Wednesday, September 29, 2021

All The Good Lucks and Wishes


Tomorrow is the day. It's reason I decided to homeschool (at least) one more semester, so I could impart amazing memories and learning opportunities into my children. It's what I've saved 8 months for, so I could be sure we were financially sound before taking nearly a month off of work. Tomorrow we leave for our fall road trip. It will mark the first time we've extensively traveled during the fall (minus that one quick trip to New Mexico during fall break; that was pretty epic).

It also marks the first time this mom is doing a cross country road trip as a solo parent. It will be me, three kids, and our pandemic pup. Every issue will be mine to solve. Every encouraging word will be spoken by me. Every meltdown will be up to me to put it back together. It's not like I haven't done big things with my three in tow. I have, I do all of the time.

But this is different. This is one of our epic trips and it lies completely on my shoulders. That's a lot to take. I've had plenty of panicky moments the last few days, as I packed and worried it wouldn't all fit in our Highlander (spoiler: just barely). I even had a moment of 'maybe we shouldn't go' recently. I've had to talk myself down a lot, but it's not like me to just quit. No, no. This is what we're meant to do. So I'm gonna do it. 

It may not be perfect, I'm hopeful it will be wonderful, there will likely be meltdowns, and I'm leaving plenty of times for breaks, but we're doing it. We're headed for a new adventure that (hopefully) we'll learn and grow from. I'm excited and anxious. I'll still gladly take all of your good lucks and wishes. I have a feeling a may need them!

When Music and Social Studies Combine

 As my children's teacher, I absolutely LOVE when I can combine subjects. For example, the youngest is learning about the five animal groups in science. To be sure she has the groups down, their traits, etc. I had her create an animal group book in which she had to draw pictures of the animlas and details about each group. Boom! Science and Art combined. That's exactly what we did with Social Studies last week. 

The middle mini has been obsessed with the song We Didn't Start The Fire and had sooooo many questions about the lyrics. I wrote a few weeks ago about how the project would go for the minis (read about that here). Tonight, we finally recorded their lyrics for 1990 - today. Judging by their inability to keep to the beat of the music, we may need to spend a bit more time in music class, but their lyrics are (in my opinion) spot on.

Hubble telescope, Cold War no more, Freddie Mercury, texting and the Dream Team. Al Gore, must see TV, EU, Amazon, Mandela preaches, O.J. Simpson's bloody glove, Oklahome, clone sheep, Facebook, Harry Potter, streaming, Princess Di, Presidential sex lie


Google, Columbine, hanging chads, Putin, 9/11 is the news, detention camp, War in Iraq, London bombing, sexting, Katrina, Pluto, iPhone, Obama, Michael Jackson, oil spill

Bin Laden, Snowden, Brexit, Trump wins, Irma, Pelosi, Hong Kong, End Game is the thing


Australia burns, Covid hits, Kobe's gone, George Floyd, missile launch, RBG, killer hornets, attack the Capital, wildfires, Taliban rules Afghanistan once again


Above: getting ready for the performance by slapping and pinching their cheeks. Apparently they saw it in a movie. Below: taking a bow.

Tuesday, September 28, 2021

A Quick Halloween Art Project

Promptly after writing yesterday's 'I'm not decorating' post (read that here), I decided we needed something. Something simple and quick. Big plus if we could knock out a homeschool subject with it. Thus, we went with window painting for art class. The minis painted our side front window and all of the windows in the daycare room. 

Window paint is simple to make: paint, a little bit of water, and a squirt or two of dish soap. I'm sure there are exact measurements of the mixture out there, but as with most things, I just winged it. The window paint washes off easily. So easily that the minis have requested to do window painting for each holiday. I don't mind one bit, especially when daycare kiddos show up and squeal with delight at the paintings!

Harrison was thrilled with his bloody handprints idea, while the dog got caught under a stool trying to "help" with the painting. Not pictured is the oldest, who painted the outlines for all of the ghosts and all of the headstones.

Monday, September 27, 2021

Not A Decoration In Sight

Halloween decorations from fall 2014. This year, our house isn't looking spooky or fall-like.

By this point in the year, our Halloween and fall decorations have easily been up since the first weekend in September. Pumpkin patches, homemade applesauce, arts and crafts, fall hikes, star gazing, and drives through the countryside are the first things on our lists each year. This isn't a typical year though. This year, the minis and myself won't be home to enjoy the usual fall festivities at home. We'll be living out of suticases and arriving home just in time for trick or treating with friends (providing that happens this year). 

Since we aren't going to be around to enjoy them, I did the most logical thing I could think of: I skipped Halloween and fall decorating. My house seems odd. With our recent heat wave (90 degrees this week) and the zero orange and black decorations adorning my house, I haven't quite gotten into the fall spirit. I'm still enjoying tank tops, flip flops, and fruity summer beers. Usually I'm sipping spiked apple cider at this point.

