Tuesday, June 30, 2009

More Visitors from the West...

Mom and Rod arrived for their summer visit last Wednesday afternoon. It was a much anticipated visit for all parties involved. The weather decided to give them a good taste of what summer in Iowa means (hot and humid), but that didn't slow us down much. (Afternoon naps a good for recharging all...young and not so young.)

Wednesday night Grandma and Grandpa got to watch one of Lexi's softball games. Thursday brought visits to the Tiny Circus compound, the grocery store, the farmers market, and Dairy Barn. Friday after Mom/Grandma joined me for yoga at the studio, we managed both a stop at our local quilt store and a visit to the weaving convention vendor fair that just happened to be in town last week before finding time for an afternoon rest. Friday evening we ventured to Des Moines for the annual downtown Arts Festival and a visit to the Tiny Circus booth. We have never attended opening night at the Arts Festival and now we know it's not the night to go. The fest was packed. Saturday afternoon or even Sunday is much more our pace.

Saturday we decided to head east to the Amana Colonies...a much quieter destination more Grandma and Grandpa's pace. We enjoyed quilt store stops, hearty food, local brewed beer and wine, and plenty of leisurely walking. Before we left town I hit a new little coffee shop called Java Junction for one the absolute best iced lattes I have ever drank. If you're ever in Amana, IA...I definitely suggest a visit!

After all the going, Sunday we decided it was best just to stay home as on Monday Mom and Rod would be going again...this time towards home in Nebraska. Sunday evening Jason joined us having closed up the Arts Festival with Tiny Circus and we headed to a local park to grab some family pictures. It seems that having us ALL together at once is so rare these days we needed to document the occasion while we had a chance! Those photos, and a few random others, have been posted to our Shutterfly sight.

Monday morning our Nebraska guests packed up and headed west after hugs, kisses, and a few tears. It's always so hard to say goodbye knowing the time between times together is WAY too long. We always enjoy getting to share our home and our community with loved ones. The hours spent together whether resting or going are so very precious.

Thanks Mom and Rod for making the trek east. We already look forward to the next time you are able to do so! Hugs and kisses!!!


Tuesday, June 23, 2009


Scott is in Chicago at a training for work and the girls and I spent most of this hot, hot day cleaning house and preparing for Grandpa Rod and Grandma Shirley's arrival tomorrow. By mid-afternoon we had accomplished our "to do" list (plus!) and since the heat index has been steadily rising over the past few days (today's fore-casted heat index was 105-110!) I thought it would be nice to treat the girls to a movie AT the theater. We went to see UP, a movie we have all been anxiously waiting to see. (Yes, I actually like MOST of the animated movies the girls watch. Most...)The last movie we took them to AT the theater was Wall-E. (Quite possibly my favorite Disney/Pixar creation.) In fact as we picked our seats today Brea looked at me all excited and asked, "Remember when we came to a movie and I had my paci?" THAT was Wall-E. I was amazed she remembered enough to make that connection.

The movie was good. It was free pop-corn day and the theater was almost TOO cool for our minimum summer wear. The girls were a bit tired having woke up extra early today and they both got a little impatient towards the end of the movie, but over all an enjoyable outing. I liked the fact UP is near the end of its run here at our theater so the crowd was small. Though the projector wasn't quite focused right which I found a bit annoying...especially at $5 a ticket...apparently the new matinee price.

We exited the dark of the theater almost 2 hours after entering to find wet streets and cloudy skies. As we exited the building we also found the temperature and humidity outside had dropped tremendously. In fact the temp in the car on the way to the theater had said 94...quite different from the 68 that read out when I started her up to head home after the flick!

As we were driving home I saw a few branched down here and there...nothing major, just small limbs. I figured the storm must have brought with it some wind. Well, wind it did bring, because upon arriving home we were greeted by this sight...

The laundry I had left drying on the line while we were gone (because it was 94 with blue skies when we departed for the theater) was now laying wet and muddy in the grass thanks to a snapped post.

