Twin Cities Adventure – 7QT

Last week we went to Minneapolis/St. Paul. It was such a fun time. I wanted to get in one more road trip/field trip before the baby arrives, and this was a great low stress trip to take. Here’s a quick recap:

One

We stayed in a really good hotel, the Homewood Suites by the Mall of America. When I travel with the girls, I like to get a suite that has a separate bedroom for them, so I can stay up a little while after putting them to bed and not have to hide under covers with my Kindle or something. Super Friend recommended our hotel to me, and it was perfect for our purposes. It had a little kitchen area, a separate bedroom for the girls, free breakfast, free dinner, and a pool. It also had the most uncomfortable sofa bed ever. No hyperbole here. I literally felt every spring under my body as I slept. The second night we were there, I contemplated scootching one of the girls over and sharing a regular bed with one of them, but the beds were only full size, and well, I’m kind of full size at this point too. When you add in my pregnancy body pillow, there was no way I was going to fit into one of those beds with one of my kids. However, even with the horrid bed, the hotel was excellent, which makes a solo road trip with kids so much easier!

Two

I got to see Nell!! We went to Nell’s beautiful old house and had a wonderful time with her and her sweet kids, and we got to learn her big news when one of her littles spilled the beans for her. So much happy! She is seriously the best hostess. Some people just have a gift for making others feel special and welcome. Nell has that gift. And it is always a treat to spend time with another mom who gets me. Big highlight of the trip for me.

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Three

We visited the Minnesota Science Museum in the afternoon. They have a fantastic Mummies exhibit there right now, and my girls are very into ancient Egypt and mummies. It was a huge bonus that we got to learn about how they practiced mummification for thousands of years in Peru too (I had no idea it was a thing there). The Peruvian mummies were very different from the Egyptian ones, and it was an awesome history lesson. The girls all said that one of the highlights of their day was making Peruvian dolls.

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Four

They also really loved the dinosaur exhibit.

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Five

After we had a free spaghetti dinner at our hotel, I took the girls swimming in the hotel pool. None of my girls is a super strong swimmer yet, and the water in the pool, even at it shallowest point, was too deep for any of them to touch bottom easily. Combine that with the fact that I am pretty slow-moving these days (no speedy water rescues for me right now!), and it was a no brainer that all my kids would need to wear their floaties the whole time. They didn’t seem to care one bit though.

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Six

The aquarium at the Mall of America was amazing for such a small place. The girls were able to touch and feed stingrays, and also watch them chasing each other because they’re mating right now.

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 It was definitely one of the favorites from the trip.

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Seven

I don’t really have a seven. That was it for the trip. We got lunch in the mall after the aquarium and then drove home. It was the easiest drive of any of our trips so far. Chicago is closer, but has so much traffic, seemingly at all times of the day. This drive was smooth sailing and not too long.

I love these trips with my girls. Next time we take one I’ll be pushing a stroller again. It might be a while before I’m brave enough to do another trip with a little baby, and I’m not sure where we’d go next. A friend recommended going somewhere on an Amtrak train, which is definitely worth looking into. Someday. . .

For more Quick Takes posts, visit This Ain’t the Lyceum.

2015 Recap in 12 Photos

2015 was a year filled with joy and change. It had ups and downs, but mostly really wonderful ups. Here’s a quick recap of the year in one photo for each month (and BTW, it’s really hard to choose just one pic per month!):

January

My husband and I had our marriage sacramentally blessed in the Catholic Church. It was one of the most memorable and beautiful experiences of the year, made extra special because our girls and closest friends were there to celebrate with us.

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February

Miss turned six and Lass got glasses.

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March

Lass turned three, I turned 39, we had lots of fun celebrating feast days, and we learned a lot through our observation of Lent. I cleaned out this closet (below) and many other baby and maternity items. It was a painful process to give almost all of it away, but it felt like the right thing to do.

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April

We did lots of work on our house to get it ready to sell. We went to visit my parents in Kentucky right after Easter and had a wonderful visit.

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May

Miss broke her arm and lost her first tooth. Miss and Lass started soccer. My husband and I ran the Dam to Dam, a half marathon in Des Moines. We took a big “field trip” to Chicago and visited the Shedd Aquarium and Lincoln Park Zoo.

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June

Miss had her last day of school away from home. We put our house on the market. We wrapped up our homeschool year and hit the road. We went to band practice in Iowa and visited the amazing Grotto of the Redemption. And we took a great vacation to the farm, our only one of the year because of the construction that started there around the time of our trip.

