Sunday, August 11, 2013

August 10, 2013

It is my pleasure to write a blog post this evening as I have the good fortune to be conscious and healthy, both of which could not be said of my state 4 years ago, at about this same time, when Charlotte was being delivered via emergency c-section. I could lament how quickly the time has gone and how fast Charlotte is growing, but I would rather share author Sherman Alexie's words: I miss who she was, I love who she is, and I look forward to seeing who she becomes. Happy Birthday Charlotte.

We began Charlotte's special day in the kitchen making pancakes and of course had to let her practice her fire extinguishing skills on a single candle. One marker of how much she has grown this year is that today is probably the first time that she was able to measure ingredients and pour them into the bowl without significant help. 

Let the record show that the Mickey Mouse pancake on her plate is the best one I have made yet. She has been requesting a mickey pancake anytime we have pancakes over the past 9ish months, and generally it ends up with one ear - today it turned out perfectly!

Charlotte jumped right in to her birthday gift this morning. Although Charlotte loves having her own yard, she has clearly missed sharing a sandbox with our past neighbors (as demonstrated by her relentless digging up of the yard). So, a sandbox was a clear gift. This great sandbox was made by a local craftsman in Farmington.

Here she was excited about being barefoot in the sand, which she insisted I try out after taking this picture. It was pretty fabulous.

Party time!
Charlotte was ready for some action when the party started this afternoon. Her very receptive aunt and uncle swing the jump rope for her while she asks them to slow down. Eventually it was decided that "snake" was the better jump rope game.

She blew out the candles like a pro!

This year she helped to pick out a Dairy Queen cake, and she was pretty excited to learn that ice cream and cake can be integrated. When we offered her an ice cream cake she thought we were joking ("ha ha, nooooo that's silly" is what we heard).

So happy Grandpa and Grandma Russell made it to the party! Clearly she already loves the gator she received from them for her birthday. This gator fits in her hands, and Grandpa Distad suggested she bring it to his house for a ride in her other gator! Sounds like a good idea.

Family photo! I promise Charlotte was happier in the photos taken prior to this. I think she smiled in the first photo, but I later realized it was taken with Grandma's identical camera.

Charlotte kindly giving the turtle to Molly in the pool. Charlotte was very kind, and Molly impressed everyone with her water skills. 

Charlotte had fun showing Grandma and Grandpa how well she can ride her scooter - another marker of how much she has grown this year. At summer's start she could not ride straight and became frustrated going the two blocks to the park. Now, we can't keep up with her unless we jog, and...

 ...she can do this! What a trickster.

She had a great birthday! Thanks to everyone who helped to make this day special (including the Home Depot cashier who gave her a Reece's Peanut Butter cup - random act of kindess). In the photo above she is waving goodbye to Grandma and Grandpa.

Charlotte's last few weeks of being a 3 year old were also wonderful...

She spent last weekend with Grandma and Grandpa Russell in Eau Claire. She was gone for TWO WHOLE NIGHTS, the longest she has ever been away from both of us and we missed her very much. Not sure she missed us as much, she had a great time and assured us that she would like to go again (we also had fun painting her sand box and biking to St. Paul for lunch sans Charlotte's trailer, thanks Grandma and Grandpa!).

One of the many fun things Charlotte enjoyed in Eau Claire was Chalk Fest where she got her very own sidewalk square. At Chalk Fest she learned she can change the shade of a chalk color by getting the chalk stick wet - she likes to teach us what she learns. Unfortunately she spiked a fever during her last day with Grandma and Grandpa and came home feeling pretty sick. Fortunately the illness was short-lived and she was better by Monday evening.

In late July we enjoyed a hayride with the Amundson family! Look at that beautiful corn field. Today in the grocery store Charlotte identified corn on the cob and remembered that my cousin Marty and his wife, Kelly, grow corn at their house. Let this be another marker of how much she has developed this year - her memory and ability to make connections is quite impressive.

After the hay ride we went to the Olmstead County Fair with Grandma and Grandpa Distad. Charlotte got to ride her first horse!

And milked a cow, albeit a plastic one.

She pet a duckling! The props for her beautifully braided hair go to my cousin-in-law, Kelly. I hope Charlotte let's me continue to practice my braiding skills.

Obligatory insert-head-here photo.

Charlotte was very excited about the tractors. Perhaps she would do well in a rural setting someday!

Just a few days prior to the hay ride and fair we traveled to Duluth for the Tall Ships event.

We love Duluth.

If you look really closely you can see Charlotte sitting on the wall next to Grandma Russell holding a black umbrella. This is a pretty popular event.

Patrick forgot his own sun hat, so he borrowed Charlotte's. Handsome, isn't it?

Waiting for the ships to parade into the harbor.

Here we are post-parade in the museum. Charlotte always enjoys stopping to read a book.

The weather on Day 1 of Tall Ships was perfect. Day 2, not so much. While standing in a long line to walk through the sail boat from Norway it started to rain, inclement weather for which we were unprepared. I don't know that I have ever been so wet. Most of us managed a smile for the above photo, but Charlotte was done. She and I soon made an early exit and she ended up getting her first Duluth sweatshirt (yay for dry clothes!).

The final group of photos below were taken at Itasca State Park. Each year the college I work for takes first-year students to the Itasca Biological Station where they learn biology, get to know each other, and begin their college transition. In addition to learning about science myself I get to enjoy the park with my family.

Here is Charlotte lounging in the Mississippi Headwaters. She wedged herself between the rocks so thoroughly that she managed to get a leech on her foot. I haven't heard of others getting leeches from the headwaters. Thank goodness Dad was with us to assist with the removal of that creature. Gross.

Charlotte and I biked back to the headwaters just before we left the park and she ran across the Mississippi river.

And posed for the traditional headwaters photo. We were fortunate to be the only people at the headwaters for about 5 minutes on the morning these photos were taken. It was incredible!

While at the park we spent some time at the beach. Patrick taught Charlotte how to build sandcastles.

Charlotte was thrilled to find a real shell on the beach. She has been looking for shells in the sandbox at school despite being advised that she would most likely not find a shell in that location. Her persistence is admirable.

She was very excited to get a Nature of Life t-shirt and name tag. I love that the name tag hangs down her knees.

Here is our traditional NOL family selfie to wrap up the blog photos. We had just gotten rained on during our walk back to our cabin (our weather unpreparedness is becoming a theme), explaining the drops on our shirts.

August is looking to be a lower-key month than July. We plan to take in the State Fair and otherwise hang around home to enjoy the summer weather. Patrick and I are both getting increasingly busy at work with fall semester just around the corner. If there is a lapse in the blog, that is the reason. All the best to you and yours! 



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