Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Pikes Peak and Effigy Mounds ~ Iowa

After our stop in Dyersville at the Field of Dreams we continued to drive north to Pike's Peak State Park and go for a hike.  Once we arrived in the parking lot, Todd's boss called and we waited in the car for nearly 30 minutes for their conversation to end.  I was so bored I started to take selfies and had a saying for each face.  I shared with Todd after he hung up and he cracked up laughing.  He loved them.

 Above:  "Really?  You have to keep talking to him on his last day of his vacation!"
 Above:  "Will this man EVER shut up?"
 Above:  "Shut the *@&#  up so we can go on our hike!"

Finally we were able to actually leave the Rav4 and begin our exploration of Pikes Peak another State Park.
 Our selfie with the great Mississippi behind us.

There were a lot of flowers along the trails.

 Mississippi River

The trail began with a sidewalk and then became more of a boardwalk trail and many many wooden stairs.

 Above:  I love nature's beauty.
Below: The first tiny waterfall.

 We then came to the largest waterfall at the park.
While we were at this point in the park, Todd received another call from his boss.  He has no clue I took his picture.  He was smiling at me because I was making faces at him and he wrapped it up quickly this time.
 Below: The third tiny waterfall in the park.

 After Pikes Peak we then drove to Effigy Mounds National Monument.  Effigy Mounds is a sacred area associated with American Indian tribes.  The Effigy Mound Culture extends from Dubuque, Iowa, north into southeast Minnesota, across southern Wisconsin from the Mississippi to Lake Michigan, and along the Wisconsin-Illinois boarders.  The mounds are man made and are in an animal shape such as birds, bear, deer, bison to name a few.  Some mounds are in conical mounds for burial purposes and the final type built linear or long rectangular mounds that were used for ceremonial purposes that remain a mystery.  The exact reason for the mounds are still a mystery, some archaeologist believe they were built for seasonal observance or to divide tribes.  The two types of animal shaped mounds located in Iowa are bears and birds.  Unfortunately, I was not able to do much hiking here.  The hill side was too steep and rocky for me to climb after all the stairs at Pikes Peak.  We had to turn around.  Todd did not feel right going on without me.  I know he plans to go with a few of the kids without me.  I do not think I will ever be able to do the full hike, which sort of gets me down.  I am not sure once I have my knee replacements if I will be able to do this hike.  It would be wonderful to do so.  Below is a picture of three very small mounds right outside the ranger's station.

Effigy Mounds is located in Harper's Ferry which is 2 hours and 30 minutes away from Iowa City.

Pikes Peak State Park is located in McGregor which is 2 hours and 24 minutes away from Iowa City.


Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Highlight From This Summer ~ St Louis / Paul McCartney

I cannot believe I did not share my post about our trip to St Louis this summer yet.  I was able to cross off one of my 55 x 55/ bucket list with our trip to St Louis but the primary reason we went placed this trip to the top.  If you have been following me for awhile here in blogville or if you follow me on Facebook or Instagram you will know what a huge fan I am of Paul McCartney.  I was lucky to be able to have a dream come true and see Paul McCartney in concert back in 1990.  A few years ago, he played in Chicago around our anniversary.  Todd tried to get tickets but was not successful.  This past summer Paul McCartney toured again.  We wanted to go to Wisconsin and see him but I was not able to get time off from work, however we were able to score tickets to the show he played in St Louis.  August 13, 2016, I was lucky to see Paul McCartney for a second time and this time I was able to enjoy it with my soul mate.  On Saturday, we drove down to St Louis and enjoyed the concert.  Todd was amazed with the performance and told me this was the best concert he has ever been too. He knew I was a huge fan and was amazed that I sung to just about every single song played.  He made a comment about how I was dancing in my seat as well.  *smile*  What can I say?  I was into the concert but this time I was also very happy to be with Todd to enjoy this with.

I love this man who has been performing for 6 decades now but I love the man who sat next to me enjoying this concert with me more.   I was worried about the rain because the rain has ruined many of our outdoor plans this summer but the rain held off that day and night and the weather was perfect for an outdoor concert, even if it was in the home stadium for the Cardinals.  

The next day we planned to go up the St Louis Gateway Arch, another activity on my 55x55 list and Bucket List.  Todd has been up it a few times but did it again for me.  Of course it was raining that day.  Below is our selfie that day while we were at the top of the arch.  We pretended we were scared.  I looked like I was a scared drowned rat.  (ha ha ha)  I am not sure if you can tell but I am wearing my new Paul McCartney Concert T-Shirt.  *smile*

As I said it rained so the view was not so beautiful to take pictures but I did want to have pictures taken.  

I had to zoom in on the stadium.  It was before noon and the stage was nearly taken down from the night prior.

Construction is going on behind court house.  The last time we were there for NCAA Wrestling Tournament it was a place of a beautiful garden.  I cannot wait to see what it will look like once completed.  We plan to see another tournament within the next two year.

The St Louis trip was my high light of the Summer, seeing Paul McCartney perform once again was such another dream come true.


Monday, October 24, 2016

Preparing For Christmas

Did you notice something last month when you were shopping?  Christmas has hit the stores already!  Now, I am not a big fan of this because Halloween has not made it's presence yet.  I do not know why stores keep shoving holidays on us way too soon.

However, I do not think it is too late to prepare for Christmas.  The holidays are a time of traditions, entertaining, family, friends, and so much festivity one can become frazzled rather easy.   I know it can also be very overwhelming, where to spend the holiday trying to be fair to both sides of the families, parties to attend, assisting with dinner or simply planning dinner, decorating, and shopping. In the past we would start to ask our children what they wanted for Christmas in the middle of October to make our list for what deals we were looking for on Black Friday.  Yes, I am one of those crazy shoppers and go out every year on Black Friday, but hey when you have six children, one grandson, twelve nephews and nieces, and six great nephews and nieces you look for deals.

About ten years ago, I realized I really needed list when it came to Christmas time.  I needed the organization to make it enjoyable for me.  This way I had time to slow down and enjoy everything myself instead of trying to make it memorable for everyone else.

Part of my organization is making list for the following:
  • Gifts
  • Cleaning
  • Dinner
  • Christmas Cards
  • Christmas Baking 
  • Keeping Traditions

For me the basics of any planning is to have something to keep all your plans in one place. It can be as simple as a journal, notebook, or a calendar.  There are also some very cute planners if you want to go all out and have your very own Christmas Planner.  Here are a few cute ones I have come across.
  • Organized Christmas: This little site has everything you can think of in one place, calendar, list, and dividers all are printable to add to your own binder.  This site also has so many ideas on how to help you to plan for every holiday just about.
  • Christmas Planner:  This is exactly that a site which breaks down planning into every detail you can think of.  They have printable pages as well. 
  • Christmas Planner...Make A Plan To Get Ready For Christmas:  This one is my favorite site I found.  I love how they broke it down and offer the printable pages as well.
Of course if you do not want to make your own Etsy has many cute ones you can purchase but you will want to do so sooner so you can start your planning.  As for me, I use what I carry every day now with me in my purse.

I always carry my planner/calendar (Keeps me organized with appointments and my hours I work since they differ every week and what weekend we have Taj.), my journal (to log my food intake), and another little journal (for shopping list).  Yeah, I don't know why I keep the shopping list journal it started at the beginning of the year.  I picked it up at the Dollar Tree because I would think of items we needed away from home and then forget when it came to shop.  I like using the journals because I have typically last year's planning in the journal with me.  (I guess that shows how poor I am tracking my food intake.)

This year we asked the children ideas for Christmas in September.  I wanted to start earlier since I now have to ship Christmas to Florida as well.  I will dedicate a few pages for Christmas Gift ideas.  We do have a budget and we watch for sales. 

I also try to make some gifts every year.  Every year I have several days that I have to use or will loose for vacation time.  Every year I think to myself I should carve out days just to make Christmas gifts instead of fitting it in.  This adds to the stress to the season and makes it less enjoyable for me.  I love making them but I just don't plan the time well to do it.  NOT this year, this year, I took three days off in a row next to a weekend to give me time just to work on making Christmas gifts.  I am loving this idea and plan to do it every year now.

Besides the list we have to figure out dates to travel to Des Moines to spend Christmas with my family.  This year I also have to send gifts to Florida to Joshua and McKenzie.  I am really relying on my planner.  I have everything written in my planner from the day I will bake Christmas goodies, when I will mail the gifts and goodies to Florida, when to start the cleaning, and when to send Christmas Cards. My Christmas Cards I do not make.  I just have never gotten into making my own cards.   I do love personable cards and I have recently found Paperless Post they offer many different styles for several holidays." Proceeds from the cards on this Holiday page benefit the (RED) charity to end AIDs.  What a wonderful gift to donate as well.  They also have email cards, which I know some people enjoy giving.  Oh, and if you are looking for invitations for your holiday parties, they have a selection there as well. 

One of the important preparations of Christmas is to keep our traditions old and new.  I try to chose a day and have the kids come over to assist with the baking or at least decorating the cookies.  This now includes our grandson as well.

Decorating our tree is another tradition, although we only have one living at home now.  Every Sunday we have our children over for dinner and typically shortly after Thanksgiving they come over and decorate the tree.

Last year I started a new tradition with my grandson.  Making ornaments.  Each year I want to make at least one new ornament for him to take home and to add to our tree.  This will also be scheduled in the planner as well as making a ginger bread house.  This year will be our third year making a ginger bread house/train.

Planning and preparing makes so much difference for me to be able to enjoy the moments and the Christmas Season.

All the planning and work is well worth it all to make these people happy.  My heart is full with the love I have for them and God.

Watch for my December posts.  I plan to share gifts I have made as well as new baking recipes.  All of my traditional recipes you can find in my recipe tab.  

How do you plan for Christmas?


Dyersville ~ Field Of Dreams

Build it and they will come!   Is this heaven?  No, it's Iowa!   Oh, how I loved that movie the first time I watched it in 1989.  I cannot tell you how many times I have seen this movie.  My oldest nephew played a baseball tournament on that field.  I was so upset that I was not able to go and watch him play.  I have always wanted to go and see the field.

Our second week of vacation we basically moved our children to their new apartments, yes, children.  Joshua moved to Florida Mid-July and then Emily (The only one we did not help because she did not ask us and we were in Chicago.) moved the 30th, Matthew and Ethan moved out on the 31st of July.  August 1st we moved them to the 3rd Floor of their apartment as well as Kera and Taj to the 3rd floor of their apartment.  We did a lot of helping our second week but the last Friday of that second week we did a little adventure in Iowa.  Todd knew how much I was to see the Field of Dreams so he suggested we make one of our stops there.  I was ready to go...

It was not very hard to find at all and I loved every minute of being there.  It was everything I expected and the only thing that would have topped it was actually watching a ball game played there.
Below: The farm house, the added the fence around the house after the movie.

Below: The swing actually was added for the movie and this swing is not the one used in the movie.  The one in the movie was a neighbor's swing.

I had to take a picture of Todd going into the field and with him coming out.
This was a must for me to do.  I know I am so corny but that is just me.

Below: Our selfie at the Field of Dreams.  
It was rather hard to get the sign in between us.

As I stated above, going to the Field of Dreams has always been a wish of mine and now I can cross off one of the items in my 55 x 55 and Bucket List.

Field of Dreams is 1 hour and 40 minutes away from Iowa City.


He Loves Me