Jester Park Natural Playscape – Real Reviews For Real Families

Jester Park Natural Playscape

11407 NW Jester Park Dr, Granger, IA 50109

FREE

Jester Park is not a long drive from Des Moines, but once you hit the front entrance it feels like another 20 minutes until you find the playscape. It’s a lovel drive, though, so just keep going and follow the speed limit. My kids like to sing songs from Into The Woods while we drive through the heavily wooded area. Do not go towards the playground, which is also nice, keep going towards the elk and bison, you will find the playscape.

A natural playscape is not a typical playground. There is no plastic or metal or rubberized surfaces. There are wood chips and rocks, dirt and weeds.  Kids need nature and they are not being exposed to nature the way we were growing up. I use “we” assuming that if you have a family you probably grew up with skinned knees and wet shoes in the summer, but I’m not exactly sure when they started paving and padding everything. Goldy and Beauty were lucky to have a playground and a pond directly behind our apartments most of their childhood, so we didn’t frequent other pars very much.  I love the exciting, modern playgrounds that I have previously written about, and they play a wonderful part in making sure our kids are moving and not spending too much time with screens in their faces, but if you want a true outdoor experience with the comforts of a playground you can’t beat a playscape.

There are 3 playscapes in the area, currently, that I am aware of, and another going in right in our neighborhood at our favorite splash pad, McHenry Park. I am always looking for more. (Hint hint leave a comment if you know of one!) Jester is probably our favorite because it is closer than Brenton Arboretum, which I will write about next, and the water feature is more fun than Sargent Park.

There is always plenty of parking fairly close to the play area. The bathroom is in the parking area, just a small building with an outhouse toilet and plastic urinal, but they keep it clean and provide antibacterial soap, if you’re into that. There is also a water fountain but I recommend bringing your own water bottles. There is not much shade anymore. They cut down our favorite shade tree that we usually sat under to eat lunch. There is a lot to do but my kids always go straight for the water. If it gets crowded or unruly we go down the hill to the sandbox. There are also wood blocks, a prairie grass maze, and prairie animals to view. There are no picnic tables at the playscape but you can lay out a blanket or drive to the nearby picnic areas. There are benches and one by the water that even provides a little shade. I imagine it would be a handy place to breastfeed a younger child while an older sibling played in the water. The website says this play are is best for children over 5, but mine have been having fun their since they could toddle. When it gets busy you may want to take little ones to the sand box.

For the love of all things pink and sparkly, though, watch your children. My sister in law and I witnessed several little boys throwing large rocks into the water where other kids were playing, while the adults responsible for them sat under a shady awning, ignoring them. When one little boy got a rock to the scalp and was gushing blood his mother patched him up, they told the kids not to throw rocks and went right back to their shady hideaway. I think I have mentioned that I dislike these trendy names for parenting types, helicopter moms and free range parents. I think we need a new trend. Common sense. If all the other parents at the play area have to make their kids leave the water because yours are being unruly, you need to hover a little more. That doesn’t make you a helicopter parent. It makes you and your child decent people. I allowed the kids to throw rocks in the water on our last visit because no one else was there. When other children showed up they stopped without being told because for as long as they have been able to pick up rocks I have been teaching them when and where they could throw them. Little S still needs reminders and when he does I remove him from dangerous situations. I don’t want to give you the impression this is a dangerous play area. Far from it! Kids can and do throw rocks anywhere. We go to Jester Park several times a year and have only had this one incident.

My family has been picnicking at Jester Park since before Beauty was born. I know because we have pictures of her there in utero. There are several nice shelters you can just show up and use as long as there isn’t a reserved sign, or you can reserve them for an event. There is a large modern playground with modern bathrooms and showers across the street, an equestrian center, an amphitheater, a golf course, camping, fishing and more. There is also a lodge for events and they hold classes there, as well. If your family loves nature or needs more time in nature you must check it out.

We had a great time and I hope you do, too!

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An elk was watching us dig in the sand.

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The boys are playing with the wood blocks under a somewhat shady awning.

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Sharkboy and his cousin, playing in the water.

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This is the elk and bison viewing area.

