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Category: Great Outdoors & Weather

Mother’s Day 2014

Mother’s Day 2014

We celebrated the Mother’s in our family up at the lake as we usually do.  It was nice that everyone could make it, including Gram and Gramp.  For a fun surprise, we revealed the gender of our new baby!

We chowed down on artichoke dip and crackers for an appetizer and then had a delicious dinner of stuffed pork tenderloin, strawberry spinach salad, twiced baked potatoes, rolls, and strawberry shortcake with real whipped cream for dessert! Yum!

Before everyone left I made Jeff take a few photos of the ladies and the kids
Mothers Day 2014 Women and Kids

My second Mother’s day with this special little boy
Kristi Bretton Mothers Day 2014
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Mom Gram Kristi Bretton 2014

Michelle with Annika, Bianca and Bennett
Mothers Day Michelle and Kids 2

Dolphin Cruise ~ Fort Myers Princess

Dolphin Cruise ~ Fort Myers Princess

One of the things we had decided to do while we were in Fort Myers Beach was take a harbor cruise to look for dolphins.
It was a beautiful day…. no sign of a cloud anywhere although it was slightly cool at sea. We got to see the area between Fort Myers Beach and Sanibel Island, many different boats, and we were even lucky enough to see several dolphins  including a mama with a newborn calf.  So cool!! Hopefully my videos captured some of it.
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Bretton and Mommy on dolphin cruise
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mom dad dolphin cruise
Here is the bridge to Sanibel and Captiva
Bridge to Sanibel Island
This is Sanibel Island with its historic lighthouse
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Lighthouse on Sanibel Island
Green Sailboat Florida 2014
Sailboat near Fort Myers Beach
This pirate ship is docked near the Fort Myers Princess. Looks pretty authentic!
Pirate ship in Fort Myers
A fleet of Shrimp Boats. Of course I instantly thought of Forrest Gump, Bubba, and Cap’n Dan.
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Shrimp Boats in Fort Myers

It was so nice to get out on the water and enjoy the afternoon and our surroundings.  So cool to see wild dolphins!!  After our cruise we went back to the beach and spent the rest of the afternoon there.

Fort Myers Beach

Fort Myers Beach

On Sunday, Feb 16, we drove over to Fort Myers Beach which is about 10-15 minutes from my parent’s place. We parked and bought out tickets for the Dolphin Cruise, then shopped our way down to the beach where we had pizza for lunch before setting sail.
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Street scene Fort Myers Beach
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Mom is a babe
Fort Myers street performer
Fort Myers Beach Feb 2014
Fort Myers Beach Scene

Check out this panorama…. I stitched 8 photos together to create it. If you click the photo it will take you to  Flickr where you can view the  big size
Fort Myers Beach Panorama

Another view of the beach…
Beach Scene ~ Fort Myers, FL
Beach Ft Myers
We walked down to the fishing pier.
People on Pier
The birds were waiting for a free meal! lol
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Pier at Fort Myers Beach

It was a little cool late in the day after the dolphin cruise but we still spent some time at the beach.  We took Bretton into the ocean for the first time
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Bretton happy beach baby
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Bretton on beach blanket
I tried writing our names in the sand but I think I would’ve had better luck using shells. Oh well.
names in florida sand 2014

I wish we had more time to spend at the beach.  So much to see, so little time. Hopefully we can spend more time at the beach again next year!

Lakes Park ~ Fort Myers, FL

Lakes Park ~ Fort Myers, FL

Rather than writing one ginormous post with 8 million photos, I am going to break it down by event/day.  On our first full day in Fort Myers, we went to Lakes Park and had a barbeque, walked around the lake, and enjoyed the nice weather and the company of my parents.  We saw a variety of wildlife but unfortunately we didn’t cross paths with any gators! lol

I took more video than photos but it might be awhile before I can finish the movie of our trip.

Florida lake swamp
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Lake at Lakes Park
This was just before Bretton threw his new sunglasses in the lake….
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Palms over the swamp
White egret in florida

Like father like son!
Erick and Bretton Florida sunglasses

It will be fun to go back to this park when Bretton is a little older.  They have a small water park and other things for kids to do, as well as many trails throughout the reserve.  Fun place to have a picnic or barbeque.  They even have big cooking areas with big barbeque pits… enough to roast a pig if ya wanted!

Porkapalooza VII {2013}

Porkapalooza VII {2013}

My brother Jeff and his wife Amanda hosted their seventh annual Porkapalooza barbeque over Memorial Day weekend. The weather was cooler than usual which was very nice.  We thought that might deter people but it had the opposite effect…. a record number of guests showed up for the most successful Porkapalooza to date.  I will have to have Jeff give the run-down of pork stats for the year… the only thing I can confirm is that over 100 lbs of pork were cooked this year including pulled pork, homemade sausage, ribs, pork belly, bacon explosion, and bacon lollies.  Everything was delicious, as always.DSC_2780

Everyone brought either a side dish or a donation for the food shelf.  There was a ton of awesome food.  Appetizers, salads and desserts galore.  I loved these “piggy pops” that my Aunt Carol made….
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Our friends Rick and Janeen were there with their daughter Maddy

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Bretton with Uncle Brian.  He was exactly 5 weeks old at his first Porkapalooza
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Angel Face
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Bretton with Janeen
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I love the tradition of Porkapalooza… it has gotten HUGE!!

Thank you Jeff and Amanda for being such awesome, generous hosts.

Oh Spring, Where Art Thou??

Oh Spring, Where Art Thou??

According to science and Mother Nature, today is the first day of Spring.  Sure doesn’t feel like it around here with a local temp of 6′ and windchills below zero. Boo!!! What a complete 180′ from last year at this time when all the snow was long gone and the ice was rapidly melting from the lakes.  Some days in the 70’s.

Today also marks one month from our due date which means baby Bretton could make his appearance anytime now!! No signs of labor or anything at this point and overall I am feeling pretty good.  This week we have parent-teacher conferences in the evening at school and then next week is our Spring Break.  Erick and I have been working hard to get our upstairs ready for the baby…… the nursery should be painted this weekend and then I can spend all of next week putting it together.  We have so much stuff!!!  Right now our basement is overflowing with all sorts of baby goodies. People have been so generous and I had the best baby shower ever last weekend. I promise I will blog about that soon!
Baby stuff taking over our basement!!

Wordless Wednesday

Wordless Wednesday

Here are a few photos that I took this fall that have been sitting on either my camera or my computer, untouched until now!

October 2012 Sunrise

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On this date I have blogged about:

Scenic Saint Croix River Boat Tour {Fall Edition}

Scenic Saint Croix River Boat Tour {Fall Edition}

Yep, I’m blogging about events from over a month ago again 😉

Back in September, on the same weekend as PJ & Allisa’s Wedding and Jeff & Amanda’s Reception, we took advantage of the beautiful, sunny autumn Sunday and headed to Taylor’s Falls for a scenic boat tour aboard the Taylor’s Falls Princess.
Taylors Falls Princess

Taylors Falls Princess

The trees were not yet at peak, but it was still beautiful.

This is the bridge from MN to WI. There are State Parks on both sides.

My cousin Daniel (born and raised in Tucson, AZ) was in town and had been staying with us all week and this was one of the last things we did together after a long week.  You have to visit Taylor’s Falls if you’re ever in Minnesota.  It is beautiful!

Dan was fascinated with the paddle wheels and how a boat this big can navigate in waters less than 6 inches deep in some parts. I couldn’t do it!  The river was actually so low on this particular day that they had to cut the boat tour short because they couldn’t get as far down the river as usual

It was a very nice little tour, just short of an hour long.  After our river excursion we drove home through Osceola, WI and it was a very pretty drive. Later that night we had dinner at Khan’s Mongolian, one of my favorites! Then Adios to Dan.  Not a bad send-off, right?

Greek Goddess Girls Weekend {Kim’s Bachelorette}

Greek Goddess Girls Weekend {Kim’s Bachelorette}

Back in September my group of besties spent the weekend at Mallard Lake Family Resort near Webster, WI, in honor of Kim who was soon to be married.  A special thanks to Mary, (the Maid of Honor and best friend a girl could have), for organizing such a fun weekend.
We rented a cabin at the resort and had a very quiet and peaceful weekend. The weather was lovely!
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Our cabin was perfect for the six of us
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We drove up Friday after work and spent the night relaxing at the bonfire and later playing a very funny game inside the cabin.
We woke up early on Saturday, made breakfast and then later spent the afternoon out on the lake on a rented pontoon.
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Later that night we had a delicious, homemade Greek themed dinner

