Monday, January 31, 2022

Rough Start To 2022


Our one and only hike we managed in January 2022, despite having plans to do about a dozen more.

Thirty one days into the new year and we've been through the wringer. At least it's felt that way. The hits have kept on coming. We started the first day of the new year out excellent, with cheap champagne toasts at midnight and sledding with family during a snowstorm. We had one solid, regular work week before things took a turn.

I developed a cold. Actually, symptoms were of a sinus infection, cold, and influenza all put together. I was miserable. Being the proactive person I can be, I immediately tested for Covid and went about life when I tested negative. Then, we learned our entire family had a possible Covid exposure, so we all tested. Again. Immediately after receiving negative results, and still having symptoms myself, we were notified we had a close contact Covid exposure. So, back to testing we went. For those keeping track, this was two plus weeks spent in quarantine due to possible exposures.

But we live in Iowa, where quarantines aren't a thing, so we had to manage as best we could. It basically meant I could run my business, my husband could go to work, but since we aren't assholes, we stayed at home to prevent any spreading we could possibly do. Then, just as we were out of our Covid quarantine bubble, we were hit with the stomach flu. This adventure has lasted just over a week for us and hit every single member of our family, including the dog, plus shut down daycare. 

Now, on this last day of January, I'm slowly losing my mind. We have done absolutely nothing with this month other than drinking an insane amount of teas, watching shows that I'd never in a million years usually watch (Virgin River and Emily In Paris tops that list), and have seen zero friends or family. Next weekend will be the first weekend since Christmas I'll get to spend in person with a few of our family members and it's for a funeral. 

If I ever find myself homeschooling my children again, I'm revisiting this to remind myself to book a cabin in a faraway place for the entire month of January. That way, at the very least, I can have interesting Instagram pics to look back on and not the same dust covered  TV stand I've capture over and over again just to prove I've watched entirely too much TV this month. Through all of this, I've managed to complete dry January, but let's be real. It's likely because I've either been too sick to drink, too stressed to remember to grab a drink, or too zen from all of the tea drinking. Here's a hint, it's not the third option. 

All I'm saying for this month is, maturely: January can suck it. 

Wednesday, January 26, 2022

Puke-aggedon 2022

Playing games with puke bowls, crackers, and Sprite (or Coke, if you're like two of the minis).

One thing we're dealing with this winter of "fun" illnesses such as influenza, colds, and the stomach flu. We've definitely not had the stomach flu hit our house since the pandemic began. We may even be reaching the three year mark. Or there's a good possibility I'm just blocking a stomach flu event out because they can be rather horrific. There's always at least one kid who can't make it out of their bed in time, another who makes it into the bathroom, but not to the toilet, and another who just sits and cries wherever they are, puking their guts out. All while mom tries not to puke herself. As I said, rather horrific.

But there's this thing called time that was on our side for Puke-aggedon 2022. Time made me forget the really, really not fun parts of having a house full of pukers. Time made the minis older, which means all but one made it to the toilet in time (and the child that didn't voluntarily cleaned up his mess without even being told to!). I'm not saying Puke-aggedon 2022 has been easy by any means. It's now been six days and this bug is STILL making its way through our house and daycare. However, unlike previous times when the stomach flu has graced us, this time seems to be easier. 

It actually even started off in a funny way. Setting the scene for last Friday night, the oldest was cooking dinner while I was packing bags for a weekend of hiking. We were supposed to leave early the next morning to hike a frozen waterfall in Minnesota. The middle and youngest minis were playing together. Everyone had been fine all day long. As I loaded a bag into the car, the youngest mini came into the kitchen with a smile on her face.

"Mom, Harrison puked and he didn't make it to the toilet."

"Wait, what?" Given the smile on her face I wasn't sure if I could take her seriously. I didn't know what to expect when I walked towards the bathroom. I was greeted by a child throwing up in my bathroom sink because he had indeed missed the toilet.....because the lid to the toilet was closed. He had assumed it was open when he ran in. You can imagine the mess that happened when he puked on a closed toilet lid. As I took in the scene in front of me, my only thought was, 'this kid was fine 10 minutes ago.' As with any other mom, I rolled up my sleeves and got to cleaning, while the mini who was not feeling good at all came into the bathroom and cleaned alongside me. It really was a sweet moment even if it had to happen with the smell of vomit wafting through the air.

Not twenty minutes later, the youngest mini came up to me again. "I think I should get my puke bowl." I'm so glad she did because she needed it not two minutes later. At this point, I was perplexed. I sincerely forgot how quickly stomach bugs can hit because I began questioning the two sick minis:
"Did you eat bad food that was sitting in Elizabeth's room? Do you have anything like that in there? Did you drink something you shouldn't have? Did you get into paint chips?" Upon hearing the paint chips questions, because sometimes momma tends to overreach with some things, my husband took over the sick minis, assuring me it was likely just the stomach flu. Actually, his exact words were, "where the hell do we have paint chips just around our house?"

It's been real "fun." I can't say I've missed having germs run through our house and daycare, but I guarantee my children will always remember me asking them if they happened to eat paint chips because I didn't quite want to believe that the stomach flu was making a comeback in our household.

Thank goodness it was a quick bug. Less than forty eight hours later and these two were sipping smoothies after sleeping A LOT all weekend long.

Wednesday, January 12, 2022

My 16 Favorite Fall, Holiday, And Winter Things


Time has flown by. We traveled, learned, wrote, worked, and all of life's great things. Somehow, despite making lists upon lists of the things I've absolutely loved, I failed to actually share those things. Everything from unexpectedly amazing winter coats to shows and movies to stream to things that have made our lives easier. Here's a look at some of the things that made my list the last several months:

1.) It's winter and there's really no better time to curl up in a warm blanket and watch TV. Some of the good ones: Virgin River (Netflix), Being The Ricardo's (Prime), Creamerie (Hulu - I can't decide how I feel about this one, but I can't stop thinking about how I want a season 2 to clear up the cliffhanger), the Harry Potter special (HBO Max), and tick, tick...Boom! (Netflix).

2.) We've enjoyed many good eats the last several months as well. Kava DSM has a healthy, tranquil vibe that I've spent time just sitting in the space, sipping a smoothie. While in Chicago, we discovered La Fournette in Old Town. I personally recommend the raspberry jam filled beignet. Eileen's Cookies provided yummy treats for us during the holidays. I love their to go tubs, but their sugar cookies are my ultimate fave. Smoothie bowls, beignets, and cookies may keep me full, but Starbuck's peach tranquility has kept me warm on chill days.

3.) When the minis and I needed new winter coats before heading off on our fall road trip, there were zero sales in our usual stores. Instead, I gave Amazon essentials a try and I couldn't be more pleased. The puffer coats are thin, but extremely warm. Water resistant and (so far) hold up well whether it be from hiking, snowboarding, or general roughhousing in the backyard. All of that for an excellent price point. I bought these winter coats in the off season and got them for around $20 a piece.

4.) The Art Institute is one of our favorite museums in Chicago. Barbara Kruger has an amazing exhibit running through January 24. Our thirteen year old fell in love and said words that you would hear from any reviewer, including, "riveting," "powerful," and "thought provoking."

5.) She and Him put on an amazing Christmas concert at the Chicago theater. I'm a big fan of the band regardless of what they're singing, but their Christmas tunes are some of the first I listen to each season. Ingred Michelson had a new Christmas album out. The minis felt the song Merry Christmas, Happy New Year was a must listen. Meanwhile, I'm eagerly awaiting Friday when the newest Lumineers album Brightside is released. 

6.) On a fall trip to Waubonsie State Park in southwest Iowa, I stopped at the cutest roadside apple orchard called Mincer Orchard. They only take cash and we had limited amounts on us, so we got a few varieties of apples to try. I have no idea what variety I ate, but it was by far the best apple I've ever eaten. I can't wait to return to this family run orchard this fall.

7.) I was skeptical about making hot cocoa bombs at first. Though they are extremely time consuming (but obviously I'm making them again for Valentine's Day), they aren't difficult in the least thanks to these trays. I have another set ordered before we make our Valentine's Day batch to hopefully help with the time aspect of it.

