Zoo Fun

This morning we met my friend Todd at the zoo. My kids call him Uncle Todd. I call him Hot Toddy. Everyone loves him.

Todd was running a few minutes behind, so the kids and I played at the park until he got there. The park is for big kids, which doesn’t slow Audrey down. She loves to climb.20180712_1021048175959471285283158.jpg

Once Todd arrived we headed in to the zoo. We went our regular route, with the added stop to see the new okapi. Elliot loved talking to Todd about everything we saw.20180712_1053545672542648848004442.jpg

He also loved talking to the baby lions.


The biggest treat for all of us was riding the camels. This is going to be a once a summer treat for us, as it is $6 a person. We all loved it. Audrey got off the camel and immediately asked to go again.

After the camel rides we decided to head home. It was so hot we needed to get out of the heat for a bit.

I love having a zoo pass. It makes going to the zoo for an hour something that we can do every week.

Beaverdale Farmers Market

It was very hot here today, over 90. That didn’t stop us from heading to the Beaverdale Farmers Market. I love that a 10 minute walk takes us to our neighborhood market. On Tuesday nights I don’t have to worry about cooking. I know we will find food from a vendor to enjoy.

Tonight we passed our ice cream neighbor on our way to the market. He was headed out to run an errand, but he opened his garage door and pulled over to tell me to just go into the garage and take whatever treat we wanted. He said to leave the door open because he would be back soon enough. I took him up on it – Audrey had a mini drumstick, Elliot had a popsicle, and I had a Schwan’s orange push pop.


After enjoying our frozen treats we walked around the market. None of the produce called to me, so we just had dinner. The kids split a pizza and I had a papusa. We have Tuesday night picnics down to a science. I keep a picnic blanket in the stroller trunk. We spread it out in the shade of the median of the road the market is held on.


I have learned to order the kids a margarita pizza without basil. Audrey won’t eat pizza if it has green on it. If we are out in public it isn’t worth that battle. The people at Parlo Pizza are great at making pizza for kids. Their pizza is wood fired and gives it an excellent crunchy crust. Because they knew it was for the kids they didn’t cook it as long so the kids could easily bite through it. They also cut it into more slices so the pieces were kid sized. Elliot really liked that, and served himself several slices.20180710_172312856201908316333743.jpg

Audrey had a good meal and then rested and looked at the clouds. I think she would have happily stayed there all night had I not made her get up so we could get home to air conditioning


Yes, it was ridiculously hot today, but it was so much better than a frigid day in January. Summer is short, and we’re trying to soak up as much of it as we can. I hope you are too.

Saturday Morning at the Farm

A dear friend of mine lives on her family farm just outside of town. This morning the kids and I hopped in the car for the short 20  minute drive to her house. They had an amazing time (so did I, as I got to hang out with Ivy).

First Audrey helped feed the bottle calf.


Then they brushed some calves.


Elliot wasn’t too sure about being around the animals, but he loved checking out the trucks. So did Audrey.



As we were packing up to go back to town Ivy sent me home with some corn and chicken from their freezer. Earlier this week she and her mom took me to Coscto to pick up a new deep freeze, so they knew that our freezer wasn’t as full as it usually is. Iowa sweet corn is something special, and I cook chicken at least once a week, so I was thrilled to add the haul to our freezer. In fact, I should go pull out some corn for dinner tonight….

Summer Passport

I love all of the activities that summer brings. All winter we talk about what we will do in the summer, but now that summer is here I keep forgetting what we want to do. I don’t want to forget to do things we have expressed interest in. I also don’t want to get in a rut.

We often get stuck in ruts. We go to the same park over and over for weeks. We go to the zoo every week for months and then stop going for a month. We go to the library regularly until we stop. There is so much to do it is impossible to work it all in.

This summer I want to try to do more activities. I created a summer passport for Audrey with all of the things we have talked about doing this summer. It’s a simple notebook with a space for stickers when we complete the activity. She can earn a book for every 10 stickers she earns.

