Sunday, June 29, 2014

Happy 8th Birthday, Scott!

Scott turned 8 years old today and he celebrated by having a couple of friends over for a little party.  Grandma Linda, Grandma Dianna, Uncle Jake, Uncle Eric, Auntie Londa and Mack & Eli joined us as well. 
First order of business was a biking show and contest.  This was the winning jump by Scott.
Next up, some friendly football
Or not so friendly - it got pretty intense!
Getting a lil' coaching from Dad
We also flew kites on this very windy day - we dug this awesome kite from Jesse's Uncle Jim out of the garage rafters.
Time for cake!!!
And then presents.  This card was a particularly funny one... you can tell.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Family Reunion Road Trip Day 6 - THE LAST DAY

Our vacation ended abruptly, 5 days early and on a sour note.  Jesse and I had gone to bed Tuesday night content with our alternate plan.  We knew bad weather was headed our way, we just didn't know how bad.  Turns out, pretty bad!  We woke up to lots of thunder and lightening and heavy, heavy rain.  The thunder and lightening got worse, louder and closer and eventually it was right over us.  Bekah woke up scared and even snuggled in bed with Jesse and I she was shaking and whimpering.  We weren't getting any water in the tent, but Jesse and I were nervous about the huge oak trees we were tenting under and what a falling limb would mean.  I have no idea how long it lasted but eventually the storm passed and we must have all fallen back to sleep, only to be jerked awake again by the sound of someone throwing up.  It was Alarik and he didn't even wake up so Jesse threw out the puked on sleeping bags and pillow, cleaned up with baby wipes as best he could and figured Alarik had just eaten one too many "smarshmarrows" before bed.  I think we drifted back to sleep one more time before the big puke came.  Another sleeping bag and pillow got thrown out of the tent along with some stuffed animals and blankets.  Yuck.  Once again we cleaned up with baby wipes and tried to get back to sleep.  Through the door of the tent we could see more lightening to the west; another storm heading our way.  I was not interested in sitting out another storm in that tent so I suggested we move to the truck which Jesse agreed to.  Since we had a cart-in site, the truck was a ways away so I took Alarik with me and Jesse and the two big kids grabbed what clean sleeping gear there was and followed.  When we got to the truck we discovered it was 4am and I realized Jesse and I were not likely to get any more sleep in the truck.  A check of the weather still showed thunderstorms for the next two days in that area and the two days after that in our next destination.  It was easy to convince Jesse that we should just pack up and go home.  We couldn't very well bring a sick kid to the Goudy's and Pepin, WI probably wasn't far enough north to miss the next round of storms.  It wasn't raining at that particular moment and Jesse and I had the tent down and crammed in the bag and everything else loaded up in the truck within 15 minutes!  On the way out of the park we had to detour around a huge oak limb that had fallen onto the road.  It was a big as a whole oak tree back home.  The drive back across the road under water was even more of an adventure than the first time.  The water was obviously deeper and Jesse slowly ventured in.  You could feel the current pulling at the truck and then all of a sudden there was swirling white water in front of the truck and Jesse thought maybe the road had washed out.  As he looked closer he realized it was fish swimming and jumping in the water across the road!  We could relax a little once we made the crossing and the kids and I all caught a little more sleep on the long and boring 7+ hour drive back home.  About two hours from home we had to pull over for poor Bekah but that was all the more of it she had so I think it was just combination over-tiredness and carsick. 
The vacation crew - a little worse for the wear in this photo!
Even though our vacation was cut short, everyone was happy to be home on Wednesday afternoon.  The kids all slept way in on Thursday morning, Bekah until 10am, and Scott took a 20-minute long hot shower.  I washed a million loads of laundry, Jesse mowed the lawn and we put away all the food and clean clothes that came home with us.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Family Reunion Road Trip Day 5 - Part 2

As we drove through Currie, MN on our way to Lake Shetek State Park (which was to be our home for the next two nights) this was the sight we were met with:

As we sat pondering what to do, we watched a Ford Ranger slowly slog through the water, about up to its floorboards, so we figured we'd be fine and we carefully made our way across and to the park.  We had reserved a secluded, cart-in site and it was huge and gorgeous!  We got the tent pitched and everything hauled into the site, then Jesse started a fire and relaxed with his book while I took the kids on a hike.  We hiked along the Bluebird Trail to an observation tower, then walked the Park Lake Trail back to our campsite.  The trails were amazing.  Bekah and I both agreed they looked like they came right out of the movie Brave.  I don't know what type of oak trees these were, but they were so big and they hung over the trails and had vines growing up among them.  It was like a fairy garden.  Back at the campsite we had PB&Js, hotdogs, chips and beans for dinner.  The weather forecast was calling for rain the next two days so we decided we better get a swim in before that started.  The beach area was so nice, though the water was obviously a lot higher than normal and covered up the last two steps of the stone stairway down to the waterfront.  The water was COLD thanks to all the rain they'd gotten but it felt refreshing.  It was getting late by the time we'd dried off and changed back at the campsite, but again based on the weather forecast, we figured we better squeeze the premiere hike of this park into our day so we drove across the park to the start of the Loon Island Hiking Trail.  There is a causeway built out to the island and a trail all the way around it.  Just like the trails on land, this one was like something out of a storybook.  A deer must have followed us out on the causeway and by the time we circled around the island it was bounding into the woods in the middle.  The kids did a lot of running on the trail, even a sprint race on the way back across the causeway, causing Scott to comment on the drive back that he was hot and "smelled of sweat and lake water"!  :)  There was a ton of wildlife at this park. We saw a big snapping turtle, countless deer, pelicans (for which the lake is named) and rabbits.

