Category Archives: Products & Places

The Fishers Visit

It has been ages since I have blogged about something other than books or Alex’s monthly updates.

Last week/weekend, my friend Trisha came out here with her daughter, Chelsea. They arrived on Thursday and left Sunday morning. We had a fun-filled weekend!

-THURSDAY-

After they arrived on Thursday, we headed to Starbucks and then I drove them by a few things before heading back to our house to hang out and get them settled in. Trisha brought gifts! She brought me a sweatshirt from Bluefin Bay and a really yummy soap! Chelsea brought handmade necklaces for the girls. It was so sweet and thoughtful of them.

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That night we went to Red Robin and thankfully the kids were happy because we had the WORST service ever! We waited 45 minutes for our food and we arrived before 5:00. It was nuts! Then they didn’t bring drink refills or extra fries. I was not pleased I didn’t get more fries!!! But everyone survived and we headed back home to get the kids calmed down and ready for bed. Then we sat around on the couch and Trisha and I did some coloring. Smile Yep. We are dorks.

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-FRIDAY-

Friday morning we went to a mall to let the kids play because it was a rainy day here. I had hoped to take them to St. Edwards State Park, but the weather wasn’t having that. So we went early and let the kids play at the play area. Then we went to The Disney Store and then the LEGO store for a while. We walked around a little then had lunch at McDonald’s. Then headed back to get Alex down for his nap.

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I made pasta for dinner (Pasta from our food box we get weekly) and then we headed down to the farmer’s market down the road to hang out and play at the park. This was the last farmer’s market of the season, so some of the vendors were giving kids goodies away. The kids were really excited about this! Then we walked back home and got the kids ready for bed.

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-SATURDAY-

Saturday was the day we really packed full of stuff. We left early and parked downtown and walked to the Space Needle. We spent some time there (and even got a peek of the mountain before the clouds rolled in) and then walked to Pike Place Market. It was a little chilly at first, but it warmed up into a gorgeous morning! We looked around a little bit before heading back home for Alex’s second nap. He slept in the carrier while we were walking around. He loves that.

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Chuck took all the girls outside to play in the yard with balls and bubbles while Alex was sleeping. He even picked some roses from the garden on his way in. We decided to go out for Mexican food Saturday night and I was so giddy! Fajitas and Margaritas are my favorite! The kids were really good and the service was AMAZING. I thanked them for their quick service with the kids after we had such a horrible experience eating out Thursday night. After dinner it was time to head home and get the kids ready for bed again. We sat around and as was the theme each night after bed…chatting, cocktails and coloring. Smile 

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Sunday morning we brought them to the airport and said our goodbyes. It was sad to have them go, but it was so nice to have a taste of Minnesota here. We missed them and can’t wait until we can hang out again. Thanks for coming all the way out to see our crazy little family! You are welcome anytime!

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The Amazing Grape Cutter

This may seem weird how excited I am about this little tool, but I love it! I was wandering through the store when I saw my new favorite gadget. It jumped into my cart so quickly!

First, my kids love fruit. In any form. They adore grapes, but they are such a pain in the you-know-what to cut into pieces they won't choke on (stupid grapes). This thing is great. It quarters the grapes so quickly that I won't dread buying grapes anymore. I took a bunch off the stems and then cut a huge pile in a minute or so! This is a bowl after they had eaten most of them.

I am planning to use this a ton in the future as Alex starts eating solid food. You could cut up all sorts of things into little bites quickly! Now, go to amazon and buy one for yourself right away!

 

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Wiggle Works

Last month, Maddie was invited to a birthday party of a girl in her preschool class (side note, this girl's parents have quickly become some of our closest friends here and we hang out with them all the time!).

Wiggle Works is a cute little place located inside a mall. They have a bunch of bright colors and inflatable toys for the kids to play on. Just take a look!

The kids had a great time and I can't wait to take the kids back. I saw recently on their Facebook page that they are moving to a different location in the mall, so they have a few new things and a bigger space! What a fun place for the kids!

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Bothell Landing

My friend invited me to a nearby park the other day. It was a gorgeous day, so we packed lunches and headed there after school. The park is right on a river and has original historical buildings near the park. There's a bridge that crosses the river onto the Burke Gillman Trail. We wandered, played and I can't wait to go back again!

 

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Chateau Ste. Michelle Winery

My mom came to visit us during her spring break from work. One of the fun things we did (that I had been wanting to do) was go to Chateau Ste. Michelle. It is only about 15 minutes from my house and since we had a nice morning, we went to visit and take a tour.

