Sunday, November 28, 2010

Happy Birthday Dad!

I'm a day late in my birthday wishes but just want my dad to know how much I love him!! Happy Birthday Dad!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Much To Be Thankful For

Our family has been richly blessed with our daily needs and a whole lot of extras! At the beginning of the month we started talking with the kids each day about what we are all thankful for. To capture this, we created a thankful tree. It has been so fun and eye-opening to recognize the big and little things that God has blessed our family with.

Every day the kids would ask about adding to the thankful tree. I think we'll make it an annual tradition for the month of November leading up to Thanksgiving...although, we could probably keep it going all year long! We hope anyone that reads this has a safe and blessed Thanksgiving! I'll end with the words from one of my favorite Thanksgiving hymns when I was growing up..

Now thank we all our God,
With heart and hands and voices,
Who wondrous things hath done,
In whom his world rejoices;
Who from our mother's arms
Hath blessed us on our way
With countless gifts of love,
And still is ours to-day.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

A WOW of a Weekend!

I didn't tell many people we were going on a trip this weekend. I'll be honest, when Matt first surprised me with it, I didn't believe it was true. It has been on my BHAG (Big Hairy Audacious Goal) wish list....Napa Valley! It was a bit of a splurge.......that I will never be sorry we took!! Matt starts basketball next Monday and I am so happy I had him all to myself for an amazingly fun weekend before the winter schedule hits!

About the trip...

Our dear friend Darv from Albert Lea turned 60 over the weekend. His wish was to spend the weekend with friends and family in Napa Valley. Darv, his wife Marcia, and their family have had a very special place in our hearts since living in Albert Lea. A little over a months ago he asked Matt about it and little did I know Matt booked the trip (he is very, very good at surprises!!)

Thanks to our good friends the Schwankes, G'ma Carol and G'pa Gary, and G'ma Deb and G'pa Don the kids were well cared for and we were off and running on Friday night. We arrived in Sacramento in the dark and drove our Mustang Convertible through an amazing landscape that we did not see until the next morning. Our accommodations for the first two nights were at the Yountville Inn in Napa Valley....WOW!! If you check the website you'll get an idea of the room we stayed in! Here is a view down the road from the hotel.

Saturday morning we met the group for breakfast and to catch up on the activities from the night before. Friday was Darv's actual birthday so the party was in full swing by the time we got there. Darv's kids surprised him with a 1965 Mustang for a gift...we missed seeing them give it to him but it sounds as though he was completely surprised and overwhelmed with excitement!

Saturday morning and early afternoon we piled into a van and Expedition and headed for a tour of vineyards and wineries....WOW!! The landscape was incredible and with all the grapevine leaves changing color, it was absolutely a beautiful drive. I was so impressed at the vineyards...they are so well managed and cared for. I think it is just one of the many agricultural wonders in California!

Two of the wineries we stopped at were Duckhorn Vineyards and V. Sattui Winery. The two were extremely different from each other. Duckhorn was very relaxed with a big wrap around porch to sit on and do a tasting. V. Sattui was crazy busy with people lined up for tastings. They had a deli, gift shop, and were grilling various goodies outside for the hundreds of people that were visiting. Two very different atmospheres but both very fun.

After our stops at these locations we headed back to the Inn to relax and get ready for the evening birthday bash. At 5:00pm we were picked up in limos and taken to Bell Wine Cellars for our evening activities. We were greeted with wine (who'd of thunk!) and walked into the facility to see this...WOW!!
Oak Barrels aging wine that is to be bottled
Our tables for our dinner were set up among the wine barrels...dancing (for some!) followed our dinner
The picture is a bit blurry but these are Darv's three kids and spouse/fiance/girlfriend! Love all of them!!
Meanwhile Back in MN....

The snow was flying and the kids were having a blast making snowmen, swimming, playing and watching movies with the Schwankes, G'ma Carol and G'pa Gary, and G'ma Deb and G'pa Don.

Sunday morning we woke up early and started the day with breakfast with the Habben's before they headed back to MN. We had a wide open schedule and decided to just go for a drive! We headed over the mountains crossed into Mendocino County and into the Sonoma Valley. We had to make a bit of a detour as Matt realized his camera batteries were completely dead! He told me he didn't come all the way to California to have his camera die so off we went to find a camera shop. Back on track we stopped at Goldeneye Anderson Valley which was actually part of the Duckhorn winery we had stopped at on Saturday. We had a great time sitting in their backyard sipping wine and looking at the beautiful vineyard. We decided this was our favorite vineyard/winery and Matt got some great photos...including some cheesy photos of us!!
We headed toward the coast after this stop and saw some absolutely beautiful scenery going through the Redwood Forests.

After some winding roads the forest opened up to Hwy 1 and this view of the coast....WOW!!
We drove for a few hours along the coast and went back into the woods on some very curvy roads (thought I might get car sick actually!). We eventually got to the town of Ukiah to stay for the night. We ask for recommendations on a place to eat and ended up at a little place called Cafe Walter...I laugh thinking about it. It was crazy decor with everything from Chinese wall hangings, porcelain dolls, a brass elephant head and horse posters. You'd think that the way it was decorated that it might be a bit shady on the food end. The menu was pretty crazy too...sushi, steaks, seafood, pizza, pasta, and on and on. When we got our food...WOW...we were so surprised and satisfied with how great it all was! This picture is a bit crazy but is a plate of sushi we had...very well prepared I might say!

We headed out early the next morning to start our drive back toward Sacramento for our flight home. Again, an amazing drive through mountains, into California lake country, and back into a more agricultural area. We saw fields of almond trees, cotton, vegetables, rice, and again more vineyards. The landscape of California is amazing and I was continually impressed throughout the weekend. It was a late night by the time we got home (12:30am) and we were very ready to see the kids!

We were so blessed to be able to take this trip and have the time together. It will be one of my happiest memories of our married life I believe. I took a lot of pictures with my phone but Matt got some incredible images with his camera as well....check out his blog to see them!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Cameron's Adventures

Today was Cameron's first field trip with his pre-school class. They went to the nursing home! They went there to sing songs and visit with the older people. He even got to sing a solo for the people...his favorite "We're Gonna Win Twins!" We asked him about his day and about his field trip. He noted that the people seemed sad and that their legs don't work so they needed wheel chairs.

I love his age and the things that he is curious about. He has had a lot of questions lately about God, heaven and life in general. A few of our favorite conversations/questions have included:

- Does God have bones?
- Does heaven have bathrooms?
- How could God get a cow up to heaven? (We had one of our neighbors cows die over the weekend)
- Do Sogn and God play together?

It makes me smile big when we can have these conversations and although we don't always know how to answer, it is so fun to talk and pray with him.

Today was such a great day to play outside and Cameron was in his glory pretending to be "Super Cameron"...

Monday, November 8, 2010

Don't Turn You Back!

Lately, I can't turn my back on Little Miss Emmy Em...

Because if I do, this is what happens!!!

Where are her pants?
How did her shirt sleeve come off?
How did she get the iPad that was suppose to be charging?

Two is quite the adventure with this little girl!

We love our little miss little Em!