Friday, May 9, 2014

My Sister's Big Day - April 26, 2014

We arrived in Minnesota on April 25, 2014.  Everyone in my vehicle was excited to finally get there and be with family.  My parents, brother, his wife, and each of their dog arrived about 1 1/2 hours later.  It was so wonderful to be together.

We picked up my brother the next day from the airport, and traded in the rental vehicle we had.   It started showing that it needed an oil change early the day before.  Since we were at the airport, it was the perfect time for the trade.

From the airport, we went to Costco.  We had to get food to eat and things for my sister's reception.  It was then that I discovered that Costco no longer has the ice cream bar at the food court.  It was a very sad moment in my life.

After Costco, we headed to the Mall of America.  It was somewhere my sister-in-law had always wanted to go to.  They were having Robot Wars in the main hallway.  We watched a couple of them.  I don't really understand the concept, but my brothers and my children enjoyed it.  We walked around and went into the Nickelodeon themed amusement park.  My toddler wasn't amused in the slightest when I didn't get her a stuffed Patrick or Spongebob toy.

It was getting late by this point.  We had to hurry back to the hotel and get ready for the wedding.  We then had to run to the reception hall and help get it ready.  We were really fast getting changed and getting out of the hotel.  I was impressed with the speed we got ready.

We headed to the reception hall where we had to get tables put in the correct places.  We made sure that chairs were around the tables and the tables were appropriately decorated.  My sister and I then went and helped our other sister get into her wedding gown.  She is absolutely beautiful.  We had to lace up the back of it.   We were busy lacing up her dress in the photo below.

We got her all laced up and got her headpiece attached.  She put on her jacket and it was time to head out.  She was taking a boat to the island she was getting married on.  We would be driving over.  My older daughter rode over on the boat because she was in charge of keeping the train off the ground.  She enjoyed that a lot!

We arrived on the island and the wedding got started.  It was a quick wedding, sweet and to the point.  There was a photographer there.  The photos have not arrived yet.  None of us remembered our cameras, so all the photos are with phones.  I think they turned out well.   I look forward to seeing the professional photos too!

After the photos were complete, we went to the reception hall.  When the bride decided it was time to eat, we all agreed.  I had lettuce wrap sandwiches.  They made them for me because of my gluten problem.  I chased my toddler around most of the night.  

One of my dear friends, who was a roommate of ours in college, was there with her family.  It was so nice to get to see her and visit with her during that evening.  She has a wonderful family.  She helped me chase my kiddos around.

The lighting in the reception hall was not very good.  Some pictures were taken in there, I found the best one of my sister.  

I am blessed to have been able to spend that day with them.  I was thankful that I was able to go.  It was an amazing evening.  I wish my sister and her husband an eternity of happiness!

Friday, May 2, 2014

The First Leg of the Trip to Minnesota

Last Wednesday, Apr 23, I picked up my little brother from the airport.  I rented a minivan, got my children and luggage, and hit the road.  Our ultimate destination was Minnesota.  We made a few stops in between.

We first stopped in Wyoming.  We stayed overnight at my sister's house.  She had some Domino's Pizza waiting for us.  She was kind enough to get me a gluten pizza.  The next morning, April 24, my children, my brother, my sister and my nephew got in the van and started heading further east.

It seemed like we drove for hours and hours without making much progress.  When we reached the area that we had to really start deciding if we wanted to make the turn toward Mount Rushmore or keep heading toward our final destination, we decided to take the side trip up the mountain to Mount Rushmore.  My brother was the only person in the vehicle that had ever been there.  This was my first trip into South Dakota.   As I drove the windy, mountain road up to the National Monument, I felt excitement that I was finally going to see it. 

Upon entering Mount Rushmore, we are supposed to pay $11 to park.  We waited for an attendant at the security gate, but no one came and the gate had been propped open.  We figured that meant that we could just go in.  The car that entered before us had come to the same conclusion.  No one said anything to us so I am not sure if that is common but we did park.

When we entered the walkway at Mount Rushmore, we were greeted by wild mountain goats.  My toddler announced, "It's bunnies."  On the way out of the park, my six year-old suggested that we "take the llamas."  In the photo below, the white things in the grass behind my daughter are the mountain goats, aka bunnies and llamas.

We proceeded into the National Monument area.  It was absolutely majestic.  I don't really know the history or how long it took to create Mount Rushmore, but it is something to behold.  My sister took some pictures of my children and I in front of the Monument.  I was thankful that she had a phone with a camera because I forgot my camera at home.

I am pretty sure that my toddler will not remember that trip.  I am not sure if my six year-old will remember or not.  I am quite sure that my two older children will remember going to Mount Rushmore.  They added South Dakota to the states they have been to at the same time I did.

We continued on that evening and made it to Oacoma, South Dakota, where we found a hotel room. Although there were eight of us, I let the desk clerk know that we would share a room as long as there were two beds.  The children could sleep on the floor, in an effort to save money.   I was the only driver, because it was a rental vehicle and it would have cost $100 to add another driver for the time we were renting the vehicle.  I didn't want to add that to the cost of our trip.

The next morning, we woke up and had breakfast.  They offered a nice continental breakfast, which everyone enjoyed.  I was able to eat the omelets.  The hardest thing about being gluten free is trying to find things to eat when I am not the one cooking it.  After eating, we all got in the vehicle to continue our journey to Minnesota.  It was now Friday, April 25.  My sister that lives in Minnesota would be getting married the next day.

I had bought lunch meat, cheese, crackers, carrots, peanut butter, rice cakes, and some treats for the trip.  We stopped at a rest area and had some peanut butter sandwiches or peanut butter on rice cakes.  At the rest area, there were some Thirteen Striped Ground Squirrels.  My sister saw it first and was pointing it out to me, asking what it was.  I told her it was some kind of lizard, it looked like the bearded dragon my brother once owned.  From the angle I was at, it looked like it had scaly skin instead of fur.  As it ran into its hole, the sun hit it at an angle where I could see that it was fur.  My sister thought I was nuts to think it was a lizard of some sort, because she was at an angle where she could tell it was fur.  We got a good laugh out of it, and she said she now knew why my kids thought the mountain goats were bunnies or llamas.

We arrived in Woodbury, Minnesota, at about 5 pm.  My sister and her fiance were waiting at our hotel for us to get there.  My parents, my brother and sister-in-law arrived about 1 1/2 hours later.  We then went over to the Old Country Buffet.  It was so wonderful to be together again!  We were only missing my older brother (as far as siblings go), who arrived on Saturday.  We missed many nieces and nephews and in-laws that were not able to make the trip.
Saturday would be the big day for my sister.  It was a very busy day.  I will end this post here and write about Saturday in the next one :)