Sunday, July 9, 2017

Camping Vacation Trip

For vacation this year, our family decided to go camping. After spending part of the July 4th week with my parents up North in NW Iowa (flat, flat, flat) - but there's a lake, free room & board and a boat down at the dock, so I can't complain. 😉

We ventured home to pack up our camping supplies - that hadn't been dug out since about a year ago. Except for those camping chairs, we use ours occasionally and I'll take mine out when then kids are playing in our backyard. On the way we decided to check out to see if there were any available campsites at Lake Red Rock. Ha! When I was up North, I downloaded a Lake Red Rock activities brochure. At long last I read that there was a Red Rock Lake Balloon Fest happening over part of the time we were going to be camping there. Great! Plenty to do, look at, plus educational opportunities in the area. But, we struck out. We searched all the campgrounds on the lake - we went through at least 2 of them, and saw others that were full. The silly thing is that even though they have it reserved with arrival on Sunday, July 9th (we were looking for Thursday - Saturday) - we weren't able to use the campsite for those 3 days prior to some else's registration. These were all run by the Federal Government, so of course, they couldn't figure this out. To much work. I was mad. Still am. It's just silliness.

So we just went home for the night. The original plan was to pack up when we got home and go in the morning. But it's vacation, right? No rush! Plus, we were sore from inner tubing on the boat earlier in the week. So. Much. Fun! But, we aren't as young as we used to be and we defiantly found muscles we weren't use to using! So we went to bed and packed up in the morning.

The Lake up North (that's not the actual name of it).

We ended up going camping here - Lake Darling State Park - key word is State, not Federal. 

After packing everything in our car and in the truck - because we wanted to bring our bikes with, the extra space was needed - and used! We had to make a food run, of course - because we needed a few things - what's a camping trip without stuff for s'mores? 

Just part of Lake Darling. 

Park sign - see what's here! 

We didn't get to the park until about noon (apparently it takes 30 minutes and 4 tries for the 9yo to roll up his sleeping bag) 🙄 . Setting up the tent in the hot sun was not my idea of a good time, but we got it done. Realizing we (hubby) didn't pack the rainfly - we prayed for no rain and we were so lucky that it didn't! After setting up the tent it was time to go swimming! We later found out that having no rain fly was helpful - it let the breeze in off the lake and sleeping under the stars and watching the lighting bugs was amazing! 🙌  All God's creation. 

Tent was shaded in the evening and in the morning. The bikes were locked up, when not in use. The bath house was up the hill, behind the tent. This was the only campsite that was available that had trees. (One or two shaded the space). It happened to be a full-hook up site, water, electric and sewer hook-up. Which we didn't really need, but I was willing to pay the extra amount, especially if we had power to make the fans run that we brought, because we knew it was going to be hot, hot, hot! 

First day, after swimming. (I'm just sunburned all the time.)

Family photo. 

Hubby did most of the cooking - and I loved it. Little ones face! 😂

Because what else is a 3yo supposed to do before bedtime,
but play with the $4 inflatable in the tent. Sassy! 

The next morning, big brother read a story to little one. Sweetest moment of the whole weekend! ♥️
After breakfast we went on a family bike ride, which was pretty warm, but we stopped regularly for water breaks - we made sure everyone had a water bottle. Lake Darling bike trails are awesome - we went for about 3.0 miles, and almost none of it was flat- more like steep to rolling hills. 

Big brother can do dishes, here he is drying. So much complaining. Is this normal for a 9yo? 😩
We had to get more firewood and more ice for the food in the cooler, so we headed to town. We did what we needed to do and the kids wanted Pizza Ranch that was across from the big box store we were shopping at, and because the outside temperature was 86 degrees, we ate there. We took our time - let's just say it was busy when we went, but it was pretty empty when we left. But it was air conditioned, so I didn't really complain. 

The kids and I fell asleep on the way back to camp, so we slept in the car for a bit - still hot out, but at least there was a breeze.  It wasn't to bad with all the windows down. The 9yo still says he didn't take a nap. 😜  The kids and hubby tried to hang out in the tent for awhile and the plan was to go swimming, just not in the heat of the day. I may or may not have fallen asleep on an inflatable at the beach, while the hubby and the kids were having a great time. We went about 5pm and stayed for a little more than an hour. None of us were hungry at dinner time, because of the large late lunch we ate earlier. So we had a late dinner back at camp. 

