Countdown to Valentines Day

Valentines Day is just around the corner, and if I’m completely honest, I absolutely love this holiday! My husband and I rarely if ever go out for any kind of fancy dinner nor do we exchange gifts on this date. Maybe its the hearts or the sea of pink red and white, but this holiday stirs up in me all that is good.

With 10 days to go, I’ve been looking at what we are actually celebrating – Love.
Paul speaks a whole bunch to this in 1 Corinthians 13. We’ve all heard it at weddings, and truth be told, maybe glossed over what it all really means.

Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.

Of course we could be talking about a romantic love, but if you read through the book of Corinthians the reader isn’t even addressing a romantic love, but an attitude in general we can all embrace.

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Gift my daughter is giving her teacher

Lately when coming across this passage I substitute my own name for the word [love]. So – between now and Valentines Day I would like to take pause, and strive to dive deeper and unpack these verses like a little fortune cookie and list a few practical ways I could live them out.

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Valentine’s my daughter is passing out at class

1. Love is patient and kind. – Thursday February 4
Today I seek to not let the small stuff bother me, and speak with soft words. Now that my daughter eats breakfast at school our mornings are generally less hectic, but I still get impatient with her trying to get on her tights, or if the dogs are going bonkers crazy in the morning because they’ve been cooped up in the crate all night. I seek today – to have a better understanding of all needs, and speak with a more kind spirit.

2. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. – Friday February 5
Man do I love to share (verbally) and when someone shares something about themselves I usually am thinking of something similar that happened to me. And instinctively I usually share my similar circumstance… What I am doing is taking away the speakers glory and being boastful and proud of my own. Conversation is great, but interjecting more often then not is not always required. God gave me one mouth and two ears. On this day I seek to listen more, and speak less.

3. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking – Saturday February 6
I really like getting my own way. Pride overtakes me and convinces me that my way is better, or sometimes do things for my own benefit. On this day, I will look at ways to reach out to others with no agenda of my own.

4. It is not easily angered- Sunday February 7
Today is Super Bowl Sunday! I could let all kinds of things irritate me today. The fact that I plan to cook Venison Bourguignon, which takes all day to make, or the game itself may cause me irritation, or the piles of laundry, or anything. On this day – I will seek to find gratitude in everything I do.

5. It keeps no record of wrongs. – Monday February 8
Without being prideful, I would say I am generally pretty good about not keeping records. I do however let my daughters past mistakes or behaviors shape my attitude how she will be the next time.

6. It does not delight in wrongdoings, but rejoices with the truth.  – Tuesday February 9
As a Christian, I should never rejoice when an injustice has been done, or brush it aside, but conversely I should rejoice when virtues ring out, and when truth is spoken. I would like to look for the true truth in things, and not just go with what is always popular.

7. Love always protects – Wednesday February 10
Sometimes I just give up. After so many attempts its easy to become discouraged. Maybe I slip back into old habits, or my prayer life isn’t as dynamic as it once was. Maybe for you – you’ve been praying and praying for something every day and you have yet to see its completion. But God promises that, “He who began a good work in you WILL see it to completion”. So on this day – even when I feel like the odds are stacked against me – I won’t give up.

8. Never loses faith – Thursday February 11
Even after my father died so suddenly – I did not lose faith. That’s because my house of faith in God is build on a rock,a solid foundation, and not built in haste in the sand. Similarly, build relationships on solid rocks so that they too can stand the tests of time.

9. Love is always hopeful- Friday February 12
Sometimes in the world around me its easy to lose hope. Just take one look at the presidential campaign on either side, ISIS, growing tensions with Russia, and other countries, or just even in my every day walk. – Paul tells us, “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.” – Philippians 4:6.

10. Endures through every circumstance. – Saturday February 13
If the time has not come for you when the proverbial crap has hit the proverbial fan… it will. And when that time comes, trust that God will be there right with you to the very end of it. He will not leave you or forsake you. If Paul didn’t write this down in his letter to the Romans, I may have come to the same conclusion myself, “And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.” – Romans 8:38-39

 

Countdown to the BWCA ~ The Trip

Our first trip into the BWCA was kind of like becoming a first time parent. You can do tons of research and get loads of advice but until you actually experience it – you have no idea what you’re doing! I was humbled many times out there – but that too is good for a person! The lessons learned:

First: I loved the immediacy of everything. You didn’t think about three days from now, or next month – but what did you have to do in the next five minutes. For an event planner – who is always planning a year or more in advance this was a much needed break for my tired brain!

Second: I love solitude and peace and quiet! – I had no idea I was such an introvert until you put a super talkative person in the BWCA for a week with a husband who is very introverted! I actually loved it! 

Third: You can plan for this life – and have the perfect idea of what and how things will go – but then something changes and you have a new life (that is – my life after my Dad’s unexpected passing last year) – and to realize that though its not what you planned , the new life – or adventure can be beautiful too! (How our trip actually played out).

Friday May 15, 2015
Unless you’ve been sleeping under a rock  you will know that I have been planning our first trip into the BWCAW (Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness) or BWCA – or even B-Dub as some call it. Friday May 15th finally appeared in sight, and the countdown on my phone finally switched from numbers to “BWCAW TODAY”. By 10:30 a.m. the car was loaded, our gear was packed and we were headed to Ely, MN.

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Just north of Forest Lake we saw a billboard that read, “Phones and Emails going unanswered, and the world isn’t over!” ~ Ely Minnesota.

I knew again this trip would be awesome.

As we got closer the scenery changed with cathedral high pines and ridges that boomed up from the earth.

As we got onto Hwy 169 north of 53 my new favorite song “Stay Alive” came on and we pulled into Ely.

Our first stop was Canadian Waters Outfitters to purchase our 2013 Wenonah Boundary Waters Canoe and pick up our permit to enter the wilderness. Dan Waters is a class act guy so we knew that we were in great hands. After we got our canoe strapped to the roof we were headed for Spirit of the Wilderness outfitters on the other side of town to pick up our SPOT. We were all gung ho and were going to walk down there, but it seemed kind of far so we went back and got the car. Picked up an emergency map and a few more Cache Lake food treats, and Jason got some leeches. We were fully outfitted now, and I wanted to head out to the Echo trail to see where it was and get a look.

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As soon as we turned right on to the Echo Trail my heart sang, and my soul was touched. The sights were unlike anything I saw before – even though some of the scenery is similar to Voyagers National Park, or Lutsen MN, but this was different. Jason didn’t want to go to far so we headed back to Ely, and dropped Sadie off at the bunkhouse so we could get some dinner.

Dinner was beef tips in Teriyaki at the Ely Steakhouse, and a lovely glass of Malbec! Later we walked along the shops of Ely and stopped into Piragus to get Kay some new rain pants since we couldn’t find hers at home.

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It was hard to sleep that night, tossing and turning, tossing and turning thinking what lied ahead the next day on the trail to Beartrap Lake.

Saturday May 16, 2015
The alarm sounded at 4:45 a.m. and we woke up. We threw all of our stuff in the car, went to the bathroom in a flush toilet for the last time, and headed over to Brittons Cafe. Even though I didn’t really want Oatmeal for breakfast I was way too excited to eat a real meal, so we threw the food down the hatch and busted out of there ready to blaze our path into the wild. It was a quiet, still, and foggy morning with the sun peaking out and casting haunting spiritual light onto the road. The Echo trail was once again gorgeous, and once we turned onto the dirt road it was nothing short of enchanting.

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After some time, the entry point appeared out of nowhere due to all of the fog, and sun in our eyes. It was a magical, quiet, beautiful moment.

We unloaded the car which took about 20 minutes or so to get situated. No one else was there so we parked in the middle of the road near the portage path. I brought Kay to the vault toilet in the parking lot, parked the car, and then several more cars arrived including some folks I had seen in Brittons Cafe.

They unloaded their vehicles like it was their jobs, and I instantly felt like a novice.

Once we were ready to go I tried to get my pioneer pack on and almost fell over! I was offered help by a very nice gentleman, but politely declined knowing that they wouldn’t be near us to help me the whole time.

The first 30 rod portage to the river/creek that leads to Mudro was a breeze. Flat, wide and hardly any roots and rocks to contend with.

Finally we were off! There were a handful of submerged boulders that we worked hard to avoid and in the process we were passed by “Olympic Canoists” as though we were just drifting in the creek. But then again we have zero paddling/canoeing skills.

It was a nice and beautiful paddle through Mudro Lake and I knew right where we were going from my copious hours doing research over maps. It was difficult to determine where the portage path was but I knew that it was on the right hand side. Jason wondered if the rushing water was a waterfall and Kay started freaking out so we pulled to the right shore while Jason & Kay got out and scouted for the portage path. Just then we were passed by more “professionals” at the real portage so we went up there to an exceptionally rocky & tricky footing portage.

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Kay got her feet all wet and was quite pouty about it, so we changed her shoes and sox.

We were all thankful to be back in the canoe but it was just a blip and through my research I knew the longer and steeper portage was upon us. This entrance was significantly easier to find. We were locked and loaded and decided to portage without our lifejackets on which was much more comfortable. We traversed the sometimes steep and rocky ridges and after about 1/4 mile or 80 rods we all took a break just off the portage path and downed a bunch of water. Jason left the canoe off the portage path, and we finished up the portage and waited for Jason when he went back for the canoe.

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Miss K got some girl scout cookies I had for her, and I was looking all around like a paranoid person because I was nervous about the wild life.

Jason came back in no time and it seemed laughable at the short distance of paddling before the next 10 rod portage. Thinking it would be an easy one, but boy was I mistaken! The rocks were like sheer ice and the portage into Fourtown was downright treacherous! I had no idea how we were going to get down this rock face. There wasn’t much footing and you basically had to jump to a very small landing below. After “rock climbing” and starting to load the canoe we were passed by more people. They had portaged a bit further down trail and their way seemed a lot easier with no rock climbing involved! We will definitely remember this for the way back!

After these three “tougher-than-we-thought” portages we decided our new destination would be Fairy Lake – 4 lakes short of our goal.

We got onto Fourtown which opened up into a much larger lake, blissfully reminding me of Lake Namakan in Voyagers National Park. We paddled towards Boot Lake and were passed by a flotilla of 3 canoes and were told that our daughter/dog looked pretty well behaved! (Why, thank you!)

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The paddle to Boot was easy & it felt good to get my paddling arms. We came up to the portage near the brooke that drains from Boot to Fourtown. Finally no rockside boulders and a chance to stretch! After we got our composure a man appeared from the portage by himself. Our daughter was really interested that he was paddling all by himself. We made our way towards Boot on what was a very easy path and thought Jason was behind us, but it turned out to be the man I later found out was JJ from bwca.com! I moved over so he could get the rest of his stuff and waited for Jason over on Boot.

Boot lake was very nice. We passed a few sites that looked really good as we made our way up to Fairy.

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This portage was mostly good but was filled with chipmunks so our JRT was in heaven! Fairy lake was not too large, but not too small. Just right. This would be home until at least Monday or Tuesday after the rainy Sunday and cold Monday passed. I filled our Platypus Gravity Works filter up with water which had an orange tint. We scoped out the E. Campsite which JJ said would be free. It was very large and nice. After pulling everything up on shore, Kay and I looked for the toilet and found it without too much work.

We got the tarp set up in preparation of tomorrows rain and got our tent on a nice level(ish) area near the lake.

We threw our fishing lines in, put on cooler clothes and waited.

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Kay caught a northern, but we threw it back to grow a bit bigger.

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Dinner was steak, asparagus and sweet potato. It was so delicious, and we ate like we were starving.

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We got our food bag hung in a tree about 1/4 mile away from camp using the PCT method and got a fire going until about 10:30 where we climbed into bed to an orchestra of frogs.

My mummy sleeping bag was tight but really warm, and my Exped 7 was like a dream! The Tempurpedic of the north woods!

Happy would have been 45 year anniversary Mom & Dad!

Sunday May 17th
I woke up while it was still dark to something wondering around camp. I fully convinced myself it was a moose. Yes. I could hear its hoofs on the rocks. “Please don’t trample us, please don’t trample us.” I prayed to myself. Then SLAP – SPLASH – LOUD! Again – 2 or 3 more times! The moose must have jumped in the water! I laid there shaking in my sleeping bag praying to God to keep us save and keep the wolves away. After some time I began silently laughing to myself fully realizing that was a BEVER!!!! Not a moose.

I fell back to sleep until light to torrential rain and lightening! Man I had to pee, but I wasn’t getting out in this crap. Luckily my daughter was still sleeping.

After an hour or so the rain stopped, so we got out and went to get the food bag down, but had trouble. Pulling on the rope we ended up breaking the branch and it fell down on top of us, but we were all okay! We need a new hanging method!

Had oatmeal & coffee. It was very good.

Intermittent rain throughout the morning, then it stopped for a while, so we decided to head up to Gun Lake for a quick trip. The portage to Gun was easy to find, but it was super muddy and lots and lots of puddles! Very rocky at both landings! Once we passed the trees into Gun I was IN LOVE! The water was exceptionally clear with none of that orange tint, and had the feeling of home to me! This is what I was looking for!

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Gun is larger than fairy but absolutely beautiful. Yes! I definitely want to move here on Tuesday but we will see how things go!

It was very windy so there were rollers to contend with so I dropped to my knees to paddle, which gave instant stability.

Tried to fish in the narrows up into the barrel of the lake, but it was far too windy. We saw 3 canoes out fishing as well who obviously had anchors – probably the ones who passed us the day before. We gave a wave and they waved back.

I brought the Playtypus with and got super clean water.

We fished the bottom towards the portage and it was much better away from the wind. The rain started back not long after so we headed back to camp.

We had chili-Mac from Mountain House and it was wonderful! Having a fire was futile so it was a wonderful thing we brought the Biolite stove. That thing ROCKS!

We all headed to the tent to play Yahtzee, but we were so tired that we all fell asleep and napped until 5:30 p.m.

Sadie was NOT the typical Jack Russell Terrier and wanted to sleep the entire trip. K was also pooped out and had a nice long nap too.

We had Chicken Wild Rice Soup for dinner which was good, but way too much food for us, so we threw it on the fire. We discovered Sadies harness was causing a bad raw spot so we took it off and now Sadie is in a much better mood!

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Our new hanging method is a breeze! Throw the rock/rope over a tree limb 6 feet away from the main trunk, tie the food bag on with a caribeener, and hoist it up 12 feet in the air and 4 feet from the branch and tie off on another tree. We don’t even remove the rope anymore – just hang up and lower the food! A pulley system would be nice for next time.

Over dinner we decided that if its not raining tomorrow we are going to abandon our origional plans of going further north and try to move to the east towards and into Horse Lake. I was a bit sad to leave the idea of Gun Lake, but know I will be back and can try for it next time! Got our boots and shoes dried on the fire before going to bed in preparation of tomorrows travel. No luck fishing today, not even a bite. Maybe we’re in a funky weather pattern?

We all laid out on a dry rock and stretched our sore muscles. After we got camp cleaned and put to rest it started sprinkling so we headed to the tent to play yahtzee. I won! Kay colored and I wrote and read the spring 2014 issue of the BWJ before we closed our eyes and drifted to sleep to the sounds of planes overhead.

Monday May 18th
Woke up to freezing temperatures and pouring down rain! Finally got the courage to get out of our warm sleeping bags and get our rain gear on to go to the bathroom and get our food bag down and have breakfast. I guess we aren’t going anywhere today. After a breakfast of oatmeal, turkey sausage sticks, coffee & hot cocoa we charged up my iphone on our biolite stove! It worked pretty well.

After dishes and hanging the food bag etc we all headed right back to the tent to play yahtzee and get warm. We all slept until 3:30pm! It was still raining but again – I had to pee! Finally got the courage to go out and pee and realized that it was not raining but SNOWING out!!! It was actually kind of epic and made us feel super hardcore. Ate an early dinner and cussed I didn’t buy Kay Bog boots. Whoever said that kids should just wear old tennis shoes never took a 7 year old on a trip where it rained and snowed the whole time. Despite wool sox her feet were constantly wet! I am DEFINITELY buying her Bog boots!

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Dinner was light, but filling – Chicken Curry but was physically a heavy package so yay for a lighter pack! We tried fishing again but not even a bite. Spirits started getting a little low while trying to get our fire going. Fairy Lake is home to NO firewood to speak of! Contemplating packing up and getting a hotel, but today was supposed to be the worst of the days! We just have to get through today and then hopefully move to Horse Lake tomorrow!

We dried and warmed up by the fire after we finally got it going and my Bog boot started melting! Word to the wise – don’t get too close to the heat with them on! K and I headed to the tent where Sadie already was and got some new warm clothes on and hopped into our 5 degree sleeping bags to warm up while Jason finished drying our gear/clothes by the very smokey fire.

Our daughters patience for the BWCA was wearing thin and our patience for her lack of listening skills were also wearing thin!

Father God, Continue to keep us safe from all harm and please let this weather break up so we can move tomorrow!

Once Jason got back in the tent we played Pictionary to lift our spirits, read the map and the BWJ. We are hopeful!

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We fell asleep to the hard cold wind.

Tuesday May 19
Slept in until 7:30 a.m. or so to clear and quiet skies! YAY!!! No more rain. Our canoe however was covered in snow where our daughter promptly decided to play in it thus getting wet hands again, but we are all hopeful we can move today!

We made the decision last night instead of portaging our crap all the way into Horse Lake we would stay on the east side of Fourtown.

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We bid farewell to Fairy Lake and got on the portage to Boot. It went pretty good. A few wet spots, but the paddle on Boot was beautiful! Sadie decided to fall/jump out of the canoe, but she had her life jacket on and Jason missed just one paddle stroke and scooped her up by her handle. The portage to Fourtown was a breeze! We single portaged both times. Saw two girls heading towards Boot and one was named Kay also! My Kay was pretty impressed that two girls were out by themselves! I told her once she turns 13-14 that maybe we can do a trip by ourselves!

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The first two sites on Fourtown directly out of Boot on the left were taken by what appeared to be boy scouts. The wind was blowing strong and there were lots of white caps. I had become a “professional” knee paddler so I felt ok with the waves. We got to the other side of Fourtown Lake straight across from Boot to start looking for a new site. The first few sites were okay but didn’t really ike them and decided to keep going south and saw another free site high up on some rocks. Paddled to the other side and I got out. It was okay, but still didn’t feel perfect.

The next site was taken, and finally tucked in on the way to Horse Lake was a beautiful site with a sandy beach to boot! Beautiful, multiple flat tent pads, and a new non-broken potty! (The one at Fairy had a screw loose).

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Yes she has her pants up!!!

Yes she has her pants up!!!

Not as many nice trees for hanging but TONS of dry dry wood for a fire! The site was right on some rapids for nice white noise and was on an unmarked portage. We can see why some people rated this only 3 stars on bwca.com – but I think mostly because of the foot traffic, but we didn’t mind seeing other people.

We had mac and cheese for lunch and tons of it! We ate like ravishing kings! Mac & cheese is definitely a great mood builder!

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We tried fishing and again, no luck! Grrr. Fished the entire mini lake/pond between Fourtown & Horse. Came back to camp to make dinner – Mountain House – Beef Stroganoff and a Cache Lake Garlic Bread. Kay said her stroganoff wasn’t good, and I told her to suck it up and eat it – until I took a bite… and then I said, um, Kay – you don’t have to eat this! The bread was a little tricky so we ended up having pudding for dinner! Kay thought that was great! Luckily we had so much mac and cheese at 3pm we weren’t that hungry anyways.

Garlic bread from Cache Lake foods

Garlic bread from Cache Lake foods

After dinner chores were done we got a nice roaring fire going and stayed up until the stars were in full swing. I laid out on the rocks and called it a star party. The song Oceans by Hillsong United were playing in my head as clear as day as if it were actually playing! Looking up at the skies I knew this was exactly where I was meant to be. I had never seen so many stars in my life due to the lack of moon.

Tonight – we go to sleep to an orchestra of loons, the rush of the rapids below, and the beaver fishing and slapping his tail.

Wednesday May 20
Time is flying! We woke up to a dolby surround sound of birds! The low rush of the rapids and grouse taking flight – puh – puh – puh – puh – puh. Thinking we might take out tomorrow instead of Friday.

Had a hearty breakfast of oatmeal and coffee and were greeted by our neighbors at the next site over – since of course we were on the portage. They were headed to Horse Lake to fish and gave us a Johnson SilverMinnow to try! We cleaned up camp and got on the lake with several people coming up behind us.

There is a small set of rapids but we couldn’t tell where the portage was – so we asked the guy and gal behind us and they said the portage was another block or so up and that they always run these rapids. We saw several more people run the rapids and get banged up a bit and one other couple took the unmarked portage like us.

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There were two more portages afterwards and the 80 rod was actually quite the lovely hike!

We got to Horse and I was instantly in love! It was Lake Superior meets Lake Namakan meets the BWCA! Fashioned an anchor with some rope and rock, and we fished the west shore bank from the inlet from Fourtown up to and across from the Horse River then drifted back down the middle and were skunked again!

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We decided finally to take Dan Waters advice and fish on the inlet towards Fourtown at the bottom of the rapids by the portage. Soon Jason caught a 1.5# Northern with a jig and some Gulp. I was determined I needed to get a fish. I had the Johnson Lure and was casting everywhere! Just as I got it close to the boat I saw a good size northern following but missed, but Jason picked him up on the other side of the canoe with a wounded minnow lure! We guessed about 5#.

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The lure was stuck tight but Jason’s pliers were back at camp! Just then a group of guys in their 20s we guessed and and they had pliers. It was too much fish for us on our last night, so we offered it to the guys and they were super excited since they had 8 guys and it sounded like they would really enjoy him for supper!

On the way back we saw several turtles sunning themselves on a log.

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View of our campsite

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Once back, Jason gathered some more water and Kay and I put on shorts and t-shirts. I met Jason on the rock chairs which was like a natural love seat and we officially decided to take out tomorrow morning. We loved this trip but are heading straight to another campsite to camp with Jasons parents/family and about 20 other friends. We had a yummy dinner of Knors Chicken Flavored rice & a foil chicken packet. We got everything packed up and ready for tomorrows departure. I could tell I was developing a sunburn but didn’t really mind to get a little color on my winter skin.

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Later I laid out on the rocks by myself and listened to Your Glory by All Sons & Daughters & Oceans by Hillsong United. It was a wonderful – and Holy experience looking at Gods nature. His Glory is so beautiful. Your glory is so beautiful I fall onto my knees in awe And the heartbeat of my life Is to worship in your light ‘Cause Your glory is so beautiful Your glory is so beautiful. I realized that my dad is seeing this – and so much more. He is seeing true beauty and I finally got the peace I took this trip for. I let go. I let go of any anger that I still had in me and had a peace about me that transcends all understanding. I sat at the rapids and looked towards Fourtown and saw an eagle soaring and the skies and clouds were amazing. It was like the bow on the present I was given.

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We had our last BWCA fire for the trip, played cards & more Yahtzee and everything about the rest of the night was absolutely lovely!

Thursday May 21
Woke up and busted down camp. Had again some oatmeal and coffee and hung out by the rapids one last time. We hopped in the canoe and headed towards the portages leading to Mudro. The wind was high and so were the waves, but we felt comfortable in our canoe and the wind was at our back so we made pretty good time.

This time we did not go rock climbing – but took the “easier” portage and single portaged the long one as well! After all – perhaps we’ve become professionals this week!

The last portage was a wet one as we guessed the water came up near the fall down right at Mudro lake and flooded the portages. We didn’t even mind and I saw Jason portaging his pack, Kay’s pack, and Kay claiming Super Dad! Evidently she gave up on the trip on the last portage! Haha!

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We paddled through Mudro and it too was bitter sweet. I was excited for land and civility, but was also so sad to leave the peace of the wilderness behind.

We came up through the creek river, and took our last portage to to the road.

After we got the car loaded I walked by myself down the portage to give a prayer of Thanks to God for this trip. For our safety and the wonderful experiences and flurry of emotions.

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We will be back! Hopefully this October – but I guarantee… we will be back before long.

Happy Birthday Blog!

Exactly eight years to the date I birthed this blog out of my imaginings for what my precious baby would bring.

I wanted a place to put down the words that I felt while feeling a tiny being tight inside of me, and the nuanceses of parenthood.

What this blog has become and grown into has become so much more.

Just like how you see your precious newborn you have all of these hopes and ideals, and pretty soon you have something else entirely on your hands.

I look back to that very first post – exactly eight precious years ago, and in some ways cannot believe that I have been writing this long, and this consistently.

