Expect the Unexpected!

I’ve been thinking about his post for a while now…as our trip to California was nearly two months ago and it’s taken me this long to not only get through all of the incredible pictures, but to process the trip in general.

The girls did great on the flights out – Reese and I were a little nervous about the tin can that we flew to Denver in and the wind that accompanied us, but Sylvia was cool as a cucumber and kept us in line. Cyndi met us at baggage claim late Thursday evening and things could not have gone smoother…claiming bags, getting car seats in the car, getting dinner, and getting the girls to bed so that we would be prepared for a fun day at the zoo.

And We're Off to San Fran

A little apprehensive about the flight

My View...Little Plane

The zoo on Friday was fabulous. We enjoyed lovely weather – warm with just the right amount of humidity and Reese entertained us with animal impersonations at each exhibit. It’s a great zoo…just the right size for a 3 year old to explore in one afternoon, yet we still managed to wear her out! During the entire trip, Cyndi kept saying, “we should go here or we need to do this,” but there’s only so much you can do with two kids and 3 short days! I guess we’ll have to go back.

Lovin the new stroller set up

Hanging with her Godmother

When in Rome...

She scraped her leg at the most opportune time to pose as a flamingo


Train Time

The Carroll Girls

This is what you get after a day at the zoo

Here’s where the first “unexpected” comes in… Let me preface this by saying that the half marathon was amazing and awesome! I would do it again in a heart beat…okay many, many very fast heart beats, but I would do it again. The thing is that we encountered about 3 times the vertical footage that we expected. It nearly did us in, but our efforts were rewarded with incredible views of San Francisco, the Bay and Golden Gate Bridge! Wish I could provide more pictures, but I didn’t carry a camera, so we’ve only got beginning and ending photos provided by our cheering section – Todd and Reese! Another little unexpected tidbit came in a complete blast from my past. At about mile 6 or 7, we wound our way down and through a group of stables…suddenly, I had a flashback and told Cyndi that I had been there before during 4th grade field trip – absolutely no doubt in my mind! I distinctly remember stepping in a runny cowpie – this was a big deal before I became a Montana Girl.

Pre 13 miles and 2600 vertical - So, so Naive

Happy Birthday Cyndi Lu

One More Hill at the Finish

Good Stuff

Ready to hop in the car

So, we survived the run, we treated ourselves to pedicures and mochas, we forced everyone else to join us for sushi, and basically relished the rest of the day. All of those things almost cost as much as Sylvia’s babysitter for the 5 hours we were gone…gotta love San Francisco!

Sunday could not have been a more beautiful day. We headed to one of the Wheeler’s favorite spots – Crissy Field. It’s an old military air force base that’s located at the entrance to the Bay, so it has incredible views of the city and of the Golden Gate Bridge. In this case, pictures say more than words!!! I love the pictures from this portion of the trip…it was so hard to decide which ones to use here.

Reese at Crissy Field

Cyndi and the Girls


Yes, Todd was there too

I felt like Paparazzi taking this pics

After soaking up some sun and salt water, we cruised around the city – we even did the ultimate touristy drive down Lombard Street under the guise that, “we might as well because the girls are asleep anyway.” Thanks to Todd and Cyndi for humoring us. We finished up the day with a quick stop at a local chocolatier, some wine and cheese on the Embarcadero and the most unexpectedly delicious mocha ever at Blue Bottle Coffee. I would go back to San Francisco for one more mocha.

On the Embarcadero

Todd drove Lombard Street at about 60 mph

Hang with me folks…this post is only half way finished!

On Monday, Cyndi’s 35th Birthday and our motivation for making this trip, the girls and I headed out. Just prior to making the trip, we learned that Jeff had a business trip to CO, so we decided that we would just skip our flight from Denver to Billings and meet him in Denver so that we could enjoy some time with our Colorado Family. Apparently the airlines frown on this. I thought the hard part of my day was over when I got the girls and all of our stuff from the curb to the counter…so, so, so naive. The poor lady at the gate really didn’t want to only check my suitcase and the car seats to Denver – after some intense pleading and a few tears, so agreed to check the suitcase and made me take the car seats. The car seats alone would not have been a problem, but I also had a stroller, a diaper bag, Reese’s backpack and oh yeah – TWO SMALL CHILDREN to lug through security! Fortunately, TSA was very helpful and we managed to board the plane. Again, I thought I was all set because I’d arranged for Jeff to meet me at the gate to haul all the stuff through DIA. What I didn’t anticipate this time is that Frontier might break our stroller – WOW! What a fiasco. I’ll spare you the rest of the crazy details and leave it that after a strongly worded letter to Frontier, they paid for the wheel and I won’t be trying to cut another trip short again soon.

