Thursday, April 30, 2015

May with The Gym Mom

May is another busy month in our household!

This month each of the kids will be attending their school field trip, and since I'll be going along, that'll be our "field trip" for the month. R's class will be headed to Living History Farms, while A's class will be heading to the Science Center of Iowa - two of my favorite Des Moines area attractions!

For our learning, we'll be using a great site called where kids can earn badges for new learning that they do. We'll do one this month to test it out, and actually continue the adventure in June as I ask them to earn one badge per week. is a great page that allows kids to share their learning, and even runs on an app from their mobile device.

Finally, our making and service will be with Operation Gratitude. We'll be writing letters and creating art work for service members to be sent to our troops over seas!

See links and resources for each of these organizations below!

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Confessions of a Plant Murderer

I am a plant murderer. It doesn't matter how hearty you tell me the plant is, how "easy" it's supposed to be to take care of, I'll find a way to let it die. I'm pretty sure I could kill a fake plant. For real. I would find a way.

That being said, I am set on the learning/making activity for the kids and I this month being container gardening. Aaden and I bought a bunch of different types of seeds (radishes, peas, carrots, etc), and several large containers and potting soil. This weekend the kids and I will do some research and plant our "crops" in our containers. They're super excited, and I'm super terrified.

So here's where I'm at. Please, please, please give me some advice and tips on how not to kill our plants! Yes, I've Googled it and Pinterest'ed it and Plant WebMD'ed it. But I would love for some real advice from friends.

When do you plant? What do you plant? What do I need to know about spring weather? I read something about hardening your plants - what the heck?! Pictures, videos, and a post to follow! It's supposed to be nice on Sunday, so I'm planning on that being the big day!

Monday, April 20, 2015

Clear Lake & Chicago: Family Fun, Mommy Fun

Disclosure: In exchange for traveling with the Clear Lake Chamber to Chicago with a fabulous group of North Iowa Bloggers, I have agreed to write several posts about the trip. All of the opinions in my posts regarding this trip are honest and my own thoughts about the services we receive.

With summer quickly approaching you'd think it would be easier to find more family time and fun places to go. But in our crazy world, that just isn't the case, so I'm continuing to make an effort to get my kids places and give them amazing family experiences. Where do you go for ideas? Your own childhood, of course. Growing up in northern Iowa, I actually didn't make it to Clear Lake much until I was in high school. What got me up to Clear Lake? Friends and dating, of course!

The Barrel Drive-In has always been a favorite! Heading to The Barrel with friends is one of my favorite memories, from the iconic chicken out front to the delicious fried chicken inside, I can't wait to take my kids back here this summer now that they've re-opened. And can I tell you a secret? I'm obsessed with the lettuce salads there. I know it's just salad, but I think it's because they remind of what I would eat at home with my family growing up. 

Concerts in City Park, fireworks over the lake on the 4th of July, and music and events at the Surf Ballroom are all part of my teenage years. That's why I didn't wait until my kids were teenagers to start bringing them to Clear Lake. 

The 4th of July parade is a favorite of ours. We started going when our oldest was just a baby. You're always sure to catch the next up and coming political candidates in Clear Lake during the summer! R actually ended up in a Mitt Romney commercial after she jumped into his arms at the Clear Lake 4th of July parade to give him a hug. Birthday parties while camping, the Earth Day 5K, and the Clear Lake Farmer's Market are all woven into the fabric of our family adventures. I even just moved our family dentist to Carney and Sorensen Family Dentistry in Clear Lake after an excellent emergency visit. 

So anyway, when I was offered an opportunity to travel with the Clear Lake Chamber of Commerce and Air Choice One in May, I was super pumped. An opportunity to continue exploring all the great things Clear Lake has to offer, AND travel to Chicago via the new air carrier serving the Clear Lake/Mason City area? I'm in. On my last trip to Chicago for gymnastics with the kids, we drove, but a couple of our optional team members actually opted to fly on Air Choice One and they were beyond impressed with the quick connection! When you're a midwest gymnast, the Chicago area offers all kinds of competitive opportunities, so having this as an option is incredibly fortunate. 

I can't wait for all kinds of blogger fun in Chicago, finding more adventures to share with my family and with you all. While you're waiting for those adventures, though, check out the Clear Lake Chamber of Commerce and their tourism blog - they're always ready for questions from visitors!

