School’s Out

Charlie has had a great second-grade year.

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His good friend hosted an end-of-year pizza party that included water fun, and I think they all hoped it would never end.

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Field Day was always one of my favorite days of school. I’ll never forget the year that Buster ran all the way home from Perkins after Mr. Randall shot off the starting pistol for the first time.

There were no starting pistols at Charlie’s field day, but it seemed like the kids had as much fun as I remember having.

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Charlie and his partner did an impressive job at the three-legged race. “Once you get the rhythm down,” they said, “it’s so easy!”

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The kids unanimously hated the sack race!

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Recovery socialization after all the events

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Henry and I were there for about half of the time, and in that time he spread about a million dandelion seeds. Have you heard, though? They’re okay now! They’re one of the only early pollinator plants, their roots aerate the soil, and you can eat their leaves. So don’t hate the dandelions

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And just like that…Charlie headed off to his last day of second grade.

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It was a lovely year, and he’s disappointed that it’s over. But summer has already proven itself. Lyndale Open Streets was Charlie’s big biking debut. He’s had a lot of temporary successes and almosts, but he biked four miles that day, and is now feeling much more comfortable.

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Henry’s enthusiasm has helped, because it gets us out on our bikes as a family much more frequently.

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The boys got some frisbees from some booth, so we had a quick disc brake on our way

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Beverages were a must on such a beautifully sunny day

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Look at these guys!

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Enjoying a popsicle at the park…

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while Henry dug some trenches

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Look at this kid!

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Hehe

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Joe and I have also had a big milestone. We had our 10-year college reunion last weekend! The boys went to the cabin for the weekend, but before they did, Henry got to join us for lunch at Café Mac.

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I can’t tell you how wonderful it was to spend the weekend with our crew

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I love that we’re in the background of this photo posted on the official Macalester website. Wonder who those people in the foreground are!

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Class of 2009 Gathering

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A lovely encounter with the MacDirect folks led to this silly photo of us with Talon

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Learning about the letterpress in the new art building. I used to work in the Art Department, so it was weird to need directions as to where things were!

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Down time on the Quad has always been the best

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Diligent boys coming back from working out at the Leonard Center

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It was hard for the reunion activities to come to an end, but luckily the separation was semi-gradual, including a day-long barbecue in the Whitesparks’ amazing backyard.

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With a couple of babies around, the boys got to feel like big kids for once. They had some shenanigans in the “Baby Jail”

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It’s hard when fun things end, but I will say it’s a great comfort that a normal day for me is spending time with these yahoos.

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City Walks

The trip I’ve been waiting and waiting for fiiiiinally came.
I made it to New York to visit Katie!

Ample Hills with Katie

The big reason for my trip was to spend time with her and the two guys she lives with, but when in NYC, you’ve gotta see what you can. And walking-while-talking is my ideal way to spend time. So we put a lot of miles on our legs!

I had just a few items must-do list: Art, Yoga and Central Park.

Once I got there, though, I realized I needed to add one more: Brooklyn. Mostly because it’s Spot Collins’ territory, but also it just sounds like there’s been a lot popping up there this decade.

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I like this

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I like this way more!

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We tried to walk across the Brooklyn Bridge, but we took a wrong turn and ended up on the Manhattan Bridge. It was beautiful and we had much more space to walk, though the trains were…very loud.

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So we’d started in Prospect Park, and Katie headed back home for baby-duty once we crossed the bridge, but I kept on a-wandering. I found Washington Square Park and imagined Jess was reading on one of the benches.

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I made my way up Broadway, stopping for a gyro along the way, and after Times Square was too crowded to pass through, I took a slight detour which took me past some other recognizable things

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While on the phone with Joe, I found Central Park! Check.

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I walked the entire length on my way up to Harlem, seeing a lovely sunset on my way

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We had wonderful evenings in and wonderful breakfasts every morning. I loved getting to spend time with this sweetie! I never managed to catch one, but I swear he’s so smiley!

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I’d been hearing some controversy about “The Vessel” in Hudson Yards, and it turns out it’s on one end of the High Line, and the Whitney is on another. What better walk?!

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I was a bit hungry, so we stopped in to a super fancy mall to find something suitable. This Snark Park caught our attention along the way

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High Line! (An old elevated train track that was turned into a wonderful park and walking path)

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The Whitney Museum of American Art had some treasures for me. Including some Ellsworth Kelly, which I always love getting to see in person

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A rooftop lunch while reading my book

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Perfect weather, beautiful view

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Outdoor exhibitions!

