Sunday, May 23, 2010

The Bank

The last post was getting long, so I thought it would be helpful to start a new one which it deserves. I'm referring to the new Gopher Football stadium sponsored by TCF but whose current and most popular nickname is "The Bank". Time will tell if that nickname holds up and what new traditions will develop and what old traditions will hang on.

The Gophers played off-campus at the Metrodome for almost 30 years. That's essentially the last time any major sporting event was played outdoors in the Twin Cities as the Viking and Twins all moved into the Dome with the Gophers.

Atmosphere is very important for college activities, it's more important then football which showcases professional athletes. The colors, the cheerleaders, and the band are the backbone of a college football game.

Melissa has Camp Randall and we've enjoyed quite a few fun days there together but we're long over due for another game.

There are three of us who split four season tickets and we all attended the opening game with a guest who used to serve in the Air Force, who was our opponent. We rented a hotel on campus for the weekend but I wasn't feeling well so I showed up for the evening to walk around the campus and attend a ceremony at the stadium before heading home to get some sleep.

It was a magic moment, sitting outside for the opening ceremony on the Friday before the game. There was a ceremony behind us in the plaza of the horseshoe at the stadium but we spent most of the time staring into the stadium. There were a few World War I planes that flew overhead.

The first game was around 6 pm, so that the it was light during the opening of the game and the sunset and the lights came on. That weekend it was 80 degrees, and quite hot. People wore shorts and tee-shirts and people were on campus all day Saturday. I made it down in time to wake everyone up for lunch at the Big 10. Then we walked around campus checking out different venues.

A new, and my favorite new, tradition was the Victory walk where the team and band walk from the Alumni center to the Stadium. On opening weekend there were so many people, thousands and thousands that the street (University and Huron - a major intersection) became shut down from the masses. The team and bank could only manage a single file line through the crowd and there were getting pummeled by slaps on the back.

The stadium itself is beautiful with Minnesota spelled out across the top and a gold M on the lower sections of the stadium. They list all 6 years that the Gophers were National Champions and the 18 years they won the Big 10. They were before my time, but most people don't realize how good the team used to be.

The team ran out on the field to fireworks just as a flyover with military jets came through. There was a mistake that caused the gameclock - countdown to kickoff to start late such that they got off schedule. The planes were supposed to fly over during the National Anthem but they came when the team came out. People went ballistic when the team came with quite a few misty eyed people and many actual tears. The Minnesota Rowser was probably the loudest I've ever heard at a football game (and that's without a roof) as everyone spelled out M-I-N-N-E-S-O-T-A. It was the first sell out with almost exclusively Gopher fans that I can remember after watching them for almost two decades. The stadium seats 50,000 but is designed to hold up to 80,000 by stacking another 30,000 on top of the existing bleachers without having to fill in the horseshoe.

The game was close and everyone will remember when Nate Triplett, in the gold top and bottom (bright) uniform grabbed a fumble that was kicked off the foot of an offensive player in stride and ran it back uncontested for a defensive touchdown. The place went absolutely nuts. It was a magical moment for a magical weekend for any Gopher fan who has had to suffer some not so great seasons, many unbelievable collapses, and an absolutely sterile environment at the metrodome. Good riddance. Ski-U-Mah (another new cheer that I hope catches on).

Catching up is hard to do

So we basically haven't posted anything for 9 months and wanted to use this blog as a documentary for ourselves, as much as anyone, about how things are going with us.

We left off in September 2009 but that post was mostly about Bea, because we didn't have very many posts that summer, and not as much about me and Melissa, and we count too. So we're going to go back and post for each month we've missed and will add some pictures after the text is done.

I'm going to start with a September paraphrase beginning with our first big event - U.S. Open (tennis) in New York City. Mid-summer while watching either the French Open or Wimbledon both Melissa and I both realized we were thinking it would be fun to sneak off for a weekend ourselves to watch the U.S. Open and knock off grand slam #2 (we saw the French open before Bea was born).

Off we went to NYC. We staged it well getting general admission passes to the Friday session (end of the first week). Thus we were able to go see all of the games at all of the courts with the exception of the three or four large courts that you needed specific tickets for those venues. This worked great in that there was a lot of good action on the outer courts and we stayed until they closed down the outer courts around 10-11 pm.

