Big Zoey 4

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Ben came up with that logo and drew it on the driveway!  Color me extremely impressed.  Zo had started out wanting another Toothless birthday party but changed her mind to Baymax and Big Hero 6 a little over a month before her party.

Zo inviteI thought that’d be easy enough since everything is just a white circle with two black circles that are connected by a black line!  It was probably the easiest party we’ve done, and the cake took a lot less time than the Toothless cake did last year!

DSC_9890Zo had such a wonderful party with her family and friends!  She was decked out in head to toe (and finger nail) Baymax! And her favorite gift… a giant Baymax!

DSC_9494 DSC_9501 DSC_9504 DSC_9512 DSC_9513 DSC_9518 DSC_9527 DSC_9535zo shoesWe couldn’t have timed the weather more perfectly.  The temps reached almost 80 degrees in the afternoon!  The kids loved playing out in the back yard… pin the health care chip on Baymax was a success!

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DSC_9581 DSC_9713 DSC_9718 DSC_9760 DSC_9767We opened gifts outside and Zo loved the “bucks” Great Grandma gave her!

DSC_9772 DSC_9801 DSC_9813 DSC_9864Then, cake time!

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DSC_9896 DSC_9921 DSC_9922 DSC_9936 DSC_9944 DSC_9948We wanted to take a family picture before we forgot this year!

DSC_9875But, someone was offended that we considered it a family picture when he wasn’t included.  He barged his way right under the table and up into our picture…

DSC_9883 DSC_9879To be fair, he’s right.  It isn’t truly a family picture without him!

The weather took a turn for the worst as the last guests were getting into their cars.  Torrential rain followed and we hung around inside finally going through Zo’s long anticipated goodie bag!

DSC_9966 DSC_9967Thanks to everyone who made Zo’s day so special!  She had a blast!  And special super thanks to Auntie Kari for making Zo her incredible Baymax pinata.  Zo can’t wait to put it in her new room!  She would have been devastated if we had to bash him for candy!

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48 Months!

Seems weird to be counting months at this point, but it’s so fun to go back through the monthly pictures that I don’t intend to stop!

Last week, my beautiful girl turned four.  We quickly shot these pictures before going to Mall of America for rides and dinner “at a place where they will sing”.  Requests of the birthday girl.  Disappointed to find out they’re changing up or repairing her favorite rides.  Looks like Swiper Sweeper is no more!  Color Zo devastated.  Good thing we still had the carousel and Diego’s Bus.

It’s crazy how fast the time has gone.  And yet,  I can’t really remember life before my girl.  Time, slow down!

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Zo was thrilled when she was brought up on stage at the Hard Rock so the whole restaurant could sing her Happy Birthday!  She ate it up.  We didn’t get any pictures since we videoed it, but we did get these gems!

DSC_0188 DSC_0190I promise we didn’t tell her to do that with her eyes!  Can’t stop laughing every time I see those pictures!  And then we headed home for some presents and cake!  Daddy gave Zoey a gold and emerald necklace in honor of her golden birthday.  Her reaction was precious.  She thanked Daddy very sincerely and told him she’d “wear it always.”  Ugh.  Melt.

DSC_0222 DSC_0227 DSC_0232She loved all her gifts from this birthday.  Lots of Toothless and Baymax, and some things for her new room in our new house in Duluth!

DSC_0245 DSC_0258 DSC_0261 DSC_0266DSC_0273A new “Regular T” (her others are NASTY) and her big three, all on one pillow case.  Reaction needs no explanation…

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And, of course, more cake!  Mommy and Zoey got carried away and had an actual cake fight.  We couldn’t stop laughing!  Was fun to get crazy… It started out small, but by the end Zo was COVERED!

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Mother’s Day 2015

As much as I loved breakfast in bed, the flowers, the coffee mug, and the handmade poster at the bottom of the stairs, it was the gift Zo gave me last night that was the summation of why it’s a gift to be a Mom…

After we read books, as I was tucking her in, she grabbed my hand, kissed my palm, closed my fingers into a fist and pushed my fist to my chest.  She said “Here, Mommy.  That’s for later, in case you need me.”

Nothing further needs to be said.  My little love.  The reason I breathe.  So grateful to be her mother.

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She’s 4!

