The following day we took a friend’s suggestion and headed an hour away to Mastodon State Park / State Historic Site. We found out some very cool things about their home state’s history!
It is always so incredible to see the scale of creatures larger than ourselves, extinct or living. Something important about feeling small every once in a while (physically smaller, not feeling smaller than your worth).
We found a few more places to visit while we were there!
After touring the museum, we explored the outdoors!
The steps went down, down, and down some more. There was a rock face on one side and open canopy on the other, it was lovely. The girls kept stopping to touch the cliff and were so happy to find that it was cold (even though they themselves were already a bit chilly). Eventually we made it to the old dig site, which had been covered up.
We continued on the trail, making sure to climb every set of rocks that were climbable, and stand dangerously close to every cliff edge they came across.
They discussed rock climbing and propelling from this spot for quite some time. Thankfully there was a sign (and a mother) scolding such things or Mae may have attempted such a feat.
The girls also got to see a real sun dial and compare it to the time on Rae’s watch. So cool.
We had a picnic at the state park portion down the road and the girls enjoyed playing on a playground there. We plan on going back to explore more of the trails and visit the sloth, wolf, and moose sites nearby this park – and finding the ones close to us!
The following day, we decided to stay in to watch a movie with snacks (they chose various dairy-free ice creams), play a couple of new board games they picked out, and enjoy a pancake supper – but a better situation arose! Aunt Kathy (who is visiting from Indiana) was going to be home (at our home) alone with no plans – so we quickly made plans, filling her day!
She and the girls started early with a dance party, they gave her the run-through of favorite Pokemon, she read them a chapter from The Banks of Plum Creek, they let her rename some dolls, and she let them pick out her outfit for the day! Afterward, we got lunch and then candy from the General Store! So glad we got some time with her all to ourselves!
We will pick up our original plans either this weekend or on Monday. Aunt Kathy (one of the funniest most exciting people on the planet) was definitely the highlight of spring break! I’m so glad we got our very own day with her!
The girls thoroughly enjoy an arcade. They have only been to an arcade, I’d say, four times in their lives. Their cousin’s birthday party when Mae was about four, Chuckie cheese with my grandparents when Rae was four, last summer in Tennessee with Aunt Sarah, and then again last Wednesday.
This arcade was different and just what they were looking for. We paid a certain amount right away and then could play any game as long as you wanted, as many times as you wanted. There were no tokens, no tickets to turn in for toys, and no lines, as we were the only ones there. The owner has collected so many games from the 80’s, 90’s, and a few driving games from what looked to be from the early 2000s.
I should mention that they had tons of sanitizing wipes readily available to wipe down the machines before playing them.
There were also specialty things at the front, like a build your own Lego person station and a large book of Pokémon cards, each for a dollar – way better than surprise packs (Rae got three she liked).
We stayed three hours and they played the entire time!
Zack would have enjoyed the nostalgia of it, for sure, and because of him they recognized the majority of the games there!
Sega Out Run
80’s Donkey Kong
Centipede & Millipede
Multiple versions of Street Fighter
90’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
Star Wars Trilogy arcade (Mae’s favorite of the day)
…and many more…
We chose our next activity to be at two of our favorite places – the Saint Louis Zoo and Ikea. Wouldn’t you know, our zoo reservations landed on a snow day. The girls were still happy to go and spend the morning outside. We got very bundled up, ate some warm oatmeal before leaving, and brought along hot chocolate to enjoy as we strolled by habitats.
We nearly had the place to ourselves (due to the weather and it was a Tuesday), BUT! all of the animals were out – with the exception of the giraffes, but we did get to see an ostrich in the giraffe area respond to his name, Nelson, as a worker called him in for lunch. It was adorable.
We saw every bear playing!, the flamingos were chatting up a storm, every wild cat was out and gave us their full attention, each bird in the birdhouse gave us a show and song, and even the donkeys began trotting around as we walked up to them. I am so glad we went.
We skipped the displays at Ikea and took our sweet time at the downstairs market (and the kids area). They are such fun girls.
We got some lunch trays, pretend cloth food, and glass ‘water bottles’ for their dolls, some reusable napkins for our tea times and picnics, a solar lantern for our new picnic table, and a green flower pot because “Mum! This was made for you!”
