Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Goodbye 33

These are my last few hours as a thirty three year old. I'm anxious and excited for everything year thirty four holds, but happily look back at thirty three. It was a pretty big year for me. I started thirty three a homeowner, I traveled. I valued my friends more and made time for them. I watched my kids get older and more independent. I joined a Board of Directors. I stepped back and only did things I wanted to do. If it didn't bring me joy at the moment, I didn't do it.

I'm ending number thirty three as a money making freelance writer, something I had only dreamed of before making it a reality. I lived more by my mantra "work hard play harder" and it has payed off this year. I now get to make a living playing day in and day out with all of my "jobs." It is not lost on me that I am ending thirty three and beginning thirty four overwhelmed and stressed with writing assignments and due dates so I can play REALLY hard next week during our unbelievable trip we have planned.

Thirty three brought lifestyle changes that have had a positive impact on our entire family (not just me). I climbed more mountains (literally, climbed...well, okay hiked on a trail but up a mountain) this year than any other year. I tried new things even when I was unsure. I lived every day of thirty three exactly the way I wanted; not always how I envisioned each day, but at the end of the day, it was good. Even the bad days (and there were several) left me with lessons learned and new life insights. 

People have asked me if I'm going to slow it down one of these days. My answer? No, it's not in my plans. It's not me and I don't plan on changing that any time soon. I may take a few more weekends to sleep in or lounge around, but I also enjoy life too much to sit around and not live it.

I attempted to choose a Top 10 for 33, but I just couldn't do it. So, here's some of my highlights:

33 brought out A LOT of gray and white hairs on my head. 

Moving into a new house that we bought was exhausting. Even more exhausting??? Looking at that wall paper! Shortly after we moved I put the minis to work tearing it down. That awful first layer came peeled off easily. The special layer underneath?? Not so much. I had plans to get it done in November and I had wanted to start a kitchen remodel. I got neither done. Instead I spent time with my minis, friends, community engagements, etc. So, we've been left with a wall paper filled with bouquets of daisies and a stenciled on flower cart. Like I said, it's special but still not as busy as the wall paper in this picture.

We saw hockey games, basketball games, football games, and baseball games.

It was one of those odd goals, but I had always wanted to be able to purchase a Rainbow play set for my kids, their friends, and daycare. As soon as we put in the purchase agreement for our house, I put a deposit down for a play system. It's by far the most expensive "toy" I've ever bought and by far the best investment in a "toy" I've ever made. I felt like a bad ass the day I walked into Rainbow, stated exactly what I wanted for the play set, and pulled out the cash to make it happen. I called it my "bad ass self-employed woman moment."

We spent so much time in home improvement stores from my birthday until November. I haven't stepped in a home improvement store since then because of home improvement burn out. Our house is livable. We'll get back to updating the house at some point in the future.

That weekend we did family fun night and started our daycare room painting project. My husband told me we couldn't get it done in an entire weekend. I proved him wrong....I also missed an entire section of wall, but whatever. I have it covered up by a shelf currently.

Trip #1 for the year to Chicago. This was the time that we unexpectedly walked 10 miles in one day because the minis were obsessed with the architecture of the buildings. Let's just say I didn't wear 10 miles a day walking shoes and ended up with blisters all over my feet. I wound up carrying my shoes and walking barefoot along Michigan Avenue back to our hotel. The famous conversations between my husband and myself:

Matt: I cannot believe you are walking barefoot down a Chicago street! Look around. No one else is doing that because they knew to wear proper shoes.
Me: I didn't know we'd be walking 10 miles, that wasn't the plan...and you're bitching at me for walking barefoot down Michigan Avenue. I'd be shocked if I was the first person to do this and I know I won't be the last." Conversation was done as everyone within ear shot was laughing at us.

Our BIG summer road trip: Badlands, Black Hills (Mount Rushmore, Custer State Park, hiking, etc.), Devil's Tower, Big Sky, Montana, Yellowstone, Grand Tetons, Cody, WY, and back to the Black Hills for one last hike before heading home. I have wanted to go to Yellowstone since grade school. I was so happy to make this trip happen for us and the minis. 

First time at 80/35 music festival. Fantastic night!

 We made the most of date nights and made sure to take a lot of them.

 We took the minis mini golfing for the first time. There were plenty of firsts throughout 33. I love that I continue to plan "firsts" for myself the older I get. The older I get the more I find it important to never stop experiencing new things.

 Daycare was still daycare. Fun, tiring, and never short on entertainment. This is a day I'll NEVER forget.

 New appliances!!! Yeah, yeah, I know this makes me officially old when I get sooooo excited about the new appliances I've purchased. But I'm seriously so in love with this washer it's ridiculous. I happily tell anyone I can about this washer and the tubeless toilet paper we switched to. Big things in an adult world.

 The minis reached an age where we could do the occasional night hikes or late night whatever and get through it with minimal meltdowns. This was a hike that I had wanted to do for years and we finally did it!

 Matt and I got away for a quick minute to Indianapolis to see U2. Best. Night. Ever.

 I became a dance mom and I had to buy business-y clothes to wear for meetings and such in the evenings. I can't really complain about my gigs: sweats and yoga pants during the days and business casual in the evenings.

 Apparently, the times I grew up in (80's and 90's) are referred to by my minis as "the old days." I was told this when I wore a baggy sweatshirt and my hair in a ponytail. My oldest schooled me on scrunchies that day too.

 Trip #2 to Chicago. 

 We made a point to attend more community events. This is how we're spending Halloween night from now on!

 So, after our eventful trip to Yellowstone, I became a vegetarian. I've learned to make my favorite recipes not only vegetarian, but vegan as well. Now, all of our homemade baked goods are made vegan, along with a lot of our meals. There's actually been very few complaints from the minis.

 Thanksgiving weekend was still my favorite weekend of the year.

 Looks like I'll be a dance mom for another year. Sigh. She plans to continue with ballet next dance season (in the fall).

 We spent A LOT of time on our couch from Christmas through January thanks to a flu-like illness that took us down (especially me). I actually enjoyed being down and spent quite a bit of time watching movies and catching up on TV shows. It sucks when I'm just starting to feel more like myself two months later, but I really did enjoy all of those movies.

We got to take part in the women's march this year. This was a truly unforgettable day.

Dear 34,


Friday, February 23, 2018

My Lazily Delivered World

I have my groceries delivered to our house once, sometimes twice, a week. I realize not everyone has this option, but it's become a very integral part of making our life less hectic as we take on more and more projects/workloads/etc. My husband and I have worked hard to provide a comfortable life for ourselves, but in doing so, have created numerous avenues of work for each of us.

In addition to my always busy and demanding daycare business and website, I am also heavily involved in the Des Moines Children's Museum, writing articles for other websites, and lately, tax season. All of this extra "work," would typically equate to less time with our kids, our family, and each other. However, my husband and I have always prioritized our kids and family time above all else. That means some things have to take a back seat to accomplish goals. Like errand running.

Nearly 99% of all of our shopping is now done online. Toiletries, presents, gadgets, etc. are all bought on Amazon (for the most part). All craft supplies and other daycare needs are bought from Oriental Trading or Lakeshore Learning. All of our groceries are bought at a local grocery store and delivered right to my kitchen counters. All we have to do is put it away. This is a luxury; I realize not everyone has these options or abilities to make these options happen. The relatively low delivery fee for groceries has more than made up in quality family time.

As much as this is a luxury for us, it's also been a huge time saver for us. I didn't realize how life-changing these few things have been until a couple of weeks ago. I failed to place a grocery order in time for Monday morning. Well, for food that was needed by Monday morning for lunches to be packed for school and breakfast for daycare. I decided I could just do the grocery shopping myself for the week. You know, like how I used to do in the olden days (as my daughter calls any time before she was in the picture). I braved the outside world and went to Walmart Sunday night. I might have run to Walmart quickly during the holidays for something or other, but otherwise, I have not been to Walmart since August. That's over six months since I had done a large grocery store run.

First, let's focus on how I'm sure I looked like a deer in headlights when I walked in. The lights were bright! The store was so big! Do I start with toiletries and medicines at one end or groceries? And do I start toward the back of groceries and make my way to the front or vice versa? How is their banana display that huge? And those beeping noises?!!? Dear lord, just make that noise stop! Even though I get out of the house quite often in the evenings, I've never felt more like a shut-in as I did as I was shopping that night.

