Christmas in London

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Surprise!

I’m planning another London trip.

The idea came about when we were in London for Lee’s 40th birthday trip last November.  The Christmas decorations were going up for the season and I was awestruck.  Anyone that knows me knows that I am a little obsessed with Christmas.  From the music, to the decorations to the food and time with friends and family; I am enamored with all of it.  Being in London and walking through department stores like Harrod’s and Selfridges filled me with such childlike excitement that I knew I had to come back and experience Christmas at full tilt.  Thus, the plan for London Christmas Vacation 2K17 was born.

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Pictures from our London trip in November 2016

Our friends Charlie and Gareth, who live just outside of London, travel every year to Cologne, Germany right before Christmas to check out the Christmas markets.  Neither Lee or I have ever been to Germany so naturally, the idea of tagging along on their annual Christmas pilgrimage sounds like a dream come true.  We could travel out to London, meet up with them, travel to Germany, have an amazing time, and be home in time for Christmas with our families.

Given everything else we’re going through, it may seem like we’re overextending, but I feel like we need this.  As I’ve explained to those who know of our travel plans, if our IVF cycle works, this will be the last time we’ll have an opportunity to visit the UK for quite a while.  If our cycle doesn’t work, we’ll need something to look forward to.  I can’t think of anything more enjoyable than spending the holiday season in our favorite country with some of our favorite people.

And think about it:  If we are pregnant, it’ll be our bump’s first transatlantic vacation.  If I’m not, I can drown my sorrows in delicious UK whiskeys and ciders.  It’s a win/not quite a win, but somewhat bearable situation, really.

While we wait to see what’s going to happen over the course of the next 9 days, this will be the thing that keeps my thoughts otherwise engaged.  And if, for some reason, this round of IVF does not work, this will be what allows me to heal, recharge and come back ready to kick some infertility ass.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lake Life

This week, I had the great fortune to spend 5 days “up north” (the Minnesotan colloquialism for vacation) with my husband and his family.  Lee’s immediate family as well as some of his extended have had an annual lake week tradition for the better part of 3 decades.  The week and the resort have changed a few times over the years as have some of the faces in attendance, but there’s still a pretty amazing turn out each year.  It’s probably the thing Lee looks forward to most; a week at the lake with his nearest and dearest.

The resort is located in Ottertail, Minnesota, about 3 hours northwest of our home in the Twin Cities.

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The area is filled with resorts and stunning lake homes.  Time seems to slow down in Ottertail, which is exactly what I needed this week.  Though I had planned to write this blog post while I was up there, I found myself apprehensive to even open my computer.  I knew that if I opened my computer, I would probably feel the need to check my work email.  There would be some email that would inevitably put me in a terrible mood and send me down a rabbit hole I would have a hard time climbing back out of.  As such, I didn’t check my work email until I arrived back at the office Thursday morning.  After all, I was on vacation.  Work could wait.

We were able to bring our dog, Omar on this vacation as well, as this resort allows dogs during the offseason.  Omar spent most of his time begging for food, (from us and other families at the resort) and napping in the sun.  All in all, I think it’s safe to say that he enjoyed himself.

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This year was a little bit different than years past, because Lee and I are abstaining from alcohol.  It wasn’t too bad, but I do have to say, the minute we finished unpacking, our first instinct was to make a cocktail.  Old habits die hard, I guess.  Instead of a cocktail, we opted for sparkling water and iced tea.  Don’t tell us we don’t know how to party.

Another thing that was different this year was our bedtime.  It’s amazing how much earlier you go to bed each night when you’re not up playing drinking games.  Early to bed meant early to rise and being an early riser,  I was able to watch the sun come up.  Absolutely breathtaking.

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The majority of our days were spent sitting lakeside, playing cards, bags, doing crosswords and listening to music.  Not a bad way to spend 5 days.  We’d venture in to town from time to time, but I found myself happiest and most at peace sitting on the water.  It made me so thankful for the beauty of my state.  Sometimes, I think  we get too busy with day to day monotony to stop and appreciate the beauty around us.  I was thankful to have time to do that this week.

It’s also crazy to think that by the time lake week comes around next year, we might have a newborn baby to bring with us.  As we drove home on Wednesday night, Lee and I talked about all the changes having a baby would bring to lake week.  For starters, we’ll probably have to give up our bedroom in the party cabin and get a cabin of our own.  We’ll also need two cars; we have a hard enough time fitting all of our stuff into one now!  Yes, many things will change over the course of the next year if we get our positive, but we welcome these changes with open arms.  And we know that if we’re lucky enough to have a baby to bring to the lake next year, between Lee’s parents, sisters, aunts, uncles & cousins, this baby will feel more love than anyone could possible imagine.

New York Getaway

Sorry, it’s been a while since I’ve posted anything.  I’m sure you’ve all been waiting with bated breath!

Lee and I just got back from an amazing New York City vacation.  It was the first time for both of us, and it’s safe to say that I fell in love.  From the food, to the culture to the beautiful architecture, I can see why NYC is such a draw for so many people.