As usual, we really enjoyed our time in Colorado. We spent a few days with Bob and Char. We went out shopping with Grandma Dee, we had a great dinner with my cousins Amanda and Autumn (and finally got to meet their kiddos), and we spent a couple fun days in Fort Collins with Casey and Shannon. All the while, Jeff was having a grand time in Aspen!

Reese loved the manequins

Blue Eyed Beauties

Tickle Tickle

Cookie decorating with Lawrences and Hurleys

Reese and Jillian


Happy Sylvia

Uncle Casey bringing the smiles

Sylvia's gettin high

Getting love from Aunt Shannon

Big Man on a little slide

Out to coffee with Mom and Dad

World's Best Uncle

The final unexpected event of the trip came with a call from my Grandmother that Grandpa wasn’t doing well and needed to get to the hospital. As with all of the other unexpected events of the trip, the outcome was also better than expected. Grandpa did have a tumor in his lower intestine / colon, but they successfully removed it and he’s doing quite well. Casey and I were able to meet Grandma and Grandpa at the hospital and see them through day 1 of what turned out to be a 6+ week ordeal. I was so thankful to have been there and even more thankful that everything has turned out okay.

What a trip! Regardless of some unexpected experiences that I might not have chosen, it turned out to be an incredible trip with my two special girls that I will cherish forever.

In case you didn’t get enough pictures, click here to see the Kodak Gallery of all the April photos.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Skiing…It’s what we do.

Sorry Sylvee...this is what we do!

So, if “Getting Out There” is one of our aspirations, Jeffrey has certainly set us up for success with his chosen career. Skiing…it’s just what we do and if you don’t do it, we’ll try to convert you!

Converting Kate!

Ummm Dad...I don't think I want to play basketball!

While this season wasn’t the best at Red Lodge Mountain snow-wise, it’s been a good one for the sales / marketing department and it’s finishing up quite nicely with some regular helpings of the white stuff. Jeff continues to impress me with his marketing skills – both knowing what to do and knowing how to present information. If you don’t get the Red Lodge Mountain newsletter, you should definitely subscribe (Click Here). Jeff takes great pride in writing it and reading it is usually a literary highlight of my week (let’s just say that CarrollDaze would be a lot more interesting and funny if Jeff was the editor instead of the tech guy). He’s also the one who does RLMR’s FaceBook updates, so please take the time to “Like” Red Lodge Mountain Resort. His antics are worth it!

Here are some photos from the end of our season and a great video of Jeff and Reese skiing. Tomorrow will be the last day on the mountain for myself and Reese. Look out next season…Sylvia’s gonna start shreddin’! Click Here for the full March Album.

We "Own" Miami Beach these days!

Miss Independence

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Ola Messner Rimel (July 12, 1918 – March 13, 2011)


Last weekend, Jeffrey went to Philadelphia to say goodbye to Grammie. While it was extremely sad to bid farewell to this amazing lady who epitomized our ideal of “Getting Out There,” Jeff did have a wonderful time catching up with extended family who he doesn’t get to see very often.

As I wasn’t there, I’ll let this photo Album from Jeff’s cousin Lisa tell the details. Thank you for sharing Lisa. Click here for the album.

Ola’s death did not go unnoticed by Miss Reese. She’s become extremely interested in Heaven and is working very hard to comprehend the fact that God is with us All the time. When she learned that Ola had died, she told Jeff not to worry…he’d be able to give her a hug in Heaven. While she certainly doesn’t understand the whole concept of death, it doesn’t seem like too much of stretch to say that she has a better grasp of life after death than most adults can muster.

