STEVENS WEEK : : PART FOUR

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??

STEVENS WEEK : : PART THREE

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!

STEVENS WEEK : : PART TWO

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!

STEVENS WEEK : : PART ONE

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.

DEAR MAE : : HAPPY 7TH BIRTHDAY EDITION

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.

ANNUAL ROGERS WEEKEND

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.

MRS. MCGREGOR

So. If you’re keeping track this makes, two cats, one puppy, zero sheep, six hens, one outdoor NZ hare, and one giant indoor bunny.

We’ve had her only two days, and already she’s tied with my beloved, George, and our Rosie for my favorite animals of all time.

Its like watching a stuffed animal hop around!! Agh!

She’s trained to go back to her cage to do her business and snuggles. (Snuggling and not peeing on my floor are the reasons George and Rosie made the list too)

Bailey (George’s sister) is cool too, but she only snuggles with Mae. She’s at the top of her list right along side this beauty.

She has her favorite spots, but lies at our feet when we’re in the room with her.

She adores nose pets and neck rubs as much as we adore giving them.

She has free reign over the front of the house, and Buckey gets the back two rooms (which is all he had before Mrs. McGregor showed up).

She has one ear that flops and one ear that stands at attention.

As soon as we named her Mrs. McGregor, Penelope said, “She needs glasses and a nice hat!” Haha. I don’t like the idea of clothes on animals, but Mae is all about that life.

-and, yes, I noticed the cobwebs before I took the photos.

-and, no, I didn’t remove them after I took the photos.

APPLE PICKING 2017

My sister-in-law and I (and our moms) took our kids apple picking in Illinois over the weekend.

It’s probably best that I went with other folks. My girls and I could’ve easily spent an hour crawling around on the ground, looking for apple worms. Studying them. Studying the bumpiness / smoothness of various apples. Are the leaves different depending on the color apple the tree produces? Which type of apple attracts the most worms?

Don’t get me started on studying that camel and soaking up her existence!

That being said, my girls got so much out of their short time at the orchard, and got so much quality time with their cousins, and I had a great time with my sister-in-law, Jenny (The coolest lady, and best momma!).

Rae runs full-force towards animals. Never expected baby-Rae to go near animals, much less adore them the way she does.

^  The famous Gwandma Shari & Mae ^

Next time my girls will share a bag!! They each filled theirs up halfway, and we still came home with 50+ apples. They’re way better than the waxy grocery store apples. Bigger and so much sweeter.

Mae got so discouraged when she’d pull one off and more would fall to the ground, destined for a bruised, devastating future of neglect. Abandoned with no hope of serving a joyful purpose. Hopefully they will all decompose and become great trees. That’s what I told her, so its going to happen! Well-intentioned mommas only speak truth, right?

She loves carrying food in her dresses (and her aprons at home). Belle goals becoming fulfilled.

Reckless. The sweetest camel. Sadie was smitten.

Mae’s ultimate dream for the past four years has been to ride a horse (or pony). This was an unexpected experience, and one she is still talking about. Loved seeing her wear a smile that she couldn’t force away.

(This pony’s name was Shorty)

^ ^ ^ A dream she didn’t know she had. ^ ^ ^

The girls did a couple other activities, and snagged some fresh cider before we headed home and got ready for Sadie’s [NINETH!] birthday party.

RAE’S FIRST DAY OF PRESCHOOL

Rae started preschool yesterday! She didn’t go last year, because I didn’t think she was ready and quite frankly last school year was a hard year for me. I didn’t want to add one more thing to my life.

This year, however, she is giddy about time away from me and the idea of making friends (the only reason she even goes) is finally something she’s interested in.

She has had her bag packed for weeks now – with only the essentials, as you can see.

Mae and I had school on the bleachers by the baseball fields. We laughed SO MUCH! It was our best school day yet!

We enjoyed some cake she had made the night before. I don’t like cake, or icing, or strawberries – but I took one for her esteem.

^ So happy!! ^

Her turned up foot kills me!

She was so happy when I picked her up. I hope she grows out of her shell so much this year!

2017 ECLIPSE

We thought about laying out on our deck and watching it all go down, but opted for a fun day at the park.

(Someone was kind enough to give us glasses – thanks, Bob!)

Although we were “in the path,” We had the place pretty well to ourselves.

Zack’s entire school laid out on the football field. Such a cool experience for them!

Mae was very excited about the entire thing!

We brought Buckey along. He just napped the first two hours. Sweet boy.

It was SO humid. Rae wasn’t havin’ it. We hauled lunch and plenty of snacks, so she hung in there.

We also brought some travel-size workbooks along, did some phonics, addition, and cursive.

The girls made a friend at the playground when we arrived. A boy named Coby. He tagged along like he’d known them forever.

It was so cool watching it get dark (and the humidity went away!!!). The crickets got louder as the birds went silent.

^Taken just after the eclipse was over.

Rae said, “aaaand, cut!”

She’s so cool.

Pinhole shadows. So cool! (And, hand-holding!!!)

We walked Buckey around the spring and fed the trout. This part of the park has an anti-humidity bubble around it. We could’ve stayed all day.

I thought watching how the environment changed around us was the best part.

I’m sure we’ll drive over to Illinois to see the next one in 7 years!