Tuesday, April 30, 2013
I knew it was about to be a good weekend when Friday afternoon started with a pitcher of 312 (with extra lemons) on the back patio at Mulligans. The mercury scale hit 65 on Friday and I swear the entire town shut down. It's been a long awaited spring and the bike paths, beer gardens, and dairy queens were packed with Iowans desperate for some fresh air and warm sun.
Thankfully, this warm weekend coincided with a free calendar for our clan, creating ample opportunities to get outside and enjoy what we've been so excited for. And after a stressful week at work, it was wonderful to put it all away and catch a glimpse of a summer break that's inching its way closer all the time.
Friday brought Mulligans' patio, followed by samosas at Taste of India, a walk before bed, and a new series on TV. We've officially jumped on The Walking Dead bandwagon, people! Zombie apocalypse, anyone?!
Saturday started with a quiet morning downtown, strolling the parkade, peeking in candy stores, and sipping bloody marys and chocolate milk at Soho. Then, we took Cruz to Scheels to practice his bike riding skills at a Strider bike promo course. Our cousin, Jillian is the event coordinator for the new humungous Scheels in town, and it's fun to have a new ear to the many events she is planning. Although Cruz has a while to go before he's doing flips on his Strider bike, he did walk away with his first gold (participation) ribbon and better yet, a checkered flag tattoo on his forearm. I warned Jill that he may freak out, but he surprised us all with quite the opposite reaction. Dude liked his tat and showed it off to pretty much everyone the rest of the weekend.
After Scheels, groceries, and a cruise through town, we ended up back home, meandering in and out of the house for the remainder of the day. It felt wonderful to open windows, walk around the driveway with bare feet, and let Cruz get reacquainted with his backyard again. We grilled some flank steak fajitas, a summertime staple around here, and served them with a new strawberry salsa recipe I snagged on epicurious.
Sunday was glorious. One of my favorite days. After church and some soccer in the backyard, Cruz helped his dad hook up the bikes while Mom packed park essentials for the afternoon.
We rode bikes most of the afternoon. Our little town has the best network of bike trails and it's our goal to make good use of them this summer. We purchased our bike trailer the first summer after Cruz was born and quickly realized his little neck wasn't quite sturdy enough for the trails that year! Last year was much better; however, this year was the first summer that he actually got it. He sat up tall, looked out the sides and pointed out trains and trucks and parks, and soon fell asleep against the tower of pillows I stacked next to him. He had quite the little set up back there, giving Beau and I some time to cover some distance on our wheels.
We detoured at Gateway Park for most of the afternoon, playing on the park equipment, walking along the river, and snacking on strawberries and rice krispie treats in the sun. It's so fun to see how much Cruz has changed comparing him from one season to the next. He loved the park last year, but this year is an entirely different ballgame for him. He can climb the makeshift rock wall, swing from the bars, and scoot down the slides without anyone there to catch him. And the best part? He plays. Makes every landing area a 'room' of his house and yells 'Umi-Zoomi!' before going down every slide. It was so fun to watch him wave at us from atop the tower and attempt to make friends with other little people. He made quite the connection with another little boy named, Noah, and the two of them cheered one another on as they took turns climbing the rock wall. It was precious.
After we lured Cruz away from the park, we took one last detour on our way home - an important one for crunch cones and cherry dip cones at Dairy Queen. Cruz finished his entire cone by himself, even though a good portion of that ended up on his face instead of in his mouth! There's something about an ice cream cone that makes me abandon all common sense logic. The messier he is, the more he enjoyed it!
After making our way home, all three of us took a late afternoon nap in our bed. I felt summer all around us. The feeling of our sun-kissed skin on crisp bed sheets, the warm breeze making its way through our window screen, and the look of Cruz's sticky face and wind-swept hair on my pillow was exactly what I love most about this next season of summer. After all, it's much easier to talk myself into washing bed sheets when you can dry them on the clothesline.
We ended the weekend with burgers on the grill, a sudsy bath, a new pair of summer pajamas for Cruz, and some Game of Thrones before bed. I went to bed tired, but refreshed, and fell asleep dreaming up our summer bucket list.
Although it may have only been a glimpse, a taste of summer is all we needed to refresh our spirits and give us something to believe in.
And did you smell this morning's rain storm? Amazing!
Thursday, April 25, 2013
Wednesday, April 24, 2013
I dropped Cruz off at daycare this morning and apologized to Tricia about forgetting diapers yesterday, half blaming it on Beau and half blaming it on our abnormally busy week:
"Beau's gone for a few days, so it's just the two us 'til Sunday," I told Tricia, justifying my actions.
"Enjoy every minute of your special weekend," she said with a smile on her face, likely recalling her own memories of similar times with her now grown children.
It was the best advice I'd heard all week.
I always fret a few days before Beau is going to be gone. He doesn't go away very often, which probably explains why I get a little tense thinking about holding down the fort without my other half here to balance the load at home. But every time this happen, I surprise myself and am quickly reminded that these are special little opportunities to bond with my boy and focus on nothing but creating special memories with him. And after a week of scary headlines and cloudy skies, I was ready for nothing more than a breather from the day-to-days and an opportunity to soak up this special time with my boy.
Our weekend started at the library. Typically, when we go to the library, I have visions of snuggling up in secret corners of the building, reading books and being carried away to faraway places only known to the two of us. Realistically, however, our library time is usually spent inside the play house in the children's section of the library with me attempting to convince Cruz to read with me and Cruz attempting to convince me to play in the house with him. As ironic as it sounds, when I feel like reading with Cruz, we usually stay away from the library.
This time, however, it was different. And if it was any prequel to the rest of my weekend, I more than ready to get started. I started at the other end of the library and quickly realized Cruz had forgotten about the cool play things that existed just feet away. We scoured the shelves, grabbing books about dinosaurs and pirates and baseball, and you know what? We read. Tucked away in our own little corner of the universe, Cruz scooted up next to me, and gently rubbed his fingers along the top of my hand the way he does when he's absorbed in a good book. Of course, we couldn't leave without reconnecting with our favorite play house, and stayed until closing time, playing trains, putting puzzles together, and laughing at the silly sleeping fish in the fish tank. We had nowhere to be and all the time in the world.
After I let Cruz swipe the books all by himself, we stopped by Little Caesar's for a cheese pizza to go with a new movie we checked out. Since this weekend was special, we abandoned our kitchen table and had ourselves a carpet picnic while we ate pizza out of the box and snuggled in for our movie. We watched Brave, a Disney Pixar movie with a little red-haired Irish girl and a Mumford and Sons song at the end, aka, the best movie ever.
Cruz was his usual self, completely engrossed and fascinated. Towards the end of the movie, at Disney's famous this-is-sad-but-about-to-end-really-happy part, I looked over at Cruz and saw his big brown eyes welling up with tears. And then, as Merida reunited with her mom, Cruz buried his sweet face into the nook of my arm, holding tight, trying his very best to hide his quiet sobs. It's astonishing to me how much he understands. What I wouldn't give to step inside his sweet little head and look at the world through his eyes.
Saturday morning started with another one of our library finds, If You Give a Moose a Muffin, followed by our own batch of chocolate chip muffins for breakfast. After muffins, I decided that since it was once again too cold to explore the season of spring outside, I might as well bring it inside. I made Cruz a sensory bin and filled it with lots of springtime essentials: a bag of top soil, some rocks, a few flowers, some garden utensils, and Cruz's construction trucks. It took him a little while to figure out that I was actually encouraging him to play with dirt in the house, but once he got over the initial preoccupation with being messy, he had a ball. We made a big mountain for his cars to drive over, buried the rocks and planted some quinoa seeds for fun. I doubt they'll grow, but we're watering them anyway.
After a bath and a quick vacuum of the kitchen floor, we participated in a little study of bugs. We read some books about bugs, went on a bug hunt around the house, and made our own little caterpillar friends with an egg carton, some paint, and some pipe cleaners. I found these bug nets in the dollar bin at Target and hid the bugs like Easter eggs. Then, after counting to ten, Cruz used his net to collect the bugs he found. We practiced colors and counting, and celebrated our bug hunt success with an afternoon snack of Oreos and milk.
Saturday night, we met Papa Curt and Grandma Kelly and took Cruz to two of his favorite places in town: Target and Menards. We looked at every toy in the aisles at Target and had an even better time at Menards, hiding in the showers and trying out the bathtubs. Cruz's recent favorite phrase to us every morning is, "Go take a shower!" so there were many opportunities to make his demands known at Menards. We didn't make it to Cruz's other favorite sections of the store - the outdoor furniture and door section - for fear we'd never get him out of there.
After two successful nights' sleep, I decided to get up Sunday morning and take Cruz to church. Going to church by myself was a first for me, and I was glad to have a chance to renew my spirit and thank God for being very present this weekend. He was there through every bit of it, whether here, or with the people on the East Coast, thankfully able to sleep a little better than the nights before.
I've been feeling emotional all weekend, so blessed for these special days with Cruz. Someday, just like Tricia said, I will look back on these days as some of the most special. It's easy to get caught up in the future, to lose sight of the happy that exists right in front of our face. This weekend, my focus remained on my present, this little boy whose entire world involves his family, a few books before bed, and a date night to Menards. It's really that simple.
And as much as we miss that daddy of ours and can't wait to reunite with our family of three, I'm thankful for this reminder that my most important job in the world involves making this little boy happy. It's an easy task as long as I remember to pay attention.