The grounds were beautiful. They have a small area with grape vines near the entrance (which I didn't take a picture of), but their vineyards are in another part of Washington.

The tour was quick (took about 30 minutes), informative and fun. This location bottles Riesling. The machines weren't running the day we were there, but it was still really neat to see.

There were lots of boards/displays to read (which I didn't spend much time doing because the kids were with…and because I usually just look at the pictures).

There were many barrels of wine being stored. It's amazing to think of the amount of wine they can store inside them.

They also do a concert series at the winery in the summer. There was a big sign of the artists that played in 2014.

After the tour, they lead you into a big room for the wine tasting. We got to try three different wines: Chardonnay, a summer blend and Merlot. Yum!

Then you can go into another room for a paid sampling or browse the gift shop and wine shop. I was going to buy some wine, but decided I would wait for now. I'd love to go back and do a more thorough wine tasting when I don't have three kids with me and then I will buy some!

The kids were all really good and I think they even had fun. Maddie was even listening because she was able to tell Chuck about it later. They offered crackers to the kids and grape juice. So if you take kids with you, that might be fun for them. The winery also has a couple of peacocks on the grounds. We did see them from a distance as we left, but weren't close enough to get a picture of them.

Overall, it was a lot of fun and a fun morning outing to do. I don't think I would go alone with the kids because well, wine sampling with your kids was a little awkward. But if you bring a friend with, it wasn't nearly as weird. 🙂 I will definitely be back, though. And I think I'll make plans to check out the other winery across the street, too!

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Annibirthary 2014

Last week, Chuck and I celebrated our 10th anniversary! And on the same day, I turned 34. It was a big day last week. We spent our day in a pretty unconventional way for an anniversary…packing/decluttering our house. (But we did take our early anniversary trip a couple months ago to NYC.)

We did have a few visitors. My friend, Nicole, and her daughter came by in the morning to play. The girls love her daughter and they play really well together. Her daughter is the same age as Dannie and she is due with a boy a few weeks after our boy is born. Nicole brought some pizza for lunch. My dad also stopped by to bring me my birthday potatoes. Yep. That’s what I wanted….twice baked potatoes. He gave me lots of them and they are delicious! He also brought a fruit bouquet. It was a yummy lunch!

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And my mom came by to bring some lovely flowers, dinner (Chinese food), a couple cards and then stayed through nap time to help us clean out some things and helped Chuck move some furniture around the house that I can’t help with. It was such a helpful and wonderful gift.

I was also a super spoiled girl! My sweet hubby got me a new iPad. I got an iPad right after Maddie was born and the girls have pretty much taken it over. So as a birthday/anniversary/new baby is coming gift, he surprised me with a new one! I was so excited. My case came for it yesterday, so now I feel like I can use it more without the fear of breaking it every time I touch it. Smile

I was also lucky enough to have two birthday dinners with some girlfriends. I have some wonderful people in my life and I am so thankful for all of them!

It was a wonderful year and I am so excited for all the big things that are to come for our family this year!

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NYC

Chuck and I went to NYC for an anniversary trip. We haven’t been on a big anniversary trip in years (if ever). Especially not since the girls were around. We debated a lot about where to go and had a long list of places/things we wanted to see. It was such a fun trip and so nice to get away for a little while. I was about 30 weeks pregnant at the time of our trip, so we weren’t sure how much I would be up for. You’ll be impressed with all we did. Smile I’ll try to remember everything.

*FRIDAY*

We left in the evening on Friday and arrived pretty late in NYC. We took a terrifying taxi ride to the hotel and checked in. We decided to stay right in Times Square at the Hilton. You could see the New Years Eve ball from our window (but we couldn’t get a good picture from the window). It was late (about midnight), but I couldn’t miss out on walking around Times Square on a Friday night. It was quite the sight to see. The people and the lights and just everything is so much to take in. After a quick trip down there, we headed to bed to rest up for our first day of sight seeing.

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*SATURDAY*

We woke up bright and early (about 7) and got ready to begin our day. We walked the length of the High Line. What a neat thing to see in the middle of the busy city! Then we took the subway to Central Park. Seriously, Central Park has to be my most favorite place. It’s a really fabulous park inside the hustle and bustle of the city. It’s so gorgeous, and huge and quiet! I could have spent all day there! While we were at the park, we went to the Central Park Zoo. It’s hard for me to visit somewhere and not visit the zoo!

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After the zoo, we walked around the park a little more and went to the stairs of the Metropolitan Museum. I had to take a picture on the steps for a friend of mine because we both watched “Gossip Girl” and they spent a lot of time on those stairs in the show. Smile In front of the Met and about a mile down that block, there was a race going on. So we watched the runners for a little while.

