Category Archives: outdoors

Let there be light!

If there’s one thing I love, it’s dragging my family out to experience new things, even if it’s cold and I know there’s a decent chance of whining.  I’m a sucker for light installations, though, and knew we had to go to the arboretum when I heard about Bruce Munro’s exhibit going up.  We got tickets for 5:00 on Friday and hoped for the best. The kids seemed excited despite the cold temperatures and were even more excited to get to wander around in the dark. Go figure.




It was magical and enchanting and inspiring and despite Enzo asking when we were going to go back to the big house and get hot cocoa, I really did enjoy it.  If I had one complaint it would only be that I wish I could have stayed longer and that there had been more displays. At times I felt rushed just because… well, kids, but I’m still glad we took them to see it. Sure they may have been more excited for the hot cocoa and cookies at the end, but I do think they enjoyed it over all.




As for me… I’ve always loved the ambiance that lights can create and really did enjoy seeing it all. I was filled with ideas and motivation to start creating again and you can’t ask for much more than that.  The pictures really don’t do it justice, but I had to attempt to take a few photos while also not tripping over small bodies or my own feet in the dark. Haha!








Impromptu Apple Orchard Visit

After seeing the raptor release we weren’t sure what our plans were and figured we’d give the kids a few choices and let them decide.  While there was an apple orchard right next door, we decided to head home and go to the Luce Line Orchard since it’s so close and I knew it had a play area and lots of room for the kiddos, and you’ve gotta love small town fun. While we weren’t able to actually pick the apples off the trees it was still enjoyable.  First, though, we had a little picnic lunch before hitting the road.


Phoebe was also obsessed with big smooches that day because she’s obsessed with makeup and was hoping that some of my lipstick would transfer to her lips if she kept kissing me. Haha!


Once we arrived I was worried we’d never move from the stack of hay bales.  Really, kids?  All you want to do is climb hay?  There are apples and caramel and caramel covered apples even!  Come on!


Eventually they moved on, once they saw the tractor ride, of course.  They were both very excited to get their own tickets and give them to the gal doing the driving. I was a little worried that Phoebe would freak out when she realized Mommy and Daddy weren’t coming and wouldn’t be nearby for a few minutes, but she had a blast!  They both did!




I also forgot they have food there and it’s a great place to just hang out and spend an afternoon. Definitely have to go back and will probably get some pumpkins there too.  I think that’s where Phoebe and I got our pumpkins last year.  We’ll also have to be back every year, however, maybe next time Josh shouldn’t be trusted to take them all. :p


Phoebe was struggling with the concept of standing like Enzo so we could get an accurate measurement of height.  Sometimes I feel like I’m speaking a foreign language when talking to toddlers… “Put your feet together” becomes “spread them out as far as humanly possible” and then she kept standing on her tippy toes. Haha.


Goofballs. Phoebe and I rocked our matching leggings. I admit it, I get as excited as she does to match. Haha. I know there’s a limited time frame for how long we’ll be able to do so. I asked Enzo if he wanted to get matching leggings and he told me leggings were for girls. Stinker. :p


We took a little stroll and then grabbed a bag of Sweet Tango apples and caramel for dipping and headed home.  I was counting on the kids crashing hard after all the running around they did and it was nice to just take it easy until bedtime.


One last Enzo tidbit… as we were walking along, he held up his hand as though he were looking at a phone and kept saying, “According to my phone, we’re going the wrong way.”  I’m not sure if that’s a sign we’re on our phones too often or if it’s just a normal sign of the times and instead of pretending to read a paper map like when we were kids, he’s just doing the updated version. Either way, we got a good chuckle out of that.

U of M Fall Raptor Release

Who doesn’t love eagles, hawks, kestrals and owls?  Birds (especially raptors) are fascinating and while we’ve been to different raptor centers, we’ve never watched a release of raptors back into the wild.  I figured we might as well go check it out and the kids seemed interested, so bonus points for that! Granted, the day started off a tad on the wrong foot when we didn’t leave the house as early as I wanted to.  We actually almost missed the first releases.  It was chilly and overcast, but the smell of fall was in the air and I was kind of glad it wasn’t warmer out because long walk carrying camera and a child would have made for a very sweaty and gross situation.  As it was, the field would not have been conducive for a stroller or a wagon so the kiddos had to walk through kind of tall grass. Due to our late arrival, we couldn’t get very close to the stage, but we were all still able to see the birds.  Now… pictures. The majority were a tad blurry.  I had my biggest lens zoomed in almost all the way, it was cold out and I had a child sitting on my feet for part of the time.  Ha ha.


