Sun’s Out FUN’s Out!

When the weather starts to show signs of life again, everyone in Iowa scampers outdoors….like bears out of hibernation, we slowly emerge, blinking our eyes at the sun and sniffing the fresh air.

My little cubs and I (and the Papa Bear in our family) took some time to play outside in the recent warming, Iowa temps.


Bristol loves her new bike.  She got it for her 5th birthday (along with that sweet helmet!).  You’ll never guess her favorite color!

John was all but too excited to show the airplanes his lawn mower.


I’m sure JJ was very glad for the expert help fixing the speed bump we have in the driveway…they say “many hands make light work”!  These signs of spring make my heart happy (even if they all lead to a muddy floor!)




Ice Day

If you don’t live in Iowa, the one thing I’m sure you’ll probably never miss out on is our weather.  Don’t get me wrong: I am a tried and true Iowa farm girl. I completely appreciate the importance of humidity to growing crops and feet of snow to water table levels.  I’m not complaining, but it is -pretty much- a fact that nobody lives here for the weather.

For example: On Sunday, it was 50 degrees outside.  Downright muggy for February!  Today?  Our world was coated with layers of ice and all the schools in the area were cancelled.

As most parents know, snow days (or an ICE DAY in today’s instance) can be fun, but they can also be impossible.  All these kids crammed in our close quarters and me with a list of calls to make and work to get done….it is hardly a recipe for success at ALL.

As a survival mechanism, I have become very good at driving in wintry conditions.  Today, we went to the gym.


Side note: I love our gym.  It has the most amazing amenities: top-of-the-line equipment and tons of space, a cafe with wifi, a spa, waterpark-like pool and kids activities galore.  I easily spend 20 hours a week there between workouts and working.  A big part of keeping my productivity level high!

Also, the kids are learning to make paper airplanes there (#lifeskills).


Of course, we eventually came home and, went straight for technology.  Our house is freezing (it doesn’t handle wind well because, well, it is a horse barn).  JJ managed to stay pretty toasty during his lunch break, though.


Any guesses how long this seemingly-innocent “foot war” went on before there was crying and tattling from the big 2?  Yeah….about 10 seconds after I took this photo.


(And -yes- that is an Easter dress she is wearing. Bristol begged and pleaded for that dress from Costco last week.  She has literally worn it every single day since.  I freaking love her!)

Myself? Well, thank goodness Starbucks doesn’t close for ice.  Have laptop and caffeine: will be productive!  I am an iced coffee addict (and I wonder why I’m cold all the time?)



And while it’s tempting to look at how little I get done during days like these, it is much more fun to remind myself of the awesome parts like:

Sleeping in past 4:15.

Drinking more coffee.

Writing this blog post.

More time with the best people on the planet.


When Dad Takes The Kids Sledding…

When Dad takes the kids sledding, you can be sure he has an amped-up version in mind.  The kids don’t have to know the plan to know it will be amazing.


When Dad takes the kids sledding, there is sometimes confusion as to the equipment needed.


When Dad takes the kids sledding there are power tools involved….

…and rope measuring.


When Dad takes the kids sledding, there are no hills required.


Look at them go!!


When Dad takes the kids sledding, wipe outs are epic and a laugh for all.


When Dad takes the kids sledding, even John gets a chance to prove his skills!



When Dad takes the kids sledding, the only tears come when Mommy makes you sit in the Polaris to warm up for a little bit.



…but then Dad lets you drive and everything is okay.


When Dad takes the kids sledding, sometimes he goes sledding himself!


When Dad takes the kids sledding, their smiles are never bigger.


When Dad takes the kids sledding, we are reminded of how grateful we are for a large capacity washing machine and dryer!




Sometimes The Perfect Dog…

If you catch my posts from time to time, you may have caught post not so long ago talking about my old dog Jim and how much I missed him. He truly was a one of a kind dog, however it’s amazing how those unruly puppy years seem to slip from memory…until they are brought back by the unruly puppy years we are currently going through now.

After Jim died, there was a hole in my soul.  You dog people feel me.  It is a hole that no kid, cat, horse, fish or any other creature can fill.  When you’re a dog person, you need a dog.

Because I was having babies, I knew jumping into a new puppy needed to wait until I could devote some time to the pup.  So it was 2 years after Jim died that Harley came into the picture.


