Monday, July 6, 2015

An Open Letter to My Kids at Camp...Day 2

Here I sit, 1:25pm, and wondering why today, of all days, is dragging by so slowly. How is it that they other days of summer flew by in the blink of an eye? Will it be this way all week?

Today has been a bit easier for me...I hope you two have found the same. The vice grip on my heart was lessened, ever so slightly, when I woke up this morning. I knew we had all made it through the night and were just that closer to seeing each other again. (Man alive, you'd think it was all summer that you guys were going to be gone, not 6 days!)

I refreshed and refreshed the camp blog until THERE IT WAS. An update. Not the camper photos I was hoping, no scouring each photo trying to search out my kiddos, but still an update. They spoke of the fun at supper time the night before, while the campers asked others how to say "food words" in different languages. I could imagine you two being a part of that conversation...oh, I can not wait to hear your stories!

People keep reassuring me that this is harder on me than it is on you and gracious, do I hope they are right. I never had a camp experience, so I can't relate to how you are feeling, but "they" say that you are having a blast. That you are kept so busy that you don't have time to be homesick. Goodness, do hope that is the truth.

Dad has also been struggling...wondering how you two are doing and hoping you are having fun. 

4 nights to go, my loves...4 nights.

Here's to having them go quickly!!

Sunday, July 5, 2015

An Open Letter to My Kids at Camp...Day 1

Oh my aching heart. All week long, I tried to be so strong for you two...encouraging you and cheering you on and talking you through your doubts and fears regarding camp.

(Even while dad tried to sabotage my efforts with his, "But I don't want you to go! I'm going to miss you!!" exclamations. Ugh.)

Then today, sweet girl, you nearly broke me. When you clung to your dad and your soft whimpers escaped your mouth? You nearly did me in. I wanted to scoop you up and tell those camp people, "On second thought...forget it. We're outta here." and all the while your brother grinned with excitement.

I'll be honest, it was he that I was most worried about, not you, sweet girl. You with your quiet confidence, your maturity, your determination. I thought you'd breeze right through this. I think, if you had had a friend along, that it would have made it a bit easier...what I hope you'll discover over the next few days is that you do, indeed, have a friend along. 7 of them, actually, who you first knew as strangers. I hope and pray that you'll connect with them. Maybe not all of them, but at least one. Or two. They seemed like nice girls...each of them that we met, and my prayer is that you create new friendships and find someone that you connect with.

And sweet boy, I sure hope you sail through the week as well as you did our good-byes. I hope you and Austin (I am so, so grateful you have a friend along!) have a blast and make new friends, as well.

In that moment of good-byes, my mama heart was crumpling. I was fighting tears and trying to dig down deep for the strength I knew you needed. The ride home wasn't any easier and I kept asking God to be with you. To soothe your worry and give you peace and confidence to not only make it through this week, but to be able to enjoy it.

So now, I sit. Tears at the ready. Constantly refreshing the camp blog to see if I can catch a glimpse of you, to read your faces and body language to make sure you're okay.

I love you both so much and already miss you like crazy.

Friday can't come soon enough...

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Our Spontaneous North Shore Vacation...

We are sufficiently rested and "back to real life" after our "off the cuff" vacation to Minnesota's beautiful North Shore! (Not to be confused with Hawaii's North Shore, which, I'm sure, is kinda pretty too...)

Back to the "off the cuff" part...the hubs and I are notoriously "Type B" personalities. At the beginning of summer, we sat down and plotted out our free weekends and discovered that we had one. ONE. One entire free weekend all stinking summer long. Anyway, we decided that we would make that our family trip/camping weekend. Well, days passed, weeks passed and suddenly we found ourselves at the beginning of the week prior to the weekend that we were supposed to go camping...with no plans.

We were about to scratch the weekend, when we decided to just see what we could find. One resort wanted 300 bucks a night (ouch), one campground was full, another full, we weren't finding anything available on the state parks website. In one last "Hail Mary" pass, the Mr. called a campground on the North Shore. The lovely lady that answered the phone was a wealth of information. She told us that while her campground was full, Tettegouche State park was just up the road and she suggested we call the ranger station there.

Turns out there are a couple of State Forest campgrounds's something new I learned: State Park campgrounds are 80% reservable sites and 20% first-come-first-serve...however, State Forest campgrounds are 100% first-come-first-serve! The ranger told my handsome groom that we didn't have a single worry about finding a campsite on Friday. One of the two State Forest campgrounds would have availability.

And, we found that out Thursday morning. Yes, the morning before we planned to leave! Enter: Mission: Pack and Prep for a Spontaneous Camping Trip!

Here's the other funny part...we didn't own a tent until Thursday night.

To our absolute delight, the weekend was fabulous! Probably one of our most enjoyable vacations!

