Tag Archives: Kids

Maiden Voyage

We have lived on the river for over a decade now and have a very good understanding of its unpredictable nature.  Sometimes it is completely flooded in the spring for weeks on end.  Other times, like this year, there is no flooding and the transition from winter to summer is uneventful.

Heavy summer rains can also cause it to rise unexpectedly and flood during the hottest months of summer.  During those types of summers, we are not able to go down and enjoy the river much at all.  I’m a little freaked out by the power of a flooded river and have always forbade my children from going near it in those conditions.

We have often talked about getting some kayaks or a canoe to explore the river beyond just walking along its bank on our property.  During some of the summers when the water has been low, we have actually walked in the water a ways up-stream to explore.  The kids have also navigated it a little aboard our oldest son’s scow boat creation, but that was pretty labor intensive and they never really went that far.

With the early spring and low water levels (remember, we haven’t even had a real winter here in Minnesota), we decided to finally take the plunge and buy some kayaks to explore this winding river.  We took them out on our maiden voyage this weekend.

We decided to head upstream first to see how difficult it was to paddle against the current.  Floating downstream first, only to discover it was impossible to navigate upstream, seemed like a bad idea.

Keep in mind it was April 1st yesterday here in Minnesota.  The sun was shining and the temperature was in the 60’s.  Crazy.

We bought two single kayaks and one double.  That way, the kids can each have their own vessel to maneuver, and theoretically it will prevent them from bickering and blaming each other when they go floating into a tree or slam into the river bank.

The double kayak works out well for me because I can just sit back and enjoy the scenery while Jesse paddles, or, I can blame him when we get off course.

We were all real excited about the new kayaks and about being on the river.  It is something we have talked about for so long and yesterday we were finally doing it!

The river has a lot of fallen trees in its winding path.  Most of the time you can navigate around them, but sometimes you have to get out on to the river bank and go around.

After going upstream quite a ways, which was new territory for us, we ran into a tree jam that we weren’t able to navigate through with the double kayak (the kids managed to push themselves through with the singles).  We decided to head back downstream since we were just out for a leisurely afternoon paddle to explore.

Going downstream is a breeze.  Paddling is only required to keep the kayak on course.

In a few weeks, the river will look much different as the leaves fill out and form a canopy.  And then, the mosquitoes will hatch…and the whole experience will become very different. We will have to figure out how to deal with that aspect when the time comes.

After our maiden voyage on the river, we were very pleased that we finally decided to buy some kayaks.  We are hoping that was just the first of many lazy weekend days spent together paddling along the river.

Lynell

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A Field of Ice

We were enjoying warmer spring-like temperatures a week ago here in Minnesota and our ridiculously large piles of snow finally started melting.  All that melting snow meant that a LOT of water was trying to make its way from our hay-field down towards the river.

The water was still backed up in the field when the temperatures plunged to below freezing once again over this past week.  As a result, our hay-field turned into a giant ice rink.  With a free day on the calendar yesterday, the kids decided to take advantage of the ice.

They grabbed their ice skates, some hockey sticks and a tennis ball and headed out to the hay-field.

With their boots in place to mark the goal area, it wasn’t long before they had a lively game of hockey going on.

None of my kids are hockey players, but I think they do pretty well on the ice for only getting their skates on a couple of times a year.

I thought they were a little crazy at first when they decided to head out to play on the ice.  The latest winter storm was rolling in and the wind was really whipping out of the east.

I was freezing when I went out to take pictures of them.  As I glanced out the window later, I noticed they had taken their jackets off and were skating around in sweatshirts!  These kids are hardy Minnesotans!

Sofie was trying to figure out what we were all doing out in the hay-field.  She went out to watch the kids play and when I showed up to take pictures she looked over at me inquisitively.

Everyone eventually came inside to warm up and enjoy our Sunday brunch.

The predicted snow finally started to arrive in the afternoon and the kids talked their dad into going out on the ice before the snow covered it up.

I went out to take pictures again.  I didn’t last long.  I’m a Minnesota girl, but am definitely not as hardy as my husband and kids.

Each year around this time, I tell myself that I am better suited to live where it is always warm and they have palm trees and sandy beaches.  I always get over it…you have to when you live here.

It snowed the rest of the day and through most of today.  We now have about a foot of fresh snow!  The recent teasing of a spring thaw is just a distant memory, as we are now buried in snow once again.   And so is the ice rink in the hay-field.

Hockey in the hay-field.  I never would have imagined…

Lynell

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Keeping up with the Kids

Life has been very busy around here since school started.

All three kids are involved in multiple activities, which keeps me running around…a LOT.

Swimming

I have been going to high school swim meets to watch my daughter and her team compete.  I love the sport of swimming.  I never imagined that I would.  I knew nothing about swimming until three years ago when she started as a seventh grader.  It is so exciting to watch.  Who knew?

High School Football

I have also been going to high school football games on Friday nights.  I love watching football too.  Even if our team has not won a single game.  It has been a tough season.

I still enjoy watching #22.  He’s serious.  He’s determined.  He’s my boy.

