Wednesday, March 31, 2010

All the cool kids fly kites on Easter

I think one of the best things about getting married is discovering and adapting to new family traditions with your spouse. After being together for 4+ years, Andi and I are still learning about little ways our families celebrate together.

My mom is the queen of holidays. She never lets a special occasion pass without sending all of us kids a card in the mail. When we were little, she celebrated every single holiday with a special treat. We made May Day baskets, crafted handmade ornaments for our Christmas tree and made construction paper signs for our windows. Still to this day, she treats all of us (including our significant others) to Easter baskets and Christmas stockings with all of our favorite treats. I like how special she makes every celebration and those are the things I'll carry forward to my own future family.

So last weekend, I went to Target to buy Easter baskets for sister's kids. I spent nearly 2 hours walking the store, finding the perfect mix of toys and candy to fill their baskets. When I brought all the goodies home, I showed Andi the kites I bought for their baskets. He looked at me like I was crazy. Apparently he never flew kites as a kid. Really? We always got kites from the Easter bunny and I have so many happy memories of all of us grandkids flying them on Easter Day. This is one holiday tradition he's gonna have to jump on board with.

I'm looking forward to doing an Easter Egg Hunt with my little niece Bookie too. We did one last year, but she was a little too young to understand what to do. Check out these photos my sister took of her coloring Easter eggs the other day. She just melts my heart!

I can't wait to start our own little family someday and share holiday traditions with my little ones.

Currently in March

I can't believe it's already March 31. Days in 2010 are just flying by and I'm scrambling to stay on top of everything! Here's what I'm feeling this month ...

Current Books: I read a few books while vacationing in Maui. First I read Precious (Push by Sapphire) and while I like the book overall, it wasn't exactly a beach read I'd recommend to others. The book was disturbing and graphic and made me sick to my stomach to think of a family treating each other that way. I still haven't watched the movie yet. I think I'd have to really be a special mood to re-subject myself to that kind of violence.

I also read The Help by Kathryn Stockard this month and I absolutely LOVED this book! The book's based in the 1960's and follows the lives of white and black women in Jackson, Mississippi (not a very good time for civil rights, obviously). I won't go into much more detail as to not spoil the book for everyone else, but I'd definitely recommend this book. A great read.

Current Playlist: Well, since I lost 2 iPods this month, my musical forte has been on the fritz although I have been listening to James Morrison, Ray Lamontagne and of course, John Mayer.

Current Guilty Pleasure: Zucchini. I know, weird right? We bought some in Maui and I thought it was just about the most delicous thing I'd tasted since I can't remember when. So I've been buying a few zucchini every week this month and adding it to all kinds of pasta dishes, quesadillas, etc.

Current Color: Black...of course.

Current Drink: Gin and Tonics. Does anyone else make roadies when they take the dog for walks in the evenings? Um, Andi and I do and Gin and Tonics have been my go-to drink.

Current Food: We've been eating lots of salads with fresh veggies on top and also Veggie Quesadillas. All about fresh organic produce lately.

Current Favorite Shows: This month I started DVRing Sober House, The Good Wife and Price of Beauty (just because I love Jessica Simpson)

Current Wishlist:
1) Steady work for Andi's business
2) Safe and happy Easter in Nebraska with my family
3) Continued sunshine and lots of time outside
4) A new, cute spring jacket

Current Needs: My tax return so I can pay off my credit card from our Maui trip.

Current Triumphs: I feel really good about our house lately. It's comfortable and cute and as spring/summer creeps in, I love seeing all of our flowers starting to bloom.

Current Bane Of My Existence: Still need to lose 5 pounds before the lake this summer. I didn't do it before Maui so now summer must be my goal.

Current Celebrity Crush: I really like Jessica Simpson in her new show Price of Beauty. I appreciate all the focus she's devoting to inner beauty and discovering different values in other cultures.

Current Indulgence: Talking Chloe for walks every day. It's so nice to spend time outside with her; she enjoys it so much.

Current Blessing: My marriage. It's so wonderful to have a supportive husband who is truly my best friend. We had a great time together in Maui and I'm thankful everyday for him.

Current Slang: Delete. Don't know.

Current Outfit: Wow. Still wearing sweatpants and a long-sleeve tee. I need to get a new go-to outfit

Current Excitement: We're going to Nebraska for Easter this weekend and I'm looking foward to seeing my family and eating lots of good food! (which consequently, contradicts my need to lose a few pounds as stated above).

