Wednesday, July 30, 2014

4th Of July At the Lake...

This year we arrived Sunday evening and had fun catching up with Bailey and Madelynne, who had just arrived from TX as well as my parents and sister.  My grandparents arrived the next day as well and later in the week, Alex, Kristiaan, Casen and Chris came too.  At one point there were 16 of us around the table -- what fun!

Unfortunately, the rain was relentless in the spring and early summer in Minnesota and the lakes were all very high, covering many low-lying beaches and docks as well as eroding land surrounding the lake.  Due to high water, there were lake restrictions including not driving over 5 mph anywhere on the lake which meant no fast tubing, no water skiing, etc.  This meant a different lake experience BUT when given a lemon, my family makes darn good lemonade.  FUN was still had by all!

There was a rainy day while in MN (not surprising) so we decided to celebrate Solon's birthday with the tradition of going to MOA and doing the rides!  He asks to do it every year with Grandma!  This year, my mom could do all the rides and was loving it all :).  Solon is in to the "big kid" rides now including most of the roller coasters!


Vera still enjoys the kiddie rides and she had lots of willing chaperones!

For lunch, we checked out the new Benihana Hibachi Grill in the mall.  We all squeezed around one table!

That night we got a cake and Solon opened his presents from Grandma and Grandpa...a highlight was a remote-controlled astronaut (about 4 inches tall) that flies up and down!

The rest of the week, we spent hot tubbing, sailing, taking slow scenic boat and jet ski cruises and we added paddle boarding and kayaking to our repetoire.  They were both really fun.

 


Solon even tried his hand at kayaking..

And a daddy-daughter trip...


The whole "youth" gang....minus the grandparents!

We also were being silly and paddle-boarded in our dresses one night after a fun dinner at Lord Fletcher's.

Of course the fireworks were amazing and this year, due to all the rain, Waconia hosted the "Taste of Minnesota" at the Carver county fairgrounds which meant fireworks shows for 3 nights and a double firework show on the night of the 4th.  It was spectacular.  Our neighbors ran out of gas on the way to the fireworks and they were stranded in a pitch black lake, thankfully we found them with smart phones and the flashlight app and towed them home.

We also spent every evening on the new porch around the fireplace....definitely a cozy fun spot to hang out!



...and with absolutely no wake on the lake, you could paddle board and kayak wherever free of worrying you would get run over and there were no waves!  It was so peaceful!

Of couse our kiddos loved all the attention from Bailey, Madelynne, Alex and Ellen while there.  They had plenty of people doting on them and they ate it all up!  Bailey had to get back to his mowing business but Madelynne headed back home with us for a week to enjoy some time in IA with the kids and us!  More on that soon.  It was a great week in MN, relaxing!  We can't wait to get back up there one more time with our friends in August and now there are no speed limit restrictions, I might get up on the slalom ski yet!

Monday, July 28, 2014

Strugis Falls...

It has been SUCH a fun summer being reconnected with our Aussie cousins, Grace and Lance.  We have loved spending LOTS of time with them and their friendships are just blooming like crazy.  Every time we leave there are tears from Solon and "when are we going to see them again?".    So, before they even moved home, we planned a trip back to Scott's hometown, Cedar Falls, with his brother and his wife, Raquel and family, his parents and us for the annual town celebration also known as Sturgis Falls.  This was the kick-off to our annual 4th of July vacation so we loaded the car and the kids and off we went.
We met everyone Friday night at the Brown Bottle, a family favorite!  Of course we all got lasagna and it was DELICIOUS!  We also brought a tent and the 3 older cousins spent each night sleeping in it in the basement.

The next morning, we went to the parade!


Scott's best friend from high school and wife, joined us for the day.  We are so excited they are expecting their first child!  We always enjoy our time with Anne and Tim.

After a yummy lunch in the park, we headed to the historical museum to see artisans and the train exhibit before heading over to the carnival.



Funny story -- our kids bounced forever because the attendant fell asleep and never made them get out.  Our kiddos finally got tired and exited themselves...guess we got our money's worth :)!

That evening the kids were wiped so off they went to bed and the adults played cards.

The next mornign we went to church together and then had a picnic by their good friend's pool with their families and ours.

Solon was so brave as the shallowest portion of the pool was 4 feet and he swam without anything the entire time.  I knew he could swim but I wasn't sure for how long.  He sure has a competitive spirit.  He wanted to keep up with his cousins!  He also jumped off the diving board a million times and swam to the edge by himself!

Before long, it was time to head back and get changed....next stop was the lake to see lots of family and spend the 4th of July at the best place on Earth -- the lake!!!

Thursday, July 24, 2014

A Weekend At Home ALONE...

We had a wedding in June for Scott's pledge son and dear friend of us here in Des Moines.  My parents graciously offered to take the kids (we twisted their arm ever so slightly ;) and we had a weekend alone to celebrate our 8th anniversary and do things we did pre-kids like sleep in and sip coffee while it is still hot!  The kids had a BLAST at the lake alone and we had a blast being home alone.  Generally when our kids go away, so do we SO this was a new experience for us!

After I met my mom in Clear Lake to swap the kiddos, I headed back to Ankeny to run errands SOLO - yippee and stopped to get a pedicure too!

That night we headed to one of our Ankeny restaurants, Renallo's, it is not real kid friendly...you know the kind with dim lights, candle and ambient music playing.  It was delightful!  Afterwards, we met up with the wedding party downtown.  I felt a "tad" old down there...think just graduated college crowd but I got free fruity non-alcoholic drinks since I was a DD so it was a win!  I even got to get gussied up for the night in a new maxi dress...

#selfie (yes a hashtag and a selfie, I am h to the ip like that aka hip)

 The next day we enjoyed sleeping in and I did sleep in, I was worried I would wake up at 6:45 sans kids but I didn't.  Then I went on a leisurely run, we did some work around the house, I did my devotional on the back deck and pretty much tried to remember what I did with all my time and then I remembered I was in grad school pre-kids
!
The Guiter wedding was beautiful.

It was held downtown at the Iowa Events Center aka the old Vets Auditorium, you would never know it though.  It was so glamorous.  The ceiling changed color and their monogram was displayed on the wall...


This was the first non-family wedding my sister and I were both invited too.  We were at the older end of the friend spectrum and she at the younger end.  When you are 6 years apart in school, this was fun for us!



And we danced the night away...literally...I.LOVE.TO.DANCE!


Our group of fraternity brother friends...everyone is ALL over the country now so we were planning who had to get married next so we could all get together soon!  Luckily for us, Scott's best friend and fraternity brother is getting married in October in KC.  Vera happens to be the flower girl and Scott's a groomsman.  We can't wait!


And just in case you were worried, Scott was left at the table while I danced...he wasn't.  We both had a blast dancing the night away.  They pulled out some stellar albeit interesting moves :).  He has moves like Jagger...well....


And the evening ended on the dance floor at 1am, shoeless and having a ball.  The next morning we slept in, enjoyed our coffee on the deck and enjoyed each other.  When you have uninterrupted conversation, you can talk about hopes and dreams, plans for the future, wishlists and more...it is always refreshing and fun to be with your sweetheart alone.  It was a fabulous staycation -- thanks mom and dad for taking the kids ;)!!!


Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Going on a Berry Hunt...

Berry hunting has been on our chalkboard summer bucket list for the last 2 summers so when my friend Angie posted they went, I quickly got the details from her.  The farms get picked over fast around here so time is of the essence.  I called up my friend Emilie, who is always up for adventure, and the next day we were in the car as the rain was splashing down.  Luckily for us, it was a blip on the radar and it was nice and humid but dry when we arrived!  We got our instructions to go in "this lane" with a flick of the wrist by the attendant and off we went.  We got a few rude remarks by fellow people near us as we were not sure where the heck we were supposed to be with such clear instructions.  BUT once we figured it out the kids mostly kept each other entertained and Emilie and I did most of the manual labor.  Mind you she is pregnant and berry picking is very labor-intensive (no pun intended ;).  
All smiles at the beginning...

Our strawberry finds...

Emilie working hard and the girls...mmmm...not so much...I think they ate more than they picked.  Luckily there is free eating while you pick ;).

Our finds with our oh-so-helpful crew!

We also stopped on the way back to the weigh and pay station to pick up fresh sugar-snap peas. They might just be our family's favorite veggie.

While we payed for our goods, the kids played on an old swing set that had a horse made out of a tire.  They all wanted their daddy's to whip one of those up for our houses!



We each went home with about 8 lbs of very small strawberries.  Due to the odd weather this spring the strawberries matured much smaller than normal.  We froze about half of ours since some were sour tasting and we will make freezer jam with them!


The only bummer of the whole day was a rock hit my windshield on the way home.  I am lucky we didn't crash as it was large and very loud.  Emilie and I both winced and closed our eyes on the interstate!  We will get it fixed after construction season is over.  I was sure to tell my civil engineering hubby about it ;)!

All in all, it was a fun experience.  I think the kids got the hang of it and we will definitely go again.  We can check that off of our summer bucket list....more to come soon.  We have been busily doing some of the things on our list, now to get caught up on documenting them :)!

Sunday, July 6, 2014

A trip to the lake with cousins...

We have been LOVING having our Aussie cousins now living back in the USA and so close to us in Minneapolis.  My parents were going to be away for a few prime lake weekends this summer and offered up the house for us to use.  We invited the Malin's to join us for a weekend in June.  The weather in MN has been RAINY, oh my word!  BUT with kids, it doesn't matter.  They played hard and had so much fun and us adults relaxed, talked, ate and enjoyed watching them.  It was a fun weekend, we hope to repeat soon!

Friday night, we got there before bedtime and Auntie Raquel brought some fun glow in the dark stuff...including some awesome shades :)

We took boat rides, the kids tubed, we went on jet ski rides and even went and got ice cream at the marina in the boat!
Lance and Vera
The Malin kids adapted well to the MN weather, their parents on the other hand have some adapting to do and this is MN SUMMER...they are in trouble!

...and they logged hours upon hours in the "warm" hot tub, nicely cooled to bath water!
We also tested out the new porch on a rainy evening and made s'mores and hung out by the fire.  It was glorious!

We made "cool and awesome" aunt and uncle for some crazy tubing for Grace, in her words, "I went 2 meters in the air" (gotta love the metric system reference).  She and Uncle Scott did go HIGH and I could never in a million years replicate that move if I tried but glad she LOVED it!  We are so glad they are back and loving all this extra time we are getting to be with them this summer...

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