Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Zoo Day

Our family came down to join us for an afternoon at the St. Louis zoo, so I wanted to photo dump...
It's Shark Week @ the Zoo
Cold water misters, always a popular attraction

Toddler Boy was fascinated with the prairie dogs

This is the first time we've been to the zoo this year.  I realize that sentence makes me into the most neglectful parent in town, considering it's only a 1/2 hour drive from our house and it's free too.  The summer is almost over and this is our first zoo trip (shudder)!  My only excuse, we've had a pretty full summer thus far, and I've been on a two week cleaning binge.  You know the kind, where mountains of trash bags are thrown and/or given away but your house looks pretty much the same.  Frustrating...I'll just leave it at that.

Moving on...since our last visit they have finished the new sea lion habitat, which was really neat.  You got to walk into an underwater tunnel and watch them swim over and around you.
No sea lions in this one...
There they are!!

More from the sea lion exhibit

At least, I think they were sea lions (maybe they were seals)?  I was busy counting heads as we were walking in so I didn't read the sign.  We had eight kids between three adults and three needed one-on-one supervision so we had our hands full today.  I was glad Doug was able to take off work to go with us, I think it would have been a bit overwhelming with just two.

It seems I'm getting lots of pictures of backs...

After checking out the sea lions (seals, whatever), we headed to the bird cage and then went to see the safari animals.
There's some faces!!
Last stop was the always popular reptile house.  Popular with the kids (snakes) and the adults (air condition)!
My beautiful niece!
So glad snakes are in glass cases
Nice hip bump Game Boy is giving his cousin
This is as close as I ever want her to
a water moccasin!!

My main job in this place is just to make sure my herd doesn't run over any unsuspecting visitor trying to enjoy a day at the zoo.  They would be casually studying an exhibit when WHAM, out of nowhere eight kids descend and it's all they can do to escape with their life and all their limbs!

We had hoped to make the penguin exhibit (another popular, smelly, but very cold place),  but ran out of time, due to Game Boy's soccer practice this evening.  Doug ran back to get the van while we entertained the kids and he did a drive by to get us loaded up.  I would like to insert here that I rode to the zoo with my sis-in-law and even though Doug told us we drove in the wrong way we TOTALLY scored an awesome parking spot RIGHT IN FRONT of the north entrance.  Just sayin, we absolutely knew what we were doing when we drove that way.  (Let's be real, I'm giving all the props to God for that cool spot, because there's no such thing as luck when it comes to zoo parking)...
Parting group shot!
When we got home I asked Princess what her favorite animal we saw at the zoo today...

Princess:  the penguins
Me:  We didn't see the penguins today, what is your favorite from today?
Princess:  I don't know, what did we see?
Me:  Well, we saw the birds and sea lions, monkeys, prairie dogs, giraffes, zebras, and snakes.  Which one was your favorite?
Princess:  The lions

Guess another trip is on the horizon!

Monday, August 5, 2013

Weekend with Family

We made a three hour trek north to spend this past weekend with Doug's brother Jon and his family.  We used to spend more time with them when the kids were younger because they would drive down to visit us and the rest of Doug's side of the family.  However, now that all of our kids are older it has become a scheduling conflict.  Funny, you would think that it would be easier to make the drive with older kids, but the opposite is actually the case.  Now that they're older there are school days and when school is out there are sports schedules.  Between our two families the older kids were involved in swim team, baseball, soccer and basketball over this past summer.  That doesn't take into account Boy Scout camp and Church camp either.  Finally we figured out that if we wanted to go visit them that last weekend was pretty much the only weekend we had free before their kids started school and we started another soccer season.

We really wished we lived closer together because the cousins are all close in age and get along so well.  This visit was no different...

We hadn't been in the door two minutes when we decided to head to the local waterpark.

Enjoying the warm weather
Practicing swimming without a lifevest

Game Boy getting a ride from Dad
The weather was cooperating with us, it was actually warm enough to swim and the rain they were predicting never showed up.  I took the little ones around the lazy river and Doug took them down the slide (you can tell which one is the "fun" parent in our household)!  I wished I had the camera to get a shot of Toddler Boy's face on that ride.  He was a bit freaked out but wanted to go down it again, so I guess he liked it.  Princess refused to go with Dad on the slide, it looked to be a bit too fast for her taste.  She enjoyed the big bucket dumping water in the kids play area and she did go down the slide in the baby pool.

After swimming Uncle Jon mentioned they had a new Bass Pro Shop open since we last came to town.  The older kids were all over that...
This was the best group shot I could get
It's like herding squirrels!
They had a huge aquarium with BIG fish...

and big grizzly bears!

The kids also had fun working their mad shooting skills.
Game Boy and cousin playing Buck Hunter

My niece getting in some target practice

Quality male bonding/shopping time
He scored some caramel corn too!
The younger kids got in on the action

The little girls found some horsies
(brother bombing photo with "hand in pants" shot)
Of course, he wanted a pink horse too!
The kids were disappointed we didn't buy the horses, but we made it up to them by stopping to see the fish outside the store.

The next day Jon and Doug took the older kids fishing and out to play a game of baseball.  Amazingly, there were no major injuries to report.  I sent the camera with them but they only came back with one shot...
Fishing spot
I take it they didn't catch anything big or they would have snapped a picture, but the lake was nice.

While they were at the house the kids had fun playing nerf wars and bouncing on the trampoline.
No injuries to report here either...
While the big kids were doing all their activites, I hung out with my awesome sis-in-law Nicole and watched Toddler Boy play with their dog Max.  They had a great game of tug of war going...

