Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Summer of Trains

In our house, our toddler's fascination chugs along with trains. We've tolerated, even encouraged, watching trains, playing with trains, and reading about trains. We've spent plenty of time on YouTube watching trains go through intersections, plow snow, and just chug along. You'd be amazed what is out there and what simplicity captivates a 2-year-old.

This past summer, we've visited the local train museum to tour old trains, play on train tables, and even ride a caboose. Jack was more than a kid in a candy store. He was a boy in a train store. If the train fascination continues, we'll likely have the next birthday party here.....even if we don't have many attendees since it is all the way on the other side of the metro.

Next, we went to the model train museum to see working train models and toy trains of every sort and size. Jack enjoyed this even more, perhaps because the scale of the trains wasn't so intimidating. One area was designed as a mini-1950s Minneapolis with so much detail. Clearly, this place was designed for young boys with trains on the brain. And grown-up boys who never grew out of the fascination.

Then, we had to get creative. We rode trolley trains. We played on a train at a park. We rode a steamboat that had a whistle 'like a train'. We rode over train tracks and took the route to see the trains every chance we got. In the morning, our eggs are cut out in the shape of trains...sometimes our toast too.

But all summer long, talk revolved around going to see the Granddaddy of them all. Thomas.

O, if I'd only had a relative to invest in Thomas the Tank Engine years ago. The Day out with Thomas happened at the largest train museum in the state, which is in Duluth. We went to see the huge ships--ships that are the size of a city block--go through the lift bridge and into Lake Superior. Jack simply turned after watching one of the behemoths move through and asked 'See the trains, now?'  Clearly not impressed with anything that didn't ride the rails, he did get a kick out of watching the trains deliver minerals from the Iron Range to the large ships. Just driving through the railroad yard on the edge of the harbor was proof the trip was worth it.

 Then, the big day arrived. Jack took off his Thomas pajamas, donned his Thomas shirt, and then we saw Thomas actually come chugging up to the station. And Jack wasn't so sure anymore.
 Actually, he was completely sure he did NOT want to get on that train. I carried him on board kicking and screaming for our very brief, over-priced 30 minute trip on Thomas. During which, I might add, he would NOT pose for a picture with his mother.
 By the end of the ride, we were a tad bit happier about the experience as we passed by real trains.

 The real fun came later when Jack explored the museum. He played with the train tables and climbed in and out of engines, passenger cars, and cabooses. He colored Thomas pictures and played with Thomas building blocks. Yes, all the world was a train and he was basking in it all.

And when we left, he was kicking and screaming again. Because this was a place that was too good to be true. And we've talked about it every. day. since.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Race time.

In my downtime when I'm not fantasizing about full, uninterrupted nights of sleep.... I'm dreaming about going to the gym. It's funny the things you miss or treasure when you can't freely do them anymore.

I took a tremendous leap when I registered for my first 5k after babies. Of course, my goals on any 5k have never been lofty. My goal is simply to finish and not finish last. My gym rat of a husband and I started the race at the same time, but finished several minutes apart.

After starting, I kept having weird problems with my iPod. I would have the Black-Eyed Peas playing some song with a good beat and I would accidentally hit it and bam! Neil Diamond. Then, I'd have Katy Perry playing and hit it again and something like Ray Charles "Georgia on my mind" (which is a warm up song) would come on.

When I reached mile1, I thought I wasn't going to make it. When I reached the first hill, I cursed whomever designed this race course. During the last mile when I climbed, okay walked, several steep hills and slowly jogged the last half-mile which was a gradual incline, I was cursing this race with each sluggish step and deep breath I could take. What kind of cruel joke was this? Why didn't I look at the course before signing up? I know why. I was thrilled enough to see a race that had included childcare, so I didnt' look at anything else!

I didn't finish last, actually it was a rather respectable time, but I did finish right beside some 10-year-old kid who got several cheers at the finish line. That almost made me feel like I was finishing last.

This is in preparation for several outdoor runs this summer, and maybe, just maybe running the Twin Cities 10 mile, which is "the" race to run up here. It's popular and it closes out in minutes after registration opens. Since I've been at my present workplace, a team of coworkers have talked about training and actually running this race. I've either been pregnant or just past pregnant each I've only listened. This year, I won't have an excuse.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012


For Easter this year, we were fortunate to drive west to visit my brother and his growing family.

My brother was an excellent host, treating Jack to more than one tractor and 4-wheeler ride.

They are a Catholic household and we opted to attend services with them. As with any worship service where I'm unfamiliar with the structure, my overall goal is just to blend into the crowd. With two young children, that's virtually impossible, but we managed to somehow pull it all off. Another antsy little boy even gave Jack a jellybean, to which Jack politely responded, "Thank you Boy."

The country church was beautiful, the weather was sunny, and the pastor was engaging. Before the service started, my brother warned us that it was a small church with a small congregation. The organist, who also leads the songs, might miss a note or two. Or three.  During one song, Dave leaned over to me and said "I think there's a sheep in here." To which I responded, "Very funny, Dave. Don't make fun of the organist." Dave: "No really. I heard one." Me: eye-rolling.

The joke was on me. A short time later, during the sermon, a woman carried a sheep to the front of the church. The children were invited up to pet the lamb while the pastor talked about the Lamb of God. A unique opportunity for the Easter crowd.

Someone also handed out balloons to kids at the end of the service for a balloon release and an analogy. With petting a lamb and balloons, Jack thought this was all fun until he realized he couldn't get his balloon back.

Finally....Target Field!

