Joanna’s Family Pictures

As fall days grow chillier, it was fun to take advantage of a last sunny warm day and take family pictures for my new co-worker Joanna.  Her adorable little son just turned one.  We had a great time at the sculpture garden in Minneapolis.  Levi seemed to prefer to turn the other way whenever he saw the camera coming, but I think we still got some cute pictures!

Here is a little preview of some of the adorableness that is Joanna’s family.  Enjoy!

bon voyage

I am in the pre-trip days where all I do is say goodbye to my friends and then feel sad.  Shoot.  I should probably get on that plane pretty quick so that I stop saying goodbyes and just have things to look forward to.

But then I thought, how lucky am I that I have such amazing friends and family that I will in fact miss them over the course of the summer.

Here are some things I will miss

(please note, this is intentionally not an exhaustive list, nor does it name names.  Because then everyone can feel sad they weren’t mentioned in my list of people I will miss, rather than forgetting a few people and them being extra sad.  Just know that I can’t wait to see you in August!)

  • My friends
  • My family 
  • FroYo
  • Ice Cream 
  • Lakes
  • Boating 
  • My Church Family 
  • Movies in the Park 
  • Baking 
  • Caribou 
  • Sleeping In
  • Driving 
  • Summer Adventures 
  • Washer and Dryer
  • Target Field 
  • My bed
  • Corn on the cob 

Things I am looking forward to:

  • Meeting the kids at the orphanage
  • Telling them about Jesus
  • Teaching
  • Seeing the schools
  • Going to church
  • Getting to know the rest of the summer missions team
  • Going on Safari
  • Trying new foods
  • Learning about a new culture
  • Investing in people’s lives
  • Serving
  • Loving
  • Adventure

I will have access to internet, but I hear it can be spotty – so I am not sure if I’ll be able to put up posts every day.  If you don’t hear from me for a couple days – don’t assume that a zebra ate me.  Assume that I’m having an amazing time and will share stories and pictures with you when I am able.

Love you all!


Family Photos at the Sculpture Garden

Today Michelle and I took family pictures for a friend of ours from church.  We headed to the sculpture garden in Minneapolis and had a lot of fun!  Afterwards, the family headed off to celebrate the grandparents’ 40th wedding anniversary, and Michelle and I headed off to French Meadow for coffee and a cinnamon roll.  A win for all 🙂

Here are some of my favorite pictures from the morning!

Sister Spa Day!

As you may or may not know, Rachel surprised me on Friday with a delicious brunch downtown and then a day at a fancy spa (the spa is cousin’s with The Westin, my favorite hotel chain.  She knows me well) where we pretended to be fancy ladies of leisure.

I don’t have any pictures of the event, but don’t worry, I DO have pictures of a similar completely different spa-like experience that we had four years ago outside of Tokyo.  I will do a little compare and contrast with you.  It will be like we are making a venn diagram with our words. (this sounds exciting!)

That spa was called 

This spa was at the Ivy Hotel.


At both spas we got bathrobes to wear.  Although, they looked a little different. 


At that spa we bathed in red wine 

At this spa we showered at the end with fancy bath products.


At that spa we met Kung Fu Panda. 

At this spa we met a hilarious couple of guys who were getting pedicures before heading up to the cabin for the weekend.


At that spa we had Doctor Fish eat away all the dead skin off our feet.

Yes, I realize my sister isn't actually in this photo. This is in Okinawa with the other missionaries at OCSI. A few weeks later I introduced Rachel to Dr. Fish.

At this spa we got pedicures.


At that spa we bathed in green tea. 

At this spa we had the opportunity to drink green tea or any other kind of tea you could imagine.


At that spa we bathed in coffee 

At this spa we got facials.


At that spa we swam in Rose Water. 

At this spa we got manicures.


At that spa we stood under tiny waterfalls. 

At this spa we got massages.

So in summary, I guess I’d say our experiences were more different than similar.  Huh.

Was it amazing?

Do you even have to ask?

Thanks Rachel!  You are so thoughtful and generous and basically just the best ever.  I’m so glad that you survived February and I finished grad school.  And I’m so glad you are my sister!

(even if I do push you out of pictures we take together) 

Add this to the list.

I am excited for today.  I mean you would be too if you received this invite to fun


I don’t know what we are doing, but based on the instructions, it can only be good things.

Feel free to add this to the list of reasons you wish my sister was your sister too.  Just know you can’t have her.  Unless you already married into the family.  Then I will share.

Happy Friday!

March Madness Ignorance

This morning I opened up my email and found a message from my brother inviting me to some family bracket fun for march madness.

Before we go any further, I should probably tell you that I enjoy watching sports.  In person.  I get bored and distracted when watching sports on tv.  I’m just being honest (although, if we’re going to be honest, I get bored and distracted watching many things on tv).  I love going to sporting events in person.  I love the energy and excitement in the air.  If for some reason I don’t have a stake in the game, just tell me who to cheer for and I am in wholeheartedly.  I once sat on the floor at a Timberwolves game and it was amazing.  Your son has a little league baseball game?  I’ll be there.  Anything to do with the Twins?  Without question.