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We headed back to the hotel for a little rest (for me) and then headed to the Intrepid Museum. It was a little rainy, but we walked the few blocks over there and back. It was a really neat museum. We toured a submarine and an aircraft carrier. It was also the only museum we actually went into on our trip. Neither of us really had much interest in visiting the other museums, although I know they are probably wonderful.

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We walked around Grand Central Station and called the girls to chat on FaceTime. They were having a great time with grandma! Then we walked down 5th Avenue for a while, but since we had no interest in buying anything, it wasn’t all that interesting. We stopped in St. Patrick’s Cathedral, which was gorgeous, then took the subway to the 9/11 Memorial to see in the dark. It was still a bit wet outside, but it was so cool to see the memorial all lit up at night.

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We took the subway back to Times Square and had a late dinner. Then we walked around/sat in Times Square again to people watch. I was running out of steam, so we called it a night (after wandering through a few stores) and went to rest up for our next big day.

We totaled 16 miles of walking today.

*SUNDAY*

We were up about 7 again and off to the subway to visit Battery Park on our way to catch the ferry to see the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. Wow is all I can say about seeing them in person and being there. Just amazing all around. If you ever have the chance to visit them, it will be worth it and an experience you won’t forget.

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After spending the morning there, we walked on Wall Street and saw the NY Stock Exchange (it wasn’t all that exciting on a Sunday morning). Then we headed over to the 9/11 Memorial again to see it during the day. It was just as stunning and mesmerizing during the day as it was at night.

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We found a little pizza place to have lunch (which was so delicious) and ate our pizza in Zuccotti Park. Next we made our way over to Rockefeller Center and went to visit “Top of the Rock” which is an observation deck to see the city. What a stunning view. We had a really clear day so we had a great view of everything. People like visiting this observation deck over the Empire State Building because you can see Central Park. When Chuck told me that, I was sold and wanted to go to that one. And since I was so excited, we got the passes to visit it again at night.

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After “Top of the Rock” we headed back to the hotel to rest for a little while and get ready to go to our Broadway show. We chose “The Lion King” and I am so glad that we did. It was such a great show and there’s something about the song “The Circle of Life” that makes me cry and so, of course, the crazy pregnant lady was sobbing during the first 2 minutes of the show. Smile

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After the show we headed to “Top of the Rock” again for the night viewing. Just gorgeous! We didn’t stay too long since we had already been there during the day and I was really tired. So on the way back to the hotel, I got brave and bought some food truck food. I was a little worried about it, but it was so delicious and I am so glad I got something!

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After eating my yummy food, I promptly fell asleep and got ready for day 3.

We totaled 12 miles of walking today.

*MONDAY*

Sadly, day 3 was also our last day. Of course, we were up by about 7 again and got our stuff packed and checked out of our room. They had a nice little holding room for your luggage, so we took advantage of that before heading out.

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We hopped on the subway and headed over to Chinatown/Little Italy. They were quite interesting. It’s strange, you really feel like you are walking into a different city. Then you cross the street and you’re in yet another city. Just bizarre. While there, we walked around and visited a few parks. Mostly to take some walking breaks since I was running out of steam on my pregnant little feet!

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We took the subway back to Central Park. We had seen everything (and more) from our initial list, so I wanted to spend some more time in Central Park since I loved it so much. On the the way, we stopped by the Apple Store. What a strange little cube sticking out of the ground. You have to take stairs or a glass elevator down to the store which is underground.

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We walked through Central Park and visited the reservoir. We ate lunch at The Boathouse that a friend recommended. We just ate at the café there and not the fancy (yet beautiful) restaurant. Next we visited the Belvedere Castle. The views of Central park from the castle were so pretty. I just stood there taking it all in for a while!

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Then we headed back to Times Square and picked up some gifts for the girls at the M&M store (which is HUGE by the way….3 levels of chocolate!). Then we went back to the hotel to pick up our luggage. We decided to skip the taxi ride and took a bit of an adventure to the airport. We took the subway to Queens/Astoria then got on a bus to the airport. Then I collapsed in a chair and waited to get on the plane to head home.

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Then, after an uneventful flight, we found the car and headed home. It was so nice to take a trip, but there’s nothing like coming home after being away!

We totaled 10 miles of walking today.

