Sumer Bucket List

It's summertime, officially.  We have been living in over 90 degree heat here, so it has felt like summer for awhile.  We are so close to finishing up our first year of homeschool, so I thought I would share some things we are hoping to do as we gear up for the summer months.  My type-A personality loves a good list, hence this post.  I asked Kevin and the kids to help me with this list, and although Luke and Lily aren't old enough to completely get it, they had some good ideas.  Here we go...

  • Head to our favorite swimming hole for an all day adventure.
  • Turn on the sprinkler and let the kids have at it.
  • Let the kids pack their lunch for the day and head to a splash park.
  • Make citrus paintings.
  • Stay up extra late and catch lightning bugs under the stars.
  • Make ice cream sundaes.
  • Do fireworks in a jar.
  • Do tree bark rubbings.
  • Plan a road trip together and go! (We are in the planning stages of a two week long Iowa and Wisconsin road trip, stay tuned...)
  • Make homemade sidewalk chalk paint.
  • Go the the farmer's market and pick out everything for a fresh, homemade meal.
  • Do the magic milk experiment.
  • Invite friends over for a water playdate.
  • Go to John Deere and climb on all the equipment.  
  • Have a family movie night with Finding Dory (the kids' favorite) and make these adorable under the sea graham crackers.
  • Head to the slides in the Old Market and get ice cream.

As you can see, we have already crossed some things off our list.  Summer always flies by and I am going to do my best to do some intentional living when there is more sunshine in a day and more reasons to be outside these walls of our home.  

Happy Summer, all!  I want to know, what is on your summer bucket list?



"It is a wise father who knows his own child."
-William Shakespeare

I'm not really sure how I'm going to follow up this Shakespeare quote with anything even worth your time, but I'm going to give it my best amateur writer try.

Today we celebrate Fathers, Dads, Papas, Daddys, Dadas, Grandpas.  We celebrate the value they add to our families.  We celebrate the way they lead us and the way they make us laugh.  We celebrate the sacrifices they make like working extra hours for a family vacation or mowing the lawn in the rain or getting up in the middle of the night to feed the baby or completing the Daddy-to-do list before company shows up.  We celebrate the way they hug and cuddle and speak truth into our kids' lives.  We celebrate their work ethic and the way they can somehow fit three kids on their backs while running down the hallway.  We celebrate the way they love us.

I am thankful for all the men in this world taking this Dad thing seriously.  I believe Dads are one of our most important assets in this world.  Dads make a difference.  In families and in kids.  Especially Dads that know their children well. 

Shakespeare's quote spoke to me because I am lucky enough to be married to a guy who knows his kids well.  He knows how Luke likes to snuggle close in the morning before he's fully awake.  He knows how to do Lily's hair in a pony tail and how to make her giggle by chasing her down the hallway.  He knows how to make Jude smile and how to make his eyes do that twinkling thing.  He knows how to get Luke to eat his dinner without nagging.  He knows how to make Lily smile wide by doing 'ready, set, go' as she flies into his arms before bed each night.  He knows them.  Each one of them.  So well.

Happy Father's Day to all you Dads out there.  Coming from a wife and a mom and a daughter with a loving Dad, you do such seriously important work.  Keep it up.


Traveling Fosters Gratitude

It's 6:45 on Saturday night.  We pull up our driveway, all of us weary and dirty and famished.  We topple out of the car, lugging bags and toys and books over our shoulders and heading straight upstairs to open our styrofoam containers holding the contents of our take-out dinner.  Luke and Lily scurry outside to have a picnic of chicken nuggets and ranch dressing on the swing set.  Kevin eats his dinner as if it's the first food he has eaten in days as I feed Jude with my feet slung over the side of the chair.

We are home.  After eight hours in the car, ten hours of travel, we are home.  

Last week we headed to the Windy City to hang out with city people and do city things while Kevin went to a conference.  I know an eight hour road trip is not a big trip, but it is our first trip with three babes.  So, it was most definitely a BIG trip for us.

While in Chicago, we went to a museum, played at a dreamy park, ate deep dish pizza, 'watched' a Cubs game, walked what seemed like one thousand miles, and spent some fun time with friends.  It was not epic, but it was just the change of pace we needed in this season.  While not able to go on a long, beach-y vacation at the moment, a road trip to Chicago was perfect.

We stayed in a VRBO (which I highly recommend for family travels) and it was just the right size and had all the amenities we needed for our family of five plus one grandma.  #whatwouldwedowithoutgrandmas  My mom was completely necessary on this trip and I am so so glad she decided to come with us.  We did some new things together and ate some yummy food and just did life the Chicago way for a few days.  I love a good getaway and the four days we spent together in a 14th floor condo were ordinary and exciting and out of our comfort zone in a good way.

