Zack took off work on their last day with us. We decided to take them canoeing since it’s one of our favorite hobbies. We were all pretty excited, but the girls’ anticipation rivaled the adults’ and kept us all in good spirits as we froze our buns off.

Those of us in kayaks became drenched with ice water with each paddle of our oars. Thankfully the kids were in the canoe with Zack, safe and dry with an endless supply of snacks.

By the end of our trip (our shortest time on the river, ever!), our hands and feet were pretty well thawed out.  – This was all my fault. I assumed it would warm up as it does in the summer. It did not. I should’ve dressed for autumn, not mid-July…

Afterwards, we headed home to card games by the fire. Another one of our favorite ways to pass the time.

They taught us Kings in the Corner, and we taught them Speed and Settlers of Catan. Cendi beat Jonathan in Speed, and he whooped us all in Settlers.

Best four days we could’ve hoped for! Thanks for traveling a billion miles to see us!!!


The science center (part of Forest Park) was closed on Saturday when we attempted to tour it, so on Monday, we ditched our plans to visit our local park and have an overall lazy day and drove back to St. Louis to see what the Science Center had to offer.

It did not disappoint, and in fact was probably my favorite part of the week. Had Zack been there it would’ve definitely been my favorite part!

There was a station where you controlled ^ this Rover and its camera. So fun!

All of our girls adore Star Wars! Rae was so giddy when she discovered this case full of memorabilia.

It would take 275,000 US dollars to send her tiny hiney to outer space. She would love to travel into space.

Watching the cars driving under the walkway.

Ah, nerd wit.

This construction scoop “game” was out of order, but there were plenty of other cool things for the kids to try. One of which was an earthquake simulation station. Pretty neat.

We all learned a bit about dinosaurs. They even had fossils we were able to examine, which the workers dug up on a trip to Montana.

Elevators with windows. Enough said?

They had such cool little – for lack of a better word – stations where we could see how things work. The energy in our homes, how much energy our bodies conduct (the kids’ energy was off the chart. The adults, not so much – no surprise there…), petal power, wind power, electric car versus gas powered, etc.

They had added on a farm area since the last time we visited. The even had live chickens there. My girls love all things farm – livestock or produce, so I’m sure they’ll be eager to get back there.

Last but certainly not least, a photo of Eisliegh and Mae “twinning” from head to toe. Could they be any cooler??


Sunday, after church, we visited a local pumpkin patch.

Rae was sad about the possibility of us making her ride the zip line. Silly.

She climbed the little rock wall up to the window. Such joy in her accomplishment. That smile is everything.

These children are fearless. They just hopped up on the giant hay bales and jumped around without a care.

The corn. Oh, boy. So much corn went home in their britches.

It wasn’t cold or rainy the entire time they were here. Missouri was putting on quite the show for this sweet family! Thanks for bringing some Alabama warmth with you, and for helping us create such happy memories!


Since we neglected to pack a picnic to eat after our time at the zoo, we drove over to Raising Cane’s chicken joint for some very hot, very filling chicken, before visiting the Arch. (We’d never been, so bold move on Zack’s part!)

The kids’ table. The place to be. I don’t believe the girls stopped talking long enough to eat a single bite of food. Curious, since they were d y i n g of hunger twenty minutes before.

As a result, however, we were able to eat our food without a single interruption! My last bite of food was still hot as it was consumed!!!

The twins.

These two are both seven now, the old hags.

I just noticed Mae has ketchup. Mae doesn’t even like ketchup. I guess if Eisleigh has ketchup Mae has ketchup. A subtle token of solidarity. Best. Friends. Foreverrrrr.

Nailed it.

We tried explaining the Arch best we could. We came up with “large metal sculpture you can go into…?”

Mae, so full of joy at the sight of the Arch. Completely unaware she smacked Vada in the face. Haha, poor sweet tolerant Vada.

Mae has seen the Arch a billion times before and has even traveled to the tippy top. She’s just obsessed with all things St. Louis. Loud ‘n proud.

Typically, our favorite thing about the “Arch experience,” is the great walking paths which are surrounded by gorgeous tree lines, and the shade they provide. The cobblestone walkway and large steps between the Arch and the Mississippi River are a close second.

On this trip, sadly, we weren’t able to see any of that. It was closed for construction, so we hung out at the bottom by the construction fencing.

Game after game of tag by the old courthouse was the highlight!

I’m not sure we could’ve asked for a better day to spend outside in the city!

As for the construction? Well, they didn’t even know what the Arch was upon arrival, so we didn’t have to compete with expectations. – AND!  Both men and all four children slept on the way home, while Cendi and I talked about everything under the sun without interruption.

Thanks for being so easy going and comfortably agreeing to go where the wind took us that day, Jonathan and Cendi!


Our beloved Stevens’ traveled many many miles upon hours to see us this past weekend. We stocked our days with a balance of our favorite sights and time at our home. Simply being together was all any of us really wanted.

