snapshots & thoughts: golden birthday edition

This edition of snapshots and thoughts is golden because apparently I didn't take many snapshots this week other than of anything golden.

My thoughts & snapshots were centered around my daughter's golden birthday.

Fourteen on October 14th.

For days before the big golden day, I was scheming ways to transform the dining area into gold.

Every year I lament over the Christmas items in stores already by October. Until this year, when I was able to pick up some Christmas gold decorations for 40% off at Hobby Lobby.

It was like a gold mesh explosion. I hung it over the curtains, I laid it on the table for a runner, I draped it over the backs of the chairs and tied it with gold mesh bows held in place with gold pipe cleaners.

Bottles spray painted gold held golden roses. Gold curling ribbon and Christmas garland hung from the light. The banner I made from gold wrapping paper. 

Gold Christmas ornaments in a glass canister made an easy golden decoration. Dollar store gold frames held some designs that I made while watching a movie one evening. The golden angel food cake sat on top of some gold wrapping paper.

You can never have enough gold.

Am I right? Or am I right?

Her request for her birthday breakfast in bed was glazed donuts from Kwik Trip and a blended ice white chocolate campfire mocha from Caribou. (She knows the Caribou menu better than I do.) I told her to smile for the camera, but she said "I don't smile this early in the morning." Me either, actually.

She can smile at night though. Her birthday meal request was Buffalo Wild Wings. She wore that Birthday Buffalo hat like a boss.

Then we went back home for cake and presents.

The next day was the friends party. A sleep over at a local hotel where I get a discount since I work for the owners. Yay for bennies.

I arrived early and decked out the hotel room in gold before the girls got there.

After hot-tubbing, the girls got ready for some football.

I'm seriously considering lining an accent wall in the house with this gold mesh stuff. I'm kinda in love with it.

Linking up with @jeannettg for InstaFriday.


and the winner is

A while back JD and I spent an evening taking photos as part of a friendly competition resulting in a "big prize" for the winner.

Bragging rights, mostly. Which is a big prize as far as I'm concerned.

Initially we were going to judge our own photos, but I decided to get input from others. Because, really, JD would totally cheat if we voted on our own photos.

Or I would.

We're a little competitive 'round here.


Without much further ado, here are the photos and their vote totals:

Facebook likes: 6
Instagram likes: 5

Facebook likes: 8
Instagram likes: 8

Facebook likes: 8
Instagram likes: 12

Facebook likes: 6
Instagram likes: 9

Facebook likes: 12
Instagram likes: 12

Facebook likes: 14
Instagram likes: 14


It looks like photo #6 was the big winner with 28 total votes. Photo #6 was JD's. He stopped along the highway... and told me to take the picture for him. So it was me who actually took the photo. 

Clearly I am the winner.

Truth be told, JD's three photos got more votes than my three photos. Mine were the first three (47 votes), his were the last three (67 votes). I would like to point out that I took two of his photos, #5 and #6. Plus, I cropped and edited them, so. I mean. Really. 

I am the clear winner.

However... photo #4 was taken while JD laid down on the ground to take the picture. That, dear friends, is commitment to getting just the right shot. That is worth about 50 points as far as I'm concerned. Plus the whole photo-taking-competition-date was his idea, which is at least another 50 points.

Which makes JD the winner of our photo competition.

He may have won the photo competition (even though he cheated by making me take his photos), but clearly we're both big winners.


snapshots & thoughts

My kinda Monday Night Football: the Century JV game at dusk.

This last week during the varsity game I was transported back to the late summer of 1989 before my senior year. We'd been living in Germany for three years and came home for a summer's furlough. At the end of the summer we watched a high school football game in Fremont, Ohio where my dad grew up. It was the first time I experienced an American high school football game, and it was a very surreal experience. It was like I was looking at a parallel high school experience I might have had if we lived in the States. Everything about it -- the cheerleaders, the fan(atic)s, the energy of the evening -- was so strange and foreign to me. It was quite American, which made me feel somewhat un-American. At some point during my high school years I told myself that I would never marry an American football player because I could never relate to that football culture.

