Disney Cruise [part 3]

Day 3 was going to be a super exciting day with our first port in Grand Cayman.  However it turned out we had hit a cold front, which we knew from the rough seas through the night, and we would be porting on the opposite side of the island than we were supposed to port.  We also had a snorkel excursion scheduled but due to the weather that was cancelled as well.  Disney made arrangements for transportation to the main part of the island once we got on shore from the ferry.  We rode a bus to the main shopping area of the island and did a little exploring.  We hit several shops and hit Margaritaville for a VERY expensive lunch that wasn’t even very good.  It was exciting to be in our very first foreign country and look around and show our kids a different culture…even though it is a very big tourist area so doesn’t seem ‘foreign’.

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Life Changes – Vasectomy Reversal

A year ago today my husband had a procedure that has changed our life. We made a trip to St. Louis to have a vasectomy reversal done with Dr. Sommers who specializes in reversals and has had it done himself.

We started talking about it a couple months before that. It had been 2 years since we made the decision to have the vasectomy. It was a decision we made together but I don’t know if my heart was ever fully in it. I think I was trying to convince myself that I was okay with the two healthy boys I had and I was happy but I never lost that feeling of wanting another. I loved being pregnant and even with all we went through with our heart baby I was still willing to take the chance to have another.

I unfortunately had never let my true feelings be known to my husband. He had no idea I felt that way but watching him with my nephew I knew he enjoyed kids as much as I did. The conversation started with a simple comment made by me that I would have another but we couldn’t. He approached me about the comment and it went from there.

At first I got really discouraged because as I called around to clinics in Minnesota I found that most if them charged extreme amounts (like $10,000 and up) and do the procedure with anesthesia and an overnight stay in the hospital. So I started doing more research and found a forum that was a godsend! It was just for people like myself who were looking into a reversal and has been a wealth if information and support for me. I found a couple doctors that perform the reversal with a less invasive method and much cheaper. One dr in Oklahoma does it as a mission and only charges $1700. The doctor we chose charged $3000 and was closer to us. He had a great success rate and we loved the experience.

The procedure was quick and Mike had very little pain. His recovery went very smoothly and quick. At that time we didn’t tell anyone (which was difficult with having to make arrangements for two other kids) in case the procedure didn’t work. I didn’t want the constant ‘how’s it going?’ question.

Much to our surprise we got pregnant two weeks after the procedure! It was so much fun to see the looks on the faces of our parents and family when they found out. There was much confusion at first. Unfortunately that pregnancy ended in a miscarriage at 9 weeks which was devastating along with a chemical pregnancy the following month. Then in November we found out we were pregnant again! It is almost scary how fertile we are even after a reversal.

We are currently 37 weeks pregnant with our 3rd child and we couldn’t be more excited. We have two big brothers who will be great helpers and are excited to have this new member join the family. I can’t wait to see where the future takes us and I am so happy we made this decision to change our lives. Our house is so filled with love and we are truly blessed to have what we have.

My advice to those considering a vasectomy is to make sure it’s exactly what you want. Many who have reversals are not as lucky as us and it doesn’t work so it’s not a guarantee.

Disney Cruise [part 2]

Monday began our journey to the port and getting on board the ship!  We weren’t scheduled to arrive til later in the morning so we took our time (the boys played some old school Nintendo) getting ready but finally embarked on the hour drive to the port.  When we arrived we unpacked the car, said our goodbyes, and were off on our adventure.  We got our bags all checked in and were finally called to get on the ship!  When you step on the ship they have a welcome party going on and announce each families name as they enter.  It makes you feel very welcome.  Once you are on the ship you are free to roam around and check everything out except your stateroom.  The rooms are getting cleaned and ready for guests while everyone roams the ship because they have just gotten everyone off from the previous cruise.  It is amazing to me how fast they can turn the ship over after the guests get off.

So while we waited for our room to be ready we checked out a couple floors of the ship and eventually found some food before sitting by the pool for a while.  At about 3 pm they begin the Bon Voyage Party by the pool.  All the guests gather and they hand out streamers and sell drinks (pricey buggers).  We watched a couple other ships embark on their journey as well.  Boy those ships are HUGE!  They feel big when you are ON the ship but watching the others they look even bigger.


