Wednesday, August 19, 2015

On the road!

When Alaina started kindergarten last fall, our lives changed in lots of ways. One of those ways was our ability to travel like we had before. Before that we had quite a bit of flexibility to go for long weekends and visit family, friends or some place fun. Even though the kids were getting older and it was easier in that aspect, school left her exhausted and trying to jam trips into those weekends just really wasn't an option. We mainly took trips to celebrate holidays with my family in Iowa on Thanksgiving and Christmas and that was about it. (Aside from the trip to Florida in February with Bryan's family - which was an awesome trip!) Wasn't a bad thing, but it was different from prior years when we have more flexibility to go and it left me missing my family and friends in Iowa a lot.

And we have made up for it this summer! And every minute spent in the car, every mile on the van has been absolutely worth it. People that are important and making memories are worth every ounce of effort. In July we took our third annual trip to Pella, IA to visit my best friend, Libby, and her family. Which was a double bonus as my aunt and uncle also live in Pella so we stayed with them and got to see them also! Always a fun, fun trip and our kids have a blast and make lots memories with the Braafhart's and the Blair's!
Uncle Guy is a hoot and Murray was lots of fun!
Love all these crazy kids!
Sweet Claire helping Alaina roller skate!
Kate and Wesley walking to the square
Claire and Aubrey heading up to the square
August brought a spontaneous trip to the Omaha area where another wonderful friend, Stef, and her family live. It had been TOO LONG since I had seen her and her cute kiddos. Her ability to travel has been limited as she has a 3 year old and TRIPLETS that are 16 months old. She's a busy momma!! My kids love Stef and we always get to do fun things there like visit the zoo and hang out by the water. She runs a tight ship and I was in awe at how well she takes care of all those kiddos by herself! It was a busy household but there were lots of laughs and hugs too. Was time very well spent.
Checking out the aquarium at the Omaha Zoo
7 kids, 6 and under! Busy, but such fun!!
The next weekend we ventured north to the twin cities area to visit a good friend, Heather and her son. Zach was away for work, so we missed getting to catch up with him. We don't get to see each other often enough and we sorely needed our evening chat after kids bed time that lasted until 1:30 am! From her house, we went further north to Bryan's aunt and uncle's house. Auntie Marlys and Uncle John are big favorites of our kiddos and they were quite excited to get there. We spent lots of fun time with them and Bryan's cousin's son, Jack. They are quite the (loud, but great) playmates. Marlys and John were very generous in offering to keep the kids so I could attend another good friend's wedding on Friday night. Molly....your wedding was one of the most beautiful I have been to! Couldn't be happier for you and Mark! It was a soul recharging weekend for sure.
The kids with Heather's little guy, Easton - at Mall of America. Boy did the have fun!
Ice cream is always available at Auntie Marlys's house!

And she always reads us books
Aunties are wonderful
The happy couple - congrats Mark and Molly!
Love this girl
The past weekend was one I might have been looking forward to the most all summer. This time we traveled south to Iowa. The kids, my dad and my brother and I all ventured down to the IOWA STATE FAIR on Friday. We spent the day enjoying all of our favorite things and celebrating Uncle Lowell winning the weed identification contest (professional division) that the Iowa State University Extension puts on. He's a blue ribbon weed nerd! Way to go, Uncle Lowell! ;)
We love the state fair!!

Uncle Lowell and Alaina
This girls is always a purple ribbon in my book
A nice man let us pet his sheep while was trimming him - and we even got some wool!
The big boar! 1166 pounds - kids were amazed!
Kids wanted a picture with Cy - how do you say no!?
Grandpa and Alaina on the Sky Glider
Uncle Lowell and Wesley
Me and my Aubrey
Taking a little break - it was HOT
Uncle Lowell trying to convince kids to ask dad for a hot tub! ;)
This is somewhere I spent a lot of time growing up. I showed hogs every year down there and have the best memories. If you have never been to the Iowa State Fair, it is worth it!! Bonus that the Braafhart's met us at the fair that day also! Was a wonderful day (although very hot!) making lots of memories. The fair was such a big part of my childhood, I love taking my kids there and watching them enjoy it just as much. Cheers to all the moms and dads that have survived the county and state fairs so far this summer. There is so much work kids and parents put into fair, but the memories are priceless and the lessons learned are invaluable. Our day will be coming - and I can't wait!
Fair fun with friends
Some get to ride, but still must hold hands with our friends
Nick gave Wesley his own ride
One of the many, many shows. You can imagine the plans the kids got after watching this!
Their absolute favorite part of fair!
Ready to call it a day! Hot, tired feet - nothing a lemonade can't fix!
The next day, we had a corn day at my mom and dad's. Holy moly, did we do it up right! I think we had somewhere around 20 people (mostly family - and some friends) there and we finally lost count of how much corn we did, but it had to have been roughly 125+ quarts and quite a few pints. That is a lot of corn, people. But the day was perfect, the company was fantastic and the corn system is top notch! My parents moved from doing it all indoors (which is a mess!!) to outdoors. At first the thought of doing it outdoors seemed not right. Bugs and stuff. But it works so well and the clean up is so much easier. My parents are rock stars at this corn thing. I don't know how many (if any) years they have missed hosting corn day so our whole family could enjoy farm fresh corn all year long! It's tradition and a day everyone enjoys!

