Thursday, August 24, 2017

Weekend Getaway to Minneapolis

Brandon spent half of last week working in his Minneapolis office, and I was lucky enough to fly up Friday to meet him for a quick weekend getaway. We had a blast! Such a fun, foodie city with unique shopping and activities!

When Brandon picked me up from the airport Friday afternoon, we headed to his office so I could see the place and meet his coworkers and employees. From there we checked into our hotel, and then met my cousin, Clancey, at U.S. Bank Stadium for a grand tour. It did not disappoint! My cousin works as an event coordinator at the stadium so we got ALL the behind the scenes details.

This would not be a bad suite to hang out in while watching the game. Just saying . . .

Brandon trying to be funny in the press box/room . . .

I will refrain from posting the video of Brandon charging the field and fist-pumping in the air. Ahem.

Cheerleader's locker room . . . This made me laugh for some reason. You don't have to look hard to find a mirror.

After the tour we headed to Smack Shack for dinner (I was humoring Brandon because, you know, lobster isn't too high on my love-to-eat list . . . it's ok because he made it up to me later by drinking coffee) and then to a local bowling alley. Was a fun time!

I have really good form . . .

Saturday morning we visited The Bachelor Farmer Cafe for coffee (my love language) and pastries. Such a cute place with fun, morning vibe! Highly recommend.

See . . . he ordered coffee and drank it and we sat and talked like people are supposed to do in coffee shops. :) And yes, since it was just the two of us on this trip, there are many awkward individual photos (see below) and selfies. I love selfies. (#notreally) I might have said "please hurry up and take the stinking picture" approximately 345 times.

After we were properly sugared-up and caffeinated, we hit the city's downtown Farmer's Market. We visited two years ago when we came to Minneapolis, and even a second time it did not disappoint. Houston could up their game in the Farmer's Market department.

From there we hit up a few boutique/local shops and eventually ate lunch at the famous Black Sheep Pizza. So good. Please go there if you are ever in the area. We ate really healthy on this trip if you haven't gathered that yet.

To walk off at the pizza, we headed to St. Paul and spent three and a half hours strolling up and down Grand Avenue. So many unique shops! The shopping is smack in the middle of a neighborhood so you walk past a few homes, then more shops, then more homes, then more shops. You get the idea. We didn't take many pictures while shopping, but I do have to mention the CUTEST little bookstore. Think "The Shop Around The Corner" from You've Got Mail. It was JUST like that. Maybe even more darling. We walked in and, I'm not exaggerating, 30 kids at least and their parents were gathered in the corner for story time. A recently published author was reading her new book to a roomful of wide-eyed children. I basically sat and stared for way too long and continued to exclaim, "This is the cutest thing I have ever seen!" If you are on Grand Ave in Minneapolis, you must find the Red Balloon Bookshop. I have no idea how we didn't take a picture. I was too in awe I suppose.

After our tour of Grand Avenue, we had a bit of time to kill before dinner, so we visited the downtown Target (You're probably thinking, Why on earth would you go to Target? Those are everywhere. But this is no regular Target. It is three stories tall and you can send your shopping cart up and down the escalators. Need I say more?)

Dinner was on the rooftop of Crave and we both basically felt way cooler than we actually are in real life. DJ was playing music, lights strung about, and an awesome view. The food is amazing regardless, but if you visit you truly should get a reservation for the rooftop. And plan to be there at sunset. This was a trip highlight for sure.

Brandon trying to fit in and act cool. . .

After shopping all day and stuffing our faces, we headed back to the hotel and called it a (good) day. Sunday morning we slept in a bit, packed up, and headed to Birchwood Cafe for brunch. We did not go hungry on this trip, in case you still weren't convinced. Such a fun place. I would go here again in a heartbeat.

Thanks, Brandon for telling me my bangs were all a mess when taking this picture. Ha! I asked him later once I saw the picture and his reply was "I don't think they look weird." Hmmmm, ok.

Bellies full (again), we headed to Stillwater to walk along the water and browse the shops. We didn't buy anything, but it was a fun last adventure. Beautiful city!

Last stop before heading to the airport was T-Rex Cookie and Coffee Cafe. They are famous for their 2-5 pound cookies. So huge. And so good. Just say yes and thank me later.

