Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Solar Eclipse Party

Our biggest goal for the day: NOT to send anyone home blind! I'm only slightly kidding. I thankfully bought approved solar eclipse glasses last month (although a daycare mom came to my rescue when I was one pair short), then the rest of the day came together easily.

Our day consisted of: a cardboard rocket ship that they decorated and played with, learning about the solar system with these awesome magnets, "walking on the moon" with Moon Shoes, a showing of Space Jam, making pictures with glow in the dark stickers, and attempting to get views of the eclipse through the clouds (we were only slightly successful). On the menu was eclipse donuts for breakfast (with yogurt), Sun cupcakes, pizza for lunch, Star crackers and star fruit for afternoon snack.

The Moon Shoes came Sunday afternoon. The minis gave them a whirl so they knew what to expect. Unfortunately it was raining outside so the kids had to do them in my living room during our Solar Eclipse Party. I think they would have been more fun to do in the backyard, but the kids enjoyed them nonetheless. 

These magnetic planets were perfect for learning the planets names!

Earlier this summer we had a cardboard pirate ship during Pirate Day that the kids loved and played with. I decided to order the rocket ship for our Party. It has been well loved this week.

Thank you Krisy Kreme for our Eclipse donuts! They were delicious!

We tried out a lemon drop melon for the first time for lunch. We decided to try it out for our Solar Eclipse party because the kids thought it looked like a planet.

For us in Des Moines, Iowa, the solar eclipse turned out to be a pretty big dud due to cloud cover. We actually had a really fun experience about an hour before the eclipse started. I took the school age kids (the only age group I felt comfortable doing this with because they could listen about the importance of the eclipse glasses) to the backyard to practice putting on and taking off the glasses safely (I made them look down so I could be sure they wouldn't hurt their eyes). While doing so, they got a perfect view of the sun and got to see the sun through the glasses. They only got to see the start of the eclipse, but seeing the sun beforehand helped them identify the moon as it slowly went across the sun. I'm really glad I chose to do this with them. I also let the kids take the eclipse glasses home so they can safely look at the sun anytime they want.

I love in the above picture, the two kids facing the wrong direction trying to see the sun. I had turned them around facing the sun twice, but that didn't seem to make a difference to them!

Quick views of the eclipse from the driveway. I freaked a few kids out when I told them the importance of the glasses and not burning their eyeballs.

Glow in the dark space stickers. The kids also came up with their own planet and universe drawings.

While we couldn't see the eclipse perfectly, we did watch live feeds and were able to see it in various points. I'm so glad we got to experience this day! It was a great day for learning and having fun!

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Reunion Weekend

Last weekend was filled with reunions: a family reunion with my dad's mom's side of the family, my 15 year high school reunion, and a reunion with friends I don't get to see often. It got us out of the house plenty and made my heart full. We love our adventures and our weekends as a family, but every so often it's wonderful to get out, socialize, and spend time with people who hold special places in my life. To say I ended the weekend revitalized is an understatement. 

We had so much fun at our reunions that I failed to take a pictures. Here's a few that I remembered to take:

My husband decided to take back roads to get to my grandma's sister's house in Runnels, Iowa. We'll just say I saw parts of Des Moines that I didn't know existed!

I hadn't been to my Aunt Ruthie's house since I was a kid. I laughed when we first arrived because I kept telling my husband it was a big white house up on a big hill. Well, it was a big white house, but the hill was a lot smaller than I remember. Also, there was a pool in the backyard (I remember way before there was a pool). The minis enjoyed the pool all afternoon, while I mingled and reconnected with cousins, aunts, and uncles. I even got in some relaxation time by the pool.

We had the perfect amount of time to leave the family reunion, grab the kids dinner, change into a dress and flats (me, not Hubs of course), and head to my high school reunion. We missed the actual reunion portion, but happily took part in the drinks event at the AC Hotel. I definitely recommend  checking out The Republic on Grand. I failed to get many pictures (or ones I'm willing to publicly share at least), but we had a wonderful time and stayed out until 1:30 a.m. Huge shout out to Lauren's bonus kid for babysitting for us!

The next morning was a tad rough for mom and dad. However, we managed to get up (after only a few hours of sleep) and head to brunch with friends of mine. Americana brunch, followed by a walk through the Sculpture Park, and then a nice nap. The minis even went to bed at a decent hour and I did a long grocery shopping trip to various store by myself in the evening. This was one of the few times all summer long that I did the grocery shopping myself and didn't have them delivered. Not surprising, we ended up with a lot of things we didn't exactly need....that never seems to happen when groceries are delivered!

Friday, August 18, 2017

Pick A Better Time To Poop, Dude!

I want you to take in this picture below. It's my husband enjoying a dinner by himself. Quietly eating, food warm (okay, so it was re-heated but warm nonetheless), beer in hand. Notice all other spaces at the table have been left. Because dinner was over with when he sat down. It must be nice.