I never realized how simple decorations helped me switch gears. I don't miss the decorations, although I do miss the activities we usually have planned. I'm more than positive our travel plans will make up for the things we're missing out on, but I still can't embrace fall. Maybe when we're hiking amongst colorful trees and crispy weather I'll get into it. I can also see me returning home at the end of October and going into a frenzied decorating mode just for Halloween Day. 

Until that moment, don't expect to see decorations at our house or me embracing all things fall. 

Sunday, September 26, 2021

Lovely, Boring Day Dates

 We may have started the day at a Pancake Day Festival (read about that here), but when we returned to Des Moines, we dropped the minis at my parents, left the dog for a bit, and had a late day date. We had plenty of options: Oktoberfest, a movie, fancy dinner, mingolfing, a night out with friends. Instead, we (and by we, I definitely mean me) went for the wonderfully relaxing, boring date.

We sat on a El Bait Shop's patio in the shade and ate a leisurely late day lunch/early dinner, sipped drinks, and chatted. We people watched since we were downtown and enjoyed the music from the nearby Oktoberfest. We made a trip to Target, grabbed paletas from Monarca, watched episodes of Evil, and took an after dark walk around Grey's Lake.

Yes, I got pictures with my dog, who you can barely see because he's as dark as the night around us. There are zero pictures of my husband and I together. Oops!

Peaceful, simple, restful, perfect. At one point in my life, I would have felt sorry for couples like my husband and I. Now I get it. 

Pancake Day Festival


I was in the middle of feeding the kids waffles (not pancakes, but waffles) when my phone buzzed. It was my husband. Work takes him all around Iowa, and small farm towns, beginning at 5 a.m. daily. I've been treated to bizarre texts such as, 'small farm town is up in arms because the drug store shortened their hours. There's protests happening,' to 'the town fire truck is looking for someone's lost dog.' It always brings a giggle to this city girl. I was not prepared for Tuesday morning's text though. It was a link to an event page and in bold letters (from my husband): THERE'S A PANCAKE DAY FESTIVAL. WE'RE GOING!!

I read through the event page and snorted. It was such a small town Iowa thing and it's totally something we would do. Plus, after speaking with my husband about it and catching on to his bizarre excitement, we couldn't not go. Naturally, we found ourselves piled into our Highlander, dog included, driving through the Iowa countryside to get to Centerville, Iowa bright and early Saturday morning.

First thing to note, this is a big thing for the Iowa town. There were games, vendors, a stage that had bands and performances booked, food trucks, a pancake parade, and more. The entire reason my husband was dying to come was because Pancake Day was trying to set a world record by serving the most pancakes ever. I'm unsure if they hit their goal, but it was recorded that 13,000+ pancakes were served from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Pancake Day. We stayed long enough to take it all in, get pancakes, eat them, let a hundred people pet our dog (and reassure them that, yes he's huge, he really is 100% English lab), and get home in time to get the kids to a sleepover with grandparents.

Matt and minis waited in line for 40 minutes for their pancakes. I mostly walked around the square to keep the dog entertained. At one point I was stopped by a group of teenagers so they could pet Zeus. I then sat and listened to them tell me all about their pets, how old they were, and little snippets of their lives with their pets. It brought a smile to my face that a group of 15 year olds eagerly told me about their lives all because they wanted to pet my dog.

The Pancake Day mascot. I think. It could very well have been a random towns person dressed as a pancake too.

We decided we needed Mexican hot chocolate for the drive home.

It was quite the event and a memorable day for me because, for once, this crazy thing was my husband's idea!

Thursday, September 23, 2021

One More Week And Under-prepared

We have exactly one more week until we set out on another epic road trip adventure. This time it's is a solo trip with the minis and dog. I'm not exactly nervous, I just want to be prepared. There's a lot to think about with no co-pilot to think of the things I forget. Luckily, my minis are at an age where they're actually helpful and can do things as well, so that's not the part I'm worried about.

I'm most worried about the packing stage. I'm the only one that knows exactly what we'll need throughout our 20 day adventure. If I left it up to the minis to pack themselves, someone would forget pants or underwear or something basic. So, it's on me to make sure everyone has an appropriate amount of undergarments.

I thought I was doing great. In July, I ordered new hiking boots, winter coats, bear spray, brand new fall and winter clothes for everyone, and all the things we'd need for the mountains. I made sure tennis shoes fit everyone, hiking gear was up to par, all of it. Here I was thinking, 'gosh, I'll wait until Sunday or Monday night to pack and we'll be set!'

I was honestly proud of myself. I even made a freaking packing list for each of us. Then, I took a peek at the weather forecast in the numerous places we're visiting. I rubbed my eyes as I stared at my computer screen. Our first stop: 80+ degrees. Our second and third stops: high to low 70's. Fourth stop: high 60's. It's not until the last leg of our trip that we'll even possibly need all of those brand new fall and winter clothes I purchased.

What was I thinking??!!? Now I'm at the stage of abondoning the packing lists, going through summer clothes, and making sure everyone has enough jackets for the trip. Good grief. I was feeling incredibly confident and now it's shattered. Why did I not think about how the weather was going to be? In my mind I thought 'fall trip to mountains' and got all winter gear. It's not like I haven't traveled around the country this time of year! It's not like I haven't stepped foot out of my own front door in early October and known what the weather was like. I know it can be warm days and cool nights, but for some reason, my brain told me winter gear.

I'm shaking my head at myself as I procrastinate on packing because now I have no idea what to pack! Wish me luck because this could just throw me over the edge for a few days. Eventually, I'll look back on this rant and think, "geez, anxiety much??" But until that time, I remain irritated at my not-so-common sense and for giving me a forecast I wasn't expecting to see. Jerks.

Wednesday, September 22, 2021

Pimple Popper Moment

 [Gross details ahead. ]

I'm one of those "weirdos" (although I think it's completely normal) that loves to watch pimple popping videos. Often times, after the kids are in bed, I fire up Instagram and pathetically watch the videos Dr. Pimple Popper posts. For some reason I've never seen the show, but I definitely stalk that Gram page. 

About a year ago, I felt something on the top of my head. Since we spend so much time hiking and in the woods, I booked it to the doctor to make sure it wasn't a tick embedded in my scalp. Instead, I was told it was a pilar cyst and it could be removed if it got bigger. Well, I had exactly nothing done to it, but yesterday it began hurting.

Before I went into urgent care, I asked my wonderfully, amazing, stellar husband to take a look at it. He's a real trooper when it comes to the things I ask of him.

"It looks like I could pop it," he responded, as he held a flashlight to my head. 

"Try it," I said. 

What came next was unbelievable. One little squeeze and contents that had been hidden in my head for I don't know how long, came out forcefully. It was at that time my husband walked away to grab a tissue. I caught a glimpse of his face and he truly looked as though he was going to vomit on top of my head. I wouldn't have blamed him. I even made him show me the cyst he wiped away from my head. He wouldn't look at me the rest of the night after I took a short sniff in the cyst's direction because, well, curiousity. 

Now I begin a new day with a lighter head and a husband who is thoroughly grossed out.

My proud moment of "that came out of me."

Tuesday, September 21, 2021

We're Working On Our Presentation Skills

 One of my favorite things about homeschooling is that we can work on any skills, at any time of day, in any way we choose. Part of their latest homeschool research activity (read about that here) is learning how to deliver a speech by presenting their research to us. Last night was night one. As their head teacher, I wanted to see what each child needed to work on. I'll let the pictures do the talking, but one of the first things we'll be working on this week is composure and posture while delivering their material. 

Inserting a face palm while looking at the pictures is completely acceptable. I thought we were doing fairly well with parenting, but their presentation skills make it seem as though they are being raised caveman style. Mom and Dad receive zero points for parenting.

Monday, September 20, 2021



I didn't feel like today was a Monday. It was a good Monday. There were funny lines, tired, but not grouchy kids, messy play, naps, and more playing. Today was the definition of why I do what I do.

Yes, this was extremely messy. Yes, I love it too. It's completely worth it when the child(ren) is rubbing shaving cream all over themselves, saying, "I love you," over and over again. I wasn't sure if they were speaking to me or the activity, but I'm good with it either way!

I definitely had to send disclaimer texts when a child shared his experience of hitting his head and going to the hospital. It happen a couple of months ago, but he told all of his little friends it happened this morning. and continued talking about the hospital. Soon, the kids all thought the hospital sounded amazing and informed me that they too were going to hospital for hitting their heads. I had to send the, "nothing happened today, they just all want to go to the hospital for a nonexistant injury" text. Fun stuff (and also completely hilarious).

Third grade language arts threw me for a loop. I think I rejoiced more than the nine year old when I finally figured out the cross word puzzle....only to realize the cross word didn't have to be turned in. It was just for practice. If the teacher wasn't an online teacher, I'd probably have a smart ass comment or two.

We're trying to teach the dog not to grab food from the kids table, especially right from their hands or plates. He's figured out he should simply lay under the highchair and wait for things to fall. Also, it's a great idea to follow around the same kids who feed you from the highchair because they just hand over the precious stuffed animals. The dog feels like won the lottery most days.