Minneapolis, we came and we conquered and we love you! Your weather was also a welcomed change from the Houston heat and humidity.

I'm so thankful for a weekend away to rest and recharge, and thankful for all the people who helped with the childcare arrangements to make it happen!

On a final note, notice anything odd about this picture from the airport?

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

To my daughter who (frequently) gets the short end of the stick

Dear Camille,

It's been a while since I've taken the time to write a letter to you. As I was observing your behavior today, during one of Clara's many therapy sessions, I knew it was time.

I know it isn't easy being you, a typical sibling to a sister with special needs. Your life is a blessed one, no doubt, but I will admit you frequently get the short end of the stick.

Ever since your birth your life has revolved around Clara's needs, appointments, therapy sessions, treatment plans, and medical follow-ups. Clara's first speech therapy session was on your two-week birthday. You've been tagging along strong ever since. And I have never once heard you complain. Not once. You have grown to know our routine, how important Clara's therapy appointments are to her overall growth and development, and it has become part of your normal. You will never know what a blessing this is to me as the mommy of two beautiful, but vastly different girls.

What started as three-four private therapy sessions a week a few years ago has morphed into two private weekly sessions mixed with various meetings and consultations/trainings at your sister's school. By hopping in the car with a smile every Monday and Wednesday to take Clara to speech, and then immediately following those appointments, heading into another meeting with me at Clara's school after drop-off, you are giving me a precious gift. I can breathe easy knowing that our routine won't cause a struggle, a fight. You skip right into Ms. Missy's office and ask if you can color or read a book while Clara does her thing. And you go with the flow and ask if we can swing on the playground after talking with Ms. Jovan. Of course we can color and swing, sweet girl.

Sometimes I feel guilty that you get dragged around from appointment to appointment, missing out on other opportunities, so I do try to make up for that with special one-on-one moments. Like today when we made cookies together, you in your swim suit, just because. I try to make our days, in-between therapy sessions, count.

It's easy for mommy to fall into the trap of expecting you to act like the older sibling. The dynamic around here gets a bit tricky for mommy, but that doesn't mean I should treat you like the five your old your sister isn't.

You, in many ways, function as the oldest sibling. You can do for more yourself, are more independent, can communicate and follow instructions. You can get dressed and put on your shoes all by yourself. You can throw away your trash and wash your hands. Sometimes I take advantage of all you can do, expecting you to do more and more and more, and that isn't fair.

Clara drops her sippy cup on the floor and I insist you pick it up. I spot Clara chewing on her glasses in the next room and I insist you run in there and take them away. You are the sister, not the mommy, and sometimes I default to requiring more of you than I should.

I find myself saying frequently, "Camille, please clean up your crayons," or "Camille, you know you can't leave your dress-up beads on the floor," or "Camille, you can't leave your open water cup on the edge of the table," as your sister loves to chew on inedible objects and doesn't understand the concept of an item spilling and making a mess.

I wish I could let you leave your blocks and dress-up jewelry out all over your bedroom floor and your bike in the middle of the hallway, but unfortunately, I have to take your sister's needs into consideration constantly. Mommy is always anticipating Clara's next move and need and sometimes that results in my barking orders at you. Mommy is sorry and I am truly working to correct this behavior.

I love you so much, Camille. You are an amazing sibling and compliment your sister perfectly. You are highly in-tune to Clara's needs, you have her back, and you always cheer her on in her goals.

I love watching you interact with Clara. You give her so much of your time and attention, with very little response, yet you keep giving. You never give up, Camille. What a beautiful quality. You throw out "I love you's," and kiss Clara goodnight and ask her questions as if she is going to answer back with actual words. You ask her teacher excitedly every day at pick up, "Did she go potty today?!" What a gift this is to Clara. Keep it up, sweet girl. You are showing the world that a child with special needs isn't scary or weird, just different, and that a lack of response or eye contact is no reason to avoid interaction or dismiss an opportunity for connection.

Proud doesn't even begin to describe how I feel towards you, Camille. I know you get the short end of the stick sometimes, well . . . a lot of times, but I hope you know you mean just as much to me and play just as important of a role in our little, perfectly-imperfect family.


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