The Funnest Life = Park Life

The second the weather warmed up we started going to the park every single day. If it’s warm, we’re at the park! There are 4 really nice parks within a 7 minute drive of where we live! And most of that 7 minutes, for the furthest away park, is spent just waiting at traffic lights! The distance isn’t far, all are 2 miles away or less and it’s super awesome because living in an apartment means we don’t have a backyard so we use all the wonderful parks around here as our outdoor space. I set up the trunk of my car with outdoor toys (tennis rackets and balls, water guns, horse shoes, frisbees, kites, sand toys, etc) so any time we feel like playing outside we just drive right over to the parks! I store the toys in cheap pop up laundry hampers from WalMart.

It is so amazing to live in the city we live in while we have to live in an apartment! I feel lucky every day to be able to have a cozy home and everything we miss in a house and neighborhood be within biking distance. Heck, we could even walk to this park I’m blogging about today if we needed to.

I carry our collapsible drinking cups with us, too. Sometimes I bring water with us and we also use the water fountains at the parks. (That link is an Amazon affiliate link)

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Brooklyn doesn’t love this particular park so she wasn’t there, we went while she was still in school. She has school for three hours after we pick up Sierra from school since Sierra has half days.

I think all the kids’ swimwear in this post is from Costco and Target. Maybe all from Costco.

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We found a cool dragonfly on the playground and took pictures and then realized that one of its wings looked bent and we worried it was too injured to survive. I hope it was fine 🙁

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This park has a fun splash pad and also a cool sand pit the kids love.

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Need. More. Water!

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Also Costco has decently affordable bathrobes for kids and I bought some and they’re AWESOME! If you have little kids, especially 5 and younger, bathrobes are so much easier to use than regular towels since the kids can walk around in them drying off before you head back to your car! Payson and Ember had robes, too, but they were in the dirty clothes that day.279efbblog282efbblog

Group picture before we left.

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So I took off Lyla’s wet clothes for the drive home and she was so hyper while I was loading our supplies and the stroller into the van. She was seriously SO happy and full of energy. She loves sitting in the front seat.

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I had been wearing Ember’s hat while unloading stuff, wanting to put it in last so it wouldn’t get squished.

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And then of course Lyla insisted on breastfeeding before leaving.

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The Park!

My kids nickname all the parks we go to, we have the library park and the apartment park and the neighborhood park and this park is the kite park. Because we first flew our kites at this park. haha

We LOVE the kite park! It’s the freaking best! A huge field, a basketball court, a tennis court, a sand pit, the playground itself is cool, and a workout area! And it even has pretty decent bathrooms and drinking fountains!

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Lyla is such a brave two year old. She climbs everything, goes on the biggest slides without hesitation, and never looks back! She loves rock walls!

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Since we don’t have a backyard living in apartments I keep all our outside toys in the back of our van most of the time so that when we stop at parks we can use them. I rarely have room for groceries because of the bouncy balls, hula hoops, kites, sand toys, etc! haha

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My kids LOVE sand pits. This day was the first this year they’d played in one and it got so messy.

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The last thing we did was jump off swings!

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Do You Know What I LOVE?

My new backpack. I’ve had it two months now and love it more each and every day. You know how finding a bag you like as a mom is just about impossible? That is my experience anyway. You research bags for hours, you watch videos, you read reviews, you try them out in stores, and eventually you purchase one and half the time (more than half?!) they just don’t do everything you want them to do.

And even if you find the perfect bag, your needs change! Seemingly overnight because kids grow and change so frequently and that means your bag needs change!

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(To read about my blog and affiliate links skip to the last couple paragraphs of this post!)

I’m not going to sit here and tell you to buy MY bag, because your needs are likely totally different than mine. Maybe you want something high end (this is not it), maybe you want something small (this is not it), maybe you want something with ten thousand pockets (this is not it), etc, etc.

But what I needed this bag has and I LOVE it!

I wanted FIRST a bag that has a stay-open main compartment. I had a bag like that when Everett was a baby and as a photographer mom on the go having my bag stay open so I can grab my camera easily is primary for me. I’m guessing this is a very particular-to-me need! haha. But I have taken my dSLRs with me since Brooklyn was a baby. I mean honestly since I was a teenager and bought my first one! Me + a camera always! I hear most moms, even my “old” (long term) photographer mom friends are now using phones for basically all their photos and leaving their big cameras at home. And I get that, it’s easier. But I just do not personally like my phone photos like I do my real camera photos. I have a samsung galaxy note 9, too, so it’s not like I have a piece of poop phone… I still just don’t prefer the phone look.

