Wednesday, October 5, 2011


August was a pretty busy month. (Aren't they all?!) So,  I guess I left off with Gemma's baptism.

Twins Game
The following week, as a member of the Bethany Lutheran College Alumni Board, I helped host at a reception prior to the Twins' game in Minneapolis.  This was the first time I had left Gemma for more than a couple of hours. So my trusty pump came with me.  Luckily, our reception was in the downtown Wells Fargo building and I had a nice curtained room for nursing mothers to use. The reception was pretty well attended and I even won a pretty sweet Bethany sweatshirt.

I met up with a few friends at the game and we spent most of the time walking around, checking out the different views. Target Field is quite the site! I don't follow baseball, but I enjoyed my visit anyway.  We ended up losing in the ninth inning, which was a little disappointing. Hey, even if I don't follow baseball, I still like the home team to pull off a win! I had a great time catching up with my college friends, too. It's unbelievable how time flies and lives change!

Two days after the Twins game, my good friend (and Gemma's godmother) Katie, had her second child. Evan is such a cute little baby. He has a dark complexion like his mama, but looks mostly like his dad. He makes the funniest little "horsey" noises in his sleep and is just a sweetie.  I'm really enjoying having some adult company a couple of times during the week now that Katie is on maternity leave. She lives about five blocks away and we sometimes meet up to take our babies and dogs for a walk.  We've also been meeting for coffee about once a week, which is usually much needed! I'll miss our time together when she goes back to work in about three weeks.

Gemma's first road trip/family reunion/ cousin's wedding
The end of August brought Gemma's first road trip.  We headed up to the Superior, Wisconsin area for a family reunion on my mom's side of the family.  We do this every year since my mom has such a large family (She had 14 kids in her family, giving us more than 30 first cousins. Add in cousin spouses and kids and you get total chaos for a weekend!)  We have always stayed here and usually go the weekend prior to the weekend we went this year.  My mom, the main organizer, picked that specific weekend because it fell closest to the date my (now deceased) grandparents were married.  Anyway, we changed the weekend to a week later this time because my cousin was getting married about 45 minutes away.

Gemma's first road trip. Can you spot her?! She's pretty excited.
The drive to the retreat center is about four hours.  Jeff took half a day off work so we could get up there by dinner time and enjoy some family time before we needed to head to bed.  I was a little nervous for the drive with Gemma, but she was a star! She slept so long that I got nervous, and we decided to stop for some water and woke her up to feed her. (I didn't want to get to a place on the road where she'd wake up and we wouldn't be able to feed her right away.)

We arrived right after most people had eaten, but everyone was eager to take Gemma off of our hands so that Jeff and I could have dinner.  Most of my aunts and uncles had not yet met her, and I think she might be the new favorite. :)  My uncle, "Paco," even told me that she is his new buddy for T-wolves games. :( (Meaning she is my replacement!)  The mosquitos were AWFUL and as much as we tried to shield Gemma from them and cover her up, she didn't come away unscathed.  My aunt gave Gemma a little tumble (let's not talk about it), which wore her out quite a bit, so we put her to bed and enjoyed a bonfire the rest of the evening.

Saturday was a whirlwind.  My little family had to leave for the wedding early because my cousin had asked me to play piano for the ceremony.  My two nieces wanted to join us, so we had a car full. Those two girls made the drive fun!  The ceremony was beautiful and we couldn't be happier for my cousin, Shaila.  We headed out to Barker's Island for the reception, and the scenery was absolutely gorgeous.  The dinner and dance were both lovely, and Gemma adored all of the attention she received. An added bonus to the wonderful time we had was that my "favorite Uncle Paco" purchased a helicopter ride for my niece, Kaitlin, my cousin, Tarina, and me.  It was a short, but awesome ride.  We headed back to the retreat center and I managed to spot a coyote on the way back.  Again, such beautiful scenery "up north!"
My nieces, Gemma and me before the wedding.

The wedding reception right on the marina. Gorgeous!

The beautiful bride!

Our ride!

Gorgeous views over Lake Superior.

Sunday morning we enjoyed a big, family breakfast. Again, chaos, but a lot of fun!  Jeff and I were even able to get out on the kayaks for a little bit while my mom watched Gemma on the dock and took in a little bit of sun. (No sunburn this time, though! Gemma wore her hat.) A great end to a great weekend.

My Sister Visits!
My older (and only) sister lives near Detroit with her pastor husband and three young boys.  We usually only see them about twice a year because it is difficult for her husband to get time away from his work.  The drive is long (about 12 hours) and the flights are expensive (usually $300+ per person), so we usually only go to see them once a year and they come to visit us in MN once a year.  I was so happy I could spend the entire four and a half days with them this time! And, man, did we pack it full!

The first day we just hung out at my mom's house. They all met Gemma for the first time, which was so fun. The boys were all really good with her, and the youngest, Milo (age 2), really loved her. He was always asking to hold "baby Gemma."  Ahh. Her boys are so sweet and adorable. We grilled and had a picnic outside for dinner and Jeff was able to join us then.

Milo loving on Gemma at the Yellow Mushroom.

The next day my sister's family, my mom, and Gemma and I, headed to Minnepoa to see the falls.  I hadn't been there in years, so I didn't remember that the falls area was not the most stroller friendly place. Duh. We managed though and hung back in a few places so the boys could explore.  After that we picked up a pizza and headed to Sibley Park.  It was super hot (90+ degrees with a lot of humidity), but we had fun anyway.

The falls were kind of small because we didn't get much rain this summer.

The boys exploring.

Friday, Gemma and I decided to take a bit of a break and stayed home. :) We met up with my sister's family, my parents, my brother and his oldest son at one of my sister's favorite local restaurants, the Yellow Mushroom.  They have the best pizza!

On Saturday morning, we headed to mom's house for a pool party.  The weather was pretty overcast, but the kids had a great time. My little niece, Malanie, hung onto me pretty much the whole time in the pool. I taught her how to play "Motor Boat," and we did that a few times in between trying to hit her brothers with  noodles, balls, etc.  Gemma hung out with Grandpa Paul on the side of the pool and was quite content watching the kids play.

Having a blast at the pool!

Grandpa Paul and Gemma hanging out poolside.

We met up again on Sunday for church and had lunch with the family before my sister headed out. The trip was so short, but we had so much fun.  Jeff, Gemma and I will catch up with the Nelsons again in early February when we meet up with them for vacation in Florida! We can't wait!

One last photo after church before the Nelsons head back to Michigan.

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