Tuesday, September 3, 2019

Labor Day Weekend

Maquoketa Caves State Park 2019. Also known as the time I found out my kids were little mountain goats apparently.

I was sooo ready for this weekend after the first full week of school! We had a big weekend with plenty to do. Friday night we celebrated Hubs/Dad's birthday with bbq and cake made my Harrison. Saturday we made a day trip to Maquoketa Caves for hiking and exploring. On Sunday, Hubs took the minis to his family reunion while I stayed home and used my time to complete my To Do List. Monday we rang in the last unofficial day of summer with a family lunch and an afternoon at the water park. My conclusions from the weekend are as follows:

  • Enterprise Rent-A-Car has amazing service! 
  • The Eastern Iowa Airport is the perfect place to watch planes come in and take off.
  • I'm going to miss warm afternoons at the pool and Naturdays.
  • Every weekend should be three days. Not only did I get to play, I had enough time to get things done too. If I had three days off every weekend my life might be somewhat organized. 

Who agrees with me on the weekends thing??? Now, without further ado, the weekend in pictures:

Harrison created an awesome cake! It was chocolate and vanilla swirl, with cherry filling poked in half of the cake, frosted with chocolate frosting, sprinkles, and candles (Elizabeth wants it noted that she put the candles in the cake). I had imagined Harrison would used the cherry filling in between the two layers of cake, but he gave me a look at my suggestion and said, "um, mom...you poke holes and fill the holes with the filling. That's what they do on all the shows." Again, this is what we get after a summer of baking shows. I'm not looking forward to when they start putting to use all of the knowledge they gained from the  home renovation shows they also watched.

Max shoved his mouth full of food just as we began singing Happy Birthday To You. Not the smoothest move as he attempted to sing and chew!

Our trip up to Maquoketa Caves should have only taken 3 hours. However, we made plenty of stops. One Walmart stop, on Target stop, one rest area, and Casey's for our usual "on the Iowa road pizza." That 3 hours turned into 5 before we made it to the State Park. To make things even more interesting, just a few miles outside of the Park, the powertrain in our rental vehicle began having issues and the right was...we'll say, jerky. We called Enterprise and we determined we could make it to the nearest Enterprise location to trade in the vehicle--but we decided to do this after our hiking adventure. There's never a dull moment in this family!

The oldest insisted on holding the pizza on his lap so he could eat out of it easily. He ate half of the large pizza himself!

It began sprinkling as we drove into the Park. Of course, in between the caves and the canopy of trees, the random rain drops never made it onto our heads as we hiked.

The first time we were at Maquoketa Caves (4 years ago), we did the east side of the cave system. This time we explored the west side thoroughly (and a bit of the east again). I can say that without a doubt, the east side is way easier to explore thanks to a board walk and stairs. The west side is a lot of rock scrambling and climbing! Both sides are cool, but the west side is where you want your adventurous souls to be.

When one mini wants a picture, they all want a picture.

I clearly did not spend enough time practicing my gross motor skills as a kid because I stink at rock climbing! I definitely got my shoe caught in between two rocks, had to have a 50 year old woman help me as I climbed down (oh the embarrassment), and nearly rolled down a hill. Meanwhile, my children did it all with ease. There were a few falls due to them holding their flashlights in their hands instead of properly gripping rocks, but they did much better than me! As one person commented, as they watched them ease up the cliff, "they're like little goats!"

The hill that almost ended me, I'm quite certain.

The directions to the Ice Cave were unclear, so it took us a while to find it (we took the long way around), but it was so worth it! We crawled in, stood up, then crawled to another part of the cave that had a little natural bench from the rock formations. It was definitely our favorite cave.

We made it to the other side from underneath the natural bridge!

Thank goodness there was a family ahead of us that warned us about the huge spiders in several of the small crawl through caves. Hubs went in to get a look and we decided to skip them altogether because some spiders were either wolf or brown recluse spiders! No thank you!

Oddly, by the time we made it to the airport to trade in the rental vehicle, it wasn't having issues anymore. We still chose to trade it in because I didn't want us getting caught on the interstate late at night with no other option. Our detour to the Eastern Iowa Airport wound up being a highlight. The minis explored inside the airport freely, checked out the baggage claim, and watched the planes come in while Mom and Dad transferred the contents from vehicle #1 to vehicle #2. That was no small feat considering all of our stops along the way....

My time at home by myself was quite productive. I got started on a couple of writing projects, got important emails returned, book orders placed, groceries ordered (plus our weekly menu made), cleaned the daycare room and set it up for the week, dusted, AND got dinner in the Crockpot. I was feeling incredibly accomplished even though I had yet to shower for the day! Plus, the minis had a great time at the family reunion AND they got an important errand ran. I wish all weekends were three days because I would have a lot more of these days without feeling like I was missing out on the fun.

I put together the apple trees. Easy peasy with Scotch velcro tabs.

I'll always take a day that I can start with a coffee followed by homemade Mexican food at Mom and Dad's! Yummy!

The unofficial end of summer is the last day the water park is open. So sad. We love spending our summer afternoons here. I'm already longing for next summer.

What's it like to have Harrison as the middle child?? It's like him coming over and asking me if I would hold his swim shirt because he wanted it off. I set it on the side of the pool as he swam over to his older brother and promptly told him, "help me find my shirt! I jumped in the pool so hard it just came off." Older brother was near tears dealing with the middle mini. I can't say I blame him....I was so frustrated for him, yet couldn't stop laughing at how hysterical the middle one is.

Bringing back Sunday Family Dinners. This week featured burgers (both regular and black bean), orzo salad, cajun fries, and watermelon. Delicious food and great commentary from little minds about life.

The minis requested a picture of our food only because they were looking at old pictures and found how many food pictures I used to take comical.