Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Some days.

Some days I am the fun parent. Not very many days. But every once in a while I am fun (in my children's eyes). Yesterday...well technically just last night...was one of those times. 

I challenged Isaiah to a pumping contest on the swings. 

And totally won!

I am glad to have proof of my fun-ness. Because today was not one of those days. Today was a day in which I felt like throwing in the towel. 

It wasn't anything major or even out of the ordinary. Just another day of siblings taunting each other. Yelling and screaming. With a dash of disobedience and defiance. Just enough chaos to make me wonder if I actually have any control over my children or not...

My verdict at the moment: NOT. 

So I sent everyone to their rooms and read a parenting book and waited for their dad to come home. (Spoiler Alert: he came home early and the day ended well. Because he is the true fun parent.)

I am hoping tomorrow will be a fun mom day. We could all use one of those again...

Exhibit A: ice cream for lunch. All Joe's idea. 

P.S. Apparently we need a new hair trimmers. Ours is on the fritz! Speaking of someday.  Someday I would like to send my husband to the barber instead of cutting his hair myself. Someday that will be in the budget, right?!? (Sorry that was an unrelated tangent.) 

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Feels like HOME

We left Iowa with a BANG! Ok not really a bang...more of a pack 10,000 bags and make a million trips between the apartment and van to get everything loaded and ready to go then clean the apartment while simultaneously feeding/entertaining children in an attempt to keep them from making a mess or breaking any of the 50 gazillion trinkets that are being put back in their proper place in the apartment tedious process! (I hope that paints a clear enough picture because no actual photos were taken.) 

But we made it. 

And our reward for that somewhat painful experience? An afternoon with good friends. Friends we only see about once a year. Friends that just happened to be in Iowa for the weekend in a town directly on our route to Michigan. Isn't it grand when life works out like that? So we chatted and ate brats and watermelon and homemade apple crisp and chatted some more. The kids ran free and played. We chatted the afternoon away. Probably a little too much because we got on the road a little later then planned. Alright A LOT later then planned. But it was worth it. Definitely worth it. (Again no pictures. Oops.) 

The rest of our 6 hour drive was relatively uneventful. I say relatively because there were a few minor moments of distress. For me the worst was eating a bowl of rice and hand soap! Yep HAND SOAP. Apparently if you store your bowl in the same bag as your bottle of hand soap while chatting the afternoon away, the two may combine! And let me tell you rice and Shea butter are NOT a good culinary combination. Much Pepsi was chugged in order to erase that taste from mouth! Gross but survivable. 

For the last two hours of our journey Hannah was quite distressed about her "knee owies" and cried nearly non-stop. These "knee owies" (AKA skinned knees) were acquired before we left the apartment and did not bother her in the least at the time of the injury! So why oh why did they become a problem then?! I will never know. But I do know it resulted in a whopper of a headache for me. 

(Once again no pictures were taken. Sorry? You are welcome?)

So we are here. In Michigan. In a lovely 3 bedroom, two bath house with a yard and an attached garage AND a washer and dryer that does not need to be fed quarters to operate! Pretty much feels like a mansion to us. I feel like we could lounge around all day here WITHOUT going crazy. Very unlike Iowa. Where we had to get out to stay sane. It's a nice change. Oh and the basement living room has become a bonafide playroom for the kids...complete with toys that were already here! Hallelujah. We may never leave. Kidding. Kinda. 

I did take one picture so far of life here in Michigan...

The Chicago skyline and couches nearly identical to ours. Homey:)

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

this grand adventure

At the beginning of 2014 when we first decided to travel with Joe on his away rotations and live this nomad life, I pictured a grand adventure! I pictured us hiking in the mountains of Colorado and/or swimming in the ocean surrounding Florida or something equally exciting for this Midwest girl.  Seeing new and exciting parts of this great country. Exposing our children to new and fun experiences, people, and foods. 

And well the reality is a tad different. In reality we are in Iowa. Not exactly wildly different than our Minnesota upbringing. And certainly not that different from our children's upbringings in Wisconsin and Illinois. Sure it's a bit more rural. And there are a lot more cornfields. But all in all not that adventurous. Or at least not the adventure I had imagined half a year ago. 

Maybe in another half a year I will look back at this summer of travels nostalgically as the summer of adventure and fun. (I hope so.) Because right now it is feeling more like "the summer we lived in a small apartment without a dining room table and a really uncomfortable futon". 

