Tuesday, December 06, 2016


The other morning I was leaving for the gym and Nick asked me to put on a "food show or something" for him first.

After many years of wanting to, I have finally started lifting some weights.  I got my gym membership back in October and started then.  I am following a beginner program now that I found online but started by just doing each of the nautilus machines.  It is fun and I like it much more than cardio.  I'm not trying to get big muscles, just use the ones I have so i don't lose them.

I have purchased myself lots of gifts for Christmas this year.  The thrifty part of me admits that they were all pretty affordable, but it was still a lot.  I had a little help from these Boston Store coupons that I have received twice now.  I think they are straight from heaven.  :)  They have come in a little flyer in the mail that I opened up just by chance the first time...normally those go right in the recycling as I don't normally shop there.  Anyways, they include $15 off of a $15+ cosmetic purchase, $35 off of a $35+ accessories or footwear purchase and $50 off of a $50+ clothing purchase.  They work on everything except clearance.  !!  I will never know who decided to put me on this list but I am so thankful!  I did use the clothing one on Patrick but purchased some Philosophy body wash (MARGARITA!) (totally going to start drinking more, I bet) and a new purse for myself.  It was fun.  Patrick keeps asking me what I want for Christmas and I'm like NO REALLY, nothing.  Trust me.  hehe.

James is almost 13.  I can't even discuss that today.  It feels like there is another adult-like person in the house now.  He is thoughtful about things and talks to me about some of his feelings.  He is super responsible about school and really is enjoying this year so far.  He also really likes hugs.  Not to build him up too much, he still lives to torment Nick and still doesn't know when to stop sometimes.  He is still obviously a kid but you see the adult underneath glimmering sometimes...it is hard to explain but amazing and I'm sure you know what I mean if you have big kids.

Ruby is hilarious.  She is just so funny and her humor is often spot on.  I feel the same about her as James in some ways, at 10.  She is still a little girl in lots of ways but her "young lady" is showing.  :)  She is really enjoying this year at school as well.  She loves reading and writing and her math is coming along.  Her teacher commented on her perseverance at conferences and a lightbulb popped in my head.  She has struggled with math for so long but HAS NOT given up.  I love her teacher for turning my mind in that direction.  Ruby, your determination is amazing.  Love that.

Nick is difficult after school some days but is doing so well at school.  His teacher says he is a leader and he often comes home with these "Hoot Hoot Hooray" certificates that mean he had a great day.  :)  Mrs. Kman said this particular class goes nuts for those things.  heehee, At home he can be whiny and spoiled and I wonder whose fault that is??  He also still loves to cuddle and loves James and Ruby like crazy.  (although he tries to hide it, especially with James.)  We are trying to get this kid on the right track.  He does finally wipe his own butt now.  ahem.

Patrick is good.  I could write volumes about him and us but will restrain myself because he is so private.  He is good, though.  I am so thankful for him.

Right now I should be listing but this was fun!  I should get to work now.  I normally wake up around 5 and was fine with that because it was my choice.  Now Milo, our damn cat, wakes me up every day, normally between 4:30 and 5:00.  BITTER.


Sunday, July 31, 2016

this is really all I need

To be outside with my kids.  It's my favorite. 

I feel it SO STRONGLY that these days with all 3 of them with me all the time...they will not go on forever.  As hard as it can be, and is on a daily basis, I am SO thankful for all of these years with them.

I am emotional today.  :) 

These pics are from last Friday.  We had a lovely, cooler day so we walked on some trails back in Eagle Heights.  Patrick and I used to live there and spent lots of time on these same trails, pre-kids.  I wrote a paper on the area and I remember Patrick patiently waiting while I studied piles of poop to try and figure out which animals lived in the area.  HAHAHA.  good times, right??


Tuesday, July 26, 2016

batter up!

