Monday, December 31, 2018

Top 12 of 2018

So it's really Top 24 of 2018 because there were plenty of memories! We had a spectacular year from figuring out (financially) how to make dreams to come true to seeing them come true. I made a big effort to slow down and enjoy just being. Being home, being alone, being together, being content. I do have to laugh though because I really thought I took 2018 slower, but the pictures tell a different story!

Here's the highlights from 2018:

 We toured the Iowa State Capitol for the first time. The view looking down from the gold dome is priceless.
 We toured the giraffe barn at the Blank Park Zoo. We learned all about giraffes and got to hand feed them. The best part of the tour was as we stood talking to the zoo keeper, a giraffe really wanted food and started eating Harrison's hair! Harrison freaked and well....that was the end of the tour. Harrison says he doesn't care to do another giraffe tour any time soon!

 We walked our sleds up to the school yard (at the end of our street, only four houses away) and went sledding. Best sledding fun ever!
 Art became a passion for all three minis. We spent plenty of time at our local art museum and took time to create more. Max took up origami. We have a lot of origami around the house now. We spent an early birthday weekend at the opening of one of my favorite exhibits.

We spent 12 days in Florida. We drove from Des Moines through St. Louis, Tennessee, and Georgia all through Florida right down to Key West (and then back again). We have soooo many spectacular memories, but two memories stick out the most.
As we stood watching the night show in the Magic Kingdom, a group of college kids made room for the minis on a ledge so they could see. They all moved out of their way touching me with their kindness. So I was already feeling mushy, but then, each mini kept giving me hugs and kisses on my cheek telling me, "thank you mom for bringing us here. Thank you so much for an amazing day. We're so lucky!" It was enough to make me cry at the most magical place on earth.
The next week was filled with parasailing, fantastic meals, sightseeing, beaches, alligators, but these few hours at John Pennekamp State Park was unforgettable. We flew kites, ate on the beach, built sandcastles. What I remember the most is being completely at peace and happy. I have never felt such a peaceful feeling in all my life.

 The minis were old enough to understand and participate in April Fools Day. Best pranks ever!

 I created a mud kitchen that was the most played with toys all summer long!

 My mom, sister, and I went to a six hour long concert in Minneapolis. We saw Old Dominion, Thomas Rhett, and Kenny Chesney. It was great, my feet were swollen at the end of the night, and I was thankful to go to bed. Longest concert I've ever been to!
 Memorial Day weekend was unforgettable. We took a day trip to eastern Iowa where we ran across a swinging bridge, saw waterfalls, went to Backbone State Park, crawled through a cave, and ate our typical Iowa Road Trip dinner of Casey's Pizza while we watched the sunset over a field. 

 June kicked off our 50 States theme for daycare. This was the most popular theme I've ever done with the kids. 
 This was one of the scariest nights of my life. We got caught in flash flooding while out for Max's birthday weekend. It was an overly eventful night, which had fearful much of the time. I felt overwhelmed with gratitude to have made it through the night unscathed.

 We went to Yankee Doodle Pops for the first time and watched fireworks over downtown Des Moines. The highlight for me was watching my kids (barefoot) jumping excitedly in the middle of Grand Ave.
I finally went to Winterset Cidery for a night. I went with my sister and listened to a band, drank plenty, and watched fireworks sans kids for the first time in ten years. 
 While touring Jester Park's new Nature Center was fun (and the boys got to go canoeing on the pond), what's more important was this awesome selfie we managed to get. Coolest selfie of the year (for us).

 I had no plans to go to the Iowa State Fair this year. After seeing Kenny Chesney with Thomas Rhett in Minneapolis earlier in the year, I wasn't in a huge rush to see Thomas Rhett again, especially since I only knew one of his songs. BUT, when one of my "oldest" friends says "let's go!" we go. We made a night of it and I'm now a Thomas Rhett fan. After I danced in the Bud tent like I hadn't danced in a long time. It showed and I didn't care one bit.
 The very last weekend in August we spent in northeastern Iowa for Hub's birthday. It was one of my favorite weekend's of the year. I had no idea extreme northeastern Iowa was soooo gorgeous!

 We went on an adventure to Oklahoma Labor Day weekend. We were pleasantly surprised by Oklahoma and will forever have amazing memories. I couldn't decided which was our favorite part of this weekend, so I chose one that has us drinking our flavored sodas from Pops! This will forever bring a smile to face when I think about our day driving on Route 66 and learning all about it (the minis more than anything).
The second picture is of Turner Falls. Remember my feelings of peacefulness I felt on the beach in Florida back in March? I had those same feelings on this day, as we swam in the water, went down a metal water slide, hiked, took in gorgeous views of the Arbuckle Mountains, ate meals in the back of our air conditioned Expedition (it was so darn hot outside!), finding a little hole-in-the-wall gem called Arbuckle Mountain Fried Pies, and ending the perfect day in ordering pizza and watching Disney movies in our hotel room. It was an amazing day and one of my top 5 favorite things from the entire year.

 We spent a day at Ledges and took our usual/yearly pictures in the same spot as always. 

 Watching Lil Miss E perform at Festival of Trees was a huge highlight for this proud dance mom.

 Another proud moment the first weekend in December watching Lil Miss perform again, but my favorite thing from December was cookie decorating. Typically the kids don't get into it as much, it's one or two cookies and done while the adults finish the rest of the cookies. This was the first year EVERYONE got into it. We took our time decorating, did designs, chose frosting colors and sprinkles carefully, and we voted for our favorite at the end. It was, overall, one of those afternoons with feelings of happiness and contentment.

2018 was memorable and fun. We've got plenty planned for 2019 and I can't wait to see how it unfolds!

Friday, December 28, 2018

Fall Into Daycare

We had a busy fall at daycare. We got used to our new school year routine and welcomed a new baby to daycare in between learning to share, using words not whines, table manners, and potty training. That doesn't include all of the fun we've had from games to pumpkin smashing to arts and crafts. We did a little bit of everything this fall. Here's a look at October and November at daycare:

Halloween color forms from Target Dollar Spot. These didn't last very long due to lost stickers and bent pages, but they were fun for a few days of play.

Fall leaves using colored tissue paper. I found these on Amazon and they were so worth it!

Tuesday's and Thursday's are my quiet days. Sometimes the kiddos that are here (at daycare) those days, seem a bit aimless. They prefer a large crowd vs. a small one!

The kids taste tested persimmons. Also called "per-cinnamons" if you're three.

Toilet paper roll mummies

Story time in the pool of corn. This year's pumpkin patch featured two hay bales, a scarecrow, and a corn pool. After I broke no less than three vacuums the hay had to be used as decoration on the front porch and the corn pool stayed for a while longer. Three months later and there's still hay (and more) embedded into the carpet. I'm guessing it will be gone by the end of next summer....just in time for another year of the pumpkin patch. Moral of the story: we'll never have clean carpet.

Pumpkin sand (flour, oil, and pumpkin spice)

Everyone loved the corn pool. They played as much as they could in it.

This fall daycare tried a lot of activities to see if I wanted to do them at the Children's Museum. It's one of my many reasons I love running the programming at the Museum, plus daycare benefits big time. Sometimes this thing called time gets finding extra of it, but I love all of my roles.

We tried out pumpkin goop slime. It was a big hit!

Some kids are very particular about order. Actually, a good number of my kids get upset when they find something out of place. Putting up Halloween decorations, followed by late fall decor about did some of the kids in. It was a rough couple of days until they got used to the "new" in the house.

My old rock collection (from when I was in grade school) still gets used quite often. The kids enjoy examining the rocks. I may have to invest in a rock tumbler for summer.

Naptime slumber parties (as we call them) are very popular and a BIG deal to the kiddos. We've done a few of them now. More than anything they love snuggling together and watching a movie.

I got all of this ready for the Museum's Halloween Party. Everything was tested and daycare kids approved!

Costumes kept the kids entertained for a few days....and this is only part of our dress up collection!

 Outside time is the best. The younger kids love playing hide n' seek in the backyard. It mostly involves them running and yelling at each other, followed by everyone hiding in one spot together. They're happy and seem to enjoy it so that's all that matters.

All new baby stuff! It had been six years since most of the baby gear got upgraded. All through October new gear arrived to get us ready for the new daycare baby!

Brain Jello was not the hit I thought it would be. Most of the kids were incredibly freaked out of how real it looked!

I had to close early on afternoon to fit in conferences for the minis. Everyone got great reports, but the big shock happened when we looked in the youngest mini's locker and found every single jacket she owns. Ironically, before we left for conferences she was in tears because she couldn't find a jacket to wear. Life as a parent.

Again, the costumes were well loved in October.

The dinner table is an interesting place. If I remember correctly, this was a bedtime snack after dance for this one. Wednesday's are dance nights. Because of a rushed evening, Wednesday's are chicken nugget or mac and cheese night for the minis. Hubs and I usually order food from local restaurants. It was one of those nights when the food came early, so the minis joined us for our dinner and ate snacks. Elizabeth was in typical form as she ate her waffles.

We took a much needed break from life and went up to Northern Minnesota for several days. We went to Itasca State Park and Voyageurs National Park.

