Friday, July 07, 2017

Fill the Tank

Zach is hilarious. We have been going on this journey of his sleep....he has been a great sleeper his entire life. The last two years have been a little different. He has a hard time getting to sleep and HATES getting up early - just like his dad ;)

With that has sparked his love of reading! He reads an entire book a night sometimes. Often we have almost reached our 100 item checkout limit....its kind of crazy. He also is a late eater...last night I cracked up. He came into our room and said he was hungry around 10pm. Usually we make him go reheat the dinner he hadn't eaten or have a yogurt or banana. He had a protein drink in the fridge and drank that instead.

He came up after he was done and said "yum, that filled the tank" while rubbing his belly. Then "goodnight!" The kid is a hoot.

Wednesday, July 05, 2017

July 4th

We had quite a busy 4th of July weekend! Started off with our neighborhood "flip flop party." That consists of each neighbor on the culdesac making a signature drink and maybe a snack. Then we start at Colin's house and work our way around to the 8 houses in the circle. Great way to get caught up with the neighbors. This year we had 24 people participating! Fun group!

The next morning we had "breakfast on the green." This is another neighborhood tradition where we each bring a breakfast item and celebrate in the center of our culdesac. It was a bit too much "neighboring" for Josh, but I enjoyed seeing everyone! I made mini cinnamon rolls which were a big hit!

Following breakfast we headed to Ames to watch Kade and the rest of the drumline march in the parade! The temperatures were pretty close to the surface of the sun...but we didn't melt entirely! Em ran back to her car to get some umbrellas which helped immensely! Was fun to see Kade being all cool....

After that we went to Baca's and Josh helped him get rid of some fallen trees. Then headed home where the kids got a much needed nap (we didn't get to sleep until after midnight from flip flop night!) I went to Amanda's and watched a few episodes of that was a blast from the past! Went to Chelseys for a bit to walk through changes she needs to make to her house before renting it and finished the day watching Ripleys set off fireworks!

Happy 4th to all!

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Jester Park Family Campin

Jester Park is a nearly 2000 acre state park just across Saylorville Lake from us. They have an equestrian center where Kenna took horse riding lessons as well as TONS of outdoor activities. They have about 200 camping sites, but I've had my eye on the 4 cabins for quite a while. Early in the year I tried to recruit some other families to rent the other three cabins. The only day we could land on was sleeping Sunday night through Tuesday morning this last weekend. Well - I can say this will definitely be a tradition! The Andersens and Stones came with us and we had a FABULOUS time! 

This is the first time we had ever done something like this - renting cabins with other families, but will definitely be something we do again! The hardest part about an undertaking of this size is coordinating and packing. Luckily we were only like 20 minutes from home - so we did have to back for a few things that were forgotten. I ended up having to pack by myself because Josh and the kids were playing with the California cousins at Gonas. By the time I loaded chairs, scooters, fishing supplies, enough food for an army, board games, helmets, clothes, bedding, and hiking backpacks....the car was nearly full! Josh and the kids met me there at 4pm. 

I could not believe the high quality of these cabins! They were only around 2 years old and the builders thought of everything from remote controlled light switches to a wheeled cart to bring your stuff from car to cabin. We rented cabin #2 equipped with an upstairs master bedroom, full kitchen and gas fireplace. Downstairs had two twin beds and a futon as well as another full bath. There were two picnic tables out back and one up front as well as a fire pit for each cabin and giant one in the center of the cabin area. Chad, Tara, Chloe, Lucy and Simon arrived that night as well. We spent the evening playing in their awesome hammocks, riding scooters to the natural playscape (nursing a scuffed knee from Simon's wipeout) and then eating pulled pork and smores. The adults played a rather inappropriate drawing game and enjoying a few beverages. 

Stones got double booked with a family reunion, so Andrea and Katie and Kevin came around lunch the next day. The morning was spent canoeing, eating breakfast, playing games in the cabin, exploring, doing nature scavenger hunts, reading and just goofing around. Chad helped the kids catch a turtle and the turtle was less than pleased! Tara had to leave for a while to go be with her dad for a medical procedure and Nate came later that night where we all had a greek dinner. Prior to that we took the kids out for the first ever geocaching for many of them. I can see the appeal trying to follow the clues to find the treasure! We carried some small pokemon figurines and the kids loved choosing something to take with them! What a neat idea!