We decided to buy tickets to Arthur Ashe (the largest tennis stadium in the world) for the Monday session as the outer courts weren't doing well. We ended up having to pay quite a bit of money to scalp tickets because people were expecting some really good players during the night session on Monday. I've thought some of my favorite tennis matches I've ever seen were the late (midnight or later) sessions at Athur Ashe. Connor, Borg, Agassi, Sampras, McEnroe all had phenomenal night matches with two or three ranking as some of the best tennis matches ever in my opinion. Well there were a ton of upsets and night session we paid so much for had (relatively) no-namers, and Federer was playing in the day session, so obviously we dropped even bigger bucks to Arthur Ashe for the day session on Monday.

Melissa really wanted to see Federer play at some point, so we did. In actuality I thought the night tennis was much more fun. The last match started at 10 pm and the two players had played each other about 5 times with all of the matches around 4 hours so I was pumped and ready for a late night game (even though we had been watching tennis since about 10 am). Well the match was a route and the match was over at midnight. The winner apologized a lot to the crowd because everyone was excited for a long match. He couldn't get his tennis coach to play, so invited McEnroe (who was announcing the game on tv) to come down and play. John threw down his headset, tie and jacket and ran out of the booth. He showed up with a pair of tennis shoes on but still in his dress shirt and pants. John immediately went to serve (with no practice) and had a great serve and took the net in about 3 strides so quickly that he was at the net for the return and put the return away for a winner. That was nuts and the crowd went ever more nuts. They made a couple of more volleys before talking to the crowd and then we were all sent home. To make it even more fun, we saw an attendent handing our "rush seats" about 1/2 way through the last match and I ran over to grab a couple. They basically allowed us to go from the top deck so courtside where it was really hard to watch because they were hitting it so fast it was hard to turn your neck and see if the ball was in or out.

We spent two more days (Saturday and Sunday) in the city. The highlight for me was probably taking the Ferry to Ellis island and the whole Ellis island tour. The second highlight was probably going to Brooklyn and walking over the Brooklyn bridge back. We had a few dinners out and met up with some friends of Melissa and walked through Little Italy with them. I walked TriBeca, Soho and a few of the neighborhoolds around them. I went to the Met Insitutue of Art and walked through Central Park while Melissa took a nap. NYC is a nice city, but I think both of us thought 5 nights and 4 days was enough. It's a different lifestyle that to me seems like a much nicer place to visit then stay.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Singing away the summer

Well, I can't believe summer is almost over or that Bea is so big already! (See pictures at the bottom this post.)

Yesterday we had Bea's last NICU follow-up appointment. They had her do all sorts of puzzles, brain teasers, and physical activities. She had to put pegs in holes, identify colors, answer questions like, "The baby is hungry, what should you do?" She had to jump on one foot and walk backwards. On this standardized test, for each activity they make the child do harder and harder tasks until they get to the ones she can't do. So, the smarter the kid, the longer the test. We were there for almost two hours! Bea scored anywhere from 3-5 years old on every task. So, she was a smartypants.

They also told us that at this point she is really cleared of all the risks of being a premature baby. The doctor was just telling us we'd have to wait until she goes to school before we knew for sure if she had any learning disabilities... when the little showoff started rattling off the U.S. states in alphabetical order (they sing a song about the states in daycare). The doctor told us we didn't have anything to worry about. ha.

I know I've mentioned that Bea loves to sing songs before, but recently it has reached epic porportions. She knows so many lyrics it's mind boggling.
-As I said, she loves the state song. She has even started to name her stuffed animals things like "Arkansas" and "New Hampshire."
- She knows all the words to "Love Me Tender" by Elvis (again from school). Nothing like hearing your 2-year-old singing "Love me tender, love me true, all my dreams fulllllfillllllllllled...."
- We have songs for tidying up, going potty, washing your hands, etc.
- There are many iterations of "I'm a Little Teapot" and perennial favorite "Row, Row, Row Your Boat." We've moved on from the "Itsy-bitsy Spider" to the "GIANT, GIANT Spider!" (which she thinks is hillarious).
- She likes to sing "All Through the Night" ("Guardian angels God will send thee!")
- Matt's parents taught her "New York, New York" when we went to the U.S. Open
- Broadway tunes are also in the repretoire. I taught her "Oklahoma" after we got an advertisement for a local production of the musical in the mail... and she already knows "Surrey with the Fringe on Top," "Oh What a Beautiful Morning," "I Could Have Danced All Night" and most of the songs from Sound of Music
- Her favorite of favorites, however, is the Beatrice Song which we sing to her before she goes to bed each night. I wonder how long it'll be before she realizes it's Edelweiss with slightly different lyrics.