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Can I tell you the best part of this bag? It was almost free! I took some time to set up affiliate links through Amazon way back when I did my apartment “tour” post. I didn’t really have time to do that but had been asked a bunch of times where things were from so I made that blog post and for the first time in my life used affiliate codes and made enough money to partly cover the cost of this (already cheap) bag! If you click on the link for this bag you’ll see it costs around $40 (Amazon prices change) and I paid $14 out of pocket for it so yep, I have made a whopping $26 on Amazon. lol!

But you know what, I value every penny of that $26 because it’s $26 I had to go toward buying myself a desperately-needed backpack and that bag adds major value to my life every single stinking day. Every day.

And that’s why I felt like posting about it, because I love it. I love using it. That’s all.

If you want to buy one please BELIEVE me when I say it feels like cheap quality for the price tag. Like less than WalMart quality (because I have actually found WalMart diaper bags to be pretty awesome) and I’m guessing the straps will break before a year is up. They show zero signs of wear and tear so far after two months of rough use (I’m a beast to my bags) but I read reviews that showed the straps breaking and the straps feel so flimsy.  They don’t hurt my shoulders or anything at all like that, but they feel like they’ll come undone eventually. If you want I’ll let you know if it breaks. Because I’ll just be buying the same exact bag again when that happens because the rest of it is awesome. Like, the pockets on the side of the backpack are huge and I can toss my giant cell phone in there easily. I can even reach around and grab my cellphone out of the side pocket while it’s on my back!!! I’ve never been able to do that with any other bag.

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I made this link to the bag an affiliate link just because hey, I found this thing after researching forever and it doesn’t affect you to use my link. I don’t blame you if you don’t… if you want to click off my page and Amazon search for it instead just to avoid giving me the 4% kickback I totally get that and the exact search to use is: “Kah&Kee Leather Backpack Diaper Bag with Laptop Compartment Travel School for Women Man (Camel, Large)”

But if you don’t mind people using affiliate links here it is: My Favorite Backpack

*And now a whole bunch of talking about affiliate links*

Sometimes when other bloggers or instagrammers use affiliate links or are sponsored, I think what bugs me is that I don’t know what they’re getting back and how motivated by money they are in sharing with me so I immediately am turned off. ALL, and I mean 100%, of my affiliate links are for products I have sought out, researched, found, and bought. It’s not like I’m using Amazon to then sell to others. I’m buying things I like and then once in a while when I get around to blogging, if I share something I like and use links I figure… taking time to do this, I might as well use affiliate links.

Purchasing through the affiliate links I share makes me spending the time to share feel more worthwhile. I spent two hours putting together my apartment tour post and made $30 off of it. I think that sounds fair. It motivates me to use links if I share about products. IT doesn’t motivate me to blog more, though. I’ll blog forever because I love it. haha.

Also when I went to get that link on Amazon I saw the lavender version of my bag again and want it. Maybe if the one I have breaks I’ll get that color next. I love lavender!

Going on a hike to breathe my feelings into nature.

So the day this happened was the day after Allan asked for a divorce. I was surprised when he asked for divorce, even though maybe others would think I wouldn’t be after all that’s gone down the last 2 1/2 years? I don’t know, but I was.
I was upset for a million reasons.
Watching someone make choices you don’t agree with and walk away from a family they made… it’s a bad feeling. Watching the person who made vows to build a life together betray those vows over and over again. It hurts.
After going for a drive and crying my eyes out, silently so the kids had no idea, I decided to pull my shit TOGETHER and do the thing that most makes me feel like me and helps me focus on my own dang self and how to be the best person I can be, HIKING WITH MY KIDS.
Nature, motherhood.
They are the only two absolutes in my life so, off on a hike we went! It really was encouraging to be out in nature where everything has a place and does exactly as nature told it to. It made me feel more peaceful like… you know what, doesn’t matter what level of emotional hurt is going on inside me, I am being nature and I can still be nature. I can still be what a human is meant to be even if what happens around me doesn’t look like the blueprint I was given when I was younger. I’m taking care of these kids the best I can and I guess that’s ALL THAT REALLY MATTERS! Becoming better for them and not because I’ll get a happily ever after by those actions. Not because I’ll be a “good mom” if I do a good job. But because I can make their lives a little better if I do a good job. I need to work on me so that I’m a force of good in the world and impact others positively instead of becoming dark and depressed and selfish in my misery. I see easily why humans go down that road and so I want to take the other route… where it doesn’t actually matter what happens to me, I still stand up afterwards and try to find ways I can add good to the world instead of bad. SO WHAT something sad happened to me? I can still put out good in the world.

