Before the Best Two Years

Kyle’s younger brother Tanner received his mission call to serve in the Tallahassee, Florida Mission. He was scheduled to leave on February 6th, but before he left to serve the Lord for two years, he came to visit us. We were thrilled!

As soon as we picked him up at the airport, we took him to our traditional stop at the Mall of America. We wandered around the gigantic mall and enjoyed lounging in the Luv Sac store, looking at the huge Lego creations, and eating dinner. The boys also ventured into Nickelodeon Universe, in the center of the mall, to try out a roller coaster. After debating which one to choose, they decided on Spongebob’s Rock Bottom Plunge. Despite it being so short, they said it was actually a fun ride.

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The night was still young as we made our way to the Pantages Theater. We had seen advertisements a few months before for Elton John and Tim Rice’s Aida, put on by a local theater company. Since we are all theater fans, and this show is one of my favorites, we purchased tickets immediately. The theater itself has been around since 1916 with beautiful, classic architecture. We lucked out and had the perfect seats, 6 rows back and right in the middle. The show itself was very well done and had us singing the music the rest of the weekend. The director added some exciting modern elements to the set and costuming that added an intriguing twist to the story. So intriguing that I convinced the boys to stay after for a Q&A with the cast. It was well worth it.

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The next day was low-key for all of us. Tanner and Kyle were both recovering from being sick, and I had to work. We stayed in playing games and watching movies. While I was working, the guys also took off to do some bowling and take a trip to the temple. Tanner and Kyle hadn’t ever done a session together before so that was a special time for both brothers.

The next day, we took a trip to visit the St. Paul Winter Carnival. We had heard some great things about it and wanted to check it out. Supposedly, the carnival began in 1886 when a report wrote that Minnesota is a frigid wasteland that is unfit for human habitation. To counteract that statement, the Winter Carnival was created. Though it may have been small at first, it now has around 350,000 visitors a year! It usually has a smattering of parades, musical/theatrical events, pageants, ice skating, dogsled races, ice sculpture carving contests, and other wintry contests and events. We had hoped to see the dogsled race but it happened to be cancelled due to the lack of snow. Instead, we enjoyed looking at the ice sculptures, listening to live music, wandering through displays of past winter carnivals and vendor booths, and visiting the Peanut’s sculpture garden.

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On the way home we stopped at the 5-8 Club. This is another old Minnesota treasure, having first opened in 1928. It was formerly used as a speakeasy, during prohibition, and has since turned into a fantastic place to get burgers and other comfort food grub. One particular item being the Juicy Lucy, a burger that has the cheese baked into the meat instead on top. Though we had to wait for over an hour to be seated and get our food, it was well worth the wait. Kyle and Tanner ordered the Juicy Lucy with various cheeses and I tried the Roadhouse burger. They were all delicious! Needless to say, we will be going back the next time we are in that part of town.

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We had packed our last few days full, so Sunday became the day for relaxation. Of course we went to church, but afterward we enjoyed playing more games, Sunday naps, and good home cookin’. Kyle also spent a lot of time talking to Tanner about his upcoming mission, giving advice, and discussing gospel topics. It was so fun to see them having that special time together before Tanner left for his two-year mission.

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On Monday, Kyle had to go back to work again so it became my time to spend time with Tanner. We had planned on visiting museums but were disappointed to see that all of them are closed on Mondays. Instead, I challenged him to a Mario Kart war on Kyle’s old Nintendo 64. I should have prepared to be defeated because I died many a horrible death from that game. There is a very good reason why I don’t play video games. I fail miserably every time.

When it was time to head to the airport, we swung by Kyle’s work to pick him up and then drove the rest of the way to the terminal. It was hard for all of us to say goodbye. We had enjoyed our bonding time, but knowing that we wouldn’t be able to see Tanner for the next two years also made the parting difficult. He is such a great guy and I know that he will make a fabulous missionary. The people of the Tallahassee, Florida mission are lucky to have such an outstanding missionary.

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Good luck, Tanner in the next, best two years!

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