Out-of-Minneapolis-Adventures

Sometimes you just have to look really close at the record sleeve to see if there are hidden liner notes there.

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SQWARSHES from the yard.

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Last weekend, we went on an impromptu trip to Des Moines. Turned out, the Beaverdale Fall Fest was going on! Oh, the many, many memories.

This year, we were lucky enough to be there for the first ever Dog Parade

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We did quite a lot of squealing. I loved that the tiniest dog followed the hugest. Reminded me of Go, Dog, Go.

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I don’t remember going to the parade much as a kid, but it was fun enjoying it with my boys, and telling them about the relevance of each passing group to me–not that they cared, of course, but it’s hard not to share anyway.

This was something I didn’t even have to explain. They have their own wonderful relationship with Snookie’s Malt Shop. The announcer’s tribute to Jim and Marilyn, the recently-passed owners, definitely made me cry.

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Northwest Soccer!

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Charlie waving to the Perkins Elementary Penguin

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Henry was thrilled to see the Magic School Bus.

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We also got to see my brother and his family, including the one and only… Chrysanthemum

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Who knows what kind of shenanigans these guys were all up to

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Back in Minnesota, we met up with Tony and Laura for my first trip to what is commonly referred to as Pizza Farm. It took about an hour and a half to get there, but was definitely worth it.

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It’s a farm in Wisconsin that, on summer Tuesday nights, turns what they grow into delicious delicious pizza.

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While I was swooning over the food, Charlie was having way more fun feeding the cows than himself.

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Henry wanted to try, too, but was much more hesitant

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We found the composting outhouse pretty cool

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After a potty break, we were ready to explore the farm

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Eggplant plants

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munchies for the sheep

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One of the best things about farms is that there’s always random contraption bits lying about.

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After a few days of recovery, we were invited to go to the Tamarack Nature Center with Henry’s friend, Phoebe.

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This place is so perfect for him. It has all of the things. Sand, water, big sticks, logs, and a garden.

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The garden was my personal favorite (surprise!). They have signs on any plants that need water, so kids know where to dump their watering cans.

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And, of course, a pump to fill the cans. What could possibly be better?

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Oh. Maybe this turtle. Henry reeeeally loved this turtle.

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Wow, so we have spent a LOT of time out of the city recently.

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My, how we’ve grown!

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Laura and I always hit an apple orchard/pumpkin patch in the fall, so this year, we went to Applewood upon Em & O’s recommendation. It was so lovely.

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I mean…why don’t all orchards have this???

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There were raspberries as well

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It was insanely hot, though, and they had nowhere to refill our water bottles. Unfortunately, therefore, we had to buy bottled. Dehydration was not an option!

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I mean, there was climbing to do.

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And hedge maze chases to be had

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Sassin’ up the maze

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A basket of joy

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Even though we have our own apple tree, we just couldn’t resist a walk through the pick-your-own. And then we couldn’t resist filling our basket. Zestar and Sweet Sixteen don’t grow in my yard!

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Henry was so hot and tired from all the exertion (he was SO active here, and seriously…HOT), so he took a ride in my arms on the walk back to the farmhouse. He’s getting to the point where it’s tough to carry him for a long walk, but I also love the opportunity to snuggle him close for that long.

 

 

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A Game of Squash

Henry and I planted pumpkins waaaaay  back in the spring. And now we’ve harvested our very first one of the season.

Charlie wants me to turn it into puree, but Henry’s not quite ready to let that happen.

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Our apple tree’s also going to town. This is like a tenth of it.

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And Charlie’s now officially a first grader. My, how things do grow!

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Last weekend, Joe informed us we were going mini-golfing. I love mini-golfing, but I admit when I picture a mini golf course it’s pretty simplistic. A windmill here, a little “creek” there…but this place was on an entirely other level.

It’s a sculpture garden primarily, and then also the artist created a 14-hole mini golf course. I have to say, this place is something straight out of my dreams. Maybe not your dreams, but definitely mine.

Picnic table

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Goat pen, including a nice little visual shout-out to the spoon-and-cherry bridge

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A sculpture-adorned little pond

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Best.

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Apparently the artist traded a new, working tractor for a bunch of old-timey broken ones. Our kinda guy

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It wasn’t just me who was lovin’ all this. The boys were in total wander-mode.

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Henry was, I believe, being a trailer pulled by the Daddy tractor. Also check Joe’s awesome clip-on sunglasses. Thanks, Grandpa Mel! All three of us found some that worked for our particular glasses.

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Yes.

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Quadruple Yes!

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Charlie had theories about all of the things

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Daddy must be the trailer now

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Rock Paper Scissors. Oh yeah

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These are our silly faces

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There is a great area with a bonfire pit. Apparently rentable? Also, they just keep a fire going and provide fresh marshmallows and skewers. And their pig hangs out.

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Never pass up an opportunity like this, I say.

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Pirate ship you can climb in

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Complete with treasure chest guarded by an octopus

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I’m just going to have to say it again: I loved this place.

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After our stroll about the grounds, we hit the course. Despite how often they’ve done it, putting still just is very awkward for them.

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Henry mostly ended up being the Flag Guy.

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A hole inside an upturned boat hull!

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We all thought it looked like a church

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Flag Guy

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A hole inspired by Spiral Jetty. I think this was my fave

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It was so long, so you could really whack the ball. And it smelled like the Como Conservatory (which is a wonderful botanical smell for the non-Twin-Citians)

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Plinko-inspired

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The last hole carries your ball meanderingly down this water labyrinth before it disappears below. Wonderful and meditative way to end a round.

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Bye, Big Stone!

