Remembering Kasey

Our neighbors had to send their beloved yellow lab to heaven this week, so our own yellow labrador, Kasey, has been on my mind. She would have been 16 this month. She was the first pet Greg and I adopted together. Long before kids. Actually, she was our first baby.

Together, we lived in 4 houses, survived the Grand Forks flood (and 2 month evacuation), welcomed in 3 kids, 3 other dogs and put on who-knows-how-many miles of walks, jogs and runs (depending on my pregnant status). 

But of all the incredible memories of time with our first little one, I realize most of all that it was Kasey who taught me how to be a good parent. It’s simple, really:

Lots of fresh air and exercise.

Good food, but not too much at once.

Lots of water.

Lots of hugs and kisses. A little discipline.

Absolute, unconditional love. No matter what.

Some nights, I still sense her sleeping on our bedroom floor. It makes me smile and gives me great comfort.

Everything she taught me, I use every day.

And I miss her every day–especially this gorgeous fall day, the sunlight beckoning me for a long walk. She’d have loved it. I like to think she is with me when I walk our current two four-legged kiddos.

Thanks for making me a better mom, Kase.  Love you puppy girl. Ready for that walk? I’ll get the leash, hon.

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Our night at Qualcomm: State Games Opening Ceremonies

As our beloved Vikings start their season vs. the San Diego Chargers with a game at Qualcomm Stadium, I’m harkening back to our recent evening there. It was Opening Ceremonies for the State Games of America, and it was majestic.

It's a beautiful facility, with no need for a roof -- retractable or otherwise. We, of couse, hit the Chargers shop.

Representing the great state of Minnesota

In Olympic Games style, the athletes marched in by state, with the hosts (Cali) last. Who wouldn’t have a proud, teary moment as their kid and her team proudly marched in, holding the sky-blue-waters blue MN flag?

There's our Minnesota girls!

More lump-in-your-throat moments as the Navy Seals parachuted onto the field. This just before the horrible helicopter accident in Afghanistan that killed 22 Seals, giving the entire experience a much larger meaning.

We also enjoyed great music (a few of the band members are apparently on Glee) and a hilarious Michal Jackson act.

As the sun set, Keynote Speaker Peter Vidmar, 1984 men’s gymnastics Gold Medalist. He had a great message for the kids, including: “Athletes, who drives you to the rink, the field, the arena, the gym and the court?  

Your parents?

They love you, but I have news for you. They. Have. Other. Things. To. Do.”

It made me laugh, nod with empathy, yet beam with pride.

I LOVE being a parent.

He message concluded by him sharing the video of his improbable gold-medal victory, and together, we all cheered on the beauty of hard work, determination, dedication, a bit of luck and SPIRIT!

Let the Games begin!

The torch finished its trip throughout the stadium and a neat 10-year-old athlete lit the States Games cauldron, where the bright warmth symbolized the spark to start the majestic sports to come.

Incredible evening — and now I hope our Vikings can offer up a few more good memories of Qualcomm action!

Best beaches in San Diego

For a week, life was a beach (and a soccer field). We spent a laid-back week in and around San Diego for the State Games of America. Our fav beaches stretched from Silver Strand, just 3 miles from the Mexico border, to Carlsbad. Highlights:

Silver Strand State Park

Nice long beach, all sand, a few tidepools. Quieter, family-focus, no shopping or restaruants. Quick access to Bay beaches on the other side of this thin land strip south of San Diego. Wouldn’t visit after dark.

Least crowded beach: Silver Strand State Park Beach. That's Julia, Matt. Caroline taking a break from the waves.

Julia stuck a little closer to shore
Matt was all in!
Caroline, part fish, was right at home. Even the lifeguards' "riptide" warnings didn't deter her from the water.

Coronado Beach

By far our fav, because it had a bit of everything: Navy Seal sightings in the morning, sand dollar discoveries (locals told us it was a rare batch washing up!), dolphin sightings, gorgeous sand-castle creations by beach artists (and aspiring creators), sand and rock areas, great sunsets and of course the iconic HotelDel. It’s a great beach to start and end the day.

The boys and I early one morning

Arguably, the girls' best game was their evening match on the beach.

A couple of the little sisters at work
Our hockey boy held is own in the beach soccer match, then took a little sand time
One of our family's last evenings, spent on Coronado. You can have Disney: To me, THIS is Magic.

Quintessential California

Mission Beach has a boardwalk, beach shops (fudge, ice cream, shell anklets), a couple very good restaurants (The Wave House rocks — or is it rolls?), plenty of surfers, adjacent Belmont Park amusement park (the roller coaster looked great) and lots of beachgoers. Biggest waves we encountered were here.

Another mom mentioned that the next time the girls are together on an ocean beach, it may be Spring Break. +yikes

Carlsbad Beach

After a lovely drive up a portion of the Pacific Coast Highway, we landed at Carlsbad. More great waves, surfers, dolphins! — and the best meal we had while in Cali was our picnic on the beach.

Yes, that's a dolphin in the distance

LaJolla Cove

Very different than the sandy spots we enjoyed, this area is more rocky. Great snorkeling, cute shops, excellent restaurants and of course watching the seals was delightful. Note: Parking here on weekends is very, very tight. Our weekday trip there was much better.

Beaches were one of the best parts of our Cali vacation. And in January, when the wind chill drops, I have many happy beach memories to warm me up.

Family reunion camping trip: Hayward, Wisc.

Greg and I both grew up camping, and we started camping our first summer together. Part of the beauty of camping is that many things remain the same — and many change. Thirty years ago, the Kind family camped at the Hayward KOA Kampground. All 5 of us went back this past weekend — along with our expanded (and expanding!) families.

My baby sis Kristina and 'lil bro Dave. Dave mentioned something about the pine trees looking taller than last time we camped here. (30 yrs ago). Well thank goodness WE haven't aged!

Kamping does not = camping

As we discovered in our South Dakota vacation last summer, KOA Kampgrounds are more like resorts. The Hayward KOA has many more offerings than the pool we enjoyed there 30 years ago, including kabins, so we could all enjoy more time together. Other offerings:

Bouncy pad (like a giganic trampoline), perfect for moon walking
 

Water sliiiiiiiiide!
Candy Bar Bingo - Justin, Dave and Matt covering numbers (we won! twice!)
Afternoon ice cream. Made by a local creamery, it was divine! (Julia and her friend Meghan, who we loved having join us!)
 
Good, Justin?
 
Nightly hayrides with a few surprises along the route
A dog show (please forgive us, Mollie)
Saturday night DJ
Great glowing hair, ladies. (Hey, you need to learn to dress right when you go out Sat. night.)
Mini golf (love the swim goggles, Dave!)
Grandpa Jerry's personalized omelettes
TUBING on the Namekagon River was a highlight! Greg even saved a baby bat caught in a fishing line.
The final mini-golf round on Sunday morning

Line it up, Caroline
So, what began decades ago with the Kind family…

…will continue on more frequently: we all booked our spots for next August!

Thanks for organizing it all, Davey! (and thanks for the Fri evening entertainment ~ ha) We love you. And that will never change.

Bro Dave put together our reunion weekend, and all he got was this Tshirt.