Friday, July 31, 2009

In the Merry Old Land of Oz

On Saturday, Little Miss went on a road trip with me and my Mom. Have I mentioned how happy I am that my Mom came to visit?? Yay, Mom!
We headed to the charming town of Wamego to visit the Wizard of Oz museum:

Yes, those are in fact Wizard of Oz troll dolls.
I couldn't resist the knitted Tin Man!
And Little Miss got to have her picture taken with Toto!

St. Louis, Day One

Sunday after church, with loaded cars and dozy children, we hit the road for St. Louis. We ended up staying about twenty miles outside of the city, in a hotel I've used previously (for Time Out for Women last year). We had a nice, big suite and there was a salt water pool which the kids loved (well, they loved the pool-ness of it, not so much the salt water part!).
The next morning, bright and early, we headed into the city:

After a pleasant few minutes in the underground museum, we took our places in line for our ride to the top of the Arch. Due to technical difficulties, we had to wait awhile:

Forty five (brief!?) minutes later, we found ourselves climbing into the "egg"(as the kids called the little elevator cars which take visitors to the top), and all was forgiven!

Quarters were tight but the ride up and down was a huge hit! The top of the arch itself, however, was something of a letdown. "Okay, Mom, this is nice. Now can we get back in the egg?"
So we walked down to the riverboat dock and had a little lunch. We boarded the boat and were captivated by river travel.
For about five minutes.
Did I mention that it was very hot?
Big Guy: Why are we on this boat?
Mommy: For fun.
Big Guy: Are we having any fun?

After a few more minutes of taking in the scenery, we found tables inside, and I sacrificed my electronics (iphone and camera) to the amusement of the small children.
Oh, and did I mention the popcorn?
The little ones spent about half of the trip taking pictures of EVERYTHING. The insides of their hands (note Sam's photographic technique in the above photo), the really attractive underside of my neck, the popcorn, random strangers, etc. (I spent an amusing fifteen minutes deleting the vast majority of them that night; I was tempted to post many of those pictures, but I figured they wouldn't be nearly as amusing to anyone else but me!!)

Peace, restored at last. The cost was merely a little air conditioning, some popcorn, and some smeary fingerprints on my personal electronics.
After that, we decided we'd had enough of the big city for the day and headed back to the hotel for pay-per-view movies, more swimming, and dinner at my favorite chain restaurant (California Pizza Kitchen, in case you couldn't restrain your curiosity). Once again, the camera was sacrificed at the altar of toddler amusement:

We will quickly pass over the tale of how our nights were spent, and simply say that we will not be staying in a hotel again until Little Guy is much, much older. Much older. Like twenty-five. And boy, how much do I love my Mom for making this crazy trip with us???

At the Magic House (St. Louis, Day Two)

On our second day in St. Louis, we decided to forego the Zoo (it was really hot outside) in favor of the children's museum, The Magic House. First of all, it is HUGE! Second, it is CROWDED. Third, LOUD! But lots of fun, regardless. All three kiddos had great fun, though unfortunately, they often wanted to have fun in three different places at once, and there were only two adults! But we persevered!

One of the favorite parts of the day was the discovery of Jack's Beanstalk, which is a three story climbing structure (from which it is almost impossible to retrieve unwilling children):

While little guy liked it, he was even more pleased with the Beanstalk that was more his size:
The big kids had lots of fun in a hands on art and science room:

Then we went to Trader Joe's to load up on our favorite goodies (mandarin chicken rules!!), said a sad goodbye to big brother and Gamma, and then the little ones and I got into the car for a LONG drive home through St. Louis traffic and thunderstorms!

A rare sighting in the wild

With Big Guy off to Florida for the rest of the summer (tales of our adventure in St. Louis to follow), the little kids and I headed to the Zoo today. While there, we had a rare sighting of our favorite creature, the Parentis Daddymanus:

Not, of course, to be confused with the more garden variety Parentis Crunchyconmommyus, who is commonly to be found at the zoo:

We were surprised and pleased to get a sighting of this rare creature outside of his normal habitat of office, home basement or gym, especially on a Friday morning!

Thanks for the surprise!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Pioneer Children Sang As They Walked (and walked, and walked, and walked)

Last week while Big Guy was away at Chess Camp, Miss G and Little Guy and I decided to go to the dairy to visit the cows and get some milk. On our way, we stopped at Lake Shawnee to take a little walk. I figured (silly, silly Mommy) that we wouldn't walk far, so I wouldn't worry about taking the stroller (or water, or decent walking shoes!). The walking trail is marked out in quarter mile increments, so I told the kids we'd walk a half mile to the first set of swings:

Great fun was had by all. Miss G then asked to keep walking ahead instead of turning back. I warned that, of course, every step we took away from the car would mean a longer walk back, but the general concensus was to press forward, so we decided to walk to the next quarter mile marker. We got there, and as we were about to turn around, the kids saw this in the distance:
WAY off in the distance. Well, you can't see a playground and NOT walk there, so away we went! Of course, walking a mile in sockless crocs means that you start to get blisters before even arriving at the playground! But we made it, and made some new friends there, and played for awhile.
Then, of course, came the dreaded mile walk back to the car. Next time we go for a walk, even if no one wants it, needs it or asks for it, WE ARE BRINGING THE STROLLER! We made it without TOO much whining with lots of games of "I Spy" as well as countless primary songs, real and imagined (we re-imagined The Handcart song: When Kensingers walk to the park, we hope to make it home by dark, we walk in barefoot all along, and as we walk we sing this song...).

Big Guy, meanwhile, was having a blast at chess camp. I drove to Lindsborg to pick him up on Friday, getting there for the tail end of the awards ceremony. Here he is with Grand Master Akobian, who was one of their instructors:
After we got him checked out of the dorm, he wanted to show me around the town, and the weather was gorgeous, so off we went. Lindsborg is a really lovely little town which was founded by a Swedish community, and the influence is still very strong. The downtown area is populated by little Swedish horse statues called Dala, which are decorated in various ways. Big Guy's favorite:
Was, of course, called the "Dolla" Dala!
And after stopping to get a Hawaiian Ice (not very Swedish, but another tradition of chess club participants!) we had another Pioneer Children moment as we walked and walked and walked back to the car!
And then, reunited at last!
We lasted a whole ten minutes before the screaming began! But at least for the moment, my little family is back under one roof again!

Monday, July 13, 2009

Summer fun

Big brother encouraging little sister before swim lessons:

At the farm for Grammy's birthday: Cake Time!

Miss G won Pin the Tail on the Donkey!
On the way home: