A Lesson in History in Odebolt, Iowa

We had fun exploring the Iowa Rural Schools Museum and the Peterson Pioneer Home in Odebolt, Iowa.
We had fun exploring the Iowa Rural Schools Museum and the Peterson Pioneer Home in Odebolt, Iowa.

After a morning exploring and learning about gardening at Prairie Pedlar (read about it here), the girls and I decided to head to Odebolt, Iowa for another Girls Adventure.

I wasn’t sure what we’d find, but my motto is, “You can find adventure anywhere with a little imagination.” Lucky for us, we didn’t have to try too hard to find an adventure in this small town. We just happened to be in town while the Iowa Rural Schools Museum was open.




We walked into the school house and stepped back in time. The curator was very friendly and gave us a personal tour of the building. She did an exceptional job engaging the girls and helping them learn along with me. It was evident that she has a passion for school houses. Not only has she researched and written a book about them, but the school house we were standing in was the very one she attended as a child.

The girls thought it was a treat to play the pump organ! They loved the hands-on learning they were able to do.
The girls thought it was a treat to play the pump organ! They loved the hands-on learning they were able to do.

The girls sat at desks, wrote the alphabet on slates, practiced playing the organ, read the children’s books, and looked at toys used by children long ago. I imagined what it would be like to have children of all ages in one classroom. Those teachers were amazing!

The building was full of amazing artifacts. There were books of all kinds, writing tools (so glad we have moved beyond ink pots and feathers), a working pump organ, and so many more beautifully restored toys and school related items. We learned so much about life and school in the earlier years.

These two love being students no matter where they go!
These two love being students no matter where they go!

Do you know how to tell if a school house was built in the 1800’s or 1900’s? How about, why was the organ taught to children rather than piano? The answers are quite interesting. Stop by the school house for a tour and you’ll discover the answers for yourself!

Next to the school house was the Peterson Pioneer Home. We enjoyed the tour of that as well. How life has changed in the last century! There are days when being mom is a challenge. Then I imagined life as a mom in the pioneer house-yikes! No electricity, and laundry and dishes were done manually; after heating water. And the steep steps upstairs-wow! I sure hope no one needed the outhouse after they were in bed. And don’t even get me started about an outhouse! I must say I am fascinated by history and how people once lived, but I am very happy to live with modern day conveniences!

This kitchen was so tiny! It was missing a sink, dishwasher, and refrigerator!
This kitchen was so tiny! It was missing a sink, dishwasher, and refrigerator!

The curator at the museum also recommended that we head across the street to check out First State Bank, famous for its role in the movie Peacock in 2010. I’ve heard it is worth the peek and would have loved to take a look, but my kids were melting, and fast. My mom-radar told me that in about point five seconds we were going to have an epic meltdown, so the bank went on the list for our next trip to Odebolt.

Inside and out, the Iowa Rural Schools Museum was beautiful and well-kept.
Inside and out, the Iowa Rural Schools Museum was beautiful and well-kept.

The next time you are in the area, you need to stop in Odebolt to check out the school museum and pioneer house. The Rural Schools Museum hours are Wednesdays from 10-4 and Saturdays and Sundays from 2-4 Memorial Day – October. The Peterson Pioneer Home is open Sundays from 2-4 Memorial Day – October.  Both are open by appointment and for special events.

You never know what adventure you’ll find in small town Iowa. I’m glad we had a chance to explore Odebolt. A little lesson in history was a great way to spend our day!

Picture Perfect Day at Prairie Pedlar

I just love hollyhocks! These were just one of the beautiful flowers showcased at Prairie Pedlar.
I just love hollyhocks! These were just one of the beautiful flowers showcased at Prairie Pedlar.

Summer was full of activities for the girls. And although our ‘summer vacation’ is officially over, it is fun to reminisce about all we accomplished! We completed swim lessons, library programs, free movies, and soccer camp. We played at many parks, rode bikes, had picnics, and spent a few lazy afternoons inside. And, this summer the girls did something new that they haven’t stopped talking about. They were a part of the Caterpillar Club at Prairie Pedlar Gardens near Odebolt, Iowa.

The Caterpillar Club aimed at helping kiddos learn about gardening in fun and interactive ways. The group met twice this summer (my girls were only able to make it to one session), and was led by Jane Hogue. I have to tell you, Jane is passionate about gardening and does such an amazing job getting kids excited about gardening too. Even the reminder email was full of gardening excitement!




