Adventures

A 1980s Summer (Featured in Black Hills Parent Magazine)

I had the opportunity to write for the summer issue of Black Hills Parent magazine and it’s all about giving today’s kids a 1980s-style summer. You can read it at this link or pick up a free copy at area businesses. As an added bonus, it features summer photos of my little brother and me at Storybook Island circa 1989, and because I’m the bossy big sis, I didn’t ask his permission. Sorry, Kyle.

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Adventures

Two-Year-Olds and Passport Photos

A while ago we went to get our daughters’ passports. The long, harsh South Dakota winter had us fantasizing about a tropical vacation for next year so we thought we should get the passports done. Wrangling two little ones in the passport office while laying out all the proper documentation was a little daunting, but my husband and I got through it.

A few weeks later, my oldest daughter’s perfect passport arrived in the mail, featuring a Miss America-style smile and adorable hair. The next day, a letter from the United States Department of Homeland Security addressed to my two-year-old arrived. It informed her the photo taken of her by the passport office could not be accepted because her hair was in her eyes. Uf, really?

Rather than take her back in to have a professional photo done since that didn’t work well the first time, I decided to do it myself. My husband helped. We bribed her with candy. There were tears, threats, and groans of dismay. We nearly threw in the towel. Does a two-year-old really need to go to Cabo?

There is a lot of advice on the Internet about taking a toddler’s passport photo, and, trust me, I gave it my all. We sent in the photo and have yet to see if it has been accepted. Mind you, she had also fallen on the playground at daycare in the weeks prior to the photo, so has a lovely scrape under her eye for her passport photo. I couldn’t bear to just delete all the bloopers off my phone so here they are for you, dear reader.

Adventures

All 50 by 40: Wisconsin

My quest to visit all 50 states before I turn 40 is going well. I have almost exactly four years left to visit just three more states. Over Memorial Day weekend, my husband, daughters, and I packed up the car and headed to La Crosse, Wisconsin.

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I have lived my entire life in the Midwest, but have never made it to Wisconsin. Obviously Wisconsin Dells is a top destination for families because of its many waterparks, but our girls are still pretty small for large-scale waterparks. Also, having only taken four days off we wanted to visit Wisconsin without making the drive even longer.

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The Children’s Museum of La Crosse was a huge hit with our daughters.

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Grandad Bluff Park was a lovely morning hike that provided a beautiful view.

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Of course there was cheese shopping. And cheese eating.

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My husband’s friend took us on a pontoon ride down the river.

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We spent the rest of the time wandering around La Crosse enjoying (finally) some warmer weather after surviving yet another South Dakota blizzard on May 22. (Yes, ridiculous.)

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The painted herons in front of our hotel were fun to walk through. We have similar painted bison in our town.

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We stayed at the downtown Radisson in La Crosse, which was great and within walking distance of many shops, restaurants, and sights to see. Wisconsin was a fun, relaxing trip, and one we’ll probably do again.

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I only have three states left and I would love to hear your suggestions for places to go and things to see in these three.

The Updated List

Alaska (Planned for this summer!)

Michigan (I have been to airports)

West Virginia

Adventures

I’m Not Ready for This

I’m not ready for this. I have that thought often as I navigate this thing called parenthood. It was front and center when I found out I had to be induced two weeks early with my first baby, and when I went back to work after my youngest was born.

I’m not ready for this. The thought crept in again a few days ago at my daughter’s kindergarten screening.

I’m not ready for this. My aunt texted it to me a week before my cousin graduated high school.

I’m not ready for this. A friend said it recently before her oldest moved away for a new job.

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Photo by Heritage Photography

As parents are we ever really ready as the next milestone comes our way? Can we love someone as much as we love them and ever feel like we have done enough? Did we have enough time to prepare them, teach them, and let them know how loved they are?

I’m not ready for this. I know that will be my state of mind when I drop my daughter off for kindergarten in a few short months. Like with all milestones, all I can do is hope and pray that everything I have done up until that point is the best I could have possibly done.

I’m not ready for this. When we doubt ourselves as parents, most of the time what we have done has been enough. We have prepared our children by loving them, and by sending them out into the world with a supportive home to return to, be it after the first day of kindergarten or on break after the first semester of college.

