Sunday, August 28, 2011

Road Warrior

I think I can officially claim that title after driving down to Tennessee this past week on my own, with the boys. It was 10 hrs of driving plus stops (it took about an hour for lunch and dinner stops with eating and bathroom breaks and diaper changes and letting them run around a bit. We only stopped twice on the way home!) I wanted to get down there before Bennett starts preschool since we most likely wouldn't see my Dad again until October. The drive actually wasn't horrible. I had a huge box of snacks on the passenger seat and would just pass stuff back to them. Dawson's need to look at a new book every 3 minutes definitely got old and annoying but we made it and I didn't regret doing it! I had a big bag of suckers and let Dawson eat probably 10 or 15 on the way home :) We had a lot of fun while we were there and fit in a lot of cool stuff. And the boys love being with their grandparents.

The Memphis Zoo:

These apes ended up completely terrifying Dawson. He was bawling and bawling. He'd never seen any in real life and their human like antics were just a little too weird for him to handle. The rest of the time at the zoo, any animal that got too close to the glass made him cry again.

Buddha bellies:

An amazing playground in the largest Urban park in the US (bigger than Central Park!)--it seemed very futuristic. These pictures won't do it justice. The metal caging you see in the background is a tunnel that winds between the 4 different playscapes (called "nests"). Eventually it'll be covered in vines, like an arbor:

Dawson stayed under this water feature half the time and ended up soaking wet and completely covered in sand:

This "spider web" went on forever and led up to a tree house in the middle:
The Children's Museum--so perfect for their age (sorry, these were all taken on my phone so the quality's not so hot):

Bennett on the weather channel:

Hopefully Bennett learns a new technique for working on his patients if he wants to be a dentist:

It was a fun trip and I was glad the drive wasn't torture! I could probably handle it a couple times a year alone with the boys and I'm sure we'll go down a couple times as a family. It was great getting a taste of my parent's new life down there and the church seems so wonderful. My dad's already fitting in great and loving it. Now I'm hoping for a girl's trip down there with my mother-in-law to help my mom decorate their new house!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Mommy Confessional

I've been feeling guilty lately. Pretty sure my son's brain is slowly turning to mush (does that really happen??). Bennett watches way too much TV. I keep reading parenting articles about limiting screen time to no more than 2 hours a day. Eventually their boredom would propel them to use their imaginations. That sounds like a lot but we're far exceeding that number (gulp). I mean, sure, I could console myself with the fact that we're not nearly as bad as some families who never turn the TV off but the fact is, if we just judged our own success based on other people, I could pretty much slack off on all kinds of stuff and still feel good about my parenting skills.

Bennett, 17 mos:

So anyway, this is how our day goes: Bennett gets up between 7 and 7:30 and goes straight downstairs and knows how to start his own movie. Jon gets up for work and gets Bennett's breakfast before he leaves. I usually sleep til 8 or 8:30 (ideally I'd get up at 7:30 but I'm excusing myself right now due to pregnancy exhaustion) then I get up and take a shower and we're not ready to leave til at least 10 or 11. (Dawson doesn't get up til at least 9.) And the TV has pretty much stayed on the whole morning til we leave.

Then when Dawson goes down for his 3 hour nap, I let Bennett watch TV or play computer games so I can chill and have some me time. So realistically speaking, he was watching at least 6 hours a day!! That's a little sickening. I NEVER wanted to have kids who couldn't entertain themselves or didn't have any imagination.

So earlier this week I made a commitment to myself to turn the TV off in the morning by 10 at the latest (small steps :) and then let Bennett watch 1 movie or play 1 hour of video/computer games during Dawson's nap. The rest of the time will be up to him to entertain himself. The other day we were going to Nana and Poppy's for dinner and Bennett's obsessed with playing Angry Birds on Poppy's iPad so he had to forgo all of his afternoon screen time so he could play the iPad later. It went pretty well and he ended up playing with Lego's for quite a while.

I do realize that as soon as preschool starts, (he's going 4 days in the afternoons) he won't have any screen time besides the morning and also, as Dawson get older, they'll play together better and next year will actually be able to go outside together without me having to supervise Dawson's every move.

I just wanted to throw all this out there for A) some encouragement and accountability in this area and B) possibly for some ideas of some activities for Bennett to do all by himself. I think I should probably get over my hate for huge messes and let him do some painting at home because he does like that. He's never been interested in coloring. I did get a huge Kindergarten workbook (the Brainquest line) at Costco that he likes working through. So anyway...this has just been on my mind a lot lately and hopefully some of you can relate to my struggle!

Saturday, August 13, 2011


This week Jon and I headed to Vegas for 3 days because of a free hotel voucher we had. Neither of us would necessarily choose to visit that city (its a bit overrated) but we've been dying to see Cirque du Soleil's "O" so we figured this would be a perfect opportunity. Well...turns out it was sold out the whole time we were there. Big bummer. But, to make up for that disappointment, Jon had a HUGE surprise for me. When Candy was here in Des Moines several weeks ago, we had suggested the idea of her meeting us in Vegas (since our resort had a separate bedroom and a pull out couch in the living room) but Candy told me it wouldn't work out. Turns out she and Jon were in cahoots the whole time. Jon left me in the middle of a time-share presentation (more on that) because he had a surprise. I was thinking he had somehow found "O" tickets. But about 30 minutes later, he walked in with Candy! I was shocked. She was there for a little more than 24 hours and we all had so much fun. It was the best surprise Jon has ever pulled off.

At the Venetian:

The slick "statue" who was winking at us and rubbing our hands the whole time we were taking the picture! AH! Totally gave me the creeps. We couldn't stop laughing about it:

High rollers. We bet $1. I got suckered back in and lost my $3.50. Candy quit while she was ahead:

At Red Rocks, only about 40 minutes away. SO refreshing to get out of the city and hike around here:

Jon's been a huge fan of Pawn Stars so of course we had to stop by. It was pretty fun but none of the TV cast was there:

So back to the time share deal. I know I've mentioned on here that we always do a couple on our vacations because the free stuff they offer you is too good to pass up for us penny-pinchers. So we did 3 during our three days there. Yep, 3. And they were just as annoying as you might imagine. But Jon knows now to hold out for a good deal, so from those 3 time share presentations we ended up with 1 extra night in our hotel (we only had 2 free nights to begin with), a $200 voucher for an Allegiant flight, $100 cash, $100 in gaming chips (which we quickly lost at the Roulette table. You couldn't just cash them in), another free 2 night stay at a different hotel in Vegas and 2 free Blue Man Group tickets. Seriously...wouldn't you do that too?? :) Ok, I know some of you wouldn't sit through 6 hours of timeshare presentations for all that and more but Jon will do anything for a buck. Ok, I will too. And really, without spending a lot of money, there wasn't a whole lot to do. We also paid to go see Cirque du Soleil's "Mystere" while Candy was with us and it was worth every penny. I will never get sick of that show and it was so fun for Candy to be able to experience it for the first time. Jon and I saw Blue Man Group the following night and although I laughed a lot and definitely enjoyed it, it was a bit disappointing. But for free, it was awesome and I felt so lucky to see two shows in one week!

It was a pretty good trip but not exactly relaxing. But it was so great to spend time with Candy again and to have some time away from the kiddos. Can't complain about that!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011


Celebrating 9 years of marriage to my hubby today. 9! That's a big number. The last of the single digits and then I think we're officially an old married couple. I remember waking up on our wedding day with a huge grin on my eager to marry the man of my dreams. My favorite moment of that day was driving off in a borrowed yellow Corvette convertible, knowing it was just us now!

We've been through the good, the bad, and the ugly in 9 years. But the worst of it has fortified our commitment to each other, taught us to never stop working on our relationship and to constantly keep the other person's needs ahead of our own. Marriage is so hard. But this man, whom I love more than any human being on this earth, is worth every amount of sacrifice and bit of energy I have to give. My favorite moments of all with him are when we're able to travel together without the kids. Our trip to Mexico in March was so refreshing. Once you have kids, you lose a lot. Those carefree days with each other are gone, so that vacation just brought back that spark and reminded me how much fun we have together when two boys aren't zapping 99% of my energy before I see him at the end of the day. He's absolutely my best friend and it always amazes me that I never get sick of hanging out with him :)

Jon's not even home today. You know its been a while when you get really excited about a sweet card and $20 bucks to buy a Starbucks and Chick-fil-A for dinner ;) We're going on a brief little getaway to Las Vegas next week though, (thanks to a Rainbow Vacuum sales presentation :) and I can't wait to celebrate!