Monday, August 29, 2011

Weekend at Bernie''s

We (minus the boy...he had to work) spent the weekend with friends up at their cabin.  And a lovely weekend it was.  The weather?  PERFECT.  The kids...well, they were kids, but I will say given we had 6 girls ranging from 6-15 years, they did better than I expected.

Friday, we started out with a pontoon  ride to a part of the lake that had this:
And they ALL jumped off of it.  From the 6 year old:
On up:

It must be said, these boat rides are NOT all about the kids:
It was back to the ranch for fish tacos and a side of steak:
 We were all up bright and early (OK...I exaggerated the bright part and flat out lied about "early"), made some breakfast burritos and had a late breakfast on the deck.  Then, it was time to break out the fun boats.  What, you may ask, are fun boats?  Why...this is a fun boat:
It is a small boat, that runs on an electric battery that shoots water...or ferries passengers:
Yeah, right...they "claim" they're excellent drivers:
But it must be boats are NOT just for kids:
And to answer the age old question...exactly HOW many clowns can you fit on a water trampoline...well, you count:

And as luck would have it, Saturday was our friends' 17th anniversary.  And they do up the gifts:

In case you're wondering, that beautiful 3D fish mug holds nine Miller Lite Silos.  Yes, NINE.

The girls also did a little tubing.  OH....a camera:
I think the girls had a good weekend.
Sunday was a fairly quiet day.  There was the packing up, some brats cooked over an open fire, some fishing.  What was really cool was that there was a next of young eagles that would occasionally screech (and not in unison).  Occasionally we'd see one flying about:

How lucky are we?

Monday, August 22, 2011

Road Trip

If it's August, it must be time for a ROAAADDDD TRRIIPPPP.  I know.  I made that sound really fun, right?  Like Animal House fun right? Like y'all just WISH you got to go along with me, right?  WEEELLLL...let me disabuse you of that notion.

The goal of my road trip was to take the boy to Indiana for a tour of my Alma mater, Purdue.  He was scheduled for a tour on Thursday morning and from there we were headed to Peru...Circus City of the world (Barnum-Bailey used to winter there) to spend the remainder of the weekend with my cousins, who I see only every few years when I make this road trip.

When we arrived at Purdue on Wednesday night (after a 9 hour drive with 4 children either looking at or touching each other...quite a feat given they had an entire SUBURBAN to spread out...but I digress), I had ZERO recollection of the campus, even though I DO have a Purdue University Bachelor of Science (Mathematics) diploma with MY name on it.  Apparently 25 years makes a WORLD of difference.  Well, that, and the fact that I never lived in the dorms as a student and our entrance to the campus was through student housing.  It never occurred to me to wander through that part of the campus. I might have to learn it if this is where he ends up.

The tour was Thursday morning and we left the hotel with plenty of time to spare.  Which was a good thing because I had our tour time off by an hour.  So in reality, we were right on time.  I learned more about Purdue as a school than I ever knew as a student.  Apparently, you have to be pretty smart to go there.  Who knew?

We then did a bus tour that I think would have been better as a walking tour but it IS a huge campus.  We finished the tour and walked through the Engineering Mall, the area the boy will probably be spending most of his time (as an engineering major).  Armstrong Hall...the new aerospace building was awesome.  I got this pic of the boy with Neil Armstrong:
We headed to Peru after verifying Harry's Chocolate Shoppe (a misnomer as it is a B.A.R.) and Triple XXX were still present and accounted for:
and having a fine mid day repast at Five Guys.  Yum.  Along the way we stopped in Logansport, where my grandma used to live.  Down the alley from her house is the Sycamore Drive In Frozen Custard stand so OF COURSE we had to partake:
I also drove by what was my grandma's house, then a radio station, now a realtor office:
Not much had changed except the entrance to the back porch was new.

In Peru, we did what we typically do when visiting my cousins:  We eat.  We drink (a lot).  We swim.  Not to be missed is the Indiana pork tenderloin

The reason you see two pieces is that the tenderloin is SO big (how big is it?).  It is SO big that when it arrives it completely covers BOTH buns.  Thus the need to cut in half and double decker it.  And yes, I ate the whole thing.  No where else but Indiana baby!

