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Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Our Christmas "Letter"

Merry Christmas Everyone!

We've had a busy year filled with joys and challenges just like everyone else!

Here are just a few:

  • Darren shattering his ankle and fracturing his tibia the day after Christmas last year.   A slip and fall on the stairs while carrying  a laundry basket resulted a trip to the ER.  Let's just say a trip to the ER during the holidays is not recommended.  
  • Career changes and challenges for Darren.  He is no longer at Midwave.  
  • Finding out long after Darren's surgery and rehab that he had also broken his fibula.  Many doctors had missed this.  We found it, though and there was no treatment required as it was a clean break like his tibia.  His floppy big toe (the symptom of a broken fibula) was a bit disturbing and a memory we'd all like to banish from our minds!
  • Betsi's continued challenge with almost daily spinal headaches, with increasingly more days of pain and less options for relief.

  • Darren being mobile again, including driving!  Three months was a long time.  Getting back on both his road and snow bikes has been very therapeutic.     
  • Reconnecting at Grandview Lodge, Big Island State Park, and our favorite spot on the Gunflint Trail.
  • Landscaping our back yard and putting in a pool.  This started with replacing the deck, which is still not replaced! But, the pool is fabulous and we even got quite a few days of swimming in before having to close it for the season.  We're looking forward to next summer!  We like to think of it as "the cabin", but much cheaper, easier to maintain, and no driving!  
  • Sam starting high school and loving it, getting confirmed, continuing to play the bass violin, spending every spare moment learning about technology, and getting his driver's permit.
  • A pilgrimage to Silicon Valley for Sam's confirmation gift.  He's not an open house kind of kid and this seemed a much more appropriate pilgrimage (and safer than Israel right now!) for our techie kid. 
  • Betsi continues to write as she is able, to docharity and volunteer work, and keep the house our home.  

Merry Christmas to all!

Betsi, Darren, and Sam

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Check out Our New Deck!

When we first bought this house when Sam was itty bitty, we wanted a flat lot, with no walk out basement.  This was a hard task because in the neighborhoods that attended the elementary, middle school, and high school that we wanted for Sam, there were lots of split entries and two story walk outs.   I wanted a big flat yard for kids to play in and that we could walk right out the back door two steps down and be in the yard.  I wanted to be able to watch the kids and see the whole back yard from the kitchen window--so no porch, please!  I wanted a veggie garden and a room for flowers.  And I wanted a traditional two story home with a traditional floor plan, four bedrooms for the four kids we were eventually going to have (my how that changed!).  I wanted to be on a short street (thanks Dad for this invaluable advice) and within walking distance of a park.

When we finally found what we wanted, in our price range, it was definitely a fixer upper, but none of that mattered to me.  Good bones were all I needed and location, location, location!  This school district is fabulous and filled with a diverse population.  That's why we live here and I am so glad we choose this home.  Every year, it looks more like us.  Now over a decade later, we've installed new siding and new windows.  We've replaced the carpet twice, new kitchen flooring, new counter tops, new kitchen back splash, and we've painted more rooms more times than I'd like to admit.  A new deck has been in the plans since we bought the place.  Every year something would come up and take the place of the deck fund.  So, we stained the deck and we ignored the deck.  But, it really was an eyesore.

So, this was the summer.  And we started planning.  And this is what happened.

Please note that the deck is still not replaced.  Stay tuned.  It should be finished in the Spring.

We are very blessed and so very thankful.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Happy First Day of High School!

Things went well.  No tears or nerves for student or parents.  Sam is a very confident, capable, smart, kind young man.  We're very proud of him and so excited to see the man that he is becoming.  

He loves computers and all technology, hates getting up this early (me too!) and is very accepting of all people.  He has tons of really nice friends, still plays the Bass violin, and played golf again this summer.  His backpack now weighs about 75 pounds (his words) and they carry them to all classes except Honors Biology.  Science teachers are smart-- and I definitely don't want him to accidentally bring the Anaconda (his words again) that lives in a case in the back of the room.   Looking at the curriculum and his textbooks, his high school experience will be more like my college one.  He surpassed my math expertise in about 4th grade.

We are very blessed to live in one of the best districts in the United States.  Ranked #11 in the country for college prep, which is very cool.  It's actually the only reason we moved out to the 'burbs, but still the school struggles with having enough of the tools they need to effectively teach our kids.  We haven't been big fundraiser participants, but we will ask for help when things are lacking.  Thank you to those that shared with us to make the Bio textbook shortage a thing of the past.  Your donations were so appreciated!  Now to tackle the "Economics in Our Times" book, circa 1990-something!  Yikes.       