The afternoon was more canoeing and playing. After the greek/pizza feast the kids got a bunch of glowsticks and created a game called "Godzilla." They played that, kick the can, and pretty much just ran until they were exhausted. We had smores again and kids called it quits around 10. My boys slept until after 9 this morning, I had to wake them up so they could eat some donuts and egg casserole that Andrea brought!

We took the kids out for one more canoe trip after Andersens left this morning. Kevin and Kenna did great steering on their own! Andrea and I took turns taking kids around. Its the perfect size for their age, completely calm and full of frogs and the turtle.

This was definitely so much fun. I'm really happy we found a weekend that worked for everyone! Love Jester Park!

Thursday, February 09, 2017


Typical day after school. Kids were having a snack and getting ready to play outside. We were all being silly and actually super positive. I made a comment about how I had the best kids in the whole world! Grayson got on the topic of "what if we ran away?"

Zach chimes in: "Grayson, you can't don't even have one of those long sticks with the tied bags at the end!"

I about died laughing...where does this kid come up with this stuff?!?!?

Monday, January 30, 2017

Sleepover and some tough times


There is a lot happening right now. Lots of it not so good.

Chelsey and Spencer found out their little baby has a heart condition. They have had many tests done, have had a surgery in Boston (in utero) to try and repair his heart. While there was some improvement they have concluded that the baby will need to have multiple operations in the first years of life. There are a lot of "what ifs" that will need to be explored after he is born. Luckily he can be born in Iowa City and should only need to be there 4-6 weeks before coming home. They have a long road ahead and through the generosity of many of my friends and family we have raised nearly $3000 to help them get through it. (Silver lining.)

My good friend and the kids previous day care provider recently heard that her estranged son's ex-girlfriend (are you following this?) was in jail. This meant that her 5 children from 5 fathers were homeless. Eski was pressured by the social worker into taking in all 5 if she wanted her grandson. She is exhausted, overwhelmed and is realizing she has taken on an impossible task.

Emmi, Josh, Kade, Gona and Baca all went to Mexico to celebrate Baca's 70th birthday. A few days after they left Mark reached his limit in his struggle with alcohol and called Emmi saying he was ready to seek impatient help. I have been helping them coordinate long distance and Emmi is on a redeye back here right now.

Donald Trump has signed 10 executive orders in his first week in office...silencing the EPA, shutting down primarily Muslim countries from entering the US, appealing the ACA. He continues to push to build this ridiculous wall bordering Mexico which would be the only barrier in the world between two civil countries. He is a narcissistic sociopath and I am uncertain how we got to this place as a nation. Everyone is so angry and hateful to each other.

I write this not because I want to dwell on the negative, but to celebrate the positive. We are so fortunate in that we have everything we could ever need. I have fabulous family and support and I am choosing to dwell on that!

Last night it was Grayson's turn to sleep in my bed while daddy was gone. He was SO excited. He got all the blankets ready and couldn't wait to go to sleep. I laid down next to him and he covered me up with his favorite monkey blanky and kissed my cheek. He wrapped his little arms around my arm and snuggled with his head just under my chin and he quietly went to sleep and I thought "this....this is what life is about and I am so grateful to be in this place right now. The world is good."

Friday, January 27, 2017

Walking to School


Some more first weeks of school picture. Grayson by his locker and us watching Max while Chelsey and Spencer were visiting Michigan. 

Kenna was selected to train the safety patrol helpers for 5th grade. And below is one of my favorite pictures of my boys, just being silly and unintentionally twinning!

Kenna's closet


As Kenna becomes more tween than kiddo she has lots of we decided to paint her closet to match her room. She was tired of the clunky dresser and wanted to incorporate it into her room. So, we removed the door and I must admit it looks really good!

Pikes Peek


It is really hard to get a good campsite during the summer months in Iowa. Unless you plan it out a year in advance you are sort of out of luck! So - this year we ended up booking a campsite for October 1st! It ended up being just perfect! No bugs, cool temps, but manageable with a fire or a jacket, and the trees just starting to was gorgeous!