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Before we knew it it was time for dinner at one of the three restaurants that the guests are assigned to each day.  The first night we got to eat at Parrot Cay.  We go to meet our fun and entertaining servers Arnel & Gede.  The food was so good!  They had an island themed menu this night.  The menus are all 3 courses and you can select whatever you like.  I chose the Beef Tenderloin and so did Mike.  I had the creme brulee cheesecake for dessert…SO fabulous.  They bring out the food and you feel like you are never going to be full but by the end of the meal you are sure to be stuffed!  The kids had their own menu but could also order from the adult menu if they chose.  I was hoping that the boys would go outside of their box a bit but Avery ate pizza…for EVERY meal on the ship (except breakfast).  Blake did try a couple new things.

The first night of dinner nearly ended badly with a kid throwing up.  I think it was a combo of the ship moving and all the food he ate but Avery nearly got sick.  I was going to be so mortified if he had done it in the restaurant but he held it down!  After dinner it was time to retreat to the cabin and retire for the night.  We had the 8:15 seating every night so by the time we were done with dinner we were all exhausted.  We would watch a couple minutes of TV and then turn in.  Here is our family photo from the first night before dinner…the boys were all SO thrilled that I made them dress up…NOT!


Day two was a day at sea on our way to our first port, Grand Cayman.  We had great hopes of spending days by the pool and getting lots of sun.  That did not happen much on our cruise.  We ran into a cool front at sea and it created rough waters and cool weather.  We did take the kids to the pool after breakfast on the first day but as you can see it wasn’t all that warm.  But that didn’t stop us from partaking in the free ice cream that day!


The cruise constantly has something going on for everyone.  Adult only activities, kids only activities and for families as well.  While we were by the pool there was an ice sculptor creating a masterpiece.  We stopped and watched.  He wouldn’t say what he was making until he was done but it turned out to be an eagle.  Blake LOVES eagles so it was right up his alley.


After the pool we went to play BINGO and try to win some money.  We didn’t win anything but it was fun to go and play.  It was something that we could all enjoy.  After that we dropped the kids off for some time in the Oceaneers Club while mom and dad went to get a couples massage.  Oh it was so relaxing!  Mike had never had one before so he wasn’t sure and I don’t think he enjoyed it much but I sure did.  I wish I could afford one of those once a month!

We had just enough time to get ourselves changed and ready for dinner after our massages.  We had time for a quick photo opp with Goofy before going into the restaurant.  Triton’s was the restaurant for the night.  They had a French cuisine menu.  I tried the sea bass which was so-so.  Don’t recall what I ordered for dessert but Avery’s was fabulous!  He ordered it every night after this.

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It was a fabulous way to end Day 2 of our cruise and we were in great anticipation of our third day as we were to stop at port in the morning!

Disney Cruise [part 1]

After planning and saving for what seemed like forever we embarked on our very first major family vacation! We were all so excited but this momma was a bit stressed with all the preparations! Packing for 3 people is a LOT of work! We managed to pack all 4 of us into 1 large checked bag and 4 carry ons! That in itself is a miracle!!

We picked a 5-day cruise that ported out of Miami so that we could see my BFF Nika too! We got done with our end of the year hockey party for Avery and embarked on our first leg of the trip to Eagan where our awesome friends live and they had agreed to transport us to the airport. When we jumped in the car to go to the airport we first had a minor panic attack when Blake announced that he couldn’t find his iPod! We searched the car over and determined that he must have dropped it at the gas station but we had no time to go back. So we were off!!

When we arrived at the airport we learned that our plane was delayed so we had extra time to kill but once it was time to get on the excitement was about to begin! This was the boys’ first ride on an airplane and they were excited. We each sat with one kid and Avery say by me and was FULL of questions. Everything intrigued him but he was very antsy to get to Florida.



When we finally arrived…after some tears from ears popping…we got to see my BFF and feel the warm, humid air of Miami! We had dinner and got ourselves to bed after a long day!

