Cooper the Wonderdog

In honor of my fur baby Cooper’s 5-year adoption anniversary I thought I would blog about the way too skinny, battle weary, “vicious” stray with broken ribs, broken legs and worms that changed my world!
Yep, you heard it right. He was battered and broken and a stray on the streets of Texas that eluded the local dogcatcher for over a year.
Once an animal rescue finally got a hold of him they deemed him virtually “unadoptable.”  You gotta love an underdog, right?

So this is our story. Our story of trust, love and friendship.  My little monster is a Miniature Pinscher that we named Cooper.  Yes, he has baggage and yes he can be terrifying, but he is the furry love of my life.  About 5 years ago the kids were all out of the house to college in another state.  So we were empty nesters.  Sounds awesome right?  It had its moments of awesomeness but it’s really quiet after 2 ginormous boys are not taking up space in your house any longer.  On one of those really quiet Saturdays, I took out my motor scooter and went into town to run some errands and ended up in an accident.  Surgery was next and a LONG recovery process.  This is where the Coop comes in.  Since I was laid up I knew that I had some pity points with my husband and could pretty much talk him into anything.  Now was the chance for a new puppy!  I started looking into animal rescue places and found one called Midwest Animal Rescue right here in Minnesota.  I wanted a Miniature Pinscher because it was a good size and because I wanted a dog that would go everywhere with me and be up for any adventure.

I reached out to see if they had a Min Pin for me; I wanted one that no one else wanted and that is how I found the greatest dog in the world.  The rescue place sent me this picture of “Lambert” – that was the name they gave him.  He is SOOO NOT a Lambert – and I went to see him.

 

I knew that this was the dog for me; he needed me and I needed him.  Even though he had a REALLY rough history he was amazingly adaptable, was playing with the other puppies and was very inquisitive.  I wish that I could tell you it was love at first sight for Cooper but he was leery, can’t blame him.
Fast forward 5 years, that’s 35 years in dog years, and now Cooper is the smartest, quirkiest dog that knows how to dance like Beyoncé, jump like Wonderdog, sit like an angel and shake like a gentleman.  He can also sing to Bruno Mars “Locked out of Heaven.” He goes to the dog park, puppy day care and loves to find a sun puddle to lie in at home.  He has the run of the house and my entire heart!  The house is NEVER quiet now, the boys LOVE him and he has made my empty nest full of crazy Cooper fun.  I hit the puppy lottery when I adopted him- that too skinny, battle weary, “viscous” unadoptable stray just needed someone to trust and someone to love.  Guess what?  The unconditional love that he returns to me is 10 fold!

 

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Irish Strangers in the Night

On my recent trip overseas for our Waterford Irish Christmas event, I had the incredible pleasure to travel all around the Emerald Isle and connect with several generations of family members that I’d never met. It was a bit scary delving into the personal unknown. What would I say to these strangers? How would I carry on a conversation? What if they’re weird or worse off, don’t like me? YIKES!!

 

Well, I can tell you once the initial band-aid was ripped off and the first hug was shared, it was amazing how the human spirit took over.  I felt right at home with these delightful humans, who generously gave of their time to share in my life lasting memory making. Truly blessed! If you’ve been putting off looking up your family tree and meeting loved ones near or far-don’t waste another moment! I can’t wait to see them all again and continue our journey into the now, not so unknown.

Cheers xx

 

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Everyday {Inspiration} with Robin Shea

Well, Hey Everyone!  Here I am, my first official blog for Evine.com.  My goal is to simply introduce myself in hopes that there is a part of you that connects to a part of me.

My name is Robin Michaela Shea, I am a Southern gal, born in Louisiana, raised in Texas. I have been married to Greg Shea, the love of my life, for the past 28 years, and we have four awesome sons, Colton, Mac, Rylan and Rowdy.  In the spring of 2016 my son Colton married his sweetheart, Madison, and we added a beautiful daughter to our family.  For Christmas I received the greatest gift of all, learning that my son and beautiful new daughter will be adding to their family, blessing my husband and I with our first grandbaby!

