Ripe for Picking

Our exploration of Minnesota continues. A few weeks ago when we were talking about the fall it occurred to me that there is probably good apple picking here. When I did a quick Google search I found there are way more pick your own fruit options, including fresh strawberries. Last week marked the start of strawberry picking season and we were ready to get our hands dirty.

Instead of heading North like we normally do, we picked a farm about 45 minutes south of Minnetonka near Northfield. It wasn’t until we arrived that we realized they probably only took cash. Of course we had none, so we drove to Northfield which had a super cute downtown. When we have more time we will visit again and walk around the area, grab some lunch.

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Cash in hand, kids awake from their short naps, we were ready to pick. We were given a box and walked to our row and started picking.

strawberry picking farm

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It only took about 10 minutes for Anderson to decide he wanted out of the carrier to get in on the action. He was a strawberry fiend.

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We spent about an hour and half picking and eating berries before we decided our box was full enough.

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Nearly 12 lbs of strawberries, 12 pounds!

strawberries

We’re working our way through them. I made a pie and picked up an Angel food cake at the store. We eat them with breakfast, lunch and dinner. What we don’t eat will go into the freezer. It’s really too bad that all of our canning stuff is in our moving truck.

Something us prime for picking – our new house!

new house

We are officially under contract on a house. Unfortunately the current owners are building a new house and would not budge on closing before the end of August. We feel like it was worth the wait. Come Labor Day weekend, we’ll be ready for visitors! Well that is as long as you don’t mind a partially empty house. We’ve definitely upgraded a bit and need to buy quite a bit of new furniture.

Typical Weekend These Days

Summertime is by far my favorite time of the year. It’s warm, there’s sunshine and the daylight seems to last forever. I suppose the latter is only good for me, not so much for getting Ella to sleep. She has down the Frozen quote “The sky is awake, so I’m awake.” That’s neither here nor there.

Since arriving three weeks ago, we’ve had a lot of rain. Like record rainfall – over four inches last Thursday. Unfortunately for Josh, much of this rainfall has come on the weekends. Not this weekend, well Saturday.

I spent my early Saturday morning hours with some mother runners getting in my long run for the week. We breezed through 11 miles chatting away about kids, training, life in Minnesota and house hunting (don’t even get me started on how much I loath house hunting right now). We were lucky enough to see a handful of deer, a few pheasants and hear birds chirping as we ran through the Elm Creek Reserve.

ELm Creek Park Trail

When I got home about 9:30, we packed up the kids, some snacks and towels, and made our way over to a lake. Minnesota problems – deciding which of the two lakes within 1.5 miles of us we wanted to go to. We decided on Shady Oak. Great decision, we all played in the sand and water, laughing as fish circled our legs.

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As lunch time approached, we decided we better get home and feed everyone so that we could do nap time. After naptime we met our friends Peter and Rachel for the German Festival at an old brewery in St. Paul. I really enjoyed my pretzel and beer.

german festival

A couple people were doing balloon animals and such for tips. Ella requested a necklace. The first failed attempt got her a dog too. Unfortunately the dog popped, well part of it, and looked rather phallic, so we had to throw that away. Didn’t want Ella walking around holding a penis shaped balloon.

We left the festival and enjoyed dinner outside at a little restaurant near Peter and Rachel’s house in Minneapolis. By the time we finished dinner and gone to get ice cream, it was already after 9. We had no idea how the time flew by. Summer nights are the best!

Sunday we woke to rain which disrupted our plans to go to a baseball game. Of course it cleared after we’d already decided not to go. There will be plenty more to go to. It ended up being a lazy day after we decided to forego looking at houses since we only had mild interest in the new listings.

As much as I miss Colorado, weekends like this are really nice.

The First Few Weeks

We made it through our first two weeks in Minnesota. It flew right by. I’m still sane and everyone is happy and healthy.

Transitioning from being a full-time working mom to a part-time work-at-home/stay-at-home mom was a bit daunting to me going in. I’ve been using the past few weeks to get us into a new routine, find fun activities to do, explore the area and figure out how to balance working (very part-time) and the kids.

We spent most mornings walking on horribly ugly paths like these:

Lone Lake Trail

and playing at parks like this:

Bryant Lake Park

Most days we’ll walk (mainly the dog and I walk) up to eight miles. I swear we are in the hillest city in the Twin Cities area. Our apartment is in a valley of hills that have been working me, especially when I’m pushing two kids in a stroller. It’s no wonder I found my clothes are fitting a little bit better.

