Still Summering

I know school starts up around now for a lot of folks, but we’re still in full on summer mode. The boys did another week of Y camp, which was fun for them and a good opportunity for me to find peaceful, outdoor spots for writing and drawing. Minnehaha Creek got a lot of my time, but the hidden amphitheater at Caponi Art Park in Eagan was probably my favorite. Here’s the view from up on the hill.

On days Joe is off work you never know just where we’ll end up!

Like the stacks in the downtown library…

…or a food hall with Detroit-style pizza. Henry had fun building earthquake-proof Jenga towers while Charlie and I challenged each other to rounds of Taboo.

The cousins are all getting bigger. It’s fun to get to hear their words and ideas, and to see them get braver and more comfortable doing things on their own.

The babies are getting bigger, too, of course, but it’s great that they’re still very much little squishes!

Doting Charlie!

The machinery next door to the Novaks is slowly getting sold off, and the boys are feeling quite nostalgic about that.

Back home in south Minneapolis, we’ve been taking some epic walks while imagining ourselves as adventurers. Minnehaha Creek is about a mile south of us, so it is often where we end up after wandering out the front door on a walk.

The path along the creek is paved, but there are dirt trails in some spots where it feels more like you’re in the wilderness.

We tried building up stepping stones to cross the creek at a low point recently, and in the process, Henry just ended up wading through the water.

There are also two flood pools a few blocks from our house, which are nice for quick nature dose when you need one.

There’s a lovely weeping willow that makes for a nice little hide-away while watching ducks.

Oh, this is just someone’s boulevard garden. It’s tiny, but so beautiful, and we comment every time we walk by how perfect it is.

Grandma and Grandpa went on a whirlwind tour of Minnesota recently, and we got lucky enough to be one of their stops! We hit up the Mall of America, which is apparently celebrating its 30th birthday. That surprised me. I remember it opening!

We unanimously agreed that we wanted to ride the Paul Bunyan Log Chute and the Pepsi Ripsaw! (It’s actually now the Pepsi Orange Crush, but it’ll always be the Ripsaw to me). Joe was with us, too, but he’s the photographer.

There were a couple of points left after our rides, so Charlie and Henry rode the roller coaster on their own! I know you can’t see them, but they’re in the last car.

Moose Mountain was calling, and we answered the call. Grandma and I both got two holes-in-one, but who’s counting??

We’ve been waiting for months for the desk we ordered for Henry to arrive. It showed up shortly after my grandparents did, so they had the joy and privilege of watching me wrestle it into assembly.

Tina was an all-star a few months ago and managed to snag a coveted reservation at Owamni. I was lucky enough to be able to take one of the seats. Everything was so delicious!

That same afternoon, after eating while overlooking the Mississippi in downtown Minneapolis, I overlooked the Mississippi again from downtown St Paul. Charlie requested a Science Museum trip, and he and I had a blast.

The next day, Joe and I celebrated our 12th Anniversary with a night at the new Four Seasons in Minneapolis. It was totally luxurious and super fun. I loved the rooftop pool and hot tub!

The view from our room.

Charlie had wanted to get to the train museum for a while, so we finally made that happen this week.

Then we did the Zoo the next day. It’s only summer for so long, amiright?!

The playgrounds there are so cool, especially this one along the wetlands.

The special exhibit right now is Llama Trek, where you get to amble amongst llamas. It was great!

Charlie requested we make a stop in the other playground, because it’s a place he often finds himself in when he dreams. How often do you get to literally make dreams come true?

Though now that I mention it…

Here’s our little house in the woods, which originated in one of Joe’s dreams. Now it’s a real structure. The boys are standing in Joe’s and my loft, and I’m taking the picture from their loft.

Charlie is excited about the finished product!

Henry was a pretty big fan of it in its current state. He was a little too comfortable walking over the boards stretching from one loft to the other.

When you stand at the shore of the site, you can just make out the dock at the big cabin. Henry is standing on the end of the dock below. It’s about 1/3 of the way from the left edge of the picture. It’s super teeny, so don’t feel bad if you can’t make it out.

Back at the big house!

On our drive home, we stopped at Straight Lake state park. This was Rainbow Lake.

It was a mosquito-filled walk, but we saw some extraordinary mushrooms all along the way.

Back home, my herbs are thriving, so I’ve been trying to incorporate them into as many things as possible, including infused syrups for some delicious mocktails and cocktails.

So pretty!

Much Needed Time

I know it’s been awhile, but don’t worry. I’ll catch you up on the highlights of our summer so far. The boys have only been on summer break for a little over a month now, since the school year was extended to June 24. So, we’ve been savoring our precious free time.

Here they are on their last day! Last day at Hale Elementary for Henry and last day at Field Elementary for Charlie.

We’ve seen several movies in theaters, including The Bad Guys, Minions: Rise of Gru, and the first Harry Potter movie.

You know we enjoy a good walk. This is the Woodlake Nature Center.

My cousin got married in Pella, so we had a nice Iowa weekend in early July.

The crew

Weddings are not exactly known for being fun for kids, but Bret thoroughly entertained the boys during the reception. Thanks, bro!

This is seven tons of rock. We helped with a little of the sorting, but Bret and Leslie have really outdone themselves on their yard. It’s so lovely and inspiring!

Julia has been traveling the country this summer, and we got the pleasure of her company after her first Boundary Waters adventure. She helped me take the boys on their first long bike ride, so we treated her to some pretty gardens and a dock hang at Lake Harriet.

Joe’s been very busy with his new job, but he really makes his down time count. Always more to explore!

The Novak crew all met up for a Saints game. Unfortunately, rain made the field unplayable, but we still got to hang around the stadium and watch Toy Story.

Did you hear? Henry got glasses!

After the success of our trail bike ride to Lake Harriet, we ventured the other way along the creek path and hit up Lake Nokomis. Hooray for summer!

Joe’s finally managed to fit in some time to work on the tiny house. Jake and Ryan helped with the heavy lifting and hauling.

Jim then set to work framing up Joe’s vision so they could put in more work this weekend. So exciting!

While he was doing that, I was down in southern Missouri enjoying the same peninsula I’ve visited nearly every summer of my life.

Being a kid down there is such an adventure!

I brought a puzzle this year, and it ended up being a big hit…

…with all ages!

Nothing like getting out on the water, though.

Every night, the Beckers go for a sunset cruise. We joined them when we could.

Mark had fun teasing us by hiding in the water.

So we took a photo without him to try to lure him back in!

This year we had the big lodge, which made group dinners during the 100 degree temperatures much more comfortable.

Plenty of room for all!

Henry wanted me to document the pretty painting in our bedroom.

There were also more docks built this year at Hideaway, so there were even more boats to check out.

And boy, did we.

The final sunset cruise. We’re a very serious bunch.

Per Mark’s repeated request, Henry finally came geared up with goggles and suit, so he could jump in toward the sunset. I don’t remember why, but there was a lot of laughter going on while he and Mark got set up.

And off they go!!!!

It looked like such fun that Charlie and my parents decided to go as well.

Speaking of jumps, this was the first year the kids went off the rope swing. What a milestone!

These kids are just getting so big.

What’s that Mark’s got?


It’s one of his and Grandpa’s morning catches. Here’s another.

It was a fabulous week. Swimming, boating, sunshine, and togetherness.
Who could ask for anything more?