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Journey Southward

After a couple days bumbling around in a fog courtesy of jet lag and a long travel schedule, we’re all starting to feel a bit normal. We started our day with a killer hotel breakfast at the Radisson Blu in Trondheim. More options than one could possibly imagine at a free breakfast buffet and all of high quality. I quite enjoyed the crepes and the petit pain au chocolat. While my boys enjoyed the eggs, fresh fruit and croissants. Post breakfast we hit the grocery store and made a quick Starbucks run where we met a nice barista from Brazil, who ended up in Trondheim after meeting a boy in California.

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The weather was cooler this morning, but drier so it felt warmer out than the thermometer suggested. We headed south through some light rain for a bit before we hit some sunny weather. We took a different route back to Oslo that had incredible vistas of mountains, rivers, waterfalls, and valleys. The beauty of the drive is impossible to describe adequately with words, so I’ll add some photos.

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The downfall of driving so far is that the kids get stir crazy and start to fight over things like who has more leg room proportionately and who should have more leg room based on their size. Needless to say the Mayor and Goalielocks were without their phones for much of the drive.

 

We stopped in Lillehammer to have a picnic lunch at Olympic Park, which looks almost abandoned although we did see a team come in for training. It was a nice break in the drive and the boys enjoyed the opportunity to see the ski jumps and the torch. We hit the road again for the final leg of our journey to Oslo, which included our first experience with an undersea tunnel and AirBNB. It took us awhile to find the key pick up place and navigate the city, but we made it and our apartment is fantastic. We’re looking forward to our stay in Oslo.

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True Grit and Determination Wins the Day

After a transatlantic flight with little to no sleep for everyone, we hopped on a train, the T to get our rental.   For the next eight hours we hit the road from Oslo to Norway.  I’m not convinced that Waze sent us the best route, but hey nothing wrong with a little adventure.  Who doesn’t like driving on two lane mountain roads on no sleep and with three boys fighting in the backseat over the lack of legroom.

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Adventures and travels don’t always come easy,  they call from tenacity and grit sometimes, but that is also what makes them worthwhile.  There was a payoff was the view for the two-lanes drive.  The scenery has been absolutely breathtaking and we’re no worse for the wear.   Time to get some grub before calling it an early night.  Sending much love from Trondheim.

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Savage Beast

We took a trip to the Glades this evening so I could test out my camera before our big trip.  If you’ve never been to the Everglades before, it is hard to imagine what it looks like.  It doesn’t look like a swamp.  It’s a peaceful, beautiful, slow moving river teaming with wildlife.

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The most savage beast of the glades is the American Alligator.  Fishing here comes with the added challenge of having to reel in the fish before the gators can steal it.  The big gators will often sit below the fishing dock waiting for someone to reel one in and then they’ll pounce.  Tonight we saw several large alligators in the water, which was great.   Additionally, we also saw several baby gators hanging close to shore in the weeds hiding from the larger gators and other predators.

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The Mayor had a lot of luck fishing for blue gill and tilapia with worms.  Goalielocks was fishing for bass, but the bass were not biting.  He had a near miss with a gator and gar.  Gars are a pain in the butt to catch as they’ve got very sharp teeth (and a lot of them) and they’re hard to get off the line.   The gnats were out in full force, so we only stayed out for about an hour and I got plenty of practice with the new camera.

Mad Dash

Life during the school year, known as hockey season in our house, is a barrage of mad dash days strung together by weekends on the road and tournament weekends out of state.  It is a ridiculously busy time from the time we leave the house in the morning until we finally get home 14 hours later.  Our careers, the kids’ schooling and their activities leave us dashing from place to place nine months out of the year.

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For the last eight years, the boys have spent the summers in Minnesota with their grandparents giving mom and dad a much needed respite from the madness.  This summer, however, is different.  There is no respite.  Since we’re taking a big family trip, they’re staying in FL for the summer, so again no rest for the weary.     Okay, I can’t complain to voraciously as we’re taking a once in a life time trip to retrace our roots.  It is a trip that I cannot wait to share with my kids, my husband, my parents and the rest of our family.

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It is an odd dynamic getting used to the craziness in the summer.  While my summer days and nights were once quite quiet, they are now loud and filled with silliness. I know get emergency calls at work from the boys for such emergencies as:

  • Can we bathe the guinea pig?
  • Why isn’t the Wi-Fi working?
  • Are you bringing home McDonalds for lunch?
  • Are you on your way home yet?
  • Where’s the Roku remote?
  • Why do I have to read?
  • Why can’t The Mayor do the dishes?
  • Why can’t Goalielocks vacuum the floor?

