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    Archive for June 2008

    Happy Birthday Weekend

    Sunday, June 29, 2008

    Benjamin's birthday weekend has come and gone and left three tired Schmitts behind! The weekend actually began on Thursday with a birthday celebration at Benjamin's daycare. Mike and I brought fruit snacks for all of the kids in his "multi-agers" room. The kids and teachers all helped to sing "Happy Birthday" twice to him and everyone enjoyed their snack.

    We continued the fun times on Friday (his actual birthday) with breakfast in bed for Benjamin. Since he was half asleep, he was a bit out of it for a while, but seemed to enjoy the adventure of drinking milk and eating toast in bed! Later that night, despite threatening bad weather, we traveled out to the Rochesterfest parade with our neighbors, the Posts.

    Eric, Sidney and Reese met us there and all of the kids had a great time catching candy and watching the parade.

    Saturday was a busy day with getting ready for the party, but we managed to pull everything together without any problem. Our guests began arriving at 3pm for the circus-themed party. We decorated the house with clowns and other circus-ey things and also had a mini-carnival in the basement for the kids. We made a "knock the cans" game, had bozo buckets and a pin-the-nose-on-the-clown game. It was chaos, but the kids had so much fun!

    I have to mention Benjamin's cake because it was a labor of love for me. I not only spent time decorating it following the circus theme, but I also had to make an eggless recipe because of Benjamin's allergies. I think it turned out great and everyone said that it tasted good, thankfully!! Benjamin opened his presents with some help from his friends and was so excited to receive so many awesome things! It was so great that everyone was able to come to his party, especially some out of town family, including Aunt Mary, Roland and Cicely (who are now living back in the US). We all had such a wonderful weekend and we have many pictures to document everything on our flickr webpage. Now we have a short vacation to look forward to over the fourth of July holiday. I'm sure we will be back to blog about that soon!

    Another All Comers - another second place ribbon!

    Wednesday, June 25, 2008

    We followed our usual Tuesday evening routine yesterday by attending the All Comers Track Meet down at Soldiers Field. There was something different about this time though, we had special guests! Grandma Chris and Grandpa Ed drove down from their new abode to attend along with us. It is so wonderful to have them close and for them to be able to drive down for the evening to see Benjamin doing something so special! I know we are looking forward to many more visits from them on weekends and to see either just Benjamin or the both of us on their days off of work!!

    Benjamin received another second place ribbon in the 50 meters race, but this was his last week in that age group. Next week he will be running with the three year olds, which is a much more competitive crowd! But no worries, it is all about having fun, right? We tried something new last night and had Benjamin do the long jump, which he loved so much! He also ran the 100 meters again, which definitely isn't his race - by the time we get to his age group in that one, he's so pooped that he has no energy left to run! However, he always runs it with a smile on his face!!!

    I suppose I can share our big news now - no, no, it isn't THAT! :-P Benjamin is officially out of diapers (except for nights) and is wearing big boy underpants now!! Maybe I shouldn't say this so I don't jinx it - or maybe I should at least knock on wood - but it is going really well! You fellow parents out there know that this is one of the most difficult stages to go through with a child, especially boys, so I won't pretend that it is a walk in the park. However, Benjamin is really doing quite well and we couldn't be happier. Ask me next week and I might have a totally different answer for you!!

    Tuesday, June 24, 2008

    Man, I am just a blogging fool today - 3 posts!
    After completing my first half marathon, the editor of the Rochester Track Club newsletter (and a friend) Renee asked me to write an article on my experience. Here is my article: Pages from July RTC Newsletter.pdf

    Mac Attack

    On Sunday Mike ran in the Mac Attack 5k, a race benefitting the Ronald McDonald House. He said he wasn't feeling great during the race, but still managed to finish second in his age group! Benjamin and I came along to cheer on the racers and play in the nearby "really fun park," Benjamin's favorite. We had a great afternoon!

    I also wanted to mention that Benjamin started his new soccer class last week. He goes once a week to Soccer World, an indoor field, where a teacher leads his class of about 8 kids through a series of games and exercises using soccer. It is a really cool program and Benjamin had a blast! We can't wait to go again this Friday!!