Secondly, let's focus on the fact that these little errands (a trip to Walmart and a trip to a local grocery store for produce) took me TWO HOURS! Shopping that takes me twenty, thirty minutes tops, from my computer at home (ok, truth be told: from my laptop while I lay in bed) took away two hours of my time. And this wasn't even everything we needed for the week! Mid-week we had to do a run to a couple of other stores for various things. Long story short: I will continue to have our world delivered to us.

Delivery services saves me/us an incredible amount of time and patience that I no longer have for (some) public places. However, it also made me see how lazy my world has become. If I need anything, anything at all, it's a click away and will be here in 24-48 hours (or within a time frame of my choosing). I have to wonder, is my lack of patience due to this delivered world I've become accustomed to and depend on? While it saves me precious time and maybe even a little money (impulse buys are nearly nonexistent when shopping for groceries online), I do believe it has tampered my social interactions with others. As in, I have lost all filter when it comes to dealing with people, I say exactly what I'm thinking (this could also be a result of spending my days with kids, I'm not really sure), and my ability to wait in a line or sift through a crowd of people have gone out the window.

I had almost forgotten what it felt like to physically do the shopping that goes into us getting the things we need in our corner of the world. I'll be honest, while I continue to have things delivered directly to us, I can't help but feel that for all of the ways it helps us, it also hurts us. It's not beyond me that my kids won't know the joys of Saturday morning grocery shopping or the utter disappointment when the store is out of what you want (thus, they won't know "store hopping"). Maybe at some point in the future, we will change our habits or life won't be as crazy or the people in Walmart won't be so scary. In the meantime, I'm spending my Friday night on the couch streaming a movie on Amazon that I rented from my phone, buying a new bathing suit that will be here by Tuesday morning, and ordering fresh fruit that will be sitting on my cupboard by Sunday morning brunch.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Celebrating 34 (Early)

We had a very fun weekend celebrating my 34th birthday a bit early (it's next week if you keep track). At this point I'm simply counting down the days until our spring break adventure, so I'm trying to keep our weekends interesting. Saturday we enjoyed goodies at a local coffee shop and spent a few afternoon hours at the Des Moines Children's Museum. Sunday was our Sunday Family Fun Day. We had my beach themed birthday party with family and then went to the Art Center to see the newest exhibit Wanderlust. Having a beach themed birthday and the Wanderlust exhibit are both highly recommended.

Friday night shenanigans included playing board games and wrapping Elizabeth up like a baby. We're weirdly funny.

Reading. She's actually reading books and writing stories. You would think after three kids I would be used to this kindergarten transformation, but I'm still in awe of how much their little minds learn.

Saturday morning snowfall. The weather here has been so weird lately (but I guess normal for Iowa). We were literally watching a weather report online that said their would be no snowfall accumulations, when we looked out our front windows and saw the snow pile up rather quickly. As quick as it fell, it melted even quicker. By the time we left the house the snow was gone, the sun was out, and temps were decent. I'm so over winter weather.

And, of course, as we were walking out the door, I looked down and realized I had a black marker spot on my shirt from a mini. I went through a short disappointed stage, followed by a 'a should change my shirt quickly' thought, then an overall "screw it," and walked out the door. Spot and all. No one said a thing, so in my mind, no one saw it.

Our treats from Grounds For Celebration included black coffees, a mocha smoothie, berry smoothies, cinnamon rolls, and a mini champagne cake (for the kid that's always partying...that the middle mini for those who don't know).

Like father, like son.

Playing at the Children's Museum.

I was lucky enough to be surrounded by family, pina coladas, homemade vegetarian lasagna, and ice cream sundaes. The minis REALLY enjoyed the ice cream sundae bar.

 My husband thought he was hilarious for doing this in our pictures. As a result, I have no decent pictures.

After the beach party, we made a quick visit to the Des Moines Art Center. The minis were excited because the last art exhibit we went to was interactive. Wanderlust is not interactive, but they still enjoyed it. There was only one issue of running, followed by a round of tears, but then everything was just fine.

Apparently my kids know all about Dadaism and imparted their art knowledge on everyone who was within ear shot.

 Well, she did it herself.

Ending the weekend with taped nose because, you know, we're funny like that.

Only TWO more weekends until sunny Florida. We are all so ready for it!