Sunday, June 30, 2013

Hiking and Swimming Day

Our Plan A (strawberry picking) was postponed today due to the berries not being ready, so we had the kids pack some special items and took them on a Family Adventure day.
 We ended up at Lake Elmo park- to enjoy a beautiful morning out in nature together.
 Justin opted out of actually walking soon after the first picture was taken.  Luckily Dave had predicted this (J has been pretty grumpy recently- molars?) and had the Ergo with.


 After our hike (which was about 1.5 miles-  Alex was the strongest we've ever seen her-  hiking the entire way), we made it over to the man-made 'lake' to relax for a little while before lunch.  Justin was brave enough to wade into the water, but much happier playing on the beach with his dump truck.
 I think this was the only time we saw Alex out of the water until we pryed her out when it was time to leave.  She is such a fish!

Friday, June 28, 2013

An unusual visitor

Look at who we spotted in the backyard around 2pm this afternoon.  The weather was kind of stormy, so my first reaction was "is there a tornado coming?" because I always hear about animals exhibiting strange behavior before a storm.  No tornado, but I did realize that the back field had just been mowed, so maybe he was looking for dead field mice/snakes to nibble on?  He looked very healthy- it was just a little disconcerting to see in our suburban backyard-- especially with a naughty kitty who loves to sneak out the back door whenever he can!

Skippyjon Jones performance

 Today was the end of Alex's theater camp.  It culminates in a performance.  This year's theme was Skippyjon Jones (silly stories about a little Siamese cat who thinks he is a Chihuahua).  Justin and I attended and brought our little actress some flowers.
 Waiting patiently for the show to start.  He spent two hours in a coffee-shop that morning, playing with toys and drinking iced soy hot chocolate.  He was SUCH a well-behaved little guy, even with the sugar rushing through his bloodstream.
Alex (in her Mexican dress that Fairy Godmother Cathleen brought her back from her travels) and Emma-- they both played 'Skippyjon Jones' :-)  It was so fun for Alex to be in camp with her best friend--

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

The first!

"Mama!!  Look!!  The first strawberries!"
This growing season started so late that our first strawberry was harvested by a very excited Alex on June 26th!  We have a very small, humble patch that the kids have to battle the birds over.  Luckily, we found the first berries and they were both able to enjoy a few :-)  Now we have to watch the Afton Apple Orchard announcements to see when their crop will be ripe.  We have some itchy jam-making fingers!

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Squirmy Wormies

Sunday we visited the cottage one final time before heading back home.  The kids REALLY wanted to fish again, but we just didn't have enough time to use up all of our worms.  Therefore the worms became playthings....and then a quick snack for all the panfish by the dock.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Marotz Family Photo

The fates aligned and we were in for a big surprise on Saturday afternoon.  Not only did Papa Bob and Grandma Mary make it for the weekend, but Great-Uncle Jim, Great-Aunt Emily and Great-Uncle Claude ALONG with Third Cousins Terri and Steve all managed to gather to celebrate being a family!  It was a great night-- Great-Aunt Sarah outdid herself with the menu (peanut-butter and bacon stuffed jalepenos, anyone?!!), Dave shared a slideshow from our Everest Base Camp trek, and we got to see photos of Jim's travels as well as meet his sweet dog Jake.
Four Generations of Marotzes.....(the final generation is a bit tired.  Late bedtimes the night before made for two somewhat grumpy kids by 5:30pm.  The kids and I excused ourselves for bed shortly after taking this photo....)
Great-Grandma Alice and her four children (two nurses and two doctors, by the way).  What an amazing, accomplished family I've married into--

Fishing Lake Shawano

Saturday was fishing day!  The kids waited, and waited, and waited for Daddy and Papa Bob to be done with their lunch so they can fish.
 So proud to be carrying his own fishing pole to the lake!
 Alex is a pro.  She had lots of tips for her 'baby' brother.
 Doesn't really mind that he's only fishing with a red silicone fish.
 Alex ended up catching three fish-- none to keep (she was a bit disappointed we didn't clean and fry them up).
 Justin and his newly-inherited fishing tackle box. 

 Papa Bob and his protégée.  She stayed out there for hours with him!

The Belle Plaine Cheese Store....Wildlife Museum....I'm confused.

Saturday morning we stopped at Papa Bob's favorite Cheese store in the entire state of Wisconsin. 
 Obviously contemplating the many varities of cheeses in store:
The actual factory has been relocated, but they still have some old machinery tucked away....look what I found:
 Look what ELSE I found:
 That's right.  This is Wisconsin.  And THIS is the Belle Plaine Wildlife Museum...complete with taxidermied 'Bud Light'-drinking squirrel.  Inside a cheese factory.  You can't make this stuff up.

Friday, June 21, 2013

The Night My Children Never Went to Bed....

See title.  Seriously.  They went to bed at 10:30pm.  That is UNHEARD of!!!  But, between naps in the car and the excitement of seeing family we only see once a year, plus a CAMEL (yes, you read that correctly), it was the way things were the night of Daddy's birthday.
 Dinner at Anello's Torch Lite the quirky Shawano supper club with a menagerie AND a Friday fish fry.  Can't beat that combo!
 Alex and Justin LOVE Coconut, the Cockatoo at the Minnesota Zoo.  He says "Hi, Coconut!". 
This bird has him beat. 
Not only did Dave get him to dance by bobbing up and down, but he also says "Hello" "Good Boy" and laughs like a lady.  Alex was enchanted.
"He TALKS, Mama!!!"

