beautiful leprechaun

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Seventy and sunny feels like opening the mailbox to find ‘just-because’ and ‘thinking of you’ gifts waiting to be opened.  I just opened all the windows in the apartment, and I may be typing with my fingers, but my mind is planning a day of exploration and adventure with two of my favorite girls.  
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It doesn’t take much more than sunshine to get me excited about an otherwise ordinary day.  How’s that for easy to please, huh? It’s not that the other seasons don’t have their charms, because they do, but there’s something about putting the top down and blasting music and knowing that you can go go go go and not worry about rain or snow or catching a chill.  If we get too hot, well, it’s a good thing Minnesota is ‘The Land of 10,000 Lakes,’ right?  Pull over, grab a bikini and jump in the water.  No problems here.
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We had our first BBQ of summer last night, and I painted my nails bright teal for the occasion.  I was feeling pretty stylish until Jon walked in the door and told me I looked like a leprechaun.  A leprechaun?  Is it common for men to describe their wives that way?  I questioned Jon about his word choice and he quickly corrected, “you’re a very beautiful leprechaun sweetheart.”  
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behind-the-scenes

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We take pictures to remember moments, but how do we capture inside jokes and ‘pinch-me-perfect’ feelings of joy?  
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Jon and I roadtripped across the painted desert, into the Navajo nation, and right up to the Grand Canyon.  We spent nearly 15 hours in the car, and we filled them with giggles and loud music and foreign languages and silly excuses to get out of the car.
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The scenery was more gorgeous and inspiring than I could have imagined, but my favorite memories are the jokes and the mis-turns and all the ‘behind-the-scenes’ action that made the trip an adventure.  All the memories that, unfortunately, cannot be captured on camera.
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Perhaps my blog is a place to record those memories?
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 If so, I never want to forget our accidental foray to Meteor Crater (the world’s largest impact!!), how Chuck’s Trail took us to Devil’s Bridge instead of St. Teresa’s Hill, or how we couldn’t find a restaurant that served anything we could pronounce.  
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I hope I always remember the quaint Italian restaurant covered in twinkling lights and the way we stayed in the hot tub while the stars sparkled above us.
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What is your favorite part of a vacation? Do you have a fool-proof way to make sure you remember your special moments?

nowhere to be

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We made our own rules and jaunted up, down, sideways, and around three times.  Crowds marched onward and upward while we searched for interesting rock formations, hidden caves and gorgeous views.  
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The original goal was to climb the mountain, but we got distracted by wildflowers about halfway up the trail.  After a bit of a chat and some yoga, we decided we’d rather have an adventure than climb to the top:
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Hiking sideways instead of upward (as advised) made me think about about life — it’s not about seeing how far you can go, but learning how to enjoy every step of the journey.  Pause every now and again to examine where you are and take in the goodness of the present moment — if you’re truly enjoying it, why not stay for a while? 
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meet me at sunset

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Murphy’s Law tells us that anything that can go wrong, will.  If we’re cautious, we follow rules and take pains to finagle a felicitous outcome. In my opinion, all that extra work — the pains and rule following — is a waste of time.  Thing is, according to the law, things will still go wrong. 

Jon and I learned exactly how Murphy’s Law works on the first day of our vacation.  
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The airline lost Jon’s luggage the first time he met my parents, and he ended up petitioning my brother and dad for clothes.  A believer that lightning actually does strike twice, we now only travel with carry-on bags.  Unfortunately for us, that means all sorts of responsibility for getting our suitcase through security, onto the plane, safely through a layover, and to our final destination.  Sort of the airport version of over the river and through the woods, right?

Or maybe it’s suppose to be more simple than that.  Most people seem to manage, right?  

Well, not us.
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A five-hour layover created all sorts of opportunity for dining, shopping, reading, working (Jon), and napping.  With all the commotion (do we seriously enjoy the airport that much? It’s possible) it’s easy to forget (or convenient when it’s so gosh.darn.heavy) the whereabouts of your luggage.
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The final boarding call for Jamaica rang out, and, with a look similar to Macaulay Culkin in Home Alone, Jon and I realized that neither of us had our bag (that’s right, we shared one bag).  
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“Wait here, hold the plane, I’ll find it.”  Jon took off running.

Hold the plane?  Are people allowed to do that?  What do I say?  We lost the luggage?  
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A notice about how terribly illegal it is to leave unattended luggage in the airport rang out.

Luckily, Jon found the luggage in the first place we visited (four hours earlier) and made it back to the plane.  
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Our trouble didn’t stop there.  

It was pouring rain when arrived at the hotel, and, what’s worse, the resort restaurants didn’t have any last minute availability.  Hungry and adventurous, we took turns sneaking into a buffet-style restaurant and bringing plates of food to an out-door patio table.  Did we get wet? Yes, of course, but we also got endless laughs.  
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That night, we realized that Jon’s flipflops were broken and his swimsuit was too small.  He lamented his misfortune and I laughed some more.  

I went to bed thinking about how much fun it is when things go wrong.  When else can you exchange Macaulay Culkin and have a forbidden picnic in the rain?  With any luck, we would be kicked out of the hotel and spend the weekend camping or exploring foreign places.  
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let’s go anywhere

How long is your ideal day? 24 hours? 18 hours? 36 hours?  Or, perhaps more to the point, how much time do you need to accomplish your daily activities?  And when you think about your daily activities as leading to your greater goals, how much time do you need to accomplish your dreams?

