Not gonna lie

I have been struggling. I’ve definitely hit an upswing, but the past few weeks have been really, really difficult. Because of very cold temperatures and excessive snow, my life has been either cooped up or trudging through heaps of snow with layers of scarf around my face. I am so grateful that a normal day for me does not require the use of a car, because the cars I see on the road seem to be struggling. The one day last week I needed to drive, I got stuck on ice and had to shamefully ask an elderly man to help me push my car off of the side of the road.

The boys have also had a LOT of cancelled school days. I love them, and I love spending time with them. But I’m used to a few hours a week to myself to go to yoga, do grocery shopping, or read without being asked for constant affirmations. “Yes, that Lego creation is really cool.” “Yes, Chernobyl was terrible.” “Yes, we are bears hiding in a cave.”

That combined with my inability to see friends (because of road conditions), my mental health suffered. In order to make it through, I took photos of some of the things that made me feel good.

Henry (in the blue jacket) playing with his friends at preschool on a day when he actually had school.

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A re-up on groceries! It feels good to know that at least you have the food supplies you need, especially when they are neatly jarred and labeled.

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Henry and I can walk to his school, meaning I do not need a car for routine life. Recently, either sledding or going on foot have been his options for transportation (he’s used to the stroller). He LOVES the sled. He fills it with snow to make a mold of his body underneath with a “snow blanket” on top of him.
This is his happy place.

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My Christmas poinsettia from Colleen is thriving! It brings a riot of colorful life to my daily setting. Henry brought the card home from school. I thought it might help me feel like we’re in celebration mode instead of survival mode. Sometimes it works!

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Charlie is in the middle of Jump Rope for Heart at school. Usually I kind of hate that time, but this year they included a log of daily activity. It means Charlie is motivated to use his physical body every day! It falls at a very convenient time, because shoveling is of the essence.

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The boys also have been utilizing the basement a lot. It’s the place they can jump, kick balls, and bounce all over the place. The other day, Charlie decided he wanted to try to fit into a box. Here’s what followed

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And when those super cold days, like ones where we’re getting warnings from WCCO that

“In such bitter cold, frostbite can set in on exposed skin in as quick as five minutes. As such, those who venture outside should be sure to bundle up and limit their time outside”

stack up day after day…sometimes what you need is to do the brave thing and venture outside anyway. We walked to Curran’s again this week for a delicious breakfast. It was wonderful.

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On a day that wasn’t “dangerously cold,” just like -10 degrees or so… we hit King Park for some sledding.

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Henry loved running behind Charlie, grabbing onto the sled and then “skiing” down behind him.

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Another hard thing for me has been Joe being unavailable for much of the past two weekends. This weekend he was ice-fishing with his sisters’ husbands and all of their dads. Luckily it was in town this year, and when Jim came to pick him up, he brought doughnuts!

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Sunday, for the first time in a long time, I finally got to see human beings I wasn’t related to (not counting preschool people). My friend, Em (she’s got a lovely blog at https://wordsbyemily.co/ ) taught a hand-lettering class inspired by the Valentinesy season of love. I got to gather with some wonderful people and make beautiful marks with all kinds of pens and markers. Here was my final product:

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The bus ride home over the Mississippi River was wonderful. It’s so great to have a transit system I can count on, especially on days that being in a car feels (to me) terrifying and not worth the risk.

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Snow. It’s the cause of such trouble, and it gets a bad rap, but it really does make things more beautiful. It’s natural glitter and it’s very pretty.

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My street. I do love my street.

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I love my life, and I know that I do. But, some times more than others, I need reminders of why.

 

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Through

It was soooooooooooooo cold this week. When it’s negative-bajillion outside, sometimes the only thing to do is escape into your own little world and pretend you’re somewhere and someone else. Like a captain on a pirate ship.

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or a queen in her castle.

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Excellent though we are at being in our castle, after days of not leaving the house, braving -25 for a walk to a restaurant seems an acceptable alternative.

