Weekend Fun and Summer Colds

Happy Monday! I was silent over the weekend because I was on my annual girls trip with my mom and sisters.

This year we went to Dubuque, which is about halfway between Des Moines (where my sister Kathleen and I are) and Chicago (where my sister Mary-Claire is).

I hadn’t been to Dubuque in about five years. It has changed so much. I was blown away with how great of a town Dubuque is. We headed to dinner at Brazen, which is in the historic Millwork District. We had sweet corn pizza, which was remarkable. I am torn between trying to recreate it or letting it live on in excellence in my memory.

The following morning we went to the farmers market, which was large, full of great prices, and full of interesting products. I picked up some cinnamon spice tea from a local tea company.

My mom and sisters continued to have fun after the market, but I am suffering from a severe summer cold, so I headed back to take a nap at the hotel. After my nap I joined them for a ride on the Fenlon Place Elevator. This short and affordable ride on the world’s shortest, steepest scenic railway is a must any time I visit Dubuque.

After our ride down the hill we went on a carriage ride tour around downtown Dubuque. It was wonderful. I learned a lot about Dubuque, even if a lot of it seemed exaggerated – like Al Capone owning several buildings downtown that were connected by tunnels to hide his cars and provide him with a quick getaway.

It was a great weekend in Dubuque. I am sad that I missed out on a lot of it due to coughing/trying to breathe/trying to stay awake.

I returned home to two kids and a husband in the early stages of the cold. It is likely to be a long week filled with Bob the Builder and Mickey Mouse around here.

 

I hope you all have a relaxing week planned. I hope you stay healthy!

 

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Camping

Audrey and I went camping last weekend. It was the kind of camping I prefer – the kind in a camper with beds and a flush toilet and air conditioning.

We camp with our friends at their camper in North East Missouri. It is a four-hour drive according to google. According to a certain 3-year-old it takes 5 and a half hours. We stopped four times on the way down. But sometimes you need to stop and take a hike through a butterfly garden or play at a park. Hike is probably not the right word, as it is more of a flutter. Audrey is very interested in fluttering like a butterfly, so she runs around flapping her arms, saying “flutter, flutter, flutter.”

When we got to the camper we unpacked our stuff and headed out to do our traditional first night of camping dinner: pizza. 20180727_1832419192974046420378167.jpg

On Saturday it was a little chilly for July. It was too cold for the water park or the beach, so we explored playgrounds. We visited 3 before nap time. It is the first time I can remember Audrey falling right to sleep in the camper.

For dinner we decided to head to the Hootenanny – a restaurant that specializes in pie. I had a wrap for dinner that was delicious, but the pie was what stood out. I went with a slice of butterfinger pie.

After dinner we headed to another park. We then headed back to the camper, totally exhausted.20180728_1827422743126505580072048.jpg

Our drive home was faster than our drive down to Missouri. By that point Audrey had figured out that she wasn’t going to get a bag of M&Ms every time we stopped. We had been on the road for about three hours when we got to Oskaloosa. When we are on a road trip and it is clear that the kids need to get out and play I just drive around a small town off the highway until we find a park. They are usually easy to find. In Oskaloosa I found the best road trip park we have ever found. It was huge! There was a new playground, and old wooden playground, and an old playground with a rocket slide. It was so big I might be heading there next year for a special picnic day.

This week we are staying in Des Moines, which I’m looking forward to. I love to travel, but four nights out-of-town last week wore me out.

I hope you had a fun weekend too.

Elliot Eats Ice Cream

I was in Cedar Falls visiting my parents this week. It was three days filled with parks, playing outside, and a visit to the library. We also had ice cream for lunch two days in a row.

I had never let the kids eat anything other than a healthy (ish) lunch before. Their minds were blown. My mind was blown on Wednesday when I saw how bad Elliot was at eating ice cream. At one point he thought the ice cream was too cold so he started eating the bottom of the cone. It made a huge mess.20180725_1235144603504716703335716.jpg

Luckily he appears to be a fast learner when it comes to ice cream. He was much cleaner today.20180726_1207524940877670906142349.jpg

Now it’s back to normal for Elliot. I wonder how many lunches it will take before he eats vegetables willingly again.

Kansas City Weekend

Happy Sunday! We made it back from our quick trip to Kansas City. It was a fun weekend.

On the three-hour drive down we stopped at the first rest area in Missouri to play and take a nature walk. It was hot – in the 90s. It was so hot Audrey decided she should walk down slides instead of sliding down them. That went about as well as you would think, and she ended up falling on her face. Luckily the playground was on the bouncy rubbery material that keeps kids from getting hurt. It was just enough of a shock to keep her from doing it again (hopefully).