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Some other little tidbits about the trip:

  • I did get to see some subway entertainment and I loved it. I thought it was hilarious and Chuck told me to stop paying attention to them because they would come over and try to get money. I still looked. Smile
  • Street entertainers crack me up. From the nutjobs in Time’s Square to the cool dancers all over town. I couldn’t stop watching them and being captivated by all of them. I sure the fascination wears off, but it sure didn’t after 3 days for me!
  • The stores in Times Square are so cool. They are huge and bright and just such a sight to see. Many stores are multi-level (even the McDonald’s) and above them are these HUGE screens with ads on them. It’s so much to take in!

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  • Taking the subway was an interesting thing. I think I just get weirded out by the fact that they are underground. I about lost my mind when I realized some go under the water. That just doesn’t seem right. And that there are multiple layers of them underground…it’s just not right. Smile But once I got over that initial shock, I sat back and enjoyed the weirdos. Also, many (or most? or all? of them) have some artwork on them. We took pictures of a couple of my favorites.

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  • People watching is amazing there. It doesn’t matter where you are, there’s someone fascinating to look at. I wanted to take WAY more pictures of people, but I felt awkward doing so. Although, the people doing the crazy things would have loved it!

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  • It’s amazing to see all the tall buildings and to think about how much they fit into that tiny space. There’s so much to do and see there. It’s remarkable how much fits into the space they have and how different one area can be from the next.
  • We took an astounding number of modes of transportation to, from and during this trip: car, taxi, bus, subway, lightrail, airplane, ferry/boat, escalators, elevators, feet, stairs……geesh, are there even any others? Smile
  • We walked over 40 miles during the entire trip! Phew! That’s something I need to jot down in this baby’s baby book! Smile

Overall, it was an amazing and exhausting trip. I wouldn’t have had it any other way. We had a great time hanging out together and doing things on our schedule and not that of the kids. And I can’t believe it was already almost 7 weeks ago since we went.

And here’s a link to all the pictures we took on our trip if you want to see the others.

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Minnehaha Falls

Since I’m doing some catch up to things we did earlier in the year, this was another fun outing we did this summer. I had been wanting to take the girls to Minnehaha Falls, but until this year, Maddie wasn’t old enough and Dannie is a bit easier to take places since she can walk. So we packed ourselves in the car and headed there on a gorgeous July morning!

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Are these two related or what?! I just love how much the girls love their dad! It’s so sweet.

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We stopped and played at the park for a while until we were all hungry and tired of being in the sun.

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Dannie even found a little friend to play with.

I could seriously gobble her right up!

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On the way to the falls, I was telling Chuck how we came here each year growing up for a big Norwegian get-together. My dad’s mom was Norwegian and she loved her heritage so much. She dressed us up for the events and although I don’t remember specifics about going there, I remember how much the event meant to my grandma each year.

So I was floored when we got there and found out that Norway Day was being held the day we are there. It’s one day of the year. And we came on that day. It made me so happy to think of all the fond memories and it made me miss my grandma. I didn’t take any good pictures, but the fact that it was on that day was enough for me.

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Be You, Bravely

I decided to register for another year of MOPS. I debated because I am trying not to over-schedule myself or become overwhelmed by feeling I HAVE to do so many things. But since I quit MOMS Club, I took the plunge and joined.

I am so glad that I did. I have a wonderful table at MOPS this year and I know the women are going to be great friends and assets to me as a mom.

The theme this year is Be You, Bravely. Below is a little about the theme.

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Theme Verse: 

Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.  Isaiah 43:18-19   (NIV)

At any given moment in our lives each of us has…

  • Conversations we’ve been putting off.
  • Reasonable risks we’ve been avoiding.
  • Goals we want to achieve.

Yet often times the more significant an action feels the easier it is to put it off.  We get distracted from the big decisions by the immediate needs of the day. What all of us seem to have in common is that we need a nudge, a nudge to help us get out of our ruts and routines so that we can begin risking bravely.

At MOPS we believe that you were meant to live deeply and so we have created this year’s theme to inspire you to choose the extraordinary.

Be you, Bravely is designed to help us focus on making the choices that could create the most good in our lives, help us to step into healthy risk and to do it in the context of community where we can cheer one another on.

Sometimes, good people wait patiently for God to intervene when what he is wanting is for us to act bravely and do something. Being a follower of Jesus calls for courage. The journey feels unexpected and unconventional. It requires bravely playing hide and seek in the dark, confronting the fears that scare us and holding the hand of a redeemer-guide who calls us to courageous acts of risk and trust. It means coloring outside of the lines. Dreaming bigger than we ever have before and getting swept up into the plans of a God who leaves us breathless with wonder.

It takes courage to ask brave questions and even more courage to search for the answers. We are so excited to journey alongside you this year as we ask one another what it means to  “Be you, Bravely”.