What is to come!
Cookers and coolers ready to go!
Picking with grandpa
Aubrey proud of her pick
And look who got to drive tractor!
Only a fraction of the corn - get husking!
Lots of good help
Lots of delicious, beautiful corn!
Cooking/cooling system

System works great!
Lots of cutters and baggers
Grandma and Grandpa - who knows how many years of corn they have done!?
Kids got bored with helping but it still tasted good!
Ready to go to the freezer
We very much missed daddy on all these trips, but this momma is not a real big home body, and being a farmer's wife means you usually have to be pretty independent no matter what you're doing.  Again, every mile and minute is always worth it to visit old friends, make new memories and enjoy seeing my kids develop an awesome sense of adventure experiencing fun, new things! Summer is feeling complete and we are entering fall and the school year ready to tackle routine and schedules again! What are your summer must-do's? 

Monday, August 10, 2015

One of those days....

So....when I think about both my girls being in 1st grade and kindergarten, it makes my heart beat a little faster and tears well in my eyes many times. How cliche to repeat the "it goes so fast" saying, but darn it, it is TOO true. They were just my sweet little toddlers. I love these girls with all my being. I am taking some solace in the fact that I will still have my sweet boy to spend some time with for at least the next year.

I love these girls!
Who wouldn't be pumped to hang with this kid?!

But let's just be real for a minute, shall we? I'm going to go all Jen Hatmaker on you much as I will miss my girls all day, after today, summer needs to be over. Soon. It's been coming - sneaking up on us little by little, but by the time the kids went to bed I realized that for everyone's best interests, these children need their friends, a routine and to be the heck away from each other, and me, for little bits at a time. 

I guess I want to make note of this day - lest I forget how life truly was at this point. How my brain has left my head half the time. How these children love each other and annoy the ever living crap out of each other at the same time. I'm truly amazed these children are still alive sometimes. For real. 

The day started early. 5AM early. I made myself get up instead of hit snooze like I have done this summer too often. I got up to get in a 4 mile run and lovingly pack a little bag of healthy snacks for our little angels for our day in Sioux Falls. I had that all accomplished by 6:30. My goal was to leave by 8. When I backed out of the garage at 8:08....I thought the day had already been won because for me, that is pretty on time!! Should have been my first clue...

I had just pulled out onto the highway when my phone rang. My best friend! I guess my day COULD get better! We chatted and it always completes my day to talk to her. Towards the end of the call, the first bump. I realized my lovingly packed bag of healthy snacks was still sitting in my fridge at home. Well crap. Not a deal breaker. We kept on going as I was 20 minutes from home already. Going back was not an option for my agenda packed day.

We hit every single road construction possible on the way down and finally arrived at Target. That's always a sanity saver. We returned the night light that didn't work and amongst our other shopping, went to pick out another for Alaina. In the lightbulb aisle, what else should you do, but touch everything. Despite my pleas and down right yelling, why would I be surprised to hear the crash of a lightbulb that Wesley found too tempting to not pick up. Lovely. Now we had to flag down someone to clean up a lightbulb that shattered and pretty much scattered down the whole aisle. Which the kids took as the perfect opportunity to try to run through. What kid doesn't love running through broken glass?? I smiled with pride and joy as I watched.....ahem. Moving on. 

From here was our bright spot of the day. New school shoes. These were some happy kids and there isn't too much damage they could do there. 

So the reason we go to Sioux Falls every Monday is to take Alaina to the children hospital's rehab clinic called Lifescape. She has physical, occupational and speech therapy every week during the summer. It's a great supplement for her and keeps her progressing forward while she's not in school. So the kids and I have an hour and a half of waiting while she works. Well, by this point in the summer, they are over going to Sioux Falls. They are over killing time while Alaina has therapy. So today after our Subway sandwiches have been eaten, what else do you do, but throw the bags on your head and proceed to march around the waiting area like you are a marching band? At first it was kind of cute, you know, all creative and stuff.  Then it got loud...then it just got down right annoying. I oh-so-lovingly forced them to sit down by me like 5 times. But apparently the lure of the hat was too strong. I could not get out of that place with them fast enough. No one was really there so it's not like they were bothering anyone...but still. It was also an added bonus that I struck up a conversation with a mom who was there with her little guys - one of which was there for therapy. We see them there every week and he's a busy, but seemingly sweet, little guy. He is always curious and up in Wesley and Aubrey's business. This was a huge opportunity to just sit and catch my breath - enjoy my sandwich, chips and lemonade. So when he came and touched all of the stuff we had sitting around us for lunch, I asked his mom if it was ok if I gave him a chip since he was like an inch away from the bag. She said sure. So I gave him one. He happily took it and I thought was going to eat it....he proceeded to lick half the chip - and before I knew what happened, shoved it back into my bag - almost still full of chips. I didn't really want anymore anyway I guess. Found out he was there for feeding therapy.....guess I was just doing my part?

From here we make 2 quick stops. One being Wal Mart. Ugh...Wal Mart. Enough said. Of course no one had to go to the bathroom when I insisted before leaving Lifescape, but the moment we get to Wal Mart, their bladders might explode if we don't go NOW. Why do their bathrooms always seem worse than anywhere else? So while attempting to smile through it all, we finally get bathrooms done after Wesley touched basically everything in there. I mean, why not? Run your hands along every surface, buddy. Finally back in the van and get to Sam's Club which is right next to Wal Mart. As I was gathering my things to go in, I suddenly realized in all failed attempts to keep Wes from practically rolling around on the bathroom floor, I had left my wallet in the Wal Mart bathroom. Awesome. So now I get go back and drag all the kids back in there again. Thank the lord there was a good samaritan that turned it in. Major crisis averted. 

We finally get back to Sam's and commit to busting this out and getting on the road and the heck outta town. So we head in and the kids are so bored shopping they decide that the only option is to annoy each other. Because walking along helping me put things in the cart like I was asking wasn't gonna cut it. After I heard the crabby old man scolding Wesley for sitting on the bananas while I was attempting to pick out grapes, it was already time to be done. But before we left, my poor sister in law had to listen on the phone to me giving the 20th warning that they were now officially not allowed to touch each other after Aubrey was well on her way to putting Wes into a headlock and about knocking over the pile of almond canisters. I saved the threats with their life til after I hung up the phone as to not put her in the position of having to lie about what she heard to DHS should they come knocking on her door by the end of the day. 

We finally got out of there (after Wesley, of course, had to stick his hand into the garbage can outside and his finger into the cigarette disposal thing. Really kid???) and I decided to give the kids the lemonades I bought earlier for the ride home. I kindly opened them and handed to Aubrey first since she has a hissy fit if she isn't given something first that is handed out to the kids. She gave me a look I had never seen from her before and was certain I wouldn't see til she was at least a teenager and said "you drank out of it. Gross." To which I so lovingly replied "get over it." Directly after this, Wesley was none too thrilled about the baseball HE stuck in the cup holder of his car seat and I was darned if I was in the mood to try to calm and reason with him. So there you could find me with the car seat tipped upside down trying to dislodge said baseball. Then chasing said baseball and retrieving it from under the car next to us once it rolled away from me. It looked super smooth and cool, I'm sure. You can bet your sweet cheeks I cracked open that 46 oz bag of peanut butter M&M's I bought at Sam's and did some damage on the way home. Didn't even care. 

If this post is all you knew of me or my our kids, you would think they are awful, unruly little monsters and we were beyond dysfunctional and I don't discipline them. But I would really like to believe, and do believe, this is not usually the case. Which is what makes it all the more frustrating of a day. I know all teachers will swear under their breath - or out loud - at me, but we need you. School needs to start. We need routine and some time away - to really appreciate each other again. Cause we are over it all at this point. This is how most days are starting to go lately - all of us together - it's a three ring circus. It needs to come to an end. To all the Facebook friends posting back to school pics today....I'm beyond jealous. I love, love my kiddos, but there is a point when smart people know when to pull the plug.  Lest we all end up in the looney bin. The next few weeks consist of a few last minute summer trips, which will hopefully break the cycle. And lots of sleep. Summer is brutal people, we will survive though. I'm sure I will be ready to tackle this whole thing again come the end of May next year, but let's just savor the school year while we can, shall we??
Best distraction of the day - kids helping dad get ready for the fair...
God bless us one and all....time to put this day to bed. Tomorrow is a new day! Anyone else's household ready for a change of pace??