and a playground. Since most kids are in school, the place was empty. It was a gorgeous day and it was nice to finally have a Friday free from packing suitcases or cleaning the house for company. I can't even remember the last time Benjamin and I spent a Friday doing something fun!! We even managed to see a porcupine gettin' down:

    On Saturday, after Mike's long run with his running group, we drove out to Fountain to spend some time at Drury's furniture looking at extremely beautiful, but extremely overpriced kitchen tables. Then we stopped by an apple orchard and picked up a bag of Courtlands. It was a nice sunny drive to/from Rochester. Sunday morning I went out on a long bike ride through most of town. We are so blessed to have about 60 miles of paved bike trails here for running and cycling. I don't know what Mike nor I would do without them!

    Everywhere you look around here now are shining examples of why living in a place with seasons is great! Soon we will have plenty of examples of why living in a place with seasons is not so great, so we are trying to soak in as much autumn as we can!!

    Sunday night Mike watched the Packers while he made us a to-die-for meal of Kale Ragu (I know, it doesn't sound like it, but it was AWESOME!). Benjamin and I napped. Monday was a blustery, rainy day so Benjamin and I stayed home and I began the work on his Halloween costume. If you have even briefly talked to him in the last month and a half, you'll know that he is going to be a T-Rex. He is very very excited. I am praying that he doesn't decide to change his costume choice anytime between now and Halloween. I can just see it now, "No Benjamin you WILL wear the T-Rex costume!! I don't care if you want to be Buzz Lightyear now - Mommy spent 20 HOURS sewing this costume!!" Pray for me.

    Mike is ready to begin his big home improvement project for the season: installing our baseboard heater in the basement. We actually bought it last winter, but kind of stalled on putting it in as the warm weather came and we didn't really need it anymore. We are sort of planning on totally redecorating the basement actually, so now with heat, we will actually want to spend time down there!! Just in time for winter and hibernation!

    Mr. and Mrs. Dan and Katie Schmitt

    Wednesday, October 08, 2008

    What a perfect day for a wedding! Dan and Katie were married on Saturday and they honestly could not have asked for a more beautiful day, I think.

    The weather was gorgeous, the ceremony was so special and the reception was loads of fun. It was also great to see family who came from far away (I'm talkin' to you Duane and Sarah!). Katie was a stunning bride and it was so apparent all day that she and Dan are madly in love.

    Right now they're in Door County, WI on their honeymoon, hopefully having an excellent time.

    Benjamin decided that a wedding celebration would not be complete without injuring himself, so he went ahead and ran into a table in the basement of the church after photos, but before the ceremony. He has a nice black eye and a pretty big cut under his eye that seems to be healing nicely. Being the trooper that he is, he pulled himself together and was a very good boy for the rest of the day.

    On Sunday, Mike and I attempted to cheer for the Twin Cities Marathon runners, but rainy weather really mucked up our plans. It was so cold and wet that after standing in the rain for about 10 minutes, we decided to call it quits. We spent the rest of the day indoors, watching football and taking naps. After all of the preparation, it is hard to believe that this weekend is over and Dan and Katie are married! Next wedding to conquer is Andy and Jennifer's in January and we are ready for the challenge! :-)

    How do you entertain a 3 year old at a funeral luncheon?

    Wednesday, October 01, 2008

    Give him a digital camera!

    My dear Great Aunt Mollie passed away last week. She was an amazing woman whom I have and always will look up to. She worked at the business that she helped create until she was 88 years old! Though she lived a long (she was 95 when she died) and full life, she will be greatly missed. However, we are all left with great memories of her...like how she would slave in the kitchen over her world famous soup that her nieces and nephews all fought over!

    I traveled down to Chicago with my Mom and Benjamin for the wake and funeral, which gave us an opportunity to see my family. We enjoyed spending time with Great Grandma and Uncle Mark, who we won't get to see as often as we'd like. Aunt Clarice and Uncle Terry were kind enough to forefit their bedroom for the three of us so we could crash Sunday night.

    Mike stayed up in the Twin Cities for Dan's bachelor party on Saturday night and then stuck around to watch the Packers lose on Sunday.

