Musings on Growing Physically…Emotionally…Spiritually

These Final Days of Summer…

Faired it up again way back in middle of August at my hometown fair. Two days with 7 little ones and one day there was several down pours. There was rides, corn, sharks, food, and SO MUCH fun had between all the cousins at the best county fair there around!

Traveled to a “cabin” aka house on Green Lake for a Wilken Family Vacation. Not all Wilkens could make it…but all the little cousins were there the whole week and there was so much good cousin time. Even though the weather stayed a bit chilled for August the kiddos persevered and played in the sand and water…sometimes with jackets…regardless. It was the clearest lake I’ve ever discovered in Minnesota. It was our first attempt at a house on the lake since dad died and there were more emotions than I thought I would have…mainly anxiety/fear of something bad happening; however, we had many people praying for us and it was a lovely week. I only ever want to vacation where there are cousins to play with!


Started preschool for Anne and Peter. I’m homeschooling the kiddos…for now..and it has been a great start to the year. Anne loves school and Peter is so eager to jump in…so we have a fairly solid yet loose go with the flow plan each morning which includes circle time, calendar, songs, letters, writing, art, math and lots and lots and lots of reading out loud. I have a multitude of reasons for why we are homeschooling…which you are more than welcome to ask personally any time…but I still always doubt myself too. Thankfully, there have been lots of small wonderful moments through these first few weeks where I look around and I think, “yes, this is right. This is what is right for our family.”


First official hair cut for Anne Girl..age 4 1/2. She was so pumped and her hair looks so healthy and lovely now!


Firefighter training for this handsome, hard working hubby. He is fulfilling a dream and is part of the on-call firefighters for A.L. This entails a class twice a week through Decemberish and lots of reading from an enormous textbook. He is still bussing plus being a great daddy to his kiddos always making time for “play tag just a little bit” as Peter would say.


Embracing lots of evening walks with this crew while daddy is at said firefighter classes.


Visiting friends and always creating the most unique ways to play that mommy would never think about.

Eating and crafting all the apples.


this kid is keeping me on my toes, teaching me what patience means again, clinging to me for dear life still, learning to go upstairs, trying to stand on his own, letting me get really good at cleaning multiple times a day, working my upper arm muscles, getting into constant mischief, and making me say…oh dear I’m concerned for what maybe up ahead. But man is he cute and though life is loud and SO MESSY, I can’t imagine life with out our Henry.

These last summer days have been full of such good things. But it has also been a season of great change and waiting for us and those are hard seasons to be in…but always I’m grateful for this life that I’m beyond blessed to have.




These Summer Days…

Visiting grandparents. Anne and Peter even got a special overnight of just them at Grandma Sue’s house…while Henry enjoyed being the only child with mom and dad. Summer makes for such easy traveling to see those you love.


Enjoying our last ice cream treat through our AWESOME library program. Even Henry got to be included which momma and daddy appreciated as he seemed to have the same ice cream likes as us!


Saying goodbye to daddy’s beard!


Being SO ONE. So Big. So Messy. So Curious. So Standing Up. So knows what he wants. So trying to keep up with the siblings.

Biking up a storm. Peter really got the concept of pedaling about two weeks ago and he has been going strong every sense. His cousin Leeland definitely helped push him towards this achievement…these boys oh they are funny.


Burning through pants and shorts (I think we have killed off 8!) with our butt scooting routine over here.


PUMPING!!!!! Anne is PUMPING. It happened on July 24…I was inside switching laundry when my named was being yelled out repeatedly by Peter. MOM..ANNE UMPING…Oh I said, I’ll come see…thinking she was just kind of kicking her feet as we have been WORKING ON THIS A LOT THIS SUMMER TO NO AVAIL and often ending in tears. Well indeed I go out and she is PUMPING!!!! It just clicked. Oh I could write a whole post about letting well enough alone because sometimes honestly parents it just has to click. We are so pumped (hahaha) as now there are only two we have to push at parks:) and Anne is so happy because she can go so high and touch the trees and sky.

Sibling play is the just best. Yes clearly we still have fights and issues…but something again just clicked and Anne and Peter have been two peas in a pod playing house, forts, reading, cars…you name it. The other day they were playing Prince and Princess and Henry was the wizard…way to include him in your play kiddos.

