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June: A Month of Transition

June has taught me a simple truth about life, in that change happens slowly and then, all at once.

Before the boxes were unpacked after our move, Nick boarded a flight bound for Atlanta and the next stage of his career. He was set to officially become an mainline pilot.

And you know what? This has been his childhood dream. It has been mine for him since we were 18 years old, still children ourselves. Each decision we made supported the accomplishment of this dream, and to find ourselves at this point ... it's just awesome.

People get married for reasons that stretch beyond love. We all seek for someone to be a witness to our lives, a partner.

We have the added cheer squad of a pair of children, who got to check out the simulators on Dad's last day as a SIM instructor ...

... and swapping seats, of course, so both could experience the Captain's perspective. 

To celebrate new pilot hires, the airline hosts a 'welcome dinner' with the spouses at Delta's museum and headquarters. The airline positive-spaced me (aka, I had a confirmed seat listed on my ticket) to Atlanta, where I met Nick.

I will fully admit, sitting at the gate ... watching the safety briefing ... I felt myself getting a little teary-eyed. Aviation is a difficult career field to not only get into, but to live in. As much as I trust Nick's skill and training, I respect the fact that airplanes are still mechanical. I respect that things may not go as planned. But I also respect and am grateful for the lifestyle and rewards aviation has granted my husband, myself and my children. 

There were good times, and there were hard times - but there were never any bad times. I remember screaming and celebrating with the kids in the aisles of Target when Nick announced he was hired. And now, we're here - at the start of a 30-year career with a major airline, and the achievement of a childhood dream.

So many of our college friends (also pilots) have been hired with the major airlines in the past year, so the celebrations have been shared tenfold. It's been so fun to not only witness the accomplishments of those we essentially grew up with, but especially the man with whom I share this life.

Airport Malbec to kick off the festivities ...

If I was proud then, I'm not sure how to catalog what I currently feel. Sixteen years have passed since those early moments, and now, I'm taking his arm as Delta's newest hire to celebrate the journey that brought us here. I'm most proud of the example he has set for our children - to pursue the dream, not the money. To never give up in the face of challenges, and no matter what, keep moving forward. The money will always come, but it's the dream that brings purpose, fulfillment and happiness.

I've got nothing to do today but smile.

Paradise In The Pines: The Plan (for now)

Nick issued a 2-year moratorium on all major house projects, and truthfully I welcome the reprieve.

Related Post - House-Hunting, Part 2: Paradise in the Pines

For the short term, I will be leaving everything you saw in these photographs as-is. I'm glad I documented the state of our "before," our beginning, or whatever poignant word we assign to our starts.

That’s right. No painting, no refinishing, nothing will be ripped out, torn down or remodeled. This isn’t a decision due to finances, but rather, certainty. Before I start making major changes, I want to be absolutely certain it will work for this house and for our tastes. I do not want to go on such a spree, only to hate the changes we made and the work we did in a year or two.

This home is our long-term, if not our forever home. I can take a moment to really consider what the next step will be, then make a decision in confidence. 

For now though, it’s to just be still.

Sure I have ideas, and I have admitted how inspired I am by the home’s potential.

But we just met. 

We need to get better acquainted first.

I need to spend a few more mornings here with a hot cup of coffee (or evenings with a glass of wine, let’s be honest). 

I need to host a few out-of-town guests in this room.

We need to have a few parties, and celebrate a holiday or two. Hell, I have yet to even cook a true meal in that kitchen (take-out for the win). 

Until I get a feel for everything this place has to offer, which features are just waiting to be highlighted, and where I need to focus my attention to remedy something, our “beginning” will also be our “currently.”

We will continue this story, of course, but we will save the narration for another time.


2017 Farmington Dew Days Grand Parade

Landen's lacrosse team marches in the Farmington Dew Days Grand Parade.
Held at the Dakota County Fairgrounds, Dew Days celebrates summer with a few fun-filled days of such attractions like carnival rides, fair food, a beer tent, motocross races and even outdoor movie showings. Fair queens are crowned, and the small suburb seems to fully enjoy themselves.
Our major draw, of course, is the parade.
This year, we had prime real estate near the start of the parade route and Madelyn came prepared with a bag for candy collection.

