28 October 2013

Magnificent Meanderings in Minnesota

I had a great time in Minnesota with the Lee's the first weekend of October.  I was surprised that the autumn leaves weren't as far along and as colorful as they were when I went out the same weekend last year, but after all, I wasn't there to see the autumn colors!!
We took a little day trip to the town of Stillwater, MN, because Adri had heard it was a picturesque small town on the border with Wisconsin.  It also claims to be the birthplace of Minnesota.
 This shot would have been prettier with more colorful leaves!!
 This bridge crosses the St. Croix River over to the state of Wisconsin.  We walked all the way across but there wasn't a sign that said "Welcome to Wisconsin" on the other side.  Very disappointing.
Stillwater has the one and only Kathe Wohlfahrt store in the United States.  Who knew?  Since everyone knows my love of German Christmas decorations, you can imagine my delight at finding the store.  We went in, but the prices were sooo high that I didn't buy anything.  It was fun to see most of the same ornaments and decorations as there were when I worked at the Kathe Wohlfahrt store in Germany twelve years ago. 
 Stillwater also has a very fun Teddy Bear playground for the children.  This was Sophia's favorite stop! Most of my pictures turned out blurry since Sophia didn't stop to pose for pictures.  The one below is meant to show the cute train-themed equipment they had.

This wasn't the only thing to do in the Teddy Bear park, but this is where we posed for pictures.
 Another day we went out to an apple orchard for some fall fun.
We got Sophia to pose for a few pictures, but the expression on her face shows what she mostly thought of of that!
 The corn pit was huge.  It took Sophia a few minutes to feel comfortable playing in the corn, but then she had a good time.
They had a tractor ride pulling little cars behind it for small children.
I believe this was Sophia's first time to take a ride like this alone without Mom or Dad with her.  We weren't sure if she would like it or if she'd get scared.  The good news is she liked it so much she went twice!
The obligatory pumpkin patch picture.
 Mom and Dad joining in the fun.
 Sophia's like a celebrity, we all wanted to be in a picture with her!

You can see from this picture that the pumpkin Sophia is lifting is pretty heavy.
One reason I went to Minnesota on that weekend was to help with Sophia's 2nd birthday party.  Adri had lots of really creative ideas to make the party cute and fun.  The theme was tutu's, since Sophia was turning two. Adri has already posted the best pictures on her blog, so I won't put too many in here.
 Here are the two pretty girls with their matching eyes.  Adri made the necklaces and Sophia's adorable hair bow.
Here are the sweet little party guests.  Adri and I had made the Halloween pillows the day before.
 Sophia is hugging the teddy bear made for her by her great-grandma Christensen.
 Some toddlers don't eat the cake, but just lick off the frosting.  That wasn't an issue for Sophia, she gobbled up the whole thing!
A photo to prove I was at the party
 Sophia ready for family prayer.  It reminded me of the picture of Savannah ready for family prayer that I took in Denver last month.
 Here was one of my birthday gifts to Sophia.  I've made these for the oldest four grandchildren, and will make them for all the grandchildren eventually.
I had a magnificent time in Minnesota, and am so glad Sophia is old enough now to remember me between visits!!

17 October 2013

Mount Rushmore--Another Place off my Bucket List!

I was very excited when Garrett and Krystal invited me to join them on their family vacation to South Dakota to see Mount Rushmore.  In all my travels around the United States and other parts of the world, I'd never seen Mount Rushmore.  I'm sooooo glad we were there before the gov't shut down the National Parks!
I flew in and out of Rapid City, South Dakota.  Garrett and Krystal and kids had driven down the day before from their home in Minot, ND.  I arrived around 10am at the smallish Rapid City airport, and the next-gen Carsons were there to pick me up.  We drove directly to Mount Rushmore.
 It was a lovely autumn day, and we were there at just the right time so the lighting was perfect.  There were other tourists, but not too many, and hardly any other children.  (We were there on a Thursday in September).  Makayla had learned to walk since I'd seen her in July, and it was sweet to see her toddling around.  At the cafe at Mount Rushmore they were selling vanilla ice cream made with Thomas Jefferson's original recipe.  It was tasty.
There were LOTS of things to see and do in the Rapid City area, but we had to cater our activities to keep two toddlers interested, and to accomodate their nap times.  On Friday we went to a dinosaur park and to a geology museum to see some dinosaur bones.
 You can see from the picture below that it was a windy day and more overcast and much chillier than our day at Mount Rushmore.

On Saturday we went to see one of the many extensive caves in the area.
 Daniel especially liked holding his own flashlight.
On the way home from the caves we stopped at a church recreated to look like one from Norway.
 It reminded me of a church we'd seen at an open air museum in Norway when Kent, Adri and I went there in 2007, as seen in the picture below.
We stayed at the billeting on Ellsworth AFB near Rapid City, and Krystal and I took the kids to a playground one afternoon so they could play.
 On Sunday we went church in Rapid City.  After nap time that day we went to see the Air and Space Museum on the base.  I love this picture with Daniel posing and leaning against his dad.
Here Daniel is sitting in the cockpit of a simulator of the F-106 airplane like my dad flew back in the 60's and 70's.
 These controls will probably look familiar to my dad.
I was able to babysit a couple of times for Garrett and Krystal so they could get out without the kids.  Once it was only so they could buy groceries, but they were also able to go out to a movie. 
Garrett dropped me off back at the airport on Monday morning to fly back to DC.  They were driving back to North Dakota that day, too. We had a very fun time; I only wish Kent had been able to go with me.  We'll have to go together another time, since there were lots more things to see that we didn't have time for.