Tag Archives: Shannons

Grandparents Vaction Hot Spot

My kids are lucky. One set of Grandparents has wide open fields, creeks to splash in, rocks to throw, and 4 wheelers to drive. Their other set of Grandparents have awesome parks right near their house and an indoor pool.

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Tim and I count our blessings because the kids had just as much fun spending a week at each set of Grandparents as they did at Disney World. This makes vacations on a budget a breeze when all we have to do is gas up the van, drive to the grandparents and then spend a week eating all their food and playing with all their toys!

Today’s photo favorites are from swimming at Grandma and Grandpa Shannons. They are all taken with my little blue camera. Some are okay photos but most are out of focus, but do such a great job capturing the kids’ joy that I don’t care if they are not great photos.


I think my favorite part of the entire trip was spending some one on one time with MIchael in the pool. He has come so far in his swimming that when he asked if I would teach him how to dive, I said yes. Diving is a scary thing if you don’t know how to do it. Kids can snap their neck so easily if they don’t learn how to dive shallow, so teaching how to dive was not taken lightly and Michael knew that. He worked really hard, and I regret not having a photo but I was too busy diving with him. He did so well and was so proud of himself. It was a great day.

The water was really cold. They were in the process of installing a new heater while we were there but the 68 degree water temps didn’t keep us from having fun we just had to take breaks to warm up every once in a while!

Here is Patrick being Patrick. I told him I would do a cannon ball if he got his hair wet…

Everything became infinitely more fun when the cousins arrived.

Something happened in the last 6 months since Christmas time. The age gap between Elise and Zeke shrunk and they became really good friends. It was fun to see and I think Elise was so relieved to have someone closer to her size to play with.

And of course an obligatory shot of Elise and her ruffled bum.


many many more photos here. 

Grand Forks Parks Tour

After our Disney trip this spring, I thought that a summer vacation in North Dakota visiting both sets of Grandparents would seem a little lack luster, for lack of a better word.

I couldn’t have been more wrong.

The rest of this week I am going to share photos and stories from our #NDsummervacay. The posts and photos will not be in chronological order. They will not be in any particular order other than, as I get photos edited I will post them and share the story behind them.

This morning I want to tell you about our park tours of Grand Forks and if you follow me on Instagram, you already know which park was our favorite.

We stayed with Tim’s parents for a week. They had to work during that week so every morning Tim and I loaded up the kids, Googled “park” and started driving. We don’t know Grand Forks well. We have been there many times over the years but mostly we stick to the street where Grandma and Grandpa Shannon live, the main street where the chain restaurants and big name shops are and of course Grandpa Shannon’s church which just happens to be at the end of the street where they live. So yeah, we don’t have the best grasp on where things are in Grand Forks and what Grand Forks has to offer.

We first visited Ben Franklin Park and it was pretty much like most elementary school parks except there was a large green space around it so while Tim and the kids played I was able to walk Lucy around without worrying about little kids coming up and asking to pet the dog. I am at a tough place with the dog. She needs to practice interacting with strangers but she is so unpredictable with strangers that I don’t want to expose strangers to her, especially little kiddos, to a dog that may or may not become protective and be aggressive towards them. So I walk perimeters and praise her every time we walk near (20 ft) a stranger and doesn’t react negatively. Ben Franklin park was good for this. The kids had fun too. Patrick loved the solar system play equipment.


We also hit up the playground at Lincoln Park. This was a fun and beautiful park and the kids had a blast on the play equipment. I love parks where the small kid equipment is near the big kid equipment. We even ran into a little girl Elise’s age and when I introduced Elise to the little girl I realized the little girl (who was with her nanny) was the child of friends of ours that used to work with Tim when we lived in Bismarck. I love that about North Dakota. You are never more than a few people away from someone you know. Someone always knows someone who you know or are related to.

