I Bribed My Kids to Workout with Me

I Bribed My Kids to Workout with Me
5 Week Workout Challenge: Week 2, Day 1

Starting week two of the workout challenge was a bit easier.  My muscles are still aching from last week, but some of that is allergy related.  The kids were really excited to workout again, which was a surprise.  I’m so happy they enjoy it!

We started the workout week with a new workout video! The kids and I had a lot of fun. I had to bribe them with a little bit of iPad time to motivate them to try and finish the entire workout with me.  It worked great!

What’s your favorite video to work out to with your kids?

5 Week Workout Challenge
Previous Day: Day 5: Spring Lake Park
Next Day: Week 2, Day 2: Old Mill Park


A Park Merges Rich History With Green Design

5 Week Workout Challenge: Week 1, Day 5
Spring Lake Park, Schaar’s Bluff

Spring Lake Park is one of my favorite places to take walks with the family.  The views are breathtaking, the trails are very well maintained and there are bonfire pits at several locations throughout the park.

Spring Lake Park has an interesting history.  There are native american artifacts that show evidence of villages and campsites dating from 1000 B.C to A.D. 1400!  In the 1930’s, a dam was built, flooding the river basin and spring lake merged to join the Mississippi.  In more recent history, Schaar’s Bluff was a family farm that was eventually sold to Dakota County.

Since then, the park has been working on providing a place where visitors can learn about American Indian history.  Nine years ago, the park opened Dakota County’s first net-zero-energy building.  The Gathering Hall gets 90 percent of it’s energy from an onsite wind turbine.  This spring, it opened it’s recently expanded trail to merge with the Mississippi River Trail.

We had originally planned on hiking a hidden trail we hadn’t previously explored.  Upon arrival, we saw that the new trail had been completed.  We were really excited to check it out.

We enjoyed seeing the beautiful prairie, full of wildflowers.  As we progressed on the trail, we could see several newly planted oak trees and strips of wheat bordering the path.  We took time to rest at the picnic tables overlooking the river and planned a future picnic.  The kids enjoyed climbing the rocks in the newly carved limestone wall.  The huge bridge crossing a ravine was an interesting design of plain lumber and rusted metal that made the kids question it’s age and safety.  I assured them that it was new and probably quite safe.

I have a feeling that we’ll love visiting and walking the new trail just as much as we love the old ones.  I really recommend this park for anyone interested.  It’s great for biking, hiking, picnics, outdoor gatherings, photo shoots, weddings, playing at the park, and watching the sun set.

Have you ever visited Schaar’s Bluff?  What is your favorite spot?

Main Park Info:

5 Week Workout Challenge
Previous Week: Day 4: Minnehaha Falls
Next Week: Week 2, Day 1: Workout At Home

Minnehaha Falls

5 Week Workout Challenge: Week 1, Day 4
Minnehaha Creek Trail

I haven’t been to Minnehaha Falls for a while, so I was really looking forward to our hike.  Minnehaha Falls feels like home.  My Maternal Grandparents used to live not too far from the park, so we frequently enjoyed walks along the river’s edge, flying kites in the fields, family gatherings at the pavilion, family reunions, outdoor concerts and events, picnics, playing at the park and so much more.

I can remember being little and looking up at the huge oak trees with wonder.  I love oak trees, maybe because they live in so many of my happy memories.  I remember going on walks with my parents or grandparents and taking in the beautiful marvels that are everywhere.  I love being able to share its beauty with my children and allowing them to make their own memories.

As I walked the paths, I mulled over the memories of a lifetime at this park.  I saw myself grow up.  I saw my Mother, and my Grandmother, who also grew up here.  My great-grandmother would have seen the park when it was new.  I wondered about the Native Americans who lived here before us and the history of the park.  I hope someday my children will pass on the legacy of love of Minnehaha Falls and bring their own children here.

I found that that the park had more history than I could have imagined!  There is a great blog about the history of the falls here.  It was once the location to a zoo!  I knew about the mill that once was a bit further away from the falls because I had climbed down the remains once.  The dog park was once a limestone quarry, which ended up supplying much of the park with limestone for steps and walls.  I loved learning about the different bridges at the bottom of the falls and seeing images of how the falls have looked over the years.

Basic Park Info: https://www.minneapolisparks.org/parks__destinations/parks__lakes/minnehaha_regional_park/
All Trails: https://www.alltrails.com/trail/us/minnesota/minnehaha-creek-trail

5 Week Workout Challenge
Previous Week: Day 3: Hay Creek
Next Week: Day 5: Spring Lake Park

Cooling Off in Hay Creek

5 Week Workout Challenge: Week 1, Day 3
Hay Creek

For day three, we drove to Red Wing to check out the Hay Creek Cross Country Trail.  The kids loved playing with the tongue twister of a name after I accidentally mispronounced it Cross Crunchy Trail.  None of us had been there before, so we weren’t sure what kind of a trail we’d find.

As it turns out, there isn’t an exact address for the parking lot, or at least, it’s not easy to find.  Instead, we followed the directions on the state’s website.  On the way there, we hit some major road construction.  The entire road was closed to through traffic.  Thankfully, we were able to get through on a scenic dirt road which led to the park.

Once at the park, we could not figure out where the correct trail for the cross country trail was.  There were several trails all in the same area, all crisscrossing and none were clearly marked.  Several were not well maintained and looked overgrown.  We ended up finding faded hand-painted signs in the overgrown brush for a couple of the trails, but none of them was the cross country trail.  Eventually, we gave up and followed the clearest path.

The Goodhue Pioneer State Trail is a wide, paved walking path.  We encountered several bikers and a couple of other walkers, but it was relatively quiet and peaceful.  There did happen to be a lot of gnats, but that’s pretty typical for this time of year.  The trail was strangely covered with dead snails, perhaps from the recent rain storms.

At one point, we found a wooden bridge with a path leading down to the creek.  We took off our shoes and waded into the clear, shallow water.  It was ice cold and felt great on such a hot and humid day.

We walked a little further past the bridge till we had walked a mile.  We stopped in the shade and let the kids have a snack.  Then we turned around to head back.

At one point, the kids found a live snail.  They gave it some fresh water to drink before putting it in the woods.  I had no idea snails lived out of the water.

Although the cross country trail might not be good for summertime hikes, maybe it’s a good trail to check out for cross-country skiing.  I recommend the Goodhue Trail if you’re in the area and looking for a relaxing walk or bike ride.

Basic Park Info: http://www.dnr.state.mn.us/state_forests/facilities/cmp00040/index.html
Map: http://files.dnr.state.mn.us/maps/state_forests/cmp00040.pdf
All Trails Info: https://www.alltrails.com/trail/us/minnesota/hay-creek-unit-rj-dorer-memorial-hardwood-state-forest

5 Week Workout Challenge
Previous Week: Day 2: Jensen Lake Trail
Next Week: Week 1, Day 4: Minnehaha Falls

52 Project, Week 13: Kindness

52 Project, Week 13: Kindness

I spent a lot of time reflecting on kindness.  It ended up leading me to do a few other kindness projects too.  For my challenge, I had a lot of ideas for what I could do, but ultimately decided on something that has really impacted my life.

I have always loved photography.  As a child, I would set up elaborate photo shoots with the neighborhood kids.  After we moved, I didn’t have any friends, so I set up photo shoots with my barbies.  As I got older, I eventually did make friends. Sometimes I would pose them for portraits or take fun candids of life.

It wasn’t until I gave birth to my first daughter that I finally pursued a career in photography.  I took the plunge and got a job at a local portrait studio.  There, I was thrown in the camera room without any training.  This was at the beginning of digital cameras and my studio was the first within that branch of the company and the country to transfer from film to digital.  All of the camera settings were exactly the same, so I didn’t have to worry about learning to master a digital pro camera yet.  The lighting consisted of lowering and raising a light attached to the ceiling, depending on the height of the subject.  The editing was a bit laughable and dated today, but it was also easy to use.  My daughter loves to joke with me about the garish vignettes, one of my pet peeves.    I also had the fun of working with different backgrounds and props.

My primary job was posing subjects and getting them to smile.  This was no small task.  I had to jump around, crawl on the floor, make crazy faces and silly noises.  I had to go from my usual quiet, shy self to someone bold.

I used Cat as my little model for practice.  As the years passed, not only did Cat grow, but so did my skills as a photographer.  I became confident in working with people.  I experimented with my own camera at home, learning settings and lighting.

Eventually, I quit working for someone else and started working for myself.  I started photographing sessions in my home and I loved it.  Picking up a camera is like stepping into a different world for me.  Everything else turns off, all of the worry and frustrations of the world, all of life’s anxieties melt away, the noise drowns out and my focus narrows down to me, my subject and my camera.  We make the three letter word “art” into a symphony of light, color, and emotion.

