Sunday, July 24, 2011

It's a Beautiful Day!

For my birthday this year, Alex got me tickets to the rescheduled U2 concert at TCF Stadium (U of Minnesota Football). The concert was sold out originally and I couldn't believe he was able to get tickets. I was absolutely thrilled because my biggest college regret is not seeing them when they came to Notre Dame my senior year. I fell in love with them during college and still kick myself for not standing in some ridiculous line to get tickets in some ridiculous manner that ND set up for the students.

However, it was worth the wait.

We didn't do a lot of planning for this event, which I think worked to our benefit. Alex had gotten General Admission seating which meant that we would be on the field. My only concern was would we get close enough to see the stage and U2. People lined up (rumored) at 4:30am to get in. Alex and I left our house at 4pm and got in line as they opened the gates. The line wrapped around half the stadium.

The line moved quickly and we were in the stadium by 5pm. And boy am I glad we didn't come early to get in line. We got amazing spots about 10 feet away from the outside of the stage (you could go inside the stage – but after watching the show – you would have missed a lot of the effects of the stage.)

So there we waited for 4 hours for the show to begin. Interpol was the opening music group and they entertained us for about an 1 hour or so. We were then treated for the next hour with a million different statistics and times around the world.

Then the show began and there was Bono. It was amazing to see him so close and to actually sing the songs that I have been singing for the past 10+ years with him.

All week weather forecasters were predicting severe weather during the concert. I was a little concerned more about lightning and tornadoes than rain. They did have an escape plan in case that severe weather surfaced. Half way through the show it began to rain, actually downpour, but it was a lot of fun either way. It actually added to the effect of the show and U2 was a good sport about it. Bono actually gave us a rendition of "Singing in the Rain" complete with an umbrella.

{Aplogize for the horizontal view of the vertical shot – I still cannot figure out how to rotate the file.}

Unfortunately, with the downpour of rain, everything electronic went into a bag under my rain jacket, so we weren't able to get anymore pictures during the show. At the end, we were able to get a picture of the stage to show the enormity of it. It lit up and moved. The bridges moved around the stage. It was pretty neat.

Not that I have been to many rock concerts but this definitely ranks up at the top. Celine is still an amazing performer but in a completely different way. Very hard to compare Las Vegas to this production.

Thank you Alex for an amazing gift and time. This is something that I will remember forever!!!

Swing Batter Swing!

A couple of weekends ago my family came for a quick visit to Minneapolis. We are planning a big European trip and decided the only way for us to really get planning properly is if we were all in the same room together. So they packed up and we started EuroTrip Bootcamp.

But it wasn't all work, we had some "fun" too. The Cleveland Indians were visiting the Minnesota Twins so we got tickets to the game. My dad, from Cleveland, is a lifelong Indian fan which of course was passed down to his son. I can't say I enjoy baseball all that much, but I do like anything Ohio (with the exception of tOSU) and being outnumbered so why not.

The game was fun because I was with my family in Target Field and the Indians won, but it was one of the hottest days we have experienced in Minneapolis and it made watching the game a bit on the unbearable side. I just kept telling myself that it 3 months it will be below zero temps and I will be wishing it was in the 3 digits again.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Say "Cheese" Cider!

It has been quite some time since we took some decent pictures of Cider, so we took advantage of the beautiful weather over the 4th of July weekend, and had a mini-photo shoot on the Parkway.

We can't believe how big she is getting. Cider loves being outside and especially loves to find sticks or branches in some cases.

I would like to continue working on her with "fetch" and "come." However, her attention span is that of a gnat so getting her to focus inside let alone outside is very difficult.

She still has a lot of puppy in her and I doubt that will go away for awhile. We love watching her jump and pounce around. It warms my heart.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Happy Birthday USA!!!

We had an amazing LONG Fourth of July weekend. The weather was finally acting like summer, so we were able to get to the pool all four days for a couple hours each. I actually have a Minnesota tan. After 3 years living here, I didn't think it would be possible.

In between the R&R and grilling we did small activities, for instance picking strawberries. Nothing makes me happier than fresh strawberries.

