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    Archive for March 2009

    House of Bounce

    Sunday, March 29, 2009

    Uncle Andy and Auntie Jennifer "bounced" down to Rochester today for a visit. We took them along for our first visit to the House of Bounce, which is a play place filled with blow-up slides and bouncy houses. We are actually having Benjamin's fourth birthday party there in a couple of months and since we were not sure how he would like it, we wanted to try it out before the big day. Just as we expected, he did not initially want to have anything to do with the place. After some coaxing, we got him into the toddler area and he immediately loved it. He spent a few minutes in the more tame areas before trying out the next slide up in size. Following the ride down he exclaimed "LET'S DO THAT AGAIN!!" He was hooked. Andy, Jennifer, Mike and Benjamin tried out every single thing in the place while I played cameraman and purse holder (my stomach was feeling icky again). It was just a blast to see them all having so much fun and I can't wait to go back so I can ride that big slide too! Here is a video of one of their rides down:

    There are a bunch of new pictures online of our day, check them out!

    Latest goings-on

    Friday, March 27, 2009

    As you can see by the posted photo, Benjamin has adapted quite well to the new addition to our house: Mommy's new laptop. Literally as soon as it came in the door, he was asking if he could play on it. He does well with games on websites like Nick Jr, Playhouse Disney and PBS Kids. I find it amazing that at age 3 (almost 4) he's navigating a computer so well, especially since Mike and I didn't even SEE a computer until we were older than 7.

    Aside from the time it keeps Benjamin busy and quiet, the laptop has opened new doors for me as well such as being able to blog on a Friday afternoon. Also, I have a place to store and edit all of our photos, I am able to listen to my downloaded music on more than headphones and heck, if I wanted to I could even break out my old Sims games. Life here is good these days.

    Last weekend Benjamin went to his friend, Amanda's birthday party before we headed up to the Twin Cities for a couple of activities we had been planning to participate in. We dropped him off with Grandma Cindy and Grandpa Bert so we could meet up with Andy, Jennifer, Dan and Katie for Firkin Fest (basically a beer tasting event) at the Happy Gnome in St. Paul. At some point during the night, Benjamin found himself with a 24-hour flu, so we didn't stay out too late so as not to leave Grandma and Grandpa with too much of a mess to clean up. The two of us skipped going to the Human Race with Mike on Sunday since Benjamin still wasn't back to 100%, but Mike was able to run the 8k and meet up with some friends. By 3:00 on Sunday, Benjamin was fully recovered and we were able to spend a little time with Mike's parents before driving back to Rochester.

    Many of you have heard us mention the adoption process that our friends Jen and Nate have been going through and we are happy to say that Baby Julia Christine is at home with her Mommy and Daddy finally. They brought her over for friends night at our house last night and she is absolutely adorable. It is so wonderful to see them as her parents, we couldn't be happier for them.

    As for us this weekend, we plan to hang out in Rochester, possibly take a trip out to LaCrosse, definitely spend time researching cars to buy and hopefully we will have some visitors on Sunday. TGIF!!

    Luck O'the Irish

    Wednesday, March 18, 2009

    Familie Schmitt was split across two states last weekend. Mike and Benjamin were in Rochester hanging out with Grandpa Ed while Grandma Chris and I were off to Milwaukee for Erin's Bridal Shower and Bachelorette Party. Mom and Dad came down Friday after work to stay at our house before our road trip on Saturday. The weather here lately has been nothing short of miraculous, which certainly helped our drive in the morning. The shower was in Kenosha, WI at the Birchwood Grill, a very nice place. We were there early enough to get everything ready and change our clothes before most guests got there. The food was good and I think people enjoyed themselves. I was lucky enough to be seated next to Miss Kelsey, Erin and Dennis's daughter who is now about 18 months old. With living so far away, I don't get to see her as much as I'd like to, so this was a treat! She is so cute, a perfect combination of both of her parents. I tried so hard to get her to talk and did eventually get her to utter some possibly unintelligible, but apparently very important sentences.

    After the shower we all drove into downtown Milwaukee to our hotel, the Hilton City Center. It was here that I provided the goods to deck Erin out from head to toe in fun novelty items. From there we went to The Safe House for dinner where Erin began her Bachelorette Party. After dinner we ditched the older ladies (wink, wink) and got our party on! I had booked a private class at a store called the Tool Shed where the owner taught us the finer points of using the items she sells in her store. I'll let you readers figure that one out (my Grandma reads this blog!). We also visited some bars though it was not a raucous night, it was still a whole lot of fun and I know Erin had a blast!

    Back at the ranch, Mike, Dad and Benjamin were busy doing "guys weekend" stuff. They went to the Farmer's Market, Fleet Farm, Menards and even did a couple of home improvement projects. Last week we ordered a new range hood for the kitchen and new burner plates for the stove, but unfortunately the hood ordered was the wrong color and the burner plates didn't come in packs of 2 like we had expected. So that all has to be returned - just our luck. But Dad and Mike found a hood in the correct color at Menards and they were installing it as Mom and I walked in the door on Sunday. It looks fabulous!

    Though it is one of our favorite holidays, the Familie Schmitt had quite a horrible St. Patrick's Day yesterday. Mike and Benjamin are both very sick with a cold, which started off our rough day and my Saturn was hit by a driver in the parking lot of Hyvee in the evening, capping off the bad day. No one was hurt, well, except for my Saturn. I am waiting to hear back from his insurance company about either getting it fixed or totalling the car. There is a nasty hole in the driver's side door now. The car is up there in years and though it has treated me well over the years, I was kind of waiting for an excuse to move on to something newer. We'll see. We did enjoy some green mashed potatoes and cabbage for dinner though, so not all was lost from our St. Paddy's Day!

