Sunday, July 31, 2022

July 4th Weekend

 This four day weekend was perfect. We did all of the things and more. Of course, because it's us, the weekend started rather rough when Hubs injured himself at work and earned himself a sprained ankle. He was laid up most of the weekend, so it was up to the minis and I to make the weekend memorable. We began our long weekend with the last day of swimming lessons, the last ever lessons for the oldest mini who will go onto lifeguarding courses. The middle mini will continue with lap swimming (distance swimming) and perfecting strokes, so he can take the lifeguarding course in three years. We celebrated the successful swimming week with soda floats. 

Saturday morning we left Hubs at home to ice his foot and we did some state park hopping in southern Minnesota. Our first stop was Minneopa State Park in Mankato, MN. Most people were ecstatic about the bison refuge at the park, but to be honest, we live in Iowa. We can see bison anytime we want. Yeah, they're huge, but they don't fascinate us as they do others. We focused on the waterfall. The trail is only half a mile long, but we hiked off of the trail to the waterfall itself. There was quite a bit of climbing over large tree roots and the area was very crowded. Pretty, but too many people to fully enjoy the area.

I've noticed the roped hiking trails in several of Minnesota's state parks. When we first saw it at Nerstrand Big Woods, I assumed they were regrowing plants. Then I realized it's so people don't go off the path of the more crowded trails, which prevents harm from vegetation. For the most part, I've seen everyone on the trails respecting the roped areas and kept on the trail.

After we grabbed a quick lunch at Five Guys in Mankato, MN, where they are clearly obsessed with roundabouts, we attempted to hike at Sakatah Lake State Park. The drive to the state park is where things got weird. Someone was driving down the highway squirting cars with squirt guns. We saw someone pull out of their driveway just to do donuts in the middle of the street only to pull back into their driveway and go back inside (what I assume to be) their house. In the state park, we were swarmed by mosquitos and ticks despite our spray. We only hiked a third of the trail before turning around, pulling ticks off of us, and quickly driving away. I have no plans on returning.

We had a MUCH better experience at Myre Big Island State Park in Albert Lea, MN. We hiked the big island loop and came across a small swimming hole just off of the trail near the campgrounds. There were a group of people there, so we didn't stop, but made note of it for future stops. It's a gorgeous park and the middle mini said he could see us camping there sometime. The campgrounds had a homey feeling, with what appeared to be campers moving in for the summer.

Sunday the minis got to hang out with neighbor friends, followed by our annual Independence Day celebration (a day early). The minis did the giant slip n' slide, there was grilling, laughs, and our very own (toned down) fireworks display. This is one of our favorite traditions each year.

Zeus saw me packing up the car and waited patiently by the door. When he sees bags of any kind, he assumes we're going somewhere....and that he gets to go too. That is the only negative thing about having a dog that's used to road trips. He expects to go everywhere with us. The picture below is the sad face we get when we tell him he needs to go in his kennel. Also, please notice his leash that he brought to the door with him so we didn't leave him behind. Our poor puppy dude was fully disappointed.

We had the most laid back 4th of July that we've likely ever had. With our celebration and fireworks done the night before, we spent the afternoon at our local pool. The minis showed off their new swimming skills and the oldest made us smashburgers for dinner.

He didn't even want to wait to change out of our swimming suits. I helped cut up vegetables from the middle mini's gardens and then the oldest took over in the kitchen. The smashburgers were amazing! 

Monday, July 18, 2022

June Weekends


June is notoriously one of the busiest months for us. All three minis have their birthdays, it's (insane) recital time, and it's the beginning of summer when we want to do ALL the things. By the time July 1st rolled around, I was exhausted, but our June was as perfect as could be. 

We began our month with a visit to CelebrAsian to see a K pop group and try Korean food. The middle mini is currently obsessed with both. We took a chunk of a day to go to Dolliver Memorial State Park. We had planned to walk the creek, but upon our arrival, we discovered the creek was much high than anticipated. We chose to hike the Indian Trail and then swam in the creek.

