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Ellie did slow down for awhile…long enough to take a few photos.

The weekend after our birthdays was absolutely gorgeous. We decided to spend the afternoon hiking at the Lowry Nature Center. Jeff had fun testing out his new video camera. I had fun taking photographs. And Ellie had fun exploring.

I’ve also made a few layouts already using some of the photographs from that day.

 

Anna recently started participating on a competitive cheer team in the area and a week ago her team had their first competition. It was an exciting event with many good teams.

Anna’s team really brought the energy and attitude and did everything they were suppose to do.

 

I was so proud of my girl and her teammates.

 

All three teams.  The youngest team took first place in their division. The senior team was there for support but did not participate due to too many injuries.

 

A third place finish was something to be proud of.

Two days before Halloween and the girls ask, “Are we going to get pumpkins?” Of course we are! And of course we headed to our favorite spot: Peter’s Pumpkins and Carmen’s Corn. Jeff passes this place on his way to and from work daily and we love seeing Anna’s former Spanish teacher, Carmen when we visit.

OK, so maybe Anna is a bit big for a wagon ride.

Ellie is a much better size (at least yet this year) for Jeff to pull.

Not so fond of this odd-shaped pumpkin. It went back.

Jeff and Ellie headed one way looking for the perfect pumpkin.

While Anna headed another way.

Here’s the one Ellie liked.

Anna picked this one.

And Ellie needed a second one for her doll this year.

Pumpkin weight lifting.

Girls among the pumpkins.

Jeff and the girls and pumpkins.

Me and girls and pumpkins.

Sisters.

Carmen and Anna. Carmen was Anna’s Spanish teacher for six years.

After enjoying the morning hiking around Gooseberry Falls, we headed back to Duluth, picked up Brandon and went to Canal Park for the afternoon. It’s a great place to look at the boats and ships, eat, shop and people watch.

Watching the activity on the water.

Canal Park is famous for the Lift Bridge. We arrived in time for the raising of the bridge to let a large ore ship out to the open water of Lake Superior.

Standing directly under the Lift Bridge as it is lowered, Ellie wasn’t so sure that she wouldn’t be squished.

Aren’t we a cute couple. I wonder how many pictures we have like this from other years with the Lift Bridge in the background?

Our little darling at the Canal.

Our college kid in his new town.

Our beautiful daughter overlooking the beautiful City of Duluth.

The family.

Ellie enjoying the ride. It won’t be too much longer that Daddy will be able to carry her.

Throwing rocks in the lake.

Jeff giving advice for picking out the perfect skipping rock.

The men hanging out (as shot from the hip).

Another photograph shot from the hip, but I still like the line of her body.

Love her cute feet.

Ellie had a blast feeding and chasing the gulls.

You won’t see this too often– a grown middle-aged woman doing cartwheels in public…but the family dared me to.

Gooseberry Falls is a favorite stop among Minnesotans. As it’s name implies there are waterfalls. There are also lots of rock to climb over as you cross the river, trails to hike and just places to sit and enjoy the beauty.

After our dinner with Brandon in Duluth the night before we headed north into Two Harbors to our hotel and some swimming. Gooseberry was only a short drive away the next morning.

Jeff and Ellie crossing to the other side of the river.

Posing by the middle falls.

The view from the top of the middle falls.

Cautiously exploring the river before it cascades over the falls.

Gotta love this girl.

A quiet spot just below the upper falls…just starting to show a bit of fall color.

Anna.

Me.

The trail.

It was Anna’s 5th year participating as an MVC Jr. Cheerleader. It has given her an opportunity to perform on the field at the Dome during a Vikings home game many times. The first few years they held two camps each year–one during the summer for a preseason game and the other in the winter. Lately however, this has changed to be a once a year opportunity early in the regular season. After three days of practice the girls were ready to try out the field. It was only about 8:30 in the morning, but boy those kids had a lot of energy. As an alumni of the MVC I usually have the opportunity to help out. That means unlike the other parents, I get to hang out on  the field.

Anna at her morning field practice. Since she is one of the older girls she was in the back row.

Trying out the opponents bench.

The entrance. Love those poms held high!

Look at that hair go.

Ending pose with her MVC All Star teammate and friend, Lexi.

After the Jr. practice we headed outside for my A-Team practice and performance on the Plaza (more on that later). Some of the other activities on the Plaza include a round of “Fan Feud” pitting fans from each team against each other. Anna got selected to represent the Vikings fans.

Anna waiting her turn to represent the Viking fans.

I think she got the toughest question!

Showing off her prize for playing “Fan Feud”.

Back to the game and on the field during the second quarter waiting for the other girls to arrive in anticipation of their half time performance. My job was to keep 200 girls corralled and away from the Detroit Lion’s bench while shooing their parents down to the corner.

Anna on the field.

Mother and daughter on the field.

The Jr. Cheerleaders celebrating what would be the last touchdown the Vikings made that game. At least they were still winning at half time.

I did get a good view of Anna performing. The only bad thing was that it was mostly of her back. I choose to stay on the back side of the field to have a better view rather than from the front of the routine where I’d only catch a glimpse of her. Even from the back, her kicks are still amazing!

This was my favorite shot of her performance and one of the few times she was facing my direction.

She’s still smiling.

Love her enthusiasm.

(The video stops about 10 seconds before the end.) It was a great performance and a program that she’s enjoyed for years now. I know it has made many wonderful memories for both of us.

Our town’s annual celebration, Steamboat Days, was just last weekend. One of the highlights is always the  fireworks display. This year did not disappoint us. Jeff and Ellie and I arrived about an hour before the show so Ellie had time to try out the inflatable toys:

I ran into one of Anna’s new teachers, Deb, while waiting for our kids at the jumper.

The downtown scene.

Not sure what the blue and green guys were all about…

Waiting for the fireworks.

Eating mini donuts while waiting for the fireworks.

Finally, watching the fireworks. Ellie was getting a bit tired by this point, but she didn’t want to miss a thing.

The display was awesome and lasted a good 25 to 30 minutes. Thanks Steamboat Days!

It’s marching band season, some people might call it football season, but in this household we go to the games to watch the band. Austin is once again in marching band. This year he switched to the baritone saxophone. The group started practicing just three weeks ago (2 weeks before school started) and they are sounding and looking great already. It was a wonderful night to be at the game.

On the practice field before the game.

Ellie supporting her big brother’s school.

The band on the field before the game leading the crowd in the national anthem and the school song.

That’s Austin 3rd from the front.

Still playing as the band leaves the field as the start of the game.

Besides the band, Ellie was most interested in the cheerleaders. They were much improved over last year.

Of course, there was also some football going on. We only stayed through the band’s half time show so I don’t even know the outcome of the game.

The half-time show.

Austin our band-guy and the reason we go to high school football games.

Last Tuesday was the first day of school for my three children still at home and for my one at college. Both my girls were going back to the same teacher they had the previous year. Actually for Anna it’s her 5th year with the same teacher (she moved from being an upper elementary teacher to the middle school class). I think the girls were mostly excited to see their friends. Ellie was the first one ready to go.

Ellie insisted that her sister help her pick out the perfect outfit to start second grade.

Ellie and her Daddy.

Ellie and Mommy.

Next up was Anna. She seemed much less concerned about what she was going to wear this year (a sign of maturity), but still managed to look awesome.

Anna the eighth grader.

Anna & Ellie. I love that they have to opportunity to attend the same school at least for this last year. It’s nice knowing Ellie has her big sister just right upstairs to look out for her.

Mom & Anna.

At the bus stop: Anna and her good friend, Ali. These two have known each other since the first grade. Hard to believe it’s their last year at the school.

Off to school on the bus.

Although Austin usually leaves earlier than the girls,this first day the upper classmen didn’t have to start until 11! He did leave a bit earlier than that to go out to breakfast with his friend, Teddy.

Austin my sophomore.