Turns out I'm only a little bit older than I was a week ago. It's never an entire year you gain, it's really just 24 hours and a collection of shit that happened in the previous 364 days.
Isn't it hard when people ask you what you "want" for an adult birthday? Aren't there so many answers you want to give ranging from "nothing" to "independently wealthy?" It's hard to find the things in life that would really improve the quality of your existence and put a smile on your face.
What I conclude is that if you can name those objects – the things that you "want" – you should probably just go buy said things because being surprised has a different effect entirely – a more "birthday" effect.
Noteworthy gifts for 32 this year included books, bags, bottles and bunning shorts (really running shorts but I was trying to stretch the 'b' theme).
Looks like that's exactly what I needed. Lost a bottle in the lake, continue to wear bunning shorts from high school and often carry my belongings in a Target bag – what a sad sack I was. Could I have named these items on some sort of list? Nope. They just came to me from the sweet people in my life who are desperately trying to improve me – one birthday at a time.
Perhaps one of my most fun birthday adventures this year was the "Floating Library" that appears on Silver Lake in St. Anthony these summer weekends. It was a HOOT! Check it out HERE and join me for their year-end poetry reading TOMORROW.
No REALLY – bring your canoe out there and listen as they read the poem I wrote for them on my birthday (because they told me if I did I would be the world record holder for the most poems written by a floating library patron on their exact birthday).
Here's a preview:
Given the writing prompt: "This page was intentionally left blank" - Aggie Toppins
I have made two humans.
They were born blank.
Only guts on the inside
and me on the outside.
Blank doesn't last long.
Humans get messy.
32 years ago today I was fresh and new.
I'm better now than ever.
Minneapolis – Mill City – the place solely responsible for introducing white flour into our diet. Yay!
Whether you're an inner city family or occupy the 1st/2nd ring suburbs – the Mill District downtown is never more than 20 minutes away.
Such a quiet green space between Washington Ave and the river. It gives you a downtown fix yet is safe for the whole fam.
Need an excuse to go urban?
I'll give you 5:
1) Gold Medal Park -
Tired of playground equipment defining your green space? Bring a ball, frisbee or picnic blanket – wear your running shoes. The spiral walkway is one of our favorites – but tiptoe as you approach the top, we have witnessed more than one proposal at the scenic overlook.
2) The Guthrie -
When's the last time you saw the world through canary colored glasses? It's time to stroll up to the observation room in the Guthrie for a prime view of the skyline. Check out the "infinity room"/overlook as well if it's not booked. Guess what folks? You can get inside this amazing architectural building for FREE. A great spot for family photos!
3) STONE ARCH BRIDGE -
Love to walk across this bridge and look at St. Anthony Falls through the binoculars. Great people watching here as you see commuters, walkers and wanna-be's strolling along every-which-way.
4) Izzy's -
Bring your appetite and your wallet for yummy ice cream and home-made waffle cones. If smell is enough to satisfy you you're in luck. If you feel the need to indulge – Axel recommends the Bubble Gum. Don't forget to be adventurous with your "Izzy Scoop Flavor."
5) Mill City Ruins and Museum -
Enter the ruins from the river side of the building and enjoy historic balance beams, photo spots and a place to just "chill." The kids love the story of the "exploding museum"! Care to check out the inside? There is an admission fee – but of course it's better to get the "FAMILY HISTORICAL SOCIETY MEMBERSHIP" and you get in for FREE – ALL YEAR. For $75 you have unlimited access to all of our favorite historical places and Mill City is likely to be the crowd fav. They even have a "ride."
You could spend a whole weekend eating and walking your way through the mill district. Plenty of fun to be had for free – additional fun costs less than a new pair of shoes.
Think the city is too crowded for you? Let me prove you wrong. As seen below – picture taken around 6pm last Wednesday night – we were the only ones there. Mostly.
Staycation this weekend. Love the city you're in.
Once a summer we venture to the north country for a long weekend lakeside. While we're no strangers to the variety of Brainerd Area resorts – we have recently been infatuated with
Grand View Lodge on Gull Lake.
A prime specimen of water (which means something considering we have 10,000+ options in Minnesota), Gull Lake is big enough for all of our hobbies.
In my busy life as activity director both at home and at work, the 4 days I spend with my phone primarily used as a camera are some of my favorite.
Bouncing back and forth between beaches is what occupies our lake days. The toughest decisions being "paddle board or canoe" – "snacks now or later" – "swim trunks A or B."
Life at the lake feels right and the kids settle into a new rhythm not involving things that plug in.
This year we experienced mother nature in a "too close to call" fashion. Brainerd was hammered with high winds and rain, causing the resorts to lose power and several to close for the season. The power lines looked like spaghetti and beautiful 150 year old trees were tossed aside to prove a point.
It could have been worse and we were able to drive home in our untouched vehicles (which wasn't the case for several out of state travelers).
Looking to take a trip north before the summer's over? There's still time to reserve your patch of sand. Here are 5 tips I have for traveling with kids in the Brainerd area.
+ 3 nights is a perfect amount - more than that requires too much gear
(less and you'll never settle into a routine)
+ Bring lots of snacks - you will not want to go to the grocery store
+ Bring 2 sets of swim wear - play at the beach first and then follow up with the pool
( this will eliminate bathing :)
+ Let your kids do things they don't seem old enough for - paddle boarding i.e. is very kid-friendly
+ Encourage your kids to make vacation friends - kids will be more adventurous with a buddy
(strangers can make the best temporary friends and kids will mix with all ages on vacation)
The kids were anxious to return to the fish nursery (a big THANK YOU to the Molly fish who spit out 20 fry as we were packing to leave) among other creature comforts of their bedrooms. It doesn't take long to re-assimilate into everyday life and we woke up today as if nothing happened. Maybe we take pictures on vacation so we don't forget what it's like to unplug...maybe our kids are just cuter up north?
Please take a mini-vacation with your family this summer. Although the amount of work seems daunting, your kids will never forget the first time they _______________ (fill in the blank).
We've been giving our newly acquired Bell Northstar a workout – hauling a party of 4 around the local lakes.
Sometimes I wonder why anyone would live in the country when you can have it all to yourself right here in a metropolis.
Last night we visited an "uncharted" island in the exotic country of Northwestern University. Adventure found us as inch-by-inch those dry clothes became one with the lake.
More to come on the canoe and what "secondary stability" means for you and your co-paddlers.
It's July today. Exhale. June seemed to fly by somewhere on the road between camps and rainstorms. Time has ticked along one enormous hole at a time (our neighborhood streets etc. are being demolished this summer in the name of capital improvement).
While we're adjusting to life as a family of 24 (us + nanny + pets) the days are crazy, the house has never looked worse and we are hitting the sheets absolutely exhausted at night. Summer.
I'm quickly learning that summer with a 7-year-old is magical. Seven is the lucky number for all things camp. Horse camp? 7 will do. Tennis camp? 7 is the graduation from baby to adulthood. Sleepover camp? At 7 they will let you fend for yourself in a bunkhouse with nothing but a sleeping bag and a flashlight...and the 45 pounds of other crap you need for 2 nights.
It's so exciting to watch a 7-year-old boy enjoy life with little scepticism and all the enthusiasm you expect when shelling out ungodly sums for aforementioned camps.
AXEL'S SUMMER CAMP RUNDOWN:
Tennis Camp (City of Arden Hills)
Art Camp x 2 (LOVE YOU Ms. Picky)
YMCA Sleepover Summer Sampler
Super Summer Learning Camp
Horse Camp (Bunker Hills Stables)
Theatre Camp (City of Arden Hills)
Add this to the YMCA Pool Pass, Minnesota Zoo Membership, Museum Memberships, new canoe (Father's Day present), Grandpa Moustache's pontoon, a literal farm in our backyard, birthday parties, tearing apart the boys bathroom, gardening, neighborhood friends and an endless array of "Diggers" in our front yard – I have two happy little men.
"What..." you might ask "is the price of such a summer?" I've officially set the budget at $1.0mil and I'm holding firm. Adding camps on the fly and experiencing all the sunshine we find – my wallet is open and I'm soaking every moment I can out of 7.
Check out Axel on his horse. More to come on the beauty of horse camp – needless to say I'm searching Zillow daily for that little spot of a farm where Axel could be perfect and love animals forever.
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