Thursday, September 16, 2021

It's Not Living In Fear, It's Living Smart

Homeschooling for a second year in a row because our schools aren't following appropriate guidelines. This has a direct impact on my business and my husband's ability to work.

Last night we went to a concert. It's the most normal thing we've done since March of 2020. We haven't broken out of our "Covid world." Our two youngest have yet to be vaccinated. I can still faced extended closures for daycare if Covid shows up in one (or any) of the kids. My husband can still face quarantine restrictions and use precious vacation time or just simply not get paid. There are too many unsettling "what ifs" for us. We're unable to comfortably go back to life. 

Some have told us we're living in fear. Those same people seem to lack basic understanding and reasoning. Plus,  I absolutely HATE to see that argument. 

You see, we live life. We live life A LOT. We've probably lived more life in the last month than some of you who are telling us to stop living in fear have lived in your entire lives. Yet I'm living in fear because I won't send my children back into their school buildings where there are no protocols or mitigations being done to help stop the spread of the virus. 

I've given up trying to explain my side of things. I'm just angry at this point. Being careful and safe isn't living in fear. Making smart choices that don't make us lose businesses, money, or jobs isn't living in fear. It's being careful, safe, and ensuring our livelihood. I'm angry that the rules, morals, and ethics I preach to my children aren't even thought of by others. 

By the time my nine year old reaches her half birthday this year, she will have learned what it means to make sacrifices for the good of others. She knows how to care, how to help, and how her one little self can impact this world. When the pandemic first hit, it was easy to focus on what we were missing. However, after over 18 months of this, I can say my children (and myself) gained so much more. They will be better for going through all of it. We haven't taught them to live in fear and think only of what they're missing out on. We've focused on the things we can do, doing things we've always wanted to do, and doing them smartly. 

This Was Not A Special Mom Moment

Picture from April Fools Day 2018, when my boys took fooling to a whole new level

There are moments in parenting that are special. Moments where we're so proud we're sure we could burst. I almost had a moment like that last night before my middle child destroyed it. Let me set the stage. My daughter and I live in a house with boys. I quickly learned that they're messy, especially in the bathroom. 

I'll never forget the day I walked into the bathroom at our old house and discovered urine dripping from my ceiling and wall. My oldest, who was four at the time, proudly announced he had tried to pee on the ceiling to see if it would "just fall" (he meant ricochet) into the toilet. It did not and he didn't think to tell anyone about the little mishap. He waited until his mother, who was raised in a house with girls by a mother who only had sisters, walked into the bathroom and nearly fainted before mentioning what had gone down in that bathroom. That was not the reason we moved from that house, but it probably should have been because my bathroom never smelled right after that day.

Due to that incident, and some others, we have a rule: if you're too lazy to clean up your mess, you sit down. I've been over it with them a thousand times: no one wants pee dribbles and I will not be the one to clean up after them. I'm totally the mom who wakes them up at midnight if I discover their bathroom is messy. I refuse to deal with it. So, my boys know. They're pretty good about it.

Last night, my middle son ran up to my bathroom and quickly sat down on the toilet. I was in my room writing and he's casually chatting with me while he pees. We have no issues with being comfortable showing our bodies. As I walk by the bathroom, I see him grab a little bit of toilet paper. In my mom mind, he was being considerate and wiping his penis so he didn't dribble. I commended him on this weird thoughtfulness that any future girlfriends or wives will surely appreciate.

He looked at me weird and said, "I'm not wiping my penis mom. I had a really wet fart and I need to wipe after that one."

My mom moment was completely....gone. Shattered. Destroyed. Then we had a discussion about sharts and that's what it's like to be a mom to a boy.

Wednesday, September 15, 2021

Mama Can't Hang No More


Mama can't hang no more, no more, no more.

I've been singing this in my head all day long to the tune of Hit The Road Jack. It's been a special day. You see, I went out last night. Not out, out like I once did. Just a little out. I took my kids to an AJR concert, where I consumed one beverage at the very beginning of the concert, and then I promptly got a headache. I wound up asking those sitting around us for Advil. This morning it took me two cups of coffee to feel normal and a third midday, in addition to a more than normal amount of water. My ankles were slightly swollen all day from standing on them all night long. I put my children to bed at promptly 8 p.m. so I myself could go to bed to continue the "recovering."

