Family and Outdoors03 Jan 2014 09:20 am

For the past 4 years, we’ve ventured north at Christmas time.  Most people in Minnesota dream about warmer weather to the south and head that way but not us!  We like to get up to check on our land near Moose Lake and play around in the snow.  And since we’re already that far north, we keep on going on up to Duluth.  I think Lake Superior has a magical draw on all 4 of us.

We started out by checking out the snow level.

Anyone up for a picnic?

We plowed the snow to get to the shed, shoveled off the bridge and built a snow hut.  It was nice to see that Bode’s teepee he had started building in the fall was still standing.

Bode & his teepee

After a couple hours, we were chilled, hungry and ready to head to Duluth, so we got in the truck and headed north.  After checking into the hotel and going for a short swim, we had the light display at Bentleyville on our to-do list for the night.  I love the lights on the shore of Lake Superior and the kids love visiting with Santa.  They also like that you get a hat and cookies after you see Santa.

Santa: What would you like for Christmas?

Courtney:  Anything

Bode: Beautiful Katamari and the dog version of Life

Visiting with Santa

Mostly it was too cold to take your hands out of your mittens to take a picture.  However, Aaron did brave the cold and sacrifice his comfort to take a few pictures as we caught ships going through the canal.

Duluth's aerial lift bridge is up to let the ship pass through


Algoma Olympic heading out to Lake Superior after loading coal in Superior

Want to know more about the Algoma Olympic ship?

I love the ice and steam on the lake.  What was the temperature while we out watching the ships?  I think it was -10 F or something.  Don’t worry about us though.  When we weren’t dressing in multiple layers to brave the weather outside, we were enjoying the heated indoor waterpark.  The kids say it was a great time, so why would we go south?

Family06 Dec 2013 04:29 pm

Whooooosh! Another year is quickly on its way out. If you haven’t been following along with our life on Facebook, where have you been? Just kidding! I try to keep it entertaining over there and I’m not much for writing these snazzy letters anyway. But just in case you came looking for more, here it is!

We managed to spend most of the winter at the ski hill, including weekends and many nights after work and school. I became a pro at packing and unpacking those bags while the kids rolled into bed. Both kids got to ski at Brighton while we were Utah. I was surprised to find out after the lesson that the instructors had teamed up and taken Bode and Courtney over to a double black diamond. We’re all looking forward to that trip again.

Both kids moved up to swim team earlier this year and are spending countless hours in the pool. I’m writing this as they swim laps back and forth. They are by far better swimmers than I am. When not in the pool, Courtney has spent most of the year playing hockey. It keeps her busy and active.

Did you hear that Aaron skated a marathon and a half? That’s 39.3 miles on inline skates in 1 morning. I think he’s a little bit crazy, but he did it and then he signed up again. Even after skating a half marathon first and being a few months out of foot surgery, he still beat my time for the marathon. Guess I’ll have to work harder next year, especially since I know he intends to also! I’m hoping for a tailwind. 🙂 We’re hoping that more of our friends will join us too.

There was a hunting season, but it got cut a bit short with Aaron being sent to Taiwan for work. They tell me hunting isn’t all killing. There’s always next year to fill the freezer full of meat. This year the freezer ended up full with the bounty of our garden and some apple trees. It was Aaron and not me that got the trip to the emergency room this year. Our track record with gardening and knives isn’t good. Nobody warned me that it was this dangerous! We’re set to do it again next year, but if I don’t have to can anything until August or September, that will be just fine.

Lots of other stuff happened during the year. Fun stuff. Exciting stuff. Vacation stuff. Mundane stuff. Work stuff. Family stuff. Travel stuff. Dog stuff. Camping stuff. Kid stuff. Stuff stuff. Stuffed! I’m just happy to be able to do the things we do.

Looking forward to doing lots more of the same in 2014. We hope you join us.

Wishing you and your family a Merry Christmas and a wonderful new year…

Johanna, Aaron, Bode, Courtney & Sky

Uncategorized12 Dec 2012 09:40 pm

“It’s beginning to feel a lot like Christmas…”  And that’s the closest you’ll get to me singing for you.  It’s lightly snowing here tonight and finally looking a little like winter.  If we weren’t already thinking about skiing, this would do it, but we often are and have several days on the hill already.  I’ve decided to give you the…

Top 10 Hislop Highlights of 2012
…or at least 10 things that may have happened in no particular order.

