August 27, 2014

Impromptu Anniversary Date | Duluth, MN

Saturday was our anniversary.  We needed to pick up some school shoes and a load of material from the lumberyard in Duluth, so we made a date of it. 
Duluth is our nearest & dearest city.  I love Canal Park, Glensheen Mansion, the architecture, the rock and creeks and hillside.  And I love Lake Superior. 
We decided to head to Enger Park & see the Enger Tower up close for the first time. 
It was busy when we got there, with wedding parties having their photos taken & crowds of rather noisy people.  We aren't typically Saturday sightseers, so we almost turned around at the parking lot and left. 
But we had stopped for an early dinner first, and I figured all of these people would be leaving for dinner soon.  We fled to the adjoining Superior Hiking Trail for a little while, where we didn't see a single person.  And by the time we were back to the park it had cleared out significantly.

We ended up approaching the tower from an alternative path all to ourselves. 
An enchanting one, too, I thought.

Dedicated in 1939 by the Crown Prince and Crown Princess of Norway, the five story stone tower stands on top of the hillside overlooking the Duluth Harbor and St. Louis Bay some 500+ feet above the level of Lake Superior.

It was a gloomy, moody weather day, heavily overcast & foggy on top of the hill.  I was worried we wouldn't be able to see anything from the tower, but visibility was fair below. 

The tower offered varying views from it's windows; harbor, city, industrial, countryside. 

Duluth is famous for it's Aerial Lift Bridge (above.)  The bridge spans the Duluth Ship Canal, which was put through the thin, long sand spit named Minnesota Point (commonly referred to as Park Point by locals.)

Park Point is approximately 7 miles in length, and when included with adjacent Wisconsin Point, which extends 3 miles out from the city of Superior, Wisconsin, is reported to be the largest freshwater sand spit in the world at a total of 10 miles.  (wikipedia)
Later we randomly decided to cross the bridge and drive out to Park Point.
But first we explored Enger Park with less people.  It was lovely.


Passing through a crowded & bustling Canal Park, we headed out to Park Point.
Here we found respite from the crowds!  
It was very windy out on the point, Lake Superior was loud & crashing, how I like it best.     

We watched some kite surfers, took some pictures, walked the beach a bit.

Then we were off to finish our errands and return home to our kiddos for the night. 
It was a great way to spend an impromptu sort of day.

Our wedding day, seventeen years later.  

Peace, Love, and Awkward Anniversary Selfies,

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August 22, 2014

Day by Day

It's August 21st and I've only published one update this month.  I've started about a dozen posts in the past few weeks but haven't finished them.  (Not like me at all.)
I'm contentedly immersed in our "now".. yet have had so much on my mind.
Sad things have been happening around us, weaving in and out of my thoughts each day.

One thing that is at the root of most of my thoughts, and the root of most of what I am, is my kids.
They are growing and changing.  It's quite incredible, really. 
I'm enjoying days spent together and letting them stay up much too late at night. 
We're cleaning out closets (oh, how they grow!) to see what we need -or preferably don't need- for school, which starts in September for us.
I've been thinking of our day by day lifestyle.  Saturday night I wrote this, and then stopped:

"Day by day.. Minute by minute.. It's how we're livin'."
Those are song lyrics I love. Words I often feel like I'm trying to explain about our life. And also what's on my mind this evening.
Just getting through one day at a time. Not yet thinking about the next, living in the now. It is indeed how we're living most of the time.
Not everyone embraces that about us. Some of our fellow humans have predictable schedules and are planners, weeks and months in advance. But for us, there are endless variables to a day in our lives. We take them one at a time.
On my mind tonight is a baby boy named Charlie, our sister-in-law's nephew. Charlie is not quite 4 months old, and has lived all his life in the hospital. He's beautiful. His parents' love for him is beautiful. Charlie is living day by day.
We spent this evening with many of his family members, his aunts & uncles, his cousins, his grandma & grandpa. My heart is sad for them all.  It was an evening of smiles, yet I came home and cried for them.
They lost Charlie Monday night.
Again, I'm reminded of how precious time, and life, is.
I can't stop thinking about Charlie's parents, and all the people we know who have lost children.
I'm so sorry.  Those words just aren't big enough.
Charlie's dad wrote this morning about healing vs. bandaging the hole that losing Charlie has left.
My grandparents
lost two sons after long battles with cancer in their teenage years, something I can't fathom.  My grandma is in her 80's now.  That was long ago, just before I was born, but I'm pretty certain she wears a bandage over a void that will never be filled. 
I think of DJan, my blog friend and role model when it comes to living life adventurously, honestly, & fully, who has shared about losing her sons.  I think of our neighbor Marianne's sister Helen.  Her 101st birthday is this week.  She lost her only son when he was small and she has lived all these years without him.
I think of others too, and I think to myself, "Wow, life is unfair."  But I look at these same people and think, "Wow, life is beautiful, too."

Something I can't help but think about is the close relatives who aren't involved in our kids' lives, who haven't had a steady presence, haven't given the time to know and share the joy of them. 
Our kids couldn't be more happy and well, I remind myself that they're not lacking in any way.  But, the bigger the support group of people who are there for a kid & the more love & caring, the better.  So it's too bad. 
It's most unfortunate, though, for those who don't seem to know what they're missing.    

There are others who would give anything to have their grandchild or niece or nephew in their lives, to cheer them on as they laugh, play, and grow.  I keep thinking of that.  

