Bright Eyes

With summer break soon ending, we’ve had fewer scheduled activities and thus time to fit in some spontaneity.

Like heading to the CAT place across from Charlie’s old therapy place. They always have a loader parked out front, and the boys have fond memories of picnic lunches in the bucket. So we made that happen again.





Over the past several weeks this summer, Jim has been building what he and the boys refer to as “The Chug.” It’s a homemade car, and last week was painting time!


This week was the coat of black, but later, I’m told, there will be racing stripes.


Also as summer is wrapping up, the teachers in our family have been using their precious vacation days to take the boys on special adventures. The MOA has been a popular destination. Last week, Grandma Colleen and Henry hit Choo Choo Bob’s and its convenient neighbors which provide ice cream and grilled cheese sandwiches!


This past weekend, we headed downtown (Minneapolis) to tour Joe’s new office. It’s only 3 blocks from his previous job, but the building and office feel like a whole different world. Very Joe.


The boys enjoyed having their own conference call.


I just liked this.


Afterward, we walked over to Whole Foods with Grandpa Jim to have a little lunch and enjoy the sunny day.


And after thaaat…we hit Indeed Brewery to celebrate their 5th Anniversary and take a tour.

Charlie, predictably, was lovin’ it.



They had great descriptions of everything, so I swear he’s ready to set up his own operation.


He especially liked peeking down into the cellar


Today was, I’m sure you’re aware, the solar eclipse! We got to go to Minnesota Public Radio to enjoy an eclipse party, hosted by our favorite podcast: Brains On!


Henry really wanted his tattoo to be shown in that picture.

We made pinhole viewers (which we never actually figured out how to work, but they looked lovely)


And then enjoyed staring at the sun in various stages of covered-ness.


Henry’s reaction when he first saw it was so visceral and beautiful: surprise and joy and awe.


Repeated viewings over an hour and a half led him to be less excited about the whole thing, but he was definitely a happy guy.


Beautiful sky


I did not look through the lens when I took this, I promise 🙂 But here’s the view from MPR’s rooftop.


Waiting for the cloud-cover to move away so we can enjoy the moment of most coverage.


Charlie learns the lesson that weather can have a big impact on YOUR PLANS and how you imagined things would go.


Luckily, just at the right moment, we got some great glimpses of a very, very moon-covered sun.


And then, the MPR lobby had some great chairs that played radio stations in them. I just imagined they were taking the MIB test.


Alright, a couple of non-sequiturs here:

Did you know about the candy that comes shaped like LEGOs? They’re great, and our neighborhood candy store sells them by the scoop, so we made use of that resource.


We also hit the local-made craft store across the street from there, where Charlie picked out this sign for our fairy garden. LOVE LOVE LOVE this kid. When we went to put the sign in the garden, we discovered that the fairies had built themselves a house! Probably to keep dry in all the rain we’ve been having. Like our bottle-cap chairs and tables?



I’m On Vacation

Last week we drove down to Table Rock Lake on the southern border of Missouri. We go with my mom’s family every summer to spend some quality water time together.


Charlie is now tall enough to comfortably touch the bottom of the pool, and plus he can now swim! So the pool was a great spot for him to float around and chuck diving rings and torpedoes around for the adults to go fetch


He also just came off of a weeklong fishing class at Lake Harriet, so one morning he took Fishing Master Grandpa Mel down to the dock. He preferred corn over nightcrawlers as bait, because there was no way he was going to touch those things. They were dried out anyway, so that worked just fine.


You wouldn’t call him a real attentive fisherman, I wouldn’t say. But the rest of us had fun watching the fish eat the bait off his hook


Which just meant he got to load it up with more kernels


Henry, on the other hand, got pretty into it. If there is a way to be a proactive fisherman, he would be it. He got the lifting and dropping move down pretty good, and seemed to enjoy the anticipation.


Nobody caught anything, but that doesn’t seem unusual to me.

This was one of H’s go-to spots. On the ride down, this was what he was talking about. Charlie had said, “As soon as we get there, I’m going to go for a dip!”
Henry responded, “And as soon as I get there, I’M going to go for a dig!”


And dig he did. Not only here, but down lakeside as well. He always seemed to chose the one half-hour of the day that he wasn’t wearing swimwear to do this, but oh well.


Tethering his gator up to the paddle boat


I love his concentration, but it’s great when I actually catch a glimpse of his face


A boat must have been going in or out of the dock


Ugh! I just can’t get enough of him


The boys loved to be in Mark’s fishing boat telling about all the adventures they were having on their fishing trips. They were epic journeys that lasted many days and many nights. Grandpa Steve and Charlie were First Mates, and Henry always seemed to be their Captain.


Ever built a bonfire in 95-degree heat? It’s not our first time.

S’mores have got to happen somehow.


I was one of the only people willing to get close enough to the fire to get roasting done, so Henry didn’t actually roast these ‘mallows. But he probably ate one of them


The Hershey bar melted immediately, so these guys borrowed Mark’s golf cart to run up to the cabin to get a knife to spread the chocolate onto the graham crackers


Totally worth the effort


The gang!


The parents of the newest member of the family showed up one month postpartum! Definitely the champs of the summer.




Checking out boats has always been one of Charlie’s favorite parts of the week. This year he kicked it up a notch and also was memorizing the motors on all the boats. He and I even took a paddle boat ride of our little inlet just so he could see more engine types.


The dock


On our way back through Des Moines we picked up this hitchhiker, who proceeded to discuss the Periodic Table of Elements with my 6-year-old, and later had a great demolition derby of remote-controlled cars with both boys. We’re happy to have you back in the country, Bretsky.


Have you been to southern Missouri? It’s so hot and dry. I mean, it’s not like Arizona dry or anything, but compared to what I’m used to, the change in flora is definitely noticeable. So I was thrilled to get back to good ol’ Minnesota and see that my lush, green plants went nuts in my absence. (Thank you, Joe, for tending them this week)

Pumpkins crawling over mint, and everything entwined in hyacinth vines, which have exceeded the height of the branches I gave them to climb.


I just love my little side yard.


The herb plants we got from our CSA months ago have just loved our back patio. And my cooking has loved them right back.


I keep this Mojito Mint plant indoors, usually; it’s the plant I’ve kept the very longest. I got it at Linder’s (now defunct) in 2011 or ’12 when we moved into our St Paul apartment with toddler Charlie. I thought I’d put it outside, give it a little extra sun and a bigger pot, and BOOM! My skimpy little survivor turned into a powerhouse in just a few days. Those tiny little leaves you see are the biggest they used to ever get–then I’d pluck them off to garnish cocktails


So, when I wrote about our potential plants back in May, I hoped for many things, and most of them came through in force. No black-eyed susans or daisies, but we ended up with great marigolds, zinnias, alongside some other fun annuals bought already-growed from Bachman’s. My hyacinth vines turn out to have been perennial, I guess, because they grew where I planted them, but also re-sprouted where they were last year. We also ended up with a fairy garden this year, thanks to a certain Grandma Penny. Today I moved it (since where it was placed before was where the boys always pee when they’re playing in the backyard). I also added my bamboo from inside…which developed a distinct poop smell a day or so ago. ??? It will die in winter, but maybe it will come back in the spring. And for now it looks awesome. Especially with the newly made bottle cap furniture the boys and I rigged up. Photos of that soon