Saturday, July 26, 2014

the 'burbs for a day

When you have a wide open weekend in the middle of the summer, and your husband is on another continent for three weeks, and you know you need to keep yourself and your girls busy, and you have Rett friends who live in a suburb of Chicago and are willing to let you hang out with them for a day, you go. You just do. 

First, you stop at IKEA to grab some supplies for a few home improvement projects. And you eat meatballs for dinner. 

Then, you blow up a mattress and sleep in their playroom with your girls. And you wake up to a house full of squealing and giggling and even more girls. (Poor John.)

Then you head to their village's summer block party that has live entertainment and darling tiny carnival rides. You let your 2 year old ride all the rides (while you die, figuratively, of cuteness). 

You let your 7 year old run wild on the grass, and then rest in the stroller (the stroller that is waaaaaay too small for her, but you're trying to figure out how to afford the $1,500 one she needs). 

And you let a few things slide because, well, 2 year olds can't read. 

You feel so incredibly welcome and normal, even, in their company. Because even though you have amazing friends from all walks of life, sometimes it's just plain nice to be with another family who deals with what you deal with on a daily basis. 

After a day filled with fun (and sun and humidity), you pile back in the car and wave goodbye. Not because you want to. But because you have to hit up Trader Joe's on the way back home. 

And while you're at Trader Joe's you realize your 7 year old is also riding in a cart that is waaaaaay to small for her and you wonder when, exactly, she grew. 

But you're still glad you went because you get to munch on delicious food on the way home AND the kind employees give your two year old stickers that will entertain her for an hour until she falls asleep. 

And then, when you get home, you immediately check your calendar to see when you can do it all again. 

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Laytons ladies in Louisville

The Layton ladies took a weekend road trip to Louisville, KY (a new state for all three of us!) to visit my long-lost cousin, Bratny. (For the record, her real name is Brittany, but when we were younger we called each other Moron and Bratny, and I just can't stop.) Bratny's husband goes to the Louisville School of Dentistry and I had never met her kids (ages 4.5 and 2)'s been that long.  

As it turned out, my sister Kelli was visiting Louisville for her a gymnastics competition her niece was in, so I planned my visit at the same time. She was with her darling mother in law, another niece, her daughter Mackenzie, and her youngest son Nolan. I did miss the other boys, but was so excited to see at least part of her family after more than a year. 

Leah had just finished camp the day before, so I woke at 4:30 Saturday morning to pack the last minute items in the car and transfer my sleeping beauties to their car seats. My goal was to make it to Louisville by noon while the girls slept for most of the morning. 

Well, they were wide awake after I transferred them and then slept for only about 20 minutes (pictured below) the entire drive, but were still fabulous travelers. And construction on what should have been our last hour made it our last nearly three hours. We arrived at Bratny's around 2pm. 

First things first, they jumped right onto the tramp (no pun intended), while I unloaded a few things out of the car. 

Leah had a mini meltdown, so after we got her all settled, we headed to the zoo...which happened to be right across the street. Seriously. Right across the street. And not even a big, busy street. A tiny residential street. It was perfect. 

The girls had a fabulous time at the zoo, going on the "up down up down" (most people call it a carousel). I decided Leah might be a descendant of the giraffe. And we found Kate-a-potamus's namesake, the hippo. Kate and Blakely, Bratny's daughter, are two months apart in age and were so cute together. We heard "Mine!" "No Mine!" more times than I'd care to admit, but it really was fun to see them play. 

After a few fun-filled hours, we headed back across the street for dinner and then goodbyes to Kelli and company as they were headed back to Tucson early the next morning. A short but sweet visit. (And please pay no attention to my unkempt self...waking up at 4:30 and driving for almost nine hours doesn't bode well for me, apparently.)

Sunday we went to church together and mostly just relaxed. It was nice to spend the weekend with family rather than alone with the girls at home! 

Monday morning we headed to see the U of L School of Dentistry, which also happens to be Grandpa Hauley's alma mater. The girls made sure to find his picture in the hallway of past graduates. It was fun to get a sneak peak of the training they receive. 

We then headed to Calypso Cove, the YMCA waterpark in the area. Seriously, it was the most amazing Y I have ever seen! I'm definitely submitting a comment card to my local Y. We need this in Iowa! 

After swimming, I was so excited to go and visit with Ann Marie, who I first met on the Rett mom getaway I attended in 2010. I hadn't seen Ann Marie since, and I had never met her daughter, Abby, who always reminded me so much of Leah. They live about 10 minutes from my cousin and Ann Marie was so nice to let us come visit even though she had a one month old baby! It was so much fun to catch up, meet her husband, Abby and their two boys, and just watch Abby and Leah together. Their 5 year old son and Kate played like best buddies for two hours! It was such a fun afternoon. 

My plan was to leave late afternoon on Monday to make it back that night, but Bratny talked me into staying. So I put the girls down for bed and watched the Bachelorette finale with Bratny and some of her friends and then headed out the next morning. 