These fairy gardens turned out super cute! The girls have enjoyed watching them grow this summer.
These fairy gardens turned out super cute! The girls have enjoyed watching them grow this summer.

Clad in garden gloves and tennis shoes, my girls excitedly joined the group at the old school house on the grounds for a lesson before exploring. They learned about weeding and caring for plants and even had the opportunity to pull weeds, which they told me they had fun doing (sounds like a new job for them at home)! They made little dolls from hollyhock blooms, had a snack, and learned more about plants. Before the morning was over, they designed their own fairy gardens, complete with a ‘fairy rock’ (a magical rock with a hole all the way through where it said you may just catch a glimpse of a fairy)!

I enjoyed meandering through the gardens. The colors and special touches, like the birdhouses, were fun to see.
I enjoyed meandering through the gardens. The colors and special touches, like these birdhouses, were fun to see.

After leaving the girls at the school house, I realized I had two and a half hours of time to myself! It was a freeing and very strange feeling-you know what I mean if you’ve ever been around young kiddos! I decided to do a little garden exploring myself.

Although I do not have a green thumb, I enjoyed looking at the different plants and getting ideas. I especially loved the fun way the succulents were potted.
Although I do not have a green thumb, I enjoyed looking at the different plants and getting ideas. I especially loved the fun way the succulents were displayed.

If you haven’t been to Prairie Pedlar, you need to plan a trip. The gardens are absolutely amazing! I wondered through the beautiful gardens and enjoyed the uninterrupted warmth of the sun. Even non-gardeners like myself will enjoy the serene landscape in the middle of the countryside. I marveled at tadpoles in a pond and admired brightly colored bird houses (I so badly want to replicate those in my garden at home). I peeked at the plants in the greenhouse for a bit before I took refuge in the shade. A quaint bench under a tree was the perfect spot for relaxing with a good book. The gardens and corn fields were the perfect backdrop. I can see why more than twenty weddings were booked at Prairie Pedlar this year!

The quiet little spot I found to read just happened to be under a wishing tree. Isnt this fun?!
The quiet little spot I found to read just happened to be under a wishing tree. Isn’t this fun?!

All too soon, it was time to reunite with my girls. I found them twirling around on a tree swing and picking mulberries (or should I say eating mulberries)! The girls and I stayed on the grounds a little longer and enjoyed a picnic lunch on the grounds (I planned ahead). Before we left, the girls hunted for ‘fairy rocks’ in the gravel driveway with the Hogue’s 6-year old granddaughter.

Many fun statues like this one were hiding in the plants.
Many fun statues like this one were hiding in the flowers.

We had a picture perfect morning at Prairie Pedlar. My girls are already asking when they can go to ‘Gardening Class’ again. I must say I am looking forward to it too! Prairie Pedlar offers many different classes and opportunities for people of all ages throughout the season. And if classes aren’t your thing, be sure to stop and explore. An adventure awaits at Prairie Pedlar.

*Check out more photos from our picture perfect day at Prairie Pedlar here.

For The Love of Goats!

These hungry goats had a sweet treat at a mulberry bush!
These hungry goats had a sweet treat at a mulberry bush!

We have a goat-lover in our family. She asked for a goat two years in a row for Christmas, and she is adamant she’ll be a vet someday. (If any of you are a veterinarian and would like to take a very curious six-year old under your wing, please contact me. She has a list of questions for just the right person!)

So, when I learned that our city, Storm Lake, Iowa, was hiring a herd of goats to eat away problem vegetation near our city parks, I knew we had to have an adventure! The goats from the Hungry Herd will graze by the beautiful lake shoreline for nearly two months. The goats made their debut in Storm Lake last fall when they ate away unwanted vegetation at a few sites around town. They did such a great job that they were invited back. This keeps humans from having to cut away brush in treacherous areas ,and it keeps the goats fed. Sounds like a win-win situation to me!




The new gazebo at Sunset Park provided a perfect place to picnic.
The new gazebo at Sunset Park provided a perfect place to picnic.

