Monday, January 9, 2023

Christmas Break


A Christmas break hike at Wapsipincon State Park with the minis, my sister, and our dogs.

I had 12 full days to be with my minis, lounging, exploring, seeing family, and truly enjoying a staycation. Initially, I was only to be off the week in between Christmas and New Year's, but weather got me to close daycare on the 23rd and I had to take the 2nd and 3rd off due to scheduled appointments (which wound up being canceled the day of, go figure). I can't tell you enough how rejuvenating my time off was. Typically when I take extended time off, it means we're traveling, which means I'm on go mode. I actually consider getting back into work mode to be relaxing! But not this time. 

My tweens and teen have embraced sleeping past 7, 8, even 9 a.m. so I got plenty of sleep. We also nailed multiple days of hiking 4+ miles. We managed to make it through 2 seasons of Grey's Anatomy (the oldest "discovered" the show, so we've been watching it occasionally), began a major writing project, planned our 2023 goals, played board games, and did it all while snuggling kittens. It was heaven on earth.

The minis were so disappointed to not have their friends here on the 22nd and 23rd. I still did a hot chocolate board for them, as well as their favorite cinnamon roll casserole and Universal Yums box. 

Athena also enjoyed the board. She batted around marshmallows all day long.

Both boys have had a cooking class in their first semester of school. They're more than willing to try out their recipes for us. Meanwhile, I took advantage of the free day and wrapped all of the gifts. I'm pretty sure this is the most organized I've ever been and we didn't scramble on Christmas Eve, fighting to get everything wrapped.

Once the temperatures were above 20 degrees, we set out hiking. One day we went to Anamosa and Cedar Rapids areas to hike at Wapsipinicon and Palisades Kepler State Parks. We took my sister and her dog with us for a day of adventure. Somehow, we fit us all in our Highlander. The main roads of the parks were closed, so we hiked into the parks. Of course, since we had to hike in and walked the main area of each park, we never made it to an actual trail. I'm more than okay with this because we got a unique perspective of the parks on a quiet and serene day in winter.

We had the caves and park pretty much to ourselves. We only came across two other people. This was a much different experience than what we had two years ago when we visited Wapsipinicon on a hot summer day. The place was packed, so we fully enjoyed the park's beauty this time around.

Palisades Kepler is one of our favorite and best kept secrets. We walked along the river this time, but our favorite trail in the park if the Cliff Trail. There was no way we could have done it this time around with the snow and ice, but we'll for sure be back in the spring to enjoy the trail system.

Thankfully you can't see the snot rolling out of my nose! Walking into the wind got me; my nose started to run while my eyes watered so bad I could barely see.

The kittens were spoiled with so many snuggles. Not one of us complained about it.

My bagel was stolen before I realized what was happening. Then I snapped a picture before I took my bagel back.

We still had plenty of errands to run. We made them fun by getting Cool Basil while we were out one day. The middle mini goes for pad Thai, while I go for the avocado sushi and spring rolls. 

We hiked Des Moines, beginning at Grey's Lake and going all around the area on our sunny and warm days.

I'm new to the seafood scene, but Trader Joe's has a great selection for a great price. We also love English cucumbers and golden berries.

One morning I had a panicked yell for me from the middle mini's basement bedroom. I ran down to find him pointing to something on the floor, exclaiming, "you pick that up since it's yours!" I squinted down to see a pad from my bra hanging out on his floor. Courtesy of the kittens, who clearly played around in our dirty laundry.

We made A LOT of coffee runs to all different coffee shops.

Yes, I had 12 days off from my full time job. I made use of my free time by writing and creating business plans for the new year. I did not waste a single minute of my time.

As I said, lots of lazy days, living room slumber parties, Mom and Minis time, and playful kittens. It was perfection.

Can you spot the kitten? I brought "new" toys up from storage and the kittens were thrilled with my choices.