Thursday, April 28, 2022

I Don't Understand Young Teenager Logic

Above is my oldest mini's homeschool work space. "That's a sh*t ton of candy wrappers!" you're likely saying as you take a gander at the photo. I had the same thought the first time I took in the view. Then I had a laugh about it all. You see, earlier in the day, he came up to me and asked if he could open his chocolate eggs. 

"I'm probably going to eat half of the bag," he warned me, studying my face to see what emotion I would display when he said that. I don't exactly approve of tons of candy in our house and they rarely eat candy, so I registered the initial surprise on his face when I shrugged my shoulders regarding his statement. 

What I didn't know at that time was just how much other candy he had eaten without mentioning it to me. I still don't necessarily care about all of the candy because as I said above, it's not an everyday thing. I find it silly that he asked about eating one kind of candy and not the others. I wish I could understand kid, or in this case, young teenager logic. 

13 Of My Current Favorite Things

Life doesn't slow down. In fact, it gets crazier as time goes on. We've had a crazy, rough patch lately that has kept me from doing, well, many things. Including writing, sharing, and creating. It can be a soul killer, so I carved out some time (and by that I mean I did without some sleep for a night) to balance myself a bit. I figured I'd better share some things that we've been loving the last several weeks.

1.) We love Beaverdale Confections, but they outdid themselves with our Easter purchases. I got each mini a chocolate egg filled with candy for a grand total of $31. I can't get over how amazing these were! I didn't even worry about any other candies because these eggs had it covered. It wasn't a ton of candy, but the perfect amount for the minis.

2.) With three kids to feed, clothe, and shelter, I'm constantly on the lookout for deals. I've bought quite a few pieces of their wardrobes from Amazon Essentials clothing line and I am quite impressed! The mini's winter puffer jackets are comparable to Old Navy or Gap's (maybe even a slightly better quality) for a fraction of the cost. We were so impressed with the coats that we bought spring jackets, running shorts, and sweatpants for their Easter baskets. All pieces seem to be holding up well and my thirteen year old tells me the running shorts are the most comfortable shorts he owns. Even if these clothing pieces don't last long, I won't fret about it because the price can't be beat.

3.) I'm obsessed with herbal teas. Teavana is my new favorite with Peach Tranquility, Jade Citrus Mint, and Apple Cider teas being my favorite. I would gladly head to Starbucks each and every day for these teas, but I've also found the containers at Target and have my cupboard stocked with my three favorite flavors. For this week, at least.

4.) Our family are huge Lego fans (my husband and children freak out over the sets and put them together, while I enjoy a quiet household) and the boys are Harry Potter fans. They love the Harry Potter Lego book sets and are out to collect them all. New sets went on sale at the beginning of the month and oddly enough, we don't have them all. Yet.

5.) On my Bucket List this year: go to a Lumineers concert. Getting crossed off this fall: the Lumineers Brightside tour at Wrigley Field. I am so ridiculously excited, as are the minis who requested to go too.

6.) Gosh, we've eaten some FANTASTIC food this month. On the list: Parlor (the buffalo cauliflower and Proud Mary pizza were the stand outs), Michael's Pizza (the margherita pizza is our go-to), Tasty Tacos (for catering we got all original flour tacos, but the bean and cheese flour taco is my go-to along with flour chips, guacamole, and hot sauce), Palmer's boxed lunches (I don't particularly enjoy deli meat, but I get the Market Turkey every time and it's stellar), and Christopher's Take n' Bake (the chicken parmigiana will forever be my favorite).

7.) I love a good podcast....when I don't have anything to do. I find myself distracted if I have a podcast going while I'm writing, so I only listen to them while I walk the dog, exercise, or just looking to wind down. My currents listens are Welcome To Our Show, Tape Notes, and The Daily.

8.) We also love a good game. Card games are easy to take with us wherever we go. We currently bring Exploding Kittens, I Should Have Known That, Just One, and Scattergories just about everywhere. No one can say no to a good board or card game.

9.) Fidget toys are the "it" toys. My children will die if they ever read that I used that expression, but I did because it's true. There's all kinds of fidget and sensory toys, but I carefully pick out what I get. My latest sensory toy was Pop Fidget Sensory Blocks. These take some concentration to build and can also be used for the mindless, 'pop, pop, pop' the kids like to do. I can easily put these down in front of kids ages 4+ and have them completely occupied and engrossed for a while. 

10.) During our Civil Rights Trail road trip, the minis and I were looking for something a tad lighter after some heavy days learning. Since we were in Birmingham, we chose the nearby Oak Mountain State Park. We fell in love with the extensive trail system and all that the park had to offer. We would easily go back to Alabama just to visit that park. 

11.) The youngest mini is currently on the fourth book of the Laura Ingalls Wilder book series. She's loved them so much that we began visiting the sites the family once lived. Our first visit was to Burr Oak, Iowa to see the Laura Ingalls Wilder Museum and the Masters Hotel. I can't say the boys are thrilled about our visits, but they go along with them. It helps a lot that we've visited Living History Farms since the minis were young, so they can identify what life was like in the time period.

12.) We did this at Howell's in May 2020 and it was a highlight! We were gone traveling much of last year's goat cuddling season, but I highly recommend you give it a try. I called it goat therapy because there's no way to be unhappy when you have little goats climbing all over you!

13.) I completed dry January with no issues and even made it through February. Of course, April brought many family gatherings which found us sitting around with drinks in our hands. Seltzers are a favorite of mine and I love these even more because they're from local Iowa breweries! Big Grove and Toppling and Goliath will get a good chunk of money from me during this summer seltzer season. 