Max won, pretty much every time.  But Toddler Boy loved every minute of it.  While they did that and the little girls played together I got to visit with Nicole and pretty much did this...
Me and my cup of coffee
A great trip, thanks to Jon and Nic for hosting us.  Now we get to host them when they come down to visit tomorrow.  Weather permitting, we'll head to the zoo or hang out at the pool.  Another post and more pics to follow!!
Trip home...travelling with little ones has it's perks!

Thursday, August 1, 2013

7 Quick Takes - Make Overs

1.  I got a new haircut and color!

Because it's so different I've been feeling a bit like I went into the witness protection program.  Even close friends do not recognize me until I start talking to them.  My kids were a bit shell shocked over the make-over, but now they are used to it.  I love the shorter cut and bangs, it's so much easier to take care of in the summer, especially with all the swimming.  I've never had my hair so black before (channeling my inner Hallie...or maybe Katie Perry)?  Either way, I'm enjoying the new look.

2.  Princess decided to get a new do this week too:
New, shoulder length haircut!
She loves going to Aunt Lesley's to get her hair cut.  Her favorite part is when her Aunt sprays "sparkles" on her hair when she's done.  She has been asking to get her hair cut shorter for awhile now, but I've been trying to convince her that having long hair is fun.  Truth be told, Princess hates me to fix, style, braid, (whatever) her hair.  When she was 2, we had to have her hair cut in a really short bob thanks to Game Boy taking the scissors to it.  I was upset because her hair was just starting to get long enough and thick enough to fix at the time.  However, the bob was really cute on her and Doug loved it because he was washing her hair all salon style in the bathroom sink (the girl has no idea how blessed she is to have him as her Daddy).

3.  The older boys have been gone this past week to church camp, they come home today.  Having two less kids around makes the house seem a bit quieter, we're looking forward to them coming home.  This year we didn't get to do drop off or pick up at the camp.  The church decided to take a bus because there were so many kids from our church attending.  The camp is a little over an hour's drive north of us.  It was more convenient to not make the drive, but as a mom I admit to missing making sure they were settled in at drop off (and making sure they didn't leave anything behind at pick-up).  Firstborn was gone less than 24 hours when this occurred:
Shattered Gerbil Habitat!
Toddler Boy decided to pull the gerbil aquarium off the stand, which then shattered.  Followed by pandemonium as we rushed to put the dogs outside before they decided to eat one of Firstborn's beloved pets.  Then we had to catch the two gerbils, who were running/hopping around the living room.  (Disclaimer:  neither Toddler Boy or the gerbils were harmed in this incident).  Of course, this happened after the pet store down the street closed so Doug had to make a late night Wal-Mart run to purchase a new 10 gallon aquarium.  The whole thing made for an exciting Sunday night!

4.  Princess got to spend the night at Grandma's house with her cousin this past week.  They had a "girl's night" sleepover, complete with nail polish and everything.  My mom raised only daughters and she is such a good "girl mom", she knows how to pamper them!  I'm afraid Princess and I will never instill an appreciation of the more feminine things of life in my boy saturated household.  My apologies to my future daughters-in-law...

5.  I've been spending time pulling our curriculum together for the upcoming homeschool year.  Princess will "officially" join us as a kindergartner, and we'll also be doing grades 8/6/3.  I only list grades as a reference point, because homeschooling is so flexible there is a "range" of classroom work.  Since my oldest will be in high school (yikes!) next year I've been working towards my middle schoolers becoming more independent in their studies.  As for myself, I'm working on transcripts and becoming more organized and intentional on what homework I keep for their records.  As always, surrounding it all in prayers!

6.  Game Boy and I went to visit my Aunt Chris while Princess was at Grandma's.  She's a teacher, and over the summer she taught a kindergarten class and they used tablets.  Thanks to switching cable companies, we're receiving an additional Kindle Fire for our household.  I'm planning to incorporate some educational apps and wanted to see what worked for her kids.  If any of you have any advise of educational apps your kids love, please comment away!

Of course, no trip to Aunt Chris' would be complete without a visit to Ted Drewes Frozen Custard, yum!!  Aunt Chris and Uncle Ron introduced me to Ted Drewes when I spent a weekend with them one summer when I was a teenager.  That, and Fortel's Pizza Den.  This may be dating me, but I also recall her showing me something calling a "compact disc", (at the time that cassette tapes were popular).  They were too expensive then, but she swore that this was the direction music technology was heading.  She predicted that eventually the price would come down enough and nobody would even use cassette tapes anymore...prophetic, anyone?

7.  Hats off to all of you bloggers who took up Jen's 7 days of blogging challenge.  You have been keeping me busy reading, love it!  I did not take up the challenge, I know full well that I do not have the ability/time to blog daily (I like reading other blogs too much)!  However, I knew when I started this blog that I didn't have alot of time to devote to it, and I'm ok with that.  For now, I am just trying to capture some memories for my family and keep up with the laundry too.  Blogging is only something I do in my spare time, which I never seem to have enough.  I have to live my "real, off-line life" intentionally first, before I commit any additional time to my poor, neglected blog.  Maybe someday blogging will become less of a hobby and I'll be able to incorporate it more into my life, like many of my favorite bloggers have done.  Baby steps...

Have an awesome weekend and click over to Conversion Diary to see more Quick Takes!!