It was very cool to see two hawks, a kestral and a young bald eagle being released, though.  To watch them take flight was just so awesome and when the first hawk was released, a bunch of turkey vultures showed up overhead and it was a big celebration.


I’m not super bummed about the blurry photos… these kinds of things are best experienced in person anyway.


After the release, we went to see some of the other raptors that they had outside… ones that would not be released for various reasons and now help educate people.


I love owls.  I’m hoping to go out on an adventure by myself this winter in search of owls.  Since it’s a few hours drive north, I figure it’ll be a good time for the kids to stay home with Josh since they get a tad fussy when it’s cold out.  We see owls now and then where we are, but I’m heading north to find Great Grey Owls.


Those eyes!!

Okay, and this little guy was just too adorable.  Had he not been attached to that guy, I would have wanted to stick him in my bag and take him home.


And of course, the magnificent and ever so regal Bald Eagle. Amazing birds.



I’ll save our Apple Orchard visit for another day. 😉

September Caterpillars

At the beginning of summer when we went to pick out plants at the nursery, I don’t remember Enzo grabbing milkweed, but apparently he did.  All summer we’ve watched this plant grow and grow until finally it flowered and honestly we’ve kind of forgotten about it.  We’ve been busy and haven’t been spending as much time out front.  Last week, however, Josh sent me a picture of something very surprising!


Neither of us realized we had milkweed, so obviously seeing a milkweed caterpillar was a big surprise since that is all they eat.  As soon as I got home I went to the front to look for it and low and behold, there were about 6 or 7 more caterpillars on what we realized was milkweed.  I’m not going to lie, it was really exciting – I love monarch butterflies!  Some were still pretty small, and others were bigger getting ready to do this…


I was hoping we’d be able to actually see the whole caterpillar to pupa process, but alas, at some point he completed the process and we discovered another pupa that we had missed close by!  We have three that we know of currently.


Very unfortunately, however, we were hit with heavy storms and to my great dismay, two caterpillars did not make it to the pupa stage.  As for the other caterpillars that had been on the milkweed… well we looked briefly this morning, but couldn’t find them anywhere. We were running late and the mosquitoes have been fairly obnoxious lately, so the kids and I could only look for a few minutes.  Hopefully we’ll find that they are safe tonight.  Otherwise, I’m crossing my fingers that the butterflies will wait to emerge until we’re all present.  I read that they typically emerge mid-morning, so please let it be on a weekend!  I don’t want to disrupt them, but part of me is tempted to carefully move them (according to instructions) to hopefully ensure that these ones survive.  If nothing else, we will next year.  I also was unaware that you can get these awful little yellow aphids on milkweed and ours is rather infested… not to a point where there isn’t enough food for the caterpillars, but still something we’ll need to watch next year since the plan is to plant more milkweed. 🙂

Why don’t we do this more often?

A couple of weeks ago, we decided to walk down to the river with the kiddos and do some fishing. Well, the boys fished. Phoebe can’t be trusted with a fishing pole yet, and I’m indifferent.  Plus, someone has to keep an eye on the munchkins to make sure no one falls in.  It’s about a 15-20 minute walk with the kids depending on the route we take. We probably could have ridden our bikes, but chose not to this time, and I can’t remember why. Old age is creeping in, apparently – I can’t remember anything lately.


We met up with Josh’s sister Leah and her son Malcolm for a bit since they are close by. It was a beautiful day and the mosquitoes weren’t terrible yet.  Since these pictures there was major flooding, but I think even that has gone down now too.  See where Enzo’s standing?  The river covered this area completely and went almost to the road.  It tends to happen every year.


The kids stayed interested in fishing for a little bit until we found another area where you could walk right into the river!  Phoebe wanted to splash, so I told the kids they could take their shoes and socks off to get their feet wet.  Well, about 5 minutes later Phoebe started pulling her pants and undies off informing me that she wanted to sit in the water, but (thankfully) didn’t want to get her clothes wet.  Ha ha!  Before long both kids had completely stripped and we scared off another mom and her older kids.  Heaven forbid small children be naked.  Yeah, yeah, I know there are creeps out there, but every now and then I like to encourage their innocence if I’m safely nearby.


We snacked while the kids dried off and Josh kept fishing. Nothing was caught, but it was relaxing and a nice way to spend the afternoon.  Who knows, maybe we’ll do more of that this weekend… well, maybe. The mosquitoes are out in full force and Enzo and I tend to get eaten alive.  We’re off to the State Fair on Friday, though, so that should be a lot of fun and then Josh and I are going to see a special showing of The Neverending Story at the movie theater!  Woohoo!  Maybe I’ll actually have more to post about next week. 😉  Ha ha.