Sunday, August 25, 2019

The Day Before The New School Year

It's easy for our family to say we've had one epic summer. We had an epic birthday month of June, we had an 18 day epic road trip visiting 6 states, and we've had some epic times in between (like State Fair weekend). I initially took the day before school off to get last minute school supplies and go to Back To School Night. However, I found out a week beforehand that BTSN was actually the afternoon before the last day of summer vacation. Sigh. So I missed it, but happily so because I still had one more day of summer to spend with my minis and I decided to make it an epic one.

Visiting the Surf Ballroom and Museum in Clear Lake, IA has been on my Iowa Road Trip List for quite some time. However, it's only open on the weekends during the summer months (and our summer was pretty busy already) so I knew it would have to be a week day when we went. I took full advantage of our day off and drove the easy 1 hour and 45 minutes to Clear Lake for a day of music history, dancing in the ballroom, and playing at the beach. Having a special Mom and Minis Day was the perfect way to end our epic summer!

Every road trip requires snacks we wouldn't normally eat. This trip's snacks included pumpkin spice everything (their choice, not necessarily mine, but I didn't complain!). When we shopped for snacks the evening before, the oldest mini said, "I love when school starts because that means it's pumpkin spice time!"

I had a bit of time in the morning to get ready and not be a hustling mess. I drank my coffee and attempted to wake up. I was fighting a particularly nasty cold and wasn't feeling the best, but we pushed forward with our day! The youngest two minis have been obsessed with baking shows this summer and wanted to bake cupcakes. At 7 a.m., before I was even out of bed, these two started the oven (with the help of big brother) and made their concoctions. Elizabeth made a strawberry chocolate donut cupcake, while Harrison made a caramel apple cupcake (complete with chopped apples in the cake batter). I didn't try them, but I'm told Elizabeth's cupcakes didn't turn out great, but Harrison's were pretty good. I told Hubs to prepare himself because they're in charge of his birthday cake this year!

Clear Lake, IA is an easy hour and forty five minutes straight north from Des Moines. It was a super easy day trip to take with the minis--no potty breaks because it was so close and easy on and off the busy interstate. Google Maps helped me with directions once in Clear Lake, but for the most part, everything was really easy to find. We first toured the Surf Ballroom (the minis even got to dance on the dance floor) and then headed to the crash site (a quick, easy drive from the Ballroom, but on a gravel road).

We couldn't pass up the gift shop. Cat eye glasses for Lil Miss E, Buddy Holly glasses for the boys, post cards, and a tee for me.

The minis favorite part of the Museum was seeing all of the signed autographs of who has played at the Surf Ballroom. Their next question was "when can we see a concert here?"

Then the minis changed into their swimming gear and we headed to City Beach for some lake time. As Elizabeth said, "well, this is a beach, but just a kind of beach. Not like a beach beach at the ocean." I cracked up at her observation. The minis spent the next couple of hours building an elaborate sand castle and I lounged on the beach in the sun. It was perfection. The minis asked if we could do a weekend getaway here next summer and stay in one of the cabins along the lake. Even though I'm not a huge lake person, it does sound appealing and relaxing.

This adventure was close enough to home that we got home in plenty of time for dinner, to get ready for the first day of school, and get to bed early. I loved this day with my minis and I'm fairly certain they did too, as they told me "this was the best Iowa day trip we've ever had!" That's a compliment because we've had some pretty awesome day trip adventures in the past! I can think of no better way to end our epic summer than with our epic day trip.

Friday, August 23, 2019

State Fair Weekend

Fried Oreos, Snickers, and pecan pie. Our stomachs are still recovering from all of the fried foods.

Let me start by saying that at the beginning of the week we had no plans to attend the Iowa State Fair. Zilch. Then my cousin called and offered two free tickets to see Pentatonix. Apparently that was the push I needed because that brought all of us to the State Fair for an entire day PLUS the five of us all saw the concert at the fair Grandstand. It was truly a weekend full of memories.

Friday night the minis got their first night home alone. I had to work an event for the Children's Museum and Hubs wanted to make a date night out of it. The minis have been practicing being home alone for short periods of time, but never at night. Hubs and I decided to give it a try for a few hours on Friday night. They did great! They actually did better than if we were home with them....go figure. They're not ready for late nights or long periods of time by themselves, but it's nice to know we can leave for two or so hours and not have to worry about finding a sitter.

The next day we spent all day at the Iowa State Fair. We made a point of seeing and doing as much as we could. Our food list included: corn dogs, lemonade, a wrap from G Migs (which also won best new fair food), fried avocado, fried pb & j, onion rings, mac and cheese bites, pork chop on a stick, and fried Oreos, Snickers, and pie. As you can imagine we've been going through a food detox since then! Our to do list included: all of the barns (horses, cattle, sheep, pigs), Iowa craft beer tent (my favorite), free stages, the giant slide, seeing the butter sculptures, and seeing Pentatonix at the Grandstand. We didn't make it to several things on our list. We've decided that next year we'll go not only a full day to the fair, but we'll add in an additional day so we can see it all. This is the first year since having kids that the Iowa State Fair has been enjoyable. I'm hoping that future years are just as fun!

Sweaty hugs on the main concourse

Corn dogs while Hubs got a hunting and fishing license (we don't do either).

This made me really happy to see. Safety always.

The lines were crazy long! Thankfully they moved fairly quickly. This was the line for the giant slide.

This picture was a must at the Iowa Craft Beer tent. Elizabeth was holding my drink tickets and ordered my beer for me. 

This picture is titled 'City Girl Pets A Horse.' She quickly pet the horse and then freaked whenever it moved.

Biggest bull

We all live in a yellow submarine (made of corn on the cob)

The minis very first concert at the Grandstand. Max and I had two great tickets (thanks to my cousin) and Matt, Harrison, and Elizabeth sat in the waaayyyy back. We all enjoyed the concert, but Elizabeth made mention that "next time I want a really loud concert. Like, loud that I can scream and dance to." They ended the concert by asking what concerts are coming next year that we can go to!

Naturally, on Sunday we rested....WRONG!! We did sleep in, but I worked hard to get everything set up for daycare on Monday because that evening I went back to the fair! I had tickets to see Hootie and the Blowfish at the Grandstand, but I took advantage of a few more hours at the fair. The concert was amazing!! 90's me was extremely happy.

Setting up for one last daycare Celebration Around The World -- Yi Peng Lantern Festival.

I didn't have any time to run the traveling exhibit back to the Museum after the event on Friday night so we unloaded it in our garage. It's of no surprise that the minis found everything and pulled out their favorite fairy things to build with. At least it kept them entertained while I got the house ready to go!

Naturally the first thing to happen at the fair is get caught in a down pour. 

Mom's Night Out!!! This one was planned back  in November!

I completely forgot the Barenaked Ladies were opening for Hootie. This shot my excitement through the roof when I remembered!

I have never been on the last night of the fair. It was odd to see the entire fairgrounds tearing down for the year. I'm not even a huge fan of the fair and this made me a little sad. Until next summer Iowa State Fair! Thanks for a fun (and unexpected) weekend!