Current Mood: Tired. I haven't been sleeping all that well lately and I had a really long day at work.
Current Link: I joined Twitter this month! Follow me at liveinmybubble

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Signs spring is here!

It's amazing how much sunshine and warm air affect my enthusiasm for completing everyday tasks around the house. On Sunday, Andi and I cleaned out the garage together. That's always a disgusting job because it gets so dirty over the winter. Plus when it's freezing outside, junk accumulates all over the place. Last fall, a few beverages in our garage beer fridge froze and exploded and neither of us really wanted to clean all that mess out when it was so cold outside, so I finally tackled that project on Sunday as well. All clean now and ready for summer!

We also purchased herbs to grow this summer. I bought a few pots and already planted a few - Sage, Thyme and Parsley. They're going to look so cute by the kitchen window when they're all grown.

We've been taking Chloe on at least 1 walk a day lately and you can see how excited she is too. Yesterday, she looked so cute as she watched out the door as people walked by with their pets. This photo just melts my heart!

My tulips are already starting to come up in the front yard! I'm so excited for them to sprout. I think this fall I'm going to add some daffodils to the backyard as well.

Spring is here! Hooray!

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Chloe & Hank

My friend Val and I took our puppies for a walk today at Minnehaha Falls. I was a little nervous to take Chloe and Hank (Val's German Shepard Mix) for a walk together. Let's face it, Chloe doesn't always like to play nice. But I am very happy to report (and very suprised!) that both Chloe and Hank had a fantastic time!

I actually think Hank was good for Chloe. She wasn't so distracted or threatened by other dogs and calmly walked next to Hank throughout the busy park. Usually, we'd have to cinch Chloe up pretty tight and steer clear of any other dogs because she growls as they pass by. But with Hank by her side, she seemed to forget there were other dogs around. Chloe was more interested in sniffing the things Hank sniffed and smelling new, interesting things in the park.

Today's walk with Chloe and Hank was a great success! Good thing too ... we have many more walks in our future this spring/summer!

Parents for a Day

Friday night we watched Andi's cousins Taylor, Kylie, Ellie and Mia (ages 13-6) while their parents went to Vegas for a long weekend. Four kids. Overnight. One small house and two adults accustomed to doing exactly what we want to do, when we want to do it. Lucky for us, the girls were super fun to spend time with. Here's how our night as parents went:

Girls arrive. They've eaten (check!) so we brainstorm activities to do for the evening.  Take the dog for a walk? Play games? Go bowling? Movies? Andi and I offer the parents each a martini to 'start their vacation off right.' We, of course, have a cocktail too. After all, we'll be parenting for the next 24 hours. We may need it.

Andi drops the parents off at the airport. Meanwhile, the girls and I take Chloe for a walk.

We finish our walk and break out the games. Good idea to get one started before Andi gets home so he's forced to play when he gets back. It's all about strategy.

Mia and I

Me, Mia and Taylor

Mia promptly announces it's time for her to go to bed. I decided to go lay in the spare bedroom with her so we could read books while the rest of the crew watches a movie. I'm so impressed with how grown up she's becomming! She read 1 flip book and the first chapter of another. It's amazing to see how fast little kids grow.

Mia and I call it a night while Andi, Taylor, Kylie and Ellie watch a movie. I'm not at all sad to be in bed early!

Mia wakes up but everyone else is still sleeping. I convinced her to come into our room and watch some cartoons so everyone else can sleep a little longer. I think Andi and I finally understand why Saturday cartoons are such a God-send. Busytown and Fairy Odd-Parents bought us 2 1/2 hours of sleep/laying in bed. Thank goodness!

Everyone's up and we all get dressed. Andi and I decide to treat the girls to breakfast in Highland Park. We load all six of us into the family roadster.

At Chatterbox restaurant, the girl's chose a game to play at our table and we all ordered something to eat. It's takes 5 minutes to explain to Mia 'flapjacks' are really pancakes. "But I want pancakes," she says. We know.

Andi, Mia and I

Breakfast arrives. It takes another 5 minutes to explain to Mia the butter's in the little cup on her plate. Finally I just take over and spread it onto her pancakes. "Try the maple syrup whipped cream" we say. It takes her 10 minutes to get up the guts, but once she tries it she's in love. Now Mia eats the whipped cream by itself.

I ask Mia if she wants me to cut up her pancakes. She says she can do it by herself.

Mia knockes her pancake plate on the ground. We order new pancakes for Mia.

Mia picking up her pancakes

We finish breakfast, pay the bill and head across the street to Patina. As we walk in, the store greeter gives us a wide-eyed look. Lots of little kids, lots of breakables. We tell Mia not to touch anything.

We make it out of Patina without incident.

Next we decide to dye Easter eggs. We hitch Chloe onto her leash and the group walks down to Walgreens to get eggs and coloring. On the walk, Mia tells me she got gum in her hair. Luckily it's only a little piece at the end. Have to cut that out when we get home.

Mia and I

Andi Googles boiling Easter eggs. How long do 24 eggs take anyway? The girls and I cover the table with newspaper and get ready to color.

Coloring Easter eggs!


(L to R) Kylie, Ellie, Me, Mia and Taylor

Kylie and Andi

Mia and Taylor

Time to clean up the mess and pack up the suitcases. The girls are going to Grandma's house for the rest of the weekend.



Andi and I have a great time parenting the girls. Lots of laughs for sure! I think we're ready for the real thing :)

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Late Night Secrets

Well, our vacation is officially over. Andi and I went back to work today and man, was it tough! An official sign I'm getting OLD - time changes are really starting to affect me. My sleeping schedule was screwed for a week when we got back from Thailand in August. Understandably so, that was a 12 hour time difference - training yourself to sleep at the opposite time and then back again 2 weeks later wasn't easy. However a 5 hour time difference from Hawaii to Minnesota shouldn't be that difficult. And yet, I had to draaaag myself out of bed this morning and here I sit, typing away on the computer, at 1AM. Sigh...

While I've been awake, I made these discoveries:
  • Oprah replays at 1AM. Score!
  • Carlson Daly still has a late night show. For real?
  • I'm astonished at the people still AWAKE and on Facebook at this hour. Wow - how to do you all function?!?!
  • My Chloe girl is the best snuggle buddy ... even in the wee hours of the morning.
  • Thanks to Coborn's, I just did all my grocery shopping at 1AM - how awesome is that?
Well, I'm signing off now. I.MUST.GET.SOME.SHUT.EYE.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Maui: Day 7 (and the out takes)

Just arrived back into the Twin Cities this afternoon and needless to say, we're exhausted. We had one of the most amazing vacations in Maui - a place we're sure to visit again and again.

Yesterday, Andi and I started our last day on the island checking out a few more sites in Hana. There's a red sand beach and a black sand beach many locals told us we just had to see for ourselves. The black sand beach was neat, not much of a 'beach, beach' but enough to see how the black lava had eroded over time.

Directions in our guide book said the red sand beach was a little harder to find. Park on the street and head down to the ocean. Follow the trail along the coastline until you see the blood red sand and crashing waves. Some people treat this little hidden gem as a nude beach, although they're aren't any official nude beaches in Hawaii. As we started down the path following the directions, it was clear the trail was very muddy and slippery from the rain the night before and there wasn't a whole lot to hang onto. Normally when you're hiking down a trail you wouldn't necessarily have to hang onto anything; except, when you're walking along a trail that's as wide as your shoe on the edge of a cliff, you kinda do. After a few 'oh hell no's!' from me, Andi convinced me to climb along the rock to find the hidden beach. The trek was definitely worth it - we'd never seen anything quite like it.

Afterwards, we grabbed lunch at a roadside island taco stand, then headed back to the West end of Maui toward the airport. Note for future travelers: It is NOT in your best interest to eat a gigantic taco before driving 2 1/2 hours on the winding road from Hana. I asked Andi to slow down about a dozen times, but there wasn't much he could do as he was already driving about 10 miles an hour around all the curves. At the half way point, we stopped at a town called Keanae so I could 'lose my lunch' and take a breather from the car ride. Thankfully, the second half wasn't as nearly as nausating.

I just had to post a photo of a sign we saw in Keanae.
Note the Zorbaz bumber sticker stuck to the sign - a popular lakeside restaurant in Northern Minnesota. On my top list of things that drive my to drink: people that spell words incorrectly ON PURPOSE. I about died when I saw this all the way in Hawaii.

When we rolled back into Kahului about 2pm, Andi and I had about 5 hours to kill before heading to the airport. We decided to go to a movie (because somehow we always end up seeing movies on vacation). Not a whole lot of movie goers at 2:30pm on a Monday apparently ... we were the only ones in the theatre.

This is me, stuffing my face full of popcorn:

Now the out-takes:

1) We had the hooptiest car on the planet: A $30/day Chrystler Sebring convertable. After a week, our car reeked like arm pit. There were ants everywhere inside the car. At first we thought we must have parked near a tree, but I'm now convinced there was some sort of ant hill inside the console. Where else were they all coming from?

On the last day, about 20 minutes before we drove on the curvy Hana Highway (oh, did I mention the highway hugs cliffs with hundred feet drop-offs?) our hoopty car died. Twice. Thank goodness it didn't happen on the highway. We were both a little nervous.

2) Hawaiians really do eat SPAM. And so does Andi. Ick!

3) Timeshare ladies are the devil.
About half-way through our trip, we stopped at a sales booth on Lahaina's Front St. boardwalk for some suggestions on activities to do on the island. We spoke with Timeshare Lady for about 20 minutes and then said we were going to dinner to think it over. As Andi and I sat down to eat in the nearby restaurant, Timeshare Lady walks up to our table to continue her sales pitch. Are you kidding me? Go away lady. We're having dinner! After she tells us what a great deal she's going to give us, she leaves. This lady's really getting under my skin. Andi and I start discussing the various activities we want to do the rest of the trip and he looks up the company websites on his iPhone while we talk. He sees the prices on the websites are $20 cheaper than what Timeshare Lady is offering to book. Even with the discount she's giving us for sitting through a 1 hour timeshare presentation, we'd still be better off booking on our own. Just then, Timeshare Lady COMES BACK to our table to start on the schpil again. Is this lady nuts? Andi tells her the prices he's found online are still cheaper. Timeshare Lady's not happy. She says to stop back to her desk after we finish eating to talk more about the deals she's offering. So we do. And she argues with Andi for another 15 minutes about how "she's not making any money on this deal" and "it's been a slow day so she's giving us a break." Andi starts to say OK we'll take her discount and book with her. But I said no, wait a minute. We're not driving all the way back to Lahaina on the last day of our trip to listen to a sales pitch. We told Timeshare Lady thanks, but no thanks. Let's just say she wasn't happy. Timeshare Lady huffed and crumpled up her papers, throwing them into the trash can. She mumbled something about us wasting 30 minutes of her time. I guess not every Hawaiian is a happy one.

4) I lost 2 iPods on this trip. TWO. In January I misplaced my original iPod and couldn't find it for the longest time. Then last week, when we were packing for Hawaii I found it in one of our luggage bags. By then, Andi had already bought me a new iPod Nano so I brought both to Hawaii. During the trip, we were using the new iPod Nano to listen to tunes in the car. I guess I must have left it in the car one evening when we valeted our car beacuse the next day it was gone. I can't be 100% sure someone took it out of the car, but that's the last place we saw it and then it was gone. At the airport yesterday, I was listening to the old iPod before our plane boarded. I put the iPod in my hoodie pocket after I was done listening. While we were at our layover in LAX I reached into my pocket and it was gone. Must have fallen out on the airplane from Maui to LAX. Gone. That's 2 iPods in a week.

A few people have already asked us about our trip to Maui. We both said we'd recommend it 100 times over. Plenty of time in the sun, lots of fun activities and an awesome way to rejuvinate.

Maui Trip 2010 - A video montage

Maui Trip. 2010 from Andi Dickson on Vimeo.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Maui: Day 6

Woke up early this morning to get a jump start on our adventure in Hana town. It rained all night long and we woke up to a humid, lush green environment. The sun was shining bright; ready for us to explore the beautiful hiking trails everyone sings about here.

We pulled into Haleakala National Park around 9:15am with only a few cars parked in the lot. It's nice to stay in Hana and beat the crowds to the ending destination on the 'road to Hana' scenic drive. Staying in town allowed us to really enjoy the local scene in the serenity it was intended.

Our first hike was a short one, down to the Oheo Gulch, also known as the 7 sacred pools. This is a living legend - there's not 7 pools, nor are they sacred, but it's been coined that as a way to attract visitors to the area. As we arrived to the spot along the shoreline, we hiked around on the black lava rock and snapped a few photos of the waterfalls that feed into the area.

Andi took a dip in one of the pools ... they were freezing!

I opted to sit on the rocks and watch :)

All the warning signs within the park were a little alarming. Apparently flash flooding can happen pretty quickly near the streams and waterfalls. A few years ago, a flash flood came up quickly and swept away a dad and his 8-year old daughter. I'm not sure what would happen if a gush of water came shooting over the rocks - you'd surely be a goner! 

Afterward Oheo Gulch, we headed up the Pipiwai trail - a 4 mile round-trip hike and 650 elevation gain to see the 400 ft waterfall coming down the face of a lava rock at the end. When we started out, the air was humid and the sun hot. I thought I was going to have a heart attack - truth be told, me and the exercise aren't so good of friends. Andi kept laughing at my huffing and panting as we hiked along. 

