Adventures

The Lost Sock

A few nights ago, I got upset with my husband for losing one of my socks in the laundry. In my defense, he has a history of losing my socks when he does a load of laundry. In his defense, he was helping with laundry so why was I being so high-strung? In both our defense, it’s pretty awesome that the only thing we had to fight about that week was a lost sock.

After telling him he needs to pay more attention and insisting he help me look for the sock for nearly an hour, I found it. I didn’t want to tell him where because it was in my closet, tucked in a pair of my pants, completely my fault and not his at all. Embarrassed and humbled, I swallowed my pride and admitted my mistake.

In nearly five years of marriage I have learned that life is not always going to be perfect and that’s OK. Even as I was losing my mind over this dumb sock, I could tell how ridiculous I was being. Isn’t that the worst? When you’re being ridiculous and you know you’re being ridiculous, but you can’t turn it off?

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There are some things that just don’t matter. Read: Lost socks. I was clearly taking my stressful work week and parenthood-induced exhaustion and pouring all of that emotion into an epic search for that sock. Seriously. It wasn’t even a new sock.

In quite a few of my blog posts, I write about cutting ourselves some slack. That message is a reminder to myself as much as it is to any of you, readers. Sometimes I have it together. Sometimes I’m throwing a toddler-style tantrum because of something as inconsequential as a sock.

Fortunately, most of the time I don’t mind admitting I made a mistake and, most of the time, my husband is quick to forgive. We could laugh about this situation almost immediately. I’m thankful for that. Almost as thankful as I am to have my sock back.

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Adventures

Elements of a Strategically Organized Trip to Build-a-Bear

Last month on our girls’ trip to Phoenix, my lovely bestie had the idea to take our daughters to Build-a-Bear Workshop at a nearby mall. Mind you, this was during Build-a-Bear’s “Pay Your Age” campaign so the place was busy. Couple that fact with the endless decisions to be made (princess or ballerina outfit? cupcake-scented or strawberry-scented? bear’s name?) and it could get intense. A strategically organized game plan was the only thing that would help us get out alive.

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Here are the tactics we employed.

INTELL: Prior to the voyage, my bestie and I conducted a high-stakes intelligence gathering summit which involved the two of us meeting in the hotel room bathroom while our girls played Enchantimals in the other room. We sat on the edge of the tub and scrolled through data on our phones obtaining such critical knowledge as mall hours of operation, Build-a-Bear pricing, and, perhaps most importantly, the nearest location for us to get post-shopping margaritas.

UNIFICATION: This being my first trip to Build-a-Bear I was horrified to discover that children can have their bear equipped with a voice and even have them sing specific annoying pop songs. We agreed that under no circumstances would we be allowing either of the girls to select this option. We would remain firm, strong, and united. If you allow one of them to elect the bear-voice option, you have to allow both of them to, and then the terrorists have won.

FISCAL CONSERVATION: Although the “Pay Your Age” campaign meant each bear only cost a few dollars, the abundance of accessory choices makes staying on budget a true challenge. Just so we didn’t wind up having to take out a second mortgage on our homes after buying light-up fairy wings and a red convertible for stuffed animals, we made a budget. Each girl got a bear, an outfit, a brush, and a toy hair dryer for the bear. Still sounds ridiculous, but I was happy when my daughter’s bill came to less than $50.

EMOTIONAL SUPPORT: As you might imagine, little girls can be horribly indecisive when presented with thousands of teddy bear clothing options. I thought I was home free when my daughter finally decided her bear would be a ballerina, only to find there were at least six different bear tutus from which to choose. Just when I was about to tear my hair out from the agony of a four-year-old’s decision making, a little pep talk from my bestie put me right back in the game.