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Little S is playing in the sand.

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Ankeny Miracle Park – Real Reviews For Real Families

Ankeny Miracle Park

300 NW School St.
Ankeny, Iowa

The Miracle Park in Ankeny is another inclusive playground, meaning it is suitable for children with physical and cognitive disabilities. From the website:

More than 3,500 children with special needs between the ages of 5 and 15 live in Polk, Boone, Dallas and Story counties and more than 800 attend Ankeny Community Schools. Today, there is a lack of recreational facilities to meet the needs of our young special needs population as accessible playgrounds and the ability to participate in sports leagues are virtually non-existent.

Since 2007, Ankeny Parks & Recreation and the Ankeny Kiwanis Club have partnered to offer “Super Kids,” a series of programs designed for our special needs community. We’ve joined together again to create and construct a Miracle Field & All-Inclusive Playground facility specifically designed for children with disabilities. The Miracle League Field & All-Inclusive Playground will be co-located in Hawkeye Park in Ankeny and will provide children with special needs and their families:

  • A non-competitive co-ed baseball league
  • A custom field made of cushioned, rubberized turf that is flat and free from obstacles
  • A network of “Buddies” to teach, assist and protect players during play
  • A 100% accessible playground on a rubberized surface
  • A playground that focuses on maximum “play value” with an emphasis on inclusive play
  • A sensory rich playground experience catering to kids with physical, cognitive and sensory disabilities

As you can see, there was a real need for this in the greater Des Moines area and I am happy to see those needs being met. These are the only two inclusive playgrounds I am aware of, but if you know of others, please comment. I’m sure there are families that would love to hear about them.

Ankeny is a quick drive for us, but I used my navigation to find the park, taking us 20 minutes out of our way. It is by an elementary school and other ball fields, just off Ankeny Blvd. I don’t really know my way around Ankeny, but it was a simple drive with the right directions. There are giant baseballs on top of it so if you get in the right area you can’t miss it. I was told to park in the school parking lot and did not see any other parking. I’m sure it has a parking lot… right? I’ll look next time we go because we will definitely go back. Walking across the playground was not an issue but I did feel a bit weird when the kids came out for recess and clearly wanted to play on the equipment. Several hovered near the edge, waiting to see if the adults would notice, but no one actually broke the invisible barrier to join us. They did have two nice play sets of their own to play on, which will be an added bonus in the summer.

Unfortunately, the bathrooms were closed and Little S had to pee on a tree. He has gotten really good at aiming but stood a little too close to the tree. I think outdoor peeing is an essential skill that should be taught to kids at a young age, but not having a penis of my own I am still learning a few things, too. Back up. Guessing from the size of the building I expect comfortable restrooms with real toilets. I’ll let ya know.

I did not see a place for snacks, but that is another thing we will look for when we return. There may be a concession stand for the ball field. There is a shelter for shade up the hill from the playground and there are awnings over the equipment. I’ve heard several complaints about the lack of shady trees near newer play sets so I feel the need to point out the obvious. Trees bring birds and birds poop on slides. Most park developers are hesitant of too many trees, though, because they have to knock them down to build. Some newer playgrounds have planted trees, but they don’t provide much shade yet. You might want to wear a hat and bring extra sunscreen. I had a pop up tent for my kids that I bought at Goodwill, but I never used it. It was similar to this one, found on Amazon.

There are two playgrounds at Miracle Park, one meant for kids ages 2-5 and another for kids 5-12, as well as a long row of swings for all ages and abilities. I had Sharkboy, Little S and their cousin R with me, ages 3-5, and they all chose the big playground for most of the visit. I’m going to try to describe this to you, but you might need to see it and walk around it to understand. It was a bit like a maze. You can get all the way to the top using ramps and once you are in there doing it it is less confusing, but there are tubes and interesting things to climb on and ramps going in every direction. At least it felt that way to me. The kids had no problem getting around and Goldy caught on quicker than I did. Maybe you have to be under 12 to get around in there.