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This massive tapestry of television static just tickled me

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After a roam around Chelsea, I realized I wasn’t far from the iconic Flatiron Building. So why not go take a look?!

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Then I took a train up to see the Frick. They, however, did not accept our reciprocal museum membership so I went a few blocks away to the Met Breuer instead

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And along with that admission came admission to the big Met, so I took a peak at a few of the wings

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Oceania is impressive

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I just liked this

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Eleonora Carrington!

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And some things just grab you. This painting is like 6 feet high

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Central Park again!

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I hit all of the things on my list and had a wonderful trip all around. Thank you, Katie!

It’s always great to come home after a trip, too. Getting off the bus from the airport, I noticed how fresh and fragrant it smelled! I love Minnesota springtime.

This weekend we had beautiful weather, so Joe took us to Afton State Park for a hike

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That’s the St Croix river, which we walked along

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Rocks to clamber upon

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It got a wee bit long for Henry, but Daddy’s helpful in that regard

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Love!

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When we got back home, Mom and Dad were waiting for us. The next day, we took them on their very own hike, just within our neighborhood. There was a surprise wading pool along the way. I didn’t realize they were open yet

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Then we found Minnehaha Creek. There were some canoers who were having to get suuuper low in their canoes to make it under bridges in this high water

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Joe and his dad did that a few years ago, so he tells us the story and mimics what it feels like to do that

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It was interesting to watch them try to get through

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Dad, always ready to help, assisted a kayaker in getting out of the water so she could go around on land instead

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Walkin’ along Minnehaha Creek, havin’ a happy holiday

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‘Cept some parts were a little underwater

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Not here, though!

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Back at the ranch, the boys had so many things to keep Grandma and Grandpa busy

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But it was very serious.

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No one had any fun or anything.

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We all kept our composure

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BYE!!!!!

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Here we go again!

Iiiit’s tulip time!

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I know you Iowans already have had your tulips come and go. But mine are just now fully open, and they look so beautiful!

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And check out the apple tree. We’s gonna have sooooooo many apples

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And the lilacs are getting there. Their incredible smell is faint, but I know in a couple days they’ll be fully blooming and will be filling all of the vases I can find in my house

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Baby plants are making their way along, too

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Even indoors we’re celebrating the spring. I got beautiful cards and flowers for Mother’s Day, as well as some delicious coffee and absinthe.

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This one, too!

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The boys all picked me out this beautiful cake frosted to mimic a robin’s egg

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Haaaaappy Mother’s Day toooo meeeeeee

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Even my neighbor got into the spirit of the day. She hides treasures for the boys at what we call the “secret stump,” and this time she included a special mother’s day card and chocolate for me.

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On Friday, we had dinner at the Tap Society and got to eat outside. I could not stop laughing when Henry was putting ketchup on his burger, because that sucker was so darn big!

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And then I realized my big kid was holding a little teeny bottle of mustard. Love the inversion there

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Of course, Henry ultimately needed both

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Hi Joe!

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I walked in to preschool yesterday to pick up Henry and saw this sign. Look at the note in blue. LAST DAY OF PRESCHOOL! Five years I’ve been walking the boys to and from this glorious place. I can’t believe that’s coming to an end.

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Judson has truly been a wonderful part of our lives

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We’ll just have to keep meeting up with friends at MLK Park through the summer. Henry’s always been a big swinger, but lately he’s really gotten good at pumping. He’s very proud. I was a little late on snapping this pic.

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We’ve also been able to draw more chalk cities and finally hang the laundry outside. It takes a day or so to dry on the rack inside, but 10 minutes in the sun, and BOOM! It’s warm and dry. I think the theme of my life is this: The Sun is Magic.

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Have a fantastic day

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workinonit

I’ve been thinking about endurance lately. And failure.

Some problems you can address with a small amount of time and a gung-ho effort. You know what to do, you’ve just got to do it. I think that’s why I like painting rooms so much. As long as you’re smearing paint on the wall, you can’t really mess up too badly. You work your butt off for a bit and BOOM! You’ve got a whole new backdrop.

