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.


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.


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

Climbing waterfalls.




Rock Climbing.



Wild blue berry picking.

And wild blue berry eating.


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.




Too many marshmallows.

And sweet, sweet fellowship.


A First Ever Family Tractor Ride

My family has some pretty deep rural roots and we were able to tap into those roots last weekend with a first ever Family Tractor Ride.

My Uncle Delbert furnished the tractors – a whole yard full of vintage ones in orange, and red and green.

And we furnished the drivers – 3 van loads full!tractor ride 1

It took a few minutes for everyone to find a tractor, for the experienced drivers to give a few basic instructions to the rookies and for everyone to take a practice lap around the outbuildings.

tractor ride 2Then we headed them down the driveway! We had a quite a line up of tractors of all ages with drivers of all ages heading down the blacktop! A little slow at first – until the rookies discovered “road gear”.

Of course my mom got in on the action! She drove “Grandma’s Tractor” – the one my grandma used when she worked in the fields with Grandpa.

Pedro on tractorPedro took to driving that tractor like a natural! He got himself a shiny red one and spent the morning grinning from ear to ear!

Dagmar on tractorDagmar wasn’t going to be left out of the action either! She got to drive a shiny red Farmall that matched her sunglasses – and loved every minute!

hay rackThose of us who were too young to drive – or to scared to try – rode on a hay rack complete with our very own sound system! And yes – I was on the hay rack with all three of my sisters – who were also too scared to try. (But then – somebody had to chaperone those kids and take the pictures!)

tractor line upWe drove our parade of tractors seven miles from my uncle’s farm to my folk’s place where we parked them and took a break for lunch.

Then we fired them up again – and headed off down the road.

tractor ride home stretchYoung. Old.

Aunts. Uncles. Cousins.


Remembering a simpler time. Honoring our past.  Connecting with our rural heritage. Making memories.

And having a great time!

So much fun that when we finally got back to my uncle’s farm, most of the drivers hopped off the tractor they had been on and hopped on another to test it out!

Buddy on tractorDad’s let the younger ones have a turn at the wheel in the safety of the barn yard.

And even I got up enough courage to get behind the wheel!

behind the wheel

Thanks to my brother Tim – who made me do it and then did all the shifting so all I had to do is steer and clutch and brake. 🙂

It was an incredibly fun day!

Thank you Delbert – for helping us make a memory that we will never forget!

Memorial Day Weekend

Oh my! What a weekend!

We hosted all of Jan’s family – his 2 parents, 1 sister, 2 brothers, 3 spouses, and their 15 children, plus, of course, the seven of us – for a big 80th Birthday Bash to honor his Mom.

It’s been 1-1/2 years since we were all together last – and the changes were amazing! Those cousins are sure growing up fast! At one point I was inside and heard the kids playing an intense game of Ultimate Frisbee on the lawn.

FrisbeeThose “kids” sounded more like men with their deep voices yelling and making war whoops.

And boy could those kids eat!  Seriously. Those guys could pack it in.  Bottomless pits.

But not all were forking it in hand over fist. My little ones were also here to provide a little humor and lots of hugs.
Just before this picture was shot, Annie had grabbed her straw and put it into a nearby mud puddle to get a drink! Thankfully Angel Girl got there just in time to stop her.

And of course – my youngest two nephews spent as much time as possible sitting on Uncle Jan’s “twactors” and begging for rides on the 4-wheeler.

K&MAnd then there’s Katie. She’s one of a kind – that girl. A perpetual motion machine. She was quite taken with my chickens. At one point she found 2 egg shaped rocks by the sand box. She quickly pushed them together and sat on them clucking like a hen.

She and her brother Davy and sister Emie chased those poor chickens the entire weekend. I’m not sure what they would have done if they had actually caught one! 🙂

The kids were outside from sun up to sun down. They climbed trees, took epic adventures, had a water balloon fight, and spent hours on the swings. If the amount of dirt and mud on their bodies and the amount of food they consumed was any indication – I’d say they all had a great time!

I think it’s safe to say that we all did! 🙂

And the Relatives Came…

Carpet Ball

Ah yes, the relatives came.

All of my husband’s family – all 23 of them – descended on us for 4 wonderful days.

We meet and fell head over heels in love with our 2 new Ukrainian nieces.

The children played countless games of carpet ball and created a large scale Revolutionary War action game that covered at least 40 acres.

We took the entire crew to the roller skating rink on Saturday morning and made many memories (and bruises)!

The sisters-in-law had a big garage sale/thrift store outing.

We celebrated Poppa’s 80th birthday -a little early.

We ate lots of food.

We laughed together.

We sang together.

We cried together.

We played together.

And we prayed together.

It was hard to let them go.

Chewy Chocolate Peanut Butter Bars

We are enjoying a wonderful weekend with family at my parents home on the prairie.

One of my favorite parts of the weekend is the dessert bar. Each of us brings a dessert (or two or three) to share.

After each meal we check it out and enjoy each others offerings!

This time I tried a new recipe. I think it was a hit!

Chewy Chocolate Peanut Butter Bars


Combine 1 cup flour, 1/3 cup brown sugar, and 3 Tablespoons baking cocoa.

Cut in 1/2 cup (1 stick) of butter until crumbly. Press into a greased 9 x 13 pan and bake at 350 degrees for 14-16 minutes.

Mix 2 eggs, 1/2 cup corn syrup, 1/2 cup sugar, 1/4 cup crunchy peanut butter, and 1/4 teaspoon salt until smooth. Fold in 1/2 cup flaked coconut and 1/2 cup chocolate chips.

Pour over crust and bake for 15-20 minutes or until golden.

Peanut butter and chocolate again! What a great way to honor Mom!