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!

Screen Shot 2015-09-27 at 11.10.39 PM

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!

IMG_2787

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.

IMG_2818

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.

IMG_2823 IMG_2826

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

IMG_2830

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.

IMG_2851

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!

IMG_2884

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.

IMG_2901

IMG_2837

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.

IMG_2902

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.

IMG_2935 IMG_2921

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.

IMG_2939

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.

IMG_2947 IMG_2956

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

IMG_2985

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!

IMG_3005

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.

IMG_3025 IMG_3024

IMG_3035 IMG_3036

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

IMG_3058 IMG_3097

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!

Advertisements

Lessons from a Girl Scout Cookie Mom

Several months ago I started reading a fantastic book by Lysa Terkurst called The Best Yes. The only problem is that although it is amazingly good – I got onto reading several other books instead. The problem is that I really should have kept reading this book – The Best Yes! In this book – The Best Yes, Lysa urges us in the days of multi-tasking, and plate filling (the busy kind not the food kind) that sometimes we need to set boundaries, so that we can say Yes to the things that really matter. The things that are most important to us, because surely we cannot say yes to everything right?

I am a boundary breaker [to myself]. I never know when to say no. If you guilt me into something – there is a 99% chance that I will say yes. Its just my personality. Maybe blame it on serving in the Navy with the Seabees… but if I see a need, and nobody else will step up to the plate – you can bet your house that I will grab a bat and start swinging for the team.

So this brings me to my post topic.

Several months ago – my daughter joined Girl Scouts. Our troop needed what is called, “a Cookie Mom”. A mom that is basically superhumanly organized, can order cookies for her troop, and keep a running inventory of everyones cookies and track progress etc while staying in excellent contact with the moms in your troop. So when our troop leader reached out to our troop to see who would be willing to be Cookie mom – we all heard crickets. I was busy – and just coming off a mental and emotional roller coaster – and I thought – I need a break. I cannot say yes… but then when they reached out again and we continued to hear crickets, I went online – read the Cookie Manager handbook and picked up the bat, and stepped up to the plate to swing for the team.

cookie-boxes

I should have known better the instant I said yes. It’s not like they post the ACTUAL job description on the website – or anywhere public – because who would actually say yes to the real job description?

Screen Shot 2015-03-05 at 7.48.43 PM

I gathered the other moms around to place the initial order for our girls – and ever since I picked up our first batch of cookies I’ve felt like a bona-fide drug dealer. I mean- the whole operation is actually so organized – that it probably rivals an actual Columbian Cocaine operation.

I pulled up in my vehicle – all hush hush. I pulled up and asked if I was “Lindsey” and I said yes, and before I knew it they were schlepping cases and cases of cookies into my car. I couldn’t believe they had the right Lindsey, because they barely got any other information out of me – but in the end I had the right amount of cookies in my car. (read – $2500 dollars worth of fricken cookies) When I “checked out” with the lady at the end she gave me a sly smile – I couldn’t tell if she was silently saying “good luck” – or “haha sucker”!

I am very organized, which has been a blessing, because the the system that our beloved Girl Scouts uses – eBudde is not the most user friendly thing on the planet (IMHO). If only I could count the hours that I have spent to un cluster the F*** that is eBudde I might be up for a volunteer hours award or something. Too bad I wasn’t getting paid – because I’d be a millionaire by now.

I don’t know how it happens, lets blame it on lack of sleep but inevitably numbers are skewed, and do not match up to inventory, and I am so paranoid that I am going to mess something up and we will owe hundreds, or  thousands of dollars from our troop  that I have to spend hours and hours and hours allocating cookies, or reevaluating cookie counts, and making sure I hit SAVE (which is not where you think it would be) – which I think is the real problem. Lets not even mention the fact that the business practices we use are horribly outdated and inefficient. I have always considered myself to be a supremely organized person, but you absolutely have to bring your “A” game – no B Squad organization skills in this game!

Then there is the constant cookie eating! I mean – seriously – I got a stand up desk at work to combat the cookie season. Forget the “Holiday Fifteen” – I’m terrified I’m going to gain 20lbs because I eat sleeves of Thin Mints in 5 minutes! – I somehow justify it however by telling myself I’m earning my daughter a cheap prize that was made in China, and helping her to go to summer camp! “Kid – we’re walking 15 miles at summer camp!” ” Why mom” “Because your camp cost me 15 miles of hiking – that’s why!”

