Category Archives: Travel

Made it to the Beach

We made it to the beach! What a journey it was the last few weeks to get to this point!

Pete finished work the morning of May 15. Two Harbors was such a good fit for us as a family. He worked there for the last year. We were able to spend lots of time with him there, especially after we started homeschooling in February. Not having to be back to Duluth super early each morning meant we could go up in time for dinner, get the kids tucked in in their own room across the hall from us, and then Pete and I could stay up watching TV and talking between patients and then sleep a bit in the morning. It made such a difference for us since then we didn’t have to wait all week to see him when he briefly came home. We’re so thankful to the staff and leadership at Lake View Hospital for allowing us to stay with Pete!

Once Pete completed his last shift, we set to work finishing projects and packing. I had already done a bulk of the packing and cleaning, but there are always lots of little things to finish with any move. This was particularly true since we’re moving to the other side of the globe! Managing mail, collecting keys, making trips to the storage unit and donation sites, paying all hospital bills, selling the Jeep, etc. I really hope we thought of everything.

The morning of May 18, Luke & Hannah came by to help us load up our luggage and get it to the airport. We had decided a few months prior that we wouldn’t have family take us that morning. There are just so many emotions tied up in saying goodbye and trying to get all the bags checked and through security. It wouldn’t have made for a very good goodbye.

Luke & Hannah have done so much life with us, so we were so thankful to have their help that last morning. We arranged the bags and then had a nice, long breakfast of donuts and chai with them before heading to our gate. Honestly, Luke & Hannah are like family, so there were definitely tears shed in that goodbye, but it was exactly how we hoped to leave for our first term abroad.

We waved goodbye to Duluth as we flew up over Lake Superior. It was a little hard to know what to feel as we left the city we so dearly love.

This girl loves to fly.

On the first flight she colored pictures for the pilots. When she gave them to the flight attendant as we left the plane, the kids were invited to sit up front for a few minutes. Obviously, they were thrilled. So was I!

Ella colored pictures again on our second flight and then joined the pilot for his lunch up front after everyone deboarded. I have a feeling she may be trying this on every flight in the future.

We’ve now been at the beach for one week. Pete and I agreed last night at dinner that we’re finally feeling like we’re able to rest. Neither of us slept well the first week, as we started our transition. I am so thankful to our coaches who told us in January we needed to take at least two weeks to rest.

Ready to conquer the beeeeeeach!

We’re still waiting for Pete’s work permit to go through in Kenya. Please keep praying it happens soon! We’ll keep you posted. And now that we’re resting, I have more time to write, so be sure to check back for more posts very soon!

 


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One Last Trip to North Dakota

We recently made our very last trip to North Dakota, and we’re not sad about it one bit. Of course, we may certainly have other trips in the future, but this was our last to visit my sister, Becky, and her family. The drive from Duluth to Dickinson is about nine hours, and we’ve made the trip many times in the last two-and-a-half years. But no more! And it’s not just because we’re leaving soon for Kenya. Nope! They are now back in Minnesota!! I’m really close to my sister, and our kids love being together, so having them so far away was tough. I know I shouldn’t complain since we’ll soon be on the other side of the globe, but it just feels different. We’ll be able to visit them in Pequot Lakes (where we all grew up) one or two times before we head off, but when we come back in two years, they’ll be close enough to visit regularly. That makes me very, very happy!

My parents still live in Pequot, so we drive the two-and-a-half hours frequently. We always start a trip to North Dakota by visiting them. One, it cuts down on the drive. And two, my mom hops on board and makes the trip with us! It’s a far better journey with another adult along. I usually make the trip when Pete is scheduled to work, so I’m very thankful to have my mom with us.

Sam is a fan of the big dog crate at Nana and Papa’s. Play away, my boy!

During our visit, Ella got to have a day of homeschool with my dad as her teacher. I’m pretty sure both were thrilled. This was a little project they did for fun. Ella is a huge fan of maps, especially when they include our future home.