When it’s sunny we like to spend time by the pool. Not by the pool, but rarely in it because the kids deem the water too cold.

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Or by the lake which has been the biggest hit of all.

Shady Oak Lake

In an effort to meet some fellow moms and find some playmates for Ella we also ventured to story time at Barnes and Noble. Ella was pretty excited about making this butterfly for me.

Ella and her craft

We’ve done some house hunting too. We’ve found houses we like, but nothing that has said, this is home to us. We loved everything about one house we saw this week, except for the lot it was on. Of course that same model on a better lot is about $80k out of the price range. Damn! We will find one, it may just take some time.

We’ve gotten to spend some time with Josh’s friend Peter and his wife Rachel. It’s been great getting to know Rachel better and have their guidance around our new city. They even watched the kids for a few hours for me so that I could work. I think I may just take them up on their offer to make it a regular Friday thing.

I also met some runners for a nice nine mile run. It was so nice to have some people to chat and run with. Several of the ladies are training for the Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon so I’ll have training partners! I’m excited about that.

I miss my mountains, our friends and family, little things like the grocery stores I know like the back of my hand and not having to rely on Google Maps to get around. But, I think we’re going to like it here.

Long road Minnesota

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We’ve made it. We are officially living in Minnesota as of yesterday. The drive took about 17 hours total but we did get to stop in Lincoln for a few days. We are exhausted.

Now I just have to figure out how to get anywhere without relying on google maps and what to do with two kids and a dog when it’s raining.

So behind on everything here including Anderson’s nine month update and news of a big fall race for me. As we get settled they will start popping up.

House Hunting Begins

Well good news, we sold our house in a matter of hours. Even better, we only had to clean once and don’t have to deal with shuttling the kids and dog around during showings. Icing on the cake, we’re getting $9k above our asking price and the buyer is paying closing costs! Though our best case scenario, its sad knowing someone else will be living in our house after we close on the 9th of June. Here are a few pictures for the curious:

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Last weekend while our house was busy, we had a very busy trip of our own to Minneapolis. We had two major goals:

  • Find somewhere to land when we get to town in a few weeks
  • Find the area we want to live in

I’ve been stalking various locations on the internet for weeks, well, months now but there is only so much you can determine from pictures online. We got hooked up with a Realtor who offered to drive us all over the northwest metro area. He was well prepared for the kids. Built-in DVD player with movies on hand, yes please!

First order of business was finding temporary housing. We definitely do not want to unpack all of our stuff twice. Ideally we wanted an apartment or condo that was furnished, leaving us responsible only for bringing clothes, books and toys. We toured two and decided on one in Minnetonka. In addition to meeting the furnished requirement, it’s also pet friendly (can’t forget about Lucky), has a pool and newly updated fitness center. It’s also nestled in huge trees and near a lake that offers a playground, picnic area and swimming. I plan on us being outside a lot this summer.

With that accomplished, it was onto city and house touring. We gave our Realtor some parameters to try to help narrow down options.

  1. Good schools are a must. Private schools are an option we may look into when the time comes, but we don’t want it to be our only option.
  2. Three bedroom minimum, four would be better so I can have a dedicated office. I’m going to try out consulting for a while. Having a work space is a must.
  3. Easy access to running trails and parks.
  4. We like communities that have a lot of community events – parades, art walks, etc.
  5. Under 30 minute commute for Josh.

With that he took us around Maple Grove, Plymouth, Osseo (cute but not great schools) and Minnetonka. We toured almost a dozen houses over two days. Most of them had some of the desired features but we didn’t find one house with all of them. Ella however, judged every house by two things – pink items and bathrooms. She had to use the bathroom in nearly every single house, even if she’d just gone five minutes earlier. Her favorite house was one that had a pink castle on the wall of one of the bedrooms. Any house that had no pink, she was not interested in. Priorities…

On our way to the airport Josh and I drove around a bit more. We found a neighborhood we loved in Plymouth that was about $80-100k out of our price range…of course. We also like Wayzata’s charm. When we get back into town permanently, I’ll be hitting it hard with our agent, bringing Josh only to those houses I think could be the one.

I have a feeling it’s not going to be nearly as much fun to be on the buyer’s side as it was on the seller’s. Minnesotans, city guidance is welcome!