Elliot will be doing the activities with us, but he is a little young to really understand. He’ll get a book reward when Audrey does, and he’ll get a sticker to put on his shirt when Audrey gets a sticker in the passport (and one for her shirt too, because my kids LOVE stickers).

I’m starting summer passports this year even though Audrey is a little young to understand completely. I think it is a good habit to get into now. She can’t read yet, so I’ll be able to add activities to the passport when I think of them. I hope having a summer passport will get her excited to try new things. I also hope it will get her to agree to do things that I want to do that she isn’t always gung-ho about (like hiking).

Audrey’s passport list:

  • Go to music class
  • Walk to farmers market
  • Play at a new park
  • Make Pudding pops
  • Have a breakfast picnic
  • Go berry picking
  • Paint outside
  • Eat on Patio at Saints (a kid friendly sports bar in our neighborhood)
  • Visit the Clive Library
  • Visit the Science Center
  • Walk around Gray’s Lake
  • Decorate 4th of July cookies
  • Go out for ice cream
  • Go to the beach at Big Creek
  • Play at Riley Park
  • Play at Tower Park wading pool
  • Play at Beaverdale Park
  • Swim at Ashby Park splash pad
  • Have a Dance Party
  • Play at Greenwood Park
  • Hike at Walnut Woods
  • Hike at Browns Woods
  • Go to the zoo
  • Visit the State Historical Building
  • Walk the River Walk with Uncle Todd
  • Visit Ivy’s farm
  • Swim in a hotel pool
  • Bike to Breakfast

I’ve also put together a passport for our 4-year-old neighbor who is Audrey’s good friend (her mom is my friend too, it’s really handy). Her activity list is smaller than Audrey’s; when she completes 10 activities we will have donuts. Her list only includes things that our families regularly do together and activities that her mom and I have talked about doing this summer. I didn’t want to spring all sorts of things on her mom that she wouldn’t want to do. I’m also going to tell her mom that we can add things if she wants, and she can tear out any pages she doesn’t want to do. I want it to be a fun activity for everyone involved.

Do you have any suggestions for activities to add?

World Giraffe Day

Happy World Giraffe Day! What? You didn’t know that was a day that needed to be celebrated? Well, neither did I until last year when Audrey became obsessed with giraffes. Now that we are a giraffe obsessed household I decided it was high time we started celebrating the holiday.


We celebrated with a trip to the zoo. It was a drizzly, overcast morning. That weather was perfect for us – it kept people away. There wasn’t a long line to feed the giraffes. On beautiful days there is a long line, which doesn’t work with a two-year old and a three-year old. Today we only had to wait about five minutes before it was our turn.

I think feeding the giraffes might become a new World Giraffe Day tradition for us. I love that the kids get the experience of feeding them, but it isn’t something I want to pay for on every trip to the zoo.

How did you celebrate World Giraffe Day?


Lunch Improvements

I haven’t been meal planning lunches for the kids lately. I haven’t needed to. I think it just took three weeks of planning and trying new things to help me come up with creative menu ideas on the fly. We haven’t been eating chicken nuggets or fish sticks lately, which was my goal. The kids still aren’t eating many vegetables, but I’m trying.

Oh, I’m trying.

Cucumber Spider

I have two meals that the kids will eat consistently. The easiest is English muffin pizzas. Toast an English muffin, top it with sauce and cheese, then broil it until the cheese melts. Add a vegetable and a fruit. Easy peasy.


The meal that is most often requested is “cocktail party” dinner. Audrey asks for this for almost every meal. It is small bits on a plate, like you would eat at a cocktail party. Karen gave me the idea to put meat and cheese on a pretzel skewer, and it has been a huge hit. I try to do something fun to the plate every time, today it was mustard sunglasses for dipping the turkey.


I am pleased that the kids are not eating as many chicken nuggets. Now that we’ve discovered cocktail party lunches I’m having fun changing them up. I’m always looking for new things to add to the rotation, so if you have any ideas send them my way.