South Dakota continued…

From the Badlands, we headed to Mount Rushmore!

We both loved getting to see ‘the faces’ as we heard a little boy call it.

One of my favorite pictures from the whole trip!  We then went through the lower level gallery, watched the film, and headed to the sculptor’s studio

This was what the sculpture was originally going to look like….

Can you imagine hanging from one of these harnesses for months on end while sculpting!?! Scary!

After walking the Presidential Trail to the base of the mountain and back we returned to where we took our picture before and this was the view…

The fog had rolled in and nearly completely covered the President’s faces!

Washington’s profile as we left the park

We then headed to our campground which was just off of Route 16A or Iron Mountain Road

3 tunnels and 3 pigtails later we made it to our campground!

This was the view as we went through one of the tunnels!

We then headed to Silvan Lake through Needles Highway which was also super neat!

Sylvan Lake

Sylvan Lake was absolutely gorgeous and we enjoyed the short hike around it

We both absolutely loved Sylvan Lake!

After we finished the walk, we headed down to the rest of Custer State Park and started on a hike called Lover’s Leap.

We were both kind of disappointed at the beginning because the hike was nothing spectacular…and I was a little nervous because right away we had seen mounts of buffalo droppings and some fur.  I did NOT want to come face to face with a buffalo while out of our vehicle!

The middle third of the trail was pretty neat as it wound around a creek that ran through the park…but it did start raining and by the end of the hike we were both completely soaked

The little creek

After the hike, we turned the heat on in the car and drove through part of the Wildlife Loop of Custer State Park.

Almost immediately we were met with about 10 buffalo!

They were just munching along happily on the side of the road appearing oblivious to the cars stopped next to them taking pictures!

We headed back to the campground, and were thankful that they had a covered pavilion where we could cook dinner and be out of the rain!

And..the rain didn’t stop!  It poured all night and looking at the forecast it wasn’t supposed to stop for over 24 more hours!

So we hemmed and hawed over what we wanted to do (our plan for the day had been to head out to Devil’s Tower) and eventually decided to just head home.  We were tired of the rain and knew that everything we wanted to do was outdoors.  Neither of us were really bummed but we quickly took down the tent, shoved it in the trunk of the car and headed out!

We stopped at the Minuteman Missile Site and listened to the audio tour there

This site was active during the Cold War and has now since become a National Historic Site

Our last stop on our way home was in Mitchell, SD

Of course…the Corn Palace!  We were both a little disappointed as they weren’t finished with this years design but it was still fun to stop!

Bob and Cornelius the Corn Palace mascot

10 minutes later we were back in the car headed the rest of the way home!

Bob was a huge fan of the speed limit in South Dakota!

We had such a fun trip (even though it was cut short) and I am already planning our next adventure!

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Badlands

Memorial Day weekend we decided (sort of last minute) to go out to South Dakota for a camping trip.  We left Thursday and drove out to Wall, SD.  I have to take a minute and praise Bob for being such an awesome driver…I did not drive 1 minute of the entire trip and probably slept at least 5 hours (total) in the car!  He is such a trooper and never complains when I come up with crazy vacation plans 🙂

Our first stop was the infamous Wall Drug, where we quickly walked through, took a few pictures, got a squished penny, and left because really…what else is there to do!?

Oh yeah…and Bob had some fun at their shooting range!

Then we continued onto the Badlands National Park

Bob and I had both been on trips to SD, but we were pretty young (11-13) so it was fun to revisit everything that we remembered!

We have gotten very skilled at timer shots with the camera, and rarely do we ask people to take our picture.  Bob usually sets it up and comes running into position!  I’m sure we look hilarious doing it…but it works!

We both enjoy hiking, and one of the trails leads you straight up into one of the peaks which was really neat!  Scary for me, since it was a bit treacherous but fun!

It was neat to see cactus growing on the edge of some of the rocks too!

We had a fun day at the Badlands, and were thankful that our tent didn’t blow over that night with all of the wind!


Sweet Baby Molly

My friend Emily, husband Ben, and big brother Eli were thrilled to welcome Molly May on the 16th.  Kirstin and I were so excited to go visit when she was only 4 days old!

Molly was SO precious and so sweet!

She is such a tiny peanut and we both loved getting to snuggle with her!

Big brother Eli wanted to play play play…so that’s what we did too! (Eli with Kirstin)

Kelly, Kirstin, Molly, Eli, & Emily

Adorable!

Mommy and baby 🙂

I made Molly a fleece blanket with her name on it…but of course forgot to take a picture!


MN Landscape Arboretum

A few weeks ago (I am seriously behind in blogging) my in-laws invited us to go to the MN Landscape Arboretum with their small group from church.  We happily agreed and spent the morning enjoying the gorgeous flowers!

The tulips were probably my favorite and there were so many varieties and colors…I really know nothing about flowers and gardening but I loved seeing these gorgeous tulips!

Bob was pretty excited because they had various Lego statues throughout the Arboretum which were really neat

They had signs next to each one that showed how many ‘build hours’ it took and the approximate number of Legos used.

The monarch was my favorite of the Lego pieces

Laurel and Dave

(part of) Their small group from church

Bob and I (with rhododendrons)

We had a wonderful morning, and ended with a picnic lunch!


Babysitting etc…

A few weeks ago, Bob and I babysat for our friends Rob and Laura.  Their girls Laila (2 1/2) and Quinn (7 mos) were so fun!

We bounced

Went for a bike ride…aka walk where Laila got tired of riding her bike

Laila

Quinn

We played outside, put the girls to bed, and watched a movie…couldn’t have been better!

Earlier that week a storm had hit pretty hard in the area and we had pea sized hail covering our deck!

Crazy! But thankfully we didn’t have any damage!

My friends Carrie and Beverly from work went garage saleing one day (after a night shift!) and we had so much fun!  We found a few things…but nothing super exciting.

My friend Emily is going to Disney with one of the little girls she baby-sits for and had asked for me to make some shirts for them.

These Minnie tanks are for Emily and Brianna (5)

Jaxson (Emily’s friends son) is also going so I personalized this Mickey shirt for him

I didn’t take pictures of all of the shirts…but I thought they turned out cute!


Minnesota Zoo

I had another fun day today with my friend Bri and kiddos Harper (3 1/2) and Declan (2 1/2).  We went to the Minnesota Zoo and spent the whole day checking out all of the animals!

Our first stop was the aquarium, and the kids were amazed at all of the fish!

I was not so much a fan of the various sharks that were there…

They rode the carousel (which is fairly new there) and both had HUGE smiles on their faces every time they went around.  The carousel had some really neat animals including a grasshopper, baby seals, and a giraffe!

One of the highlights of the day was feeding the goats at the Farm area.  At first, the kids weren’t too sure about getting up close to the over-eager goats.

This quickly changed!

And their smiles and squeals were priceless!

Dex LOVED them

I think that white goat ate 90% of their food…he must have been hungry!

The baby goats were my favorite…they were SO cute!

Look at Harper’s smile!

Leopard

One of the bears was swimming and it was so neat to see him right up against the glass

Lemur

Gibbon

Flamingos

Tapir

Declan, Harper, & Bri

It was so fun to spend the day with these 3…since they moved a year ago and now live about 30 minutes away from us we don’t see them nearly as much as we used to or as much as I would like!


Lydia

Kelsey texted me yesterday that their nanny was sick and they were in need of a sitter for Lydia for today…I jumped at the chance to get to spend the day with their sweet 14 month old! So…while Kelsey and Robbie were both hard at work, I got to play, play, play all day!

The weather was gorgeous today so we spent most of the day outside

We went to a nearby park…but trying to wrangle a toddler and take pictures is impossible.  We did have a lot of fun there though and it was tough for Lydia when we had to leave.

She is so sweet and fun!

We went for a run after nap in the afternoon and pushing a stroller plus a 20+lb kiddo is HEAVY!  I definitely got my workout in today!


April Fun

Every Wednesday night during the school year, I help out with our kids programs at church and it is a highlight of my week every week.  I work with the preschool aged kids (3-5) and it is an absolute joy.  After songs, story time, and games, I am responsible for teaching the kids their memory verse for the month and have them each recite it for me.  The prize is a fancy stamp-on-the-hand which never gets old in their eyes!  There is nothing cuter than a 3 year old reciting a sweet Bible verse!  They are not always short either…this fall we worked on Romans 8:39 which says ‘Nothing at all can ever separate us from God’s love because of what Christ Jesus our Lord has done’.  Now imagine hearing that individually from 20+ preschoolers, complete with hand motions….adorable!

We had our end of the year celebration this past week and it was so sad to know that I won’t have half of the kiddos next year since they will move up to the next age group!

Dave, my father-in-law has taught the boys group (3rd-5th grades) for years and years and has such a positive influence on these young boys.

It was bittersweet to say goodbye to my friend and coworker Liz (far right) as she takes on a new position that she is super excited for.  We have worked together for almost 4 years now and work is going to be so different without her!  We went out for a going away breakfast on one of her last shifts.

Saturday was a yard work day (after my mom and I spent the morning going garage saleing at a neighborhood-wide sale with over 100 sales).  I started burning our brush pile that has slowly overtaken a corner of our yard and had quite the impressive fire going!

Kelly, Kirstin, Alyssa, Mariah, & Emily

Today after church, I was so excited to meet up with some of my college friends!  It isn’t often that we are able to get together…as nurses it is SO hard to coordinate many schedules.  We had lunch at a cute cafe and spent a few hours catching up! Alyssa and Emily are both expecting sweet babies and I cannot wait to meet both of them!  I am so blessed to have such amazing friends that we can just pick up where we left off each time we get together.


Final Michigan

On top of all of the fun ‘adventures’ that we went on…we also spent a lot of time just playing and hanging out.  In Florida, B wasn’t too sure about me so I was a little nervous about how she was going to react to me.  Thankfully, I had nothing to worry about and it just about broke my heart when Carrie told me that she kept walking into the guest bedroom looking for me after I had left!

We briefly went to the local museum

Before hitting up the park

We played outside and just enjoyed the warm weather!

The grass was a new phenomenon that took some getting used to

Her ‘oooh’ face

We went for one last walk before I had to head home…and after 8 1/2 hours I pulled into the driveway!  I had picked out an audiobook which was perfect and I was able to finish the whole thing and made the trip go by so much more quickly!  I would highly recommend checking out an audiobook if you are going on a roadtrip!


Michigan Part 3

A rainy day took us to Lansing where we started off at the Capitol building. after a morning of playing inside.

The building is absolutely gorgeous…

We were a little disappointed because we started off on a tour with a school group, but after a few nasty glances from the teacher, we decided to do a self-guided tour.  Apparently she was not happy with having additional members on what she considered ‘her tour’…even though it was open to the public!

Governor’s Quarters

Even the door knob’s had Michigan’s seal on them!

Senate Chambers

Pushing the stroller by herself was a highlight of the day

House of Representatives Chambers

Seal of Michigan

It was cold and rainy…but we tried to make the most of the day!

We headed to the zoo (since Carrie’s membership allowed free entrance to the Lansing zoo) even though the weather was shaky…

Not even 15 minutes after we got there, the clouds broke and the sun came out!  The best part was that we had virtually the WHOLE zoo to ourselves!  We saw 2 other families the entire time!

The keepers were feeding a lot of the animals also which was really neat

Cute!

They had two rhinos which was probably my favorite part of the zoo!

The meerkats were so cute just lounging

There were peacocks that just roamed around the zoo, and they were definitely a favorite of Benta’s.  She kept pointing at them!

The penguins were being fed, and I could not believe how big the fish were that they were swallowing!

It was so fun to have the zoo to ourselves and we took our time and enjoyed it all!

The Mandrills were probably Benta’s favorite, and we spent at least 15 minutes watching them.

The lion also happened to come into the viewing area, and it was neat to see him gnawing on a bone!

Then we headed home to spend a fun evening outside!

Benta loves her little car, and their sloped driveway makes the perfect runway for fun!

She just laughed and laughed every time!

Seriously…could this girl get any more excited!?

Nick was literally running to stay ahead of her!

She was not happy to go inside either…it was way too much fun outside!