Monster Jam: Fun for the Whole Family, Even Grandmas Love it!

Roaring by, one by one, loud, fast, the monster trucks entered one by one. The adrenaline in my body spiked and I knew I was in for an amazing night. I’m not going to lie, I didn’t really know much about monster trucks. I didn’t have any expectations, aside from thinking it looked really fun, and my son (and husband) had been asking to go for years. As we would frequently pass the US Bank stadium, my son would often ask, “mommy, can we go.” Thanks to Carrie the Moment Sales + Events, we had the opportunity to go. If you don’t already follow her on social media, you should. She offers amazing deals and promotions for many events in the Twin Cities, South Dakota, and North Dakota. Shortly after learning we would be going to Monster Jam, my mother-in-law asked if we were busy the weekend of December 7; she had found an amazing flight deal and could come visit. We mentioned we were going to Monster Jam, and invited her to join us.

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Fast  forward to December 7, 2018… this is my advice based on our experience:

PARKING

If you are in Minneapolis, park a few blocks from the stadium. The amount of people going into the parking garage attached to US Bank Stadium was INSANE. As we were trying to get out of the stadium, security guards were seriously shutting down escalators to enter the skyway to the parking garage because it was so full of people trying to get to their cars. We parked about 3 blocks away, near the Guthrie, for $10 cheaper (parking was still $20).

PIT PASSES

It was so great to go on the stadium floor. We are MN sports fans, so it was so cool to be where the Vikings play. If you aren’t familiar with Monster Jam, this is an opportunity to get close to the Monster Trucks and to get autographs by the drivers. There was a bouncy slide, a chance for kids to ride smaller trucks, a build your own truck, all offered for an additional charge.

FOOD

In between the Pit Passes and Monster Jam there was a few hour break. We took this opportunity to grab a bite to eat, outside of the stadium. I recommend making a reservation in advance; we did not do this. The first place we went had an hour wait, at 4:30pm. I think every other parent had the same idea we did. Luckily, the second place, another block away, had immediate availability.

MONSTER JAM

Have headphones or earplugs for your kids (we talked about this several days in advance to remember ours). Of course, we forgot ear protection, but they had earplugs and headphones available for purchase at the event. There are 3 parts to Monster Jam: racing, the 2 wheel competition, and the free-style competition. I highly recommend when the announcer tells you to go onto a website and voting to DO IT! Having the opportunity to vote for the trucks made the experience so interactive and fun.

We all chose our favorites trucks during the race. My husband was confused how I didn’t have the same knowledge of Grave Digger, as he did. “This is the best truck from our childhood,” he exclaimed, while I blankly stared at him. My son was enamored by the Hot Wheels truck. My daughter was rooting for Hot Wheels or Whiplash, the only female driver of the night. My mother-in-law and I both, although both very impressed with Whiplash, cheered very loud for the Minnesota driver of Storm Damage and the continuously impressive Truck/Driver, Max- D!

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We stayed the entire time. This doesn’t always happen with children 5 and 7. My daughter started to get pretty sleepy, but she didn’t fall asleep until our short car ride home. I seriously cannot recommend Monster Jam enough. My husband already asked if we can go back in February; maybe Carrie the moment will offer great discounts and promotions, again!!

Enterovirus D68: How Mother’s Intuition (and Medical Doctors) Saved My Son’s Life.

As parents gear up to send their kids back to school, I find it important to share this story. The absolute scariest time of my life (and there have been a lot of scary times).

I remember it like it was yesterday. Tuesday, September 2, 2014. My son, Caleb, was completely healthy. He was a very busy 3 year-old. We had gone to the park with his friend: they were laughing, climbing, and playing.

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Caleb had only been to the doctor, aside from his routine check-ups, 1x and it was for eczema when he was 14 weeks old. He has always been very independent. At 12 weeks old, he started sleeping through the night. He didn’t like to sleep near us. He liked HIS room, HIS bed, and HE chose his bedtime of 7:00pm.

On Wednesday, September 3, 2014, Caleb started his first day of preschool. He was very excited! However, when he got home from school, at 2pm, he had a cough. I didn’t think much about it at first because he was still acting like himself. Then he just kept getting worse. By the time his dad got home, around 6:30pm he was ready for bed, so we put him in our bed to be near him, and he was okay with that. At first, we thought he might have bronchitis. We decided I would take him in first thing in the morning if he wasn’t feeling any better.

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I LISTED TO MY MOTHER’S INTUITION

I kept a close eye on him. As I lay with him, I started googling his symptoms. I was reading through pages and pages of articles, and I came upon this small news article from Kansas City, on the 3rd page of results, talking about something called Enterovirus D68. I believed Caleb was showing similar symptoms: coughing a lot then later a wheezing sound started. Caleb has what is called Pectus Excavatum, and his chest normally dips really far in, but I was noticing his chest pull in deeper. At 11pm, I called ask a nurse through our insurance because I was starting to feel uneasy, and my mom gut was telling me this was serious. On the phone with the nurse, she had me count his breaths. She told me I should call the On Call Doctor at our Clinic, and if the doctor didn’t return our call within 4 hours to call her back. I DID NOT LIKE THIS ANSWER.