Checking off going to Sibley park in Mankato and Oxbow park in Bryon MN. We went o our first hiking adventure about a mile or so distance with some altitude at Oxbow and the older kiddos did so awesome. No whining or needing help once. Peter kept saying this is Unn..aka FUN! Longs Peak here we come.

IMG_1419Celebrating 7 years on the 7th! Yea. We celebrated by playing scrabble, drinking coffee and eating an early lunch…yes a we are parents and are tired so lets have a morning kind of date. Love this man and marriage. Anything worth having is hard work but it is worth it.


One Year with Mr. Henry


Oh Sweet Henry! You turned ONE YEAR on Saturday surrounded by a loving family both immediate and extended. It was such a happy day filled with butt scoots, lots of kisses from cousins and siblings, a long nap, swimming with mommy, a big supper, new books, and best destruction of cake ever. You were just so joyful all day long, and it was delightful to celebrate this year of life my Big-Eyed Henry.

IMG_1400What you Love Right Now:

-You love butt scooting…on floors, cement, gravel, sand, grass, wood. You have burned through 6 pairs of shorts..oh boy. When you aren’t supposed to be doing something you look back and scoot even faster as mommy or daddy chases after you.

-You love eating especially ears of corn, sweets, fruit, bread. You get super loud until you get what you want or you take it yourself…as we were rolling out with our groceries today I wondered how you were covered with cherry juice only to discover you had snatched one and ate the whole thing…I luckily got the pit out before you swallowed that too…oh Henry!


-You love your siblings and want to so badly play with whatever they are playing with or creating with which makes for lots of lessons and learning of sharing. They love you so much and are your safety keepers in preventing you from eating things you shouldn’t and scooting down the stairs. Oh the love!

-You are loving books..ripping them off the shelves but also touchy books, flap books and the ones with puppets…you especially think those are funny and giggle when mom moves the little animal. Yea…book reader number three!


-You love to wave bye bye and give high fives and pull yourself up and sit in the toy play car and just keep learning and growing and getting big my handsome.


The First Year is a celebration for the momma too! My sister said to me, “I bet you can count on one hand the times we’ve been apart and fit that all in one day.” It is true we have NOT been apart much my love and though some days they get long…I wouldn’t trade that my dear!

You ARE LOVED sweet Henry by mom and dad, Anne and Peter, Cousins, Grandparents, Aunties, Uncles, Friends, and most importantly by a loving God who has blessed us with a year of Henry.

Kellog : Wabasha : Pepin : A Mini Grimmius Vacation


When we started reading the Little House in the Prairie Series last fall, I desired summer trip to one of the many houses. Laura’s house from Little House in the Big Woods was less than 2 hours away plus some awesome other  perfect for our age kiddo activities we could include…so off we went.

It was GREAT…perfect length, perfect amount of outings, and perfect weather to throughly enjoy the amazing surroundings of the Mississippi river.

Lark Toys in Kellog, MN

  • My friend Diane has been telling me about this awesome place since she brought us back a handmade wooden rolling giraffe when Anne was born…and it is indeed awesome
  • In-house handmade wooden toys, you can even peek through windows to watch them working.
  • One of a kind carousel where each animal was made there.
  • Toys from the past
  • An amazing toy store where you can play and of course buy
  • Yummy ice cream to enjoy
  • and Llamas…always have to have llamas


Overnights at Wabasha, MN-Stayed at the American Inn

  • Wabasha was the only town that had a hotel and so there we stayed which was great. Not pictured was the multiple times we swam and jumped and swam and jumped and swam between our activities. Going to sleep was never an issue at night.
  • Wabasha is home to the film Grumpy Old Men…did not know that going into this. Very touristy adorable town that is right on the Mississippi river…so beautiful.
  • We ate Slippery Restaurant both nights that was right on the river front where we could watch boats, see the big bridge, collect rocks and see sightings of eagles.
  • One Night we walked over to a park on the river that had park elements mixed in with the natural settings. We were there for so long and much joy was found in climbing the rocks over and over again.

Pepin, WI- Birth site of Laura Ingalls!!!!!!