    Amuzing Race Report

    I had been looking forward to this weekend for pretty much an entire year. Saturday was to be the second annual Amuzing Race, which we participated in last year. The race is a game based on the television show, The Amazing Race, which puts teams of up to 4 people up against each other while racing all over the world (in our case just Rochester) to solve clues and complete challenges. We had such a blast last year that I could not wait to do it again! Mike and I were on a team with friends Eric and Nate and this year we came in 8th place out of 35 teams (last year we were 19th)! The race started out tough with the 4 of us struggling to figure out the presidencies of Polk, Buchanan and Arthur. We then had to take those 3 numbers (11, 15 and 21) and correctly enter them into a combination lock to receive our next clue. We had 15 minutes to figure out their chronological rank without any help and after that time we were (thankfully) able to use any library resource we could get our hands on. After finding the correct numbers in a children's encyclopedia, we were given the next clue and found ourselves racing to Quarry Hill Nature Center where we had to run up a short trail to a recycling center to get our hands on either 5 lbs of aluminum cans or 50 lbs of newspaper. We chose the cans, which we then had to bring to a park shelter, but neither of us knew where it was. After one incorrect guess of Soldiers Field, we stopped by the Running Room where the manager looked up the location on her computer (a totally legal move in the game) and it was near Silver Lake - Three Links Shelter. At the shelter we had to get a stack of newspaper, a stapler, tape and scissors and create a geodesic dome with several newspaper rolls, which actually may have been our most successful challenge - our teamwork was great and we finished long before the other teams who had started before us.

    Next we had to take our dome, the cans and the leftover newspaper to another recycling facility to get the next clue. The clue instructed us to go to McQuillan softball fields and find the R.C. Lowe park. When we got to the fields (which fortunately Eric knew the location of), Mike and Eric took off running down a trail following some other racers while Nate and I waited in the car. While we were waiting, Nate got a bad feeling about the situation, so he got out to explore and see what was going on. He walked toward where Mike and Eric had been running and discovered that they missed the check-in point! Since 2 team members have to be present to check-in, he had to call me over. The ladies then gave us another clue which said that 2 team members had to run down to the dog park - in the direction that Mike and Eric went - and the other 2 members had to get in the car and drive to the dog park. So Nate and I ran to the car and tried to quickly find the park before Eric and Mike started to run back. Nate used to take his dog to the park, so it wasn't too hard for us to find. Luckily Mike and Eric were waiting for us there so we were able to check-in and get another clue. The next challenge was to drive to the Target on the north side of town and locate the employee whose picture was in the clue. Only one team member could participate, so I volunteered. When we got to Target, I took off running through the entire store, getting many strange looks from shoppers. I think it took me about 10 minutes to finally find the girl I was looking for and she gave me another clue, which told us to go to a specific address on the northeast side of town. While searching for the house, Nate's driving skills were really put to the test, as we not only had to navigate the streets, but we also were trying to shake another team who were following right on our tail! After receiving the next clue, we had to go back to the library and complete a quiz of tv show theme songs. A moderator played the songs on a computer one by one (with a minute between each one) and teams had to write down their guesses on a sheet of paper. The goal was to get at least 10 correct and have them check your score. If you didn’t get 10 right, they would cross off the next three songs and you would have to wait that long before trying to guess again. While Nate was parking the car, Mike, Eric and I took a stab at trying to guess some songs. By the time Nate had come in, we had about 5 down on our paper, but to be sure that we weren’t docked for too many mistakes, we continued to try to get as many as we could. When we nervously turned in our sheet to be graded, we learned that we actually had 12 correct! Our reward was another clue which instructed us to take the $2.10 that we had been given earlier in the race, buy a roll of paper towels anywhere and bring the roll to the Ronald McDonald House. The only store between the library and the house must have been seeing lots of racers because the guy told Eric right where the paper towels were as soon as he walked in. We brought the towels to the house in exchange for a clue that said that 2 team members had to walk to the St. Marys water tower from the house, which is a short distance but is up a terribly steep hill. Mike and I ran (well, Mike ran – I waddled) up the hill, got the next clue and then ran back down to the car. We had to drive out to Thrivent Financial, which is out on West River Road, and complete a challenge. The challenge was probably one of the most creative activities that I have seen in a long time. We had to use a rubberband that had 4 pieces of string tied to it to lift 6 paper cups into a tower while using only one hand per team member. It took us some time because we knocked over a cup onto the floor twice, but we eventually got it without too many problems. The clue sent us to the Rochester Athletic Club where we had to locate the east door. As it turns out the door we were supposed to use was not actually the eastern-most door, but whatever, Mike and Eric found the correct door and went inside to do the challenge. Again, while Nate and I were waiting in the car, we decided that I should go in and check on them. They didn’t need my help, but it was fun to see the challenge. There was a HUGE pile of library catalog cards strewn about the floor and within the pile somewhere were 2 cards that also had “Team 43 (our team #)” written on them in red ink. As I came in the room, Mike found the first card and not too long after that he found the other.