    Last night a friend of mine from high school, Rae, came up with her husband on their way to a conference in Fargo. They stayed the night at our house to break up their drive a bit. I hadn't seen her in probably about 10 years, so it was nice to catch up and finally meet her husband!

    Everyone is in high gear for the wedding weekend and we are very excited for the big day to finally be here! I will no doubt be back next week with loads of photos and details...stay tuned!

    Enjoying fall

    Wednesday, September 24, 2008

    We certainly took the opportunity to enjoy the beautiful not-quite summer, not-quite fall weather that we've been having this weekend. Mike did his usual long run Saturday morning and in the afternoon we visited Northwoods Orchard with our friends and neighbors, the Posts. Benjamin and his best buddy, Ethan ran all over the grounds looking at the animals and picking apples. We also took a wagon ride around the orchard, which was a delight. Oh yah and I did get the lawn mowed afterall!!

    I took a long early morning bike ride all over town on Sunday and then it was birthday party day for us with parties for 2 of Benjamin's little friends. Reese turned 4 and celebrated with a party at J.E.T.S. Gym and our neighbor Max had his second birthday party outside in their backyard, two doors down. It was a great relaxing weekend and we were all sad to see it end. Of course, this just means that the exciting things are on horizon are even closer - Dan and Katie's wedding being the first - is only TWO WEEKS away!


    Tuesday, September 16, 2008

    Our beautiful cousin, Kelsey, turned one this weekend so we all traveled down to Milwaukee to celebrate. We drove down in Dad's Santa Fe with Mom and Dad Saturday morning and after a relatively short 4 hour drive we arrived at our hotel in Brookfield. Unfortunately, the weather was miserable. It was raining on and off all weekend, which was supposedly because of hurricane Ike on the gulf coast. Luckily, Erin and Dennis had booked an indoor space at a park, so we were all sheltered from the rain. The party was fabulous. Kelsey was squeeling with delight all day and really enjoyed her birthday cake.

    I was very excited because we bought her the same big blue puppy rocking thing that Benjamin really enjoyed at that age. My excitement was because I knew Kelsey would like it and also because I knew Erin would have to find room in her house for it! Mooohahaha. Benjamin kept himself busy at the party by chasing around the big Mickey balloons, playing pin the nose on Mickey and by spending time with all of our relatives. After the party we all went to Erin and Dennis's house where they attempted to store all of the extra food from the party. We young adults were able to go out and spend some quality time together while Benjamin hung out at the hotel pool with Grandma and Grandpa.

    In the morning Erin and Kelsey met us at the hotel to partake in the free breakfast there and to see them some more before driving back home. The ride home was long, but it was nice to have so many drivers to divide it up. We made it to Rochester around 4:30, which gave us time to relax and unpack our suitcases, which have been stored away finally after many weekends of living out of them. This weekend we are planning on not leaving Rochester, or at least planning on sleeping in our own beds!! And we may actually finish mowing our lawn one of these days, haha.

    Tuesday, September 09, 2008

    We once again headed back up to the Twin Cities this weekend for some exciting wedding-related activities for Dan and Katie's upcoming nuptuals. Mike had a tuxedo fitting on Saturday while Jennifer and I shopped for decorations

    for Katie's bridal shower. We all met up later and enjoyed a delicious meal at The Bulldog in Minneapolis - great place! On Sunday Jennifer, Jen and I all headed out to Broadway Pizza to get ready for the shower. The party was very enjoyable and I think everyone had a great time. Katie got a lot of very nice things, including a special gift from Cindy and I that I made for her. I put together a box that people can put their cards into at the reception, which looks like a suitcase.

    I covered it with homemade stickers representing places Dan and Katie have been, are going to and things that they enjoy together. I think it turned out great and I hope they like it! After the shower we met up back at Joe and Jen's house where they guys had all gathered for a BBQ. This gave us all the chance to relax and spend time with the kids. We managed to get a great video of the very adorable John laughing:

    Seeing him laugh like that reminds me of when Benjamin first began to laugh and how exciting it was. He is so big and seemingly "grown-up" these days, but it only seems like yesterday that he was laying under his Little Einstein playmat, laughing uncontrollably at me while I made some ridiculous noises! How time flies.

