Sunday, September 14, 2014

First day of school and North Shore vacation

We started our new fall routine this past week.  Miles (my baby!) started pre-K - attending 4 afternoons per week, Hadley started preschool - going 2 mornings a week, Hadley started dance classes (yeah!  I don't know who is more excited - me or Hadley), and Miles has soccer one night a week.  This new schedule means no more lollygagging around - we have places to be, people to see!

Before his first morning back at school Miles told me he was a little nervous.  We talked about how it is natural to be nervous and even mommy gets nervous when starting something new.  I told him if he feels scared or nervous at school to think of mommy in his heart.  The whole time Miles was at school Hadley kept asking me "do you think Miles is thinking about you in his heart?"  When we picked him up this was also her first question to Miles and thankfully he didn't need me or think about me at all - he expressed that he "had so much fun!"  All week he looked forward to going to school.

Hadley also had a great first week.  She didn't hesitate to go and was so excited the first day.
Getting ready to drop Miles off the first day of pre-k

This year he's using a backpack!
On Hadley's first day of dance class I took these pictures before we left.
She chose this pose herself with no prompting from me.


Hadley LOVED dance class and did so well!  She is learning tap, ballet and tumbling and although one of the tiniest dancers in class (as I've been telling everybody) I think she has a natural talent for it (spoken like a true mama).


We ended the week with a trip to the North Shore.  Our plan was to drive to Two Harbors on Thursday at noon, camp for two nights at Gooseberry Falls and stay in a hotel one night in Duluth. We mostly stuck to our plan...

When we arrived at the campground our campsite wasn't quite right so after partially setting up we took everything down and started at a new, much larger and more private spot.  By the time we were set up it was getting dark... and cold.  Did I mention the forecast said it would get down to the mid-30s at night?  The caption for this picture adequately describes our first evening.
Yes, it's 8:30 at night.  Yes, we're eating dinner in the car.  Yes, Miles is wearing his snow pants and winter coat.  Yes, it is raining.  No, we couldn't get a fire started. 
We spent a cold night in the tent - the kids slept most of the night and Mike and I shivered and checked frequently to make sure the kids were warm enough. By the way the kiddos woke up in the morning - you never would have guessed it was a bit of a rough night.  
In the tent in the morning.
Hanging out in the tent.
I was determined that our trip would get better - and it did!  Here's the rundown of our really fun time:

Friday:  toured Gooseberry Falls, did a two-mile hike (doesn't seem like a long distance until you're lugging a 35 lb and 40 lb kid on your back), walked along the shores of Lake Superior, collected beautiful rocks and agates and left them for other children to discover, had a warm and wonderful campfire for lunch and dinner, and made a game time decision to breakdown camp around 7:30 pm and head into Two Harbors to spend a warm night in a hotel.

Saturday:  played mini golf, we headed back up the shore and toured Splitrock Lighthouse, hiked along the shore, had a picnic lunch, drove to Duluth, swam in the hotel pool, walked through Canal Park, saw a ship leave the canal and the lift bridge rise, and had dinner at Fitger's Brewhouse.

Sunday:  swam in the pool, saw a ship entering the canal, had lunch at Canal Park Brewery (yes, Mike met his craft brewery quota for this trip), and drove home and are now doing what seems like a zillion loads of laundry.

Drinking hot chocolate in the morning at the campground
Gooseberry Falls




Photo courtesy of...Hadley!
The kids loved climbing and jumping all over the rocks.
We had to watch our 3-year old very closely because she's so fearless.
Goofing around at our campsite.
Chatting by the tent
On the shores of Lake Superior

Throwing rocks in the water

One of many of our rock collections

Miles and Hadley's first time playing mini golf
Miles loved the game and wanted to play all 18 holes.
Hadley lasted about two minutes and then proceeded to pick the obstacles (mainly these two bunnies) off the course and play with them.  Luckily we were the only ones out there.
The cutest puppy ever.
The view from the lighthouse
Splitrock Lighthouse - Miles was fascinated by all of the shipwrecks we read about while touring.  When you're reading about the 200 fatalities on shipping boats on Lake Superior in the early 1900s it sounds pretty horrible to anyone but especially terrible to a 5 year old with a huge imagination.
The scenery on the North Shore is so beautiful!