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July

I made the decision to not send Miss back to school away from home for the 2015-2016 school year. It was a huge relief (for both of us I think). Super Friend and I went to the Edel Gathering. My family spent lots of time at the pool and started a new weekly tradition of heading straight to the pool after 9am Mass.

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August

We traveled to Iowa for a family wedding, at which my husband and I and several of his family members performed in the band for the reception. Lass turned five. The girls got adorable haircuts. We started gearing up for our homeschool year, but managed to squeeze every last bit out of summer first.

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September

Miss started first grade, Lass started kindergarten, and Sis started preschool. We hit the ground running with lots of field trips, including a big trip to Louisville, where my Mom met us and spent two days there with us. While we were there, I found out I was pregnant.

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October

We moved!!!

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November

We said goodbye to our old house for good and finally closed on its sale. We took a fun trip to Iowa to visit with cousins and so my husband could butcher our hog.

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December

We celebrated my husband’s birthday by baking him a cake and keeping our tradition of having the girls choose gifts for him at the dollar store. We tried to celebrate Christmas and the special liturgical days of the Church in every way we could. The girls screamed “WOW!” every time we drove past a house with even the slightest bit of Christmas lights decorating it. It was a great holiday season.
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Overall, 2015 was a pretty fantastic year. I kind of loved 2015. Even the parts that were kind of a pain (like getting our house ready to sell, and having it on the market, and dealing with the people who bought it for many months before the closing finally happened) were ultimately for good, as they helped us get to this amazing place where we are now.

I’m happily anticipating what 2016 has in store for us. And on that note, I’m going to add one more favorite photo, just because I can’t not include this one:

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I’m linking this post up with others who are doing 2015 recaps with monthly photos at Revolution of Love. Check it out.

Happy New Year!

Louisville and Grandma – 7QT

We took a road trip/extended field trip to Louisville for a long weekend. We left Saturday (right after I hosted a Blessed Brunch!) and came home Tuesday. I lived in Louisville for four years in graduate school (1998-2002), and it’s a city that I just love. I’ve been back with my kids a couple of times in order to get together with old friends from school. This time we just went for the fun of the trip and to meet up with my mom, who only lives three hours from Louisville.

We had so much fun when we went to Chicago in the spring, I knew I wanted to take another road trip with the girls, and after I read Haley’s post about their stop in Louisville, I realized it would be the perfect getaway for us while my husband was gone elk hunting this week.

It was fantastic. Here are the highlights:

1.

We stayed downtown, so we walked everywhere. The girls get so excited about seeing statues and street art. They had a few interesting questions about the golden three-story “David” statue on Main Street. They thought this artsy bike rack was pretty cool too.

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Anyone know who this guy is supposed to be?

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2.

I went to Mass at the Cathedral of the Assumption.

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Fancy Mass at a cathedral was a first for me. There was even a choir loft and a huge pipe organ and the choir wore robes and everything! It was the perfect way to spend my Sunday morning.

3.

The weather was perfect. We walked to a nearby park on Sunday afternoon, where the girls made some new friends and overcame some fears to climb to the highest heights of the play structure.

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While walking back to the hotel, we came across this random arrangement of bird sculptures:

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4.

On our way to the park, we had noticed a bunch of little girls all decked out in princess costumes walking around. We stopped for lunch in a little pizzeria, and my mom asked someone what the occasion was (she’s not an introvert like me). Turns out, “Disney On Ice” was happening that day at the arena right next door to our hotel. The people we saw were one their way to the 1:00 show, but I got on my phone and managed to snag tickets for the 5:00 show! We even got great seats.

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I think the girls really enjoyed it, and it was such a fun, spontaneous addition to our trip.

5.

The Kentucky Science Center is amazing. We could have gone there all day every day for a whole week and still not have been able to see and do everything. A few of the favorites:

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They also had an actual mummy on display, which my girls (and I) were fascinated by. So. Cool.

6.

Besides the science center, I think the very favorite thing for my girls (maybe THE favorite?) was running in the fountains we saw around town. Supposedly they were trying to “dodge” the water.

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Twice they got completely drenched playing in these fountains. We didn’t make it to the splash pad park, but they didn’t even seem to care.

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Of course, the best part was doing it all with my mom. The girls have so much fun with Grandma, and it was wonderful to spend some good quality time with her.