Once the session is over, I float on a satisfied high.  I load my images into my computer and edit them.  I love editing images.  True, sometimes editing can lag into the mundane and I need a bit of Netflix binging on the side to keep me going.  But there are times where I fall in love with an image or a session and I could get lost in it, working for hours before I come up for air.

Photography is so many things, composing an image, using appropriate lighting, knowing the settings on a camera and how to use them in different conditions, different lenses, varying heights, interacting with your subject, posing your subject, background, props, storytelling.  Behind the scenes, one must learn the business, photo editing software, image organizing, networking, social media, website creation, and management, staying up to date in education by learning new techniques in all of these areas.  It can take up a lot of time and it is a lot of work.

It’s hard to not become obsessed and spend all of my time doing this.  I have 5 other people in my life that I’m responsible for.  They need my time, love and attention.  This doesn’t mean they are a distraction from my work.  They are the important work.  I think if I were single, I would lose myself to work and I would end up hating it.

My family gives me inspiration.  They give me a constant source of people to photograph.  They give me a story to tell. They remind me to live and to get out in the world.  They help me not just capture other people’s memories, but to make and capture my own.

After I became pregnant with my youngest daughter, I started to have health problems.  I cut back more and more in my work until I started to turn away sessions.  I knew that I was not going to be able to photograph other people if I didn’t know if I was going to have a good day or a bad day.  I had to make a decision to focus on the more important things.

For me, my important things are God, family, and health.  Those three things take a lot of time and commitment.  For months, I mulled over closing my in-home studio.  It sat empty, making me sad.  Sure, I could use it just for my own children, but that’s a lot of space for a few family portraits.  In a house full of 6 people, space is limited.

Then something happened that made me move on my decision.  Cat became depressed.  She has always struggled with being positive, but there was a noticeable difference in her appearance and behavior.  She stopped caring about things that normally made her happy.  She looked like the life had been drained from her.  She lost all motivation to do anything. Worst of all, she admitted to me several times that she wanted to die and she had been seriously considering it.

I brought her in to be diagnosed with depression and to get a referral for a therapist.  Nate and I talked it over and decided to convert my studio into a bedroom for Cat.  We thought the extra space might give her a place of her own to create art and play her piano.  Nate offered to let her paint it whatever color she wanted.

This last bit was hard for me.  I loved the color of my studio.  Painting it made it seem real and final, there was no turning back.  I didn’t want to turn back, for so many reasons, but change is always difficult for me.

Having a project for Cat seemed like a great idea.  Painting her room was something that would keep her occupied and looking forward to the future.  However, as the weeks dragged on and turned into months, the painting became another burden for her.

So one week when she went to her Dad’s house, I chose an act of kindness and love.  I picked up the paint brush and finished her room.  I left only the top edges of the wall for her to finish.  Cat would also like me to add that she had painted most of the room before I got to it.  lol

As I painted and the walls changed from a deep turquoise blue to a pastel green, I could remember my own Mother’s act of kindness.  She had helped me paint my house when I first moved in.  So had my children and my sisters.  My heart was warmed by the memory of their love, helping make our house a home.

After she finished her room, I felt such relief and happiness.  My daughter was going to move out of her childhood room and into her own room as a teenager.  Already I could see a spark of excitement in Cat at the idea of having her own room.  It was real to her too.

Although getting her own room won’t solve all of her problems, it’s a step in the right direction.  Learning to live with depression is something she’ll have to work on for the rest of her life.  Hopefully, with the help of therapy, she’ll learn tools that will help her cope through the rough times.

As for having my own studio, maybe someday in the future, I’ll build my own studio.  Photography isn’t about having controlled lighting and a controlled environment.  The true test of a good photographer is if they can photograph in uncontrolled lighting and uncontrolled environments.  I can take portraits anywhere in the world.  The world is my studio and it is beautiful.

This paint can changed my life.  It also changed my daughter’s life.  She is learning to become an independent person.  She is learning to be an adult and slowly finding out how to survive in this world.  I am no longer photographing other families, I’m photographing my own.  I am fully immersed in my own story and that of my family.

Has anyone ever done something kind for you?  How did it impact your life?

Previous Week: 52 Project, Week 12: Reflection
Next Week: 52 Project, Week 14: Favorite Scripture
Main Page for 52 Project

Our First Visit to Jensen Lake Trail

5 Week Workout Challenge: Week 1, Day 2

Lebanon Hills, Jensen Lake Trail

Originally, the weather forecast predicted thunderstorms.  We delayed our hike due to some destructive storms we’ve had recently.  I wouldn’t want to be halfway through a hike and have the children out in bad weather.  The weather was partly cloudy but mostly sunny throughout the morning, and extremely humid from all of the rain.  Since a storm seemed unlikely after all, we struck out for an afternoon hike.

Jensen Lake Trail is 2.1 miles.  All trails rated it as an easy trail.  (All Trails Info: https://www.alltrails.com/trail/us/minnesota/jensen-lake-trail)  It took us about 2 hours to complete the loop.  The more experienced hiker could easily finish it faster.  There was a guy who passed us going the opposite direction three times!

The kids really enjoyed this trail and would love to go back another time.  There was also a large park that we did not check out because it was too hot and we were exhausted.  We were all proud of ourselves for pushing through and finishing the trail, despite the heat.

If you’d like to visit the Jenson Lake Trail, check out their website for more information:

Have you been to Lebanon Hills before?

Check out our video!

5 Week Workout Challenge
Previous Week: Day 1: Workout At Home
Next Week: Day 3: Hay Creek

5 Week Workout Challenge: Week 1, Day 1

5 Week Workout Challenge: Week 1, Day 1

Today was the first day of our workout challenge!  I have been looking forward to this for quite awhile and I’m so glad we planned it.  Exercise sometimes needs a bit of reminder and motivation.

I’m going to be completely honest.  I did not wake up early to work out.  I slept in.  It felt great!  I won’t be doing this for the hiking days, because I want to head out before it gets too hot.

My first workout was actually not a workout video, but cleaning the living room.  The kids and I took a break to do a bit of reading together.  After that, I ended up working on dishes lunch, laundry and then the living room again.

Mr. Awesome was all set to work out with me.  Princess wasn’t a bit interested.  I pulled up a kids workout video on youtube (https://youtu.be/McD6_oOWs-M) and set up my camera.  Then we got to work!

I have to admit, I am out of shape.  Running around with the kids, taking care of a family of six and having a restrictive allergy diet keep me pretty slim, but not of this can replace a good workout.

Right away, I was struggling.  I could feel my heart pounding, I was out of breath.  I tried to keep going but when the video stalled and crashed, I was relieved to be done.  I gave up for the day.  Maybe next time we’ll get through the whole video.

I feel a bit self conscious putting my workout online, but hopefully it will motivate you to get moving yourself!  Even if it is only for a little bit, like me.  We’ll work up our stamina and be fit bodies in no time!

Tomorrow looks like thunderstorms, so I’m disappointed to delay our hiking plans.  We might head out later in the day if the skies look clear.  If it is storming, we’ll give the youtube video another try!

What did you do for exercise today?

5 Week Workout Challenge
Next Week: Day 2: Jensen Lake Trail


5 Week Workout Challenge

5 Week Workout Challenge

It’s almost summer!  With one week of school left for my kiddos, planning summer activities is a necessity.  If the summer isn’t planned, it flies by and nothing much happens.  For the last few weeks, I’ve been working on our calendar and researching activities.

Cat and I thought it would be great fun to have a 5-week workout challenge.  The little ones don’t really care what we do, but they love to be outside and active.  In order to keep all of us happy, I filled the calendar with primarily hiking.  Hiking is something that gets the body moving, the heart pumping and offers a change of scenery.  It can be done by anyone, young or old

We’ll also have days for indoor exercises at home.  This can be pilates, weight lifting, workout videos or another favorite workout activity.  If someone has plans to join us, maybe we’ll move our exercise plans to an indoor location, like the Mall of America for speed walking.

Hopefully, by the end of our 5 weeks, we’ll be feeling healthier and happier.  Plus, we’ll get the joy of exploring the great outdoors instead of being cooped up inside.

Our “week” is a little unusual.  We will not be doing a Monday through Friday week.  Sundays and Mondays are our days off.  Tuesdays through Saturdays are workout days.  Our goal is to workout 3 days Minimum weekly.  Anything more is extra credit!

I found a great app called All Trails which helps find local hiking trails.  It gives the length of the hike, maps, altitude, level of difficulty and more!  I suggest you check it out to see what’s in your area!

Check back to see posts about our adventures!  Hopefully, we’ll inspire you to make an adventure of your own this summer.  Go out and enjoy nature!