We found a campsite on the Baptism River in Finland State Forrest...our kids bee-bopped the shores of Lake Superior day after day. We visited and swam in Temperance River State Park (in hindsight, not as great of a decision as I originally thought, but definitely the highlight of the trip!), we toured Split Rock Lighthouse, we enjoyed Gooseberry Falls State Park, we put on miles and miles of hiking in the parks, we ended our trip with a stop at Duluth's Glensheen mansion. What a place that is! Of course, my kids kept whispering the whole time, "Is THIS the room she got killed in?!", to their disappointment, the tour guides are instructed not to talk about the infamous Congdon murder...thank goodness for Google! :)

Arriving home Monday night, we were dirty, bug-bitten, exhausted...and our hearts were happy!

Spontaneity can be amazingly evidenced by the memories we made over the weekend!

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Sun-kissed and Happy

Ahhhhhh, life is good.

My house is clean(ish), my children are still sleeping off yesterday's fun, the weather is FANTASTIC, we are sun-kissed and happy. Can't life be like this year round?

My brother got married over the weekend...the weather was PERFECT for an outdoor wedding. A bit on the warm side, but I'd take that over cool ANY day!

Yesterday I was thinking...everyone should experience Minnesota in June. June in Minnesota is nothing short of Heaven on earth. The days are long, the bugs are still tolerable, the weather is GORGEOUS and the sunshine abundant. I am absolutely blessed that my job change has allowed me to enjoy these days with my kids!

One other reason to enjoy Minnesota in June (or July or August...)...our lakes! And rivers. The mighty Mississippi flows right through our sleepy little town, my parents have river access and holy moly do we appreciate it! My baby bro is in town and yesterday we played on the river for a solid 4 hours and it. was. GLORIOUS! phone alert just went off, reminding me that morning activities are starting soon, so I'll sign off here!

Until next time...

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

New Specs!

I'm not sure if I've ever mentioned it here or not, but both of my girls have an eye condition called "accomodative esotropia"...basically, their eyes work so hard to focus, that they cross a bit.

As a result of that, they wear glasses and get annual eye exams by an opthamologist. Their lens prescriptions change yearly...which means we get to buy new glasses twice a year, once for each girl (sooooooo nice on the pocketbook). Technically, I guess they could repurpose their frames for a few years, but my theory is that if they have to wear them at all times, they should love them...and that's worth a little extra $$ to me!

My babe just picked out her newest frames, and gosh darn if they aren't the cutest ones she's had yet!

Take a peek:

The picture doesn't do it justice, but gracious, are they ever cute!

Except Hambone, in his brutally honest way (like when he proclaimed, upon first meeting his baby sister, "I don't like her's nose."), "I liked the old ones better." Poophead. Gotta teach him that sometimes, you just gotta keep your little mouth shut.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Summer Vacation...How Do I Love Thee

Oh, sweet Summer Vacation.

How do I love thee, let me count the ways:

1. Late nights with my peeps.

2. No alarms to set.

3. Memories being made at grandma and grandpa's.

4. Sunkissed skin.

5. Windblown hair.

6. Make-up free days.

7. Responsibility, what?

8. S'mores. Need I say more?

9. Wait. Yes. I do need to say more: PEANUT BUTTER CUP S'mores. 

10. Camping.

11. Campfires.

12. Green grass, leaves on trees, flowers blooming.

13. Thunderstorms (as long as I'm not in a camper).

14. Grilling supper.

15. A dip in the river.

16. Hearing my kids giggle with each other.

17. Baseball games.

18. Fresh air.

Summer, you are too should stick around longer!

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Joy Ranch, South Dakota

In my last post, I kinda poked fun at South Dakota by sarcastically calling it "beautiful". If you follow me on Instagram (@mama_m) or Twitter (@5CrookedHalos), you know that South Dakota truly showed off during our visit there.

We visited a place called "Joy Ranch", which always the most amazing place I've seen in a long time! Created as a summer camp destination for children with disabilities, all I could think about is how perfect it would be as a get together setting with my in-laws (my MIL is in a wheelchair)!

Set on a bluff, overlooking rolling pastures and a valley lake, the scenery was breathtaking (there I go, eating crow...I'm sorry for implying you weren't beautiful, SoDak!!) and the setting was perfection. 6 outdoor fireplaces, huge porches overlooking the lake, Old West street facade, covered boardwalks with oversized rocking chairs, playground, Gaga Ball pit, walking trail to the horse stable with the friendliest horses you've ever met, a potbellied pig, noisy turkeys, and the most wonderful, accommodating staff you could imagine. I was blown away...and the kids were in heaven!

There was a beautiful, old church on site that set my photographers heart on fire. The setting sun made it even more beautiful! (These iPhone pictures don't do it justice!)

An adorable old school house:

Paddle boats that my hubby and Hambone took to the other side of the lake and discovered a few cow skeletons. This is the pelvis bone of one, that Hambone thought looked like a mask!

We all had such a great time celebrating my bestie's mom and dad's 40th wedding anniversary at this amazing place! A wonderful couple and such a fun, so grateful we made the trip out there.

Dear South Dakota,

You truly are beautiful...and some pretty amazing people come out of your glorious state!


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