I never imagined that I would raise four boys that really-truly ended up raising me.  As a young girl, when I dreamed of my family to-be, my dreams were filled with shopping, make-up, dances, clothes (lots of clothes), girl-chat and mother-daughter bonding.  Instead I found myself smack-dab in the middle of a world I knew nothing about.  Horses, hunting, fishing, dirt-bikes, football, weight-lifting, paintball, dare-devils, extreme sports, and smelly socks!  But through the dust, dirt and chaos of raising four sons, I found my purpose. I fell in love with dirt and I wouldn’t trade those stinky boys for anything. It is always a full-time rodeo at the Shea House, so much so that we named our fourth son, Rowdy!  We are a close knit group of southern crazies that love loud, eat hardily, pray confidently and kneel willingly.

So… Some of you maybe wondering how a southern girl from Texas, who raised four boys in Kentucky, ended up on Evine hosting Sweet Home Savannah with the awesome and awe inspiring Paula Deen?  Well, let’s roll the clock back to somewhere around 2002 and I’ll share my story with you.

As any young mother with four babies under the age of 10 can relate, I became mired down in the daily frustrations of managing my home and children. My husband worked long hours, often 12-16 hours a day and left me to handle all things domestic.  I found myself struggling to find joy in the chaos of my life.  Rather than being grateful for the privilege of being a stay-at-home mom, I allowed my daily routine of 24 x 7 Mommy’ing to take its toll.  I didn’t focus on the joy of raising my boys, I focused instead on insignificant irritants that ultimately robbed me of my joy and took a toll on my family.

One day, I just decided…

I was tired of feeling overwhelmed and frustrated; my family was my greatest gift and it was high-time I started acting like it!

“The struggle ends when gratitude begins”

~Neale Donald Walsch.

I made the decision to fill my heart with gratitude; I was going to train my eyes to look for blessings in even the most mundane tasks.  I was going to take time each day to find beauty and inspiration in everyday things.  I was going to soften my heart, let go of perfection, be more accepting of others and create a home for my family that embodied JOY rather than judgment.  This decision was life changing (to say the least); looking for Everyday {Inspiration} humbles me, keeps me grateful, joyful, positive and helps me remember that happiness is a choice.

My heart was so ready for this shift in thinking that my transformation was effortless.  Now it was time to heal my family. One of my family’s greatest struggles was meal time.  My boys were so active and participated in a number of extracurricular activities, this often robbed of us of very valuable family time and allowed fast-food into our lives on an almost daily basis.  Breaking this fast-food habit and recommitting to our health and nutrition was one of the changes I was committed to make.  My new-found outlook on life gave me the courage to tackle my family’s most challenging struggles.  So, I put a spin on old fashioned bulk cooking and began writing multi-meal recipes (3-in-1), which I referred to as Meal Stacking and I implemented an 80/20 philosophy with our weekly menu.

Incidentally, the 80/20 Lifestyle is the way I nourished (and still nourish) my family.  Monday through Friday I prepare healthy meals for my family.  Which means no fast-food, store bought cakes, chips, cookies, or soda etc.; but, on the weekend we enjoy our favorite indulgences together.  The 80/20 Lifestyle gave my family healthy nutritional parameters, while also allowing for delicious indulgent treats.  My boys are almost grown, yet they maintain the discipline and parameters set when they were young and continue to follow The 80/20 Lifestyle.

Meal Stacking allowed me to prepare quick and easy meals every night with zero hassle and The 80/20 Lifestyle kept my family’s nutrition on point!  I was so excited at how Meal Stacking and The 80/20 Lifestyle transformed my family’s dinner hour that I began sharing these recipes and philosophy with all of my friends and speaking to MOPs Groups (Mother’s of Pre-Schoolers) on the benefits and healing powers of the family dinner table and the importance of providing our children with healthy nutritional parameters.  Before I knew it, the local Bowling Green television morning program asked if I would be a guest on their show and demonstrate one of my Meal Stacking recipes and speak to The 80/20 Lifestyle.  I appeared on Midday Live in August 2004; I talked about the power of the family dinner table and demonstrated a Meal Stacking recipe.  The host and her viewing audience loved the segment, and after receiving many positive comments from her viewers, she called and asked if I would like to return the following week for another segment.  I was asked to return each week for several weeks until they invited me to host my own weekly segment… and just like that I had a career.  From my first appearance on WBKO’s Midday Live, I never missed a week for the next six years.