Week 1
Week 1, Day 1: Workout At Home
Week 1, Day 2: Jensen Lake Trail
Week 1, Day 3: Hay Creek
Week 1, Day 4: Minnehaha Falls
Week 1, Day 5: Spring Lake Park

Week 2
Week 2, Day 1: Workout At Home
Week 2, Day 2: Old Mill Park
Week 2, Day 3: Challenge at Home
Week 2, Day 4: 2nd Plank Challenge

Week 3
Week 3, Day 1: Hastings Riverwalk
Week 3, Day 2: 1st Convention Day, Rochester
Week 3, Day 3: Covered Bridge Park
Week 3, Day 4: 4-Year-Old Adventure

Week 4
Week 4, Day 1: Morning Workout
Week 4, Day 2: Fort Snelling
Week 4, Day 3: Night Walk Date
Week 4, Day 4: Afton State Park

Week 5
Week 5, Day 1: Schaar’s Bluff
Week 5, Day 2: Kawishiwi Falls
Week 5, Day 3: Norberg Trail

Do you have a workout plan this summer?  What’s your favorite type of exercise? We’d love to hear about it!

This Little Girl Went From Hating Water To Loving It

This Little Girl Went From Hating Water To Loving It

When Princess was born, a nurse offered to fill the tub for me at the hospital.  They had the longest, deepest tub I had ever seen.  I could stretch my legs all the way out without bending my knees.  I could get in and the water and it could cover me up to my neck.  I took a bath a few hours after birth, but I had to get out fast since Princess woke and started crying.

Several times, my nurse offered to fill the tub for me so I could relax with my wee baby and give her, her first bath.  At the time, I was very dizzy and tired from high blood pressure.  Plus, I had visitors coming and going, so rest was not an easy option.  By the time the sun went down, the nurse shift changed.  I had a tiny bit more energy and I thought it would be the perfect time for a bath.  I asked my new nurse to pour the water for me.

As I climbed in, my legs burned.  I could handle it, but it was uncomfortable.  I was debating on getting out when the nurse entered with my naked baby girl.  I mentioned that the water was too hot.  She handed Princess to me and added a few seconds of cold water to the tub.  Not feeling it was much cooler I didn’t lie back in the water.  The nurse took princess from me and set her on my lap in the water, where Princess immediately began to wail.
“It’s too hot!”  I exclaimed anxiously.
I don’t remember what or if she said anything in response, but I do remember being frozen in horror as she roughly and vigorously scrubbed my poor baby girl down with a large amount of soap.  Princess screamed and shrieked and I was rooted to the spot, unable to move, unable to determine what to do.  Before I could make a decision, she dumped water all over princess to wash off the soap.
“It’s too hot!”  I said again, unable to think of anything else to say.  Later I would obsess over all of the things I could have said and done to protect my baby.  Before I could do anything else, the nurse wrapped her in a towel and brought Princess wailing into the room to diaper and dress her.  I stood up and got a towel, unable to bear the heat any longer.

Since that traumatic incident, Princess hated water.  She refused baths completely, and would wail for sponge baths.  The only way to wash her was to hold her to my chest in the shower and lightly let the water over her back for a few seconds at a time.

Princess was always tiny, especially compared to my other three.  I could easily carry her in a sling for her entire first year.  She was my little shadow and joined me in every activity.  I can remember a day where I stood at the sink, washing dishes, when a little hand reached out towards what I was holding.  I was so startled I nearly dropped the dish!  Princess was normally silent when she was with me, watching everything with her big blue eyes and taking it all in.  Sometimes I would forget that she was there, such as this instance.

I did a little experiment and let Princess play with the sink water.  She LOVED it.  After that, I encouraged her to play in the sink with me, as I washed dishes.  One day, when she was fifteen months old, I discovered her playing with the water in the bathroom sink.  After that, she let me put her in the bottom of the shower to play with toys.

Today, my little Princess LOVES water.  I have to fight to keep her away from it some days!  She hops in every puddle she can find.  So when I saw a pair of pink galoshes on sale at Walmart, I knew I had to get them.

The next rainy day, she was thrilled to be able to put her new rain boots to good use.  She jumped and splashed till she was a muddy mess.  When she was done, she had a nice warm shower and a cuddle with Mom before having a nap.

Moments like these are why I’m so thankful I’m a Mother.  My children make everything new again.  Every puddle is a fun, new adventure.

Splashing in the mud is fun!  Do you let your kids play in the mud?