Saint Louis Spontaneity

Well. I hadn’t left this city all summer. July was ending. We needed to do something outlandish… like get out of this land! So we did! Much to Logan’s dismay (my Mr. Homebody is a real travel-stick-in-the-mud whose favorite part of a vacation is getting home), we found ourselves mapping out a four day trip to STL! Not long, not far, not expensive. Just a change of scenery! Luckily, Logan’s Uncle Steve was a huge aid in our knowing whereabouts to go when we got there. All the places we went came highly recommended from him. Thanks for being our Trip Advisor, Steve! You were spot on!

Day 1: Travel. I must say, my kids travel well. Although they are terribly annoying at times and have way too many snacks along the way, they are great sports. Evie is really liking audiobooks, and so we completed the first Boxcar Children from Hoopla whilst wheeling down the way. (Side note: Boxcar Children. Classic, right? But kind of horrible, I must admit. Maybe it was the goofy reader? Gawsh, the voice she had for Benny was something I needed to strangle. Although, I am certain that Henry taught me how to use a spoon as a knife. Ha!) Anyway, we got to and fro without a single movie or “gimme-your-phone” incident. Success! We stopped at OP for some Dave and Buster’s (which I had no idea what this place was. It was actually fun, and the food was really great. Lucky for us, it was half-price game day too, yee haw!) We stayed with Logan’s Aunt Marty and Uncle Randy in Washington that night. It was lovely, as always! They cooked gigantico pork chops and sautĂ©ed green beans and cabbage and chocolate pie and pink lemonade. Topped the evening off with a lovely chat after bedtime, and off to bed we went.

Day 2: Blueberry pancakes. Maybe we should’ve just stayed with the Hoermans the whole time. For real! 🙂 Thank you so much for the hospitality! After saying good-bye to Marty and Randy, we made our way to St. Louis and stopped in at The Magic House (STL’s Children’s Museum). Fan-freakin’-tastic. Evie had the time of her life. Olan had things to do and places to go. It was a great stop. If you’ve been to the City Museum, this place is like that, only for kids. They had the whole “million-kids-everywhere-omg-what-if-I-lose-one” thing down to an art. I didn’t have a heart attack the whole time. After spending the whole morning and most of the afternoon at The Magic House, we checked in at Hotel Hampton (using up some HHonor points, ooh la la). After an unsuccessful attempt at nap time, we hit the pool, because pools are every kid’s dream come true, and every parent’s eye roll. When we finally pried our chillins away from the pool, we drove over to The Mellow Mushroom for some pizza. Calzones for dayz people. Top notch. At our hotel, they had a cookie party every night at 8pm. Thass what I’m talkin’ bout, folks.

Day 3: Free breakfast! Whoop! We went over to Flying Tiger Moto to check out some interesting bikes. Logan ended up getting a new motorcycle…. helmet. Har har! Definitely needed. Evie was asking to “do something fun” so we hopped over to a chocolate shop and watched them make some confections and then, of course, had to eat them too. Yum. Off to Southwest Diner where I had the best fried egg sandwich eva. Although I felt like a snood in a hipster joint and was definitely the one without a tattoo in the place, this was my favorite restaurant! Wow! Just so stinking good. We were worn out from the day already, but we went about an hour south of STL to Hawn State Park and did a >1 mile hike down Pickle Creek. Logan is a hater for hiking, but I ate it up! Evie liked it at first, but she was so worn out, she was a little downtrodden by the trail’s end. We got to wade in the creek, and Olan loved his Poco Plus ride! Thanks Logan for tugging 50 extra pounds on your back for me. I love hiking! I’m afraid I might be the lone Henry, however. Sad face. We had a picnic dinner, and then exhaustedly headed back for our hotel room. Thank the Lord we convinced Evie to give up her dream of swimming when we got back, and we watched TV and ate cookies instead. The last thing I wanted to do was slink into my swimsuit and go splash around. Whew! We all slept well that night.

Day 4: Heading west! We got in a quick swim (BTW the whirlpool with the jets was a Henry kid pleaser!) and free breakfast before we left the hotel, and then off we went, back to Kansas. Uneventful all the way back. We got back at around 5pm.

Glad we got to make a small trip work this summer. Thanks to Logan for putting up with my crazy hair-brained idea to get in the car and take little babies 7 hours away, and thanks to Uncle Steve for so many wonderful suggestions. Mission accomplished!

Dave and Buster’s was stimulation overload… but the kids had a great time! Olan did a lot of pretend playing. Ha ha!

Our little automobile junky.

Evie with her insanely expensive prizes. We earned 598 tickets with our arcade skills and got two finger puppets and a laser pop. Trip entertainment!

Having fun in mama’s arms.

Randy and Marty’s house! Thank you again!

The Magic House! Tons of “marble runs” with big wooden balls. A little guy’s delight.