    After leaving the Schmitts, we met my Mom and Dad near their house for a dinner to celebrate Mom's birthday,

    which is this week. Then we hurried back to their house for the Bears game/MTV VMAs (bet you can guess which one of us watched which show!). Both Mom and Mike took Monday off from work so the three of us (poor Dad had to work) took Benjamin out to an orchard/farm for the day. It was lovely weather and Benjamin really enjoyed looking at all of the animals.

    Well, he began to enjoy them only after we successfully convinced him that the loose chickens were NOT going to try to eat him. We stuck around Mound for the whole day and Mike was able to watch the first half of the Packers/Vikings game on the big screen before heading back home to Rochester. What an enjoyable weekend!

    We have heard that summer is not officially over, but it is hard to overlook the frost we had last night. Winter will all too soon be upon us, but not until Familie Schmitt enjoys the fall as best as we can! Next weekend we are off to Milwaukee for Kelsey's first birthday - how could she be so old!?

    Our mission

    Tuesday, September 02, 2008

    While hiking at Lake Carlos State Park this weekend, Mike posed a question: "Would you like to do a mission with me?" I thought he was asking me to move to some remote tribal lands to be missionaries - HA! - but thankfully he was thinking along the lines of something much more reasonable. Together we decided to fulfill his mission: Visit all of the state parks in Minnesota. We didn't really set a timeline for this, since who knows how long such a task will take with growing kids, upcoming school years, winter weather, etc., etc. However, there are two stipulations: 1) At least 2 members of Familie Schmitt must be present and 2) we must at least picnic, hike or camp at all of the parks (so no drive-bys count).

    And so it begins, Familie Schmitt to visit all 74 Minnesota State Parks...

    (crossed off parks have already been visited within the stipulations)

    Our weekend away...

    Thanks to a great Christmas present from Mike's parents last year, we were both able to spend a getaway alone in Alexandria this weekend. We stayed at the Cedar Rose Inn, which was a very nice B&B in town. After driving there Saturday morning, we stopped at Fat Daddies, a really cool sports themed restaurant with a nice menu, for lunch. Then we drove out to Carlos Creek Winery, the largest winery in Minnesota.

    It was a beautiful day, so after tasting 5 of their wines, we ordered a full glass and sat out on their patio listening to live music. The winery also has a couple of gift shops, an orchard and a fun outdoor maze that we attempted. After heading back to the B&B for some book reading/relaxing, we went to dinner at the Sixth Avenue Wine and Ale and were sadly disappointed with the service. So after dinner we stopped by Walgreens to pick up some dessert and went back to the B&B to relax in the whirlpool.

    After our breakfast the next morning we decided to spend our day hiking at Carlos State Park. It was a beautiful yet windy day and we had a very enjoyable time on the trails. We worked up quite an appetite during our hike, so we drove into town for lunch before leaving Alexandria. We stopped at Doolittles, a Minnesota chain restaurant with 4 locations. The food was AMAZING! It surely made up for our disappointing dinner the night before!!

    We had reservations to camp at Lake Maria State Park, which was about an hour and a half drive from Alexandria, but we didn't need to arrive before 4pm. We decided to wander around St. Cloud for a little while on our way since neither of us had ever been there. We popped into Granite City Brewery, which actually started in St. Cloud (the granite city), before heading back onto the road to our campsite. We arrived at the state park around 5:00pm, loaded up our backpacks and hiked a mile or so into the campsite. It was nice and remote and right on a tiny lake. Watching the sunset from our spot was spectacular. We are camping pros, so we set up our tent quickly and started cooking dinner, which was a Tuscan White Bean Soup - YUM! After eating dinner and roasting some marshmallows (which Mike risked his life for - we had to carry the wood all the way from the car with only twine wrapped around it - yikes!) we headed to bed early. The morning greeted us with swarms of mosquitoes, so we decided to skip our day of hiking and instead we visited the Albertville outlet mall and spent the afternoon enjoying the beautiful day at the Town Hall Brewery in Minneapolis. As most of you are aware, the Republican Nat'l Convention is being held in St. Paul and so we have many visitors in the area right now. It was fascinating to see many limos and buses drive by and to see people from places all over the world eating near us and walking by, even if they were Republicans! (wink, wink)

    Our fun weekend unfortunately had to come to an end, but we were happy to get back to see our Little Man! He had an awesome time with Grandma Cindy and Grandpa Bert visting Como Zoo, baking a cake

    and even eating at McDonalds! He has a lot of stories to tell about their time together, but very much enjoyed telling us about the monkeys at the zoo. He told Grandma that he "wants to stay and watch them the whoooooooole time!!!"