My time on Midday Live was an amazing period in my life, it allowed me to give birth to what would become my life’s work.  If I wasn’t preparing for my weekly segment, I was deeply engrossed in researching and studying human behavior.  I had to know if the miracle of gratitude I experienced in my life, the miracle that healed my family, my heart, and made my family whole was as simple as a shift in thinking?  And if it was that simple, I had to learn everything I possibly could about this empowering practice so I could I teach others?

In the fall of 2010, I got a call from New York. A producer was made aware of my Meal Stacking segments on Midday Live and asked if I would be interested in writing a pilot for PBS.  PBS sounded like the perfect outlet for my passion-driven message.  So, I wrote my first pilot, Southern Fried Fitness.  Southern Fried Fitness ran four seasons nationally on PBS and several cable networks.  The program centered around my Everyday {Inspiration} philosophy, and 80/20 nutrition.

In an effort to appeal to a more national audience, in the summer of 2015 we changed the name of the program from Southern Fried Fitness to Cooking 80/20 with Robin Shea and relocated filming to WKU (Western Kentucky University) in Bowling Green Kentucky where it is filmed today.  We have produced two additional seasons as Cooking 80/20 with Robin Shea; same great recipes and Everyday {Inspiration} philosophy.

Funny thing about Everyday {Inspiration} it inspires you to look, think and act outside of the box.  Everyday {Inspiration} taught me to trust my instincts and out of the blue, I was inspired to reach out to Paula Deen in early 2011.  I wrote her a letter and shared my lifestyle philosophy; and in 2014, Paula came calling. I received a phone call from Paula’s team inviting me to her home in Savannah to meet the Queen of Southern Cuisine and discuss how we could work together.

That was the beginning of our friendship…  Since meeting in January 2014, Paula and I have worked together very closely.  I am partners with her on her digital network, she has come to my home in Bowling Green, Kentucky and filmed two episodes of Cooking 80/20 with me, I write a blog for her website, we chat on her podcast, restaurant openings, book-signings, cooking demo’s, trade-show events and more, we enjoy spending time together and have developed a close friendship.

When Evine decided to launch Sweet Home Savannah, in Savannah, it was Paula that asked if I could have a crack at the host position.  Let me tell you, it hasn’t been easy.  I have never hosted this type of program before and it is a world apart from the work I have been doing since 2004.  The wonderful hosts on Evine are true professionals, they make a rather demanding job seem effortless; I admire each and every one of them.  I am blessed by the team at Evine and Paula for showing me such patience and encouraging me every step of the way as I learn the ropes.

Adding Evine to my life allows another opportunity for me to share my passion for Everyday {Inspiration}.  Whether I am presenting one of Paula’s beautiful sheet sets, something from her Paula Deen Fashions, or in the kitchen with Paula, you can be certain that I am sharing my heart in hopes that you may be touched by Paula’s Collections and find your own Everyday {Inspiration}.

I am looking very forward to getting know each of you, sharing wonderful opportunities to own fabulous items here at Evine and entertain you each Tuesday at 6:00pm (et) with my dear friend and mentor, Paula Deen

Dedicated to creating H.A.P.P.I.N.E.S.S.,

Robin Shea is all about finding inspiration in everyday living.

Everyday {Inspiration} is about embracing moments and sharing love:

family food fashion home health design and everything in between.

Robin has a pulse for creating a more joyous life, a life that fills you from the inside out!

Everyday {Inspiration} with Robin Shea: Inspiration for a happy life.

 

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Pura Vida

Pura Vida is the law of the land in Costa Rica.  It literally means “Pure Life,” but to Costa Ricans it means much more. It means that no matter what your current situation is in life, for someone else, it can always be less fortunate than your own, so you need to consider that maybe – just maybe – your situation isn’t all that bad and that no matter how little or how much you have in life, we are all here together. Life is short, so start living it “Pura Vida style.”

Our goal for our family vacation to Costa Rica was “Pura Vida.” We were going to go and be all in. Our plan was to experience all that Costa Rica had to offer, the biodiversity, the waterfalls, beaches, volcanoes and rainforests!

It all started when my husband and I were trying to think of Christmas presents for our 26 and 22 year old boys.  They don’t need more “stuff” is what we said, they both are paying back student loans, meaning they are working, going to school and really grinding it out (at least as best as a millennial can do).  So we decided, while we can, to take them with us on a memory making vacation. Costa Rica!

