Wednesday, May 31, 2017


"a portrait of each of my children, once each week, in 2017."

Cruz: We watched Moana this weekend and you have claimed it as your favorite Disney movie of all time.  I loved when you said, "The music is just so powerful!"  You are a boy after my heart.  

Mila: You love your "brudder" a whole lot lately.  Now that the weather's warmer, Cruz likes his shirt off.  And that means two minutes later, you want yours off too.  After feeling free as a near-naked bird while fishing, you excitedly exclaimed, "Mommy, now take your shirt off!"       

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Summer Bucket List Time!

Bare feet on cool green grass, coconut sunscreen on shoulders and sun-kissed cheeks, sun tea and deck suppers and pretty sunsets and chilled white wine under the stars...summer is officially here and I am once again rejoicing over the familiar sounds of geese that fly over our house every night and the fresh blank canvas that awaits us every morning, ours to paint with all the vibrant colors of the season.

I've been preparing my mind, my heart, and my house for a summer at home with Cruz and Mila, cleaning closets and planting seeds, jotting down thoughts, and making lists.  I just finished Sara Avent Stover's The Way of the Happy Woman, and have been reminded of how much the four seasons can align with our rhythms and our bodies, helping us live a more intentional and balanced life.  Stover says this about the summer:

"Just as a child savors each day of her summer vacation, counting down the days until her return to school, we also must become more present and more attuned to the warmth, colorfulness, fecundity, and juiciness of this season through even the simplest of pleasures. Enjoy walks in the morning air, yoga outdoors, lunches in the park, moments to watch the sun rise and set, bike rides through the country, candlelit dinners on the deck, or afternoons spent swimming and sunning at the beach or pool.  Even indulging in quick snapshots of summer can do it: sip a fresh juice, sunbathe on the deck during lunch, or wear a bright color to work.  The season invites us to bring more enthusiasm, warmth, extroversion, and joy into our daily lives, to be as energetic as children.  We can stay up late and wake up early, like the sun.  We can splash in swimming holes or nap under the shaded canopy of a big tree.  We can bite into a ripe mango or a juicy peach."

One of my favorite ways to indulge in this summertime season is crafting a summer bucket list.  Every year, as winter thaws and signs of spring start to show, I start daydreaming and jotting down both favorite traditions and new adventures to embark on in the summer.  Then at the dinner table, I share a few of my ideas and invite Beau, Cruz, and Mila to contribute.  These ideas keep us creative, help us to diversify, and I love how they have grown over the years with our kids, our community, our abilities, and our interests.  There are some staples that will forever make the list - strawberry picking and fishing and Movies Under the Moon, but I'm always surprised that every year we come up with new adventures we can look forward to together.  And this might just be my favorite list yet.  

I found some tags and summertime stickers at Hobby Lobby, laid our supplies out on the table, and put together fifty tags to hang with little clothespins on our chalkboard.  Every time we check an idea off the list, we can remove the tag.  I think it will be fun for the kids to see the garland become a little more sparse as we collect sunshine and memories of our adventures along the way.


So without further adieu, here is our 2017 Summer Bucket List...