    Run, Drive, Sleep? Repeat.

    Wednesday, August 27, 2008

    The above title is actually the slogan for this year's Ragnar Relay Series, but I feel as though it actually was the catchphrase for our most recent weekend adventures! A whole bunch of hard work and preparation finally came to a finish as Mike departed for the relay race start line early Friday morning with half of his team. For those of you who are unfamiliar with Ragnar, it is a relay race which is run from LaCrosse, Wisconsin to Minneapolis, Minnesota by 180 teams of 12 runners. There are 36 legs of the 205 mile race which are each between 2 and 9 miles long. Each runner completes 3 legs over the course of anywhere around 30 hours. The teams are split into 2 vans which make exchanges every 6th leg. Mike was the team captain this year for Lost in Pace, his team which was comprised of friends/members of the Rochester Track Club. Mike was in van #1 and was runner #5. The race began for his team at around 9:30am on Friday and they finished at around 3:00pm on Saturday. They slept in high school gyms, friends/family houses, and in the van. The entire race is one big crazy event and everyone had a great time.

    While Mike and his team members were all running on Friday, Benjamin and I drove up to spend the day with Jen, AJ and John. The boys had so much fun playing together! Then we met Grandma Chris and Grandpa Ed for dinner and so that I could drop Benjamin off with them for the weekend. I headed back to the east side of the cities to stay with Cindy and Bert so that I could get up at 2am to volunteer for the race (each team has to provide 3 volunteers to staff the race). It was an awesome experience to be up so early and cheer on the teams in the semi-darkness. I later met up with Mike and his team near the finish line so that I could watch them all finish the race together. The weather was spectacular! It was so exciting to see all of them receive their medals.

    After the team finished, we all went to Longfellow Grill to enjoy their stories and some food. We had another race and an early morning wake up on Sunday, so we both headed to bed early Saturday night to prepare.

    Sunday morning we drove out to the Great Minnesota Get Together with Jennifer and Bert for the Milk Run, a 5k race that begins and ends at the Minnesota State Fairgrounds. I know what you're thinking - Mike ran and drove 205 miles over the course of 2 days without much sleep and he woke up Sunday morning and ran MORE?!?!? Yep! He's crazy! The Milk Run was really fun and we were lucky enough to have another beautiful day for the run. We spent a few hours after the race exploring the fair and eating some tasty foods. Later that day we drove out to Mound for a BBQ at my parents house for most of the Schmitt clan. It was so nice to have everyone together. Since we knew that we would be having a late night on Sunday, we decided to stay over one more night. Mike worked remotely on Monday so we could have a relaxing day. We actually stayed the whole day so we could meet Mom and Dad after work and spend some time on their new boat. Summer is ending too quickly and we didn't want to miss out on our first time on the boat. It was a gorgeous night and we had a great time. Mom even caught nearly a 5 lb fish! She was so excited!

    We are still recovering from the weekend, but wouldn't have it any other way. It was a busy one, but full of great times spent running, with friends and family and having fun! Next up: a Labor Day weekend getaway for Mommy and Daddy!

    Familie Schmitt Goes Camping

    Sunday, August 17, 2008

    Familie Schmitt camping
    Originally uploaded by Familie Schmitt
    Friday night for us was spent camping with our friends, Jen and Nate, at Lake Louise State Park in southern Minnesota. The park was very nice with many miles of hiking trails that we enjoyed. Once again, Benjamin was a trooper in an atmosphere that could be difficult for children of his age. He made Smores over the fire and was so excited to sleep in the tent that he went to bed early and slept all through the night. He awoke sleeping next to us in the tent with a big smile on his face, it was priceless.

    The night before Mike had a Rochester Track Club board meeting so Benjamin and I were left to entertain ourselves. We spent the night doing fun things with our digital camera which included taking silly pictures and videos and letting Benjamin have his chance as a photographer. The result is a bunch of funny pictures and hillarious videos which are either on flickr right now or will be very soon.