It was a whirlwind of a trip, but so much fun. We definitely can't go another five years before another Moron-Bratny reunion. 

Friday, July 18, 2014

Camp Hand in Hand

For the last several months, Leah has participated in a respite program through a local agency called Hand in Hand. Volunteers come to pick her up for movie nights, dinners, or even playing at the park. It is intended to give respite to primary care providers, but honestly, I think it's more respite for Leah! Sometimes a break from boring old mom and hanging out with a cute college girl instead is just the ticket. 

Hand in Hand offers a week long day camp each summer (held at YMCA Camp Abe Lincoln) and, after a bit of thought and discussing it with Leah, we decided we'd give it a try. 

So, we lathered on the sunscreen and packed her back pack with swimsuits, towels, horse riding pants, snacks and more and sent her on her way!

In four words, Leah was a fan. 

In a few more than four words, Leah was a really, really, really BIG fan. 

She had two volunteers that switched off days with her and she really loved them both.

The camp ran all day long for five consecutive days and included swimming, horseback riding, crafts, music therapy, archery, water fights and typical camp activities like cooking s'mores around a campfire. Each year the camp has a different theme. This year it was a fiesta and Leah was on team Chihuahua. 

There is probably nothing in this world that could make a child feel more typical than going to summer camp and I'm so glad such an amazing camp exists to give Leah that opportunity. 

I thought she would come home exhausted each night, but after a brief nap on the bus, she was excited and ready to go again! They couldn't have asked for better weather the entire week. Mr. Polar Vortex that decided to make our winter nearly unbearable, actually came in handy providing a pleasant summer. 

Thursday night they held a family cook-out where they gave awards and tshirts to all the campers and presented a slide show of all the fun things they had done all week. Kate and I were excited to see what Leah had been up to! 

Any hesitations I had about sending Leah off to this camp were thrown right out the window and I think it's number one on our list of things to do next summer! 

Thursday, July 10, 2014

John Deere Classic

Ryan and I nabbed some tickets to go to the John Deere Classic golf tournament this year. Neither of us had ever been to a professional golfing event (let's be honest, I've never been anywhere that isn't miniature), so we didn't really know what to expect. We got a babysitter for the morning and headed to Illinois. They chartered buses to get us there and we definitely brought the average age of individuals on the bus down a notch...or two. 

There were no pictures allowed once you actually entered the course, but it was a beautiful day and such a well-run event. I was actually very entertained. The golfers were amazing! I guess they don't call them professionals for nothin'! Even the ones in the back of the pack are pretty incredible. It was a lot of fun to just sort of wander and be part of the peanut gallery. 

We will be going next year and we'll definitely make a full day out of it. Just remind me to wear a hat. 

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Our 45

Iowa Public Television Kid's Club is, apparently, turning 45 this year. They have requested kids send in pictures of themselves with 45 of...something. Anything! They periodically show new pictures that kids from throughout the state have submitted during their morning programming. So, we jumped on the Kid's Club bandwagon and made a morning of it with some friends. The girls got to choose their own "things."

Miss Ribbons obviously chose hair accessories, 44 on the board and one in her hair! (And this is a fraction of what we actually have stashed in our bathroom.)

Kate was determined to do animals. If you know me, you know I don't love stuffed animals. I periodically get rid of them when the girls aren't paying attention. Somehow we scrounged up 45, which included at least 30 finger and hand puppets, which I don't mind having on hand (no pun intended). 

Friday, July 4, 2014

Independence Day

On the Fourth of July, most of our friends from Iowa were out of town visiting their families (note to self for next year!), so we celebrated as a family of four. We started out with one of our walks on the trail and the girls were thrilled to show Ryan our routine. 

Later that night, we donned our red, white and blue and ventured out to the River Bandits game, our local baseball team. We didn't pay attention to the game at all, but rather marveled at the beautiful sunset and how crazy it was that we were sitting in the middle of a flood. 


It rained and rained and rained a few days before the fourth and the baseball stadium is right on the Mississippi River. The stadium has metal walls that barricade the water, so it doesn't flood. We had to walk on a temporary bridge the erected over the flooded parking lot and down into the stadium. It was incredible! 

We sat on a blanket on the grass in behind the outfield. Kate wasn't a fan of Rascal the River Bandit, but she was a fan of running away from us any chance she could get. 

Near the end of the game, the winds shifted and were blowing right where we were sitting, so they evacuated everyone on the grass so they wouldn't get harmed by the fireworks. So, we wandered for a bit and finally found an empty table to sit on and enjoy the fireworks. Leah loved them, as usual. We weren't so sure about Kate, but she was fascinated. We warned her beforehand that they would be really loud and she just stared at the night sky saying, "Fireworks. Loud. Fireworks. Loud." 

A few days later, we had a USA themed dinner (at least the decor, the food was Italian), with some friends who had just returned home from vacation the night before. 

It was quiet and quaint and I loved it. It was wonderful to celebrate and talk about the blessings and responsibilities that come from the freedoms we enjoy with my little family for the first time in our new town.