The giant bubble maker. Oh Evie and her bubbles! We could’ve stayed in the bubble room for-ev-er.

The TapeScape… an obstacle course and slide made out of 300 rolls of packing tape.

The Beanstalk… Life size, three-story high “Jack and the Beanstalk” you can climb!

The sand tables… Olan’s jam.

Mellow Mushroom… wish we’d taken pictures of our enormous calzones!

The prettiest helmet ever! You can see in the background the wall of helmets. Evie brought over each and every one for me to feel how soft and smooth it was.

Here’s Logan’s new helmet!

Lookin’ good, girl.

Scoot dat boot!

Kakao Chocolate shop! Evie got a chocolate spoon, and we ate some toasted pistachio dark chocolate bark!

Olan loves chocolate too!

Southwest Diner!

Street corn… just like Nacho Libre! My face is nothing like Jack Black’s, but I tried. Ha ha. And for the record, it’s not mayo. It’s something else that is really good. I should’ve written it down. Cilantro aioli or something. Way good.

The start of our Pickle Creek adventure!

Olan stripped a few pieces of clothing by the end.

Evie and her hiking stick, which slowed her down and made her trip more than it helped her keep her balance. She’s got a little bit of Grandma Baldwin hiking (tripping lots) in her genes.

The trail ran right along the creek the whole time. Very rocky, but fun!

Little dipper!

Tres Trips To Texas

Spring break is here again, and we’ve got a pretty decent thang going the last three years in heading south to spend the week with our Waller buddies. We weren’t sure if this year it was going to work out with some important appointments this week, but we decided sorta last minute to make it a reality to head down to Texas! With Jason and Lauren having a new baby a few months ago, and knowing it would be this summer before we’d see them and meet their sweet Ruth (who knows if it will be all of us together even then!), it was worth it to make it work. No regrets!

We hopped in the car on Saturday after a crazy week at school and a million hours of packing the night before, and made it for dinner and the KU game that night. Pork butt and catch up time made our evening full, and with Sunday morning booked with churchy things, we finally got to relax a bit that afternoon and evening. I love how each of our family members can just pick up where we left off with these friends. Glad to get some quality time with Lauren amidst the cooking and such. Long distance is just not quite the same.

By day, we made some time to get out to the Botanic Gardens in downtown Fort Worth (DSLR photos courtesy of Lauren and the lovely garden backdrop), ate out at Rodeo Goat, and skipped back home for a neighborhood Easter egg hunt and backyard play time. The guys enjoyed an evening out at Top Golf, and the girls got after it at the Tanger Outlets one morning. The kids just plaaaayed. Games, trampoline, water, sand, dinos, shows, reading, snacks, bone-shakers (who knows?). Olan loved to give baby Ruthie hugs and he also discovered the next phase of toys that the big boys are playing with these days. Real looking dinosaurs, trucks, and helicopters, what!? Evie, Hudson, and Nolan just loved playing together. Evs is now suddenly into PJ Masks. She loves people.

By night, Rack-O, Hedbandz, Phase 10. Our evenings consisted of games, along with snacks and 90’s music reminiscing and cutting up together. We watched Wonder on our last night there while the guys talked video and nerdy stuff.

Wednesday morning, we had another wonderful meal made by Mrs. Waller and said our goodbyes. We loved our time together, friends! Thank you so much for housing us and taking such good care of your guests. You are rockstars.

As for the traveling, our children were honestly angels for the road time (about 8 hours when it’s all said and done). Evie’s been really into audiobooks on trips, and enjoyed hearing the woes of Amelia Bedelia via Hoopla this year. Olan played with his helicopter and sucked on a pacifier forever. Thankful to get some quality time with my family and basicallyfamily. God was good when he made us for community!

Arizonaing

Vacation! Back long, long ago (like February or something), some of our super de duper friends, Nathan and Shelly, invited us to go on a trip to Phoenix with them to visit Nate’s old friend, Tim (Sidenote: we knew Tim from the Peters’ wedding, where Logan and Tim were both groomsmen). And so we said yes. We opted to give Evie a vacation too… so she quite literally got a vacation with the grandparents, who definitely made it so we had to win her back upon our arrival back. Ha! It was an odd feeling to be unrestricted by naps and bedtimes and looking over my shoulder to make sure my kiddie was still around and not touching breakable things. Freedom from responsibility was nice to experience again, even for a short while.

We left on June 10 for Wichita and took a 2.5 hour direct flight down to Phoenix through Allegiant. We arrived in Mesa that afternoon where Tim picked us up and we headed back to his house. Phoenix is two hours behind, so we were finding ourselves hungry and tired well before we “should” have been. Ah well, it’s vacation! To comment briefly on the weather… the whole time we were there it was around 100 degrees. To me, it seemed a lot like Kansas. It was just… well, hot. I can tell this go around with kid numero dos, the heat gets to me a lot quicker. Joyous.

