Thursday, October 29, 2015

Dad's turn - The roadtrip 30 years in the making.

Last November I became the new owner of one of my grandfather's (mom's dad) most prized possessions, his 1987 Chevrolet El Camino.  I have many fond memories of my grandfather and a surprising number of them involved riding around in the bed of that pickup (if you called it a truck you were a "city kid").  And when the question arose about what was to happen to the car, I jumped at the opportunity.
At the time I didn't even have room for it in MN and was forced to leave it in storage in Holyoke, CO just gathering dust.  Well, in April I acquired myself a brand new three car garage and then two weeks ago I finally set out on the pilgrimage to reclaim "the Camino", along with the memories of my childhood and grandfather who impacted my life immeasurably.
I have made the Colorado to Minnesota trek twice before, once with two cats, and once in the middle of the night.  Needless to say, I have never had the luxury of taking any route but the quickest, and that's old I-80 from Cheyenne, WY to Des Moines, IA and then north to the Twin Cities.  For this trip however, I had decided early on that we were taking the scenic route.  We would head north through Wyoming and my father's hometown of Morrill, Nebraska where we would attempt to do some sleuth work on his father's missing Purple Heart from World War II.  Then we would continue into South Dakota, presumably somewhere near Rapid City by the end of day one and spend day two crossing SD to MN.
It was only fitting for a journey of such ancestral magnitude that I had as my co-pilot and navigator my best friend of 28 years Jeff Holets, or as he is known in MN "Uncle Jeff" and as he is known in Portland "Fair Trade Jeff".
On Saturday afternoon we saddled up, bungee corded all of our valuables in the bed, gathered all the cassette tapes we could find and rolled out.  The first thing I came to remember about the 80s when we finally got out on the open road is that apparently no one ever ate or drank in their vehicles back then, because there wasn't a cup holder in sight.  By the time we reached Wyoming we had broken the tape deck but at least we had managed to re-learn the art of the crotch cup holder.
We managed to avoid having to fight any "damn cowboys in Torrington (WY)" as my father so vividly remembers having to do, and crossed the border into Nebraska.  And that is where things got interesting.
First we stopped at the home my dad grew up in and took some pictures, then it turned out we were two houses down.  Next we looked up the address my dad had "found online" for the guy who "might have ended up with Grandpa's war medals".  Turns out the occupants of said address had never heard of the guy we were looking for but they were more than willing to help us with our search... for some meth.  We didn't realize how fervently they wanted to become meth head private eyes until after we gave them my cell phone number, so we decided it was getting late and we better head for South Dakota (or a police station).
We drove the next 3 hours northbound across western Nebraska with the windows down and the sun setting in what I can only describe as the most tranquil experience of my life.  It was the one stretch where we didn't talk much.  We just took it all in.  I knew my grandfather was watching and I knew he would be proud.
About nightfall navigator Jeff set to finding us a place to stay.  Both of us had discussed how near we would be to Mount Rushmore and that we would like, if given the chance, to check it out.  Well as just was our luck, the town of Keystone, SD where Mount Rushmore is located happened to have exactly ONE place with a room left, the White House Memorial Hotel.
Upon rolling into town about 11pm we quickly came to realize that the reason there was only one place to stay was not because of high demand but because the entire town shuts down at the end of the season.  The place was quite literally a ghost town.  Endless gift shops, tourist attractions, hotels and restaurants, and not one of them open.  After checking in we found the one place open and offered to buy the staff a round if they would fire up the grill so we could order food.  I was hopeful that would at least diminish the amount of spit in our food and turns out it was one of the most worthwhile bribes either of us had ever paid.  They had about six guys in the back who we A) hadn't counted on treating to beers and B) looked like they got kicked out of Sturgis, which I suspect is awfully difficult but we ate... like... kings!  1/2 pound buffalo burgers, hand cut french fries, and several pints of the local micro brew amber.  I could have been delirious from hunger but it might have been one of the best meals of my life.
On Sunday, with a nearly 10 hour drive looming across two states and two time zones, we got up early, enjoyed the least complimentary breakfast ever offered at a hotel and headed up the mountain.  Mount Rushmore just after dawn was well worth the excursion and I've never wanted so badly for the Team America theme song to be playing.  Alas it did not and we set our sights on the next stop, the "World Famous" Wall Drug.
As "tranquil" as our Saturday evening in Nebraska had been, South Dakota was just plain boring.  Nothing in sight and constant 25 mph wind made for a long couple of hours.  When we made it to Wall Drug, it turned out to be just that... a drug store, a really nice drug store, but a drug store none the less. 
After losing an hour near the Minnesota border, and running into that classic 7pm Sunday evening twin city rush hour we just barely made it home before the girls went to bed.  And I was certainly glad we did because we got to take the El Camino for the first family spin around the neighborhood.  The face on most of my neighbors screamed "What in the world is this asshole doing driving around with his friend, wife, dog, and two toddlers in the bed of an old pickup/car hybrid for!?"  My face, on the other hand, was all smiles.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Cheers to Seven Years!

Today is our seventh anniversary and also the weekend that Ryan's rugby team is playing one of his all time rivals in Kansas City - which he really wanted to travel for. But instead of being in Minneapolis together to celebrate or him going to Kansas City, I'm sitting in the Phoenix airport because he insisted I get out here for a little girl's weekend with my best friend.  Looking back to my wedding 7 years ago, I almost can't remember the guy I married, he's grown and changed so much, and he deserves to have some praises sung. 