I let the laundry lay until the storm had passed and we had made and enjoyed a simple supper of scrambled eggs, toast, and sausage. I mean it was already wet and muddy, it wasn't going anywhere. The laundry is now sitting in baskets in the laundry room dripping wet and waiting for me to deal with tomorrow. I have yet to figure out exactly WHAT I'm going to do with it...because our dryer is currently not working...therefore the clothesline has been our only drying option for the past several weeks.

Thankfully Grandpa Rod is handy and good with things that have motors. I'm hoping he will have us up and running with a working dryer by the end of his visit. In fact I have quite the list of small "fix-it" jobs I'm hoping he can lend a hand to over the next 5 days...he may be happy to go home at the end of his vacation to rest!

As for the clothesline....well, guess I'll find a good pair of post hole diggers to borrow.


Thursday, June 18, 2009

House Guests...

The month of June's theme for the Mavins has been Visiting and Visitors.

This past Sunday one of my dear friends from our college days, Sara, arrived with her two girls, Laurel (7) and Lydia (5). Sara and I had plenty to catch up on, including a tour of our house and yard this being their first visit since we moved to Ann street. We packed a lot into their 2 1/2 days here. Yummy food, good wine, plenty of coffee, yoga, softball, a mommy's lunch/afternoon out, a little sewing (Sara), and HOURS of giggly play (the girls).

Tuesday morning we took our guests out to Tiny Circus. Sara was interested to learn just what exactly Tiny Circus was all about. Our brood of kiddos was useful as Tiny Circus needed some kids to test out their plan for creating quick and dirty animations for the upcoming Art In The Park sessions with which they will be involved.

First the girls created some monsters...

And then they colored a background...

Uncle Jason explained how the stop animation process works...

And then Camille and the girls made a monster dance party!

Hopefully I'll soon have their little short animation file to post here for you all to see. It was fun, and the older sisters were talking all afternoon about other animations they could create.

By late afternoon Tuesday, the little sisters had had as much as they could handle. We suggested some quiet time with a movie and 10 minutes later...

Wednesday morning our guests packed up and continued on their journey east into Illinois to visit more friends. We so much enjoyed their visit and hope it's not another 5 years before they make it back our direction!


Thursday, June 11, 2009


Pretty much this picture says everything that needs to be said. What a pair.


Monday, June 8, 2009

The Bengston B&B...

The girls and I took off last Thursday for north central Nebraska to visit our friends the Bengstons. It's always such a treat to hang out at their beautiful house and enjoy some much needed time catching up. It's quite fun that the Bengston girls and the Mavin girls are so close in age. The big sisters play so well together we hardly know they are around. The little sisters are getting to the age when the 6 month difference in their age is become less of a gap and I'm confident that before long they too will be inseparable.

Friday's weather was PERFECT and we spent most of the time in the yard and on the deck enjoying the warm sunny day.

Little E enjoyed some of her swimsuit time hanging out in the kitchen "pool" while the mommies chatted and readied for a social event later in the evening. I couldn't resist snapping a few pics of her contently sucking on a slice of lime in her private spa. She is such a cutie.

On Saturday the Mommies snuck away for afternoon to visit a couple quilt stores in Grand Island and a stop at the Miletta Vista Winery for a tasting on their beautiful deck. A night of sewing finished up our visit and too quickly our time to head home arrived on Sunday morning.

Our trip home was quick and uneventful. The drive is easy, simply long. It doesn't help that I have developed quite the case of travel anxiety over the past few years. I spend a lot of energy worrying that every other driver on the road could at any moment be the cause of a traumatic crash. I don't have a lot of big fears in life, but being involved, or having loved ones involved, in a serious car accident is one that has seemed to have grown since I became a Mom. Thankfully I'm a bit more at ease when I'm behind the wheel, which is what makes taking these trips possible.

I realized this trip that should we stop every time I see an old sign/barn/building/rusty tractor/broken down fence row/tree grove/church that makes me go "that would be fun to photograph", we would NEVER get anywhere! I need to either make a plan to make a trip specifically for photographing all the small treasures along the way OR just plan on adding time to our normal trips to allow for at least the occasional stop. I did manage to snap this shot through my window as we were driving through Columbus. How could I not...Latte Lizard...too funny!