    Next we had to go back to Three Links Shelter, which is almost on the other side of town. At the shelter, we had to do another challenge that involved all 4 of us. This time we had to create an electric current between 3 sets of wires, a light switch, an outlet and a light bulb. I was never so happy to be working with 3 men who are all engineer-minded because I would have been completely lost without them! We successfully completed the challenge pretty quickly and were soon off to the finish line!

    It is pretty difficult to surmise how well you are doing while you are playing the game because even though there are always other teams around, they could be the top teams or the bottom teams, you never know. By the time we were headed to the finish line, we were completely unsure of how we had done. We could have been in the top 10 or bottom 10, we had no idea! So we were pleasantly surprised to find out that we were the eighth team to cross the finish line, a huge improvement from last year. We had a great time racing and I know I am already looking forward to next year’s race!!

    Benjamin Schmitt, track star

    Wednesday, June 18, 2008

    We attended another meet in the series of All Comers Track Meets for kids last night. This time our neighbors and good friends, Katie and Ethan, came along for the fun. Ethan and Benjamin ran together in their age group 50 meter and 100 meter races. Benjamin came in second place in the 50 meter, which is a step up from the third place he got last time. He had never run in the 100 meter before and it was quite funny really. He was so distracted because there was too much time to look around and watch everyone. Also, Ethan was running toward the back with Mike and so Benjamin kept turning around to see where they were. He has such a great time doing these races, it is so wonderful to see. He was all smiles while running, something that makes his Mom and Dad very proud!!

    Ah, summertime!

    Tuesday, June 17, 2008

    We just had another full weekend with a trip up to the Twin Cities to see BOTH sides of the family! We left Rochester Friday evening and drove up to Mound to stay with Mom and Dad A. for a couple of nights in their new home as their first houseguests. The weather was amazing and we grilled some food out on their deck while the sun was setting over the lake. Mom and Dad are both so happy to finally have their dream come true, it is great to see!

    Mike and I ran the Lederhosenlauf 5k at the German American Institute in St. Paul Saturday morning. The race left the GAI on Summit, went down and around the St. Paul Cathedral and then up Selby Ave and back. After the race, we were able to indulge in a German breakfast, which naturally included some fine German beer! It was a beautiful course on a very nice sunny (and warm) day. After the race we took advantage of the time alone to stroll along the shops on Grand Avenue and visit the St. Paul Farmer's Market. We also had an amazing lunch at the Midtown Global Market, which is a favorite place of ours to get wonderful ethnic foods.

    Back in Mound that afternoon, we all went down to the lake to do a little fishing on the piers just behind Mom and Dad's house. Benjamin (with help from Mike and Grandpa) caught at least 10 little sunfish and one fairly nice sized bluegill on his fishing pole from Daddy for Christmas. He really loved being close to the water!

