#SilentSunday: Cuteness Overload

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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!

In Loving Memory of Grandma

Last week we said our goodbyes to our last living Grandma. As expected, it was difficult, though memories of many years together helped provide much comfort. I was so very blessed to have had my mom’s parents around to see me graduate from high school, college, get married, and meet my two kids. While Grandpa Mark passed away in 2013 (I wrote about some memories of him), my Grandma lived on to reach age 87.

Grandma can be described as independent, generous, hardworking and kind. I always remember her home full of family socializing around holidays, anniversaries, and birthdays. We often went to classic Wisconsin supper clubs together to enjoy fried chicken and meals served family style.  Grandma was the matriarch of our family, raising three independent, strong daughters while working on their farm for over fifty years.

Grandma and her daughters 1960s

Love this picture from 1960-ish of my mom and aunts snuggling with Grandma. How many selfie’s do we take today with our own kids?

I have so much respect and admiration for all of my grandparents, given how much the world has changed in their long and full lives.

Many Changes in 87 Years

My Grandma was born in 1930. She remembered hobos coming up to their farm house and asking for food. Her mom would always manage to find something to give them, but made them sit outside and eat.

Grandma and her siblings 1930s

My Grandma was the youngest of four, here in the lower right. She is about 4 years old in this picture.

She attended school in a one room schoolhouse through the eighth grade. After that she was needed to work on the farm. I remember her telling me that she would have liked to have gone to school longer and might have even become a teacher. Though she didn’t teach in a classroom, our family will long remember her lessons and values she passed on to all of us.

As she went on to tell my mom, that’s just how things were back in the 1950’s: few women worked outside of the home, unless you were a nurse or a teacher. Women got married, kept up their home, raised children, and in my grandma’s case helped on the farm.  She would drive the tractor and work alongside my grandpa. Running a farm certainly takes a lot of hard work.

My grandma was proud of her daughters, who all went on to work full time and raise their own children.  When my mom had me and my sister (and after we had graduated from college), my grandma commented that her granddaughters “didn’t need a man to provide for them.” So true – how things have changed in 50 years!

The Original Girl’s Night

Along those lines, my grandma and her friends had their own “girl’s nights” except they took place on Tuesday mornings at the area bowling alley.  There was even a newspaper clipping that showed my grandma leading her team with a score of 186! When she talked to my grandpa about the possibility of bowling on Wednesday mornings too, he told her, “Dorothy, well, I don’t know about all of you women getting together at a bowling alley.” Her response, “Mark, who’s going to pick up a bunch of farmers’ wives at 9 am in the morning?”  She went on to enjoy bowling with her friends two mornings a week.

Grandma & Grandpa

When my grandparents were married in 1950, my grandma moved to grandpa’s farm, where he had led the life of a bachelor for several years.  He only had 1 fork and 1 spoon, and when he made her eggs, he first gave her the spoon. My grandma refused to use the spoon, so he let her have the fork! My grandma just laughed at this memory and would shake her head every time she would retell it. She truly was the one who made their house a home!

As I mentioned earlier, there was always a lot of talking at family gatherings. My grandpa was notorious for his jokes and stories.  I always liked it when he did something to make Grandma say, “MARK!” in her disapproving, scolding tone. Grandpa’s eyes would get really big, he’d raise his shoulders and cross his arms, and say, “I’m in trouble!”

So Many Good Memories

I was so blessed to have shared so many years with Grandma and fondly remember the earlier days when we’d visit their farm.  There was always something to do on the farm: playing with the kitties in the barn, petting the calves and seeing the big cows, climbing around the hay mow, sledding and snowmobiling in winter too. One friend once asked, “Doesn’t everyone have a grandma who owned a farm in Wisconsin?” Yes, many do! And I certainly loved mine.

While the later years were more difficult as her health declined (farm work is tough on a body), I still enjoyed visiting grandma with my own family. As I put together the photo boards for the visitation and funeral, I especially loved seeing the pictures of Grandma with her great grand kids. She gazed down at them so lovingly, so full of pride.

