Thursday, July 24, 2014

Twins+Cheese Adventures

First of all, BRAVO, MASON CITY on an amazing RAGBRAI day.  WOW!  I am prouder than ever to live here!  Tom and I walked with Jude to the downtown area where all the excitement was happening.  We were so impressed at what our town was able to pull off.  We didn't stay long and we didn't go see Bret Michaels that night, but we LOVED seeing everyone's fun pictures of their biking adventures and of the concert.  It made us want to try riding on the route next year, maybe for just a day or two.  Such an awesome tradition for our state!!

So - I told myself I would have ALL SORTS OF TIME to write on my blog after my classes were done for the summer.  Babies keep their mamas busy.  But it's okay, because I feel like summer is finally in full swing and it's very much like what I anticipated summer with a new baby to be like.  We are loving our new life as a family of three.

For Tom's birthday my parents gave him a special Twins game trip.  We both grew up going to a lot of Twins games, and we love to go together so it was a great idea.  Tom was so, so excited to take Jude to his first baseball game.  Mom and Dad joined us.  Dad even scored us tickets in the Legends Club, so we had great seats and a big air-conditioned indoor section with our own food vendors, three bars, lots of seating and more.  It was perfect for Jude's first game.

We took off on Monday around noon.  Jude was excited to have a little road trip with his monkey buddy.

Are you ready, Monkey?

We love car rides!

Okay, goodnight for a while.

Hangin with daddy at the hotel!

You're my best friend, Monkey.

Smiling with Grandma!  My mom is super gifted with children and Jude always smiles instantly when she is around.  He is SO close to finding his laugh--it'll happen any day now!

It was 90-something degrees and extremely humid.  This was during the 2 innings that Jude was actually watching the game -- he was more interested in other normal baby stuff the rest of the time.  Eating, sleeping, pooping -- all the things he's good at. 

With Mom.  :)

About these seats:  If you're planning a Twins trip with small children, Legends Club is THE WAY TO GO.  

I mean, the other sections aren't bad at all -- Target Field is loaded with amenities that make it easy for parents and kids to enjoy themselves -- but the Legends Club is basically everything you'd ever want at a baseball game plus way more, and it made it so easy to be at a game with a baby.  I can't tell you how glad I was to be so close to air conditioning, a comfortable place to eat supper (no more sitting in the stands with food on my lap), feed baby Jude (there's a nursing room.  A NURSING ROOM!!!), safely check the stroller, and I could go on and on.  If Tom and I go to a game by ourselves or with just adults, we'll be willing to sit anywhere in the stadium, but if Jude is with us, I'll pay the extra bucks to sit in LC.  This time, we were with my Dad so it was free -- he used to work for the Twins and he's still got lots of connections -- but I'd be willing to pay the price any other time!

We had a great time at the game.  The worst part of the evening was on the walk home, when an ambulance started its siren right next to where we were walking.  I've never seen my baby son so scared.  I don't know who was more traumatized, Jude or me.  My husband was the only levelheaded one and ushered us quickly over to the corner so we could get Jude out of his stroller.  I cuddled him the remaining 9 blocks back to the hotel and vowed to buy him some noise-cancelling headphones if we were to visit a big city again.

Our little man was WIPED OUT by the time we got back to the room.  He'd only taken about a 45-minute nap all afternoon, so he crashed, and slept hard.

I actually had to wake him up to eat the next morning at 7:45!  Good boy!

I'm glad Jude is a happy morning baby.  It makes my mornings happier too.

We debated stopping at the MOA or IKEA when we left town, but the thought of home was much more appealing.  That is, until Tom saw his favorite billboard on I35...

Each time we've driven home from the cities, as we've passed the Faribault exits, Tom has talked about how he wants to visit the Cheese Cave.  We both decided it must be a cheese novelty shop, like the ones everywhere in Wisconsin -- a weird little convenience store style place where you can buy cheese curds and postcards and t-shirts like this:

I was sitting in the back with sleepy Jude when Tom said "Wanna go to the Cheese Cave?" and I said "Sure."  So we pulled off and headed into Faribault!  I congratulated Tom for being spontaneous!  I hardly ever see spontaneity from him...he prefers structure and clarity.  This was an exciting move for him and I loved it!

We walked in and I was immediately taken with all the delicious gourmet foods sitting on the shelves.  And the beautiful decor.  And the impressive wine list.  And....EVERYTHING...I was in love with this place!  Definitely NOT what we were expecting.

They had an olive oil and balsamic vinegar fill-up station.  Um... HELLO, LOVER.  If we lived here I would utilize this weekly.

 This was in the next room over...just a space with some tables.  We sat in here.  It felt like we were in a cute little alley.

The menu was impressive...artisan pizza, sandwiches, beautiful salads...everything was unique and fresh.

We ordered drinks (stout for him, New Age for me) and one of the cheese plates.  We were given THIS beautiful thing:

I almost fell over when it came to our table.  OH FOR HEAVENS SAKE IT WAS SO GOOD.  Assorted olives, candied pecans, dried cranberries, dark and milk chocolate, salami, baguette, and three cheeses--St. Mary's grassfed Gouda, Fini sharp cheddar, and the Cheese Cave's select Gouda.  

We had such a good time talking, eating, and relaxing.  Jude got to stretch and wiggle and kick on his floor blanket and we just sat and enjoyed every minute.

We will most certainly visit this place again.

Now I must think about sleep.  And hopefully experience it soon.  We get to go to my sister and brother-in-law's tomorrow for a fun weekend!  I can't wait!

Love, Betsy

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