Sep 25, 2019

Speaking Truth To Power

9/25/2019 — cori

Greta Thunberg. Remember this name. She is going to be the girl who changes the course of history. Her courageous stand against politicians and laws and governments and wealthy countries to challenge their actions on climate change is inspiring, convicting, and imperative.

She is the voice of the generation that has to shoulder the burden and solution of how to handle all the devastation brought on by global warming and how it is devastating every country on this beautiful planet. Two days ago she gave an impassioned speech to world leaders at the UN Summit on Climate Change. Her words are meant to spur on action but they also sting and should cause deep soul searching for all of us. We are all culpable. We cannot point a finger at only one person, country, leader, business. We must each act and do our part for the betterment of the whole.

Chloe and I sat and watched both speeches after school today. The message was heard; the conviction heavy; the mood somber. It is awesome to see my 15 girl being inspired by another person in her generation - a girl even. She's reading, learning, listening, and deciding what causes are important to her. Right now it's equality, climate change and women's rights. May she never stop growing, learning, and reflecting on what is important to her and how she can use those passions to inspire, empower, and love others.

Sep 22, 2019

Homecoming Festivities

9/22/2019 — cori

My sweet 15 year old. These are the best days of her life! 

Just like the song confirms.

Homecoming began this week. Now that these two (who are more like sisters than friends) are sophomores, they rocked this year's festivities like they owned the school. They got into every dress up day and activity.

This was for neon day. Sophomores wore neon yellow.

This was for cowboy day. Chloe didn't own a pair of cowboy boots. Drama ensued. A simple trip to Goodwill scored her a pair of Tony Loma $20 genuine cowhide boots. You're welcome. I single-handedly saved cowboy day with my shopping prowess. 

Their presence at school was also required two evenings during this week of great celebration. They were in attendance at the girls powderpuff football game and the boys peach fuzz volleyball game. Not a part of the homecoming festivities, but happening anyway, was the Windsor Tennis Invitational. The girls stopped by to cheer Bennett and his teammate, Chance, on. 

Finally, the piece de resistance of the week: The Homecoming Football Game (in which we lost)

These girls were sardined 

Somewhere amongst this sea of humanity. When they all started jumping up and down on the bleachers during certain cheers, I started thanking God for engineers who foresaw this very scenario and added that extra rebar of protection for the anxious parents also in attendance, (but not allowed to sit next to their uber cool kids - because, social suicide).

And then the icing on the cake: The Homecoming Dance. These four went together and boogied the night away.

It brings me such great joy watching these two goofballs make the most of every moment and enjoy this incredible time of their precious lives. Like the song says....15, there's never a wish better than this...

Sep 21, 2019

What I Like About You

9/21/2019 — cori

You know that 80s song: What I Like About You? That's what I think of when I think of this kid. I think my entire blog is a homage to how much I love, enjoy, and admire all my kids. But it's true. The more I know them, the more I'm amazed by who they are and that I have been given the gift of having them in my life all these years.

The thing about Gavin, specifically, that I never ceased to be amazed by his love of learning and capacity to absorb knowledge like a sponge. This has been a consistent character trait of his since he was born. I just thought that's how all kids were since I didn't know any better. I have since learned how unique he is.

As a 3 year old, he loved doing CBTs (computer based trainings - Chuck taught him that terminology) that were actually Bob The Builder activities on their webpage. This was around 2001/2002. He was also begging me to teach him to read, "Teach Nanan (what he called himself) read mom." So I did. That's how we started homeschooling. Homeschooling (in his younger years) seemed the perfect fit for him because he could do interest driven learning and go as deep as he wanted. He's the type of person who loves to learn as much as he can about one subject. He also needed ample time in his day to process this new information, to be creative, and to escape into his own world so he could think. This has always been a keystone in his learning process. Public schools (at the time) were not encouraging this way of learning.

As he got older, he would find books that satisfied his curiosity. One such book, "A Brief History of Time" by Stephen Hawking came into his life around 10th grade and quickly became his all-time favorite book. He would always buy it as gifts for friends or to bring to gift exchange parties. He even encouraged me to read it which resulted in the best book talks. We still love to talk about what we're reading with each other, something I treasure deeply.

