A little bit of everything.

Welcome back everyone. This weekend was full of surprises and life showed us that we can’t always have what we want. Our week was going by very slow and Abby and I were super excited for the arrival of our Colorado friends who also share a passion for the outdoors. Friday seemed like it was never going to come. On Thursday night Abby and I were woken up by Eyra since she began screaming in her sleep, Abby and I thought that her behavior was super random and out of place so we brought her to our bed for comfort. Well Eyra decided to have an exorcist style vomit that landed all over our bed, warning! (Viewer discretion is advised). I can honestly say that we had never experienced projectile vomit before and let me tell you, I was impressed on how much vomit came out of Eyra and specially the distance. Both Eyra and Abby hit the shower at midnight while I made a trip to Walmart for another bed cover and bed sheets. I really wanted to sleep on our bed so I bought new ones and put them on while I washed the dirty sheets. To make the story short, that night we encounter numerous vomits and we ended sleeping on the couch since our bed kept getting hit by baby bodily fluids so we threw the flag down and slept on the couch. We used a lot of water that night (multiple showers and multiple loads of laundry) Abby and I called in at work and decided to take it easy. It also worked out because our friends Brenda and Andy were going to arrive early that morning. 11:00am arrived and Eyra seemed like she was feeling better, I swear! My child has perfect timing, as soon as Brenda and Andy knocked on our door, Eyra decided to welcome our guest by throwing up some more! Yup, we headed for the shower yet again! We needed to wait 24 hours just in case Eyra had food poisoning to clear her system so we took it easy again and walked to town with our guest for a quick tour of the City of Pella.

I couldn’t believe how empty the town was! I couldn’t be happier because in the next few days the town will be covered with people ready to celebrate Tulip Time and now is the time to enjoy the city without being congested. The tulips are beautiful and the façade is even better, that’s why we fell in love with this town and decided to make Pella our home. Andy and I quickly saw our next possible investment, a VW bus, I wonder if Abby will like something like that for our anniversary? The Scholte House & Museum has an amazing garden which was inundated with glorious tulips, some red tulips are so bright that people may think that the photos are photo shopped but to the contrary. Abby and I decided to be silly by posing next to the statues and not make a fool of myself as the previous year, let’s just say that the angle of the photo from last year made it appear inappropriate without me trying.

Saturday had almost arrived and we (Brenda, Andy, Abby and myself) decided to go to Maquoketa Caves but Friday night, Abby and I had another rough night with Eyra that prompted our decision to go to the doctor as we were dealing with something else rather than just food poisoning. I felt terrible since our friends made a 10-hour drive from Colorado to spend the weekend with us and we couldn’t hang out due to Eyra’s illness. Fortunately, our friends understood and decided to make the trip to Maquoketa Caves by themselves while Abby, Eyra and I made a trip to see the doctor. Luck was on our side since our doctor was actually in for the weekend which never happens but our luck was only temporary. The bad part was that Eyra turned out to have a stomach virus on top of an ear infection. Eyra received two shots to treat her ear infection and boy did that ruin the entire day for Eyra, I felt so bad because she was so sad and out of character and I couldn’t do anything to make her feel happy or comfortable and all she wanted was mommy. At least I had Teddy (our puppy).

Later that afternoon I made burgers (bean burgers) as Abby and I are vegetarian and we are going 10 months strong and I can honestly say, I don’t think I am going back, we feel great and happy and that is what matters (Eyra still eats meat on occasion) I don’t want to take that option away from her, that will be a choice for Eyra to make as she grows older. Andy and Brenda told us during dinner that Maquoketa Caves was infested by school buses so they couldn’t enjoy the park at all since there was nowhere to park, so they decided to hit Mines of Spain which is a state recreation area by the Mississippi River, they also drove to Wisconsin and crossed the river. If adventure is taken from them (Brenda and Andy) they are quick to find adventure again. Brenda and Andy brought their super awesome Celestron telescope for everyone to enjoy but Abby wasn’t feeling good at all and Eyra wasn’t either. The lack of sleep sure got Abby and she decided to stay behind with Eyra since Eyra developed a bit of a fever. I took Brenda and Andy to a local park that appeared to be the worst spot to have a telescope since there was too much artificial light. So I decided to take them to North Overlook beach, it’s a big camping area that offers no artificial light and of course a neat atmosphere just by being next to the lake. Brenda and Andy did great, they kept saying that they had only used the telescope a couple of times but honestly, the company, the atmosphere, the clear sky and the conversations that we had made that night unforgettable and hopefully when we make it to Utah this Summer, I can learn a few pointers from the masters themselves when I take my telescope.

