April 29, 2016

Emerson's Golden 11th Birthday

Happy Golden Birthday to this guy right here. Eleven years ago, Emerson Alton changed our lives and made Josh and I parents, and life has been wonderful with him ever since. He is named after his Great and Great-Great Grandpas because, from day one, he was strong yet gentle. He is funny, imaginative and cares a whole awful lot; and he teaches me how to notice the needs of those around me. He is braver on a daily basis than I could ever be and the Frakers Five would feel empty without him. Happy 11th Emerson! We love you!
You know your kid is awesome when he reeeeeaaaaaalllllyyyyy doesn't want to take a picture on his birthday first thing in the morning, but does anyway.  Thanks for humoring me, Emerson!
My high school basketball coach, Mr. Paul Terpstra, encouraged me constantly to squeeze hand grips my entire JV career.  I passed the love to Emerson!  As well as teaching him what the word irony means.  That's another Terprsta thing.

Urban got Emerson a pump for his basketball.  Oh, the love.  It was the perfect gift.

Yellow cake with chocolate frosting.  His favorite.

Ida got Emerson a shirt with a T-Rex on it telling a joke.  Those two have shared their T-Rex jokes and laughs for years.  Great memories!
And Josh and I got him a metal detector.  It totally rocks!

Hours of fun and tons of yard holes later........happy kids.:)

April 27, 2016

Mall Of America, Minnesota -- (Spring Break 2016)

We stopped at the Mall Of America in Minnesota on our way home.  The weather in Rapid City was wonderful the entire time we were in South Dakota, and in Minnesota the weather was snowing and rainy.  Luckily, the only activity we planned was to hang out at the Mall for an afternoon, so everything worked out perfectly.
The Lego store, THE LEGO STORE!
Our kids went flippy for the Lego store, Ida, however, being the least excited.
But the entire concept of the store was fun for all ages.
We really enjoyed watching each other build legos, as well as, talking to the staff.  They were always coming out from some back room with something new and fascinating to show the boys.
It was pretty cool.
The Mall actually felt just like a mall, but on steroids.  
We felt the bustle of a mall setting while also feeling like a small amusement park.
The way the rides, stores, and plants are arranged give the park a homey feeling.
You have to go to understand.
Here are some fun facts about the Mall Of America:


  • .57 miles is the walking distance around one level of Mall of America
  • 8 acres of skylights allow about 70% of the natural light to enter the Mall
  • 4 out of 10 visitors to Mall of America are tourists
  • 4.3 miles of total store front footage
  • 7 Yankee Stadiums can fit inside the Mall
  • 27 rides and attractions in Nickelodeon Universe®
  • 32 Boeing 747s could fit inside the Mall
  • 65 semi-trucks were needed to transport trees to the theme park to create the outdoor feel of an indoor park
  • 70 degrees inside Mall of America whether its spring, summer, winter or fall
  • 86 hours is the length of time it would take to complete your visit to the Mall if you were to spend just 10 minutes in each store
  • 100+ pounds of food are fed daily to animals at SEA LIFE Minnesota Aquarium - plus 90 extra pounds on the days the sharks are fed
  • 258 Statues of Liberty could lie inside the Mall
  • 400+ events are held at Mall of America each year
  • 520+ stores are located in Mall of America
  • 7,000+ weddings have been performed at Mall of America
  • 11,000 year-round employees at Mall of America (13,000 during peak periods)
  • 12,550 on-site parking spaces at Mall of America in two ramps
  • 30,000+ live plants and 400 live trees climbing as high as 35 feet tall in Nickelodeon Universe
  • 32,000+ tons of trash recycled each year
  • 170,000+ Legos have been lost in the LEGO play area
  • 1.2 million-gallon aquarium at SEA LIFE™ Minnesota Aquarium
  • 5.6 million square feet of gross building area
  • 40 million visitors annually which is more than the combined populations of North Dakota, South Dakota, Iowa...and Canada
  • 130+ million number of rides ridden in the park since opening
  • $650+ million cost to build
  • Nearly $2 billion Mall of America generates in economic activity annual for the state of Minnesota
It was definitely worth stopping by while we were in the area, but we don't have plans to go back.
Spring Break over.

April 26, 2016

Spearfish Canyon, South Dakota -- (Spring Break 2016)

Spearfish Canyon was covered in a patchy blanket of snow the day we decided to hike and explore the trails there.  Josh was certain it didn't matter and that hiking would be fine regardless of the snow.  We all agreed to give it our best shot and trudged along down the trail.
About 1/4 of the way through, we heard laughter and talking across the river.  When we looked over to see what was happening, we saw a perfectly clear, wide trail on the other side.....that people were hiking......that wasn't covered in snow. Well, shoot.  We were definitely on the wrong side of the track, if you will.
No big deal.  This was a solvable situation.
We backtracked to the head of the trail and found our way to the other side of the river.
Hiking from here was a breeze.

I forgot to bring along my tripod on vacation, so my challenge the entire trip was to find areas my camera could balance properly so we could us the timer.  
I think I did a pretty decent job.

April 25, 2016

Devil's Tower National Monument, Wyoming -- (Spring Break 2016)

We decided to take a day trip to the blessed state of Wyoming.
It was absolutely awesome.
I always knew that South Dakota was famous for it's Black Hills area, but I had no idea that Wyoming also has area considered to be Black Hills.
Devil's Tower Monument is in this area. 

Some of the smallest towns we have ever seen, that actually post population signs and all.
One town we drove through, Aladdin, had a population of 15 in it's city limits!  Wow!
Each of these charming areas has a post office and a bar.  Anything else was up in the air.

Devil's Tower Monument
It was an amazing phenomenon.  
Devils Tower National Monument is a place for all interests.  The trail surrounding the monument is not a hikers challenge by any means but is definitely worth the fresh air and views for anyone hiking around it.  The day we were there, we saw two climbers just reaching the top of the base rocks before starting their assent to the top.  I can't imagine that hike/climb is easy by any means.  A climbing permit is required, as well as, the proper safety equipment. The granite formation is shaped like a stump and towers 1,267 feet above the tree-lined. It is said to be a plug from a volcano and that erosion has stripped away the softer rock layers around the "cork" revealing the Tower.
The tower was chosen to be the nation’s first national monument by President Theodore Roosevelt in 1906.
We have learned from this trip that President Roosevelt was a pretty cool dude.
The mountain’s markings are the basis for Native American legend. One legend has it that a giant bear clawed the grooves into the mountainside while chasing several young Indian maidens. Known by several northern plains tribes as Bears Lodge, it is a sacred site of worship for many American Indians. 

Around all of the trails at any of the National Monuments in the Black Hills are quotes from admirable people.  This quote from Mother Teresa struck me.  There is a wonderful silence around when hiking and exploring nature.  Several times we encouraged the children to be quiet and just listen.  It was very relaxing.

At one point on the trail I heard Ida say, "Look Mom!"
I turned around and found her swinging from a bent tree.
Emerson gave it a shot too.
I was happy to see each of the kids in their own time along the way, sit and reflect.  I know they didn't see me noticing them, but I did.
Really cool place.