And she's even started making up some of her own songs. (Today in the car: "l loooooooooove Bullet, and Mommy, and my shoes have sand in them.") And she is really good with medleys... this is my favorite so far:

(singing state song)... Nebraaaaska, Nevada, New Hampshire, OOOOOOOOOOklahoma! Where the wind comes sweeping down the plain! O! K! L! A! M! N O P Q R S Teee a drink with jam and bread.....

In other news, Bea is also doing really well with potty training. (Sing along with this Beach Boys-themed hit: Let's go potty now, everybody's learning how, sit on the potty with meeeeeee!)

Along with potty training, she has discovered the Disney Princesses (they are on the pull-up diapers and her fancy new panties). She can now identify Snow White, Cinderella, Sleeping "Booty," Ariel the Mermaid, and Belle (from Beauty and the Beast). She picked out Snow White for a Halloween costume.

So, a couple weeks ago for a treat I thought I'd show her some clips from Oklahoma and some of the Disney movies on You Tube. Oklahoma didn't disappoint, we watched it several times. I also showed her Little Mermaid, but she got bored with the singing fish super quick. Then, I showed her Beauty and Beast. Belle is her favorite princess and I thought this would be a slamdunk. But after awhile she said, "can we watch Oklahoma again?"

If I could get Shirley Jones-themed panties, I think we'd have this potty training thing in the can (har, har, potty humor)!

I have to admit, though. It's not all rays of sunshine. Little Bea has certainly hit the terrible twos. She is all about the tantrum. And, she loves to turn into a wet noodle when she doesn't want to do something... she just collapses onto the floor and won't get up. You know that kid laying on the floor at Target? Yeah, me too. She's with me.

She's also in a really big Mommy-only stage. Only Mommy can buckle her high chair, only Mommy can tie her shoes, etc., etc. It's flattering and exhausting all at once. Poor Daddy and grandparents are not allowed to help without considerable fuss. Although this is not ideal, I have to admit I like it when she says, "Mommy, you're my best, best friend. I wuve you best." I be sure to keep this post and show her when she is a teenager.

More later,

p.s. here are pictures from two different trips to the Babies 'R Us photo studio. Long story. Cute pics, though.

More summer pictures!

As promised, here are a few more pictures from our summer!

Bea showing her uncanny flare for fashion.

Bea and Gwen playing in the bubbles.

Bea and Gwen crusing around town

(this is before Bea drove them into the garage door).

Bea with her friends Reese and Nicholas at Denise's house.

Aunt Sue came to visit and we took her on the Lake Harriet Trolley,
one of Bea's favorite things of the summer.

Aunt Sue, my parents, Matt, Bea, and I on a sculpture
at the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden.

Me with Roger Federer (he's right there in the red shirt)

at the U.S. Open in NYC.

Matt on the U.S. Open Grounds

Bea and I at the Lake Harriet Rose Garden in Minneapolis.

Matt and Bea looking at a fountain in the Rose Garden.

Bea and Bullet... best buds. Poor Bullet is getting so old but we love him all the same.

Playing in the sprinkler is always fun!

Friday, July 31, 2009

July Blog with Pics!

Well, I'm trying to do one blog a month, and I'm glad I remembered it was July 31st today or I would have missed one. Summer is going so fast and we have been having so much fun. We've spent lots of nice days at the beach, playing with our deluxe swingset, and so much other good stuff.

Bea is just the coolest kid. She's at the age where she is ready to tell stories. For example, in the car today she said, "Mama, last night I went to bed and then I woke up and I was scary [sic] because I couldn't see you [her nightlight burned out], and I made noise, and then you came to get me!" She also is full of funny things to say these days, for example today she told her teacher, "Miss Hannah, I like your butt." Nice. She loves playing with her babies, feeding them, and saying things like, "Baby, I so proud of you for eating your toast! Well done." She knows who President Obama is and she yells "OOOOOOOBAAAAAAMMMMA!" whenever she sees him on tv or in a picture. Obama is a great name for a kid to say, regardless of political party! Somehow I don't think "McCain" would have been as enticing to her.

She likes to "read" her books to us now. She says, "Mama, close your lips and open your ears" then, she holds the book up like they do at school and just talks a bunch... about whatever she thinks of. She also sings and sings. She now likes longer songs, like "If you're happy and you know it," "You are my sunshine," and my personal fav, "Row, Row, Row your boat, gently down the streeeeeeet!"

She's an extremely social kid. She says "hi" to everyone at the grocery store.Last week we went to a party at my office and when we got there she went around kissing the kids. Later, when there was a pinata, she passed out candy to all the adults. (note: she doesn't actually know what candy is... and we didn't tell her!)