8.) Christmas brought new electronics to our household. I'm extremely happy with my brand new hp laptop that doesn't have to be plugged in at all times. The minis are thrilled with their new Acer Chromebook. They love the touchscreen feature because they seem to forget their laptop screen isn't touchscreen.

9.) Daycare received many new toys for the holidays (check out what daycare received here). One of everyone's favorite is the giant rock a stack. Thinking this would be a great toys for the babies and one year olds at daycare, it's mostly played with by the toddler and preschool crowd. They tend to get creative with the rings, using them as bracelets, anklets, necklaces, and occasionally (when I can't stop it in time) throwing devices.

10.) I love the ease of delivery services. I also love a good deal. The best deal I found for dog food is through Petco. Buy seven bags, receive the eighth bag free, as well as free repeat delivery right to my door every six weeks. 

11.) Nearly nothing beats a cuddly baby. Nothing beats a cuddy baby with soft clothes. Zyte baby makes incredibly soft and easy to clean infant and toddler clothing. Stock up because orders of $85 or more get free shipping.

12.) As it's title suggests, this really is the best sugar cookie recipe ever. We've now made numerous batches of sugar cookies with this recipe and it will forever be my go to. 

13.) Sensory toys such as pop its have become popular in the last few years. The new pop puzzle was a last minute buy and probably everyone's favorite. From the oldest to the kindergarteners who attempted to solve it, it's been the most played with amongst the school age kids at daycare.

14.) Everyone knows some of the best sales happen the day after Christmas. That's how we have accumulated a (slightly un-) healthy amount of holiday decorations. This year we were after these giant Christmas lights. I'm happy to report that we now have enough to put on our house three times over next year.

15.) We're back to spending our winter in our house and with that comes puzzles. We have plenty to keep us busy, but one of my favorite is this vintage newspaper puzzle

16.) Wi-Fi Connect was a lifesaver for our big fall trip. The minis were able to do schoolwork easily during our driving days. Admittedly, we had a free trial offer to use, but I will definitely be looking into it again for our upcoming road trips.

Tuesday, January 11, 2022

New Year's Weekend


New Year's Weekend was actually cousins weekend. We kept things casual for NYE and New Year's Day. NYE Day we watched movies at home and then played games with cousins (who were in town) until midnight. New Year's Day we slept in, made food, and then went sledding with cousins. 

The kids had sparkling rose and the adults had champagne. Everyone got a cheers and a kiss at midnight.

It may have been below zero for sledding, but that didn't let it stop us! Actually it did stop me for a bit because my glasses iced over and I had to walk back home to put my contacts in. Luckily we were sledding on the hills at the school at the top of our street, so it's not like it was a huge deal. Of course, by the time I got back to the sledding fun, kids were ready to come back to my house, so basically, I just spent the time walking back and forth from the sledding hill to our house. 

We gave them a surprise NY Day. We had them convinced we bought them Lego sets, which we did, but they were little sets that were on clearance at Target. Sometimes, in the throes of parenting, you just have to mess with them a little bit to give yourself a laugh. No one cried, so I don't foresee this one being talked about in a therapist's office.

Saturday, January 8, 2022

Exploratory Painting

"Play is the work of the child." - Maria Montessori

Which is why we play all day, every day at this daycare. I pride my business on providing a safe environment for children to explore and learn about the world through play. This means saying yes to things as much as possible and giving kids plenty of opportunities to expand their minds. On this particular day, it was painting. 

I measured, cut, and taped paper to the table top, plopped paint down directly on the paper, and set numerous painting items on the table. From there, the kids were able to paint however they wished. Some used the items as painting tools, others painted the items, and a couple of kids bypassed all of it and simply used their fingers to paint. 

Items used for painting: various paint brushes, wooden trains, Hot Wheels, animal figurines, cotton balls, and Q Tips. All of it was thrown in the dishwasher and easily cleaned.

The idea wasn't to send home a painting masterpiece at the end. It was to show them that each object can create a different shape, pattern, etc. Mixing the paints give you new colors. A paintbrush isn't necessarily needed to paint if you can think outside the box. There are endless, simple lessons in an activity that kept the kiddos busy and focused for 30+ minutes.