Zo’s lucky.  Her birthday happens to fall on a very cool, unofficial holiday.  Let me start by saying, May the fourth be with you!  Not only is today Star Wars Day, it’s the day that our beautiful Zeejian Weegian came into this world!  I can’t believe how tiny she was.  Now, she’s over half my height.  Where does the time go?!

baby zo hatLast night we upheld our tradition.  Buffalo Wild Wings Blazin’ wings on her birthday eve!

blazin bwwDon’t worry, we don’t feed her Blazin’ wings.  She had her “favorite Buffalo Wild Wings macaroni and cheese”, as she tells our waitress.  And the best early birthday gift was outside the restaurant waiting for her…

bday rainbowHer party was awesome yesterday!  She felt so special and so loved.  I’ll do a bigger post about the party later this week but here is one of my favorite pictures from the day… thanks for taking it, Jill!

fam partyThis is the first birthday that Zo has spent at school.  While it makes me a little sad to not be with her, she was so excited to spend it with her friends in class!  Grateful that Zo’s teachers sent us these pictures today!

2015-05-0413_18_58.490440 2015-05-0415_28_41.280930I love this kid.  Everything about her.  You know that, though.  Ugh.  Like Ben always says, her birthdays are always a little sad.  It’s so hard to say goodbye to the age she’s at because she’s so wonderful, but each year does get better and that helps us feel at peace with the fact that she’s growing up.  So. Fast.

Newborn ZoWindow stander Relaxing in style at the South Pier InnBeautiful purple girllittlest dead headHappy girl when she's with Auntie Carly9Jan 2013 Zo and Peen StickiesDSC_009120130625-134547.jpgDSC_0035DSC_554520140528-072409-26649295.jpgDSC_0050IMG_5488DSC_7144DSC_8813Happy Birthday, Nugget!  We love you more than we can say.  Always will.  Anything for you, Baby… anything.

Zo’s 4th Birthday Video

Between moving, party prep, work, and everything else, I have really cut it close with all the things I should be doing right now!  Just finished up Zo’s birthday video last night.  I can’t believe she’s going to be 4 on Monday.  Her golden birthday!  I can’t even put into words how highly I think of this kid.  The love and pride are overwhelming.  The song I chose for the video this year describes her perfectly (not to mention that it’s her favorite song right now).  It’s from How to Train Your Dragon 2.  It’s about celebrating your individuality; doing what others wouldn’t do.  That’s so her.  She’s unlike any kid I’ve met.  Her compassionate nature and good heart slay me.  She doesn’t care that she’s not like other girls.  She loves dragons and dirt.  She loves every creature.  She’ll pick up earthworms and beetles and name them and make up wonderful stories about their lives.  And, a day later, she can go to a photo shoot, sit in hair and makeup, and take gorgeous pictures without batting an eyelash.  She dose this all with humility and character.  She truly goes where no one goes, as the song says, and makes no apologies for her preferences.  I could learn a lot from her.

Here’s her video!  (Music credit:  Jonsi – Go Where No One Goes) If you click on the 360p in the lower right hand corner of the video box and switch it to “720p HD” the resolution will be better.  You can also make the video full screen by clicking the rectangle in the lower right hand corner of the video box.

To my darling girl:

Continue to be you.  Never let anyone make you feel like you’re wrong because you do your own thing.  It’s undeniable that your outer beauty is staggering, yet, it’s your inner beauty that draws everyone to you.  You truly have the kindest heart.  The other day, when I was sad, you took my hand and told me you’d make it better.  You protect those that you love.  Those things cannot be taught.  That light is born in you.  You have a fearless heart that feels empathy and compassion for every person.  You can talk to the veteran on the light rail or the teenage boy working the checkout at Target.  They want to talk to you because you take a true interest in them and make them feel like they matter, because it’s so clear to you that they do matter.  I’ve seen you change a person’s day with your smile and that bubbly “Hello!  I’m Zoey!”. This is such a gift.  Don’t ever let anyone change that about you, for it’s your inner beauty that makes you the person that I love.

You are one of a kind.  No one is like you.  For that, I’m so grateful, because there is no greater gift than being an individual… and a sincere one at that.  You don’t do it to be quirky.  You don’t do it to appease others.  You do it because it’s who you are.  When I tell you many times a day how much I love you, it’s because I can’t hold it in.  Every time I look at you, I beam because I’m lucky enough to have you in my life.  When we play the “I love you more than” game, the background noise disappears.  That is what I live for.  Thank you for being the greatest gift in my life.  It’s truly difficult to explain how much I love you and how proud I am of you.  You can change the world.  Truly.  That smile, that light in your eyes, and that positive, loving person you are.  It will move mountains.  Slow for no one, Zoey!  Continue to go where no one goes! 

Happy Golden 4th Birthday, my Zeejian Wegian!  May 4th is truly a day to celebrate!

Those Who Can, DULUTH!

The cat’s slowly creeping out of the bag.  So much change in such a short amount of time.  I’m sorry that some of you are finding out this way.  It wasn’t something we publicized greatly once we really started to implement the final stages of our plan in late March.  I’m still nervous about sharing it since we haven’t officially closed on our house yet (passed inspection and set to close in late June), but yes, it’s happening!  We are FINALLY moving to Duluth!  And I’m so excited about how well it’s worked out so far that it is hard to keep to myself!

So… the obvious part… You all knew we wanted this.  It’s been anything but a secret.  No short term goal but something we’ve seemingly dragged out for almost a decade.  And the things that had to happen to get us to this point have certainly been stressful.  We’ve experienced ridiculous highs and scary lows.  Obnoxiously long story short, we accomplished this because we didn’t give up.  Everything fell into place because we worked so hard to do it right and time everything perfectly.  I still have trouble believing how easily this all went down which is why I’m so nervous it’s going to cave in at any moment.  To finally see all this begin to culminate… it’s almost unbelievable.  I still have trouble wrapping my head around the fact that it’s actually happening.  I think it’ll become more real when we sit down on our first night in our house.  Zo will be sleeping peacefully in her brand new, pink, gray and dragon themed bedroom (by request).  We will be surrounded by boxes.  I will be half way through my glass of one of the hundreds of delicious Duluth craft beers that I used to have to drive 2.5 hours to get.  I will most likely break down and cry.  I just can’t believe it.  I can’t even fathom how this is going to feel.  A home.  Finally.  Someone pinch me.

I had written a much longer post (it’s already long-winded, I know!) about why we’ve been so removed from everything, but I realized that it shouldn’t matter.  And it doesn’t matter.  All I can say is that we did what we needed to do to guard our goal from destruction.  From distractions.  We were so afraid to share what was going on because we were so afraid it wouldn’t happen.  We’ve accomplished what we once thought impossible and I can tell you that there were many nights when we felt like we just couldn’t keep going.  We’d sit on the couch feeling that malaise.  Should we just buy a house down here?  Keep Zo in her school?  But we always came back to the same conclusion.  We wouldn’t be happy.  The appeal of a new, flashy Prior Lake or Stillwater house would wear off in a few months and we’d just end up saying to ourselves, “I wish we lived in Duluth.”  Restless, again.  All the sacrifices we’ve made would have been for nothing.

In a nutshell, our plan went perfectly.  We are able to transfer our positions to our Duluth office and we were so fortunate to have an offer accepted on a house in our desired neighborhood with a view of the lake.  An impressive view, at that.  The interior is beautiful and I can’t wait to fix up the outside!  We were the first ones to see it and the first (of TEN) to offer.  Who knew the Duluth housing market would get so competitive? The sellers are transferring to the Twin Cities for work at the exact same time we need to move out of our townhouse so that couldn’t have worked out better.  Zo will be assigned to the grade school we desperately wanted her to go to.

So, why do I feel so scared when it is all going so well?!  Change is difficult; this is true.  But this is the change we’ve been working so hard for.  Perhaps, it’s that we will have accomplished that goal that we’ve spent the majority of our adult lives trying to achieve.  What’s next?  Should that be something I worry about?  I truly think that the beauty is, I can finally relax and take the time to exist.  No breadcrumb trail of consequences that could effect the outcome of our goal.  Just happy, windy, northern-cold existence.  I will have to relearn everything:  a commute-free schedule, a route to school, where to grocery shop, where to take Spliff to the vet, and mostly, just how to live without unyielding stress.  With this lack of stress… oooooh… I can’t even imagine the sleep I’m going to get!  Until then, we haven’t closed on the house so that is still our hanging chad.  I think I will have one ore two more sleepless nights.  I won’t feel like this is real until I have a house key in my hand.  I honestly couldn’t have done any of this without Ben.  He works so hard for our family and I would’ve given up on this craziness a long time ago if it hadn’t been for his persistent pep talks and positive attitude.  Ben tends to go unappreciated.  I want to put it out there, because it doesn’t get said enough… He’s amazing.  He is the reason we succeed.  He’s the rational voice in a crowd of crazy.  Love him.

frontdeck viewI hope that the next time I do a house update, it’ll be because we’ve successfully closed and moved in!  Wish us luck!  Thank you to everyone who had a hand in our success with all this.  It was so difficult and we are truly grateful for the love and support we’ve received!

California Vacation 2015

I estimate that it’s been at least 15 years since I’ve visited my home state of CA.  Ben, Zo, and I were eternally grateful when we found out my parents were treating us to a vacation in Palm Springs/ Rancho Mirage for a week!  I won’t bore you with drawn out details and explanations… let’s just hit the highlights!

