Memorial

Looking back at these photos from last weekend is bittersweet for me. It was a time of rest and joy and recuperation. It seems so distant now, because this week has felt so long. My city and its twin are on fire, and my heart is hurting for everyone involved in this whole mess. My family and I walked from our home to the initial protest of George Floyd’s killing. It was heartening to see so many of my neighbors out wearing masks and making clear that this is NOT how we want our police officers to act.

What came next, however it came next—theories abound, but who can really know?—is hard to talk about. It’s hard to know how to feel or what to say or do. So all I can say is that for now, my family is fine.

It’s hard not to get sucked into following coverage, but that wouldn’t help me or anyone. Throughout the pandemic, my church has been sending out daily emails. Yesterday’s had a bit that has stuck with me.

“What to do? Whatever keeps you loving God, your self, your neighbor, always remembering that ‘justice is what love looks like in public.’ Let us all commit to doing the inner work and the outer work necessary to creating the beloved community, that Martin Luther King Jr. talked about. …Commit to the practices of meditation or contemplation, the inner work that refines our minds and hearts to let go of the greed, prejudice, blame, and falsehood and gives us courage and inner peace. ”

So, I will stay aware and try to be a loving citizen in all ways. That starts, of course, with the little moments, the tiny interactions. And as always, but especially in these days where we are all home together, that starts with loving my family.

For me, that includes blogging. Since I created my first blog in 2009, I have used posts to keep me aware of my life. I was sad to be leaving Minnesota and my college family for Colorado. I was lonely in Colorado. Blogging was a way for me to look back on my day, acknowledge my circumstances and appreciate the beautiful things that happened to me.  It became triply useful in this way once pregnancy and baby-time came, because man did I find that hard to appreciate in the moment. It has had the added bonus of making me feel connected with family and friends that I am distant from.

So, with all that being said, let me share with you what our Memorial Day times looked like. Joe’s parents were not going to be using their cabin over the long weekend, and they kindly allowed us to spend our time there in their stead.

We’ve been reading the Sprinkle Sundays and Cupcake Diaries series by Coco Simone. At the end of the cupcake books, there are cupcake recipes. So we bake them! The boys do it all, with me as supervisor. I try to encourage them to have as  much agency in the process as possible. Here are our pineapple upside-down cupcakes! They were SO tasty.

Here is Charlie announcing with his invisible horn that it’s CUPCAKE TIME!

But with a setting like this, Henry was happy to take his time. Cupcakes are great, but they don’t hold a candle to swinging by the water.

Charlie outgrew that swing, however, so the magic swing-set Fairy put in a bigger one!

It got a LOT of mileage this weekend.

Oh, Daddy!

The dock was nearly submerged, so we had (careful!) fun walking out onto it and getting our toes wet.

It’s been good to be home together over the past few months, but there’s nothing like being together with no work or school to distract. Just true down time to enjoy each others’ company.

Puzzle boys.

Digger man was busy working the gravel pits

But when Joe walked by with the mower….

…he couldn’t resist taking over.

Luckily, Charlie was around to mind the gravel while he was away.

Doesn’t get much better than this.

We had some good game time, too. Jenga was hilarious, because after one round of doing it the normal way, Henry was dying to mix it up and make it harder.

Charlie was game, but after it would fall, it took awhile for Henry to re-build a new masterpiece. So Charlie and I played a game of Phase Ten on the side.

On the drive home, we stopped to grab lunch at Cafe Wren. The online ordering and contact-less service made it more of an ordeal than usual, but with such a lovely patio to wait on, we couldn’t complain. Loving the flowering trees!

A final stop at Franconia Sculpture Park was in order as well.

A huge pixelated gnome!

So nice to wander in and among peoples’ eclectic ideas.

Henry was in heaven surrounded by all the dandelion puffs.

Here’s a video of just a few dandelion seeds being spread

Hey, it’s me!

I hope you are safe and well.
Sending love to you, wherever you are

Green

I love that a new color has been added to our hiking palette. We did so much hiking and exploring when the world was all browns and greys, that this new addition of green feels like a reward. We leveled up!

It makes Henry want to serenade the world!

He got to do a solo at my Zoom Commencement, which made him (and all of my classmates who are children-loving educators) so happy!

The other night after dinner I felt like a walk. I figured the boys would be hunkered down for the evening, but everyone was excited! So we walked towards the creek and meandered along. It turned into a beautiful three-mile explore.

Saturday, it was supposed to rain all day, so when we woke up and it was still dry, we hedged our bets and tried to get a morning walk in early. The rain never came, so we were able to enjoy the creek again, this time near Minnehaha Falls, to our hearts’ content.

Gotta love the roar of a waterfall.

