Sunday, February 28, 2021

Celebrating 37

Today I'm 37. I haven't had the usual birthday celebrations I usually do all throughout the month of February. Typically, there's numerous dinners with friends, drinks, days off, trips, etc. February always seems like a month of rejuvination: winter begins wrapping up, we/I tend to get out more, and spring is in the air. I always wished for a summer birthday, but the older I get, the more fitting it seems for my birthday to come just as change happens. This year, I was content with the few small celebrations I got. I am beyond content and happy with simplicity, which is something I only would have appreciated by going through this last year.

Last week, we did a brunch with my parents and sister. And the dogs. We can't forget about them because they've taken over our gatherings.

Notice my parent's dog, Rudy, wearing his hat nicely. Then, notice my dog, crazy eyed, getting ready to eat his hat. No one was surprised.

Friday night I put on make up, actual clothes, and while the oldest mini played with friends, I hung out with my friend (one of the moms). It was amazing! Completely not for my birthday, but more of a catch up on life, talk about parenting, all of it. It was a highlight of my weekend! Of course I brought my daughter's lunchbox filled with seltzers.

On Saturday, we got a start on our State Parks Tour. Read about that adventurous day here.

This brings us to my actual birthday. A big highlight of my Sunday was receiving my second Covid vaccination. Beyond that, I requested breakfast pizza in the morning, watched my Sunday morning shows (CBS Sunday Morning and Face The Nation) in peace, went TO the grocery store (rarely happens for me), had a few porch visits, surprised the minis with treats, opened gifts, had a rehearsal via Zoom, and listened to the boys and dad figure out how to make lava cake. It was a wonderful day! 

Shirley Temples and Girl Scout cookies (because the kids ate all five boxes of the ones we ordered last week!). After my vaccination, we made a quick stop at Smokey Row for coffees and lunch.

The mini's card and gift was my favorite: a giant car topper for a future road trip and THE BEST card I've ever gotten.

In my cleaned office right before rehearsals for Expressing Motherhood (top). Figuring out lighting, the best device to use, and actually re-reading through my story (bottom) is how I ended my night.

3 State Parks In 1 Day

Our first 50 degree Saturday of the year!! We "celebrated" by getting a start on our State Parks Tour (read about that goal here). We visited not one, not two, but THREE State Parks! We got a relatively late start to the day because we chose to leisurely get ready. I enjoyed coffee and leftovers from dinner the night before. All Pho You is quickly becoming one of our favorite Pho place, although my favorite isn't the pho. I enjoy this spring bowl and bubble teas.

By early afternoon, we were two hours away in Lake View, Ia checking out Black Hawk State Park. I'm not sure what to expect from the State Park visits, but two of our Parks were a surprise! In the middle of farmlands is this little lake town. The entire lake is surrounding by a paved bike path (it was not cleared off from snow) and lake houses galore.

It took us a hot minute to find the nature trail we wanted due to road closures within the park. The snow made it hard to see the trail, but for the most part, we enjoyed it!

On our way to the second State Park, we saw a sign the read 'World's Largest Popcorn Ball' 2 miles. We figured, "why not?" and did it. I can't say I'm a better person for seeing it, but we saw it!

This was our next Park and this one threw us too. The Park roads, or what we could find of them, hadn't been plowed at all. We stuck with the main highway that wraps around the lake, along with tons of lake houses. We came to a small park with a beach access. The minis played, we walked along the lake, but not on the icey lake. The lake was clearly cracking and had water seeping on the top of it. Imagine our surprise when four snowmobiles came rushing from the lake. The dog got excited and tried to chase them and the minis asked when we would be getting snowmobiles to try out. 

Yes, Zeus climbed up on the climber to play with the minis.

We decided on an early dinner since we were close by Fort Dodge. Our drive thru dinner from Tom Thumb was okay-ish, but our next State Park took the cake! Brushy Creek Recreation Area has amazing trails to hike, a lake, beach area, playground, camping, and so much prairie area. I can imagine how gorgeous it will be in several weeks when the wildflowers pop! We did two miles of the lake trail. While rated as moderate, the trail definitely had it's challenges thanks to the melting and re-freezing that's been going on. We spent most of our hike manuevering on solid ice.

I had to get a picture of this. Not to remember him peeing in the woods (this happens often), but because I reminded him to take his gloves off. What did he do? Threw them behind him in the snow instead of putting them in his pocket.

We finished our hike as the sun set and we watched the moon rise. There were still plenty of people in the Park, so unlike many other trips where we felt alone, I didn't get that feeling here. Brushy Creek is definitely a place I could re-visit in the spring or fall, when I think it will be gorgeous! Black Hawk and Twin Lakes State Parks were small lake towns that could have been fun if we were ice fishing or had our own snowmobile. Having lived in Iowa all my life, I thought I had a pretty decent grasp on where all of the lake towns are. A good majority of our lake areas are camping and recreational areas, not lake towns. I wasn't expecting that at all! I'm interested what we'll learn about all areas of our state as we continue our Tour. 