The 3yo in her shades and swimsuit after swimming. You can guess what the wet spot is! 
  After this, she promptly said 'change me.' Good thing we are working on potty training!
I'll note here that she was wearing a cloth swim diaper that did a good job of keeping sand out of her diaper area better than the disposables we used the day before. 

Hubby found this cicada shell on his truck tire the first morning we woke up. He got to explain to the 9yo how they come up out of the ground, make a shell and then hatch from it. 

Before dinner the second night, I went down at took this 360 degree photo down by the lake

Hubby did a few camping hacks - here's one: It's a tarp clip clipped to the table cloth looped into a bungie cord, wrapped around a few boards of the picnic table. Worked great. He did this on both sides of the picnic table. 

The other hack he did - and I didn't take a photo of it - he fished a bungie cord through a paper towel roll and bungeed it to the bike rack that was on the back of the truck. Worked great and the paper towel wasn't rolling all over the place in the wind. 

Signs of a successful camping trip - both kids asleep in the car.
Yes, that's my TerraTrike on top of my car - it fits rather well! We tie it up there with bungie cords (hubby has a whole bag full), pool noodles and 2 clips to lock the pedals in place. 

Lake Darling was nice because overall, people were quite, the lake is a no-wake lake (meaning the boats don't go fast), a lot of people were there to fish. There were a few families there, but we didn't interact with them. We had a hard time understanding why anyone would buy a $40k+ camper and transport it to a different camp spot each week. The guy next to us spent as much time setting his camper up than we did our tent. Sure he has a big screen tv, air conditioning, bathroom, kitchen, comfy bed, but what's the point? By that time you aren't camping, you may as well stay home! Especially due to the fact that they came, set it up, didn't sleep there and the camper air was running all day Friday (I'm sure they had jobs to go back to). [I may or may not have thought about breaking in, just to get some relief from the heat & sun.] They were there a little Friday night, but not outside - inside the camper. Saturday morning was much of the same - they weren't there - both vehicles were gone, and then when they were outside we were leaving. At this time the little boy (2 or 3 years old) noticed my 3yo and we had enough time to wave 'bye.' 
I know this isn't true for all RV campers out there - just these people. There were some RV campers who had pretty sweet set-ups for their outside space and were playing card games or just talking around the campfire. 
We don't want to be like the 'Jones' being normal means being broke, and we don't want to be broke all our lives. Update on that! We are now officially under 30k for our debt. What's your debt? Find out more at Read more about our debt-free journey.  

Lake Darling has 80 campsites and most of them have electric and a few have full-hook ups- which, I know is rare in the camping industry. But over 1/4 of the 80 sites are walk-up sites. Which means I didn't need a reservation for campsite #22 - and views of the lake, near the swing set, and the bathrooms and playground area! Part of the time the equipment was to hot to play on, though. Metal slides - in 85+ degree sun, ouch! Brings back my childhood memories, though. 

Awesome vacation time with family! 
Would I go camping again, as the 3yo asked when we got home and had a few things unpacked? Maybe next year. Same place? Oh, no. Next year I'll shoot for Red Rock and register online - early!

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Life of a mom

I recently had a friend of mine say that when her littlest one was still at the napping stage, she could send a quick text to a few of her friends and have them go pick up her big kids from school.
That's great. I don't have a 'tribe' as they call it. I never have had one, and anytime I have had a few friends, I'm sure I'm the one who ended the relationship, or chose not to continue being a friend, for whatever reason.

I am lucky that I have my husband, who's a big supporter, when he's not on route as a delivery driver with FedEx - which, right now, is all the time, but I'm thankful he's not an over the road truck driver. I also have his mom who recently took the kids shopping at a farm store, to get some ice cream and to a park, before she was scheduled to leave town for the weekend, but the kids enjoy going out to 'the farm.' My parents are just 4-5 hours away (when they aren't in Florida).

And while we have a church home, and it truly is a church family, there aren't many - if any - people my age. The majority being 50 and above. So, growth groups, or small groups are few and far between, and don't often happen in other people's homes, but just out at the church, which is outside of town, and not helpful, for those of us who live in town. Would I ever open my home to a small group or growth group? Maybe, but I have kids.

