8 Favorite Memories of 2017

Last year is filled with millions of moments I cherish every day. I’m fortunate to have them and have experienced them. I have countless favorite memories from 2017, so much so it’s hard to narrow them down to just a few to share! These are a few of my favorite memories from the year. Again, there are so many – but that makes me pleased to know – we lived well! Welcome to 2018 everyone! Best of luck in your endeavors and days ahead. Here we go:

One : My first ultrasound after we found out we were expecting Orion was heartwarming and incredibly moving. Branden was in Costa Rica at the time and this is the picture I sent him. I find being a mother has added such purpose to my life as well as determination to be my best and strongest self each and every day – carrying Todd and Orion was a privilege and bringing them into the world is a true honor. I will say too that having three sons, or at least I consider all of them as my own although one is not genetically, it has rooted that purpose and drive even deeper. I wouldn’t trade being a mother for anything and I love my family more than I could ever put to words.

Two : Branden got a new chair for his business clients and we were putting the recently-upholstered pads back on it. After the kiddos went to bed, we headed out our work space to start the task. It probably took us a few hours of sorting the pieces, nuts, bolts and pieces that needed to be put back on before we had it done and ready to go. But we had so many laughs and talks while putting it back together and figuring out how it worked. (Along with listening to some Chris Stapleton)  The lamp that lit our work space nearly fell on my head when the cord came a little loose, hence why I’m laughing so hard in the picture. Aside from working together on a project, spending quality time with each other and letting the conversation flow with ease is something we both value greatly. I remember this night very well. It didn’t take travelling, spending money, or even leaving home – we just had fun simply being ourselves meanwhile being productive. Plus I enjoy feeling helpful and getting to lend a hand, and we appreciate our solid teamwork. At another point in time – we also made a cool bird house out of scrap wood we found in the garage on a bit of a rainy evening – absolutely love these memories.

Three : One of my successful endeavors of 2017 was starting a garden. What first started out as me looking at doing a single raised bed kit from Home Depot quickly, surprisingly, and appreciatively turned into two large cedar custom raised garden beds built by Branden, Arnie, Bishop, and I helped a little too. One day I came home from work to Branden and Bishop shoveling a large truck load of garden soil out of Big Blue and into the garden beds – which I had been unable to pick-up myself at that point in time. That love and support I think made my garden a success. I spent a good number of hours outside plucking weeds, watering, picking vegetables and even got to teach the boys a bit about gardening as I learned. I am very excited to try this again this year and do some different vegetables. There is something to be said about being self-sufficient while being able to enjoy the outdoors and teach your children along the way. This year I think we also wanted to give a rain barrel a try for a water source.

Four : Finalizing my divorce and gaining my maiden name back. This may be a strange top favorite memory to some, but to me it was a huge self-accomplishment and finally closing a chapter. I think both myself and my ex would agree we are much better co-parents than we ever were before, happier and each at more peace. This closing of a chapter was a huge sigh of relief and put a few heavy stones behind me and my family. And what can I say other than we are all doing well, healthy, and happy. The sense of self-accomplishment came from completing the process and paperwork by myself – learning many things along the way about our legal system. I am extremely proud of this accomplishment in 2017.

Five : Todd’s 2nd birthday party. Now, to see my first born growing so fast makes me feel bittersweet, bitter in the fact that he is growing so much every day – not going to be my little baby Todd forever, but sweet in seeing him hit milestone after milestone, I am so proud of him and proud to be his mom. We celebrated his 2nd birthday at home with close friends and family – and everyone made it. It was a hot, but beautiful June day. Having everyone come and show Todd such love made my heart full, and getting to see people I don’t see often enough in celebration of his 2nd birthday made it that much more meaningful. I can’t believe he will be 3 years old this year!

Six: We live pretty close to a decent sized lake and were able to get out a couple times in the kayaks last summer. There was something so soothing about being out paddling in the peaceful serenity and enjoying the tranquil surroundings. What was even better was being able to share it with my incredible guy. We paddled out a ways and the linked our kayaks together with the paddles, and just relaxed for a bit. Sharing the sunset and talking about life together was memorable for me. On the way back, Branden even jumped into the water fully clothed and swam back while I kept guard for boats since it was getting dark. It really is the simple things sometimes that mean the most. This memory is another one dear to my soul.

Seven : From coming off of a flu bug, I was concerned I may not feel well enough to go see the White Buffalo concert in Minneapolis, but it ended up being exactly what we needed! A break from our kiddos, and just be us. We had some sushi at Seven in Minneapolis and then went to the saw the absolutely incredible White Buffalo show at the Cedar Cultural Center; after, walked around Minneapolis and saw some cool sights, and had an epic breakfast the next day at Hell’s Kitchen to top it all off. This was memorable for so much more, but after we came home, we both felt more relaxed and refreshed. Definitely one of my top favorites of the year.

Eight : Bringing Orion into the world is one I feel honored about that was a huge life-changing experience for not only myself, but our whole family. He came on his due date and was 9 pounds 1 ounce, but absolutely perfect. And having my rock by my side the whole time, comforting me and keeping me calm was an important part of the experience too. Orion fills our days with smiles, laughs, and cuddles. He is teaching us all lessons on a daily basis, including his two brothers. Our family of five is my everything.


Being Happy In The Now & Setting Goals For The Future – Avoiding The “If, Then”

I’m almost back to working full time – I’ve been able to work my way back into working full time outside the home this month and it’s been a pretty smooth transition all things considered. Transitions always have their pros and cons; but I feel like we, as a family, are all adjusting to having me back at work really well. I must admit at first I had a pretty intense case of anxiety – to go to a new job, new people, leaving my baby, and adapting to another change. However in the last year our family has gone through many changes and obstacles, but we’ve overcome them with ease. I’ve realized that getting comfortable doesn’t do much for oneself. We shouldn’t ever get too comfortable in our day to day because life is constantly changing, moving, transitioning, etc, and it keeps us open-minded when we can adapt and change our daily perspective from time-to-time. We can easily become stagnant, entitled, or as I previously stated, too comfortable. Not that this was the case for myself, but there were days where I perhaps felt a little of each of those three things I’ll admittedly state. With that said, I think there are days like that for each and every one of us. So back to my point here, aside from my anxiety I also wasn’t too excited to be back to this career. It’s what I know and what I’ve practiced for the past 6 years. I think I was dwelling on a few things, the anxiety, leaving Orion, and doing a job I’m familiar with but doesn’t necessarily bring joy. I realize now that I was basically digging myself a hole of negativity, something I normally do not do at all. I used the “if ____ happens, then I’ll be happy” mindset, luckily only for a short period of time. This is the absolute wrong way of looking at things-and for me especially it messes with me physically, mentally and emotionally when I think of things that way. I say this because I will proudly say I am, by nature, a positive and happy person and enjoy seeing others feel that way too. To me, that is the most powerful soul food out there, positivity, love, light, and being happy. So for me using the “if, then” thought, against my nature, instantly put my happiness on a contingency. Why should anyone do that? It’s a heavy weight to put on our own life and how we feel in our numbered days. With that said, I no longer have this weight I had, fortunately, only carried around for a short period of time. (But it was still long enough) I’m choosing to continue to simply be happy; to continue to see the positives in everything. The kind, down-to-earth people I have the pleasure of now working with, my supportive family, having a daycare center less than 2 miles from my job, having income to help support myself and family again, etc. WHATEVER the case may be, I’ll seek it out. So while I can find the good and beauty in each day, I can still have my goals. Where I want to go – I need to work hard for in multiple ways; which makes me appreciate my path even more. But in realizing how I should be looking at life in the now from a different perspective, I can see now how I can find abundant joy in the PROCESS of working to these goals, my day to day living, AND in the big picture. Now that is where we can thrive; we evoke happiness in ourselves and shine that light to others around us. And it’s all in our control; we can choose perpetual positivity if we practice it. To waste energy on looking at the glass half empty vs half full is a disappointment; by applying that energy to seeing the good we add value to our lives and our journey. Even when we may not be where we desire to be, or if we try and don’t succeed right away, we can still have the power to make the best of each and every moment and to build a stronger self than yesterday – perhaps more motivated or focused, but all the while feeling at peace with our souls. I’m still working towards where I want to be, I am motivated and driven to get there, but I can now, again, be at peace with my present journey as well. It’s not easy sometimes writing critique on myself or publicly admitting faults – even though we all are beautifully imperfect and have flaws, but I definitely feel I had stumbled a bit but picked myself up – and wanted to share for those of you who maybe too have stumbled. My hope would be to shed some light on how we can manifest our happiness into our thoughts, moments, future, etc. My mind has definitely cleared the clouds on this one and now it’s my tenacious task of putting it to practice daily.

