Spring Greens

Here in Minnesota, we are having the winter that won’t end this year.  As one weather man said…”By my calculations, this is February 67th.”  Yes, sadly that is what it feels like.

Yesterday, I got together with my girlfriends and we enjoyed a “summer” day out at Sailer’s Greenhouse. Each spring I organize a “Ladies Night Out” so we can feel the warmth of summer while inside the greenhouse, even if it’s 20 degrees outside.  We need that to keep our sanity some times, and especially this year when it’s April and we still have snow on the ground and haven’t felt the springtime temperatures.

We started our evening out with wine, cheese and crackers.  This is how ladies night works.  We start out slow with our glasses in hand just wandering around the plants.  We don’t like to be rushed into any dirt or planting just yet.  The wine helps our creative juices get going…or so we tell ourselves.

Eventually Nikki finds me and says that she’s ready to give her “pep talk” to us and tell us what sort of ideas we can do tonight.  She is super helpful and gives us great tips on what to plant, which flowers go well together, and shows us some cute pots/planters that we are able to buy and design in.  Always good information to get us started.

It’s time to put our wine down for the time being and get started.  The smell of the fresh soil is amazing and everyone wanted to get their hands dirty.  It’s really therapeutic and relaxing.  Makes everyone smile~

After I finished designing my own planter, I walked around and took some pictures of their finished products.  I love how unique they all are.  So colorful and pretty!  Jean chose these super colorful cactus plants and put them in a neat purple planter.  I can’t wait to see them later this summer.  Jane made identical planters to put out at her lake home.  Beautiful~

Karen did this pig planter and it is so adorable and Rachel’s made me think of Arizona.

Sheri went out shopping for her planter before our night out and she found this great white pot with an ’S’ on it for Smith.  She plans to have it out on her deck this summer.  I chose to do a succulent pot this year and put it out on our deck as well.  Dawn did a fun mix of herb garden and fairy garden.  I like that idea.

Elizabeth always does something cool and this year she did a succulent garden inside a cube terrarium.  I love that you can see all the layers she made.  Laura chose a succulent planter in a springy color and Catherine put together a wonderful herb garden to enjoy all summer long.

While we were planting, Mark & Peggy of course were working.  Mark always has time to stop and chat with me and my friends tho.  I know he enjoys our company every year and would hate to miss out on this night.  hehe

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We were all so happy with our creative “masterpieces”.  This is the easy part…now we have to take them home and keep them growing all summer long without the help from Sailer’s Greenhouse.  Good luck ladies!  I’ll be checking in on those mid-summer.

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Easter Fools?

This year Easter and April Fools Day land on the same day.   Not sure if anything strange will happen or not.  On Friday night, Kelly, Allie, Nate and I colored Easter eggs…a tradition that we always enjoy.  Each year, we always try to find a new way to be creative with our decorating.  This year Nate found a technique that we haven’t tried, so of course, we were up for the challenge.  It involved rubber bands and looked simple enough…until we got started.

We were suppose to wrap rubber bands around the eggs, then dip into the dye and once dry, remove the rubber bands to reveal the white lines.  This all seemed simple enough until we started the process.  It was easy to get the bands around the width of the eggs, but getting them around the length was a little tougher.  They wanted to pop off and wiggle their way back around the width.  This took fine motor skills, patience, and a few choice words to accomplish the task.  In the end, we prevailed over the eggs and had some good laughs at each other.

The next step was to add the eggs to the PAAS dye and wait for the coloring to happen.

Nate added salt to his eggs once they were out of the dye to add texture.  He says that’s what painters do to their watercolors.  It’s the artist coming out of him.

We needed to wait for the eggs to be pretty dry before removing the bands so that we’d get nice, clean lines.  We were happy with our results and found that the darker colors worked best, but loved our pretty yellow eggs too.

We wanted to send a picture to Megan but Jazzy wouldn’t leave us alone.  She wanted to eat Kelly’s egg!  We were laughing so much and Nate had a hard time keeping the camera still.  This was the best shot we could get.  I love it!