I don’t like parenting labels like “free range” and “helicopter” because I feel they divide us even more and unnecessarily, but I will say if you are an anxious, hovering parent you will not want to let kids under 5 play on the big play set. I saw young toddlers checking it out and they were fine, but I’m not sure my own heart could take that. There are some very tall slides, an open net for climbing across and some pretty high drop offs. There are also monkey bars at the perfect height for young kids, though, and a lot of fun spinning and climbing toys. There was so much more and I will show some of it in the photographs, but you’ll have to check it out yourself to see everything.

We had a great time and I hope you do, too!

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If you notice the parents to the left it will give you an idea how tall the slides on the right are.

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Little S, age 3, on the monkey bars.

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This is a like a rope bridge, only more rope and less bridge. There is nothing beyond their own skill to keep them from slipping through the net. Of course it was Sharkboy’s favorite place to climb around.

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We had no idea how this was meant to be used so we tried several ideas, including tread mill style.

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Like a regular slide, only noisier.

Ashley Okland Star Playground – Real Reviews For Real Families

Ashley Okland Star Playground

5300 Indianola Ave.
Des Moines, Iowa

April 21, 2015

The Ashley Okland Star Playground is a park on the southeast side of Des Moines with equipment for all children. including those with physical and cognitive disabilities. Ashley Okland was a realtor that also did volunteer work with Variety before she was murdered in 2011. The park was created in her honor for the children she enjoyed working with and it is a park to be proud of. Goldy and I took four boys on this sunny but windy day and got four stellar reviews.

The playground is large and spread out with different and interesting equipment. It has a clean, rubberized surface, which I appreciate on muddy days like today. The kids can play with little concern of getting dirty. (You know this is not normally a concern of mine, but we have plans tonight!) There are also wide open grassy spaces and a lot of trees for us to check out another day. There is plenty of parking close to the playground and a bathroom up the hill. The women’s restroom smelled recently cleaned and looked tidy. This is a vast improvement over most area parks. There were even real toilets! I might be a little too excited about that, but have you ever tried to get a newly potty trained child to hover over an open hole? It’s frightening for everyone involved. There were two stalls but no changing station. (That’s what blankets on the grass are for, right?) If you want snacks or water bottles be sure to bring them with you. I packed a lunch and we stopped at a convenience store on the way. It’s not too far off of E. 14th, so there are plenty of places to stop, but I realize not everyone has a handy helper to wait in the car.

Here are some photos of Sharkboy, Little S and their play school friends enjoying Ashley Okland Star Playground. There is a lot more to see!

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We had a great time and I hope you do, too.

Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden – Real Reviews For Real Families

Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden

909 Robert D. Ray Drive
Des Moines, IA  50309

ADMISSION

  • MembersFree
  • Adults$8.00
  • Senior Citizens (65+)$7.00
  • Military Personnel$7.00
  • Students (ages 4-17)$6.00
  • Children 3 and under Free

April 18, 2015

The Barkeep and I took the boys to the Botanical Garden on a rainy Saturday afternoon in April. The gift shop being right inside the door with no walls around it is a bit nerve-racking for me. My kids want to touch everything and it all looks so delicate and breakable. I try to hurry through the admissions process by having everything I need out and ready when I go in. We must have just missed a wedding as they were still there taking photographs, but it was not crowded at all. We went straight to the hallway where kids’ activities are usually kept and did some coloring and a rubbing activity. In the past we have done some cool art projects there and they often have sensory activities. For awhile there was dirt for digging in, with plastic bugs and other fun stuff hidden in it. After coloring we checked out the back room, a garden show house. This is usually my kids’ favorite area. It changes frequently and has small, interesting details to notice.

Before checking out the rest of the garden The Barkeep took Little S to the bathroom. They went to a family restroom so he did not check for a changing table in the men’s room. He said the bathrooms were clean. Little S was able to reach everything easily but there was no stool available. (This is an important detail to me, as LS likes to do everything himself.)

The gardens get very wet when it rains. Running is always prohibited in the gardens but be very careful to talk to the kids about using their walking feet when it is wet. The stones get slippery. We did not spend much time in the main indoor area but we did check out the waterfall and the stone stairs in the very back. My kids enjoy watching the fish swim under the bridges but I did not notice any on this trip.