We've been keeping true to our Saturday's are for hiking and Sunday's are for the pool. Every Sunday at 10:30 a.m., we head to Adventure Bay for a few hours. It's easily one of our most favorite spots of the summer.

Sunday's are also for grilling.

Two years later and we held our first indoor event for the Des Moines Children's Museum. It really fills my cup being able to see families enjoy the events that we plan. I'm thrilled to be bringing more of my ideas to life in the coming months. 

One weekend was dedicated to dance pictures. It was an all day thing both Saturday and Sunday. The boys and I fit in a hike at the Carney Marsh Trail in Ankeny, but mostly the days were spent at the dance studio. If you couldn't find us driving our dancers back and forth, you could find us playing board games. It wasn't an exciting weekend by any means.

We fit in a family birthday party for the minis in a rainstorm. It made for a memorable celebration! Then the minis were off to grandma and grandpa's for the night and mom and dad got to play. We were very adult and ran errands, sat on a patio and had an early dinner with drinks, and then to Top Gun Maverick. 

Gilroy's still has my favorite patio in all of the Des Moines metro. Starbucks still has my favorite tea (peach tranquility). Flix Brewhouse is still my favorite place to watch a movie. The more things change, the more they stay the same.

Father's Day Weekend was nonstop go, go, go and a lot of fun. The minis had a birthday party with friends (who also share June birthdays), we spent the day at Adventure Bay with the two youngest minis while the oldest was celebrating with his group of friends, we had dinner with my parents and introduced them to Parlor Pizza, the minis and I spent Father's Day morning at Ledges State Park to give Hubs some quiet time alone, we ate BBQ, and tried a new-to-us ice cream parlor. There was no relaxing that weekend! Our favorite part of the weekend was watching Hubs open his Send A Cake surprise. These little things can be pricey, but it was a fun treat for all of us.

The trick candles for the party were not a hit with the kids! 

We weren't expecting the road to be washed out, so we had to hike from the top of the park to the creek. It was hot and humid, so our plan was to hike the creek to keep us cool. Many others had that idea too, plus there were swarms of butterflies and moths all around the park. We didn't stay long due to the crowds.

The creek was high than it usually is, so the minis were able to find rock slides to go down.

We had plans to bring back Whatcha Smokin' BBQ on our way home from Ledges State Park, but the wait was insane. We went home, showered, and then went to Smokey D's. We had great meals and then went to Al's Dairy Freeze for dessert.

The boys ordered pineapple Dole whip and the youngest ordered a cookie dough snowstorm (think blizzard). The middle one had big jealous feelings when he saw the amount she go versus what he got. 

I was so impressed by Harrison and Elizabeth in the weeks leading up to the recital and during recital week. They put in long hours at the studio with extra practices and absolutely nailed recital week. They spent four consecutive nights at the Civic Center, two for rehearsals and two for long performances. They never once complained and gave A++ performances on stage! Since recital weekend also happened to be Max's birthday weekend, I skipped one of the dress rehearsal nights and took him to Jurassic World Dominion. 

I honestly didn't know what to expect from their dances. They refused to show me any of their moves ahead of time (other than the cartwheels that I witnessed all day every day for the last ten months), so I was shocked to see their amazingness exuded from the stage. I'm also equally impressed by my husband, who has lived up to his Dance Dad nickname this season. He spent the year driving the two youngest to and from dance multiple nights a week, made sure they had everything they needed for their classes and recital, volunteered for a shift at the recital to help back stage, and was all around amazing about it all.

It was my grandma and grandpa's wedding anniversary. My grandma isn't with us any longer, but my grandpa got the family together for dinner to honor their special day. This was also recital weekend, so it took some schedule managing to make an appearance happen.

Recital weekend gave us one free day: Sunday. We switched our pool day for a hiking with friends day. We enjoyed a cool day at Jester Park then came home for a final June grilling. We are thrilled July is much more laid back for us because we're taking the time to chill, hike, and pool all the days we can.

That garden the minis planted and maintained the last couple of months is flourishing. We enjoy daily harvests of butter lettuce and spinach. Their tomatoes, hot peppers, carrots, and cucumbers will be ready soon!