He is also a senior, which means he will be graduating in the spring and leaving home. I often find myself thinking, “this will be the last ______.”  I know that is how things are supposed to work, but I am sometimes still sad about the whole process.

It was parent’s night at the last home football game.  The senior football players were introduced before the game, along with their parents.  We are so proud of this young man.

Middle School Football

My youngest also plays football.  His football games are after school during the week.  I have gone to watch him play too. He is very serious about football.  He will still stop and pose for a picture for his mother around his teammates.  I love that about him.  He even smiles!

It is hard for me to believe he is already in seventh grade.  Where has the time gone?

Piano

It is not just sporting events that take up all my time outside of working and sleeping.  I also get up bright and early on Thursday mornings to drive the youngest two kids to piano lessons before school and work.  It is the only lesson time that works because of their sports practice and events.  The early morning drive is worth it, however, because they enjoy playing and I love hearing piano music in my house.

Violin

On two other days of the week, I drive my daughter to the cities for violin lessons and her orchestra rehearsal.  All of her hard work practicing fills our house with music.  It will be very quiet in a few years when she leaves.  Those darn kids.  Why do they have to leave?

It is true that having three very active teens in the house certainly does make for a chaotic life.  But, although it exhausts me at times and even leaves me feeling a bit frazzled, I would not trade it for the world.  They are all happy, doing things they love and staying out of trouble.

What more could I ask for?  (Besides a nap.)

Lynell

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More Sunflower Fun

I posted this picture a few weeks back of my Skyscraper Sunflowers.  I wanted to get a picture of them before a storm rolled through.  They were enormous this year.

They weathered the storm but are starting to fall over as the heads ripens and get heavier.  We decided to cut one down to see just how big the seed heads have actually grown.

They are definitely bigger than a teenager’s head!  This is one of the larger seed heads and it is about 16 inches in diameter.  The birds have already started to harvest seeds.

I have a feeling we will be seeing a lot of birds in the garden this fall snacking on these gigantic sunflower heads.  Feeding the birds is one of the side benefits of growing these fun flowers.

Hope everyone had a wonderful Labor Day weekend!

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Never Too Old

Several inches of rain fell here in Minnesota last week, culminating in a complete washout on Friday.  Inches and inches of rain poured from the sky in waves throughout the day.  After watching the rain from indoors for much of the day, one of the kids suggested venturing outside to play in the rain.  The kids are 17, 15 and 12.  Too old to play in the rain?  Apparently not.

All three of them headed outside.  I was sitting at the computer and thought nothing of it when they first went out.  A few minutes passed and I became curious as to what they were doing.  I looked out the window and saw them having a great time.  All three kids, at home, agreeing on an activity, being totally silly together.  Why was I sitting inside the house in front of a computer screen?  So I grabbed my camera, headed out into the rain and followed them around.

They ran through the rain and the puddles…

They slopped in the puddles of standing water…

And they splashed each other.

At first, I stood inside the pole shed, protecting my camera and shooting pictures of them in the rain.  I eventually put a coat over my head and followed them out into the field, as they continued to splash in the standing water everywhere.  The air was fresh and earthy smelling.

In those moments outside in the rain, it occurred to me that I am an incredibly lucky woman.  I felt so grateful for our little slice of country life and that I was home on this particular afternoon to enjoy these teenagers playing in the rain.  Instead of sitting in an office, or being stuck in traffic, or being somewhere else in the big city, here I was with my kids, out in the country on our little farm.

As the rain let up and we went inside, I could not get the images of them playing in the rain out of my head.  With a senior in the house, the reality is that afternoons like this are numbered.  Isn’t it funny how something so simple, like playing in the rain, can feel so special?

So, are my kids too old to play in the rain?  Not so far.  And truthfully, I hope they never feel too old.  Because when they come back to visit me as adults, which they better plan on, I might just drag them out in the rain so I can take some more pictures.

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Cooling Off in the River

Hot and humid days have graced us here in Minnesota lately and finding relief from the heat is a necessity.  Since summer is so short, it seems wrong to always escape the heat by hunkering down in the air-conditioning.  At least that is what I tell the kids.

“Let’s get out of the house,” I tell them.  Sometimes they suggest if first.

So, off to the river we go.

Stepping into the water offers immediate relief.  We have been enjoying the river a lot more since we cleared an area to hang out and relax on the shore.

Before long, friendly splashing begins.  A splash here, a splash there…

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A Boy’s Imagination and the Tree Fort

Deep in the woods behind our house, at the end of a long path, overlooking the alfalfa field, sets one of the newest structures on our property.  In fact, the only structure newer is the smokehouse we built last summer and fall.  The rest of our property consists of our decade-old house, which replaced the original farmhouse, and a collection of original buildings that we have been slowly renovating through the years.

The construction of this newest structure was not done off a set of blueprints or a well-thought out plan.  Instead, it was conceived in a boy’s imagination and constructed over a long period of time based on the availability of materials and the whim of its builder.

This boy (now a 17-year-old young man), never came across a piece of scrap lumber, building material, or other miscellaneous object that he thought was not suitable for incorporating into his tree fort project.   Continue reading

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