There is a cafe, but other than popping in to buy a Fresca, I have never eaten there. The website says menu is locally sourced and plant inspired, so I think it would be cool to check out. We have always brought a snack lunch, which I discovered today on the website is not allowed. Oops. I’ve been bringing in food for over a decade and eating on the indoor balcony without ever being questioned. Sorry staff!

Outside is where the real fun begins. The entire outdoor area was dug up and remodeled last year. I went to the grand opening and was unimpressed at the time, but hopeful that spring would bring more changes. Wow, did it ever! I did not take many pictures to share because I want you to visit and see it for yourself. I’ll tell you this, it’s much bigger now and there is a waterfall you can go under without getting wet. There isn’t much shade out there right now so don’t forget a hat. The whole area is enclosed now, but it is huge, so it is possible to lose sight of a fast runner.

Brother Love

Brotherly Love

Other things to note: There were umbrellas available right outside the door to the outdoor gardens. Nice touch! The website says their on some strollers available on a first come, first serve basis. Other than the open floor plan of the gift shop there are no other “snack traps” or areas selling junk toys. We love the toys available in the gift shop but many are a bit out of my price range. You can get small books of stickers or stencils and a low price if you want a souvenir. Parking is free and plentiful and the staff is polite, happy to see the kids and helpful when needed.

We are members of Reiman Gardens in Ames so our trip to the Botanical Garden was free. As the boys ran around the paths outside I tried to assess how I would feel about the trip if we had paid the $22 to get in. I would not be disappointed, but I would probably not return again for quite awhile. As members we decided to return at least once a month to see the changes in the gardens as they grow. (This is our plan at Reiman Gardens, as well.) I highly recommend a membership if you like to take family outings. I bought the “supporter” membership for $55 and get myself, The Barkeep and all minor children in to both gardens FREE. There is also a list of other gardens across the country where you can get free or reduced admission. We have not taken advantage of this yet. If a membership is out of your price range be sure to drop hints to family members around Christmas and birthday time!

We had a great day and I hope you do, too!

Des Moines Art Center – Real Reviews For Real Families

Des Moines Art Center

  • 4700 GRAND AVE
  • DES MOINES, IOWA
  • 515.277.4405
  • FREE

April 16, 2015

We are currently studying the arts in play school and I thought it would be fun beneficial for the kids to visit a real art center. I wanted them to see all the different types of art and the many mediums and styles used by accomplished artists. I was also a tiny bit terrified about taking four kids, 5 and younger, to an art gallery. I’d like to give a shout out to the awesome Facebook group Des Moines – Beyond 4 Walls for their help in making the decision. I decided to go and bring Goldy to assist.

Before we left I read the kids books about visiting an art museum and made sure to emphasize the parts about not touching the art and other rules. I also prepped them all the way there, “hands to yourself, walking feet, museum voices”, being careful not to use the words I didn’t want them to pick up. If you say, “don’t touch” kids are more likely to touch. Try it sometime.

We were greeted at the entrance by a woman behind the desk and a “guide”. I’m putting guide in quotes because they turned out to be more like guards. Both were very pleasant, though, and not at all put off by the kids. Off to a good start. We were offered a map and after a quick appraisal of the boys ages she also directed us to the restroom, where we went immediately. Smart thinking, lady. The bathroom has several stalls, 3 sinks, and a stool. Everything was easy to reach and use for older kids. (I’ll be highlighting words like bathroom in these reviews so if people want to skim for key points, they can.) Back upstairs, we started our self guided tour. The kids all touched the first sculpture we encountered, but quickly pulled back when reminded to keep their hands by their bodies. I was very impressed by how well they listened! We walked around, constantly herding the boys into one small group so they were easier to watch. They are not used to this method. On most trips I let them spread out and check things out at their pace, but I had warned them this was a different kind of trip. I asked them questions about what they liked about certain pieces, what they thought the people in pictures were feeling, and what they though the artist used to make it.

I’d like to say it was a fun learning experience, but it was also very tense. I realize the guides are there to protect the artwork and they probably see a lot of unruly kids and unconcerned parents, but it is very uncomfortable to have someone follow you like a shadow, especially when your kids are behaving so well. I know he was doing his job, so this is not a complaint, just something you should be prepared for if you take children. We were followed very closely and if the kids got close enough to actually see something the first guide barked, “don’t touch” and they all jumped out of their skin. And of course Sharkboy and Little S immediately felt a strong urge to touch something, luckily it was just the wall. The farther we went into the building the less concerned the guards seemed and the more we enjoyed ourselves. The kids did amazing. They did not run or yell or touch. This is a group of boys that normally wrestle, jump, shriek and climb. If they can do it, your kids can do it. I recommend a ratio of one adult for every two kids unless you have a naturally calm group.

We spent less than an hour inside but saw almost everything. I could see that the kids had reached the limit of their restraint. They were starting to move a little faster, talk a little louder and get a little closer to the art. Too often adults ignore these clues and the results are unpleasant. Leave while everyone is happy and can remember the trip fondly.

We went outside to the rose garden but it is mid-April so there wasn’t much to see yet. Instead I had the kids race from tree to tree using different movements, flapping their arms like birds, swimming, skipping, galloping. It was a relief to move and touch and explore after following such strict rules for so long.

Overall I would recommend the experience. I think it is important for kids to be exposed to art. Be prepared for a shadow guide and make sure your children know the rules in advance. If you are overly anxious you may want to wait until they are older or take them while they are still young enough to be work in a carrier or pushed in a stroller. We had a great day and I hope you do, too.

Thoughts form the kids:

Sharkboy: I liked the face pictures and going outside. I like to look at abstract art and make real art.

Little S: I liked all the pictures and the gold trophy statue. I didn’t like the persons there. I didn’t like the steps that didn’t have the stuff right here on them. (Indicating stairs that had open backs. I forgot about that, none of the kids like that. Glad I asked for their input!)

Friend 1: The guy just said, “stay on the carpet!” The statue was thinking about his Mommy.

Friend 2: (Not much of a talker, simply said yes when asked if he liked the trip.)

EDITED TO ADD:
A few things people have asked about since this was posted, great questions!
There was ample free parking on a weekday at opening time. There is also overflow parking, I would assume used more for events. We were able to park in the center row, with a sidewalk down the middle. I wish every parking lot had spaces like this!

There was a changing table in the women’s room. I did not see a family restroom or check the men’s room for a changing table. Men, if you are not provided a changing table change your baby at the front desk. I think they will file your suggestion faster that way!

The gift shop is located off of the atrium and we did not even go near it. There were no other snacks or toys sold throughout the center. We dd not check out the cafe and I believe outside snacks are prohibited. We ate before entering and had lunch as soon as we left. I recommend keeping the visit short if you had a snacker. There were seats throughout the gallery but I did not see a specific place for breastfeeding. I will keep my eyes open on future visits, as I know that is important to many parents.

Thanks for the suggestions. I will try to add these elements to future reviews.

When The Shit Hits The Fan

Remind me to think of a clever title later.

I had to have an MRI in February and I almost wrote about it then because I have developed some ridiculous anxieties, one of them relating to being pinned down in a magnetic tube for an undetermined amount of time.

Have you ever had an MRI? It’s weird because they give you this list of rules and make everything sound important and serious and then you show up and they’re like, “oh those rules, scratch half of them.” I was completely bare faced, not even moisturizer, because some make ups and toiletries contain metallic fragments. And by “some” I mean “most of mine”. I think I’ve mentioned I like sparkly things. So bare faced but not bare chested because apparently underwire is not the problem the rules lead me to believe it would be. (I know a lot of women would probably revel in the opportunity to go braless but I am not one of them.)

I laid down, fully clothed, and had just reached a state of zen about MRIs when the radiologist put something down over my head that fastened across my chest. She described it as “like a helmet” but it felt more like a cage and she sensed my immediate panic and moved the mats out from under me so my cage wasn’t so tight. Once I was able to take a deep breath without bruising my chest she sent me into the tube of doom. It was surprisingly relaxing and I managed to hold still for at least 30 minutes before my mind started to wander.

Are fillings magnetic?
Should I have told her I have fillings?
I did, it was on the list of questions.
Did they read that list?
Because I answer the same question at every appointment for every doctor and they still ask again.
I hope my bra strap doesn’t mess up the results.
What if I need to do this again because of my stupid bra?
Could my fillings fly out of my teeth if the magnet was strong enough?
I’m 39 years old, I should probably not be afraid of magnets.
Did I use the sparkly body wash this morning?
Why would there be metal in my body wash?
I’m sure it’s something else.
I’m 39 years old and I own sparkly body wash.
I do what I want.
My teeth feel weird.
I’m sure my fillings can’t be pulled out by a magnet.
Right?

So we had to redo that little bit of the MRI because I was moving a lot. I pretended to be asleep and it worked pretty well because she had to shout at me to get my attention. She injected some dye into my body and put me back in the tube of doom for 15 more minutes that felt longer than the first hour.

And then I was done.

All the anxiety leading up to that day seemed silly once the test was over. As I gathered my things the radiologist mentioned that the ENT would be calling me sooner rather than later if there was anything in the MRI results we needed to discuss. The doctor had already told me that if she was not in touch within 7 days I should call her. We chatted about the weather, as people do in February in Iowa. As I walked out she said again, “the doctor will call you if there is anything on the MRI results.”

I briefly considered turning back around because I have a knack for getting people to tell me things they’re not supposed to and I got every indication she had something to say and really wanted to, but looking back I realize I wasn’t quite ready to hear it. That might be why later, at nap time, I ignored two calls from an out of town area code. It wasn’t a number I recognized as any of my doctors so I let it go.

Luckily I also missed a call from Beauty’s school and had to check my messages. Both out of town numbers were my ENT asking me to call her right away. And so I did.

That was about a month ago. It started with new insurance and a routine physical and a new doctor that actually listened when I said I couldn’t hear and I was always dizzy and I wanted to know why. Never let a doctor blow you off. They may be right more often than not but sometimes your gut tells you your symptoms are important and you deserve peace of mind. It may be awhile until I reach “peace of mind” but I’m glad I can at least start working towards that again.

I have a rare, benign tumor called a vestibular schwannoma. It’s on a set of nerves related to balance and hearing and explains my single sided hearing loss and  tinnitus as well as many other minor issues. A lot of people call it an acoustic neuroma even though that is not what it is, and for some reason it annoys me. From Wikipedia:

“The tumour is also sometimes called an acoustic neuroma, but the term “acoustic” is a misnomer, as the tumor rarely arises from the acoustic division of the vestibulocochlear nerve. The term “neuroma” is also a misnomer, since it means “nerve tumor” but an acoustic neuroma is a Schwannoma.”

When the ENT first told me about it she said it was a tiny benign growth and made it sound pretty harmless. I imagined a surgery similar to getting tubes put in my ears and shrugged it off. That denial lasted about half a day before reality sunk in. Lump and growth are just pleasant words for tumor. I have a tumor. In my brain.

                  except it is

Now instead of seeing a doctor I see a neuro-otologic surgeon and he was somewhat surprised by my calm demeanor. I already knew what he was going to say. I’m quick on the Googles, ya know. And I was alone. With a doctor neuro-otologic surgeon I had just met. I am a cry baby. I don’t just cry at movies and books, but I cry at songs and commercials and sometimes when the Sharkboy and Little S gang up on me at bedtime. I cry when I have PMS and I cry when I watch viral videos, but I don’t cry in front of strange men telling me things I already know. Instead I get exhausted. I felt too tired to drive home. Hit me up in the comments if you want to discuss how normal that is because I can barely function lately I am so tired. My mind is constantly preoccupied with all the things I want to do before surgery and what I will need to line up to stay sane after surgery. I can’t adult. I can’t even shower without worrying about how I will shower after surgery.

Some people name their tumors. No thanks. I don’t want to personify mine but if I did I’d say I’m having this asshole evicted, I don’t care what his name is.

Yeah, my tumor would definitely be a man.

I want to be the strong person you always hear about dealing with these things, but I also want to go to bed until it is all over. And I mean ALL. I want to sleep through all the test and the surgery and recovery. Especially recovery. I have a list of worries, ranging from sane and normal to silly and unnecessary. I’m worried one of the surgeons will sneeze and I’ll never walk again, or they’ll nick my facial nerve and I’ll be lopsided. I’m worried my kids will not react well to me being unable to parent for at least a month and they’ll become unruly and start swearing at inopportune times. Er, except they already kind of do all that, so mostly I’m just worried it will hurt their little hearts when I can’t pick them up and that instead of crying they’ll lash out in other ways. I’m worried about my house falling apart around me because even though I’ve never been the best house keeper I am the only house keeper. And the idea of one of my wonderful well meaning helpful friends tidying up (as they have already offered to do because they are wonderful) makes my stomach turn. I’m worried about my lack of income and whether or not I can wear makeup in the hospital because I will probably have visitors.

And I’m worried because The Barkeep is no longer just a barkeep. We bought a whole restaurant. It has a bar in it so his name will remain. He leaves around 9, stops home in the afternoon for an hour or two and goes back to work for the night, coming home well after the boys go to bed, which is later than it should be.

I also have an amazing support network, though. Goldy is living with us while she goes to college. Beauty is a fun babysitter. We have two sets of grandparents in the immediate area. And so much more. So many people have already offered help and support. And I need to learn to suck it up and accept it.

Because that is what you do when the shit hits the fan. You count your blessings. You learn to accept help. You make sure your glass is half full because your kids always need a drink.

And if you’re me you also book a trip to Vegas.

I’ll try not to drive you crazy with tumor related blogs, but I’ll keep you updated because if we’re keeping it 100, thst’s what I do when the shit hits the fan, I write about it.

Don’t Do Everything The Internet Tells You. Or do.

How is winter treating everyone?

I’m overdosing on the vitamin D I used to be afraid of taking and getting out in the sun whenever I get the chance. I thought it was working out okay, but man, for such a short month February is so long. I’ve noticed from my Timehop app that I’m usually struck with the urge to wander by January and then I go a touch crazy in February and then The Barkeep sets me free in March. He’s not keeping me caged or anything, but I believe in a solid relationship both partners need to contribute and both partners need to agree on how to use said contributions. Blah. Being a grown up is stifling. (Simmer down, stay at home parents, you ARE contributing.) Soon, very soon, all the pieces will fall into place and I’ll follow the sun.

wanderlust

The Barkeep is no longer a barkeep, by the way. More to come on that subject another day.

I’ve been working on a lot of blogs, but as some of you have mentioned, none have made it to the published page yet. I’m feeling pretty “meh” about most of them, but I want to keep writing, so here is this update. I thought it would be fun to do a blog project. You can send me ideas, things you’ve always wanted to try or just things you’d like to see someone else try, and I will document my experience. You’ll have to give me time for each project because of those stifling grown up responsibilities, but I think it would be a fun way to gather material when I’m feeling the occasional writer’s block.

I’m going to do everything the internet tells me to do. And write it down. So, pretty much the opposite of what I tell my kids to do.

Speaking of which, the reason I actually sat down to write. I just read a blog about all the things parents need to stop doing. This one was actually pretty good compared to most, but it included the inevitable, “stop taking so many pictures of your kids.” So many blog posts tells me to stop taking pictures, stop posting pictures, which pictures are acceptable and which ones to delete or never take in the first place.

I get it. We need to be in the present. We need to experience the moment. Maybe I’m just excellent at multi-tasking, because I have never felt not present because I recorded a moment. Sometimes I feel more present because my focus is completely on that moment.

Does every single photo need shared to social media? Nah. Can you share it anyway? Damn skippy. Maybe your mom wants to see it. Maybe you want it to pop up on your Timehop app next year. (I swear they’re not paying me for this blog.) Maybe you just don’t give a f…ig who wants to look at it. That’s your picture, babe, post it.

So, don’t do everything the internet tells you to do, Or do. Do whatever you want.

But first, tell me what you want me to do.

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