Long gone are the days of going out all night and waking up chipper in the morning. Even the days of roaming Target until 9 p.m., coming home, cleaning, and then going to bed are long gone. There are the rare occasions a friend and I finish a bottle of wine in a night, but I reserve those times for weekends only. Or at the very least, when I don't have to be awake before 10 a.m. and nowhere to be for at least an entire day. That's the kind of 'Mama can't hang no more' level we're at.

I refuse to say I'm old. I'm not. I feel as though my best is yet to come, but holy hell. I guess, if anything, last night proved that if I'm out later than 7 p.m. on a weeknight, I won't turn into a pumpkin! But I will feel like hell for a solid 24 hours afterwards.

Going To A Concert In A Pandemic

I bought tickets to see AJR back in spring when things looked like they were really turning around pandemic-wise. I was excited up until the last few weeks, when I considered giving our tickets away. We're still what you call "Covid conscience" and indoor things aren't our jam at the moment. Especially since my two unvaccinated children would be attending with me (let's just put this out there: I bought the tickets for them, I'm just the chaperone). However, AJR released protocols for their concerts and I felt much more at ease with everything.

The youngest two (who aren't old enough to be vaccinated yet) got their negative Covid tests, the oldest mini and I packed our vaccination cards, we carried extra masks, and away we went to the minis first indoor concert! It was pointed out to me earlier in the day that we had only taken them to outdoor concerts up until tonight.  

The opening acts were good, although Sasha Alex Sloan had a soothing voice that could have put me to sleep if I had a bed. At that point, it was nearly my bedtime, so I got drowsy quick! However, AJR kicked it up. I was very impressed by their performance. It wasn't simply them up on stage singing their hit songs. They had an entire act together that involved intricate lighting and effects. I didn't know many of their songs, but I was very entertained throughout the entire 60 minutes they played.

Now, I know people are curious as to how the Covid protocols went and if it was a pain. I can easily say it was not! They had advanced screenings that you could go to the box office ahead of time and then right to the ticket line. We couldn't make that work, so we arrived when doors opened at 6 p.m. thinking it would take awhile. However, the venue was incredibly organized and had (obviously well trained) security people going through the lines, looking over the vaccination cards and negative tests, and stamping people's hands that they were good to go inside. When we went through security checks and ticket scanning, I noticed the people at the gates looking at our hands for the stamps. It was quick, painless, and a super easy process that didn't add any additional time. 

I told them to smile with their eyes. This is what I got.

The only thing I disliked was that masks were not required. We (my kids, myself, and the people we went with) all wore them and many of those around us had them on, but it was pretty hit or miss. I wasn't uncomfortable though, which I thought I may have been since it's our first large crowd outing since the beginnning of 2020. Overall, I was pleased with how the night went and how things were handled pandemic-wise. Of course, all protocols were set by the performers (in this case AJR) and is not a venue protocol. We likely won't be seeing any concerts again soon unless we know the safety protocols are in place. 

Tuesday, September 14, 2021

Shit I've Had To Say

After 10 1/2 years of daycaring, I've seen it all. I've said even more. With some of the shit, I've had to say throughout the years, I'm rarely surprised by any of it anymore. Of course, I've had some new ones I've had to say in the last week and a half. I figured I'd share for your entertainment and my "never forget" bank. 

"Oh, we don't suck on our friend's mask, okay."

"Let's keep our plates to ourselves."

Kid: "I don't understand this." Me, scratching my head at the third grade directions: "I don't either."

"My book is telling me there's male and female plants. It would be so much easier if I cold like look at their parts on the outside and see it."

"They have those???!!?" In regards to me telling my nine year old that the concert we're going to is indoors. I realized her reaction was because we have only ever taken them to outdoor concerts. She was shook.

And the clear winner:

"It's okay. Everyone poops differently. Everyone poops in their own way."

Monday, September 13, 2021

10 State Parks In One Day

Yes, it's true. We did do TEN state parks in one day...but it's not as intense as it sounds! All of these parks were near or along Big Spirit Lake and Lake Okoboji in Northwest Iowa. Nearly half of these parks were drive thrus for us, or quick get out, walk around, snap a picture, and onto the next one (I'll dive more into this later). We opted to not bring our river tubes (for floating) or the kayak because it would have taken quite a bit of time to blow up and take down after each use. Instead, we went old school with swimming suits, lake beaches, and quick dips in the water.