The next day, Sunday, we headed to Fort Lauderdale beach. It was windy but warm especially for our Minnesota butts! So we spent the day with our pasty white skin trying to soak up as many rays as we could without getting fried! We slathered on the sunscreen and tried to keep the sand out of a our food…especially the pizza Nika and her friend Wayne picked up for us. Best pizza I’ve had in a long time!!  Here’s some of my favorite pictures from the day:


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Brothers of the Sun Tour – Review

I had the pleasure of attending the very first concert at Target Field in downtown Minneapolis this past weekend. It was an amazing show. The show lasted 6.5 hours…that’s the longest show I’ve ever been to. There were 4 artists on the lineup…Jake Owen, Grace Potter, Tim McGraw, and Kenny Chesney.

I’ve seen the two headliners before but not the other two artists. Jake Owen started the show singing such hits as…’Alone with You’ and ‘Barefoot Bluejean Night’ . I enjoyed his portion of the show but felt like maybe he should have been the second act and let Grace Potter open up. She was okay but she is not the style of music that got with the rest of the crew. Her music seemed more like gospel to me but according to what I’ve read online she is a ‘rock’ singer. The bummer of her being there was she didn’t even sing her duet with Kenny…’You & Tequila’. That was a disappointment to me.

After a short break Tim McGraw opened his portion of the show with ‘Felt Good on my Lips’. He graced the stage with a pair of tight white jeans and a fitted white tshirt. He certainly is looking good at 45!! Tim put in his usual crowd-pleasing show with hits like ‘Just to See You Smile’, ‘Live Like You Were Dying’, and ‘I Miss Back When’. He started ‘Better Than I Used to Be’ with some inspiring words about becoming a better person. It made the song more emotional to me…but something about being at a live show always does that to me.

Then it was Kenny’s turn. He too put on a good show but I was slightly disappointed in having seen him this past winter and I felt like the show was much the same as the previous one. He is all energy however from the moment he jumped out of the stage in the middle of the crowd and rode his chair to the main stage. He sang hits like ‘Summertime’, ‘There Goes My Life’ , ‘Come Over’.

Of course at the end of the show Tim and Kenny sang a few songs together. They sang one of their own songs with their buddy and then they sang one that didn’t belong to either of them. This was the most disappointing part of the show to me as I had hoped they would sing more together and at the very least do an encore song but there would be no encore and I felt like I was left hanging. Some lucky fans (who had paid $400+ for tickets) got autographs while the band continued to play. There were lots of fans holding out hope that they would get to hear more but like myself were left hanging.

Overall it is a show I would highly recommend (and I’ve seen A LOT of shows)! It was well worth the money I paid for it for sure! And it was a good thing we had to wait 7 months for the show because drinks were very expensive and I needed that time to save up. Also, great job Target Field in hosting their first show and I think the acoustics were pretty good. I’m sure they learned lots from their first show.





Summer Reading Incentives

We all know how important it is to keep our kids reading over the summer.  In our house we are making them stay up on their reading minutes that we require during the school year and thought I’d add a little incentive to get them reading even more.  So I took the idea that our area libraries use along with a reading incentive program Blake’s 2nd grade class used and spun it to work for us.  I gave the boys each a booklet to track their minutes when they read.  You can find the booklet that I created here:  Summer Reading Minutes.

We then needed to come up with some incentives.  I made a list of a few that I thought would work and then sat down with the boys and they helped me come up with some more.  I assigned every reward with a value of how many minutes they need to achieve it.  Once they redeem their minutes for a prize they are gone with the exception of one item on the list which is worth 5000 minutes..they continue to accrue to earn this prize!

Here is our list of rewards:


–          Trip to Moondogs Game                                                                       5000

–          Alone time with mom or dad                                                               500

–          20 minutes Wii time                                                                              300

–          DQ treat                                                                                                    250

–          Pick supper                                                                                              200

–          Donuts for breakfast                                                                              350

–          Friend over to play                                                                                 1500

–          Picnic with mom or dad                                                                        500

–          No chores for a day                                                                                200

–          Movie night – pick movie from Redbox                                            150

–          Date night                                                                                                1000

–          Ice cream treat at home                                                                        150

–          Stay up 15 minutes late                                                                         450


I hope this helps inspire other parents out there who are in need of a way to keep their kiddos reading this summer.  We have already doled out one prize to each of the boys and I think they are starting to ‘get it’ now!


