I Photographed the Four Seasons From One Spot

I Photographed the Four Seasons From One Spot

One of the things I love about living in Minnesota is the joy of seeing the seasons change.  Winter, spring, summer and autumn, they each have their own special beauty and wonder.

Watching them change, I’ve always wanted to pick a spot to capture that beauty and show how unique they are.  I’ve found that the same location in a different season can seem like an entirely new world.

Winter is cold, cloudy, quiet, muted, bright, invigorating, calm and peaceful.  Seeing this image makes me think of warm winter boots, being bundled up with a coat, hat, mittens, and scarf.  I can remember the muffled woods and the whisper of snow falling.  I can remember the crunch of snow underfoot and the delighted peals of laughter from my daughter as she bounced around the snow drifts.

Spring is cool, cloudy, anticipatory, damp, soft, new, refreshing and hopeful.  Looking back on this image reminds me of my children, all dressed in their Sunday best, excited to be out and about again on a beautiful spring day.  Although they were mostly hiding in the van for this photo shoot.  It was still cool, but warm enough to go without hats, mittens, and scarves.  The buds on the trees were all starting to swell before they would burst forth tiny new leaves.  The ground was turning from a subtle latte color to a growing green as tender new shoots popped up everywhere.

Summer is hot, bright, sunny, colorful, green, energetic, lively, active and cheerful.  This image reminds me of wearing flip-flops, short skirts, t-shirts, ponytails, and sunglasses.  I can remember my children running around, exploring everything, happy to be outside. 

Autumn is colorful, warm, cool, crisp, exciting, busy, cozy and fun.  Autumn is the time of year for dress boots, cozy sweaters, and cute scarves.  Autumn is a time for bonfires, garden harvesting, food preparation, school planning and winter prep.  It’s the busiest time of the year!  This image reminds me of the kids waiting in the van for me to jump out and get the shot.  We had to hurry because we had so much to do that day!  I love watching the seasons change and enjoying every unique and wonderful thing about them.  I don’t think I’ll tire of the excitement of watching one season shift to the next bringing all of the changes of life that come with it.  Thank you for joining me on my adventures this year!  I look forward to the next!

What do you love about each season?

If At First, You Don’t Succeed, Try, Try Again

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

After getting sick, we missed week 5 of our workout challenge.  Rather than give up, I thought it would be best to try again.  I’m using the old proverb, “If at first, you don’t succeed, try, try again.”  I don’t like to give up. I’m the type of person who will tackle a goal over and over until it’s accomplished.

We set up a playdate with some friends at Schaar’s Bluff.  It was a beautiful day.  The weather was perfect, there were a few fluffy clouds in the sky and a mild breeze to cool us off.  We enjoyed exploring the trails and seeing the wildlife.

We walked to the park to let the kids play for a little while.  I think my favorite part about play dates is having another adult to talk to, for a little while.   Being surrounded by children 24/7, it can get lonely.  Usually, when Nate gets home he’s too tired to do much else except sleep.

I know that someday the time when my children are little and dependent on me will pass.  Someday, I’ll miss these days terribly.  Having a teenager, I already know how fast little ones can grow.  So I’m soaking up as much time with my children as I can.  Someday, I’ll have the rest of my life for adult talk.

Lately, Nate has been watching The Great British Baking Show.  While I was on my walk, he was inspired to bake.  He decided to make me a gift of a gluten free, corn free, chocolate cake.

While the cake was cooling, we made a trip to visit my Grandfather.  He was doing amazingly well!  Talking, wide awake and joking around.  It made me so happy to see him so well!

After visiting Grandpa, we made a trip to Gander Mountain.  They’re all closing and having sales as a result.  We got some lures for fishing and a few new work shirts for Nate.  Princess was especially fond of all of the lures.  She picked out so many we had to put two-thirds back!  She is really excited to try fishing!

After dinner, we gave our cake a try.  It was so beautiful, I couldn’t wait to eat it.  Before I even sat down, I took a bite and immediately turned around to hide my puckered lips.  Nate asked me how it was.  I think I gave him an “Mmmmm!”  as I gulped down some water.

I waited for Nate to take a bite of his own before commenting.  I laughed as he grimaced.  He told me he thought he forgot the sugar.  It wasn’t horrible, but the cocoa powder was really bitter without any sweetener.  I can’t help but laugh at the memory.  It was so sweet of him to make a cake.

Has a goal ever gotten away from you?  Did you pick back up and continue?

Check out our video!

5 Week Workout Challenge
Previous Week: Week 4, Day 4: Afton State Park
Next Week: Week 5, Day 2: Kawishiwi Falls

Hastings Rivertown Days Parade 2017

Hastings Rivertown Days Parade 2017

The Hastings Rivertown Days Parade is a big event every year.  It’s fun to see people we know in the community handing goodies out to the kids.  We also enjoy the creative and fun floats, vehicles and walkers.

For a severe allergy family, we can’t enjoy the candy, but the kids always have fun collecting it.  The big girls usually gather up all of the candy and divide it among themselves.  I give the little kids safe, homemade “candy” or safe treats that I’ve found online.