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It was a looong drive by myself with the girls, but I’m so glad we made the trip. I have many great memories from when I lived in Louisville, but it’s so much better to go back and make new memories with my girls and my mom.

Check out Kelly’s post at This Ain’t the Lyceum for a summary of her day at the World Meeting of Families and for more Quick Takes!

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An Adventure in Chicago

Last week my husband was bear hunting in Alaska.

So I took the girls to Chicago for a girls’ road trip/ultimate field trip extravaganza.

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I grew up in a suburb of Detroit, so I’m not unfamiliar with big cities, but I had never been to Chicago. It’s been a long time since I lived in a large metropolitan area, and I was kind of nervous to take the girls by myself to a huge city I’m unfamiliar with, but I did it anyway. I planned the trip so that we would not have to drive much downtown, crossed my fingers that it would work the way I planned, and went for it.

It was perfect (if I do say so myself).

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The main Chicago attraction I wanted to be sure to visit was the Shedd Aquarium. We were reading and talking about sea animals in school, and I knew my girls would just love an opportunity to see so many of them in person, so I pretty much planned the trip around that goal. I found a hotel that I thought would be within walking distance of the aquarium and that also had two-room suites for a reasonable price (because I wanted to be able to put my kids to bed and still have my own place to be awake; the lumpy pull-out was worth it). We drove down Wednesday after Miss finished school, battled the ridiculous traffic, pulled into the hotel’s valet parking garage (because driving and parking downtown was the biggest thing I was NOT willing to do), and began our adventure.

Our hotel was right across the street from Grant Park, and the girls loved the big statue we passed right away in the morning while walking to the aquarium.

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I think they would have been happy just to play on and around it all morning, but we eventually did press on, and the Shedd was so worth the trip.

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I could go on and on about all the things we saw, but I will just note that I just loved hearing things like, “WOW! Mom look!” and “This is so cool!” and “I think he likes me!” (while face to face with some creature through the glass of a tank), and all the giggling while looking at strange animals.

The highlights of the day, the things the girls begged to go back and do again, were seeing the sharks and touching the stingrays. We also really enjoyed the 4D Sea Monsters show, though it was kind of scary for them too. The aquatic show was a big dud. The girls kept asking when it was going to be over. I think because the aquarium folks spent a lot of time talking about how they train the animals rather than just allowing us to watch the animals in action. Meh.

When we left the aquarium, we were exhausted, but also wanted to enjoy the beautiful weather. We stopped a few times on our walk back to the hotel for the girls to get out of the stroller and run around.

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Then it was back to the hotel for a little break, some sea animal DVDs on my computer, and some room service dinner.

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They took turns checking for stinky feet after our long day of walking and running around.

After dinner, we went out for another walk. I think one of the highlights of the whole trip was for the girls to see the various statues in and around Grant Park. We didn’t really walk very far, because they asked to get out and play on/around every statue and fountain we came across. I wanted to explore by walking and looking. They wanted to explore by touching and playing and imagining. We did some of both, but they were off the stroller and playing much more than they were on and being walked around. As it should be.

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I had planned to take the girls to the Field Museum on Friday, but then one of my friends (who lived in Chicago years ago) suggested we check out the Lincoln Park Zoo instead. I debated a bit whether to change my original plan and take them to the zoo, but then a few different things lined up to make the decision easy for me. The hotel people told me I could only keep my car in their parking garage until noon after check out that day, the weather turned out to be beautiful, and the girls said they wanted to go to the zoo.

So to the zoo we went.

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It was a little bit crazy in the morning because there were tons of school groups there and it was extremely crowded. But as the day went on it cleared out a bit. The girls were really tired, but we still had a great time.

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It was a successful and extremely fun trip. We learned a lot and made many wonderful memories. I will definitely be taking them back again, and I’m already thinking about other fun road trips to take them on. A Little House on the Prairie trip comes to mind or maybe some cool museums in Minneapolis?

Homeschooling is Going Quite Well, Thanks for Asking

Many people have asked me about how our first few weeks of homeschooling have been going. The answer is they have been going mostly very well. We’ve already taken several field trips, and Five in a Row has been the perfect curriculum for us to start with. We’ve covered “The Storm in the Night,” “The Story About Ping,” “Lentil,” and “Madeline” so far.

When we were reading “The Story About Ping” (which is about a duck in China) we took a field trip to a Chinese restaurant to try a new type of food and also to experiment with eating with chopsticks (yes, going out to lunch can be called a field trip when you homeschool).

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The next day we learned about how ducks keep their wings dry, doing an experiment with oil and water.

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And then we took another field trip.

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When we read “Lentil” we learned about different tastes (in the story there is a character who makes everyone pucker by sucking loudly on a lemon).

DSC_0011Sweet brown sugar, bitter cocoa powder, salty uh, salt, and sour lemons.

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Of course, then we made lemonade,

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which also counted toward gym time, they were working so hard.

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This week with Madeline we didn’t do much photo-worthy stuff. Other than ice-painting French flags.

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We’re taking another field trip tomorrow to a local farm. It has nothing to do with our book this week, but it’s a place with pony-riding and cow-milking and chicken-chasing, and I want to go before the regular school kids start taking their field trips. And as much as I sometimes want it to, not every thing we do is always going to fit with our book or our theme of the week. I’m cool with that. And field trips are my favorite.

The girls are also (mostly) enjoying our reading curriculum, All About Reading. It’s a good fit for us, because we’re pretty much all about reading around here these days.

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The jury is still out on our math curriculum, Math U See. It’s fine, but I don’t love it, and neither does Miss. I’ve been eyeing some Life of Fred books, but I’m not quite willing to bail on our current plan. Yet.

I have bailed out on some other things that I bought out of early excitement and over-eagerness to get all the things and start teaching my kids with Catholic Stuff! I bought a bunch of workbooks from Seton Home Study School, and they just aren’t a good fit for us. Other than the handwriting book, I’m not using any of them right now.

Art, science, and social studies are mostly rolled into our FIAR work. I’m winging it on religion, knowing that Miss is getting some back up teaching in her regular school time. Right now we’re memorizing the Ten Commandments (I don’t know them by heart myself), and we celebrate various feast days, read about saints, and talk about the Mass. There is also a Bible component of FIAR that we do, which includes verses and stories that are relevant to our book for the week. I think were doing pretty good there.

I try to have Miss do a little bit of computer time here and there using PBS Kids Play or ABC Mouse. She gets music class at her regular school and she takes piano lessons. Gym is not systematic at all at this point. It’s running around the couch and playing outside and going to soccer once a week. And foreign language has not made it into the line up at all yet. I have a Spanish program for them, but I haven’t used it.

We still have some tweaking to do, but I’m very happy with how our homeschool is coming together so far.

Next week we’re reading “A Pair of Red Clogs.” It’s set in Japan. I see a field trip to the hibachi restaurant in our very near future.

7 Quick Takes – Evidence of Summer Fun and a Couple of Other Random Thoughts

Linking up with Jen.

1. I have been a little off the past few weeks. I’ve wanted to write more, but nothing I’ve come up with has been right. I’m starting to feel like getting back in the swing, so I thought I’d start by sharing that, though I have had some rough days, we’ve still been having a fun summer. Presenting, five Quick Takes with photographic evidence of summer fun:

2. Last week we went raspberry picking.

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Miss was all about getting as many raspberries as possible so we could make fresh raspberry smoothies for breakfast the following morning (which were awful, by the way). The other two were not super motivated, but I think they still had fun. Either way, they got a special treat afterwards.

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I let them have just ice cream for lunch. They were thrilled and thought I was the best mom ever. I didn’t have to make them anything to eat. Win, win.

3. We went shopping for soccer shoes over the weekend. I realized how infrequently (i.e. never) I take the girls to a mall. They were ooh-ing and aah-ing over everything they saw, from kiosks with funky paper light fixtures to the mannequin displays in all of the store front windows. They even had a lot of fun with some president statues outside the mall entrance.

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It might have been a tad over the top, how proud I was that they could identify George Washington and Abraham Lincoln by themselves.

4. We’ve had a few cookouts with friends. I already mentioned our first one on the 4th of July. We had another with homemade grilled pizza, s’mores, and movie night (and some trampolining in pajamas):

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^^ The chef with his delicious pizzas ^^

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and another time with my husband’s grilled ribs, baked beans, and fritters (all homemade), an airshow overhead, homemade ice cream (my sole contribution), and a movie night:

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^^ We set the kids’ tables in the yard so they could see the Thunderbirds overhead ^^

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My husband loves to grill, especially for company. I love to let him. Win, win.

5. We had a picnic in the downtown square. We listened to live music and danced in the grass.

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We played in the fountain.