Grandma and great granddaughter

Grandma and my oldest’s first Christmas. LOVE this picture.

The great grandkids always brought a smile to her face. I have pictures from Mother’s Day this year, ones I took and others that my seven year old daughter took.  My daughter’s picture captured Grandma with a genuine smile much bigger than those in my pictures.

I’m so glad my kids were able to get to know you, and I hope that all of us grandchildren brought you joy and made you proud. Love you always, Grandma.

 

Fly on the Wall: Balancing Crazy & Awesome Days

Welcome to a Fly on the Wall group post. Today 8 bloggers are inviting you to catch a glimpse of what you’d see if you were a fly on the wall in our homes. Come on in and buzz around my house.

Buzz around, see what you think, then click on these links for a peek into some other homes:

Baking In A Tornado

Menopausal Mother

Searching for Sanity 

Spatulas on Parade  

A Little Piece of Peace

Never Ever Give Up Hope

Bookworm in the Kitchen

Here’s who you’ll be hearing from:

  • Me, Mama O.
  • Daddy O.
  • Big Sister, age 7
  • Little Brother, age 5

For more Fly Posts, you can see my Fly on the Wall PAGE!

Yikes! This is only the third time this year that I’ve been part of this blogging challenge.  A lot has been going on – major volunteering, launching my marketing business, but I did take some time to hang with my girls and see Boyz II Men and New Kids on the Block. Unfortunately, Paula Abdul wasn’t able to perform due to an injury.  My dear BFF (who I knew back when these bands were around) warned me before the concert that we may hear, “Old voices.”  I really didn’t know what she meant, so she went on, “You know, they may just sound old and different.”  Well…here’s what they looked like:

NKOTB

New Kids on the Block  rocking it in St. Paul, MN

NKOTB collage

Fireworks, lights, Joe getting up close & personal with the fans! They put on an entertaining show!

I didn’t think they sounded old.  Boyz II Men still had it too! It was a very fun night!

After that week, it’s been a balancing act of summer school, sports, work, and fun with family & friends.  All good things of course!

Fast forward to July 4th, and Daddy O had this to say:

“I feel unpatriotic drinking this beer.”

Molson biere

Some Expressions are Tough to Understand 

Me: I need to balance my checkbook. Big sister: What are you balancing it on?

Me: We’ll be carpooling today with our neighbors.  Big sister replies, “I hope the water’s warm.”  Hmm…there’s no pool in the car.

Summer Grumpiness

Big Sister: Adults almost always ruin my mood especially you Mom.

This is what I get for laying down the law during summer!  It’s funny because her comment reminds me of what they said last summer. I wrote about it in “You Might be Home with your Kids for Summer if…”

I was talking to Little Brother about getting along with friends, after hearing that he was name-calling. He went on to say, “those darn friends mess everything up sometimes.”  For being five, he sure can sound like a grumpy old man sometimes!

Crazy Little Brother

Little Brother kept saying “subspicious” for several weeks.

Little Brother describing his two recess times at school: I play Ningajo in the morning and monster in the afternoon.

We ended up finding a love seat and two chairs for our living room. Once they were delivered, Little Brother referred to it as a “love couch.”

While helping with chores, I discovered that Little Brother loves to scrub with the toilet brush. “It’s kind of like stirring a big soup,” he said. Stir on, I say!

Me to Little Brother: Stop being crazy!
Big Sister explains: He was born crazy, mom.

Little Brother was sitting on my lap, and asked where my heart was. He guessed, “between those Rocky Mountains?” Yes, referring to my boobs! Ahh! Previously, he told us that, “boobs are enjoyable.” The gray hairs are coming already because of this kid!

Awesome has a New Meaning

Me at dinnertime: My day was productive.
Kids: What does that mean?
Little Brother: Like awesome?
Me: Yes, exactly!

I hope you all have an awesome rest of July! Cheers, my dear readers.