Thanks for reading! ❤️

Cedar + Stone Candles – About My Handcrafted Candle Business Endeavor

I have VERY recently started planning for selling some of my homemade candles. I have been making them for a few months now and I have found such a peace, enjoyment and a happy hobby in the craft. What’s better than having a hobby that you can also share with others? I am extremely excited to be taking the steps in opening my online store. I plan to have many unique candles to pick from and put some creative love into each one to make it special. 

We each have different hobbies or interests that help our individual personalities shine: photography, painting, sports, writing, and many more! Each one feeds into our own being. Candlemaking is something I can definitely say I’ve found a passion in. (Along with photography, drawing, gardening and lately – writing!) Branden and I had both talked about running an online store and have been learning an abundance of information about it. Talk about a rabbit hole! But a very fascinating one at that; there is so much to know in regards to blogging, online sales, marketing, etc. So aside from candlemaking and forming my website, I’ve been learning a multitude of information! If any of you have an interest in blogging, I have some recommendations for you to check out if you reach out! I have a big career focus right now, which I’ve mentioned before and will hopefully be making the transition from the banking industry into my new career very soon; however I’ve found that I can do things such as candlemaking to help keep me motivated and on the positive side of life. 👍🏻😊 

Anyways, I wanted to name this business something that pertains to home of course! Bam, Cedar + Stone Candles popped into my head after weeks of playing with words and ideas. In our home, we have been adding cedar accents and we absolutely love the fresh, natural scent. The stone half of the name comes from us looking for stones around our home as well as around Minnesota (specifically our second favorite spot, the North Shore). I also want to add that I make each of these candles right in our home kitchen. The boys are learning a thing or two as well! Bishop and I plan to make some for some family Christmas gifts this year and have some more bonding time. 🙂 

As for my product, the quality of my candles, I will never compromise. And I plan to only use materials made in the USA as well as buying 100% natural or organic products. All of my candles so far follow true to that. I find that quality definitely is far too important and makes all the difference; I myself will spend more on homemade vs store bought because of the quality, craft and time put into each item. I am truly excited about this endeavor because…well, I love it! The whole creative art of it as well as teaching our kiddos about it. Each and every one of these candles has so much thought out into it, I want people to know that when they buy and receive their purchase in the mail. 

I plan to have a special running at first to gain some feedback and hopefully some new repeat customers! I’ll be announcing the website on social media and people will be able to easily purchase online with any major credit/debit card, PayPal, BitPay(BitCoin). So for those of you who wish to purchase, or just want to check out the site, keep an eye open! 😊 It’s far more than just making candles, it’s a real, honest passion.

Thank you to all who have already shown interest and support to me for this, it is not unnoticed and is greatly appreciated! You guys are the best!

Thanks for checking in!


My Return to the Work Grind

I’m starting my new job beginning of November and I am feeling a mix of emotions. I have been at home since mid August on maternity leave and have been blessed with the ability to raise Orion for the first few precious months of his life, be here when Bishop gets home from school, pick Todd up early from daycare and spend extra time with him reading and practicing words, as well as cook breakfast for Branden every morning and keep up with the house chores, bookkeeping, etc. It’s been an opportunity to also define where I want to head with my career and life. 