Thank you all for following my journey. I’m sorry when my sad feelings seep out and don’t inspire. I’m not a hallmark card, though. I’m a person with a jumble of emotions and when I’m in a dark place I hope that you can feel better about your own dark places instead of feeling saddened or even hateful toward me letting you down. I can’t inspire with my perfect life because my life is so far from perfect, but I am real. This is my messy life I’m trying to manage the best way I can with whatever human traits I have. Sometimes I fail and make huge messes. I hope you love me anyway.

I hope I can make myself leave my house and go out into nature more often. I hope that for you, too. I know it’s hard. It’s so much easier to hide in a house where it’s safe from scary people that might hurt me. Some people are freaking scary. They just hurt me for no reason. They say, “I love you” and then punch me in the face.
I’m sorry for being hurt, for hurting others, and for all the hurt you reading have had. Nothing changes it.
But there are other people who are there through the storms, and you can’t find them hiding in your house. They’re out there in the world. It’s worth the battle scars of hurtful human interaction to find the ones who help, uplift, and heal. Who connect and love with everything in them.

I don’t know what I’m saying.
I love you. I hope you love me. Thank you for being here.

Look at Payson, can you believe how big this kid is getting? Wasn’t he just a little toddler yesterday? Where does time go! It drifts quickly by when you’re not looking.

Am I really someone who has had hurtful things happen to her? You could never say that about this woman below, could you? How can anything matter when she has those kids? She is one lucky, lucky, lucky human.

Look at this cute little bug in this pretty flower! I loved watching it.

I only have 3 years left with Brooke at home. That’s so sad. I better get to treasuring it and watching and listening to her more!

This is so funny… Ember found this sign post that had the number 7 and asked for a picture since she is 7…

And we couldn’t find the 4 sign so Everett settled on posing with the #2. haha. That kid is the best kid.

Look at what I get to see when I drive around my neighborhood. How beautiful is that?

Sneakily snapped this while they were talking.

Waiting for KFC. Because while I was trying my very best to hold it together, cooking dinner seemed like it might break me and so KFC stepped in to help out. haha

Everett Gets So, So Sick!

Everett develops a fever. He doesn’t have many other physical symptoms besides being super cranky, not letting me put him down for even one second, and being super sleepy. I manage to get him to sleep while breastfeeding and then slide him onto the couch sometimes. I rush around trying to do laundry or cook meals during those times.

I usually don’t treat fevers unless they’re causing serious issues like my kid won’t drink or sleep at all and I think the pain relief will help them do those things, which help them recover. But this time around day 5 Everett still had a 103 degree fever so we took him to the doctor. Allan was out of work for a doctor appointment of his own so he met us at the pediatrician.

The pediatrician diagnosed Everett with stomatitis and said baby tylenol would be great for him not because of the fever but for pain since that’s a really painful virus. Poor Everett! 🙁

So that night and the next day Everett became crankier than he had been. His fever didn’t go down and I worried about him. He kept pulling his legs up to his chest in his sleep and grabbing his ears and crying. We ended up in the ER.

It’s a good thing we’d gone because Everett had developed horrible infections in both his ears! We got antibiotics and added motrin to the regime.

Gorgeous Day

We went for a family walk over at the lake. It was a gorgeous fall day!

So clearly we had a lot of fun looking through those telescope things and taking pictures. We headed up a hill next. We spotted a squirrel.

Then we hiked down to the lake and threw rocks in the water.

Everett was super excited to point out all the birds. This toddler loves animals and birds and bugs and yeah, anything alive 🙂

Meeting Allan for Lunch

It felt awkward meeting Allan for lunch this day. A lot of what I did in those first days after discovering his lies was just going through the motions. I didn’t know that I should have just been protecting myself. I still tried to pretend all was well. But being around him was often traumatizing. In public it was worse.

So that’s what went on with me internally during this lunch. I’m guessing the kids had fun and Allan had a good time without a clue of the blackness he’d injected into his wife’s brain. He wasn’t very supportive at that time. (These photos are from October 2nd)

Back then especially picking up my camera to take pictures was just going through the motions. I had no desire (which is so odd for me) but felt like I should. Even taking pictures of Allan… I do it for his sake and most especially for my kids’ sake. I don’t want to deprive them of memories that exist. To them this day is probably a good memory. I feel now like that gives me hope for them. I feel like an empty shell but hopefully doing things was enough that this time period won’t traumatize them for the rest of their lives.

Everett was pretty cranky, as he is most of his life, so I gave him this basket filled with crackers to play with. It helped momentarily.

Everett was excited about the fries! I’d also had the salad bar option and he ate two huge servings of potato salad!