Friday, August 29, 2014



This is my sweet little niece Julija with my little Addison.
They are almost exactly one month apart.
Seeing them here reminds me of my sister Kristin and me when we were little. We are two and a half years apart, but most of the time, those years didn't make a difference. We were and still are the best of friends. Julija is Kristin's middle girl (Kristin has an almost 4 year old, an almost 2 year old, and an almost two WEEK old!). Shortly after my Gavin was born, Kristin was expecting her little Amelija. Gavin and Amelija will be close friends some day, but Amelija will be four in a month and Gavin is almost six, and for some reason, they nearly pull each other's hair out right now. I have a strong feeling they'll rely on eachother one day and will be so appreciative to have each other for cousins.
Julija and Addison are just a month apart and get along so well, although they don't see eachother more than a few times a year. Here they are, over a year ago, before Addison could even sit up on her own.  
Julija and Addison.
Addison and Julija.
They coulnd't be more different.
...but they sure do seem to love each other's company!
I have a cousin that I sort of "grew up with". She lived over 4 hours away, so I really only ever saw her once or twice a year and she was a year older than me, but we wrote letters back and forth for years! We still keep in close contact even though she still lives over 4 hours away, in a different city. Her kids are in college and mine are in daycare, but that doesn't seem to matter. I often would spend a week at her house in the summer time when we were growing up as my parents traveled down there a few times each year. It just so happened that she is a cousin on my Mom's side of the family, but lived in the town where my Dad's side of the family lived. To make it even more convenient - my Mom's family and my Dad's family both had summer family reunions, a week apart! So, I would see her at my Mom's family reunion and then I'd go home with her family and stay for a week until my parents drove to her small town for my Dad's family reunion. I have many, many memories of those summer "vacations" with her. I don't have very many really "old" friendships as I moved away from the area I grew up in right after high school, but this one stands the test of time! Cousins (and siblings) can often make the very best friends!  She is still one of my best friends and one of those unique friendships where you can literally pick right up after not talking for nearly a year, as if you just spoke yesterday. 
Do you have a relative or friend like that?

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Summer Mornings

This little turkey, she makes a great alarm clock. Actually, I should call her a little rooster! She wakes us up between 6:30 and 7:30 by calling to us from her crib in her room. Sometimes she wakes up crying, but often she just calls out to us in her surprisingly loud and curt tone, "Mom! Mom! Mom!" or every once in a while, I'll get lucky and she'll shout "Dad! Dad!"
When we go into her room, we prop her door open (for some reason that one door always swings closed, so we keep a door stop just inside her room), then we turn off her sound machine. She doesn't like a wet diaper, so she wants it off right away. (She also knows that if she has a poopy diaper during the night, we'll get her up and change her. I think she's not always sure when it's morning and when it's still night time, so if she wants to get out of bed, she tells us she's poopy, even when she's not.) After turning off her sound machine, we walk to her crib and she reaches for her diaper and says "poopy" or "poopies". She leans over the crib rail as we reach for her, falling into our arms. She lays her head down on your shoulder, wraps her tiny little arms around your neck and gives the best snuggle ever. Typically we bring her into our room and plop her onto our bed. She wants to be undressed immediately and she lays down on our pile of pillows. She gives the very best morning snuggles and if Cliff is awake and in bed, she'll crawl over to him, plop down heavily on his tummy and lay her head on his chest and say "Nuggo. Daddy Nuggo." as she snuggles daddy.  
These little curls? They get me every time! They're soft and whispy and sweet as can be.

As soon as she's decided she's finished snuggling, she is quick to ask for the TV to be turned on. She used to call the TV a "Tee", but she has recently tried harded to say TV and instead calls it a "bvee-bee." She gets to climb around on our bed and watch Curious George for 15 minutes while we get dressed for work.

She loves to play in the curtains, roll around on the bed, bring us books to read, play ring-around the rosie on our bed until she gets dizzy and loses her balance (gives us a hear attack!) and watch TV in the mornings! She always comes in and checks on us if one of us is in the shower, which nearly always results in a puddle of shower water on the floor. She is a little turkey!
ring around the rosie
 and she's as sweet as can be

 When Addison is done playing in our room she wants to do one of two things, "EAT!" or "OUTSIDE!" The girl is an outdoorsman through and through. The only thing more fun that being outside is eating! Sometimes she wants to do both! "Eat. Peas. Ow-tide. Peas." Hey, she's got her manners down! Everything these days is followed with a please, or "peas" as she says. Soon Gavin gets up. Sometimes he comes up as we're getting ready for the day and sometimes he sleeps late. When left on his own, he sleeps until anywhere from 7:30 to 9:30! When he wakes up on his own, he is nearly always in a great mood, full of snuggles and ready for the day! This guy needs his sleep!

