Summer Trip to the North Woods

Hi!! I recently saw my blog’s renewal come through, and I realized it’s been forever since I’ve written (so says bloggers everywhere at some point during their blogging life).

I decided to share some beautiful photos and a few highlights from our camping trip in Wisconsin’s pristine north woods.  We ventured to Northern Highland – American Legion State Forest – the largest state forest in Wisconsin, spanning three counties and over 200,000 acres.  Our campsite was near Crystal Lake, north of Minocqua and Woodruff.

Just look at these huge trees around the site.

tall trees Northern Highland American Legion forest

My crew looked very happy before leaving on our hike. You can just see the hammock and our tent in the background.  We had to walk a bit from our car to access our campsite.

Happy hikers Go Mama O

Here’s a view of from our hike around Fallison Lake.  Simply Gorgeous.  Needless to say after 2.5 miles, my crew was not as eager to finish hiking.  Fortunately, we hiked with a bigger group of extended family, so the kids kept each other going, while the adults spaced out to accommodate different speeds.

Fallison Lake

View from the trail around Fallison Lake

After our hike, the kids enjoyed swimming in Crystal Lake, a small, peaceful lake without the noise of boat motors whirring across it.  Daddy O. and I borrowed kayaks from a family member and had fun paddling around.

In St. Germain, a short jaunt from our campsite, we spent time with a big group of family, enjoying numerous pot luck dinners and time to catch up.  On our way back from one such gathering, Daddy O. and the kids fished on a small pier.  We were the only people on the lake!

Fishing near St. Germain

Sunset view on a small lake near St. Germain

I read my book and took in the solitude of the evening.  We all watched a few mama ducks cross the lake with their babies in a long line behind them.  One baby duck let out loud squawks, upon being left behind, so mama duck and her babies circled back to rescue the lost baby.  The duck siblings seemed to celebrate his or her return to the line-up – a sweet scene. Fishing wise, there wasn’t much luck: only Big Sister caught one small fish.

We ended up spending some time in the city of Minocqua, eating at Minocqua Brewing Company and Paul Bunyan’s Cook Shanty.  The shanty was kitschy with red and white checked table cloths, up-north cabin decor, and all-you-can-eat family, style, hearty breakfast food.

Paul Bunyan Cook Shanty

Giant Paul Bunyan outside of the cook shanty.  You can’t miss it! 

One morning we grabbed some coffee at a place in Woodruff.  We sat outside on their back patio, savoring the view.

View from coffee shop northwoods

Another lake in the North Woods

All in all the camping trip and family reunion up in the north woods was a huge hit. While tent-camping for three nights IS a lot of prep and work, our family really has a lot of quality time together on these kinds of trips.  As our kids grow older, it may be more difficult to get away between sports and activities, which makes this time together even more special – just look at me and my sweet girl!

Mama O and Big Sister in the North Woods

Mama O. and Big Sister in the north woods

Cheers to summer, family-time and exploring together!

 

 

 

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Cheers to all Fathers!

Happy Father’s Day to all the amazing Dads out there!

Today I celebrated with the father of our sweet kids.  We went to church as a family and ventured to a water park to beat the heat, stopping for Culver’s fast food and frozen custard along the way.

In true Daddy O. fashion, he kept his cool even when the kids were losing it in the backseat.  While we don’t have pictures from the waterpark (not really the best photo opps IMHO), I though I’d share a few of my favorite Daddy O. pictures.

Pictures with Daddy O.

Daddy O. through the years – being an awesome dad

From eye-roll to crazy face making while reading stories, Daddy O. is patient, loving, and a kid at heart. We’re so blessed to call you ours.  Love you!

Last Day of Kindergarten / 2nd Grade

It’s that time of year again – last day of school!

My kids are SO excited, and I’m emotional! Look how big my babies are getting:

First and Last Day of School 2018

Top: First day of 2nd grade and kindergarten / Bottom: Last day

I’m ending the kindergarten era: both kids have been in 4K and 5K, so four total years of kindergarten.

This morning my son read me a book at breakfast time.

Last night I read to both of my kids, though many nights they read to themselves.

I’m so stinking proud of these kids and feel so blessed to be their mom.

I expect to be a complete mess when they move onto middle school and graduate high school.  That’s a lot for a mom’s heart to handle!  This year I even cried watching a video of 5th graders leaving their school – kids who are not even mine. Yikes! Good luck parents, if you’re celebrating a big milestone or just a bit emotional about the end of the school year like me!

I’ve written about these emotional days before in case you want to look back like I did this morning:

Have a wonderful summer!

So Many Stars: The Price of Freedom

On Memorial Day, it seems fitting to share a blog post I wrote last year after visiting the WWII Memorial in Washington DC.

go mama o

This spring I saw the WWII Memorial in Washington D.C. for the first time. It was beautiful and moving to say the least. This part of the monument hit me the hardest.

WWII Memorial Stars Wall of Stars on the WWII Memorial. So Many Stars.

The plaque reads:

Freedom Walls hold 4,048 gold stars. Each gold star represents one hundred American service personnel who died or remain missing in the war. The 405,399 American dead or missing from World War II are second only to the loss of more than 620,000 Americans during our Civil War.

Powerful.

My grandpa was a lucky one, who was able to come home after serving in the Pacific in WWII.  So many others had their lives cut short. This is true of any conflict or military operation. It is those whom we remember today on Memorial Day.

Here’s another part of the WWII Memorial on the opposite side…

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