And boy did she score.
Since many of the parade participants are the city's youth sports leagues, the young parade walkers don't manage their supply well. Though the parade route isn't that long, much of the candy runs out towards the end.
Madelyn managed to collect so much candy and parade swag that the bag ripped, and the largest bowl I own overflows with her bounty. Nick managed to score a drink koozy in the shape of a cowboy boot, officially the coolest in his collection.
Since Landen (#27) walked, he appreciated Madelyn's diligence in her supporting role as Candy Collector. I've let him pack a couple of pieces into his lunch box before he spends the day at summer camp.

Here's what I found smart about this event - the start time is in the early evening hours.

In Minnesota, summer time means the skies are still light come 9:30 p.m. With a 5 p.m. start, the sting of the sun has diminished, granting parade watchers a more comfortable experience. It was also a little overcast this particular evening, so the parade was quite enjoyable.

The 2017 Farmington Dew Days Grand Parade was held a few days after our move, and I have to admit - I feel like we've crossed into enemy lines. Farmington is such a charming city, and one of the smaller suburbs of the metro, which makes it incredibly community-oriented and close-knit. Though a few of the local businesses and leaders have places in the parade, it's cool to celebrate the young athletes and children too.

Day 1 at Paradise In The Pines

These photographs were taken on my iPhone in the moments before we began to move in our belongings - the calm before the storm, if you will.
I still cannot believe this place is now ours.
We saw a turtle on the property - the first of many animal sightings. We also saw a doe and her fawn leaping through the field across the street.
My view from the front porch is stunning.

Welcome! The single-story Ranch Walk-out was built in 1994, and has really good bones.

Enter through the front door, and you'll find yourself in our open foyer. There is a formal living room, and I have the idea to turn it into a library. Also visible is the entry closet and staircase leading down to the Walk-out.

The 2-sided fireplace divides the space, and you step down into the family room. It has a much more casual feel, and we've already spent quite a bit of time here. I like the height of the vaulted ceilings.

The ground level has an open concept, which I appreciate. The kitchen, dining and family room create the long great room.

There is a dedicated pantry, desk space and a counter peninsula. We tucked the kids' stools under, and their art kits are in the lone cabinet nearby. The counter space and storage is unreal. To the right of the peninsula is access to our deck, which we've already dined on twice.

Just off the formal living room (future library) is the hall way that leads to 2 bedrooms and a guest bath. There is a closet and a built-in linen cabinet.

The guest bath is pretty standard, but incredibly functional. Behind the door is a built-in linen cabinet.

The guest bedroom is a decent size, with a large window that looks out to the front yard. There is a storage bench below the window and a standard-sized closet. We purchased a queen bed, but I plan to utilize things we already own to furnish the room.

And here is the Master suite. There is enough space in here for our king-sized bed, our 3 dressers and plenty of room leftover to create a sitting area.

Large walk-in closet

Master en suite bathroom with dual sinks, a shower and Jacuzzi tub, and another built-in linen cabinet.

I love the view.

Let's return to the "library" and venture downstairs to what we refer to as "the kids' lair." This is where their bedrooms are.

The staircase feeds into a large rec room space that is plumbed for a bar. The doors open onto a small patio.

The kids share this full bathroom.

To the left of the bathroom is Madelyn's room. It's much larger than her previous room at the tri-level, with built-in shelving and a small cabinet to store treasures. The closet has custom shelving.

Next to Madelyn's room is Landen's. These bedrooms are almost the same size and have similar features.

Also off the downstairs rec room is the laundry room and so much storage! I've since added my bins of seasonal d├ęcor to the shelving. There's an open cubby under the stair case, and I intend to keep our Christmas trees there.

