We spent three days and nights at Afton State Park in a camper cabin. Well, actually we all spent two nights there–and then Mia and I spent the last night at my parents’ house and came back to camp in the morning. Body pain from a bad mattress made that diversion necessary–but it ended up being a nice little visit with my parents.
This was our second time staying in the Big Bluestem cabin during October. This year the weather was cooler and a bit rainy, but still allowed for a quiet, cozy and peaceful getaway. Mia and Anna sang and played guitar, told jokes, and we all laughed more than we have in a long time. Alan taught us how to play Black Jack and Poker. Mia, despite not wanting to go on this trip, was a great sport about it and even made time for a long hike with the rest of us. We hope to do this again and maybe have a few other families join us.
Here are a few highlights from the trip.
November is almost done and here are some things I’d like to remember:
Both girls are playing guitar and enjoying their lessons with their teacher, Will King, who has been teaching Mia since she was eight years old and is truly the best teacher we we could ask for. Mia has been playing piano and writing songs with piano accompaniment. She fills the house with her beautiful music.
Mia finished her fall term of Acting I at the Children’s Theatre Company (she loved it!) and Anna took (and loved!) ballet and modern dance at her new ballet company. Saturday mornings during Mia’s acting class, Alan and I had special date time with Anna. We usually ended up going to the Wedge for groceries or the Wedge table to hang out with a chai and a treat. Anna dances ballet beautifully and with ease. It is a joy to watch her.
Alan went hunting two weekends this month with his brother at their family cabin. Luckily he did not kill anything but he did have a nice time out in the woods. On one of those weekends, my two sisters came over for a night of karaoke and other fun things (adult-sized sleeper pajamas included). Over another weekend, I attended a silent retreat–the same that I attended last year. It was restorative and gave me some space to process some inner turmoil I’ve been carrying around for a while.
I added more clients to my caseload to increase my income and this has me working 3 solid days per week. Though I was skeptical about how this would work, Mia and Anna have been very happy with their lack of supervision.
Both sets of grandparents are enjoying visiting Mia and Anna when Alan and I are at work, and this has become a special bonding time for all of them. It’s incredibly wonderful to witness the relationships between all of them. We are so grateful.
We’re working on finding a recording studio for Mia to record an album of her songs and hope to start this in the new year. We’re super excited about this.
We celebrated Thanksgiving with my family this year in my hometown. It was extra special because of my dad’s journey this past year. We are thankful for each day we have my special dad in this world–and of course, thankful for all of our family and friends, too.
Winter at St. John’s University
Me at silent retreat
Mia on the piano
We have had a beautiful October here in Minnesota with mild temperatures, just enough rain, and fall colors that will spill into November. We even had our first snowfall. Our homeschooling has settled into its own rhythm, which involves far less structure and direction than originally planned for. This is good. It is ok. We’re back to a sort of “unschooling” theme, with a little direction and suggestion here and there.
We celebrated my sisters’ birthdays, visited my parents, went to a lovely apple orchard, stayed in a cozy and warm camper cabin at Afton State Park during the peak weekend for fall colors, and of course, along with the rest of the country, we celebrated Halloween with pumpkin carving, costumes, and trick-or-treating in our neighborhood. Mia was a “flapper” from the 20’s and Anna was a snail.
I read this book over our cabin camping weekend and it changed my life a little. It changed the course of my children’s lives even more because it helped me relax and trust them more. They have been very happy since this change occurred, and I am reminded once again how things fall into place when the time is right.
Another wonderful thing is that my dad finishes radiation treatment tomorrow. The maintenance part of his treatment begins now and continues for the rest of his life. I learned that although I was told that his cancer was stage 4 in the beginning, this was not accurate. I do not know why the misinformation happened. He is doing much better now.
Fall greetings to my dear blog readers. I hope this finds you happy and well.
Today we went on a wonderful homeschool field trip to Poplar Hill goat farm. It was a true learning experience that was so much fun and basically unforgettable.
We’ve been drinking Poplar Hill goat milk for years, so when I learned that the farm offers tours to the public, it only made sense to make a homeschool field trip out of it.
For $60, we had a personalized tour that lasted over 2 hours. We bottle-fed newborn goats (the girls’ favorite) and toddler goats, fed adult goats hay and grain, and gave fresh water to the “man goats”. We saw newborn goats that were born today, observed a machine milking, and tried our hand at hand-milking a very cooperative mama goat.
When we were done with the tour, we bought fresh goat milk, goat cheese, and goat milk soap to bring back home.
As an added bonus, we played with a farm cat and rabbits, too. We petted and fed goat milk to the friendliest farm dogs we’ve ever met.
For our suburbanite family, it was a magical day! “The best field trip EVER!”
Fall has been my favorite season for as long as I can remember. This fall has been the longest and most beautiful and pleasant fall that I can remember. We spent MEA weekend in Taylors Falls and St. Croix Falls, and it was a treat.
On the way there, we stopped and visited Michelle and her family at their new farm. My girls are still talking about the animals, and “Whitey” in particular–the cuddly white farm cat.
My family came up for one evening to celebrate Daja’s 34th birthday, and we ate at a fantastic restaurant, The Vegetarian. It was top-notch food–such a pleasant surprise for a small-town restaurant.
For small towns, Taylors Falls and St. Croix Falls have a progressive feel. They have lively downtowns with interesting shops and cafes, and even a real bakery that still makes cake frosting out of real butter. These, as well as the natural beauty, really appealed to Alan and me and we think we could be very happy living here on a nice piece of land. We put this on our list of places we would love to live someday, maybe even in the number one spot for now.
We spent two nights at campsite 3 in the primitive campground at Lake Elmo Reserve. It was glorious. While it was still close to the city and we didn’t quite get away in the fashion that I prefer, it was relatively quiet and also convenient, as well as surprisingly beautiful and lovely overall.
Although Anna was sick and crabby today, she dealt with me dragging her around town for my birthday.
We had a picnic with my family during the day and I had a date with Alan in the evening at Alma. It was a special yet low-key day, and I really enjoyed it. I have only one regret, however, and that is that I forgot to get my free birthday Caribou coffee.
For nine years’ of days and nights, I have had Mia under my wing. She’s been my shadow for all of her life, my little companion, my teacher. Today, I let her go. She started school today.
I did all of my crying, grieving and letting go prior to today, and I woke up happy and at peace. Mia was super excited and looked so cute wearing her new backpack, brown Converse shoes, and Peanuts t-shirt. I drove away from her school with calmness and peace, certain that we were on the right path.
Anna and I spent the day together, just the two of us. We went to Silverwood Park and had a picnic lunch inside and did a little exploring outside. She collected leaves and tried to match them up to pictures in her field guide of trees and leaves. We shared a hot chai and looked at artwork in the gallery. There was scribbling and “writing” and playing with my credit cards. And we did this all at Anna’s 3-year-old pace: quiet, gentle, slow.
I feel as if I am getting to know her for the first time today. It is both wonderful and painful. I have missed so much, let so much pass me by. Suddenly I am fully present; I am not overwhelmed. I am not looking for an escape. Under these conditions, my children are their best selves. And so am I.
Oh yes, now I remember. This is what I love.
My sweet, beautiful children. I am so blessed.
Sunset at Lakefront Beach, Hudson, Wisconsin.