The girls get along so incredibly well! There wasn’t a single disagreement and no segregation among friends. Four girls and four days! Can you imagine???

Since Forest Park is our favorite, we started our first day with a trip to the St. Louis Zoo!

The girls threw pennies into the fountain and made a wish, except Vada. She specifically didn’t attach a wish to her penny. That girl beats to her own drum.

The butterfly house was full of charm and housed some of the largest butterflies we’ve ever seen. Honestly, I didn’t know butterflies could be so large.

There are some gems up there of Rae. Poor sensitive-eyed baby.

Is she eating that fence post? I dunno.

The elephants gave us a pretty great show. Lining up Papa, Momma, Baby, followed by the father giving a loud snort.

In the end, we saw five or six elephants. That’s the most we’ve ever seen at one time. Mostly rumps, but you know, beggars and choosers and whatnot.

The Ginger in his desired habitat – a dark, damp, cool cave. (and lookin’ mighty fine, I might add.)

Eisleigh and Vada don’t remember their first trip to a zoo, so they were so fun to show around! Everything was “the best!” and their smiles are full of genuine cheer.

They truly were fun every minute of every day, guys!

Rae found the Zebras! Heaven. Hah!

The hippos weren’t in full force like they usually are, but we did see one!

Stopping for a drink.

( Plenty of Rae going on in this post! It was naptime, and she was especially clingy. She’s also the youngest of the bunch and not near as independent. )

The Ginger in his less desired habitat: Smackdab in the direct path of the suns rays, smothered by humidity’s unrelenting grasp. He still manages to impress a lady in all of his discomfort! Look at that face!

The girls (and adults!) hung in there through a l l the walking! We continued our day with lunch and the apparently only-regionally-famous Arch, which I’ll post about tomorrow.


Welp. Here we are, and here it is. The starting line of your eighth trot around the sun.

You’re officially SEVEN. Honestly, that feels about right.

I won’t say I wish you were still wittle bitty. While that was a hoot, I am beyond grateful that you’re here with us now.

As I sat writing this, you’ve given me not one, not two, but three!! goodnight kisses. Right there on my mouth. Seven and still kissin’ yer ma on the lips. I’m going to milk your generosity for all its worth.

I’ve noticed, in the past two weeks or so, a shift in your relationship with your sister. You’re outgrowing her a bit. She’ll catch up, and you’ll never be apart for too long, but for the first time you don’t have the patience you once had.

That being said, you have more patience than any human I know. I’ll do my best to help you hold on to that.

You are intuitive and compassionate.

Your most prominent interests are what they have always been, exploring the outdoors, art, science, dancing, and learning about the history of different cultures.

OH! Fashion. how could I forget fashion? Definitely, the interest that has been brought to the forefront this past year. I could wear the same plain gray t-shirt every day, but you adore all things sparkly and new. The fancier the better.

You are wise beyond your years.

You have a flair for drama. The good kind. Your quick wit and charm fill my heart with such delight. Right up there with them th’r kisses you dull out so freely.

Your heart is fair. You know good, and don’t see why someone would choose another path.

You light up a room simply by being in it (your smile and genuine interest in people helps too!) and leave each person feeling like the most loved person on earth with those bear hugs you’ve mastered in your seven short years.

You have become interested in writing stories, poems, and notes. (Now that you can write) The words and phrases you use on the daily stop us where we stand. You’re brilliant.

Above all, you know you are a child of God. You make the most beautiful observations about life and Heaven and your Savior and ask the deepest and most thoughtful questions.

You see the world and those in it, as the Lord does. Faith of a child I suppose, but I’ll do my part in following your lead, and not stray you from the pure heart you now possess.

Happiest of Birthdays, Twerp. We love you so much it literally hurts.


Zack’s brother, Seth, and his family came down for the weekend.

Our third year playing, laughing, camping, makin’ jokes around a bonfire, cooking, and blowing shtuff up. Just our families. Definitely something we all look forward to each year.

(The photos in this post are solely of firework preparation and the blowing up of said fireworks.)

There were bow hunters in woods this time around, so no guns were brought out, but there was some bow practice.

The fireworks were a good supplement for the lack of tannerite explosions that are usually on the agenda. The kids thoroughly enjoyed them. I’m sure that will be one of the best memories they’ll keep with them of the weekend.

She’s got a goooood face.

Seth brought sparklers – and Rae held them!

Check out Mae and Sadie up there. So calm. Whataboss.

This photo didn’t turn out, but its still a good’n.

This lady! She stays so calm while juggling three kids, and everything that entails. Love a girl that can go along with anything and manages to be hilarious in all situations.

More sparklers!!

There were lawn games played by the girls, hours of Would You Rather? (That game stresses me out. I take the questions too literal. Lame, I know, just answer the question already, Jade!!!). We ate lots of large, sticktoyourribs meals.

The girls held chickens every chance they got, and Lauren, who is three, spent the majority of the time swinging in the living room watching movies and playing with Moana toys. She’s so sweet.