I love thinking back to our wedding and all the feelings and jitters and emotions. I felt so lucky to be marrying Ryan then, and I didn't even know what was in store. I married the hardest worker I knew, who was also a hot head. We both had our opinions and weren't afraid to duke it out when necessary (not literally, of course) but I knew it was good because we learned about each other and made changes after those little disputes to become better. 

Fast forward to now and my hot head husband has become the peace keeper. He's become more patient and gentle and generous than I could have ever imagined. He puts others first, but his family before anyone. He works hard at his job and at home, and he appreciates everything he has. There are no words to describe how happy and proud I am to have him be the father figure and role model for our kids, and leader of our family. 

I thought I was lucky seven years ago and I didn't even know his potential. I didn't even expect to get this version of him. I am so truly blessed to get to call him mine. 

I love you to the moon and back, Ryan Chapman! 

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Motherhood is My Jam

Last Wednesday Ryan took off to Denver to collect his '87 El Camino that he inherited from his grandpa last year.  He and his best friend drove back over the weekend and finally made it home Sunday night.  It was the longest time we'd had away from dad without any sort of family around to help, which was a little daunting.  I had the all time worst cell phone reception and internet connections (my new office seems to be in some sort of communication black hole), which made work extra fun, the 3 year old drama and sister rivalry were on high alert, and Evie and I both caught a cold, but us girls still managed to have just about the best time ever.

We were so excited to have Dad back, but even after 5 days with our cuckoo birds alone I still wasn't sick of them.  I even felt the tiniest twinge of sadness that I didn't get to hoard them all to myself anymore when they were whisked off to bed by Ryan.  Having little Lyla cuddle me in my bed every night was so cozy and reminded me so much of those baby days where I'd hold her endlessly for almost every nap.

When I was growing up I'd complain to my mom about not finding "my thing".  I was good at a few things, but I hadn't found "the" thing.  There was nothing I loved or was passionate enough to truly excel at.  Even motherhood was something I looked forward to, but was in no rush for.  But when I had Lyla, I knew - this was it.  I love it.  And this weekend just made those feelings all soar again.  Like, I really love the ish out of it.  Bad days and good days and "you're a BAD mom!" and "you're the best mom in the whole wide world!!".  I love it.  Life with these chicks is the very best. 

- K

We started the weekend with princess parties and serenades.

We wrestle-cuddled...

...and real cuddled.

We drew pretty pictures...

...and found out we LOVE chicken noodle soup.

My ever-helping Lyla threw an entire can of black beans in Evie's bowl - which she surprisingly ate most of - which I paid for later.

Evie put her baby to bed in her old baby bed.  Why is she so big?!

We have a story about Elsa and Anna having a slumber party which included green face cream, so we had to have a slumber party with green face cream. 
(do not use food coloring in your face cream.  bad idea.)

Sunday was warm and sunny so we headed outside for ice cream cones, then headed to the park to burn off the sugar.  Dad arrived shortly after and us girls couldn't have been more excited to see him!

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Kitchen Remodel

We bought our house back in April and loved every little bit of it except the finishes in the kitchen.  The entire main floor had recently been remodeled, including an awesome island with a farmer's sink and marble countertops.  The only thing that wasn't updated on the floor was the rest of the kitchen, and we never felt it matched the rest of the house. 

In August we hired a contractor and in a couple of weeks they whipped out a pretty, new kitchen for us.  We had the cabinets painted and added matching hardware to the island as well as backsplash.  We loved how bright and fresh it all looked.  Here are some pics!

- K



Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Sever's Fall Festival: Where Pumpkins are Picked and Alpacas Roam Free

Last weekend we went to Sever's Fall Festival, which is sort of like every other Minnesota Fair / Festival - food, rides, petting zoos, people watching, etc.  But this one has a huge corn maze and a pumpkin patch - so Fall Festival it is.  And, just like any of the other festivals this year, we had a blast.

Lyla loved it every bit as much as last year, but was completely upset they didn't have pig races - the one thing she remembered and mentioned literally all year long.  She was much more interested in the corn maze than last year, and even ran into non-corn-maze corn, disappearing for a good 5 minutes without any response to my increasingly frantic yelling.  When she re-appeared I hugged her, then strangled her - like any good mom would.

My highlight of the day was the alpacas in the petting zoo.  They weren't actually roaming free, but there was one that caught my eye immediately.  He continuously dodged peoples petting and shook his head fiercely if anyone tried to feed him the cups o' junk they hand out.  Not to mention his teeth.  Does he look more like Beavis and Butthead?  Austin Powers?  Napoleon Dynamite?  Either way we totally connected and I still want to bring him home.

Both girls loved the corn pit again, but I think they're favorite was the pumpkin patch at the end.  Lyla wanted to buy 15 of the same pumpkins and Evie fell in love with one and refused to leave it's side.  So naturally, Dad bought it for her.

Fall is the best.  :)

- K

this was before the "corn incident", when I thought she'd playfully run in and out of the corn - not disappear for all of eternity

sis didn't see why she should ever have to leave that horse