Lest I leave the impression that it has been all drudgery around here, let me clarify. We are having fun too. Mostly in short spurts between monotonous hours in the apartment. Take last night for example. We drove out to the country (all of 3 miles away). Parked right next to a corn field. And watched a tractor pull. 

See that black smoke? That's the tractor pulling a weight (on a skid?) across the arena. The objective is to go as far as possible. I don't really get it. But the crowd seemed to love it. And my kids were amused. So that was good enough for me:) 

Good enough in fact, that I decided to take the kids back for more county fair fun this morning. 

The kids played in a corn box. Looked at farm animals. Ate icees. Got free toothbrushes and monster stuffed animals. And picnicked....all while I melted in the heat.  

Kids picnicking...
Me melting...

It was 90 degrees but felt like 100 with 76% humidity. Too hot! Although my children didn't seem to notice or care. 

Grand adventures indeed!

We are headed back tonight. For the skid steer rodeo and hay bale toss. Should be interesting. Only 3 full days left in Iowa. Surely we can find a few a more adventures before we leave.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Family Pictures (version 2014)

Over the weekend, I decided we just needed an updated family picture. Plus there is this adorable bench at the park near our apartment here in Iowa that was begging someone to take their picture on it:) I just couldn't resist. So I dug deep in our limited traveling wardrobes and found some cute outfits that coordinated, pulled out my fancy camera, propped it on the stroller, set the self-timer, promised the kids suckers for smiles and WA-LA!

A brand new family picture. The 2014 version. Two out of three children smiling and looking at the camera was/is good enough for me! And don't worry, Hannah still got a sucker...even though she is clearly NOT smiling. She is in the picture. What more can you expect of a toddler?! Not much.

I also got some good individual shots of the kids...as we were walking home from the park! I had actually forgotten to bring the promised suckers to the park. (Oops!) The kids were on a mission to get their suckers. I am surprised they stopped long enough for me to snap any individual pictures.

Now admittedly going the DIY route for pictures resulted in A LOT fewer good pictures. But I am still pretty happy with the results. But OH MY GOODNESS I can hardly believe how much my kids have grown and changed in the last year. Don't believe me? Check out last year's family pictures HERE. Because seeing is believing.

Oh look...Hannah did look at the camera for one picture. The very first one taken. Too bad the rest of us didn't have our act together yet!

All in all a not terrible experience with mediocre results.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Teachable Moments

I have a little blogging business to take care of before I get to my story today. Hang with me a second. Because here is the deal, today I am being featured over at And Babies Don't Keep! How? Why? What? See awhile back I linked up with Kristi's Storytellers Linkup. I shared what I thought was a funny story and enjoyed reading others' stories. End of story. Or so I thought:) Then out of the blue I received a request from Kristi to feature my story on her blog!!!! (Does the number of explanation points give away just how excited I was by this request?! I was SUPER excited. Embarrassingly excited.) 

So head on over and check it out. I also recommend you stay awhile and read what Kristi has to share. She is a genuine, sweet mother of three adorable girls and the wife of a pastor. She writes funny and informative stuff. Good stuff. I always enjoy reading what she wrote. And I think you will too. Oh and Wednesday, August 13 is her next Storyteller Linkup. Be sure to check it out for even more heartfelt stories. Join the fun. Read, comment and share. Link-up too! Everyone is welcome. You better believe this very post will be linked up:)

Thanks for having me Kristi!

Ok. Ok. Enough prattle. Without further ado, the real teachable moment...

On Tuesday I promised the kids a day at the beach. I got them and myself in our swim suits. I packed a picnic lunch. And then I checked the forecast for the day...

At 10 am it was 60 and cloudy. The expected high for the day was 64. No sunshine. Not exactly beach weather! So there we were ready for the beach but clearly not going to the beach. You can imagine how well this news went over with the seven and under crowd. Not well. To say the least. 

Quickly I changed gears (and clothes!), loaded up my crew and headed to the MALL! Oh the excitement! Ok. Not really. But it was a better option than staying home and trying to stop all the running and screaming that ensues within this too small apartment...every day...all day. 

Over our gourmet food court meal a teachable moment arose. A little girl in a wheelchair was pushed past our table. Isaiah pointed her out to me and mentioned that her face "looked weird" (thankfully she was well out of earshot at this point!). I grabbed the opportunity for all it was worth and discussed with my children that even though someone may look different they are still a person. A person with thoughts and ideas and feelings. And for that reason it isn't acceptable to point or make rude remarks. We don't want to hurt other people's feelings...intentionally or not. The discussion went well. My point was made and understood. I wrapped it and lunch up and we headed into Target to grab a few things. (Target is attached to the mall here. So fancy.)

