Mental Health Day

The whole family is suffering from allergies or spring colds, so I let the kids stay home today. No screen time. We baked muffins and played games and now they’ve made a play dough sushi and pasta restaurant. I think it’s good for them. Schools gets more than a little crazy this time of year! 


Winter play

MN landscape arboretum has free admission in January. Spent the whole day hiking and exploring the ‘wilderness’. We stopped for breaks at the cafeteria (free hot chocolate!) and did some indoor projects at the family center. The favorite spot was the natural play ground, and it was even warm enough to play!



Making lemonade in December

So, Bryant doesn’t want me to post this, but I’m not ashamed to admit that the girls and I had lice. Ugh! Not fun, but what can you do?! Pay the Ladybugs (lice removal squad) $600+ and move to a downtown hotel for 48 hours, that’s what! It’s a spontaneous stay-cation. When we get home, there will be no living lice or nits, guaranteed! And HSA eligible! Except for the hotel. Anyway, we’ve enjoyed 8th floor Macy’s, visited Santa, explored the skyways, splurged on room service and maximized the hotel pool. Later today we’ll go to Holidazzle Village and then we can go home to our lice free beds.




Fat Bike Fun

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Here’s Bryant’s latest toy. He’s hitched up a sled and tows the kids around the block behind the Fat Bike. I don’t want to know how they handle the hills! I asked and he said, “they do their own braking”. I decided to let it go at that. I guess it’s good that some of us can enjoy the extremely early winter weather.


Hillary had a Halloween birthday party so we didn’t get any photos of her as “a Hogwarts student”. But it was a big year for Lily, who wanted to go all out as a vampire witch. (Has she been watching True Blood?!)




Buffalo Gals on the ranch!

For MEA we spent a night at the Buffalo gals ranch in Houston, MN. We took the scenic route down hwy 61 along the Mississippi. Had a great time touring the ranch and stayed overnight in Cody’s Cabin, named for the buffalo who “starred” in Dances with Wolves. Bryant found a bleached skull for his office, to complement the Navajo blankets he got from his grandpa.





The Madsen or “Jen is a Wimp”

We occasionally ride bikes to school. Hillary rides her own, and I carry Lily in the Madsen or “bucket bike”.

A few reasons I don’t take it more often:

1) It gets heavy up the hills, and it feels like everything is a hill!

2) I have trouble starting the loaded bike from a full stop, such as at a stop light, where there’s not a lot of room to maneuver.

3) It makes me self-conscious to be wobbling around on this bike that everyone notices. We always draw attention from passersby. Once a guy on a lawn mower picked up a pair of sunglasses that fell from the Madsen’s basket and drove after us to return the glasses. This bike captures attention!

The bucket bike is cool, though. It has two benches and 4 sets of seat belts in case one is foolish enough to try to carry 4 kids at once! I could take Hillary and Lily together when they were little, but now I can only take one kid at a time. It has special inserts for groceries, pets and other specific uses. Bryant built another attachment that allows the kids to sit on a bench and hold handle bars. But they always wanted to use it as a “chariot” and were constantly standing up, so he put the bucket back on.

Today an old guy on a bike caught up with me (not surprisingly!) in order to chat about the Madsen. (Bike aficionados and toddlers are especially vocal in their admiration for the Madsen!) He suggested electric assist. “Remember,” he exclaimed, ere he rode out of sight, “There’s no shame in electric assist!”

Apparently in this house, there is. My husband has never revealed the existence of such an ingenious accessory. We’ll be investigating this option!

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