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?

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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.

 

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Family Vacation Pictures: The Good, the Bad, and Mostly Silly

Hi ya! I was scrolling through some pictures from our road trip out to Washington D.C., and I couldn’t help but make some collages of our many attempts to get a nice family picture. It was a beautiful spring day on the Mall. While we missed the main cherry blossoms, it was still a lovely temperature, which was much, much nicer than the spring we’ve been having in Wisconsin. My kids were having more fun being silly for pictures I was trying to take to mark the occasion: their first trip to D.C.

Here’s what I could capture:

Go Mama O. family vacation silly pics 2017

Top: Goofy faces in from of the Washington Memorial, and cuddling her water bottle at the Lincoln Memorial. Bottom: On the road! Daddy O. isn’t so sure about this trip in this picture (ha ha). 

Go Mama O family vacation 2017.png

More family picture attempts that day. That’s my annoyed face in the lower right.

The one on the top left is one of the last pictures of the day. We quick grabbed some ice cream and shakes from an ice cream truck because it was hot and we were all tired from a day of walking.  If my son had worn sunglasses, it might be almost passable.  At least we are all in the picture, unlike the one at the Lincoln Memorial, where my son is hiding behind Daddy O. (riding on his back). I also like the one on the top right, where my daughter looks confused and my son is sort of winking.

At any rate, these collages are fun.  Much like any family vacation in its entirety, they are not perfect by any means. There are good times, bad times, and down right ugly times as kids (and adults) get tired, impatient, and sick of being in the car for so long. We were silly. We did laugh and have fun, and we did it all together, making memories along the way.  These pictures are reminders of all that!

Cheers to family pictures of all kinds!

More stories about our trip will be coming.

Spectacular China Lights Exhibit

If you ever hear of the China Lights Exhibit in your area, I’d highly recommend going! We went several months ago, but I enjoy looking at our pictures from that night so much that I decided it was “blog worthy.”  My entire family really enjoyed it!

We had tried going during the week, but arrived too late to really see much before our kids needed to go to bed. For our second attempt, we arrived extra early to buy tickets before the gates even opened. To pass the time, our kids played in the leaves, and we took a selfie with the entrance gate in the background.

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Fall fun as we waited for dusk – playing in the leaves, Daddy & Mama O. with the red entrance gates behind us.

While it wasn’t yet dark when we entered the exhibit, we did enjoy grabbing some Chinese food to fuel up.  Around the dining area were animals representing the Chinese zodiac signs. I’m a monkey. Daddy O. is a horse. My daughter is definitely an ox – well described as determined and a bit stubborn. My son is a rabbit, which was not as easy to see, but he is fast!

After eating dinner, I managed to grab this great picture of the pagoda with the brilliant blue sky behind it. As you can see in later pictures, the sky turned to black as time passed.

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The pagoda was one of the highlights of the exhibit, positioned right near the entrance. 

The dragon was huge and beautiful. The white speck in the sky is the moon. It really was a lovely night for viewing the lights.

china-lights-collage

Huge dragon, bottom left: Gates near the entrance, me & Daddy O., Fish, and Flower Lantern walkway

These pictures were just a sampling of the exhibit. There were animals of all kinds – zebras, giraffes, swans, penguins, bears, birds, fish, and more!

dragon-made-of-glass-bottles

This dragon was made from glass bottles. 

You can see some animated characters from “Finding Dori” in the background too. There were a collection of four glass-bottle dragons.

peacock-on-the-fan

My daughter really liked the flowers and peacocks on this giant fan display. 

The China Lights truly were beautiful! We had such a fabulous time walking through them as a family.  Have you seen them before? What lovely pictures are waiting in your queue for your blog?

 

Fly on the Wall: Just Mama

Welcome to a Fly on the Wall group post. Today 6 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.

Here’s who you’ll be hearing from:

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

And here we are, enjoying the beautiful fall leaves and some amazing weather!

fall-2016-collage

As overheard at the Dinner Table 

Daddy O: We need to take the leaf out of the table.

Big Sister: I don’t see a leaf. (a leaf of the table to make it bigger)

Little Brother: I’m eating an army of grapes.

Daddy O. remarked one morning,”That’s a bird in a blanket. (I had wrapped up a sausage in a pumpkin pancake) My reply, “What, I thought it was pigs in a blanket.” Daddy O. explained, “No, it’s turkey sausage, so it’s a bird.”

Highlights from the Kids

Little Brother while eating ice cream: Neck freeze! (as opposed to brain freeze)

We had a great time playing at Grandma and Grandpa’s House with cousins. I made a comment on how nice they played with their cousins, and Little Brother set me straight, “They are not our cousins. They are our friends!”

At dinner recently, we were asking the kids about their favorite part of the day. My son chimed in, “My favorite part of the day was Mama.” I asked, “Well, was it something you did with mama?” His reply was precious, ” No, just Mama!” Melt my heart…I wrote about him still being my baby in this post.

Big Sister declared, “The older I get the funnier I get.” Don’t we all?!

Big Sister: Do you know what I call weeds? The flowers’ mean neighbor.

New Level of Humor in our House

One of our toy magnetic board and decorative skeleton will never be the same.

new-sense-of-humor-oct-2016

The man figure is going potty (the circles are butt cheeks), and the skeleton is self-explanatory. Sigh…and so it begins at age 5 and almost 7.

What’s Really Essential?

One evening I told him, “I declined to be part of a candle fundraiser.” He replied, “Good, we don’t use those.” I added, “Yea, and some family members now use essential oils more.” Daddy O. responded, “I’ve never understood for what or for whom oils were essential.” I laughed, “Me too. Good one!”

Burn it Now

I had my super organized BFF over, and this time we attacked my closet (after organizing toys one other time she visited). To some of my clothes she said, “Oh my, burn it now!” I highly recommend having some adult beverages while enlisting the help of a good friend to downsize your closet. Fun times and lots of laughs! Here were some of the cast-offs from that night:

 

More Fly on the Wall Fun

Now shoo fly, and be sure to click on these links for a peek into some other homes:

Baking In A Tornado                   http://www.bakinginatornado.com/

Menopausal Mother                    http://www.menopausalmom.com/

Spatulas on Parade                     http://spatulasonparade.blogspot.com/

Searching for Sanity                    http://singlemumplusone.blogspot.com

Dinosaur Superhero Mommy         http://dinoheromommy.com/