I'm calling him out on it too:

He was pooping.

How is it that husband's have a knack for "needing to poop" at the most in-opportune times?

Dinner time ✔
Putting groceries away ✔
During the worst toddler tantrum in the history of tantrums? ✔
When a kid comes out of the bedroom needing a drink of water five minutes after going to bed? ✔

Dear lord, pick a better time to poop dude! I just don't get it. I love you but our children are only going to remember you on the toilet. Is it just my husband?? Or do all husband's have a knack for "needing" to do something at the most inopportune times? So, I asked some of my girlfriends. Actually, it's a discussion we've had numerous times in the past.

Apparently my husband is not the only one with bad timing. It makes me wonder, are they doing it deliberately? I hope they have fun catching up on Reddit articles and YouTube videos because my time in the bathroom isn't any sort of relaxation. For me it's more like a race, like a beat your own time type of thing. If I'm gone for longer than 20 seconds I'll have an audience in the bathroom (which quite honestly I'm used to at this point in my mommyhood). But really, do I need to start planning things around this pooping schedule?

* Shout out to the Hubs who shrugged when I ran this topic idea by him and said, "I'm sure other husband's will understand me." 

Monday, August 14, 2017

Why I Don't Worry About The Future of America


In today's world there is much to worry about. Seriously, we live in a world where Donald Trump can be president. In light of recent events, I feel the need to raise my voice. Yes, there's A LOT we need to do to turn this country, this world, around. Many people say they don't know where to start or how to fix all of the wrong we have done. 

I have the answer. I see it facing me every day. I see it as more water is screamed for. I feel is as every reassuring hug is given. I say it when I confirm that the words "stupid poopy butt" aren't nice words to say. Yet they're the meanest words they can think to say to one another. For that I smile. I'm reassured.

The answer is in the next generation. The next generation who is still small, who have the kindest hearts, and more love to give than all of the adults I know combined. The next generation who hasn't yet learned how to judge another person, who are accepting and open minded. I witness it every day.

This summer, much like every other summer, has found my house full of children. One particularly beautiful day, the gaggle of kids were running out the door to the backyard. One little girl caught her toe on the door as she ran out. I asked if she was alright, but she kept running right to her friends. I assumed she was ok as she climbed into the tree house. What I witnessed next left me with tears in my eyes and my heart full of hope.

Two children climbed down from the tree house and ran inside. One grabbed a washcloth; the other grabbed band aids. Without saying a word to me, they ran past and climbed back into the tree house. They proceeded to clean the (above) little girl's toe, bandage it, and give her a hug. When they looked to be done, I made sure everything was indeed okay.

"Yep, she hurt her toe, but she's okay now. You can take the washcloth though, it has some blood on it. We'll watch her to make sure she's okay."

A six and a five year old stopped the game they were playing (I actually think they were dissecting a cicada in the tree house, but that's besides the point), helped their friend, comforted her, and made sure she was taken care of. A six and a five year completely took care of their friend. Without being told or asked. They did it all on their own. In simple gestures they displayed love, compassion, helpfulness, kindness, and complete selflessness. 

And that's our answer to fix the world. If we, as a failing generation, can keep it together long enough to show our children how to keep their minds and hearts open and accepting, they are our hope. They are quite literally our future. Surrounded by children like this every day makes all of the news reports, hopeless tales of senseless judgement, less scary. It makes me less scared for the world because of what the next generation can put forth. I don't worry about our future with the little minds I see each day. They will do better than we have done, than we are doing. That I truly believe.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Family Fun Weekend

Some weekends are meant for playing, some for working hard, and others for resting. We went with the first two last weekend. Friday night we kept it chill (in the words of our oldest) and did a family movie night over take out. Saturday started bright and early when the minis just needed mom (see video below). So much for sleeping in, but luckily I went to bed uncharacteristically early. We took our time getting ready and wound up at Waveland Cafe for brunch. Then we did some tax free shopping for new school clothes and shoes, spent a few hours at Living History Farms, spent a fair amount of time at Menards getting supplies for making stilts (and new screen doors), started the stilts project, and had a date night in after the minis went to bed. Sunday was project day: stilts, new screen door installed, house work, cooking classes for the minis, and ending the weekend with a family dinner at my parent's house. I love weekends like this one!

She's just too much for me sometimes. Red lipstick covering her face (not just her lips) and her precious sparkly cat shoes. She doesn't need much else to be happy!

Brunch. The oldest was NOT happy about the picture. 

I've wanted to take the minis to a historic baseball game at Living History Farms for years, but have never gotten around to it. We finally made it to one (or part of one, as we didn't watch the entire game). It was fun to see and hear the balls being hit as walked through the town of Walnut Hill.

For their birthday's, the minis got a vacation and season passes to the Zoo, Living History Farms, and the Science Center. Since we can come back whenever we want, we decided to split our visit. This time we spent our time in the town (rather than the farms). I'm really glad we did that because we got to experience all new demonstrations in the Drug Store and the General Store.