Sunday morning, we all decided to go to the Amana Colonies and some of you guys (readers) know this place already since we visited that place a few weeks back. As we arrived, Abby had an accident (vomit) I swear, we can’t catch a break. We took it easy for about 15 minutes before heading to town and to make sure that Abby was feeling well enough for the trip. We tried to enjoy the Amana Colonies as much as we could but most places were closed, we bought fudge and wine and Brenda sure made friends at the winery. Besides, you can never have too much wine. We tried all of the Amana colonies and we had no luck finding a place that was open, as we were exiting the colonies we came upon an antique shop buried within some houses at South Amana as we were going back home. This place was incredible. I am so glad we found this place, the shop had so many cool and bizarre items, from cool radios, to old piano scrolls and not to mention a weird coat hanger made out of deer feet? I mean WTF??? I have never seen anything like it. It’s cool to see how all of the places that Abby and I have gone, there is always that one individual who has ties to Colorado, our old home. The owner of the shop has family in Colorado Springs but other than that piece of information, the owner kept his distance and let us enjoyed the uniqueness of the shop. We were there for a good 25 minutes just browsing around. As we concluded our business in the store Abby found a place to go next since Eyra and Abby didn’t get out of the car since Eyra fell asleep. So we went to Coralville.

Coralville is the home of an antique car museum, we parked outside of the museum, stretched our legs, got ready and headed into the museum but soon after, we found out that the museum doesn’t accept plastic (credit cards). I mean seriously? I thought I was the only individual who didn’t carry cash but it turns out none of us did either, ha! We headed to a local Marriot Hotel that was a block away from the museum and we used the ATM. As we were walking back we saw an Irish hawk and some pictures were taken for the history books.

As we entered the museum the tour guide was nothing but nice and great and we were the only ones at the museum, talk about a private tour. The tour guide played the piano for us, talked to us about certain cars and answered some of our questions, you could tell right away that for the tour guide, cars are his life. The cars go from the mid 1920’s to the 1970’s and some cars that were there will sure take your breath away.

There was a car whose brand was “White” it’s top speed was 70MPH, not bad for a car from 1930’s or maybe it was the 40’s, shoot! Now I can’t remember. Anyway, they had original Dodge Brothers cars that still showed the Star of David since the Dodge Brothers were Jewish but later on sold the rights and the emblem was lost forever.

Cars back then were pieces of art; I am not saying that modern cars aren’t but the amount of detail that these oldies have is beyond cool. One example is the hood emblem pieces, they are very unique and artistic in some ways. From a moving cop figurine to jet engines and of course a man with a bow and arrow and Grey Hound. These pieces are considered art in my books.

One of my favorite cars was of course the VW Bug but also the one and only Hudson Hornet with twin turbo, this car is a legend. Eyra begs to differ as she enjoyed hanging out inside the city ambulance mini vehicle and soon after Andy wanted in the action too. That dude cracks me up. The car museum wasn’t only a car museum but also a county history museum and it had a bunch of cool artifacts such as old school batteries, prescription glasses, rifles, farming equipment, music players and baby bottles. Super random but definitely a very cool museum and we all had a great time.

As our weekend ended, our friends headed back home to Colorado and we are so grateful that both of them made the trip to come visit, we feel special and we wish you the best of luck on a trip of a life time, Peru. I must apologize for all the things we said we were going to do and didn’t since life happened and we didn’t want to push it too hard specially since I didn’t want either of my ladies barfing all over my car. What adventure will come next? You are going to have to wait and see. Until next time.

To be continued…

A weekend in our town

Welcome back everyone! This weekend started out with gorgeous weather and a happy baby! We decided to stay local today and enjoy what our own little town of Pella has to offer. We have lived here for almost 3.5 years and yet Clark had still not gotten the chance to visit the Vermeer Mill. So we decided it would be a Dutch Day!

