Saturday, August 28, 2021

Packing Once Again

 We're at it again. Packing. Due to the accident, I wasn't completely sure we could pull off this vacation, but here we are. Twelve hours away from leaving and I'm doing my last load of laundry. I'm at an impasse in packing until it's done, so I sit and write. Packing for a family of five plus a canine is no easy feat. Especially when we're doing various things on this trip.

For the first couple of days we'll be hiking and running through waterfalls. Our hotel will take care of breakfasts for us and we plan on enjoying some of the small, local eats along the North Shore. Then it will be onto a houseboat for the rest of the week. Yes, a houseboat. No, we have no idea how to even drive a boat, but we'll be teaching the kids how to navigate water maps, tie a boat up, and how to kayak. I'm hoping it will be a memorable beginning to our homeschooling year.

So, back to packing. I'm pretty sure we're bringing everything in our house minus our furniture. I'm thankful to the universe for hearing my plea of getting a rental with roof racks, so we're able to pack our car topper because we must bring it all. In addition to the packing, there's the cleaning that I feel must be done before we leave. It must be done because it makes me feel better, but we ALWAYS have to clean the house upon our return. Each and every time. Somehow my house gets dirty without us even being in it. 

Now, onto the fighting. My children feel the best time to not get along is when mom is busy. Obviously, packing day is THE DAY to do this. One kid is nursing a new black eye, one was asked to leave to run errands with dad, and the other was told if they speak to me, it must be nothing but positive things. That's where we are on this Saturday evening. Packing once again and trying not to lose my mind doing so.

Friday, August 27, 2021

Last Pool Day of 2021

It's been amazing to have a normal-ish summer. We were able to do some form of the things we love (give or take a few things). One of them being days at the water park. We put our season passes to use and went nearly every weekend. Many splashes were made, one too many drinks were consumed in the lazy river, screams were heard as we went down water slides, friends tagged along, and we're left with a summer of amazing memories. We squeezed in one last visit a couple of weeks ago, when we raised a can to a summer well spent. 

This is what I get when I say "okay, let's take a picture." It's like they're brand new at picture taking.

Our favorite Dole Whip to end our visit.

The summer of pools, state parks, and ice cream. Is it too soon to say we're ready for next summer already???

Thursday, August 26, 2021

Have We Forgotten How To Think For Ourselves?

[I'm giving my children every opportunity to think for themselves by asking tough questions to get them thinking, along with giving them the tools to know how to do so.]

There's so many times these days that I think, "wtf??!!?" that I've become immune to a lot. Probably too much, honestly. I haven't had a gut wrenching feeling while watching the news since January 6, when the 'breaking news' flashing across the screen made me physically ill. I rarely scroll through Facebookland anymore. I'll post sure, but I only scrolled through my feed for the sole purpose of seeing the back-to-school posts this week. In addition to those posts, I also had to scroll through some things that make me angry because we have managed to raise an entire country to who can't or don't think for themselves apparently.

At the chance of sounding old, I remember learning about journalism as though it was a sacred job. Journalists took their jobs of reporting accurate information rather than share their own feelings on subjects seriously. The news was given, read to us, and that was that. Also taught to me were the tools I needed to think for myself. I was taught to read the news and then form my own opinions about subjects. I guess that's hard to do now.

Now, people get their "news" through Facebook memes, inaccurate blogs, and news pieces dripping with opinions. Sometimes it's a single word that can turn an entire news piece into an opinion. What I'm writing currently is my opinion. An opinion formed by observation. This shift in how people think, or don't, is not all on the changing landscape of  sensational journalism. This is on us, as American citizens. I've never once watched the news and didn't stop to think about it before forming an opinion. If something catches my attention and I want to know more about a subject, I do my research on it. I read a variety of news reports on it, but I pay close attention to WHERE I get my news from.

I do not get my news from an overly conservative or liberal news source. I look for words that make something an opinion rather than actual, factual news. I'm disgusted by the amount of people who cannot seem to think for themselves. They're either going to let an orange narcissist infiltrate their minds or let unreputable news sources sway them. They're the people who blame others when something goes wrong because they've lost, or maybe they never had, the ability to think for themselves. We've all heard the saying, "you can't teach common sense," but can we at least give them the tools to think for themselves? Those of us who live in the real now would very much appreciate if we were able to stop feeling as though we're living in the twilight zone.

Wednesday, August 25, 2021

I Miss The First Day Of School Freedom

Our last First Day of School hurrah, 2019.

I have...or is it had? Anyways, I have this first day of school tradition: I take the day off. I see my minis off to school, lament over how they got this big this quickly, and then I have a day to myself. I give myself a day or two after busy summers. It's my reward to myself for making it through. I get my hair done, have a massage, splurge on a nice lunch or brunch with friends. I've even bought myself new appliances and had them delivered on the first day of school, so I could relish in my pathetic, grown up moment.

Thanks to the pandemic, this is the second year in a row that I will have not had the first day of school freedom. I miss it. I miss giving myself that pat on the back for making it through a crazy summer. When I finally get that first day freedom, I'll give myself an extra big pat since it will be for the last 18+ months.

I'm waiting for it. I'm building it up. Whenever my minis head back into actual school buildings and I stop being their teacher, I have a full day planned for myself. I'm greatly looking forward to that day. Until then, I'll just keep writing my homeschool lesson plans and thinking about what I'll do with my days of freedom when I finally get them.