As we were walking through Target I heard a child throwing a fit. I could not see this child but I could most definitely hear what sounded like a MAJOR tantrum. I thanked my lucky stars it wasn't my child and kept walking. We turned a corner and there he was...the fit thrower in all his red faced, arms flying glory. My kids stopped and stared. Stunned by his performance. I herded them along. Initially I wasn't going to say anything about the fit thrower, but Isaiah (without prompting) told me why he thought the boy was so upset. The boy was holding a toy car. Isaiah deduced from the situation that the boy wanted the new toy but his mom was not buying it for him. 

So again I took the opportunity that presented itself and ran with it (because again we were out of earshot of the person I was using to teach my children). I asked my kids if they thought screaming and crying was going to help that child get what he wants. They both quickly agreed NO it wasn't the right tactic. But Isaiah continued to defend the child and explained to me that sometimes when you really want something and you can't have it it makes you MAD and you want to yell. I then continued on my "screaming and crying won't get you what you want" lesson. Just as we were turning a corner (literally, not figuratively) and intersected with another shopper (a lady in her mid forties) Isaiah loudly and matter-of-factly made his final argument, "But mom, YOU yell at us when YOU are mad." 

Ouch. Guilty as charged. And I admitted it with a red face and a tear in my eye. And here I thought the moment was going to teach my kids a valuable lesson! 

(Thankfully my fellow shopper was gracious. Which unfortunately isn't always the case. She chuckled. And then admitted that if her kids were with her they would/could say the same thing.)

And now because a post without a picture is just pathetic. The only picture I took on Tuesday at the mall. 

The kids in front of the candy machines.
Did I let them pick out whichever candy they wanted? You better believe I did! I want to be remembered as the fun mom. Not just the mom that yells when she is mad.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Life is a beach. Except when it isn't.

Thankfully it's been more beachy than not lately.

Let's start with the obvious. Joe is a FOURTH YEAR MEDICAL STUDENT now. And we are loving it. During his first two years of school everyone told me that third year was the "good year". And I desperately clung to that promise...dreaming of better days. And then we got to third year and it knocked me down. It was WORSE than the first two years combined. I cried a lot of lonely (and sometimes desperate) tears. And I decided everyone was LIARS! Third year was mostly torture (for me). But fourth year now THIS is the good year. I am loving it (and more importantly I think Joe is too). We have more family time and A LOT less study time. It's great. These are the better days I was dreaming of for so long. Of course we are only 3 weeks in and there are many weeks and months to come so my opinion could change (and very well may change) but for now I am enjoying this pace of life. 

Speaking of family time, we found a beach yesterday. It was beautiful. And sunny. And everything a perfect summer day should be. Well except a few tantrums over the "gross" bread we packed for lunch. I could have done without those, but otherwise a pretty perfect summer day. 

Now for the less than beachy stuff. Bedtime. It has been AWFUL since we have arrived in Iowa. The kids do not go to sleep without A LOT of crying, screaming, and whining first. It is a loooong drawn out process every night. And every night I lose my patience and want to pull out my hair. Suffice it to say it's ugly. And I am not sure why. Before we came here we had a pretty consistent and fairly easy bedtime routine with the kids. And we did our best to reproduce that routine here but the kids are just not having it! Not in the least. 

A couple nights ago the bedtime drama reached an all time HIGH. Charlotte was having a hard time falling asleep in her bed (major understatement!) so Joe moved her into our room. He kindly laid down next to her. Except she wasn't having it. She screamed at Joe "leave me alone!"  So he left her in our room WITH the door open. She immediately started crying out for "Mommy! Daddy!" When we didn't respond (because she had just asked to be alone) her cries changed to "Someone help me! Someone let me out of here. Someone HELP ME!" 

The drama! I moved her back to her bed and she went to sleep. Almost immediately. I then spent the rest of my evening just waiting for CPS to come knocking at our door.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Quotable Kids

I: Mom can I get up?
Me: (still half asleep) I don't know. What time is it?
I: It's 7:20. 
Me: Really? How do you know the time?
I: I looked at the clock. 
Me: Oh. In your room?
I: Yeah. The clock in my room. It's 7:20. 
Me: Sure. Go play. (Mumbling to myself as Isaiah runs off) I didn't know there was a clock in that room....
I: There is a clock mom. It's an analogue clock. 
Me: Ummm...ok. 

And then later in the day (when I was a little more awake) I googled analogue clock:) By the way THIS is an analogue clock...