Lee and I arrived last Wednesday and took a taxi to meet up with my cousin, Liz, at her workplace. She brought us to her office on the 45th floor.  The views did not disappoint.

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She works right off the High Line, which is essentially an old railroad line that has been turned in to a park.  It was an excellent way to walk around and get acclimated.  We dropped off our luggage and quickly got busy enjoying the city.

Once Liz was done with work, we went on a boat cruise around the city.  The cruise was a sweet gift from my aunts; an NYC experience to celebrate my recent college graduation.  The views were amazing!

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Not only was it amazing for me and Lee to see the city and some of the surrounding neighborhoods from the river, but it was also exciting watching Liz fall in love with the city all over again.

After the tour we traveled to Liz’s home in West Harlem.  She lives in a cute, quiet neighborhood; a surprisingly large one bedroom apartment on the first floor of a New York brownstone.  The neighborhood was perfect.  Far enough away from the NYC hustle and bustle, yet no more than a 10 minute train ride from the heart of the action.

Thursday morning we got up early to make the most of our first full day in the city.  We visited the 9/11 memorial and Freedom Tower.  It was absolutely breathtaking.

 

From there, we made our way to the Brooklyn Bridge.  The first part of the walk was rather annoying.  There were so many tourists!  I realize I am also a tourist, but I always walk with a purpose.  I walk fast and move out-of-the-way if I need to stop for any reason.  This allowed me to blend in fairly well on the sidewalks of NYC.  Once we made it past the initial horde, we were able to take some amazing pictures.

 

Once we made it to Brooklyn, we stopped at Grimaldi’s for their world-famous New York style pizza.  Lee considers himself to be quite the pizza connoisseur, so this was a must do.  Lee’s rating?  “Good”.

After Brooklyn we headed back into Manhattan to make our way through Central Park.  We were meeting Lee’s cousin, his wife and their son at Sheep Meadow for a glass of wine before heading out for dinner.  Central Park was beautiful.  We didn’t spend as much time in Central Park as I would have liked, but I get the feeling that no matter how many times we visit, I’ll never grow tired of all there is to do and see in the park.  Talk about a beautiful place for a picnic.

Image-5 Dinner that evening was at a Brooklyn restaurant called Marlow & Sons.  The food was amazing.  The passion was evident, not only in the dishes we were served, but in the knowledge and friendliness displayed by each employee that we interacted with.  I highly recommend if you’re ever in the area.

Friday & Saturday were miserably hot.  We spent time about half our time walking around and the other half searching for bars with air conditioning.  Any excuse to stop for an ice-cold beverage, am I right?

We spent Sunday morning packing up and taking one last walk through West Harlem before we headed home.  I can say without a doubt that I will visit New York again.  Hopefully sooner rather than later.  It was a great vacation; an unforgettable experience that will leave us with amazing memories.

Now Lee and I are home and reality is coming at us rather quickly.  We have a lot we need to get done by the end of the month in order to be eligible for IVF in September.  But at least, if only for a few days, we were able to forget all the uncertainty and stresses waiting for us at home.  And for that, I will cherish this trip for the rest of my life.

A Memorial Day Getaway

For the first time in the 7 years we’ve been together, Lee and I took a mini-break for ourselves.  Sure, we’ve traveled a fair amount in the time we’ve been together, but it’s always been for  specific reason.  This was the first trip we had planned with no one to visit and nowhere in particular to be.

I chose Duluth as our destination for a variety of reasons.  First, I hadn’t been since I was about 12 years old.  I’d driven through Duluth since that time, but never stayed long enough to appreciate the beauty of the North Shore.  I was looking forward to experiencing Duluth again as an adult, because the visit was lost on me as a kid.  Going on vacation with your parents and your 4-year old sister isn’t exactly “cool” when you’re 12.  This trip also gave Lee an opportunity to walk down memory lane.  Lee graduated from the University of Minnesota-Duluth, so it was nice to see the places he used to hang out “back in the day.”

The hotel company I work for has a hotel in Duluth and rooms were $60 a night which made it an affordable getaway.  The icing on the cake was that the hotel also allows dogs, so we were able to bring our dog, Omar, along for the trip.  While bringing Omar might have impeded on the romance of our mini-break, you could tell that Omar was having the time of his life.  Omar is a jealous little dude; he tolerates our cats, but if we lavish the kitties with too much affection, Omar whines and pouts until we turn our attention toward him.  The fact that he got to spend a weekend with just Mom and Dad made for one happy pup.

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We spent all day Saturday hiking along the North Shore.  We visited Split Rock Lighthouse, Gooseberry Falls and finished the day at Castle Danger, a brewery and taproom on Lake Superior with a dog-friendly patio.  It was a fantastic, relaxing weekend.

It was nice to be able to spend the weekend together, just the two of us (and Omar), with no obligations or worries.  It made me so thankful for my little family and reminded me that sometimes we waste so much time and effort focusing on the things we don’t have that we often forget to be grateful for all that we do have.

What a great lesson to learn on such an important holiday weekend.  A huge thank you to the servicemen and women who fought for our freedom.  I appreciate you all.