I'm also quite lucky that the girls are excellent travelers. We load the car with plenty of things to keep them occupied...movies, books, art supplies, snacks, etc. We enjoy times of conversation and finding places to stop for treats. I do hope that in the years to come they will look back on the trips that we have made together fondly. I know I always will.

Many, many thanks to the Bengston clan for being such amazing hosts. For good food and good wine and lots of laughs and time spent together. Life doesn't get much better than that!


Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Unconditional Love...

Fourteen years ago tonight I was dancing it up with my new husband, friends and family in celebration of our newly recited vows. It was a great party.

I had just turned 20 not even 3 months before. Scott and I had been together 3 years and he truly was the only boyfriend I had ever had. We were young and starry eyed and hopelessly in love.

What I didn't know on that day 14 years ago was just how true those words spoken would be. For better, for worse. For richer, for poorer. In sickness and in health. (We were young and lazy and opted just to use the old traditional vows, something I would change now that I'm older and wiser...though given my tendency to get weepy at the simplest of sappy moments these days, I'm not sure I could ever make it through more heartfelt words.) On that day 14 years ago I didn't have a clue about how much the ups and downs of life can both test and strengthen a relationship. I didn't understand how many growing pains we would have to experiencing together, mainly because we were so darn young when we took our vows. And I didn't fully understand OR fully appreciate Scott's true and unconditional love.

We, as any relationship, have had our fair share of challenges. On my side of things specifically (since I can only speak for myself) I have at times questioned if we had the strength to make it through a few of those challenges. If, as we have both blossomed into our true selves, our commonalities would continue to bridge the gaps between our many differences.

Thought all those times of questioning, all our times of stress, all the times that I freak out and wonder what the hell I'm doing with my life or where I'm headed, if we've made the right choices in life, if we can avoid becoming just another divorce stat, and if indeed everything will be alright, one thing has remained constant. Scott's love.

It has really only been over the past year that I've started to understand just how unconditional his love is. And it's only been recently that I started to realize that I haven't allowed myself to fully accept and trust that love as some freaky self-defense mechanism. (I'm sure there's some therapist out there who would LOVE to sit me down and get down dig into that can of worms.)

How lucky am I?


That's how I feel today on this day that I can celebrate with my best friend our love, our friendship, and our family.

I love you Scott.

Thank you for the past 14 years.

Thank you for your love.

Thank you for your friendship.

My life is a better, happier place because of you...and your amazing unconditional love.

A lucky lady I am.


Monday, June 1, 2009


I've been thinking a lot about choices lately. About how some choices bring about expected change, and how some changes are not necessarily by choice. How it's so hard to know if you're making the "right" choice. At times figuring out what the "right" choice even means seems impossible. Thinking about whether it's best to make choices based on one's gut, one's heart, or one's head. (I tend to follow my gut and heart more...which doesn't always make for an easy outcome, but rarely am I regretful.)

I've been thinking about choices a lot lately because over the past 2 years we have experienced lots of changes in our little corner of the world. Some expected based on choices made. Some not. And honestly, I'm getting a wee bit weary of some of the struggles which we face on a month to month, week to week, day to day basis. It has made me question choices that have been made earlier in my life, at times wishing I could turn back the clock and get a second chance. But then again there is so much about my life I would not change for anything else in the world. My hubby. My girls. My friends. My community.

The funny thing about choices is we can weigh all the options, play through all the scenarios in our head, but we don't REALLY know how things are going to play out until a choice is made and life moves forward. And in the real game of life one rarely gets a "do over." Though if we are lucky we are blessed with enough time to make new choices, chart a new course so to speak.

Change can be difficult for me at times. But without change there is no growth. And even though the status quo maybe comfortably familiar, it's not always comfortable. That being said, I'm think I'm ready for some change and to make some choices necessary for facilitating that change.