Emails! Emails, phone calls, sketchy text messages, money, money, money  and constant communication. Nobody tells you that you will become a drug dealer that annoying telemarketer/ wall street banker trying to stay in constant contact with other moms to ensure that they have enough cookies- and find out how many cookies they’re sitting on, and how much money they’ve brought in! “Are you moving your cookies, because if you’re not, so-and-so can move them for you! – How much money do you currently have? Can you bring it over tonight at 8pm?” and then I get frantic texts and e-mails from troop moms… “Help! My husband’s co-workers are Samoas addicts – we need three cases immediately!”  Drug dealers I tell you. Drug dealers!  I feel like I’m moving product and the drug is pure delicious sugar!

We still have a solid three weeks of cookie selling left and I don’t know how I’m going to make it! I look forward to freedom like a teacher feels at the end of the school year, or a prisoner of war looking to go home.  For the love of Christ – if you have any kitchen cupboard room  – buy some more girl scout cookies! If a girl scout stops by your house  – and you’ve already purchased from Cub Foods or Walmart  – help a cookie mom out and buy another box! They freeze well! And if you absolutely cannot eat anymore – then offer to contribute cash – so that they can donate to the Cookies for the Community! Our troop is donating cookie boxes to the Coon Rapids Middle School Food Shelf where 50% of kids draw from it each week!!!

So… lessons learned and tips to share.

1.) If you have a young daughter and someone asks you to be a cookie mom… run…. far-far away!
2.) Cookie season is done in three weeks! Come May you’re going to regret that you didn’t buy from that cute girl scout who stopped by your door in March to purchase a case of thin mints to last you all summer!
3.) I have literally had a scenario where I have needed to jump in the shower – but didn’t know when certain moms were going to swing by… I was terrified they were going to ring the door bell and I would be half naked while trying to manage cookie sales and personal hygiene.
3.) Have fun! Though I’m kvetching about how hard this is – it is rewarding. I get to spend some precious hours with my daughter and help her with some social skills that she needs to develop!
4.) If you did happen to be suckered in to being a cookie mom – enjoy a glass of wine at the end of the day! – enjoy a glass of wine at the end of each and every day!

JAM packed Saturday!

Miss K was supposed to have a soccer tournament today, but with most of the fields still saturated the tourney was called off. So we decided to head up to Minnesota Fresh Farm, and handpick strawberries. Neither me or my daughter had ever picked berries before today, and it was on my goals to continue to fill up her memory bucket! After we take home our haul and make jam we’re headed out to the Minnesota Zoo with Jason’s brother Jeremiah and his girlfriend Amillie for a fun filled family day!

(Scroll down for all the pic’s)

20140621-105410-39250008.jpg

Woke up early and headed to the farm up the road! We’re going to make homemade jam today before we head out to the zoo!

20140621-105410-39250603.jpg

Me and my girl being strawberry pickers! We were the first ones to pick this year! (They don’t open for appointments until tomorrow, but they let us sneak in! ~ Thank You!)

20140621-105412-39252243.jpg

Working on getting lots of berries for homemade freezer jam!

20140621-105413-39253939.jpg

Look at that load! We have lots for jam and plenty to spare for a chicken strawberry salad tomorrow on Arugula and Kale!

20140621-105415-39255459.jpg

Destemed, slicked and now time to mash mash mash!

20140621-105417-39257102.jpg

Starting to look like jelly, or the beginning of strawberry wine!

20140621-105418-39258476.jpg

Time to stir in the sugar and pectin!

20140621-105419-39259770.jpg

And finally scoop all of that into jars. Let sit for 30 minutes, and then pop them into the freezer! Easy as… JAM!

Minnesota – Week 24

Welcome to the start of summer! You’d hardly even know that it was summer instead of late September by the wet and rainy weather we’ve been having, but I can’t complain too much, we’ve hardly had to turn on our wall unit air-conditioner, so its all relative I suppose. Today was actually very hot and muggy though. Here’s what’s new with us!

Chicks

The chicks have finally gone to roost in their new home, and it couldn’t have come a moment sooner. They now have many of their real feathers and have lost a lot of their down. They are approximately three weeks now and are on a grower ration of food. (Not medicated)  Today one even flew the coop when I was changing their water in the brooder, so it was definitely time to move to their new digs. They now have a lot of space to roam around in, and I think my husband can’t be happier that the project is done and now he can actually enjoy his evenings. I love him so much for it. The chicks are very happy too!

20140617-214107-78067500.jpg

We have our eye on you Sadie!

20140617-214103-78063456.jpg

Enjoying their new home and french window.

20140617-214109-78069098.jpg

Checking outside! They really love it outside.

20140617-214106-78066646.jpg

Staredown between Sadie & Naomi

20140617-214104-78064963.jpg

Looking to get snuggly for the night.

