Thursday, September 27, 2012

A Wedding and a Birthday

Two important things happened today.  Ari turned one year old and then Aaron and Heather kicked off their week of wedding festivities by getting married on the back porch!  The judge came by to do the official business today but Joan will do the proper ceremony on Saturday when we all head down to a lodge in Hocking Hills for the weekend.

Surrounded by family, in kilt and in Cons....

...they say "For everything that has been, thank you! For all that will be, I do!"

Back inside, Teagan reads aloud from Old McDonald

What's this? Five cousins all sitting down at the same time!

The happy couple (and tired toddler) enjoy a meal of my best lasagna ever and a glass of mead

Heather made seriously awesome carrot cake and muffins

And Ari very much enjoyed one...

 ...and then another!

Heather and Aaron, you are loved and I'm so glad to have been present for the official beginning to your lifetime together.

Ari, my sweet boy, you bring joy to everyone you meet and I've been grateful for you every day of your life.  I'm so happy to be your mama.

What a beautiful evening surrounded by loving family.  Thanks to everyone for making it such a special day.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Minnesota Moments

Some highlights of our time in Minnesota...

Grandma Betty and the boys at the lakehouse

Ari with his favorite fleece snowman blanket - he loves to roll around on the floor with it and rub it against his cheeks

Riker loved the blue diggers in the toddler playspace at Lake Harriet

Back in Litchfield, Riker took this photo of me

We were fortunate to see the early stages of autumn colors in the trees

A friendly frog on our deck

Boys love their Grandma Betty

But they don't particularly love to pose for photos!

Two and a half weeks passed in what seemed like no time at all but we appreciated the chance to catch up again with my mom and brother and with a few of our friends. Thanks Minnesota for all the memorable moments!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Happy Anniversary

I always enjoy spending time in Minnesota but this visit was particularly special because we were able to spend our tenth anniversary at the very location where we said our vows all those years ago.

Setting off for the barn party with a bottle of ten year old wedding mead

Carrot cake with cream cheese frosting by the same lady who made our fabulous wedding cake

Powderfinger plays a set of Neil Young classics including Heart of Gold, Cinnamon Girl and Unknown Legend. The band includes Jimmy and Mark who were part of the Surahoolies, a favorite band from my college years.

Kristi joins the band onstage to play Harvest Moon for us

We close our eyes and listen to the band perform an awesome version of our song and memories come flooding back for both of us

Kristi was my right hand woman at our wedding and is still such an amazing friend (and party host!)

Another highlight of the evening was catching up with college friends, some of whom I hadn't seen in ages!

James, Krista, Tim and I

Big thanks to Kristi and Tim for organizing another terrific barn party that just happened to coincide with such a special event for us.  I can't imagine spending the evening anywhere else!  I can however, imagine spending our next big anniversary on a beach somewhere with the kids happily in grandma's care....

Friday, September 21, 2012

Ten Years!

Today marks our tenth wedding anniversary! Since I spent much of yesterday evening perusing wedding photos, I thought I'd post a few of my favorites here.

A few photos in the park

A stroll in the gardens

Joan welcomes our family and friends and begins the ceremony with our loved ones in a circle around us

Carl and Jan share some words of wisdom and advice before presenting me with a sash of the McMillin clan tartan

We exchange rings - my fathers and his grandmothers

My girls

The barn where the reception was held

Cutting into our fabulous carrot cake with cream cheese frosting after a lovely dinner complete with home brewed mead and beer

The Harvest Moon provided a warm glow to the crisp autumn evening and the Neil Young song of the same name will forever send us back to that night.

Tomorrow evening we'll celebrate our anniversary at a party in the barn where it all began complete with Neil Young cover band and carrot cake!  So excited!

