Picture My Life - 1999

As part of a creative exercise, I'm taking a picture from every year of my extensive photo collection and writing about it. I use the month and date to determine the folder # and picture #. This random but measured system will provide a glimpse into the people and places of my past.

This picture was taken in Hackensack, Minnesota, which not only has a great placename but was also the source of my Minnesota family's cabin for a few years in the late '90s. My mother was always good about getting the whole family together at a cabin for a week every year. It started in
Forest Lake, then moved to Aitkin for many years, later to Hackensack, and finally up to Mercer, Wisconsin.

This week away was always highly anticipated by both adults and kids. It was a chance to fish, swim, read and relax for 7 straight days. The tradition continued until about 8 years ago when the kids were starting to get jobs and such that made justifying the trip a little harder. Now it's dwindled to single families going up, usually on different weekends when they can.

But this trip in 1999 was when everybody was in. We drove 8 hours from Wisconsin to get there, which is no small feat given the ages of our kids in this picture, Sarah (4) and Benjamin (1). I remember those car rides - feats of strength and stamina. 

One of the things I love about this picture is how young and happy we look. We were just starting up into the hard years of parenting where it seems that some days, all you do is meet the physical needs of your kids - eating, dressing, pooping, repeat. Oh, to have some of that energy back. Young kids are nothing but energy and happiness and tantrums and work. It's amazing that we actually got them to sit still for this shot.

Pictures like this make me miss their littleness. I used to love putting them on my shoulders or carrying them around on my hip. The tickling and the snuggling and the wrestling. Loved the wrestling. The time goes so fast. I know I made the best of it at the time. I made it a point to be there for my kids, but that doesn't mean I wouldn't give a few days of my life to go back to this time for a bit. I guess that is what grandparenting must be about.

There are a couple of things that caught my eye about this shot. Donna is wearing a Myrtle Beach T-Shirt. Myrtle Beach was another vacation destination for our young family every few years. We met Donna's family down there and we all hung out on the beach and by the pool. 

I am wearing a Geomedia T-Shirt which was a GIS Software from a previous life. A year later, in 2000, we switched to ESRI's software, so now I wear those T-shirts. Ha! I was three years into my "new job" at Waukesha County and beginning to build a legacy there. I am fortunate to still be there 21 years later. 

Those days at the cabin with young kids were good years. Fishing on the dock with them, swimming, catching frogs, boat rides and lots of time with cousins and aunts and uncles. The adults would get together over some well-earned adult beverages while the kids played together. I specifically remember getting a 2-hour reprieve from kids on the last night and going fishing with my brother Rob. The only reason I remember it was because we laughed so hard in that boat over the difficulties of parenting. I almost split a gut. It was cathartic. I miss that boat time with Rob.

I sincerely feel that those times together with extended family brought all of us closer together. It gave us the chance to get below the superficialities of life and laugh a little while we all relaxed and had smores over the fire together. I highly recommend it. 


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