Duluth lift bridge
Another lighthouse in Duluth
Canal Park
We were so busy exploring during the day the kids liked to have downtime in the evenings at the hotel.
I mentioned this in my post last week but for those who didn't catch - in a couple of weeks I'm going to make this blog private to protect Miles and Hadley's privacy now that they're getting a little older. I love that we have so many faithful followers and want to be sure you have access to the private site.  If you haven't done so already  - please send me an email sarah.nickolaygray@gmail.com and I'll be sure to send you the site instructions once it has restricted access.  Thanks for reading!

Sunday, September 7, 2014

One of the most fun summers

I love summer.  As I write the title of the blog - one of the most fun summers - I truly feel like it has been because we've done so much and been on so many adventures together as a family.  But when I really think about it - I was on maternity leave during the summer with both of my sweet babies - those were wonderful summers too.  It's just different now that there are so many fun activities to do together!  The time has flown by and I know it's been awhile since I last posted - so here is a rundown of the highlights of what we've been up to.

August 25 - I adventured to the MN State Fair with both kids.  We toured all of the animal barns, saw the butter head sculptures, listened to a live broadcast of MPR, saw the parade, rode the sky gondolas, and ate fair food!
I can't resist this girl - wearing her brothers clothes when she ran out at the cabin.
We took the bus to the fair.  This was Hadley's first time on a city bus.
One of our favorite places was the Miracles of Birth Barn where we saw all kinds of baby animals.


Princess Kay of the Milky-way gave us cow hats as we posed next to the butter head sculptures.  




Riding the gondolas high above the fair grounds.  Their little legs put in a lot of steps this day.  As we rode home we talked about all of our favorite things at the fair and Miles added "And mom, nobody got lost!"  Yes, we held hands the entire 6 hours we were there.


The fair was exhausting!
August 29-30 - Mike had to work so the kids and I headed up to the cabin.  Although it rained part of the time we made the most of our last summer weekend there.


Grandma puts the worms on and Grandpa takes the fish off.


These two catch fish every time we go fishing - they're good and lucky!

Carrying the fillets to the cabin.
August 31 - we went to Canterbury Downs for the horse races.  Someone was wearing mommy's sunglasses.
 September 1 - Labor Day at Minnehaha Park

We went to Minnehaha Park in Minneapolis with the Sievers for Labor Day.  We played on the playground, swam in a wading pool, listened to music at a Bluegrass Festival and ate fish and shrimp at Sea Salt restaurant.



September 2 - Back to school day for both kids at Little Saints Preschool.  This year Miles will be in pre-k four afternoons per week and Hadley will be going two mornings per week.

Here are our official starting school pictures.  Technically, both kids start this coming week.






In her classroom.
Standing next to his cubby.
After a busy morning at back to school day we spend the afternoon just hanging out at home.


That evening Miles started soccer.  He plays every Tuesday night this fall.


September 4 - celebrating daddy's birthday!

Garden helper
September 5 - our first delicious apples of the season.  After picking up apples, pears and plums we had a fruit picnic at the Arboretum.

Eating an apple we discovered Miles' first loose tooth!

On a different note... I've decided to make this blog private.  With both kids getting older I want to make sure that their privacy is protected.  I'll have more details in the coming weeks on how to access the blog once I do make it private (it won't be that much different from how you access it now - you might just need a password).  I just don't want people we don't know able to google our family and see everything that's going on.  If you'd like to continue to read the blog (we want you to!) please send me an email letting me know - sarah.nickolaygray@gmail.com.  We'll make this change at the end of the month.  Thanks!