This is one area of the state where I have not spent a great deal of time. I can't say I loved it, especially after spending a week in Northern Minnesota's pristine boundary waters area. Northeast Iowa is still my favorite area, but I was surprised by the NW's hills. Another big surprise: the trees are already changing colors! The last several years have had a late fall. We noticed when we were in Northern Minnesota the trees were already a light green and turning yellow quickly. We noticed the same thing this weekend in Northern Iowa. 

Anways, back to our day.

We didn't get a late start, but it did take us three and a half hours to get into Spirit Lake, Iowa from Des Moines. By that time the minis were ready for lunch. So, we placed a to go order for Burgers and Company and ate a picnic at our first park of the day: Elinor Bedell State Park. This park was beautifully kept and well manicured. The playground looked new and the trails were paved. It was a hot one, so the minis were sure they were melting, but we quickly ate and enjoyed the park.

I had my family walk not even a quarter of a mile to view the gravesite of Elinor and Berkley Bedell. You would have thought I was torturing them.

Mini-Wakan was our next park. This park right on the Iowa-Minnesota border. I was super excited for this park (I still don't know why), so I was a bit disappointed to see there was very little parking and a simple fishing dock and pier. All of the parking spots were taken up by a large gathering at the park shelter, which was the case at several of the parks we visited. I would have gotten out to walk around and explore a bit more, but the shelter was overcrowded, the grounds overrun by tents of the same party, so we simply drove through the lot, snapped a picture of the dock, and moved on.

Apparently it was wedding weekend in Northwest Iowa. Half of the parks we visited had large gatherings, spilling out of the shelters. We were unable to locate the beach at one of the parks because of a huge reception that was happening at the lodge. The good news is that all of the parks have very beautful and well kept shelters and lodges if you're looking to rent one.

We did a quick drive through Marble Beach as well. This would have been an excellent spot to put our kayak in the water, but we didn't bring it, so we looked at everyone jet skiing and the minis inquired why they don't have one of those. 

I decided a stop for ice cream was in order since everyone was "melting." This perked the family up and we continued on the journey to find a good swimming beach at one of the parks.

Templar looked cool, but the water on the shore here was very dirty and smelled. Again, this would have been a great spot to have a picnic and put the kayak in.

Finally, at Pikes Point we were able to swim (or do cartwheels if you're Elizabeth)! We played in the water for a while, but there were bees ALL around the park. We're not sure why, but they were in the sand, covering the picnic tables, swarming our vehicle in the parking lot. We didn't see a hive around, but I imagine there was one somehwere nearby. 

We listened to the football game while traveling between parks.

Gull Point was another park we were disappointed we didn't bring the kayak. Of course, when thinking about all of the work that would have gone into blowing it up and deflating it each time, I was over the disappointment and enjoyed the lake views.

 Emerson Bay has a good size beach area, picnic areas, and green spaces. While crowded, the park had plenty of space to spread out. This park would have been one to hit earlier in the day when the minis were melting because as soon as the sun wasn't high in the sky, the temps cooled drastically.

A quick stop in Arnolds Park. I'm glad we came during the off season because I imagine this place to be crazy crowded. When I say off season, I mean the town shuts down the day after Labor Day.

Pillsbury Point was interesting. It's in Arnolds Park residence's backyards with stones that look like mini headstone marking the path to walk. I felt like I was trespassing in backyards, so we didn't walk far. Instead, we went to the Abbie Gardner cabin and walked around.

Lower Gar was beautiful, but mostly just picnic tables and a short, paved trail next to the water. There was no direct water access at this park and was in a residential area.

Our last park of the day was definitely our favorite. This is the kind of state park we love. We hiked down into a canyon area next to a creek. Unfortunately, we couldn't do the entire trail because the sun was setting and the canyon floor was dark. We enjoyed deer watching as we walked.

When I looked back at my pictures, it took me a few minutes too long to find my two youngest minis because they blended in perfectly!

Look at those changing leaves!