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While we were over in Minnetrista, we stopped by Gale Woods Farm

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Charlie said that he wished he were a chicken, and that he lived in this coop

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Mushroom Forest

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The Learning Garden, AKA: the sample room

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Everything was delicious. I still remember the first time I got to wander through a huge garden and pick food right off the plants. It’s one of my favorite memories, so it was beautiful to see the boys doing the same, even if they’re probably still too young for it to become any kind of lasting memory.

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Butterfly raspberries

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Every year since Charlie started preschool in 2014, the teachers at Judson have asked us to provide a family picture, either for the classroom door or for getting-to-know-you books or whatnot. I’m really glad, because we so rarely take a photo that includes all of us at once. This way, every fall, along with the Welcome Letters from the teachers comes the request for a photo. Without fail, we realize we have none, so we ask whoever’s standing around at that moment to take our picture in the front yard. This year, either Sparks or Talon did the honors, I can’t remember.

So without further ado, here’s this year’s photo

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Fair Weather Wedding

Last week was Charlie’s final week of summer vacation. He missed the Minnesota State Fair last year because of school, but he was NOT about to miss it again. So since Friday was going to be a very special day, we hit the fair opening day on Thursday.

Turns out…great day to go to the fair. We took the A-Line bus there, which Charlie’s been dying to ride on since he first saw one.

If you’re not into machinery and vehicles, don’t go to the fair with my kids. The first thing we hit were the snowplows.

Henry loved that this was a pick-up end that you could attach to a regular car.

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Then we found some ice houses. The boys were really into figuring out which would be the best one for Joe, Jim, Zach and Derek to buy for their fishing trips. We thought Joe would like this one, because he could just sit by the fireplace instead of fishing.

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We brought the catalogue home and Charlie is still trying to figure out which one he should save up for. We had yet another detailed discussion about the options this morning.

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Eco-Experience building was a hit

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You could ride this bike and make the huge bike above turn

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Learning about traffic

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John Deere tent next to the huuuuge new ferris wheel. I heard it’s the biggest in North America, but you can’t believe everything you hear.

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More ice houses!

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Henry found his bunk

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Molly the trolley took us to our next destination: a couple rides. Hot air balloon ride and monster trucks. We had to agree between the three of us, which was a trick, but we made it happen, and everyone was very happy.

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Charlie was psyched to see the Sun Country tent. He’s such a brand guy.

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This is a hat

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Henry really wanted to see the animals, but Charlie didn’t. So we compromised with the Miracle of Birth Center: BABY ANIMALS!

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He was cool with that.

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I believe this was bunnies

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On our way out, the boys decided the mini-donuts weren’t quite enough food, so we stopped for corn dogs. H went with mini dogs, which is a brilliant idea. Manageable size for a lil guy, but still enough food

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We were aaaaalmost out the gates, when Charlie saw the golf carts. And we just couldn’t leave without checking those out

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Then came FRIDAY!

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They both got new shoes for Emma and Derek’s wedding. Charlie wanted something “cool and cute, but still fancy.”

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Uncle Mark brought the newlyweds to our lunch in his awesome Desoto. My guys were impressed.

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Have you been to Jax’ patio? It. is. magical.

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Grandma Penny and Grandpa Steve made it as well, and we had a glorious time exploring the grounds of Silver Lake

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Dad didn’t want Hennie’s shoes to get his clothes all dirty, so he held him like this. Which we all thought was hilarious. He looks like he’s carrying a ventriloquist dummy

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The wedding was beautiful, the weather was amazing, and the whole day was just perfect. I thought the boys would have gotten tired/bored with the down time, since we were there early to set up and whatnot, but they were so busy and happy the entire day.

And then we had the weekend to recover.

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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.

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PB&J!

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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!

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

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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!

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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.

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The boys enjoyed having their own conference call.

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I just liked this.

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

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

Charlie, predictably, was lovin’ it.

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

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He especially liked peeking down into the cellar

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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!

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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)

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

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

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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.

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Beautiful sky

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

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

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

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

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

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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.

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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?

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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.

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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

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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.

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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

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

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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.

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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!”

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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.

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Tethering his gator up to the paddle boat

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

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

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Ugh! I just can’t get enough of him

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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.

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

S’mores have got to happen somehow.

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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

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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

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Totally worth the effort

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The gang!

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

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Brady!

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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.

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The dock

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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.

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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.

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I just love my little side yard.

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

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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

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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.

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We ate lots of good food

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Drank lots of good drinks

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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

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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.

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

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

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

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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!

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

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

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This kid.

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He’s magic, I tell you

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We saw lots of turtles laying eggs that weekend!

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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.

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I loved this woman’s self-portrait

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

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

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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!

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It was good to see some new holes on the course

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

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Sand trap digging

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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

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That big wheel has put on some serious mileage

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

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Aaaand…some passed on that opportunity

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

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Piano accompaniment

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Henry wanted Grandma Penny to get in on the tumbling

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Buds

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

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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!

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Everyone was thrilled

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

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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.

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Dessert was a walk/trike/bike to DQ

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Nobody liked that, of course.

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Egret

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The Minnesota River

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

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The big archways over the car sector

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Charlie took over the camera for the rest of the journey

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

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Feet of a stranger

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Some dog.

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He got some great flora pics

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

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It was a cute outing

sandcastles

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

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Henry was, too

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

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

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And we found more ducklings!

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There was lots of digging and water routing

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Sandcastle, the beach-side restaurant

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

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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.

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Fancy pants houses on the lake

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Wayzata

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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

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

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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

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Ooh la la!

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Made some new art for above the mantle

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

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

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I’m glad we did

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