For the past few weeks I've been trying to get my 8yo to clean room - it's a disaster. By disaster, I mean disaster! Do not enter, or you might trip and fall and hurt yourself. I have a 2yo who has yet to learn the art of picking up toys when finished with them, and especially not dropping a toy some random place and picking up another thing or toy or non-toy, etc. and then repeating that 5 or more times all around the house. And I question why there are toys in my kitchen, bathroom, etc. odd places.....

Then there's myself, who while, battling depression is taking care of all of the above, I have church obligations, small business owner, work (I have various clients I have to keep happy, plus other part-time work), and volunteering at my child's school, trying to keep my 2yo in cloth diapers as much as possible, so we can save money and allowing her to use the potty when she wants to - but not really potty training - so when I'd rather binge on Netflix shows than clean my kitchen. Please, someone come over and clean my house! Maybe you can see why I don't have time for a "tribe." My tribe is me and my morning coffee - and if I'm lucky a morning or evening at the local coffee shop with a paint brush in hand and a blank canvas in front of me.

I'm an artist, although I'm not sure if anyone has ever called me that. Crafty, yes, but I continually doubt myself and my abilities.

Monday, November 7, 2016

New School!

So the other night we were able to go into my sons new school building. It's an old public school building.  This summer someone decided to set fire to the old building his school had and completely put the whole school in a state of turmoil for over a month and a half, we were happy to see the 'new' building was ready. Arson is not a victimless crime.
After a few delays waiting while we questioned where we were going to hold the school year after the fire marshall deemed the 'old' building was not to be used this school year.  The school was offered to lease this building for $1 until the end of December. But, it needed work. A lot of work. It had been broken into, vandalized, a fire extinguisher had been set off that made a red carpeted floor an entirely different color. One would think that if the public school was going to lease a building to a non-public school they would have been good stewards and at least cleaned up the vandalism, at least take care of the broken glass. They did move some things out before they let our school have the keys. 

The way it works here is that every student in the state gets money to go to school. Its per student, so if a parent wants to send their child to a private school or even homeschool, they don't have access to that money. A lot of money is moved around between public schools, because students can open enroll between districts. But that money is kept in public schools. So if my local public school gets $6k for my child, the school that he attends sees none of that money. I wish Iowa had vouchers, so I could dictate where that money goes. Now multiply that by roughly 100 students or so, and the school would be in better shape financially. I would love it if the school could pay our teachers what their public school peers get. Tuition is kept low, so that most families can afford it. (we pay a little more than $200/month). That's less expensive than most private schools in the state. For us, its less eating out, doing less activities for the kids and picking up odd jobs when we need to. Its a choice we made a long time ago, not to put our child in public school. He does amazing at this school, classroom sizes are small- he has 13 in his class this year! He has friends that he's known since preschool and kindergarten. He looks up to the older kids, because they are loving on him and leaning on Jesus!

I wasn't able to get in and take before photos, but the 'after' is amazing. This is a neighborhood school, so set among houses that sell anywhere from $40k -$110k.
The school has had volunteers do so much work. Plumbers, electricians, fencing professionals, contractors, painters, cleaners, parents, students, and volunteers with no family ties to the school. But the community has come together in an amazing way.
School was delayed by a week, and there still is the problem of the boiler doesn't work and there isn't a playground. Detail, details. Here in Iowa the school probably has about a good month and a half to get the boiler working, or a new one put in.

The teraazo floors are amazing, most of the classrooms have lockers outside in the hallway. I still haven't found the library, or been upstairs to the second floor or downstairs to the lunch room. Give me a few more weeks and I'll be taking photos when I'm back on my feet.
The great thing about having this building is that everyone is still together, we just have more space. We were using all of the rooms in the other building, and were almost ready to grow out of it.
The school was able to have the curriculum we use professionally cleaned. I'm glad they did thus, because I honestly love the Abekka curriculum that they use!
One thing that was missing from all of the classrooms were computers. I'm positive the smoke would have damaged what few computers they had. Especially having to be shut in a closed building for so many weeks after the fire. Hopefully computers will come soon in this technology driven age!
The fire happened the night of August 5th.
School start date - September 4th - original date
School start date - September 12th - actual date

Our school isn't regulated by the state to keep students in for 180 days or whatever it is now. Its kind of nice not having to start until after Labor Day and ending before Memorial Day! Of the 4 years my son has attended this school, he's never had to attend school in June.

