Camping With & Under Stars

On another trip to Baylor Regional Campground , we camped with some birthday stars, and had an up-close look at some real celestial stars thanks to a Star Party at the Onan Observatory, where real astrologers rolled out the big guns, er, telescopes for some amazing views!

Here’s a recap:

We arrived late Thursday evening and, amidst a little swearing by the Mr. of the family while backing in between two large trees in the dark, set up camp. (My only comment: “In Duluth next week, I reserved a pull-through site.) We were also the hors d’oeuvres, salad, main course, dessert and apéritif for all the mosquitoes in the entire county. Even Mollie was itching for a week!

Love, love

Baylor has great tennis courts. Cute of Julia and Matt to dress alike, just like I did to them when they were little, huh?

Sketching and stretching

We all relaxed all afternoon.

Julia, Caroline and I sketched some of nature’s beauty with our colored pencils.

Our treasured set from the MN Art Institute, with color names I wish I'd written, such as: Cardinal at 5am; Dew on June Second; September Serenade. Ahhhhh.

Nope, I’m not giving up my day job for artistry, but it was relaxing and fun to draw together.

"Campfire with Blue," by Caroline



Friday evening, Grandma Donna came out for dinner. To accompany our grilled chicken, I tried out a new recipe, Veggie Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms.

It was another way to use up the veggies from our flourishing garden at home. As usual, Matt’s chef side emerged. He was still in chef mode Saturday morning on our new griddle:

We again had a pet kitten at our campsite, little Caroline’s alter ego:

Birthday party x4!

August is a crazy month in many ways. In our family, as my dad describes it, “Of my 5 grandchildren, 4 have birthdays within 25 days.” That was nice of my brother and I, huh? We’ve come around to celebrating all their big days together, including:

Julia, turning 12; Allie, turning 8; Justin, turning 5; Caroline, turning 7.

Another thing about our families: My brother Dave is married to Greg’s cousin, Amy. <insert redneck jokes here> So we invite everyone and everyone knows each other: It makes for a lovely get-together, and this one was truly wonderful! I believe we had 26 people at our campsite on an absolutely perfect late summer day.

Incredible cake from the legendary Mackenthun's
Allison, Caroline (back), Julia, Justin and their spread of gifts from the most generous, loving grandparents, aunts and uncles!
My niece Allison (bonnet hand-crocheted by my mom-in-law)
My nephew Justin drops a line in the pond at our campsite. He had better luck at the lake, while...
...the birthday babes swam! (Julia, Allie, Caroline)

A new cousin

One more thing about our families. We’re dog people. My sister Kristina and her husband Eric recently had to send their beloved dog to heaven rather suddenly, and they are now proud (read: crazy) parents of a blue tick coonhound-mix puppy, Bowie. After he chewed his way through all the birthday kids fingers and toes, then rolled in a dead snake, we brought him to the beach. It was an interesting ride there:

Get a good look: If you live in MN, WI or ND and you’re missing a shoe, I bet Bowie just may have it.

Justin got new baseball socks! (He may not take them off until November.) That's my brother (in red) and dear dad behind him.
Caroline got another purse! (I believe this brings the collection to 165.) "But this one is REVERSIBLE!" oh.Justin got Legos and...
...he and Matt built it. Cool, boys.


Matt with Auntie Zoa, my 86-year-old great aunt whose grace and humor inspire us all. She is a Catholic Sister with a sharp wit.
Jules takes the lead on candle-blowing

Star Party

We braved the ravenous mosquitoes for time at the Onan Observatory. It was an incredible experience. If you’re into stars and space, planets and sunspots, I highly recommend these events, held periodically throughout the year. Some of our favorite moments:

"Mom, it's Venus and it's like RIGHT THERE BIG!"
Julia checks out the celestial views.
Sis Kris, the eternal avid learner and teacher, views Saturn. "Whoa, you can see the rings and everything!" She's right. THAT was amazing.

Lasting warmth

In the chill of winter, when the stars are blanketed by clouds, I know I’ll harken back to this perfect weekend with our loving families–our true stars.

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