Friday evening, we went to an upscale Chinese place called Flo’s… amazing. Of course I got the eggplant. I love Chinesey eggplant dishes! We were all so freaking full. Day one of being super grateful for Tim being a local to show us the best places to go! After dinner, we toured Tim’s workplace, Sandhills. He’s the manager of the branch in Phoenix, and lots of techie talk and big windy server rooms and wires and buttons and lights and backup tapes later, we had a pretty solid look at what he gets to do during his workweek. Good thing he’s the real deal engineer and not me.

Saturday, we headed to old town Scottsdale and went through a few Southwesty stores and shops (where I met my Native American friends below), and then ate at The Sugar Bowl. I don’t even remember what food I got, but the ice cream I got was super de duperly old fashioned and delightful. A fun local joint! We went to see Captain America: Civil War at the theater and then came home to taco salad and game night! I shouldn’t say game night. It was actually gaming night. There’s a difference if you weren’t aware of the distinction. So… the guys did some high quality reminiscing of their college days with some Steam games (Counter Strike, Team Fortress) while us girls had a long, relaxing poolside chat, just dipping our feet in. Another favorite part of the trip! After successfully drowning three bees in the water, we decided to call it an evening. Bees are better than scorpions I guess… Tim had warned us that we might see scorpions scuttling around and if we could just crunch them with some gumption we’d be just fine. Uh, yeah. Luckily, I personally didn’t encounter any, but Nate did get to try his foot at crunching one in the casita. Eww!

Sunday we visited a church called Desert Springs (it’s been awhile since I’ve visited a church where I knew nobody. It gave me some good perspective on how new folks feel when they try out a church: awkward) and grabbed a quick In-and-Out sandwich before heading on to our afternoon plans. While Shelly and I went to the mall to do some shopping (I found a maternity swimming suit! And I also bought a little Henley going home onesie for the little man), the guys went to the electronic heaven of the world, Fry’s. Glad they had a mall. Ha! We traveled back to Tim’s to make a lovely salmon dinner together. After dinner, we opted to go out to the desert. Well, really we went to the Botanical Gardens that was like a dessert. This was actually one of my favorite stops of the trip! It was super beautiful to see most all of desert life all in one place together. It was put together very creatively, it was hot, but the perfect time for an evening stroll.

Bright and early on Monday morning, we hit the road for the Grand Canyon, which was about three hours from Phoenix. Oh, my tailbone. It was on this trip that I began to discover that sitting for more than an hour anywhere makes my tailbone hurt like the dickens. These dang pregnancy thorns. We finally made it and ate a picnic lunch and headed for the rim trails. What a sight to see! I told Logan later that it’s hard for me to even wrap my brain around the vastness that the canyon truly is. It was difficult to register the handiwork of the Lord in such an enormously great place. We hiked a few miles on the rim (which was paved and felt a little ninny-like to me, although Nate had an bloody encounter with a yucca plant early on) and saw many different views of the canyon that first day. I was so stinkin’ beat by the end of the day, but I think mainly due to the long car ride! We stayed at the Grand Canyon Inn about thirty minutes out of the park that night… and sleep was necessary.

The next day, we started out early back into the park and decided to do one of the South Kaibab trails that went down into the canyon a few miles. I’m so glad we did! Not only did it feel like a “real hike” but I also really enjoyed seeing the canyon from within. We hiked down to the Ooh Ahh point, which was perfect for pregnant people. That sounds really lame. But actually it was a decent hike for all of us I think! This was also one of my favorite parts of the trip. We made the long trek home (with a few more rest stops for me to get a load off my feet… or off my buns), took showers, and then went out for our last evening on the town at Vito’s pizza. Again, another favorite of Tim’s and a great pick! When we arrived back to his place, after much debate, we watched Guardians of the Galaxy to top off our night. It was weird. But oh well!

Luckily, our flight on Wednesday wasn’t too early, so we were able to make waffles for breakfast, play a bit of Goldeneye (or the guys did at least), and pack up our stuff with plenty of time. Tim chauffeured us to the airport, as he did the entire trip. What a blessing he was to us, taking his vacation while we were there, letting us stay in his house (each couple had our own room and bathroom!), carting us around to wherever we fancied, and providing food and entertainment whenever necessary. Logan and I both agreed that without Tim, our trip would not have been even close to as enjoyable. So thankful.

We got back to our house at 9:15 on Wednesday (after driving through a bunch of fun stormy weather from Wichita) to be greeted by a sweet, smiley, nuzzley little lady who was beyond happy to see her mom and dad. Great ending to a fun trip! Grateful for friends who invite us along on their adventures, and moms and dads who spoil our little baby girl while we are away!

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