the minnesota children's museum

After our trip to the zoo, I knew we had to hop back in the car and drive to St. Paul to see Thomas. The exhibit is about to close and I was feeling the pressure to follow through on a whole lot of promises and self-created hype. So I loaded up the kids for a second day of field trip fun and went to see Thomas the Train.

Truth-be-told, the exhibit was a bit chaotic and made me sort of mother-tired. The kind of tired that's caused by too many interventions helping your kid share or helping another kid share or stopping little tantrums before they become large scale. I try not to hover too much, but when you have this many kids driving trains on one little island, it can get a bit crowded. And no one this age is skilled at sharing.

So we left that room and found the station where kids can paint their own faces. Elsie has found my lipstick before, and after this experience I am terrified (and fully aware) of what will happen the next time she finds it.

We visited every room at the Children's Museum and in every room Ivar complained that "Thomas isn't in this room!" He had no interest in the other exhibits until after lunch. With some cheese and crackers in his belly he seemed to mellow a bit.

The trip made for a fun adventure into the city. The sky-ways were a huge highlight and left me thinking we need to come back sometime with no destination and just run the sky-ways to burn off some energy. We sat for a while and watched cars and buses drive right under us. A sweet little memory.

a trip to the minnesota zoo

All weekend I told the kids we would go The Minnesota Children's Museum on Monday to see the Thomas the Train exhibit. I hyped it pretty well. Unfortunately museums are closed on Monday's...a fact my sister gently reminded me of just as we were about to hop in the car. After tears and promises to go on Tuesday, we decided to seize the day and pack a picnic for the Minnesota Zoo.

Rory had recently taken the kids to the zoo and came home raving about how impressive the zoo has become. He likened it to Epcot (a pretty high compliment!) and commented on how each exhibit area has a whole theme...the architecture of each building matches where the animals are from, the animals are grouped with animals you'd see all in a particular region and the exhibits are nicely designed. I was excited that he was so enthused and was eager to get back myself.

The zoo was awesome as ever, but the biggest change that I noticed this time was my kids. Oh my. They are getting so big. And helpful. I don't think I'll bring the stroller anymore. It was a pain to push, and no one really sat in it for very long. Ivar and Elsie are the perfect zoo-visiting age and the day together was so, so fun. I was so aware of our life stage right now...we don't require a whole lot of gear and on the whole are pretty low maintenance. It was really great.

We played a game in the aquarium, looking at the pictured fish and trying to find it in the tank. The kids loved this game and we could have stayed for ages.

The current favorites for my kids were the penguins (they're by the rocks above, but clearly didn't make the picture...I was obviously more into photographing my kids than the animals!), turtles and the monkeys. They also loved playing in the bee hive play space and they each touched a snake. I didn't, but I was proud they did.

big city to small town

A few weeks ago I posted this lovely picture from Lake Harriet on my instagram. I wrote, "Have I ever mentioned how much I love Lake Harriet? Because I do. I adore it. And I miss living so close to this happy, social, beautiful body of water." We lived a few blocks away and were there nearly every night of the summer when we lived in South Minneapolis. I blogged about it a lot...just two examples here and here, and even celebrated my 31st birthday, the best birthday ever, at Lake Harriet.

It was on instagram that my friend Emily said she would love to see a blog post comparing South Minneapolis to where we live now. What do I miss? What don't I miss?

I love this question. Because I think about it a lot. I'll start with what I miss. 1) Our cat, Toonces. No joke. I think about Toonces a lot. He's never come up in counseling, but he probably should. I think I have a lot of baggage with giving that cat back to the humane society. 2) Our neighbors. When I first watched this piece about the little boy and his old man neighbor, I could completely relate. We moved away from George and Katherine and Alison and Fern and Jean and I think of them often. We were so well loved. 3) Location to everything: Ikea, Babies R Us, Michaels, the zoo, World Market, Trader Joes...all of it. 5) Frequency of Family. We went to church with the whole Groves family and I miss how easily we kept involved in each others lives this way. Whenever I went to pick up Ivar from nursery, there was usually an uncle or a niece who had beat me there. And I was 20 minutes away from my sister. Twenty minutes!

And 4) I miss this house. Stunning pictures right before it went on the market here and here. I drove by the other night and snapped this picture. It was my first time back in a year and I love what they have done to the front yard. It's fun to see what someone else dreams up that you never thought of.