So far (after two meetings and a mom’s night out), I am so happy I joined. I like that it’s every other week because I feel like it means I am not over-scheduled, make the most of the meetings we do have and appreciate the time there much more than if we had it all the time. The meetings have been so much fun and it is so nice to have a couple hours to eat brunch, and have the kids taken care of. This morning in particular, the message really hit me and having the wonderful ladies ask me how we are doing with Chuck’s recent layoff, just proved I was in the right place and made the right choice. It was exactly what I needed today and I look forward to other upcoming meetings!

If you haven’t checked out MOPS before, it may or may not be the right fit for you, but for those that I have spoken with that have done it, they love it. If you’re looking for something new, maybe there’s one in your area that would work for you.

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Bluefin Bay 2014

Over Labor Day weekend, we took our annual trip to Bluefin Bay with the Fishers. Our kids are the same age and are such good little friends. We love going up there with them and we have already booked the same places for next year! Trisha did a really long post with a bunch of pictures and you can find that HERE.

Also, normally I would take a ton of pictures with my phone. But I have been really trying to experience things more and put down my phone. I know there may have been a lot of other photo-worthy moments, but I don’t feel like I missed anything by being more present. And I would just tell Chuck to take a picture with the good camera. Smile I did post quite a few pictures below, but you can look at all the pictures we took if you’d like.

So let’s see…

FRIDAY

We arrived Friday afternoon. We got settled and played at the park and hung out with the Fishers while Chuck made dinner.  We took a stroll down by the lake and threw a bunch of rocks and Chuck took Maddie to have s’mores by the camp fire while I put Dannie to bed. Then we sat and played cribbage, listened to the water crashing on the lake, did some reading, and went to bed.

(The pictures below were actually from our park visit the next morning, but there were lots of pictures for Saturday. Smile)

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SATURDAY

We played at the park in the morning and then we took a “hike” to Temperance River and let the kids run around. The falls there are so pretty and there’s a nice place to hang out by the lake and throw more rocks (a theme for the weekend). Maddie and Chelsea have such a fun time hanging out together and play really well with each other.

We went to the pool at some point, I just can’t remember when. Smile The girls really liked the pool, but much preferred the hot tub….I prefer it, too, I just can’t be in it like I would like with this little baby in my belly and all.

Since Maddie hasn’t been napping much, we let her stay up and have a rest time for a while and we snuggled and read some books together.

That evening we went to Grand Marais and walked around/looked in stores, had dinner and got ice cream. We usually go there on Sunday night and the stores are all closing and it’s a lifeless little town. But it’s a little more exciting on a Saturday night and I’m glad we decided to give that a try this year.

At night, we went to the campfire for s’mores again (a nightly ritual when they give you free s’more stuff at the front desk). After the girls were in bed, we played some more cribbage and this time we made a fire. Between the fire and the sounds of the lake…I was in heaven!

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SUNDAY

Chuck got us up and moving bright and early and we were out the door by about 7:30 to go hiking/exploring. We went the Temperance River again, but went a different way this time to see different things. Last year the girls were a bit to young for this, but Maddie was at a great age and Chuck rented a backpack from the resort to carry Dannie around (which she wasn’t very happy about at first). It was a bit of an uphill climb, but the views were gorgeous!

When we got back, we headed to a craft for the kids…painting rocks. Maddie cried for the first part of it and then decided she wanted to paint. Dannie loved it. At some point we had lunch and then went swimming. And I don’t remember how we fit it all in, but we went to get ice cream after lunch, too.

That afternoon, Maddie and I took a nap together on the couch. It was the first time in her life (since she was a newborn) that she napped with me and not by herself. It was completely uncomfortable, but cute to snuggle with her.

After nap time, the girls had some kind of dance party…sounds like a good 3-year-old activity to me! They are impossible to take pictures of because they move so quickly. I’m also not certain there was even any music on at the time.

Then we went to the Fisher’s place for dinner. I think I forgot to mention that their room was right next door to ours. After dinner we got some supplies from the rental office (tennis rackets, balls, bocce ball, croquet) and headed to the tennis courts and field. This occupied the kiddos until it was time for a little tetherball and more s’mores.

After the kids were in bed, we played, you guess it, some more cribbage by the fire and read our books for a while before heading to bed ourselves.

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MONDAY

We woke up and took one more trip down to the lake after we got everything packed up and threw some more rocks. Then we were off. We made a stop in Duluth on the way home to visit Chuck’s dad and stayed there a couple hours, ate lunch and headed toward home at nap time.

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It was a wonderful trip and one that we look forward to every year. We are so fortunate to have such great friends to take this trip with each year.

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