    A new funny from Benjamin....
    Mike and Benjamin were sitting on the living room couch watching the Olympics ("lypics," as Benjamin says). Mike pulled out some change from his pocket and Benjamin asked if he could have it. Mike said, "No! That's my coffee money!" Benjamin looked so taken aback and said "But Daddy - NO, that's MY milk money!!" Due to the absolute cuteness of his claim, Mike promptly forfitted the money.

    Oh, the things kids say!!


    Monday, August 11, 2008

    I came home from a run on Sunday and asked Benjamin to come outside and run with me. Here was our exchange:

    "Benjamin, do you want to come outside and run with daddy?"

    "No, I want to do my puzzle."

    "Please, I really want to run with you - you can do your puzzle when we get back."

    "Ummmmm....Sure" (said with a feeling of that he knows I'd like it if he did)

    "But dad - I can't run with you right now - I don't have my running clothes on" as he points to his cars shirt and shorts

    "All your clothes are running clothes"

    Upon hearing this news his eyes lit up and his face had the emotion of epiphany.
    He now knew he could run whenever he wanted because all of his clothes were running clothes.

    "Do you want to wear my special watch?"*


    "OK - here you go. Press this button when we start running and press it again when we stop"

    "OK daddy - let's go running"

    We ran from our house to the red fire hydrant and back again for a total of .31 miles. He was very proud of himself.

    "Dad, I want to do that again soon."


    *He liked my GPS watch so much that he wore it for the rest of the morning and even through lunch. However, he did inform me that he wouldn't wear it to bed.


    Tuesday, August 05, 2008

    We had been planning a nice relaxing weekend at home, so things were a little thrown off by a sickness on Friday, but luckily things picked up as soon as Benjamin felt better. Mike had the day off on Friday to spend with his family at the Olmsted County Fair for IBM day. We were given free entrance to the fair and $10.00 in food tickets along with access to the IBM building, which featured family activities and music. Benjamin really wanted to see the animals so we walked around a bit first looking at the standard county fair varieties: cows, horses, sheep, goats, rabbits. Our fair also has a number of exotic animals on display, including a camel and a "ze-donk" (what you get when you breed a donkey with a zebra - weird). Benjamin had been feeling a little strangely all morning, so we figured that we should probably get home soon so he could take a nap. We grabbed some of our free food and sat down inside the IBM building ready to take our very first bite when the sickness decided to rear its ugly head all over Mike's shorts!! We quickly scooped up Benjamin and got him to the car. I think he fell asleep as soon as we pulled away. He actually napped for a total of about 5-6 hours during the day and slept a full night as well. Thankfully he did not get sick again, but we were worried about how he felt because we were scheduled to volunteer at a waterstop for the training runs early Saturday morning.

    We still were not sure how he was going to be when he woke up, so to play it safe, Mike stayed home with him while I went out to gather the waterstop goods and get our spot all set up for the runners. About an hour later they met me out at our spot, Mike ready to run with the group from that point and Benjamin apparently feeling a MILLION times better. He and Daddy did a few practice laps and played in the adjacent playground while we waited for the first runners to come through. Whatever decided to interfere with our day on Friday must have only been a 24 hour virus, because Benjamin was back to normal already! Hooray!

    We worked the waterstop while Mike was out running, which is always so much fun for both Benjamin and I. We are so lucky to be a part of the running community here, everyone is so amazing to us. After the run was over, Mike and Benjamin headed over to a coffee shop with some other runners while I went home so I could take advantage of the beautiful weather for a bike ride on my new bike! The ride was exhilarating! We spent the rest of the day just hanging out and watching movies. However, the highlight of our weekend was yet to come.