This year, we went to the Kingdom Hall early in the morning, then rushed home as fast as we could (while not speeding, safety first!) for the parade.  The kids changed into play clothes and we rushed down to try to find a spot.  As usual, the roads were packed with people.  Every year, people set out chairs, blankets, and towels to reserve their spots.  The curbs, sidewalks, and lawns are always packed with people.

The parade was well under way by the time we got there, but it wasn’t even halfway over.  One year, the parade was over two hours long!  Thankfully, this year it was only about an hour.  Two hours can get kind of long for little ones.

Right away, we found our friend’s Matt and Silvana and their children.  They were kind enough to let us join them.  While the little kids gathered up goodies, we relaxed in the shade of the tree we were under.  Thankfully, this year it was mostly cloudy.  Other years have been hot and sunny.  I always feel bad for the marching band kids in full sleeved jackets.

There were a few new additions to the parade this year.  Sponsors rented a fire truck that had been active in New York during 9/11.  Little Log House Pioneer Village had a huge piece of antique farm equipment.  As usual, there were mobile bands, marching bands, horses, and local businesses.  I really enjoyed the landscaping displays.  It was a beautiful and fun day.

Does your family enjoy going to parades?

Check out our video!

Hastings Rivertown Days 2017

Hastings Rivertown Days 2017
Every year we go to Hastings Rivertown Days.  One of our favorite things to do as a family is to go to The Dime Carnival.  The kids play games to their heart’s content and win tickets to pick out fun prizes.

Every year, it always seems as though it’s on one of the hottest days of summer.  Since the carnival is in a parking lot, the heat is reflected up off the asphalt, making it feel even warmer.  This year was no exception.  Not about to let a little heat ruin our day, we enjoyed the carnival and hid out inside the prize area to cool off when needed.

Princess has always loved picking ducks in the duck pond.  Mr. Awesome loves the jumpy house.  Cupcake loves all the games.  Cat is starting to get to an age where the carnival is too young for her.  She loves helping the younger kids play the most.

After cooling off at home, we went to the library to drop off some books and pick up some more.  As soon as I walked into the library, my eyes started itching.  Cat said “Oh look Mom!  A beautiful dog!”  I turned to see a huge white dog near us walking across the library.  It must have been a therapy dog.  Unfortunately, because of my allergies, I left the building while the kids had fun picking out books with Dad.  Outside I enjoyed photographing the library’s beautiful garden.

We stopped at Walmart for a few necessities and I got a contact case and solution so I could take out my contacts ASAP.  My eyes were burning so much I could barely see.  After I removed them, in the middle of the aisle at Walmart, I felt such relief.  Although I was now blind.  I had to hold Nate’s hand through the rest of our Walmart trip.

My vision is -8.50 for contacts.  I’m not legally blind with my contacts (legally blind is a legal term used to sort out those who can apply for medical benefits.  Anyone who can not see with corrective lenses after a certain point is considered legally blind.  I am very thankful that corrective lenses work for me.  I will never be able to have perfect vision even with them, but it’s still a blessing I am thankful for.).  Without them, I am blind.  I can’t see definition, I can only see basic blurry shapes.  I can see colors, dark and light.

What You See
What I See

As you can tell from the image above, I can not see very well.   We stopped to get the kids ice cream at our local dairy co op, then checked out the craft fair at the LeDuc mansion across the street.  Since I couldn’t see, Nate took my hand and led me around.  He described what was around us and what was in each booth we passed.

I heard a familiar voice call out to me.  My friend’s Katie and Dusty from our Kingdom Hall were there!  I got a chance to check out an amazing card booth with them.  The cards opened up into intricate pop-up scenes all made of colorful paper.  One was a ship, another a camera, others were scenes of various places around the world.

Although I am blind from a distance, I can see up close.  I mean extremely up close.  Whatever I’m looking at must be a couple of inches from my eye.  What I do see from that close is detailed almost microscopically.  I can see the tiny details that the normal eye can’t see.

With the cards, I could see the fiber of the paper, the tiny cuts and details.  It was like stepping into a new world where fantasy and reality collide.  I intended to go back and purchase some cards after I got my contacts in, but sadly that was the last day.  Perhaps I’ll get the chance to see them again next year.

We purchased some sheets from a vendor and then went home to enjoy pizza and family night.  Thankfully I was able to put in a fresh set of contacts to see.  After that, we walked down to the river to enjoy the Hastings Rivertown Days fireworks.  It was a busy and fun day.

Check out the video of our day!


4 Year Old Adventure

4 Year Old Adventure
5 Week Workout Challenge: Week 3, Day 4

The big kids went to the drive in with Grandma and Grandpa, so Princess and I decided to go on an adventure.  We went on a walk downtown and along the river.  It was the perfect evening for a walk and we had a lot of fun!

Princess LOVES going for walks.  She is a little outdoors girl.  If we could live outside, she would be so happy.  One of her favorite activities is camping.  She’s always asking me when we can go play outside together.  I let her lead us on this 4-year-old adventure.