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After dinner we drove to a nearby bar somewhere in the middle of nowhere. Mary assured us that there would be NOBODY there but us, however we arrived to a hopping place with another bachelorette party in attendance. We had made special T-shirts to stand out, we looked pretty cute!
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We didn’t stay at the bar too long and ended up heading back to the cabin for another bonfire.  The following day we slept in, made something to eat, then packed up the cabin before leaving in the early afternoon.  It was an enjoyable weekend and I hope our group of girls can try to do this together every fall 😉

A Summer Drive to St Croix Falls

A Summer Drive to St Croix Falls

I preface the title of this post with “Summer” because I am till playing blog catch-up!  These photos were taken back in August 😉

I pretty much worked all summer… teaching summer school, attending paid science workshops and writing math assessments for my school district.  I had a total of maybe 11 days off this summer and four of them weren’t until  the week before I had to officially go back to my regular teaching job.  My guy  and I wanted to do something fun on our last day of summer (August 23rd) and we had a little celebrating to do. We decided to drive up to Taylor’s Falls with the intention of catching a river cruise aboard the Taylor’s Falls Princess.  We packed a small cooler of drinks and got up to Taylor’s Falls in time to make the departure time we desired…. only to get there and discover that they had stopped running all but the 1:30 cruise on weekdays.  Super lame!!! We certainly weren’t going to let this obstacle spoil our time so we drove over to St Croix Falls instead and hiked around by the river.

We saw our first fall leaves of the season…

A little stream in the woods…

I can’t remember what park this was but it had a cute little bridge…

This same day was also the day the Minnesota State Fair started (August 23rd) and we decided on the way back home that we were going to go to the Fair that night.  It was a long and adventurous day!!

We eventually DID make it back to Taylor’s Falls a month later and took a cruise on the Taylor’s Falls Princess. I’ll probably be blogging about that sometime in December at the rate I’ve been going! haha

Summer Excursion to Red Wing

Summer Excursion to Red Wing

I’m going to try to make an effort to catch up on my blogging over the next few weeks.  Bare with me, I might be blogging about things that happened months ago.  I always say better late than never 😉

Another adventure that Mr L and I took this past summer was a day trip to Red Wing, MN.  We were there once before on Memorial Day 2012 but this time we had an entire day to explore.  We happened upon the Red Wing Trolley and were fortunate to be the only customers on that particular shuttle so we got our very own private tour! It was a great way to see the city and hear some history. We also scoped out places we want to visit in the future…

We saw many cool buildings and houses around town….

One of the things we did that way was drive to the top of Soldiers Memorial Park where we had excellent views of the Mississippi River below….

We took a walk through these woods at the top of the bluffs…

Of course I took a series of shots to create this panorama of the city below….

A few other miscellaneous pics…

It was a fun day and I look forward to going back to visit again next year!

Big Stone Mini Golf & Sculpture Gardens {Surprise Date}

Big Stone Mini Golf & Sculpture Gardens {Surprise Date}

I have a LOT to catch up on as far as blogging goes!! I know that all I blogged about all summer was my family vacation to California for Jefanda’s wedding, but that is certainly not all I was up to this summer!  Besides working nearly full-time, I did have some other fun adventures.  One of the fun days that Mr L.  and I had together was when he took me on a surprise date. I had no idea where we were going but was told to bring my camera (as if I ever leave home without it!) and a cooler full of cold drinks (it was a very hot day!)

We ended up in Waconia, which is near Lake Minnetonka, at a cool place called Big Stone Mini Golf & Sculpture Gardens.  This is a private residence with expansive grounds that is so big the owner turned it into a 14 hole mini golf with tons of cool sculptures all over.
Arched Entry into Big Stone
The first hole was so difficult it took us both nearly six hits just to get our balls around the first bend. We laughed so hard I nearly p.i.m.p.
Enchanted Forest at Big Stone
This upside-down tree stump was its own entire ecological system
Upside down tree stump
Some of the scultpures…
Rock Paper Scissors Sculpture at Big Stone
Rock and Metal Sculpture at Big Stone
Big Metal Sculpture at Big Stone
How it looked from the inside…
Mini Golf Hole Inside Giant Metal Sculpure
Metal Sculpture at Big Stone
Some of the sculptures were quite interesting
Metal Man Made of Chains
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This stained glass rooster was pretty cool
Giant Stained Glass Rooster at Big Stone Mini Golf
I like the sunflare on this one
Old Wooden Boat with Sunflare
There were also animals!
Brown Goat
Black and White Goat
White Rooster at Big Stone
Kitty taking a sip on one of the holes
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It is a hike to get down to that part of the Cities from where I live, but it sure was a fun day. I think we paid $7 each and we could stay as long as we want.  Take your honey down there sometime…. I’m sure we’ll be back some day!

