Mom + Daughter | Retreat

From the moment I found out I was having a girl – I had wanted to go on a retreat so to speak with her once she got older/old enough for an annual mom/daughter weekend – to grow our bond especially during those tween/teen years.

Because I have become obsessed with Ely – that’s where we were headed off to!

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On the docket of fun:

Because I am a shade of crazy for Ely, and Northern Minnesota that I can’t quite convay to you on this blog – we got out the door by 5:30am {Why yes- I did pack everything into the car the night before!}! I had made a super fun playlist with hits from the Oakee Dokee Brothers, Jose Gonzalez, and Kruger Brothers.

We were off! Except a few miles into our trip I realized that our connection road to I-35 was closed down and I had planned on stopping for gas! Well finally after some twists and turns we found a gas station filled up on coffee, cocoa donuts and gasoline and we’re officially off!


Took the typical 35 to 33 to 53 to 169/1 that I had taken for the third time now this year! I could drive up to Ely in my sleep I swear!

Little miss slept most of the way up since it was still fully dark out and the miles ticked by. Finally we stopped at Bearhead state park for a bathroom break and to check out the campsites. A few of them are quite nice and I wouldn’t mind staying there. I’ve heard the group site is legendary!

Once up in Ely – we stopped by the Spirit of the Wilderness outfitters to pick up a map of Lake One. Little miss were headed to the end of the road of 169 to the Lake One entry point.

We paddled around for a bit. I had been warned that the Lake One entry point could be confusing, and true to form the twists and turns on the Kawishiwi River left me feeling a bit confused and little miss was freaked out in the Kayak! Oh vey! I made her paddle around with me though for an hour or so since I hauled the Kayak all the way up north.


After we lived it up on the river – we took out and drove back towards Ely to go hiking out to Kawishiwi Falls. We were the only car in the parking lot. It was sunny out and the leaves were in peak color on both the birch and the tamaraks. The walk was easy but a little errie since we were the only ones out there. I kept imagining a wolf to come by and snack on us like we were breakfast cereal, but all we encountered was a squirrel gathering nuts.

Miss K loved the view of the water falls. She wanted to get closer, but closer meant falling down a ravine – so I make her stay backed up. I was eager to get back to the car, but she was loving the private views of the waterfall.

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Later that day we at lunch at the Grilled Cheese Imporium, shopped at Piragus, and visited the Kawishiwi River Ranger Station!


Dinner was at Insula which is by and far my new favorite restaurant of Ely. I had the ghost pepper cheeseburger (and a nice glass of Pinot) and little miss had chicken tenders.  Later we headed back to the bunkhouse to watch Big Hero 6 and go to bed.


The next morning we woke up to pitter-patter rain – and we were headed to the North American Bear Center. We spent quite a bit of time there taking in all of the sights – and then had a spot of lunch and headed back to the bunkhouse for a nap!


After naps it was still raining but too early for dinner so we headed to the Piragus Bookstore! We spent hours pouring over books until we realized they were closing, and ended up buying a few of them to take with us.



Dinner was at Sir G’s which was not as good as Insula – but the customer service was very nice. Miss K and I split a plate of spaghetti and salads.


Friday we spent the day at the International Wolf Center! I had been told not to get too “excited” about seeing the wolves as they are often alusive, but they were right up by the glass for the entire day. They had wolf hunting game, and several seminars which we stuck around for.

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Then we headed off Hwy 1 to hike at Gabro. Again – the eerie feeling came back so we only hiked in a little while. Over my research last year I came to know of a large pack of known wolves in the area – so again I let fear get the better of me and took miss K up the Echo trail to Slim Lake.


That hike was absolutely GORGEOUS as snow flurries poured down on us. The area suffered a burn a while ago – so the blackness of the chared stumps along with some vivid colors were eye popping. The lake as always was breathtaking! We skipped rocks for quite a while and I had none of that fear that I did on the other hikes.

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We headed back to town eventually and went back to the Wolf Center until they too closed.


Dinner was at Insula and it was a hit again!

Later that evening I met up with my cousin and her husband and headed to their gorgeous log cabin on Burntside Lake. It was absolutely wonderful and their hospitality was lovely.

The next morning – around 5:30 a.m. we were packed in the car and headed to Grand Marais for Moose Madness!


Watching the sun rise over Hwy 1 was beyond epic! I was listening to a lot of Hillsong United so it tied in perfectly with the majesty of the moment. The twists and turns of the road were a blast in the dark I can hardly imagine how great they’d be in the light. I hope to take the Harley up on these roads some day!

We arrived in Grand Marais early in the morning and promptly stopped by Java Moose for a BWCA Mocha and Hot Chocolate for the little miss. Actually ran into someone I knew and after some hellos and have a good trips we finished up and drove up the Gunflint Trail for a bit and I determined we will be BACK on the Gunflint next fall for our Fall BWCA trip! It was so beautiful! After some time we went  to the visitor center to hit up Moose Madness.

Miss K earned some moose bucks and got a few fun items.

On our way back home we hit up nearly every State Park along the way including a trip down the Alpine Slide at Lutsen.