Last week as I was sitting in the stands, transported to that experience, I looked at my husband coaching on the sideline, and my son, waiting his turn to play, and I was grateful that I married an American football player.

We posed for a family photo after the game. John was pulling on my neck with his hand, so I did what any good mom would do and I strangled him back.

With that philosophy, I really should write a parenting book.

Sarah had parent/teacher conferences this week. On the conference slip her teacher wanted to know if there was anything we wanted to discuss during the conference. I wrote "her awesomeness." And that's pretty much all we discussed, was her awesomeness. Because she's so awesome! Not just academically but socially too. She loves much and is loved much.

106.9 KROC FM is a station that my kids like to listen to. And sometimes I'll listen to it when they're not in the car. I was listening to it one time and heard that they were doing a $100 giveaway called DASH FOR CASH. All you had to do is take a photo of your car stereo tuned to 106.9 and you might get $100. So I posted this pic on Instagram and Twitter with the correct hashtag.

Not too long later I got a notice from Twitter and found the following reply to my tweet:

First of all, you'll notice that my "not too long later" is the whole next day. That's how much I don't tweet and/or don't get tweeted.

Second of all, Troy Dunken is one of the DJs at the radio station. So when he tweeted me, I was all like "I just scored so many points with my kids now that a DJ from their favorite radio station tweeted me." So, thanks Troy Dunken.

JD and I crossed ride a hot air balloon off the bucket list. I posted pictures and details here. It was epic.

The story behind this photo is: we were on a bowling date and throughout the date we texted photos to our daughter. We decided to take a silly selfie and send it to her.

We're so silly.


Linking up with @jeannettg for InstaFriday.


up up & away

It's been on my bucket list before I had even heard of bucket lists. When I was in elementary school in Brookings, South Dakota I watched a hot air balloon being blown up at a fair in the park. You could buy a ride right there on the spot. I imagined myself floating through the sky under that beautiful balloon. Ever after that, each time I saw a balloon I'd say to myself and anyone listening, "someday I want to ride in a hot air balloon."

My someday came last Sunday.

There's a whole team of people for each flight. They help inflate and deflate the balloon, and during flight they follow the balloon to see where it will land because as much as you can guess where the wind will take you, you never quite know. Of course we took a pre-flight photo with our pilot, Mike. Our basket was a racing basket and it was quite small. It just fit the three of us. There wasn't any walking around in that thing.

And we're off!

When our basket went in the water, I let out a laugh that sounded like a scream. That was something I didn't expect on a hot air balloon ride, to get my feet wet to my ankles. Mike called it a "Splash and Dash." As we floated back up into the sky, over the people on the paths around the lake we heard people yelling at us "that was awesome!" It surely was.

When we flew towards the woods Mike descended again so we could pick leaves from the tops of the trees.

We landed in a soybean field on the northeast part of town. The team walked to us through the rows of soybeans and carried the balloon over to the driveway of the excited onlooking neighbors.

And then, the ceremonial glass plastic cup of champagne after the flight. Traditionally they share the champagne with the owners of the property where they land, but it turns out that the Islamic church owns that land and we couldn't find who was renting it for soybeans, so we had the whole bottle to ourselves.

Before we toasted, Mike read us the Balloonist's Prayer:

The Winds have welcomed you with softness.
The Sun has blessed you with his warm hands.
You have flown so high and so well,
That God has joined you in your laughter.
And He has set you gently back again
Into the loving arms of Mother Earth.

Now, when I see a balloon in the sky I'll say to myself and whoever is listening, "I got to fly in one of those!"


Many people have asked how I liked it. I LOVED IT! It was completely worth the substantial cost to have that experience.

People have wondered about the whole scared of heights thing. First of all, I'm not terribly scared of heights, but I have stood at the edge of the five-story building I work in and have gotten down on my hands and knees because I suddenly felt dizzy and didn't want to fall off. That said, I was really surprised that I felt so safe at such a high height with only a basket beneath me. We got up to just over 1,000 feet at our highest and I felt completely safe. (In fact, a was a little disappointed that I didn't feel more of an adrenaline rush.)