    Sunday was Father's Day and Mike wanted to spend the day with his Dad back at the German American Institute for Deutsche Tage, which is an annual festival of music, food and games celebrating German Heritage. We have been going there for many years. We had yet another beautiful sunny day for our time at the festival, which was great. Joe, Jen, AJ and John met us at the fest and Dan and Katie were able to stop by later. I've posted some pictures and videos and from them, you can really tell that we all had a great time. Benjamin and AJ especially liked the German music and the special German trainset, which we literally had to drag AJ away from!! After the festival we went back to Grandma and Grandpa S.'s house for dinner. I have a feeling that Mike had a wonderful Father's Day and I know we all had a great weekend!

    Wednesday, June 11, 2008

    Oh what a busy week and it is only Wednesday!!

    Actually, let's start with last week, since I haven't blogged about a few things from way back then. Last Thursday Mike and I along with our friend, Nate, went up to St. Paul for the R.E.M concert at the Excel Energy Center. Benjamin spent some time hanging out and making "special cake" with Grandma Cindy and Grandpa Bert.

    The concert was a fun experience. We had been getting some really bad weather reports all day, so we were not sure how the drive up there would be, but it turned out that it was mostly just rain and not much more. When we got to the concert the first opening band, The National, was playing so we decided to wander around a bit before heading up to our seats on the top level. After climbing what seemed like hundreds of stairs, we got up to the 200 level only to find it completely deserted. While walking around one of the center's employees caught up to us and told us that they were reissuing tickets in the lower levels because the concert had not sold as well as they had expected. We were going to get an upgrade! As it turns out, we were given new tickets in the "Treasure Island Club Level" - 2 sections below our original seats. We were pretty pumped! Not only were we closer to the stage, but the club level also has much better concessions. When we found our section, we noticed a small "bar-style" seating area at the back of the section where you could rest your drinks or food on the small bar and sit on bar stools. We found 3 open spots and made ourselves comfortable while waiting for someone to shoo us out of these good seats. No one ever said a word to us, so we were able to sit for the entire concert in these (in our minds) primo seats!

    The second opening act was to be Modest Mouse, which is a favorite of mine, even though I am really only familiar with one of their albums and a few of their hit songs. They were a pretty big disappointment though because they only played stuff off of their newest album and refused to play any of their well-known hits. Little did we know, but this was to be a recurring theme all night.

    R.E.M. took the stage later and played mostly new songs off of their Accelerate album and also a bunch of songs off of their older albums that never really received any radio play. To be fair, they did play a few big hits, especially during the encore such as Losing My Religion and Fall On Me. Michael Stipe was in great form and as always has this crystal clear voice that never sounds strained or off pitch. Obviously the band is getting a little stale, while still trying to attract new audiences, which is why the concert didn't sell very well. We had a great time though and somehow managed to drive back very late to get home at about 1 am.

    On Friday morning Benjamin had his 3 year annual checkup at his pediatrician, which went so well. I was very afraid that he would hate going to the doctor, but he actually exclaimed "That was fun!" as we were leaving, a very good sign. The doctor was very pleased with everything. He is completely average in height and weight and is excelling in his ability to do certain age-specific activities like drawing, speaking, counting, etc. Even his eczema seems to be under control. The doctor is always amazed at how well his skin looks because she can remember back to when he was just a tiny 3 month old covered head to toe with those horrible red rashes. Now he only gets a rash when he's spent a lot of time outside or when we are unable to give him his daily bath. He will have to live with eczema for his whole life, but by keeping up with lotions and baths it is manageable and that is really all we can hope for.

    Benjamin has been into making forts lately after I made one for him Friday afternoon. He and Daddy spent a lot of time in it when Mike got home from work. It was so cute!

    Speaking of Benjamin and his speaking abilities - I have to share 2 of my favorite things that have ever come out of his adorable little mouth. The first was said during a dinner discussion between Benjamin, Mike, me and my Dad. There was no hesitation whatsoever before Benjamin came back with his response.

    Mike: "Benjamin, where do big boys go potty?"
    Benjamin: "In the shower."
    We are in trouble.

    This second funny bit came right after Benjamin did one of his usual wacky performances like putting his spoon up his nose, speaking in tongues, or doing his very best zoo animal impersonation.

