Monday, July 27, 2015

July 27 - August 2, 2015, MN, WI

Monday, July 27.  After all of that physical activity yesterday, none of us had much energy today.  Jill and I did some housecleaning, I made a grocery run, and other than that we entertained kids around the house and made easy meals.  Oh, Jill gave me a much needed haircut this afternoon and she is working on Ben's right now.

Bedtime with Charlotte was a nightmare tonight - I was going to do stories so Jill could get Ben's haircut done early.  She started to cry and throw a tantrum that lasted for at least 30 minutes and lost all of her story privileges because of it.  She really does love me, I don't take it personal - I know she is a mixed up 3 year old.  

Tuesday, July 28.  Well tonight is my last night at Ben and Jill's for a couple of weeks, so I have started to get my things together and get the camper ready to roll again.  That is, while the babies were napping.  Today was Jill's work for the salon day so I babysit this morning.  The weath was predicted to be stormy all day so I didn't take them to the playground this morning and it turned out to be nice and we had no rain.  I also hurried to take the dogs for a short walk when there was a break in the rain and it never rained again all day.  Reminds me of what I really like about Arizona weather - the forecasts are usually right-on.

For the first time ever, I started my refrigerator cool down on propane.  After checking several times over the last several hours, it seems to be working correctly.

Tomorrow I will hang out with the little ones in the morning, go to Charlotte's concert at her school at 11:30 and then head on down the road to spend a couple of alone nights at Hidden Bluffs Resort.

Wednesday, July 29.  So I stayed with Norah and Camille at the playground yesterday morning while Jill went to the library for new books for them.  Then we met Ben at home and we're off to Charlotte's recital.  Camille was on my lap and managed to sit still for the first 3 violin performances and then she got fidgety and I had to take her outdoors, so I missed Charlotte's part.  Jill told me later that I didn't miss much since she held her prop in front of her face the entire time and faced the back of the room for the finale.  Oh well.

I got on the road by 1:00 and made it to my destination near Spring Grove, MN by 4:30 with a couple of stops along the way for gas, produce, and a few groceries.  This place is gorgeous, a valley that is bordered by the Root River on one side and gorgeous rock cliffs on the other.  I chose a pull-through site, then wished I had backed in to one with the cliff.  Next time - I will come back here because it is so nice, although kind of hard to find and really remote.  They have good wifi though.

Dinner was sweet corn and cucumber and tomato salad - accompanied with a vodka tonic.  Oh, and 2 peanut butter cookies that Jill handed me as I was leaving the house.  Yummy!

Thursday, July 30.  What a relaxing day this has been.  My neighbors all left this morning and it has been quiet with the exception of the happy voices of children playing at the pool and the chirping of birds.  Speaking of birds - the blackbirds were congregating in masses in the tree across the way last night.  Is it a sign of fall?  

I did manage to catch up on some business - pay a couple of bills, put away paperwork that has accumulated, and I did some housekeeping.  Here is the rock wall that I mentioned - I will choose one of these sites on my next visit.

Friday, July 31.  As I drove through southeast Minnesota, northeast Iowa, and wester Wisconsin today, I marveled at the beauty of the area.  Most of the drive was on scenic roadways of the drift less area, formed years ago by the glaciers that cut a path creating valleys that are surrounded by hills and rivers, first the Iowa, then Mississippi, then the Wisconsin.  Stately old Victorian farm houses dotted the way and there were very few towns.  Fields that were sectioned off into corn, soybeans, wheat, and occasionally tobacco made the variations in green so colorful - frame that in blue sky and it provided me with gorgeous views the entire trip back.  Had I taken the highways, it would have been 3 hours but my way took at least 5.

I arrived at Pats and got parked in the driveway - that is after many, many attempts.  We had a nice evening with fish fry at the VFW.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

July 20 - 26, 2015, MN

KITuesday, July 20.  Yesterday morning, I headed out to look at some senior apartments in Savage, but the long drive there convinced me that it was too far to go.  So I headed closer to Ben and Jill's and stopped at a building that was suggested to me by Ben's real estate agent and was much closer.  It was going to be a half-hour wait and as I sat there and watched little old ladies in their 80s and 90s, I changed my mind on that one too.  I also stopped at the Edina Senior Center and picked up some resources.

I got a text from Connie with the following photo attached:

It seems that my Century Plants have died and now I have to find someone to clean up the debris.  I wonder what happened?  Dale came to the rescue and I so appreciate his help.  Now, I'll have to find something to put in their place when I get back home.  I hope everything else is ok. 

