The North Shore Reunion

We made some sweet family memories last weekend.

All of Jan’s family (except for our Matt) gathered at his brother’s cabins in northern Minnesota.

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Grandpa, Grandma, uncles, aunts, and lots and lots of cousins.

Traveling from four different states for a few days of fun in the north woods.

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Cousins that seldom see each other wasted no time in having epic adventures.

Climbing waterfalls.

Swimming.

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Hiking.

Rock Climbing.

 

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Wild blue berry picking.

And wild blue berry eating.

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And a one-of-a-kind Purple Lupine Olympics that included a Grand Prix, pine cone toss, target shooting, and a fire starting contest.

The camp fire was always burning.

There were s’mores every night.

Singing.

Laughter.

Conversations.

Too many marshmallows.

And sweet, sweet fellowship.

Perfect.

These Girls

We had another epic shopping adventure last week.

It was Martha and I and our girls.

Just like always.

Hitting all our favorite thrift stores in St. Joe.

It’s a tradition now.

Big SaleStarted several years ago on our first extreme thrifting adventure. (Look how young they are!)

It’s been modified to just one city and always includes a trip to Hobby Lobby, lunch at Chick-fil-a and snacks at Big Lots.

Almost every stop has a memory.

“Isn’t this the store that you lost us in and we finally found you sitting on lawn chairs two stores down?”

And every trip has something new to explore.

This trip including one new thrift store and a natural grocery store that both of our girls were excited about.

Yes – a natural grocery store where they bought health food for themselves.

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Yes – these girls!

The same girls who used to eat twizzlers and peanut butter in the backseat all the way home.

Which only shows again how quickly they are growing up and changing.

And how thankful we are for every moment together and every memory made.

May the tradition continue!

Improv Night and Birthday Oscars

My family got together last weekend for our yearly extended family camping trip.

One of our traditions is an Improv Night – when we entertain each other with skits we pull together at the last minute.

Each family brings an unmarked bag of 10 random items that we distribute one evening. Each family is then given about 15 minutes to pull together a skit using those items.

The results are hilarious!

This year – however – was different. But I didn’t learn that fact right away.

You see – my siblings used our annual Improv Night to surprise me for my 50th birthday. (I should have expected this – since I have a history of surprising my siblings on their 50th birthdays!)

I was very active in speech and drama in high school and have always been a bit disappointed that I was never given a lead role in any of the high school plays.

So this year – my family gave me the lead role in each of their skits.

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They just didn’t tell me.

After the kids and I did our skit – which was a true improv – using the special bag full of random geriatric items they gathered for us – I was called on to act in every other skit.

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Skits that were written in advance, with appropriate props and – not surprisingly – were full of family memories and embarrassing moments for yours truly.

There were certain “This is Your Life” kind of moments.

 

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And some wild “I can’t believe they are making me do this” kind of moments.

Each skit was different – I was handed a prop or a costume or both and given a few instructions.

16 06 18-M500- 32-6 (1)And I winged it.

Acting my heart out to tremendous applause and wild laughter!

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And when the final skit was over – they had me walk the red carpet and handed me a plastic imitation Oscar for my performances – before spraying me with silly string.

Because they love me.

I guess.

Hollywood here I come!

Or not.

After a career like mine, it might be time for retirement.

Hashtag Birthday

Birthday’s are made for surprises.

And Angel Girl is the hardest to surprise!

But this year – Pedro pulled it off!

#birthdaysurprise 

It was the Thursday night before her birthday – and she suspecting nothing.

Pedro gathered up four cousins and they drove the two hours to our house stuffed in Pedro’s car.

#roadtrip

They hid the car and planned the epic surprise.

Angel Girl got home from work, wondered why dad was grilling so many hamburgers, put down her water bottle in the kitchen, rounded the corner to the dining room and jumped out of her skin at the sight of Pedro and the cousins waiting for her!

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#nailedit

They had a hilarious supper, followed by crazy dance moves in the driveway and a wild adventure to the abandoned house and low water crossing.

Poison ivy, bug bites, photo shoots, and much laughter.

#perfect.

They spent the night eating popcorn and rice krispie bars while watching old VHS movies that were favorites years ago.

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And were up at first light to be on the road to make it back to the city to work.

A short night and a long drive.

But they had almost fourteen hours of jam-packed, fun-filled wonderfulness.

#worthit

Happy 18th birthday Angel Girl!

 

 

The Force was with Them

What could be more exciting than watching the much anticipated new Star Wars movie over Christmas break?

Unless it was watching it with cousins.

 

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Especially cousins in costumes.

A whole slew of cousins in epic costumes!
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Everything from Princess Leia and Luke Skywalker to R2-D2.

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Chewbacca and some Ewoks.

886368_10205378770646287_509271128307715090_oAnd Porkins and Biggs – two X-wing fighter pilots, just to name a few!

 

This wasn’t just a movie viewing – it was an epic event!

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And yes – the force was with them!

Stolen Time

I still can’t believe we pulled this off!

Somehow – in a miracle of scheduling – we got four of our five children together at the same time.

And somehow – in a miracle of packing – squished all of our luggage and bodies into the mini-van…

That's true!…and traveled 10 hours packed like sardines all the way to Colorado to see our firstborn Matt.