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Summer fun, right there ^^

6. This week we are at the Farm. Always a lot of summer fun to be had here. Yesterday my husband caught a bunch of shad and let the girls play with some on the beach. They were entertained for hours. It was sort of odd and quite fun to watch.

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7. And in news not related to summer shenanigans, I finally updated my “About Me” page. I am not entirely sure that it’s finished, but it has been changed quite a bit and I like it so far. What do you think?

For more Quick Takes, see Conversion Diary.

I’m in a Blogging Slump, BUT – Iowa State Fair!

Oh, the Iowa State Fair. I have such a love for something that is only mine through marriage. I grew up in Michigan and never once went to the state fair. The only thing I even knew about the Michigan State Fair was that there was a Hog-Calling Contest there, and only that because my cousin won it at least once.

And as much as I love living in Wisconsin, I wasn’t terribly impressed by our fair, which I went to only once, the first year we lived there (I say “there,” because I’m currently typing in Missouri). I had no real understanding of the wonders of the state fair until the summer of 2009, when I went to the Iowa State Fair for the first time when Miss was about six months old.

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Even then, I didn’t quite grasp the Fair fabulousness until taking my kids when they got a little older. We’ve gone for the past three years now, and I so love walking the streets of the fairgrounds, taking in all the sights and smells, and hearing all the stories from my husband and in-laws of fairs gone by. It makes me feel like I have a bit of claim to such a wonderful tradition, even though I’m a true city girl who has always been quite in awe of the fact that people grow vegetables and animals in order to show them and be judged on them at the Fair. It’s bizarre. And I love it.

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So, this year was much the same as always. We have a few Fair things that are must-sees and must-dos and must-eats. By the time we get done with those, we’re about ready to be done for the day. This year was no exception. As usual, we started in the baby animals barn.

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^^ No, we weren’t at the Creepy Perv Fair. The sign on the cage got cut off when I snapped this pic. The top line said, “For My Health, Don’t”

The girls got to see newborn piglets nursing from their momma, and some cute baby ostriches, and a calf being born on the overhead screens. This is always one of our favorite parts of the Fair.

Naturally, the next thing we did was to eat something yummy on a stick.

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And then find something homegrown and absurdly large to pose with for a photo

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^^ That’s an 1,131 pound pumpkin.

We went to the Avenue of Breeds barn and saw the Big Boar, along with lots of other types of animals.

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^^ NOT the Big Boar, but for some reason I only have photos of medium-sized pigs from that barn.

The city girl in me was so tickled to see this guy:

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It’s not every day you turn around to see a big pink pig sauntering toward you like he hasn’t a care in the world. There is something funny to me about the way pigs walk too. I kind of wanted to take him home.

After the Avenue of Breeds we walked over to the cattle barn to see the the Big Bull.

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His name is “Big Daddy” and he weighs over 3000 pounds.

After an unmemorable-but-belly-filling-without-long-lines lunch, we finally made it to the Big Yellow Slide, which Miss in particular had been begging to go on all morning. The older girls went down the slide with their aunt, and Sis went down with my husband. They loved it, and each went twice.

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At least they said they loved it after they got to the bottom. Their faces during the sliding sort of suggested otherwise:

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^^ That last picture makes me laugh every time I look at it.

Somehow, I have yet to see the famous butter cow sculpture in person (not sure how I always miss this), but this year I did see, um, extra large American Gothic:

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One of the coolest parts of the day came after the slide. We walked over to the antique tractors, where my Father-in-law located a model just like the one he had driven as a boy on the farm where he grew up. He was not much older than Miss when he started working in the fields driving that tractor.

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I’ve heard about him driving a tractor as a little boy, but somehow seeing that tractor close up, the same kind that he rode on back then, and seeing my small-but-not-much-smaller-than-he-was-then daughters standing next to it made it so much more amazing to me.

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My favorite part of the day, as it has been every year, was taking the girls to the Department of Natural Resources building. They run around and look at the fish in the tanks, guess at which animals the various pelts belong to, and check out many other cool (and educational) exhibits.

DSC_0343 DSC_0344^^ I asked Lass (my animal lover) about the birds in that display case ^^ She said, in a bored voice, “It’s a peregrine falcon. I already know that.” I had to check the card on the glass to make sure, but she was right!

Behind the DNR building, there is a pond with turtles and ducks and geese and swans. We always spend a lot of time there, searching under the surface of the water to spot the turtles, laughing at the antics of the ducks, and admiring the swans.