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Luckily, the people in our life seriously bring the warmth. Joe worked from home Wednesday so I could have some support and go do yoga. My neighbor, Donna, baked me this delicious cinnamon swirl bread.

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And on Thursday, while the delicious and warming soup Colleen made simmered on the stove, Jim let me sit as long as I wanted in the beautiful sauna he built in his backyard.

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Finally, Charlie and Henry made this week truly great. It could have been miserable to be cooped up at home for days and days with two small(ish) children. But they weren’t bothered by the weather at all, and just had a really fun time playing together. It was a joy and a pleasure to get to spend all week with them. (Plus most of last week. Whew!) So following that up with a weekend together while Joe’s away on a trip was not nearly so daunting as it could have been. Especially since today got up nearly to FORTY DEGREES!

The snow sculptures of the St Paul Winter Carnival seemed like a perfect start to our afternoon.

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Snow maze!

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I thought this one was wonderful! On one side it’s a little boy looking in the refrigerator for a snack, and on the other it’s over-grown foods being friends.

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Someone gave us their extra ticket to the giant snow slide (which was big and long, but not super photogenic), so we bought two more and waited in the long. long. long line. But the boys were totally champs waiting, and said it was  definitely worth it afterward.

We mosied around the fairgrounds for another good while and then hit Whole Foods. After shopping for our Barbadian dinner Charlie had planned, we weren’t quite ready for home. Macalester was mere blocks away, so I figured it for a perfect place to just wander around.

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Always is.

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Foucault’s pendulum is always a good reminder of how big the world is.

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They loved this rock where they could feel amethyst, hematite, quartz and marble

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Henry, of course, loved the dinosaurs the most

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We ended our wanderings, appropriately enough, on a big mountain of snow that they immediately decided was their castle. I’d left my boots in the car, and didn’t ascend, so I was sometimes the guard, sometimes the Castle Bunny, and sometimes the princess who was in charge of capturing approaching enemies.

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After cold, cold, cold, drinking out of a coconut feels like the most indulgent thing you could possibly do.

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Henry took the camera here, so the rest of these are a super-minimal sampling of what he captured.

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Dinner cooking

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Oh, hey!

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On Ice

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It was almost time for winter cabin weekend, so we had to re-up our skate game. I got those beauties above at the end of last winter season. I’d gotten minor frostbite on my toes by wearing figure skates in the cold too long, so I upgraded to some hockey skates.

It’s been a weird winter of melty-to-supercold, so the days of skate-ability have been limited. I made it out three times so far, but the boys hadn’t. So we found them the right sizes and did some marching around the basement for practice.

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When they started racing and chasing while on skates, I figured it was time to move from the carpet to the ice. I gotta say, this is the most effective method of skate-training we’ve tried with them. Before Charlie and I even got on the ice, Henry was halfway across.

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Thanks Minneapolis Parks, for all the ice rinks around!

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This was MLK jr. Day, and it was verrrry cold. So we didn’t stay long, but a great time was had by all. We hit a coffee shop afterward for some well-earned cocoa and treats.

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And then came…the real cold. Friday morning we went to the cabin, and the temperatures, I don’t believe, went above zero. I remember someone at some point looking at the thermometer outside and saying -20.

But did that keep us inside????? No way! Not when there is ice to be on and trails to shovel. Charlie is doing this on skates, which is pretty impressive. He called it The Challenge Course.

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Sticks and a puck came out briefly, but the ice was pretty rough this year.

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Future goalie?

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Derek has been wanting to harness Kona up to give Henry a ride for over a year, so this weekend he made the dream come true.

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She started off strong, and Henry had probably the most exciting 30 seconds of his life!

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Bella was not about to be left behind.

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Little did she know that she would be next. Charlie’s turn!

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She was, however, not so enthusiastic about pulling.

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But with both dogs hooked in and Emma to lead them, Charlie got a good ride in the end

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When they pooped out, I pulled them. When I pooped out, Joe pulled them.

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They better never say we never did anything for them!

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Angel time

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Then the adventure of finding a sled-able spot on the hill

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They enjoyed playing bumper tubes

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Charlie loved the view from the swing. He liked lining up his swing with the sledder to feel like he was zooming with them

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So, with the temperatures as they were, we had to spend most of the time indoors. We made that fun, too, though. Kite string became Lego zipline material, which became an opportunity to limbo to the music!

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I was worse than I thought I would be, but my technique improved with pointers and practice

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Next day…back outdoors! Charlie and I started a story about searching through the ice labyrinth for hidden riddles and clues to lead us to “the treasure.” Henry happily joined in. Here Charlie’s digging for something on the trail

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Expeditioning

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Social hour

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The boys thought Grandpa could pull them up the steep, bumpy and slippery hill on the toboggan. With Colleen’s and my help, they all made it in the end.

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We headed home because we assumed life would go back to normal Monday. But today was a snow day for Charlie. So out came the shovels! They played a game that they were a shoveling service. Did I want to hire them? Heck yes I did!

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When the work was done, it was play time. Charlie chose indoors, Henry chose out.

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It was wonderful to be in the sunshine at temperatures above zero. 8 degrees? I’ll take it.

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Plus, though trips are wonderful…it’s always very good to be home.

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You’re hot, then you’re cold

That’s Minnesota. One minute you’re in a sauna, and the next you’re dumped in snow. We’ve had something like that lately. It’s been alternately freeeeeeeezing and extremely pleasant.

Luckily some of the pleasant landed on the weekend. Coatless walk to Nighthawks!

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Hanging in the backyard, looking at books and drawing with chalk. Feels like so long since we’ve been able to do this.

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On our walk home from lunch, we went through MLK park. It was an ice-and-puddles-and-mud Wonderland!

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Luckily, we had our boots, so we were able to linger and explore for a long time

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Henry spent about an hour on the softball field, because in its small infield, it had a great combo of mud, ice and water.

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He had me tromping around in all of it in various competitions and games

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Charlie loved a sidewalk patch that was completely coated in smooth ice. It was like a mini-rink, and I could tell he had a whooooole story going on up there.

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Saturday night, we went to Night Trains at the Twin Cities Model Railway Museum. The boys absolutely love it

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A lot of pretty magical moments

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And pointing

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Some of the tables are pretty high, so a shoulder seat helped

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The Lego table had a whole setup representing the St Paul Winter Carnival, which was definitely my favorite display of the night

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It’s been good to get back into normal routine, though biting wind and low temperatures has made the walk to preschool less pleasant than usual. I got to be a trash lady in Charlie’s cafeteria, helping the kids sort things into recyclables, organics, and trash. I didn’t know about an hour and a half by trash cans, but honestly I had such fun! The kids were great, and I ended up with helpers without ever asking. It’s going to be my new Tuesday thing while Henry’s at school.

 

Fresh

As always, my birthday falls right after the start of a new year. I’ve never been much for resolutions, but I definitely enjoy the fresh feeling of a new year, new age, new semester, etc. etc. I like to remember the first foods I eat, just for fun. This year: champagne and banana walnut mini-muffins. Seems like a good start, I’d say!

This year, however, I did come up with something of a resolution. I’m a big follower of the “treat yo self” idea. In a lot of ways, I am super good to me. I prioritize me time and social time in my week. I wear what I love to wear. I stay active, do yoga several times a week, and read a lot of great books. I also allow myself lots of sweets. And that’s where I’m treating myself, but not treating myself so very well. I don’t keep track of what I eat or do anything like counting calories, and I don’t plan to. I have good, healthy food habits. Except sugar. I eat a lot of straight-up candy, desserts, and whathaveyou. It’s something I constantly say I need to get better at, but then I never do.

So why not now?! This year, I get one treat a day. That includes all the aforementioned things as well as snacks like popcorn and drinks like soda, beer, cocktails, and sweetened coffee drinks. For the first little while, I’ll be photographing what I choose for the day to help me keep track of what choices I make and to fully acknowledge and appreciate the treat, so as to get full enjoyment from it.

My birthday was on a work day, so I went out the weekend before (on my brother’s birthday, actually) and pretended it was mine, too. I went to Mia (Minnesota Institute of Art) and hit the special exhibition, Egypt’s Sunken Cities.

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Then I enjoyed some time reading at Lakes & Legends Brewery before the boys and I met up for Black Sheep Pizza.

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Later, I hit a yoga session where I had my sweets epiphany. That night, while I thought about it, I ate some apple pie while drinking a beer. haha!

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So on the first, I thought through my ideas. By the time I came up with it, I had already had a Mexican Mocha and some dark chocolate cake…so I guess I picked those!

I thought it would be harder to make it through my birthday without treats, but it’s a lot easier to stick to something when you’ve established a plan and rules. So I made it all day, easy peasy. That night, Joe and I watched the Gilmore Girls episode, Rory’s Birthday Parties, while we enjoyed this wonderful stout gifted to me by Bret and Leslie.

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Yesterday and today were the same things: Ice cream cake!!!!! My favorite.
Thank you, Novaks!!!!

Tonight I enjoyed it while watching Sabrina the Teenage Witch. Yes, the Melissa Joan Hart one. I’m super into it.

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Alright, enough about that. I won’t keep posting those, I promise. But I wanted to publicly establish that intention, because I’m much more likely to stick to something people know about.

So, speaking of ‘sticking to…’ check out what’s sticking to Henry’s face. We got him mustaches for Christmas, and they’ve gotten a lot of wear so far. It’s amazing.

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While Charlie’s been busy constructing Lego gadgets and vehicles from Christmas, Henry’s been creating and experimenting with all kinds of things.

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Today I made him a house for his critters from some cardboard packaging, and he immediately got busy setting it up and decorating it.

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He had a whole story about how the critters hadn’t decorated for Christmas, but luckily Santa was willing to do it for them. (Gee, I wonder where he got that from?) Then he pretended to be Santa, and decked the halls with stickers and Sharpie.

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The boys have also been able to go to some kid yoga gatherings at my studio.

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They really seemed to have fun, and were excited to go back a second time.

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So it’s been a great start to the year. Normal life starts back up (i.e.: winter break is over) on Monday. I’m ready, but this week has been really great. I’ve loved waking up late, hearing the boys play together all day, staying in jammies til…sometimes bedtime…and just having the freedom to do whatever. But routine is good for everyone, and I know the boys will be happy to get back to school.

whoopty-doop and hickory dock

 

We never got a tree this year. It just never happened. I was very on top of presents and planning, but decorating, for me, should happen when you feel like it. There was never a particular day when we felt a wave of holiday spirit, so we skipped the whole journeying out to get a tree and then decorating it thing. Luckily, some elves got involved Christmas Eve after we were all asleep, so we woke up to a truly magical Christmas morning.

The world around me was also great at providing plenty of spirit to keep my family smiling through mid-December. This wonderful woman created gingerbread from scratch, and cut into shapes to make beautiful houses.

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Her main priority when looking for recipes? Taste! It was sooooo delicious.

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Our combined collections of sprinkles and decorating goodies was quite extensive, so our boys were really able to go to town

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Six different people, six different styles. As it should be!

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Laura told me about a crazy Christmas display at Lawless Distillery, so we went to go enjoy the lights and some crazy Christmas cocktails.

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They were not my altogether my favorite drinks, but the festivity of the place, the bartenders and the drink containers more than made up for that. Check it out!

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Our first family gathering this year was my parents’ house.

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We aren’t able to be at the greater Sikkink gathering this year, so Grandma Betty sent our gift over early.

The Zoo!

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So some of these photos are ones sent from my parents’ phones. I was not consistent, apparently, about the size I sent…so when you see a super crisp photo or a super tiny photo…that’s why.

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The next gathering was with the Petersmas in Pella.

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I loved getting to play with Bobbi’s little guy! He’s such a sweetie

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Grandpa Mel got his very own Ted. He says he loves him, but hasn’t quite developed a taste for the ears yet.

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The pool table in the basement got a lot of use. Henry loves playing and watching

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Charlie was pretty busy putting together a rover

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By this point in the evening, multiple families had had to leave due to a stomach bug. Least merry timing ever!

So the rest of us decorated cookies and hoped for the best.

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The next morning, Christmas Eve, Charlie had enough time to put together his Lego set, and then we had to hit the road. It was way too short of a visit!

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We had an easy drive back, though, and a lovely time with the greater Novak clan that night. The boys especially enjoyed their fun basement.

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Christmas morning was about as perfect as they come. The boys came downstairs repeatedly to admire the elves’ work, and would then run back up to report to the other one. Everyone was so happy, we had great music, and we all were able to just bask in the glow of the morning.

In the afternoon, we had our final two gatherings, both in the same place, the Novaks’.

Charlie probably would have snuggled in his sleeping bag all day.

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Henry can now be the caped avenger, SUPER HENRY!!!

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Derek facilitated craft time while the darn adults took way too long opening in the other room.

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Unfortunately, I spent the rest of the day debilitated by sickness.
Merry Christmas, eh?!

But now it’s over.
We’ve had full days, and I’m so grateful for them.
Now we can have some days of “nothing.” Yay!

Next week I turn 32, and I plan to be very well rested by then.

 

Keeping Cozy

‘Tis the season, eh? Well, our chimney may not allow smoke to escape from the actual fireplace, but at least we’ve got the elements of a pillow bonfire to keep up cozy! How adorable is that?

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And…egg nog. Yesss!!!

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I did a better job of bringing in my herbs this year before frost time, so we’ve got some bright green sage, parsley, oregano and thyme. Hopefully they’ll hang around til next spring. The thyme is not super happy indoors, but the other three are looking great. Especially the oregano.

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Joe brought the boys to the European Winter Market they hold at the train depot in downtown St Paul. A little jealous to not have been along, but I was busy finishing up schoolwork for my last prerequisite class. Next stop: Art Education program at the U of M, starting June 2019. Application in.

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Two weekends ago, we got to celebrate the wedding of our dear old friend, Caitlin!

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We were very classy and elegant about the whole thing

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Great friends from way back!

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It was a lovely Stillwater evening. Plenty of sillies and nacho cheese to go around.

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This past week, my book club celebrated a very special December meeting at the Alumni House (Briggs House) on the Macalester Campus. I think it’s been five years, now? Pretty crazy. I’ve gotten to have some great discussions with these folks every month, and read a lot of things I’d meant to read and/or never would have otherwise read.

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On Tuesday, Santa came to Curran’s, a restaurant just two blocks away. Grandpa Jim thought we’d all probably better go see him. Here’s a fuzzy version of the pic on our fridge.

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Henry was not interested in being in the picture, so he hid behind Charlie. He was okay with talking to him afterward, though.

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Speaking of Henry, he’s been quite busy using Charlie’s chemistry set the past few weeks. We’ve gone through a lot of vinegar, baking soda, and whatever other random powders and liquids I can think of to let him experiment with. Here’s our cocoa powder day:

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Oh, and of course,  slime

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Doesn’t his newest hat look great? Thanks, Rebecca!

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He’s been loving Geronimo Stilton books lately, so we’ve spent a lot of time in this chair together going on mouse adventures. I think this particular moment, however, followed the reading of a book about emergency vehicles…

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Today was his sing-along at school. My last Judson Preschool sing-along! Five of them, I’ve been to. I think this was the one my kid was most participatory in. Neither of our boys is particularly interested in singing songs in front of groups of people. Last year, Henry sat cross-legged on the floor and never looked up the entire time. This time, he stood front and center, did all of the actions, and even sang sometimes.

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Here they’re plugging their noses because of the stinky sock they’re singing about.

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So anyway, to quote my favorite holiday movie, Home Alone II: Lost in New York:
“Merry Christmas, ya filthy animal…

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…and a Happy New Year.”

New Ages!

My kids love projects, and lately they’ve been working together on them a bit more than before. This is one of their favorite kinds:

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Making and decorating birthday cake!

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Especially when Dad’s in the background being ridiculous

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Love!

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We met a talking pumpkin spice marshmallow called Sue. She was real nice.

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Birthday boy Henry requested pizza for dinner. “But can we order it so that it comes in a box and you pick your own piece?”

Wish granted.

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Huzzah!

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???

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F I V E !

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Haaappy Biiiiirthday, deeear Heeeenry!

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He had two great phone conversations that day, too.

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On Thursday we celebrated both boys’ birthdays with the Novaks. Derek and Henry were up to some shenanigans, but they were moving too fast for me to capture more than this blurriness.

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5 & 8. AH!!!!

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Then yesterday was Joe’s birthday. To celebrate, he’s started a tradition of going for a long walk/bus adventure. This year he walked from our home in south Minneapolis to way up near the top of north Minneapolis, with varied diversions along the way. Here he is about to head out.

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After a nap, he was ready to hit St Paul  with me for the evening.

What a week! Lucky for me, I like my three guys more and more with each passing year. They just keep getting more wonderful.

Thanksgivings

We got to enjoy some wonderful days this past week. Starting with Grandma Rush’s 88th birthday/Thanksgiving celebration

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We headed down to Des Moines on Wednesday, so I had to get a very special sewing project done first for Odie and David. Henry tested it out to make sure it was comfortable enough.

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The weather in Iowa was so awesome while we were there. Sunshine!!!

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Thanksgiving morning, this crew did the Turkey Trot through downtown Des Moines.

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It was beautiful, and a great chance to chat with Bret and Joe, my 5K buddies. Leslie and my dad ran the 5 mile.

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I liked the wall décor on this building by the finish.

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We celebrated Thanksgiving with a magnificent feast at Arlys’ house. She was definitely the hostess with the mostest!

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It looks like I’m explaining something to myself here. I wonder if I was listening to me.

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It didn’t take long for the boys to warm up to things. Henry was an extremely animated rhinoceros for much of the gathering.

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Charlie has been dying to get to a model railway setup at the Pella Historical Society for way too long. So finally, Grandma Jan made his dreams come true, and on the day of his 8th birthday, no less!

She also sweet-talked this woman in to giving him the tour of the working windmill he asked for.

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He is appalled at the sleeping quarters of the miller. Apparently sleeping flat was for dead people, so they slept upright.

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Helping get the windmill started

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Afterward, we had pizza and cake at the Forsythe’s old/new house

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The boys did the cake decorating

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Happiest of birthdays to my love! EIGHT

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To celebrate both of their birthdays, Grandma and Grandpa took them to see The Best Christmas Pageant Ever! at the Des Moines Playhouse. I think you can see they enjoyed themselves

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While they enjoyed the show, Joe and I stocked up on T-shirts and tea in the East Village with Bret and Leslie.

Bring on that cold weather. We’ve got tea enough to get us through the winter!

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Five Reasons Autumn Rules

  1. Harvest time. You can’t beat that. That’s why it’s number 1.  I especially love being part of a CSA, because you get some cool, unexpected things. Like this rutabaga the size of my face. This is me pondering, “to roast or not to roast? That is the question.”

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2. Leaf piles

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Charlie happened to be inside this particular one.

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Charlie’s kind of a perfectionist when it comes to moving leaves around.

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And I’m kind of a goof when there’s sun in my life.

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3. Halloween themed books. I don’t know why, but I just LOVE them.

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4. Jack-o-lanterns

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Charlie feels less than great about the removal of the guts

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Henry feels phenomenal about drawing every possible face his pumpkin could sport before choosing one.

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They were both over-the-moon about the results

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5. Costumes.

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Henry is Mr. Costume, normally. So I was surprised when he pulled the ‘I want to be what Charlie’s going to be’ card.

Ninjas!

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However, in the end, he wore the ninja costume only to school and then was something else for Trick-or-Treating. Can you guess what he is? (I’m Frenchy from Grease, btw)

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He’s a witch. Yep. He’s got a pointy hat, sparkly star shoes, a spell book and a wand. A costume of his own design, so who could possibly argue with that?! Especially since he told at every house what he was. He also had a great cackle.

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Charlie’s costume was a lot clearer, but Henry still said at every door, “This is my brother, he’s a ninja!”

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Happy Halloween! Hope yours was great, too

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Gettin’ Spooky

We’ve been getting into the Halloween spirit this October.

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Henry’s tried out a lot of different costumes. Sea otter was the last idea he had, but I can already feel his interest shifting, so before I get sewing, I’ll be waiting a bit.

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Henry’s also been taking a lot of pictures around the house. I guess he noticed I had been dropping the ball lately.

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We’ve all been away as well. Joe took a trip out to the Great Smoky Mountains with some college friends.

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The boys went to the cabin with the Novaks, so Joe and I had a weekend at home together.

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Not sure what’s happening here, but it looks fun!

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Joe and I went to Faribault and Northfield, and the boys and I spent a weekend in Des Moines as well. Stuffed animal fun is the best.

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We went to Living History Farms, which was just as cool as I remembered it from childhood. Of course, we had spend some time looking at the old tractors, which is definitely the least interesting part to me.

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The horses were  more my style

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The boys were glad they don’t have to use most of the contraptions we saw! This one actually looked kinda fun, though.

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Walking from the church to the “town”

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On Sunday, Bret, Leslie and I explored the cool new/old neighborhoods of downtown while the boys hit the Science Center with my parents. Henry loves a wind tunnel, that’s for sure.

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Back home in Minneapolis, there’s a house near us that has about 50 electric jack-o-lanterns, and it made the boys reeeeally want to decorate. So we placed our Grandma Jan creations all about the house and added a few extra flourishes here and there.

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Perfect fall scene. Homework spread out in front of Halloween décor and tea accoutrements.

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Window cling fun! Thanks, Grandma Penny

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And here goes Hennie with the camera again!

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Charlie and I coming back from the bus stop

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Our “spirit wear” came that day, so I tried on my new shirt.

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Happy Fall, y’all!

Fairetimes

This weekend, we packed in a carnival at Charlie’s school, Trucksploration (getting to climb into and inspect up close all kinds of huge trucks) and Nicollet Open Streets (they close down a huge street and open it up for all kinds of fun). Unfortunately, I forgot my camera for all of those things. Luckily, today I remembered!

I’ve been wanting to get back to the Renaissance Festival for years now. This is its final week for the year, so I decided this morning that Henry and I would head that way.

Turns out…it’s not open on weekdays. But it’s not blocked off or anything, so since we’d driven 45 minutes to get there, we wandered the grounds anyway. It’s definitely just as fun when it’s closed. You can’t buy food and there’s no official entertainment, so it’s a whole different thing, but…we had the place to ourselves!

We climbed on everything there was to climb on.

All morning, Henry and I were pirates on the grandest adventure

Wandering through a maze is great when there’s no one else around

Especially when there’s a slide at the end.

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Second giant Connect 4 board in 2 days

We even found a huge pirate ship to call our own!

This guy was so pumped.

Knights (aka: suits of armor) were our enemies. We followed them, fought them and hid from them throughout the day.

I was on a hunt all morning for the Fairy Wings Garden, but signposts around the festival grounds are kind of hard to follow. It was good encouragement for us to keep exploring the huge grounds, and it was definitely worth it. We both loved wandering through the woods.

It was so charming!

What a day!