All that to say, I don’t follow college basketball.  Not because I dislike sports, but because I just don’t like watching sports on tv.  I do however support those who do (much like Derek Zoolander, when he says, “Sting would be another person who’s a hero. The music he’s created over the years, I don’t really listen to it, but the fact that he’s making it, I respect that”).

Back to the story at hand.  I got this invite and I thought, sure I’ll do it, but what do I know about March Madness?  Then I signed into Facebook and saw links to these two blog posts: March Madness from Women at Hope with some NCAA tournament basics as well as a couple tips for bracketing, and Cor’s post, which I knew would have good stuff too.

I was feeling prepared, and even went so far as to create my log in for the family pool, but then I did other things, like make hair appointments, do my taxes, read for Bible study, and wash my clothes.

Good thing I didn’t fill out my bracket yet.  Knowing my ignorance and my love of ridiculous “news” articles relating to sports, my mom sent me this link to the Huffington Post’s article on picking your teams.  It is worth the click.  Now after reading it, I’ll go bracket-it-up, keeping gems like these in my back pocket:*

Tip #2: Pick a team with blue as one of their colors to win the tournament.

Tip #5: Grasp on to any inane reason or urge you have to pick one team over another (as long as it isn’t basketball-related)

Tip #1: Do not, under any circumstances, watch a college basketball game before the start of the tournament.

Tip #9: Don’t spend more than, like, five minutes filling out your bracket.


Tip #4: Defend any pick you make to your basketball-savvy friends by saying “They’re a second-half team with strong guard play.”  This means literally nothing and can be applied to any team.

*previously stated gems/tips come straight from Huffington Post. They are not my own brilliance or the brilliance of anyone I know.

I will now set my pretty new kitchen timer from anthropologie that I got for my birthday to replace the pretty new kitchen timer from anthro that I got for Christmas and promptly broke, to five minutes and go fill out my bracket.  You should too.  Except find your own bracket, because you probably aren’t in my family and thus aren’t invited. Sorry!  I wish you all the best in all your bracketing endeavors.

I am blessed.

This has been one of those days that just blows me away with encouragement.

I have to admit, I was not as excited as usual for my birthday – maybe I’m just tired of getting older?

I was much younger in this picture. And my sister was super excited that I had arrived in her life.

But my birthday just served to remind me of how blessed I am.

To be perfectly honest, if you’d asked me at pretty much any point growing up what I thought my life would be like at 29, my answer would not have described my current life.  The journey God has taken me on certainly has not been at all what I expected.  But I then today I thought about how God has taken such good care of me, and blessed me with so many amazing people in my life, and given me some incredible opportunities.  I still am excited for what He has in store for me in the future, but looking back, I also would not have want to have missed any stops along the way or missed out on the ways He has worked in my life up till now.

Facebook tells me that 103 friends posted on my wall to wish me a happy birthday.  What facebook doesn’t tell you is how awesome it was to receive some encouraging notes from many unexpected, yet awesome people.  From my high school youth pastor’s wife, to my missionary roommate in Japan, to co-workers, to friends, to family.  I just felt so lifted up and cared about.

Then there are the friends who sent me an evite to a fun birthday afternoon in my honor… they literally made an evite just to invite me over.  I felt so special!

I also got to have dinner with my amazing family tonight, and my aunt made me delicious mint chocolate cupcakes.

Cards were written, phone calls were made, texts were sent, gifts were given, and time was spent with people I love.  It was wonderful.  How did I get so lucky to have such encouraging, fun, loving, generous, and amazing friends and family?

The past few weeks have been kind of rough.  Sometimes you just need to feel loved.  And today I certainly did.  Thanks friends!  You are the best.  For reals.  I love you all.  And tonight I will go to sleep with a smile of my face.  🙂

Life is a Song (or at least it should be)

Last week I was so excited to go to see Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella at the Ordway.  It was a super fun show (seen with incredibly fun people).  Cinderella did a lovely job and the step sisters were hilarious).  A definite highlight was when the fairy godmother was doing her thing and it turned into a black light show.  This made me excitedly remember the terrible black light theater in Prague, which now is a magically ridiculous memory that I can enjoy without feeling too scarred.

Now that I am reflecting on my most recent musical theater experience, I think we should all take a moment to consider the ways in which our lives would be better if we lived inside of a musical.

For example, one time, for my sister’s birthday in the Boundary Waters, I tried to make our lives into a musical for a special birthday present for her.  The first line of the show was, “Rain, water that falls from the sky” and then I proceeded to serenade her with a song about the rainstorm we were experiencing while packing up our tent.  She may disagree, but I maintain that it made a crappy day of muddiness so much brighter.  All because I gave her the gift of song.

Ok, back to the reasons this is a good idea.