    Earlier in the week Mike had reserved tickets for us to a performance of Benjamin's favorite musical, Beauty and the Beast. A community theatre in a nearby small town was putting the show on and it was going to be Benjamin's first exposure to live theatre (well, besides Sesame Street Live). We talked up the show quite a bit and explained to him that a) you can't talk or cry during the show, b) the characters are just people in costumes, and c) he would be hearing all of his favorite songs. He was sufficiently excited as we took our seats and waited for the lights to go down. He barely moved through the entire first act, he was in awe. When the lights came back up for intermission, he was very concerned and wanted "to see Belle and Beast again!" After a quick visit to the potty and a glass of juice from the concession stand, we were back in the theatre and ready to watch the rest of the show. It was so cute, every once and a while Benjamin (who was sitting on Mike's lap) would lean over and just smile the biggest smile at me, as if he was so excited, he couldn't even speak. He had such an awesome time and now we know that we can take him to more performances. I tried very hard to get a picture of Benjamin with Belle after the show, but he wanted nothing to do with the actors at all!

    After the show we went to our favorite restaurant, Whistle Binkies. Just as we were ready to leave, our friends, the Olsons came along. They joined our table and the kids spent some time playing in the sand volleyball courts, it was very nice. It was a great weekend and we are all sad that it is over and the work week has to begin. It is already August and it is beginning to feel like summer is winding down into autumn. Even though we aren't ready for summer to end, we are all secretly looking forward to crisp air, beautiful leaves and of course, APPLES!!!

    Weekend at Andy's

    Tuesday, July 29, 2008

    This past weekend we spent a fun-filled 2 nights at Andy and Jennifer's house. We originally were going up there because Mike and I were registered to run in the Lumberjack Road Races in Stillwater and we asked Andy to babysit Benjamin while we ran. However, we decided to make a weekend out of our visit and stayed until late Sunday night.

    On Friday night Andy made us an amazing meal of Swordfish Seviche and Portabella Mushroom burgers, some seriously gourmet food!!! Jennifer was at a wedding in Nebraska and was due back Saturday afternoon.

    Mike and I got up early Saturday morning and headed out to Stillwater for our races. Mike ran the 10 mile and I ran in the 5k race. It was beautiful scenery and it wasn't too hot and humid. Mike had a great finishing time and we both enjoyed ourselves! After heading back to Andy's, we all went out to Pastor Hamilton's BBQ where Benjamin made friends with the Pastor himself. He even gave the little guy his very own jar of BBQ sauce - lucky duck!! Benjamin told us that after lunch he wanted to go to a "really fun park," so we decided to take him to Como Town, the Como Park amusement park. It is a small amusement park with lots of rides that are suitable for Benjamin's age/size. Andy loaded Benjamin up with ride tickets and we all took turns escorting him on such rides as the Como Town Train, Fire Brigade, Tea Cups and Aladdin's Magic Carpet Ride. Benjamin had SUCH a good time and we successfully wore him out enough that he fell asleep during the car ride home.

    When we got back to the house, Jennifer was home, so we decided to all head out to Boca Chica, a Mexican restaurant not far from their house. Benjamin was entertained by a mariache band during our meal. After a very full day of running, eating and playing, we all headed to bed relatively early.

    On Sunday we all went to the Glockenspiel Restaurant in St. Paul for what we thought was going to be an outdoor German festival, but what turned out to be a few outside tables with a roving accordian player. We ate some German food, drank some German beers and just relaxed. Benjamin met a little girl there who took him under her wing to teach him the Bunny Hop dance, it was cute. After the "festival," Joe, Jen and the kids all stopped by Andy's house for a quick visit before we headed back to Rochester.

    Even after having a very full weekend, Benjamin and I drove down to Winona on Monday to visit my friend, Samantha, and her 2 adorable daughters. Benjamin and Nora, who is almost 2, played together while Sam and I caught up and we both got to hold baby Nina. It was a lot of fun!

    This week we are going to meet Grandma Chris and Grandpa Ed at a Twins v. White Sox game at the Metrodome - their first Minnesota sporting event. Also, Friday is IBM day at the county fair, so Mike is given the day off to go to the fair with his family, hopefully it isn't too hot!

    Yet another milestone. . .

    Tuesday, July 22, 2008

    smiling...laughing...rolling over...crawling...standing...walking...talking...tractor noise...

    he is my son!