Friday, February 26, 2021

Favorite Books and Movies of the Week

[Treats for the viewing of the fourth Harry Potter movie]

I am often asked by friends what we're watching and/or reading. My kids seem to be going devouring books right now and their current love on television are game shows. Any and all game shows. They love them so much that every test they take they request it to be set up game show style so they can compete against each other! 

Here are our weekly picks:

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire - both the book and the movie. The middle mini finished the book, which means we get a "Potter Party" today while we watch the movie! I ordered these Bertie Botts beans for a special treat while they watch the movie. 

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix - The middle mini finished up book #4 and promptly dove into book #5. He's doing an AMAZING job with these books, writing and doing character studies with every book.

Mad About You - I needed a TV show to put on while I create tests and questions about their daily readings. I completely missed that the "new" season came out two years ago! The minis are in love with the show too, which completely surprised me, but we've been watching it as a family this week.

Nomadland - Great movie on Hulu that (if you're knowledgeable about the issues at hand) can get you thinking or be an eye opening experience.

Ellen's Game of Games - the minis LOVE this game show! 

The Great Gatsby - The oldest mini blew through the middle school reading list, so I figured I'd start him on one of my favorite books. So far, he enjoys it too.

What Is the Women's Rights Movement? - The youngest read Who Was Ruth Bader Ginsburg? and made a list of the books in this series she wants to read. She finished Otherwise Known As Sheila The Great and dived right into this one. 

Who Was Jesus? - Another in the Who Was Series that takes a look at the historical facts that are known. I love the approach the book takes and that it doesn't bring religion into it at all.

The King Cake Baby - Mardi Gras required Mardi Gras books. This is by far daycare's favorite one.

Happiest Season - I haven't watched this yet, but since I have a four day weekend coming up, I plan to enjoy this one.

What am I reading, you ask? Oh, just a lot of textbooks, research papers, and worksheets. Every. Single. Day. I have a list of books I'd like to read, but at the end of the day, I'm too tapped out to actually get into any of them! I have mad respect for all of you who are able to read book after book after book. By the end of the day, my bed and an old episode of The X-Files is what I can manage!

Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Did We Forget How To Go Outside?


Two kids stomped through the puddles like it was their job (I also like to walk in puddles, so I love this). Everyone else was worried about keeping their boots clean, while the dog found every last bit of snow to pounce through.

50 degrees.  A whole 50 degrees after days of below zero temps. I could have put on shorts! I went as far as opening windows to air out the house after a long few weeks of snowy days and freezing temps. It was glorious. Of course, the backyard is full of dog poop (thanks winter), so I couldn't just open up the back door and let every child and fur child run free. Instead, I chose to take the kids (and fur kid) on a walk.

My cup was PERFECT to carry my tea in while we walked. The oldest and dog were leading the way, bigs holding the littles hands, and me in the back, continually shouting out, "watch the ice to your right! Don't get caught in the pile of sticks to your left!" Overall, it worked well. 

We love walks, so this seemed like a brilliant idea. Of course, it's been a very long winter with few days spent going outside. I'm certain, after watching the kids get ready to go on our walk, that we forgot to go outside.

First, we took bathroom breaks. Then, we put on shoes and coats. All of this was going smoothly, until a kid cried because we weren't putting on hats, gloves, and scarves. Again, it was 50 degrees and not needed. But everyone thought I was lying to them. So, when we got outside and they felt how warm it actually was (because this isn't something I would lie about, but I didn't point that out to them) we had to go back inside and undress.

Then, the 10 year old remembered he didn't take that bathroom break I told everyone to take. As we lined up at the door, that's when the questions started:

"Can we bring a toy with us?" When have I ever let them bring toys on a walk with us?? Never.

"Should we bring water with us?" We're only walking half of a mile. We'll be fine.

"Can I have my sunglasses? They're in mommy's car." Um, no, since mommy's car clearly isn't here.

"Can I wear my high heels instead of my snow boots?" No, because even though it's 50 degrees, everything is melting and there is, in fact, still ice in spots.

"How many masks should we wear on our walk?" How about you bring one. We're outside in the middle of the day. At the very least, keep one mask in your pocket, so we can put it on if we come across another person (we didn't).

Once we were FINALLY on our way, a full thirty minutes of confusion later, we walked a quarter of a mile before a big announced, "I forgot to pee and now I have to." So we all went home. I think the last few weeks of winter made them forget how to go outside! Thankfully, we'll have chances to change this all week long....but I highly doubt that will stop the random questions and requests from kids!

We played in the driveway on Wednesday. I drew lines on the driveway that they had to stay inside (so I didn't worry about anyone running off). They did much better with this than our walk, but it wasn't as warm on Wednesday as it was on Tuesday (the day of our walk), so they were perplexed as to why they had to wear gloves one day and not the day before. Oh, children. Thanks for keeping things interesting.