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On this date I have blogged about:

Jeff and Amanda’s Breath-Taking, Mountain-Top Wedding

Jeff and Amanda’s Breath-Taking, Mountain-Top Wedding

Its been a couple of months now since my little brother Jeff married his soul mate Amanda (together they are known as Jefanda!).  Both of our immediate families were in attendance for the ceremony at Kunde Family Estates in Kenwood, CA.  It was a sunny, breezy day down at sea level which means it was very windy at an elevation of 1,053 ft (which is the elevation of the mountain top according to my Elevation app!)

As soon as the limo brought us to the top of the mountain, we were met with glasses of wine, which we were encouraged to enjoy during the ceremony.  How cool is that?! We took a few photos and then waited for the bride to make her entrance.
These photos are a mix of the ones I took and the ones that the professional photog, Sherman Chu, took.
First, check out the view. This is where they got married! I took this panorama which has 7-8 photos stitched to create this. It is a HUGE image, click on it to make bigger at Flickr.
Kunde Estate Mountain Top View Panorama~ Kenwood, CA
Before the ceremony….. (very cold and very windy at the top of the mountain!)
Kristi Mom and Dad Mountain top

Brian and Michelle
Brian and Miichelle Moutain top
Bennett and Michelle
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Brian and Annika
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Amanda’s bestie LaShara and her husband
LaShara and Tom
Amanda’s mom and SIL Cristina
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Here comes the bride!!!
Amanda being walked down (the aisle) by her dad, Richard.
Amanda walk down the aisle
While Jeff waits patiently for his bride…
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Beautiful vows….
Jefanda Wedding Love
Jefanda-husband and wife

Husband and wife!
Jefanda Wedding Kiss
I didn’t get the best perspective from where I was sitting, so here are a few photos by Sherman Chu Photographer:

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And a few group shots by Sherman Chu.
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The whole group….
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Me with my sisters-in-law
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Jefanda and the kids
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And a few of Jefanda by Sherman Chu….
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It was a beautiful day and Jeff and Amanda looked so happy! It was an honor to be there to celebrate with them.

Next I will be blogging about the awesome wedding dinner….. in a wine cave!

In case you missed my other California posts:

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On this date I have blogged about:

Honor Thy Mother…..

Honor Thy Mother…..

Last weekend my family met up at my mom and dad’s house for boating and dinner in honor of Mother’s Day.  It was a beautiful day; we spent a couple of hours on the boat and at the dock, watching Bianca and Bennett catch a ton of fish. Bianca would literally catch a fish, have it just taken off the hook, drop her line in the water and another one would be caught! Each time she would scream “I got one!” with excitement. It was pretty cute. Good thing her Uncle E is very patient and helpful 😉
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Bennett only fished for about ten minutes but he caught a couple too!
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Bri and Shel

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For dinner we had grilled pork tenderloin with strawberry spinach salad, roasted parmesan dill potatoes, and fruit salad. We also celebrated Jeff’s birthday (May 18th) 5 days early. Beebs wanted to help him blow out the candles but apparently Jeff wasn’t having it! lol
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Gram had a few jokes to tell
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After dinner I convinced everyone to go outside for a family photo. Not bad for using the timer!
Mothers Day 2012 Family Photo
Some of us can be silly too 😉
Silly Family Photo 2012
A few other pics…
Me and my mom. IRL she is 3 inches taller than me but I was standing on a step here!
Kristi and Mom May 2012
Jeff with Gram and Gramo May 2012
Kristi and Gramp May 2012
Mom Dad Gram and Gramp May 2012
Michelle and the kids…
Michelle and Kids Mothers Day 2012
It was a great day, I hope all you Mothers out there had a nice day as well and felt appreciated and loved!

What a Beautiful Morning….

What a Beautiful Morning….

There is just something so peaceful about sunrise (and sunset!)
I have been meaning to share this photo taken one morning on my way to work.
Beautiful Sunrise over WBL

I just looked at the date it was taken… March 20, 2012. Two months ago. Better late than never, right?