Sunday, December 19, 2010

I count my blessings instead of sheep.....

There are over 20 inches of snow on the ground and the weather service says more is heading this way tomorrow.

The temperatures have regularly been below zero with wicked, nasty, dangerous wind chills whipping around the state.

And I have never felt more warm......

Our blessings are too great to count. In a time when we know many are having to go without, we are mindful of the love, the care, the support, and the many, many blessings in our life.  

- A roof over our heads (even if it leaked in the last storm);

- Food on our table (even through the battles of getting Liam to "just try one bite");

- Clothes on our backs (even if you cannot see them because of the giant puffy coats, boots, and hats we have to wear); 

- Giant puffy coats, boots, and hats to keep us warm (even as I curse them silently while trying to wrestle them between car seat straps);
- More than a job, but a career (even on the days when work emails are being sent at 11pm); 

- The ability to give back to our community (even when I am sometimes torn between that and being with the kids);

- Education, laughter, friends, family, music, books, sunsets, dog cuddles, great parent/teacher conferences, weddings, Theta, dance recitals, boat rides, ear tubes, pansies, pajama days, sorority sisters, Chicago, dancing, darts, love, support........  

The list goes on.....
And on.....
And on.

Even on days when we are frustrated, sick, tired, or annoyed we are aware that we have so little that could be considered true burdens, and so much strength and love to overcome any burdens that do come our way.  

We end this year grateful. Humbled. Full of love. Working hard. Taking time to reflect. And wishing all our loved ones all good things. 

No dreaming necessary.....

Snow, snow, snow, snoooowwwwww.  It will indeed be a White Christmas whether you dreamed of one or not! MinneSNOWta has been socked with a storm or two and the result is much more than a blanket of white.

The recent blizzard brought about 20 inches of snow, snarled traffic for days, had the Twin Cities call for an unheard of "Two Days" of Snow Days and really created a general mess (metrodome collapse, anyone?).  However, it sure was/is beautiful.  We all got a little stir crazy when it was going on. The temps were far too low and dangerous at first to get out and "play" in the snow. But it was a fun, and unique experience. Minnesota is definitely used to a lot of snow - just not that much at once.   We even had to get out the roof rake (an actual real Minnesota homeowners tool) to clear some snow off the roof in the midst of the blizzard to make sure our roof was not overburdened. Hmmm...maybe they should have thought of that for the Metrodome! :)

Here are some fun pics. They should make you want to jump on a plane right away for a visit, I would think...........

Nick Raking the Roof

 Liam standing between some snow piles. Showing that nothing will stop Mom and Liam from getting to their weekly hot cocoa date.

Princess gearing up.

 Look who lost a tooth!!!!

Our front light and trees. Just *slightly* buried (As in about 2/3)

My minivan. She's chilly.

Kids in the snow in front of our swingset. Which is pretty much completely buried.

Aw shucks....

So someone I know is pretty proud of this accomplishment and would like me to share it (As he has shared it with many). :)  I am very humbled and honored to have been named one of the Ten Outstanding Young Minnesotans of 2010.  It is huge honor, shared with some pretty incredible folks.  I had the pleasure of accepting my award at a lovely banquet, with Nick, my parents, and Patrick and Jillian there to give their love and support. And I am so glad that they were there because my accomplishments are in NO WAY mine alone - which is why I feel weird accepting an award for just me. Every step I take is with the support and love of others guiding me, inspiring me, or helping me. I am so pleased, though, that all the work of so many people that I have the privilege to know is recognized as helpful and successful. So proud to be a part of Ever After Gowns (

A Few of My Favorite Things.....

These are a few of my favorite things.... (sing with me!)

The Cat and the Cowboy

Halloween. The kids were excited about it for weeks and weeks. I seriously think they started talking about it in August. They chose their own costumes this year - Kate wanted to be a cat (Again) and Liam chose a "Sherrif/Cowboy". Sorry about picture quality - - mobile phone photos.

Four is Fantastic

Liam's last year of preschool.  Holy moly. This little man is a ball of energy. Bright, funny, warm, and kind.  He looooves to help out. Laundry? Sure thing! Dishes?  No problem, he is on it.  Vacuuming? It is his favorite thing ever. Picking up his OWN toys?  He seems to have a developed an allergy to that :)

Speaking of allergies. After a gazillion ear infections, it turns out that our boy has a SLEW of allergies. Basically, pick a tree or a kind of grass, and Liam is allergic to it. Tough for a guy who would live outdoors if he could.  But he has some great meds now AND he got tubes in his ears so he is MUCH happier. So is Mom.  I think I did not sleep a night through from June - October this year he was sick so much!

All is well now!  Mr. Tough Stuff is the cutest guy in town.

"Fall" for Minnesota

We have truly found home here in Minnesota.  It is such a stunningly beautiful place and a big part of that is the changing of the seasons.  Whether it is the vast North Shore in the soft spring, the lake in the stunning summer, the fields and orchards of the fall, or the muffled silence of a snowfall at night....Minnesota has won us over.

This fall we returned to one of our favorite spots in all of Minnesota - our favorite apple orchard. How could you not love the combination of apple orchards, corn fields (And mazes!), gentle hills, lake views, and bright blue skies?!  Follow it up with a fresh, hot apple donut and some cider and you have a perfect day!

We spent hours (LITERALLY) in the corn maze so we could get all the clues to solve the puzzle and win one fresh crisp apple each. We went for a tractor ride. We picked our way through a pumpkin patch to find the perfect pumpkins.  We got apples.  A pretty great day.