We were also able to visit my grandma while we were in the middle of Minnesota. It’s always such a treat to see her. Also, she puts together the best afternoon snacks!

This is how we all feel about Great Grandma. The kids adore both of their great grandmas. I’m incredibly thankful they’ve been able to spend time with them.

Back at my parents’ house, Ella was introduced to Snow White. Clearly, she agreed that the Evil Queen is pretty awful. Being such big Disney fans, it was really fun to watch this one together.

After a day at in Pequot, we headed toward North Dakota. The magic of homeschool? It can be done in the car! Not one complaint from this girl. She LOVES math. (Not from me, mind you.)

We made the trip to North Dakota primarily to celebrate my niece’s sixth birthday. (Miss Maira is in the middle below.) We celebrated at Texas Roadhouse so Maira could sit on the saddle while everyone cheered. Pretty cute.

Sammy, do you love Texas Roadhouse??

We spent a lot of time at the pool back at the hotel. Sam is hit or miss when it comes to the pool these days. He doesn’t want to be splashed, which means we don’t really play in the water. But he doesn’t mind kicking his feet or letting me hold him while we float a bit.

Best part of the hotel? The water slide!! The kids were in heaven. Also, it saved us from finding other random ways to keep them entertained. Winning all around.

Oh, but we did find one other crazy piece of fun. I’ve seen Pie Face on the feeds of so many Instagram friends and decided we needed it. Have you played this game? It’s hilarious! We put a dollop of whipped cream on the hand and then each player takes turns twisting the crank until – splat! – someone gets it right in the face!

We only ran into two problems.

One: The girls got crazy loud with excitement, which was probably not the neighbors’ favorite.

And two: We ran out of whipped cream too fast!! But seriously, it was amazing fun.

The girls eventually played with a wet sponge when the cream was gone. It equaled about the same amount of excitement.

These two adore babies, so spending time with their cousin Liana was delightful. Sammy either wanted to give her kisses…or wrestle. He tends to switch in lightning speed from the first to the second, so we have to keep a very close eye on him. Liana may have two playful big sisters, but she’s not quite ready for wrestling. Sorry, Sam.

After making the drive back to Pequot, we were able to celebrate my dad’s 60th birthday! Yay, Papa! It was a really fun way to end the weekend.

Today my nieces went off on their first day of school in Pequot Lakes. I’m so happy they get to go to the same school we all did. Lots of the same teachers are there! They’ve since built a gorgeous new elementary school, so they’re not in the same building, but they will be eventually. They now live only ten minutes from our parents and twenty minutes from my little sister and her kids. Going ‘home’ is going to be such fun!

 

Are you curious about our progress toward Kenya? I know I haven’t been keeping up on the updates very well. I’ll tell you now that we’re sorting the house for what we’ll pack and what we’ll give away, which is keeping us very busy on top of our new adventure of homeschooling. I’m working on an update today and will have it posted in the next couple days. So be sure to check back! And thank you for continuing on this journey with us!


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Four Tickets to Ride – Up Pikes Peak

One site in Colorado we were set on seeing in January was Pikes Peak. I had imagined we would simply drive around and look at it because of all the snow, but then we learned about the little cog railway that takes passengers up the mountain. Sold! Anything that remotely resembles a train is an instant win in our family. Sam is absolutely in love. So after we had all acclimated to the elevation, we booked our tickets and hit the mountain!

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As we waited to board the little, red train car, Sam excitedly signed train over and over. Day. Made.

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There are just two, little, connected cars that make their way up and down the mountain. Big windows, vintage pictures hanging inside, and a fantastic tour guide all added to the fun of the trip. An added bonus for me? The guy on the speaker sounded exactly like Ron Swanson from Parks & Recreation. Who knows Ron Swanson? Made me laugh the entire trip!

One very excited little boy!

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His big sister was pretty thrilled, too.