C: Mommy, I told my maflingo if I die I am going to put him in my shoe and take him with me to heaven.
Me: That's really nice of you Charlotte, but I think there will be even better toys in heaven.
C: No mommy! There is only God and clouds in heaven. No toys. I want to bring my mafingo. 

H: Daddy Iwaa. 
Me: Yes Hannah, daddy is in Iowa. Are you in Iowa?
H: Mo! Daddy Iwa. Daddy Iwa hospal. 

Translation: Daddy is in Iowa at the hospital. Not Hannah. 

There is no convincing this girl that she is also in Iowa. I quit trying. 

Me: Alright guys let's get going. We have a pizza to pick up on the way home (from the library). 
I: I thought you said we were having hot dogs for lunch! I want hot dogs. 
Me: We are having hot dogs for lunch. The pizza is for dinner. 
I: Oh. Yay! Hot dogs and pizza. Sounds like restaurant food! 
Me: Restaurant food? Hhmm. I thought it sounded more like your-mom-is-super-lazy-today food. 

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

The other day we went to the pool. We decided to splurge and spend the $4.25/person for a day of fun (vs. playing at the splash pad for FREE). Apparently everyone else decided it was the perfect summer day to spend at the pool as well...

Seriously. The deep end was standing room ONLY. Unfortunately this pool did not allow re-entry if you left the pool. So our plan for Joe to attend his afternoon meeting at the hospital and re-join us afterwards was foiled! Fortunately this pool did allow flotation devices. So I was able to put two out of three of my kids in their life jackets and felt (mostly) confident in my ability to watch them and keep them all alive without Joe. 

But let's back up a few hours to this (adorable) scene...

Joe had worked a few night shifts in the ER so before we headed to the pool he slept in. So did Hannah. When I went to wake my sleeping beauties, the big kids decided it was the perfect time to run up and down the hall and slam our bedroom door shut. It was all fun and games until the door knob quit working. Which left Joe, Hannah and I on one side of the door and Charlotte and Isaiah on the other side! (I would have liked this arrangement had I been on the side of the door that allowed me access to the bathroom and kitchen!) After a little grumbling and complaining Joe jumped into action and freed us using his surgical knot trying instruments.

Our door knob currently looks like this...

And I won't allow Joe to put it back together because I am afraid it will happen again and next time my incredibly handy and resourceful husband won't be home to set me free! And the only thing I know how to do with surgical knot tying instruments is tie knots:)

Joe is convinced our children are going to destroy this apartment before we leave at the end of the month. And I suppose his fears are rooted in some truth...in the first 10 days we have been here they have managed to pee on the bath mat, stuff the return air vent full of smashed peas, break one door stopper off the wall, smear mud in the cream carpet and spill a bowl of milk on the black futon! I should probably just say goodbye to that deposit right about....NOW. 

But looking on the bright side here are some of the good things that have happened to us these last couple days:

-A librarian had sympathy on our family-of-five-dwelling-in-a-small-apartment selves and issued us a library card (which we don't technically qualify for)! Now we have a gazillion books and movies and Wii games at our disposal! It's wonderful.
-This afternoon we stumbled upon a FREE kids program at the park. And it meets Monday - Friday all month. AMAZING!! Dare I even say...life changing?! Yes. Life changing. For two hours Isaiah and Charlotte colored and played and I wasn't the one supervising and/or directing them. Hannah and I loved our time alone. You better believe we will be at the park again tomorrow!

That's it. That's all I've got. Better call it a night. 

Monday, July 7, 2014

Fundown Rundown

I don't know if we had the funnest fun in all of Iowa on the Fourth of July. But we did have FUN. Joe had the day off so that automatically increased the fun factor (for the kids & me) by about 100%.

Our holiday went a little something like this...

Pancakes for breakfast...

Run around gathering supplies (including tuna salad sandwiches) for a day out n about while trying to get us all dressed in patriotic attire...

Arrive at the parade EARLY...sometimes miracles happen...

Walk to fairgrounds to look at the carnival rides in an attempt to kill time before the parade began...promise kids a ride AFTER lunch...

Watch parade...Hannah was terrified for the first half...people kept trying to give her candy...scary stuff...Charlotte got something in her eye and couldn't stop rubbing it...Isaiah was a candy hound and FILLED his bag...

Parade ended...walk 0.9 mile in the blazing sun to attend free BBQ we learned about during the parade...abandon our packed picnic for pulled pork and corn on the cob...BEST decision we made all day...

Walk 0.9 mile back to the fairgrounds...this time we took a shady route...