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At first it was all about pregnancy woes and how I thought I wasn’t going to have any morning sickness  – to experiencing FULL BLOWN morning sickness for [read] the entire pregnancy! To Family, fitness, Food + Wine, [sub]urban farming, and most recently faith! I’m like the Target of blogs – a one stop shop!

Thank you so much to my readers who have been with me since the first day I shared this blog – to those of you who have just found me recently! I hope that I can continue to post stuff that you find inspiring, and coming back!

THANK YOU ALL!

Click below for posts on or near the anniversary date!

2007
2008
2009
2010
2011
2012
2013
2014

2015 (so far)

❤ Linds

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. It’s 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 everyone’s 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.

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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?

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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 bonafide 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 uncluster 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 doorbell 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.

You Make Me Brave

Just over a month ago – a friend in my house group gave her faith story  where she talked about how this song by Amanda Cook – has helped her through some difficult seasons in her life. After she gave her testimony I jotted down the artist and song name, and immediately added it to my playlist on Spotify. Listening to it, and really enjoying it.

It wasn’t truly until two weeks ago that it began to really take hold. Our hearts are unbelievably broken as I shared with friends and the world on facebook that Niko is now running wild and free with Tyler & Eli. For those that didn’t know he was ill, just before Christmas he began acting strange, and it almost seemed as though he was going blind. After a few days and after him running into walls and trees we brought him into our vet who believed he had central blindness, and refered us to an Opthamologist.

The Opthamologist confirmed the blindness and said that we needed to see a veterinary neurologist. After consulting on the phone with one of the techs at the University of Minnesota – and learning that we’d have to spend several thousand dollars to maybe get an answer -and then another 10-20K for treatment on what was most likely a brain tumor we decided to love him up in the best way possible.

Unfortunately he progressed much faster than we thought he would. Within a month he could barely walk, was loosing control of his bowels and spending nearly all of his time sleeping.

I know for those that aren’t passionate about dogs it’s hard to understand that our dogs and pets are really so much more than just pets. The loss off three dogs, two of which were just puppies in 18 short months, shouldered by my dad’s death is a devastating blow, but I think about what Ann Voskamp once said, when speaking about being thankful for every gift that God has given us. To appreciate hard gifts as well. Because the hard gifts WILL BE for good… the good gifts will be FOREVER and the BEST GIFTS will be forthcoming. I love that.

I don’t think that my losses were gifts necessarily, but God can somehow make ugly situations beautiful.

My husband and I recently went to see the movie American Sniper. Both in the movie and in real life when a Navy man is in BUDS training one of the things the trainers make them to is walk out into the surf, sit down and let the waves crash over them again and again and again.
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In  Amanda’s lyrics, You Make me Brave she sings, “As Your love, In wave after wave crashes over me, crashes over me. For You are for us, You are not against us..” and I look back and think about how true this is.

In the past six months I have leaned in close to God, and have been nearly drowned in His love. Just like the Navy Seals in BUDS training – its like walking out into the surf sitting down, and letting each wave of His grace, comfort and love just crash into you. The ocean is relentless, and God is relentless in his pursuit and love for us.

I am reminded of the promise that God made to His people in Jeremiah 29:11-14 “I know what I’m doing. I have it all planned out – plans to take care of you, not abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for. When you call on me, when you come and pray to me, I’ll listen. When you come looking for me, you’ll find me. Yes, when you get serious about finding me and want it more than anything else, I’ll make sure you won’t be disappointed.” – God’s Decree (MSG)

I have found such truth in verse 14 – When you get serious about finding God, and drawing near to Him. Being in His word daily – filling up on worship music, and good christian books , and wanting more of Christ than anything else – you will be so covered – read – drowning in his love that it becomes like the air you breathe and something you will crave when you wake up each day.

Living in this state of Grace is unlike anything else I’ve ever experienced, and in that, God has made me unbelievably brave. How else could I cope with loss or deal with trouble, or difficult days , or plain old LIFE without him near me? I am living a BRAVE new life right now, and when he calls me out into the water – I don’t tread lightly but RUN to him as the Anchor that He is.

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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!

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We have our eye on you Sadie!

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Enjoying their new home and french window.

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Checking outside! They really love it outside.

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Staredown between Sadie & Naomi

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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.

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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

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Roosting bar and french windows for natural light

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Nesting Boxes

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Roosting branches made of real branches

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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!