Just off the patio access is a work space with so much potential. The air compressor connects up to the garage and our utilities are housed here. Our exercise equipment are currently in here, too. I envision hanging drywall to finish the room, and adding perhaps a work bench or two.

There is an attached 3-car garage, and by now, you can sense a common theme here (storage!) We've nearly doubled the size of our last house.

The 3rd stall is plenty deep, perfect for Nick's planned future truck purchase.

Here's what the back of the house looks like ...

Follow the driveway off the 3rd stall, and you'll discover the property's hidden gem.

The tree-filled backyard just off the deck & patio offers plenty of space for the kids to run around.

On the other side of the path is a small garden shed and fire pit.

But keep pressing forward, and the rest of our 10 acres opens up. There are trails that stretch throughout, perfect for hikes and exploring. I've mentioned a few times that we may need to consider a golf cart purchase or something.
And finally, the shop. Nick is excited about this!

That wraps our tour - I'm glad I was able to capture the empty rooms of our new house, before the movers placed our furniture and especially before we began to customize it to make it ours.

Lacrosse - History, and Our Perspective

It began in the Spring of 2012.

We had just purchased a home in the south metro of the Twin Cities, and were driving around our new neighborhood. We drove past the kids’ school and found a couple of city parks within walking distance.

Then, we passed a sign announcing the registration window was open for youth lacrosse.

At the time, Nick and I possessed little knowledge of the sport. It was simply a scene from the first American Pie movie, and a sport played on the East Coast. But we were in search of a “community,” and an activity to enroll our then-5-year-old son.

“Want to try lacrosse, Landen?” 

“Okay, sure,” he said.

We had no idea what that moment would grow into. Four years later, Landen has progressed in skill and sportsmanship and works hard to continue to improve. He’s traveled to games and tournaments, consistently placing in the top 4 as a team, and befriending many a teammate from the area. It’s been a very worthwhile experience.

Our own knowledge of the sport has progressed as well.

In fact, it is the fastest growing sport in the state of Minnesota, and an exciting one to watch.

Lacrosse has its origins in a tribal game played by the eastern Woodlands Native Americans and some Plains tribes in what is now Canada. The game was then extensively modified by European immigrants to North America to create its current collegiate and professional form. Even still, it was widely believed that the Europeans could not match the skill of the Native Americans.

From our perspective, with Minnesota known as “the state of hockey,” many hockey players play lacrosse in the off-season due to its similarity to the sport.

We’ve located black-and-white photographs of lacrosse teams from the mid-1800s, and the differences in the shape of the equipment is quite astounding. Back then, the sticks were enormous, almost resembling snow shoes. Today, the stick heads are shaped to allow for better handling of the ball. Plus, the early teams didn’t wear any protective gear. Lacrosse is a very physical contact sport, played with heavy balls and I am grateful the boys dress in full pads and protective helmets to play.

Even with such a storied history, it wasn’t until the summer of 2001 that a professional field lacrosse league known as Major League Lacrosse (MLL) was inaugurated.

By age 9, Landen has played both Field and Box lacrosse. He played Box on full-size hockey rinks laden with turf, with much smaller nets than he was accustomed to. Then, in the summer months, he’s transitioned to Field lacrosse.

Overall, the most important lesson we learned from the sport – beyond skills, fundamentals and sportsmanship – is to try new things. If not for a simple question-and-answer than day back in 2012, our lives would appear very different than what they do today.

Weekend Fun: Childhood in Action

I capture some of the best images of my kids while they're playing.

Children are not meant to be still. And mine especially, are wild. They must see, explore, uncover and touch. Fill a laundry basket with water balloons, and they'll cool off the old-fashioned way.

This past weekend was no exception. In between rain showers, we went outside. With a random assortment of things (mainly a volleyball and bubbles), imaginations took flight and I had my camera ready.

The volleyball served as a decent stand-in for a soccer ball.

But then came the bubbles.

We could take a cue from children, and start finding joy in the simple things in life.