Friday, July 25, 2008

Goose Bumps

This post by Scottie just gave me goose bumps. Maybe it's because I know the struggles he has been through the last few years. Maybe it's because I can so relate. I'm not sure, but it needs to be shared. Thanks for the early Friday morning tears my friend. I miss you and your schweaty back defense beyond belief.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Stay True To Your Course

As I sat this morning drinking my coffee and eating my oatmeal I noticed for about the thousandth time the compass I have on my desk. It is a gold compass set in cherry wood that my parents gave me as a gift when I graduated from college. On the compass is engraved the words "stay true to your course". It was a very inspirational gift, one I really treasure, but today I was looking at it and got to thinking - have I managed to? Have I remained in line with where I need to be? Have I focused on the shifts in the course and moved with them or have I gotten off course and if so how in the world do I get back?

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Dying in a Southwesterly Direction

This has turned into a sort of “theme” for my recent trip to Minnesota so I figure it is a fair title to use here. Evan asked last night what I did while I was there and I said that we just hung around but with later reflection I realized that wasn’t really true and I had better get down my memories of the week quickly before they fade away into my overworked brain.

I arrived on Saturday morning at around 6:00am and took a cab to Jodi’s house. The cabbie got lost because of closed freeways but thankfully I was able to remember well enough how to get to her place in my sleep deprived fog. I immediately fell asleep since Jodi was out walking in preparation for the three day in Seattle in September (yesssssss) and slept until she came back. Then we decided we should go grab some breakfast but it was raining so she decided it would be best to drive the block down to Louisiana CafĂ©. We knew it was very silly but I didn’t object because I hadn’t just walked 12 miles. So we jumped into Baby J’s car and drove a block to the restaurant, which in itself was funny but then when we got there we realized there was no parking so we drove BACK to her house and walked to the restaurant in the downpour and cracking thunder. I’m chuckling now just thinking about it. It’s the paybacks you get for being lazy.

That afternoon Jodi had to go to a wedding so I went over to Sarah’s house to hang out with her and her 9 month old Jake. Jake unfortunately had a fever so we stayed pretty close to home other than a short walk at one point when his fever was down. Here is a picture of Jake. I love him.

On Sunday, Jodi and I met up with her neighbor Andy and went to a Twins game. We were supposed to be meeting her other friends Andy and Vanessa at Grumpy’s for breakfast but when we got there, after paying for parking which I vehemently objected to mind you, we realized Grumpy’s was closed until noon or something so we walked over to where the free parking is (told you Jodi haha) and went to Huberts. I had no complaints about spending the morning in Huberts because it was our regular hangout before and sometimes after games when I lived there. In fact we sat in one of the high booths that I love for the people watching. I was happy as a clam. Here is a picture of Jodi and I at the game. Notice my new Twins hat!

After the game, which the Twins won, we took Andy home and then went to Jodi’s parent’s house for a bbq. I love Jodi’s family. There are always a bunch of kids around and her siblings and parents are so nice. I sat in the sun on the porch and watched the sibling banter and caused as much trouble with her dad as possible. After the bbq we met up with Andy again and went for a walk around the Cathedral neighborhood in St. Paul. There are some of the most beautiful homes in that area. It is an area I would love to live in – if only I had millions of dollars.

On Monday Jenny got home from New York and picked me up at Jodi’s. We decided that it was going to be hot and it would be the perfect day to float the Cannon River. I unfortunately don’t have any pictures of that but it was very fun. We definitely saw some very interesting characters and we MIGHT have gotten on the wrong bus at some point. Needless to say, they knew us by the time we left. I would like to do that again sometime but go for an even longer float. It is very fun and very beautiful. I love the southeast part of MN. Even coming from the part of the world that I live in that I think is the most beautiful in the country I appreciate and love that part of MN.

Kristen came over to Jenny’s house that evening and we bbq’d and caught up. Jenny had fun stories to tell about her trip to New York and I hadn’t talked to Kristen much since her trip out here in May so it was good to have some time together. Later we decided to stretch our legs a little and talk a walk around Jenny’s neighborhood – btw Jenny, I never got to see the development downtown, darn. This picture is of Jenny, Kristen and I and an attempt to get the beautiful sunset we got to enjoy.

On Tuesday, Jenny and I went out to Nikki’s place in Rogers and got to meet her new addition Issac. This is him:

Nikki is doing really well and has a very cute house in Rogers which is about 40 minutes from the cities. We spent the morning enjoying her company, cuddling Issac and of course playing with Eli. I asked Eli to pose for me in his bedroom. This is what came of that request:

He is the best.

After leaving Rogers, Jenny and I went to meet Jodi – Jenny’s Jodi, not my Jodi – for a drink to celebrate her first dentist appointment in a looooooong time. It was good to have some time to talk to Jodi because I haven’t seen too much of her since I moved away. She is such a sweetheart and has a cute “new” boyfriend who she is excited about and that is very exciting. Later Jenny and I met Kevin, who was in town from Kansas City, Kristen and Zach for a St. Paul Saints game. Kristen signed me up to do some game during the middle of one of the innings but I decided I didn’t want to so Jenny did it for me. It was pretty hilarious because the announcer kept calling her Kristin Thompson when he was encouraging her. She won a gift certificate though so she did me proud. Kristen and Zach competed in a foot race and came in third. It was a very fun evening.