Family

We are all doing great. Little miss is nearly done with school, and I can hardly believe she will be done with kindergarten! Where did the time go? I’m learning as I get older and as my child gets older the time just FLIES. She is now reading level 2 and 3 books, can count to 100 and can add and subtract. She of course learned many other things throughout the year but these were the highlights. Now we get six weeks off until 1st grade! I will post more after her last day.

Soccer

This summer we (little Miss) is playing soccer, and its been going fairly well. She is still very distracted, but what can you expect from a six year old that has never played before? K is more interested in making friends on the field on both teams than kicking the ball, but at least she is having fun. The coach has only scheduled one practice so far, and its quite evident that the other teams have scheduled more practices. The team we played today had a Nazi coach that yelled the entire game. not in a mean way, but very “Dance Moms(esque)”. Click on the link… I’m not even kidding that’s how the other team’s coach yelled the entire game! It was kind of wild. I doubt she was “on crack” though…

That’s all for this week. I hope everyone is having an awesome week!

Minnesota Week 23 – Lessons from the “farm”

Up here in “Not Quite Hinterland” Minnesota we’ve been taking some lessons from “The Farm”.
Clarification – NO… in case you’re wondering I did not move to a farm, although I think that would be totally rad, and some of my co-workers might argue that I DON’T live on a farm….! The neighbors behind me do “farm hay” and drive a tractor, but no the extent of my farming is my new and improved vegetable garden, and my chicken coop!

This past week we both celebrated life, and death.

As you know (by my late post) we got chicks on Thursday night, and on Sunday… they were all dead… Our four day old pullets were attacked by our Jack Russell Terrier when she was able to get into the garage and get into the brooder. She killed all of them. Like a good mom I wanted to pull the old “gold fish” trick on my kid… you know the one where before your child even knows that the gold fish has died you’ve already gone and bought another one… I headed up to Runnings which is just like Fleet Farm only more “country” if you can imagine that… and got five new chicks. Afterall my husband had already started on the coop and was more than half way done! As they saying goes, “Have coop – will chicken”. I actually made that up, but why are you even surprised? We got three ISA Brown/Gold Stars, and two Black Australorp’s.

Screen Shot 2014-06-10 at 7.51.21 PM

From left to right Nathalie (black), Ruth, Lexie (black), Naomi and Hope.

 

Once I got home my daughter ran into the garage and promptly announced, “Mom, they’ve already turned black!”…. I couldn’t hold the truth from her any longer and we had a discussion about the circle of life, and how Jack Russell Terriers are very naughty and are never to be trusted! We have our eye on you Sadie!

It took me several days to name the new chicks, but I think we’re set. The two Black Australorp’s are: Nathalie (K loves the name) and Lexie… and our ISA Brown’s are: Ruth, Naomi and Hope. Now yes of course I could have just “reused” the names, but it felt so wrong since already in four days I had become so attached to them. I know… and I kill chickens in August for meat, but this is sooo very different! Besides the broilers are never ever “cute”.

Here’s our Coop

Screen Shot 2014-06-10 at 7.50.53 PM

Screen Shot 2014-06-10 at 8.05.32 PM

Roosting bar and french windows for natural light

Screen Shot 2014-06-10 at 8.05.12 PM

Nesting Boxes

Screen Shot 2014-06-10 at 8.05.22 PM

Roosting branches made of real branches

Screen Shot 2014-06-10 at 8.05.00 PM

Coop and Run. They will be able to wander the backyard however when we’re home.

Summer:
Our daughter K is having a lot of fun so far this summer. Most of her friends are all done with school now, so its so hard to tell little miss that bedtime is still a priority! Two more weeks and she is DONE!

So far her and her group of friends from the neighborhood, and there are about 5-6 of them in total are total buddies, and have a little gang when they’re all hanging out which is rather cute. Just the other day I told little miss she could run out but she said, “ma… I don’t have shoes” and I said, “Girl… you just go barefoot! Its summer!” She was so excited that she got to run around the neighborhood and outside barefoot! Just watch… this weekend I’m even going to let her drink from the hose!

Really though… I want her to have a totally carefree summer. Free from rules and regulations and overly busy schedules! We are going to be total hipsters and fly by the seat of our pants. Its a lesson from the “farm”… take life how it is, because life is too short!

Let It Go! ~ Dinner

Inspired by many of my friends posting tonight about their kids singing “Let It Go” join me on a brand new series titled… “Let It Go”.

Sometimes I have a hard time letting things go…. Over the next several weeks join me on my new series of letting things go. From cooking, to parenting styles, lessons on forgiveness, and spring cleaning!

