Friday Review

It was a busy week. On Sunday we went to the park. John pulled the kids in the bike trailer and I ran to meet them. It was really hot, so I sat on a bench trying to stop sweating and ended up talking to another mom watching her kid play. I don’t normally have a conversation with people at the park, other than polite chit-chat. On Sunday I talked to the other Mom about parks. She suggested some of her favorites around Des Moines. I made a list and hope to try them all. I wonder if this means I should start being more social at parks.

On Monday I decided to try the park most recommended by Sunday Park Lady. That park, Quail Cove Park, is in West Des Moines. There were two playground areas and a half mile trail. We checked it all out. One of the playgrounds is for bigger kids, which didn’t stop Audrey from climbing to the top and terrifying me.

I really liked the park. As an added bonus, it pretty close to John’s office. It will be a convenient way to wear the kids out before a trip to Trader Joe’s, Costco, or lunch with John. It also has flush toilets, which is something I really look for in a park.

On Tuesday we went to the grocery store and played outside in our yard. It was a pretty low-key day for us.

On Wednesday we went to story time at the Des Moines Public Library. They had a craft for the kids, they made tool boxes and colored tools. The craft was a huge hit with both kids. They played with their paper saws and hammers all day. When I saw the craft I did not expect them to play with it all day. Elliot ran away from me while I was checking out DVDs. Luckily I could see where he was going and I found him jumping off of benches and playing with puppets.

On Thursday we headed to the wading pool at the park closest to our house. It was a little chilly, but that didn’t stop the kids from playing in the water for an hour. We stopped by the playground on the way home, where Elliot showed me his terrifying new-found climbing skills.

Thursday afternoon we had about 15 minutes free between errands and dinner. We drove right past another park Sunday park lady recommended, North Karen Acres. We stopped to check it out. Audrey saw the pirate ship and yelled “THE RUSTY HEAP” a sign that we read a lot of Ned The Knitting Pirate (his ship is named the Rusty Heap). The kids had a really great time playing at that park. Elliot threw his biggest fit ever when it was time to leave. We will be back to visit. It is right by the Aldi we go to, so there might be some Aldi/park time in our future. 20180719_1636308274963177810840137.jpg

Today we played at a friend’s house. He has two little boys. The kids played well together for about an hour and a half. I was actually able to sit and have a conversation with my friend. I love it when that happens.img_20180720_124541_4442399213523935107956.jpg

We don’t have anything planned for tomorrow. I hope we get out to a park. Maybe we’ll even fill up the pool in our backyard and watch the kids play from the comfort of the patio.

I hope you had a fun week! Do you have any parks in the Des Moines metro you would recommend?

Pudding Pops

I’m kind of a food snob. I think it’s because John and I spent so many years in our 30s with good jobs before kids. We went out to eat a lot. When I cooked I had the luxury of quality (expensive) ingredients and time. The things I loved as a kid I no longer like. Things like cool whip and boxed pudding don’t appeal to me at all.

I believe pudding should be homemade. It should involve egg yolks, whole milk, half and half, sugar, and corn starch. It should be a project. I also believe in having the kids help me in the kitchen (well, mostly Audrey because Elliot can be a challenge in the kitchen). Fancy shmancy pudding and kids don’t mix, so for the sake of kitchen help I occasionally reach for things I don’t particularly like. Like boxed pudding.

Do you remember back when Bill Cosby wasn’t a sexual predator? I do. We watched him every week on the Cosby show and we ate pudding pops. They were delicious. They still are, and they are also really easy to make (Step 1: make pudding. Step 2: freeze it).

Audrey helped me pour the milk and stir. She took the job very seriously. At one point she stopped stirring because she forgot to put her apron on.20180713_1618042333065902660222817.jpgElliot taste tested the pudding. He took his job seriously too.20180713_162242826647738028744168.jpg

I poured the pudding into the molds. I think I waited too long, as the pudding had started to set up and it was a very gloppy job.20180713_1625457881662914017156109.jpg

When we were done we ran to the store. Audrey was so excited about cooking she wanted to wear her apron. She was very proud of herself.20180713_170709(0)-12986365372933638748.jpg

I hope that having the kids involved in cooking now will keep them interested in cooking. Elliot really wants to help, but he destroys so many things. I need to find something easier than pudding for him to help with. Do you have any ideas?

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.

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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.

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.

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Then they brushed some calves.

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

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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….

June Reads and July Book Goals

In June I read nine books. All I wanted to do with my down time is read. I have so many books to recommend this month.

Never Stop Walking: A Memoir of Finding Home Across the World by Christina Rickardsson. It isn’t often that I read a book where the sexual assault of a child is not the worst thing that happens to the protagonist. This book, about a girl growing up in the slums of Brazil until she moves to live with her adopted parents in Sweden, is incredibly depressing. I dreaded each chapter, because something awful was going to happen to her. It makes me wish I was doing something to help the children of Brazil. I would only read this one if you want to be horrified. I give this book two out of five stars.

A Higher Loyalty: Truth, Lies, and Leadership by James Comey. This book was surprisingly interesting. I do not agree with the decisions James Comey made, but I believe he thought he was making the best decision possible. I do not envy his position. I have much more respect for him after reading this book. I give this book five out of five stars.

So Close to Being the Sh*t, Y’all Don’t Even Know by Retta. True confession: I will read any book written by a Parks and Recreation cast member. This book was very funny. Reading it filled me with joy, and as I had just finished Comey’s book when I picked this up it was exactly what I needed. I give this book four out of five stars.

Everyone Is Beautiful by Katherine Center. I picked this book up because I enjoyed How to Walk Away (by the same author) so much last month. This book is predictable in a good way. It was a sweet. story about a marriage and personal growth.  It was like a cup of hot apple cider on a crisp fall day – comforting  after a rough day. I really enjoy how Katherine Center writes. I give this book three out of five stars.

Your Dad Stole My Rake by Tom Papa. I had high hopes from this book, a collection of humorous essays by a contributor to the show formally known as Prairie Home Companion. There were parts that were funny, but his attitude towards gender turned me off. I gave this book one out of five stars.

Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng. I have no idea how Celeste Ng creates a story so rich and believable you live both in the story and in your real life until you finish the book. She did it with Little Fires Everywhere and with this book. I will be picking up every book she writes. It is wonderful read about the death of a biracial student in the late 70s. Just trust me. I can’t describe it in a way that makes it sound excellent. I give this book five out of five stars.

Knitting Ephemera: A Compendium of Articles, Useful and Otherwise, or the Edification and Amusement of the Handknitter by Carol J. Sulcoski. This book was basically a bathroom book for knitters. If I ran a B&B for knitters it would be on the bedside table. It’s fine. Not worth picking up if your library doesn’t have a copy. I give it two out of five stars.

Calypso  by David Sedaris. This is the best book of Sedaris essays I have read yet. I like it more than Me Talk Pretty One Day, and I did not think that was possible. I like the older, heartfelt Sedaris. I give this book four out of five stars.

The Big Disconnect: Protecting Childhood and Family Relationships in the Digital Age by Catherine Steiner-Adair, EdD. This book is fabulous. I would like the parent of every child my kids ever come into contact with to read this book and put its principles into action. I am pretty sure that isn’t going to happen, but it would be nice. I have several post it flags in the book for me to return to as issues arrive and as the kids get older and have more access to media. I will happily talk your ear off about this book, so shoot me a message if you would like more information. I give this book five out of five stars.

Here is my to read pile on my nightstand:

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I hope to make a major dent in this stack this month, as I feel like I’m posting the same books over and over. We’ll see if I get distracted by a library binge or I stick to this.

What are you reading this month?

 

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?