I called the On Call Doctor and left a message. I then decided to call Amplatz Children’s Hospital (now named University of Minnesota Masonic Children’s Hospital) because I believed I needed to go to the Emergency Room.  I wanted to make sure I wasn’t overreacting before I took him in. I told the nurse the Insurance Ask-a-Nurse had me count his breaths, he was at 61 breaths per minute. The nurse calmly told me, “ma’am, I don’t want you to freak out, but you need to hang up the phone and dial 911. Your child’s breaths are double the maximum they should be for a resting heart rate.”

My son was awake and I told him we were going to the hospital. He agreed to go but only if I allowed him to get dressed and not wear his pajamas. I decided to drive him since we were close to the hospital, and it was late so there would be no traffic. My husband called the hospital to tell them we were coming in. I pulled up and my son wanted to walk in, not be carried. At this point, I thought maybe he was having an asthma attack (my husband and his sister are both asthmatic). I thought we’d get a nebulizer and go home.

WE WERE GETTING TRANSFERRED TO THE PICU

They brought us into a room and started getting all of his stats. They immediately hooked him up to a nebulizer. The nurses told me how good it was that I trusted my gut and didn’t listen to the Insurance Ask-a-Nurse. I was told he would’ve been dead if we had waited 4 hours. I mentioned how I read this article on Enterovirus D68 from Kansas City. They had no idea what I was talking about and I think brushed it off due to me being another mom playing Dr. WebMD. THEN…. At 3am… the nurses came in and told me, “WE ARE MOVING YOU TO THE ICU.” I was not prepared for this. I thought after his series of nebulizers we would go home. My husband was at home with our 1 year old daughter. I thought we’d be home before my husband would go to work in the morning. I left my husband a voicemail and texted him telling him we were being transferred to the pediatric intensive care unit.

I called my dad, a nurse who at the time worked overnights. He started asking me what all of Caleb’s numbers were. I remember him asking what the blood oxygen level was. The nurse told me 76 (I now know how to check all of these numbers). My dad told me if it got any lower to call him and he’d be on a plane. At that point, I didn’t know you want a blood oxygen level of 97-100% saturation, and anything below 90% is considered low. I texted my sisters and my in-laws; I called my mom, she had the stomach flu. My mother-in-law sent me a text, “I can be there in 8 hours, do you want me to come?” I took a deep breath, started to cry, and responded that we needed her there. She told my husband and me that she’d leave immediately. She had 500 mile drive ahead of her.  My sister, her sister-in-law, and my son’s godfather took shifts watching our daughter that day so my husband could be at the hospital with Caleb and me.

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DOCTORS IN HAZMAT SUITS

Doctors and nurses entered our room in the pediatric intensive care unit in hazmat suits. NO ONE knew what Caleb had, but he was very sick. He was hooked up to so many cords. I mentioned a few other times to the doctors about the Enterovirus D68. Again, they disregarded my Dr. Google status. Caleb’s blood work came back. Negative for everything, but he tested positive for rhinovirus, the common cold. THAT’S IT! My 3 year old was on 8L of oxygen due to the common cold.

 

For 36 hours, Caleb was on 8L of oxygen. As he started showing progress, they started to lower the oxygen. I posted on Facebook how Caleb had been sick. I started getting tons of private messages about Enterovirus D68 because it had hit mainstream news, the same thing I had been telling the doctors about the entire time, including the Pulmonologist who saw Caleb in the PICU. Caleb was eventually transferred to a regular hospital room and off of oxygen. Saturday, September 6, we were discharged from the hospital. I don’t think I’ve ever been so relieved in my life. When we left the hospital, Enterovirus D68 was the number 1 article on CNN. At least 4 children died of Enterovirus D68, more than Ebola… the disease most of the country was freaking out about.  On September 9, 2014, I had a message from Caleb’s pediatrician (she had also personally called me while we were in the PICU). In the message she quoted the pulmonologist saying, “I don’t think we are currently checking for Enterovirus D68, but I wonder if we might start.”

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HE DID HAVE ENTEROVIRUS D68

2 months after Caleb was in the hospital, I was at the doctor with my daughter for pink eye. Their pediatrician told me the doctors had decided to recheck Caleb’s blood work and it was INDEED Enterovirus D68. Apparently Rhinovirus and Enterovirus D68 looked similar under the microscope. Caleb was apparently one of the first cases (if not the first case) of Enterovirus D68 in Minnesota, and that is why no one knew what it was. Since Caleb was so sick at the hospital, they diagnosed him with asthma. We proceeded to meet with the pulmonologist, we saw in the PICU, for over a year. We also had him see an asthma/allergy specialist. His allergy panel came back with him having MANY environmental allergies. It was determined by his allergist/pulmonologist/pediatrician he had experienced the perfect trifecta… Ragweed season + asthma + Enterovirus D68 = PICU.