Thursday, July 23.  Yesterday afternoon, I took Charlotte to the Hiawatha Lake playground and pool and we had a great time.  The depth of the pool gradually increased to 2', about waist high on her.  She was pretty confident, using the new inflatable tube that I bought for her and she headed right out to the deep part.  She stood on the side and jumped in - it would have been a belly flop if she wasn't wearing the tube and she went under and struggled to get upright but she was fine with that. I had to remind her that diving was not allowed, so she sat on the edge and just fell forward.  That time, she must have swallowed water and wasn't too happy about it, so that was the end of the swimming for the day.  The playground was all new to her, so she really had fun there.  Grandma was a little impatient watching a young couple struggling to keep their pit bull from getting away from them.  Here are some silly faces that CC was making for me.


Tonight, Jill and I went to Mall of America so I could exchange the Crocs that I bought last week - they caused blisters after wearing them to walk around the block.  We then shopped for dresses for Camille and Norah for a wedding that they are going to next month.  They are so cute.

Today was a busy day, one of Charlotte's all-day school days.  Jill was meeting up with a friend for a play date with Norah and Camille so I stayed home and took a nice, long, relaxing shower, took care of some personal business and took advantage of the cool breeze and did some yard cleanup.  This afternoon when the twins were napping and Jill ran errands, I did some house cleaning.  I try to help out with things that are difficult for her to fit into her schedule.

Friday, July 24.  My day started out great with a walk to the playground with Norah and Camille and they played so well and we're happy just entertaining themselves.  The walk was nice after a front came through last night and cooled things down nicely.  When we got back here me, I was downstairs supervising while Jill fixed lunch and Charlotte kept making rules for the little ones that they just didn't understand.  She got frustrated and started pushing them around.  I took her arm trying to separate her, she fought me and I tripped and fell down.  She was ok but I came down on my left knee and got a nice rug burn and stiff and sore left side.  At that point, I had a bit of a meltdown and bawled while I was trying to gain my composure.  All is fine, Jill intercepted and dealt with Charlotte and I am a bit sore but ok.  Whew!

I'm ready for a break and will be doing just that next week when I head back to Stoughton for a couple of weeks.

Sunday, July 26.  So last night we had this discussion about doing a yard project today and decided that if we got right on it, we could bust out the mulching project that needs to be done.  While they were putting the kids to bed, I calculated how much we would need.

We stayed up and had a glass of wine and watched the movie "Wild" with Reese Witherspoon.

This morning, right after breakfast, Jill and I took the kids to the playground and Ben went to get mulch.  He loaded a cubic yard into the back of the van and once the twins were down for their naps, we got busy and did the entire border along the fence and around to the playhouse and that took care of that load.  He also got rid of some scrub trees and a few weeds that Jill and I had missed.  He went for another load.  By then, the twins were awake so I watched them while he and Jill worked on the project until it was time for her to do the finishing touches on dinner.  He was just finishing up when she called us to dinner.  I couldn't have been happier as the girls were starting to test the limits about that time.

It all looks so nice and clean now - no more bare, weedy dirt to look at.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

July 13 - 19, 2015, IA, MN

IMonday, July 13.  It wasn't long this morning and I was drained, hooked up, and ready to leave the resort. It's a good thing because it will be another hot one. Initially, I had planned to go as far as Webster City where I had read about a nice county park campground but decided to push on to Forest City where I also knew about a nice little city park along the Winnebago River, and have a friend from my community in Mesa who lives there.  I gave her a call and she said she would be around and she would pick me up so we could have dinner together.

It's a good thing it isn't later in the week because the annual Winnebago owners gathering starts in a week and many arrive early.  The park was pretty full but I got a nice site in the shade.  Betty picked me up and we went to her condo and gabbed for a while before heading out for burgers at the next town to the north.  We also stopped at the local Winnebago dealer's new store so I could get a fuse so my inside lights would work again.  Dinner was nice and we had a nice visit

Sunday, July 19.  
Days are full with dog walks, walks to school and back, trips to parks, playgrounds and pools, fixing meals, doing laundry, changing diapers, playing, reading stories, and a multitude of other activities.  Jill is one incredible mother and housekeeper.  I applaud her energy and accomplishments.  I know there was a day that I was a busy mom too, but I never had the three so close in age to contend with.  There are many times that they all get along well, but many that are competitive and all 3 are always wanting Mom's attention at all times.

Jill worked this morning and then went to Mankato to help her parents do some packing and to go through some of Casey's things and retrieve her childhood stuff before their move to Chaska.  Ben and I were at home with the kids.  We took them swimming both days in the morning and Ben somehow found time to make 2 delicious dinners - a stir fry yesterday and tacos with skirt steak, beans, rice, and all of the trimmings tonight.  Dinner tonight was a disaster because Charlotte wasn't listening to Grandma ended up having a time-out just when dinner was ready.  After that, everything was fine.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

July 6 - 12, 2014, WI, MO

Tuesday, July 7.  I spent yesterday preparing to take off this morning, Kansas City is my destination and the weekend event is our first family reunion since 2003 to be held at Basswood Resort in Platte City, MO.  It's a good thing I got ready early because lots of rain and thunderstorms were predicted.   The day was cloudy and humid and it only rained when I was hooking up the trailer to the car.  No additional rain until about 11 pm and then we got a good soaker.  We continue to have hazy skies due to the large fires up in Alberta, Canada - yesterday and today, because the cold front pushed it our way.  When I took off this morning, the Wisconsin countryside looked more like the Smoky Mountains, with layers of greens on the hillsides.

I checked in at the KOA in Adel, IA and made 4 trips to the office before I settled in.  First - to check in where I bought a bottle of wine, second - to purchase a much needed donut for the sewer connection and to see if I could return that bottle of wine because I didn't pay attention when I bought it and paid $20 - third, to take the bottle and receipt back, and fourth - to provide my credit card so I could get the refund. Ggrrrrr - senior moments?

Wednesday, July 8.  I made the trek to Blue Springs with no problems yesterday, had rain a good part of the drive, took 2 wrong turns, but arrived safely.  Rita and I did some of the shopping for the reunion and it's going to cost us each only about $5-6 for food. I can't wait to see all of the little cousins playing together, there should be 10 of them ranging in age from 7 to 2ish.

Friday, July 10.  Just as I was leaving Rita's to head to the resort for the reunion, Bob called to say it was pouring rain near there.  Yuck!  It held off until I got setup and when Rick and Randy arrived we had a chance to visit before the rain started again.  Family members trickled in through the evening and we all congregated at the covered shelter near my site.  Everyone is in cabins but they are scattered throughout the park - it's a big place with 4 lakes, several cabins, 2 playgrounds, pools, and scheduled activities.  The playground is right next door, so the little ones played as long as it wasn't rainIng too hard.  The tether ball pole is sitting in a couple of inches of water but it didn't bother them one bit.

A break in the rain brought out a beautiful rainbow and we all felt that it was a sign from those that can't be here with us.  To me, it was Mike.

Ben and Jill put their kids to bed and then I went and sat with them so those guys could catch up with their cousins.  Stella reminded us that the last time they were together, none of them were parents yet and that meant that we weren't grandparents yet, either.  When I got back to my trailer, the party was still going on, so I turned on the AC to drown out the noises and hit the sack.

Saturday, July 11.  The party started at the pool this morning and all of the kids sure had a ball.  My nephew, Anthony and his family joined us there and we all got to meet him, his wife Ashley, and their 3 daughters Hayley, age 7, Lily, age 5, and Isabel who is 2, and his mother Lisa (I haven't seen her since her divorce from my brother Ray).  They all fit right in and joined the festivities.

Jill and Julie
Ali, Lanae, and William
Brittany, Michelle, Ali, Julie, Rita, Penny, Ashley
Julie, Ashley, Rita, Penny
Barley, Ashley, Lincoln, Bob
Charlotte, Barley, Olivia
Charlotte, Lily, and Olivia
Julie, William, Lanae, randy, Mike, Anthony, Stells, Dennis

The group pic.  Top, left to right - Aaron with Olivia, Rita, Lisa (Ray's ex), Anthony with Lily and Isabel, Ashley, Hayley, Rose, Barley, Ben, Camille, Julie, Jill, Norah, Joel, Charlotte, Penny with Harlow, Lincoln, Amber
Bottom:  Rick, Dennis, Josh, Mike, Rene, Christel, Brittany, William, Lanae, Randy,mAli, Michelle, Ryan, Bob, Chase

We all met at the pavilion for sandwiches and salads that everyone brought.  When the little ones went down for naps, everyone kind of did their own thing, many going back to the pool since it was a hot and humid 90 degree day.  I took Charlotte to my camper for some quiet time and we read, colored, had a tea party, and some quiet play until she was ready for the playground again.  It wasn't long and it was time to get dinner together.

Our menu was Costco Lasagna, Caesar Salad, and garlic bread. Penny, Rita, and Jill each baked 2 pans, I made the salad, and Rita did the garlic bread.  Everyone else pitched in to get the tables ready. Dinner was a big hit - most of the food was gone and we all enjoyed snippets of conversation here and there.  That is the trouble with large gatherings, you really don't get much of chance for a good conversation.  After dinner, Olivia brought out her dress up clothes to share with the other little girls and they pranced and danced and had a good time.  Rene brought dolls and beads for the kids and Stella provided sidewalk chalk.  The music came on and we danced and had a nice time.  There were a few late night get stragglers that gathered at Stella and Josh's cabin for a campfire.

Sunday, July 12.  By 11:00, all cabins were closed up and vacated and their occupants did the circle to say their farewells, then headed back to KC, Springfield, and Minneapolis.  I stayed and spent most of the day inside in the AC - it was hot, hot, hot and humid  and it felt more like Florida than Missou.  I did walk up to the store and got to talking with the clerk, learning that she and her husband live at Val Vista Village, across the street from me in Mesa.  What a small world we live in.  Once my site was fully shaded, I took my awning down and got my hoses ready for the morning departure.  It was early to bed for me.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

July 1 - 5, 2015, WI

Wednesday, July 2.  I've been walking with Dawn in the morning and we have been doing about 2.5 miles.  It has been cold the last few mornings, close to 50 degrees today.  I haven't used the AC in my camper since I got here, as the nights have been perfect for sleeping.

I went to Tom and Karen's this morning for a play date with the dogs and we ended up going to The Beach House, an extension of the remodeled and added on to the Edgewater Hotel on the shores of Lake Mendota.  When I left their house, I headed to Costco for brisket and pork loin as Pat and I are smoking meats tomorrow - should be fun, and we will have several meals put up for later on this summer.

Sunday, July 5.  Well, this week sure flew by quickly.  I spent Friday with Pat and Roger at their campsite in Spring Green.  We took a ride to the land in Richland Center in hopes of saying hello to my  Milwaukee friends, but there was not a soul there.  Maybe it was just too hard this year for 
Leslie, whose husband Tom died back in January.  There has been a 4th of July campout there since Tom's parents bought the 80 acres back in the early 70s and we were part of the campers for about 30 years straight.  It was sad to see nobody there.  

We stopped at a very nice city park and had a little snack and a walkabout with the dogs before going back to the campsite and played a few hands of Dirty Clubs where we each were lucky and won a game.  By then, it was time to go meet Susie and Gary at Arthur's Restaurant for fish fry.  It was nice to see them again and we had some good conversation over Old Fashioneds and dinner.

I made it back to Stoughton before the sun set and it was gorgeous as seen through my rear view mirror.  The sky was a gorgeous, hazy pink because of the ash from fires way up in Alberta, Canada.

4th of July was celebrated with a picnic at Al and Diane's house with Tracey's family and then Pat and I went to the Catfish River Music Fest in Stoughton and listened to Charlie Parr's performance.  I really enjoyed his music and will have to find some of it on Pandora or Spotify so I can hear more in the future.

Stoughton's fireworks display was done on Sunday (the last day of the 4-H Fair) and I watched them while lying on my bed in the trailer, head propped on pillows and looking out the window - it can't get any better than that.  There were lots of private fireworks going off on the 4th but I spent that nite consoling Frisco - the little screechy ones bother him more than the biggies.

We found this interesting sculpture on a railing on a stairway as we headed back to our car.

I just had to do a collage of Pat's Perennial.  Everything is so pretty right now.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

June 29 - 30, 2015, WI

Tuesday, June 30.  The days and nights have been cool and comfortable - mid-70s during the day and cooling to near 60 at night.  I still haven't run my AC since I've been here and I'm thankful for that, since I don't really appreciate the noise of it running.

Pat and I couldn't resist the final 50% off sale of perennials this week and we both stopped and bought a few.  That led to moving a few things in order to make room for the newbies.  He also got a load of mulch the other day, so the gardens are looking quite nice and many things are blooming. Nit won't be long and we will be picking raspberries and eating them as fast as they are picked.

This morning, Dawn and I walked this morning and had to wear a hoodie, it was so cool.  After our walk, we had leftover quiche that she had made for dinner the night before - yummy!  I decided to wax the trailer since it was predicted to be cloudy most of the day and Pat did the roof for me. Mo considered doing the car too, but my body needed a break when I had finished.

Goodbye, June.