We got to the Vermeer Mill around 11:20 in order to make it on the 11:30 tour of the mill, however, they had already sold too many tickets. But we were able to explore the Historical Village first, and with practically no one else there!

The Historical Village is a walk back through time! It tells Pella’s history through antique buildings and replicas. The first stop in the historical village was a log cabin! This cabin was what settlers from Holland built when they immigrated to Pella. After going inside, we were able to see what life would have been like in the 1840’s! I think Clark was most impressed by the HUGE bear skin wall hanging as well as the three bear skin coats!

Next on the tour was the sod house, but first, let’s go into some Pella history… H.P. Scholte was a Dutch clergyman who broke away from the Dutch National Church. Due to religious persecution, he and his followers decided to immigrate to the United States. They charted 4 ships and 900 Dutch sailed for America in April 1847. Of the 900 immigrants, 747 made it to Pella, Iowa. By the time they arrived to Pella, they did not have enough time before Winter came to build log cabins for everyone. Due to this fact, they built the sod houses that we got to see next. This was the best option when it came to short time frames!

Up next was the woodworkers shop or the “De Timmerman”. Here the settlers made chests, yokes, and other implements needed for farming.  Right next door housed the blacksmiths shop. Definitely the hottest of all the jobs! Here we were able to see all the interesting machinery that was made in 1847. Quite impressive technology for the time! Just outside the door was the water mill. These were apparently fairly common to have outside of blacksmiths shops due to the amount of water needed to cool down hot steel.

Pella has an annual Tulip Time Festival which takes place the first Thursday, Friday, and Saturday in May because this is normally the time frame where all of the beautiful Dutch tulips begin to bloom. Unfortunately for Tulip Time (but a huge bonus for you checking out our pictures) is that most of the Tulips have already bloomed and even better, the museum was not overcrowded! What a gorgeous walk around the village!

The next part of the tour was the Heritage Museum. Here we were able to see all the different Dutch outfits based on region as well as “The Wall of Tulip Queens!”. Look at all those pretty ladies! (Eyra is practicing her wave… she was born Queen material!) In this same building, we were able to see David and Goliath! These are not the characters from the Bible that you are used to, but in fact GIANT Dutch Calliopes (which is a musical instrument using steam to blow through large pipes). They bust these out during Tulip Time and man are they loud and AWESOME!!

Attached to the museum is a few replicas of what a typical Dutch kitchen and living room, as well as a replica of the church that H.P. Scholte built in Pella. We also got to pay old Sinterklaas a visit and told him that we are being extra good this year (no need to send Krampus after us)!! Although the church is a replica, the pulpit is the actual pulpit that Scholte used when he lived in Holland. His granddaughters transported it from Holland after his death.

*Cue old west music* Did you know that Wyatt Earp lived in Pella?? Well he sure did! His family lived in Pella from 1850-1864 before packing up the wagon and heading to California. The historic village has many Earp souvenirs and plenty of history about his family. They have a replica of the home he lived in as well! Another fun fact about Pella? The founder of Pella, H.P. Scholte was friends with Mister Abraham Lincoln! They even have letters between the two! Yeah! They were BFF’s!

The second to last stop in the village was the general store! This is a replica of what the store would have looked like. Inside we were able to see a real antique switchboard desk as well as a cool old phone, and even a terrifying looking salon chair! I think I would have done my own hair back then! Yikes!!

Last stop? The Klompen shop! Here is the place that would have made Klompens (or clogs) for the towns people. These are very typical for the Dutch and they often have multiple pairs including a church pair! During Tulip Time, there is actually someone here showing how the shoes are made!

When we had finally made it through the village, the time was nearing 12:30. The next tour wasn’t until 1:30, but a little Eyra was getting very sleepy! So we decided to head home and let her take a nap until the 2:30 mill tour. The good thing about us going back home is that we only live a block away.

As we arrived back at the mill, our tour guide Jim greeted us with a warm hello! We had the honor of having some Dutch tourists on the tour as well, who helped Jim nail all of the Dutch terms he used. The mill was made using parts crafted in Holland and was assembled by a group of Dutch craftsmen by the company name Verbij Hoogmade BV.

