Monday, March 26, 2012

A Trip to the Farm

This past weekend, the kids and I took a trip up to Sherwood while Perry was busy reffing basketball games at the State Am in Bismarck.  We had a great time with Papa and Grandma; on Friday night, we attended the PTO carnival.  Natalie enjoyed all the noise while Calvin went down the gigantic inflatable slide about 30 times.  

The highlight of the weekend, though, was a trip to a local farm to see some farm animals!  I had planned on taking both Natalie and Calvin, but it was just too cold for Natalie to be outside.  So, Papa, Calvin and I jumped into the pickup and drove out to the farm of Guy and Wendy Solemsaas.  They have three beautiful daughters, Madeline, Grace, and Lily, who helped show us around the barnyard.  I'm sorry if I spelled their names wrong, Wendy!  

First up, we met some cats...lots of cats who are as friendly as can be.  

  Calvin has no fear of animals, and went right to work carrying them around.  By the way, check out that vintage E.T. beanie!  I didn't pack for 30 degree weather, so you can also see Natalie's jacket underneath the grey sweatshirt.  Sorry, Calvin.

I couldn't believe how friendly the cats were!  Calvin was so focused on holding as many cats as possible.  But pictures don't do it here's a video of his kitty-chasing adventure...

There were also bunnies in this barn that were SOOOOO soft, but Calvin was not interested.  He was obsessed with the cats.
In the next barn, we caught a glimpse of a calf that was born just hours before we arrived.  The mama cow was a bit protective, so I just took a picture for Calvin and we moved to the next barn.  Sorry for the poor picture quality...I don't really have any excuse for why that happened.   
The next barn was full of sheep!  Big sheep, little lambs...they were all there, and they all have names.  I was amazed at how they all knew every single sheep by name.  Guy says he wanted to name them #1, #2, #3, etc., but with a house full of girls, he had no choice but to let them choose names for each one.  

Calvin ran around with the sheep in this pen and only got knocked down once.  I was surprised that he didn't seem all that anxious about being in a cage with animals that were larger than him.  I think he had focused in on the lambs, so he didn't really notice the bigger sheep.
Here is Grace helping Calvin pet a little lamb...
 He even got to pick up a lamb...for a short period of time.  They wiggle a bit more than the kittens do!

At one point, we had him penned up with a bunch of lambs, and he had fun petting them and attempting to carry them around.

Thank you, again, to the Solemsaas family for letting us stop by on a cold Sunday morning.  Calvin had so much fun, and so did I!  You're right...there is something very special about how little kids interact with animals.  We can't wait to come back this summer to meet some more farm friends!

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Best. Day. Ever.

I realize Calvin likely won't remember any of this trip in the years to come, but Perry and I surely will.  Spending all of this time together, just the four of us, has been incredible.  I've learned just how grown up Natalie is, and how much Calvin has learned.  He's a fun little guy who's starting to say some funny things!

Today, as Perry entered the freeway, Calvin yelled from the back, "Careful, Daddy!"  Also, we've been serenaded throughout the trip with one song in particular...
Natalie seems to like it.

Our first destination on this beautiful March morning was Como Zoo.  I've never been there before, but I can tell you that we will never again visit the Minnesota Zoo.  Como Zoo is absolutely's beautiful, not too big and lots of fun for little kids.

Outside of the zoo and conservatory

Calvin thought this giant turtle was interesting

Cal spent most of his time trying to climb under the fences

Hopefully these bears will return to Minot soon!

A corn dog and "Apey Grapey."  Calvin loved his lunch.

Natalie soaked up the sun.  The weather was beautiful!


The tropical garden area was beautiful!

Natalie was in HEAVEN!

Calvin & Daddy--my cuties!

Outside of the tropical garden

My princess!  Pretty in pink!
After a fun morning and early afternoon wandering around Como Zoo, we headed back to our new hotel for the night.  FYI, the Holiday Inn Express near the Mall of America is NOT nice.  It's strange, because I've never been to a Holiday Inn Express I didn't love.  So poor Daddy had to pack up the car AGAIN and moved us into the Country Inn & Suites near the mall, which is a MILLION times better.

So, it was on to our next adventure for the day...the Mall of America.  I felt a little guilty that we were heading inside on such a beautiful day, but I knew Calvin would have a blast at the amusement park there...and he did!

Cal's eyes lit up when he saw the carousel

He loved this little roller coaster ride taken with Perry's phone---but he had fun on this fire truck ride!

Second time on the carousel!
By the time we left the mall, it was already dinner time.  It's a no-meat Friday for us, so Perry got to try IHOP pancakes for the first time ever.  If you know Perry at all, you know that this was a very special moment for him.  :)

I really wish we had more time to spend in Minneapolis, but our time here is almost up.  I'm hoping to make a stop at IKEA before we depart tomorrow morning.  I've never been there, mostly because I'm afraid I'll spend way too much money there.