Nick played coach pitch baseball for the first time this summer and it was a lot of fun! He counted down the days each week until it was Monday again. :) Last night was their last game so I took a few pictures.
High fives from his coach after a hit:

I love our little town.  I know things get competitive for kids pretty quickly but this year was just FUN.


p.s.  My cousin Jess and her kids are visiting for a few days so I will be back at the end of the week with more of our trip photos.  You know, in case you were missing them. ;)  xoxo

Thursday, July 21, 2016

south dakota, days 5&6

On our 5th morning we got up and on the road by 9am...a record for us!  We headed to Devil's Tower, just over an hour away in Wyoming.  It was amazing driving up to it...lots of beautiful views...I almost felt like we didn't need to see it any closer but I am so glad we did.

As you approach the 1 mile trail that goes around the Tower there is a huge boulder fall that you can climb up a long ways.  Near the base of the tower, at the top of the boulder fall, there are signs saying STOP! and you need to be a registered climber to go any higher.  If you have been to Devil's Lake, this boulder area is a lot like tumbled rocks trail only higher.

So, we climbed as high as we could (well, I was right below the sign with Nick) but it didn't feel that terrifying because if someone would have fallen, they only would have hit the rocks right below them...we weren't on "the edge" of anything.

The kids LOVED this.  We did, too.
We were super high up here.  Nick was just chilling.
James, near the top.
Patrick and Ruby, right at the stopping point:

I have to add that it is amazing that the kids are old enough to carry their own packs with water and snacks.  (we helped Nick on one longer hike) Also, their own luggage!!  Love that!

After hiking the boulders we did the one mile hike around the base. We were lucky enough to see climbers reaching the top of the Tower and sat for a while and watched them.  The surrounding forest was cool and pretty and it was a really nice walk.  We were all starving after all of that!
We left Devil's Tower and had a late lunch/early dinner at Culver's, I think.  Culvers around here are always busy and this one was dead...it was funny.  Looked brand new, too.  That burger hit the spot.  

On the way back to the hotel we stopped at Mt. Roosevelt that I had read was an old castle??  Well, it was just like Enger Tower for my Duluth peeps.  :)  The name MOUNT should have tipped me off but Nick was not thrilled to see another uphill hike.  It wasn't bad, though, and was beautiful at the top.  The woods here were more like MN woods, a mix of pine and leafy trees, instead of the mainly pine forests near Devil's Tower.  The lookout point was, have I already said this?, beautiful.
Seth Bullock, mayor of Deadwood, built this in honor of his BFF Teddy Roosevelt:
(seth bullock had a thing for high spots!)
Everyone resting on the lookout:
Look!  A family photo!!  thanks a lot, NICK.
This was beyond the lookout deck and I could not watch.  I walked away and they followed pretty quickly.  Thank God.
James loves Nick so much but also torments him.  He then turns around and wants to be affectionate, etc. and Nick is like WHAT??  It took a lot of cajoling to get Nick on his back.  :)
The next morning (our last in Deadwood...sniff) we found an empty pool again!  I loved how well the kids played together this trip.  They thought up games in the pool and we had dive rings along, which they had a lot of fun with.  They fought some, sure, but really got along well.  They would talk all day about Minecraft contest they were going to have that night and it was just cute.  <3 br="">

It was so pretty.  You can see the hills surrounding Deadwood out the windows...it was like that all around the whole town.
After breakfast and swimming, Ruby and I left to do a little shopping.  We walked down Main Street and stopped in Saloon No. 10 and lots of other stores.  The Saloon was so cool that we went back with the boys for lunch after we checked out.  They had tons of historical Deadwood photos on the walls and the chair that Wild Bill was shot in.  (creepy.)  We ate popcorn and the kids had their first Shirley Temples.  (Not so impressed...it was sad.  I LOVED Shirley Temples as a kid.)

After lunch we went to Mt. Rushmore!  Okay, I love our country but this did not thrill me.  I didn't have time to read much of the history, which would have interested me the most.  We sat and took it in, walked the Presidential Trail (250 steps going UP of course),  had giant ice cream cones and called it a day.

