I've got to start with the fun stuff, since that's how our summer holiday started! We spent our first week of holidays down at Potato Lake, near Park Rapids MN. There's a reason we keep going back. We have such a great time! If I said everything I could about camping down there, this would start to sound like a tourism blog! I just can't say enough about the place! So I'll keep it brief, since some of you have been asking about where we went (with photos from this year and the last few years).
First, the campground is amazing. It's a family owned/run campground, right on Potato Lake, with facilities that include a great pool, immaculate buildings, play structure, ice cream shop.... oh - and there's wifi!!!
There is just so much to do in this area - so I'll mention a few...
The lake - boating in general is great fun, but a boat ride out to the sand bar is always a must-do activity. You just 'dock' your boat in the sand, and get out into the water that's about a foot deep, and play water games or just park your lawn chair in the water and relax. We rented a pontoon boat this time, and enjoyed our time at the sand bar as well as just cruising around the lake, dreaming about life at one of the amazing lake front homes.
The biking - Minnesota has converted old railway lines to beautiful, asphalt paved bike paths. The Heartland trail is a 49 mile path that connects Park Rapids to little towns along the way, through wooded areas and farm land. It's so much fun, the scenery is amazing, and not having to worry about traffic when biking with kids is great! The stretch that we biked took us to a tiny little town (not sure if it's really a town - more like an abandoned town, turned restaurant and touristy strip - called Dorset). A stop at the old fashioned ice cream parlor or supper at the Mexican restaurant is a must!!
The food - Really, camping is all about the food!! And not always cooked at the campsite either! A favorite destination is the nearby Logging Camp for a breakfast fit for the lumberjacks! The site has some old logging machinery and buildings to check out, but breakfast is the main draw! It's an all you can eat, eggs/ham/hashbrowns/pancakes type meal, served family style at large dining hall tables.
The Fourth - We've always been there over the 4th of July. This in itself is quite the experience - But when in America....do as the Americans!! It's pretty awesome! The campground owners (siblings, 3 sisters and a brother) organize a Bike Parade for all the camping kids. The kids all get a bag of decorations for their bikes, and after putting all the finishing touches on, they parade through the whole campground, to the cheers and applause of all the campers watching.
We've enjoyed the afternoon 4th of July parade in Park Rapids, too. A little different from our local parades here!! And we head back to Park Rapids at dusk for the fireworks - a fun day in our week of camping!
The pool - This is where we spent a lot of our time! It was also a hi-light for Nate. I finally saw the joy in him, as he spent hours paddling around the pool with his life jacket on. It was just the break from routine that he needed. He loved it!
New things to explore - This year was the first time we went to a local amusement-type park. It had the typical bumper boats, mini golf, batting cages, laser tag, etc. Next year, we'll probably plan to spend more time there, as there was a lot for the kids to do.
The downtown - Park Rapids has your typical old fashioned, downtown strip filled with shops. From candy stores, clothing, trinkets, restaurants, home decor, and everything in between.
The Mississippi - For the cool factor of being able to say you walked across the Mississippi, a stop at the headwaters of the Mississippi River is a must. A fun learning expedition to boot!
The camping - And then there's just the sitting back, enjoying snacks around the campfire, games and stories that extend into the late nights. The slow moving life....where meals are prepared the slow way, and enjoyed in the great outdoors. Even washing dishes outside is more enjoyable!
So yes, this summer has had some pretty great highs....and it almost seems I shouldn't speak of the lows....but this is life - our life - and what's life, if you can't share it with others?!
After coming home from holidays, and spending another great week at home, the sickies struck me and Nate. I'll call it the flu... the fever and cough flu. I got through it and was feeling totally good after 4-5 days. Nate, on the other hand, was a different story.
He came down with the fever on Sunday and the next 8 days were pretty horrible. He was lethargic, coughing like crazy, and not eating more than a nibble per meal. A day or two like this would be acceptable for a child with the flu....but with Nate, and other children with chronic conditions, it's another story. By Wednesday, we had to do something, and the heart clinic agreed. I checked his INR (blood thinner level) on Thursday and it was way out of whack. That's one of the issues with being on blood thinners: it's effectiveness is directly connected to your diet, and the food consumed. Since Nate was on day 5 of not eating, it had caused his levels to get very high. We saw a local doctor, who after seeing his chest x-ray (which didn't look too bad yet), decided that in a case like this, you err on the side of caution and get some antibiotics in. It took another 4 days of not eating, the lethargy continuing, and the blood being unstable (doing daily finger pokes to check levels, and adjusting his Coumadin dose daily) before he seemed to turn the corner. It was the next week Monday, and he finally woke up with a small amount of energy, was a bit more chatty, and actually requested some food. All I could do was thank Jesus! What a long and exhausting (emotionally and physically) week.
So after coming off that "low", this last week has brought us back on the road to regaining some stability in his blood, and, back to square one, it seems, in regards to his attitude and behaviour. It's been a difficult parenting week. In fact, after a difficult day today, Don just joined me in the living room and said if we were drinkers, he can't imagine the amount of alcohol we'd probably be consuming!! Instead, we're going to eat some strawberry pie and watch a couple of episodes of 24 (yup, just getting into that show...about 10 years behind!!).
So that's been our July. The camping trip really did amazing things for Nate. The complete change in routine and environment seemed to bring the old Nate back to us. He has never been so happy as he was in the pool. For hours each day, our little fish found happiness and joy in the simple things! Maybe we need to get out for another week of camping now.... see if it works again!