Sunday, July 27, 2014

Postcards From the Peanut Gallery Wk. 9

July 21-27th The first day of school is fast approaching and still there are many friends we haven't had a chance to see all summer because our schedules have never matched up. This week we squeezed in as many park and swim play dates as we could.

Monday, 21st - I met up with two lovely ladies -- both whom I met through my 10 year membership with MOPS.  Together our kids enjoyed the beautiful Forest Park Forever Playground located adjacent to the Visitor's Center.  This inclusive playground offers 29 pieces of equipment divided by age, physical strength and ability.

Time flies - I can't believe they'll be starting 2nd grade!
Tuesday, July 22 We headed to Tesson Ferry Library for their free, Science Chefs program. The kids experimented with food, learned about water density and made homemade ice cream!

Natalie explores the properties of salted water vs. plain water.
Enjoying the fruit of their labor - homemade vanilla ice cream.
Wednesday, July 23nd - We played at Tilles Park.  Noah brought his friend Evan with him and the two spent a large portion of the time having lightsaber duels.  Natalie quickly made a new friend -- together the girls made clover jewelry and collected acorns.  In the afternoon we visited Weber Library to enjoy their free, Fizz, Boom, Pop class.  We got messy exploding bags and making lava lamp look-a-likes using everyday household materials and enjoyed a refreshment of homemade fizzy lemonade.
Flower Power

Noah and Evan reflect on their surroundings.
Noah watches as the alka-seltzer tablet sets off a new reaction.

Thursday, July 24 - We enjoyed an early, yet cool morning romp with friends at Kirkwood Park.  The first hour we had the place completely to ourselves.  My friend and I tag teamed to keep up with her littlest ones who favored climbing the highest heights. Good times!

Friday, July 25th - We met my cousin, Sarah and her kids at Deer Creek Park a.k.a. Rocketship Park for a long overdue get-together.  The kids are a great match and our meet ups often lead to marathon play dates. This one was no exception.

Old School Fun
Saturday, July 26 - We got a late start as Steve and I spent the morning pulling weeds and cutting back the brush in the backyard. Our plan was to visit some of the stl250 spots in the Chesterfield area.  We visited Dr. Edmond A. Babler Memorial State Park, Kemp Auto Museum, August A. Busch Memorial Conservation, Rockwood Reservation Area, Spirit of St. Louis Airport, and Bonhomme Old Stone Church. My favorite stop had to be Babler Park.  We'll definitely be back.  Along our travels we discovered a roadside stand selling freshly gathered honey, tomatoes and eggs.  No one manned the booth, rather the family left an honesty jar on the table for customers to leave payment.

Noah chases after a groundhog we spotted upon entering Rockwood Reservation Area.
Rockwood Reservation offers visitors a bird's eye view.
Limestone Kiln - Rockwood Reservation

Edmond A. Babler State Memorial Park
The Babler Park Visitor's Center offers lots of hands on exhibits for kids including binoculars along the back wall for excellent bird watching.  In addition, they show a free, 20 minute film in their Owl Theatre.
The current feature is on Black Bears.
"Look, Mom! I'm a scientist!" exclaimed Nat.
Natalie pays for our homegrown goods.
It's a bird! It's a's a plane.
Spirit of St. Louis Airport

The kids stand next to their favorite car at the Kemp Auto Museum.
Steve shows Natalie some of the places he fishes and finds berries on the map featured on top of the
August A. Busch Conservation Area stl250 Cake.

Bonhomme Old Stone Church
Sunday, July 27th  - After a two week hiatus, we returned to Sunday service at The Gathering.  The sermon series, "Silver Linings - The Art of Being Content" could not have come at a better time.  The main idea cautioning us not to put all of our energy and love into earthly things (family, friends, job, service...stuff) because none of these things are permanent.  Only God's love is forever.   The path to true contentment starts and ends with putting our faith and trust in Him.
After church we spent most of the afternoon at home.  I tried to be present and not worry so much about the future.  Steve made homemade biscuits and a blackberry roll using the berries he'd picked at Busch Conservation area.  We invited my folks over for dinner - fried chicken with all the fixins. After the meal, my waistband was seriously tugging at my skin.  But, when it came time to tuck my two into bed -- both kids asked me to pray for them...somehow it was easy and I discovered my stomach wasn't the only part of me that was feeling full.

Steve gets a hand from his sous chef.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Postcards From the Peanut Gallery Wks. 7-8

July 7 - 20th Gratitude pretty much sums up the past two weeks. 
I'm thankful for:
* Healthy Kids - Both Noah and Natalie have been working and playing hard this summer. Through daily reading they've expanded their vocabularies and are able to read for longer stretches of time.  Noah has outgrown his shoes and some of his food aversions.  He's been trying new things like cottage cheese, ham and peaches!  And, Natalie, my sweet, petite girl, is finally tall enough to enjoy the water slide with her friends.
* My Hunter Husband - Steve awoke at the crack of dawn on a Saturday morning to fight chiggers and dodge thorns so that I may enjoy wild blackberries all year long.
*Friends with a Heart of Gold - Whether it's a phone call or a play date...even an email to know that I'm thought of, I appreciate them all.  Last week, I celebrated my good friend Barb's birthday and our friendship of 10 years.
* Helpful Parents - My mom and dad helped Steve and I to be in two places at once.  They helped me drive Noah to Camp Barnabas in Purdy, MO. so that Steve could represent our family in Ohio at our niece's wedding.  Not only that, but they treated Natalie and I to a 4 day Branson vacation.  I was able to give Natalie my undivided attention while Noah received 1 on 1 support to grow and try new things at camp.  It was also a special time for me to reconnect with my parents and the opportunity to sleep past 6 a.m.