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Winter trips up the mountain don’t go the complete 14,000 feet because of the snow. The 12,000 feet we did travel, however, offered incredible views. Like here at Inspiration Point.

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I’d love to see this again in the summer.

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I get to see these boys every day! Lucky me!

On the way back down, we made a half-hour stop to get out for photos and such. You know what wasn’t available at that stop? Food. And guess what Mom forgot to pack? Food. And you know what time it was? Past lunch. Amateur move, Mom. I did, however, have this little packet of salmon in the bottom of my bag, so we ripped that pouch wide open and ate it with our fingers. (PS My girl is so quick to pose these days. My little actress. All the heart eyes for this one, I tell you.)

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Sam was all about the salmon.

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Our dear Nikki joined us on the trip up the mountain. We met Nikki at training and instantly connected. She is an amazing young woman who also has an enormous heart for children with special needs in Kenya. She’s already been working for a while in Nairobi. We can’t wait to hug her again when we all meet up in Kenya in just a few months!

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So glad we got to take on Pikes Peak! God did a pretty incredible job creating these majestic mountains.

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Have you been to Colorado? What’s your favorite place? We could have explored her sites for weeks and weeks!

 

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A Weekend in Denver

I’m backtracking a bit to make up for not getting all the photos up following our month in Colorado! There was just so much each week, I didn’t have a lot of time to get it all posted, and returning to Minnesota hasn’t been much better. But we’re settling in to our routine again and finding a happy rhythm. So off we go…let’s catch up!

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Our last full weekend in Colorado was spent with Pete’s sister, Kathryn, in Denver. We first met up at the aquarium where we simply could not resist sitting down for lunch beside walls of fish. I’m pretty sure Sam has signed for fish at every restaurant we’ve visited since being at the aquarium! (He’s signing it here.)

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Our table was right next to this amazing tank, but we gave in anyway and pulled his chair right up to the glass. This was certainly his happiest meal out EVER.

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Following lunch, we made a slow walk through the aquarium. Sam could have watched this tank for days…

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…even with this creepy guy swimming back and forth with his mouth wide open. I mean, look at those chompers! And the eyeballs! What do you suppose he was thinking??

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The most memorable part of the aquarium was that we got to see REAL mermaids! REAL, you guys!! Check out this video. I had two very happy kiddos.

Denver Downtown Aquarium from The Mango Memoirs on Vimeo.

Of course our climber wanted to scale the palm trees on the way out of the aquarium.

IMG_1355 After spending the entire middle of the day at the aquarium, we headed back to Auntie Kathryn’s condo, which is in a pretty cool part of the city. While the boys took naps on the sofa, the girls walked to Trader Joe’s and a local pizza place to bring dinner back. That’s one thing I love about bigger cities. You can walk all over! And so many cities have a Trader Joe’s. Someday, Duluth. Someday.

The day after being at the aquarium, I got to meet up with a beautiful group of my mama friends! I had only previously met these moms on Instagram, but we certainly didn’t feel like strangers. I’ve been connected to these moms for more than a couple years. Lacey and I first found each other shortly after Sam was born. Her little guy, Ari, isn’t much older than Sam. I am consistently amazed at how we can feel like family with those we’ve never met face-to-face, but with whom we have unique bonds. Like these mamas. We are all raising a child with Down syndrome. This was definitely one of my favorite experiences in Colorado!

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How on earth did any of us catch a photo of the four kids together? We tried to convince them all to hold hands, which we though might keep them in one place for the photo. I don’t know who thought of that trick, but…genius. Sam wouldn’t hold hands, though. He just wanted to point and show everyone else where to look for the picture.

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But look! We got one! All looking in different directions, but we’ll take it. What would I do without such incredible mama friends through Instagram to share this journey? I so treasure the evening I spent with Lacey, Crystal, and Bethany.

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Such a fun weekend, but this isn’t all! We also managed to make a trip up Pike’s Peak! Check for that post coming up next. 🙂

 

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