Lincoln Park and Ben Franklin Park were the two runner-up parks. The hands down winner of our parks tour was Sherlock Park in East Grand Forks. The kids dubbed it Harry Potter Park because we were reading the last chapters of Sorcerer’s Stone when we discovered the park and the castle shaped playground made them think of Hogsworth. The boys even made friends both times we went to the park that were also excited about Harry Potter so they ran around pretending to be Harry, Ron and Hermonie with another kid playing the unnamable villain chasing them. Tim and I sat sipping our coffee, watching and laughing as the kids played. It was perfect. When my coffee was drained dry I picked up my camera and started snapping.

This is Harry Potter Park.


more photos here. 

Christmas at the Shannons 2013

Tim snapped this photo of me rolling out cookie dough for the kids at the Shannons. My two favorite things about the Shannons are that our kids have cousins close to their age to play with.

And secondly, but really, is probably my absolute favorite…. there are 7 of us “grown up kids” that all love to play board games. When the kids go to sleep I get to play with my siblings-in-law.

I was able to use my Christmas gifts from Tim (I posted about it here) to attempt to get a photo of all the Shannons together. The tripod was awesome and the remote worked great but the lighting was tough so I am going on the record now – TIM I want a flash for my camera. Please someone remind him of this come December :)

Here is a photo of the whole clan. It was the only one that had everyone looking in the same direction and every head was visible.

Here is the original Shannon bunch before Carmen and I came into the mix and shook things up a bit and added a dash of chaos. (Notice how my built-in flash lights everything up but also washes people out and make glares on glasses)

And here are a few of my favorite candids.

Oh, and not for nothing, the next picture is of Steve and today is his Birthday.

Waiting for your turn to open your presents in a family of 14 is really really hard.

My favorite.

This one is a close runner-up. Some day these two will gang up on the three big boys and take over the family.

Staycation Week 2 Begins with a trip to the park

I am desperately trying to play catch up. Bare with me. If you missed out on the first week of Staycation you can read about it here and here and here and here and here.

After Elise’s Birthday it was Sunday. Is it just me or do the days of the week just not matter when you are on vacation? My folks were in town for the afternoon so Elise and I opened up gifts and we all went to eat. They headed on their way shortly after supper which gave me 24 hours to prepare for the next wave of guests.

Tim’s parents, or as the kids call them; Grandma and Grandpa Shannon, came into town Monday night and stayed through Friday morning.

The first full day they were here Tim and I used them as an excuse (got to show your guests a good time!) to give Minnehaha Falls another go after my failed birthday picnic.

It was so much fun. I can’t believe we haven’t explored this gem before. We have been to the park twice for corporate picnics but never ventured down the hiking/walking paths until that day with Grandpa and Grandma Shannon.

The kids had a blast exploring the paths, throwing rocks in the water (still a favorite activity of my kiddos), watching the waterfall, talking about how cool it would be if it was a lava fall and how they could make lava falls in Minecraft and just enjoying exploring something new.




Minnehaha Falls will definitely become a regular on our list of parks, and now that we know what to expect, I will make sure to dress the kids in swim clothes and bring some water shoes to change into.

It didn’t take long for Elise to forge a bond with Grandma Shannon. They became quite inseparable over the 5 days they were in town.

Patrick of course was the first one to break away from the group and, like a salmon, he started heading up-stream where all the action was; i.e. kids building a rock dam.

Michael didn’t venture as far, but he still had fun wading in the water and figuring out which way the current would go while the other boys placed rock after rock on the “dam”

Photography side note. I learned that wadding into a heavy current and standing unevenly on sharp rocks to get a good shot makes it hard to focus on the intended subject. Man, I wish Michael was in focus here.

and here

I think the adults appreciated the cool water after the hike just as much as the kids did.

At the top of the hill we hiked was a splash pad. Luckily, there was still a swim suit bottom for Elise in the bottom of the stroller from when Beth watched the kids the weekend before. Elise was concerned with not wearing the right clothes for the situation, but after a few minutes she lightened up, made a friend and had fun. This shot was taken before she got over wearing a wet T.

The boys were not bothered by the lack of swim gear the slightest bit.

We headed home after the splash pad made a quick change into dry clothes, then took Tim’s folks out to eat for a belated Anniversary dinner.  It was a long day for everyone but it was a fun one. I know that the kids will have memories from this day for years to come.

More photos here