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?

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.





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.

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

Family and Kids and Outdoors03 Jul 2009 10:11 pm
Bode and Courtney

Bode and Courtney

We spent nearly a week up at the camper and are back before the 4th of July. Bode absolutely LOVED riding in the tube behind the boat. He decided Dad was a better boat driver than Mom. Mom’s ride was too scary. Oh well…I ended up riding in the tube a lot with him and with Courtney. She thought it was great fun and didn’t want to go too fast. I did learn to take my wakeboard run first. Otherwise, my arms and hands were already fatigued when I tried to wakeboard. The weather wasn’t super warm, but we got a number of boating times in. Aaron’s aunt and uncle were super nice and even put Courtney to sleep in the boat a number of times. She has a tendency to fall asleep when the boat starts running.

The kids enjoy being at the camper. Bode did tons of coloring and it is fun to watch his choices there expand. He also is getting to be quite the reader. It’s amazing to me, but he can make his way through a number of easy books. He tries to read EVERYTHING…shirts, signs, etc. Riding in the car with him is like having a police officer in the back seat. He tells you what all the signs say and lets you know about the solid and dotted lines and what you should and shouldn’t be doing! It’s fun and funny. Courtney loves riding on the 4-wheeler and, much like the boat, has a tendency to be lulled to sleep on it.

Once again the dogs did not get on our good side. I let them out of their kennel one morning and within minutes had encountered a skunk…again. Arghhh! Stinky dogs. They’re not too bad now.

We came back early so Aaron could go skydive with some friends that had been bugging him to compete on a team for the weekend. We’ll join him at the DZ on the 4th for a day of fun hanging out and visiting with friends. Eventually Monday morning will roll around and I’ll be back to reality. Until then, I’m enjoying this time away from work!

Bode and Courtney and Family and Kids and Outdoors12 May 2009 08:51 pm
Bode and Courtney enjoy watching flowers float down the river.

Bode and Courtney enjoy watching flowers float down the river.

We spent our first family weekend at “camperland”.  The weather was pleasant and we spent a lot of time outside.  The kids enjoyed watching dandelions and other flowers float down the river.  They also enjoyed shoveling dirt, driving the gator, riding 4-wheeler and hiking around.  It made for a great Mother’s Day.  They played and played.  They even got to go visit a nearby farm that had llamas, chickens, peacocks, ponies, pigs, rabbits, dogs, cats, birds and probably more.  There were lots of baby animals to visit.  Bode loved the chickens and Courtney thought the pigs were very loud.  They were!

I don’t think I’ve posted a picture of the new camper yet.  Lots more room to live in there than the old one.  Also, we’ve managed to keep the dogs out of it so far.  They got a kennel and are learning to accept it.

Our new home

Our new home

The view from the deck in front of the camper.  Beautiful!

The view from the deck in front of the camper. Beautiful!

So long until the next visit.

Bode and Courtney and Kids and Outdoors03 May 2009 05:02 pm
Bode & Courtney

Bode & Courtney try out the inline skates

The kids had fun taking turns using the inline skates I picked up last year. They are Fisher Price adjustable ones I got at Aldi, of all places. Bode is at the max size and Courtney is just big enough for them. It works out ok since I wouldn’t be able to manage both on skates at the same time anyway. They have three wheels which can switch between three in a row to one in front and two side by side in the back for stability. We opt for stability!

They both did a super job and did some skating on their own. I’m looking forward to the day when the family can go out for a skate together.

Bode and Courtney and Family and Kids and Outdoors08 Mar 2009 08:19 pm


Once again, I’m catching up after a big break. January and February are typically slow photo months. By April we should be picking up again. The ones above are from the Denver airport on our way back home after a vacation to Utah. The kids had lots and lots of fun grandmas and grandpa and cousins and an aunt and uncle. They visited the planetarium, aquarium, dinosaur museum, went bowling, to the park and more while Mom and Dad skied. Did the kids ski in Utah? Not this time. Figure there are plenty more chances for that in the future. We did take them out skiing at Welch Village yesterday. Both kids did great. Bode followed Aaron around and was so proud that he skied “green circles, blue squares, and black diamonds.” He said the green circles were his favorite. Their babysitter Nicole was home on spring break and was out skiing. Courtney did so well working with Nicole. She always flopped for me, but Nicole got her skiing by holding onto her hands. She even skied without holding on. Not bad for her second time at age 2. Photos are over in the gallery. I also posted a video of Courtney skiing. Enjoy.

Bode and Courtney and Kids and Outdoors11 Dec 2008 11:07 pm

kids on sled

Yay! We finally have snow. It sure makes it feel more like ski season. Bode put on his skis out in the yard and was sliding down our little slope in the front yard. He had a blast. Check out the video. Both kids thoroughly enjoyed riding on the sled as we took the dogs for a walk on the snowy sidewalks. Coming back up the hill got interesting, but Bode got out of the sled and walked all the way up. I was proud of him, especially since he was trudging in deep snow.

We haven’t gotten the kids out skiing yet but are hoping to do so soon. I know Bode is excited and can’t wait. I’m not so sure about Courtney. She loves skis inside but doesn’t always want to get dressed up to go outside in the snow. I’m hoping the real deal will appeal to her more. I got new skis delivered last week and both kids were fighting over who got to stand on them in the living room!

More snow please.

Bode and Courtney and Family and Kids and Outdoors03 Aug 2008 04:09 pm

The table is kid size.

That was Bode’s comment today after we finished putting the picnic table together. Bode got it last year for his birthday from grandma and grandpa but it took us a while to get that project done. I had started it on Bode’s birthday 2 weeks ago, ran out of time, and then Aaron finished it up today. Courtney rushed over to it and both kids were enjoying it. It’ll be the right size to move into the screen house for eating dinner. Getting bear bait, putting more stones around the fire ring, pushing around gravel and other miscellaneous tasks filled up the weekend.

Two weeks ago when we were up, we didn’t get a lot done at the land, but that was ok. We had gone to Duluth on that Saturday to the air show. Both kids had a good time and Bode really liked getting to sit in the pilot seat of several airplanes. The rain during the Blue Angels performance at the end was a little disappointing, but it was a great show. Afterwards we went to Taste of Saigon with some friends for dinner. One of the guys working there liked to rub the top of Bode’s buzzed head! Bode didn’t seem to mind. Both kids were really well behaved and got to get a treat from the candy store across the hall afterwards. We went and stood under the bridge for moment since Bode loves it so and then we headed home. We picked up pizza and an ice cream cake on the way into town and had a small celebration before bed. As I was getting things ready in Courtney’s room, I told Bode to not bring his skis (his present he had just opened) into Courtney’s room. I turned and saw it was Courtney bringing Bode’s skis into her room! She then started standing on them. I’m hoping that excitement carries through to winter.

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