We stole three precious days from our very busy fall schedules and spent them together.

By day we played tourist – taking in the highlights of Matt’s adopted city.
DSC_0197We saw where Matt worked, met his co-workers, admired the awesome mountain view from his desk.

We hiked.

We explored.

We climbed.

We shopped.

But by night – we were just us.

DSC_0193Playing games.

Watching movies.

Eating popcorn.

Sharing inside jokes.

Laughing.

Cherishing every moment.

Knowing that time was short and family was precious.

And that soon we would be heading home and leaving one behind.

it was stolen time.

And it was so, so sweet.

Fall Adventures

Our suitcases have gotten a work-out the past month.

With my niece’s wedding and our annual family reunion almost back to back – I didn’t even get the suitcases back in the attic before we needed them again.

As soon as we got back from the reunion – Angel Girl had just enough time to wash her clothes and repack them before leaving on an epic adventure with three cousins.

11999053_903684599725264_6864385375566096415_nTo Disney World.

Yes. My baby girl flew on an airplane and is spending a week exploring the Magic Kingdom far, far away.

And she’s having a wonderful time.

I do get a daily text.

“Magic Kingdom, lots of rides!”

“We’re in line to meet Anna and Elsa!”

“Epcot!”

Meanwhile – back at the farm – we were busy getting Buddy packed up for his week in South Dakota at Teen Pact Survival.

While his sister is hobnobbing with Mickey and Goofy, he will be in the Black Hills dressed in camo, sleeping in a sleeping bag and learning survival skills.

And loving it.

IMG_2931He obviously didn’t pack lightly.

But I’m just thankful he had something to pack!

Would you believe that he outgrew almost all of his jeans over the summer? Talk about a growth spurt!

So yes, I am that mother who ran to town the day before he left frantically buying her son new socks, undies, and jeans. 🙂

And now, with my children in different parts of the country – I am that mother with a very quiet house – temporarily, at least.

Am I feeling left out on this adventure thing? Oh no.

I didn’t put my suitcase away yet either.

Jan and I have a 25th anniversary trip in the works.

Our turn is coming – soon! And my suitcase is ready and waiting!

But for you – I’m enjoying the quiet – because I know it won’t last long!

Camping Out

We had our annual family camp-out last week-end.

Some things were just as they always have been.

Same place. Same cabins.

Same crazy cousins.

11062036_641766872624360_7683822361446482283_nLots of food. Lots of laughter. Lots of bugs.

Silly skits. Long hikes. Creek wading.

 

11707864_641766742624373_6856625634784276110_nAnd of course – building the traditional dam.

But this year we added some things.

11707639_394625494063330_1521336144992824817_nLike a jumbo-sized Bananagrams on the lawn.

Works both your body and your brain. Super fun!

11705155_10204472132420898_1068057685658755025_nAnd we celebrated a niece’s upcoming wedding with a British high tea, complete with hats and gifts.

But the most exciting new addition –

11167975_10204472128100790_536776461216792350_nWe had not one, not two – but three new babies to play with!

Yes, three!

The third generation to join the fun.

Savoring the moments and making sweet memories.

Family.

Dropping Details

New ImageVBS is less than a month away and this VBS director is up to her eyebrows in plans.

Have you ever had so many details floating around in your brain that some just slip out? Kind of like filling one’s bucket too full and trying to carry it?

Some details are humorous – like sitting down at the table for a meal and realizing you forgot the silver ware.

Or worse – being so into drama rewrites that you forgot to make supper.

This week a wonderfully patient friend and her daughter went VBS shopping with Angel Girl and I.

And by “went shopping with us” I mean she drove us to the big city and picked up the details I kept dropping.

Our list was massive – everything from rubber ducks and hula hoops to scrapbook paper and  brass paper fasteners. By mid afternoon we would walk into a store and I would look at her and say, “What exactly are we getting here?”

Then we spent 10 minutes finding a certain kind of paper only to stare at it blankly because I couldn’t remember why we needed it. Two stores later it came to me. Too late.

We only forgot our teenager daughters twice. Good thing they have cell phones and lots of patience.

Oh – and a good sense of humor because I might have embarrassed them when I started dancing in the aisle at the party store.

Or when I sang along with the background music.

At one point I asked my very patient friend what it meant that I knew every word to the oldies songs playing, expected her to say I must be getting old. Instead she replied without missing a beat, “That you have a good memory.”

Bahahahahah!

Angel Girl’s Adventure

Angel Girl had her own adventure last week.

A solo adventure on the train.

When did she became old enough to take an adventure by herself?

It must have happened while I blinked because there we were – at the Amtrak station saying good-bye to my baby girl.

Then that massive Amtrak train whooshed in, sucked up my Angel Girl and took her off into the sunset surrounded by strangers.

11271953_839461162814275_92794810_nAt least my niece Sarah was at the other end of the journey.

And they spent a fabulous weekend together.

They went shopping.

Saw movies.

Had picnics.

Visited art museums.

11261080_839461256147599_1964920722_nAte fancy food from different cultures.

It was a wonderful weekend for her – and just enough time for this mom to get used to the idea that my little girl is getting ready to fly on her own.

I’m sure there are many more adventures to come, but I’m glad that – at least for now – she still comes home to us.