1. Go for an early morning walk before the rest of the house is up
2. Mom and Dad date night!
3. Go to the zoo!
4. Plant a cut flower garden
5. Have a trampoline popcorn and movie night
6. Cruz and Mom / Mila and Dad date night
7. Mila and Mom / Cruz and Dad date night
8. Pack a picnic and climb to the top of Prairie Lakes’ hill
9. Movies Under the Moon – Big Hero Six
10. Make homemade biscuits
11. Make homemade jelly
12. Make some all-natural cleaners for around the house
13. Make smoothies for breakfast
14. Visit the UNI Botanical Center
15. Go crafting at Hatchlings and Hens
16. Play on the beach
17. Adult bike ride to the new Singlespeed
18. Waterloo splash pad – meet Daddy for happy hour at Singlespeed
19. Driving range and Cherry Creek nachos on the patio
20. Host a seafood boil party
21. Go strawberry picking
22. Explore the new school
23. Host an outdoor movie night
24. Journal and read under a shade tree
25. Field trip to Hillcrest Farms
26. Make a summertime music playlist
27. Margarita happy hour on the driveway
28. Stain our swing set
29. Cousin sleepover
30. Build a fairy garden with Mila
31. Go fishing
32. Make homemade bubbles
33. Summer tea party
34. Host a playdate with Cruz’s friends from Blessed Beginnings
35. Read some fiction
36. Find a new park to explore with the kids
37. Go see Cars 3 in the theater
38. Family bike ride
39. Have tea with a friend at The Tea Cellar
40. Go on a bakery adventure
41. Breakfast burritos at Cottonwood
42. Water play on the trampoline
43. Try a cupcake shake from Scratch
44. Donate some books to our neighborhood lending library
45. Camping Trip
46. Family game night
47. Go to a Iowa Cubs or Chicago Cubs game
48. Try affogato
49. Go to Lost Island Waterpark
50. Go to a Saturday morning yoga class at the Waterloo Amphitheatre

Remember, this should be the most fun list you ever put together!
See this as a list to keep you inspired and give you ideas of 
things to do as the novelty of summer wears off a bit.  We've
never actually crossed every item off our list ever and often just
add those to the next year's list if they still apply.  No
pressure, just fun! For more ideas or inspiration, a few of our
past bucket lists: 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013.

Monday, May 29, 2017


"a portrait of each of my children, once each week, in 2017."

Cruz: I know it's not the best picture, but an adorable snapshot that reminds me you are still little and still just who you are.  We did a Kiwi Crate Sunday afternoon and created three instruments: an xylophone, a tambourine, and a ribbon wand for dancing.  Thinking Mila would love to twirl around with the ribbon wand, I was mistaken when you were the one very interested in this!  We watched some ribbon dancing on youtube, you asked for the dancing song from Peanuts, and you showed off your mad dancing skills for us.  You've got some moves, and I've got a video or two to prove it!

Mila: You had dance pictures last week and loved wearing your ladybug costume you will wear in a few weeks at recital.  I'm not sure either one of us were quite prepared for this new world of dance, and I'm interested to see how you respond to the bright lights and big stage at Gallagher.  So far, you aren't too keen on showing us any of your dancing number and get completely shy when I ask you to.  You appear to be most content twirling in your twirly dresses, unbridled and free.  Maybe just as you're meant to be.   

Friday, May 26, 2017


"a portrait of my children, once each week, in 2017"

Cruz: When I checked your ClassDojo app Friday afternoon as I sat in the school parking lot, I saw a red "warning" point with a description of "inappropriate language."  When I got you in the car, I asked you what that was all about and you replied with big eyes and a whisper of "I don't want to talk about it."  After a bit of prying, I learned you had a substitute teacher and a first grade helper come to practice spelling words with you and your classmates in the hallway.  When it was your turn to go in the hallway, this first grader asked you to spell the word, "but".  To which you replied to him, "You mean b-u-t-t, butt?"  This boy did not find the humor you were going for, and proceeded to tattle on you to the sub.  After a stern talking to and a red warning point to match, I would say you learned your lesson.  And as you told me this story in the most serious of tones, I had to do my best not to laugh, quite relieved the inappropriate word we were talking about was your butt and not something else!

Mila: Your latest favorite phrase is, "I can handle this, mommy!"  You are still fiery, but there is a softness I'm starting to see more often than not, and it's making me so very excited for summer break.  More of those big blue eyes telling me about the world and all you're going to do in it.  

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Mother's Day Weekend

I had a special Mother's Day weekend, one of my favorites yet.  We woke up Saturday morning in our hotel in Des Moines, rested, happy, and a bit relieved after a wonderful wedding day for Taylor and Kate.  The kids got in one more hour at the pool, we said goodbye to our families, and our own little family of four packed up the Highlander and headed for downtown, hopeful to wander around the Des Moines Farmers Market for awhile before heading home.