Almost nine years ago I applied to massage therapy school. Long story short, I ended up not going. I opted to take a full time job outside of the wellness/health-care field and do the "sensible" thing in preparation for our growing family. (Just when all this change was about to take place I found out I was pregnant with Lexi. Amazing how suddenly one's thought process changes when the thought of caring for a small dependent off-spring is added to the mix.) Over the next 5 1/2 years I made some great connections with amazing people, gained some valuable skills, and opened our lives up to a whole new community within our community. This coming August it will be a full 3 years since I left the security of that position to follow my professional dreams. And I'm happy to say while the journey hasn't always been easy, it has been amazing and I am so thankful for the strength I have found in being my own boss. One of the goals I had in mind as I made the transition was to once again start the steps necessary to someday reapply, and this time ATTEND, massage therapy school. My desire to do so is probably even stronger now than it was 9 years ago thanks to my yoga practice. I so much more appreciate the value of holistic, integrative well care and have truly found my passion in life helping others to find that understanding as well.

This winter, given all the financial struggles with which we have been faced over the past 2 years, a light bulb of thoughts started to flicker. Instead of waiting for the "right" time, I started to wonder if NOW was the right time? If my dream could be part of the solution to our problems? After all, I COULD go back to working full time outside of the health care field in order to contribute more financially to our budget, but I know eventually I'd be right back where I was 3 years ago...making plans to refocus on wellness and to rekindle my business. A business that I would be so sad to step away from giving how much it has grown in 3 short years.

So I started to shift my thinking. WHAT IF I just went ahead and made the commitment to continue moving down this path? WHAT IF I just trust and have faith that everything will be OK in the end?

Thursday I went to Iowa City to visit the same massage school I had applied to in the fall of 2000. Since then the location, name, and the director of the school has changed. (Now the East West School of Integrative Healing Arts located in North Liberty just north of Iowa City.) I needed to make sure the unique program characteristics that first drew me to the school were still present before I allowed myself to get excited about moving forward NOW, instead of "some day". I'm happy to report I am just as excited about the possibility of very SOON becoming a massage therapy student as I was after my initial visit. I'm still very drawn to their program and felt right at home in their new location which happens to be adjacent to a Core Fitness facility. (I have to admit, I was drooling over their group exercise and Spinning studios as we were touring the full facility.)

However, as excited as I am, as much as my gut is telling me this is the right choice to be making at this time, there are lots of details that need to be figured out in a relatively short amount of time to make this dream a reality. Classes start the end of August. The biggest hurdle for my brain to attempt to jump is the question of finances. By attending the new part time program which the school will be offering for the first time this fall, I could both go to school and continue to teach my full weekly schedule. (A necessity if we plan to continue to eat for those 6-8 months.) The part time program also offers some flexibility that would come in handy when I'm considering childcare options as I honestly can't add daycare expenses into the mix and have any hope of making things work.

Since Thursday I have found myself creatively problem solving different options in my head. Can I find someone interested in exchanged of services (childcare for massages) to find care for my kiddos? Where can I look for tuition and book funds? Grants? Scholarships? Loans? The equity in our house? Flat out ask for donations? My thoughts are churning with possibilities and at times I'm feeling a bit overwhelmed about how to even attempt to start figuring it all out.

So I'm putting it out to you blog world. If anyone has information on available funds or creative ideas about funding approximately $8000 worth of educational expense (plus a small bit extra for commuting costs) PLEASE leave a comment. Send me a message. Whatever works. I'm not usually one for asking for help, but we've seen how well that's been working...so I'm asking for your help. Many thanks in advance!

On a slightly different, but related, note...

My brother watched Brea on Thursday so that I was able to make my visit to Iowa City alone. I took advantage of the few hours of kid free time to:
  • Visit the Crazy Girl Yarn Shop in Coralville. (Where I DID NOT buy anything. Look at that self control!)
  • Eat lunch at Sushi Popo in Iowa City. (Talk about choices...eating sushi alone is so much harder than when you are with someone else so you don't have to narrow down your choices as much!)

  • Shop at the New Pioneer Co-op for some bulk grains, crusty bread, and yummy dark chocolate. (When I get massage school funding figured out you can bet I will be visiting the co-op at least once a week while I'm in town. Love, love, LOVE the co-op!)
It was a lovely day and a much needed break from the normal routine. I'm always amazed at how refreshing just a few hours of such time can be. Thanks Tiny Circus for letting Brea chill at the farm!

I'll keep you all posted on how things are shaping up as I have something to report. Until then, thinking caps on everyone. Momma needs to go back to school!