Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Bits and Pieces: August

Well, that's August done. Summer has felt long in many ways, but now that it is nearly over, it doesn't seem like it has been long enough. Isn't that always the way?

We started the month with a group camping trip at Lake Rebecca. It was fun, but the mosquitoes were terrible. Poor Christopher looked like he had the measles when we came home.

I took Clare and Christopher to visit my parents during the second weekend of August. We went to the pool and to Clare's favorite restaurant, The Night Owl. (Yes, it's a bar. It's Wisconsin, what can you do?) Then we came back to the Twin Cities to say goodbye to Uncle Andy (Ben's brother), who moved to Walla Walla, Washington. We already didn't see much of Andy and his wife Meg, and now we'll see even less. We'll just have to make the time we do have together count!

Clare had her last gymnastics class a few weeks ago, and was thrilled when she moved up to the next level. (The next Simone Biles, she is not. She has fun, though, and that's all that really matters at this age.) Now she is deciding between gymnastics and ballet, because her mean mom doesn't want her to  be overscheduled.

We took our annual family camping trip in mid-August. This year we made the drive to Itasca State Park in northwest Minnesota. It was beautiful. The mosquitoes were terrible, but it was a beautiful place. One day, we drove north of Bemidji to The Lost 40, which is a tract of land that was never logged. The trees are nearly 400 years old. It is an incredible forest, filled with old growth. There is nothing like it anywhere else in the U.S. It was really cool to step back in time to see what we could have if we hadn't cut it all down. We also went to Bemidji to see the Paul Bunyan statue. The kids thought it was great. For some reason I thought it was much taller than it is, so  I was disappointed. My dad always talked about going to Bemidji when we were kids (mostly jokingly), so it was fun to actually get there.

Itasca is home to the headwaters of the Mississippi, and we spent quite a bit of time there. Clare loved scrambling across the rocks, while Christopher was more comfortable wading in the water. We also took several hikes, spent some time at the beach, and had a campfire every night. Ben and I actually got to spend sometime by ourselves at the fire after the kids went to bed, which we haven't been able to do in the past. Camping is a lot of work, and sometimes I think it is not worth it, but after our trip I am always glad we went.

We went to the Fair on Sunday. Clare is begging to go back, she had so much fun. Christopher was asking to leave after we'd been there for about an hour, so I don't think he'll be in a hurry to go back. We did all of the usual things: animal barns, fire tower, crop art, rides. Clare and I rode on the Sky Ride that goes across the fair, which I've never done before. It was a neat way to see the fair. And Clare is a ride junkie, so she was really into it. It's funny to me, because she is so fearful some of the time, but she has no fear on rides. She was disappointed that she wasn't tall enough for some of the bigger rides. Next year!

We've also squeezed in many trips to parks and beaches with friends. We discovered Nokomis Beach last week, and my friends and I were all wondering why we'd never gone there before. It is clean, there is a playground on the beach, and it is close to our houses. We're making a final trip there this Friday.

Next week: kindergarten! Yikes!

Ice cream in the Wisconsin countryside.

A 400-year-old pine tree. We couldn't reach each other when I put my arms around the other side.

Mr. Bunyan.

At the headwaters of the Mississippi.

Walking across the Mississippi!

After we waded across the Mississippi.

Christopher and Daddy at the headwaters.

Christopher developed his own way of roasting hot dogs. Why hold onto it yourself when your chair can do it for you?

Warm oatmeal on a cold morning.

Storms damaged many trees in Itasca this summer, including this one that was completely uprooted.

Clare lost another tooth on our way home from our camping trip. She'll have no teeth left soon!

Mini-donuts at the Fair.

I think we take this same picture every year.

Bumper boats!

Ready to fly.

Little farm hands.

Clare in the Sky Ride.