Sunday, September 09, 2012

Sand Bucket List

You've probably heard of a bucket list - things you want to do before you kick the bucket.  I recently heard the phrase "sand bucket list" and thought it was a great idea - a list of things you want to do with your kids while they are young.  Here's my list:

Plant seeds and harvest vegetables
Cook meals together
Pick wildflowers
Visit the Grand Canyon 
Make snow angels
Build sandcastles beside the ocean
Lie on a blanket and gaze at the stars
Splash in rainy day puddles
Ride bicycles on long journeys
Visit museums
Travel abroad
Build a tree house
Play Monopoly
Make mud pies
Jump in autumn leaves
Lie in the grass and find shapes in the clouds
Take music lessons
Make slime, goo, playdough and volcanoes
Run through the sprinkler on hot days
Hike in the mountains
Dye our hair with Kool-aid
Find pen pals
Go sailing
Draw our family tree
Make a time capsule
Navigate a corn maze
Float down a river on a raft or inner tube
See an orchestra perform
Look at insects through a magnifying glass
Ride in a hot air balloon
Have a lemonade stand
Catch snowflakes on our tongues
Collect shells on the beach
Catch fireflies in a jar
Camp in the backyard
Create new family traditions

Well this all sounds fun - I can't wait to get started!  I'm sure I'll come back to add more things to this list, especially after I hear your ideas. What activities would you put on your sand bucket list?

Saturday, September 08, 2012


Riker LOVES spending time with his cousins and I've tried on multiple occasions to get a photo of all of them together.  However, coercing six children ages seven and under to sit still in the same frame for even a millisecond is nearly impossible. One of them always insists on darting off or hiding their face or otherwise acting childish :) Nevertheless, I keep trying and below is a collection of the least blurry cousin photos that I've been able to capture.

Popcorn with Teagan and Cael in a movie theater/fort made from upturned couches

One way to get three of them to sit still - off to the water park with Gavin and Edward

Gavin, Teagan, Riker and Edward with Auntie Heather

Gavin and Riker curl up to watch an episode of Handy Manny

Edward, Ari and Riker

Riker finds Cael's smile button

One from each family - Edward, Riker and Cael

Another way to keep four boys in one place - bath time for Riker, Gavin, Edward and Ari
Lots of cuteness despite not being able to get all six of them in one frame. Fortunately, the professionals were able to get a decent shot at our family photo session in May so at least we've got ONE of all the cousins together!


Thursday, September 06, 2012

Hello Minnesota!

Last night we arrived back in Minnesota and we're once again staying at the lakehouse.  We'll be hanging around until the next big barn party on September 21st which conveniently coincides with our tenth anniversary! What better place to spend the momentous occasion than the place where it all began!

Hello Minnesota!

Looking forward to more opportunities to catch up with friends and family. Plenty of space here so visitors welcome!

Boys Go Biking

Brian and Keith wanted to do something special to welcome Aaron into the family before he and Heather get married in the end of September. With Brian taking the reins for planning the event, it not surprisingly became a sixty mile bicycling adventure!

The three guys set off on Sunday morning for their ride with a plan to meet the rest of us at their destination, the Debonne Winery and Cellar Rats Brewery.

Keith, Brian and Aaron suited up for their adventure. Aaron feels extra special being allowed to borrow Carl's titanium recumbent!

The rest of the family arrives to the winery first and we enjoy live music and dancing!

The kids play on the shady lawns and climb trees.

And the boys arrive safely back from their adventure and we fill them with beer and food!

Having survived his initiation into the McMillin clan, Aaron is now free to marry his sweetheart :)

Saturday, September 01, 2012

More Fun at the Zoo

With pretty much everyone in the family having memberships to the zoo, we've been able to visit multiple times and we can stay as long or as little as we please with no need to see everything just to get our money's worth.  Having visited four times, I think we've finally seen most of the animals now.  Here are the highlights from our last two visits...

A tiger looking very regal

The giraffes are always fun to see and Riker shows us that despite being almost three years old, he's nowhere near as tall as a baby giraffe!

In the rainforest


Edward and elephant

Gavin and Keith

Up close and personal with a Rainbow Lorikeet