The snow was really ‘chucking it down’ as we left for home.
By the time we got home it was flurries (as you can see above), and within thirty minutes there was no evidence of snow, just a wet, muddy mess everywhere. Then the sun came out and everything was shiny and lovely. It was a great great day.
One activity the girls and I knew we wanted to do during spring break was camp. We originally planned on going with just the three of us…and Maybe. But, I decided to force sweet Zack to take a break from his never-ending jobs and get away with us. I am so glad he went. He was able to reconnect with his girls, look them in the face for long periods of time, and ask them SO many get to know you questions.
We kept it simple when it came to food. Our only cooking utensil was a marshmallow/hotdog poker. I premade bread the night before we left, sliced and lightly pre-toasted it to lower the moisture.
We brought hotdogs and chips for supper (which the neighbor requested for a movie night the girls had the night before), snacks, and toast with blueberries for breakfast. Very
We didn’t even grab our reusable camping utensils. We used the compostable utensils we keep in the car – which we wash and reuse.
Right next to our campsite was a staircase that led to the water – which has a skinny trail that follows the water. We took a family hike the first day and one more with just the girls and me before we left. They wanted to look at ^this^ spot for shells one last time.
Keeping it simple and just going reminded me how easy camping can be. The girls and I (Miss Maybe included) will definitely go more often.
Zack will continue to be busy all the way through to the next school year (woof), but I am so glad we were able to get a smidge of quality time with him during our spring break. We’re coming up with other ways to get him to procrastinate more often…maybe even an out-of-state vacation this summer?
We made plans to visit a conservation area near us that is right on the Mississippi River. Before the turn-off, Zack saw a road he thought looked interesting and took it. We thought it may lead to nowhere quickly. It wasn’t long before the scene began to look like southern Georgia coastal marshes complete with abandoned lake houses on stilts. The road ended here at a spot with a small ‘beach’ and a three-mile bike trail that runs so close to the river. You can see Zack (he is very tiny) walking along the beginning of the trail.
We found wood ducks perched in trees, fossils within many many rocks, busy flirtatious swallows, and two large barges go by.
We’ve made a mental note to go back when it is warm to swim in the still nook of water and ride the trail with Zack.
The beginning of March feels like a lifetime ago. – I wrote that sentence a week ago, and it is still March.
It was a good month, but the last week of it we took a somewhat break from formal schooling. Not a ‘spring break,’ more of a ‘Mum is tired’ week where they played, read their books, built things, had conversations with me, started re-watching Full House, and whatever they did while I read my own books, deep cleaned parts of the house that helped me clear my mind, worked on this blog, planned outings, etc. I feel refreshed and have no idea what April holds for us, but I do know we plan on having an actual spring break next month.
Below are some of the things we did do that I happened to take photos of.
Making a phone (numbers on an index card) to begin working on memorizing a new phone number.
Rae’s – Mum reading Anne of Green Gables aloud at the park / Mae’s tree from where she sat as Mum read aloud
Being a good girl, enjoying the beautiful day from the comfort of Mum’s view. I don’t trust her as far as I can throw her, but here she is proving my distrust wrong.
Working on writing German sentences (Mae ended up writing a paragraph!). No proper form was necessary and English mixed in was a-okay with me.
Rae’s King Richard. After learning about Richard and his brother John, and Robin Hood we watched Disney’s “Robin Hood with the foxes.”
My lap dog, working toward a nap while I read.
The first spring-like day, I sent the girls outside to be free. They decided to play pioneers for hours. That theme has continued on through the month.
Mae’s independent reading books have been Little House books, and during many of the too-cold, rainy days, they have been playing pioneers in the larger schoolroom. They set up a store inspired by the Oleson’s store in the television version of Little House on the Prairie. Nearly everything is a penny and no more than a nickel.
Zack bought some seeds while shopping with the girls. The following day, the girls began getting a plan together and browsed our seed catalog to look for some giant sunflowers to order. We narrowed it down to two kinds, but need Dad to decide which one to get.
Rae and the only flowers we started on the last day of March. None of the vegetables have sprouted yet.
With the pioneer shop being an ongoing pastime, we have moved all of our daily work upstairs. It has been incredibly cozy!
