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Minnesota for Mothers Day: Part Two

Cole has been on a "pretend" kick lately, which is hilarious to see. Mostly because it's not a behavior he did much before but has really jumped into. And so far this morning, we've learned how helicopters work, watched wheat get harvested online, and yesterday watched the better part of last year's Indianapolis 500 after a request for "race cars."

His favorite is "fishing." Where he ties an old shoelace to an old egg carton and throws it over the baby gate. Kelly has even worked on catch-caught verb tense with him and he brings the two of us his haul to "eat." I'm working on asking what he's catching...tuna, salmon, trout? Which I find amazing for a nearly-3-year-old. It's like at some point overnight we lost a toddler and gained a little boy who is curious about absolutely everything. I'm sure "why" is next but "what's that" is his current favorite.

He also loves to "cook." This morning after we made real smoothies it was him pretending and us going over the ingredient list. Sometimes it's just him stirring with a spoon in pots.

Anyway, the first night at Grandma's house was surprising for how easily he took to sleeping somewhere new. We had brought most of his comfort items and his Thomas & Friends blanket. So we gave him a pillow and put a sheet on top of a blanket for some padding and told him mommy and daddy would be in later and all of the family would sleep in the same room. He just put his head down on the pillow and went to sleep. Really, that easy?! It was also amusing to see how our kids do during the night. Leda is restless which explains a lot of her sleep problems. Cole just ended up way off the "bed" and required some adjustment the next night to keep him warm. But he talks in his sleep which is cute and makes me wonder what he's dreaming about.

We waited for Grandpa Fred to arrive the next morning then headed to a few places we'd been before, but were trying again because last time I'd been out of it from my wisdom tooth surgery. The first stop was a fun restaurant along the river in Wisconsin called The Pickle Factory. It's the second story in a large building and is a kind of burger-joint, bar, patio dining casual vibe to it. You can see trains and boats go by, traffic on the highway across the river, the bluffs. The food is good, too. I had a bison burger that was perfectly seasoned and they make great homemade thick cut potato chips.

The next stop was Nelson Creamery which is a fantastic shop in Nelson, WI that features wine, literally hundreds of cheeses...and the homemade maple nut ice cream was to die for. We brought back a selection of goat/sheep mix with grapevine ash in between, cheddar, string cheese, squeaky (yes, the fresh ones squeak) curds, smoked cheese. Whew! So much dairy! Oh, and we love the New Glarus cherry beer usually but the cherry crop failed last year so we're trying their mix that they are selling as a replacement.

One of my favorite spots is in Wabasha, MN (back across the river) and is the National Eagle Center. It's at the spot in the Mississippi where Lake Pepin ends, the river narrows, and is a huge wintering spot for bald eagles. In general, Minnesota hosts one of the nation's largest populations. There's even a wild nest across the river in WI which we were able to see before the trees get leaves. Unfortunately, the babies have not done well this winter with the weather back and forth so survival rates are low. The first couple hatched theirs in the state in January with no chance of survival.

The National Eagle Center houses several birds which were injured during their lives and cannot be returned to the wild...there is currently one nearby that has lost a foot, but she would have to be put down if they captured her because they cannot keep weight on one foot for that long in captivity. She's better off flying and adjusting her footing on the trees.

The eagles at the center live indoors and get outdoor playtime in the river and in a yard. While indoors, their perches are, literally, feet away from the public so you can walk into a room and have very little between you and the birds. They bring them out for photo ops and do bird education sessions where they feed one right in front of you...not for the squeamish! Check out the photos below for some of these glorious symbols of...well, everything! They're quite noble indeed. And some eagles are even capable of taking down a full deer. Yikes! Saw pics! The eagles at the NEC mostly love rat, rabbit, fish. Not the same as hunting, I bet.

For Mothers Day, we were at a sheep and fiber festival nearer to the Twin Cities called Shepherds Harvest. Kelly probably didn't get to see as much of the knitting/spinning fiber part as she'd like, but let's be honest we were really there to see the sheep. And plot our "someday" fantasy of having a sheep farm. We were in the barn in time to see a breed of Shetland that you can pluck the wool off of once a year--no shearing. It's called rooing and the wool comes off in one piece with no cut marks on the end.

Cole got to pet a lamb. He was shy (dare I say sheepish) the first time around, but after lunch asked to go back and was much braver. Check out the pics below of some of our new friends: