Tuesday, May 21, 2019


For Memorial Day weekend last year we drove four hours north to Minneapolis, where we hadn't been before (except for Peter, who'd been there on business). We went twice to a fun ninja gym that the boys had been wanting to try out, and we spent a day at the colossal Mall of America, mostly in the indoor theme park. 

They had the gym to themselves!

The Nickelodeon theme park at the Mall of America was a lot of fun. The rides were good!



The area where the theme park is used to be a major league ball park! 

Sam coveted this huge rollercoaster set at the Lego store. Lucky him--he ended up getting it last Christmas from my dad! 

While Sam and I were at the Lego store, John spotted Drew Drechsel of American Ninja Warrior fame wandering around in the theme park. ANW happened to be taping in Minneapolis that weekend. Drew was super nice! 
John ended up doing competitions at both of Drew's gyms in Connecticut last fall, and the boys both got to meet him (again for John) and get autographed shirts at one of those competitions. We're looking forward to seeing him on the new season of the show (which starts next week!).

I shopped a little in the mall but didn't come close to covering all of it. I discovered a sleep lotion at Lush that I've been using ever since that I really like, so that's my claim to fame from the Mall of America. 

On Monday morning (Memorial Day), I drove the boys and I the four hours home while Peter flew to his next business destination from Minneapolis. I was a little anxious about driving out of Minneapolis alone (city driving makes me nervous!) but it was fine. It was a fun little trip!

Monday, May 20, 2019

Ode to My Beautiful Yard!

Our yard in Iowa was one of the reasons we chose the house we bought. The property was ideally situated at the bottom of a long cul-de-sac and it was almost completely bordered by fields and woods. It was one of the first houses in the neighborhood to be built and it got the prime spot. The backyard especially had so much space and privacy and there were beautiful blooming flowers and trees throughout the year, but especially in the spring. Our last full month there was in May when the yard tends to be at its very best. It felt like it was saying to me, "Are you really going to leave me? Really?" Sadly, the answer was yes. 

Prepare for yard pictures overload! And in the interest of being a good editor, I deleted a lot of them!

The bright green sweep of the backyard

"Is this heaven? No, it's Iowa!" (from Field of Dreams)

In the front yard overlooking the field on the left side of the house

The side yard going down into the backyard sometimes resembled a park. Our yard guys were good.

I took this picture at the very back of the backyard, looking toward the house (stating the obvious).

When we moved here in the summer of 2010, Sam was only ten months old and I remember him crawling around in the grass in the backyard on his chubby little legs and arms, and John was my cute little soon-to-be kindergartener who'd run and play around him. How much they grew in eight years, and how much they played in this yard as they grew!

This was one of my favorite views from the backyard looking into the side field.

We had the swingset and big sandbox put in in the summer of 2011. It was totally worth it! It got used A LOT!

More clean green sweeps of lawn 😍


Okay, I'm now officially homesick for Iowa once again!

Friday, May 17, 2019

Five Things for Friday

1. I got my first-ever gel manicure last Saturday. It looked great for about two days. But by Tuesday, I'd peeled the polish off three nails because it was starting to come loose on the sides and it was bugging me. By Wednesday, they were all off. So much for lasting for two weeks! Next time I think I'll stick with a regular manicure. 

2. I sent out an e-mail to my book club group about the book we're reading for June, which was the book I'd chosen that luckily got voted onto the list for the year. It's The Hired Girl by Laura Amy Schlitz and it's really good. I included a link to the New York Times review about the book and that review includes one of the funniest lines from the story that's been making me smile all week when I think of it. When the main character gets her first kiss and is completely besotted and thinks it will lead to her and the guy getting married, she says, “I wonder how married men go off to work every morning, when they could stay home and kiss their wives.” 😂 

3. I was reading the town paper this week and randomly John was in it! His name was listed for being selected to be part of the district band, which he had to audition for. Out of 600 kids who tried out, he got in. Their concert was a couple of weeks ago and it was outstanding. John is very good at trombone! (Especially since he hardly ever practices!)

Another achievement for John is that this week he found out he qualified for States for the hurdles! 🙌

4. Not to get controversial but this has been on my mind and I want to write something about it. It was in the news this week that the birth rate in the U.S. has reached a record low and now it's below what's needed to maintain a steady population. Guess what? Abortion has also been in the news in this week. Could there be a connection? I genuinely wonder if there is. I applaud Alabama's restrictive new law banning abortion because I'm ardently against abortion, which I believe to be the taking of human life and killing the completely helpless and innocent in its grossest and most selfish form. It's a tragic irony that our birth rate is stalling out yet millions of babies are aborted each year. 

Abortion was the deciding factor for me when nine years ago I decided to become a registered Republican rather than the Independent that I was for years before that. I cannot support a party that actively advocates for abortion rights. I believe that abortion is one of the most shameful and evil things the U.S. does on the scale that it does it, that Roe v. Wade was a huge triumph for the forces of evil in this world, and that we as a society will one day be held accountable for the mass murder that has been taking place here for decades, when we'll have to ask ourselves "What were we thinking?" I truly think it will take generations of fighting against it, just like what happened with slavery and civil rights, when the general population will finally realize how wrong and immoral and unjust it is. I'm sorry, but women's rights do not trump human rights. I'm all about the right to choose in a democracy but some things are off limits--like killing people. And that should include babies in the womb. 

(I know that there are all sorts of serious issues around banning abortion (the mother's life being in danger, rape, etc.), and what to do with all the unwanted babies that would be born or babies born into horrible conditions. They are valid concerns--hardly any of which justify the killing of babies--and there are some good ideas and programs out there to address them (not to mention ADOPTION--there are many couples with infertility challenges or who for other reasons would adopt these babies in a heartbeat, no pun intended). I've been researching the issue and I truly believe there are real and viable solutions out there. But the simplest solution of all is that people take full responsibility for the choices they make.) 

5. Yard challenges. The pool was opened this week but won't be usable for another couple of weeks. Right now the water is brown and gross-looking and cold.

I put birdfeeders up on a tree in the backyard a few weeks ago but the squirrels were getting to them so I put them on hooks on the front porch, but now the porch has scattered birdseed all over it as well as some bird poop splatters. I don't know what to do!

It looks nice, but...

...the floorboards are a mess!

Yesterday was quite the time-consuming adventure of getting a big 5-piece fire pit set from BJ's to the house, as well as a new storm door for the front door from Lowe's. Thank goodness for my big bad SUV. And thank goodness for my handyman. I need to call him to put the fire pit set together and install the new storm door.
I love that guy! 🔨

Thursday, May 16, 2019

April Showers Brought May Flowers

Our yard in Iowa got some very pretty blooms in the spring. These pictures are from last May, which was one of the prettiest months around the yard, if not the prettiest. Honestly it sometimes felt like our very own Garden of Eden!

 I loved the two magnolia trees in the front. They were the first to bloom in the spring.

 And this pretty tree in the side yard. I don't know what this one was, but it had such lovely little flowers. 

And lilacs, one of my favorites!

Another favorite. Oh what am I saying, they're all my favorites! 

The "popcorn popping" tree 


 The above two trees side by side.
 And some pretty blooms in the rocks, bringing to mind the phrase "Bloom where you're planted."

Even though we don't live there anymore, I'm happy knowing that all of those flowers are still blooming where they were planted (barring drastic action on the part of the new owners, that is!).