Everyone got to help clean out the pumpkin for carving and paint the white pumpkin. With our getaway and being busy before we left, we saved pumpkin decorating and carving for the last minute.

Halloween was so much fun! It's always a crazy night though....daycare kids are picked up just in time to go trick or treating, which doesn't leave a lot of time for anything else, like a healthy dinner. This year the minis got to go door to door with their neighborhood friends. The oldest mini spent the last hour of the night handing out candy.

 The cat was concerned about what was going on.

Max came up to me and said, "mom, I'm going to put fake blood all over my teeth to scare Harrison when he comes home." Thank goodness he told me beforehand because my heart still skipped a beat when I first glanced at him.

I tried out eyeball cupcakes for daycare's Halloween party. Our party had a haunted tent, snakes, pumpkin goop, a frog jumping game, pumpkin bowling and basketball, and festive meals and snacks.

Pumpkin shaped quesadillas, oranges, and mixed veggies for lunch.

Applesauce with candy eyeballs, rice cakes, and the ever popular Goldfish crackers.

We took some time to read this entire stack of Halloween books.

As soon as Halloween was over, our late fall decor came out including this turkey with a burn mark on it. I love getting out our "old" things and laughing at all of the memories they provide. This one because we were playing hide the turkey one afternoon and I threw it in the lamp shade. A poopy diaper sidetracked us and by the time the kids found the turkey, the light bulb had burned a little spot on it. Actually, it was smoking when they pulled it out, but.....memories that are funny now that was a true "oh shit" moment when it happened.

Another special moment from my kids. They were spending their fifteen minutes before bed getting out the last of their energy. I heard a huge crash followed by an "oh ouch!" When I asked what happened, Max responded, "I tripped over the house." I knew instantly he had attempted to hurled the house, but it didn't go well for him.

I've had a difficult time find paper shape cut outs in recent years. Luckily, I've been smart enough to keep originals throughout the years, so I spend plenty of time tracing and cutting my own. I usually do this with a bottle of wine and Netflix.

Hazards of the job: a dyed hand from using food coloring.

Doing plenty of toy rotations is a good way to keep the kids interested and engaged. We had a ridiculous amount of toys to rotate through. They're all well loved at this point.

I love hearing what the kids are thankful for! I always talk to them first about what being thankful means (for the younger ones, I tend to put it like, "something that you have in your life that makes you happy") and they easily grasp the concept.

Movie nights are always popular in the fall (and winter) months.

The old Fisher Price Laugh and Learn Home is a popular toy each time it makes its appearance in the playroom. The youngest of kids to the oldest (I mean, the 10 year old tries to use it as a hurdle so...) all love this toy.

Max began violin lessons this year. So, we've got two in piano, one playing violin, one in acting, and one in dance. It makes for some busy evenings in our house!

Some people find coins in the pockets of the clothes they wash, I find toys.

The corn pool went to live outside at the beginning of November. The kids still played with it daily during outside time, but the squirrels and birds loved it the most. At one point I looked out and saw a dozen squirrels and forty birds all in one area.

The minis got to help us vote. They are eagerly awaiting when they're old enough to vote.

Our Pumpkin Smash was a smashing good time! Read about it here.

Stickers are always fun.

This has become our new go-to mac and cheese.

I found these fall magnets at Dollar Tree. I stuck them to cookie sheets for easy playing.

The kids got to play Thanksgiving at their Thanksgiving table that was set up. They were shocked when I told them our art time was coloring on the table cloth. You would have thought I had five heads by the looks they gave me as I had to reassure them multiple times it was okay to do.

The baby area is all set up. It took a couple of days for the big kids to realize the baby stuff was not for them, but they got the hang of it!

The Little People Thanksgiving set was played with a lot. We often put it in sensory bins as well as just playing with it.

The new baby was instantly taken in and loved. They read him books, stop everything to tell me if he makes any kind of noise, and when he's not here, they thoroughly check all of the baby stuff just to make sure I'm not missing him. They have so much faith in me...

Everyone loves the toys, even the cats.

We made pinecone birdfeeders using Sunbutter.

The big kids love coming from school and taking over story times.

Hay and corn still on the floor...

The kids made their own clay turkeys. They were quite feathery.

Waiting for the baby to come....on a day the baby wasn't coming. They couldn't quite grasp that and sat watching his things.

We used afternoon snack as a morning activity. The kids decorated "log cabins" made with graham crackers, frosting, and candies. They concentrated so hard on making their cabins that they didn't even try to eat any of the candy as they went along.

So many baby snuggles these days! 

We had a great Thanksgiving lunch at daycare. Read about that here.

All of the new daycare toys for Christmas! New toys appeared the week of Thanksgiving, with new toys given to daycare every week until New Year's. I love doing this every year!