On Saturday we went to my brother’s house to celebrate my niece’s graduation from High School. It was a great party. The highlight was discovering that Audrey is a natural at karaoke. She saw the machine and got to work singing nursery rhymes. Bailey, the graduate, was kind enough to sing a few songs with her.

None of us slept well last night, but we had been promising the kids a trip to the Kansas City Zoo for weeks. We decided to skip brunch and get some time in at the zoo before the kids crashed. I’m so glad we went. John hates to travel, so I like to squeeze family vacation moments in whenever I can.

We headed for home after a quick stop for lunch. Elliot, who woke up half asleep this morning, never napped. I have some very tired kids. Maybe they will even let us sleep in a little tomorrow.

I hope you had a great start to your long weekend!

 

Ambitious Packing

We are heading out-of-town tomorrow for a graduation party. My lovely niece is graduating from high school. I’m excited we will be able to help her celebrate. I’m also excited about the three hours I will spend in the car knitting on the way home on Sunday (John called dibs as the passenger tomorrow).

When I travel I tend to pack knitting projects like I’m going to a silent retreat alone for a week. I pack way too many projects.

For this trip I’m trying to stick to only bringing one pair of socks. Realistically I know I won’t have that much time to knit. That isn’t stopping me from thinking about throwing the yarn for the scrap yarn shawl knockoff and fingerless mitts. Or maybe some extra sock yarn, just in case.

I have a problem. An overly ambitious knitter packing problem. Please tell me I’m not the only one with this affliction.

Camping Recap

As I mentioned yesterday, camping wore me out. Part of that is the lack of sleep. The other part is we spent the entire time on the go. It was such an enjoyable weekend.

The drive down to North East Missouri (in the same area as Mark Twain State Park) took about 4 hours. It went remarkably well. I borrowed my sister’s portable DVD player, so the kids were able to watch Mickey Mouse and Olivia in the car. We stopped at a park about three hours into the drive. Getting them out of the car to play helped all of our moods.

When we got to the campground we unpacked the car and then walked up to the camp store to order pizza.  It was a great way to get the kids familiar with each other again, and a great way to get us out of cooking.

This is the first time the boys have spent much time together. They immediately hit it off and played well together all weekend. It was so much fun to watch.

After dinner we headed back to the camper. The girls and Bryan went for a ride on the golf cart (Kirsten’s husband was there dropping it off and drove them around) while Kirsten and I go the beds ready. Elliot was not up for a ride yet. He liked exploring the golf cart, but he was scared of riding on it.

After the golf cart ride we tried to get the kids to bed. It did not go well. That was the case all weekend. As they get older it will get better. That’s what I’m telling myself.

In the morning we had breakfast at the camper before we loaded up the golf cart and heading out to play.

The first stop is the modern playground. It is a big cube for climbing, with a slide and swing in it. The kids loved exploring it. Eventually it got busy and we headed to a different playground.

The second stop was an older playground, also at the campground. We were the only people there, which the kids (and their mothers) enjoyed. The kids played hard until it started to rain.20180512_0953321026274787.jpg

The campground has a place for kids 1-5 that is basically an indoor area to explore. Sadly most of the toys were broken and it hadn’t been cleaned for what looked like a decade. That being said, it was free and kept the kids busy.  20180512_1021082060642474.jpg

After all of that it was only 11. We decided to have lunch and try for naps. Lunch went well. Naps didn’t. The boys got out of their pack and plays after about 30 minutes and walked out to the living room. We decided to throw in the towel and explore some more.

We headed to the Mark Twain Lake visitors center. It was full of things to do. We checked out a few scenic overlooks. We took a hike. We looked around the visitors center. They had a table with crayons and coloring books for the kids. The employee on duty even handed me a bag with 4 packs of sidewalk chalk and two workbooks for the older girls. He mentioned they will be added a playground next year, so we will be back.

The nice guy at the visitors center then told us the best park to visit at the state park. It was a great park and it is very close to the campsite. There is also a beach close to the park, so hopefully we will try that out later this summer. The kids were so entertained at this park Kirsten and I were able to sit on a bench and actually talk! It was a miracle.

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That night getting the kids to sleep was horrible. At one point I went in to check on the boys because they were being very loud. They had crawled into bed together and were very proud of themselves.

20180512_190013579921131.jpgOn Sunday we got up, attempted to go get pancakes and found the restaurant closed, and drove home. All in all, it was a crazy way to spend Mother’s Day weekend, but it sure was fun.