The truth is, I loved our life in South Minneapolis. It was a great season for our little family and I will forever think of those years in that house with fondness and rosy glasses.

So I sort of just went off the deep end and told all the reasons I loved South Minneapolis. You might wonder if I'm happy at all in the country. But I am. And I'll tell why in story:

This summer our town held it's annual Crazy Days. It's basically a sidewalk sale and they close the main street so people can walk from shop to shop in the road. They sell donuts the size of your head and the town shows up for the donuts. Rory and I went and as we walked down the main street I felt like I knew everyone. And I sort of did. We've been here two years, but in a town of 20,000, you can actually get to know a lot of people relatively quickly. It helps that we have been active in two churches, I've done a Bible study at another church, I was in weight watchers for a while, early morning water aerobics, and then there are all of my mom friends through ecfe. We know and love our neighbors well, were in a community Bible study, and Rory is on the board of the crisis pregnancy center. I helped organize the stepping stones walk and Rory is active politically. I love to frequent the little shops down town and have friends who work at the college. In two years we have jumped in with both feet and it dawned on me, while eating my huge donut and saying hello to so many people, that I love living in a small town.

The beauty of Lake Harriet, was that if you walk around the lake you were bound to run into someone you knew. It happened almost every time for us. It's what I loved most about that stunning little lake and now we have that in our small town, set right next to a river.

motherhood is a ride

Rory needed the house silent today while he took a few sales calls. And since we were still in our pajamas and couldn't really go out in public, I decided to take the kids on a country drive. I kept telling the kids, "oh that's a pretty picture!" and stopping the car to take the shot. Later they were telling me, "Pretty Picture! Mom, take that picture!"

We drove to a nearby town and got lunch at the meat locker. We played at the park and did a show for each other, showing our jumping jack skills, demonstrating our favorite give-me-five tricks and singing our favorite songs.

So here's what I was thinking about while on this super lovely outing: each day in motherhood feels like a bit of a crap-shoot. It's as if dice actually are rolled before I wake up, and the trajectory of our day greets me and asks me to adapt. It's why motherhood is the ultimate test in selflessness. Because some days require total selflessness. But other days are like today. They take you on adventures with your kids where you can't believe your life is this grand. Days when your heart is overflowing with gratitude for these two little lives who make for super fun company on these random outings.

And actually it's not days that are the crap-shoot... it's minutes. Everything changes in a matter of moments when little kids are involved.

So you end up with pictures like the one above where there are two happy and joyful kids, playing hard and life is awesome. But what I didn't know is that Elsie is running over to the swing to try to fly like superman. Except she's going to miss her fulcrum and tip forward, planting her face on the gravel below.  And this moment will be followed by screams and sobs until we pull ourselves together to go meet a dog and his old man owner who are walking through the park and distract us back to happiness.

Motherhood is a ride.

On the way home I turned down a new gravel road that, as it turns out, did not loop me back the way I thought it would. I was sincerely lost, scanning the horizon at every high point looking for a grain elevator that might point to some sort of town nearby. Eventually I spotted a tall elevator and found the town we had left about twenty minutes earlier.

And as it turns out, life is the ride.

God is so good, He's so good to me.

I'm not sure what kind of head-grabbing silly game they were playing in the stroller, but my kids really enjoy each other. They laugh so hard together. Sometimes they laugh because they're being naughty and not listening to me. But even that is kind of cute because they're in cahoots together. (I mean it's cute for like four seconds. But still cute.)

On Saturday night we moved Elsie's crib into Ivar's room. The first night it seemed like it might have been a terrible idea, but three nights later and I think we have a successful set up.

Their bedtime chit chat is crazy cute. Ivar will tell Elsie things and she will repeat his words and add an "ohh yaaa" like an old Scandinavian woman. Two nights ago I caught them singing and recorded the baby monitor (sideways, apparently). The words they are singing is "God is so good, He's so good to me." It's from their Veggietales CD and at the end of the song Larry the cucumber says, "That's nice Bob." And Junior the asparagus says, "Ya, that's nice Bob." (you will need to know this so you can tell what they are saying...) Now prepare yourself for some cuteness.

god is so good from Becca Groves on Vimeo.
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