And then from above

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We found a cool walkway along some bogland.

I swear we didn’t graffiti this. There’s another Henny out there, apparently!

I hadn’t seen my parents since January, and that’s a terribly long time for us. So we finally figured out a plan where neither of us had to drive 8 hours in a day to social distance together. Meet halfway!

So Monday, the boys played hooky from school, and we had a Clear Lake day.

Charlie had fun asking my parents Harry Potter trivia questions. He just finished the seventh book, and was excited to talk about it. Henry enjoyed running along the water and tossing in rocks.

It was a rainy, cold day, and we all got wet. But I felt warm and fuzzy inside!

A friend of my parents has a lake home there, so we were able to at least shelter there for awhile. She had a nice big covered patio and everything.

It was also just down the street from an ice cream shop! It was no Snookie’s, but it served our purposes just fine.

Also nearby was a hilarious pirate ship patio. Here’s my dad as a salty mariner.

Checking out boats at the dock felt just like being in Missouri. We found some fancy pontoons we wouldn’t have minded taking out on the lake.

And right before we had to end our day (which felt much too short, by the way), we came upon this tiki statue to put us all in good spirits. 

Okay, I know I’ve already put a picture of Minnehaha Falls in this post, but I went back a few days later. Isn’t it beautiful with the mist and the setting sun shining down?!

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Also made it all the way to the Mississippi River this time.

There’s Lock and Dam no. 1 and the Ford bridge.

Finally, we took a walk around Lake Harriet. In the gardens, the boys found a sundial. 

Henry made a sundial this week for school, so he was especially curious to see how this one worked. His is below. It was roughly 11:30.

I was pretty jealous of this guy out on the paddleboard. It was 5pm, but it was hot out!

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Someone painting the flowering trees

Donna has been good about doing Secret Stump things every week of quarantine. This week the boys found dough and instructions for baking a cinnamon swirl loaf!

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Life is beautiful

As most of you know, I just graduated! Woot woot!

I actually have one more three-week course that I’ll take in July before I’m completely done with my program. But for all intents and purposes, I have my M.Ed. in K-12 Visual Arts Education.

I’m loving that it’s tulip time…even if Tulip Time couldn’t happen this year. Bringing them inside has been filling me with joy. Now it’s moving to lilac time, and I’m loving that, too.

Minneapolis had a free day off of school last week. So Joe declared that it would be  Pina Colada Day. The boys didn’t know what that meant, but they were excited, nonetheless. These days, anything that isn’t distance-learning is pretty darn exciting!

We’ve determined that 8:30 is school/work start time. It’s been a good move, because it allows us to have leisurely mornings every day without feeling bad that we’re not accomplishing anything. Henry loves the snuggle time, Charlie loves the reading time, and I love getting to enjoy my coffee while reading my great-grandmother’s life story.

Biking and walks in the late afternoon have also been happening more regularly.

The other night, Henry enjoyed pretending his bike was a machine he had to crank.

Our hairs have all been getting a bit long.

I gave some trims the other day that didn’t go awry enough for anyone to notice. When my mom gets to our heads, she might say differently. But we look acceptable on Zoom and from six feet, and that’s all that matters right now!

Did I mention I’m loving the spring flowers?

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Fun things in the mail are also more appreciated than ever.

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The boys’ school had a staff parade the other day. We made some big signs, because we were so excited!

It was so fun to see people as they drove by in their separate cars. I was thrilled even to greet staff members I didn’t know!

Mother’s Day lasted two days, which I loved. Saturday, we had social-distance celebration with the Novaks. It was the first time we’d been to their house in…I don’t even know how long! The boys were happy to bust out some of the things from their garage they’d been missing.

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I tried out my new mask. I somehow lost my other one. They’re so small! I swear the washing machine ate it. So I had to fashion myself a new one. Then my sewing machine decided to jam mid-way through! It was quite the frustrating process. But I managed to finish it up by hand.

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On actual Mother’s Day, it was cold and rainy.

But I wanted to go to Lake Harriet anyway!

They’ve closed all the roads around the lakes so that walkers and bikers can maintain distance from each other. It’s great!!!! I kind of hope they keep them closed from cars forever.

We had another cool-ish beach hang, which I thoroughly enjoyed.

I pretended the lifeguard stand was my Mother’s Day Throne.

I had some nice visitors.

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Goslings!

There was a canoe in a sea of tulips. So…we did some voyaging

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On our walk back, we went through the bird sanctuary

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Then we headed up to Eat Street to grab some banh mi for lunch.

All in all, a win of a weekend!