Rae has pretty well-mastered ponytail tying. She now ties her own and ties small portions of my hair while we watch documentaries during school or Little House. Mae is mastering braids, on herself and others (me).
On Saint Patrick’s Day, we ate the barmbrack bread (this recipe, minus the whiskey and ring, and raisins soaked in tea were our only fruit) we made the day before alongside some Irish breakfast tea. We read some Anne of Green Gables and enjoyed the sound of the rain.
During that week we read some Irish stories, learned about some famous places in Ireland, listened to some of our favorite Irish songs – over and over and over, painted shamrocks to put upstairs, read, and wrote a portion of Saint Patrick’s prayer (not written by him, just favored by him I guess).
Can you tell which one of the girls enjoys writing and which one enjoys drawing?
The girls began working on little stop motion films. Within a couple of hours (there were breaks in that time), they had a Barbie taking off a ponytail seamlessly and I am impressed!
The girls have been enjoying Anne of Green Gables (She talks SO MUCH!!!) and we are loving reading outside once more!
Mae learned to ride a full sized bike and she just barely fits it.
They have also played in the mud for hours, read books, worked through math and sentences as well as much more but this is where I will leave it. Happy April!
March brought such lovely sunshine, rain, flowers, the smell of cut grass, clear night skies/more moon sightings, ducklings around the neighborhood, and mama robins (and its usual wind, wind, and more wind). It was lovely and seemed to last two months’ worth of time.
We, like most, held our breaths to see if there was going to be more snow and spent the month scoping out good sledding hills, which I supposed will be used next year.
The girls also, finally. became friends with the neighbor girl and have played with her nearly every day! I am so so happy about this!!!
I believe this was probably Maybe’s favorite month so far this year. Her diet is now solely table scraps, she has received a record number of pets and spent more time in my lap than ever before.
She also went a’wanderin’ around the fields behind our house and is now on a literal tight leash for the rest of her days…but now that the initial scolding has worn off, she seems oblivious to the more strict lifestyle she now lives.
Grandpa (Papa) has really been spoiling the girls with treats! They really adore that man.
George may have become even more beautiful this month. He adores Papa, too.
If Mae were an animal, she would be a cat. I know this summer he will hangout with us less. We have been extra grateful for his presence this month. However, I am keeping my fingers crossed that this is the summer he prefers home to neighboring fields.
We began watching an episode a night of Little House on the Prairie as a family. Most of the time one episode does not seem like enough.
We celebrated Saint Patrick’s day like we always do. This year, however, instead of studying all about Ireland from March first through the seventeenth, we only focused on it the week of…so four days worth (We talk a lot about Ireland throughout the year). This year did involve more baking/cooking Irish food though!
The girls still (mostly for the past year) play with Barbies for a couple hours a day. They’re storylines are elaborate – to say the very least. I have never known girls (any children, really) to play with as much detail, imagination, and consistency as they do. I was not this way as a child. Thinking back, I feel I had zero imagination. Becoming a mother has been a huge help to me when it comes to imagination…but I still don’t believe I am very good contribution in the area of Barbie dolls.
Rae got her braces adjusted this month. She is really taking the whole situation well and we are enjoying the incredibly quick appointments!
We finally re-visited the girls’ favorite playground! We brought lunch each time and walked around as well as play.
Zack and his mom both celebrated birthdays this month. Zack turned 33 and Shari turned 63! (My dad and I are also 33 and 63 right now!)
Wild onion bouquet from Rae. Our schoolroom has a faint smell of them and I rather like it.
We are enjoying seeing so many spring animals out and about and are patiently waiting for this robin to come back to her nest.
We have plans to visit more rivers, go camping, and spend as much time learning and being outside in April. March was a lovely preview of what waits for us in the coming weeks.
We got a taste of spring just as all of that snow melted away. The year we got married, Missouri had a snowstorm in April, and we experience multiple types of weather on a single day very often here, so I can’t rule out snow, but as of now, it looks like spring may sneak in quickly.
But the girls found the perfect little sledding hill on our first park day, so the three of us would not dread a snow day. It rains enough in spring here, maybe it can be a mud-sledding hill?
(I love that they both do the “Rogers’ scrunch” when they give a big posed smile.)