We need time for action and time for reflection, and, somewhere in between, we need time to simply sit and sway and enjoy the day.  I came across the following graphic by National Geographic, and, well, you can see why time is on my mind:
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The good news is that we get to eat 30 tons of food (make it chocolate chip cookies, please), drink 9000 cups of coffee (do they know I have 2 cups a day?), and laugh 18 times every 24 hours (surely it’s more than that? Everything seems to make me laugh…).

Even if we adjust for personal preferences (I probably spend 19 days trying to find a book page rather than a remote), the numbers probably add up right (if not, why did someone spend so much time creating this? And to be promoted as a National Geographic study? You gotta give it some credit), and that means we have 20% of our life to live.

I went ahead and did a little more research to show you just how much time that actually is:Image
If you’re American, that means you have 15.64 years to do whatever is most important to you.  15.64– the number seems so low!  All I can say is we should all be busy loving and living and exploring and adventuring and taking in the sunshine.

Oh, and on the topic of goals — go for them.  Think it will take too much time? No matter, the time will pass anyway.  As long as you make time for all the loving and exploring and adventuring, go for it — life’s too short not to 🙂

“And every day, the world will drag you by the hand, yelling, “This is important! And this is important! And this is important! You need to worry about this! And this! And this!” And each day, it’s up to you to yank your hand back, put it on your heart and say, “No. This is what’s important.” – Ian S. Thomas, I Wrote This For You

the smallest detail

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My favorite time of day is the first couple of hours before the sun comes up.  The quiet of morning makes me feel quite alone in the world, and I enjoy strolling the vacant streets with a cup of coffee.  The walk wakes up my legs and the coffee jolts my mind, and, ever so slowly, people trickle out of their homes and into the streets.  The poetic and incredibly beautiful thing about people in the morning is how determined they seem to begin the day just right.   

If you watch closely, everyone seems to understand their place in the world around 8am – business associates hop determinedly onto bosses, students crack open their books, and shopkeepers swiftly sweep the floors.  As the day progresses, people inevitably feel tired or angry or sad, but in the morning, it just seems like endless hope.

I woke at 7am the first time I slept at Jon’s apartment.  It was a Saturday morning, and I figured he wouldn’t stir for at least another 3 hours.  When I  rolled over, however, I found him watching CNN and sending emails on his laptop.   He kissed my forehead and hopped out of bed:  “You’re up — Let’s get coffee.”  I wiped the sleep from my eyes and thanked my lucky stars for finding me an early riser.  Two mugs today, please.

We crossed the street from our downtown apartment and entered the coffee house on the corner.  I just about keeled over when he grabbed The WSJ like a reflex.  The WSJ is my favorite paper.  

We ordered two black coffees, snuggled into a booth, and divided the paper.  We spent the next few hours reading out loud, swapping stories, asking for opinions, and laughing over the same events.  We occasionally turned away from the paper to indulge in some quality people watching.  
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This is a long story, Reader, but I’m trying to convey the magnitude of our first, seemingly ordinary, Saturday morning together.  Three years later, the Saturday morning routine has become a relationship habit — we wake, brush our teeth, and then we go searching for caffeine and news.  

We were in Chicago this past weekend, and even though we were on vacation, we woke Saturday morning and went searching for the local coffee shop, hand-in-hand.  The power of our relationship ritual was too great to be broken by something as simple as a vacation.  The consistency of our ritual, of the shared morning, coffee, and paper, is something that we look forward to and depend on.  We repeat this Saturday morning tradition, time and time again, because we both find it so fulfilling and happy — down to the smallest detail.   All of our Saturday mornings play out exactly the same way, in a sort of domestic haze, simply because we wouldn’t want them any other way.  We found a moment that we choose, time and time again, to recreate exactly.
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Do you have any relationship rituals?  Families, couples or friends?  Is there something that you look forward to doing, time and time again, with the people dear to you?

Here are some pictures from the weekend Chicago trip:
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accidental adventure

i might be up and walking around, but if i haven’t had my coffee up, i’m as good as asleep.  jon and i both believe that morning begins with the first cup of fresh coffee.  when we woke up today, we were out, and so we hit the streets thinking we’d grab something local and then relax in bed.

unfortunately, we woke up earlier than the rest of the city (6am), and so all the shops were still closed.  we kept walking on, thinking the next shop would surely have something, until we’d traveled nearly 2 miles (on foot).

while the excursion wasn’t planned, it ended up being a lot of fun to learn about the neighborhood.  highlights include this house with a mural garage:

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we were close to lake harriet within half an hour, so we decided to sip coffee while we walked the lake:

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by the time we finished, we were ready for lunch, and we made a picnic lakeside.  the accidental adventure turned into a somewhat perfect morning:

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we were together. i forget the rest.

Jon and I had a busy weekend entertaining friends from Minneapolis last weekend, and when they left on Sunday afternoon, he told me to grab my coat and my camera.  The sweet boy had made a list of places he thought I should photograph while the leaves were bursting with color:

After we had taken some pictures, he surprised me and took me to a vineyard Elmaro, tucked along the Mississippi.  We’ve been exploring a lot of the Wisconsin vineyards, and it’s convinced us it would be fun over the next year to make a game out of seeing how many we can visit.  Apparently, there is already something known as the Wisconsin Wine Trail, which begins in Iowa and runs up the Mississippi to Minneapolis (or, I suppose, you could say that it begins in Minneapolis and runs down the Mississippi to Iowa.. either way).  Guess we’ll be learning a lot about wine (I currently only know that you drink red in winter and white in summer.. oh! and white with fish and red with meat. Apparently, my current wine knowledge could all be obtained with a Dr. Seuss book on the topic, so I have a lot to learn.)
We also used the trip home to take more pictures: