Joe Bliven

From Ice Dams to Ice Cream

July 15th, 2023

Before getting into my summary of the season, I should announce that we're expecting another daughter this September. Until now we hadn't made an effort to announce it in any capacity, and I thought I should, seeing as how quickly September feels to be approaching.

This was a fun spring that went quickly. After a rough winter, we made the most out of a spring that started off quite cold. For tons o' pictures from this spring follow this hyperlink!

One great thing about Elena's school is how many animals they keep.

Having returned from our spring break trip, we got right back into our routines of school, work, and getting creative with playing indoors. Elena was thriving in her final quarter of school. She started Softball with the middle school team, which was mostly indoor practice for the first few weeks. She almost made the A honor roll again, if not for a single B-. She got student of the month, having been nominated by her favorite teacher. She did well in softball, but she thinks she wants to do track and field next year. She did have one disappointment this spring unfortunately. She had applied to join a student group next year that's only for eighth graders, but she didn't make the cut. She was particularly disappointed to discover that many of her closest friends had made it into the group. Hopefully she doesn't feel too left out next year by missing out on this student group.

Maya finished up all of her classes the last full week in May. I was glad they were ending because it was starting to get nice out and her classes took up a huge chunk of our day. Even with their busy school schedules, Maya, Elena and I still managed to squeeze in a few after school bike rides. Maya and I also went to a few of Elena's softball games. As soon as the snow melted, Maya wanted to spend all day every day outside. We spent time doing yard work together and playing with outdoor toys. She wants to go to the playground every day, and we usually make it to at least one playground a day. She loves going to Dodge Nature Center. We've also really enjoyed being able to bike down to our local storytime. The library had one particularly fun event called stuffed animal sleepover. We biked down to an evening storytime where we dropped off Maya's tiger stuffed animal, then the next morning we biked back for another storytime where we got a book that told all about what her stuffed animal did at the sleepover. She's been learning and growing so much. Fingers crossed this spring was the home stretch for potty training, it's been going really well.

Maya loved all of her classes and friends. Here she is at her Thursday class playing with the other kids.

Maya loves to help feed and water the chickens. She especially likes chasing them back into the coop when they're done ranging in the yard.

I had quite a few outdoor goals this season, many of which were put on the back burner, but many of which were accomplished. This year we finally created a patio space that's great for eating meals and generally hanging out. We drove all the way to Duluth to pick up a table that was just right and didn't cost a fortune. I got the garden planted, though I planted a bit less than last year. West St. Paul upped the number of chickens per home to six. I made some repairs to the chicken coop in preparation for our six all new chickens. The last two years of drought and watering restrictions had been terrible to our lawn, so I spent a lot of time this spring working to repair the lawn. I finally built some compost bins to handle all of the organic waste we produce. Overall it was a productive spring for our outdoor space.

Maya helping in the garden. You can see behind her that this is before our new table. I'll have to get a photo of the updated patio for the next blog post.

Amelia got word at the end of March that the VA would be promptly closing the floor she worked on. It had been a really stressful couple of years working on that floor, and the news that the floor was closing felt like it was all for nothing. She had a few options in front of her, a new floor was opening as a replacement, but Amelia ultimately decided to apply to a different area of the hospital. The start date for her new position is in July. She'll be taking maternity leave in September during which she'll be starting an online master's program.

A lovely boat ride with a lovely lady

Maya's third Saints home opener. The 31st for me and my dad.

The Saints home opener was cold but we made it. We went to a few other Saints games this spring as well. We went to Easter Mass and had Easter lunch with my in laws, and had Easter dinner at my folks' house. We got plenty of Icy Cup (they have chocolate soft serve on weekends now!) Amelia's sister Rachael had her college graduation party and my mother in law bought a karaoke machine for the party, it was lots of fun. We ended the spring with a trip out to New York for Amelia's grandmother's funeral. We stayed at a resort in Lake George that Amelia's parents had rented for themselves and all the kids. It was a beautiful funeral service and a wonderful reception catered by Aunt Gwen (if you came to our wedding you know that woman can cook!) So much of Amelia's family made it out for the funeral, and it was great to see everyone. Our time at the resort was so relaxing and serene. The last full day we were there my in-laws rented a pontoon and we spent a good chunk of the day out on one of the most beautiful lakes I've ever seen. It was a nice end to the spring, although brought about through somber circumstances.


It felt like I blinked and spring was over, and now this summer is already flying by.