Overdue Reunion

This is going to be an epic post, because we just got back from an epic vacation.

11 years ago, the Sikkinks celebrated my grandparents’ 50th anniversary by all gathering in Saco, Maine. It was such a hit, that it’s now an every five years tradition. Well, almost. The third was planned for last summer, but did not happen for obvious reasons. So this was the make-up reunion!

It was mere moments after we arrived, that the boys wanted to head to the ocean beach that was conveniently only a block away. Grandma and Grandpa rose to the occasion. Here they are returning.

In the evenings, the crew gathered at my aunt and uncle’s house nearby to eat, play games and chatter. It had been a very long time since I’d seen most of them!

Then we’d go back to our home on the marsh. So beautiful!

Sunday was the ‘Sikkink Open,’ the family golf tournament. Charlie lists this as his top favorite memory of the trip.

I hear he’s a bit of a wild cart driver!

Mom and I opted out of the golf tournament when I was about 14, so we spent an exploratory day walking around Biddeford.

That afternoon, we met for a family photo. Lynn’s a pro, so she helped orchestrate folks into the best arrangement.

Here we are waiting for our instructions

Great-grandparents!

Each day was a big day for this little guy!

Then we all had to do some exploring. It’s so fun to watch the water and rocks meet.

The morning coffee spot

Monday, we went in to Portland, which is just delightful.

It happened to be a music festival all over the city, so we happened upon some fun stuff, like a clawfoot tub on the sidewalk that anyone could climb into to ‘sing in the shower.’ I regret missing the opportunity, but truly every song except ‘Happy Birthday’ went right out of my head!

We found a kid-centric band that Henry and I enjoyed while the others explored (or got their hair cut, in Joe’s case).

On a recommendation from Joe’s stylist, we hit Highroller Lobster, and were really glad we did.

Oh, hey there, Portland Headlight!

Charlie took this one:

The ocean was an everyday spot for me.

Henry really got into the sand.

The beach was a great place for the kids to bond.

Joe and I had a date night in Biddeford that started out with amazing food and cocktails and ended with a labyrinthian explore in the rain through the mill complex. Perfect.

I’d always wanted to walk from our part of the beach to Old Orchard Beach, not for the destination, just to make the journey. Nobody seemed to think four miles of beach walking was worth it.

But I convinced a few people this time!

My cousin is getting married this summer. Many of us won’t be able to make it back to Maine for the ceremony, but the bride’s mother thoughtfully arranged to have the shower take place while we were all there.

We all had a LOT of fun creating our collective gift for her

Such a pretty location!

A side benefit of our jaunt to OOB, was the discovery of a wonderful soda fountain in Ocean Park. Joe and I walked the boys up there the next morning for breakfast. They found their own table for two!

Then we met up with a bunch of the crew in Kennebunkport for a boat cruise and lobster lesson.

We spent pretty much the whole trip up front. Where better?!

Hello, Lobster!

Buds

We did lunch back in Biddeford in one of the big former textile mills.

The cafe was called Jackrabbit, and the boys loved all the bunnies around!

Group Photo # 2!

After our lobster tour, it was lobster boil night.

We followed up the lobsters with s’mores

The kids kept vanishing, and we found out later they’d made a ‘home’ in the woods. There were tick checks and lots of bug bites that came out of it, but it was totally worth it to hear the fun they were having. Henry wanted me to document their forest home so he could remember it.

Back to Biddeford! While Joe brought my parents to the airport, the boys and I wandered through the shop-filled streets of Saco and Biddeford. Here we are on the footbridge.

A particular antique shop was our destination. Henry found a great book on how to draw trains.

Joe met up with us for lunch at the dining car.

Then we learned about the history of the town and its mills.

Then we had one last trip to the beach and a final evening with the crew. It was windy and cold, so Henry dug himself a wind shelter.

A great week! It was hard to leave, but always good to get home.

The first night home, I slept in until 11:15am. Apparently I had some catching up to do!

We made it!

It’s summertime!!! I made it through my first year of teaching, and what a year it was. Overall, my take-away is that this is a great career for me. Though the school year had all of the topsy-turvyness that everyone else’s did, and I had some steep learning curves to grapple with, it was pretty great. I finished June 10th, and the boys went one more day, finishing up last Friday. I took that opportunity to book myself a well-earned massage.

Now that summer break it here, and we’re diving in headfirst.

A couple of weeks ago, Joe accomplished a 120 mile bike ride to his parents’ cabin. Despite the temperature getting up to 105 degrees on his trip, he made it! He camped halfway at a park along the St. Croix.

We were a little more low key back home while he was doing that. Henry had a birthday party, so Charlie and I took in the Twin Cities Model Railway Museum. It’s one of Charlie’s favorite places.