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This year, we got startled by one of the swans who climbed out of the pond, stretched her wings up and flapped around frantically for a few seconds, right in front of us.

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Perhaps I’m a big dork, bit this shady little pond, and the excitement my girls displayed over seeing turtles trying to climb onto rocks and swans flapping their wings, was the highlight of my day.

It was also fun that afterwards we enjoyed another dessert on a stick, deep-fried this time, as the perfect ending to a lovely day.

Five Things I Learned About Myself at the Edel Conference. And Then Some.

1. I am really and truly and introvert.

Sometimes I have wondered about this. Before this weekend, if you had asked me whether I am an introvert or an extrovert, I would have been uncertain how to answer. I love to get out of the house, I love to be with other people, I enjoy going to my husband’s work parties and evenings out with friends. Public speaking has never been a problem for me. I can get up in front of a room full of people and sing karaoke with only minimal anxiety.

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But now I know, for real and for certain and forevermore, I am an introvert. I do not do mingling in a large group of strangers well. I am terrible at small talk. In such a situation, I am much more likely to stand in a corner and hope someone will come and introduce herself to me than to walk up to someone I don’t know and start up a conversation. I was so glad Super Friend was with me this weekend.

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Yay! Super Friend!

There were many times I did introduce myself to someone new, but every time I felt awkward and scared and shy and stupid about it. I asked and answered the same questions over and over again. “Where are you from?” “How many kids do you have?”

I did have some wonderful conversations, mostly because the people I was talking to were much better at generating an interesting discussion than I am, and once it gets started I can roll with it.

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Jen Fulwiler is good at conversation. And she’s tall!

I had a blast at Edel, but it really brought out the introvert in me. And I’ve realized, by looking at tweets and blog posts about the weekend, that lots of other women there were experiencing the same anxieties and discomfort I was (a great example here). There were a lot of introverts in that huge room full of mamas!

2. I am not good at Twitter.

There was a streaming Twitter feed up all day Saturday. I’m always sort of amazed and befuddled by Twitter. I don’t really understand it, and have never before felt much of a desire to figure it out, but as I was watching all the tweets on Saturday (some with photos even!!) I couldn’t help but think, “I really need to learn how to do that!” I’m so Twitter-impaired that when I wrote my “Anticipating Edel” post last Thursday, I used the wrong Twitter hashtag for #edel14 (I used #edelgathering, duh). Anyone have some Twitter tips to offer?

3. As much as I loathe taking selfies, there are some events that just cry out for the selfie, and I am not immune to that cry.

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4. Speaking of “cry,” I am apparently quite prone to getting all teary and choked up when listening to wonderful speakers say beautiful things about motherhood, and Catholicism, and friendship.

Oh my goodness, there were four people who spoke on Saturday. Every single one of them had me blinking rapidly and rolling my eyes to the ceiling, in an attempt to keep the welled-up tears from spilling over and making a mess of my mascara. Hallie and Marion and Haley and Jen made such amazing, funny, uplifting, and inspiring speeches. They really made me think about faith and motherhood and community in some new ways. I feel like I should expound upon this more, but right now I’m still processing it myself, so I’ll just say it. was. awesome.

5. I am sentimental.

Okay, I didn’t really just learn this over the weekend. But I did experience a great example of it.

Each Edel attendee got a card at the dinner table on Saturday night. It was a letter written by a Dominican Sister, Sister Elizabeth Ann, and it was just, well, indescribable really (see below for a bit I quoted from it to give you an idea). It (also) brought me to tears, and was so lovely, I really wanted to be sure to bring it home to keep it and read it again and put it in my box of cards to save.

But I forgot it in the Ballroom when I went to bed (kind of early because I had to get up at 4:30am to make our flight home). I got all ready to go to sleep and climbed into bed, only to remember that I had left the card on the table. I was really bummed, and thought about going down to get it. Then I thought that would be silly. It was 11:00. And I could just get one from someone in the morning or copy Super Friend’s. But I wasn’t sure if Super had remembered to grab hers, and she was already asleep so I couldn’t ask her, and we had to leave before anyone else would be up that I could ask for another copy, and I really wanted to have one! And what if Super Friend did forget hers and she wanted one too?? I had to go get it.