On these beautiful late-summer mornings, you'll usually find us out on the front porch first thing. The kids are often snuggling our kitten or our dog, or both, and are often eating breakfast at the same time! 


I'm savoring these mornings. Even though I still need to go to work most days, the summer mornings are something special. They're slower-paced, more relaxed. The kids usually get to stay home with a babysitter, they don't have to be fed, dressed, and out the door. The sun is up early and I have time to enjoy a cup of coffee before I have to kick into high gear. It's lovely. Soon school will start. Addison has already started daycare for the school-year, so I'm out the door with her way earlier than I'd prefer in the mornings. I thank God each day that I got to have a three-day weekend with these two every single week this summer. I'll miss our Friday "stay-home days" when Gavin's starts school next week! I guess I'll savor our weekends even more! I love fall. I'm looking forward to the kids getting back into a routine. I think the slow pace of a summer at home has really been good for them though! They're both going to grow and change so much this school year! I'll cherish these sweet summer mornings forever!

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Exploring Trains

Gavin has never really been a train kid. Sure, he enjoys watching Thomas and Friends from time to time, but he was never train-crazy like some of my nephews have been. I remember my sisters taking their kids to the Minnesota Children's Museum to see the Thomas exhibit when it was there, taking them to the Jackson Street Roundhouse, taking them down along hwy 61 just to watch the trains go by, visiting and shopping at Choo Choo Bob's Train Store. I thought Gavin would be more into trains, but he just hasn't been, and that's perfectly fine with me! He has so many other interests, I don't know if we could keep up with one more! He's into tractors and motors, dirt-biking and ninjas, inventing and building and creating and how things work, making his own recipes and potions, and drawing all things mechanical!

However, on our way to our family lake place, we drive past the old "Minnesota Zephyr" train station. The Minnesota Zephyr was a dinner train operating out of historic rivertown Stillwater, Minnesota for 20 years, which served nearly 1 million diners in it's time. The Zephyr's operation closed several years ago. The dining cars were sold in 2012 and moved by truck to Bayport, MN just south of Stillwater and then were later transported by rail to Colorado. The two engines were to be moved later, but as of today, they still sit on blocks in the old parking lot for the Zephyr's station. Every time we drive by them, Gavin asks about them. He wants to know why they don't travel anymore and why they went out of business. We've explained that the trains worked with tickets just like we have to buy tickets to ride on an airplane or buy tickets to go see a play or a movie. The money from the tickets helps pay for the costs of running the business like paying the pilot for the plane or the train engineer, like paying for fuel, the food served, etc.

One day when driving through Stillwater and passing by the abandoned engines, he said out of the blue, "Mom, next time your job pays you for working there, can you give that money to the people who own the trains so they can pay to get them running again and we can go ride on them?" Oh, dear sweet, naive child...  if only it were that easy. (If only I made that much money and didn't need my paycheck!) 

A few weeks ago on our way home from the lake, I had both kids in their jammies and Addison fell asleep in the car. It was a quiet Sunday evening in Stillwater and no one was in sight. I decided to stop and let Gavin have a closer look at the engines. They're beautiful, really. We weren't in any hurry and as long as Addison was peacefully asleep, there was no rush to get home. It was still light outside and it was a lovely, cool summer evening. I parked the car near the engines and left the car doors open, so she would easily see us if she woke up. Addison slept in peace while Gavin explored the engines! There was no indication that they didn't want us exploring - no barriers or signs or anything and there is a nice little parking lot right there. They did have the doors of the engines chained for safety, but they were still open about 6" so we could get a pretty good peek inside the engines too!

Worn and weathered leftover sections of the old platform were a reminder of these engines' glorious, shining history.

They were so surprisingly big close-up. This little guy was dwarfed next to the huge engines.

It's often these unplanned little stops along the way on an ordinary day that make the greatest impression. This was a really neat little adventure that only took about 20 minutes and was completely free. It's important, I think, to just get out of the car sometimes and explore at a slower pace... to look around you and appreciate what you often miss. This time it was the Zephyr, but sometimes it is a little patch of wildflowers along the roadside, a babbling creek, a family of geese in a pong, a sandy patch along the bottom of a limestone bluff, a caterpillar making it's coccoon along a walking path. Get out and explore!