Tuesday, March 30, 2021

Changing Out Clothes Each Season


Text from my mom group friends yesterday morning: "When is everyone switching out their kid's clothes? Like, is it too soon to put winter stuff away, do I keep some stuff out? What are you doing?? Help me!" 

The question caught me off guard. 'Wait, people do this?' I didn't respond at first. Our house seems to always be in a state of hot mess. There's no way in hell I'm taking the time to sort through each season's clothes for three kids and two adults. Nope, not gonna happen. I keep all of our clothes accessible year round. When a kid comes out of their room wearing pants that are suddenly shorts or a loose t-shirt that's become a  belly shirt, those clothes go in the donate pile and new clothes come out. 

The answers pouring into the group text made me appreciate everyone's differences. Some of them are organized beauties who take the time to go through clothing each season, pick out the clothes that don't fit, and replace them with the current season's fashions. Some even pick out a few pieces from each season to leave in their wardrobes for easy grabbing, just in case July gives us a 60 degree day or March gives us 80's. It's Iowa, so it's really a guessing game with how the weather will be. Two other moms were like me and responded, "who the hell are you people and where do you find the time to do this?" It shouldn't be a surprise that those are two of my closest friends. 

I'm not sure why, but this particular thread got me thinking. Suddenly, I remembered my mom doing this as a kid too and it really bothered me. Why couldn't I have all of my clothes available to me at all times? Is that why I stopped doing it with my own kids and myself? Or is it because storage space isn't an issue in our house? 24 hours later and I'm still thinking about it. Mostly, I'm thinking about how I completely forgot about this practice of organization and how our closets and dressers are organized, or unorganized.

So, are you a goddess (or god) and go through your children's clothes with each changing season? Replacing ones that don't fit and swapping out winter clothes for spring clothes, then summer clothes, then fall clothes? Or, do you leave all clothes out in their dressers/closests/shelves and don't think anything of it when your child emerges from their room wearing fleece pants in the middle of summer? 

In case you didn't know, telling a child they might get hot in fleece Christmas jammies in June or that a tank top isn't the best option for January is common in our house.

Picture of my child most likely to wear off-season clothes. This was taken on an 86 degree day in August 2020. Not pictured: the wool socks on her feet.

Margo Frankel Woods + At Home


We took a break from our Tour of State Parks for several reasons. The minis have placed an importance on the NCAA Tournament and requested to be home to watch the games. We couldn't pass up a weekend not hiking though, so we chose to hike close to home with friends Saturday morning.The rest of the weekend we spent at home, watching basketball, playing basketball, family meals, board games, prepping for our busy week ahead, and even a little bit of shopping. 

Saturday morning we attempted to grab donuts at Hiland Bakery, but decided to wait for donuts until after our hike when we were greeted with a line down the street! We met friends at Margo Frankel Woods for our first time visiting this county park. Overall, I was surprised by this park. Last spring, we tried to hike there, but the park was closed. This spring, the gates were open and the park wasn't crowded at all. We did a 2 mile trail within the park, but the trails weren't well marked. We saw several side trails, but weren't sure where they led to. At one point, we followed a trail that turned out to not be a trail at all. Luckily we weren't far from the actual trail and we made our way back, thanks to the woods still being bare from winter. It was a great little area, but I couldn't imagine us spending an entire day there.

The tree roots took me by surprise--they looked like carrots!

Donuts and coffee after hiking. The dog was confused as to why he couldn't go in, then he saw another dog and didn't understand why I wasn't letting them play (on a busy city street), then he was disturbed we didn't offer him what was in our box. My genius husband grabbed a dozen donuts: one for a mid-day treat and one for breakfast tomorrow for all of us! Yes, I totally let my children eat donuts for lunch. Also, don't skip their coffee. It's fantastic!

When we arrived home, the dog crashed, the kids watched Falcon and Winter Soldier, and I got some writing time in. Then, I decided it was time for Mexican. I went from writing and coffee, to to-go margaritas and basketball. Thankfully, my family is game for my ideas and cravings.

After a round of family basketball, we FINALLY dug out the Easter bins from storage. Of course, we couldn't find ALL of the bins, so I decided it was easiest to go buy new Easter eggs and crafts for daycare. I was able to make brand new sensory bins, stock up the mud kitchen with dirt, and get all new plastic eggs with this haul. The minis liked the hula hoops the best and spent the weekend in the driveway, barefoot, playing basketball and hula hooping.

We had TONS of hawks in our neighborhood. They circle in pairs and each pair circle certain areas of the 'hood. We haven't been able to figure out what they're after.

"Mom, did we hear a bag rustle? Did you open something?" They both watch my mouth to see if it's moving. Other than this, these two don't get along.

A round of Des Moines Opoly turned into a before bed game and a during brunch game the next morning. 

Sunday is an important prep day for us. We clean the entire house (focusing on daycare and school areas first), we get everything ready (sensory bins ready to play with, printing worksheets done, pages marked in books to read, and final touches to lesson plans), and we cap off every Sunday with a family dinner. 

The kids got to play with cousins outside at Grandma and Grandpa Sheaffer's. They came home sweaty, happy, and famished. This was the first time they've gotten to play with cousins since last January. To say they were thrilled to be together is an understatement! The kids each ate two steaks (they were small filets, but they definitely out-ate me!), couscous, and asparagus....and then went right back outside to play. We LOVE warmer weather!

We're attempting to make a plan for next weekend since it's going to be in the 70's! Of course, it's also Easter weekend, so we won't have time to head out of town, but we'll come up with something.

Sunday, March 28, 2021

A Moment At A Gas Station In The Pandemic

The potty chair sits in the back of our vehicle still. A must-have in the pandemic when nature was needed, but public bathrooms were a no-no when nature called.

 We had hiked all afternoon in the warm, fall sun. The amenities throughout the park were closed for the season. I contemplated my options: use the small, portable potty chair we carried everywhere with us or stop nearby. When I say everywhere, it's not like we were going many places. There were no rules, no enforcements here, despite it being a pandemic. We stuck this little potty, the ones used to train small humans, in our car in case there was no place reliable to stop. Which was nearly everywhere here. On this day, with my kids with me, I chose to take a chance.

I went crazy and we stopped at a convenience store on our way home. One that popped up along the highway, amongst the back drop of golden fields being plowed. Where the highway was their main street and a population of less than 800 was on the town sign. Without needing to be reminded, my children pulled their masks up as we got out of our car. I let out a heavy sigh as we neared the door.

I could easily see through the clear glass windows and noticed a crowd of people around the counter chatting. Each and every person leaned near, talking, breathing on each other, and laughing. Had this happened a year earlier, I likely would have walked through that door and joined in. I would have left knowing their names, an odd tidbit about their families, and would have probably overshared our life. As they say, my cup would have been filled.

But it's 2020. This no longer fills my cup. This scene makes me shudder as my heart beats faster with disappointment running through my body. I pushed those feelings aside and I gave a muffled hello through my mask. I notice them giving each other glances with smirks on their faces. As the only four people in that small store with masks and making a point to stay away from others, we stuck out like a sore thumb. They couldn't see my smile underneath my mask. Reading people's faces has become a casualty of the time. 

We spent a total of 8 minutes inside the convenience store. I was acutely aware of every surface we touched. At one point, I reached over and carefully pushed my 10 year old son away from the shelf that he was running his hands along. We had only been IN an actual place half a dozen times since March 13; I can't say I blame him for being amazed at a shelf that wasn't in our own home. I was by no means a neat freak or germaphobe, but I had no way of knowing if that shelf had recently, or ever, been cleaned. No one said a word to us as we gathered our items. Their loud chatter had faded and the crowd dispersed to other corners of the store. The only sign that we hadn't stepped out of 2020 was the thin, company ordered plexi-glass in front of the cash register. I made a point to stand directly in front of it as we paid. I wasn't sure if this small piece of plastic was doing any good, but I was taking any precautions I could.

As we got into our car, my children spoke everything I felt:

"That was weird. No one said anything to us."

"They looked as us, but then they stopped talking. They were probably talking about us because we were wearing masks."

"I think it's shit they weren't wearing masks OR social distancing." I didn't correct my 8 year old for using a word I usually wouldn't allow. In that moment, I was focused on not replying with an, "I know!"

Instead, I pulled out our car hand sanitizer, because that's a thing now, and squirted some into everyone's hands. I chose my next words carefully. "Perhaps they don't know better or they don't care. The only thing we can do is take care of ourselves and set an example. Maybe they'll follow our lead or maybe they'll talk about us as soon as we leave the store. Notice they did give us space without us telling them." I have a thousand more things I wanted to say, a thousand more feelings, but I stop myself. We have witnessed the worst in humanity in the last year and I intently choose not to add to the hatred. Afterall, we're all humans trying to do what we feel is best for US in this crazy world. I don't want my children to believe that we're right and they're wrong for their actions because it's at that moment, their minds close and they stop listening to others. 

I pull away from the store and head home, our safe haven in the chaotic, unsteady world. Scenes like this will play out again and again, sometimes with more cruelty from others, sometimes with more forcefulness from us. Each time, I stop and think of the world and wonder how the world comes out of this? How do we come out of this better than before?

Easter Gift Ideas For The Family

Alright parents, there's one week left to get yourself together and grab gifts for Easter baskets. We tend to not fill their baskets with candy, but admittedly, we/I go overboard on toys and other gifts. The children consider Easter one of the big gift giving holidays, with Christmas and their birthdays being the others. I have not broken it to them that their birthdays are not in fact holidays. We usually give them all of their spring and summer wardrobe for Easter, so it seems like they get a lot. I call that a mom hack, since they're getting things they'll need for the next several months. 