I’ll be completely honest here, I feel I am just now recently adapting to working at home. At first I felt a bit stir crazy, constantly finding things to occupy my time and give the kids attention. I had a few days where I felt “cabin fever” when Orion was brand new because I didn’t want to take him out in public with all of the germs. I found it difficult at first to find a schedule between all 3 of the boys and Branden but we have it down now! (Yay!) It’s a huge adjustment going from working 8-5 Monday through Friday every week; the most time I’ve ever taken off since I’ve been in the workforce was a week and that was 5 years ago. It feels strange not having an income or working outside the home when I’ve always had a job. However this has been one of the greatest blessings I could’ve had in life – getting to bond with my baby boy and helping us all to adjust to life as a family of five. I was unable to spend more than 5 weeks at home with my first son and it was a lot of stress going back to work so soon, to separate from my baby so soon. That has made me appreciate this valuable time even more because of that! Orion is incredible, only gets up twice a night and is a very happy baby. I don’t know how I got so lucky to have such amazing kids, all three, and my rock, Branden. With that said, it’s been a mixture of emotions from having Orion to now looking at returning to the workforce outside of the home soon. I want to point out that being at home is hard work, despite the popular belief pointing towards it being an easy job; there is always work to be done, chores, kids, errands, you name it, it’s a million daily tasks and they never end, even in the middle of the night. But I take an incredible amount of pride in those daily tasks, they are my job. Yes, there were days where it feels like I didn’t play much of a purpose other than feeding Orion what felt like a majority of the day 😉; other days where I feel like I made a world of difference and I was able to focus on my goals in life and as a family. There are so many ups and downs, but it’s all how you look at it. I look at how much I can do in a day and how I can try to have the house organized, laundry done, kids clean, and dinner ready by the time Branden gets home from work. It feels excellent to accomplish so much in a day and to keep a peaceful vibe at home during the evening by working hard during the day. It feels good that if anyone needs something done during the day, I can normally lend a helping hand no problem. I did have a few days where all I wanted was some adult interaction or to be out and about accomplishing more than things at home, making money, expanding insight, etc. Who can honestly say they have never had a day or two where they feel slightly stagnant? I don’t think anyone can, but that’s a good thing because it reminds us to work harder tomorrow. But I’ve grown to realize I’ve expanded more insight in these past few months than I have in a very long time. 

Money isn’t everything, everyone knows that. However I am looking forward to having an income again, to be able to help pay the bills, get back on a working schedule, and also put money into my goal career path. Yes, I am going back into the banking world at a smaller bank chain’s corporate office..for now. Orion and Todd are going to the same daycare and we will have a few more adjustments to make when that time comes. I’m looking at this as a stepping stone, working to become what and where I want to be. This goal of mine is not in the banking world, but rather using my abilities to create, make a difference, love what I do and help provide for my family. So while I’m feeling a bit of sadness thinking of this transition to not being the one taking care of my little one during the day and being with him all of the time, I am also finding myself prepared to embrace the challenge of achieving my goal career; on the starting line beginning of November. To finally be working towards this huge goal of mine, and to work hard at it. Sometimes we can get too comfortable in our daily lives and need something to remind us that nothing stays the same, ever. We need to keep pushing to be the best we can; no matter what that “push” or adaptation may be. I want the best future possible for myself and my family, and with the multitude of emotions aside, the fact is that when I can see the big picture, each being unique to ourselves of course, you can see where sacrifices may be made and challenges arise. This is how I will grow, tackling one challenge at a time. 

In a nutshell, my family has always made me feel important in any situation; while I was working or at home with the kids. Feeling appreciated and valued has given me such pride in my “mom job”. I couldn’t have been able to have the past few months without my family’s support either, and for that I am eternally grateful. I am proud of my family, our home and how we can live each day surrounded by abundant love, care and support for each other. I can also say I am proud of myself for pushing harder, for seeking new growth and trusting in my “big picture”, faced with new hurdles along the way. I’m keeping a positive and open mind about this new job and again, viewing it as one stepping stone to keep moving forward. I hope others can be proud of themselves too for making decisions for their own greater good, no matter what that may be. Embrace it, be proud of it, always! For those of you who know me well, you probably know where I want to head in my career and my plan I’m currently taking steps to execute, but for those of you who don’t, I hope you follow me along this journey as well. Having supportive vibes feels great and I feel fantastic looking to the future, and making each step count and giving it my all. 

As always, thanks for checking in! Wish me luck next week. We each only get one life, best to keep active in pursuing our dreams. ❤️


It’s More Than Carving Pumpkins

It started out with myself, Branden and the three boys going to St. Mathias Farm to pick out pumpkins last week. Finally some family time for the whole family! Branden and I were both stoked because it’s very rare we can find something that all of the boys can do with us. We loaded everyone up in the truck and shipped out. While our intention was to simply go pick out pumpkins as a family, we ended up in a corn maze, drinking some hot cider, enjoying a peaceful sunset, having fun and picked out the perfect pumpkins. Here is a picture of the boys going down one of the slides in the corn maze, and yes, Branden and myself both went down it too. 😉👍🏻  

 By the time we had gotten home it was time for Todd to head to bed since he has been getting over a cold AND was cranky towards the end of the evening. Nevertheless it was fun to see all of the boys with their smiles and laughter while sharing some ourselves.  Times like that I hold close to my heart and will always look back on. 