My son is now in 2nd grade. He has allergy and viral induced cough variant asthma. He takes daily allergy medication. We carry a rescue inhaler and spacer with us. We have a nebulizer and prescribed meds to help keep him out of the hospital. So far, he hasn’t had another hospital stay and we hope to keep it that way.

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I will leave you with this: MOM GUT IS REAL. Trust your instincts!

3 Suggestions to Have the Best Birthday

I feel as though I am still on vacation, writing this, but I haven’t gone anywhere. This birthday, my 33rd birthday, I was so fortunate to have so many people I love in the same place. If you want to celebrate a birthday, or any random day, in the best way possible, here are some suggestions:

I. Have a long-time friend (my sister’s college roommate) fly in from England, who you haven’t seen in 15 years, with her child.

In November, 2017, my older sister’s college roommate, Salome, booked tickets to visit Minnesota for the first time in 15 years. I met Salome when I was 14. She never made me feel like a friend’s little sister; she always treated me as a friend. The last time I had seen her was when she came to Minneapolis, when my older sister and I moved to Minneapolis, in 2003. Since Facebook allows for me to know what it is going on in her life, it didn’t feel like it had been 15 years since I had seen her. During this time, my sister, myself, and Salome all had children of our own. Salome’s son, Freddie, and my son Caleb are 1 month apart.

After an 8 hour flight, Salome and Freddie landed at the Minneapolis-St. Paul airport; 3:45pm Central time, 10:45pm London time. Ignoring jet-leg, they came to a get together at my Uncle Matt’s. As Caleb and Freddie both shyly hid behind both of their mom’s, listening intently to each other’s accents and differing words, Freddie smiled and starting flossing. They were instant friends after that. My mom was curious how Freddie knew how to floss dance; I exclaimed that they have the internet in England, too. 😉

II. Offer to host a party, in your backyard, and have it rain

Salome visiting over my birthday also happened to coincide with the 1 year anniversary of learning of my mom’s younger sister. After 33 years, I celebrated my birthday with my new aunt (who my dad dreamed looked exactly like my grandfather only with really long hair; luckily for her, she is much prettier than that mental image).  We had many people travel near and far; it’s not every day you celebrate a birthday in which people travel to get there by Airplane, Car, and Bicycle.

I offered to host a build your own hot dog bar. The ease of being able to prep ahead of time was super helpful. I chopped up all the toppings and purchased side dishes from Costco. The hotdogs, we placed in a crock pot and finished them off on the grill.

We were excited to host in our newly almost completed backyard. We haven’t had much space to host a bigger group, so it was nice that we would be able to. A family walk was taken around to show off the changes happening in our neighborhood. Then, it started to downpour. For a while, roughly 20 of us crammed into our small living room and kitchen; however, the kids found it far more exciting to run around in the rain. A family dance party broke out, in my living room. My mom and I completed our eyebrow challenge which we agreed to the week before, and many of us ended the night with a competitive game of Catch Phrase.

III. Try New Things: Foods and Experiences

I was super fortunate to have breakfast with my mom and step-dad the morning after they arrived in Minneapolis. My kids had their last day of camp, so I had very rare, much needed adult time. I suggested the Hen House Eatery because they are known for their gluten friendly options, and I cannot consume gluten or dairy. It didn’t disappoint!

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The day of my actual birthday, a group of us went to Fort Snelling for the first time. I wasn’t aware of the full history surrounding this place, and couldn’t believe it took me 15 years to check it out. (Earlier in the summer, my family upgraded to a Minnesota History Membership after visiting Split Rock Lighthouse – we plan to get to as many History locations in our state as possible.) After Fort Snelling, we ventured to Fort Snelling beach…another place I hadn’t been to in the Twin Cities. We had a picnic and let the kids swim, until the sunny skies released another downpour.

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The evening of my birthday, we had a lovely birthday dinner at Hai Hai. This restaurant opened in NE Minneapolis, the end of 2017, and was named one of the best new restaurants in America according to Eater.com. Definitely put this on your list to check out. I told my son a good birthday present for me would be for him to start trying new foods.