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Happy Easter everyone!

Winter Holidays…Preschool Style

 

If you ask a preschooler about school, they’d act like every day is a holiday.  Well, we actually celebrate most every holiday in our class, so it’s been a busy February and March so far.  I have worked at my job now for over a year and found that we have holidays and events that I’ve never heard of, but hey, any reason for a get together and have some fun.   I have to back up to February when we enjoyed Valentine’s Day.  We set up a post office so the kids could pretend to “mail” their valentine’s to each other or to whoever they’d like.  This was a big hit and they especially loved our little mailboxes that they could open and close.  Simple, but thats what 2 1/2-3 year olds love to do.

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The kids also loved making their special cards for their parents…after finishing their project, they got to eat a few hearts as well.  A win-win for all

We moved on to Mardi Gras with a colorful, loud, and crazy day of parading around the campus with the band.  We asked the kids wear Mardi Gras colors and we added some beads and headbands and headed for the Grandparents.  Look out, here we come!

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We started in the apartments where the Grandparent all live on their own and they were thrilled when we arrived.  Some got up and danced with the band and some were even singing to the tunes of the band.  Such fun to get them involved.

Next we ended up in the Memory Care area and had a dance party with those folks.  We joined up with the Older Pre group and had a lot of fun.  So much energy in this room…I had to plug my ears!

We had one more stop to make and more dancing.  The kids were starting to get tired and some spotted this couch and had to take a rest break.  I guess when your 2 1/2-3 1/2 years old, your little legs get tired easily.  ha~

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Then came St. Patrick’s Day…yep, we were all about the Green!  On this day, we went on a scavenger hunt and kept our eyes out for the the Leprechaun.  We were given a sheet with clues on it that we followed, which took us all around the campus and at each stop, they go a little surprise from the grandparents to put in their bag.

Our last destination, is always the Leprechaun and his gold.  Some of the kids are scared to see him, but once he shows his chocolate gold coins, they are brave enough to walk over and collect theirs.   Some even gave him a hug.  So sweet~

When we got back to our room, they were so excited to show me what they got.  Lots of smiles and a very successful walk.  No couch breaks were needed on this day.

I continued the “green” theme and made a sensory box activity for them to play in.  It was green sand, green aquarium rocks, green glass beads, and gold jewels.  I hid the jewels in sand and told them they could try and find the “Leprechaun’s gold”.  They had such a fun time with this and have asked me recently if I could bring out the “leprechaun” box again.  ha~

Our last winter activity was a beach party!  If you live in Minnesota, you need to have a warm theme around March when you’re so tired of the snow and cold weather.  We had the kids dress in a T-shirts and/or Hawaiian type outfits.  They each received a lei as they entered the chapel where the beach party was held.  I borrowed Nate’s shirt and we teacher’s got into the spirit as well.

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The activities for the day were balloon volleyball, hula-hooping, and limbo.  By far, the volleyball was the favorite activity of the day and most fun to watch.

When it came time to do the limbo, most of us teacher’s backed away or hid.  Nobody under 30 wanted to embarrass themselves.  So our young teachers gave it a whirl and made Chaplain Chris get in on it as well.  He really did not want to do this, but we cheered him on and he finally gave in.  He was a good sport about it.

The last event was the hula-hoops…or as my kids called it…hulee-hoops!  It was so darn cute watching them try and do this.  The hoops were bigger than they were, but they did their best and had a good time.

It was the perfect day for a beach party and we sure felt the warmth inside, even though the snow was still outside and more was on it’s way that evening.   At the end of our beach party, the kids got a medal for their participation and so did some of the grandparents.  They were all thrilled and proud of themselves!

That’s been our winter so far inside the preschool.   I’m hoping that the warm weather will bring us outside soon and we can say goodbye to those snow pants, boots, hats, and mittens until next December.   Let’s think spring!

Our Millennial Baby

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It was 18 years ago, that this beautiful girl came into our lives.   Kelly Ann was born on March 20th, 2000 and will also be known as a Millennial baby…we even have the T-shirt to prove it, thanks to my mom.    She thinks it’s pretty neat and says she’ll never forget how old she is, because it’s always the same as the year.  As she gets older, she’ll find that that is a luxury we don’t all have.  I have to use my fingers sometimes to figure out how old I am.  ha!

How did we celebrate Kelly?  First thing we did, was drive her up to Duluth a couple of days prior to her birthday so she could audition for the Musical Theater Program at UMD.  We got up to Duluth around dinner-time and since it was Friday night during Lent, we headed over to Canal Park and Nate found the perfect spot.  The Canal Park Brewing Company had a fish-fry on their menu and craft beers.  Excellent, so off we went to enjoy a night out, downtown by the big lake.  It was delicious and we loved this place.

This is a big audition for Kelly and we are hoping for the best.  She felt it wasn’t her worst audition, and not her best.  In other words, she’s keeping calm and will find out next week if she’s has gotten into this BFA program.

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Either way, she’s super excited about starting college at the University of Minnesota Duluth in the fall, where she will officially be a UMD Bulldog.  She has to now, because Nate and I bought the clothing.  He got a golf shirt and I bought a sweatshirt & pullover…there’s no turning back Kel!

Once all the stress was over, it was time to head back home and enjoy some more of our weekend and move on to Kelly’s birthday, which was on Tuesday.  Before leaving for work, I couldn’t resist looking at her baby book.  I took a couple snapshots and sent her a text at school, wishing her a wonderful day.   I had to send some to Nate & Megan too so we could all reminisce a little and start our day off with a smile.

Kelly came home that evening after rehearsal with her boyfriend Ryan, and we headed off to dinner at a restaurant called Vivo in AppleValley.  It happens to be the same restaurant she chose last year, but she loves this place, so why not!  Always good food and great atmosphere.  We kicked off our evening with a toast to the birthday girl!

We finished our delicious food and drinks and of course, the waitress had to bring a birthday treat to Kelly with candles as well.  Kelly also asked for 4 spoons, which was very kind of her.  We all indulged into her vanilla gelato with brownies on the side.  Rich and delicious and yes, we finished it.  This girl loves her chocolate.

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To end her birthday evening, we had a few gifts for her to open back home.  When she went to Italy for her choir trip last month, she needed to borrow my raincoat, so I knew that a raincoat would be on my gift idea list.  We threw in a matching umbrella and now she’ll be styling in the rain!

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Nate had two great ideas for her birthday.  A guitar case so that she can take her guitar to school with her & keep it protected, and a scarf with the UMD colors to keep her warm this winter.  She was very excited and loved them both.

I still can’t believe that she’s 18 and moving on to college next fall.  For now, she is still enjoying her High School days with a few more fun events before graduation.  She will be performing next month in the musical…Mary Poppins, she is in the play…The Crucible, has a Freestyle performance at the Jazz Café in May, and of course…Prom and Graduation.  Many things to keep her busy and many things to look forward to.

Nate and I are so proud of Kelly and all of her accomplishments already in her 18 years.  We look forward to seeing many, many more in the next chapter of her life.

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Happy 18th Birthday Kel.  We love you!

Olympic Fever

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Now that the Super Bowl is over, we are moving on to the Olympics.  This past week, my co-teacher Rebecca, did a unit on China.  She talked about the Great Wall, panda bears, and ended the week with the Chinese New Year.   At first, we weren’t sure how much they would grasp on this subject, but she did a great job of touching on these subjects at their level (it’s a low level).  ha~

She had many books on the Great Wall and even a short video to show them and this was helpful and were great visuals to get them interested.  She found a fantastic activity to do with them as well.  We took the kids upstairs to where there is a walkway between two buildings and this is where they were to build their own “Great Wall” using brown paper lunch bags.

 

 

We loved how the wall had a natural curve in it, just like the real one.  We just had them set up their bags wherever they’d like but encouraged them to at least put them in a line.

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We moved on from the Great Wall to the Chinese New Year.  Rebeccah is an art major and designed this very cool dragon for our parade.  We marched through the halls of the campus and wished everyone a Happy Chinese New Year.

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Our leader pounded on the drum as we approached and I had the sunshine right along side of me to bring good cheer.

We always enjoys passing by the coffee shop because there is always grandma’s & grandpa’s enjoying their day and we surely bring them a smile.

We ended our parade in the OT room, and those patients enjoy the break from their hard work of therapy.  Having kids come through the room is always a warm welcome and of course, we cheer them on as we pass by.

Our “dragon” kids did such a great job of staying under the tarp and moving around like a dragon.  I couldn’t resist taking a peek!

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So darn cute!

Okay, we visited China and now it’s time to move to South Korea for the Olympics.  Nate and I won our Fantasy Football league and just weren’t feeing the Super Bowl party this year, so instead we hosted an Olympics party.   Guests were given two rules…

1…they had to choose a country and make a dish that represents that country and 2…they had to come with a “fun fact” about their country.   We had England, Sweden, Canada, Germany, France, and Norway all represented.    I found decorations at Party City and got the house decorated before they arrived.  The corks and wines made up our “Olympic Village” and I was very happy that Greece was included in the flags, so Megan was with us as well.  The kit I bought did not have every country and Nate & I were sad that the Norwegian flag was not in it…nor was Canada.

Nate chose Norway as our country and was happy to get cooking.  He started days before because he wanted to make cured salmon.  This required him to pour salt and herbs over the salmon to draw out the juices from the fish.  We checked it daily and noticed what a beautiful red color the salmon was becoming.

And then he served it on such a pretty platter.  Truly a Norwegian delicacy that I’m sure his parents are proud of him for making.

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Nate didn’t stop there with his Norwegian roots…he also made a wonderful apple cake known in Norway as “Eplekake” (ep-la-kaka).  This was amazingly good and I could’ve eaten the entire cake myself, but was told I had to share with my fellow Olympians.  I hope he makes this again very soon.

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Look how pretty it is!

Next, it was time for our Olympians to arrive.  As they came walking in, each “athlete” had to walk around our kitchen island with the Olympic torch in hand as we hummed the Olympic fanfare for their country.  Oh my gosh…this was hilarious and I couldn’t get a good picture because I was laughing so hard and singing.  For some odd reason, our friends from England (Sheri & Kevin) went around the opposite way.  Hmm…maybe their wigs were on too tight.  Once everyone made their lap, they were awarded their “Participation” medal to wear for the evening.  Since we were the host country, we went last and happy that Kelly joined us too.

We also had one other competitor at our party…Jazzy earned a medal for keeping an eye on the food and giving out Olympic size kisses.  Yay Jazz!

We were so impressed with everyone’s food they prepared.  It was so interesting to see all of the combinations and try them all.  There wasn’t a bad dish at our table.  We loved it all.

We had Swedish meatballs for Sweden, bratwursts with sauerkraut and apples for Germany, brie cheese for France, Sausage rolls & cakes for England, and cheese pizza slices with a Canadian white sauce.  See the little flags?…we put their countries flag by their food.

It was an Olympic-sized table of goodness.

Once we finished eating, we had everyone fill out a ballot and write down their top three dishes.  Nate tallied up all the votes and we awarded the Bronze, Silver, and Gold medals to the winners.  Becky took Bronze with her Brie cheese with Eiffel Tower on top, the Smith’s took Silver for their delicious sausage rolls, and Laura stood on top with Gold for her Bratwurst & Apple dish.  She played the National Anthem on her phone when we announced her as the winner.  ha~

I had to make it official and have them stand on the podium (hearth) to get the shot.  Germany, England, and France.  Congratulations!

