Saturday, July 8, 2023

March And April


A look at our spring and no apologies for the amount of pictures: coffee shops, Wild Lights, putting our Minnesota State Park pass to use, The Lion King, kittens, first visit of the season to Snookies, going back to minivan life, a work trip to NOLA for a conference, and hiking. It was a busy, stressful few weeks in March and April, but apparently I only take pictures of the good stuff for the highlight reel.

Smokey Row is one of our faves.

Straight hair for a full two days.

When school projects become table center pieces...

I was digging through the cupboard one day and came across our St. Patrick's Day paper confetti that our magical leprechauns threw around the daycare bathroom. I completely forgot that I quickly threw the baggie in the cupboard before the kids caught me playing leprechaun. I had to giggle when I came across it weeks later and had to sneak it back into the art supplies.

First visit to Snookies of 2023. Floats are usually our go-to's, but on this day we indulged in dipped cones.

Afternoon coffee is important when our kids make plans for us in the evening.

Wild Lights at the Blank Park Zoo is one of my favorite things. Only two of the minis wanted to go this year, so we made it a night with my parents and sister. We all loved the light displays. We like to go on Sunday evenings because there are no crowds and we can walk through a couple of times without it being a late night. It's a great way to end the weekend.

For Christmas we got the minis tickets to see The Lion King in April. The night of the show, we took the kids to one of our (new) favorite places, Big Grove, for dinner. The buffalo cauliflower is my favorite, while my kids go for the giant pretzels.

There are many time we can't agree on what to have for dinner. Occasionally, we get food from multiple restaurants. On this night, we ordered food from Blue Thai and Paris Banh Mi. All of it was spectacular!

I always know the school year is coming to an end when the calendar is filled with band concerts, talent shows, and parent nights.

I woke us all up early on a Saturday morning, treated everyone to donuts (cronuts from ChuChu donuts are amazing) and hunted for glass eggs in Water Works Park. It's a thing, but we have yet to find any of those eggs despite trying for mulitple years. The stories make us giggle now though!

Doggy play dates help wear everyone out.

We finally made it up to Minnesota and got our State Park Pass for the year! We had a great hiking day at Whitewater State Park. We quickly stopped by the Spam Museum on our way (but didn't stop for the tour) and ended our day with a car picnic. Since we've done Iowa State Parks, many of them numerous times, we decided to head north for cleaner water, new and beautiful views, and time in a state that is heading into my top five favorites.

We got quite the work out in hiking up and down these bluffs (and a few questionable sets of staircases). Plus, the bluff cave was a highlight.

Our favorite pup turned three! We celebrated with a peanut butter whipped cream cake topped with two of his faves: a bone and pancake.

Before I caught a flight to New Orleans for a Children's Museum conference, I ate a ridiculous amount of Mexican food at Fiesta. It's our new go-to for Mexican. 

4 a.m. flight from Des Moines to St. Louis to New Orleans meant we had a few hours to explore the city before the conference began. We had plenty of options for Museums, but all of the ones I really wanted to go to were closed that day. Instead, we grabbed lunch, drinks, and walked around exploring the many shops, art galleries, and stores. We had wonderful chats amongst ourselves and various shop owners. 

All fake play food (pictured above). The conference was phenomenal. It was truly amazing to be with like-minded individuals, sharing ideas and our passions. I attended some fantastic sessions and loved our evening visit to the Louisiana Children's Museum in City Park. City Park is one of my favorite parks in the U.S. and the Children's Museum is right in the middle of it. As usual, NOLA knows how to party and showed us a great time with fantastic food, big bands, Elvis dancers, and more.

Arrived home at midnight from NOLA and our minivan was delivered at 8 a.m. We had the hardest time finding a vehicle. We were working with a smaller budget since we'll be buying two cars this year (one for the oldest to drive), but everything we could find within our price range had well over 100,000 miles and/or wasn't worth the asking price. Our local dealerships had nothing we were excited about. I nearly bit the bullet and went with another brand new vehicle only to be told the one I wanted wouldn't be in for 20+ months (there's quite a waiting list still). To say I was beyond frustrated with limited options, we turned to Carvana and we had the best experience! I highly recommend checking it out. You're better off securing your own financing if you're able to because the interest rates can be high, but we had no issues finding the car we wanted and using our own financing. So, now I'm back to a minivan mom and I couldn't be happier.

I feel like the end of March and April were a big blur. I know I didn't document half of what was going on in our lives, but we survived. Looking back at it, it all seems like a pretty solid month and a half that was action packed, stressful, fun, and all the emotions.