The kids got to grind cinnamon for medicine and received a hearing test (they all passed per 1875 standards). They also got to see toothbrushes and toothpaste and test out perfumes and cologne. We had a great time in the Drug Store!

At the general store we got lemon drops, gum drops, rock candy, and Sarsaparilla (also known as Root Beer) and viewings of a popular coffee cup from 1875--with a mustache guard! I really want a coffee cup like this one now! 

They cleaned up the broom shop.....and learned that kids in 1875 would finish up an eight hour school day, followed up three to four hours sweeping up the broom works. They're penny earned would go to their parents. The minis thought she was joking at first, then they were appalled by these facts!

The boys had the idea of making their own stilts after seeing some at Living History Farms. Lil didn't really want in on the project, just the pictures. The boys tried to push her out, but she made herself known regardless!

Stilt planning. To see a documentation of project, click here.

Sunday morning the minis woke up and made us breakfast. Well, as much as they could. Then Hubs went down and helped them with the rest. We had quite the feast after their cooking class with dad. They made our special drinks all themselves. We did not try the specialty drinks because after hearing that the Oreo coffee was made with whole Oreo cookies, milk, a dash of vanilla cappucino, milk, and cinnamon. So sweet of them for trying, but no thank you. We didn't tell them we didn't drink them though.....we waited until they were outside playing to quickly dump them out. We'll tell them someday.

New front screen door. We've been busy replacing the outside doors, next we move onto restoring some of the original doors and woodwork inside of the house.

The fur nephew after family dinner at my parent's house. He was being really good, just slightly nosing the toys.

Leave it to my daughter to find the one play purse and cell phone to use.

This (upcoming) weekend will be a reunion weekend: family and friends! I'm hoping the minis will be entertained plenty so I can catch up with everyone. Fingers crossed!

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Vegetarian Chili

I know it's only August, but we've had some cool evenings lately, which has left me excited for fall to get here (I mean, not too excited because summer is my ultimate fave). I can't get on board with pumpkin-y things yet, so the next best thing in my book was chili. I know my go-to chili recipe by heart, but I recently stopped eating meat. My mouth wasn't left watering after searching through vegetarian chili recipes, so I decided to create my own. Basically, it's about the same as my regular chili recipe, but with a few added beans (for extra protein) and no meat.

I grabbed any kind of beans I could off of the grocery store shelves, tomato juice and paste, chili powder, a green pepper, and an onion (full disclosure, I thought I grabbed an onion and didn't. In this batch of chili I used onion powder, but in the future I'll remember to grab that dang onion). I drained all of the beans and rinsed them, other than the chili beans. Those I put right into the crock pot. I used one cup of frozen lima beans (not the entire bag as requested by my kids). Once all beans were in, I poured the entire can of tomato juice in, scooped out the can of tomato pasta, chopped up the green pepper, and put a good amount of chili powder in.

The crock pot was put on low for 6 hours. At hour 5 1/2 I added a zucchini. At hour 6, we devoured. I added cheese and a dab of sour cream to the top of mine. Since the rest of my family is still (mostly) eating meat, I had a surprise for them. In a separate crock pot I made ground beef (with chili powder on it) that they added to their chili if they wanted.

Vegetarian Chili:

1 - 46 fl. oz. tomato juice
1 - 6 oz. can tomato paste
1 -  cup frozen lima beans
1 - 15 oz. can chili beans (do not drain)
1 - 15 oz. can pinto beans (drained and rinsed)
1 - 15 oz. can cannellini beans (drained and rinsed)
1 - 15 oz. can great northern beans (drained and rinsed)
1 - 15 oz. can red beans (drained and rinsed)
1 - 15 oz. can black beans (drained and rinsed)
1 - 15 oz. can garbanzo beans (drained and rinsed)
1 green pepper (chopped)
1 medium onion (chopped)
1 zucchini (added at the last half hour of cooking)
Chili powder

Cook on low for 6 hours.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Make Your Own Stilts

We spent a few hours at a local living history place (Living History Farms) this past weekend. I love how my kids get hands on experience of what it's like to live in the past. On this particular day, we learned a lot about the 1800's. 

Grinding cinnamon in the drug store.

The minis got to play with toys and games that kids enjoyed in 1875. One of which was stilts. Yes, stilts. 

We walked away from the stilts and my (wonderful) husband says, "I think we can make our own." A half hour later we found ourselves at the hardware store buying supplies for stilts. We grabbed:

4 2x3 boards
1 2x4 board (for the foot holds)
large screws

The boards needed to be cut into proper heights. We went with 6 ft. and 4 1/2 ft. for pole lengths. The boys sat down and determined pole lengths based on the ones at Living History Farms and how tall they were (they want their friends to be able to use them too, so we wanted basic heights.

The cutting was simple and didn't take long at all. The entire project took around one hour. Then it was play time!

For future reference, don't try it with sandals on!