EXIT STRATEGY: The bear is selected, stuffed, dressed, and beautifully accessorized. Time to leave, right? Not just yet. Now your child gets to use a computer to name her bear and print a birth certificate. The concept is at the same time adorably sweet and mentally draining. I could sense frustration mounting as my friend’s daughter struggled to choose the perfect name for her bear. I intervened, throwing out as many cute names I could think of at the time all while easing my own daughter to the door. She named the bear Sprinkles, printed the certificate, we paid, and we left, the sweet sight of the mall’s Mexican restaurant (there are margaritas there) in our crosshairs. Victory is ours.

 

Adventures

Girls’ Weekend: Phoenix

I was aching for some time with my bestie, who lives far, far away, so when we had the idea to meet up in the desert for a weekend of relaxation, it seemed to be the perfect plan. Because her daughter and my oldest daughter have birthdays within two days of each other, it also seemed like a great idea to take them along to celebrate their seventh and fourth birthdays, respectfully. The weekend was divine.

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Yes, it was Phoenix in July. Yes, it was more than 100 degrees out the entire time we were there, but since pool time was the number one item on the agenda, the heat was fine with us. We stayed at the Sheraton Grand Wild Horse Pass. The resort caters to families, but also has plenty for the adults, including great food and yummy margaritas. S’mores night was also a hit among all four of us.

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We took a jewelry-making class, a canvas-painting class, and a class on dream catchers, all included in our resort fee. Another major highlight for all four of us was movie night in the pool. The service was impeccable and every time we turned around the girls were being treated to free smoothies or a decadent slice of birthday cake. We dined at Ko’Sin several times and the chipotle beignets and quinoa breakfast bowl were absolutely stellar.

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The best thing about the resort was that everything we needed to enjoy a relaxing and fun-filled weekend was right on-site. Aside from a morning at a local mall for a Build-a-Bear and ear-piercing outing, we stayed put and enjoyed everything the resort had to offer. The quality time and watching our daughters get to know one another was so special and I can’t wait to do it all again!

Adventures

Holding onto Three

Any parent will tell you how quickly time flies. Any grandparent will tell you if you blink, suddenly your little ones are grown and starting families of their own. And great-grandparents? Don’t even get them started on the swift passage of time.

I was excited to celebrate my daughters’ transitions to age one and my oldest turning two, and then three. Each of those milestones meant new experiences, as the personality of this sweet little thing bloomed and flourished. While I’m looking forward to the fun that age four will bring, I am feeling the need to dig my nails into time and tell it to SLOW DOWN! Slow down and let me absorb each and every wonderful moment that having a three-year-old daughter brings.

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Three is downright magical. It’s the perfect balance of capability, enthusiasm, and innocence. A three-year-old makes everything exciting. Mine in particular is sensitive, sweet, funny, and unapologetically girly.

So while bidding age three adieu is bittersweet, I look forward to the joy that age four will bring. The really beautiful thing is we get to anticipate the experience of age three again as this delightful girl’s precious baby sister grows.

I recently read a blog post written by a mother of a boy who passed away suddenly at a young age. She urged us as parents not to mourn our children getting older, but to be thankful for every one of those birthday celebrations because nothing is certain. Getting to know our children at every unique and beautiful age is truly a blessing, even if we don’t think we’re quite ready for them to grow up.

 

Adventures

The Good, The Bad, The Beefarino: Why We Travel with Small Children

I think this picture is about the most accurate depiction of what it is like to travel with a one-year-old and a three-year-old. My oldest daughter is having the time of her life, basking in the glory that is a pink, sparkly horse-drawn carriage ride through the streets of San Antonio, her new stuffed purple shark from Sea World within arm’s reach. My one-year-old is having a complete, nap-deprived tantrum. Did I mention it is Mother’s Day? Did I mention the horse had just eaten an entire can of Beefarino? I’m kidding on that last part of course (Seinfeld-reference) but traveling with small children, whether by car or plane, is no joke!

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So why do we do it?

I love traveling. There is something about getting away and exploring a new place that completely fills my soul. I think the best part of taking family vacations, even if they’re a modest trip to a hotel (with a pool…always with a pool) in a nearby city, is the time we get to focus only on our little family of four. I’m not thinking about laundry or groceries, I try to keep work thoughts to a minimum, and I’m able to really just be with the ones I love the most.

As chaotic as it can be, I find that almost immediately after returning from a trip with the girls, I only remember the good things. If I think hard enough I can conjure up the images of my one-year-old screaming her lungs out on the airplane or my three-year-old’s disgusting love of using any and all drinking fountains she encounters. Instead I remember their laughter at the sea lions at Sea World, my baby swimming for the first time, and my oldest daughter smiling through every moment of her princess carriage ride. The happy memories always overshadow the inconveniences of traveling with littles ones and make it oh so worth it.

I want to instill this love of exploring in my daughters, and give them memories of fun times during which I was entirely and completely focused on them. And I don’t even want a stuffed purple shark. The only souvenir I need is the happy memories and the fun, focus, and willingness to go with the flow that I hope will linger into our everyday life long after we return.

Adventures

All 50 by 40: Texas

My quest to visit all 50 states by the time I turn 40 has the self-imposed rule that airport layovers don’t count. This is why Texas remained on the to-visit list despite the fact that I have been to airports in various Texan cities several times. My husband and I decided to make this one a family trip and chose San Antonio for the history, River Walk, and abundance of kid-friendly activities.

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My three-year-old has flown several times and is a pro as well as a lover of all things vacation-related.

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This was my one-year-old’s first time flying and she didn’t take too kindly to it despite the happy photo below. I’m not giving up that easily, however.

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The grounds of the Alamo are beautiful and made for a great place for the girls to run around and experience some fresh air while my husband and I got our history fix.

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We explored all five San Antonio Missions, which were fascinating.

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We stayed at The Hotel Contessa on San Antonio’s beautiful River Walk. I’m working on a separate post just about the hotel, which was elegant, yet kid-friendly. This was a great location close to shops, restaurants, and, of course, a pink horse-drawn carriage.

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The below photo pretty much sums up the highs and lows of traveling with small children. There are smiles, fun, happy memories, mixed with occasional inevitable meltdowns.

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Sea World was a must and the whole family enjoyed our day spent there.

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The little one sampled the duck food. Gross.

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San Antonio is somewhere we’ll definitely revisit in the future. We will also continue to take family vacations at least once a year, despite the hiccups that accompany traveling with small children. In the end, the memories of their laughter while splashing in the pool and watching them experience something new will always overshadow the screeching, spilled milk, and flights with a squirmy, nap-fighting one-year-old.

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I have six states left to visit and tomorrow marks exactly five years to visit them all before age 40. I can’t wait to book my next trip!

The Updated List

Alaska

Arkansas

Michigan (I have been to airports)

Tennessee

West Virginia

Wisconsin

Adventures

Springtime in South Dakota

When spring finally arrives in western South Dakota, often long, long after the actual equinox, certain signs fill the senses. The sight of an endless blue sky, the smell of green grass and branding smoke, the feeling of a light breeze through bedroom window at night, all combine to tell us winter might be gone at last. It is Mother Nature’s great sigh of relief.

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We praise God for cowboys, kids, baby bison, cookouts, afternoon rains, lilacs, and longer days.

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After a long winter, the trees have buds, though few leaves have presented.

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It is my belief every child should spend time on a cattle ranch, even if it is just for a visit.

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Sparkling water and the smell of pine trees bring joy to us on a Sunday afternoon drive through the Black Hills.

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It is also my belief that even my “town girls” need to experience a day now and then of getting the kind of messy that leaves the bath water muddy and dark.

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They need to smell like horses and have dirt under their finger nails.

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Then they need to clean up nice for church the next day and chase each other around after breakfast.

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We are grateful and blessed.

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The kind of sleep we have after a full day of fresh air is the most restful. It is the peace we feel after a hard day of work with family and friends. Spring is finally here in South Dakota.

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