Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Oh to be 6 again...

I'm sure most of us did not appreciate being 6 at the time, but it certainly seems to be a great age!  It is fun to see the excitement that a birthday & Christmas can bring to someone who is at an age who is old enough to understand what is going on, what comes next & is still entranced by the magic & wonder of it all.  To say Brandon has been eagerly awaiting his birthday would be quite the understatement!  Actually he just recently told me that his favorite holidays are Easter, Christmas & his birthday... I tried explaining that technically his birthday isn't a holiday, but I don't think that registered in the least!

First on the agenda was a party with his friends... he was excited to just have a kid party where they got to run around, play, have cake & get goodie bags, of course! 

This year's theme... 


We had a fun kid party... decorating gingerbread houses...

...playing "pin the nose on Frosty"...
...playing "freeze dance" & "SANTA says"...

... it was an ENERGETIC birthday Jedi bunch!

We ended the party with some cake & ice cream, of course!

After the kid party was a little family dinner party... tacos & enchiladas were on the menu.

Cousin Allison was there for both parties... & Gram, Grandpa, Aunt Natalie & Uncle Dave joined us too...

... & Uncle Chris flew in from Portland just for the event (... well maybe Christmas had something to do with it, but we are always happy that he is able to be here for Brandon's birthday)!

On his actual birthday, we had a little family celebration at the nearby bowling alley (since it was hit last year!).

They liked their shoes...

... & had a fun time bowling!

YEP, it is good to be 6...just ask Brandon!


1 day old(above)... & a BIG 6-month old!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Holiday fun!

Seems like there are just too many fun things to do in December... and just not enough time to pack it all in! 

We always get our tree up right away... Snowman Day... the day the snowmen take over the house!

The kids always get their special ornament on Snowman Day... this year's ornaments were Snow White & Darth Vader (what they were for Halloween)...
& we always have a special meal with a special dessert too!

We get around to doing some baking & decorating too... this year we got Mike in on the cookie decorating. 

The kids are turning into pretty good decorators now... Mike didn't do too bad either!

Cookies, advent calendars, Christmas music, decorations... all under control... but we must not forget our visit to see Santa!  For the past 5 years, we've seen the same Santa with our friends Brenda, Lauren & Alexandra.

Our Santa resides at the Mall of America & is amazing...

It is going to be a white Christmas... surprisingly, not something that is guaranteed in MN.  Better chance than where I grew up in NM but still not 100%.  We had a big storm come through about a week ago & dumped about 5 inches on us but the farm got 16+, so we were anxious to head down our first free weekend to play in the snow!

We did a few warmup runs down by the barn before heading back into the valley & some larger hills. Melanie & I strapped on our snowshoes... we played in the snow, built snow forts & sledded... but our camera battery died, so there is nothing more to show for it all this time around!

Later Mike & I did some snowshoeing up & down some hills around the farm... something we've never managed to do before either due to lack of snow or temperatures that were far too cold for it.

Finally, we took in some caroling via horse drawn wagon in Minnesota City... a 2-horse open wagon, to be exact... not quite a 1-horse open sleigh but it'll do & it was fun!

I'd say we're almost ready for Christmas... house is decorated, cookies are baked, cards are done (finally), it's snowed, we've taken in festive activities including the Holidazzle parade downtown & the downtown Macy's 8th floor display of "A Day in the Life of an Elf"...

... yep... about ready Christmas... but first up, Brandon's 6th birthday on the 22nd!!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Camping in December...

Winter has finally hit Minnesota... cold weather has moved in, we've had a few rounds of snow & Christmas is around the corner, so it seems like a good time to revist summer for a moment & relive a bit of our summer camping adventures... 

We usually get a little bit of spring camping in on the farm, but our official camping opener generally starts with Melanie's birthday, which often coincides with Memorial Day weekend. This year we hit St. Croix State Park.

Melanie's 3rd birthday (w/her new headlamp)
What girl wouldn't want her very own purple sleeping bag & purple headlamp for her 3rd b-day? Melanie was thrilled!

Playing in the river

In July, we made our annual trek west to the Black Hills of South Dakota for 9 days of camping.

First site... somewhere south of the Deadwood/Lead area.  We found a great spot down by a stream & called it home for 3 days.

For our second site, we decided to camp in a remote canyon that we love to fish... only access is by hiking... or in this case, biking!  We fish here every year but have never tried camping here but always thought it looked like a good spot.

Mike used the bike trailer to haul our stuff in about 1/2 mile down a trail leading into the canyon.  The bike in was much easier since it was downhill!  It only took about 2 trips to get the essentials in there!

We spent the next 2 days in our secluded & scenic canyon just fishing & having fun.  We caught a lot of trout too!  We only saw 1 group of fishermen in our 2-day stay.

For our last spot in the Black Hills, we decided to scout out something in the pine forests outside of Custer...

We did the hike to Harney Peak one day... Brandon did a great job hiking all the way!  Melanie rode & napped most of the way up to the peak but woke up just as we reached the top & declared "We made it!"  Not sure what part of "we" she was referring too!  I was just happy to get her out of the pack for a bit!

At the beginning of August & then again over Labor Day weekend we headed up to Superior National Forest just on the edge of the BWCA to do a little camping.  The first time we took the bikes & did some mountain biking & geocaching. 
Geocaching around Gooseberry State Park (with Lake Superior behind us)

Biking up a steep ATV trail... Melanie wanted out of the trailer to walk for a bit... Mike didn't mind lightening his load!
Then (the next time) over Labor Day weekend, we made sure to bring the canoe & canoed in an hour or so to one of our favorite BWCA lakes that we've canoe camped on in the past.  We had such great fishing the first day that we made the same trek the next day... only to have even a better day of fishing.

Brandon's first walleye ever... & what a walleye it was!

Stringer from Day 2

We had 2 days of phenomenal fishing... Brandon may spend a good portion of his lifetime trying to have 2 days of fishing that even come close the what we experienced!
Those were the highlights of the camping summer... we had a few other outings here & there... and don't count us out for winter camping just yet either.  Stay tuned... there very well could be a winter camping post!