Free summer fun things for kids in Lakeville (1 – 10)

“A little, done often, is much.”

Got that in a fortune cookie. It guides me through guilt-laden parenting of not spending enough time with our kids. Especially in summer, when they have more free time (and I have less).

This summer, I set out to spend at least one completely uninterrupted hour each weekday with our youngest, Caroline. Here’s what we’ve done so far, most of it over my lunch hour from my home office. After 13 days, it’s already adding up to great fun!

We went to Dairy Delite, a little treasure downtown--and even got the gazebo for our cool yummies!
We went to Dairy Delite, a little treasure downtown–and even got the gazebo for our cool yummies!

1. Cleary Lake

We walked the 3.2 miles around this gorgeous lake, enjoying her very first day of Summer Vacation. We also scouted out other things to do there, and found many, so we’ll be back!

Trails1

2.  Antler’s Park

We took a dip in the lake, which was very cold after thunderstorms churned it up the day before. She enlightened me about how the weather can change lake water temps. We also built a sand castle around a dead fish. She named that part of the castle grounds “Dead Fish Monument.”

3. Pool time

Our awesome neighbors invited us for a visit to their neighborhood pool. She ran into school buddies.

3A. More pool time

We hung out at the Lifetime Fitness pool, where she ran into more buddies and we cooled off with a quick dip.

4. To market, to market

We visited the Farmer’s Market (Wednesdays, noon – 5 p.m. downtown by Ace Hardware). It’s early in the produce season, but we found sweet lettuces, herbs, honey and of course lots of samples!

5. Theatre

We went to watch a community ed theatre class perform the montage of songs and dance they’d learned over a few days of theatre camp. Big sis Julia and her friend were helpers for the week.

10499795_10152302549279006_1093574089_o

6. Bonus: We signed up for Cara to do theatre class this week!

7. Library

Instead of rushing through like we tend to do during the school year, we dawdled a bit, checking out lots of great summer books, movies and cd’s.

8. Culinary arts

Cara planned a special treat (jell-o parfaits and fruit pizza), we bought the supplies and she created them for the family.

10465607_10152295056874006_949183718_o

9. Playground

We biked to a playground, I didn’t bring my iPhone, and we swang our cares away!

10. Matinee movie

We saw Million Dollar Arm, on a day before a softball game. It got us both in the mood for her pitching that night! Of course, we sneaked in waters, candy and splurged on popcorn.

Okay, not free, but there are free movies at 10 a.m. on these days at these nearby spots:

Burnsville, Tuesday

Lakeville, Wednesday

Apple Valley, Thursday

Already, I feel less guilty, less stressed and more summer-y. That’s all good!

Advertisements

“A few” is not 100? My sweetie’s surprise birthday party.

“So how many people will be here?” my husband asked, mid-stride. He thought we were meeting two other couples for dinner, but he was leery. “A few,” I lied. 100+ family members and friends isn’t a few?

But we sure had fun! And I so loved watching him smile and laugh. Happy Birthday, darlin’. Happy Birthday.

Birthday Boy Greg in the center, with his bro Curt on the left and cousin Dale on the right. Both came from Fargo.
Birthday Boy Greg in the center, with his bro Curt on the left and cousin Dale on the right. Both came from Fargo.

It started with one

“Everyone ought to throw their husband a surprise party,” said the lady next to me in bike class. That was 3 years ago. She was a new member, we started chatting, and I learned she had just buried her husband. At age 48. She was at the health club to ‘get healthy,’ and she told me her biggest regret was never throwing her husband a surprise party.

That sparked an idea. So I started saving $ and planning.

By early this year, I had The Chart House booked. Classic, beautiful venue right here in Lakeville. It overlooks one of the lakes with a great restaurant and private event area, including an outdoor patio and gazebo area. I selected the menu. Picked the beer. Let them pick the wines.

Takes two to decorate

I enlisted my friend Penny to help with decorations. They were gorgeous, just like her!

Multiplying rapidly

Then I did the evite invitation. I contemplated limiting the guest list, but just couldn’t. Greg has so many great family members and colleagues, neighbors and friends. I added on with glee! I think the final guest list was 186.

evite

Spill

I did have to spill the news to our kiddos a bit before the big day. They were fun allies in our secret!

Matt: “Dad’s gonna be mad. He said he didn’t want anything.”

Cara: “oooooh, I can’t WAIT!”

Julia (when I had to give up my Sequoia to the shop for a few ill-timed days): “How you gonna move 98 balloons in the little car, mom?” #wickedsmile

Our kids were great hostesses and host!
Our kids were great hostesses and host!

The most important guest almost didn’t go

Weeks before, Greg was balking at meeting our friends for dinner. Days before, he was leery. Hours before, he was really suspicious! Apparently his parents are lousy liars.

But he did. And so did so many wonderful people. Thanks, all.

Our girls delivered his cake.
Our girls delivered his cake.

IMG_5691

 

Lemon-filled, red velvet, vanilla bean and milk chocolate cupcakes! (his faves)
Lemon-filled, red velvet, vanilla bean and milk chocolate cupcakes! (his faves)

See? I told you Penny’s decor was beautiful:

Hockey pucks, of course.
Hockey pucks, of course.

IMG_5706

IMG_5715

Wonderfalls centerpieces. Each was a candy-filled favor.
Wonderfalls centerpieces. Each was a candy-filled favor.

IMG_5712

me and g

I ran into the health club lady a few months ago and told her how her comment had impacted me. She hugged me and said, “Honey, it’s a lot more fun to plan a surprise party than a funeral. I hope hundreds of people come!”

They did, I can now tell her. They did. And my favorite one of all had fun. #Love

 

How do you raise an American Girl?

The girls who loved American Girl dolls as little ones? They’re now teenagers. In the real world. Not in a historical time, and not with a store full of adorable outfits and accessories. So how do we raise them?

These young ladies are social media savvy. They have amazing opportunities in school, sports, careers and other avenues. Yet they are inundated with Working Mom vs. Stay At Home Mom opinions. They still face glass ceilings. Their sports are not the lead story on the evening news.

Mind you, I adore American Girl dolls. Our daughters have several, and a college semester’s worth of related books, outfits and accessories, too. We had great fun playing with them. And I hope our grandkids play with them someday! Meanwhile…

After a weekend with 16 of these American Girls, and as a former 15-year-old American Girl, I have a few opinions (of course). We were in Kansas City with our daughter’s soccer team and their great families. Here are my Top 7 Ways to raise an American Girl:

1. With joy. As a role model.

Our kids will become what we are. Be calm. Confident. Classy. Smile, it’s contagious! Be optimistic. Live with pure joy. They will, too. And then we’ll all get along much better!

Pretty certain we had these same smiles after tea parties with our American Girl dolls: at the actual store and especially at our own cozy home!
Pretty certain we had these same smiles after tea parties with our American Girl dolls: at the actual store and especially at our own cozy home!

2. Balance brains and beauty.

Our first evening, our girls planned an outing for a teammate’s birthday. They packed cute outfits. (All very age appropriate: love them in sundresses with just a touch of trendy style!) They found out the hotel shuttle bus would take them anywhere within 2 miles. They selected Olive Garden, 3 miles away. And they convinced the shuttle bus driver to take them there! Smart, confident, reasonable: that’s beautiful.

10314673_635249303231443_2999005826960238867_n

 

They're back! I'm sure there were enough seat belts for 15 young ladies (!).
They’re back! I’m sure there were enough seat belts for all 15 young ladies (!).
There's birthday girl Jaecy with our Julia on the left.
There’s birthday girl Jaecy with our Julia on the left.

3. Celebrate talents. Everyone has at least one!

Our girls seem to really seek out each other’s talents, no matter what they are. For instance, another teammate has an aspiring cupcake baking business. She surprised the birthday girl (and all of us!) with homemade, hand-decorated cupcakes, brought 424 miles. Here’s birthday girl Jaecy and her parents:

Jaecy with her parents while we all serenaded her.

Cupcakes by Payton on Facebook for my Lakeville area friends!
Cupcakes by Payton on Facebook for my Lakeville area friends!

4. Cheer on everyone. Yes, everyone.

Competition is amazing fuel. Yet so is good sportsmanship. These young ladies’ first game? Vs. the OTHER Lakeville girl’s team! It was competitive, tough and truly “the beautiful game.” So is this shot of them with their classmates, neighbors and friends … who just happened to wear another color jersey for a couple hours one day.

Lakeville vs. Lakeville
Lakeville vs. Lakeville

Later, our ladies cheered on their boy classmates’ team. The boys won. High-five, guys!

My style of cheerleaders: strong girls who themselves play the game and appreciate every move.
My style of cheerleaders: strong girls who themselves play the game and appreciate every move.

5. Appreciate accomplishments. Don’t be wimpy.

Water is a great way to celebrate a game well-played. The amazing Schlitterbahn Water Park is pure indulgence! So what if the weather isn’t perfect? Go! And then enjoy it because you have the place nearly to yourselves. That’s indulgence. And even makes lost sunglasses (rapids river) and cut lip (tornado water slide) bearable.

There's my JEEM girls. Julia, Elise, Emilie, Meaghan. #lovethem
There’s my JEEM girls. Julia, Elise, Emilie, Meaghan. #lovethem

water park 2

water park 2

 

water park 4

6. Do night life right.

Our third game was “Under The Lights” vs. a team from Oklahoma. It was a magical evening, nail-bitter game and well-earned Win. Later in life (but not so many years from now), these ladies may take to a dance floor for night life. I hope they will be observant, careful and yet carefree in that night life. For now, they looked great on the pitch.

IMG_5634

 

Siblings Circle.

 

IMG_5614

Siblings circle.
Siblings circle.

 

IMG_5639

Big Win!
Big Win!

IMG_5644

7. Do everything with grace.

These young ladies also have a quiet faith, a sense that God will do his will. Yet they also do their part as Children of God, working hard for all they achieve. Like 2nd place at the tourney (1st place? The other Lakeville team, of course)!

IMG_5654

8. Bonus: A little appreciation for “jewelry” is a great way to raise American Girls, too!

IMG_5661