  • Seriously people…it was exciting! You know what is the best thing to do when visiting an original site is be listening to that book while you drive there…which we were doing! Something about hearing her describe the woods, tapping trees, driving to Pepin and playing outside in the big oak trees while you are literally driving in those areas is amazing and makes it come alive.
  • The house (7 miles north of Pepin)  is a rebuilt but on the original land that the family owned. You can go in and pull the latch door just like they had…it is kept bare in there but makes it available for people to see whenever.
  • We headed back to the town for the museum…which was okay (probably pass in the future but they had a play area and my kiddos appreciated that greatly).
  • Ate at the Pickle Factory right on Lake Pepin/Mississippi River.
  • Anne had an absolute fantastic time picking up the beautifully smooth rocks on the shore and finding all the unique shapes they came in…she filled her cup. Later we listened to the chapter where Laura filled her pocket full of rocks from the Lake Pepin shore and my literary nerd mothering heart nearly burst!IMG_1251
  • There was this sweet rock path leading into the lake you could walk out on to and we did and of course enjoyed throwing rocks into the water while Henry tried to eat ever rock imaginable.
  • On the way back to the hotel we stopped at a creamery in Nelson and had ice cream again.

National Eagle Center in Wabasha, MN

  • This a beautiful place that educated and keeps injured eagles from all over the country.
  • Right on the river front so you can view eagles…in the winter you see up to 400 eagles at a time because the water usually remains open in this area due to two rivers intersecting
  • I’ve never been so close to eagles nor learned so much about them
  • We attempted a class where we could watch the trainer feed Columbia, a female eagle. Anne and Ryan made it through the class but the boys and I had to leave. At this point we were pushing naps way late plus going on little sleep to begin.
  • Peter loved this beautiful fountain they had by the building that used water from the river with a waterfall and a little bubbling part in front for them to dip their feet in…he said it was his favorite part of the day.


On the way home, I told Ryan how well I thought this trip went for a 4, 3 and 11 month old.

The most stressful part was the eating…which I totally knew it was going to be going into it. Henry is just hard to eat with. Period. It doesn’t matter if we were at a restaurant, having a picnic, or eating breakfast (which we tried all three forms!)…he is loud, REALLY MESSY, destroys everything while he scoots, and not very contented for long…like at all. Mix that with a 4 and 3 year old who like to eat at super speed and be done make for a not so relaxing dining experience.

At one point, I remember looking at these other people sitting back in their chairs looking over the river and I thought, “I have not sat back once in my chair.” I was always on the edge of my seat, cutting up food, playing games, passing food, trying to keep a loud 11 month old happy or not eating the things he is supposed to do all the while shoveling in my food as fast I could too. We would take turns taking them on walks while waiting…and being by the river with boats was greatly helpful.

These are the days though and they really are great days someday and I’ll miss these 4, 3 and 11 month old kiddos I have right now.

…or Ryan and I will escape in the winter by ourselves and watch the eagles while we fully recline in chairs drinking coffee.

Now there were cousins…

“When they all came in, the little house was full and running over… [but] now there were cousins to play with! ” Little House in the Big Woods 


How appropriate that we were listening to the Christmas chapter from Little House in the Big Woods on our drive to visit my sisters and the cousins. I felt as though we should attach jingle bells to our sleigh so we could bring further announcement and joy to our arrival.

I’ve often mentioned how hard my sister Marisa and I work especially at getting our little  (yet growing!) group of cousins together because we want them to know and love each other. It is work and effort and kind of crazy…but we are so seeing the fruits of that labor and it is worth it!


Peter did a full run on sprint shouting, “LEEELAND” when he saw him and Leeland met him shoeless and I think underwearless 🙂 They were fairly inseparable the whole time. They are just so fun to watch…oh boys how their minds think so differently than girls.


Anne talked non-stop of playing with Lillian and Norah and of course holding Amelia in which she did all of the above. Anne is cautious/shy around other kiddos and so I love seeing her be so comfortable with her cousins to the point of complete silliness. On the second night, Anne came to me in a full on bunny costume, yarn braids and raccoon cap. She said, “Mom you have to come see our Pretty Funny Show.”  “Okay I will,” I said. She continued on, “Yea it is Pretty Funny because Norah is the Pretty part and does the dancing and I’m funny part because I’m a bunny that shakes her tail and plays the it is PRETTY : FUNNY.” …and Oh my it was priceless and indeed pretty funny. My niece and daughter have some great comedic timing and I do hope they want to act!

Bonus was seeing older cousins and aunts for our adventures on Tuesday where it is difficult to say who was warn out more…children or adults.

I did come home tired in large part to Henry still just really only wants me on these outings..the draw of the cousins is not quite there…BUT mainly I came Home grateful.