Izzy is growing up…

I introduced you to Izzy in this post when she had first come home with us.  Since then she has been growing by leaps and bounds!  She currently weighs 26 lbs at 14 weeks.  She has turned into one of the best dogs we’ve had.  She is very smart and Mike has her already fetching up dummies and jumping off the dock to swim.  We took her camping and we were slightly worried that she would bark a lot but she was the calmest puppy I’ve ever seen!  She just layed around and hung out with us.  We even took her to the beach and she didn’t even mind when other dogs were walking past.

She has been moved into her outside kennel for good as of this week.  We are still working through some issues with her not wanting to go potty in her kennel because she is house trained so well.  We haven’t had an accident in the house in several weeks.  We are so happy to have added Izzy to our family!

Summer has arrived!

We have been super busy with summer type things…baseball, camping, swimming.  It has been a fun but usy summer so far!  The boys play bseball two nights a week at mostly the same time.  We have been trading off as to who goes to watch which kid.  Blake’s games go longer so we sometimes can catch a little of it after Avery is done.  The boys LOVE playing and it is so great to watch them improve as a team every week.

Here is a couple shots of Avery ‘sliding’…but it didn’t go so well.

And here’s one of blake playing first base…

This is Blake on our first camping trip of the year.  We have a box of legos that stay in the camper so they are like new toys every summer.

Avery out swimming.

Blake and his friend Tyler playing in the mud while camping.

Blake, Avery & Tyler playing Soccer Guys (a great box of toys from Kaskey Kids)

And THIS (ladies calm down) is my husband!  I believe this picture was just after he tried to flick me off for taking his picture:-)

Meet Izzy

We are in love!  Our new puppy, Izzy, joined our family just a week ago!  She is adorable, loveable, playful and sweet.  She loves to take naps, loves her belly rubbed, plays tug-o-war and so far seems very smart.  We are training her to ring a bell when she needs to go outside.  She started using it less than 24 hours after we brought her home.

We knew she was coming home but we got her sooner than we thought.  We wanted to surprise the kids so we told them we were going to look at a camper,  All the way there we kept waiting for them to say ‘this is the way to where the puppy is’ but it didn’t happen until we drove into the breeder’s driveway.  Blake took one look and knew that we were there to see the puppy.  Little did they know we were bringing her home.

Her name took us a long time to agree on.  Mike was dead set on naming her Nelli (short for Benelli which is the gun he shoots) but I wasn’t sold.  So we kept making lists for each other trying to find a name that all of us could agree on.  Nothing hit either of us as ‘the one’ for quite a while.  One day Mike mentioned Izzy and although it wasn’t a favorite for either of us we did like it.  We went back and forth until the drive over to get her.  I finally decided that if Nelli was what everyone else wanted then it could be Nelli.  However then Avery wasn’t sold on it either.  When we got out of the truck and started playing with her we decided Izzy it would be!

So Izzy it is and Izzy it will be.  We are so excited to have this new addition to our little family.  There is NOTHING cuter than a lab puppy.  Here are some pictures:

How can you not love that face??

The Experience

As you probably read last week in this post we put our beloved Abbi to sleep just a month after saying goodbye to Hunter.  It has been a tough month here in our house but one that we will get through together.

When we realized it was time to put Hunter to sleep I was working and Mike was home.  We waited until the kids were home from school so that they would be able to say goodbye to him.  It was hard to contain my emotion as I watched Mike drive out of the driveway for the final time with Hunter.  It was not easy to know what was going to happen but tried to be strong for my boys who were devastated.  It helped to have a book that my dear friend, Naomi (thank you Naomi!), gave me to read them.  It is called Dog Heaven and is a wonderful explanation of what it will be like when your beloved dog gets to heaven.  It really helped me to explain to the kids that Hunter would be happy and running and jumping again when he got there.  There was a lot of comfort in thinking about things that way.

This time with Abbi we had planned to put her to sleep last Friday but then the news that one of Mike’s good softball friends had lost his battle with ALS came and he did not feel up to laying his dog and good friend to rest on the same day.  Although I didn’t want to wait another week I let it be his decision as he is the only one who knows how much he can handle.

Friday morning came and Mike took Abbi for a walk at their favorite hunting lake because she loved it so much.  When he returned he told me that today was the day.  She now seemed to be in pain and that was not what we wanted for her at all!  We tried to figure out logistics as the only appt available was at 2 pm…the same time as the funeral he needed to be at.  I decided that it was best if one of us took her to spend her final moments although I wasn’t sure how I would make it through so I found a sub to sit with the daycare kids and took her to the appt myself.