Unfortunately,  we all discover repeatedly (daily? hourly?) things that don’t work like that. You’ve got to chip away, and chip away, and chip away. And you don’t necessarily even know if you’re doing what you’re supposed to be doing. One of those that has come up for me started out with some drips in my shower. It has always dripped infrequently, but lately the dripping had sped up. Not a pressing problem, yet after years of hearing that little drip, I was just ready to make it stop. I watched a bunch of videos online, read a bunch of articles, headed to Ace Hardware and confidently bought all the things I could possibly need. It’s funny to look back on now, because I didn’t actually need any of those things for this particular project. Some will be handy later, but most just went right back to Ace.

The first big hurdle was getting off the handles. I tried all of the normal ways of getting them off, but nothing seemed to work. Some online forums suggested that I just wasn’t using enough force. So I used more. They were talking about something different. I broke stuff.

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Luckily nothing bad, it just made future parts of the process harder for me, personally, but what I broke needed to be replaced fully anyway. And honestly, I probably wasn’t going to get to the point of understanding that if I hadn’t made that first mistake. At that point, it was a matter of just doing something or throwing in the towel. I did something.

Charlie’s always struggled with struggling. He’s used to either being able to figure things out ahead of time or having stuff neatly explained to him. So when he doesn’t automatically know the answer to something, he looks like a deer in the headlights. One thing that has helped with that lately is circuitry. I think the best thing about it is that I don’t know anything about it. So he’s got to work through it on his own. He either tries some things out (may or may not work) or doesn’t accomplish anything at all. He tries.

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Green light!

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Henry’s a pro at endurance and failure. It’s how he operates all the time. I love this series of moments of him trying to figure out blowing bubbles (with some old, crappy bubble solution, I might add. I was struggling with it myself).

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Charlie was constantly lunging at the almost-bubbles!

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He got one!

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Mr Bubble Man

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Another thing he’s been learning is good teeth brushing. He’s always brushed and brushed and brushed. In fact, there was a time when I was using our “tooth timer” because he was going on too long. So I didn’t worry much about the quality of the brushing. Figured quantity was fine. Also, he’s been going to the dentist for 3 years, and all has always been well. But it turns out those molars were not quite getting the love they needed, since brushing the front teeth is way more fun. So we had to meet the “Tooth Tickler” at the dentist last week. That was a first for me as a parent, so I was sad about it. But Henry just embraced the new experience, and went in bravely (though slowly) all by himself.

He had fun telling the tale later, especially to Charlie, who just might be a little jealous 😉 Here he is right after. He chose to stay and play in the waiting room for another half hour after he was done, just because he was having a good time.

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Two weekends ago was the May Day Parade/Festival. It’s one of my favorite events of the year, but is sadly no longer able to happen financially. So I hope the people who organize that do some serious enduring this year so that it can continue in the future!

While it’s still around, though, we truly love it.

This huge puppet lady was soooooooo amazing and intricate. She also, moments before I took this was walking straight at us, but I missed the moment. Gah!

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At Powderhorn Park, everyone gathering for the food, music and performances

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Grandma and Grandpa met us there after the parade

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May Day dancers from across the lake

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Bird boats waiting to sail

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Look!

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Those Novaks! Always taking the path less traveled

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We found where they parked the floats!

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Aw…poor house fell apart. Maybe it will end up in Oz

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Boats are sailing! Paddling against a stiff wind, for sure

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But they make it

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And I did, too, gosh darnit! It took weeks of off and on work. Learning and trying and thinking and figuring. And buying the correct parts, which may just have been the biggest challenge.

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But look! Not only does it not drip, it actually gives a full shower, with nothing dribbling out of the faucet below. No fiddling or wiggling of handles necessary.

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Woohoo! It feels so good. And the most important thing is that I learned a lot. Including the fact that neither of the shut-off valves to our house work, which is real bad. So if not for this little project, we’d never have known that until something went wrong and then we’d be hosed.

Luckily, we’re going to get a new water heater, so when Chad the Plumber comes, he’ll do it all at the same time. Won’t that be a fun day?!

Exploring

The boys had spring break this past week.

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Yes, all the boys. Joe took the week off work, too, so we spent 9 whole days together hanging out. Joe also planned a delightful road trip down the Mississippi River and led us to all sorts of beautiful places. The tree above is on Maiden Rock Bluff, and here’s the view down.

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Our next stop was at the birth home of Laura Ingalls Wilder, which was almost more than Charlie could handle. As he got out of the car, he whispered to himself, “I can’t believe I’m actually seeing this!!!”