Back to these kids..  Mason is doing well after having all of his wisdom teeth (he had five) removed a week ago.  It didn't go quite as planned but he handled it like the calm, tough kid he's always been for us.  It slowed him down for just a few hours that evening.
He and Eric have football practice three hours each morning.  Little boys have all different passions, and football was theirs.  This will be their 8th season playing.    

I'm anxious about this school year, unsettled, unsure that we're making the best decisions for all of them.  Or more so, sure that we aren't.  I want what's best for our kids.
Johnathan is stealthily sneaking up on twelve years old.  It has just recently sunk in how close he is to teen-hood and how rapidly Mason & Eric changed starting around his age.  Right now he's still our soft spoken, soft cheeked boy, but boy is he eating more like a teenager. 
He's been surprising me with bursts of cleaning lately.. changing his sheets, vacuuming downstairs, and when I noticed someone had cleaned the toilet in their (four boys) bathroom, he told me he's been doing it once a week.  Oh, glorious ray of wonder!!! 
Lilly, is keeping right at Johnathan's heels in the growing up business.  Yesterday they both had a friend over for a few hours.  They were also both referred to the orthodontist at their dentist checkups this week.  Sigh.  She's creating with Legos at the moment.
Beau is keeping me on my toes while I watch him do standing stunts on his bicycle.  He's very excited about getting supplies ready for 2nd grade.
We're reading The Long Winter at night, a couple of chapters at a time.  All three younger kids still listen to me read aloud.  Pa just got official word that the train isn't going to make it to their little town on the prairie til spring.  They are burning
twisted hay sticks to keep warm, and there is just a partial sack of wheat and a few potatoes left for food. The blizzards are dreadfully ongoing and it's only early January. Beau was growing quite distraught, so last night Lilly & I had to reveal to him that Almanzo Wilder will save the town and they'll all be fine.

Monday the younger three and I had a really good "Go Where It Takes Us" kind of day after their dentist appointments. That evening I chased this rainbow to the end of our road to get an open view. The size of it was incredible, my widest angle lens could only capture a fraction of it. I stood out in the rain and marveled until it faded away.
This was taken with the panorama feature on my phone:

I hope today takes you somewhere good.

You can learn more about Charlie at his Caring Bridge site
There is a fund set up to help their family here.

August 6, 2014

Random Summer Days

There are many photos to share from our Canada trip up north - and I will - but summer is flying (it's short lived in our part of the world) and days are full.  I've been busy with the kids, with beautiful weather, with juggling everything I want to do and needs to be done all at once. 
However, my mind is overflowing with things that wish to work their way out into words - so I expect to hit my rhythm here again shortly. 
For now, some happenings from our summer days:

Yesterday I had a revolving mix of thirteen kids at our house, seven to start the day, nine still going strong until close to midnight, and a few others between.   Ages 1-18.  
Just a random summer Tuesday.

One evening last week I kayaked, at a non-leisurely pace, roughly 8 miles or so around a nearby lake.  My sisters are preparing for a triathlon, one stage of which is canoeing or kayaking around the lake.  They were there to test out a double kayak & see how the timing went.  I was just along because I love being on the water with a paddle, it's one of my favorite things.  It was a gorgeous evening, and good and tiring trying to keep up with the two of them.  (The two person vessel was much faster than mine!  I do not have a Ferrari model kayak.) 
I'm really not a Point A to Point B person.  This fact has been surfacing daily.  
I love to wander & enjoy, and really experience my journey.
Once in a while it hits me out of nowhere & brings me to tears:  I miss our dog. 
I was singing lots of Me and My Doggie McGee for a week.  
I'm finally getting back into a walking rhythm again without him, which feels good.
The setting sun while on my walks has been beautiful.

We've had a little less swimming and a lot more bicycle activity around here as of late. 
Johnathan & Lilly are suddenly riding mine & Mitch's full size bikes. 
One evening on my walk, I found a huge end to end rainbow at the end of our road.  The entire wild wetland / lake was covered by this great arc.  My phone battery was languishing & wouldn't take a panorama.
Later in the week we broke out the paints & canvases.  Lilly (and I helped a little) painted this scene, inspired by the rainbow I had seen.  It will hang in her room.  

Our garden seems stunted this year.  But strawberry season was good & we're eating a few fresh picked peas, beans & carrots. 
We're loving our chickens & summer flowers.
Wild raspberries abound all around us right now. 

My friend, Alaina, made us an appointment for pedicures together last week.  A splurge, but such a treat!   I was introduced to a new spa / salon in town that was so much fun, located in a historic old school building in town.  It's nice to indulge in something special once in a while.  I feel that I'm at a stage in my life where I can do so feeling less guilt, yet as much appreciation as ever.

I just started reading The Fault in Our Stars.  I wish I had a bonus hour each day to read.
Beau & I read The Wind in the Willows together over the past couple of days.  I enjoyed his snuggles and we giggled a lot.  Giggles are great.
Home projects are numerous right now.  I'm moving into our home office, converting multiple closets, & working on some more exterior staining.   My list goes on & on.
I've been greatly limiting my thrift & treasure hunting.. but have acquired a few project items & have some old ones waiting in line as well. 

"I still find each day too short for all the thoughts I want to think, all the walks I want to take, all the books I want to read, and all the friends I want to see."  -John Burroughs

I'm feeling that quote lately.
Peace, Love, & A Very Happy August,

*All of these photos were taken with my phone.. so handy on the go.  But I still love my camera-camera best of all.   :)