With every new step, when our internal voices are telling us I’m not ready for this, we might not be ready, but they are.

Adventures

Two!

The baby of the family turned two in late April and we celebrated this past weekend with a barnyard-themed party at a nearby petting zoo.

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It was a chilly day, but that didn’t stop a lot of friends and family members from joining us to celebrate the girl.

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My mom made the most adorable farm animal cupcakes.

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The kids all had a blast feeding sheep, goats, and calves and running around to their hearts’ content.

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I took a moment to enjoy a pig cupcake. The other white meat?

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Now that she’s two, our youngest is really developing her own personality and talking much more. She tends to be quite serious at times, and likes a little alone time once in a while, especially when she’s tired. She is definitely more timid than her sister, but is a natural caretaker. When she lets her silly side show, we all roar with laughter.

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My two-year-old is getting pretty good at her numbers and colors. She loves Minnie Mouse, books, puppies, and anything purple.

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I absolutely love having two daughters and watching their bond as sisters grow.

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The baby chicks and ducks got a big smile from the girl.

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Happy birthday to our dear baby girl. We love celebrating you. E-I-E-I-O.

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Books

Books: Bread, Wine, Chocolate: The Slow Loss of Foods We Love

Maybe it’s the South Dakota ranch girl in me or my years as an avid 4-H member, but the origins of our food sources have always interested me. Regardless of where we live, I think it is important that we are aware of where our food is coming from and that we instill that knowledge in our children. It was only natural, then, that Bread, Wine, Chocolate: The Slow Loss of Foods We Love by Simran Sethi caught my eye at the local library.

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Before you get depressed just looking at the cover, Sethi is not talking about the real, complete loss of these foods, but rather the loss of diversity in our cultivating and marketing of foods like coffee, chocolate, and wine. Worldwide, when huge corporations are taking over we lose that diversity, not to mention we put the livelihoods of many at risk.

Sethi encourages us to be aware of where our food is coming from, and be willing to, at times, spend a little more to sustain small food producers. She describes sitting down to an elegant meal and truly thinking of all the people involved in bringing that dinner to her plate.

Sethi also speaks to the self-described foodie in me. I love trying new foods and have yet to find one I would shy away from. I eat Rocky Mountain oysters straight off the branding fire.

Sethi writes: “Great tastes are everywhere. Sometimes they’re fancy, but most of the time they are not. Finding those tastes requires less of an open wallet and more of an open mind and heart.”

Sethi finishes the book with a chapter on octopus and its place as one of the most memorable meals in her life. She writes: “To most a solo meal isn’t a courageous act, but to me, it was because it revealed my vulnerability around being alone and, in being by myself, feeling like I was settling. Now I know I’m not I was not actually alone. I was with myself, having one of the very best meals I have ever tasted, surrounded by people celebrating the same.”

Bread, Wine, Chocolate provides an interesting and educational look at food. It explores the science of our food sources as well as the economic impact our decisions have. Above all, it encourages us to be aware as we purchase and enjoy the foods we love.

Books

Books: If You Only Knew

I will confess that I was not in love with the first half of Jamie Ivey’s If You Only Knew. She seemed to wallow in guilt and judgment. Rather than promoting positivity and moving forward, she seemed obsessed with reliving her past mistakes.

Then came the chapter on sin shock and acceptance and I said “wow.” Ivey writes about how we say we accept others and believe we can be forgiven for all sin, but when someone really confesses, we are shocked. We have an “I would never do that” mentality when it comes to accepting and forgiving others.

Despite being happy in her present life, Ivey is ashamed of many parts of her past. She also writes about perceived perfection and our need to free ourselves from it. I particularly liked the chapter in which Ivey writes about confessing about shameful parts of her past to a new friend. The woman loved her and accepted her no matter what, and became one of closest friends. She writes “something beautiful happens when we allow ourselves to be vulnerable.” I love that statement and it is something I need to work on in my own life.

If You Only Knew is a quick read and, at least for me, it was completely worth powering through the wallowing part of the book to get to the messages in the second half. Ivey surrendering to self-pity makes her story of hope more relatable, because we have all done that at one point or another. Now I’m onto some historical fiction so I’ll post that review soon. Stay tuned.

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(Image from amazon.com)