Third Stop: Michigan

In Michigan, we celebrated Christmas with our extended family from my Mom’s side.  This is a big, fun group of about 30 people and is such a special time for us!  We opened presents after a delicious feast at my aunt and uncle’s home.  Two big highlights for the boys: Ethan got a ukulele and Micah got a djembe!!  Thanks, Great Grandpa! =)  Other highlights included playing ping pong, going sledding, Ethan doing piano recitals and radio shows with cousin Matthew, our annual cousins movie night out at the theater (we saw the new Star Wars!), and lots of time to chat with family.

Grandkids and great-grandkids with Grandpa (aka Great Grandpa):

Grandchildren

Sledding:

We had a lovely time in Michigan, as always!  Such a fun group of people to spend a few days with every Christmas!

Picture Cred mostly goes to my Dad again. Thanks for capturing the fun!

First Stop: Minnesota

We drove to Minneapolis the week before Christmas and spent a few days there.  The boys are fantastic travelers, thankfully.  They keep themselves busy with coloring, looking at books, and listening to audiobooks.  And, of course, having tic tacs or gum all day long. =)

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Mike worked while we were there, of course, so the boys and I kept ourselves occupied throughout the day.  One day we spent exploring the “tubes”.  We made it all the way to Mike’s office and had some kombucha on tap there and also grabbed some lunch with our guy.

Most of the rest of the time we hung around the hotel and played a lot of billiards. =)  We also got in some “work outs”, drank hot chocolate, did some school and played some games.  In retrospect, I would have scheduled another outing (like a children’s museum or something!), but the boys had seemed so content to hang at the hotel so we did that this time around.  We also always had dinner with Mikey when he was done at the office.

The main reason we went to Minneapolis was to attend the family Christmas party.  It was pretty fun and a really unique location!  Ethan played at least 3 games of mini-golf on a cool course designed by various artists.  Micah and I played a whole lot of arcade games from the 60s, like bowling and foos ball.

We had a great time in Minneapolis, but by Friday afternoon we were headed to Wisconsin for some family time!

Halloween

The boys wore their costumes all day in honor of Halloween.  I enjoyed teaching two Chewies all day. =)

We headed to Chipotle for a discounted dinner – my favorite part about Halloween. =)

And that evening I took the boys out trick-or-treating in the neighborhood.  We just went up and down our street and then the boys were ready to head home.  I was geared up for an evening of lots of walking, but they cut us off pretty quickly.  We saw this dino while we were out and had to take a picture of it for Ivan and Abe, who were dressed as dinos this year, too.

They loved handing out candy when we got home.  Micah even crawled out of bed once to do it. =)

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And I loved spending the later evening getting ready for a fresh new month. =)  Out with the old calendar, in with the new.

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As you wish

The Princess Bride has long been my favorite movie.  I first saw it when I was about 6 years old at my friend’s house and I have loved it ever since.  “Fencing, fighting, torture, revenge, giants, monsters, chases, escapes, true love, miracles…”  It’s got it all.  I’ve got most of it memorized, had a poster of it in my room growing up, even did a presentation for my Religion class in high school using the scene from Buttercup and Humperdinck’s wedding.  I probably should own a shirt that says, “I’m not a witch, I’m your wife!”  It’s classic.  So anyway, when we were invited to an 80s Halloween party, I double checked my date (it was came out in ’87! Phew!) and got to work.  There were a couple other ideas thrown around, but I quickly settled on my favs.  (Unfortunately, Micah didn’t want to join in the fun or we would have had the whole family in The Princess Bride costumes!)

Mike got to play the part of my true love, Westley.  And I, as you might have guessed, was Buttercup.  We listened, briefly, to our love song so that we could really get into character on our way to the party. 😉

Party time:

Micah, AKA Chewie, really enjoyed playing darts.  Ethan spent most of his time running around with some of the other kiddos there.

“This is true love – you think that happens every day?”

Dream come true. =)  So much fun.

I’ll leave you with one of the best lines of the movie: “Since the invention of the kiss, there have only been five kisses that were rated the most passionate, the most pure. This one left them all behind.”

Sweden, continued

The final days of our trip were spent on the island of Lokholmen, which was about a two-hour ferry ride outside of Stockholm.  This was a very neat experience for us!  The island was a fairly secluded spot and we absolutely loved the rustic, adventurous experience.  Our friends planned a really fun evening for us – a crayfish party!  (Check this out to get an idea of what we were going for: https://www.thelocal.se/20140807/swedish-crayfish-party)  It was a blast!  We also enjoyed the saunas and jumping into the Baltic Sea.  We loved getting the privilege to have such unique and fun experiences.  It was a true blessing to us to have these guys host us so well.

