Friday, March 2, 2012

The winter that never happened

This winter has been a bit of a bust here in Minnesota.  We are accustomed and look forward to snow falling in November or December and staying on the ground well into March.  Kids wear snow pants and snow boots back and forth to school for months on end, and we embrace the frigid temps along with skating, skiing, and sledding.  This winter has been so abnormal, we have had to work a little harder to enjoy our winter activities.  We planned a trip to Bemidji to ski, only to find that they hadn't had enough either.  At least we were able to try out some ice fishing (Travis and Greg caught a northern), and there was just enough snow to ski on the frozen Mississippi with my cousin Rebecca.

Our x-country ski league had to meet every week out at a recreation area that was making snow and grooming a track for all the die-hard skate and classic skiers in our area.  Only once was I able to go out and ski at the golf course near our house.  And the City of Lakes Loppet race was shortened from a 33k race through the woods and across the uptown Minneapolis lakes to 5 laps around a man-made loop at  a golf course.  Leif worked on his skate x-country technique this year in the ski league, while the girls perfected their classic skills.  All three of them also joined a swim club and worked twice a week on refining their strokes, learning flip turns and dives, and participating in a swim meet in January.  By the end of the season, both Leif and Hanna were able to swim the 500 yard freestyle in 10 minutes, and Elisabet improved from barely being able to complete 2 laps to having perfect backstroke and breaststroke techniques and keeping up with all the older kids during the workouts.

Wren's big accomplishment for the winter was learning to walk.  She is motivated by a loud cheering section of family members and I imagine it won't be long before she is running to keep up with all of them outside.

And here are some random photos to peruse:

Winter 2011/2012

And some professional photos:

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Early Winter in the upper Midwest

Fall seems a distant memory, now that we have snow on the ground and temperatures are staying below freezing (mostly).  It has not been nearly as snowy as last year, but the long dark nights remind us we are in the heart of the cold months.  Our winter is filled with the celebration of 4 birthdays in the family.  First up was Wren's first birthday on December 2nd.  Next will be Leif, then Travis and finally Elisabet.  I guess what better time of the year to be filling up with chocolate cake?

We spent Thanksgiving in Iowa with Travis's family and enjoyed some exploring of the farm and the prairie.  We were able to spread some prairie seed on a new patch of ground with a team that included four generations of family members.  The next project in the spring will be a controlled burn of part of the prairie.

The three older kids have been swimming two times a week for a swim club.  They've made amazing progress over the last couple months, learning flip turns and perfecting their strokes.  After a practice last week, we calculated that Elisabet swam at least 24 lengths of the pool- not bad for a 6 year old.

Wren is cruising on all fours and climbing the stairs.  She loves showing off for all of us after dinner- downward dogs, spins, and clapping.  We're starting to hear a few words too.  Important ones like "hot", "mama", "dada", and "cockadoodle doo".

If you'd like to see photos of some of these events, click here:

Fall and Early Winter 2011

Monday, September 5, 2011

To Maine and Back

If you google the drive time from St Paul, Minnesota to Bayside, Maine it says it should take 27 hours.  If you put four kids (ages 11, 9, 6 and one 8 month old baby) and two adults (age 36) in a van to actually drive the recommended route, it will take 30 hours.  And those extra 3 really take their toll.  Google apparently doesn't factor in the added time for all those toll booths, the traffic in Chicago (even at 10:30pm), diaper changes that are not timed to the other bathroom stops, and the feat of getting 6 people in and out of a vehicle at rest areas.  It's a beautiful drive though, traveling through the fields and plains of the midwest, along the shore of Lake Erie, and into New York with it's rolling hills and forests and then through Massachusetts and up along the coast of New Hampshire and across into Maine.  Once into Maine, the smell of the ocean mixes with the scent of the pine of the north woods, and we know we are almost there.

We returned to a cottage we've stayed in before.  There is a rocky beach which disappears at the peak of high tide, and is great for exploring at low tide.  Across the Penobscot bay we can see the island of Islesboro and even farther, Searsport and Castine, ME.  We only had one day of rain- which we spent at the Penobscot Maritime Museum.  We were lucky enough to have wind to sail twice, but not too much wind for kayaking.

We took our time driving back, stopping for two days in Vermont to visit family and go hiking.  From there we drove to Amherst, MA to visit friends, and then continuing on to Buffalo, NY via Ithaca.  I had not been back to Cornell since graduating from college, so it was fun to show the kids the beautiful campus and drive along Cayuga Lake.  About an hour from Cornell, Travis started humming "Far above Cayuga's waters..."  not having thought of that song for years.  It reminded me of my grandfather's story about hiking in Utah as an adult and suddenly remembering the names of grade school friends.  Of course neither of us could get past the first line of the alma mater.

We took a photo in front of the clock tower, got ice cream from the university dairy, and took in the view of the lake from the deck of the student union.  Then we peered over the bridge down into one of the gorges and walked along the path and up the steep steps by the engineering building where I crossed the gorge to get to campus.

Our next stop was at Kate, Matt and Willa's new house in Buffalo where Willa showed us tricks on her rings in the back yard and we got to see a bit of their new neighborhood.  Not wanting to spend any more time than necessary in the car, we decided to save a visit to Niagara Falls for our next visit.  Buffalo was only 16 short hours from St Paul (note the sarcasm), so we made it as far as the western suburbs of Chicago where we just happened upon a hotel with a small water park inside.  Elisabet found this to be a highlight of the trip.  She kept telling us it was the best hotel ever.

Fifteen days after we set off, we returned to our house with 3, 549 miles on the van, four large loads of laundry, and at least a bucket full of sand in the car mats.

Photos of our adventures can be found here.....

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

The Ranchin' Life

We did a little ranching this weekend down in Iowa.  Calves needed to be de-wormed, vaccinated and bull calves castrated.  Then the herd needed to be moved to the east pasture where the grass has grown in thick and tall.  After the manual labor was finished, we took the truck and jeep to a fishing pond and had a cookout and the kids caught a few nice looking sunfish.  It's a great change of pace from the "city" life in St Paul, and fun to spend time with Grandma and Grandpa.

Hanna celebrated her 9th birthday on May 26th.
She had a lovely party with balloons and chocolate cake.

Here's a video of the process:

Pictures can be found here:

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Late Spring

Spring has been slow to arrive this year in Minnesota.  When we traveled to Point Reyes, California for spring break, it snowed in St Paul.  And then it snowed again in April and again on May day.  The leaves on the sugar maples along our boulevard have finally appeared, along with the flowering fruit trees and spring bulbs.  We found that the slow unfolding of the buds allowed us to have an entire week of spectacular bird migration viewing from Leif's bedroom window.  Travis and I had a little friendly competition for unusual sightings and between us we saw 12 different warbler species, numerous swainson's thrushes, an indigo bunting, eastern bluebird, several orioles, and rose-breasted grosebeaks in our backyard elm tree.

School is winding down and the kids are excited for summer to begin.  There will be soccer, violin, piano, sailing school, art camp and day camp, canoeing in the Boundary Waters, along with a trip or two to the Iowa ranch and Wisconsin and then the east coast in August.

Wren has each one of us enamored with her every smile, and she gives them out liberally.  What joy it has been to have a baby in the house again.  Each new development from laughing to chewing on her toes is greeted with cheers and claps from her siblings.  Leif wrote a poem about her for school and declares his love for her regularly.  Hanna is disappointed if she isn't awake before they leave for the bus, and Elisabet does not seem bothered at all by her displacement as youngest in the family.  Someone at church told me recently that they love how they huddle around her when she is awake during the service.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Winter photos

I've had several requests for new photos of the Saveraid children- or maybe you're yearning for a photo of Travis now that he is 36?  Speaking of turning 36, Elisabet recently asked me "Mom are you 63 or 36?" I guess anything over 15 seems old to her.

We've had quite a winter of snow and cold.  Actually the cold has been less severe, except for a brief spell a couple weeks ago of negative temps, but the snow has been epic.  Well, maybe not epic, but impressive.  One morning I was walking with Leif and Hanna down to their bus stop and the towering snowbanks on either side of the sidewalk was pretty imposing.  At least waist high on both of them.  After a thaw last week that finally put a dent in the snow cover, we had another 15+ inches fall on Sunday and Monday.  The official total at the MSP airport was 13, but we measured 40 centimeters on our table on the back deck (the only ruler I could find was Hanna's from Switzerland).

Leif, Hanna and Elisabet participated in a ski league this year.  We load up the car with 5 pairs of nordic ski, poles and boots and head to Como Park for the afternoon on Sundays.  This year they had 130 kids sign up- that's what happens when you have a couple of good snow winters.  All 3 of them really enjoyed improving their skills on cross country skis, particularly going as fast as possible down the hills.  Leif is starting to work on his skate skiing technique.  I'm looking forward to taking him out with me to the groomed tracks as he learns.  They skied the evening luminary Loppet in downtown Minneapolis at the beginning of Feb.  It is a weekend filled with ski races- skijoring, freestyle, classic, junior and sprint races and part of it goes along the lakes in Uptown.  For the evening ski, the track is lined with ice luminaries and with good weather this year there were around 9,000 skiers.


Wednesday, December 29, 2010

New addition

If you haven't heard by now, we have a new addition to our family.  Wren Louisa was born on December 2, just in time for one of our first big snowfalls.  Since her arrival, she has been loved, kissed and hugged daily by her older siblings.  We have all been marveling over her tiny little person- all 5 lbs 13 oz of her at birth.  She has long fingers and toes, a small dimple on her left cheek (possibly the one Hanna left behind?), and quite a bit of blonde hair.  Elisabet wonders if she will have green eyes when she is older, although they are blue right now.  This is likely because we recently discovered that Elisabet's eyes are turning green so she inspects them daily to note changes.  She is quite pleased to discover something she shares with just mom.

Leif's 11th birthday and Christmas went by in a flurry.  We had a huge 18+ inch snowstorm the week after Wren came home and since then we have been digging out.  It looks to be a great winter for snow sports.  Leif, Hanna, Elisabet, Travis and Papa went skiing at Afton Alps and had a fantastic time.  Travis and Papa spent the day trying to keep up with them as they bombed down the hills.  They also all went ice skating at the local outdoor rink.  This weekend everyone will start nordic skiing with the MN Youth Ski League.  It will feel good to get back into skiing shape!

We celebrated an early Christmas with Travis's family and then we had the special treat of getting all the Haslers together at Christmas this year.  The three newest grandchildren got to meet one another, and we had several evening gatherings over great food and wine. It definitely seemed as if we had really multiplied this year!  But the chaos of all the cousins is lots of fun.

Here are some photos of the various events:

Wren's birth

Birthday and Christmas