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Finally on our way back home we hit up the North Shore favorites of the Split Rock Lighthouse and Gooseberry Falls.

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It was great getting back home to my own bed – but valued each and every moment with my daughter. We had an amazing time and definitely grew closer in our relationship!

Be her friend


I am terrified. The day that I came home with my brand new baby swaddled tightly from the hospital I was terrified….and I think that it will get easier as  my child grows older, but it doesn’t really get easier, it just gets more terrifying. Instead of worrying about our child suddenly forgetting how to breathe in the middle of the night, we are now afraid that our child will be bullied on the playground, choke on food, get kidnapped by the ice cream truck man, get left out of the lunch table crowd, dress too provocatively, or take drugs at a party to be cool and the list just goes on and on and on.

I was too recently reminded of a friend of mine and her families story. Because it is her story I won’t go into too much detail, but her daughters boyfriend attended a party where other kids had this new “cool” synthetic drug.. and he and died tragically because of its effects. I don’t know that boys specific families story or how involved they were in their child’s life, but it makes me terrified that my daughter will want to be cool, and do whatever it takes to be in the “in” crowd.

I wonder how we are supposed to raise our daughters in this world where we can photoshop women’s bodies into unrealistic shapes, while having girls in their twenties make naked music videos while swinging on a giant ball, and having myriad synthetic drugs circulating at high school parties. I used to be terrified of normal things, but now I’m terrified of the friends she might make.

I know i”m jumping into the future… but as history is teaching me, the future is not so far off.

I know I’m about to  commit parental sin here, and go against the grain with  my  opinion and all, but I wanted to explore a new angle in parenting…Everybody knows the old, “I’m not your friend, I’m your parent” slogan…  To be really honest, that phrase has always really bothered me to the core for some reason. To me, you’re basically saying to your kid that a friend will let you do whatever you want… that a friend doesn’t have your best interests at heart, and has a selfish agenda of their own… and that a parents suck all of the “fun” out of life.

Now please do not mistake what I am trying to say here… a parent that lets their child do whatever they want because they are too tired to deal with poor behavior or wants to gain favor with their child is not what I am getting at. I am not giving parents carte blanche to give up at being a parent, but rather to encourage them to be a parent AND a friend. Most importantly to model what friendship behavior is all about.The last thing you want is rules that aren’t enforced, boundaries that are broken, and kids that are running wild right? But to continually tell our sons and and daughters, “I’m not your friend, i’m your parent” sends a broken message.

If we continuously teach our kids that you’re “Not their friend” (at least not between the ages of 5-18 then what are we saying about friendships in general?

According to Websters, a Friend is:
: a person who you like and enjoy being with
: a person who helps or supports someone or something

A parent is:
: one that begets or brings forth offspring
: a person who brings up and cares for another

Surely I fit both definitions, so by definition I AM my daughters friend too am I not? It is my absolute goal to teach my very impressionable daughter that friends do not simply let each other do what is popular, but rather a friend is someone to confine in… someone to hold you up when your world is falling apart, and someone to keep you accountable. Proverbs 24:26 says, ” An honest answer is like a kiss of friendship.” I challenge us to all to teach our daughters what real friend are…

I’m sure many of you have heard this quote before, and most people view that this is what friends are about….

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Proverbs, so full of wisdom teaches in verses 27:17, ” As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend.”, and Proverbs 18:24 says, ” There are “friends” who destroy each other, but a real friend sticks closer than a brother.” I think the psalmist David says this so perfectly. There are “friends” who destroy each other, and who don’t ultimately care about your eternal happiness. They want to live in the moment. Be popular… be cool…. sit in jail with you… but real friends stick closer than a brother. They look out for you. Look out for your best interests. A real friend stands up for what is right, and the path that you should go down. Real friends sharpen each other and warn you of dangerous waters… help you get out of sticky situations, and lead you towards your ideals… not away from them.

My point is – a friend is someone to hold each other up. A companion in life. I do not want to teach my child that her friends can lead her down a path that is away from how I’ve brought her up… but instead to find friends that will support her upbringing. I want to teach my daughter that friends are not the ones who lead you away from your morals,  and ideals but that they support you and your best interests. That friendship (especially between women)  is not ultimately about competition, but parallel lives… that we should be standing up for one another, and supporting one another.

I know many people will say, “haha good luck with this”, but really… I encourage you to look deep about what we are teaching  our children about friendship. As mothers, aren’t we the ones who are to model female behavior to our daughters?  Let us stand up and show our daughters what female friendship is all about. That it is about being strong in our faith, and our ideals, even if it isn’t always popular. Standing up for what you believe in, and not giving a damn about what other people think of you. Because the only opinion that is worth anything… is that of our heavenly father.


My daughter is young, and I am offering my opinion blind… as I do not have a tween or a teen going through the emotional baggage of that timeline in our lives, but I strongly feel that we as parents are their early role model.  In many cases, like it or not, we ARE their friend… so why do we have to officially wait until our children are in their twenties and thirties to be “their friend” and model good friendship behavior… Lets be their parent and their friend now… while it matters most.