What is it with boys and adventure? There were a few of these signs along the hike and Andi couldn't get himself over to them any faster than his legs would carry him! Steep cliffs and dangerous drop-offs? Yes please!

This hike had it all - by far the most beautiful we'd ever been on. The beauty of nature everywhere we looked.

Half-way to the end, we came upon this enormous tree, with roots stretching as far as we could see. I kindly called this tree 'The Giving Tree' - it reminded me of that book by Shel Silverstein. Something about it felt so warm and comforting. 

We continued on our hike reaching the next 'destination' - the bamboo forest. We'd heard about this place and how moving it was. Andi and I had really never seen anything like it.

As we walked into the bamboo forest, it got dark from all the stalks growing together and shading out the sun. It was quiet and cool, strange to be surrounded by nothing but talk green stalks of bamboo. Definitely a one-in-a-lifetime experience.

Finally, after we pass through the bamboo, we see a tall waterfall in the distance. As we climbed the wet rocks and through small streams to get to it, it started to rain a little. The sight of it was awe-inspiring. Neither of us had ever seen anything like it. The picture just doesn't do it justice.

A few things about today:
1) Andi commented and I agree, the National Park system is something we should really be proud of in the United States. Both our experiences at the volcano and the hike today were wonderful - clean, well maintained and a great way to take in nature. There's really nothing like this in other countries we've traveled to.

2) Oh man, do my legs hurt tonight! While a 4 mile hike might not seem like much, it definitely was more than I'm used to. I may just cut my legs off at the thighs; either that, or never go on another hike again. OMG.

We leave tomorrow - good-bye Hana and heading back to West Maui. It's been a great vacation and we're sad to see Maui go. Until tomorrow ...

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Maui: Day 5

We woke up early today and packed our things for our drive to Hana. It was sad leaving Lahaina, we had a great few days here. Glad our vacation's not over yet. We're staying 2 nights in Hana at a house we rented just outside of the small Hawaiian town.

The road to Hana is a 68-mile stretch of highway that connects the Kipahulu/Paia area to eastern Maui. On our way out of town, we stopped at the local Wal-Mart to load up on a few groceries. The house we rented in Hana has a kitchen so we thought we'd grab a few bottles of wine and enough food to make dinner for tonight.

This here was the hardest decision I made today: what kind of chips to buy. You know how much I love chips.

We started off on the famous "Road to Hana." The drive isn't very long but takes a few hours because it's so scenic with winding turns, lots of beautiful cliffs overlooking the ocean, waterfalls and plant life. During our drive today, it rained for most of the time so it we opted not to take advantage of the state parks along the way. But we did stop several times and take in some of the gorgeous sites along the roadway.

One of the natural waterfalls along the way:

The second one we saw was really roaring!  Some of the locals said the waterfalls have been dried up the last few weeks for lack of rain, but thankfully they've had some in the last few days so we were able to see all the beauty.

My gorgeous husband taking photos with his new camera. A few other tourists today said they were "stopping wherever the bro with the giant ass camera stopped." That made Andi smile :)

Here's me and my make-shift umbrella. 
Whoa, man I'm getting dark! Good thing it was raining today; I may have needed a day out of the sun!

We arrived in Hana and checked into the house we rented for our last few days in Hawaii. A nice lady who owns the property greeted us with her little pooch Razz as we pulled in. She and her husband have lived in this large house up in the hills for nearly 20 years. We're staying in our own 'apartment-style' living quarters which has everything we'd ever need for a few days in Hana. It's in a beautiful, quiet area -- a nice change from the Hyatt in Lahaina and much more our style.

The living room/kitchen with sweeping views of the trees and ocean

Our bedroom

View from our wrap-around porch

After we settled in, we cruised into town to pick up a few more groceries for dinner. There's a few roadside farmer's markets and we stopped to buy some fresh, local veggies. The offerings were endless - several kinds of lettuces, avocado, tomatoes, asparagus, cucumbers, pears, lemons, papaya, eggplant and more -- all organic and grown behind the roadside stand.

We stopped at the second stand and asked if they had anymore eggplant left to buy. The lady motioned for her husband, who grabbed his knife and went out back. He picked 2 for us right out of the garden. How cool is that? I was in heaven.

All the great local produce we bought:

Tonight we're laying low, listening to the rain and enjoying each other's company. Isn't this exactly how vacation should be? Absolute paradise.