The House Is Quiet Once Again


For the first time since March 2020, my house is quiet. There are zero bigs in the house at the moment, only littles, who are so much more quiet than their slightly older counterparts. I shouldn't say zero bigs because my three minis are still home (homeschool lessons won't begin until after Labor Day), but there aren't any big friends here doing school work or playing. Today. That will change, as they just happen to not be here today. But that's not the point.

The point is it's quiet. I can hear when the littles roll a train across the carpet. This is such a change from screaming being drowned out by the overall noise from the bigs. It's odd, to say the least. It wasn't just the summer. I've had bigs in my house learning, playing, socializing, doing big kid stuff for the last 18 months. To not have them running through my house isn't just odd, it's sad. It's something I'll have to slowly accustom myself to.

Nap times can run smoothly once again, there's no one talking over me as I try to give directions, no one asking if we can order pizza (right after we've eaten lunch), I can play Van Morrison without someone asking me if we can play another song that's better. This brings me all the feels and mixed emotions. One of the things I'm really excited for: to do story time again. The bigs took over story times for me for the last eighteen months, so I'm greatly looking forward to reading Go, Dog. Go! and Oh, The Places You'll Go! without someone "helping" me. But the quiet that is filling my house reminds me of the absence of more special humans in my house. Even as I try to enjoy the quiet, the emptiness of the house chokes me.

Tan Lines Equate To Summer Fun


If you're anything like me, you've spent your summer outside in pools, lakes, and parks. If you're also like me, you have a few favorite swimming suits that you wear. These suits are all different, which means the straps hit in different places, one suit the back in completely open, while on another it goes clear up to my neck. Do you know what that means?

I have some funky ass tan lines.

We've spent so much time at our local water park that I have a good tan going on. For the first half of the summer, I wore only one swimming suit. It was by far my favorite and always at the top of my swimming suit drawer, so that was the lucky suit for June and July. Then, in preparation for our boating trip, I purchased a new swimming suit, dug through my drawer to find other suits, and promptly wore them to the pools.

It wasn't until Sunday, as I looked in the mirror examining my bruises from our car accident, that I realized how ridiculous my tan lines look. My back is lighter than the rest of my body because it's only recently been uncovered in a newly found suit. I have various tan lines on my shoulders and neck from the different cuts of swimming suits. But by far the funniest tan lines are those from my waterproof phone carrier. 

I didn't even think about that strap leaving tan lines on my body! I doubt anyone would look at it and know it's not from a suit, but I laughed (hard) when I realized what it was from. In my early twenties, I would have died at the thought of exuberant tan lines. Now, I laugh and know they equate to a fun summer when we played hard. Much like scars and marks on our bodies, tan lines show just how much we've gotten to live this summer. After summer of 2020, I'll easily take the crazy tan lines.

Saturday In The Parks

Okay, we all know how Saturday ended for us (check it out here), but up until that point, it was a wonderful day! We hiked, swam, and drove through three SE Iowa State Parks, check out a couple of local Ottumwa restaurants, and let Zeus run at a dog park. It was a beautiful day!

We started the day at Lake Wapello. The water looked questionable (although what Iowa lake doesn't??), so we mainly played on the sandy beach. We explored the beautiful lodge and drove through the park. Our favorite part of the park were the cabins - they looked amazing! We may be renting one of those sometime. 

The cutest courtyard in Albia, Iowa. Lake Wapello State Park is around 2 hours from Des Moines. It's an easy drive through small towns in rural Iowa...and some questionable places. 

After a quick-ish visit to Lake Wapello, we traveled to Ottumwa, Iowa to grab lunch. We tried bbq sandwiches from Bubba Q's, took them to Railroad Park, ate, walked around, and let Zeus play at the dog park. There isn't a playground, at least that we saw, but it is a pretty area along the river with a paved trail, a shelter with picnic tables, and dog parks. We noticed a family eating at the picnic tables in the small dog area of the dog park and thought that was very brave of them (our dog would have had their lunch gone in one big bite!). We quickly stopped by Main Street Donuts to grab donuts to eat later in the afternoon. Both of these were fun little stops!

We love our dog, but he isn't made for agility training. He did laps around the tubes as the kids tried to show him what to do!

With our bellies full, we went to Lake Darling State Park. This park is VERY well kept. The trails are clear and manecured, the beach was fun, plenty of area for the dog to swim in. We spent majority of our time here in the water, which was probably the clearest water we've seen from an Iowa lake.

Somebody had to try out his new life vest, so he would be used to it for our next vacation. Luckily, he loved it because he figured out he only had to do minimal work to move in the water. 

Our last stop of the day was Lake Keomah. We were swimmed out, but this park does have a nicely kept, small beach area for those interested. We hiked a quarter of the lake trail before we turned around and drove home.

Our last stop of the day was Goldie's in Prairie City. We surprised the kids and dog with ice cream. 

Out of the three parks, we're most likely to go back to Lake Darling because it has all of our favorite things. We're down to less than 20 state parks to visit! We're hoping to fit them in before the end of the year. We've had a very fun time exploring parks and parts of Iowa we've never been to during this Tour of State Parks. They'll definitely be highlighted memories of our pandemic time.