If you follow me on instagram, you may have seen some of these already. But I couldn't resist posting them here too. I feel like the instagram format works really well with road trip photos.
On our way to my parent's this weekend, we took a break from driving at the Iowa 80 Truckstop (world's largest!) If you're not fortunate enough to pass this place dozens of times a year like we do, know that it's the King of All Truck Stops. And we've come to appreciate it so much more now that we have a small boy traveling with us. It's a welcome respite from being cooped up in the car, and there are tons of interesting things for the kids to look at while stretching our legs. In the back there's a huge truck parts and accessories shop; it's fascinating.
Mike on the moving truck platform (it spins the truck around in a circle.) David was very concerned about this. "Daddy! Get off of there!"
Norah and I, reflected in the surfaces of various shiny truck parts.
There was a display of at least 50 steering wheels.
The boy. (I think this is my favorite shirt of his.)
That big white thing is the spoke of a wind turbine. They look crazy humongous when you see them up close.
On the way home, exhausted from the day of presents and running around like crazy with his cousins.
We had such a wonderful Christmas with our families. I'm holding it close for right now and don't want to write about it really, other than to say, I am so so blessed to have the family I do.
We're having a quiet month here. I know everyone talks about how intense December is, but for low-key me and my small children, we're keeping it pretty chill these days. We just hang around the house, run small errands, go to the library, watch movies (Emmet Otter's Jug Band Christmas has been a surprising hit with the boy.) I'm intensely grateful that the kids are too small still for school holiday activities.
My refrigerator happiness.
David's refrigerator happiness (magnetic Nativity Play set).
Current reading stack. Yes, it's mostly cookbooks. And yes, I realize this makes me seem like the ultimate lame housewife. I don't know, I just haven't had the heart for fiction in a while. I tried to read the latest Jonathan Franzen and I sort of felt like he was phoning it in and the characters weren't compelling and it was too long. This coming from someone whose favorite books also function as doorstops, so . . . yeah. I stopped halfway through and I usually hate doing that.
I have been listening to Tina Fey's Bossypants audiobook, though, and thoroughly enjoying it. It keeps me company in the kitchen on the quiet afternoons when the kids take long naps. And I know, it's such a cliche for a girl like me (brown hair, glasses, kinda funny, kinda smart) to say "Tina Fey! She's just like me!" but I definitely felt that a lot while listening to the book.
The kid's new favorite activity: hanging out in Norah's crib together. Most adorable thing ever.
(insert picture of potty training here. I have some cute ones but I feel a little icky posting those on the web, even if they're tasteful or don't show anything. . . you know what I mean?)
So, potty training. I swore up and down before I had kids I would never share this kind of info on the web, but it's been a big part of our life the past few weeks, so here it is. One morning I woke up and decided our almost 3 year old is really too big for diapers. And we went cold turkey. And you know what? It was a huge success. I'm glad I waited because David caught on fast. It's been about 2 and a half weeks and we are officially diaper-free! The unexpected bonus of potty training? We spent so much time in the bathroom that first week that my hair, makeup, and eyebrows have never been better groomed.
That's been our month. And of course we couldn't be more excited about the next few days of Christmas happiness.
(blurry, overexposed, through the windshield & taken while driving photo. i love it.)
Last Thursday we headed down to central Illinois for a friend's Christmas party / toddler playdate. It was super fun (I'll share more later). But for me, half the fun is getting there and coming back.
We drive past the suburbs, past the exurbs, past the vaguely ominous industrial area near I-80 and the Des Plaines river. Then the view opens up. When I see the fields and the entire sky, I have a physical reaction; my shoulders drop and my jaw relaxes. My spirit changes too, like all the ugly and cramped up parts of my mind shake themselves out and unfurl into the open space.
I know a lot of people find the midwestern landscape bleak. And I can see that, for sure. There's not a lot to look at. But isn't that nice? The emptiness is soothing to me. This is the landscape and geography that's folded up and stuck deep in my childhood heart. Gentle parabolas of powerlines. Funny old farmhouses and dilapidated barns. Grain bins, railroad tracks, cattle. I haven't lived in a rural area in many many years, but these things are still my visual markers of Home.
The wintertime colors are soothing too. Desaturated greys, browns, greens. All the natural world soft, subdued, faded, and waiting. And I don't mind that the sun isn't out, the kids nap better on grey days anyway.
We had a quiet ride. I didn't turn the radio on. No NPR, no podcasts, not even one of my carefully curated Christmas playlists. Just me and my thoughts; the wind against the car, David's little low-volume DVD player showing episodes of Thomas; Norah's soft baby noises and little rattly toys. And the scenery adds to the quiet, too. Quiet car, quiet colors, quiet sky, quiet mind. I always feel so much gentler and more thoughtful after a ride in the country.
I was looking through my photos from Thanksgiving and noticed this set. The quality isn't great but I love the progression of events. Siblings! Please to enjoy:
Each of them is dealing with their own set of personal baby/toddler problems (teething, sleep, potty training. . . yeah) but together they've been doing pretty good. The more mobile and capable Norah gets, the more fun it is to watch them interact. These kind of scenes of baby-terror are pretty rare. And I'm definitely thankful for that.