So. In order to enable myself to go to sleep and stop thinking about it, I got out of bed, put on clothing (sort of) suitable for appearing in public, and went back down to the Ballroom, where most of the moms were still dancing and whooping it up like mad (I was kind of jealous). I grabbed my card from my table, explained to the few people who stopped to chat why I was wearing PJs, watched for just a minute, and then I went back to bed. Mission completed. Here is just a portion of the letter from Sister Elizabeth Ann, so you can see why I wanted to be sure to have it:

Thank you for the daily, hourly, minute-by-minute gift of self you offer to your husbands, children, and all your loved ones.

Thank you especially for the gift of self you give that no one sees, no one appreciates, no one recognizes, and no one seems to care about. Thank you for making the effort. Thank you for trying. . . .

God sees. God Knows. God cares. He does. He really does! . . .

For those women bearing the heavy cross of infertility, I want to especially take a moment to recognize and offer encouragement to you. In our Catholic culture that embraces motherhood and big families, you may feel especially isolated and alone in your struggles and fears. Don’t lose hope. I want you to know that God sees and knows and cares about you too. . . .

Obviously, I needed to bring it home. I kind of wished I could have brought Sister Elizabeth Ann home too!

And now for a few other things about the weekend.

If you’re wondering about the shoes my girls created for me:

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We did not win a prize. The shoe competition was fierce!! And as I told my girls, of course, the shoes they made were just “too beautiful.”

Overall, Edel was such an amazing experience. Several times during the weekend, Super Friend and I looked at each other and marveled at the women around us.

“Look at all these people,” we’d say. “Can you believe all of these women are faithful Catholic moms? This is so cool. These ladies are so diverse!”

And it was. And they were. They were diverse and wonderful. And kind of crazy.

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I have never seen so many moms dancing and singing and partying hard. Pregnant moms, moms with babies in carriers, young moms, older moms. So. many. fabulous. moms.

And that pretty much sums it up.

It was good that we were there.

 

Dirty and Weird and We Wouldn’t Miss It

I’m not doing 7 Quick Takes today. I really can’t gather my thoughts enough to write seven different things. BUT, I can share some photos with you from our trip to the Dirty Weird Zoo yesterday. The place is still so odd, but definitely a summer tradition I wouldn’t want to miss.

Sis had her first experience with feeding bread to the animals. She was fearless.

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A donkey even nibbled her fingers a little bit. She just yanked her hand back and went on feeding it.

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The big kids were racing all over the place, screaming with delight about all the animals to see.

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No one even freaked out about the inevitable goat attack. Except maybe me and Super Friend.

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Miss and Lass even said the goats were their favorite, because “they were everywhere.”

Miss found a peacock feather, which she insisted on carrying around the whole morning. I know I’m not the only one who has a slightly neurotic terror of bird feathers. They are so dirty. Am I right? Ew. Ew. Ew. Happily she didn’t put up too much of a fuss when I told her she couldn’t bring the feather home.

After depleting at least 10 bags of bread and buns by generously feeding lots of animals, we had our own picnic lunch. I think it was a successful outing.

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I hope you have a lovely weekend.

Five Favorites – Little Moments

My five favorite little moments of this week.

1. Watching the girls play in this tall grass:

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I took the next picture thinking I was going to capture a total “Little House on the Prairie” moment as they were running, slightly downhill, through the grass. Laura and Mary for sure:

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2. Our “Secret, Special Snack” up on the platform of the swing set. They thought this was pretty awesome, and kept talking about all the animals that wouldn’t be able to “get us” or take our snack because we were up so high. My arm wasn’t long enough to get a selfie of all four of us:

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3. My eldest in a nice display of sisterly love and helpfulness.

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4. The other night after I put the girls to bed, I saw several deer right near the house drinking from the pond.

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I could hear that Miss was still awake, so I ran downstairs to get her so she could see them. The first thing she said, when I told her there were deer right by the house and I wanted her to see them was, “I can’t believe I’m up so late!!!!” She giggled like she was getting away with something and ran back up the stairs with me. She said the same thing over and over. “I can’t believe I’m up so late!”

Clearly it was much more exciting to be up out of bed five minutes after I had tucked her in than to see four deer up close.

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5. The fishing tournament weigh-in.

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My husband and our brother-in-law won the tournament.

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The girls kept grabbing his plaque and telling their cousins, “My Dad won this.” The pride in their voices was priceless.

Happy Father’s Day to my BFF.

For more favorites check out Five Favorites at Moxie Wife.