Grateful for a sister who just had a baby a month ago to open up her home to us and have her husband feed us.

Grateful for so much cousin play…with little mom needed interaction!


Grateful for older cousins who are loved and talked about and care for our little ones…I mean come on there are not many 22 year old nephews who will take there afternoon to go swimming with 7 under 7.

Grateful for sisters to talk and share as much possible in  the in between moments of crazy and feel so encouraged afterwards.

Grateful for sisters to take days off work and time from their schedules to have a day of togetherness


Grateful for my husband working so hard so we can have these family adventures in the middle of the week.

Grateful for our parents who instilled the value of family in each of us.

Grateful to have this family…Yea Summer!

How Big Is Henry…11 Months!


Oh my Butt Scooting Henry…Today you are 11 months old and indeed SO BIG.

-You continue to butt scoot your way across our house, lawn, deck, dirt, sand…anything. You can even get yourself into the crawling position but will continue working yourself upwards until you are on your butt and scooting away. The wear on your pants is noticeable little one. Also, not so fun when you poop and mom does not know it and you scoot all over the place and until she does notice and leave a trail everywhere…yea that has happened TWICE!

-You pull yourself up on your knees often and have just started to pull up all the way to your feet especially when it is something you aren’t supposed to have in your possession.

-You are LOUD and fit right in with your siblings. You are especially loud when eating and mom cannot give you the food fast enough.


-Equal to being loud is being messy. So messy. You can take one tiny piece of banana and get it on your head, ear, arm, butt, toe, floor, high chair and then of course mom or dad. You also like creating messes especially of your siblings’ toys. As I type you are taking every single book off the shelf.

-You want EVERYTHING you can’t have: Rocks, dirt, sand, zinnias, remote controls, phones, cords, outlets, sharp knives, wipes, dirty diapers, plastic bags, scissors, pens, makers, glass…shall I go on my love.

– You have such a beautiful smile with your bottom teeth and now you have two on the top joining the party which will completely change your smile again. I would love to say you give your smiles freely to all but that is not true you keep them for those you especially love or those who are acting especially silly…your siblings win the smile prize often!

-You can wave goodbye now and giggle big time over books where little animals move or there are soft things to feel.


-You love your mommy and daddy A LOT and are cautious of anyone who is not.

-We love you handsome Henry and are in shock that it has been almost a year that we have got to call you our son!

Three Years Old My Peter Man!


Dear Mister Peter Man-

You are 3 years old today and this smile above is just about one of my favorite of favorite things I see from you my blonde curly-headed cutie. You woke up with a great big grin and sang with us as we sang happy birthday in bed. You smiled at each little birthday surprise of balloons, french toast, your yearly crown, your cake and as each guest arrived with presents! You  enjoyed each and every moment of your party and moment knowing it was your special day.

-You have gotten so big this year: going on the potty, getting dressed and putting on shoes mainly by yourself, going off to self play, heading outside to play even if no one else is there, and saying longer and clearer sentences.


-You love playing trucks and cars ever so much…lining them up, racing them, and taking people for rides. On the flip side you also love to play dolls with your sister too. The storylines you create are one my favorite things to overhear.

-Your sister and you are two peas in a pod this past year playing house, playing silly, playing wrestling, and just playing in general. Of course you have your squabbles but you are more often than not looking to see what the other is doing.

-You love reading books with us and getting snuggling on our laps. You can read Red hat Green hat and Brown Bear Brown Bear all by yourself. You especially love books about trucks and airplanes read to you and of course the tricky fox book.


-You love your daddy and “work hard” with him whenever he is outside working on projects the yard and of course adding sticks to our fire pit. You make sure to put on your work gloves when you are hard at work.

-You love running around, throwing balls, shooting nerf guns, and being silly. On the flip side you are the sweetest, cuddly, loving boy a momma could have. You often to say, “I love you mommy…I miss you” followed by a kiss. You say this often to both daddy and I throughout the day. You often mention cousins and aunt and uncles too. I can never get enough of this phrase.

-You have the silliest funniest facial expressions that make your cousins, baby Henry and me laugh a lot. I don’t know how you get your face to be that way but I’m pretty sure you have some natural comedic timing:)


-You have your loud demanding moments for sure my Peter but your love and smile and sweetness, and humor are just a delight to us all and we are so so blessed to have you as a gift for God for these past three years.

Happy 3rd Birthday!

Cat Pfenning

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