May

Henry slept funny, and ended up with a sore neck. Since he’s six, he didn’t believe us that he had to keep moving it to keep it from getting even more sore. So by the end of the day, one of his shoulders was several inches higher than the other, and he couldn’t move his head without lots of pain. I would periodically try to gently adjust him, and he would get so mad. So finally, I took this picture so he could see how wonky he was holding himself in what he felt was ‘normal’ position.

Then another in an actual normal posture, which he felt was wonky. He laughed and laughed when I showed him the comparison. He couldn’t believe it!

One of our spontaneous extracurricular activities last week was doing cat’s cradle and practicing knots. At the end of the day, several of our chairs and stools remained tied together!

We made it to the end of Mo Willems’ lunch doodles, which was a bummer, indeed. But turns out they’re good the second time through, too. Especially the one featuring Dan Santat. It’s a treat, and the boys cackle every time. In the pic below, you can see my drawing of Mo, himself.

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He inspired some fun creations, including this crown. He was making one for his wife’s birthday, so I figured I’d make mine in honor of my impending graduation from grad school. This Friday would have been the ceremony.

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Charlie turned one of his doodles into a terrifying monster that tried to eat his head!

Last Thursday, I thought I’d take us on a field trip. I have only glorious memories of Excelsior, so we headed there.

It was super beautiful, and the temperature was great. Should have been amazing. But the bugs!!!!!! It was so awful. We were actually happy to have masks, because it meant we weren’t afraid of the bugs going up our noses!

So, we enjoyed the view,

soaked in some sun,

listened to the lapping sounds of the water on the rocks,

and then got the hell out of town!

Hardly the afternoon I’d envisioned. But, the car ride allowed us some time with Bill Bryson on audiobook. So all was not lost.

I took a May Day Restorative yoga workshop (livestream), which included things like self-massage, yoga nidra, and some beautiful meditation and self-inquiry. I wanted to be surrounded in flowers for this, so I brought in some of my tulips, bought some of these pretty purples, and re-vased some of the remaining daisies from Lynn. It made the practice so beautiful, and also meant I had fresh flowers to put around the house afterward. It has been so nice to have them.

Spotted this guy in our apple tree!

The book series the boys have been super into over the past few months is called Sprinkle Sundays. It’s about three girls who work in an ice cream parlor. They get creative with the flavors and sundaes, one of which is chocolate chili.

We gave it a try! We each added our own chosen spice into chocolate ice cream that I’d made.

Charlie did chili powder, I did cayenne, and Henry did both plus curry powder. We had to top them off with “a sprinkle of happy,” like the girls do.

We all liked them all! Henry decided that next time, we should mix the spices in with the ice cream while making it, instead of sprinkling them on top. So that’ll be next time!

We’ve been loving having dinner outside on the patio.

Especially the other day, when Charlie had created a game for us to play after the meal.

He calls it ‘Race to the Castle,’ and it led to some fun figuring and re-figuring of rules to make the game work smoothly.

It led to some great laughs!

Happy Mother’s Day to the moms out there. I’ll update you next time on my glorious day today. Hope yours is wonderful, too.

Never a Dull Moment

We have been so busy!

I mean, yes, we’re doing work and grad school and elementary school. That stuff takes a lot of our time and energy.

But, have you ever had a laser-maze set up in your hallway?! Hooo boy. THAT takes some time and energy. And contortion. Every time you need to go down the hallway. It’s good for the mind, body and soul.

We’ve received many delightful surprises from loved ones.

Nothing like playing a new game for the first time!

Sometimes we get a liiiiittle bit silly.

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We’ve been having increasingly more bonfires.

That has then spurred us to finally take some action steps toward what we have long talked about: Bonfire Area Improvements!

We hope to re-build the pit with better blocks, level the ground around it, and put in  pavers or something so that chairs don’t just sink into the dirt several inches.

We managed to accomplish step zero, which was to dig out all of the ash and turn the pit into an actual in-ground pit.

I started digging, and Charlie and Henry just jumped right in of their own volition! They were super excited to help. Kids actually like manual labor when it’s not forced upon them. They felt so grown-up and so strong!

We even inspired Joe, after he emerged from the office, to tackle some adjustments on the alley-side of our back fence.

I love that he’s still wearing khakis and a button-up while loading dirt into a toy dump truck.

Another Pop-Up Walk! The rain kind of put a damper on this one, as you can see in those clouds.

The boys found a bat and ball in our yard that was presumably from Easter, but somehow was not discovered until a week or so later! They’ve been really enjoying hitting the ball. Our yard is a little narrow for it, but we make it work and also are able to walk to the park for some wilder hitting.

Lego FaceTime continued: the sets are getting more complex…

…especially once the pirate shipwreck was completed.

What a great team we make!

Sending love to you all