If you're looking for toys to fill their baskets, take a look at my favorites, from baby to teen:






Bigger items/Items for everyone:

Looking at past Easter pictures and I realized two of the three minis are wearing Christmas jammies on Easter morning!

Friday, March 26, 2021

Oh What A Week


This one was full of special as we learned this week.

This has been a week! Busy, fulfilling, entertaining, and rewarding. All the things one could ask for in a week that leaves me exhausted and exhilarated. There was plenty of playing, numerous activities and projects, so many Easter books, a lot of Googling during homeschool, and a big milestone. Take a look:

This one cannot understand why he also can't play with the toys by chewing on them. He was really sorry...and then right back to "playing" with his friends.

Daycare Easter fun arrived, along with Easter basket goodies and new clothes. The dog also went crazy thinking it was all for him, thanks to his bi-weekly Chewy deliveries. He was really disappointed when I opened the boxes and bags and there were no bones.

We had a Monday evening treat. You can read about why we got it here. 

Peeps play dough was a hit this week! Find out how we made it here.

No, this isn't art class, it's their science test! Their test was to build/make a flower with ALL of the reproductive parts, then tell me the parts and how it all works. The almost 9 year old is oddly knowledgeable about flower reproductive and easily aced the test for all of them.

At the end of their test, they added a butterfly and explained to me why pollination is important and required for reproduction of plants. I was impressed. I didn't ask them to do this extra work. Then, the youngest showed me a box she had put together during their test (they were in the basement homeschool room and I was up in the daycare room while they worked). She put together a pollinator box and told me ALL about the pollinators, how everything happens, etc. I'm convinced she understands it better than I do!

The boys spend a good amount of time each week in the kitchen. This week it was smoothies, milk shakes, juices, etc. Sometimes I'm astonished at how messy my kitchen is when they're done, but I can't complain much. I get so many yummy foods and treats!

The oldest was looking through Facebook with me and came across a recipe he want me to make. It was hashbrowns, eggs, bacon, peppers, onions baked in the oven. Despite it being the oldest who requested it, the middle mini was the one who LOVED it. The daycare kiddos eat just about anything, so I wasn't surprised that they enjoyed it too.

I enjoy trying different egg dying techniques each Easter season. This year, we gave tissue paper dyed eggs a try. The eggs turned out okay-ish. The blue and blue/red combo turned out great. The yellow, green, and red/yellow combos were so faint that we REALLY had to look hard at those eggs! If you're giving this a try, make sure to get the non-waxy, bleeding tissue paper. I can't imagine trying this with waxy tissue paper.

Thursday was pizza day apparently. We tried Truman's eggs benedict pizza for breakfast (highly recommend) and Pyra Pizza for dinner. Bubble teas were for dessert.

The kids loved their stand-up Easter bunny's. I was told a few kids took them home and played with them.

"I made a hot air balloon! How does it work?" Then, we watched a video on hot air balloons.

I looked over and had to get a picture of what I saw. A child trying to hang the doll from the hook, first by the eye then by the feet. I guess we're ignoring the baby face down on the ground. The whole scene had me cracking up!

The oldest started The Hunger Games series and read A LOT this week. He proudly announced how many pages he read in just four days (nearly the entire first book) and the middle mini realized HE didn't read as many pages as his big brother. So, Friday became a competition of how much they could read by the end of the week. I didn't say a word and let them have this competition!


Tragedy struck Friday morning: the bigs had gym class without the dog. His cries and barks were so loud that a neighbor down the street texted to check on us. The kids have loved watching the NCAA tournament so much! They requested to play basketball and learn all the rules. Now I'm brushing up on all those rules because it's been a loooonnnnggg time since my 8th grade basketball season.

The big milestone of the week: we finished the school year's science curriculum! Social studies is soon to follow, as well as grammar (they will be doing reading/literature, math, and writing throughout the summer). Now, they very well could be completely done with science for the rest of the school year, but my minis LOVE to learn. Instead, they made a list of everything they want to learn/study once their done with their required curriculum. Some of this is moving on to the next grade level, some of it is studying things not in their curriculum, and a few others are things I think they would benefit from learning. I am so proud of them, us, and myself. Homeschooling has been an amazing experience this year.

Earlier in the week, the kids colored these Easter cut outs. While they napped, I taped them all around the room so we could have a neverending Easter Find It game going on. Next week, their goal will be to find all 6 of the chicks, 13 eggs, and 4 bunnies hidden throughout the daycare room. 

Next week will be Easter themed, with an emphasis on Passover and the Sedar Plate on Friday (the day before Passover begins). I'm thrilled to have sunshine next week, so we'll be able to spend plenty of time outdoors!