  1. Braces
    Bode got braces across his upper front teeth to coordinate with the appliance he already had.  He is not impressed with being a frequent visitor to the orthodontist, but he is putting up with it well.
  2. Helicopter skiing in British Columbia
    This was an amazing trip we planned with a friend.  Aaron and I skied like celebrities, getting picked up in the helicopter and dropped off on the mountain for an awesome week of skiing.  No chair lifts were necessary.
  3. Inline skate races
    Aaron and I skated in the Northshore Inline Skate Marathon again.  It was a beautiful day.  Aaron ditched me after 3 miles, but the race went well for both of us with new personal best times.  The kids skated in the Kids Sprints the night before and did well too.  Courtney had a first place win in the girls 5 and under group again.
  4. Dog
    After saying goodbye to our 12 year old lab, Wednesday, we welcomed Old Hemlock Blue Sky into our family.  She is an English Setter that thinks Bode is another puppy.  We took a quick trip to New York in July to pick her up.
  5. Skiing
    Both kids love to ski and got a lot of ski days and nights while Aaron and/or I patrolled at Welch Village.   We’ll see if we get more skiing than last year.
  6. Wolves
    Maybe you heard about our wolf encounter and maybe you didn’t.  I’ll just say that 3 full size wolves running at you is mighty intimidating and not something I’ll be forgetting soon.
  7.  Kindergarten
    Courtney started kindergarten this year.  It’s going well and she likes it a lot.  I love how fast she’s learning to read now.  Before you know it, she’ll be blasting through the books like Bode.

Well, this was supposed to be 10 items.  Lots of exciting things happened this year mixed with lots of wonderful ordinary activities that make it life.  I’m stopping at 7 so that I can get this posted and go to sleep.  Maybe I’ll come back with a few more, but maybe I won’t.  🙂  Either way, happy holidays to you and your families!  I’m glad we got to spend time with so many people this year and looking forward to those we’ll be seeing next year.

Johanna, Aaron, Bode & Courtney


Bode and Family and Outdoors26 Jul 2012 08:58 am

Sky joins her new family


For months every time I’ve asked Bode what he wants to do for the day or the weekend, the answer has been:

Get a puppy!

The boy loves dogs.  Dogs and boys go together.

After some dog research, Aaron decided that an English Setter (specifically an Old Hemlock English Setter) would be the best dog for the family *and* for hunting.  I wasn’t necessarily ready for a new dog yet, but Aaron assured me it could take two years on the waiting list.  Shortly thereafter, there were two litters of pups and one was available for us.  This gave me nearly two months to ready myself for having a puppy again.  The catch is that we would have to travel to Rochester, NY to get the puppy.  (Yep!  That was a Rochester, MN to Rochester, NY trip.)  Given Aaron’s lack of vacation time, that meant it would be a weekend trip and he would need me to come with to drive through the night.  This sounded exhausting, but I reluctantly agreed.  Until it was time to pick up the puppy, Aaron and Bode frequented the puppy update pictures on facebook, trying to decide which ones were their favorites.  The puppy-to-be had even already been named Old Hemlock Blue Sky (just Sky for short).

And we were off…

Last Thursday after work, Aaron, Bode and I got in the car (Courtney was already at grandma’s) and started the drive to New York.  We crossed a lot of state lines and a lot of toll booths, but we didn’t make a lot of stops.  By Friday morning, we were in New York.  We planned to go see the puppies on Friday night and make our selection on Saturday morning.  Until then, we had the day (who needs real sleep?)  to explore Niagara Falls.  It was Bode’s 8th birthday after all.  None of us had been there before and we had a fun (but wet) time checking it out.

Fast forward to meeting the puppies…

Wow!  Bode got literally bowled over by a large group of nearly 8-week old English Setter puppies as he came into the basement where they were.  They each had a different colored collar to help identify them, but they all looked so much alike.  How were we to make a selection?  We had fourth choice out of the litter (but must be a female) and really any of the puppies seemed like a good choice.  We played with the puppies and took them in smaller groups outside.  It was tough to pick our favorites, but we got an idea, knowing that two more of the puppies would be unavailable by the time we got to choose.  Bode did not want to say goodbye to the puppies that night.  We went out for dinner and back to the hotel, talking about puppy selections, and made it an early night.

Saturday Morning – Puppy Day!

Still not quite sure which puppy we would select, we went to the home where the puppies were.  One family was still trying to select their puppy and had several of their choices outside.  The number one puppy on our list had already been chosen.  As we waited for the other family, we played with the puppies that were around.  One of those puppies stood out in wanting to play with Bode and me.  We ended up taking her and another outside.  It was a group effort to make our decision.  It was hard, but we did it.  And it was a little sad to be leaving the other puppies behind, even though they were all going to other good families that day.

Shortly after making our selection, we loaded up with the puppy, now called Sky, next to Bode in the back seat and we drove off.  We made several stops for Sky on the way home and she was an amazing traveler.  I really had expected the worst.  By 1 am, we were home.  Whew!  Totally beat and glad to be home.  Of course, Sky had slept most of the way and was ready to play!

It’s been a few days now and the barking is less and she’s getting used to the crate more and we’re getting more sleep.  I think I’ll survive this.  And much like Aaron predicted, the puppy had won me over before we even made it home.





Bode and Courtney and Family and Kids04 Dec 2011 07:30 pm
For environmental reasons, I’ve chosen not to print and mail out Christmas
cards this year.  However, I still wanted to share greetings and photos with
friends and family.  I hope you are able to enjoy this alternative.
Love, The HislopsClick to play this Smilebox greeting
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Family and Outdoors26 Mar 2011 08:48 pm

Wow.  I was not expecting such a nice day today.  I guess it was -1 to start, but I didn’t make it out to camperland until almost noon and it had warmed up.  Lots of snow still on the ground, but we spent the afternoon outside and even had our first campfire lunch of hotdogs at the picnic table.  The river has started to thaw.  The iron-tinted ice was cool.  Even cooler were the turkey prints all over the yard…mixed with deer and other animals.  We took a walk across the bridge into the woods and found lots of fairly deep powdery snow.  Kids even got a little sledding in before we left.

Can’t forget the stop at the Donut Shop this morning for treats after being spoiled at Bill and Babe’s.  The kids loved their Koala cookies.

I think Wednesday enjoyed the day too.  She got to run around and even found last year’s bear skull to haul around.

Now we’re on our way home.  Even though the drive is long, I’m reminded of why I do it.  I love it up there.  I love being outside.  And I love teaching the kids to enjoy it too.

Bode and Courtney and Kids01 Jan 2011 08:57 am

Bode (age 6 – while on the chair lift):

When I grow up I want to make a ski area of my own.

Courtney (age 4 – while at breakfast contemplating the fact that she wanted a robe but didn’t have one and had put robe on her Christmas list for Santa)

When I grow up I want to be Santa…a girl Santa.  I’ll say “ho ho ho” and my kids will be little Santas.

Uncategorized30 Dec 2010 11:09 am

You may have thought the site died, but it didn’t. Although I haven’t posted in a year, there have been new photos added occasionally…at least until August. I’ve put new winter pictures over in the photo album again. I think I’ll see if I can start putting updates on here again. A lot has happened since then, but let’s just start out here…

The kids have been busy with swimming lessons and hockey. Between the two, we spend a lot of time at the Rec Center. It’s a lot of fun to see the kids enjoying themselves and growing their hockey and swimming skills. Maybe this summer Bode will be up for trying the waterskis!

Since Bode is out of school this week, I stayed home with him yesterday. We put together the gingerbread house that Santa brought. He snuck a few tastes along the way and is enjoying eating it piece by piece now. He says it was the best present he got. 🙂 He also just put Toy Story 3 into the DVD player to watch again. It was another gift from Santa.

Courtney went to daycare yesterday and today to play with her friends and take a nap. She doesn’t seem to ever nap at home! She had mom time last night and we watched her new movie, which is Barbie Fairytopia Mermaidia. This Christmas was very Barbie and princess oriented with a splash of Dora and Hello Kitty. She loves all of those characters.

Now that I’ve spent a little time bringing the photo album back up and writing this post, I better get going at doing something more productive with my day off!

Family and Kids and Outdoors31 Dec 2009 03:30 pm
Courtney took over the hockey stick

Courtney took over the hockey stick

It’s been a week of fun for us with the kids.  Lots of outdoor time.  Too bad the weather is turning even colder now.

Saturday – skiing at Welch Village

Monday – ice skating at the neighborhood rink

Tuesday – sledding at the neighborhood park and hill

Wednesday – skiing at Welch Village again

Thursday – looking to be ice skating at the Rec Center

Family31 Dec 2009 03:20 pm
The kids with Santa at Bentleyville

The kids with Santa at Bentleyville

Back when we were planning for the San Francisco trip, I got side-tracked and decided a trip to Duluth for Christmas would be fun.  I got us a great mid-week deal on a room at the The Edge.  The kids loved it last summer and it was even more fun this time.  We spent two nights, had bunk beds for the kids, and could barely drag them away from the water slide you ride on the tube.  Both kids were much more comfortable and confident in the environment.  In a couple years, they probably won’t even be waiting for us to catch up.

Our trips to Duluth always have a variety of things going on and most are spontaneous plans.  However, this time we did have another planned adventure.  We had train tickets for December 23rd to go from Fitger’s down to Bayfront Park to visit Bentleyville.  We said hi to my cousin Rachel who was working at Wintergreen and then rode in the upper level of a double-decker train.  Bentleyville was a pretty cool production.  There were tons of light displays, including Enger Tower and an ore ship going under the Ariel Lift Bridge (while you could see the real bridge lit up nearby).  We saw Frosty and Santa’s reindeer walking around, had hot chocolate, cookies, and even toasted marshmallows over a fire.  The kids waited to see Santa and tell him what they wanted for Christmas.  Bode told Santa “anything you want to bring me is fine”.  They got hats and cookies from Santa and we took the train back.

Earlier in the day, while the waterpark was closed, we went out to find some fun.  We ended up at UMD.  We did a little shopping for some UMD merchandise and talked about how this was where mom and dad met and had gone to college.  Bode asked to see our classrooms so we took a little walk around.  After that, we continued on our way over to Superior.  The last couple times we’d been up, the kids had wanted to go across the bridge to Wisconsin.  It’s sort of a novelty to cross the bridge and be in a different state.  We met up with my friends Molly and Grant for a good lunch at C’s while we were over there.  After a quick trip to Northwest Outlet, we headed back to Minnesota and down to Canal Park.  With a strong wind and cold weather, the area was empty.  Parking was great and we played around for a bit before heading back for a little swimming.

The winter weather had started as we got ready to leave on the 24th.  We left a snowy Duluth and headed home to Rochester for some snow and rain.  It was a fun family vacation.

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