In high school many other teachers started speaking into his life and opening his eyes to new ways of thinking. He's had several teachers he admired that have fed his constant thirst to go deeper and learn more - about every subject. His U of M Lit and Comp teacher lamented that he wouldn't be majoring in writing somehow because she loved having him in her class and the discussions they would have and the insights he would write about. His St. Cloud State University Physics teacher even came to his graduation party he admired him so much. He loved his AP European History teacher so much him and his friends would hang out in her class whenever they had the chance, he even became her T.A. His Comparative Religion teacher also made a huge impact in his life.

Throughout his teenage years, he consulted YouTube for all his learning how to code needs. He taught himself multiple languages such as Python, C++, and Java. He built his own website. He built his own computer and helped his friends build theirs. As a parent, it's such a joy to watch your child come into their own - to find their passion, their talent, their purpose in this world. 

As he left for UC - Irvine, he was excited about his Computer Science and Engineering major. But after his first year, he realized that he already knew a majority of that stuff and wasn't feeling very challenged or enjoying it as much as he thought. So, upon entering North Dakota State University his sophomore year, he changed his major to Electrical Engineering. When asked "why?" his answer was always the same, "Because I want to major in something I can't teach myself or learn on youtube." Fair enough. 

Just recently, he off-handedly mentioned that he was taking Biology this year because that was one of the sciences he didn't know too much about. I asked, "Didn't you already meet all of your science credits?"  To which he replied, "Yes, but if I want to specialize in Biomedical Engineering, this is one of the requirements." This was the first we heard of his specialization. 

Most people go to college to major in something they already realize they are pretty good at, know more than most people about, or have a passion for. Gavin loves and is knowledgable in such a wide variety of subjects that he chooses to major in the thing he doesn't know much about so he can learn it. That just blows my mind. I love how his brain works. I learn something new from him every single time we talk.

I also love how well-rounded he's become, how he goes to the local farmer's market on the weekends, how he still plays Dungeons and Dragons with his friends, how he takes a walk around the park or along the river most nights, how he calls and talks to me for an hour twice a week. I could never have imagined what this time in our lives would hold and am loving every minute of what it has turned out to be. 

Sep 14, 2019


9/14/2019 — cori

These girls crack me up! Whenever I pick them up from school or drive them anywhere, we have to have music. And not just any music - 80's music. And we have to sing. LOUD. Do you know how much fun it is to jam with two teenage girls?! The other day we were driving home from school with the windows down and the music blaring. The three of us were singing at the top of our lungs to REO Speedwagon: Keep On Loving You and Chicago's: You're the Inspiration. These are the days I never want to forget. 

Sep 13, 2019

Adventures in Seattle

9/13/2019 — cori

Chuck and I got to have another honeymoon adventure in Seattle last week for our anniversary. Since he has to travel to Seattle for work every few weeks, we figured I could tag along for his September trip and call it an anniversary celebration. It was the perfect way to usher in our 23rd year of married bliss.

The first day we got there we ate and then walked around the iconic Pike Place Market down on the pier.

Thankfully, we were there during sunset.

But we didn't want to stay out too late since we had an early morning date with the Victoria Clipper. This was the ship that ferried us 3 hours north to Victoria on Vancouver Island. 

Checking in and embarkment were at 6:45am. It was a 15 minute walk from our hotel to the pier. We were a wee bit tired in this picture, but also very excited.

The very first thing we did after disembarking the ship at 10am (and waiting in line for another 30 minutes to be processed through Canadian customs) was head straight to Murchie's Tea Shop. They have been serving and selling tea for 125 years. It was so delicious. So were the sandwiches and pastries we filled our empty tummies with. 

Then we headed right next door to Munro's Books, an iconic bookstore in Victoria. Tea and books...two of our favorite things. How could this day get any better?

Well, it can start by walking through the beautiful historic district and the grounds of The Empress, Victoria's oldest hotel. Flowers were in bloom everywhere we looked. Here I'm standing beneath a beautiful portico draped with flowers and vines. 

Next, we walked past Victoria's Parliament building (which was closed for tours on Saturdays) on our way to Beacon Hill Park. We spent the entire day walking. We probably logged 10 or more miles walking back and forth throughout the city. 