We're also working on potty training. She gets a jelly bean when she "goes" which is pretty exciting stuff.

Well, now here's what you're probably here for, some pics! As I was putting these together I realized I needed to take some better pictures for the rest of the summer. I know my parents have some good ones on their camera, so I'll try to post some others when I get them.

Here's Bea proudly displaying her 101 Dalmations bandaid. Owies are big bragging rights these days. Even the slightest scratch is discussed for weeks and shown to everyone she meets.

Bea loves playing in the yard and hanging out with Bullet. Here she is opening the gate for him.

Grandma Liz and Grandpa Dick built Bea a very cool playhouse under her swing set. I'll post more pictures of that later (when I get them off their camera). But, here is a picture of Bea "helping" with Grandpa's hammer. She has a set of kiddy tools from Aunt Diane and her own tape measure, which she calls her "major." She goes around hammering, screwing, and majoring things all the time. A girl after my own heart. Just a note of caution, though, don't trust her major-ments. When she majors things and someone asks her "how big was it?" The answer is always three.

Bea also really (REALLY) wants to drive the car. She's got a few years to wait yet, but lately she's been getting a lot of practice on other vehicles. Here she is "driving" Grandpa Dick's tractor. She also drove an electric kiddy jeep at her "cousin" Gwen's house and attempted to drive Grandma Pat and Grandpa Steve's pontoon. We're going to have to start putting the car keys really high up.

For 4th of July this year we went back to Grandpa Steve and Grandma Pat's cabin. Grandpa Dick and Grandma Liz came, too. At the cabin there were lots of activities. Races for the kids in the community, a boat parade, etc. It was a ton of fun. Bea participated in the race for her age group, but got kind of freaked out and didn't do too well! ha! maybe next year. Here she is after the race walking back to the car between Grandpa Steve and Grandpa Dick, with Tio Jorge and Aunt Karyn in the background.

Here's Bea later in the day on the 4th lounging on the pontoon...

For my birthday in mid-July we went mini-golfing. Bea actually did really well and made it the whole 18 holes! She started out trying to golf...

For the majority of the course, she was in charge of the flags. She loved the flags.

Eventually, she became part of the gallery...

I just like this picture, because she is so cute. This is just a random day before school.

A couple weeks ago, Grandma Liz, Grandpa Dick, Bea, and I went to Wisconsin for "Acation." (Vacation.) Bea was very excited about Acation. And during the six hours to Appleton she kept asking when Acation was going to start. When we told her it already did, she started to cry and refused to accept that riding in the car was Acation. Luckily, when we got to Aunt Diane's house (which has more toys than Santa's workshop and built-in playmate her age, Gwen), Acation had finally began! I used my parents camera when we were at Diane and Mike's so I will have to get some pictures from them. There were lots of adventures.

After Appleton, we continued our trip by visiting Brian, Denise, Molly, and Zoe in Sauk City near Madison. Brian and Denise have been friends of my parents for 35 years or so. Molly and Zoe are their cocker spaniels, which Bea adores. They live in a big house out in the middle of a farm that is just gorgeous. They also have grandchildren -- Nicholas and Reese -- to play with so there was more fun to be had!

On the way to Brian and Denise's house, we took a car ferry. Here's G.Dick, G.Liz, and Bea on the boat.

Here's Bea swimming in Brian and Denise's backyard pool!

Bea picked many wildflowers in the fields around the house.

And she walked in the TALL corn fields!

Well, I will post some more in August. Hope you summer is going great!

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Swimming at the lake

This was probably the first true "lake visit" for Bea. My parents have a cabin and we went there last year, but she only hung out in a toy pool, not the real thing as she was just over one at the time.

With the unusual heat today (it actually went over the average high) we ran off for an hour to take a splash because Bea has been asking us to go swimming since her swim lessons (with Melissa when I was at school) ended about 6 weeks ago.

We went to Lake Nokomis for an hour or so after her nap. From a two year old's perspective, it was perfect. Good people watching, lots of dogs, dogs swimming!, ducks, low flying airplanes (from the nearby runways at the airport), boats, occasional motorcycles and a lake!

I have the primary role as the "parental kid tosser". I took turns throwing Bea up in the air (and catching her of course) and jumping up together and splashing (without going under). She liked them both equally. Since it's been a cold summer and it's mid-June the water temperature was cold. Thus Bea was shivering uncontrollably and her lips starting turning blue but she didn't want to stop getting tossed in the air or get out of the water. Having her cling to my chest with a huge grin and laughing consistently was a memory I hope to cherish forever.