We peaked in the same little windows of the homes at this park – it is so cute in there! They are patiently waiting for the day they can take an official tour.
On the first day, we brought two bikes and a scooter – only to find once we had arrived, that Rae’s tire was flat, so she and I walked while Mae enjoyed her scooter.
In the second photo, she is trying to spot frogs which were so loud they made my ears ring and we couldn’t talk over them. All that noise and we couldn’t find a single one!!
We settled ourselves into being okay without more snow for the sake of the frogs, spiders, millipedes, and bees we saw on our walk.
Sweaty hand holding / fresh branches…or rather, limbs / limbs.
I still get to hold their hands everyday! Even at home, they hold my hand just because they want to. What a lovely life.
I should mention, while we did go to parks more than one day, most of these photos are from our first day, in which we went to two parks. We spent four hours or so at the first one (even doing some reading aloud and nature drawings while there), and two hours at the second playing waiting for the sun to tell us when to go home.
The day she couldn’t go with us vs. the day she went with us. Haha. Really, She was happier with us, I promise.
Poor Maybe had to be home alone all of those hours that first day. She is b e s i d e herself when I am gone – and more so when everyone is gone and Mum hid the cat food on her way out the door.
We went out the second day just to give her a thrill. She made it all the way to the car in point five seconds. She always sits precious and perfect – on her best behavior – in the car.
She graciously walked my dad around the park. She also enjoyed two of our three bottles of water and a peanut butter sandwich for lunch.
They enjoy the nature classroom so much! More than any other kids I see there. On the second day, we stayed from 10:30 until suppertime. They took a walk around a path, ate lunch, and played the rest of the time.
We’re not ones to wish away a season before the current season is over, but it was a lovely week to get a glimpse of what is to come…and now for a week of rain, which is a truer representation of springtime in Missouri. We have candles, tea, and books ready to go! I am so grateful for girls who make the best of every situation.
February went quick, but thankfully (for us) we had some snow before the month was up! We started and ended the month with snow. I really could leave it there because that was the most important part of our month.
We had a few days of good snowfall (like most of the country)- but we were expecting and hoping for it (The girls and I, not the grandparents). The girls got their fill of playing in the snow, and thankfully, Zack got to be there to enjoy some sledding himself, and help lay good sledding tracks for us to enjoy. Miss Maybe was very happy in the snow as well! She was not thrilled when Mum got in the sled with Dad, but she got her exercise trying to save me, haha.
George was not thrilled with the cold weather. He tried to only spend two minutes out at a time. The in and out was delightful (it wasn’t). He still hasn’t learned to use his cat door.
Maybe still lives by me feet, but has been getting more snuggles and treats than normal. She really loved February.
The girls and I have been spending a lot more time than usual on the couch, piled together, snuggling up, and, while that seems like a small thing, it is my favorite thing!
Zack decided to only eat what I can eat this year – with the exception of the nights the other adults cook. With that, the girls and I got back to cooking daily big meals with each other. We haven’t done that in a year! It is hard to juggle kitchen time between so many people, but February really brought back a groove. AND! Each meal we made this month was a new-to-us recipe – and delicious!
The girls and I (and Shari this year!) continued our ‘heart attacks’ Valentine tradition! We covered the upstairs living area with hearts. We wrote things we love about each person -as well as Maybe and George. The girls and I tried to write one a day, and Shari wrote one for everyone in the house.
Rae finished the Millennium Falcon!! The way she uses it for play is just the greatest. The girls are so incredibly creative! PapaDeedee were so impressed, too.
Also, in sadder news, the braces have already closed her front gap. When I told her, her gap was gone, she said, “Nooooo, that was my best thing!” She is doing incredible with the braces though! This is new territory to all of us, and I was a bit nervous she would be uncomfortable but so far she hasn’t had any issues.
I’ll leave it here with this photo of Zack drawing portraits, sporting a fresh hair cut. I nearly cried as I cut it but I really do love it on him.
The girls were not supportive of his decision to lose the long locks, and are still not encouraging…but it’s not like he shaved his beard – I really would cry then, haha.
HE’S SO PRETTY!! Ahh, we love that man. I should end every post with his gorgeous face…mmm…