Happy to report NO car troubles with Ace (a first for long trip!!) We arrived early afternoon and set up camp quickly so we could get to the hike. Daddy had been here with a friend before and there are simple trails and what I will lovingly refer to as "daddy's off road adventure trails." We kicked it off with some great views of the Mississippi river. It had been a wet year so it was quite flooded, but really pretty from our vantage point.

We got some pictures from the visitor's center and the paved trails that normal people use. The pictures after this one are all off trail, which ended up being a really fun adventure. We hiked through the mud since it had just rained the previous day and started descending down into a canyon. I am trying to be an amateur photojournalist so had my nice camera with me. I hadn't quite imagined the level of difficulty we would encounter but we were all doing fine - until a giant tree crossed our path. The kids all climbed under, but Josh and I thought it would be easier to shimmy over since we are much bigger. I was the last in line and was falling victim to slippery trail caused by 4 others packing the mud before me. So, as I protect my camera and grab the tree to hop over, I slip and the mossy tree doesn't really aid me in my struggle, so I slide under the tree with grace and dignity. I'm laughing and Kenna is just appalled that I fell. The only thing injured was my pride :)

We descend as we follow the small stream that has carved this canyon until we reach an impasse. There are fallen trees blocking the only passable area and a sheer rock cliff on the other side. So Josh summons his inner mountain goat and somehow leaps across without falling to his death. He then braces himself against the fallen branches and instructs the kids to slide into him one at a time. I am standing there wondering who is going to fall down the cliff first, but trying to be optimistic as the kids laugh and enjoy pushing themselves. They all easily get across with Josh's help. I step-slide all the way down to where Josh is standing and he helps me get some footing to launch myself through the branches. Whew - we all made it in one piece!

We saw a small cave that Josh explored - luckily no bears were in it. The picture below was taken after I, once again, very graciously took a tumble. I was till holding up the rear of our formation and at times there was zero footing and nothing but slippery mud. While trying to make sure everyone else didn't fall, I slipped and rolled a few times landing gracefully on my butt. The boys laughed and Kenna nearly cried thinking I was hurt. She treated me like I probably treat them for the rest of the hike, asking if I was okay, making sure I was looking where I was going....thank you young grasshopper!

I took this picture of Kenna hugging a tree, because many times the small saplings were the only thing that kept us from slipping. We would step then grab them and say "thank you tree!" Was funny to hear 5 people saying that during the trickier parts of the hike!

We FINALLY made it to the bottom, and encountered a railroad track. The boys each found loose railroad spikes that we brought home as souvenirs. We walked along the track for a while (really safe...right?) until we happened upon an old structure. From what we could tell it was probably an old railroad persons housing? There was old cookware, animal traps, and some crudely constructed buildings made out of stone. Was kind of cool to speculate!

We had a rough idea where the trail picked back up so we abandoned our railroad track and started venturing up. What you don't realize in trying to stay alive whilst hiking down a very steep ravine, is just how far down you actually walked. And like the inverse of the famous saying - what goes down, must come up! So we pretty much climbed a nearly vertical leaf covered hill for what seemed like forever. We had to lunge at trees and use them to pull ourselves up. We would occasionally stop to laugh at the lunacy of this whole thing and to catch our breath. The kids were getting cranky and I was just hoping for some sign of a trail at some point.

Finally after what seemed like forever we hit the precipice of this ridiculous hill - and thank goodness....the trail! Zach had had it...even with his love of the outdoors he was sick of walking - and we had a really long way to I distracted him by finding feathers (his favorite) and by talking about pokemon and skylanders (a challenge) and when that didn't work I started talking about all the naughty words we knew (butt, bottom, toot, fart - you get it.) Not my finest parenting moment, but you do what you can to distract a cranky hungry kid!

Our campsite never looked so good! We all ate hot dogs and slept like a rock!

The next morning was super creepy. Weird birds singing their death songs and a scene from a horror movie just outside our tent. I found it strangely beautiful and was excited that I actually caught some of the scenes with my camera! We enjoyed breakfast burritos that I only slightly scorched and hot chocolate for breakfast. We were all tired and ready to get home so we skipped the underground cave tour we had considered doing. April was driving in from Alabama so I kind of wanted to get home ahead of her and "de-campfire smoke" myself!

Yay for adventures! I loved this trip!