Also, super cool, check out who joined us for our crayfish party: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kjell_Oscarius

The following day was our final day and my birthday!  I had the longest birthday ever, since it started in Sweden and ended in Denver…it lasted extra long!  Mike and I had a breakfast date that morning (boys went to our friends’ house) and then we all enjoyed time at the park, my birthday cake (thanks, E, for making it for us!) before saying goodbyes and heading to the airport.  Such a fun way to celebrate my birthday!  Thanks, friends, for making it such a memorable one!!

We really enjoyed our time on the Scandinavian peninsula.  Seeing our friends made it extra special for us and we were so thankful for that opportunity!  Mike did a fantastic job planning it from start to finish and I am SO thankful for him!

Sweden

Our final country to visit on this wonderful whirlwind vacation was Sweden.  We chose these countries partly because of friends of ours who are living there.  Mike had met them back in his Bermuda days with IBM and we’ve stayed in touch over the years.  We also checked in with our friends from Switzerland and we were able to see them while we were in Sweden, too!  They happened to be on their summer holiday and were traveling in their VW van throughout the Nordics at the same time that we were!  Unreal!  We were thrilled to spend a couple days with them, too!

We stayed at an airbnb a couple blocks from our friends.  We joined everyone at a park nearby for a picnic dinner, playing sports and Kubb.  (We are thankful to Uncle Jason for having taught us the game, by the proper rules, a couple years ago!  Our friends didn’t think Americans would know the game. ;))

The following day we spent with our Swiss friends exploring Stockholm.  Our Swedish friends (well, technically they are Canadian and German, but we’ll call them our Swedish friends for the sake of this blog) fed us all a delicious breakfast and gave us helpful hints and directions for our adventure.  We met all together that evening for a fantastic pizza dinner.

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The next morning some of us walked (while others biked and others drove) to the king’s old hunting grounds nearby.  We chatted and enjoyed the beauty, while the kids played games.  This is where we said goodbye to our Swiss friends.  We are hopeful that they will travel to Colorado in two years to keep up our every other year plan. 😉

We spent the rest of the afternoon exploring Stockholm.  It’s an absolutely lovely city and the company was lovely as well.  We really enjoyed getting to know them better.

Final days in Sweden will be in the next post.

Thankful for friends who have stood the test of time.

Norway

Norway was gorgeous.  In terms of sights to see, this was my favorite country.  It may be because of the laid back, less crowded activities of the couple days we were here, but mostly…just look at these pictures.  It was stunning.

– Day 6 – 

We spent a couple of hours in Oslo, Norway before taking the most beautiful train ride imaginable over to Bergen.  Oslo was under a lot of construction at the time, but it was still a lovely city.  Ethan and I explored the Opera house building – such neat architecture!  Micah was more interested in chilling than in exploring, so he took turns with one of us just enjoying the sights from a seat somewhere in the city.

We loved the 7-hour train ride to Bergen – it is hard to put into words how beautiful it was.  I kept trying to read my book and needing to put it down because everything out the window was stunning.  There were waterfalls and tunnels galore!  The boys took some naps, read some books, enjoyed the views and ate some food.

We arrived in Bergen, walked in the rain to our hotel, ate dinner, played legos and wrote in journals and went to bed. =)

Day 7 –

The following day we enjoyed a fjord tour.  I believe this was the longest and deepest fjord that Norway has to offer, but I might be mistaken.  I can tell you for certain that it was gorgeous.  The boys spent a lot of time playing legos and would take turns going outside to look around with Daddio.  Mike was outside most of the time – he couldn’t get enough of it!  He was standing outside taking pictures and enjoying the scenery even when it was raining!

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Stunning.  I kept thinking of the verse, “Better is one day in Your courts than a thousand elsewhere” and finding myself excited to see what heaven is like because the views here felt hard to beat. =D

Next we spent a too short visit in Flam (we’d stay here longer if we ever return) and then took an amazingly picturesque train ride .

That evening we had a break from the rain in Bergen, so we opted to have a picnic lunch at a park up in Floibanen.  SO much fun!

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The following morning we were so thankful that we had gone up to the park the night before because it was pouring.  We walked around Bergen in the rain for a bit and then headed to the airport for our next adventure: Sweden.