Zo got searched by TSA.  Her primary concern was Toothless’ wellbeing.  He came through just fine… and they made her “officio” TSA… IMG_6454 IMG_6461 IMG_6472 IMG_6477 IMG_6480 IMG_6484 IMG_6486She flies like a boss.  Can’t complain one bit. When we arrived in Rancho Mirage, I couldn’t believe my eyes when we pulled up to the house… GORGEOUS. DSC_8171 DSC_8173 DSC_8168 DSC_8159 DSC_8177 DSC_8183 And the BOUGAINVILLIEA!!!  Breathtaking… and EVERYWHERE! DSC_7281 DSC_7278 DSC_7272 DSC_7269 DSC_7260 DSC_7256

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We were in the pool most of the seven days that we were there!  Zo learned to swim under water and dive down to the bottom of the deep end of the pool!!!  We were honestly in awe.  She was a fish.  Even Auntie Carly, the swimmer of the family, was impressed!

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We went to the San Jacinto range and rode the tram to the top.  Again, breathtaking…

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Grandpa bought Zo a bag of rocks (she was geeked!) so we had to immediately investigate those (and all the others that she picked up on our hike) when we got home!

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We also commemorated the huge a** digger I took during our hike.  Nothing like a little snow rash from your desert vacation.  I amaze myself sometimes.

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We took many walks in the gated community we were staying at… mostly so Zo could collect her rocks in her rock necklace on our “wock walks”…

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Ben was the grill master during our trip, and he didn’t mind, because he had help…

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Ben, Zo, and I headed to Joshua Tree for a day trip.  Again, I’ve never seen anything so breathtaking!  From the view of the San Andreas fault (geology geek in me was flipping out) to the bird watching, I was in heaven…

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Zo was completely in her element, being that we were surrounded by rocks (especially nose rock that you can see above in which she’s making a pig nose in front of).  She even completed a Junior Park Ranger course (had to complete and document activities during her time at the park).  She even had to take an oath to earn her badge and certificate.  I think this was the highlight of her trip.  She kept telling us she couldn’t believe “I’m an actual Power Ranger now!”  Although, her best quote came from one of her required activites.  She was required to think about what she smelled, saw and felt while at the park.  When Ben asked her what she smelled she quickly stated “I smell Joshua Trees!”  Since she did such a wonderful job completing her Junior Ranger workbook, we let her pick out a “guy”… she chose a Bighorn Sheep. She loves putting flowers behind his ear :).

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We had a lot of fun time with the Giesens.  It’s so sweet to see Graham and Zoey have some quality time together!  Cousins!

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And, of course, with Baby Jillian… Melt!

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We took a trip to The Living Desert Zoo and Arboretum with the entire group.  The landscape was stunning and impressive!

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Speaking of creatures, I was in bird nerd heaven!  So many new species to see!  And hummingbirds everywhere!

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And, we obviously have to mention that we were vacationing over the most epic of Pi Days.  3.14.15 at 9:26!!!  A sure cause for celebration!

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My Mom’s best friend and my Aunt Uncle ;), Carol, came to visit while we were there.  I was so glad she was able to come and stay.  Zo adores her!  We went out to dinner and witnessed a gorgeous sunset.  The best of the trip!

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It’s the sad truth that this is the longest amount of time I’ve spent with Zoey since my maternity leave with her four years ago.  I treasure every moment with my mini me.  She is a light in so many peoples’ lives… even those she’s just met.  I’m proud to call her my daughter.

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She appreciates things most adults take a lifetime to learn.  I’m grateful every day for her.

Speaking of grateful, a HUGE thank you to my parents, Wayne and Connie, for the trip of a lifetime!  You treated us to EVERYTHING and we are lucky to have you.  It was exactly what we needed.  We love you more than we can say, and a token of our appreciation for the trip (and, quite frankly, all that you do and have done for us) will be waiting when you get home.  :)  Thank you both!

46 Months

Things have been chaotic the past few weeks!  I was sick on March 4th and it was sub zero the rest of the week so we decided to wait until yesterday to take Zo’s monthly pictures.  She’s 46 weeks (if that’s relevant at this age LOL) and that means only 2 months away from being 4 years old!  How did that happen?!

She’s looking so grown up these days!

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The Dump

Partners in cheese-related crime.  Neither have met a cheese they didn’t covet…

buddiesReasons I love visiting Marisa:  beer, cheese, ridiculously delicious home made breakfast, Bacon (unrelated to breakfast)…

IMG_5368The only way we seem to be in pictures together…

IMG_5687Long day at the dog office…

IMG_5511A good brother humors his little sister.  Even if it means being completely encased in a fleece tent wearing the equivalent of a Polar Bear’s coat…

IMG_5411Love this picture Zo drew for my office… Us holding hands and Toothless flying in the sky:

IMG_5660And this one of her holding hands with Grandma…

IMG_5694Daredevil…  She tells us her spider name is “Spydon”

IMG_5564A girl after her parents’ hearts…

IMG_5488“I could stand out here forever, cuz the cold never bothered me anyway.”