Afterward, the three of us took an ill-advised trip to Fort Snelling. It was nearby and recently re-opened, but it was 100 degrees, and the buildings are all still closed due to the pandemic. So we roasted, and there was very little to see. They had a lookout tower open, though, which provided a few moments of shady relief.

You can read the sentiment we were all feeling on Charlie’s face here: “Let’s go home.”

The next day, we decided to do something cooler while Joe recovered in the AC: go south to meet my parents in Clear Lake!

The beach there is so delightful, and the water felt amazing. The boys really liked the big waves coming in, too. I think they’re ready for the ocean next week!

Did I mention Henry’s been losing a bunch of teeth, lately? He lost one of the big front ones that day.

After a couple of hours of wave time, we headed to our regular ice cream spot, the South Shore Sweet Spot. Their patio is always baking in the sun, so we always seem to form our own patio elsewhere on their property.

There was a wee bit of silliness that occurred.

A group-wide game of chair-swap, involving one person taking a stroll around the weird garage building, was a nice way to end the day.

Sometimes the chairs ended up in very odd places.

Last weekend was another scorcher. We went to the mid-day St Paul Saints game with the Novak crew on Sunday, and it was 95 degrees out.

The babies did pretty well, considering. Luke was curious about everything, and Charlie was happy to explain things.

Although, when it came to the actual game, the boys had some questions of their own. Baseball’s a pretty confusing game.

Peek-a-boo, buddy!

It may have been the first time we made it to the end of a baseball game. When they announced that kids get to run the bases afterward, Henry’s head swiveled right around!

Here they are approaching first base. They’re in the lower right corner with Joe.

Even Luke went out there!

Our friend runs a rooftop patio right across the way, so we stopped in to say Hey after the game.

With the heat lately, he’d gotten squirt guns for the workers to keep cool. He let us borrow them 🙂

Seeing where we were from above.

Joe found a gymnastics camp for the boys for their first week off, and it sounds like it’s been fun for them.

Tuesday morning, Henry came into our room saying, “ow!… ow! …ow! …ow!” Everything is sore!

Monday, it was finally cool enough to do family dinner comfortably outdoors. Hooray!

Future fire pit patio.

Yesterday was a whirlwind day for us. In the morning, we met up with Nada and her boys at a playground/splash pad up in Champlin.

It’s been a year since we’ve been able to play with them, and they’ve gotten so big!

After gymnastics in the afternoon and dinner at home, Henry and I headed back out the door, this time heading south to Burnsville. His first-grade teacher’s daughter was in a dance production of The Greatest Showman. She extended an invitation to anyone who wanted to attend, and he really wanted to go!!! It was a late night for him, and he was so exhausted, but he loved the show. In between scenes, he curled up on my lap so he could save energy. “I want to see as much of this as possible!” he said.

And he made it to the end!

(His teacher is the woman crouching in the first row, second from the left, and her daughter, the dancer, is right in the middle of the photo wearing the striped dress.)

“Take the World in a Love Embrace”

We’ve had some amazing weekends recently.

I had a whole weekend to myself, and dove into all things Carlye. I hit The Gnome’s patio, did as much yoga as I could, enjoyed Art-A-Whirl with friends, watched Doctor Who and walked around Lake Harriet.

Then, when the boys came back, it felt glorious to just be with them. One night, Charlie suggested a walk, and we went by Pumphouse. It’s been closing early, so we didn’t expect it to actually be open, but it was!

They’ve been selling strictly pints this year, and no one’s been allowed in the store, so it was super special that we got to have actual ice cream cones. They have these amazing homemade cones that we’ve definitely been missing. Ice cream’s just better on a cone!

It’s been very rainy lately. Here are the boys tromping through our alley to the school bus in the morning.

Two weekends ago, though, it was sunny all weekend, so we hit, I think, 5 different playgrounds. Phelps was the first.

Joe getting acrobatic

We were at Theodore Wirth Park picking up Joe’s race packet for his 5K the next day, and you know who lives right nearby? Nora!

Then that afternoon, Henry had a school group project to work on. As you can see, they worked very diligently on that schoolwork.

On race day, we found a perfect playground spot to enjoy while waiting for Joe to run by. It was filled with bird and frog songs, and they also had beautiful musical play elements.

Charlie’s over by the woods through which the runners pass. We ended up missing Joe, because he ran the 10K by mistake!

For Memorial weekend, we enjoyed 4 days at the cabin. The weather was chillier and more overcast than we’d hoped, but the company was lovely. A rented pontoon gave us some beautiful water time, even if we had to bring sweatshirts.

It was so fun to play with the little ones. The boys just love showing them fun games.

They call this one “Ba-boom!”

Nora came up with this one. Belly Button Hunt!

Imaginary boat rides hold their own joy. Nothing like full control of the wheel

We also tested the live well capacity. Turns out it can hold about half a Charlie

and a whole Henry