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There’s something amazing that happens when we walk in woods together.

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We stayed two nights in La Crosse, Wisconsin, and explored the area in the meantime

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The river was quite high, so we felt like our feet were about to get wet any minute

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We happened to be in La Crosse on the day of the month when the busses were free, so that made scooting around town easy

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They even had an awesome wooden playground on which to have a rousing game of hide and seek

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At the end of our street was Old Grandad Bluff

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It was windy up top, but the view was great

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We attempted a group selfie, but only Hennie’s hood made it in

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So we asked for some assistance

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And then the silly version

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This lady apparently donated most of the money for the conservation effort to keep this bluff from being turned into a quarry, so we kept her company for awhile

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For dinner the first night, we hit La Crosse Distillery, which was so delicious and had such a good atmosphere that we came back the next night for another dinner.

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Oh, hey!

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After La Crosse, we headed on our way to Viroqua, which turned out to be a great place to spend the day. It provided us with some of the most delicious coffee and breakfast of all time

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Afterward, there was a huge old building filled with books, so we naturally had to fully explore the collection. The boys played a game of hide and seek that was pretty epic. Henry found a spot that neither Charlie nor I could find!

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After a delicious lunch at their local café, we headed to Wildcat Mountain State Park

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Henry was impressed that he hiked up a WHOLE mountain! (Wisconsin-size…)

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Snack break view

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We spent an amazing night in Black River Falls at the coolest Airbnb ever. It was cozy and pretty, energy-positive (the home produces more electricity than it uses)

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They even had this great rocking-llama called Polly

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And fun games to keep us entertained

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Their backyard view

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The next day we walked down to the riverfront from their yard. It got real icy, though, so I decided to go back up and enjoy my coffee on the deck. The boys all trudged on, though!

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After heading out of town, our last stop was Eau Claire. Their children’s museum was wonderful

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The boys had a ball, and even convinced me to enter the digestive system

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We had several chill days at home after our four-day trek. It’s always nice to sleep in your own bed again, and get dressed choosing clothes from drawers instead of duffel bags.

After enough down time, the boys wanted to hit yet another hot spot: the Mill City Museum in downtown Minneapolis. They especially love the water room

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It’s crazy that St Anthony Falls used to look like this

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Charlie, of course, mostly wanted to enjoy looking at the old mill machinery

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It was an amazing week all together.

It’s nice to get back to our regular life, too. It’s a good one

 

Making/Playing

Who. Are. You?

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We’ve read a lot of versions of the Alice in Wonderland stories lately. When Henry found out his various picture books of Alice were based on a real, full-length story, he asked if we owned that one. So…I brought out all six editions of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland I own. “Can…you read it to me now…?” he asks hesitantly.
YES YES a thousand times YES! I wanted to shout. Instead, I said, “Of course. Which copy would you like me to read from?” He chose the Annotated Alice, meaning there are all sorts of side commentary and minutia in the margins, but most importantly, the illustrations are large, bold, clear, and the book is big and heavy on our collective lap. It was the best. We read straight through up til the croquet scene, then had to stop because Charlie’s bus was due. That night, we finished the rest, with Charlie joining our group. I got to sing the Mock Turtle song over and over, because they loved it so much, and Charlie nearly teared up at the end of the night, because he’d had such a great time.

So basically my life is complete.

Today, we had a St Paul outing day on Cathedral Hill. We had lunch at Nina’s and then explored the Blair Arcade. It’s always reminded me of the room at the bottom of Alice’s rabbit hole, so it was a perfect time to explore it with the boys.

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They took the photos down there, so they’re not so clear. But I love them.

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Racing and chasing

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Back home we’ve been doing a lot of creating. Henry and I had a railway-building session

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The boys worked together on all of the wood craft kits they got for Christmas. They truly did it all by themselves, and their teamwork was outstanding. I was so proud!

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Meanwhile, I put down some grass seed where our yard turned to mud pits from snow tromping. The boys and I also planted a bunch of seeds indoors today, so hopefully once warmth rolls around, we’ll have some good seedlings to transfer to the yard

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There have been…gasp…barefoot days!!!! I’m so in love with the sun right now.

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More projects

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Last week, Henry decided at 5 pm he wanted me to make him a striped prisoner uniform. “Just…whenever you have time today…”

I did the most rushed of jobs, and it’s hilariously small and not fitted. But it suited his temporary needs. He wore them as pajamas that night, even though there’s no elastic in the waist, so he had to just keep hold of them all the time. He makes anything look cute, though.

