Sister’s Day

Thank you to my brothers who have invited amazing women to join our family. I couldn’t ask for better sisters!

Ashley and I missed Meredith’s bachelorette party since it fell on the same weekend as Raechel and Brian’s wedding, so we planned well in advance to make it up to her.

Our sister’s day included 60-minute massages at Sanctuary Spa, brunch at Gumption, and shopping.

Since all three of us work in education, we joke that summers off together could be dangerous.

It feels like Matt and Meredith’s engagement wasn’t that long ago, but the big wedding is already next weekend. Cheers to these two and officially adding Meredith to the family.

Father’s Day

Father’s Day was spent as a family of three.

Church, donuts + coffee, pool time, and the Iowa Brewing Company. There was even a BBQ food truck at the brewery, so cooking was made easy.

No one makes me smile and laugh like those two. John is Elijah’s favorite person, and I’m not even jealous. We have that obsession in common, my son. I hope you always scream at the top of your lungs when you see your dad’s car coming up the street at the end of the workday.

I had to include a lawn mowing photo because that’s one of Elijah favorite things right now. If the grass needed to be mowed every single day, Elijah would be next to John every step, day-after-day. Keep following in your dad’s footsteps, Elijah. Someday you’ll truly understand the blessing God gave you with John as your dad. As for the lawn mowing, your dad is ready to hand over that responsibility to you ASAP.

Girls’ Trip: Texas

It was a long winter. Somewhere in April, during another snowstorm, I was texting Kathleen and both of us agreed we needed out of Iowa. We wanted friend time and temperatures warm enough to make us sweat. Just a few texts later and Lindsay was inviting us into her home in Woodway, Texas.

Kathleen and I flew into Dallas within 30 minutes of each other on Wednesday and spent the next three days exploring Waco with Lindsay. Who knew we could still stay up until 2 a.m. multiple nights in a row?!

Magnolia, The Silos, The Findery, Magnolia Table, Spice Village, Homestead Heritage, and Baylor all made the list of must-see stops.

I visited The Silos when John and I visited in November, but this place is always expanding. If you’re visiting, save your appetite for the many food trucks in the outdoor space. Seeing people walk around with mason jars full of tea really set the mood.

As for Magnolia Table…whoa. Will a Day come where this restaurant doesn’t have a line? We drove by around 11:30 and saw a ridiculous amount of people. We decided to dine elsewhere and return for dessert before they closed at 3. When we arrived around 1, they had stopped taking people in line between 11:30-12 since it could be up to a three-hour wait! We were still able to taste the food since they have a “to go” area that allows customers to order the sandwich of the day and various pastries. They also have an area where you can order food, lemonade, or coffee while you wait in line for your meal. These people know how to make money.

Food was a highlight of the trip, and I’m returning to Iowa wanting more fresh guacamole and overflowing shrimp tacos.

A big thanks to Lindsay and Andy for hosting Kathleen and me and allowing us to have a warm weather countdown when we needed it the most! We’re planning ahead for next year so more Loras friends can join. Location TBD.

Summer Book Recommendations

Instead of posting my summer book recommendations for you, I’m directing you to my friend Tracie’s blog because she’s a teacher-librarian. She’s reading her way through 60 books this calendar year and includes 18 of them in the post I linked.

I haven’t read all of the books Tracie reviews, but I would definitely echo her recommendations of Wishtree and The 57 Bus. Both of these are YA books but with messages meant for all ages. Here is a New York Times article with some background about the fire on Bus 57 in Oakland.

I want to find a way to bring this story into my classroom because I’ll be thinking about this book for a long time. Students have confided in me they are gay or bisexual, but I felt like this was the first book that really helped me understand asexual and the difference in gender vs. sex. If you don’t know what questions to ask and want to read a piece of history, this book will grab your heart, give you a look at the criminal justice system, and remind you just how important it is to have compassion for every single person you meet.

Raechel and Brian

The details…Wow!

Pinterest wasn’t around when I was planning my wedding, and it’s probably a good thing. I can’t imagine the stress brides have now with an overwhelming number of ideas and Pinterest suggestions. Raechel and Brian’s wedding felt straight out of Pinterest. Every detail seemed to match from the exact color of dresses and flowers to the hanging jars from the church pews. I was impressed with the organization of the weekend, and Raechel’s teacher skills shined through in her “One, Two, Three, Eyes On Me” instructions and printed out agendas.

The wedding weekend was stretched an extra day with the rehearsal and dinner Thursday night. This allowed a relaxed Friday that included a girls’ lunch at Gumption in Cedar Rapids and nail appointments. It was really nice to have an extra day with the bride and her family + the wedding party. This extra day slowed down the celebration so it could be fully appreciated.

Raechel and I grew up in the same neighborhood (Yes, the neighborhood shot tradition lives on), so I’ve known her my entire life. Not many friends can make that claim. I’m honored she asked me to stand by her side because I’ve never seen her happier than when she is with Brian. They married for the right reason- they make each other better people.

St. Joseph’s Fun Days

Years ago, St. Joseph’s traditionally kicked off summer with “Fun Days”. After 17 years “without any fun”, the event is back.

This was our first Fun Days experience, and I was impressed by the organization, the number of volunteers, and the overall carnival. Everyone was welcoming and friendly, even when I waited until just two hours before the race to register.

The race was a Neon Night 5k complete with glow-sticks. The glow-sticks kept Elijah entertained in the stroller for the route. He was awesome the entire time and was rewarded with a freeze-pop at the end for all his hard work. 😉

We’re feeling more and more like St. Joseph’s is our faith community, and I’m so thankful for the people who have gone out of their way to welcome us. I’ve had people stop me at the grocery store, at the library, and even on a walk to say they’ve seen us at church and just want to know our names so they can say “hello”. The person at the library went out of her way to introduce me to her three boys and then invited our family to stations of the cross the next evening. These examples remind me of Matthew Kelly’s wise words that were preached at Loras College, “Don’t just go to church, be church”.

Summer Bonus Week

Summer arrived in May this year, and I feel like I’ve been cashing in on a bonus week. The public schools are still in session, so when Elijah and I are out and about and see the buses go by it reminds me that I’m so thankful we’re not going until June this year.

I’m sending Elijah to daycare a day or two each week (depending on our schedule), and I’m glad he’ll have some time to keep his schedule in “the twos” and see his friends and teachers. This will also give me a chance to finish the yearbook (we have 32 pages left) and tackle some big academic projects.

As for days with Elijah, they seem to start with cars and coffee, include meals and snacks outside, and a lot of water time in between. We upgraded our toddler pool for a kid pool, and I think it will be the perfect spot for us this summer when we want to lay low.

To no one’s surprise, we’ve both been reading a lot, too. The 57 Bus by Dashka Slater for me this week, and Elijah is loving his new Usborne book about shapes.

Is tomorrow Friday? I lose track when it’s summer. What a gift!

Community of Faith Scholarship Round Two

I was really humbled to read this year’s recipient’s essay. I wish I could share details, but let’s just say faith is alive, and we need to continue to find reasons to keep sharing our stories. What would be even better is if you ask someone to hear their story. Everyone has one, and I’m thankful this scholarship opportunity allows me to read so many.

While faith is often a vulnerable and emotional topic, Elijah taught me that there is strength in vulnerability. Sharing stories of faith doesn’t have to be pompous. It can simply be sharing the work God has done and continues to do in your life. We are not finished products, and sharing stories of faith can help us see God in miracles every single day. This scholarship reminds me that faith is stronger when it’s shared as a community.

Summer Feeling

This kid got a taste for summer over the weekend. While I was in Galena, John hooked up Elijah’s new sprinkler that he got from Colin and Mollie for his birthday. It was a hit!

I love his energy, and I am counting down until water days are an everyday luxury. There is a splash pad date in our near future, Elijah James. We might even be able to find some donuts (and iced coffee) on our way.

It’s all fun and games until…

…a bat shows up.

I’m not kidding.

Let me back up.

The theme of Raechel’s bachelorette party was “Bach Shit Crazy”. Props to her sister Whitney for renting a charming and luxurious Airbnb in Galena for our night away. The photos of this place don’t do it justice. It was located right on Main Street directly above Elle and Beck’s and Vinny Vanucchi’s, with four bedrooms and five queen beds.

We spent the late afternoon/evening catching up with each other, drinking wine, and playing games. Because of our prime Main Street location, dinner reservations at Fried Green Tomatoes were just a few blocks away.

After dinner and drinks, Whitney had a spa night planned for us back at the loft. It was pouring rain, and the loft was cozy. This might be why we had an uninvited guest join us.

At 3 a.m., someone got up to go to the bathroom and noticed the swooping. After that, we honestly couldn’t stop laughing that “Bach Shit Crazy” morphed into Bat Shit Crazy. The owners of the loft arrive just before 6 a.m. to catch the bat. While I would absolutely recommend this loft, the owner had a net that made him look like he’s done this before… He just didn’t seem too surprised to receive the bat call.

I have no idea if Raechel and Brian are doing a wedding slideshow or not, but we took pictures of the bat catcher just in case.