Note: I have no ill feelings toward parents who choose to send their children to public school. I worked in the public school system for 6 years. I have lots of friends who teach in the public school. Hubby and I just realized that when homeschooling wasn't going to work, this was the next best thing.  

I truly think of my child's school not as a building, but the students, volunteers and parents, teachers and staff as family. We are all united in Christ and focused on encouraging the growth of the children to be the leaders in the community. There was at one time over 20 some churches represented in the school. That says so much about the school. For some reason, the school can unite what the churches in town  cannot do.
It's going to be a great year!

Ps. If you want to know more about the school click here.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Broken Foot

I know, I know.

Not what I expected to happen either. While going down the stairs in my brother-in-laws new (old) house I missed the last step before the landing and landed on my butt. Immediately my ankle started hurting. I iced it. My first concern after my fall was not 'Am I okay?' or even 'Is anything broken?' My first thought after falling was 'Is my Mac okay?' My Macbook is my life. Not just because I enjoy keeping tabs on all my friends and the fact that they have the same struggles as I do in raising children, keeping a clean house (ha!) and dealing with spouses. But because I have clients whom I work for doing some graphic design, web design, social media and online database information. It's not much, but I enjoy working with them all and it helps pay the bills.

So you can see why I was so concerned about my Macbook. I was carrying it down the stairs, in my arms. I know. I know. Stupid.

The kids were really good when my brother in law took me to the doctors office Saturday morning in Ames. X-rays were taken - apparently I'm trying to keep up my selfie-x-ray ratio. I've had a lot of x-rays taken of my knees (mostly). I feel like it wouldn't take much for me to become an x-ray technician. 

The other thing that doesn't go well with me and my bones is a dark room - which it was semi-dark - and stairs. Back in 2007 I had a nasty fall at church when the youth we playing hide and go seek in the dark and yes, you guessed it, I fell off the stage and broke some bones in my left hand. I didn't have kids then, so it would have been a little easier if I had broken my foot instead. I had surgery on my hand then, and much like now, I wait.
The doctor will operate on my foot this Thursday, I'm talented, when I break bones - I do it very uniquely. When I was a kid I fell off a bike and broke my arm, but not the large bone (which most people break), I broke the small bone. Hehe.
This time it's a broken bone in the right foot - it's the 5th metatarsal. It's the bone that leads to my pinkie toe. It's not entirely broken clear off, but at an angle.  I did twist my ankle when I fell down the stairs, so this make sense. So the doctor will put some pins in it, so it can heal.  I still have to stay off it for 6 weeks after the surgery. It's already been a week plus.
It's been rough. My bedroom is on the second floor, good thing we just moved the guest bed down to the first floor. I'm sleeping there, for now. The kids are kids - and so the house is a complete disaster because I shouldn't be on my foot to pick up stuff (toys), or even to cook in the kitchen, much less running up and down the stairs doing laundry. For the first week or so, I hobbled around the house with a cane when I needed to. Since then, I have rented a knee scooter. While I don't have good knees and can't stay on my knees for long period of times - it's perfect for getting around the house. Getting something to eat, going to the bathroom, staying on first floor.

Maybe this is God's way of telling me to 'slow down.' Part of me wants to, and part of me says 'no.' I enjoy volunteering my time for my child's school, volunteering for my church, doing crafty things.
This will be my 6th surgery. It's local anesthesia, and the surgery itself will only take about half an hour, if all goes well.

A few days after the surgery I will hopefully be able to put some weight on it, but will- for the most part still have to stay off of it, for that bone to heal completely. It's been tough on my hubby - running a FedEx truck all last week did not allow him to take me to the doctors office or help me around the house. He was awesome - a single dad - basically by feeding all of us, putting the kids to bed every night, working a full time job, doing some of his laundry and changing oil in his trucks - and even fixing one. He's a busy guy. At least the past few weeks of working 6 day weeks will help us save a little money, since someone needs surgery. 

Prayers appreciated on Thursday early afternoon! 

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Prayer for the school

Heavenly Father,

The only school that my oldest has ever attended had a fire last night. Thank you for neighbors who made the call and it was contained to the gym and stage area. Away from the classrooms. I need to lift up so many people in prayer right now.

I thank you, Father God for the firemen and first responders who took care of the building last night. I thank you Jesus that it wasn't super hot or humid out that they had to work extra hard in that kind of weather.

I thank you Jesus that no students or teachers were in the building at the time.
I pray for the insurance adjuster that they may be able to move quickly, so that we may start school on time. I pray that all the repairs are covered, and that this fire isn't something the school board needs to worry about.

I pray that you put the right people in the path of the school to fix the damage, so that it's better than ever and we can have our first concert on time to give You all the glory!

I pray that none of the teachers supplies were wet or damaged, they sacrifice so much for our school, and they do it all while praising You and showing our students to lean on You, Heavenly Father.

I pray for the safety of the clean up crew and the workers that they may work quickly and efficiently to be able to open the school on time, with minimal costs. I pray for the financial situation of the school and that the board shouldn't have to worry about the coat of repairs - that it will totally be covered with donations.

See You At the Flag Pole September 2015

Students praying for our school, our community, our nation.
See You At the Flag Pole September 2015

A little over 100 students attend here. 
See You At the Flag Pole September 2015

Jesus, keep the school community together in prayer and support with love, and not to idle gossip. Jesus, you have planted this school here for a reason, and you have kept it open for so long, and the students who attended here give you the glory and honor and praise for this!

Our school will come through this stronger and better than ever.

We trust that this is Your will, we don't understand it, right now, Oh God, but we know that You are in control.

Here's a video made by another parent, that includes some photos that I have taken, and the logo designed by my husband:

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Real Life

Welcome to Real Life.... with a 2 year old.

So recently my husband and I bought a closet system for a wall in our bedroom. Partially due to the fact that we need to sell our house - eventually. Our bedroom only has one closet - keep in mind we have an old house. Doing that finally freed up a closet in my daughter's bedroom - she's only two, but has been in there a few months and I didn't like the idea of her growing up with her dad using the closet in her room when he gets dressed. She uses an old entertainment center I turned into her clothes space when she was a baby and we used it in our room when she was still in there. She's since moved out, but we continued to use her clothes center until we could get my hubby's closet moved out of there.

Photos of painting her room:

This strip of wall was painted a good two weeks before I really decided to stick with the color. 

Before the color was blue and we used it as a sewing room / guest room. 



Hubby couldn't keep up with me in Menards when I was walking so fast!

He's so funny! He does the best trim work, though. 

13+ years of marriage (just recently celebrated 14 years)

Almost done.

Turned out nice. 

I love it! It's a warm gray color, so it could be gender neutral. 

Added some purple curtains, some LED Edison light bulbs and a purple bedspread and it's all girl! 

Artwork for the wall - from words from Simply Said, metal sheet and frame from Hobby Lobby. 

I was working on getting the few things he had left out of the closet - some college notebooks with old college papers and notes in them - ha! Didn't know I had those. I thought the children were being well-behaved on the lower level - they were supposed to be emptying the dishwasher (but they got distracted), then they had a snack complete with peanut butter and Nutella and bread.

They moved into the playroom - which I had just cleaned up the night before - when I was in the closet and heard 'wahh.... ahhh... owww' That can't be good. My oldest comes up and says his sister (the 2 year old) hit him in the head with a train accessory. Keep in mind we have a whole rubbermaid tub full of wooden train tracks, accessories and trains. At least he was honest and told me he hit her back. She came up crying and told her 'buppy' hit her hand. She's two, but she can still get her point across, even if all the words aren't there.

I needed a break - and some coffee- and I brought down a load of laundry.
Meanwhile the rocking horse is in the living room (where the TV is), the dishes are still not put away and the train tub literally looks like it threw up in the toy room.

Welcome to real life, with kids.
One step forward, two steps back.
I question myself everyday how I'm going to make this house presentable to potential buyers.

And so I trudge along, getting ready for visitors for RAGBRAI, trying to keep the house clean, while still keeping the children happy. I was able to keep it clean for a few days in a row last week - but that's because either the kids were at the baby-sitter or we weren't here and we had gone to the zoo last Monday as a family.