Don’t get me wrong, I’m happy to have them home. It’s just that it has thrown me off my summer routine, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing.  Plus when they are gone for months every summer, I miss them terribly.   They’ll be back in Minny next summer to spend time with the family and enjoy sometime away from mom and dad and I’ll enjoy my brief respite from life’s mad dash.

P.S.  Tonight’s mad dash comprised of a quick run upstairs to watch the SpaceX rocket launch that was scrubbed for the second night in a row.

Joys of Childhood

I spent my childhood outside playing in the woods, riding my bike with the neighbor kids, playing sports year round in the neighborhood and spending quality time with my family.  My childhood was fantastic and full of fond memories.  These memories are more meaningful now that I have children of my own.  I remember waking up early Christmas mornings with my brothers eagerly awaiting the opportunity to open our presents.  I loved Christmas as a kid, but as a parent Christmas is a million times better.

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The beauty of being a parent is the innocence we love when transitioning from child to adult is rediscovered through our children. The excitement of Christmas morning is now heard in their scampering about the house waiting for us to wake up.  A sense of wonderment and discovery is shared when our child sees or experiences something for the first time.  I’ll never forget their first trip to the zoo when they first saw a lion, tiger, giraffe and gorillas for the first time.  The sense of wonderment and excitement as they moved from animal to animal was palpable.

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Somewhere along our journey, we lose the wonderment and joy of childhood as we get lost in the minutia of everyday life.  We stop rolling down the hills and being silly instead opting to take ourselves too seriously.  We stop being curious.  There is a lot we can learn from our children as we guide them through life. We can learn to enjoy the small things in life, to not take ourselves too seriously and to approach life with a sense of wonderment and curiosity.

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My boys love exploring the outdoor and enjoy a healthy sense of adventure.  They’re minds are going a million times a minute.  When they see something they love, you can guarantee that they’ve already started scheming about how they’re going to get a boat, a chicken, a goat, a plane, etc.  Their mind and their dreams have no bounds.  Their joie de vivre is contagious and drives me a better mom, a better wife and a better person.  Inspiration doesn’t always come from big things or famous people sometimes it comes from our minis.

Sitting Shotgun

When we go somewhere as a family, my hubby drives the car and the kids and I get to relax.  I really don’t like driving, especially in S. Florida, so being a passenger is usually always okay with me.  Until it wasn’t….  My oldest got his learner’s permit at 15, which was mind boggling.  In a previous life, I worked auto claims, which makes me a nervous rider.  Couple that with my child driving me around and it was a recipe for an ulcer.

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We agreed early on that hubby would teach the boys to drive and I would watch from afar.  Frankly, I don’t have the nerves or the stomach for it and they need a calm teacher.  A nervous teacher would do nothing, but make them anxious.  I decided one night to let him try driving my car.  It was a short distance, less than .5 mile, from just inside our gate to our house, so I thought I could handle it.  I was wrong.

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Jake did great, but I was a wreck.  When we got to the road where he needed to make a right turn, I instructed him to slow down causing him to get a bit frazzled.  Consequently, he hit the gas instead of the brake causing a panic.  He asked frantically what he should do and my eloquent response was “hit the other pedal!”  He hit the brake and made the turn safely and the subsequent turns safely getting us home in one piece albeit with frayed nerves.

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Flash forward to March of 2016, Jake had his license for over 6 months and hubby was out of town with Goalielocks for hockey.  I was sick and had been horribly sick for several days.  I couldn’t keep any fluid or food down and knew that the only way to stop it would be to get some IV fluids.  The only way for me to get to the ER was Jake.  Jake drove me to the ER and he did a great job.

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After several hours of IV fluids, they released me from the ER and Jake picked me up.  He drove us to Target to fill my prescription and pick up Gingerale and saltine crackers.  This time I was feeling better, but I was still comfortable with his driving.  The Mayor meanwhile felt compelled to criticize every move Jacob made on the road, he was relentless.  Now almost two years after he got his license, I’m perfectly comfortable being a passenger in his car.

Now when he drives, it’s all about the music.

Celebrating 18 Years of Jake

Today my oldest turned 18!!!  As I sit here and try to figure out where time has gone, I can’t help but think of how proud I am of the man he has become.   I am also amazed that well he is now 18 years old, I don’t look a day older than the day I delivered him.  Amazing, I know!

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The fact that he’s now an adult has thrown me for quite a loop.  Although the benefits are many, I no longer have to pay the unaccompanied minor fee when the boys travel to Minnesota without us.  There’s $150 saved!  He can finally buy a lottery ticket, however, he informed me today he felt his money would be better spent on stocks.  I’ll be referring him to Garth’s new book for some great pointers as he starts his investment journey.

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This evening he brought Alexis to figure skating and she had some great gems for him including this nugget of gold.  He needs to get a better job, so he can drive her in the limo she deserves.  She definitely takes after her dad John.  She also shared her plan to go to college and then get a good job, so she can buy a limo to be driven around in.  I have to say I love her style!

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Jake and his brothers enjoyed a nice dinner Sushi Yama and some Arrested Development.  We had an awesome cake from Menchies with a hodgepodge of number candles after the Mayor failed to deliver his ear wax candle he had promised Jacob earlier.  I’m sure Jacob more than a bit relieved that the Mayor failed to deliver the candle he promised would smell both like a fart and his ear.

 

In a little over two weeks, Jacob and I will head down to Miami to see Paul McCartney.  I’m thrilled that my son’s dream gift was tickets to see one of my idols.  As a Beatles fan since childhood, this concert is a dream for both Jake and I.     Happy birthday Jake!!!!

 

To Be Or Not To Be

When the question is whether or not to be a helicopter parent, the answer is always not to be.  Helicopter parents aren’t something I remember from my youth.  I cannot recall a time where numerous parent volunteers populated the halls and the classroom my elementary school, but it is the case at my children’s school.

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While there’s nothing wrong with volunteering in our kids classroom, it isn’t healthy when you’re child goes off to kindergarten and you go too.  I remember when Goalielocks was in kindergarten he had a classmate whose mom was literally in class as a volunteer every single day.  While it was awesome that she was able to help the teacher every day, it wasn’t healthy for her child to have her in class every day.

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While my brothers and I were in middle school and high school, my parents were always there to support us, but they allowed us to make decisions and make mistakes.   My parents were never involved in any of our relationships and certainly never orchestrated any of them.  Present day, we parents like to meddle in our kids relationships, in our kids’ grades and all aspects of their lives.

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The problem is if we handle every issue, every bump in the road our kids face, they will never learn to overcome obstacles on their own.  This leaves them ill prepared for the obstacles they’ll face in their adult lives.  As hard as it is to watch the stumble, we have to let them stumble and make mistakes.  It is through these mistakes that they’ll learn critical thinking skills, that failure is okay and that we all make mistakes.  Life lessons they’ll take forward into their adult life that are invaluable.   The alternative of course is that we smother them as a helicopter parent and they turnout like Buster from Arrested Development.

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Happy Father’s Day!!!

“One father is more than a one hundred schoolmasters.”  This quote from George Herbert, 17th century English poet and orator perfectly sums up the role and the importance of fathers in our children’s lives.  In modern society, we place (with good reason) a lot of emphasis on the importance of motherhood while not always paying much attention to the role a strong father plays.

 

My brothers and I were fortunate to have grown up with a father who was always here for us and instrumental in our lives.  He shared with us his love of music, military history, aviation and Dr. Who.   Give my parents a call today and you may hear his music blaring in the background.

When my mom was working second shift, I learned to cook by helping him make dinner on those days.  I cherish those memories.  My dad has always treated my mom as an equal and has always supported her, her goals and her career.  My dad’s love for my mom and for us kids was always on display.  To this day, my dad still carries the pink comb I gave him when I was in preschool.

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Now that we are older and have kids of our own, our kids get to call him Grandpa.  My oldest brother and I both have kids, who absolutely adore him.  What’s even better is that my kids have a father, who is exceptional.  My hubby is an amazing dad, who is devoted to me and our kids.  He’s volunteered as a coach on their hockey teams since they started in 2010.  Some seasons he’s been on the roster of all three of their travel teams, which is a huge investment of time.

 

He’s taken the time to show them how to fish, how to build and how to be men.  When I work late, he cooks amazing dinners, helps with the homework and takes them to hockey practice.  Our life runs at a crazy pace and without a true partnership, we’d never be able to manage our life successfully. My boys are blessed to call him dad and blessed to have three grandpas, who love them unconditionally.  They are lucky to have so many positive male role models in their lives.

Time to pop a bottle and celebrate all of the dads in our lives.  To all the fathers out gthere, who day in and day out work tirelessly to support their family, happy father’s day!

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