After this we were back on the road, headed to Rapid City, our home for the next 3 nights.


Wednesday, July 20, 2016

south dakota, days 3&4

We woke up on Sunday morning and said goodbye to Thomas and Erin.  Our next stop, because it would have felt wrong not to stop, was Wall Drug.  I am pretty sure there is a picture of me next to this same Jackalope from 40 (yes, FOURTY) years ago.  I made the kids stand there just because of that.  :)  We mainly stopped for the donuts and .05 coffee.  The donuts were safe for James and delicious!
The Badlands are pretty much next door to Wall Drug.  It was a scorching 95 degrees again but I needed to see these.  They are gorgeous and so unique.  I had heard about a couple of easy trails but we entered at the wrong end of the park so decided we'd hit them on the way home.

Ruby had the camera for a while so there were about 1,000,000 prairie dog shots:
and some selfies:

When we left the Badlands we headed west to Deadwood where we spent our next 3 nights.  I had originally booked us a room in Spearfish because we had a lot of stuff we wanted to do there but I decided to switch because there was a lot more to choose from in Deadwood.  I am SO glad I switched us.  Spearfish CANYON is gorgeous...Spearfish is a lot like Verona with no trees.  :)  Deadwood is in a little valley surrounded by forests and was really pretty.  We got to our hotel, which we loved, and had dinner.  After dinner we took the kids to the pool and it was a mad house...so many people! 

The next  morning we got up early and went to the pool...no people!  It was heavenly.  James was so cute...he said, "I just need to appreciate this for a moment before getting in."  :)  It was an infinity pool with a roof that opened up.  After breakfast and swimming we stopped at Mt. Moriah cemetery in Deadwood.  Wild Bill, Calamity Jane and Seth Bullock are some of the famous people buried there.  Seth Bullock's grave was high up on a hill overlooking the whole town.  We hiked to the top (our first of many uphill hikes that week) and met a local who told us when he was growing up that it was a passage into manhood for a boy to sleep on Seth Bullock's grave alone.  He had done it!  It was cool to chat with him and hear some of his personal memories.

Seth Bullock's grave:
After the cemetery we went to Spearfish and found the trail to the Devil's Bathtub.  It isn't marked at all but what I read on the internet made it pretty easy to find and the other cars parked on the roadside helped, too.  :)

The whole trail goes along a river and you make lots of river crossings.  The river was shallow and the kids loved stopping and catching minnows, etc. 

This was a steep portion heading down to the river.  Nick was at the top with Patrick, pooping in the woods, so James, Ruby and I headed down.  For SOME reason, James decided to run down this??  He couldn't stop at the bottom and ended up leaping over a big log and landing on all fours in the river.  I was like, WHAT THE HELL???  He stood up, kind of shocked, and it took all I had not to burst out laughing.  A minute later he was laughing himself and so was Ruby. 
Below is the section of river he landed in:
 Me comforting James after his harrowing experience.  ;)
After this my camera died.  We hiked a long way and it was amazing.  It really reminded us of Parfrey's Glen.  Eventually you come to this place, the "tub."  The water was freezing and Nick was the only one who decided to try it out.  A kid was taking pics with his mom's phone and when she looked she found this one of Nick and told me she'd text it to me.  After I got it we were texting back and forth and found out that her husband was from Duluth.  Small world.  :) 
Nick said it was fun but freezing.  We would all like to go back here someday...just back to Spearfish Canyon in general. 

After our hike we ate dinner at a really sad Pizza Ranch and waited forever for their Cactus Bread.  That was not even that good!  It was CRAZY windy outside of the canyon.  Then we went back to the hotel for the night.  We didn't let the kids bring any electronics with on our day trips so it was really nice to go home at night and be like, HAVE AT IT.  :)  Patrick and I would have a cocktail and it was really relaxing.



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