So, for now, I'll just bask in the glow of this wonderful day and thank the Lord for blessing me with such a wonderful family.  Best. Day. Ever.

Friday, March 16, 2012

On the Road Again

Day two of our little family vacation got off to an early start, of course.  Who can sleep when there's a swimming pool a hundred feet from your room?!  So after a little breakfast and some time spent in the pool, we loaded up for our journey to Minneapolis.  Prior to the loading, Calvin begged us to, "go in the car!"  However, after about 10 minutes in the car, he pleaded, "I wanna get out!"  Typical.  

I had to take a picture of this restaurant in Fergus Falls because this is something that has always bugged me.  Have you ever seen a sign for a Mexican restaurant that DOESN'T claim on the sign to be an "Authentic Mexican Restaurant"?  

Once again, Natalie made nary a peep on the 3-hour trip from Fargo to Minneapolis.  I unfortunately remember the days when she would scream incessantly while in her car seat.  We certainly wouldn't have chosen to go on a family vacation in those days and that makes me sad.  I'm so happy our pretty little girl can enjoy life much more now.

Please let the records show that MY HUSBAND, PERRY OLSON, MADE THE SUGGESTION TO STOP IN...............ALBERTVILLE.

That's right, Perry CHOSE to stop by the outlet store shopping mecca that he complains about each time we travel to Minneapolis.  He can't blame it on me this time.  I'm so glad we stopped, though, because I found lots of cute clothes for the kids at Crazy 8, and Calvin got a chance to run around on such a beautiful day.

He was ready to get out of the car!  So was I, honestly...and so was Natalie.
At the Albertville outlets, enjoying the sunshine!
I love it when the kids take a picture together, because Calvin just adores Natalie and wants to hold her hand, or give her a kiss, or lay his head on her shoulder.  I have the sweetest kiddos.

Upon arriving in Minneapolis, we dropped off our stuff and headed right to a Granite City restaurant in Roseville.  Why Roseville?  Well, only because three of our FAVORITE NICU nurses were there to meet us!
L to R:  Kate, Natalie, Tara and Lisa
 These are the nurses who cared for Natalie in her darkest hours, and there is simply not an adequate way to thank them enough for all they did to save our daughter.  Kate, on the left, was the first nurse we met from Fairview.  She came to Minot on the flight to bring Natalie to Minneapolis.  Little did we know that she would become such a good friend later on.  Tara was the first nurse we met in Minneapolis.  Upon arrival, we were shocked to see Natalie in such a horrible state.  Tara was at her side, constantly checking monitors and administering drugs, and never losing her cool.  She was amazing.  I spent many late nights in the NICU, after everything had quieted down, having great conversations with these two and other nurses.  Lisa spent a ton of time with Natalie, too.  We loved her kind, nurturing soul.  She took such good care of Natalie, that it was so hard to say goodbye when Natalie came back to Minot.  We'll never forget these amazing nurses, or what they did to keep Natalie alive.  I'm so glad they're all in Minneapolis, so we don't have to travel too far to see them.  We love you, girls!  Thank you, again, for getting together with us on such short notice!

After a nice meal, we got back into the car to head back to our hotel.  We drove by downtown Minneapolis, which amazed Calvin.  That inspired Perry to drive by the airport, which is near our hotel.  Unfortunately, this is what we saw in the back seat as we passed the airport:

I don't blame him...I felt the same way, too.  We were all in bed by 9:15.

We're looking forward to tomorrow...Como Zoo and the Mall of America amusement park are on the agenda.  Yay for family time!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Oh What Fun...It's Vacation Day #1!

...and we're off!!

The Olsons are on our way to Minneapolis.  It's not a big trip, but it is the first time (if my memory serves me correctly) that we've traveled as a family of four together WITHOUT any doctor visits on the itinerary.  

Tonight, we're in Fargo, and in the morning we leave for Minneapolis for a couple of days of fun.  As parents of a special needs child, it's easy to just stay at home where things are convenient, but I feel like it's important to leave our comfort zone and enjoy life outside of our little happy bubble.  Sure, it's not easy preparing Natalie's special food, or keeping her medicine cold, or transporting her wheelchair...but Natalie loves the new adventures.  She used to scream endlessly while in her car seat, but today she didn't make a peep as we drove the four hours to Fargo.  

On the other hand....   

...our sweet little Calvin can't stand to be strapped down in a car...even with his beloved movie "Cars" running on a loop in the DVD player.  

Thankfully, we made it to Fargo in the late afternoon with only one "peeing in the pants" incident.  Oops.  Calvin was quite excited to head to the pool!

He finished off the night with a couple of slices of pizza!  What a great day!

Uncle Greg and Auntie Tahnee stopped by to say hi tonight and read a couple of bedtime stories.  I wish they lived closer, but we're glad they're in Fargo since we're here often.

Sorry I don't have many pictures of Natalie today.  I'll get more of her tomorrow...I'm looking forward to a beautiful day with my beautiful family in MSP!