He finished the classroom part of driver's ed in August and is a cautious driver, which pleases us to no end!  He did a great job on the cabin and campground roads this summer!  Permit test can happen anytime after his birthday, which is in 6 days.

He's a great kid!  We couldn't be happier!!


Sunday, July 22, 2012

Our Annual Week Up the Gunflint Trail

Everything felt different during this week away. First, I didn't feel real great in the planning and packing stage of the trip, so it made the leaving home hard.  When I'm in a lot of pain, I tend to want to burrow in at home and not go anywhere.  This really isn't an earth shattering statement.  I have yet to find someone in pain that wants to be out and about!  But, I soldiered on.  Darren and Sam are so good to me and so loving that they make all this stuff easy on me!

So, we got loaded up, got the dogs dropped off at the kennel and off we went.  And it was hot.  Duluth was hot.  Two Harbors was hot.  We kept waiting for that blessed cool breeze off the big lake and it didn't come.  We grabbed some supplies in Grand Marais and headed up the trail to the campground.   

W e didn't get one of our favorite sites at the campground, but we learned to love a new one. No matter how beautiful our site was, though, it didn't feel like "home" to me.  I'm already devising plans for next year, so that we can get our favorite spot!  We did get to know the couple that were in our favorite site, though, and that was a bonus.  A wonderful, retired college ski instructor who was studying to be an episcopalian priest and her partner.  I got to enjoy some wonderful spiritual conversation with a very like minded person, Darren got to share biking tips and trails with her, and their dogs were a joy.  We visited every day.      

The campground was relatively crowded.  There was a delightful scouting group from Minneapolis.  Many of the kids had never been in the woods before.  One of their leaders was in his 80s and he was fascinated by our collapsable boat.  He had built the frame for a canvas one in the 1950s, so it was fun to visit with him.

I'll let the pictures tell the rest of the story.  It was a nice respite.  I only had 2 really bad pain days, so I was able to enjoy most of the trip. 

           Rock Skipping By Kadunce Creek  Hot and Humid!!

 Trail Center for Cheeseburgers and then Up the Trail for More Exploring. 
 Stopped at the Moose Overlook and found a buried car.  Jimmy Hoffa?

 Darren down by the boat--Check out the new motor this year!  Ask Darren about how far across the lake it will get before running out of gas.  Thank God for good Samaritans! 
Oh and please note my favorite inheritance from my dad.  The Leech bucket.  Miss ya dad.  Thought about you every day here at your favorite place. 

 Sam had his nose in his Kindle all week.  He enjoyed reading the Steve Jobs biography. 
 Napping like the dead. 
 We caught more Walleyes than Bass, but the Bass we caught were huge.  Well, the ones I caught were huge! 
 We found a remote campsite at a trout lake nearby.  It was quiet and beautiful, but I think might be a bit creepy if we were camping there alone. 

 Picked a few cups of raspberries by the trout lake.  They were made into delicious scones once we got home. 
 Out in the collapsable boat with the new motor.  This is one of the best things we've ever bought.  Definitely gets us to the other side of the lake where everyone knows the fish always are. 
 Watching the thunderstorms flash and listening to the thunder on our last night. 
 This is the life!
 Sam the Walleye King.  He is a pro at jigging right next to the boat. 
 The light show even impressed Mr. Sam!

 A stringer-full was a nice way to end the trip. 
We were ready to go the next morning, but the last night was pure magic.  As I videotaped the thunderstorm in the West, a fox came in the campsite.  You can't see the fox, but you can hear my surprise.  Hopefully, I can figure out how to get my Windows phone videos to work here so I can post it.  After sitting around the campfire, watching the bats and the storm and saying goodbye to our favorite place, we headed to the outhouse and the fox chased us away from it.  I guess we finally solved the mystery of who kept taking the toilet paper all week. 
What a fun trip!  Can't wait to return.  Now it's back to mountains of camping laundry and the rest of the real world!

Friday, May 25, 2012

Confirmation Crazies

Finished guiding three years of Confirmation this Spring.  I chose this picture because the blur shows their energy.  And it shows just how much Sam had to put up with having his mom as guide.  Well done, son!  It's been a wild ride, but filled with great moments.  I can't imagine having a better group!  These boys are amazing and give me hope for the future.  All smart, gentle souls.  I can't wait to see what they make of themselves! 

They will all be Confirmed in October.  Very exciting!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012