On our drive back into town, we passed this gigantic chair. We have driven by several times during our time in MN and always say we should get a picture. We finally did.

The weekend ended with sparklers and wine on our patio. Since the 4th landed on a Monday (a work night) we decided to forgo the fireworks. (We actually will see some this weekend at our town festival.)

Would you like some cheese with that wine?

On Father's Day, Alex and I went to a local winery, St. Croix Winery, for a tour and wine tasting. It is a small winery, but they make some very delicious wines.

While we waited for the tour to begin, we spotted this little green frog hanging out.

The tour ended in the wine cellar. We learned all about the different types of barrels and how the wood can affect the taste of the wine.

Then the wine tasting began. They provided us with a plate of cheese and crackers which really helped bring out the tastes in both the cheese and the wine. We ended up buying the first wine we tasted, of course, it was the cheapest and fruitiest.

It was a fun little getaway for the afternoon.


WARNING: The following post may contain what one normal person would consider to be offensive imagery. Please keep in mind, it was part of my brother's graduation gift, and will never happen again.

The weekend of June 10th, Alex and I travelled to Columbus, Ohio (aka C-bus) to witness my brother graduating from The Ohio State University. I was very much looking forward to the visit but dreading what I committed to myself to do . . . wear tOSU paraphernalia.

Several things made it easier to wear scarlet . . . 1. it was for Joe, 2. it would be one time only, 3. our parents would also be wearing tOSU paraphernalia and 4. tOSU and the Sweatervest were and currently are in the middle of serious NCAA sanctions. The best part is that Joe had no idea what we were planning.

We met up with Joe after his ceremony rehearsal on campus where the surprise was unveiled. His reaction was worth it!

After hugs and laughs, Joe began his "Day in the Life of Joe" tour. It began at Ohio Stadium (aka The Shoe). I think the combination of the scarlet tee and being in tOSU territory made me a little nauseous.

I didn't let that get the best of me. We had a lot of fun in the stadium and strategized where we would sit for the big event.

Apparently the place was getting to me because I participated in the traditional "O-H-I-O." I just hope this stuff doesn't come back to haunt me.

Now this is one Buckeye I can stand behind . . . U-S-A!

The next day we toured the State Capitol. I had been there once in high school for my AP Government class, but we never really got a tour. So we enjoyed walking around the building and checking out the rooms, art and architecture. I enjoyed the map of the Ohio counties. The 4 of us quickly found our birthplaces. I think this trip made me realize how much I love being from Ohio.

I am considering doing this lovely landscaping in our yard next year . . . what do you think?

That evening tOSU hosted a Candlelight Ceremony for the graduates. It was a very nice event and quite moving. President E. Gordon Gee and legendary Archie Griffin spoke to the graduates and wished them well. At the end, a single flame was passed through the crowd of graduates and families.

Joe then took us over to see the new student center. This place was amazing. Most of it was shut down for the night but we were able to get sense of the activity during the day.

The BIG DAY finally arrived. We were very anxious to see Joe graduate. We got up early and headed over to campus to make sure we got a good seat in the stadium. It turned out to be a beautiful day. The sun was out with an occasional breeze to cool you off. It was impressive to watch all of the graduates march in and take their places in the stadium. We enjoyed all of the crazy decorated caps. Speaker of the House, John Boehner, was the guest speaker. He gave a very moving, inspirational and humorous speech.

The time came and Joe graduated! Raise the roof!

I am so proud of my baby brother. He has grown up into a decent young man. Me, well, I guess I still need to work on growing up myself.

After the ceremony, President Gee was available for photos with the graduates and families. President Gee is very accessible to the students and seems to be a very nice man.

The weekend events ended with a celebratory drink at Joe's local bar, Inn-R-Out. I think he was nervous about what we would think. I have to be honest, it was definitely several steps up from a few bars I found myself to be in South Bend.

All in all, it was a very successful and enjoyable weekend with the family. Joe recently started a new job with pharmaceutical lab in Columbus. We could not be prouder of him and what he has accomplished.