We don’t necessarily like doing the same things. Me?  Give me a beach and a spa and I am a happy camper.  Dad?  He wants a golf course and good Internet to keep working, even on vacation.  Connor?  He wants new experiences and a sports bar.  Alec?  He loves a challenge and meeting new people.  So how to combine all 4 of us and have a great time?  Costa Rica seemed perfect with its rugged rainforests, Pacific beaches and TONS of adventures for everyone!

We zip lined the first day (even though I am not fond of heights) and had a blast! Sailing through the tree tops was exhilarating and we had our guides to ourselves, so on a break, we had the bonus of getting to know these 20-something year old Costa Ricans and found out that the education system in Costa Rica is great!  Many go on to college and the government helps to make that happen!  The kids had a great time talking nightlife with the guides.  Pura Vida!

The second day we beached it, foot race competition between Dad and the boys resulted in the video below…hilarious!  But the unplanned sunset together with some champagne and Neil Young playing in the background provided the perfect night for mama to just “BE” with her boys. Pura Vida!

Third day we drove through 4 hours of small towns, stumbled on a festival and ended up at the Arenal volcano and the hot springs.  Wow!  Sloths, snakes, monkeys and birds provided incredible beauty. And with a total of 8+ hours together trapped in a van with just our family, we had lots of family time to share past travel stories, love it when the boys are captive and they HAVE to talk!  Pura Vida!

Day 4 was crazy cool with white water rafting in the rain forest.  Costa Rica is one of only 2 places in the world where you can white water raft in a rainforest.  We each got dumped out of the boat and we all took a much-needed break by swimming in a waterfall in the middle of nowhere!!!  This was my favorite day! Pura Vida!

 

I got to spend a lot of time together with my boys and that makes mama happy.  I always say I got 3 wishes – John, Connor & Alec.  My boys.  Pura Vida!

Pura Vida may be my 2017 life motto!  What’s yours?

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2017 Resolution

When writing this blog about my New Year’s resolutions, I thought “Well, that’s going to be easy!” My New Year’s resolutions really never seem to change that much from  year to year; lose a little bit of weight, exercise more, get more sleep – the typical, classic resolutions.  I’ve always enjoyed writing down my goals and resolutions, it gives me tremendous satisfaction just to see them on paper and I actually get quite ceremonious about it! However, this year when I sat down, I found it hard to find my focus and writing down the same thing just wasn’t doing it for me.

I’m very blessed that my family life is amazing and my work life is a dream so my resolutions always seemed to end up being about my own personal growth and improvement year after year.  But wait, maybe that was the problem!  Maybe that was the reason why my resolutions always felt so empty and unfulfilling. My goals have always been focused on…me.

After much thought of what really mattered to me, what made my heart feel full, what made me smile every day, what made me feel so blessed, (outside of my family, of course),  I finally figured out what my biggest resolution and focus of 2017 was going to be:

CHERISHING, LOVING and SHOWING GRATITUDE TO MY FRIENDS!

I’m going to start bringing my resolution to life with my absolute dearest friend who has looked out for me since I was five years old. She knows me better than nearly anyone and has been by my side for all the highs and lows my life has experienced so far.  She loves me unconditionally and I love her the same.  From a young age, she instilled within me a discipline and work ethic that was well beyond my years.  She taught me the importance of chasing your dreams, even though sometimes it was hard to keep the dreams in your sight through the fog of the “failures” along the way.  She taught me poise, grace, manners and respect.  She opened up doors of opportunity and helped me to not be afraid to walk through them.  She taught me humility and to always remember where I came from.  She was my comfort as I was losing my mom and reminded me that she was my “second mom” and will always be there for me.  Her name is Judy.  She doesn’t live close to me anymore, so I am committed to calling, texting, and sending her little gifts more just because she is “My Judy.” There really are no words to describe what a force she has been in my life and how I know, without a doubt, that my life would have turned out very differently if not for her.

So there it is, my goal for 2017:

To tell and show my friends that I love and cherish them with my whole heart.

Judy is just the beginning. Gratefully, I am blessed with many more friends who I will show my love and gratitude to as we journey through 2017 together.

It’s going to be an incredible year.