Since we had made the decision I had been teary on and off.  When the time finally came I felt strong and ready to face the task head on.  I made it to the vets office without tearing up and even got into the office to check in without a tear.  It was when the vet tech came to the truck to help me get Abbi out that I could no longer hold back the tears.  I opened the tailgate and prompted her to get up and she tried but I think she was too weak to do it with one back leg that was not functional.  The tech told me she could carry me for her and I lost it.  Sad that my poor girl couldn’t get up on her own and was no longer what she once had been and also sad about the fate that she was about to meet.

I walked into the clinic behind the tech carrying my dog in tears and quite possibly sobbing.  I tried to hold it together as others were in the waiting room with their pets but it was impossible.  She took me to a room just down the short hallway where there was a blanket spread out on the floor for Abbi to lay on.  Not that it was all that comfortable for her but a very nice sentiment.  Then the tech told me she needed some paperwork signed and asked for my credit card to pay for the services.  If I had one suggestion I would tell them that they need to take care of that stuff before I bring my dog into the office.  Although I realize they need to be paid for the services it was wrong timing.

Anyway, she explained that the vet would come in and talk with me and give her a sedative.  Then that the shot would be administered.  All the while I am crying and sniffing the snot back into my nose.  Then she pet Abbi, said some kind words and was gone.  Soon after the vet came in, Dr Bethke, and started talking to me.  I hadn’t thought much of the name of the vet and had never met her before in the vet’s office as Mike handles that stuff but I recognized her immediately as a girl who had attended Kindergarten with me.  It is no surprise to me that she is a vet as she grew up on a farm and had lots of animals in 4-H and such.  I found myself wondering if she remembered me although my last name is no longer the same.

Once the vet came in she talked to me and explained the process, in more detail that I needed really.  She pet Abbi and talked to her as if she was her own dog.  I couldn’t help but notice the comment she made to Abbi about how thing she had gotten and wonder if she was judging me for letting her get to this point.  She then gave her the shot and me a box of Kleenex, said she would return in a bit when the medicine had worked its magic.  She returned a few minutes later and noticed that Abbi was not as calm as she had hoped (although I thought she was quite calm).  She gave us another few minutes which appeared to not have done any better.  She said she was going to give her another shot.  As she was petting Abbi, the dog licked her hand.  She asked if Abbi was hungry and left to get some treats.  She gave Abbi some treats which she seemed to enjoy.  After that the vet stayed with us.  She stroked Abbi and talked to her trying to calm her.  Apparently the meds have some kind of effects like a street drug because she made a comment about her having a good ‘dream’ while I watched my dog trip out and lick everything in sight.  Poor dog could not keep her tongue in her mouth and it was not the last memory I cared to have but it did make me chuckle among my tears.

After she was finally calm enough to shave her leg for the IV she gave her the medicine.  I bawled like a baby as I knew what was coming.  I noticed that she stopped breathing almost immediately and nearly lost it but saved that for the moment after the vet listened to her heart with her stethoscope and told me ‘she’s gone’.  I went into full ugly cry mode and couldn’t catch my breath.  I did a couple of those horrible snotty slurps that you get with the ugly cry.  I felt bad for the vet as I’m sure she’s seen it before but much like me had no idea what to say.  She just told me that I could have as long as I liked and if I cared to I could go out the back door so I didn’t have to face the lobby full of people again and then she left.

I gave Abbi one last hug and a good long look at her.  I couldn’t contain myself at all.  I later asked my husband how he made it through that without crying and he said he didn’t cry til he was out of the office.  There was NO way that was happening with me.  I coulndn’t even pull it together enough to walk out.  I cried all the way home and then lost it again when I got in the door.  I am so glad my mother-in-law was there to give me a hug because I sure needed it at that moment.

Although i know we did the absolute right thing by letting her go it is the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do and don’t ever want to experience that again!   I say that with the knowledge that we will have a new puppy in 4 weeks and that the time will come to do this again but I don’t think I’ll be the one taking her in.  I think I’ll take the offer that was made by Mike’s cousin to take her for us.  I think it is better that way for me at least.  I would prefer that my last image of the dog be a happier one.