#SilentSunday: Cuteness Overload

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Signs your Kids are Growing Up

I’ve been feeling like I’m an “old” or “older” parent this school year, especially with both of my kids in school full days now (kindergarten and 2nd grade).

This IS a big deal for our family.

Some may say it’s even life changing! And it is in so many ways, but that’s for another blog post.

One sign that the kids are growing up is the gear (or lack of baby gear) in our home. One of the last “baby items” that remains is our bike trailer.  About five years ago it actually transported our little kids.  It has been stored in our garage for some time, but over summer it was dusted off and used for this:

bike trailer contents

New use for an old bike trailer

We rode bikes to a cookout and brought our food along! On another occasion it’s carried beer!  My hubs rode his bike to the grocery store and hauled home our groceries in it.

Forget a bike basket – we have a whole trailer!! 🙂

Mini Fly on the Wall

Hey there! My Fly on the Wall friends just posted yesterday, but I wasn’t organized to sign-up in advance to participate.  After reading the group’s posts, I thought I would join in with my own post.  Better late than never, right?

For more Fly on the Wall, hop on over to this writing challenge founder’s blog: Baking in a Tornado.

South Dakota Vacation

We ventured to South Dakota during summer, and had an awesome time! It was a great family destination for our 5 and 7 year old kids. Before we went, my 5 year old son asked, “Do they speak English in South Dakota?”

On our drive from Sioux Falls to Desmet, our kids decided to make a honking sound whenever they saw an animal. This continued throughout the entire week. Sigh. Fortunately, there are open fields for long stretches where you don’t see much at all, like this:

Desmet Ingalls Homestead

View of the prairie from the Ingalls Homestead in Desmet, SD.

The drive up to Desmet from Sioux Falls though beautiful, went through a quite rural part of the state.  The population density is quite low in much of South Dakota, so I told Daddy O., “If we ever want to live off the grid, we can move out here!”

When driving past the many farms and lush green fields, my son observed, “I bet that farmer has 5 green thumbs.”

We could almost picture what it must have been like for the first settlers in the 1800’s who arrived here.  The Ingalls Visitor Center consists of the Ingalls homestead, a sod house, shanty, church, barn and one-room classroom. We even rode on a covered wagon and learned about what life was like for the Ingalls family. We were struck by the extreme quiet of the land: no sounds of planes or cars zooming by on nearby roads, simply the sounds of the wind rushing through the prairie grasses. Beautiful.

Wildlife Watching

We were excited to see bison, but just saw a lot of cattle, especially on the eastern part of the state. My daughter explained, “The cows are all black, and the bison are chocolate colored.” Can you tell we like desserts?

bison Custer State Park.jpg

See, they are chocolate colored! Bison at Custer State Park

We drove the wildlife loop road at Custer State Park, and having been in the car for at least an hour, our kids asked, “Can we watch a show (on our portable DVD player)?”

“No!” I said, “Nature is your show. Look out your window!” So many amazing views:

Custer State Park collage.jpg

Top left: a baby burro paid us a visit on the Wildlife Loop, top right: view of the Cathedral Spires, Bottom left: Stockade Lake, bottom right: bison along the road out of Custer State Park

The Black Hills

When we arrived in Rapid City, I said, “Look, kids, the Black Hills. Aren’t they pretty?”

My son’s response, “They look gray.”

black hills view from Mt. Rushmore

View of the Black (gray) Hills from Mt. Rushmore

In Rapid City, we enjoyed an awesome meal and beverages at Firehouse Brewery. We sat in a covered outdoor area (fortunately) and watched a major rain and hail storm come down. The food and beer were delicious – a welcome change from the fast food we had on the trip out to Rapid City.  The company was nice too with everyone getting along, and I remarked to Daddy O., “This feels like a date night, except we have our kids along.”  He replied, “It’s like our marriage is one long date-night.” Awh….

Hitting the Road

I have memories of my own family vacations as a kid, and we would wake up EARLY, maybe around 5am to get a jump on a day of long driving. I have not been able to replicate this timing for my family much to my dismay.

One morning after sleeping in, my daughter said, “Waking up early for me was unsuccessful.”