The construction of the mill is impressive! It’s amazing to see that such simple technology was used to get such impressive results. The mill has 4 large blades that have lattice work on them in order to lower or raise sails. These sails, when lowered, cover the lattice in times of little breeze to make the blades spin faster. The spinning of the blades then turns a large gear which turns the main vertical shaft that mills the wheat. This main shaft is also used to do some heavy lifting. When the miller was prepared to work for the day, he would open the doors at the base of the mill. Men would come by and drop off their wheat. They would tie the heavy bags to a rope dangling from the top of the mill and shake the rope to alert the miller. At this time, the miller would release a rope that would engage another gear to the main shaft allowing the mill to do all the work of raising the grain bags up into the mill! How ingenious!

Jim was able to show us the HUGE grain stones that are set into the mill. As an engineer, it was fascinating to see such simple technology (gears) achieve so many cool things! We were able to walk out on the deck and see the mill blades spinning as well as see the large ship wheel that moves the cap. The cap is the top portion of the windmill and has the capability of rotating 360 degrees! In order to be the most efficient, the nose of the windmill must be facing directly into the wind which means the miller must be able to rotate the cap at any point in time!

The mill also had miller’s quarters set up, since real millers would live in the mill. We were able to see how this man would live. He had a small bed (what we’ve learned is called a Dutch Bed, built into a dresser), a small living/eating area and a woodstove to cook!

The last part of the windmill tour, took us through the miniature village! I think this was Eyra’s favorite part! This tiny village was built to represent different areas of Holland. I think this is a super cool exhibit and it really makes me want to take up miniature modeling!

We finally ended our day by visiting the local Jaarsma bakery to get some good ol’ fashioned Dutch treats! Clark and Eyra really dug the Dutch letters! Later that afternoon, we met with our good friends Sara and Jason for some delicious Mexican food at El Charro because that’s clearly where we always go.

Our Easter Sunday was a blast! We were able to “hide” eggs all over the back yard for Eyra to find! She had so much fun finding all the “balls” and had even more fun when she realized she could open them! Teddy chewed a couple of eggs, I mean helped Eyra find the hidden eggs. After a while, all we heard was “Open peash daddy?”, “Open peash mommy?”. It was a great weekend.

Where will we go next? Tune in next week when we have some special guests joining us!

To be continued…

Let’s get to work.

Welcome back everyone.

This weekend started off right but having some fun, food, fake mariachi and the celebration of one of our dearest friends 30th birthday! That night was awesome! I have to say Jess, that sombrero sure looked good on you. Since our weekend started off extremely busy, we decided to stay home and begin prepping for Spring/Summer since the weather was perfect! I almost forgot what warm weather feels like. As many of you know, up keeping with a house takes a lot of work, sometimes it takes days or months and even years of hard work and dedication. 3 weeks from now a festival that defines the city of Pella will commence (Tulip Time) and everyone around town is sure getting ready for it. Mowers are at full swing, construction along the roads and streets are wrapping up, some tulips are beginning to bloom and the Tulip Time merchandise has made an appearance at local stores and shops. That being said, we needed to step it up and get ready as well.

I cannot tell you how many times I drove to Walmart to get mulch or something related to the garden. First Abby, Eyra and I went to Walmart and bought what we thought was enough to get us by. Hahahaha, yeah! That did not happen. We misjudged the amount of materials that we needed but on the positive side of things, we did amazing for only two days of hard work.

Abby has been wanting to do a garden for quite a while now and we decided to give it a go. We came to a conclusion that since we are no professional gardeners, one small garden bed will suffice for the year, that way we can understand more of how gardening works and how well stuff grows under our care.  We planted 2 different types of jalapenos, green beans, ghost peppers, broccoli, carrots, onions, spinach, zucchini, cantaloupe, cucumbers, Poblano peppers, tomatoes and strawberries. It seems like a lot but in comparison to some of our friend’s gardens, ours is very small.

Some of you tagged along for the ride (read the blog) when we spent the weekend in Chicago a couple of weeks ago and I don’t know if you guys remembered how upset I was when I ripped my roof top tent’s cover inside of a parking garage. Well, I got the cover all patched up, I used the Flex Seal tape and it worked great and I am so glad I patched the cover up because Sunday night it rained pretty good for over an hour. Anyway, Saturday morning I washed my car and I had forgotten about the punctured holes that the cover had, by the time I got home I took off the cover and aired out the tent since it got soaked from me washing the car. Abby and I had quite the confused audience (random people) about why I had a tent on top of the car. Pshhh! Amateurs.