Kevin and I snuck away the night before we left for a date night at the cutest spot my friend, Anne, recommended.  RM Champagne is a sweet patio-forward restaurant tucked away in an alley in Chicago.  As I sipped on my glass of white wine and nibbled on the shrimp cocktail, Kevin and I discussed our favorite parts of the trip.  Although he was gone during the days, we were able to spend quality time with him at night.  I mentioned the Cubs game and watching the kids play at the fountains after epic meltdowns.  He talked about riding the city train (aka the 'L') with Luke and going on the boat tour of Chicago.  After chuckling at the way Lily waved to all the passengers on the 'L' and coming to the conclusion that I probably have a fear of heights, I told Kevin I am so thankful for our home, back in wee little Macedonia, Iowa.

In the middle of a crowded restaurant with glasses clinking and servers scurrying around to bring plates to and from tables, I re-discovered that I love our home.  On the trail.  In the middle of nowhere Iowa.  I love the quiet and the green space and the slow pace.  I love cozying up under a blanket, even in the summertime, after the kids go to bed with a good book.  I love the ordinary hum-drum of Luke and Lily playing in their rooms or reading books on our worn couch.  I love the home we have made and am incredibly grateful we get to live where we live.

Yes, I love a good getaway.  I love experiencing new places and tastes with my people.  I love discovering my new-favorite cherry donut at the local donut shop down the street in a new city.  But, I love coming back home to my bed, my cozy spot on the couch, my dishes to do and laundry to wash and weeds to pull in my overgrown garden beds.  I love home.  My life on the trail is exactly where I want to spend (almost) all of my days.



Jude is 4 months

Our baby boy is 4 months old today.  He is sweet and smiley and happy and content and we can't help but smile when we look at him.  He is our precious Jude.  

Here is what he has been up to this past month:
  • Jude's newest trick is rolling over from back to belly to back to belly. He almost immediately goes onto his belly if laid on his back.  
  • Sleep.  He was on a roll there for awhile and was getting three good naps during the day and 5-6 hour stretches of sleep at night.  Now that he is rolling over, we had to take him out of the woombie.  Let's just say we are in an adjustment period...
  • This child loves to be talked to and loves to talk back.  He will coo and smile and almost sing to anyone who will listen.
  • A big part of Jude's personality is his 'go with the flow' attitude.  This is most definitely the case when he is spitting up, which happens about twenty times a day.
  • Like his brother and sister before him, Jude has started sucking his fingers every now and again.  Right now he prefers his left pointer and middle finger, but there is still time for him to change his mind.  If those are the fingers he chooses, he will be copying his big brother Luke.
  • The weather has warmed up and Jude loves hanging outside looking up at the trees and sky.  Good thing, because we have been outside a lot lately.
  • Jude nurses four to five times a day and gets two bottles at night.  He doesn't miss a meal.
  • Luke and Lily are still his favorites.  He loves it when they talk to him or engage with him.  The feeling is mutual.
  • Bath time with Daddy is always a highlight of his week.  Getting a rub down in warm water is definitely his jam.
This boy of ours has stolen our hearts and it is bittersweet to watch him grow. We love seeing each new thing he does, but we also adore cuddling him and memorizing every little feature and movement.  He is a keeper.


A Simple Saturday

This week was glorious with some playdates, Luke's last swim lesson, and some time at home.  It was extra sweet since it was a four day work week for Kevin. This morning we are cheering our fearless leader on as he runs in a 5K.  It is going to be such a fun morning!

This week I'm sharing some things that made my week simpler.  I am all about simplifying life with three littles and these things do just that.

First up, the background for this picture.  This sedum is nothing short of a miracle.  The green and yellow bursts of color spread far and wide when planted in the sun.  When doing a google search, I believe it's sedum grisebachii. Whatever it is, it makes my life simpler.  Two things about this sedum: 1. it is the perfect ground cover to keep out weeds 2. it is very, very hard to kill. I have been planting and spreading it everywhere.

Strawberry season!  Strawberries are ripe and ready in our backyard and it makes an after meal treat pretty simple.  The kids head out to the backyard and scavenge for the reddest strawberries they can find.  It also teaches Luke and Lily about where our food comes from, how plants need water, sun and soil to grow and what a perfectly ripe strawberry looks like.  Win-win-win.
(P.S. If you don't have a strawberry patch in your backyard, check out a pick-your-own-berry farm or The Fruit Club.)

Picnics.  It is finally the time of year when I don't have to sweep the kitchen floor after every. single. meal.  #praisehands  The kids love to sit in their treehouse for a fun change of pace during lunch or at our patio table for dinner.  They are working on sitting on their bottoms during a meal (why is this so hard?) and being outside definitely helps with the process.  It is worth lugging food in and out of the house for a clean kitchen when we come inside.

Muslin blankets.  I don't think a momma can have too many of these. This summer I will be toting these absolutely everywhere for a burp spit-up-everywhere cloth, a blanket to lay Jude on the grass, or a protective cover when we are out in the sun.  They are lightweight and easy to throw into the diaper bag when we are out and about.

Did you run barefoot as a child?  The feeling of grass in-between toes is the essence of childhood.  In the past I have been undemocratic about wearing shoes outside.  Shoes outside were non-negotiable.  These days I am letting my littles run outside sans shoes.  Why?  Because...childhood.  Because...it's simpler.  They can easily step outside to play on the swing set without needing me and that, my friends, is magical.

I hope you have a simple weekend wherever you may be today.  We will be spending as much time outside as possible during these almost summer days.  

Have a Sunny Saturday!


Sunny Saturday

What a heavenly week it has been on the Trail.  As I write this I am sitting at my favorite downtown spot feasting on the best grilled sandwich and bread and butter.  Alone.  Which means...my mom is in town.  God bless mothers.  She is my respite from my days at home with my babies.  She swoops in with her 'get out of here' attitude and grants me space and time to refresh and regroup for the days and weeks ahead of me at home.  How I love this woman I call mom.

I could go on and on about the things that made my week sunnier, but I will keep it short and sweet.  Here is this week's round up...

Peonies.  I know everyone and their momma are talking about these blossoms, but we are, too.  They are literally blooming all over our yard and this time of year I couldn't be more thankful to have a master gardner for a mother-in-law. She made this yard absolutely stunning before we moved in and I get to reap the harvest of a labor of gardening love.  A little secret: peonies are my favorite. (And Lily's, too.)

This Memorial Day weekend we have family driving into town and there will be lots of playing with cousins and eating and so forth.  You can believe I will be making these oatmeal chocolate peanut butter bars to munch on all weekend long.  They are simple and delicious and pretty much my go-to when I need to bake for a crowd.  

You are Free by Rebekah Lyons.  My friend, Annie, recommended it to me and the first few chapters have been life giving.  Rebekah's vulnerable voice speaks life over struggle and pain.  What a gift.  If you haven't read this one, pick it up.  It's good, friends.

Dating my husband.  Since my momma is in town Kevin and I went on our ten year anniversary date last night.  Kevin and I are going-out-on-a-date kind of people.  That's how we connect and thrive and love each other well.  Whether it's having a glass of wine and enjoying a kids-free conversation at home or heading out to a yummy dinner, we try and do this as often as possible.

Since Kevin and I had a planned date last night, I tried to make myself look presentable.  You know, making sure my hair was washed, my shirt didn't have spit up on it and my nails weren't chipped and unsightly.  Enter Sally Hansen's Insta Dry.  I know this is nothing new, but to a mom of three the Insta Dry part is essential.  I love a good shellac manicure in certain seasons, but a trip to the salon every two weeks is not in the cards right now.  This polish is a great substitute and makes my nails look manicured without a lot of time or money.

I hope you have the best Memorial Day weekend with family and friends celebrating the sacrifice so many men and women have given for our great country.  Have a Sunny Saturday, all!


Ten Years

3,650 days.  87,600 hours.  A whole lotta minutes and seconds.  That's how long I have been married to the very best man I know.  (He is a numbers guy, so I thought I would WOW him with my math.)

This is a big one, people.  Kevin and I have been together an entire decade.  I can hardly believe it.  Sometimes I feel like we were just standing in our now backyard saying 'I do' and other times I feel like we have been together for-ev-er.  It ebbs and flows.

If I knew ten years ago what I know now I would have married this man as soon as I laid eyes on him.  He is truly the greatest person that ever happened to me.  He is my best friend and there is no one else on this planet I would want to do this life with day in and day out.  I did not draw the short straw in the husband category.

I don't want to get too mushy gushy here, so I am just going to end with one thing I have learned in my ten years of marriage.  

Stay married.  

Marriage is hard and tricky and annoying and lovely and familiar and a gift. If you're in a drought in your marriage, be patient.  Wait.  Try.  Work.  The rainbow that comes along with the rain is on the horizon and it will get better.

Marriage is worth it.  Worth the hard days, the hard weeks, the hard months, the hard years.  Marriage is worth the humbling act of saying 'I'm sorry'. Marriage is worth the dirty laundry not in the laundry basket and the empty water glass on the nightstand and the remnants of grass scattered through the living room.  Marriage is worth letting some things go to make room for relationship and forgiveness and love.  Marriage is worth it all.

I am taking a risk here, but I would venture to say that marriage is the greatest gift God gave us on earth, besides Jesus of course.  I know it's mine.

So, Happy Anniversary, love.  You're simply my greatest and best adventure.

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