Then, the other night we picked out our individual concepts and carved our pumpkins. Now, as a kid, I can only remember carving a pumpkin maybe once, that’s it. My family didn’t really do much for Halloween growing up, a few costumes and trick or treating trips here and there but we eventually didn’t do anything for Halloween at all. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it was a missed opportunity to have some fun as a family. Branden, Bishop and myself sat outside on our back porch with our pumpkins and started drawing our concepts on. I had decided on an owl (possibly predictable for some of you who know how much I LOVE owls), Bishop decided on a dragon, and Branden was going to do a “cannibal pumpkin”. (Lol!) I may have been a tad over excited because this was the FIRST PUMPKIN I had carved for as long as I can remember; I’m almost positive I annoyed the hell out of the guys with all my excitement. We drew, talked, laughed and carved. It probably took us a few hours outside to get a majority of our carving done, but it was a few hours that passed by so easily. No phones, no television, no interruptions aside from Orion 😉. It was complete quality time with two of my favorite people in the world! Growing up, I always heard the term “home is where the heart is”. I grew up feeling that way especially around my home and my grandparents home during Thanksgiving and Christmas. After having kids, you wonder how you can still create that feeling for yourself AND your family. Last year for Christmas I got to decorate in my new happy home with Branden, Todd and Bishop. Aside from the decorating, we picked out a real Christmas tree too. We all noticed how cozy and warm it felt just to be relaxing at home. It is home. Not necessarily because anything we decorated with was extravagant or even because we were physically at home. It was because we, as a family, did things as a family. We have love, value, and respect. We bonded as one family, and we continue to bond and grow a little bit more each day. We picked out our tree, decorations and made memories together. And this year, we are celebrating Halloween as a family of five. Some of our most important thoughts, ideas, and conversations come from working on projects or hobbies that keep our minds running, I think we can all agree on that at some point in our lives. And I can say I had such an incredible memory “carved” into my mind by carving a pumpkin with my family; sharing in the quality time and mutual calm energy. It’s more than just carving a pumpkin, it’s a gift, it’s home, it’s the heart, a memory, and it’s a reminder of the importance of being a family. 

A Common Addiction 

Now, I may come off as a hypocrite since I am using my iPhone to write this, however I believe a majority of us may either be aware or perhaps not that we are addicted to our cell phones. And not only that, we are stealing moments from our own lives and literally throwing them away. To test this theory, I pose two questions for you to think about, and don’t worry, I myself am guilty of having my phone on too often, so if you are like me, you aren’t the only one. 

1) Could you do away with your social media for an entire week? Month? Year? Yes, you still need to be reached in case of an emergency, but could you disconnect yourself from Facebook, Instagram, all other apps and feel good about it? If your honest answer is no, then try to think about the reasons WHY you feel the need to stay constantly connected, and be honest with yourself; are the reasons healthy or unhealthy? 

2) Not to sound negative here, but one day, we all come to the end of our journey. That’s the truth, no one lives forever, and that is what makes life so beautiful and sacred. Each moment should matter because they are all limited and tomorrow is never a guarantee. So to pose my second question: if you keep your current habits throughout the rest of your life, what are the things you may wish you had done differently when that time comes when you reach the end of your journey? For me the answer would be I wish I would’ve spent even more moments chronicling my experiences, moments, children growing and learning without my phone for distraction. Among other things I wish I would read more books instead of watching television. Not saying these things are bad in moderation, but if I’m thinking about my current habits replayed years forward, I see so much precious time wasted. Here is my written dedication going forward that I am holding myself accountable to changing these habits now.

