Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Words of wisdom from M

Words of wisdom from M:

"Mom, I really want something that I know is impossible."

"What's that, honey?" (Thinking a doll, own room, etc.)

"I just want the perfect life."

Bonus quote:

"So kids, what was the best part of the camping trip?" (asked by an adult friend)

B: "Playing around in the waterfalls!"

J: "Roasting s'mores over the fire!"

M: "I liked the late-night deep philosophical conversations with dad!"

Monday, June 29, 2009

The kids finished swimming lessons last week -- and did very well. B learned several new strokes, including the breaststroke and the backstroke and the butterfl7; J became much more comfortable in the water, and M improved her skill at not drowning, which is our main goal. : )

In the video below, J paddles around in a lifevest and jumps off the end of the diving board (sort of). It required much persuasion for her to do either. In the case of the diving board, I had to promise her bubble gum. Yeah, I know . . . but she did it. Every time she'd want to turn around on the diving board, I'd say, "Remember the bubble gum!"

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Sunday at CrossFest

On Sunday, while S was teaching at the Institute for Pastoral Ministry, I took the kids to CrossFest -- or more accurately, to the Catholic event that followed it. Basically Mass with the bishop, a picnic lunch, lots of inflatables, and music by a prominent Christian rock artist. The older kids had lots of fun running around to the different inflatables (there were 11). The only hitch was there were too many kids and they got a little out of control without adult supervision. And the high winds nearly carried off one of the inflatables with a kid high atop it.

J was too little to go on most of the inflatables, except for the bounce house; so when she got tired of that, we headed over to the concert. She danced to the music for about ten minutes. Check out her dance moves:

Oh for the exuberance of youth!

Posted by Picasa

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Kiddie Parade

For Steamboat Days, the kids watched the Grand Parade (and B went to the fireworks, too) -- and they also marched in the Kiddie Parade, as part of a very impromptu Mill Street neighborhood float. The girls were butterflies; B sat out. Here they are:

Little J was absolutely quivering with excitement for the Grande Parade -- jumping up and down, shouting out her favorite "princess" (beauty queen) or horse, mouth agape at the towering hot air balloon flame -- and always on the mark for the next wave of candy thrown her way. It rained off and on, but we stayed for two and a half hours -- about three quarters of the parade -- before calling it quits.

B's 9th birthday

B's ninth birthday was a big success: he finally got the skateboard he's been asking for for the past year!

Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Our Camping Vacation on the North Shore of Lake Superior

Well, last week we spent camping on the North Shore of Lake Superior -- more specifically, we camped Wednesday night and Thursday night in Tettagouche State Park, near Silver Bay. We were lucky to have many friends who offered to lend us camping equipment. By the time we were loaded up and ready to go (a three-day process), the car was packed to the gills. We had to substantially re-pack in the Twin Cities (where we stopped overnight) in order to make the groceries fit.
The weather was cool-ish -- highs in the 60s, lows in the lower 40s -- but we anticipated that, and dressed accordingly. The kids slept in real sleeping bags (borrowed) and wore winter hats to bed. We cooked over a campfire -- a frozen meal the first night and brats and hot dogs the second. (Sorry, camping purists, but we're taking baby steps here.) S'mores both nights. They're messy, but they kind of define the nadir of every camping trip for the kids.

Besides trying to start and keep our campfires (B and M got to build and light the fires using wooden matches), we spent our days doing one of two things: hiking to some amazing scenic location (a big waterfall or lakeshore) or watching the kids throw rocks into water. You would think they'd be bored on those rocky, cold beaches, but far from it -- they actually really enjoyed running around, leaping from rock to rock, finding little "tide pools" (their term), and just generally exploring. And throwing rocks into the water. They must have logged several hours throwing rocks into the water. The older kids called it "spelunking" because of the sound the rocks made going in. Then I showed them how to skip rocks and that was a whole new thing.
We saw lots of waterfalls. Two-Step Falls was just a tenth of a mile from our campsite (we could hear it all night long); there was kind of a rocky grotto there that the kids enjoyed playing in. Later, we hiked to the High Falls, the tallest waterfall completely in Minnesota (a 60-foot drop). We crossed a suspension bridge to get to the other side of the river. We also hiked to a spot on the shore called Shovel Point, and stopped at Split Rock Lighthouse (but didn't go in -- the cost was prohibitive).
by far the best waterfall was the one at Gooseberry State Park. Not only is it spectacularly wide, you can also sort of "interact" with the falls and the river -- the kids were running all over the place, jumping over little rivulets and across sections of the river on rocks. (As were all the other tourists -- maybe 100 people total in that section.)
Not surprisingly, the hotel was a big hit as well. We drove to Superior on Friday afternoon and stayed at a Holiday Inn Express. The kids loved the pool. We loved the bed. :) The next day we toured Canal Park (Duluth's waterfront) -- saw a couple of huge ships, watched the lift bridge go up and down, watched a tiny pedestrian drawbridge, walked out to the end of the pier, etc. Capped by a really bad, overpriced meal at Grandma's, a Duluth institution.
S and the girls at the end of the pier.

M in front of Split Rock lighthouse.

The girls in front of the Upper Falls at Gooseberry.

B and M in the middle of the river at Gooseberry -- we actually had to make our way carefully across a number of stepping stones to get here.
On the ride home, the kids listened to two Laura Ingalls Wilder books: The Long Winter and Little House in the Big Woods. The kids were enjoying the first book but S complained it was too long and "dark." So we listened to the second title from the Twin Cities all the way back home -- not a bad way to end.
All in all, we decided it was a lot of work -- but also well worth the conversations and memories.
Posted by Picasa

Monday, June 15, 2009

M's flower poems

M wrote a series of poems about flowers to pass the time in the car during our recent camping trip:

Violets sing
impress me
more than i've ever seen before
for someone I know croaks like a toad,
so sing to me violets.

Roses are nice,
as nice as spice.
I have a patch in my yard.
give me a rose. I like them all.
Roses are

Oh there can
be campfire,
and there can be
but the one I hate
the most is the wild
fire oh-no here
it comes.

Irises are very nice.
they have petal mazes and
pretty faces. there green
necks are long and slick
to a mouse it is as tall
as a bulding. just thinner.
Irises are very nice.

I know that...
Geraniums are red and pink,
but what about green?
do they come in that color?
in africa? france? well I'm of
to check on my
green geranium.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

East Mill Street Block Party

So, the block party we helped organize with a few neighbors was a real success -- we counted at least 65 people at one point. (There are about 100 houses in the neighborhood.) We had a band (the Zephyr Valley Strong Band) and a pot luck, and the police and fire department showed up for the kids. We had maybe a dozen or so kids from the neighborhood participate; they ran around a neighbor's lawn and found a nest of bunnies to keep them occupied. People met and exchanged business cards, and all in all it was worth the months of work. Even the rain cooperated, stopping for about 12 hours (save a few minor showers.)

Posted by Picasa

Saturday, June 06, 2009


Yesterday I was working at the computer with my headphones on, listening to music. J came sneaking into the room, right up behind my left elbow -- and the first I knew about it was when she shouted "BOO!" I YELLED ("AAAAHHHHH!") as I jumped out of my chair and whirled around to face her, hands up in an attack position, eyes wide. Scared the you-know-what out of her -- not intentionally, but you know, millions of years of evolution are hard to overcome in a split second. That old amygdala kicks in to protect you. Well, a few seconds later, we were both crying -- me in relief, she out of fright -- and I started laughing and reassuring her. I have not been scared that bad in many, many years.