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Unanswered Prayers

Img70317For as long as I can remember, I’ve wanted to be a mom.  I dreamed of a little tribe of mini-me’s and all of the wonderful adventures we would have.  Holidays would be the best kind of chaos, family trips would create memories for a lifetime and our house would never have a dull moment.  So, when my husband and I found out I was pregnant after one short year of marriage (SURPRISE!!), I was thrilled that my dreams were coming true.  After a very healthy pregnancy and delivery, we were parents to the most beautiful little boy in the world!  William had arrived and just like that, we were a family of three!!

Chaos definitely ensued, parenthood was more than we imagined it to be and we were totally ready to keep growing our little family.  After a few years, with total confidence, we started planning for our next baby.  We carefully chose when we’d start trying and based on round one, we were sure it’d be just as easy.   I remember thinking, “this family planning stuff is a breeze!”

Well, round two did not go as planned.  In fact, after a year of doctor visits, we were shocked to learn, baby number two wasn’t actually going to happen.  Confirmed by every doctor and specialist in the state, I was not going to have another baby.  To say I was devastated is an enormous understatement. You know that type of sadness that literally hurts your heart and paralyzes you with depression?  That was me.  I was wrecked and deeply mourning the family I never had.  But lets not get into that.  That’s not what this blog is about.

So, after some time, my depression turned into anger.  Then, thankfully, my anger turned into motivation and that’s when I decided to get to work.  We actively researched and prayed about growing our family.  We explored our options, weighed the pros and cons, etc.  We were not going to give up on baby number 2.  So….we decided to adopt!!!   It was a whole new approach, but we were sure it was the right one!

After months and months of planning, meetings with lawyers, approvals, training, etc.,  it finally happened! Someone had picked us!!! I remember getting a note from a young woman telling me she had just had a beautiful baby boy and found our family profile on an adoption website.  She asked if we were interested in meeting and of course we cleared our calendar for whatever worked best for her.   She was kind, well-spoken, funny and full of love.  She had been through so much and still, was only worried about what was best for her baby.  I was so impressed with her selfless approach.  After a long conversation, I remember her letting me hold her baby for the first time and I immediately fell in love.  Like the first time I held William, it was a true, honest, unconditional love that happens so rarely in life. After spending quite some time together, James’ biological mom made what I can only imagine would be the most difficult decision of her life.  She asked us to be his forever family!
2013 holiday card james perf smile And just like that, there he was.  Baby number two.  He was more than we could have hoped for and the perfect person to complete our family.  James had finally arrived and we were a grateful, humbled, complete family of four.

There is SO much more to this story, but you get the point.  I purposefully kept many details out because, quite frankly, much of the story is just too sad.  And also, I want to protect our family’s privacy and the privacy of James’ biological family (who, by the way, are truly amazing.  We love them dearly and still have a wonderful relationship).  However, the reason I decided to share just enough of our story was because I know everyone has their own version of this story.  We all have that moment in life when our dreams are shattered or when depression gets the best of you.  Nobody is immune to heartache. So, I told my story to offer some hope, to whatever gets you down.  Because my darkest moments brought more love and joy than I could have ever dreamed of.  The adoption process reminded me to expect the best from others, not the worst.  James’ biological family proved that there are indeed incredible, selfless, loving people in this world.  And when I was on my knees begging God for a baby, convinced he was ignoring me, little did I know, sweet baby James was already in the works.  I am so thankful that my prayers to get pregnant and have another baby were never answered.  Had they been, our family would be missing a vital link.  James isn’t just another person, he’s the perfect person to complete our family.   It really is true
….some of God’s GREATEST gifts are unanswered prayers.

Family

With hope, gratitude and love,

Erin

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Norton Family Merriest Moments Christmas Tradition

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays from the Norton clan! 

family

We kick off our family holiday season by sitting down as a family; me, John (hubby), Connor (26) and Alec (22), to get our Christmas card together.

It starts out as a time to reflect on the past year and recall what we are grateful for and what have become our Norton Merriest Moments. 

We started this tradition rather than writing a Christmas letter, it was hard enough to get the boys to sit down and think of their Merriest Moments, much less get them to commit to write part of a Christmas letter….