The technological world has evolved so much to make things incredibly easy for us to talk to each other without ever meeting up for coffee or actually seeing each other, to never leave the comfort of our home to go to the store, to make ourselves appear differently in a photo, to see what turmoil is happening in the world without needing to purchase a newspaper, etc. These things have caused us to become addicted to a life of only living part of it, being blind to what is actually happening vs what the left wing or right wing news pay to have shown online and cause biase and unnecessary uprising, and being unable to detach from our phones and enjoy a full conversation with another person. Many people don’t know this, but interactions with other people face to face is proven to prolong our life but also improve the quality of life. If you haven’t watched this before, I highly recommend it : 


I pose a challenge to you, can you adjust how you use your phones/apps to add more moments to be productive, helpful, peaceful, whatever your reason may be? 

I find that within the first 5 minutes of being on Facebook, I see about 10 different pessimistic news stories, status posts or articles used to attract negative attention. I ask myself how those things make me feel, and little by little each of those negative things takes my energy. Imagine how much more energy I could have without that shit! It accumulates and I can put it to better use. Again, I’m using myself as an example. But think about your own perspective and how you feel about it. This is not meant to jab anyone, like I said, I’m being honest with myself and I’m guilty of being a phone addict too from time to time (it’s so easy to be sucked in sometimes!) So in posting this I’m looking to pose a potential new outlook or perspective. Reread the two questions above and watch the video from Ted Talks, it’s worth the time, and join in a personal challenge to yourself if you find it applicable! 

In a more personal challenge to myself, I want to go a whole week without any social media just to see what changes I feel mentally, emotionally and physically. If you want to join me, feel free!

Giveaway – Make Your Entry!

Hello again! Here are the instructions on how to enter this awesome 😉 giveaway! Please note to subscribe, you have to enter an email address where the “Follow” link is shown at the bottom of my blog website (here is the website: https://itsalwayssunnyinminnesota.wordpress.com/ ) . You will need to tag a friend on my Facebook post sharing this blog entry. I will receive notification for those who subscribe and will keep track of entries on Facebook. If you have any questions, please let me know! Otherwise best of luck and thank YOU for helping spread some marvelous vibes! I will make a video to announce the winner, of which I will draw at random once I decide to close the giveaway. There is an opportunity for your name to be entered again, and you can do that by sharing my blog post on Facebook. Thank you again, as always, for all of your support!



Upcoming Giveaway – Power of Positivity!

Hey there readers. Thank you for taking the time to click into this blog entry and read! Much appreciated. I want to do something to throw some positive energy into social media to counteract some of the abundant negativity in the news, media sites, etc I seem to be coming across lately. I want to do a giveaway of one of my photos I have taken within the last year. I will ship it directly to you and will write a personal positive note on the backside of it as well. How do you have the chance to get this print? I will make another post on here with instructions. In the meantime, try to think positively in all things, the glass is always half full. I want to do this for some fun and hopefully to make someone’s day! Keep an eye open, I’m hoping to have my additional giveaway post up within the next day or two. 

Again, thank you for reading and for those of you who are fans of my photography! Much love! ❤️


North Shore

This place makes me incredibly peaceful inside and out. Maybe not necessarily the destination in full, but the combination of being able to see some new sites, taste delicious food, tip back a little scotch, and get some quality time with my guy, the whole picture…life is good! I have such an appreciation for Minnesota already as my home state, but if there is one place that is the shining gemstone of MN, it is the North Shore (a close second is our home😊) We have been to a few stunning places and have been fortunate enough to stay in rad accommodations as well. (Bluefin Bay and Superior Shores) We would recommend both to others, right off the water and in close proximity to landmarks, they both are beautiful places to stay. But nevertheless, each time we visit here or will visit, I have an overwhelming sense of nostalgia for our first roadtrip together to Tofte. It never fails that we have lots of laughs, in depth conversations (not all since we have some pretty goofy ones as well), and both have a genuine passion to admire the natural world and what Mother Nature has so kindly given us to enjoy anywhere we go, including our own backyard. In a world ravaged by negativity; we can so easily escape it and focus on what matters. Focus on all of the little things, find the beauty in what surrounds us, and be thankful for it. I’m overjoyed to have a partner to share in these joys and passions with. In the most recent trip, we stayed at Superior Shores in Two Harbors. The room was enormous and featured two fireplaces, a balcony, full kitchen, a jacuzzi tub, and a separate master bedroom. The view overlooked the Superior bay and was about 2 minutes from town. We both were able to kick back and relax with ease. The pool on site was great as well, it had an indoor and outdoor hot tub; perfect for easing the mind and body. They also had a large sauna which Branden insisted on booking me alive. Ha! We were able to get out and see the harbor, explore some local agate shops, and hike Tettegouche. I would suggest visiting Cascade National Park, Tettegouche, and the Split Rock Lighthouse if you pass through the area. Cascade offered plenty of hiking, waterfalls, photo opportunity and wildlife without being overcrowded with other tourists. Tettegouche was the same, we went on a weekday and didn’t share our view with anyone else while we were there. We also stopped by a marina near Two Harbors that had an extremely rocky jetty. That was also neat to see all the boats, the boys will enjoy seeing that one day I’m sure. And now we have some new, cherished memories to carry with us;  thanks to my phenomenal guy for surprising me and taking me for my birthday! And also a huge thanks to his brother and sister-in-law for watching Orion for the few days we were gone, we were able to catch some z’s and recharge! 
Grand Marias sounds pretty epic too, I have yet to venture that far North, but if anyone has places or suggestions that are must sees, or little slices of paradise you’ve found in your travels, do share! I hope we will take the boys up there next spring or summer for camping since Orion will be a little older. Can’t wait to show them some of our memorable spots one day! And what’s better than getting to know our home state even more and what it has to offer. 

