This weekend was family weekend. We all got together on Saturday (Mom, Dad, Me, Simon, Em, Chad, and Arionna) with the intent of spending the day together, outside. It wasn’t a goal, but a nice side benefit, we didn’t spend any money.
We met up Saturday morning and started our day with lunch at The Nook. If you like burgers, try this local joint. One highlight of lunch was the old school Skee ball machine in the basement (which also has a bowling alley) and Simon is in love with Skee Ball, which he plays on my phone and played for the first time in person at Christian’s 4th Bday Party. He was all about this.
And all about teaching his cousin how to play.
Could they be any cuter together?
It was chaotic, but they had so much fun doing that while we waited.
After lunch, we drove to Hidden Falls Park in St. Paul. My dad had gotten directions off Google Maps, but somehow we got slightly off-course. Simon asked to follow the route on the map–which is the GPS on my phone. He discovered this a while back and he just loves it. He was looking at our route and he said to my dad, “Pa, you need to take a left”. My dad, of course, ignored the 5-year old. Sure enough, moments later we’re making a u-turn and turning right where Simon said we should.
I was laughing because he’s a smart boy, but no one believed he could read a map! It’s impressive how well he’s figured that out and how much he enjoys it. He asks for it every time we’re in the car together and stares at it constantly. Never bored. He’s awesome like that.
After a few mishaps, we did end up at the park. It was Arionna’s first time visiting the Mississippi, which she can now proudly say.
First steps. It was not too chilly. Suprisingly warmer than the kiddie pool in my sister’s yard (more on that later).
Here’s a sweet shot.
Arionna wouldn’t smile, but it is still a nice mommy/daughter shot.
I couldn’t resist a nice shot of their little family while we were there:
I wish Chad and Em had taken off their shades, but it is a great summertime photo, for sure.
Meanwhile, this little boy was all about climbing.
I took that and he said, “Livia, you’re going to want to wait until I’m all the way at the top”
Oh, am I?
Guess so. Look at that goofy face.
I don’t know why, but I really like that photo. You can’t see it, but there’s a cigar in his left hand. It’s just my dad. That must be why I like it so much. Then, little missy came by and said she wanted to be with Grandpa!
They are so sweet together.
Then, the little climber dragged Uncle Chad over to climb a tree.
As we were watching them, my dad casually said to me, “that is how much the shore has eroded. Dirt used to cover all those tree roots and the river used to be that high.”
Wow. Kind of mind blowing. Even though my mind naturally accepts things like that, I rarely think about it. I’m more aesthetic. I look at that tree and think about how interesting its gnarled roots looks. I wonder how it gets enough to drink through those twisted passageways. Then I wonder what my veins and nervous system would look like if someone eroded my skin…and then I shut myself down.
Either way, it was a cool tree.
We cut our stay a bit short, because it was so overcast and threatening to rain. We wanted to get to the next destination before the skies opened up.
On the way, I gave Simon the phone and he was playing with it when, suddenly, I hear him say. Today is May 19th. What? How does he know today’s date?
He had accidentally opened my calendar app and was intensely studying it. He would touch each day on the calendar and say its name. May 20th. May 21st. May 22nd. Et cetera. I sat there and listened as he went day by day until August. How can a calendar be that fascinating? Kids are sure interesting.
After a few more missed turns (Chad, who was following us, thought my dad was bonkers, with the number of u-turns we did) we finally arrived at Minnehaha Falls. The kids were both excited to see a waterfall. That’s a big deal for kids. Me, meh, less than impressive.
Simon, contrary to appearance, loved it. We’re at the top of the falls.
On that little bridge above the water. Then we hiked down to the bottom. Simon’s idea:
That doesn’t begin to capture the massiveness of that staircase. Halfway down, I caught Simon and my dad and I said, “the fun part is…we have to walk back up.” Simon thought a moment and said, “I really don’t think I’ll make it.” I replied, “don’t worry, dude, Pa will carry you”. And Pa jumped in, “no, he won’t. He can walk”. Sucks being five I guess.
Big difference between 2 and 5…
Then, Simon wanted to walk out to the falls…there is a sign on a fence that says KEEP OUT, but the fence has HUGE gaps on either side, it wouldn’t stop anyone. And it didn’t. Everyone was walking out there, so we went.
No zoom. We were that close. They’re much louder!
And then I remembered that I was there, too, and we should probably prove it:
Self portrait at the falls (yep, that’s from my iPhone, can you tell?)
As we wandered around a bit, I caught this little family moment.
What I noticed upon uploading this photo is not that Chad, Emily, and Arionna are in it….but…my dad unintentionally got into the picture. Upper right, blue shirt, tan hat, behind the fence. I never knew he was there.
Then, I asked Simon, “will you sit on the bridge and let me take a nice photo of you with Grandma and Pa and Arionna? And, shockingly, he said yes!
So we tried. 6 attempts. Either Arionna wouldn’t smile or Simon wasn’t looking, or THIS GUY was causing trouble.
The best of the lot. Sigh. Really, dad?
Then, naturally, it was time to cruise back up those steps. I counted. I always count steps when I go up them, its an OCD habit, but this time, I really wanted to know. Simon and I started out together, then he outpaced me until the first landing. He said he “needed a rest”. I laughed and kept going. By the time I hit the top, I was panting and my legs were weak. 108 steps to the top.
Then we headed back to Chad and Ems house for the kids to play in the pool. We took the scenic route through St. Paul, even winding past my friend Muffy’s house, so my folks knew where she lived. (Hi, Muffy!)
Then it was pool time. I was the first one in the kiddie pool that had been out there for two straight days of nearly 90° weather and was still freezing cold. Like I was sweaty and hot and I still felt a chill. But, the kids suited up. Strangely, neither would sit down in the pool.
In one of my favorite pictures of the day, Arionna unsuspectingly sits on the pool’s slide. Simon, with the devil inside, is about to dump a bucket of ice cold water down her back.
Oh, the cuteness.
But, before he could do it. She moved. Got off the slide and walked away. He wisely waited for his moment.
Unfortunately, I was laughing so hard I nearly missed the picture, but you still get the gist.
I wish I hadn’t cut her out, but you can tell her expression is priceless. He’s wet, too. I think Auntie Emmy threw a bucket on him simultaneously.
From that moment, no one was safe. Didn’t matter if you were in clothes or not. Buckets of water were flying everywhere. I got hit twice. Fortunately, kids running with a full bucket of water will spill 3/4 of it before reaching the target, so I didn’t get too wet, either time.
Uncle Chaj…IN a bucket. (Yes, that is full of water).
Then, to try and distract the kids from throwing water on others, Uncle Chad demonstrated how much fun it is to throw water on YOURSELF. Here’s the aftermath:
Can you see the water all around him?
But, that doesn’t look that cool. I made him do it again and again until I had a shot that truly captured what he was demonstrating to the kids.
How awesome is that? You can see the water in motion, it actually goes out of the top of the frame. I like Arionna with her head tilted in the foreground. It was really cool to watch how high he could throw it. And, hands down, one of the coolest pictures I’ve ever taken.
All in all, this was an amazing day as a family. Outside all day. Warm weather with intermittent sunshine, taking advantage of the incredible resources our cities have to offer. I can’t wait to do it again. Next time, I’m thinking picnic lunch!