Bushes, plants, mulch, solar lights, grass seed, gutter cleaning and painting were among our weekend projects and I have to say, we did great for only 2 ½ people. Eyra had a blast playing with the potting soil and she sat down on Abby’s garden and hilariously made a butt imprint on the soil.

Half of the outside of our house has been cleaned, planted and mulched but we have one more side to go and not to mention that Abby and I have decided to contribute to our community and we will add a free book library on our entrance (next few weeks). A book library is a decorated box (almost like a mail box but bigger) with random books inside of it that people may take to their homes and read them but they also have to put a book back into the free library for us or others to read as well.  Pretty cool concept if you ask me. Oops, I got side tracked. Later that afternoon (Saturday), we were honored by a couple of amazing ladies that adore Eyra to take pictures with them at one of their most memorable moments of high school life, (prom). To make the story short, Abby, Eyra and I are regulars at El Charro Mexican Restaurant, that’s were we met Marlen and Esmeralda. I have to say, both Ezzy and Marlen looked beautiful and Eyra was extremely happy to be there and we are really grateful that Ezzy and Marlen even considered having us there to be a part of that experience. Thank you ladies, both of you have a personality to match your beauty. (Those were the words of Abby, I didn’t want to sound like a creep.)

Eyra’s room is almost ready (paint) and hopefully we can move her in by the following weekend. The room looks better in person than in pictures, you may think that Eyra’s room looks like a Pepto Bismol nightmare but on the contrary, it actually looks quite nice. We decided to make that move since Eyra would have a better access to the A/C when the brutal heat of Pella arrives in comparison to her current room which is much hotter and less ventilated. I have a feeling it may take longer to complete her room but we are making progress and that’s what matters.

We finished our fast weekend by going to the park, Eyra ran, climbed, jumped and went down the slides numerous times, Teddy however, he wanted to run around and he did until he made the wrong move and went straight down when we jumped into the children’s slide. It was too funny. We enjoyed our weekend as always, the most important thing is that we do things as a family no matter where we are and what we do. Sure, a vacation away from the kids may sound awesome to some couples but I guess we are different. Until next time.

To be continued.

The Blank Park Zoo

Hi everyone and welcome back.

This weekend we didn’t have much planned as I needed to service my car at the dealership since we drive my car everywhere and anywhere. That being said; my car needed a small break and also since we were at the dealership, I took the opportunity to talk to a couple of TDI ambassadors about my vehicle. Yeah! Sadly, my SUV was affected by the VW “Diesel gate” and I needed to sort a few things out. Eyra ran around everywhere at the dealership, she was grabbing magazines, she ate, she laid on the floor, she kissed a bunch of cars and she called some random tires “cute”. I can actually say…She might be hooked to the awesomeness of VW’s. (Got to start them young).

For the past week, we have encounter nothing but rain and Saturday we finally had a break for a change. We wanted to do something outdoors but didn’t know what to do. Well… we decided to do something small, simple, reasonable, close to our location and awesome. The Blank Park Zoo was our first choice, because there is no such thing as seeing too many animals back to back weekends.  We really enjoy the zoo and it seems that now, Eyra enjoys the zoo even more or at least pays more attention than she used to. The coolest part is when Eyra tries to mimic the animal sounds (we encourage it) and she nails the monkey sounds and she is proud of it too.

What can you expect at a zoo besides animals? Well let’s see. The service of course!! I am assuming that since the weather has been pretty dreary this past week people thought they weren’t going to take any risks and go outside, which was great news for us because I can literally say, we had almost the whole zoo to ourselves. The zoo is always exciting but the Blank Park Zoo has a freshly new addition since October 11th, 2016. A female baby rhino! She is super adorable and playful and yet so fragile. I read the header of an article once or maybe I saw a post on Facebook, I honestly can’t remember where I saw it but it talked about how the majority of big mighty animals are vegetarian. Who said you need meat to be big and strong? Look at the rhino, the hippo, the bison and let us not forget, the elephant. All of these animals are big, strong and of course, total bad a$$es! My point is this, when the baby rhino was born, she weighed 80 pounds. 6 months later, she now weighs 500 pounds according to the zoo keeper and mama rhino weighs 2 tons. Someone from the crowd said, “feeding a rhino must be very expensive, now I know why the tickets are pricey”. The zoo keeper responded, the rhinos are vegetarian, therefore it’s not as costly as people may think. A single non vegetarian person may spend more in food in a year than what it would cost to feed a rhino solely because of the 2 different diets.  Yet these animals may look like tanks, their hearts are as soft as a pillow, not bad for a vegetarian if you ask me. Abby and I have reached our 8 months of becoming vegetarian and we feel great.