This was one of my favorite parties that we have thrown.  Nate and I had such fun organizing it as we did preparing for it and are considering doing this again in two years for the summer Olympics.    So start thinking of a country and a dish and do some research, if you’d like to join us!

I think it was a big hit and everyone was a good sport! (pun intended)

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Truly an Olympic friendship between us all~   Love!

January Whites

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When you think of January in Minnesota, the first color that comes to mind, is white.  As I sit and write today, we are in the middle of a blizzard and a complete white-out!  I didn’t have to go to work today because all schools in our district were closed, so I was very thankful that and I could stay home in my warm cozy house and watch a movie, rather than drive in this.

 

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Even our dog was willing to “hold it” for as long as she could.

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I started thinking about all of the winter activities that we have started at preschool, now that Christmas is over.  The color white seems to be all around our school with snowmen, snowflakes, snow covered trees, and of course, the real snow outside.

We needed to decorate around the bulletin board near the entrance.  One of the teachers made a cute winter board, so I thought it would look nice to add some trees.  We talked about triangles and the color white.  Put them together and you can make a winter wonderland of your own by gluing on the colorful trees and dipping your finger into white paint to make it snow.   Ta dah..here is the end result.   I think they look great and very seasonal.  The kids love walking past each day and pointing out which one is theirs.

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You can’t go through winter without making a snowman.  It has been too cold this January for us to get outside and play, so we’ve had to make “indoor” snowman with our crafts until we can get the chance to make a real one outside.

I found some ideas on Pinterest and this one was definitely a favorite.  Squishy Snowman.  The kids glued a face onto the zip-lock bag,  then I squirted shaving cream into the bag.  They were told to squish the cream around and watch the snowman appear!  They were so delighted and my littlest one, actually let out a squeal.  It was so darn cute.  I made sure to add packing tape to the top of the bag, so that they couldn’t open it.

This is our newest, little student.  She actually should be in the Toddler room, but they were full, so we took her on.  She does pretty well in our rom and can hold her own when she needs to.  After doing this project, I told her to put it in her mailbox so she could take it home.  She began crying and refused to walk over, then told me she wanted to carry her snowman at school.   Well, I couldn’t say no to those tears.   She never let go until Dad showed up.  So adorable.

Our other snowman craft was our “melting snowman.”  I read them a book about a snowman who is always cold and wants to warm up.  Each time he warms up, he ends of melting and they have to rebuild him.  His name was Sneezy the Snowman.  They loved this story and were excited to make their own “Sneezy” and tell me why he melted.  This is such a great project because their is no right or wrong way to paint it.

Another fun activity we did indoors, was the classic game…Pin the Carrot on the Snowman.  This was just plain cute to watch.  They are too young to figure out how to cheat, but got mad if the nose wasn’t in the right spot, so immediately moved the carrot once I took the blindfold off.  One little guy got mad and threw himself onto the floor and cried.  We only played one round with him.   ha!

I needed to figure out another way to bring “snow” indoors.  I had a couple of ideas.  One was adding cotton balls to our sensory table and toy plows and trucks.  They could then pretend to “plow the snow” and put it into the dump trucks.  Easy and they loved it.    I also brought some powdered sugar and let them “sprinkle snow” onto their graham crackers at snack time.  This was a big hit and I will do this again for sure.

Sometimes our afternoons can get long when we don’t get outside, so I cut out “snowballs” from white paper and told them they are going to build their own snowman.  Each snowball had a letter of their name and their job was to put it back in order and “build their snowman” on paper.  They did really well with this and took their time to get it right.  I ended up putting these up on the wall out where the Grandma’s and Grandpa’s can see them and enjoy them.   I love how individual and unique each one was.

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Last week, the weather finally cooperated and we got out two days in a row.  We hadn’t been out since before Christmas, so it’s been long, cold January already.  We haven’t had much snow, but the kids made the best of what we had.