Reese also mentioned how excited she is to light a candle for Ola during Advent. Wow…we didn’t really think she was paying a lot of attention…I guess we were the one’s who weren’t paying attention to see it sink in! Needless to say, we’ll be on the lookout for Ola’s perfect Advent candle.

Goodbye Grammie Rimel. You will be missed, but remembered fondly. Reese would like you to enjoy some chocolate – a definite perk in Heaven!

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

They Who Bring the Snow…

They might come back!

So, for two years now, Cyndi and Todd have made Red Lodge their ski vacation destination and for two years now, their arrival has been accompanied by much needed quantities of snow. It’s still up in the air as to whether they actually bring the snow or God simply wants them to become awesome powder skiers. Either way, we’re extremely glad to have them visit!

We had a great time together! They got a kid / baby / mean cat fix. We all got a few awesome days on Red Lodge Mountain – Jeff and I even got an afternoon together (Thank You). Cyndi suffered through my latest visitor torture – nordic skiing – and, unless she was lying, I think she really enjoyed it. We shared some nice meals and great conversation and Cyndi and I commiserated over our upcoming half marathon! And last, but certainly not least, the Wheelers took some of the best pictures we have to date of the girls AND the cat!

We’ll look forward to the snowstorm on their next visit. As of right now, they’re in negotiations with major ski areas to bring snow…it could be their new gig!

Here are the highlights:

Old Friends

Ginny's latest torture for visitors...next up ice climbing..Nice Work Cyndi

Phew! The girls must be eating rocks!

Best Comet Series EVER

Slightly Annoyed

A little Pissed

If I weren't a house cat, I'd eat you..

Favorite Picture of Sylvia!

Sure I'd love to share Cyndi's iPad with my Sister

Kiss Kiss

Reesi Roo

Being Silly with Her Godmother

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Getting Out There!

One of my aspirations for our family is to Get Out There! To be the people who explore our surroundings, challenge our bodies and spend time with other people – even when it’s not “convenient”. It’s important to me that we not let life pass us by while we wait for the right time to do things. Fortunately, I married a guy with a similar perspective and both of our extended families are certainly known for getting out there, so I’m in good company and feel confident that this is a value we’ll be able to pass on to the girls.

A few recent examples of our attempts to get out there include:

On Valentine’s Weekend, the four of us packed up the CR-V and headed to Bozeman for some swimming and nordic skiing. Was it crazy getting a 3 year old and an 8 month old in and out of pools, to a late dinner and through 10K of nordic trails, Absolutely! But it was sooo worth it. The defining moment for me came on the way home. Jeff was in the back seat, between the two girls, feeding Sylvia while I drove. We didn’t have time to stop and feed her because I had to be home in time to teach Algebra (we made it with about 3 minutes to spare). When I looked in the rear view mirror at my 3 favorite people, I couldn’t help but grin ear to ear because it was clear that we were living life – every messy second of it!

Dad and Roo

Well Mom...

The Man...Making it look easy

Shortly following our Bozeman adventure, Sylvia and I flew out to Boise for another work trip. This may not seem like a big deal in and of itself, but Sylvia managed to hang tough through 2 flights each direction, 2 days of conferences with her momma, and 3 late nights – including one in which her mother got violently ill. We arrived home on Friday evening and managed to make it up to the mountain on Saturday with Reese and Jeff’s parents so that we could all watch the Winter Carnival Cardboard Classic. Yeah, we got out there!

Happy Girl in DIA

Winter Carnival Rookies

While Sylvia and I were in Idaho, Char and Bob helped Jeffrey take care of Reese. Prior to heading our way, they made a last minute trip to Pennsylvania to help Ola, Char’s Mom, recover from a minor stroke. As it didn’t work for them to fly to Montana after their detour, they decided to make the day long drive. Thanks Char and Bob for working so hard to help us out and I’m so sorry that you had to take care of a sick girl! You’re great examples of “Getting Out There!”

Last, but not least, I’m very much looking forward to about 10 days of being away from home with the girls. I’m tackling my personal challenge (which has been done before, many times, by mom’s all over the world, but I’m still a rookie) of flying with both girls to San Francisco. While we’re there, we’ll be visiting Cyndi and Todd, exploring the area and Cyndi and I will be running a half marathon. I think that qualifies for getting out there!