We did make her take a couple of breaks (and a mandatory beach timeout from the lifeguards helped). We focused on making our first sand castle as a team. Mostly it was Dad running water for making the sand moist, Melissa was the sand scooper and I unpacked the sand from the forms. Bea was an assistant waterer and we did our best to keep her from washing out our creations. Bea was interested in pouring water anywhere, the sand castle didn't matter much.

There were kids running into the water from the beach and diving in. Bea decided to do that and did a great face first dive, with a full spread eagle (arms extended out right), in about two inches of water. The crying was quickly subsided by some quick tossing in the air and into the water. Melissa and I did our best not to offend her by laughing too loudly. I don't know if she was crying because it hurt or her ego was hurt. It was extremely funny because the form was perfect but the location, not so much. She just froze there, laying on her stomach, arms outstretched, and was trying to figure out what just happened and what went wrong.

It all lasted probably a little more than an hour, but the memories and fun were bountiful.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Bea is 2 and 1/12th

Well, it's been more than a month since Bea's birthday, and I'm just getting these pictures up now. oops.

So, Bea is now two, but if you ask her how old she is, she'll say "three." (She always does.) Bea has definitely entered the "terrible twos" stage and is quite talented with the tantrums, but other then that, she is tons of fun. Currently, she really likes to sing Happy Birthday (to whoever) and loves to play ring-around-the-rosie.

She talks so well now, here are some recent quotes:
-"Mommy, I wuv you." (Awwwww!)
-"The wind makes my hair so cold!"
-"Bullet, you're a good dog, big dog...I pet you. You need a hug?" (then tackles Bullet)
-When asked what happened at school one day: "Alayna threw rocks at Miles and she was in trooooooble. I ate beans."
-"Mommy has a big nose, Mommy has a big nose." (Matt told her to say that, nice.)
-When there were no geese in a pond near our house: "The geese went on vacation to Wisconsin to see Denise and Brian and Molly and Zoe." (Denise and Brian are friends of my parents, Molly and Zoe are their dogs...)
-When her daycare teacher asked her why she took another child's artwork off the wall: "Because I'm naughty"


Here we are at Bea's birthday party. Not a great picture of any of us, but we all have our eyes open, which is a rarity. This is before Mommy's big haircut.

Here's Bea reading one of her birthday cards. She has all of the greeting cards she's ever received in a bucket in her playroom, she takes them all out and looks and them periodically.

The birthday girl blowing out her candles. We didn't even practice this ahead, so I was really surprised that she did it. Bea's party was bunny themed, mostly because I call her "Beatrice Bunny" but also because Easter was a week later and the decorations could serve a dual purpose! I was pretty proud of the cake, which I made myself.

During the cake and ice cream, Bea and Sadie had a conversation that went something like...
Bea: Sadie, you need a bib.
Sadie: No, I don't need a bib. You're a baby. I'm a big girl.
Bea: Yes, you do, you're dirty.
Sadie: No, I'm not (wipes hand on shirt)

We got Bea this toddler fort/tent and it was the hit of the party. Bea and Sadie giggled in it for almost an hour. Some of the adults tried it, too.

Here's Bea coming out of the tent's tunnel.

Grandma Liz and Bea trying out the tent the day after Bea's birthday.


One week after Bea's birthday came Easter. I think Bea was beginning to think gifts were going to happen every day by the end of all the celebrations. Here are Bullet, Bea, and Matt at Grandma Liz and Grandpa Dick's on Easter morning.

Here is Bea showing off some of the jewelry the Easter bunny left for her at Grandma Liz's house. Bracelets, in particular, are some of Bea's favorite things. The Easter bunny left things at our house and both sets of Grandparents' houses. Bea was spoiled indeed.

Bea, Sadie, Grandma Pat, and Grandpa Steve at Pat and Steve's house in Princeton. They had a big egg hunt all over the enormous front yard.

Here's Bea in serious egg hunt mode. This was her fourth egg hunt in three days, so she was well prepared and very excited. She was running ahead of everyone saying in a creepy gremlin voice, "More eggs, more eggs, more eggs!". She was also covertly stealing eggs from Sadie. I guess she's a little competitive. I wonder where she gets that from?


Here is Bea in our front yard with a flowering shrub, we have all enjoyed getting out now that the weather is nicer!

Bea also got a fancy new swing set for her birthday (but it didn't come until a couple weeks later). Here we are just yesterday playing on it -- and there's my new haircut!

Hope you're having a great spring!