Monday, April 25, 2022

Rewind Life A Little Bit

 Here we are at the end of April and I have to ask myself, "where did it go?" It was a whirlwind. It began quietly enough, but then the rest had been absolute madness. As much as we love to live our life, life eventually comes to an end. We spent our month working, doing daily life, and our evenings and any free days spent crowded around my grandma's bedside as she neared the end. For three weeks, her five grown children and nearly all of the family spent time with her, with each other, and celebrating life. I couldn't have asked for a better example of family to model for my children than what we were a part of throughout the month. Of course, the emotional toll and exhaustion of it all was great. I am very much looking forward to my upcoming vacation to recoup a little bit.

Needless to say, April was an absolute jumble for us. Looking back on the photos on my phone, I can barely even remember some of these things. What these photos make me realize is that even in death we continued living life fully and with joy. As it should be.

The annual Easter egg lunch surprise. The kiddos love opening the eggs to discover their lunch. I soak the eggs and wash them so they're ready to use Easter morning. One of the metallic eggs turned the water pink as the color came off in the water! Oops! I take it as indication that these eggs have been well used throughout the years.

Giant card games and time with the youngest great grandchild that we met for the first time. The boys were rock stars and made breads and Texas sheet cake for the family since all 20+ family members were living at my grandparent's house for days on end.

We were surrounded by amazing foods and treats for the month of April. This box of treats from Jaarsma Bakery in Pella was a highlight. Catering from Tasty Tacos, Christopher's, and platters from Jimmy John's also came in quite handy. I'm in awe of some of my family members and how they planned and cooked for 20+ people for weeks.

Our family of five took a Sunday to breathe and took a hike at Woodland Mounds Preserve. We know all about Native American burial mounds in the Iowa area, but I wish these had more information signs along the hiking trail. Otherwise, I wouldn't have known anything about these mounds if I just chose this hiking spot off of All Trails (or a similar app). Regardless, this was a neat area and we had a quick 3 miles hike through the mounds. The we went to Goldie's for a late lunch/early dinner.

Wearing a Christmas shirt, drinking an afternoon coffee, out of my Super Mom mug. That's how we roll.

I had to take some days off due to the emotional toll the month took on me, but there was still lots of playing, birthdays, and fun. The Magformers balancing in the bowl cracked me up, as well as a child's requested birthday treat: chicken nuggets with tater tots and ice cream sundaes. I was unclear if the child wanted them as part of the ice cream sundae bar, but I made it all part of lunch one day. All kids were thrilled by the request and that I granted it.

Let's be honest, I did very little cooking or cleaning this month. Each day it was early wake ups, shower and get ready each morning, open business, go about my day and get as much done as possible, as soon as daycare closed it was off to run errands for those at my grandparent's house, and then each night at my grandparent's house spending time with family. The only cooking I did was for the kids during the days, otherwise it was take out or dinner with family. I have a newfound appreciation for those who cook for large crowds. I was only the errand person and occasionally the menu planner, I rarely helped get the food ready. My aunts and cousins totally rocked in the kitchen. Needless to say, while we ate some wonderful meals, I'm anxious to be back in my own kitchen cooking our regulars (even if they're less exciting).

One Saturday morning, we had zero breakfast items on hand, so we ordered delivery from Mullets. They have amazing drinks if you dine in, but delivery was on tap for that morning since we had places to be and things to do. 

And that folks was April 6 - 20th for us. I'm still in the "what the hell just happened this month?" stage, but once I'm out of that and reflect more, I hope to look back on these pictures to remind me of this time. 

Easter Celebrations


Our Easter celebrations looked nothing like I thought they would, but they wound up being perfect; exactly what we needed, in fact. Friday was our big daycare Easter Party. We had our annual creepy bunny cake, TWO egg hunts (one indoors and one outdoors), and a couple of games (bunny ear toss and carrot darts, no pictures, but both games were Dollar Tree purchases a few years ago). 

This wound up being the only egg hunt the minis would do this year and only two of them took part. The oldest mini declared himself "done with egg hunts" and helped me hide the eggs instead. I guess we've hit that stage now. Some parents would be upset by this, but I'm looking at the positive. Perhaps the Easter Bunny has less to do next year and hands it off to the nonparticipating mini?

Saturday took an unexpected turn when I held my grandma's hand for the final time. I spent the day with family while Hubs took the minis hiking on the High Trestle Trail bridge in Madrid, IA. We (when I had initially planned on going with them) had set aside an afternoon for hiking this bridge, remembering a time when the minis leg's were smaller and this would take us hours to complete. Hubs called me laughing because it took them less an hour to complete. I guess all of our miles of hiking paid off!

Now that brings us to Easter Sunday. Typically our Easter's involve a leisurely morning, homemade brunch, a hike (if the weather allows), and relaxing at home. We got some of that, but Easter evening was a celebration. For the first time in 14+ years, we went to my grandparent's house and had a celebration in honor of my grandma. Yes, there were tears, but it was also incredibly fun and lighthearted. I couldn't have thought of a better way to honor her than spending hours with our large family, gathered around telling stories, eating way too much food, and singing her favorite songs (I can't listen to Too Ra Loo without bawling).

The mini's baskets held new spring clothes, shoes, a couple of games, and these candy fille chocolate eggs from Beaverdale Confections.

It snowed Easter Sunday! Luckily it didn't stick, but it did come down hard. Meanwhile, the minis stuffed their faces with homemade cinnamon rolls.

We stopped by Monday morning to get baskets from my parents. These contained a lot more candy than the ones from our E.B.! This Easter weekend will be remembered fondly, as a weekend of importance, joy, and love.