Sharing the Love: Road Trippin' with Littles

We just returned from a twelve day journey around the state of Iowa and Wisconsin.  We experienced a lot of incredible places right here in the Midwest.  We tried new restaurants and slept in different beds.  We traveled to the middle of Tourist Trap USA and roasted hot dogs in the middle of nowhere Iowa while staying in a log cabin.  And we endured lots and lots and lots of tears and sibling disputes.  #keepingitreal

Yes, our road trip was equal parts magical and hard.  It was amazing to be together nonstop for twelve days and also a teensy bit crazy.  It stretched us and challenged us and made us a more united family.  It was probably one of my most favorite trips of all time, some because of the slowness of it and mostly because I was with my people.  And we stayed within a seven hour drive of our house.  Proof that you don't have to travel far to have a good time.

Our trip started off seeing family.  Our home base for four days was at my brother-in-law and sister-in-law's home in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.  We saw great-grandparents and the kids were able to play with their cousins for three nights in a row.  It was a full four days, but so worth it to see our babes make memories with extended family members.

Next, we headed to New Glarus, Wisconsin to an old farm house.  The kids played for hours upon hours on the tire swings outside and we enjoyed visiting some coffee houses and breweries in the area.  I'll be honest, this wasn't my favorite stop, mainly because of the VRBO we were staying in, but it was good for me to be out of my comfort zone.  My mom came for a night (she was in the area) so Kevin and I could go out for a day date.  Bacon and eggs every morning made us feel like we were living on a working farm.  We also were able to visit a dairy farm and milk a cow and feed a calf.  Who knew that the most exciting thing would not be bottle feeding a calf, but playing with baby kittens?

After New Glarus we went to the Wisconsin Dells where we stayed at Great Wolf Lodge for two nights.  Guys, the kids couldn't get enough of it.  It was our first time and they loved it.  It is sensory overload, for sure, but getting a cabana helped and so did a set of grandparents.  Kevin's parents came to the Dells to help and it made our time there so much more enjoyable.

Our last spot was Fort Atkinson, Iowa near Decorah.  We stayed in a real life log cabin.  It was comfy, tastefully decorated, and had every amenity for a family of five.  The home was surrounded by woods and corn fields and we roasted hot dogs and marshmallows and enjoyed it immensely.  I might have had to visit an optometrist at this stop because I had a small glass bead in my eye (so random), but it was still one of my favorite parts of the trip.  I'm already trying to talk Kevin into a weekend getaway to that very spot sometime in the future.

I think the #1 thing I learned from our time away from home as a family was it was worth it.  It was most definitely hard, but so worth the uncomfortable mattresses, endless sibling arguments in the back seat, and living out of a suitcase.  The uninterrupted time together as a family was priceless, so was seeing our kids stretch themselves in the water at Great Wolf Lodge and figuring out that in fact Luke can sleep in a big bed off the floor all by himself.  I also learned that it's okay to be uncomfortable and not let my OCD get the best of me.  Kevin and I both learned to bite our tongues when things got a little hairy.  (This is what saved us.)  Although I would not classify those twelve days as a vacation at all, it was most certainly a trip that I will look back on fondly for a long time.

And the second most important thing I learned on the trip: take lots of family pictures.  GUYS, I did not get a good family picture over our span of twelve days in the car together.  I got precisely one family picture, you can see at the top of this post where Luke is hiding and Lily's face is still scarred from her run in with a poisonous plant in our yard.  What the what?  I know.  How is that possible, you ask?  I think it's because I have three babes?  I think it's because my husband isn't into pictures?  I think it's because I was more worried about nap time than a cute family picture on Instagram?  I think it's absolutely because I just kept forgetting.  Ugh!  Next road trip I will be that woman asking strangers to take pictures of her family at a random rest stop because no child is crying at that very moment.  Lesson learned.  

We are already dreaming up our next trip together as a family and if it is anything like this one, it will be just what we need when we need it.

No one realizes how beautiful it is to travel until he comes home and rests his head on his old, familiar pillow. -Lin Yutang

How lovely it is to travel and how lovely it is to come home.


Sunny Saturday: Road Trip Edition

Road trip.  Two weeks on the road, away from our beds, exploring small town Iowa and Wisconsin.  That is exactly what we have been up to the past twelve days.  We have finally returned home and you have no idea how much you miss your bed until you're away from it.  We love being on the road, but coming home just feels right.  

On our trip no one had to go to the emergency room (just an optometrist appointment for me), no one lost their cool (mostly), and no one decided to leave the group.  A win-win-win. 