When we return to school tomorrow, they will have big smiles knowing they will get to play in a foot of fresh, white snow!!  I can hear the excitement already.  I will have to bring my camera out once again.  🙂

Here’s to all that January white~

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Winter Wedding

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On Friday night, my niece Nikki got married to her fiancé Brian.   It was a gorgeous wedding at a beautiful venue in Stillwater called JX Event Center.  The building is very old and was originally a shoe factory built in 1905, called Connolly Shoes.  It has recently been renovated with it’s top floor housing the 14,000-square-foot event center and the basement has a speakeasy called The Velveteen.

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The building has strong historical significance. More than a century ago, as Stillwater’s fabled lumber industry began to disappear and residents lost their jobs, 24 merchants decided to form the shoe company. They persuaded Thomas F. Connolly, manager of the shoe shop at the state prison, to take charge.  Production began in 1906 and continued through the Great Depression and World War II with some notable big sales. In 1942, for example, Connolly Shoe made 85,000 pairs of brown oxfords for the U.S. Army.  In 1967, the factory closed because of rising labor costs and declining demand for leather shoes, putting 185 employees out of work.  It’s been sitting dark since then.

It certainly isn’t dark anymore and was a perfect place to hold a wedding.  When we arrived, we were immediately taken in by the white chairs set up for the ceremony with the beautiful brick walls as a backdrop.

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As we walked around while waiting for everyone to arrive, Terry and I noticed this neat bar behind us.  It was very unique in that the counter top had lights in it and down below as well.  They would change color every so often.  I happened to capture it when it turned Viking purple.   SKOL!

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It was time for the ceremony and Mark and Peggy walked Nikki down the aisle with big huge smiles all around.  Brian looked so happy when he first saw his beautiful bride-to-be.  It was a simple service, just perfect for the two of them.

The ceremony was over and we were told to head to the bar so they could clear the chairs away.   We obliged and started to have some beverages, loosened up, and took family pictures before dinner.

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A rare photo~

Peggy and Tim flew in from Arizona and Megan and Colin drove over from Winona to attend the wedding.  It was so nice to have them all here.

One of the new “trendy” things at weddings nowadays, is to have a photo booth set up for guests to go into and have some fun.  We took advantage of this and laughed the entire time, especially once we saw our pictures.  I’m pretty sure Nikki & Brian will see all of these at some point and have such good memories of their family and friends who attended their special day.

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As always, I started wandering around looking to take some more pictures.  I wanted to get some of the decorated tables and all of the lovely flowers.  Nikki had told us at her shower, that she was doing her own flowers.  Well of course she did…and they looked spectacular and stunning on the tables.   This is the head table, loved how it was lined with greenery all the way across and the candles added so much as well.

Our tables had a pretty centerpiece as well and every napkin had a pheasant feather wrapped in it.  Completely Nikki’s touch.

Before sitting down for dinner, we had to find our names on their display to see which table were sitting at.  Even that looked pretty!

It was time for dinner and they were serving tacos.  How fun!  They had a large taco bar set up that we helped ourselves to.  It was loaded with beef, chicken, pork and all the fixings you’d want.  We built them big and really enjoyed the food.  It was a lot of fun and delicious too.

When we had our fill of tacos, the dessert came next.  Nikki and Brian chose individual Bundt cakes rather than a traditional wedding cake.  They were so cute and displayed wonderfully…and yes, tasted amazing!

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After dinner, we had some more rest time before the dancing started.  Some people headed downstairs to explore the new “Speakeasy” that was in the basement and had an after dinner drink.  It’s a neat little place that Nate & I would like to go back to when we have more time.

At then end of the night, it was time for the bride and groom’s first official dance as a married couple.  They looked so darn cute out there and so in love.  Made me smile.

The last thing that really made me smile and tear up…was not the bride, but the bride’s mom and dad.  I have never seen Mark and Peggy so happy.  A night out for them that they will surely never forget.  It was the best~

Congratulations Nikki and Brian!!  Thanks for a fantastic evening.  I love this family!