Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Olsen Family Staycation Part 1

We've certainly been soaking in our share of family adventures and vacation this month. I'm writing from the front porch of our little cabin at Grand View Lodge in Nisswa, the very town where I was born. In fact, my dad worked here when I was a baby and we lived maybe a mile away. Then, when we moved back to the area when I was just about to finish junior high, we lived so close that my sister and I would bike here in the mornings to play tennis on their courts. Coming back now with the family is such a treat. We're here for just a few more hours and then head back to Duluth before a camping trip at the end of the week. I would post photos from the last few days, but that takes time and we have an ice cream date in 30 minutes, so I'm going to finish this post that I began earlier.

I do hope you're having a lovely week and are staying cool! This heat is intense!


The first week of August was the very first Olsen Family Staycation. What exactly is a "staycation," you may wonder. A staycation is a vacation that is taken in your very own town or nearby area, which we realized would be perfect for Duluth. After all, we have incredible numbers of people visiting our city every summer. Why not join in?!

Our staycation began on Tuesday at noon. Who was excited? This girl!

I did a lot of the planning for the week but only shared it with Pete. I adored the look on Ella's  face as she discovered each new adventure! Our first was a cruise on Lake Superior.

We began in the harbor...

went under the lift bridge...

and rode out onto the lake.

Ella was tickled to be able to meet the captain of the boat at the end of our ride.

She was sure she could hold down the enormous William A Irvin as we walked through the harbor.

After dinner, we dropped Sam off with our friends, Eli & Krista, so we could take Ella to her very first movie on the big screen! Pete & I were pretty giddy about it. I was relieved to see the theater was filled with other families, meaning the pressure was (mostly) off to keep Ella quiet and still the entire movie. She did a really great job, only forgetting to whisper a couple times and was good with at least staying in our row of seats when she felt the need to move. I'd give her a strong A for her first big screen experience.

We had to get in a little game action after the movie. 

Our first night we spent at a hotel in Canal Park. We decided it would be much more like a vacation if we didn't spend all our down time at our house. What happens when we end up at home? I clean, Pete works on projects, and it's like every other day. We had far more fun in a hotel!

The next morning I took Ella down to the water to throw rocks. Our hotel was right on the shore, so the boys got to take morning naps while the girls went out.

Old planes kept flying low overhead. They were fun to watch.

After a little while, Ella & I walked down to the candy shop. We also found the Canal Park fountains.

After a short time at home in the afternoon for naps, we went to our first Duluth Huskies baseball game. Eli, Krista, and Caleb joined us. It was really the perfect, summer evening outing.

That, my friends, is the first half of our family staycation. We LOVED being able to stay in our own city and play tourist!

Friday, August 23, 2013

Photo Friday: Miss Malena Turns 4!

Earlier this month, we celebrated our niece Malena's 4th birthday.

It also happened to be her golden birthday, so my sister set the room in lots of gold and dressed our dear Malena in a beautiful, princessy dress to make the occasion extra special.

Sammy & Papa got some cuddles during the party.

It's fun when I'm able to make cupcakes for such special occasions.

Sammy loves his auntie & uncle!

Malena's friend Jonne arrived at the party with an extra special treat for her - two Texas donuts and a whole lotta ice cream for the middle. Let me tell you, Jonne won himself instant fame with every kid at the party. Smart man, that Jonne. Malena was thrilled.

It was a very happy birthday for Miss Malena. It was wonderful to see her having such a great time, particularly because it has not been an easy six months for her. When we were in Kenya, a tumor was discovered in Malena's brain, and just days before we returned to Minnesota, she underwent a biopsy (which I wrote about HERE). Though cancer was ruled out, they were not able to determine exactly what it was. My sister and the doctors have since been attempting to treat the symptoms of the pressure the tumor puts on her brain. She has to have her fluid intake strictly controlled. Her body is constantly telling her that she is thirsty, but when she drinks, her sodium levels get thrown, which could result in a seizure. The tumor is also effecting her metabolism and weight. My sister does what she can to keep that in check, but a lot of it is beyond her control at this point. Fortunately, Malena has been able to get in at another children's hospital for a second look. They'll be doing another biopsy next month. Please pray with us that there will be answers following this next biopsy. My dear sister, Becky, and her girls have been through a lot. Becky is an incredible mom and I'm asking Jesus to wipe this thing out and for Malena to get to be a healthy little girl. She is the absolute sweetest thing. She really is.

Thank you, friends.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

We Are Tough Mudders

Can I just tell you how much I love me some summa'? (That's summer, for those who weren't catching my very cool, beachy vibe.) I feel like we've crammed our entire summer into the few weeks that make up the month of August. And man, oh man, are we having a good time. Since Pete finished residency, we've been adventuring as much as possible. I posted just a few of our staycation photos, but I'll soon be posting a whole lot more along with some of our other adventures from the past few weeks. And you know what? We've got an entire week coming up of out-of-town amazingness. Then, September 3, we all grow up. Well, at least Pete & Ella do. Pete officially begins his ER contract in Cloquet (though he's been working full-time the last two months already), and Ella heads back to Montessori. Sam & I will be left to our own shenanigans. Yay, us! No school for me, baby!

Clearly, it's been a slow blogging month. Sorry. Even though I may not have been writing in the midst of all our gallivanting, I was definitely taking pictures. Through the next couple weeks, I'll work to get everything posted. I love being able to share everything with all of you, our dear bloggy friends, but this blog also serves as our family journal of sorts. I don't want to miss documenting the fun we've during the last few weeks.

With this post, we're jumping all the way back to July 20 when Pete and I left the kids with a sitter (whom we greatly trust!) for the weekend to hit up a race we'd been looking forward to for well over a year. (Pete isn't in to running road races with me but started gaining interest once I discovered The Warrior Dash a few years ago.) We first discovered the Tough Mudder while I was pregnant with Sam, but we didn't know just when we'd be able to do it. At long last, we found a group of friends who were up for it. The team consisted of a nurse and a doc Pete worked with in Duluth and their husbands along with another friend. In all, we made seven. After a team meeting over amazingly fresh grilled fish (caught by one of the guys on the team), we decided we'd all head south to Somerset, Wisconsin for the race and stay in one of the couples' ginormous campers.

One week later, we all met up and hit the road.

We may have stopped for snacks along the way. No judging; we were carb-loading for a big race. I'm pretty sure this is exactly what they mean by proper carb-loading.

These deliciously "organic" cheese balls continued to fill us throughout the evening and the morning of the race. We don't mess around, people.

A little outdoor coffee in the morning to fuel our racing engines.

Enough messing around. We were ready to hit this thing.

Team shot. We needed one to compare to our muddy craziness that was inevitable by the end of the Mudder.

If you aren't familiar with Tough Mudder, you can get a pretty good idea of it by checking out this video over on YouTube. It's an event that travels around the world. It was first designed by British Special Forces. Each race consists of 10-12 miles of running/walking/hill climbing and 18-25 intense obstacles. Lots of the obstacles involve mud, a few have electricity, and nearly all require team work to complete. I was really excited when we first learned about it, but when the race came around and I wasn't quite in the physical shape I had hoped to be, I nearly backed out. In fact, a couple weeks beforehand, I told Pete I had decided I wasn't going to do it. After thinking about it for another night, though, I decided to give it what I could and see if I could get through it. I am SO glad I did.

At the end of most races, finishers get a medal and a t-shirt. We got a t-shirt, but the big reward for finishing a Tough Mudder is the orange headband. One other reward? Tough Mudder tattoos. Too bad all the artists were booked by the time we got through.

This race wasn't easy. Mentally, I knew I could get through. Physically, I wasn't sure my body was ready. That's not a normal feeling for me, but I've struggled a bit with it since Sam was born. Now that school is finished and Pete's schedule is smoothing out, I can really go after getting my pre-Sammy shape back. It's been tough. In the end, my team...especially Pete...helped me get through this race. I loved it. And yeah, we may have been covered with bruises and welts by the end,  but I would do it again in a heartbeat. Actually, the team started making plans for next summer right after we crossed the finish. I can't wait.

You can click HERE for a great Facebook album from Tough Mudder Minnesota that has some sweet photos of the day we raced.

After post-race festivities, we headed back to our campsite for showers that couldn't quite get all the dirt off, no matter how hard we tried, and relaxed the rest of the day. Sunday morning Pete and I drove back to Duluth. Another adventure in the bag. I can't wait for the next!


What's been your favorite adventure of the summer? I'd love to hear about it! Just leave a comment below!

Then, check back soon to see pictures from all our staycation fun.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Wednesday, August 7, 2013


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...