I am definitely the planning ahead of time type of girl.  I cannot stand anything more than not knowing what I’m going to be doing in a particular day. In fact I found a very nifty app called the Cozi Calendar which has all but changed my life, and you might want to check out if you’re the kind of person who is like me… Everything from school activities to evening activities is completely synchronized between my husband and I’s iPhones. Now there is never the, “You never told me that we had xyz going on tonight…” Seriously, filling in my tasks, and outings in my calendar/planner gives me one of the greatest joys in life. (Moreover I do not argue with you that I am a weirdo.)

For years, I have definitely been the meal planning type of wife and mom. Oftentimes I’m planning  at least a week in advance if not a few weeks and sometimes even a whole month. I would be hardly caught dead ordering fast food for the night, (and I do not judge those of you who do) although the occasional pizza delivery or Chipotle slips, but the truth is, I absolutely LOVE cooking. In my next life I am definitely going to be an executive gourmet chef, or maybe start a food blog… or maybe this will start turning into a food blog!

I’ve never quite understood women who didn’t meal plan and thought to myself, “How did they know what to eat for dinner?”

I love having my dinners for the week written very neatly in my calendar, and on my meal chalkboard next to my stove with hyperlinks to the menus that I am going use for that night.

What is happening though is that generally on Fridays or Saturdays after work I would hit the grocery store with my list of items that I needed to buy for the next week or two. But of course the inevitable happens. Schedules get overloaded, emergencies come up and I’m not having the time to prepare these extravagant meals… So we would either call for pizza or make something completely different using only a quarter or half of the ingredients I had allotted for that particular day.

Thanks to my church I now keep a budget. Like a corporate style budget for my family. While seeing what our actuals were for the month of March I discovered that we spent over $600 on groceries! Yes you read that right… for a family of THREE and that was ONLY groceries! I hang my head in shame. I can tell you we probably did not eat $600 dollars’ worth of groceries…

So… my husband and I decided to alter our plans to be a tad more on the fly! Sure I still have ideas of what I want to make for the week, or the next several days, but instead of shopping for a whole week or month, I now just get what we needed for a particular night or the next couple nights, and then using the left over ingredients up in the next few nights dinners. Plus on the account of the fact that we have so much venison and poultry there is no reason to be spending that much in groceries.

So far we’re already drastically under March’s budget actuals. (Moreover we are only a third through April!) We have a lot less waste, and there is more room for creativity on my part. I have even been throwing together dishes that sound good in my head without following any kind of recipe and its really freeing. Absolutely freeing.

Stay tuned my friends to the series, “Let It Go” over the next few weeks.  What are some of the things you need to let go of? Comment below!

Minnesota – Week 13

Motivation

Its finally April, yet it does still look like late February up here in Minnesota, and its going to get worse before it gets better.

After I’ve realized I am NOT getting to the gym like I used to, I invested in a set of Kettlebells. I found a few videos I like online from Pinterest, and its been going alright. (Okay I’ll be honest.. I’ve used them three times.)

I’ve also just started “running” again which I’ll use that term loosely, because usually I am such a fair weather runner kind of girl. For the most part all of the conditions have to be just right, or this girl aint gettin’ on her running shoes! Sometimes I like to run in wild weather, but mostly I’m picky… and full of excuses. Really I’m an excuse factory.

After a long sabbatical from running completely I’m ready to start again. This time focusing on shorter distances, since I feel this is where my sweet spot really lies. My PR is a 23:00 5K and this year I want to beat it. (I said it, and now I’m scared. I want to take it back, that was 11 years ago….What if I fail?)  I have completely started over doing a couch to 5K program basically, because sadly that’s where I’m at. I think I could run for 3-4 miles straight, but it would be ugly, and my body would feel betrayed for days. So instead I’m taking it slow, and steady, and after I’ve been reconditioned I will really start training!

In addition to the 5Ks, I may possibly do a Sprint Triathlon or two since I absolutely love Tris… but nothing has been set in stone as of now,which is quite fine by me. In order to practice the swimming discipline that would involve going to the gym, and we’ve already covered that. I haven’t signed up for anything yet, and I like the lack of pressure that not being signed up for races brings.

In the past I would sign up for races and say to others that I sign up so, “I will run” and then feel overly pressured into training and agonize over missed runs, and eventually feel like a failure. So I’m not signing up for anything yet. I want to run because I like it, not because I have to for training.

When I need motivation, I usually turn to Pinterest to look at all of the inspirational quotes and pictures. Here are a few of my favorites:

So tell me… how do you stay motivated to lace up your running shoes and hit the pavement? Please drop a line below, and share a thought or two 🙂

Screen Shot 2014-04-01 at 8.35.36 PM

Here’s to lacing up!