Let me give you some background on this…so when we sit down as a family to eat a meal, we started sharing what we were grateful for for the day.  Now it didn’t have to be a life-altering, earth-shattering thing to be grateful for, all it was was a moment to find goodness in that day.  This way if it was a particularly hard day at school for one of the boys, or a trying time at work for us, we would have to pause and find gratitude in something, anything, for the day.  It could be, “I am thankful for the dessert mom made,” or, “I am thankful for my friends,” even, “ I am thankful that Cooper the Wonderdog didn’t poop in the house today!”  This tradition continued when friends joined us for dinner as well.  At first the guest would be self conscious about the whole grateful thing but after time, returning friends and family were looking forward to the “what are you grateful for today” moment at the Norton table.  So many times this opened up conversations that would not have been had. One special moment for a friend of my son’s and his mom who were at our house for dinner, for the first time in a very long time, the son said he was grateful for his mom.  Seems small right?   Not to that mom who was so happy to hear something other than grunts from her teenage son.

OK and THEN it morphed into “Sunday Steak Nights.” That, has taken on a life of it’s own at our house.

The Norton table is open every Sunday night to friends, family, coworkers, strays and people needing a fix of love.  Some Sundays there are 2 at the table some Sundays there are 12!  And the “what we are grateful for for the day” goes on and on and on.  So fun!  The more people at my table the more grateful I am!  And there is always somehow enough to go around, a little like the tale of the loaves and fishes.

So back to the holiday tradition…we wanted to have a family holiday card to be about what we were grateful for, since it’s kind of “our thing” now but we wanted it to be what we were grateful for for the YEAR!

It got crazy long so we shortened it for the holidays to: The Norton’s Merriest Moments

 

For 2016 the Norton Merriest Moments are:

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2016 Merriest Moments Continued

Past Norton Merriest Moments

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2014 Norton Merriest Moments

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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2013 Norton Merriest Moments

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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2010 Norton Merriest Moments

 

 

 

 

 

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The Great Outdoors

I’ve never been one with nature.  In fact, the whole idea of interacting with nature has often scared me to into a wild fit of screaming and dancing about like a crazy lady (it all started in third grade with an unexpected visit from a snake . . . eww.  And remind me to tell you about the gecko in Petite St Vincent. I still get shivers up my spine!).  Don’t get me wrong, I love and honor this great planet and respect all living creatures.  They each make this world beautiful and I love observing it . . . from a comfortable distance.

Erin blog 2 swimmingBut every year, my parents, my brother’s family and my family (#TeamNewburg) road trip to northern Minnesota for a week of family time and inevitably becoming one with nature.  This week I’m ‘up north’ with my family and we’re having a blast playing card games, swimming (in the chlorinated pool), taking long walks, snuggling up for movies and ‘unplugging’, as they say.  It’s been an annual trip we’ve taken for the past 8 years.  My boys just love spending time with their grandparents and cousins.  My husband gets more golf in this week than he does all year. My sister-in-law and I eat all Erin blog 2 fishingthe carbs we want.  My dad gets up extra early to take his grandsons fishing and teaches them how to cast and reel.  It really is a special week of family time that I treasure.

It is also a time that brings me insanely and uncomfortably close with the beauty of our great state.  In just a few short days, we’ve seen the following:

  1. Erin blog 2 turtleSnakes basking in the sun on the walking bridge
  2. Turtles taking a break on lily pads
  3. A frog on our grill, just in time for happy hour
  4. A wolf quietly observing from hole #5
  5. A bear, in the ditch watching the cars go by
  6. Eagles circling the pine trees, looking for lunch
  7. A deer surprising us in the gravel parking lot
  8. And more bees, mosquitos, birds, squirrels and chipmunks than we can count!!

Erin blog 2 hand in handIt’s incredible how beautiful a family vacation can be.  Not only for the uninterrupted time together, but also the reminder that even our greatest fears (whether reasonable or not!) can still provide the most amazing beauty.  I sit here in awe of what our great state of Minnesota has to offer and am thankful it provides a place for my family and I to enjoy the simplicity of life.  Lets be clear, I’ll still keep a healthy distance and there will definitely be many more unreasonable episodes of terror.  But, for this one week, I will become one with nature and simply enjoy the great outdoors.

Erin blog 2 fish cleaningI’d love to know how you and your family get away. We’re always looking for ideas for our family.

What do you love most about your state?

What’s your take on the great outdoors? Observe from a distance or become one with it?!?

 

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