    We just had quite a busy weekend! My Aunt Mary, Uncle Roland, Grandma and Great Aunt Arlene all visited from IL (and FL) to see my parents new place up in Mound. They came a little early and stayed over at our house Friday night to make their drive a little shorter. I ran a 4 mile Women's Race Saturday morning, which was the hardest run I have ever completed. It was a very hot and sticky day and I was just not prepared for the issues I had. I almost actually quit the race after the first mile, but somehow pulled myself together to finish in under the goal time I set myself. I am incredibly proud!

    After the race, we all drove up to Mom and Dad's for a nice day of barbecuing, playing games and just hanging out. Benjamin was able to spend some time with his Great Grandma and everyone else, you can see them enjoying a game in the photo.

    Sunday morning we drove out to White Bear Lake for the baptism of our godson and Joe and Jen's newest little one, John Warren. It was a beautiful day and we are so proud to be honored with being his godparents. John was such a good boy and nearly slept through the whole event! The entire family then went back to Joe and Jen's for a tasty brunch. All of us "kids" were even able to sneak away without our own kids for a while to a restaurant, which was so much fun!!

    Here is a photo of the proud godparents and sleeping John:

    Godparents and John


    Sunday, July 13, 2008

    Jessica went out of town on business today so Benjamin and I are bachelors until Tuesday. We dropped mommy off at the airport at 1:30 and headed to the local movie theater for his first big cinema production Kung Fu Panda. After that we had a wonderful BBQ dinner of corn on the cob, hot dogs, and burgers. We followed that up by a TC chocolate ice cream bar and several walks around the neighborhood. Tomorrow we will camp in the backyard and roast marshmallows over on the firepit. Hope for good weather!


    Friday, July 11, 2008

    Cuteness update:
    Benjamin...er...um, Gerard Depardu...just "made gas" and following it said "Excuse Moi."

    Bilingual...and stinky.
    We couldn't be more proud.


    Tuesday, July 08, 2008

    This morning, Mike and Benjamin drove me to work and while we were in the car someone on the radio said something about Wisconsin and Benjamin's ears perked right up! "Wisconsin, Mommy?? Is that where vacation is?" I don't think he's ever grasped the meaning of the word vacation. Whenever we take our next vacation, I know we are going to have to explain to him why it isn't in Wisconsin or at the Jellystone Resort where we stayed. To him, "vacation" was the entire specific experience and I guess that makes sense.

    We spent the holiday weekend in Wisconsin...on vacation...with Mike's parents, Joe, Jen, AJ and John. We drove to Warrens, WI on Thursday evening after work to the Jellystone Resort there. Cindy and Bert stayed there with us Thursday night and Joe and Jen met us all there Friday evening. The place itself was not exactly our cup of tea, but we really did have a great time. It was a nice opportunity for Benjamin to spend some quality time with his Grandma and Grandpa and of course, his best buddy, AJ. We did a lot of relaxing, swam around in the pools and waterpark, enjoyed a couple of campfires and celebrated Cindy's birthday. We didn't exactly make it out to any fireworks on the Fourth, which turned out to be a good thing. While leaving dinner that night, we caught some of the local display and Benjamin was NOT a fan. He kept saying, "I don't like fireworks, I want to go back to the car." So it was a good thing that we didn't invest a lot of time and energy trying to get a good spot to watch them anywhere!

    Benjamin really enjoyed the waterpark. He is so brave with trying out new things. He rode in the Lazy River with us, sat in the hot tub, went on some waterslides and even endured the wave pool. That was all fine and dandy until I had to go and slip off the tube and take us both under the water while simultaneously scraping up my knee into a bloody mess. It took a while to settle us both down after that mishap! But not too soon afterward, he was back in the Lazy River with Daddy!!

    Oh! We made a discovery this weekend! Benjamin has an imaginary friend...."Salty" (I know, we don't get it either). Bert and I were hanging out in our cabin with Benjamin and had an interesting encounter with his new friend. He was talking with him and asking Salty questions that apparently he answered back to. Ahh, the imagination of a child!!

    This coming weekend we are going to be at the St. John's Blockparty on Saturday with my parents. St. John's is our church and they put together a really excellent music festival on the blocks surrounding the church. This year the headliners are Soul Asylum and the Bodeans. On Sunday, I am travelling down to Chicago for a work-related conference, which should be fun. It will be nice to be treated to a four star hotel and good food, though I know I will miss my 2 guys!!