This was my happy place. Flowers make me so happy and they were in abundance in these lovely gardens. Well tended gardens and beautiful flowers were everywhere on this island. You can easily see the huge influence England has had in shaping British Columbia.

This was a huge 200 acre park (we probably only walked half of it). It was manicured and tended by the same horticulturalist for 40 years. He obviously took great delight in his job because this park oozes peace and joy.

Here is a sampling of the happy flowers.

Colors and fragrances galore.

I think I appreciate these delicate creatures because I am such a horrible gardener and know how incredibly hard one has to work to keep things alive and beautiful. 

This is a massive tree (possibly a Cypress?) that we admired up close. It brought back memories of the giant Redwoods in California. It always humbles you to see how small you are in the scheme of things.


What an amazing gift to be able to bring such joy to so many through the hard work of your hands.

As we were leaving the park, we saw these stairs, so naturally we had to find out where they led to.

Tada!...they lead to the  James Bay

Which led to a beautiful backdrop for a selfie for remembering this peaceful moment.

Later in the afternoon we walked through this beautiful alley way in Victoria's Chinatown.

We had an early dinner of fish and chips at this gorgeous establishment.

It just drew us in.

And then we found ourselves in yet another bookstore. This place was heaven. Books from floor to ceiling! I think I bought like 3 books on this trip. They had an entire store dedicated to just antique books (which are my favorite).

And then the time came to go back to Seattle. 

Funny story though, as we were waiting to board the boat for our trip back, we were eating an ice cream down by the harbor. As we're sitting there, many of the boats in the harbor start honking their horns. There is even a police boat with its lights on. People on the docks are cheering. We have zero clue what is going on. I go ask a random stranger. They explain to me that a lady by the name of Jeanne Socrates is just now returning from her journey. She is the oldest woman (77) to circumnavigate the globe in a sailboat by herself. And we just happen to be sitting here on her arrival home after a 320 day journey. No wonder everyone is cheering. This is a big deal!

It was quite windy on deck - but also beautiful.

But this sunset though! What a treat! Two gorgeous sunsets in two days. How lucky are we?!

The next morning, back in Seattle, we headed out to explore. We came upon this unique structure in the middle on downtown. It's called the Spheres. It was so beautiful, inside and out, such detail and craftsmanship was put into the gardens outside and inside the building. It housed a working level upstairs, a museum downstairs, as well as some restaurants. Definitely not what you'd expect to see nestled amongst all the high-rises.

I thought this was pretty, it's a simple vent from a parking garage. But I love how they added artwork to the outside of it. I am always so impressed when people are able to make ugly things beautiful.

This is just a small sampling of the lovely flowers around the city. I also love how it captures the rain which was also ever present. But we didn't let that stop us.

We took the subway to Chinatown where we went to the Wing Luke Museum. We had a walking tour of a hotel and shop that immigrants would have passed through and stayed at on their journey from China to America. It was so well done and we learned a ton. Surprisingly, there was also a cultural parade at the same time that we were there. We seem to be ending up at just the right place at just the right time.

We had lunch at THE BEST Thai restaurant in all of Seattle. It was one of my favorite things - and I have a lot of favorite things on this trip! Afterwards, we walked over to this adorable tea shop called: Steepologie. They had 250 different varieties of tea to choose from. We enjoyed a break from all our walking and the rain by visiting over a cup of tea, and of course, a cookie. Because vacation.

We stayed at the most awesome hotel. We have a thing for boutique hotels. This one was phenomenal. It housed a cooking school on the second level. The smells from this place just put a smile on your face. You couldn't help it.

This is the lounge right outside of the cooking school.

This was our little hangout. We would come here to read, eat breakfast and just enjoy the overall atmosphere of the hotel. We typically like to enjoy the whole hotel when we visit, not just our room.

These awesome quotes were lining the wall leading to the cooking school. 

They were too awesome not to take pictures of.

This one is Chuck's favorite. It describes his passion for cooking with onions to a tee.

My last favorite hangout space in the hotel - the fireplace. If there is ever a fireplace, you will always find me by it with a book. Guaranteed. We like to make ourselves at home.

I had to leave on Monday while Chuck stayed and continued to actually work. I was welcomed home by this sight. Doesn't it just take your breath away?! It was good to be home. It made me even more thankful for our special time away. 

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