While in Dubuque

We extended our waterpark adventures by spending the night at Grand Harbor and exploring the riverfront. The riverfront is where John and I got engaged nine years ago, so it’s extra special to us. What a view!

Stone Cliff Winery is just a five-minute walk down the path, and it was the perfect evening to sit outside, share a bottle of Apple Cranberry wine, and eat flatbread pizza. Very rarely do I indulge in multiple glasses of wine in one sitting, but that wine is a new favorite.

Was Dubuque this pretty when I lived there?

Waterpark

“Waterpark INSIDE!”

Elijah absolutely loved the indoor waterpark at Grand Harbor in Dubuque.

We planned ahead with this weekend away and scheduled it for a time Casey and Lillian could join the fun. Casey and I were both curious how our kids would handle the waterpark, and their bravery surpassed all of our expectations. We started in the kid’s area with the basic splash pad-like activities, but it wasn’t long before we were riding down the big slides over and over again. While the adults hung on tight, the kids just laughed the entire ride down. It was pure joy for both parties.

I really couldn’t tell you if the adults or the kids had more fun.

City Boy Meets Farm Life

If you see Elijah anytime soon, he will excitedly talk your ear off about his experiences at the Delaware County Fair.

The 4H kids were super friendly and multiple offered to let Elijah pet their animals. One boy took his bunny out of its cage so Elijah could pet it. This was a highlight, and Elijah will tell you “I pet bunny OUT of cage”. Another girl offered to walk him up to her cow so he could pet it. It took a little more convincing than the rabbit, but he loved it nonetheless.

I have been to the fair the last few years for concerts, but I hadn’t walked through the animal barns since I was a kid. Thanks to Elijah for reintroducing me to farm life, and thanks to my mom for spending the day with us.

Throwback Concert

I sent the Twitter announcement that Bone Thugs N Harmony was coming to Cedar Rapids to John mostly as a joke. The next thing I knew, tickets were purchased. We had already seen the opener, Coolio, during the I Love the 90s Concert last year. Naughty by Nature followed Coolio last night before the main event.

I knew fewer and fewer songs as the night went on, but I had a blast. There is just something so perfect about an outdoor concert in the summer. I’m starting to think just like it’s not officially Fall until we see the Irish play in South Bend, it’s not really summertime until John and I experience outdoor live music.

Happy Birthday, Mom!

Elijah and I had the opportunity to spend Friday with my mom as an early birthday celebration. My mom watched Elijah two of the days I was in Texas last month, so I knew I wanted to bring her back something authentic from The Silos at Magnolia. A candle was about all that would fit in my suitcase, but it has the seal of approval from Chip and Joanna.

Happy birthday, Mom! Thanks for loving Elijah unconditionally and for sharing your cupcakes!

Lately I’ve Been…

WatchingHow to Get Away with Murder. The most recent season is now on Netflix, and it’s intense. John and I have also been watching the second season of 13 Reasons Why, and I’m not impressed. Read the book and/or watch the first season but leave it alone when you finish.

Spending: time on my computer for an online course. I’m taking a three-week continuing education course through Safe Schools and Drake University. Since it can be done at any time, I spend Elijah’s naps out on the deck plugged in.

Drinking: White Claw and Truly brands of spiked steltzer. I’d pick one of these refreshing beverages over a glass of wine during the summer months.

Reading: The Art of Getting Over Yourself by Jon Leonetti. I’ve always been impressed with Jon’s dedication to the saints. This book dives into stories of saints who lived a more fulfilling life when they got over themselves and made their life about living for God.

Enjoying: Elijah time. Always. I laugh about how he organizes his cars sometimes by color, and sometimes by job (fire trucks, ambulances, construction crew…etc.). He’s very particular and borderline OCD, but so is his mom…

Listening: to Rachel Hollis podcasts. Thanks to a girls’ day by the pool at Lauren’s house for the Dais podcast recommendation. I saw Rachel’s book, “Girl, Wash Your Face” everywhere in the airport when I was flying home from Dallas. I’m always up for a podcast recommendation to make folding laundry and cleaning the house more enjoyable.

Anticipating: My friend Katie’s move to town. I can’t wait to have her and her family just minutes away. This blessing is such an answered prayer, and I can’t wait to experience life living close to my best friend.

Organizing: our summer calendar. Elijah and I have so much freedom in the summer but making sure I have date nights scheduled with John require more planning. Thankfully we have tickets to three upcoming concerts. Two are local and one will include a short getaway with Jay-Z and Beyonce.

What are you watching, spending, drinking, reading, enjoying, listening, anticipating, organizing?

A Few Firsts

I’ve said it a million times. Summer is a gift.

I was feeling a little overwhelmed the first weeks of summer with everything I planned to accomplish during my weeks off. My list included transitioning Elijah to a toddler bed, taking Elijah to the dentist, potty training…etc. John helped remind me that all of these things didn’t need to be done during week one.

I’ve said it a million time. God bless that man.

The calendar reached July and I can report that Elijah is doing a great job in his toddler bed, and his first dentist appointment went as smoothly as one can hope for a two-year-old. He talks a lot about the “teeth doctor”, and I’m reassured our routine brushing is doing its job for now.

As for potty training, we’re in full swing. I know this will be a long process, so I’m just thankful I have half of the summer left to best assist Elijah in learning this new habit.

Don’t worry, we’ve also had some fun firsts this summer. We took in our first movie theatre experience during the free summer kid’s shows. They played the movie Ferdinand, and I knew Elijah would enjoy seeing a movie about animals. We needed a little intermission, but overall he did a great job. I think parks are more his speed at this age, but I’m glad we tried a movie.

My list of big transitions is getting smaller, and my list of fun activities continues to grow. There is lot of fun to be had in the upcoming weeks, and I’m just so thankful for the time.

I’ve said it a million times. Summer is a gift.

Meet the Monaghans

Matt and Meredith are married, and no one was surprised they know how to throw a party and celebrate their love.

From the stunning bride to the gorgeous golf course views that look photoshopped, the weekend was true beauty.

While I often laugh about how wild Matt’s friends are and it’s true, they all possess something in common to Matt- huge hearts. They are simply an amazing group of people who are always up for a good time. They love and support they offer to Matt and Meredith made me so grateful for the community they’ve built. The homily at church was perfect as father discussed an Emily Dickinson’s poem and highlighted “hope is a thing with feathers”. If every person is a feather and they flock together, so to speak, they can fly. The community of people Matt and Meredith choose to pour their energy into is certainly a supportive flock who has all the hope in the world for these two.

I could not be happier for my brother and his wife. From the bottom of my heart, thank you for giving us a reason to celebrate. Thank you for asking my family and me to be involved in your special day. We love you!

Eight Years

Traditionally John and I try to spend my birthday and our anniversary on vacation truly getting away from day-to-day responsibilities and just focusing on us. This year’s birthday and anniversary week looks a little different since we’re around home preparing to celebrate Matt and Meredith in just a few days.

John joked that since we started dating in 2002, he has now been in my life for almost half of it. Isn’t that wild!? God bless this man for picking me every single day. God knows I pick you, too. You make me a better person, and heaven is listed last on my bucket list. 😉

While last night’s view wasn’t exactly Catalina Island or Hawaii, two date nights in four days is a win. We celebrated with dinner, drinks, and dessert at Black Sheep Social Club. I always say summer is good for my body and soul, but getting ID’d last night made me feel like I’ve really been treating myself right the last month. Good thing there is more summer ahead, and we have plenty more to celebrate!