    March the 17th

    Tuesday, March 17, 2009

    Happy St. Patrick's Day!

    Six years ago we were driving along the Ring of Kerry in Ireland, occasionally as a float in various parades in the small towns along the road.

    How we ended up in England

    Wednesday, March 04, 2009

    As I said in a few posts back, I am working on uploading all of our old photos to Flickr and in doing so, memories come flooding back. I’m going to try to document some parts of our adventures in England and abroad during that time by linking to some of these photos.

    Mike and I were married nearly 7 years ago in May 2002. Mike was working at IBM as he is now and I was working at Mayo Clinic, also where I am now. About a month after our wedding, an opportunity came to Mike at his job that we could not refuse. Betsy Baartman, Mike’s manager at the time and still a dear friend of ours, presented Mike with the chance to work in Hursley, England for a year as part of an exchange of knowledge between the two locations. Betsy told Mike about this possible trip and asked him to go home and see what I thought of it. Mike told her right then that he didn’t need to ask me, he knew my answer (YES! YES YES!), but we still discussed it that evening. We were still living in our 2 bedroom apartment, so we didn’t have a house to sell or maintain while we were gone. We didn’t yet have any children. My job was expendable. We had NO reason to say no. The time from June until mid-August was insanity for us. IBM kept going back and forth over whether or not to send us. Ironically enough at that time another manager told Mike that “nothing was for sure until you were on that plane headed to England.” We had no idea exactly how true that was until we were at the rehearsal for our friend Tina’s wedding in the Twin Cities and Mike received a call on our cellphone from Betsy. She told him that the trip had been cancelled by some idiot executive and that we should come back to Rochester on Sunday instead of flying out to England. We had moved out of our apartment and put everything into a storage facility. I had sold my car and Mike’s was being stored. We had nowhere to live and nothing to drive. After the wedding Mike’s parents drove us back to Rochester where Betsy had reserved us a suite at a hotel and a rental car. She also stocked the room with goodies and a much needed bottle of wine. I remember being absolutely stunned by the whole situation. Here we were all ready to fly to England Sunday morning, but instead we were back in Rochester living in a hotel! It was all so surreal. On Monday Mike went into work and of course everyone was shocked to see him there. Behind the scenes Betsy and others were working to get the idiot executive’s decision reversed. By Wednesday they had succeeded, Mike and I repurchased airline tickets, turned OFF our cellphone and we flew out to London immediately!

    We arrived in London very early in the morning and had a car drive us to Winchester where we had booked a hotel room for the time being until we could find a house to rent. The Wessex Hotel was our home for about 4 weeks.

    We made friends with the staff, ordered an unbelievable amount of room service, ate out at every single restaurant in town and were awakened by the sound of the Winchester Cathedral’s bells every weekend morning. It was difficult living in a hotel where housekeeping disrupted my every morning and where we had no real place to just hang out other than our “bedroom.” Our first day in Winchester was probably an indication of how things were to go for us for the entire year to come. We were starving and totally unfamiliar with not only the town, but also with England in general. We walked down the High Street and the only recognizable name we could find was Pizza Hut. Pizza Hut – Americana – something familiar? Oh no! We walked in and sat down at an open table. Minutes later we were being reprimanded for not being seated by the hostess. Day one and we were already sticking out like sore thumbs!

    Interesting weekend for us last weekend. Thursday morning I woke up with a strange stomach ache which turned into quite a mess by evening and by Friday afternoon I figured out that I had food poisoning. I am still not sure what causes it but I've narrowed it down to some rouge roast beef. Yuck. Benjamin was so good dealing with my sickness on our "stay home Mommy day" on Friday. I rented him a couple of movies and while he watched them, I was laid out on our bed trying to calm the abdominal cramps. Every once and a while he'd come skipping into my room and ask me, "Are you all better now Momma?" He even tried to make me better himself with some kind of Benjamin-like voodoo motions over my stomach. He was pretty proud of himself, it was positively adorable.

    I was feeling slightly better on Saturday so I decided to keep my plans for a birthday dinner with the sisters-in-law in Minneapolis. Benjamin and Mike stayed behind in Rochester so they could attend a party to celebrate the successful Lace Up Against Breast Cancer race.

    The girls and I had an awesome dinner at Cafe Maude. We ordered a bunch of small plates and shared everything, which we like to do since we all seem to mostly have the same tastes. I stayed at Jennifer and Andy's house and the next day I met up with Jen for some shopping and lunch. It was great to get that much girl time, no matter how I was feeling!

    Unbeknownst to me, the boys back in Rochester had plans of their own. Mike and Benjamin both got haircuts at a men's only salon here. They were apparently pretty pampered there and both of them now look extremely handsome (not that they were not handsome before)! Then they spent some time at Dunn Brothers, a coffeeshop, where Mike read the paper and Benjamin colored. It was definitely a bonding day for them.

    Now that it is March, our spring fever seems to be increasing. Today the weather is supposed to be in the upper 30's and tomorrow it will be somewhere in the mid-40's - a heatwave! I keep hoping to be able to break my bike free of the garage, but there is still so much ice and snow on the ground, so I am not sure if that would be a good idea.

    Our good friends, Nate and Jen, who have been trying to adopt a baby for quite some time are expecting a little girl to come home to them sometime soon. The c-section date was just moved up to next week, so we are all going out to celebrate their last bits of freedom tomorrow night. This Friday Grandma Cindy and Grandpa Bert are driving down to Rochester to spend some time with us, but other than that we have no big weekend plans. Next weekend Mom and I are off to Milwaukee for Erin's bridal shower and bachelorette party - both of which we are planning. It is going to be a full weekend, but an exciting and fun one, too!!