The kids had a dessert of roasted marshmallows smashed between chocolate/PB cookies before they brushed teeth and headed for bed.  Jesse and I sat up around the fire for awhile and plotted the rest of our trip.  Our original plan was to camp two nights at Lake Shetek, driving in to Walnut Grove one day to do the Laura Ingalls Wilder stuff there,  then drive across Southern MN to Beaver Valley Creek State Park for two nights, then one night at Banning State Park on the way back north to home.  Problem was that they were calling for thunderstorms for the next two days in the Lake Shetek area and then we were just going to follow that storm system east when we went to Beaver Valley Creek.  We came up with an alternate plan of hitting up the Goudy's for a place to sleep the following night, then heading to Pepin, WI for some more Laura Ingalls fun, figuring that would be far enough north to get us out of the storm.
Alarik on the trail to our Park Lake campsite
Bekah on the Bluebird trail
The boys on the observation tower
Park Lake trail hike
Alarik was the only one who didn't even hesitate at the cold temp of the lake

Throwing rocks from the causeway
On the Loon Island hike
Don't let this beautiful sunset fool you...our night was NOT peaceful!!!

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Family Reunion Road Trip Day 5 - Part 1

We crammed a whole lot of fun into day 5 of our road trip.  Jesse was feeling quite a bit better.  We started the day with breakfast cereal in the covered wagon.  Then we spent several hours re-visiting all the buildings and activities on the Homestead.  Bekah enjoyed working with the staff on different projects and the boys absolutely loved playing house in all the different little dwellings which included a dugout house, a claim shanty, and Ma's little house.  They "cooked" on the stoves and served each other dinner.  It was adorable.  The kids played on the playground outside the little schoolhouse and took another pony cart ride, this time driving it all by themselves.  The best thing about the Ingalls Homestead was that everything was hands on.  There was even a sign that encouraged you to let your kids touch and play with everything.  Very cool.  I was happy that the boys and Jesse enjoyed it as much as Bekah and I did.
Alarik and Mom waking up in the wagon
Breakfast time!
A little see-saw action
Alarik stirring some "dwinks"
The boys making dinner
Alarik trying out the pump organ
Bekah learning to braid a rug
Making a button string
Monday wash day
My new laundry guy!
Laundry is not nearly so intriguing to them at home!
Driving the pony cart all by themselves

After all that fun at the Homestead, we stopped by their gift shop for a book and t-shirt for Bekah and a coffee mug for Jesse and then headed back into De Smet.  We visited the Loftus Store and walked to the Ingalls' house in town.  We grabbed a quick lunch at The Oxbow restaurant and then we headed east toward our next destination: Lake Shetek State Park.  Day 5 to be continued...

Monday, June 23, 2014

Family Reunion Road Trip Day 4

Day 4 started out a little rough as Jesse and I were both up sick for much of the night.  Mine was short-lived and I felt ok in the morning but Jesse was still pretty miserable.  We had to check out of the resort and had a covered wagon reserved in De Smet for that night so we hit the road anyway.  We stopped to say goodbye to Grandpa and Maureen and then started the 6 hour drive.  Jesse slept a lot and the kids got restless.  We stopped at a wayside rest for a picnic lunch and the boys went absolutely bananas, literally running in circles and up, down and around the picnic tables and pavilions.  We finally made it to De Smet and got checked in at the Ingalls Homestead.  Bekah changed into her dress that my friend Shelly made for her when she found out we were doing this trip.  Bekah was in heaven.  We checked out the whole place, though most of the staff was gone and it was just a self-guided tour.  We did catch the last wagon ride of the night though and the kids even got to drive the team of horses, Barnum and Skip.  The kids wanted Subway from back in town for dinner so we drove in to eat, then it was early to bed for poor, sick Daddy!  Our covered wagon accommodations were very comfy.  We heard coyotes yipping in the middle of the night.
Bekah is exhausted, Scott is parkouring and Aalrik is runnin' free!
Bekah at the top of the observation tower. You can see our covered wagon in the background and the prairie and slough surrounding it.
They couldn't wait to check out the whole place!
Petting the kitties in the hay-roofed barn.
The dugout house
Bekah at the back of our wagon home.