On the way home we stopped by Jodi’s place where she and Andy were having a drink on the porch and Jenny got to see her house and we hung out for about an hour before heading home.

Jenny had to tutor on Wednesday morning and I was tired and realizing Wednesday was my only opportunity to sleep in, so on Wednesday I took the morning for myself. I slept in and read my book in the sun and relaxed. It was nice to have that time in the middle of the week to catch my breath a little and actually realize this was a VACATION. That evening Jenny took me up to St. Paul and we met Sarah, Jodi, Kristen and Andy at my favorite bar, Sweeny's. I love Sweeny's because they have the best outdoor patio. I am happy wherever I am as long as I am outside in the sun. Jenny had to leave to go to her parents' cabin but some of Sarah’s and some of Andy’s friends stopped by and this ensued:

Me and Sarah

Jodi and Andy - neighbors, ok AND friends

Don't ask about this one. Actually, if you want to know - ask Tom.

Good times. I love my girls.

Thursday I got to babysit Jake. Here is another picture of him being cute:

I was considering putting him in my suitcase and bringing him home with me but I thought his mom and dad might care. When Aaron got home Sarah and I went and grabbed some dinner and then we met up with Andy and Jodi for some fireworks. Andy wrote a story and part of it included a description of that evening. Here is his description – with a few edits – and the reason behind the name of this entry:

It was the night of July 3rd, and Jodi had an almost irrational love of fireworks, so the three of them went to see the riverside fireworks display. Sarah, another friend of Jodi’s, drove them all downtown. They found a large empty spot next to the river in front of a bay of condos. They sat on a concrete riser containing plants and watched a police skiff cruise the river, shining lights into the crowd on the opposite shore in search of mischief. They sat in a row, Sarah, Jodi, Kristin, himself. They had not realized how close the fireworks would be, launching skyward from a fenced-off area mere yards from where they sat. It was not the biggest fireworks show he had ever seen, but it was the most thrilling because of the proximity. The fireworks seemed to ignite directly over their heads, so close that he wondered if they would all leave with ash in their hair. The concussions shook the concrete under them and made his ears ring. His nose filled with the smell of sulfur. Shamelessly enthralled, he realized after a few minutes under the blazing sky that he had a stupid, childish grin on his face.

Sarah drove an Audi with leather interior. The rearview mirror had a red digital feature embedded in the upper right-hand corner displaying the compass direction the car was heading.

He instantly fixated on it, and expressed out loud a desire to steal it.

He watched the direction change as Sarah drove them home and he realized it was sadly, the end of the evening. They were traveling southwest when he realized this, according to the rearview mirror. Jodi was joking about Sarah killing them all with her erratic driving.

If you died in this car, at least you’d know what direction you were heading, he mused aloud.

Ah Andy.

This picture is of Jodi and Sarah waiting for the fireworks and is BY FAR my favorite picture from the week:

On Friday I met up with Jodi again and went to her sister Dawn’s house. Her mom made me cheese brats and I sat by the pool, teased her family members and was teased in return and soaked in the sun. Happy 4th of July. Man, I was content. Later Jodi and I jumped in Smelly (her car) and I drove us to Wausau, Wisconsin to Sarah’s parents' house. While there I thought we needed to light at least one firework for the 4th so I bought two little fountains at Target. Jodi and I were certain they wouldn’t be loud and wouldn’t wake Jake up so we set them off in the front of the house with her dad. Well, it didn’t take long for the noise to start and I ended up getting beaten by Sarah during the pops and whistles which are clearly described on the packaging. I guess you should read packaging on fireworks. Who knew?

On Saturday Jodi and I continued on to Milwaukee (Mequon actually) for Jeff and Julie’s wedding. Their wedding was WONDERFUL complete with fireflies at the reception site. I think Jodi said it best when she said “I don’t know anyone here but it is one of the most fun weddings I have been to for a long time. There is just a vibe here that I can’t describe.” She was right. The service was wonderful and very Christ focused. The reception site was beautiful. There were a lot of young people there so there was a lot of fun dancing and laughter. Here’s a few of my pictures.

This is a picture of our table ("Celebrate"). These are all friends of Jeff's from Engineering school. We couldn't have asked for a better crowd to hang around with for the evening. We even ended up going out after the wedding was over because we just couldn't get enough of each other. I hope some of them come to Seattle to visit!

On Sunday Jodi took me to Julie’s parents house and I went to a brunch they were holding for Jeff and Julie before they left for the honeymoon in Costa Rica. It was very small so it was a great chance for me to spend some time with Jeff and Julie and get to know their families better. That evening I flew out of Milwaukee home. Sam and Kim picked me up from the airport and the love and fun continued. Shoot – I don’t have to go away to make good memories. They happen here at home with my friends I love so much as well. I tell you what though: my MN friends are amazing. I even appreciate Brandon, who was out of town but called me to catch up, more than I can express. What a wonderful week. I’m sad I won’t be back again this year but I am so thankful to have had a full week to enjoy.

Until next time!