Instead of heading all the way home, we’re going to stop in Colorado. Jeff will meet us there, but he’ll head up to Aspen for a meeting while the girls and I stay to visit family. I’m so grateful that I have a job that lets me work from just about everywhere and friends and family that live in such cool places!

Click Here for the Album of February Photos. Way more good shots than I can include in the blog!


Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

What’s in a Name?

Prior to Reese’s birth, we pondered and pondered and pondered some more about what to name this new little person. In the vast majority of cases, a person will keep at least their first and middle names for their entire lives, so it better be something good!

Although there are a lot of great names out there, Theresa Marie has a lot of meaning for us. Theresa was the middle name of my Mom’s Mom and Marie is the middle name of my Dad’s Mom – as well as many other women on that side of the family. While we love both names, we did want to call her something unique, which is where “Reese” comes in. The first time we thought of shortening Theresa to Reese, we fell in love with it and it’s stuck!

Well, now that pretty little name has some new significance and we suspect it has more to do with the pretty little girl who goes by the name, than the name itself. None-the-less, “Reese” was our little Sylvia’s very first word, said quite clearly on March 8th and many times since.

Reese’s first word was “Dog” and she has since shown an undying love for a certain “Pup” and a fondness for most four legged friends. My hope is that little Sylvee follows the pattern and maintains an undying love for her first object of affection – her big sister!

She actually struggles a little bit with the “R” sound, so it’s a bit more like “Eese” than “Reese”, but that’s okay…we work with what we have, which brings me to the next fun fact about “Reese”.

Reese is getting very good with letters, but she struggles a bit with writing the letter “S”. As such, she announced that we should leave the “S” out of her name until she can perfect this squiggle. When asked what we should call her, she quickly replied, “Ree”. So, until further notice, we’ll refer to the girls as Ree or Eese and Sylvee!

Ree-Eese and Sylvee

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Letting Go of the Tethers…Sort of

Yikes! January’s gone, but it was a good month for the Carroll Family. One of the most exciting happenings is the fact that Reese had her first day of skiing completely untethered! She was in a terrible mood most of the time we were skiing, but physically, she was totally getting it. Here’s a sample video:  

The truth is that I couldn’t simply let her go for fear that she’d get out of control or not pay attention to where she was going and end up in the trees. In my previous life as a ski instructor, I would not have thought twice about turning around and either skiing forward in front of her or skiing next to her, but because she’s my daughter, I skied backwards and told her to slow down or stop every two seconds. In fact, on the way home I told her that I was really proud of her for doing such a great job skiing and she got upset and said, “Mommy, I wasn’t skiing, I was stopping.” She has a point.  

So, I did let go of the tethers, but I’m wondering how in the world I’ll ever be able to give her full control. At this rate, I’m going to need to get much, much better at skiing backwards so that I can stay ahead of her in her racing career!  

And, believe it or not, we’re letting go of the tethers with Sylvee a little bit too ~ sigh. Sylvia had her very first day of daycare at the beginning of February. I cannot express how blessed we feel that we’ve never had to leave either of the girls in a situation that we weren’t completely comfortable with. Sylvia is now joining Reese on Tuesdays at Annie’s (her Godmother ~ can’t beat that). It’s only one day a week, but I am amazed at how much I was able to accomplish in that one day. I miss that little monkey when she’s not around, but I know we’ll both be better off spending a little time apart.  

Knowing that Sylvia is hanging out with her Big Sis is fantastic. Sylvia and I spent a few days in Boise last week and upon our return, Sylvee was so happy to see Reese that we thought she might spontaneously combust. That girl LOVES her big sister!  

Sylvee G so happy to see Reese (and Daddy)


And on a final note of letting go…I had grand plans to do Valentine Cards, but January ended up being much busier than I’d imagined. When we did have a few minutes to get some good photos, the weather was terrible or I didn’t have the camera – it just didn’t happen and it’s too late to pull it all off now. So, I’m letting it go. I will still try to get a photo card out to all our Christmas peeps in the near future, but I’ve decided to let this one little thing stop taking up so much room in my mental list of priorities. And, that’s how I let go – sort of! In the meantime, Happy Valentine’s Day, we love you all!! Click the heart to see the full gallery of January photos.  