    Grandma Chris: "Benjamin, WHERE did you come from!?"
    Benjamin: "An island."
    Oh, my little rasta child.

    Our weekend was fairly low key. Mike went on his usual morning run Saturday and we all spent some time outside in between storms. On Sunday we shopped around for some new house numbers now that our siding project is complete. We found some that we liked and I hung them up in the rain just before Mom and Dad A. arrived. They spent Sunday night with us and on Monday Dad left early for a job interview. Benjamin and I were able to spend some nice time relaxing with Mom before she left to meet Dad for their walk-through at the new house. All went perfectly with the closings in both Illinois and Minnesota and as of yesterday morning, they are now officially residents of Minnesota! I spent all of yesterday (Tues) at the new house with them emptying boxes, enjoying the Lake Minnetonka views from their deck and getting acquainted with the neighborhood. They are so excited to finally be settled in and we can’t wait for our first overnight in our new rooms. We will be heading up there Friday for some fishing and bbq. Mike and I are running an interesting race this Saturday in St. Paul. We will be doing the 1st annual Lederhosenlauf 5k at the German American Institute. No, we will not be wearing our lederhosen! But they do promise a German breakfast – and BEER – following the race. Should be interesting!!

    Yes, we ALL run.

    Wednesday, June 04, 2008

    Soon Familie Schmitt is going to have to invest in a trophy case for all of our running achievements. Benjamin just added to the collection last night by getting a third place ribbon in his age group at the Rochester Track Club All Comers Track Meet. Kids run varying distances in groups of age brackets. Benjamin's group ran 50 meters. He was so excited! He warmed up with Daddy by running along the track before the race. Everytime Mike would stop, he'd get upset and say "NO! I want to RUN!!!!"
    Benjamin's New Running Shoes

    It was a big change from last year, when he'd just plant his feet at the start and look around at all of the other runners without ever taking a step. He has 5 more chances to work up to a first place finish and I am sure he will be putting in some extra training on the side now to get to his goal.

    John Warren Schmitt

    Tuesday, June 03, 2008

    Godmom and Baby John
    Originally uploaded by Familie Schmitt
    After an exhausting 2 days at the hospital, Jen and Joe welcomed their baby on Saturday night sometime around 9:30pm. John Warren Schmitt is 9 lbs, 14 ounces, 22 inches long and of course, adorable! We were able to spend some time visiting our Godson and his parents Sunday night. I believe they will be heading home from the hospital today, Tuesday. I'm sure they are all looking forward to being home together as a whole family. A.J. is already being a great big brother and is totally in love with John. Benjamin is really looking forward to the chance to "play with Baby John when he is bigger like me!"

    We had a nice weekend in Chicago after driving down Friday afternoon. My family threw a going away party for Mom and Dad at Uncle Terry's house Saturday evening and it was a nice chance to get together with family. We hadn't been down to Illinois since November, so we were looking forward to seeing everyone again. Luckily, the weather stayed nice for our entire visit, so we were able to hang out outside at the party. We took up as much time as we could holding and playing with Kelsey, who is now almost 9 months old. Benjamin spent his time playing with toys from Aunt Clarice and Aunt Mary, who surprised him with lots of things to keep him busy. Erin very creatively asked me to be the Matron of Honor at her wedding in March and we were able to oogle over the new shiny rings on Kelly and Erin's fingers!

    Mom and Dad officially move into their new home in Minnesota next Tuesday, June 10th. Their movers and packers will complete their job this weekend and then they will come up and spend a night at our house Sunday before their walk-through at the new house on Monday. We are all excited for this big change!!

    The siding project on our house is now complete. The workers did the last bit of hammering yesterday afternoon. We think it looks great and are very happy with the result. We are planning to work on the landscaping - or I should say WEEDscaping in the back of the house so it can be done by Benjamin's third birthday party. By the way, the big bash will be on June 28th (which is also Dad's 53rd birthday!!). The party might just turn out to be "The Greatest Show on Earth".....