 Just because I adore donkeys....

 We met up with Grandma Mary and Papa Bob, also in town for a visit! :-)  When I say 'met up', what I mean is that they flew in from Phoenix and stayed in the hotel room adjacent to ours.....and let Alexandra sleep in their room.  We love them.

Midsummer's Eve Fairy House

Although we'd already had quite the eventful day, today was June 21st.... apart from being Daddy's birthday, it was Midsummer's Eve- the night that our family builds fairy houses for all the traveling fairies in the land. 
 We found the perfect spot for a fairy house by Lake Shawano and started scouring the yard for treasures and building materials.

An eagle pinfeather (guessing?) made a couch fit for a Fairie Queene.
 We found some perfect little snail shells in the lake!

Alex worked very hard-- as always, she had a vision in mind as she executed her plan.
 Cat-tail fuzz provided soft and fuzzy walls that could double as beds for our fairy friends!
Happy Midsummer's Eve!

The Further Adventures of Dave's Birthday....or "What to do when your car starts spewing smoke"

We were headed to Shawano to see Great-Grandma Alice & Great-Aunt Sarah and celebrate Dave's birthday (about a 5 hour drive, give or take a few bathroom stops). When we got about 45 minutes down the road, Justin declared he needed to use the potty.  As we headed down the exit ramp, I voted for turning right-- heading into the country a few hundred feet and letting J-man feel the wind on his bottom half.  Dave opted for turning left and towards a gas station.  I was a bit grumpy, because seriously-- it would take three times as long to do the gas station dance, PLUS they are always really gross.  It's a good thing Dave stood his ground, because I started noticing a strange smoke blowing past the window.  I commented on it and Dave looked out his window.  More smoke.  We heard a 'pop' and hastily pulled onto the shoulder before turning the car off and staring at each other in shock.
The smoke was billowing out of the hood and we had no idea what to do.  I started consolidating half-empty water bottles in an attempt to put out a potential fire under the hood.  Luckily, Dave is smart enough to not just run out and pop the hood (like I probably would have done).  We waited a few minutes (with Alex screaming "WHAT IS GOING ON- ARE WE EXPLODING?!?!" at the top of her lungs from the backseat.  Don't forget our pet mynah bird is repeating every word right along with her "WHAT GOING ON? ESSPLODING!!!!!"

God sent a state trooper to intercept our amateur fire-fighting hour, and (after pulling behind us with his lights on so we didn't get plowed into from behind) he advised us to try and drive the last 100 feet to the gas station, let the car rest, add some fluid to the radiator and 'give that a go'.
We were traveling with two small children, so we did everything except the last two steps.  We skipped those and called USAA to send a tow truck.  Then we called my sister (back in Woodbury) and my mom (finishing up her visit to MN that day) and begged/pleaded with them to PLEASE drive our other vehicle 45 minutes into Wisconsin to rescue us.  They did (they are AWESOME), and all-in-all we only spent an extra 2 and a half hours at the station.

What we did to keep ourselves busy:

1.  Check out the buffet at "The Hearty Platter".  Even if we WERENT gluten free, I can't say that I would have been tempted.  Fried fish, fried chicken, gravies, salads with mayonnaise as the main ingredient. 

2.  Scour the gas station for picnic lunch fixings.  We actually did really well-- we found some really nice apples, fresh Wisconsin cheese curds (not the fried kind), yogurt smoothies and some WI beef sticks.

3.  Eat lunch in the broken-down minivan because it was the cleanest place around.

4.  Unload the entire car and pile up all of our belongings on the sidewalk in front of the restaurant.  Place children in carseats by the pile.  Take photographs. Giggle and imagine what the people inside The Hearty Platter are saying about us. (We were actually quite touched by the number of people- at least 6 individuals- who stopped to try to help us with our radiator and/or inquire as to whether we were ok.  Wisconsinites are awesome!)

5.  Watch as the tow truck loaded our minivan up.  Impressive!

6.  Go for a candy run at the gas station.  We decided a new family rule is that if you have to get you car towed, you get to choose WHATEVER candy you want!

7.  Load up the SUV and bid adieu to Auntie Rorie and GranMama-  thanks, wonder women! 


Happy Birthday, Daddy!

Hapy Birthday, Daddy!  Alex made Dave a basket of beautiful paper butterflies, an intricate card and a really COOL birthday crown.  Justin helped.  ;-) 
We celebrated Dave's birthday with a batch of gluten-free blueberry muffins using our new FAVORITE gf flour mix- Jules' Gluten Free Flour.  Seriously.  The best. Kind of off the topic, but I signed up for a living social deal that sent me a boatload of Jules' products for mega-cheap.  I'm hooked!  I was overjoyed to see that our local GF store also carries it AND it had a little "best pick by staff" sticker by it on the shelf.  I am not alone!