5 Things I Learned On My Most Recent Roadtrip

Beginning of this week, Branden’s mom Charlotte, myself and Orion embarked on a roadtrip to Wisconsin for a few days. While driving and exploring, you see, hear, and learn of many new things. Here are 5 things I learned from my roadtrip:

1: I want to create a more concrete bucket list.  I have always had places in mind I’d love to go or experiences I wish to have in life, but I’ve never written them down on a legitimate “bucket list”. Going on this trip got me thinking that there are millions of places to go, but I need to define my destinations first. Where do I absolutely want to go and see before my time is up? Without a doubt Europe is on the list, I have an immense amount of genealogy that traces back to Europe and would love to embark on exploring it, Norway, Sweden, Germany, etc. One experience that is a must would be skydiving, which I have to give some credit here to Branden since he has gone many times and has piqued my interest; I plan to in the spring down in Florida, if I plan ahead, and this would be rad to cross off the list. Now to write more down! 

2: The people of Wisconsin are called Wisconsinites. Maybe some of you already knew that, but I sure as hell didn’t. I’ve been calling them something different my whole life, call me mind blown…

3: The drive from St. Paul on 494 is INCREDIBLE! If you like seeing flowing rivers and creeks, rustic roads, vast rolling farm hills and farms consisting of alpacas, cows, and horses, then this route is for you. I found the drive stunning; something beautiful to look at around every turn. The leaves were starting to change too, dark reds and oranges appearing. The 3 1/2 hour drive felt like a short trip thanks to the scenery and my copilot Charlotte! I only hit the rumble strips once due to looking too long at the views from the road. 

4: Orion can roadtrip. Yes, babies sleep a lot…but Orion was a trooper on the road! He required minimal pit stops and barely made a peep the whole car ride. Talk about a proud momma moment. One of the best things we can do as parents is get our kids used to traveling to make it easier when trips do happen. I think he did better than I did (thank you GMC for making the hardest seats known to man in my 2009 Acadia). I must say I foresee many successful road trips in the future for our family of 5!

5: I genuinely appreciate where I live. I know this is more of a reminder to live where you love and love where you live than a lesson learned, but there’s something so comforting about returning home after being away from it. As much as I enjoy traveling, no matter the distance and discovering new places, I equally love coming back to home and my family. We live in the country on 15 acres and it is incredibly peaceful and quiet (except for the 3 boys 😉 ) and I can’t express my admiration and appreciation I have for this place and being able to call it “home”. To walk through the doors, unpack, sit down on the couch, exhale and have an overwhelming sense of relaxation sweep over your mind and body, that is a superb feeling. 

A huge thank you to Charlotte for organizing the trip and inviting me to go along! It was a blast to share new experiences and get to know a phenomenal woman as well. Quality time well spent on the road and in the land of cows and cranberries! These are just five take-a-ways I had from our trip; finding lessons or reminders is the reason we do travel. To learn about new places, things, people, even ourselves, that is the journey. 

I’m curious what trip(s) have impacted your life the most and in what way(s)?!