Whew!  We’re back home from a quick trip to Sioux Falls, SD and have LOTS of great memories and pictures to show for it! Genna didn’t want to make the long drive, so that left room (though very little of it!) for Gracie’s boyfriend Joseph to tag along.  What a trooper!  All 6′ 3″ of him crammed in the back seat of my Honda CRV for 9 hours, then we put him through the ringer by introducing him to a million new faces.  We also had JUST enough room in the trunk for Ethan’s unicycle.  He proudly displayed his skills for anyone who would watch him all weekend long.  Suffice it to say that the little kids AND the grown up cousins were most impressed!

We started out with a baby shower on Thursday night for Katerina “Katya” Beverly Olson. 

That little girl certainly has her daddy wrapped around her little finger (and apparently the rest of us  too, as she was the reason we drove 1,200+ miles!)  Katya’s aunts Jess and Stephanie threw a lovely shower where we learned the “candy bar game” and had quite a few laughs!  Saw our great aunt Helene and cousin Jane – an added bonus.

Friday morning started with beautiful (not to mention delectable!) fruit, yogurt and granola parfaits on the Nesje patio, followed by a quick road trip to Brandt Lake.  It was 104 degrees but jet skis, tubing and floating in the “old lady chairs” helped us cope with the heat.  My biceps still haven’t recovered though!  While tubing, LaDawn and I hung on for DEAR life while her sister Pam did all she could to throw us off!

I’ve decided that Mark and I need to start the search for a little cabin on the lake so that we can spend every weekend at the lake for 31 years – just like Veryl and Donna Paulsen have!

We ran back into town on Friday night and cleaned up quickly to meet everyone at Grille 26 for dinner.  Afterwards, we sat out on Aunt Pam’s back patio and enjoyed the evening, which was finally cooling off!

An old friend (a boyfriend from 8th grade if you really want to know) saw my post on Facebook that said I would be in Sioux Falls.  He reached out via Facebook and I invited him to come over to join us.  Mike had just become a GRANDPA on the 4th of July and had, in fact, just brought his daughter and her new baby boy home from the hospital that very day.  It was really nice to reconnect with someone who I haven’t seen in at least 18 years.  (He even brought me a Skor candy bar, my favorite candy bar growing up.)

Saturday started out with a trip to the Farmer’s Market near the Falls.  The Farmer’s Market is held under a lovely pavilion and there was a great crowd.  Unfortunately, due to the direction of the wind the experience was spoiled by the not-so-pleasant odor wafting over from John Morrell’s meat packing plant.  P- U!

The city has continued to renovate the Falls Park area and that made for some lovely photo opportunities.  We took the trolley downtown and enjoyed shopping in the shops along Phillips Avenue.  I stopped in Holsen Hus and treated myself to  a Lefse pastry board.  Now I’ll be able to roll lefse with the best of them this November!  We enjoyed lunch (and Jack’s silly faces) at the Cookie Jar.

Saturday evening was Katya’s baptism, the reason for our trip.  Gracie was honored to be one of Katya’s sponsors.  My old piano teacher, Ann Okins, was the organist for the service and I really enjoyed having the chance to visit with her.  Afterwards, we had a good old fashioned Johnson Family picnic at Aunt Pam’s house, complete with chicken from the Keg.  Larry and Jan Anderson joined us and, as always, it was so great to visit with them.  Jan is, hands down, the most positive person I’ve ever known.  Every single sentence she spoke was a heartfelt compliment to someone, an encouraging word, or simply a kind thought.  I need to hang with her more often!  What an incredible example to follow. I’m very bummed that the memory card on my camera was full by this point, because I would have loved to have a photo of Larry and Jan.

Well, that was the the whirlwind weekend!