For some reason, I had had it on my mind for a while that we needed a Heeler (or Australian Cattle Dog).  I had friends who had Heelers and had loved them. They seemed to make great farm dogs and were smart enough to stick around home base.  A mutt of some kind would have been fine, too….just so long as it had some kid of “farm dog” in it.

So I started keeping my eyes peeled on social media for a dog…something that spoke to me.  I knew I would get “that feeling” when the time was right. I wasn’t in a hurry…and I knew JJ would be PISSED no matter when or what type of dog I brought home. I needed to make sure I made the right move and get the Perfect Dog for the sake of my marriage (let’s just say the “animal lover” gene is not one he possesses).

As I was scrolling the hot sheets (aka local Facebook farm pages) one day, I saw an add for a litter of puppies that caught my eye.  Not only were they farm puppies that seemed well cared for, fat and healthy, but one of the photos showed a little boy about my son’s age in a laundry basket at the vet clinic with all the puppies crawling all over him.  Oh boy…I was on the EDGE of my seat seeing that photo.  It was a sign!  Then I noticed that the puppies would be ready for their new homes on April 20th….which would have been Jim’s birthday.  I couldn’t respond SOLD fast enough.


Now, I know what you’re thinking: “Jenny is such a sucker.  She totally talked herself into that puppy” and -well- you’re right.  But -hey- that’s what works for me.

I contacted the seller and, as she lived 2 hours away and I could not travel to select a puppy, I wanted her to pick out the perfect pup from the litter for us.  I gave her a list of all the characteristics I remembered Jimmy having when he was a puppy…I think a part of me was hoping that he had be reincarnated as one of these pups.

She picked out Boy #3 for us and we arranged to meet.  Evan, my sister -Katie- and I drove to a small town in southern Iowa to pick up our new best friend.

And -like that- we had a dog again.


Finding the right name for him was hard.  He didn’t have one for a couple days as we rolled around with Blue Dog, the Blue, then Carlos, then Walter and finally -out of nowhere- Evan decided he was a “Harley” (which is hilarious because we are not a motorcycle family in any regard).


Immediately, I realized this dog was NOT Jim reincarnate.   He was terrified of everything and acted like a crazy dog when strangers were around (hair up, growling and cowering).

We didn’t immediately click as epic human-and-dog duos sometimes do.  Cars driving by sent him into a panic and even horses freaked him out.  He had ZERO “personal bubble” and was always jumping up or laying on top of people he knew (in a panicked, neurotic way…not the “I love you human” way that would have been endearing).  He seemed both indifferent and also incredibly needy.

If I had a nickel for every time I said “Calm down, Harley!” I would have dog food for life paid for.  Basically…I just wanted Harley to chill out and love the awesome dog life we were trying to give him.

“Oh lord, ” I thought, “I have completely picked the wrong dog.”  14102308_10100783648160053_3333246278619302516_n

Now, I know you seasoned Heeler owners are going to say “They are a high energy breed and have a tendency to be neurotic.  This is normal” and you are RIGHT! That’s what drew me to the breed (well, maybe not the neurotic part, but I was willing to work with a little odd).  We are a high energy family with a big outdoor life and wanted someone who could keep up and was smart enough to stick around the farm.  But no matter how many trips up and down the driveway he chased the us or how much fetch he had, it didn’t fix his crazily panicked tendencies.

That first year was hard.  I was so ready to give my heart and soul to this dog and it just wasn’t working.  I just wanted a best friend for myself and the kids.

Harley is a family member” I told myself.  My only choice was to dig in and find more patience.  


Flash forward to today:

When Harley turned 2 a couple days ago, I found myself looking back at the beginnings of his life with our family and noticing growth on both sides.  Our neurotic Heeler was settling in and -in return- getting more attention and positive reinforcement from us.

He has begun to actually just lie down and sleep in the house.  He doesn’t bray like a sick coonhound with his hair on end quite as much when he hears new noises and he has almost completely ditched his jumping-up tendencies.  He even brings us presents sometimes (eek!).img_3841

And we make him  birthday cake:

With his budding maturity has come more time for just Harley and I to do things together like drive to pick the kids up from school. I have noticed that I am petting him more and am taking time to teach him more tricks and commands (Evan loves to do this too).  My husband even elects to take him along on farm chores and down to the shop from sometimes, too.  It’s a relationship we are all working on.  It is a relationship that is growing.


You see, here’s what I was missing: Sometimes the perfect dog isn’t a perfect dog at all.  Sometimes the perfect dog makes you work SUPER hard for that relationship.

Clearly, I am not a perfect dog owner.  And though I may never be, I have found that having Harley is the perfect opportunity to grow, learn and work on giving him my heart.  And, although he still does things that drive me NUTS sometimes, I am finding everyday that that piece of my heart for him grows by the day.

Turns out, Harley, you are just perfect for us.




My Perfect Tube Maxi For Summer

I am not a fashion-ista by any measure.

I love pre-worn clothes and 2-year-old flip flops.  I  wear jeans all the time, even when it’s 95 and humid.  I never wear shorts and I often wear workout clothes to run errands so people think I just worked out instead of assuming the truth (I haven’t showered that day and all my other clothes are still in the washing machine).

Probably twice in my life has someone come up to me and said “Oh I love what you’re wearing.” And both those times, it was probably my mom trying to make me feel good (I’m exaggerating here, but you get the point).

But that doesn’t mean I don’t have a healthy appreciation for functional, comfortable clothing that doesn’t make me look destitute.  Can’t I be comfy and cute?? So, when I find something that works for me, I go with it!

Living on a farm and staying at home all day with kids means 2 things:

1.) Getting dirty is inevitable.

2.) It does not pay off to put effort daily into my appearance because the horses, bugs and kids don’t care (and my husband never notices).

This is the first post in my “Farm Chic” category. My aim is to share with you what works for me and why.  Clothing, decor, TV shows, bathroom products, adult beverages, etc.  Pretty much miscellaneous and then some.

To kick this off, I’m sharing a dress that I recently bought in 3 different colors (because that’s how I roll…if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it – just buy it in different colors!).

The Old Navy’s Tube Maxi is comfy and pretty.  It comes in many colors and patterns, too!  I like it because you can wear it during the day or dress it up for an evening out (although the cotton material is a little casual looking for any formal affair).  It’s also a great dress to throw on over your suit and head to the pool (or pond if you live the farm life like I do).




Super cute, right??

And I’m obsessed with these tube dresses this summer for several reasons:

1 .) I hate tan lines.  Nothing makes me feel less pretty than big white ‘seasonal tattoos’ draped all over my shoulders.

2.) I am still nursing Bristol so easy access is really handy.

3.) This particular dress doesn’t fall down.  It has plenty of hold at the top to keep you from having to constantly jerk it up (but not so much that it’s uncomfortable or too tight).  I can even lift babies over my head without fear of a ‘loose cannon’! *photo below*

4.) Drawstring waist = slender look

5.) These dresses are cheap! (The long one is $25. The short one is $15.)


So, there you have it.  My fashion recommendation of sorts.  Tube-tastic!

What do you wear the heck out of during the summer?

Easy and Impressive Stuffed Brownies

It’s snowing outside.  I was panicked about what to do yesterday with a squirrelly 2 year old, so we baked these:OreoBrownies1


Yes…its snowing so we baked.  And Yes, it’s May 3rd and there is a blizzard going on.  We are having the most bizarre weather here in Iowa!!  This is what we were doing on Monday (normal for this time of year)…




And this is what it looks like outside today…



I am regretful about jumping the gun and planting my garden last weekend when it was 75 degrees and sunny, but luckily I have a raised garden bed that can be moved into the garage for such strange occasions.  My herbs are very sad without sunshine!  And so am I…and so are my kids.  Just when I thought cabin fever was clear for take off, it’s back in full force.

So, I bake.

And I thank the blogging gods for Sally.

Just when I get bored with a recipe, she swoops in with a tastey twist on something simple and it makes my day.  She posted these brownies a while back.  Her method : put Oreo’s inside your brownies before you bake them (she added frosting, too, but I left that out).OreoBrownies2


Do you have a box of brownie mix?  Do you have 12 oreos?  Then make these.  Now.  It’s easy!

  • After you make the batter, pour half into your prepared pan.
  • Add a layer of Oreo’s.
  • Cover with the rest of the batter.
  • Bake.

Easy and they impress your friends (just don’t tell them how easy they are).  OreoBrownies3


The cookies get really soft and fudge-like as the brownies bake.  The brownies come out fudgy as can be and the cookies add another dimension to the already delicious chocolate flavor.  You could also do a homemade brownie recipe with these if you have guilt about using a box mix, but over achieving is hardly in my vocabulary lately!