How long did it last? We were in the air for exactly 58 minutes. But the whole experience was longer because we watched them inflate and deflate the balloon, then we tried to find the land owner/soybean farmer, then they drove us back to our car.

How do they determine where you fly? It's completely based on the wind direction and speed. The pilot said he puts about 5 hours into every flight studying the weather and determining the best place to take off and try to land while maintaining a flight path over the major attractions. For that reason, we didn't know where we would be taking off from until the day of the flight. The pilot changes directions by going up or down because the wind blows in different directions at different altitudes.

Finally, people have asked how to get a balloon ride. If anyone in the Rochester, MN area is interested in going for a ride, I highly recommend Lesmeister Balloon Company.


snapshots & thoughts

I really didn't want to make that photo extra large, and I'm sorry that I did. Except the whole reason that I posted it on Instagram was to make a point. Which is also why I posted it extra large right here just now. You see...

Sometimes we have to let go of the way we want to be and we have to be okay with the way we are.

I was texting a young momma friend who was a little bit frustrated about wanting to be a certain kind of mommy, but not living up to being that kind of mommy. Sometimes she was a frazzled frustrated mommy. And she thought she shouldn't be. That right there is what I said to her. And that is Truth.

To make my point, I posted a photo of my tired eyes with my reading glasses on top of my nose (which I've been a little self conscious about ever since watching my wedding video). Sometimes I just need to be okay with the way I am.

I bought a treadmill at our neighbor's garage sale. 

I promise to run on it more often than I went to the gym. 

That's not saying much.

I didn't have running shoes so (after running for the first time in my Birks) I got some. 

The other day I drove over to Sarah's friend's house to bring her some stuff for a sleep over. I called her outside, told her that I needed to show her something. Then I showed her the sky. She laughed and said (quoting me), "the sky is so beautiful I just want to reach out and touch it!" Then on the way home I texted her this photo.

I love finding notes like this.

School started again. I can't believe my youngest is in 5th grade! The kids weren't with me on the first day of school, but Sarah wanted her hair straightened, so I went over and helped her straighten her hair. It was strange to not be with them on the first day/week.

It really bothered me me that I haven't had a hat with the colors of my son's high school football team to wear when it gets cold during football season. So I decided to knit one.

When I was finished, I offered to let Kaitlin and John borrow my nice new Century colored hat, but they looked at me like they felt sorry for me... hmm... Not sure if I'll be so "swaggie" anymore once I show up at the football games wearing it.

I accidentally got a makeover:
I'm not sure what to think about it. It sure is colorful.

I went out to lunch with my sweet friend, Andrea. Afterwards she needed to get some Clinique stuff, and I saw that they had some anti-red foundation. When I asked the Clinique Lady about the foundation, Andrea told her to give me a makeover because I had a "hot date" that night with my husband.

Two hours later we were BFFs with the Clinique lady and I had purple eye shadow on my brow. 

[bonus feature:]

I haven't worn any color on my brow since I was 5 and found my mother's Mary Kay lipstick compact. I was so proud of my red "eye shadow" that I walked over to my friends to show her. My friend's mom took one look at me and said, "let's call your mom. I have a feeling she doesn't know about this."

[end bonus feature]

JD took me to a local winery to watch the sunset. We decided to take a selfie. 

"You are TOO FAR CLOSE to the camera," I said.

We laughed about that. "Too far close." What is that even?

There, now you're not too far close.

I love this picture. I didn't mean to take it, sometimes those are the best. We were laughing about me being "too far close" to the camera.

We had a birthday party for the 90+ year olds at work. I got to bring out my nice dishes for them. Little things like that make them so happy. Making them smile makes me happy.

All decked out in our Century colors for the game. And my new hat!

Time flies! This post has been sitting in my dashboard forever. I got so much catching up to do!


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