The morning after my birthday, I had previously scheduled to try Reiki for the first time, as my birthday present from my husband, needing to get my chakras aligned. After originally knocking on the wrong person’s door, I made my way to the home of the massage therapist/Reiki practitioner. As I lay on a massage table with alchemy bowls playing, I could feel the sound waves moving through my body. The therapist placed her hands gently on or above different areas of my body; I could feel the energy moving through me. She then placed her hands on my head, I could feel where my varicose veins were removed and it almost felt like the energy escaped out of my feet. When she placed her hands on my feet, I seriously felt air leave my ears. And as she stood with her hands above my stomach, my intestines started to move and my stomach started to growl. Most people may think I was only hungry, but I had recently eaten AND I have suffered from IBS almost my entire life. My experience with Reiki was incredible. I will go back. I offer you a suggestion if you ever want to try it: don’t have any expectations because everyone has different experiences; you get out of something what you put into it.

We ended the weekend with swimming and dinner, hosted by my always aunt and uncle before they flew back to Denver. The long weekend was amazing, but wore this old gal out. This year, I plan to live as my best self. I do not have expectations of what may lie ahead, but I can tell you I have a LOT of fun planned for the coming year.

X Games MPLS 2018: 5 of My Favorite Things

When I was in elementary school, growing up in North Dakota, I spent a lot of time sledding. I would go off of jumps, and eventually I started standing on my sled. One year, I asked my mom for a snowboard for Christmas. I wanted one so bad, but I also knew it was unlikely that I would actually get one. When Christmas came around, we were opening presents, and my mom had indeed gotten me a snowboard. A fingerboard, I was crushed. I was enamored with extreme sports: snowboarding, skateboarding, BMX, motor cross, skiing, snowmobiling. My family didn’t have the money for me to do these sports, but I loved watching them. Not very common for a girl in the 90s. I loved the skill that came with landing tricks. I can even remember watching the  X Games on TV, by myself. When the X Games started, I was 10.

Imagine my excitement when hearing the X Games were to be in my town, as an adult. For FOUR years! The first year I missed it because I was out of state, but my husband went. So, when the X Games was to host their 2nd year of summer games in Minneapolis, I KNEW I had to go. My kids were thrilled as well. We chose to go Friday, the 2nd day of X Games. These are my 5 favorite things of the X Games (click here for YouTube video):

5. Affordable

Tickets to the X Games start off at $20 for General Admission. General Admission tickets include access to the competition, located inside US Bank Stadium, and X-fest, located outside of US Bank Stadium. In addition, taking public transportation keeps costs down. We took the Metro Blue Line light rail to US Bank Stadium, saving on the cost and chaos of parking.

4. X Fest

 

X-fest provided so many activities to keep everyone engaged. The kids won prizes, playing games at the booths. My husband and son got free underwear from Fruit of the Loom, and my daughter was given a hat from ESPN. My kids were so excited to try everything. We signed a few liability waivers, and they were able to try almost everything (a few activities they were two short or too young to do). The kids tried the American Ninja Warrior challenges and they biked on the ramps. ALL the people working were so helpful with the kids, I was impressed.

 3. Competition

I think my jaw was hanging on the floor for most of the stuff we saw. The tricks were AMAZING! My favorites were watching 11 year old Gavin Bottger in the Next X Skateboard Park Final, Dave Mira’s BMX Best Trick final, Moto X Quarter Pipe High Air Final, and The Real Cost BMX Big Air Final.

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4. Shred Hate

The X Games is serious of ending childhood bullying. The X Games teamed up with No Bully, a nonprofit to recognize the signs of bullying and put an end to it, forming Shred Hate in 2017. Unfortunately, we didn’t make it to this booth because we were rushed inside when a storm was rolling in, but I 100% support this cause and am so thankful for the compassion of these organizations to work towards ending something so serious.

1. Role Models

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While my kids were waiting their turn to ride bikes on the ramps, professional athletes were sitting down at the table next to them to sign autographs. Everyone was wondering where the line of people to get autographs were, but then it was quickly realized the whole crowd of people were surrounding the water-skiing squirrel. My kids rode the bikes then wanted to get autographs. Every single athlete talked to my daughter. They asked about her skateboard shirt, if she skateboarded, found out she wanted a skateboard for her birthday, and she would be 5 on August 2.IMG_0910

 

During the time we were waiting in line for the wall climb, we were able to watch the filming of X Games hosts, former professional snowboarder, Jack Mitranti and professional snowboarder, Craig McMorris, attempt to climb the wall. They both made it! After filming, I asked Jack Mitranti if he’d take a photo with my son. Not only did he immediately agree, but he says, “Do you want a picture with both of us? Craig will be right back.” I told him it was up to him if he wanted to wait. He did. He sat and chatted with my 7 year old about the X Games, ensuring he was having a fun time, and what his favorite things at X Games were. As a mom, I was through the roof with admiration for this man. Craig McMorris returned and the three of them got a photo. Later, I tweeted a photo of my son to Jack Mitranti telling me how much respect I had for him. AND HE RETWEETED IT!!!

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                **We will definitely be returning to the X Games next year!**