I will share more details of our trip in another post, but today I’m sharing some things that made life on the road a bit sunnier.

Jen has done it again.  I can’t put down her newest book, Of Mess and Moxie.  It is absolutely what I expected of Jen Hatmaker, except, as always, much much better.  I have nodded my head and laughed out loud and gotten that true, deep down feeling that someone else completely gets my life.  Thanks Jen for writing the words my brain is thinking and my soul is feeling. 

Queen Annes Lace has made our driving so sweet and beautiful.  The ivory blooms are sprouting along every highway and interstate and I’m absolutely not tired of seeing them.  I did the unthinkable and pulled over to pick some to place in a glass at the VRBO we stayed in last few week.  These blooms make me happy.

Small town bakeries.  My heart of hearts loves a good bakery.  The smell of fresh bread and sweet pies and cookies and brownies makes me feel like I’m exactly where I should be.  The past few weeks I was able to visit a few bakeries and enjoy cherry donut holes (my very favorite donut), a kitchen sink cookie, a turnover, a scone, chocolate cake, and other calories I am trying to forget.  I had to hold myself back from taking home a whole pie to feed my crew for dinner.

This trip included lots of family time with a sprinkle of seeing friends.  Although the time with family wasn’t long, it was much needed and filled my bucket.  Our kids playing with their cousins and seeing their great grandparents was super special.  We played in parks, went on boat rides, ate brownies in our pajamas, and learned how to fish and hunt for eggs that hens have layed.  My prayer is our babies will remember moments of this time with our family.

This is no secret, but my husband is a rock star.  As I write this, I am sitting at a bakery eating that kitchen sink cookie and having an hour to myself.  The kids are at the farmhouse napping and he shooed me out of the house to go enjoy some time away.  I wouldn’t want to do a two week road trip with three babes with anyone but him.  Bless his sweet little heart.

I hope you are having a Sunny Saturday wherever you may be today.  We are going to be enjoying home sweet home as much as we can.  Hope you have a Sunny Saturday, all!


Sunny Saturday

Glorious week.  It's been a week to remember for a few reasons: A date with my husband.  Another date with my husband.  Three trips to the doctor.   (Yikes.) A Starbucks date with myself.  When it rains, it pours, and this week has been a storm of loveliness (and doctor visits).  Note: my babes are fine, we just had a run in with some weird plant outside.

Today I'm sharing some things that made my week a tad bit sunnier.

The Turquoise Table by Kristin Schell.  What an incredible book with a powerful, relatable message about hospitality.  Although knowing my neighbors looks a bit different when my closest one is a half mile away, it is still an inspiring book about how to love the people in your everyday.

I love a good latte from Starbucks.  Unfortunately, I live about 25 minutes from the nearest one.  Fortunately, I found this yummy One Touch Latte in a can and it does the trick on mornings I'm not headed to the city.  I have tried a lot of 'at home' latte recipes and this can that looks like whipped cream is the real deal.  It makes my morning quiet time extra sweet.

Au Courant.  If you're a local and love French food, you have probably already been here.  This week Kevin and I checked it out for the first time and GUYS it was fantastic.  My friend, Carrie, recommended it and she always has the best recommendations.  Kevin and I tend to go to our tried and true places on date night, but we decided to mix it up this week.  I learned my lesson: trying new places is good.  Check this place out for a date night if you're in Omaha.

Our Summer Bucket List has been mastered and we had so much fun making our dreams come true the past three months.  We are about to embark on a road trip and we wanted to finish this up before we left.  I love summer, but I am also super stoked about the cooler temperatures, pumpkin patch play dates, and weather that warrants a warm cup in my hands.  Summer, you were good to us, but bring on fall!

All the flowers are disappearing on the farm, but these beauties are still hanging around.  This tall sedom turns a dusty red in August and September and although they aren't known for being cut flowers, I bring them inside anyway. My friend, Bri, had some in her kitchen once and I thought it was brilliant. #ihaveawesomefriends  With not much in bloom right now, these will make my kitchen pretty without spending any dough.

I hope you have a Sunny Saturday wherever you may be today!  We are spending time with family as we get ready to dedicate our little man tomorrow.  Have a great weekend!



Comparison is the thief of joy. -Theodore Roosevelt

Comparison has been haunting me lately.  I honestly didn't realize it until I was at our local swimming hole and realized I was embarrassed to take off my t-shirt and shorts because, well, my body birthed a nine pound baby six months ago.  I saw other moms in suits that had flat tummies and sculpted arms and waxed bikini lines.  All I could think about was how ashamed I was of the body I inhabit.  Instead of swimming with my kids, I was stuck on the sidelines thinking about how I need to throw away every ounce of chocolate in my house when I get home.

Comparison also caught up with me when I was visiting a dear friend.  She has a beautifully dressed home and everything seems to have the perfect place.  Her art is neatly hung and her knick knacks are Anthropologie-esque.  As much as I enjoyed this sweet friend's conversation, I left feeling slightly less-than.

Comparison fights for my attention almost daily on Instagram and Facebook and Pinterest.

My problem with comparison even showed up when I was having a conversation with my husband about how a certain friend seems to have it all together.  He confidently told me, "Babe, there will always be people that have more than us and people that have less than us.  We have to find what's right for our family."

Boy, I needed to hear those words.

This comparison battle is rooted deep in my brain and heart.  It started when I was an elementary kid begging my parents for a pair of Guess shorts and continued into high school when I wanted a new car and my hair a certain way (not brown and frizzy) and wishing the 'cool' kids at school would invite me to their parties on Saturday night.

Honestly, I thought I was over the comparison thing once I hit thirty.  I finally felt confident in the person God created me to be and was trying to live out His perfect plan for me.  So, you can imagine my surprise when I felt the unwelcome feelings of inferiority the past few months.  It's still there, sneaking up on me, trying to steal my joy.

I am genuinely happy for the moms with hot bods and the friend who loves decorating and the women on Instagram who are posting the most beautiful pictures of their babes and families.  They are living their life authentically and I am happy for them.  Aha moment, I'm not so happy with me.

I have started to pray about this comparison problem and have asked God to heal my brain and my heart from the lies it sometimes tells.  I want to be joyful and confident and free from the ridiculousness that is comparison.  And I know that I know that I know I will have to be intentional about refusing to listen to the voice in my head telling me I'm not enough.

Kevin doesn't mind my squishy, mommy midsection.  My babes don't care whether I have a curated living room.  And you better believe not one of my people care what my Instagram feed looks like on a daily basis.  Oh, and the God of the universe loves me in spite of all my failures and shortcomings and negative self talk.  They love me and I need to start loving me more, as I am.

Comparison is the thief of joy.  And I don't want to waste one more precious moment thinking about what I don't have and be joyful about what I do have.  I refuse to let the dirty lie of comparison steal the joy that God has placed in my life: my family, my friends, and my faith.

A flower does not think of competing with the flower next to it.  It just blooms.

I need to just start blooming already.


Half a Year

Half a year this babe has been in our lives.  Half a year of cuddles, nursing, smiles, sleep deprivation, giggles, bottles, diaper changes, and lots of lots of 'I love yous'.  This is one loved little man.  Not only do Kevin and I shower him with love whenever we can, but Luke and Lily fight over who gets to give him a kiss and hug first when he goes down for a nap.  I'm not sure that will last forever, but for now it is the sweetest thing.

Jude is changing and growing everyday.  Here is what he has been up to this past month...
  • Crawling. Everywhere.  Jude is on the move and we officially have to keep the gate to the stairs closed.  He loves exploring and trying to keep up with his brother and sister.
  • Jude loves to eat.  I am not keeping up with him as much as I want to, so he is getting a few bottles throughout the day to satisfy his appetite.
  • Our babe sleeps two good stretches during the day and goes to bed around 7:00 and sleeps until 7:00 the next morning with one feeding somewhere around 3:00 a.m.  We have gotten lucky a few times and he has slept all the way through the night.
  • This kid is about as easy going as it gets.  He is laid back and up for everything and anything.  God love him.
  • Jude is known for leaving a trail of slobber and spit up in his path.  
  • Staring up at the trees and the sky is one of his favorite things to do. He is an outdoorsman at heart.
  • Bath time and a bottle before bed is the time Kevin and Jude get to bond. He loves his Daddy.
  • Jude enjoys being in someone's arms almost as much as he enjoys crawling. He will cozy up to whomever will give him attention.
  • Food is on our radar.  Jude has tried bananas and avocado, but is not a big fan of either.  We give him big pieces to mash in his mouth and he uses them more for entertainment purposes than nutritional purposes.

Our littlest man is such a joy.  He gives us a reason to smile and laugh and be thankful every single day.  It's hard to remember what our family was like without him and we just don't want to.  We love him to pieces.  Now if we can just get time to slow down a bit.

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