Wednesday, August 5, 2020

My Favorite Things August Edition

Our pandemic summer has been interesting. Hot, humid, a puppy, so many parks, day trips, days with daycare friends, a new car for said day trips, and getting ready for a school year unlike any other. It's been fun, overwhelming, exhausting, but overall happy. Usually we would be out and about, go, go, go and I would have plenty to share. Of course, we're living a pandemic life, slightly shelter, so my "new things" list is few, but what we have tried out I'm happily sharing.

** for those in Iowa, read to the bottom for a few Iowa specific ideas of treats to get (and where) and parks to visit

1.) I'm completely geeking out now that I know my three will be at home this school year and I get to do the 7th grade reading list with my oldest. There's classics such as The Miracle Worker, The Giver, and The Westing Game on the list. I absolutely cannot wait for the activities and writing assignments to go with these books.

2.) The joke is I got bored and bought a new car, but in reality we had been talking about it for almost a year. I just pulled the trigger one day and went with a Toyota Highlander. We had A LOT of considerations to take when deciding on a vehicle: gas mileage, AWD was a must, three rows, storage space, etc. I love my minivan and I wish it could cross off everything on the list, but alas, it does not. The Highlander doesn't have the space a Suburban or Yukon have, but it's half the price plus we got a great lease deal. We'll be installing a roof rack for our luggage when we get back to traveling.

3.) Disney + has some great documentaries. We've watched a lot of animal documentaries, nearly all of the National Geographic series, and one on the Inca's. Later this month we'll move onto the Smithsonian channel on CBS AllAccess.

4.) Crazy summer days call for ease whenever and wherever I can find it. I got a box of these Smucker's Hazelnut sandwiches and now we always have some in our freezer.

5.) Getting a new puppy means lots of training. He's been a really easy and good dog so far, but we needed a training class. Of course, we're in a pandemic, so puppy classes aren't quite the same. In person puppy classes limit how many can attend and quite honestly, I do enough during my days that I didn't want to go to puppy class, only to come home and have to teach my entire family what I learned. Instead, we opted for a virtual puppy kindergarten through Petco. It's not perfect, but our trainer has given us a lot of tips and tricks for our smart pup.

6.) A month later and we're in the middle of season 3 of Homeland. Still a great show, but a show I have to pay attention to when we watch it. Therefore, I don't get very far.

7.) has been a lifesaver for us. Dog food, toys, gates, treats, and everything else delivered right to our door. Prices are fair with a huge selection of products to choose from. I'm hooked. That said, I also really like our local dog store Bone A Patreat. I've placed a few orders for curbside pick up and have been extremely pleased with their selection for a small store.

8.) Our vegetables have been prosperous this year! We've been enjoying cucumbers and butter lettuce daily from our gardens, plus cucumbers from family and friends. It's perfect since my kids and daycare are currently on a cucumber kick and will eat up to four in one day! 
* we obviously would have had carrots too, if only I wasn't forced to pull them early due to a curious dog who liked to pull them out himself.

9.) As soon as I saw these mini s'mores pies I knew we had to make them at daycare. We took it up one and the kids made a solar oven to bake them in. Such a delicious activity!

10.) Speaking of solar, I stuck this solar balloon in my Amazon cart one day just to give it a try with the kids for their science day. Naturally, it was awesome. We bagged it up and keeping it to try again this fall (hopefully on a windy day).

11.) I've purchased many classic books over the year, but especially this school year. While I'm psyched for Max's 7th grade reading list (see #1), I've also gotten the kids to read the Sarah Plain and Tall book series, Laura Ingalls Wilder, and Roald Dahl.

12.) Method cleaner is still my favorite cleaning product to wipe down counters and tables. Sadly, stores have been out and I'm missing it. I never realized how much I love this cleaner until I couldn't find it in stores!

13.) Check out Khan Academy for homeschooling or supplementle needs this school year. Admittedly, we haven't used it much yet, it looks promising and holds appropriate curriculum for all ages.

We've been to numerous parks since the pandemic began and go-to orders through delivery services or restaurants themselves. A few of our new faves to give a try:
  • Dolliver Memorial State Park
  • Palisades-Kepler State Park
  • Crapo Park (Burlington, Iowa; not a state park)
  • Tower Park Spraygrounds (Des Moines, Iowa)
  • Jitterbug coffee drink (Twisted Bean, Urbandale, Iowa)
  • Breakfast Nachos (University Library Cafe, Des Moines)
  • Bone A Patreat, curbside pick up
Playing in the creek at Dolliver