  1. Musicals are usually very colorful.  And who doesn’t love a little color in their lives?
  2. You can wear fancy hats.
  3. There is such a sense of community and camaraderie.  Everyone in town knows the same lyrics to the same songs and cheerily sings them together.
  4. Your heart would have a good measure or two to prepare for a change in emotion.  “Am I about the be terrified?  The music warned me, so I am able to properly respond to this scary situation.”  “I was nervous, but now I know that something happy is about to happen!  I can’t wait!”  “I wasn’t sure how I felt, but I listened to the music and now I know that I am in love.”
  5. Have a problem?  Don’t fight about it, sing about it!  Imagine what the world would be like if we sang about our conflicts and feelings, rather than yelled about them.
  6. We’d all be in great shape from dancing all day every day.
  7. I wouldn’t need to spend time figuring out what to wear each day – it would be predetermined and I would have a very small window of time in which to put it on.
  8. We could experience life in so many different time periods.
  9. There would be so much more frolicking in our everyday life.  This is something that I think we all could benefit from.
  10. We can play with all sorts of animals, such as mice, pigeons, and cat puppets operated by puppeteers wearing all black and standing near you, but you wouldn’t acknowledge them.
  11. Life would be so much more magical… and sparks of light and glitter would surround you in those magical moments, so you would be sure to recognize them for what they are.
  12. At some point, you would probably have the opportunity to fly through the air, whether in a bubble or attached to ropes.
  13. Great sound effects to all that happens in life.
  14. Entrance music in everyday life.
  15. Being over the top in all that you do is perfectly acceptable.
  16. You can sing about happy things.  You can sing about sad things.  You can even sing about boring things.  The important thing is that you sing.
  17. The ability to tap dance upside down.
  18. Cheesy lines would be totally acceptable.
  19. Happy endings.

I’m pretty sure that the only downside would be the difficulty in keeping straight some of your friends who have multiple identities in life – such as Townsperson #1 and Dancer #7.  Well, that and laryngitis.


Happy Thanksgiving, friends!

I started my Thanksgiving off bright and early with a trip to the airport to drop off my roommate.  I told her that the timing works out well, because I have a lot to be thankful for, so I need to get my Thanksgiving started early.

As usual, I had two Thanksgivings this year, so I thought we could see how they compare.

We will refer to them throughout the post as “Kindergarten Thanksgiving” and “Real Thanksgiving”.  In case the names are not self-explanatory, Kindergarten Thanksgiving refers to the day before Thanksgiving at Kindergarten, and Real Thanksgiving refers to the real Thanksgiving Day.

Let the comparing and contrasting commence:

Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade:

Kindergarten Thanksgiving: We viewed pictures of past parades and checked the forecast for this year’s parade.  We then wrote and drew and the things we would need to pack for our trip to NYC based on the weather and our planned activities.

Real Thanksgiving: I watched the parade with some friends while doing things that involve the letter C: drinking coffee, eating caramel rolls, and peeling clementines.  It was mostly a magical morning.

The Attire:

Kindergarten Thanksgiving: We wore pilgrim hats and bonnets. 

Real Thanksgiving: I may or may not have once again worn the above pictured clothing.  It is my Thanksgiving outfit?  Surprisingly enough, no one was wearing pilgrim hats.  What a disappointment.  Scarves were the common attire.  Even little Fiona was wearing a scarf.  She wins for most adorable outfit though.  Babies tend to do that.

The Table: 

Kindergarten Thanksgiving: I pushed all the tables together into one long table and covered it with fallish colored papers.  In the words of one student, “It’s so beautiful!”  (this is not actually true. It was festive in the lamest sense of the word)

Real Thanksgiving: Lots of the cousins were off celebrating with the in-laws, so we all fit around one table together!  No kids’ table for us to be banished to… it was a new experience.

The Movie: 

Kindergarten Thanksgiving: We watched Charlie Brown Thanksgiving.  They loved it.  “Miss K- that was kind of funny!”

Real Thanksgiving: To end our day, we went to my parents house and watched Tangled.  We try and keep it family-friendly for our 20s-30s crowd.

The Food: 

Kindergarten Thanksgiving: In true Charlie Brown fashion, we ate popcorn, pretzels, and jelly beans.  

Real Thanksgiving: We had all the Thanksgiving staples: turkey, mashed potatoes, corn, fizzy green jello, stuffing, and Dad’s secret family recipe for eskimo pie.

The Thankfulness: 

Kindergarten Thanksgiving: We passed the sparkly microphone around the table and all shared what we are thankful for.  This year we were thankful for “my whole friends”, Mario, family, and their teacher.  My highlight is always watching them smile as I go around the table and personally tell each child that I am thankful for them.

Real Thanksgiving: You will probably be surprised to hear that no sparkly microphone was passed around.  But I’d take a wild guess and say we all could have listed things we are thankful for – we are pretty blessed 🙂

Happy Thanksgiving!

the cutest couple on the block

After posting the out takes, I promised you that I would consider sharing some good pics from last week’s frigid, but fun, photoshoot of Rachel, David and Bear (not to be confused with a real bear, which would be a much scarier photo op).

Although I’m fairly certain you have been looking forward to this moment for days now, just in case you haven’t been on the edge of your seat for this update, let me give you some other things to look forward to later this week:

  • football desserts
  • a field trip to the science museum
  • a kindergarten thanksgiving
  • delicious cupcakes and angry grocery store experiences
  • first time making a pie: so much potential for awesomeness, disaster, or some combination of the two.

And now, here are some of my favorite pics from the day!