Thursday, July 20, 2017

Duluth and a Baby Shower

The following post actually occurred at the end of May:

I went back to Minnesota this past weekend. My niece Nicole was having a baby shower and I didn’t want to miss it. She will always be more than “just a niece” to me, because she lived with us for three years during high school. She is an amazing, level headed, very strong young woman, so let me just brag on her for a little bit.

Nicole was almost her little brother’s mom through some very rough times. When they came to live with us in 2001 it was hard at first for everyone. Slowly we all adjusted to our new situation and then Nicole really blossomed. She made friends, got excellent grades, played flute in the marching band, AND was a varsity cheerleader (which took some juggling on the part of the band and the cheer squad during football games!).

When it came time to go to college, Nicole had another tough choice to make. She had always been very good at math. She had always been attracted to the medical fields, but both her father and her grandfather were engineers, and we thought it would be a good field for her too. She entered engineering school at the University of Minnesota. Her dad lived in St Paul, and that way she could be close to her father and her brother and go to a good school. 

Nicole graduated from engineering school in 2008 with a degree in chemical engineering. It was the height of the recession which was a very bad time to be looking for a job of any sort. She kept applying, and stayed in Minneapolis. She met a very nice young man named Tom. And then she got a job offer with a French oil company. She took the job, and went off to work on an oil rig in western Texas.

Nicole ended up working on an oil rig in Siberia! She was lonely, and the work wasn’t what she wanted. She started to think about medicine again, and about Tom. After nine months she quit and moved back to Minnesota.

She decided to get a nursing degree, and she and Tom moved to Duluth so that she could go to school there. She completed her nursing degree, got a job in a Duluth hospital, and got engaged. Last Thanksgiving she and Tom decided to get married, while all their surviving grandparents were there. They got married the Saturday after Thanksgiving. Several weeks later, Nicole realized she was pregnant.

So now Tom and Nicole have a new house, a new puppy, and a baby on the way. They love living in Duluth (a beautiful but chilly city) and are looking forward to being parents.

I flew into Minneapolis on Friday. Sarah had to work that morning, so I took an Uber to her office. An interesting aside, my Uber driver was deaf! Uber told me when I chose him and he held up a sign with a notepad to explain how I could communicate with him. It was novel, but no big deal.

I love Sarah’s company, Zeus Jones. They are quirky, a small, boutique ad agency. They are giving her a lot of excellent opportunities, and they are family friendly too. She can even bring Mika there sometimes, much to that little dog’s delight. 

I’ve seen pictures of their office, but it was great to see it in person. It has a lot of open space, but wasn’t noisy at all. It was possible for some people to work collaboratively and not bother others. 

I sat in their reception area, charging my phone, reading, snacking. I went across the street to Wedge and got myself a breakfast bowl with eggs, spinach, brown rice, veggies, cheese. I’m not sure if it was breakfast or lunch, since I had gotten up so early to catch my flight. At least 5 of Sarah’s coworkers came over to introduce themselves and “thank” me for Sarah! It was very flattering, to her at least! I knew some of them by name from her stories from work. It was fun to meet them for “real”.

Finally she was able to tear herself away and off we went to Duluth. Its about a 2 and a half hour drive. I drove there, because I just didn’t know if I would be fit to drive back after the shower since I was so short on sleep.

It was very warm in Minneapolis that day. The high was 88 degrees as we drove up I-35 north. As we got close to Lake Superior the temperature started dropping. It dropped 30 degrees in about 5 minutes. It was a beautiful day in Duluth, but only 58 degrees. I’m glad I brought a sweater with me!

First we went over to Nicole new house. We met Jennie their new dog, who is about seven months old. She is an already big and friendly lab/pit mix. This house is high on a hill overlooking the town. It's older, built in the 20's, but in good shape. It's a great neighborhood, near the University, with lots of families and kids.

Then we drove to the shower, in a nice neighborhood overlooking Lake Superior. I was conscious of the fact that last year around this time I ran Grandma’s Marathon nearby. I wish it had been 58F THAT day! The two young ladies hosting the shower did an amazing job. They had all kinds of snacks for us. The had all kinds of fun activities. The first thing we did was sit down at a table where waterproof markers and baby onesies in various sizes were provided. There were stencils we could use, or we could just be creative. I did one with a selection of my standard doodles, hearts, stars and wiggly lines in a variety of colors. Everyone’s onesie was different. When we were finished we hung them all on a clothesline to admire. 

Then we played a couple of shower games. One game had us decipher the name of a children’s book spelled out in emojis. I knew most of them but a couple had me stumped. Then Tom showed up to help Nicole open their presents. One of the neat things the hostesses had us do was bring children’s books instead of cards. Totally without consulting each other, Sarah brought Blueberries for Sal, and I brought Make Way for the Ducklings, both by Robert McCloskey. We were the only literary-minded guests; most people brought infant board books!

There was also a photo booth, with props, which made for lots of fun photo opportunities.

AND there was an amazing cake and cake pops too.

Then it was time to drive back to Minneapolis. By this time I was very tired so I’m glad Sarah drove back. She saved us from a couple of deer crossing the interstate right in front of us too.

The next day in Minneapolis was really hot again. We went shopping for leggings and summer dresses for Sarah. Erik had a graduation party to attend so we tried a new sushi place in Wayzeta, named Sushi Fix. Not only was it close to their house, but it was very good too. We took a walk along the lake after dinner. This portion of Wayzeta is really pretty, and very wealthy. Giant mansions overlook the lake. There are bike trails and parks galore.

The next day I got up early to beat the heat and run 11 miles on the Luce trail by their house. Its  a very nice trail for running with lots of wildflowers and pretty lakes along the way.

Then  later we went to the Saint Paul Farmer’s Market, saw Cathy at the Green Machine Farm Stand, and got brunch at the Golden Deli. The rest of the afternoon we just hung out and relaxed. On a quick trip to the grocery store I popped in to the Land’s End outlet store and finally got myself a new bathing suit. I bought my first ever Tankini. I am long waisted and usually the tops aren’t long enough but this one worked.

I flew home late that evening to cold rainy New England. We actually have the fireplace on. I don’t think I’ll be using that bathing suit any time soon.

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