Friday, July 08, 2011

Summer Update

The last few months have flown by. These warmer months always seem to do that, probably because we are enjoying being OUTSIDE in the sunshine. We also took a trip last month to see our families in California, and all of the preparation and excitement involved in that venture made it seem as though June just disappeared.

Before leaving, we went on a hike near Minnehaha Falls, which are about a mile from our house. We all love little hikes like this, and this was a perfect early summer afternoon.

Our time in California was lovely, and very exciting for the kids, as they always love the time with their grandparents and cousins.

They were thrilled to swim in the ocean.
So much sand to explore.
Papa did a good job of keeping them safe in the waves.
We had a big 6th birthday party for Jack while we were there, graciously hosted by my brother and sister in law. This amazing cake was made by Joel's sister, Faith, and our cousin, Lori. They worked so hard on it, and Jack loved it! His Uncle Charles also spent a lot of time making the amazing lego creations for the cake. Jack was feeling very special, to say the least.
The cousin round up.
The Darth Vader pinata.
Jack takes a swing.
The Yoda Soda was a hit. We had a great time, and it was a wonderful excuse to get the whole family together for an afternoon.
While at Grandma Greer and Grandad's house, Corrie spent a lot of time with Beatrice the Basset, and actually trained her to shake hands.
The kids had a great time attending "Adventure Week" at their cousins' church. As you can see from the photo, they really enjoyed themselves.
We also ventured up to Santa Barbara for a day to see Joel's grandma and some of the rest of his family. Grandma took us out to lunch on the SB pier. We had such a good visit with her.

The kids loved this whale at Moby Dick, a restaurant that Joel's family has frequented and enjoyed for many years.

It was hard to say goodbye to everyone, but we were so thankful for such a full and wonderful trip. Upon returning, we had a bout of fevers and coughs that kept us home for a solid week or so. It's never fun to be sick, but it provided a good chance to rest after all of the activities in California. We are now back in the Minnesota summer swing of things, with swim lessons and trips to the lake being at the top of our agenda.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Grandma & Grandad Time

We had a visit last week from Joel's parents. Despite the cold almost-winter-not-really-springish-at-all kind of weather we've been experiencing, we had a good time with them, and even braved the brutal wind at the park a couple of times. The kids are now insisting on playing outside, no matter how cold it is. They will not be denied any longer.

But, back to our visitors. The kids always love a visit from the grandparents, and this was no exception. They played games on Grandad's ipad, talked and snuggled with Grandma, and enjoyed a break from our normal routine. They also loved being able to involve them in our world by having them come to our church, and to our co-op and swim lessons.

We went on a fun outing to a locally well-known ice cream place. Yum.
We also visited the fabulous and free Minneapolis Institute of Art. Every time we go there, I am amazed by how much our kids enjoy it. Other than drying Jack's tears after he got a stern lecture from a docent for stepping on a platform marked "do not touch", we had a great time.

Good times at Smashburger. Our first time there . . . we enjoyed the food, but were puzzled by a steady shower of styrofoam landing on our table as it drifted down from the ceiling. The manager looked puzzled, too. Definitely don't need indoor snow effects in Minnesota.
As usual, Grandma and Grandad were generous with the kiddos -- Corrie is here sporting her new favorite shirt.
We also stopped by Target Field to buy some Twins tickets. Joel and I are planning a baseball date for when my parents visit -- next week. Hoping it won't be as cold as it was when we took that picture. Stay tuned for my whining if it is.

Thanks to Grandma and Grandad for making the trip, and for loads of fun memories.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Expert Day

This week brought "Expert Day" at our home school co-op. The kids each have to become an expert on something, prepare a display and report, and then give that report to small groups of their fellow students.

Corrie's chose the topic of gladiators.

A bit gory . . . perhaps not the most feminine of topics, but the kids seemed to enjoy her report, and she did a terrific job.

Jack was proud of his big sis.

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Lutsen - Part 2

After our pool time and lunch back in our condo, we decided to head out on a snowy hike. I must admit that I was less than thrilled about packing all of our snow paraphernalia, but I was glad I did when it enabled us to go on a hike and see a tiny bit of the famous Superior Hiking Trail. It was beautiful and amazingly silent in the woods (if you don't count my less-than-silent kids). The kids loved looking for the blue marks on the trees that confirmed we were still on the right path, and, of course, they loved just playing in the snow along the way.

By the end of the hike, the boys were tired, but still had a burning desire to go throw rocks into the biggest freshwater lake in the world.

That night, Corrie and I made a point to go out on our porch to see the stars over the lake. It was truly one of the most amazing sights I can remember. The darkness of the huge lake contrasted with the bright stars was incredible.

We awoke the next morning to some pancakes prepared by Daddy.

After breakfast, we went back to the pool, where we enjoyed having the whole facility to ourselves. These are the benefits of traveling in the middle of the week in the off season.

We then packed everyone into the van and drove about 30 minutes north, to the town of Grand Marais. We'd heard a lot about this area, and we could definitely see how charming it must be in the summer and fall. We had a good lunch at the Minnesota-famous Sven and Ole's, where Joel and I shared pizza made with (you guessed it) wild rice. Then, we took a walk along the shore and out toward the Grand Marais light house. Finally, we stopped off at the Java Moose for some tasty coffee beverages before heading back to Lutsen.

After some down time back at the condo, we split up for one last adventure. Joel took Corrie on a longer hike up a mountain overlooking the lake, while the boys and I walked along the rocky shoreline and collected some more Lake Superior rocks.

That night we experienced a small tragedy, in that Corrie and I had raved about our star viewing to the boys and encouraged them to stay up to see them. Unfortunately, clouds came in that evening, and there wasn't a star to be seen. Our very tired boys cried and cried when they hopefully ran outside and were completely disappointed. One would think I would have already learned the lesson of not promoting such things until I know with certainty that they are going to happen. Oh well, we now have an excuse to go star gazing again this summer.

The following morning we set off from home with snowflakes falling. Thankfully, it wasn't a terrible storm, and it actually made for quite the beautiful drive.

Now we are home, and eagerly awaiting the arrival of warmer days. Today it was 57! And I actually saw a 70 in our forecast! Dare we hope???

Monday, April 04, 2011

Lutsen - Part 1

We had the fantastic opportunity last week to take a four day trip to Lutsen, a town about 4 hours drive north of Minneapolis, on the shore of Lake Superior. Despite the still-winterish-not-really-spring-yet weather, we had a great time. I especially enjoyed spending time with Joel and the kids away from home, and without any agenda. As a homeschooling mom, I often feel like my interactions with the kids are centered around prodding them on toward accomplishing some task. Last week, we had the chance to just *be* together -- playing games, throwing rocks in the lake, hiking, and having fun.

We drove up on a beautiful, clear day, and our first stop was Pizza Luce in Duluth. The pizza was fantastic, as usual, and the kids enjoyed getting to watch the pizza dough being flung into the air.

We also got to see a number of deer on the drive north (we are still Southern Californians at heart, and are excited easily by the viewing of critters in the wild).

The next morning, we had breakfast at the Lutsen Lodge, where the kids enjoyed pancakes shaped like little bears, I had eggs, and Joel went with the wild rice pancakes. An endearing Minnesota North Shore tradition is to somehow incorporate wild rice into every recipe. I must admit, the pancakes were *very* good.

After breakfast, we began exploring the Lake Superior shoreline.

But, seeing as the temperature was a bit on the chilly side, we decided to head for the indoor pool and spa for some morning recreation.

Nothing says vacation like chocolate milk, poolside. I think we all felt like the trip was off to a good start.