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Next, he requested we try to make our own version of Cheaters Monopoly. He’s fascinated by it in the store. Sensing a theme? But I’m always up for a creative project, so we did some cutting and drawing and printing. I’m pretty proud of the results, and best of all, it’s actually playable!

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I’m not sure I’d ever played actual Monopoly before (not counting Monopoly Jr.), but now after making all the parts, minus the monies, which we borrowed from my Berlin Monopoly, I have a very good grasp of the game!

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And then one night Charlie busted out Parcheesi! We also didn’t really know how to play that before, but we had fun figuring it out. I love this action shot of Charlie showing his enthusiasm

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So anyway. It’s spring and things are feeling brighter and lighter. Getting to spontaneously stop by the park without having to gear up first is just such a joy.

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I hope wherever you are, you can turn your day into a wonderland.

 

Time Marches On

One morning this week, I noticed Charlie and I were both reading novels quite appropriate to the weather.

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He said, “Well, at least winter hasn’t lasted 7 months, like it did for the Ingalls.” Attaboy!
That afternoon, Joe brought home some spring for us to enjoy

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Then I got some great news. Here’s a hint. I’m wearing a shirt supporting Charlie’s school, and Charlie’s wearing a shirt supporting my new school

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I’m officially enrolled in the Arts in Education program at the University of Minnesota. So starting this summer, I’ll be working towards being an art teacher. It’ll be weird not spending all day every day with these yahoos in the summer. But they proved this winter that they can really roll with the changes and stay their sweet, wonderful, silly selves

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Here’s a lovely picture one of the boys took of their circuits set. Charlie’s been very interested in electronics lately. Been a nice indoor activity to focus on.

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Henry and I, on the other hand, just make stuff. Any stuff. All stuff. Slime, chemistry, towers…one day this week it was pizza.

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Today was a ray of light on our lives, literally and figuratively. It was a wonderful, sunny Saturday all together at home. We had fun making dangling sculptures

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…and following the advice on Charlie’s new shirt:

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It was soooooooooo nice out!!!! Here’s the remains of our snowman from last week.

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The mine is still hanging on a bit

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So sunny!!!!

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He was asleep. Oops!

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He found the mud…

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First car city of 2019

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The sandbox is a big puddle, but that encouraged, rather than discouraged Henry.

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A lovely shot by Charlie. Not sure where it is, but I like it

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Another

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The catalog he was looking at while we were outside.

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Little Boy Heaven

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Hey there, Snow Buddy! Might be time to put you away soon. We’ll miss you, but only so much.

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It’s snowing, it’s blowing

My neighbor’s grandson told her he’s been thinking a lot lately about when she would let him zoom matchbox cars through flour pretending it was snow. That’s certainly what driving around here has felt like a lot recently. I also thought that was a brilliant  entertainment idea!

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Snowstorm City! He even took my sifter and started making it snow on top of the vehicles

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With so much indoor time, Joe and I started a puzzle.

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Last week Charlie had another snow day, but the temperatures were great, so we entertained ourselves outside for nearly two hours.

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Charlie had a project going that I never did figure out, but he worked very hard on it. Henry mostly had his head in the sandbox. Literally

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They also helped me with the shoveling. Before:

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After!

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Joe surprised us all on Valentine’s Day with new books! He found a pirate activity book for Henry that has book in-the-book activities and suggestions for real pirate play. He dug all of it

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This weekend, my parents came to town for what they thought would be a quick weekend trip. We had a great walk to lunch/sledding on Saturday followed by a good long time of playing in the snow when we got home.

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Grandpa made a huge snow mountain that Henry and I tunneled a mine through. Charlie knocked down every icicle he could reach

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Diamond?

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Grandma realized the snow was actually packing, so we made this dude

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hehe!

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It was a weekend full of fun and sillies

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Unfortunately for them, Interstate 35 was closed on Sunday because of massive snow drifts. The National Guard had to go and rescue everyone on the highway and hotels were beyond packed. Luckily, they were stuck with us and not in Owatonna. The weather around here (besides low temperatures) was actually just fine.

Checking on the road status…again!

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They were able to leave this morning (Tuesday) and are currently on the road. So if you’re reading this on Tuesday, send safe and warm vibes their way!

 

 

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.

 

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.