Friday, April 17, 2015

New Season, New Sports

With spring in full swing and summer quickly approaching, our schedule seems to be getting even more busy - if that's even possible! J is busy not only coaching A's t-ball team with his sister, but as you may remember, is opting to play his own new sport - football with the Midwest Rampage out of Webster City. A's got the whole t-ball thing going on, but is busy training for any and all upcoming track events - by the way, why is the Iowa Track and Field website so rarely updated?! He'll for sure be participating in the Iowa Games in Ames again this year, an AMAZING annual event with opportunities for athletes of all ages to participate in many different sporting events.

Not to be outdone, E has taken to running 400s with the rest of the family as fast as his chunky little legs can carry home! R is heading into her "busy season" in the gym, gearing up for competition season in the fall. Summer is when the gymnasts put in extra work to learn and perfect routines for the fall. However, she has also, to my utter amazement, taken an interest in running with the boys. Mostly 100s, but some 400s. This girl hates running, but didn't want to feel left out, I suspect, and so has been holding her own on the track, and is even interested in running a few races herself. I pointed out that running was great cardio for healthy living, and she reasoned that it would definitely help her with vault, as well as overall fitness.

So as we add all these extra bits to the calendar, I find myself wondering: When will we ever have time to spend together as a family? Lucky for me, we live right near a track and a playground. Running and playing has become an evening and weekend staple in the Keehn household as we continue to find ways to bond and build relationships despite our crazy schedules.

How does your family stay connected during busy seasons? Do you have any routines or traditions that you don't let slide no matter how busy you are? I'd love to hear advice, ideas, and input!

Thursday, April 9, 2015

A Weekend at King's Pointe

If you're looking for affordable family fun, King's Pointe Resort is Storm Lake's premiere water park and hotel is a can't miss location. My oldest, R, asked to stay in a hotel for her birthday instead of having a party with friends. Given the choice, she of course opted for the water park option, so right before Easter we took off for Storm Lake.

King's Pointe is a location that my office has worked with many times before in the past, so our family had actually visited before for A's birthday while I was on a work retreat. During that stay two summers ago, we actually just played outside at the nearby park and built sand castles on the beach at the lake. My kids enjoy the water, but are not huge swimmers.

This year we checked in and headed straight to the pool. The boys immediately took off for the slides, while the girls and the baby hung out in more shallow water. We took E on the big play structure to the baby slides, floated down the lazy river, and watched A and Jeromy ride down the tube slide together. A couple of my favorite parts about the pool area itself?

  1. They had life vests available in all sizes for all kids. This was huge - we didn't think to bring anything like that for the baby, and while the older two opted out, I was so appreciative of that amenity. 
  2. The water didn't seem to get any deeper than 3'6" that I noticed. The older two could comfortably navigate around all the water areas, including the area at the base of the slides. Once they went down the slide they could hop into the water and touch and get to safety.
  3. There were lots of staff and life guards on hand! Such a great feeling when your kids outnumber you!
The pool area was open until 9pm, plenty late for our kiddos. We actually left at 8pm. I had originally planned for us to visit one of my favorite local restaurants, Bozwell's, but since it was late we opted for Pizza Hut delivery. When I called to order the girl gave me an awesome tip - place your order online for carry out and take advantage of the online specials and deals that you cannot get "in store" and then call back and have them switch to delivery! I never knew this little trick, but it was greatly appreciated! We spent the evening enjoying treats and pizza in the room before turning in after a long day!

Day two brought more sliding, splashing, and fun. The older two decided to be adventurous and take on the water slides on their own (to my COMPLETE shock), and even E found an area he didn't want to leave (the splash pad/water jet area). We spent a couple more hours swimming before hitting Casey's and heading home. The pool was never overly crowded, and we had a blast. My only complaint was that there never seemed to be any towels available, so we would have to keep an eye out for the refill so we could race over and get what we needed before they were gone again.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

April with The Gym Mom: King's Pointe, Container Gardening, Animal Rescues

In April we're headed to King's Pointe for a family weekend to celebrate a couple birthdays! R said that this year for her birthday she just wanted to spend time with her family, and also voted for hotel over party with friends. I don't know how many more of those requests I'll get, so I jumped on it! My work used to have a contract with King's Pointe in Storm Lake, so I'd had the opportunity a few times to visit for professional reasons. Last time the kids came with we spent our time playing on the beach and at the park (it was July). This time around, we're opting for the water park!

Our learning and making will come in the form of building and planting a container garden at our house. The kids often help their grandparents with plants and flowers at their houses in the summer, but I don't have much of a green thumb. In fact, I think I have a brown thumb. I could kill a fake plant. But we're going to do some research and give it a try anyway.

Finally, our April service activity will be working with animals again. We have an appointment with the animal rescue league of Iowa, and we'll be headed back to Kitty City with another donation and to play with the baby kitties they have available for adoption. It'll be another big month!