I’m naturally a home body.  I love hiding inside.  I’m always looking for ways to motivate myself to go outdoors more because the outdoors are beautiful and they always make me feel closer to God.  Doing this exercise challenge has been a great way to do that.  I do love to explore new places too, but it’s nice to have a little girl who pushes me to do so.

I hope we’ve been inspiring you to get outdoors too if you are naturally a home body like me.  Exercise doesn’t have to be gruesome and horrible.  Getting outside, exploring the world and all of the wonders that God created for us to enjoy is fun and exciting.  The person who moves slowly on the trail is still moving faster than the person at home on their couch.  So get out there and get some fresh air!

Have we motivated you to get outside this week?  Do your kids love to go outside as much as my little outdoor girl?

5 Week Workout Challenge
Previous Week: Week 3, Day 3: Covered Bridge Park
Next Week: Week 4, Day 1: Morning Workout


Hastings Riverwalk

5 Week Workout Challenge: Week 3, Day 1
Hastings Riverwalk

We started off week three with a walk along the river in Hastings, Minnesota.

Before leaving for our walk, Princess enjoyed checking out our lilies at home.  This is the third year since we planted them and they’re doing great!  I can’t believe how many came up this year!

We’ve enjoyed walking Hastings Riverwalk many times.  This is where I took the kids pictures a few years ago.  The Hastings Rivertown Carnival is also hosted here every year.  Earlier this year, Cat and I came here for our 52 project, cold.

Along the trail, there are a lot of interesting things to see.  There are giant vine woven orbs hanging in the trees as part of an art installation.  I got the privilege to see the artist creating them since his studio is not too far from my house.  There is a great view of the new Hastings bridge.  There’s a spot on the side of the trail that has a piece of the old Hastings bridge.  Along the trail, there are signs with bits of history of the area.  There are a lot of beautiful wildflowers everywhere too.

At one point when we were exploring the edge of the river, Nate found a tiny, baby frog.  As it turns out, they were all over the place!  They blend in so well with the ground that it’s difficult to see them, even if you’re looking right at them!  I really hope we didn’t step on any of the little guys!

After our walk, we went to pick up a desk for Cat’s room that we found on Craigslist.  We got to travel quite a ways into Wisconsin and explore an area we’d never been before.  After that, we picked up pizza at Papa Murphy’s for the gluten tolerant side of the family.  Then we came home and made gluten free pizza for Cat, Princess and me.  We watched Enchanted for family night while eating in the living room.  It was a great way to end a fun day!

Have you been on the Hastings Riverwalk?  What is your favorite part?

5 Week Workout Challenge
Previous Week: Week 2, Day 4: 2nd Plank Challenge
Next Day: Week 3, Day 2: 1st Convention Day, Rochester

Swimming By The Ruins of an Old Mill

Swimming By The Ruins of an Old Mill
5 Week Workout Challenge: Week 2, Day 2
Old Mill Park

Nate has been working on the RV a lot recently.  He took off a week of work and spent most of that time taking off the old roof and damaged wood and rebuilding it.  By taking the kids on hikes, I can keep them out of the way while the debris is on the ground.  At the end of the day, I help him clean up the garbage and put the tarp back on.  I plan on making a few posts on the progress he’s made.

Since it was a hot day, I let the kids wear swimming suits for our hike.  With swimming on their little minds, the idea of a hot hike to view the falls was not an exciting prospect.  They were little troopers and made the whole hike there and back before making our way down to the river.

Getting from the top of the cliff down to the river is not an easy feat.  It’s not extremely difficult, but it’s also not an easy climb.  There are two ways down, one is through the debris of the old mill.  The other is down some very small wooden steps.  The wooden steps end and leave one to slowly work down the rocks that have become smooth and slippery from frequent visitors.

Once you arrive at the bottom, the view is breathtaking.  The river is bordered by tall limestone cliffs.  On one side, the old mill towers into the sky.  It’s amazing that it’s still standing after a fire 123 years ago.  If you look close enough, you can see charred wood on some of the pieces up higher on the wall.  I can only imagine, that if it hadn’t been burned by arsonists, it would still be a beautiful and impressive building today.

The kids had a lot of fun playing in the water, building sand castles and relaxing in the cool water.  We found a spot in the rocks where a small spring trickles down to the river.  Cat found a little creature that may have been a baby crayfish.  Mr. Awesome built it a giant wall so it would have more space to move about in.

This is one of our favorite spots to visit and we recommend it for all ages.  There are parking lots on both the side of the falls and the ruins which make it easy for a short walk to a view.  Most of the paths are asphalt and easy to walk.  We took a few off road paths on this day since we are more familiar with the area.

Have you been to see the Vermillion Falls of the old mill ruins?  Let us know in the comments!

Basic Park Info: http://www.hastingsmn.gov/Home/Components/FacilityDirectory/FacilityDirectory/76/485
All Trails: https://www.alltrails.com/trail/us/minnesota/vermillion-river-old-mill-park-to-vermillion-slough


5 Week Workout Challenge
Previous Day: Week 2, Day 1: Workout At Home
Next Day: Week 2, Day 3: Challenge at Home

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