We started the month with our annual trip to my parents' house for the 4th of July. Robby, Andri and Bambos were there, and so were Katie, Andrew and Josie. It was great to have everyone together. We did our usual routine of race, parade, cookout (with flag cake), and fireworks. I ran the mile with Clare, and she beat me handily. She was barely winded, cheerfully telling my dad that "Mommy is way back there," when she ran by him. Ben ran the 10K, and came in second overall, first in his age group. The kids loved the parade, and came home with way more candy then any person needs. Ben and I went to the fireworks by ourselves, which was really fun. Evansville puts on a great show for a small town, and of course there was the beer tent. It's Wisconsin after all.
We spent the rest of the week at the pool, visiting my grandmothers in Oostburg and La Crosse, going to the zoo and just hanging out. My Aunt Karen came over for dinner one night. I also had dinner with my friend Christina, who I hadn't seen in months. Catching up with old friends over a nice glass of wine is just the best.
My brother and his family came back to the Twin Cities with us after the fourth. We had an early first birthday party for Bambos and an adults-only night out to Betty Danger's Country Club. The kids had a great time with their British cousin, especially Christopher. He was constantly trying to entertain Bambos.
The kids had swimming lessons this month as well. Christopher struggled, even though his class was in the kiddie pool and they just splashed and sang songs. The first week he wouldn't stay with his group, running back to check in with me. By the second week he was staying with his class, but refused to do most of the activities. He likes playing in the pool fine when he is on his own, so I am not quite sure what it was. Maybe the teachers' poor singing offended his musical sensibilities. Who knows. Needless to say he will be repeating that level next year. But Clare. Clare! The girl who just a few years ago was so scared of the big pool that she would cry before lessons. This girl went off the diving board! Multiple times! She can actually swim a bit now, goes underwater with abandon, and actually swims on her own underwater. She loved every minute of it. We went to a school friend's birthday party this past weekend at the pool, and she nearly cried when it was time to leave.
In mid-July we spent a long weekend at Itasca State Park with my in-laws. We stayed for two nights in the Itasca "suites" and one night in our tent. The suites are really nice - they look like a cabin on the outside but are more like a hotel on the inside. And it was good we were there on Friday, because after spending the morning at the Headwaters, Christopher spiked a fever and slept all afternoon. Then a severe storm rolled through, and we ended up losing power. I was grateful to have more shelter than a tent that night. Despite the illness and the storms, it was a nice trip. I went on two long walks by myself, which felt like a luxury. Ben's aunt and uncle were there one night, and it was fun to spend some time with them. On Saturday, we drove to Bemidji to visit "the giant Bunyan" (Christopher's name for Paul), play at the playground and have a beer at the brewery. The night we camped was beautiful. We made s'mores and watched the sun set over Lake Itasca. It is so refreshing to be in the north woods. We are going on one more camping trip in a few weeks.
Christopher has been having some separation anxiety. My friend Sarah picked up the kids to take them to the park while I recovered from a medical procedure, and she had to carry him away screaming. I felt bad, but I got a text a few minutes later saying he was totally fine. So out of sight, out of mind, but I thought he was too old for this. Maybe he is just finally being three.
Let's see, what else. We finally visited the newly reopened Children's Museum. I wasn't blown away. The kids missed some of their favorites from the old museum (especially the dreaded ant hill), and it seemed like there wasn't all that much there. The huge three-floor climbing thing was cool, but Christopher refused to do it. We'll see how it is when school starts and there is hardly anyone there. It was a madhouse last week.
Clare went to a performance at Circus Juventas with her grandparents. (A local youth circus, lots of acrobats, etc.) She loved it. I might send her to one of their camps next year. Christopher got to go to Menards with Ben and me. He wasn't thrilled, but he did get an ice cream cone at Izzy's and a trip to Choo Choo Bob's as a reward for behaving at Menards. (Which he mostly did. I only lost him once.)
Ben and I went to see the Minnesota United play at TCF Bank stadium. It was really fun! The stadium is nice, and we had great seats. And they actually won!
There are five weeks until school starts. That seems like way too much time and not nearly enough.
|Ready for the parade!|
|Small town Wisconsin means lots of tractors.|
|Pony Rides on the 4th.|
|He started yelling "Giddy Up!" The pony was not impressed.|
|There was also a water bounce house. They went down the slide about 1,543 times.|
|Cousins at the Cuckoo House.|
|See if you can spot Christopher. He is wearing a blue hat.|
|They are best friends.|
|Yes, he ate this entire waffle cone.|
|Cousins at the Terrace.|
|Two kids in the pool + one beer + my favorite book = a perfect day.|
|Two boys and a train.|
|Ben took Clare and Christopher to Highland Fest while I got my nails done. It was a good arrangement.|
|The start of the Mississippi. We were here last year, too.|
|The giant Bunyan.|
|Someone is excited about the fire.|
|A beautiful sunset on Lake Itasca.|
|MLS at the Bank.|
|Clare learning Viking Martial Arts. Perhaps this skill will help in her Ninja Warrior training?|