~ Ginny

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Dual Baptism

On January 2nd, Sylvia Grace Carroll was baptized along with little Nolan John Fitzgerald. Annie and John graciously accepted the role and responsibility of becoming Sylvia’s God Parents and I, along with Annie’s brother Sean, have the honor of being Nolan’s God Parents.

Annie and John have been so wonderful to our family. We have no doubt that they love both of our girls and will be amazing role models and God Parents to our Sweet Sylvee. Thank you Fitzgeralds!

Sylvia and Nolan Baptism

Jeff and Fr. Keene Baptizing Sylvee

Drying all that hair

Next up is Baby Nolan


The whole event still gives me shivers when I think about the entire parish watching our babies receive their first Sacrament. Shortly after Mass, a family who is looking at moving to the area asked Jeff and I what we liked about Red Lodge. I wish I could have been more articulate for them, but really, the fact that we could literally feel the excitement of everyone on our family’s behalf as they looked on at the Baptism is the epitomy of what we love about this community. It was so, so touching. On a side note, I wish I would have told them that this community is unique in the fact that it embraces the most needy members among us, whether they’re small children or adults who are sick or disabled, in a way that they become the glue that holds us together and thus, the most important – It’s really a beautiful thing! I am so thankful to have not only been married at St. Agnes, but to have both my Daughters and my new God Son baptized at this special place.

After the Baptism, both families hosted a nice event downstairs in the Church. The food was delicious and plentiful, but the highlight was the cake that Gina Bruner made to welcome our little sheep to the St. Agnes flock!

The Cake

Time to Celebrate!

Parents and God Parents

Well after the Baptism and a short nap for everyone, we all went out to Rick and Carrie’s for some crazy fun sledding! Much to our surprise, we didn’t even have to hike back up the hill because Rick hauled us up in the quad. We’ll head back to that sledding hill for sure!

Grandma, Reese and Grandpa on the big sled

Reese was soooo happy

Grandpa and Reese and Ginny at take-off - Prior to a face full of Sugary Snow

Sylvia came outside too

And, just when we thought the day couldn’t get any better, Mom and Dad treated us to dinner at the Steak House! What a great day!

Reese and Grandma at Dinner on our last night

Stay tuned for some fun videos!!! ~ Ginny

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Christmas / New Year’s Recap

Click on the photos for a larger image.

Grandma and Grandpa arrived just in time for potato hot dogs and Christmas Eve Mass…They paved the way for Santa and boy o boy did the big guy arrive at our house!

Unfortunately, a few days after Christmas, the temperature dropped drastically. Dad and I skied with Jeff one afternoon and Mom, Dad, Reese and I made a few runs on another day, but beyond that, it was too cold to venture outside too much between Christmas and New Years.

As previously mentioned, New Year’s Eve involved our traditional fondue and it was delicious. We also enjoyed an entertaining game of Candyland before Reese went to bed at the NY Midnight and then a few games of Banana Grams – possibly a new addiction! Jeff and I were the only ones who actually welcomed 2011 awake, but we had a glass of champagne for everyone.

The above gallery is a quick review of the week in pictures. Click here to access the December Kodak Gallery. Click here to access the January Kodak Gallery.

Thanks Mom and Dad for a wonderful visit ~ We already miss you!

Love, Ginny

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Sisters, Sledding and Sunshine

Having two girls has surpassed every expectation I’d ever imagined about having children. As I never had a sister, I rely on my friends with sisters to imagine what their relationship will be like. As it turns out, two of my very favorite sisters were in Red Lodge over Christmas and my girls and I got to go sledding with them on Christmas Eve. Not only has this become somewhat of a Norman Rockwell moment in my mind, it was so nice for Reese to see a fantastic “sister” relationship in action. Thanks Meiers ~ You’re the Best!!!

Sledding with the Meiers

Reese Sledding with the Big Sisters

Sylvee and Stephi - Little Sisters

Reese and Mommy preparing for take off

And a few of the two little sisters together…

Sister Photo Shoot

And it begins

Sylvia and Reese

2011 Festivus training

Sweet, Sweet, Sweet

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment