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


Vacations and Sculptures

A few weekends ago, Joe and I took an anniversary trip to Portland, Oregon. It was the first trip there for both of us, and it was a wonderful bus and bike weekend.

Up on the hill above downtown, we found the Rose Garden and Japanese Garden, both of which were gorgeous.


We ate lots of good food


Drank lots of good drinks


And found lovely places to spend time soaking up the A/C and ice cubes, because it was crazy hot. I expected rain and chill. We got dry and 97 degrees. Go figure


Between then and the next weekend, Henry and I worked on our ongoing project of moving and painting the boys’ new bedrooms. Henry was heavily involved and invested in the painting. He was seriously helpful, though I had to keep an eye on his little tootsies which kept stepping in paint drips.


Henry wanted his room painted in sunsets and rainbows, which I think turned out quite lovely.


Then, we went to the cabin, where the first day was Mosquitoville, so we stuck inside and played games.


Charlie worked on LEGO contraptions. His favorite was the Annoyomatic, a noisemaker.


We hit the lake several times, which was perfect, though busy since it was the weekend of the 4th. Charlie learned all of the loon facts on the sign behind him here, and made sure to share his knowledge with us when we saw loons on the lake.

Stay 200 feet away, Grandpa!


The boys loved going over the bumps on Big Blue, especially with Katy up front with them.


Charlie insisted he would be helping put the boat on the trailer. A good sign for times to come!


This kid.


He’s magic, I tell you



We saw lots of turtles laying eggs that weekend!


On the way home, Joe let me drive myself, so I got to stop and have coffee at Café Wren with my book, and stop at the Franconia Sculpture park for a good wander.


I loved this woman’s self-portrait


It was good to be home after so much time away. Henry was pooped from all his digging and dump-trucking at the cabin


And I’ve gotten to try out my teeny little bowls I got at an Art Festival while we were away


This week was Member’s Night at mini-golf course in the Walker’s newly re-opened Sculpture Garden. When we crossed the bridge, Henry said, “Look! The Cherry-and-Tomato bridge!


It was good to see some new holes on the course


I liked this one, which represented the light-rail, where you could choose which line to follow


After golfing, we stopped by one of my favorite parts of the Sculpture Garden, the mirror-hedge


Good to have the Garden back

Making Summer Count

I know. My posts have become more infrequent.

I’m just too busy hanging out with this guy.


Lucky for you (maybe?), that just means the posts are longer. So here we go.

Henry’s been enjoying watching Joe shave in the mornings, which is just the most Norman Rockwell thing to see.


His dad was over doing some work on doors, and he set Henry up with his own work-site. Ear protectors included for when Grandpa had to turn on the loud saws.


Last weekend, Mom and Lori came up to hang. We did all kinds of things, including a t-ball game, dinner at Tiny Diner and an evening with my grandparents–one of the last we’ll spend at their house.


Sand trap digging


Charlie was desperate to give Henry a ride on the trike taxi, so when he finally dragged him away from the sand, there were some big smiles


That big wheel has put on some serious mileage


Some of us got haircuts, because they’re our favorite things


Aaaand…some passed on that opportunity


The sitting room free of furniture made for a great tumbling gym. Charlie even learned to do a somersault. Henry was a mad man.


Piano accompaniment


Henry wanted Grandma Penny to get in on the tumbling




Saying goodbye is never easy, but getting to climb on the roof of the car helps


Thursday for family dinner, we went to Katy and Zach’s place, where we got to spend the day with Emily and Derek’s new puppy, Kona!


Everyone was thrilled


There was also a dig site for Henry, and hammocks for all. It’s a really good place.


Oh yeah…there were some hammock injuries. Nothing more serious than bruises, though. I happened to capture Charlie’s big shoulder bruise moment just after it happened.


Dessert was a walk/trike/bike to DQ


Nobody liked that, of course.


We even saw Sparks and Betsy on the way back home.


Friday, Henry really wanted to go to a coffee shop in St Paul, over in our old neighborhood. They have model trains kids can build.


That spurred Charlie to suggest a stop by the train yard…literally right next to our old apartment. So we grabbed some sandwiches and headed to the St Anthony Community Gardens for a railyard-side picnic.


It ended in blood, when Henry ran into a sharp stick, but it was nice up until then.

For Father’s Day, Joe’s only request was that we go exploring. So he led us to the newly-rebuilt Old Cedar Avenue bridge–which is now pedestrian/bike only.




The Minnesota River


Ascending to the current, massive Cedar Avenue Bridge, which apparently has a pedestrian/bike section I never knew existed.


The big archways over the car sector


Charlie took over the camera for the rest of the journey


Henry is making his “pirate face,” he said.


Feet of a stranger


Some dog.


He got some great flora pics



The boys were pretending they both had cowboy hats on here.


It was a cute outing


Charlie’s class hatched duck eggs, and he insisted Henry and I come visit them the week they hatched. I’m glad he did


Henry was, too


Last Friday, we headed down the street to Lake Nokomis for dinner


It was a hit, so we may have started a trend


And we found more ducklings!


There was lots of digging and water routing


Sandcastle, the beach-side restaurant


We had such a good time that the next day we decided to head to yet another beach, this time on Lake Minnetonka.


The beach we went to was in Wayzata along the train tracks. The big old building in the background of this pic used to be the old train station.


Fancy pants houses on the lake




Charlie worked furiously to clean the beach of seaweed. He kept saying, “I mean…because who wants to deal with seaweed?!”

The answer was clearly: he did


This guy is mini-Joe when it comes to waterside play


We’ve been bringing the fresh lilacs in to the house lately, which has been so awesome. But I’ve never even considered doing the same with the irises, so this week, Henry and I gave that a go. With smashing results


Ooh la la!


Made some new art for above the mantle


More lilacs! We actually brought in so many that the smell was a little over powering. But Henry said we needed more.


Sandcastle was so great the week before that we suggested it for family dinner night this week.


I’m glad we did