This happened on most days, and I just had to go with it. Oh well…

Best for Last

I was talking about the errands I ran during the week, talking about the things I picked up at a grocery store in a quick stop.

My son chimed in and said, “Wow, Mom, you work hard.”

“Yes, dear, why yes I do! Thank you!” He got a big hug for saying that!

Hope you all are hearing sweet things like that in your home too!

Have a great day all! Thanks for stopping by.

Now check out more Fly on the Wall posts, starting with Baking in a Tornado.

 

Checking out the Como Zoo

A cancelled camping trip led to a trip to visit friends in Minneapolis – St. Paul earlier this summer. Though we’ve been to the Twin Cities several times during summer, we have covered Lake Calhoun and Lake Harriet, but we hadn’t been to the Como Zoo.

We started out pretty early and found parking in nearby lots.  We decided to check out the animals in the morning, enjoy a picnic lunch in the park by a playground, and then try some rides after that.

Como Zoo really is a lovely free zoo! There is a suggested donation at the entrance followed by many gift shops, rides, food and other opportunities to spend money. We made it out with two stuffed animals for our kids!

The zoo has a nice variety of animals and it’s small enough to walk through with kids quite easily.

We spent the most time at the Primate House, watching the mom and baby gorilla munch lettuce. They were positioned so close the the glass and just looked so comfortable, hanging out in the shade. I love how the mom is cradling the head of romaine like a baby too – it’s hers! It looked like such a sweet, domestic glimpse into their gorilla family life.  Meanwhile the silverback gorilla was out pacing the yard. The gorilla forest was a really cool exhibit, housing seven gorillas in total.

apes and monkey at Como Zoo

Emperor Tamarin and Mom & Baby Gorillas

After checking out the gorillas, we kept walking through the primate house. I really liked watching Como Zoo’s Tamarin climb and leap from branch to branch in their exhibit. The mustaches gave them a distinguished sort of look.

As a member of our zoo since our kids were babies, I’ve been going to zoos a lot over the last six to eight years, though it seems to be less and less frequent as my kids get older. Still, it is a treat to see endangered animals up close, showing off their normal behaviors, such as eating a head of lettuce with her baby or effortlessly jumping from branch to branch.  I / we may never have the opportunity to see these animals in the wild. While that would be preferred, we will enjoy zoo visits and learn the conservation stories the animals and their habitats around the world.

Thanks for a great visit, Como Zoo!

Random Pictures on my Phone Or What I Didn’t Buy This Summer

I was going through pictures on my smartphone because after taking so many pictures on summer vacation, I needed to delete some images. I scrolled through a lot of pictures of my kids and fun things we did, and then I came to these images:

mosquito relief ideas

Hammacher Schlemmer: so many ways to beat bugs!!  

I remember paging through a Hammacher Schlemmer magazine earlier in summer, laughing at all of these mosquito repellent items (but seriously thinking that some of these might come in handy, as I am a prime target for these blood suckers).

Search “mosquito” on Hammacher Schlemmer, and there are 25 results! Quite honestly, I’m surprised that there is a demand for some of these products. There are even mosquito netting sleeves that you can just slip-on. Wow! What will they think of next?

From $9.95 to $149.95, there are many options that I could test out for keeping the bugs at bay.

Natural Remedies for Mosquitoes

I’ve tried “natural remedies” – stuffing a dryer sheet in my shoe or rubbing a dryer sheet over my clothes.  I can’t say I noticed a difference, and the dryer sheet usually just falls out of my shoe. I’ve also used natural insect repellent, which typically does okay, but proved terribly ineffective on a very buggy hike at a state park this summer.  There were literally swarms of mosquitoes that made us run back to our car after only 15 minutes of hiking. Yikes!

Time for DEET or Other Options?

When we went camping, we simply used a bug spray with DEET (a lower percentage than some).  This has worked the best for me, but maybe I could sport a mosquito net someday? Pretty hot, right?!  I haven’t tried “bug shirts,” clothing that has insect repellent in the fibers itself. I can see bugs just biting me elsewhere – unless I wear a net or try clipping on the Personal Mosquito Repeller.

I love the great outdoors, but wish bugs would love me a little less.

I may just end up scratching away at my mosquito bites, OR put some of these items on my Christmas list.

Would you try any of these mosquito repellent products?