If you've seen my facebook page, you know I finally worked my way into Target Field. One of the cool parts of being a reporter is you get to see the underbelly of things and how places operate. I get a much bigger kick out of the back tours of factories, the basements of important places or hobby workshop spaces than I do interviewing important people. As I walked off the field and had to stomp the dirt off my shoes, I thought, "how many people get to dust the dirt from a major league baseball field off their shoes on an average workday?"

Working at a hyper-local station, we seldom travel outside our nine cities radius and if we do....even if it is to St Paul or Minneapolis...we have to have a local nine city connection. Yes, five miles over our imaginary like might as well as Spain because we aren't going to go there. As frustrating as this sometimes can be, it's part of our mission and part of what makes our little place very special in terms of original content. So, to get to Target Field, I had to find an ultra-local angle and it took me a few years to do it.

I found the story by way of a local source I've gotten to know who is a stay-at-home dad and got a summer gig working on the grounds of Target Field. He's one of those great neighborhood sources that reporters crave. He calls me when he sees a SWAT team, and I call to find out why they were there. He calls me when the kids are doing fun, unusual things at school and I see if we can cover it. These everyday people are usually the ones who really have their fingers on the pulse of the community and I wish I knew more of these people.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Remembering....our trip to New York

The purpose for the trip to New York this spring was to visit the Schwartz family.

If you live away from home, then you know a visit home usually has a "must-do" and "must-see" list. This can get daunting and intimidating, because inevitably someone or something is left out and it causes stress for both parties. Thankfully we stayed long enough that we got to see just about everyone on the list and do just about everything on the list. Family time was good time.

We had Wing Night.

We celebrated Passover.

We saw old cousins and met new ones.

We saw Jake's baseball game, where every time anyone made any play on the field, Jack would yell "Good catch Jakey!"

We lounged and slept a bit more than normal.

We spent time in the kitchen.

Jack made charoset with his Mema.

We spent time with Aunt Jennie.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Remembering.... our trip to NYC

Since I appear to have blog amnesia, I'm hoping to fire off a few recap blogs that can show what we've been up at our house this spring:

Dave and I took our first vacation, okay 3 day trip, without the kids. Yes, we were only 2 1/2 hours away from Dave's family and thus, our kids....but it provided the break we craved. I think we might be only people on the planet to go to the City that never sleeps for some respite. We seem get down to the City at least once a year, so we really just did a lot of walking and looking around. We know people there, but we were careful to only schedule a few visits in our schedule and we were lucky enough to see all five people in one day. (If you are reading this and we didn't see you, we'll see you next year.)

We discovered soul food at Sylvia's Restaurant in Harlem where we met my HSU friend Julie and ate fried chicken and waffles. Luckily we arrived just before a busload of Dutch tourists. Julie and her husband are about to enrich the lives of people in Central Arkansas, and we wish them well.

We met up with Dave's HWS classmates, but we don't have the pictures to prove it. In order to round out the alum visit, we also met up with SU classmate Ross at his workplace...which had a very large newsroom. We met his reporter and I discovered it doesn't matter the overall size of the newsroom, the cubicles are still the same size.

Someone's sleepy....
I also found out it was my sorority's philanthropy day....World Autism Awareness I twisted Dave's arm to get up super early and then meet up with some alumnae from around the country at the Today Show. Dave was obviously separated from the herd, but in the meantime he got a picture with Meredith Viera. As we walked through Rockefeller Center, a woman stopped Dave and asked if he was on television in Minnesota. Yep, that's almost as good as when he was discovered on a hiking trail on the North Shore.

Later that day, we walked around the Central Park and Columbia Circle. We took a brief pedi-cab ride because we were so darn tired of walking. Our cab driver gave us a pseudo-tour on which he would stop peddling, point at something remarkable and say something like "Strawberry Fields. John Lennon. Go home. Googles it." This got to be quite amusing, so we spent the rest of our trip pointing at things and saying, "Empire State Building. Go home. Googles it."

We stayed at On The Ave on the Upper West Side and it was a great place to stay and be away from the bustle of Times Square, although we did walk through the Square there once. We stopped at Zabars and the Magnolia Bakery. (twice)

We ate at the best Cuban restaurant ever....Calle Ocho...actually, they might've just had the best mojitos and sangria ever. And, it was Mojito Monday, after all. Googles it.

Looking back, we went to bed early every day and got up early and spent time talking about our kids quite a bit... I won't say we were absolutely ready to jump back into the mix of interrupted sleep and poopy diapers....but those kids really were adorable when we got back.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Evie at 5 months, okay barely 6

Getting the month-a-versaries pictures done has become a headache and a haunt--I missed month 4 and almost month 5 in my tech meltdown. I keep wondering if not having a month will haunt me in years to come when I'm assembling a baby memory book, but no matter. Here's Evie at month 5, well actually right at month 6 so I'll say 5 months grown.

I love babies at this stage. They are bubbly and active and it doesn't take much to make them smile. With Evie, I just have to smile at her or get close to her before she grins and kicks her feet. This is charming even at 1 am, which is her general nighttime wake-up time. She is such a happy, contented baby.

E cut her bottom two teeth with very little fuss. Actually, one day we noticed a tooth had broken through and said, hm. Guess she's teething. This is in sharp contrast to her brother Jack who put up such a fuss that we were praying for the divine appearance of a tooth and trying different products to ease his pain. Even though she gets a bit more fussy now with other teeth, she's still a very ladylike teether.

Evelyn still loves to be held and held close. She sometimes gets fussy and all you have to do is pick her up and she's fine. She loves to cuddle close to you just about any time of day and she'd be perfectly content being held all day long.

Evie loves to screech and scream and she's saying "ga-ga-ga" at certain times. If everyone leaves the room, even for a minute, though, she gets very upset. She's at her best when she's surrounded by people and she can turn the charm on to get what she wants....