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After all this zipping, zigging and zagging, it was nice to visit with the Read Family for a couple of days. We rang in Bryce's birthday with cold drinks in hand, seated in lawn chairs, listening to goats bleating and kids splashing in the pool as fireflies and stars lit up the night. Just the way it needed to be.
Didn't last too long. Up and ready in the morning, the kids were running, Carrie was working on teaching the world math equations from the computer, then loading up her CSA shares for folks in town. Bryce was off to the far reaches of the state for meetings and Andy was back to work offering folks ideas and solutions to their Ag. questions as extension agent extraordinaire. As for me, it was easy street. Kid duty. Luckily, the kids were all so wrapped up in their imaginations and underwater world, I only managed from afar. It was nice and a little unnerving to not have so much going on. I know most of you are thinking ,"What the heck? What else does this broad do but hang out all the livelong day with her kids anyhow?" Believe it or not, there is always something to do. Though, I admit, I do occasionally long for an address and all the trappings (well, most of the trappings.) For whatever reason, on this day, hanging out with these four kids (my own and the Read angels; Izzy and Hollis) out in the sun, playing games and hopping in and out of the pool, with only the occasional skirmish, I felt really lucky to have such great friends (here, there and everywhere) and to have this experience overall. There are few people out there who can, in a matter of only a few weeks, camp with friends in the Rockies, pick strawberries with old pals in Iowa, celebrate a birthday with new friends in Lake Superior, drink beers back in our home state with old friends, and only days later be on a hike in The Smoky Mountains. Sure, the packing gets old (you'd think I'd have a system by now, right?,) and not having stuff can be no fun sometimes, but really, it is nice to get to see the friends we love and spend this time as a family enjoying each other while we can, and before the kids are so grown they have their own lives and activities to attend to without us getting in their way. Bryce, unfortunately, doesn't always get to join in all of this fun, but he is the reason we do this. He works tirelessly to provide us with the opportunities to see all these wondrous places and never ever, ever complains that he misses hikes to waterfalls, camp outs, craft times and all the museums and such we get to enjoy without him. It is always more fun when he joins us, but it isn't always possible. Instead, he drives for hours to meetings, gets the car stuck and unstuck in gravel bars, negotiates contracts, wakes up way too early to revise documents and finish computer work, walks miles with a cell to his ear, and does it all without a shred of resentment or bitterness. (At least I hope, or he's quite good at hiding it.) Without him though, this would have never happened. So is the plight of the father (and often both parents.) Always working for the enjoyment of others. So, to Bryce and all fathers out there, Happy Father's Day! We appreciate all of you and love you for what you do and what you are to our families; amazing examples of humility, love, understanding and generosity. Thank You!


Birthday boys

Trying to get back on track. I can't quite seem to keep up with myself these days. I thought summer days were lazy and relaxing, where's all that? We've been everywhere lately and we're on the move...again.
Left Colorado last Monday, drove all the way across Nebraska with the boys to meet up with Bryce in Omaha, who was to be arriving via bus from Columbia, MO. Instead, he was rear-ended while waiting at a stop sign in st. louis and spent the day being checked out and dealing with the rental car agency. He met us in Omaha after all, where we connected at Keith and Julie's house. (Keith is Jenny's mom's cousin, I suppose that makes him Jenny's second cousin.) Here, we enjoyed lots of entertainment ala Henry and Wynne from dinner to dawn the next day. Wynne and Julie were good friends by the end of the night, for there was pie for dessert and pac man on the t.v. It was great to catch up with relatives, and be treated like royalty for the stay.
From here, we couldn't leave Omaha without visiting the Omaha Zoo. Whoa! What a place! When in Omaha, visit the zoo! This place was incredible, with an aquarium, rainforest (complete with monkeys flying right over you while exploring,) desert dome, skyrail ride over the African savannah (so cool to see rhinos, cheetahs, and giraffes while dangling your feet from above,) and so much more. Could easily spend the weekend here. But, alas, we were on the go.

Next stop, North English Iowa (just outside Iowa City, IA) to visit our good friends the Wedemeyer family. Zac went to MU with Bryce and they've been buds ever since. Zac is now married to Elesa who is busy incubating their 3rd bambino. The two girls Iris (5) and Ani (3) were perfect matches for our two, who got straight to work, running the chickens crazy, jumping on the trampoline, exploring the beautiful and recently completed, gigantic restored (as in taken apart, moved to new location and put back together again) ancient Iowan Barn turned amazing barn castle. So much to explore! It was great fun to see these folks again. The next morning it continued when we were invited to attend the summer camp program that Zac and Elesa developed called Taproot. This program takes kids into the outdoors to explore the world around them from all angles. On this day, we were lucky enough to get to visit Scattergood School's Farm, where we enjoyed a tour, picked strawberries until our bellies ached, tried lots of kohlrabi, kale and broccoli straight from the field. It all ended with some haybale jumping and laughter from all. What a great program. So lucky we got to be a part of it all.
Back on the road and up to Eau Claire, WI for the night. Great dinner and rest and back to the pavement in the morning.
By midday, we finally arrived at our destination, Washburn, Wisconsin (any further north and we'd be paddling in the cold waters of Lake Superior.) Here, we met Charly and Julie and their kids Caroline (7) and Jackson (4.) Charly and Julie have so many projects and things happening up here, I could spend all day listing, but just a few include raising and running a team of 9 sled dogs, a forest cooperative, writing a book about overwintering near the arctic circle and managing their own property that includes 3 cabins, a sauna and a really neat artesian well.
Despite the drought the state seems to be experiencing, it was cold and soaking rainy on Henry's birthday. We did get to enjoy the town and library of Bayfield, Wisconsin, possibly the cutest town in Wisconsin ever. Henry somehow managed to top off this lovely day by slipping into the pond while trying to catch a fat frog. Whoops! I think the frog won. He (Henry) got out, quite surprised and shivering, seeing as it was cool up in these parts. We found some dry clothes and played until it was time to for birthday tacos (made with delish local whitefish, still happily swimming only a few hours before) and cake! It even had a skateboard on it! Henry's birthday wasn't so bad after all.

Saturday found us a bit sunnier so we tried to enjoy the cold waters of lake Superior and get some sandcastle building in before we were back on the road. This time to st. Louis.
Luckily, Grandma Nancy had a surprise couple of days off and we were able to go to the dinosaur exhibit at the Botanical Gardens and Bryce and I even went on a date while she babysat. Thanks Grandma Nancy!
Now, here we are in St. Louis on Bryce's birthday and heading to see friends in Owensville for the day before continuing on to North Carolina tomorrow. This packing and re-packing regime is not agreeing with me anymore. I keep getting rid of things, yet we still have so much stuff. How does this happen!!? I will do my best to keep you informed in a more timely manner, but all you folks out there enjoy your summer travels as well and maybe we'll see you on the road.


more colorado fun

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Rocky Mountain High

We had so much fun the Monello Family! Here are the highlights from our campout in the Rockies with the Monello Family (minus Ryan.) The slideshow should be featured below. To give a brief description of the trip, we did some hiking, slipping in the snow, campfire cooking, s'mores with homemade honey marshmallows, playing on the natural "playground" behind the campsite, storytelling, elk viewing (just over the hill from the tent), rock hopping and critter watching. Next time, we won't go without Ryan.

Other happenings in Colorado include riding the elaborate and well designed bike trails in the Ft. Collins area. This was made possible by funding from the Bryce Oates wallet fund. Lucky for the young ones, we purchased new bikes for both Henry and Wynne. These birthday bikes were necessary, as the boys continue to grow (despite my best efforts to keep them just the way they are.) The new wheels were lots of fun not only on the trail, but also in the neighborhood, riding and practicing tricks with Eli, Ezra, and neighbors Lila and Bryce. The BMX dirt track was too much fun to keep away from. Henry and Wynne took to the track like...well, boys to dirt. We all became quite fond of the town and getting to spend so much time with such good friends. We even scored some new helmets and bike bells when participating in a bike parade and fair. All of this and so much more made it difficult to even consider leaving.

Colorado and the Monellos were so good to us, we were practically ready to move in for good, but, alas, life (and Bryce) was calling and now here we are on our way in other directions. More on that soon enough...