Earlier this week, we packed our lunches and headed to Sunset Park for a picnic. I didn’t tell the girls of the newest Storm Lake residents, but as we got closer to our picnic area the goat-lover spotted her favorite animal. She was beyond amazed to see these critters at the park! We got a bit closer and watched the animals at work. (Please note that as it states in this memo from the city, the goats are working animals, not pets. The fence is electrified, so do touch the fencing or try to pet the goats).

This little goat-lover couldn't get enough of her favorite animals!
This little goat-lover couldn’t get enough of her favorite animals!

As we picnicked in a nearby gazebo, the goats roamed closer to us, giving us a lunchtime show. Before she could swallow the last bite of lunch, my little goat-lover made herself comfortable in the grass near the goats. After sitting there for several minutes, she came running back to excitedly announce that she figured out how goats scratch themselves, but she wondered if they could get sunburns. (Another question to add to her growing list). It was fun to see her make observations by watching goats do what they do best.

It was fascinating to watch these little animals at work.
It was fascinating to watch these little animals at work.

Truth be told, even the non-animal loving girl and myself really enjoyed our afternoon. There is something calming about being outdoors. Iowa is full of amazing places to enjoy nature and farm animals, even in the middle of a city park!

The simple things really do bring joy to our lives. A picnic by the lake and a view of goats were all we needed for a memorable Girls Adventure. Now it’s your turn to enjoy nature and find your own adventure! Find a herd of working goats (I hear they can be found near Trumbull Lake too), visit a farm, pack a picnic, or watch the birds, squirrels and bunnies. For the love of goats, get outdoors, and have some fun!

I found this little story written by my goat-lover after our adventure. "Once upon a time there was 3 girls. They love to go on adventures and one day they saw goats."
I found this little story written by my goat-lover after our adventure. “Once upon a time there was 3 girls. They love to go on adventures and one day they saw goats.” It’s pretty safe to say she enjoyed our latest Girls Adventure!

A Library Adventure

Posing with Dan Wardell. The girls insisted on bringing their dolls to the library for this adventure:)
Posing with Dan Wardell after this fun program. The girls insisted on bringing their dolls to the library for this adventure:)

Our summer is off to a great start! We have been finding many adventures and have explored a few new places. Yesterday, we had an adventure in a place we’ve explored many times. Our library!

As part of the Storm Lake Public Library‘s Summer Reading Program, IPTV’s Dan Wardell entertained the kiddos with a program encouraging reading and healthy lifestyles. Now those topics may sound a little boring for young children, but I have to tell you, the program was anything but boring!

The kids were moving, they were laughing, they were interacting with their peers, and they were engaged. The grownups even had the opportunity to get involved in a new version of the ‘Hokey-Pokey.’ Shaking my imaginary tail all about wasn’t what I had planned for my morning, but I was a good sport and played along.

The girls were super excited to see the IPTV car at the library!
The girls were super excited to see the IPTV car at the library!

To get a peek at Dan’s Reading Road Trip adventures, check out his blog. You may notice a few familiar faces! A photo of my girls having fun with Dan Wardell after the program can be found here.

If Dan Wardell is planning a trip to your library, take your kids or grandkids. You will enjoy the 45 minutes of fun just as much as the kiddos. And no matter your age, check out your library this summer. You never know what adventures you’ll find in or outside a book!




Celebrating Spring

Spring is here! Or is it? We had a dusting of snow last night, yet again. I think it’s safe to say we are all ready to say good-bye to winter once and for all! Last weekend’s celebration of Easter had us in the mood for warmer weather, blooming flowers, and bright and cheerful colors.

All ready to decorate eggs!
All ready to decorate eggs!

For me, Easter has always marked the start of spring no matter what the calendar (or weather) says. Theologically speaking, Easter is the beginning of new life. It is a joyful celebration of amazing things yet to come. Spring holds the same truth. New life is found in fields across the state as calves are born. Birds are singing and busily building nests. Early blooming flowers add cheer and color to the

Once the eggs dried, the girls added stickers to their special eggs.
Once the eggs dried, the girls added stickers to their special creations.

landscape. Lawns turn green and give us a glimpse of warmer days ahead. (This morning, I even overheard someone at the gym mention mowing their lawn.)

The promise of brighter days gives me the energy to celebrate the season with my girls. Our preparations for Easter started our spring celebration. One of my most favorite traditions is decorating eggs. I’ve loved it since I was a little girl, and I love it as a grown up. Somehow my girls always end up decorating most of the eggs, but I make sure I get one or two special ones. This year the dozen boiled eggs were

I managed to snag one egg to decorate! I placed masking tape shapes and letters on the egg before dipping it in the colored dye. This one says A {heart} C.
I managed to snag one egg to decorate! I placed masking tape shapes and letters on the egg before dipping it in the colored dye. This one says A {heart} C.

decorated in no time. I didn’t want our fun to end, so we added special touches to the eighteen other regular eggs sitting in the refrigerator. It is super fun to pull out multi-colored eggs to make scrambled eggs or cookies. I think we may need to color eggs again soon to add a little happiness to our baking. I don’t see why we need to save these special things just for the holidays!

We used jelly beans, colored frosting, and cut marshmallows dipped in colored sugar to decorate this guy.
We used jelly beans, colored frosting, and cut marshmallows dipped in colored sugar to decorate this guy.

To add a special touch to our Easter celebration with family, the girls and I had a little adventure in the kitchen and made a springtime bunny cake. (You can find the directions I followed here, tips on making a box cake mix yummier here, and my favorite frosting recipe here.) My girls give the absolute best compliments when we are cooking together. I was told that I am ‘the best cake baker,’ and that ‘I make the best frosting.’ I’m pretty sure

The best part of making frosting is always licking the beaters. I want a mixer with three beaters!
The best part of making frosting is always licking the beaters. I want a mixer with three beaters!

they were just buttering me up so they could lick the beaters, but those comments sure do make me feel good! And, its those special little moments that all three of us will cherish for a long time.

Spring wouldn’t be complete without flowers. We had been patiently waiting for my daffodils to bloom for a couple weeks. They had become a labor of love for one of my girls. My little outdoor girl uncovered them a handful of times after the threat of frost. She gave me daily reports on the

These add a little happiness to my dining room decor thanks to a 6 year-old!
These add a little happiness to my dining room decor thanks to a 6 year-old!

clumps of green leaves and how many ‘dils’ (blossoms) were about to open. One afternoon, after she had grown quite restless indoors, I sent her outside to check on the flowers. Seconds later, she came running breathlessly into the house asking for my special flower cutter. She proudly brought back a fistful of ‘dils’ and leaves to arrange in a vase. They now sit in the middle of our dining room table for all to admire.

Our springtime adventures have only just begun. We have seeds to plant and parks to explore. We have baby birds and animals to find. We have bikes to ride and sidewalks to decorate. We have so much to look forward to because spring is finally here. Be sure to take some time to create adventures and celebrate the beauty of spring!




Fun Fall Adventures

Fall is full of adventure! I may have taken a writing hiatus, but our fall sure wasn’t lacking adventure and small town Iowa fun. While we’ve already had several inches of snow, it isn’t officially winter for a more than a week. That means I have plenty of time to share the fun we found this fall, right?! So, here are 5 of our favorite fall moments:

1. Pumpkins

The girls loved finding the perfect pumpkins! We brought home the biggest pumpkin we have ever had!
The girls loved finding the perfect pumpkins! We brought home the biggest pumpkin we have ever had!

Along with apples and squash, pumpkins are a must in the fall! Every year we hunt for the perfect orange spheres to grace our home. We’ve painted, carved, decorated, and played with many different shapes and sizes of pumpkins over the years. This year, we were invited to a very special pumpkin patch. This patch was full of pumpkins of all sizes, fun memories, and was grown with care by my uncle and grandma.

The girls scoped out the pumpkins and each picked their favorites. One little gal spied her favorite right from the start-it was the biggest, roundest,

We brought out the power tools for pumpkin carving this year. It turned out super cool!
We brought out the power tools for pumpkin carving this year. It turned out super cool!

orangest (if that’s a word), pumpkin in the patch. She giggled nervously as I told her she had to carry it to the car! My uncle came to her rescue as the pumpkin weighed nearly as much as she did! We went home with several pumpkins, one gourd, and many memories of finding the best (and biggest) pumpkins we’ve ever seen!

We enjoyed carving our pumpkins and watching them glow in the dark of the night. This year we tried a new method: drilling holes in the hollowed out pumpkin. I’d highly recommend trying this fast and easy technique next year.  As a special treat, we tried roasting the seeds using this yummy recipe from the Simply Recipes Blog.