Lucky Number Seven

How is it that Kate is seven? How these years FLY BY.

I could write a whole book just about our sweet Kate. There is so much wonderful in her that the words have not yet been invented to describe "her wonderful".  She is the absolute treasure of our life. Beyond any joy I could have ever fathomed. We are indescribably proud to be her parents.

Her birthday was so fun. She got an American Girl doll and, as you can see, her reaction was appropriately fantastic. Of course, Kate is so enthusiastic and sweet that you could give her a box of crayons and she would be equally - and genuinely - thrilled. Her party with her friends this year was a "Flower Fairy Birthday Party" complete with wings and magic fairy wands. But her "family day" was low key and sweet - just like Kate.

Sisters. Sisters....

As you may know if you know me or follow this blog regularly, each year I am so very lucky to travel with my six dear friends from college. We all pledged Kappa Alpha Theta together in the year ____ (intentionally left blank to protect the future-botoxed :) and have been friends ever since. There are not words to express my adoration for these women, their strengths, their smarts, their humor, their love, and their support.  They are my sisters! We always have the best time when we are together and I come home with my soul recharged and my sides sore from laughing so much.  They are the reason I give back to Theta now - - - if I can help a young woman form these kinds of bonds in their life, then I feel I have helped them receive a priceless gift.

Lucky, lucky me.


Sometimes wonderful moments are captured. Sometimes you don't always know you are in a special moment when you are right in the middle of one. With this one, I knew. I knew and my heart was singing. And someone caught it on camera. And for that I am so grateful. Liam was telling me something very special. And Kate and Nick were dancing. And I so adore my sweet family. Grateful.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Such a boy

Scene: Wedding Reception
Characters: Liam (ring bearer) and Stephen (Friend of Liam's parents)

As Liam's parents are busy at the head table, Stephen agrees to take Liam for a restroom break. As they enter the bathroom, they notice that there are TVs in bathroom! (This is a very "Arty" and "Conceptual" venue). Playing on the TV in the men's room?  Scenes from "Casablanca".

Liam exclaims: "Hey there are TVs in here!!!!!"

Stephen explains: "Yes!  That is Humphrey Bogart. He was a pretty cool dude, Liam."

Liam, unimpressed, shrugs and states: "It'd be better if they had the game on."

Wedding Wonderful-ness

Patrick and Jillian are MARRIED!

This past weekend we celebrated a most wonderful occassion. The marriage of my brother and my dear friend - and now sister - Jillian.  How awesome to have your relatives both be not only your relatives, but your dear friends!  Nick looks at Patrick as a brother, truly. And the feeling is mutual. Nick was Patrick's Best Man. I was honored to be a bridesmaid. K & L were flower girl and ringbearer.  The only things missing that day were Erin and her clan, but as Erin is less than three weeks from her due date, she could not fly lest the baby decide to make a not-too-early appearance.  However, we did set up an online video conference and Erin and her family were visible on the computer screen to us as they all watched the wedding live, and in entirety, through the miracle of modern technology.  Thank you, Steve Jobs! :)

It was a beautiful BEAUTIFUL fall day where the weather cooperated completely.  Guests were ferried to the wedding site (my parent's lakeshore) via boat and Patrick and Jillian exchanged vows in a gorgeous, peaceful setting.  After the ceremony, we were all boated back to the cars where we then headed downtown to a very chic and urban location for a wonderful reception. Nick gave an amazing speech that brought tears and laughter to all and the kids boogied as if their lives depended on it. It was an AMAZING AMAZING day. The best part of weddings, other than the visible commitment that two people are making to one another, is all the love in the room from the friends and family that are there to support them at the start of their journey. It is so touching. How lucky we are to be surrounded by so much love.

Here are some pics of the big day!

 The Bride and Groom with K & L

 Lovely Bride

 Pics with the Minneapolis Skyline

 Bridesmaid sister and Groom brother

 First Dance

 First Dance

 Dancing machine. Stole all the hearts.

 Joyful Flower Girl

 Doing a Super Job!

 So happy.

 Cheeeeese. I was seriously kidding around in this pic like a senior high photo. The flowers worked I guess :)

 The men.

Man, wife, and crew - off to the reception!

Chicago, Chicago - My Kind of Town!

Just before the start of school the Harris crew piled in the car and took a road trip down to Chicago. It was a fantastic "last hurrah" before the start of school. We celebrated the end of the summer by visiting my godparents, spending time with my 90 year-old grandma who had just had a hip-replacement, and seeing all kinds of friends and family who either lived in town or were in town for my cousin's wedding. The kids had an absolute BLAST. We stayed downtown for a couple nights where we showed the kids Millennium Park, went dancing in Grant Park, spent hours in the Art Museum and more. It was, in a word, WONDERFUL. Here are some pics:

 Nick in Millennium Park at Night

 Maggie reflected in "The Bean" in Millennium Park

 The kids happily playing inside "The Bean" in Millennium Park

 The Harris Crew and Nia and Gramps smiling in "reflection" :)

 Kiddos exploring Millennium Park

 Liam LOVING the fountain in Millennium Park - he got positively drenched.

 Evening stroll down Michigan Avenue

 Daddy and Daughter dancing in Grant Park

 We did the family audio tour at the Art Institute. It was AWESOME and the kids really got into it. You can see the headphones on them. They were attached to this iPod-like device where you punched in a code for each painting and it told you all about it. The family audio version had all kinds of music and neat sound effects and spoke to the kids' level. SO GREAT.

 The Chicago Art Institute has free painting and family activities so of course we took advantage! So fun!

The whole family getting artistic...