Then there is the swimming part.  Now this is kinda funny.  You know how things sometimes go full circle?  Well, here is my cuz and middle daughter in 2003:

And here is my youngest daughter with my cuz's daughter:
What goes around, does indeed, come around.

The only low point (well, aside from the 9 hours there and the 9 hours home) was when my son decided Saturday evening that he was going with a neighbor and her friends to the Indiana State fair...with the hopes of MAYBE getting into see Sugarland.  As they were getting ready to go, bad weather was headed our way.  Since it was close to 7pm before they were able to leave, it was an hour and 30 minute trip there and one friend had to be home early, they decided not to go...just as the stage at the fairgrounds collapsed.  Our prayers are with those families who lost loved ones.

So...the weekend was a success.  I made it there and back without the use of duct tape (barely).  My son was introduced to one of the finest institutions of higher learning available to him.  We got to eat BOTH frozen custard and pork tenderloins.  And last but not least, we got to visit with my favorite people in the world.

I'd call it a Win-Win situation.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Derby Days 2011

Our charming little metropolis, like most, has its own community celebration the first weekend in August:  Derby Days.  It is 5 days of fun filled frivolity.

We usually skip Wednesday's events and join in the fun Thursday for the Taste of Shakopee.  Various vendors and service organizations set up booths that offer to the community, a "taste" of what they have to offer.  One area is set aside for food booths, and while the rest is geared more towards services that are offered through the town.  It was fairly busy:
Then we came across this group of juvenile delinquents:
And one needs to finish off "the taste" with a slide down a gigantic Titanic like blow up ship right?
Friday is usually the beer tent night with the band, but we decided to forgo in place of giant porterhouse steaks.  Wise choice eh?
Saturday was gorgeous so we grabbed most of the kids (Beanie was off for the day) and went out on the boat.  The girls, doing what they do best:

The boy, doing what he does best:

And then, pigs flew, as the boy stayed in the water and helped his sister in her attempt to get up on the wakeboard.  SHHHHHHH....don't tell him I got this picture, or it will become a collectors item:

And in an effort to prove that, while I am in fact approaching it, I am not yet OVER the hill:

Yup...that's me (wide thighs notwithstanding), up on ONE ski.  FIRST attempt.  Yeah me! (and yes...I am still paying for that in sore muscles).

Saturday night is the fireworks and we headed down to the park.  First we went to the beer tent though and I'm just going to say was lot like the website "People of Walmart".  A LOT.  In the distance we could see what looked to be a storm rolling in, but I held out hope it would either miss us or be so light as to be inconsequential.  We wouldn't be so lucky.  As the first fireworks went off, the first of many several large cold drops of rain fell.  We had lightening to the left, and fireworks to the right and in the middle....a huge park of very wet people as a torrential downpour let loose.  We stayed put, figuring it's just rain right?  The fireworks continues for about 5 minutes and about the time we figured we might as well stay for them all, we were already soaked, they ended.  We headed back to friends to watch the remainder of the lightening show.

Sunday Derby Days end with the parade.  My girls have danced in the parade each year for the past 7 years but last year, it was so unbelievably hot, they chose not to.  Their mistake as this year the temperature was much cooler and there were even a few shading clouds to make it a much more enjoyable event for those who were in it.

Beanie wanted to make sure that the candy throwers knew where to throw their candy:
The kids had their collection bags (well, the younger ones did, the older ones just let them do all the work):

Parades aren't really parades without unicycles in formation right?

And the blue haired clown (he's on the left):

And really, parades are learning experiences.  I learned that my daughter and her friend suffer from no lack of self esteem:
But the best part...the skipping home.  Because I really don't think people skip enough.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Wild Crazy Wacky Family Reunion

Let's face it, with 60 plus people in attendance, how could it be anything but?  This past weekend was the occasion of my mother in law's second family reunion (which seems to be happening about every 3 years).  And interestingly enough, only 6 people were missing (the boy, on a college tour of Madison, then off to the OshKosh Air Show was one of the six).

The reunion began Friday afternoon with about 20 people playing "best ball" or "scramble" golf (depend on who you talk to).  Surprisingly it took about 4 hours to play 9 holes...but then again, considering the source, maybe NOT so surprising.  Dinner was provided by the party host (lest you think they got all the work, each family provided a meal so the burden didn't fall to just one family).

Saturday began with the husband helping his brother launch his boat amid a torrential downpour along with hail.  There might still be dent marks in their two heads...I'm not sure.  It cleared up nicely (steamy, as would be expected) but the lake we were on, Mill Lacs, is a huge lake and when a breeze happens, you get big chop.  Glad I wasn't on the boat for the ride from the launch to the house.  Yes, self preservation is a good thing.

My sister-in-law provided games for the kids and she did a PHENOMENAL job.  She divided all the kids from age 2-26 into 4 teams of 5-6, assigning them each a color (and provided matching bandanas):

The activities ranged from the wheelbarrow races:
And ball hop, where my niece excelled:

To the water balloon behind the back.  Let's just say there were a lot of wet backs:
The teams then divided up and half shot Polish horseshoes:
And the other half...hold onto your hats...went on a crawfish hunt.  Remember that because they will continue to play a role in the day's activities:
Then they switched.  After crawfish were accumulated, it was time for the cookie slide.  I could explain it, but it's so much easier to show you.  Cookie on forehead:
Work cookie, without touching with hands down to mouth:

And the winner is:
 Would you look at that technique?

So...remember those crawfish from above?  Yeah, well, it doesn't do for them to languish about, so what better way to put them to use then to race them?  First up, each team had their own circle from which their chosen crawfish had to make its way out from the center.  COMPLETELY out:
Then there was the "group" race...all in one circle:
And of course, there is always at least one...the angry crawfish:
You would think that after this much activity, they'd be ready for naps (I was).  But NOOOO...out to the lake they went for the swimming competition.  Beanie took second in the freestyle, but won with her backstroke:

That pretty much concluded the children's games for the day (night games to come).  The adults had a Polish horseshoe tournament.  Then it was time for dinner (Spaghetti, provided by "our" family).  You ever tried to cook spaghetti noodles for 60?  Yeah, well, it ain't pretty.  About this time, the lake started to get a little windier and the husband helped his brother take his boat back.  And they picked a good time because shortly after they left, the lightening started.  HUGE lightening storm.  As we watched the storm cross the lake with us in its direct path, the power went out.  Luckily, we had fed almost everyone...but the husband pushed his luck and the electricity went out as we were making the last batch of pasta.  Note...noodles soaked in hot water do NOT cook.  They just become paste.  Thought you should know.  So, the rain hit but was quickly gone, although the wind stayed, making the "seas angry":
But as Katy says..."after the hurricane, comes the rainbow":
The party moved to the garage to avoid the wind.  The brother in law corralled the children, all 15 of them, into a rousing game of Spoons:
The sneaky ones excelled (of course, look to see who has the spoon already.  Yes, I'm SO proud that my children excel at sneaky):
While in Highlander the saying goes..."there can be only one", the girls refused to have a loser:
So, we removed the children (but they keep finding a way back) from the garage and the cousins played "Up Jingle".  Technically, a drinking game, but then I believe all games played over the age of 21 can be made into a drinking game.  The game is fairly simple.  Two teams line both sides of the table.  With hands under the table one team passes a quarter back and forth, under the table, out of the sight of the other team until the opposing team says "up jingle" at which point the team with the quarter all fist their hands and put their elbows on the table:
On the count of three, they then slam their hands down on the table, concealing the quarter under their hand:
The goal is for the opposing team to guess where the quarter is in 3 guesses.  Now IF this were a drinking game, one would drink: if you guessed wrong, if your team didn't guess in 3 guesses the whole team drinks, or if the team does guess, the team with the quarter drinks.  But this wasn't.

Although a funny aside.  My middle daughter came into the game not knowing what was going on.  She saw this:
Then the team with the quarters happened to slam their hands down hard enough to knock over the green cup which spilled all over the table.  Her question to me was..."Is whomever gets spilled on the loser?"  Well, yes, but that's not the game.

The next day Father served mass in the yard, we had a FABULOUS lunch of tacos, walking tacos, soft tacos, nachos.  The boat had been brought back and the "seas" were calm enough for some wake boarding:
After that, families slowly departed.  We switched children with my sister in law, so I now have two boys in addition to Beanie.  I'm finding I sorta like it.

All in all, it was a wonderful weekend.  Kudos to Bob and Jean for making it so.  Brava to Nikki for her well planned children's games.  And thanks to everyone else for making the weekend something special, something we are all are sure to remember.