2. Leaves

There is nothing better than the changing colors of fall leaves. I love the vibrant yellows, oranges, and reds dotting our yards and hillsides.  The crunch of freshly fallen leaves is hard to resist. The crisp fall air is perfect for sweatshirts and jumping in the leaves!

Before my husband had a chance to rake, the girls and I found a pile of fun in our front yard. The girls went to work making a huge pile of the crunchy multi-colored leaves. Then in a matter of minutes, the leaves were tossed and scattered across the yard again! The giggles and laughter floated down the street as they squealed with delight. There is just something special about a giant pile of leaves. You’re never too old to jump in the leaves, right!

3. Halloween

Our little bunny and bumblebee loved the Halloween festivities we found in our area. When they weren't hopping or stinging people, they collected quite the stash of goodies!
Our little bunny and bumblebee loved the Halloween festivities we found in our area. When they weren’t hopping or stinging people, they collected quite the stash of goodies!

There are so many fun Halloween activities to enjoy in our area! We trick-or-treated on the campus of Buena Vista University (BVU). Costumed kids enjoyed games, candy, and trick-or-treating in the dorms. Storm Lake United (local chamber office) sponsored the annual Chills and Thrills event downtown. This included face painting, activities, games, photo contest, and of course, more candy at various businesses! It is great to see the community come together to provide family-friendly fun!

That left door-to-door trick-or-treating in our neighborhood. The weather was beautiful and we enjoyed a nice fall walk as our bunny and bumblebee collected even more candy! About

Katie, the BV County Naturalist shared an owl with the kiddos during the Chills and Thrills activities downtown.
Katie, the BV County Naturalist shared an owl with the kiddos during the Chills and Thrills activities downtown.

halfway though our route, the girls decided they had enough candy and wanted to hand out treats at our house (as long as it wasn’t the candy they just collected). So, we spent the rest of the evening sorting candy and waiting for the doorbell to ring.

We sure made the most of the Halloween holiday and this year’s costumes! Be sure to put some of these events on your list for next year, or check out the small town Halloween fun found in your area! You’re sure to have a ‘spooktacular’ time!

4. Harvest

Fall isn’t complete without enjoying time on the farm. For me, harvest is the best and most anticipated part of fall. As an Iowa farm girl, I have many memories surrounding harvest and rides in the combine. I cherished this time with my dad as a little girl and enjoy it just as much now (if not more) as an adult. I love being able to involve my husband and kids in this wonderful time of year.

Harvest is meant to be enjoyed by the senses. And if you’ve been a part of this, you know what I mean! There’s the sights of bright headlights as farmers work tirelessly through the night and the glimpse wildlife moving about the land. There’s the sounds of grain drying and the hum of big engines. Then, there’s the feel of dirt on your hands, dust in your teeth, and the crunch of corn stalks under your feet. The smells of freshly spread manure, diesel fuel, and homemade cookies are just a few of my fall favorites (call me crazy, but the smell of manure is always a happy reminder of farm life). The tastes of fall are by far the best part of harvest. I love helping prepare the meals and delivering them to the people in the field. Whether it is pizza from town, a comforting casserole, or brats off the grill (or staying warm in the crock-pot), sharing a meal in a field is one of my most favorite things!

All of us in the cab of a tractor! We make farming a family adventure!
All of us in the cab of a tractor! We make farming a family adventure!

It is during harvest that I am most proud of my farming background. I love watching my dad, and now the younger generations too, bring in the harvest. If you’ve never experienced farm life, you need to ask a farmer for a ride in the combine. Most farmers would be happy to give you a taste of farming! You may be put to work running for parts or cleaning up a pile of spilled grain, but trust me, it will be well worth it!

5. Thanksgiving

Often overlooked due to the rush to put up a Christmas tree and decor (I’m guilty of this), Thanksgiving often marks the end of fall. It is a time we reflect upon what we are thankful for and the blessings we have encountered throughout the year. Thanksgiving also means spending time with family and eating entirely too much!

We managed to have a great Thanksgiving day despite the uncooperative weather. We made many cherished memories!
We managed to have a great Thanksgiving day despite the uncooperative weather. We made many cherished memories and a pumpkin pie!

This year an ice/snow storm put a damper on our Thanksgiving plans. As much as we enjoy spending time with extended family, we tried to make the best of staying home. We decorated for Christmas, wrapped presents, played games, and snuggled together to watch football. I discovered that in a pinch, I can make a pretty decent Thanksgiving meal, including pumpkin pie! Although we didn’t do anything spectacular, we’ll always remember the Thanksgiving we got snowed in and ate pork loin instead of turkey. We’ll remember the fun we found when we least expected it. We’ll remember our fall adventures. And for that, I am very thankful!

Girls Night and an ABC Walk: Finding Fun From A to Z

What do we do while Dad is away? Have a Girls Adventure, of course! So, while my husband was gone on a business trip last week, we found our own fun in Storm Lake, Iowa. It was a school night, so we had a limited amount of time, but we made the most of it!

The Start to our Night
This is where our Girls Adventure started! We had great food and conversation before going for a walk through downtown!

We started our evening with a girls supper at a downtown restaurant. The girls wanted fast-food but I bribed them with the promise of cheese balls so we could go ‘fancy’ for the evening! Eating out is a treat for our family, and eating somewhere that serves more than chicken nuggets, french fries, or pizza is an even bigger treat for me!

Boz Wellz Pub & Eaterie on Erie Street proved to have something great for all of us! The meals for kiddos are very reasonably priced and come with smile fries (a huge hit). One of my girls tried the grilled peanut butter and jelly and was in ooey-gooey heaven! She licked every last drop from her fingers! We were too full for dessert, but next time we will be saving room for the famous cheesecake or another one of their amazing desserts! I know my girls will hold me to that!

The food was great, but the company was even better! It was fun to have the girls all to myself and not have to worry about cooking or cleaning up the mess. They were excited to be somewhere different too and were super chatty. I learned a lot about their new friends from school and tidbits about what they were learning. It wasn’t all smiles though. Truth be told, I had to put a stop to a couple squabbles and ran to the bathroom with a child on more than one occasion, but I tried to stay positive about it all so we could have fun! Ultimately, across the booth from me were two little girls who were turning into amazing young ladies. I enjoyed their company and look forward to more girls nights with them in the years to come!

Letters on Every Corner
Letters are everywhere! We practiced reading the signs and finding the alphabet.

After eating more than my share of good food, I was ready to call is a night, but my girls had a different idea. They asked to go for a walk, so that’s just what we did! We grabbed our jackets (I can’t believe it is getting so chilly in the evenings already!), and we started our walk around downtown. The girls noticed the letters on the Boz Wellz sign and decided they wanted to find the letters of the alphabet as we walked. Soon, our walk was dubbed an ‘ABC walk.’

We started with the letter ‘A’ and moved through the entire alphabet, trying to spot the letters on business windows and street signs. This activity was super entertaining for the five-year-olds, but I have to admit, it was fun for me too! It was a great evening for a walk, and the added challenge made it even better. Soon, we were finding letters all over the place!

More Letters!
The girls loved spotting letters on the building where their dad works!

We did a little window shopping along the way, and took time to see what Downtown Storm Lake has to offer. It was a fun way to explore our city and learn more about it. (There were a few businesses I didn’t even know about, so be sure to take a closer look your downtown. You never know what you might discover!) The girls and I found all the letters, even the tricky ones like ‘Z’, ‘Q’ and ‘X,’ in no time. After our mission was complete, we went home to snuggle and read stories before bed. I’m fairly certain we all fell asleep with smiles on our faces!

Getting Dark on our ABC Walk
It started to get dark on our ABC Walk, but that did not stop us! It was fun to see our downtown in a different light.

I could have cooked supper at home and gone through the usual week night routine. But, I didn’t. I could have said ‘no’ to the walk and called it a night. But, I didn’t. I could have gotten upset about the arguments and potty breaks during supper. But, I didn’t. I lived in the moment, made decisions on a whim, kept a positive frame of mind, and let the girls have a little control over our evening. I’m so glad we did something out of the ordinary, because in doing so, we turned an ordinary evening into an extraordinary Girls Adventure!

 

Exploring Nature at Buena Vista County Conservation Park

Beautiful Girls at BV County Conservation Park
Enjoying the scenery at Buena Vista County Conservation Park.

Four miles west of Linn Grove, Iowa on 440th Street lies a hidden wildlife oasis. The Buena Vista County Conservation Park consists of 308 acres of wildlife habitat, picnic areas, campgrounds, hiking trails, and plenty of space to play. The girls and I visited the area on a Girls Adventure and enjoyed our time exploring nature.

We spent part of our day with friends. The modern campground area hosts a great playground area for kiddos. The kids loved the tornado slide, swings, and play structure. An empty bucket in my car (I carry one at all times for emergency situations) became a fun toy to fill with rocks and sand. A highlight at the playground was finding deer tracks in the sand and following them until they got lost in the grass.

Picnic Time
The kiddos had a great time playing on the playground equipment and having a picnic. The nature surrounding us was an amazing perk!

The picnic tables and shade were calling our names after a morning of play, so we grabbed our lunch boxes and had a picnic. The kiddos and moms enjoyed conversation and laughter in the great outdoors! After a little more play, our friends had to head home. The girls and I were left to explore the Buena Vista County Conservation Park a bit more on our Girls Adventure!

We drove to other areas of the park and found 2 large enclosed shelter houses. They are available to rent and are used for the many programs sponsored by the BV County Conservation Park. There were so many beautiful trees, grasses, and wildflowers; we were completely surrounded by nature. The girls and I found a nature trail and walked on it for a bit. The narrow trail, tall grasses, and just the thought of poison ivy spooked one of my girls so we didn’t hike very long. There is a creek near the trails; however, we didn’t make it that far! I’d love to go back and check out the trails again; it sounds like a great date idea to me!

Ready for the Nature Trail
The girls were excited to find a walking trail; they were not too keen on long grasses brushing against them though. We will have to work on loving all aspects of nature a bit more!

The girls found trees to pose by for photos and explored the ground for nature’s treasures. We found many bugs, leaves, acorns, and more deer tracks. In one area, we were at the top of a hill just taking in the beautiful scenery, when one of my girls exclaimed, “I can see the whole world of trees from up here!” There were a lot of trees! I can only imagine how beautiful it will be once the trees take on more fall colors.

Playground
This slide was a huge hit at the campground. This along with a play structure and swings lead to lots of laughter!

If you haven’t done so, be sure to explore the Buena Vista Conservation Park on your own or with family and friends. If you enjoy nature, you’ll appreciate this area! Also be sure to check out the fun events sponsored by BV County Conservation Park. My girls attended a day camp earlier in the summer and had a blast learning about spiders,

Bugs!
This little gal found a bug on the sidewalk and loved it!!

caterpillars, and snakes! For a nominal fee they looked for these creepy, crawly critters on a hike, made crafts, and had a fun snack. I know we’ll be back in the future! Check out the Buena Vista Conservation Facebook page to stay up to date on upcoming events!

What are you waiting for?  Grab your hiking shoes, and head outdoors! 

Adventure in Holstein, Iowa

Hanging Out at the Park
The city park in Holstein was full of great equipment! This little girl got pretty brave!

Have you ever checked out Holstein, Iowa? My girls and I explored this town of 1,400 people and had a great time! This well-kept community located in Northwest Iowa, where Highways 59 and 20 intersect, was the perfect place for a Girls Adventure!

Our first stop was Tiefenthaler Quality Meats, a retail meat store. Not something you may think of as a typical Girls Adventure stop, but it was worth the drive just for this! The store houses over 128 meat items to choose from. We stocked up on their skinless brats, which come in a variety of flavors. I also picked up some pork snack sticks with honey for a special treat (the girls just loved them!). With our cooler full and our mouths watering, we decided to leave the store and keep exploring Holstein.

Our next stop was the city park. It was a nice size and housed equipment for kids both big and small. The park was well kept and allowed for an hour or more of park play. There was plenty of space at the park for all types of games and activities, a shelter house, and additional picnic areas. The only downside was that the bathrooms were in need of cleaning, so we cut our park trip short for a pit stop.

Picking out the Brownies
Someone ate most of the brownies before I had a chance to dig in! She was in chocolate heaven!

That proved to be a good decision! We drove downtown and found the Inside Scoop, a 50’s inspired diner. Not only did the bathrooms meet our approval, but the staff was super friendly. We checked out their menu of goodies and decided we’d share a brownie sundae. We should have brought a few more friends to help us tackle this mammoth dessert! The girls wanted to sit on the red vinyl-covered bar stools. So we bellied up, enjoyed the atmosphere, and filled our tummies with chocolaty goodness! It would be hard to leave the Inside Scoop without a smile!

Follow Me!
“Follow me, I’m an expert!” called this little one as we enjoyed the walking trail in Holstein.

We found a 1.62 mile long trail near the Lohff Schumann Memorial Community Center and got some exercise after our yummy treat! The girls enjoyed watching the traffic on nearby Highway 20. We counted trucks and tried to guess what they were hauling across the county.

After our walk, it was time to head home. We enjoyed the beautiful countryside as we replayed our adventure and nibbled on some yummy pork sticks!

Holstein provided us with plenty of fun on our Girls Adventure! If you find yourself near Holstein or other small towns in Iowa, be sure to stop, and create your own adventure!

 

Keeping Cool on the Last Days of Summer

Ready for Fun
The girls are all set for some fun in the driveway!

With Labor Day Weekend and football games in full swing, summer appears to be about over. The really hot days are fewer but can show up when we least expect it, causing us to dig out the swim suits and water toys for one last hurrah. On one of those recent hot days, my girls and I had a Girls Adventure in our driveway that kept us cool and in fits of laughter.

“I think it is a good day for water balloons,” announced one of my girls nonchalantly after coming in from a walk. Although I had plenty of things to accomplish in the air conditioned comfort of my home, I seized the moment and told the girls to find swim suits. The collective, “Thanks, Mom!” and cheering made this detour in my day well worth it!

I found our supplies and started the tedious job of filling balloons. My girls weren’t allowed to touch the balloons until they were all filled (I didn’t want to get soaked by the tiny grenades before I had enough to throw back at them). So, I put the girls to work. One handed me empty balloons and the other drew targets on the driveway with chalk.

A few hours later, (it wasn’t that long but it really does take a long time to fill those suckers), and we were ready for fun! We started by tossing balloons at the targets to see who could get closest to the middle. That went well for a bit, and then the girls started launching the balloons at me double-fisted. A chase ensued, and balloons were smashed left and right leaving splatters of water and shattered balloons everywhere. Soon the bucket of balloons was empty, and we were just starting to get wet. The fun ended all too soon!

Cold Shower
This little one loved popping the balloons above her head!

Shouts for more balloons were followed by me taking my station by the spigot. We filled more balloons assembly line style. We played catch and tried smashing balloons with our feet. We found that tossing balloons at someone else’s feet was the trick to making the balloons explode. We were all giggling and laughing as we chased each other around the yard. One of my girls had a blast squeezing the balloons over her head and taking a shower in the cold water.

Once the balloons were gone, we filled tubs of water and a water table for even more sunny day fun. The water toys, usually meant for the beach, were out as well and served as cooking utensils at a makeshift water kitchen. I found myself a beach chair, dipped my toes in a bucket of water and let the girls bring me ‘water soup’ and ‘water cookies.’ It was great fun, much better than taking care of things in the air conditioned house!

Squirt Gun Fun
The girls loved using squirt guns. They decided they need bigger ones next summer!

I’ve been told that someday my girls would scheme to gang up on me, especially because they are twins. Well, that happened while I took a quick break to grab a drink. When I came outside, I could hear sounds of two little girls giggling and whispering. As I strained to eavesdrop on their conversation, I heard, “Let’s get mom!” just as I rounded the corner. To my surprise, I was sprayed with cold water from the hose. I screamed and looked up to find one girl with the hose and the other one at turning the hydrant to full blast. Both were grinning ear to ear!

With a few more water rules established, like don’t use the hose without permission, and don’t spray mom, the girls continued to play in the water until their fingers and toes were wrinkly. They used water and homemade sponge balls (stack three kitchen sponges, cut each in three pieces lengthwise, secure them with a rubber band around the middle, and soak in water for endless fun) to ‘paint’ the garage. They watched foot prints disappear in the hot sun. The girls found so much fun in our own driveway. We sure didn’t need to go far to have a great Girls Adventure!

Sneak Attack
Gotcha! Someone decided to sneak up on her sister! Luckily, her sis enjoyed the surprise shower!

There are so many fun things to do in and with water. Whether you have a lake, a pool, a tub of water, a spray bottle, or a few water balloons, you can make your own fun. It doesn’t matter if you have little kids or if your kids are all grown, there are just some days that call for some water play! You are never too old to join in the fun! So, what are you waiting for? Get out there, grab the hose, and have an adventure today!