One of the things I love about this zoo is their exhibitions, yes, they may be small but we are happy to support them, never underestimate the size of the zoo. Yes, the Blank Park Zoo is not as big as the Henry Doorly Zoo & Aquarium or as fascinating as the San Diego Zoo or even as impressive as the Shedd Aquarium but let me tell you, the Blank Park Zoo truly is amazing. It was built to show the world the beauty of the animal kingdom and to save animals who are endangered in the wild for many reasons, one of them being poachers. Another example for dwindling species is almost the complete opposite, let’s take a look at the Snow Leopard, there are more Snow Leopards in captivity than there are in the wild and that reason is because the Snow Leopard has a rough time finding a partner of the opposite sex to reproduce. Despite the size of the Blank Park Zoo, they have a common goal with all the other zoo’s in the nation and that is to help conserve and maintain animal’s habitats around the world.

Eyra Got to feed some goats and I avoided the llamas because I didn’t want to repeat the spit shower as I encountered that the year before. It was pretty gross and sticky and the funny thing is I just looked at it and said; look babe, this llama seems like it’s going to spit on me and BOOM, the spit was all over my face, I think I got some in my mouth too. We then walked over to some small cow looking things and Eyra really wanted to touch the “puppy”. I totally thought this cow was going to nail Eyra, I was about to wrestle it down if it made one wrong move and believe me I was ready. Eyra touched it and scared the crap out of it and it looked like it was going to charge. Pretty scary and my dad instinct kicked in. Fortunately, nothing bad happened but Eyra did get scared and ran to mommy for some snuggles. I maintained eye contact with the cow as if we were in a Mexican standoff, I like to say that I won. It just makes me feel better.

Out of the 4 times that I’ve been to the Blank Park Zoo I have only seen the otter once and this time I got pretty close and chatted for a bit (mainly about fish) he really liked that (I am assuming that since he didn’t walk away) and was making funny noises as if he was talking back at me. I also mentioned if he has ever seen the super hot Galapagos’s tortoise from around the corner, he said no.

A year ago I saw a red panda sleeping on top of a pagoda, funny enough the red panda was sleeping on that same location again as if it never moved since the last time I saw him. My picture looks the same now as it does last year’s. It makes sense, it’s not like they roam around the zoo throughout the day, I probably would do the same thing.

I had to take a picture with an FJ40 Land cruiser that the zoo has in display and that is because I own one. Right now it’s just sitting in the garage with a bunch of camping equipment on top of it, I have yet to clean my garage since we bought our new house. It may be Eyra’s cruiser when she grows up, I am not sure yet, it depends if she appreciates it as much as I do. I haven’t used mine in a while, maybe soon!

I can honestly say that the Blank Park Zoo has a ton of poison dart frogs, maybe more than the Shedd Aquarium, and I took my time taking photos of them since there was literally no one there, the turtles looked as if they were going to procreate and I decided to give them some space and proceeded to the aquarium section that the zoo has and paid a visit to (Dory’s family) the Blue Tangs.

The Flamingos are always cool to see and its impressive to see how they sleep. They sleep with one leg up and maintain their balance the entire time. I wonder if bored Chilean’s play flamingo tipping just like Americans play cow tipping, which is harder than it sounds (so I hear).

Eyra loves the seals, I think the big sea lion at the Shedd Aquarium left quite the impression because she was glued to the underwater exhibit at the Blank Park Zoo and she was there for quite a while, we had to carry her out of there to conclude our day. As we were leaving we stopped of course by the gift shop. Just as we walked in, the lady at the counter received a prank call that a lion had escaped from the zoo, she said it happened numerous times last year during April fool’s day but she had to treat the call as a serious threat and call it in. Those cheeky bastards (pranksters). We had an excellent day and stayed close to home. I wonder what adventure will come next??

To be continued…