Tuesday, October 23, 2007

American Gothic House

We recently went down to Ottumwa, Iowa to visit Tony's birthplace and to meet some of his family on his Dad's side. It's about a 5 hour drive down there and, thanks to the DVD player in our van, was a relatively pleasant drive. Tony and I borrowed the Harry Potter 6 book on CD and listened to a bit of that on the way there and back. We also had a chance to talk and catch up on things. It was nice. We were only down there for a couple of days and we mainly spent it meeting family and spending time with them. We also got to make a trip over to the "American Gothic" house which is about a half hour from Ottumwa in Eldon, IA. They have a really cool visitor's center there and they even let you put on costumes (as you can see above) to reenact that famous painting. It was pretty fun. All-in-all it was a pretty decent trip. Someone did hit our parked car while we were down there, so that's a bummer having to get that fixed, but at least no one was hurt. One thing I can say about Iowa, if you haven't been there, don't worry about it. :-)

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Visiting Minnesota

This summer we had a lot of family come out to visit. It was a lot of fun to show everyone around Minnesota. Everyone seems to come to Minnesota with so many misconceptions about what it's really like here and it's fun to see a lot of those myths shattered by the time they leave. Minnesota has a ton of things to do. You aren't really far from anything. We can go to downtown Minneapolis or St Paul to see a concert, live theatre and museums (about a half hour from our house). You can go to a beach (okay, I know they're lake beaches, but still!), go camping (in nature where you feel like you are miles away but only 20 minutes really), you can see tons of historical sites, ride a boat down the Mississippi or visit one of the 10,000+ lakes. Almost any kind of activity you want to do, you can do here.

I really had a great time with my family. Being so far from them makes the time we have together so much more precious to me. I feel as though I really took for granted living so close to my family and friends and I really look forward to talking to and spending time with them when they come out here, or I go out to visit. That's one thing I've really learned after moving away: Appreciate and cherish the time with your family and friends. Treasure it and don't ever take it for granted. In some ways, I've grown closer to people through learning this. I spend time talking to my family and friends in ways I never did before. I don't take things for granted anymore and I spend a lot more time with my family here than I ever did before. I've slowed down and I love it.

Anyway, here are some of the highlights of the trip when my mom, stepdad, sister and nephews came out in July. It was great to spend time with everyone. It did get a little crazy at times (there were 10 of us under the same roof!), but overall it was a wonderful time. I truly enjoyed having them here and really look forward to seeing them all again soon.
This picture was taken on a boat that takes you down the Mississippi and through Lock & Dam #1. It's a beautiful trip down the river. You also get views of the many flour mills and St. Anthony Falls which helped to start the flour mill industry.

This picture is of Chelsea and her "Aunt Shell." Chelsea wanted Michele to take her to Build-a-Bear Workshop more than anything and they had a great time making a cute little bear together.
We went to visit Fort Snelling with Anthony & Zachary. It's a really neat fort that is positioned right where the Minnesota River flows into the Mississippi. It has breathtaking views and a lot of fun things for the kids to experience.

Michele and her boys, Anthony & Zachary, at Fort Snelling overlooking one of the many views that the fort offers. As you can tell, Minnesota has lots of green trees and blue sky - not just white snow and grey skies!!!