Discover carnival rides cost $5-6 EACH! Ack...take back promise of a ride and buy the kids one sno-cone to share instead...we are the worst (& cheapest) parents!

Head home for nap time and dinner...we ate tuna salad sandwiches:) Delicious...

Drive to a different park that we heard had 75¢ rides...it's flooded! It's official the kids won't ride any rides...we ARE the worst! We ease their disappointment with a can of Sprite...

Go back to original fairgrounds to watch fireworks...

Ok. Now that I read through my rundown of our day it doesn't actually sound all that fun. But it really was a fun family day. I promise. 

And now for a little bunny trail and a peak into the inner workings of my mind. 

While waiting (and waiting and waiting) for the fireworks to start I enjoyed plenty of people watching (one of my favorite activities!). There was also a thirty minute time frame in which I was convinced I had been widowed when Joe went to get funnel cake and did not return in a timely enough fashion for my worry-wart self. He returned. With funnel cake! Alls well that ends well. Anywho back to the people watching...

I was really enjoying watching this family of five seated in front of us. It was mom and dad - they appeared to be in their early to mid thirties and very average in appearance, body build, and dress. There were two girls in (adorable!) matching dresses - approximately aged five and three. Lastly there was a baby boy asleep in their double stroller. Now obviously they weren't a perfect parallel to our family but close. Watching them made me think. Is that what we look like?!? Average American family...slightly frumpy. Mom, dad and a small herd of kids. Because in my mind we are still the YOUNG family. Early twenties with our cute baby accessory that we cart along wherever we go. We are hip. We are still somewhat ...errr....happening?!? I quickly found an example of that young couple nearby. Then I showed Joe the two family options and asked him which one was us. 

He laughed at me. I asked again. He laughed some more. I tried to defend my case. He laughed even more. Because clearly he knew I was being delusional in thinking we weren't the frumpy average family. And so my dream of still being young and hip was shattered while waiting for the Fourth of July fireworks to begin with my three children playing and screaming and causing general child-like ruckus around me. At least I had funnel cake (& my husband!) to comfort me:)

For the record this is what our family looked like that day....

Yep. Pretty average. Slightly frumpy. All American. 

Friday, July 4, 2014

The kids and I are off to find the funnest fun that Iowa has to offer on our great nation's independence day! (Wish us luck) Not in in those outfits though. We are far more casual today. Still red, white and blue of course. That picture was from Memorial Day back in Illinois. However way back then I was far too crabby from being a single mom AND preparing us to move to share these adorable patriotic pictures. So there you have it. A less crabby me and my cute kids that survived all my crabbiness.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Living in Iowa

This temporarily living in a new city in a new state is kinda strange. The thing is we have absolutely no schedule. No routine. No outside obligations. I mean of course Joe has a routine, schedule and obligations...at the hospital. But the kids and I wake up every day to a blank slate. Just hours to be filled and new places to explore. Some days our blank slate of a day gets filled with fun and adventure and it flies by! Other days have remained...well rather blank and drag on.

Living with just what fits in our mini van is also a very simple way to live. Which is good and bad I suppose. We have just three kid bowls, three kid plates and three kid cups. Meaning after every meal I wash the dishes and we start fresh for the next meal. I like the ease and simplicity of this new routine. We also have very few toys. Maybe too few toys! The kids seem to get restless in the apartment and I don't exactly have a plethora of ideas for entertaining them:( We of course try to spend as much time outside as possible but we do have to eat sometimes and the toddler needs her naps. (I have a newfound respect for anyone that lives in an apartment with children!) 

Speaking of the toddler and sleep, I was going to write about how wonderful it is having her sleep in the closet. Because she was sleeping GREAT! And by great I mean sleeping in until 10 or 11 am...one day she slept til noon! And naps were a breeze as well. Give that girl dark and quiet and she is a sleeping champ. Except of course the night before her daddy was going into the hospital for his first shift in the ER - a double shift actually so he would be working 18 of the next 24 hours - that night she decided to rebel. The closet was no longer acceptable to Hannah and she screamed and cried until well after our bedtime. I don't remember the exact details (it was too painful...I have blocked it from my memory) but I know it was after 11pm when she finally gave in and slept! Sorry apartment neighbors. I hope we have no repeat performances. No promises though. 

In our first week in Iowa we have explored a couple playgrounds, both city splash pads, our neighborhood, the library, Walmart, the hospital (of course!) and the Wii (that was left in the apartment:). Overall it's been a pretty good start to our stay here. 

Look...here I am in IOWA! Do I look like I fit in?!