The weather was beautiful again, and we soon realized that it looked like most of Des Moines had similar Farmer's Market plans.  After spending most of the previous day corralling kids, we decided to skip the crowds and find our own adventure where the kids could be a bit more free.  We ended up exploring the Des Moines Sculpture Park and letting the kids run like the wind on the large green space.  It felt good to take in the morning, let the kids roam, and see some pretty neat art while we were at it.

Mila had to go potty and we soon found ourselves in the nearby Fighting Burrito.  Because we had our hearts set on tacos at the Farmer's Market, we decided to call this a sign and order burritos to go.  Without a blanket, wet wipes, or any plans for a picnic in the park, we found a place across the street that seemed perfect for an impromptu lunch in the sun.  We sat with our toes in a little canal that reached across two city blocks, and soon enjoyed our own little splash pad. 

After lunch, we decided it was time to head back to Cedar Falls, for we had some big plans for our afternoon.  The kids have been saving their pennies for a trampoline since January and this weekend and its summer-like weather gave us the perfect opportunity to set it up.  Beau and I worked together and it took about an hour or so to get it assembled.  And it took all of about five minutes to realized this might be our best kid purchase yet. 

We stayed on our new toy for pretty much the rest of the night.  We ordered pizza and ate it on the trampoline, took turns showing off our best moves, and Beau mastered a front flip.  Since our weekend prior involved lots of hard work landscaping and planting, this seemed like the best reward for our labors.  And tomorrow's agenda included much more of the same!

Sunday morning, I woke up to whispers in the kitchen.  I was soon greeted with all the smiles and Mother's Day hugs, as well as my favorite blueberry donut and an iced coffee from Dunkin, some orchids and a tie dyed rose picked out by Cruz, and a few adorable handmade gifts from my sweet little givers.  Beau attempted to be creative and spell out "MOM" in chocolate syrup on my plate, but soon realized he should have used a flat plate.  Thanks to Cruz's wonderful teacher, I read an impressive essay Cruz wrote about me, and marveled at his drawing and the hard work he put in.  Then we listened to a little Edward Sharpe and got ready for church.

After church, we headed straight for one of my favorite alleyways. :)  My husband knows me well and planned a little family photoshoot, thanks to the tripod and timer button.  It took all of about ten minutes to snap some new pictures of our family, and we soon celebrated with a trip to the new Singlespeed for lunch.  

This place is incredible!  What a wonderful addition to the Cedar Valley!  The long, cafeteria-style dining reminded us of our visit to Surly, but the addition of the kid zone right next to the dining area made every parent/beer drinking dream come true!  We dined on shrimp tacos and chicken and waffles, and walked off the calories along the river where we admired all the revitalizing of this area of Waterloo.  It reminded us of where we hung out the previous day in Des Moines and made us excited for lots more exploring this summer.  

After playing restaurant on the dry splash pad, and performing in Cruz's narration of The Tortoise and the Hare on the amphitheater stage, we headed home for an afternoon in the sun (and on the trampoline).  It was hot and called for swimsuits, sprinkers, beach towels, and sun tea.  We didn't do a thing all afternoon and it was glorious!  Mom and Dad and Grandma and Grandpa stopped by to end our night and we grilled burgers and ate ice cream. 

I feel like a broken record when I say these passing holidays are my favorites, but I really do feel like they keep getting better.  The older I get and the longer I do this motherhood thing, it seems the more comfortable I get in it, and the more comfortable I am in my own skin as well.  These days, with lots of sunshine and no plans other than adventuring and exploring with this tribe of mine, they are my favorite days.  I love them with every piece of my heart and feel so thankful to be their mom.  Even when they are attempting to soak me on the trampoline. ;) herself. ;)


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