The cutest bookworm on our block.
1.5 gallons of fresh blackberries
A sweet-smelling surprise from a dear friend - Natalie Ulrich.
"Welcome to Camp, Noah!"
Prior to introducing each camper, they ask whether they prefer loud or more reserved cheering.  Noah answered, "in the middle" so the crowd used their bodies more than their mouths to express their excitement to have him at Camp Barnabas.
Noah with his camp buddy, Jack.  The two boys have shared three summers at Camp Barnabas.
Each night Camp Barnabas hosts a themed party.  Campers dress up, play games and dance til dark.
They ARGH having a blast!
Noah with his camp counselor, Justin.
Noah gives Natalie a tour of the grounds.
Enjoying a dip with her Grandma and Grandpa.

Dad enjoyed the blasterball attraction at Silver Dollar City as much as Natalie.
My mom - forever young at heart.
Blasting targets in the Flood Mine attraction.
Our beautiful niece, Heather, took the plunge.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Musings From Natalie #100

Natalie: Mom, have you ever been to jail?
Me: No!
Natalie: Have you ever been sent to the principal's office?
Me: No.
Natalie: Well, I'm just wondering what will happen if I get sent to the principal's office.
Me: That's NOT going to happen.
Natalie: Yeah, but what if there is a little bit of a misunderstanding or something?
Dear God: Please give Principal R. an extra helping of understanding and patience this year.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Musings From Natalie #99

Natalie: Mom, I just made up a joke.
Me: Let's hear it."
Natalie: What's a deer's favorite place to shop?
Me: Where?
Natalie: Starbucks.

Her bedroom door...I wish she could stay 7 forever.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Musings From Natalie #98

Natalie: "Can girls be president?"
Me: "Sure! You could be the first one."
Natalie: "But, I don't know where to begin?"
Me: "Well, most presidents began as lawyers."
Natalie: "How do you become a lawyer?"
Me: "You go to law school to study about laws...and how to bend them."
Natalie: "I already know all about hitting, no pushing, no kicking..."

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Musings From Natalie #97

Natalie: "Why is Dad going to Ohio?"
Me: "To attend our niece's wedding."
Natalie: "When I get married, I'm going to have him wash his face really good...especially his lips."
Me: "Oh, so he's clean when you kiss him at the wedding."
Natalie: "Yes.  Hopefully he won't eat a dirty snack."
Me: "What is a dirty snack?"
Natalie: "You hot wings or something."

Dear God: I've already started praying for him.  I think he's gonna need it. 

Friday, July 11, 2014

Musings From Natalie #96

Me: "Natalie, go and clean that mess in your room."
Natalie: "It's not a's a masterpiece."

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Musings From Natalie #95

"I LOVE school...just not the work part."

Natalie: "Mom, will you tell me Santa's phone number?"
Me: "Sure, I'll tell you when you have your own kids."
Natalie: "So, like when I'm 14?"

Monday, July 7, 2014

Postcards From the Peanut Gallery Wk. 6

6/30 - 7/3/14 Camp Fun
While a little apprehensive at first, by day two, Natalie was nearly running into the building to participate in "104 Days of Summer" at COCA. A half-day camp devoted to developing skills in dramatic play, team-building and creativity through art and games.  Cardboard boxes became time machines.  A piece of foam board was transformed into a bumper car. On the last day, Steve and I attended her group's culmination program.  During the 15 minute performance, the kids pretended to blast off to a new planet in a ship of their own design and venture into a new time and place.  They weaved their hand-made bumper cars through an obstacle course and more! With applause, Natalie's smile stretched from ear to ear...I know we'll be looking at programs for the fall.

7/2/14 Visitor's Day at Camp Happy Day
While this is Noah's fifth year attending camp, I am continually impressed with the staff and programming available at Camp Happy Day.  Getting kids (especially those who already struggle academically) excited and engaged with reading, writing and math is a tall order, made even tougher during the summer months when kids just want to "be done" with learning.  Under the direction of creative teachers and loving camp counselors, Noah has thrived and looked forward to going to camp each day.  And, with only six campers in his group, he receives the attention he needs to succeed.  Thank you Action for Autism! Thank you to all our friends and family who have contributed in the past to Action for Autism.  Your donations have made a huge difference in Noah's life.  
In reading class each student had to talk about a favorite toy or pet and then take questions from their audience.
Camp Happy Day has a seasoned art teacher on staff that has them tie dying, creating outrageous 4th of July party hats, plaster stepping stones and more!
7/3/14 Sweet Stop
In between running both kids to camp and grocery shopping, Steve and I squeezed in a stop at Pie Oh My.  Located on Sutton Avenue, the sweet shop, offers a range of nearly 40 made from scratch sweet and savory pies in four sizes. Daily offerings vary and depend on availability of seasonal fruit.  Pie snobs look no further for a slice of heaven.
Cherry Crumble - delish! The owner told me after receiving more than 100 requests, she finally decided to add cherry to the menu.  It is the only pie flavor that is not made with fresh fruit...because she simply could not find a wholesaler.  She uses frozen sour cherries, but so far no complaints from anyone.

7/3/14 Impromptu Play Date
After lunch, Steve and I took advantage of the unseasonably cooler temps to enjoy DesPeres Park with the kids.  When we arrived there were only a handful of kids on the playground. Noah watched as a few kids played tag and asked if he could join in.  But, he was told no and when he asked why - the response was simply "because we don't want to."
As you can probably imagine, Noah was crushed and began spiraling downward - that is until I received a text from my friend, Eraka.  When I shared with her what had just transpired - she simply sent in her cavalry.  Within minutes her husband and three youngest children were on hand and ready to play.  She did this - even though she was expecting out of town guests in a few hours.  She couldn't help...but help.  What could have been a very short and negative outing, was quickly transformed into an awesome, impromptu play date.  Eraka and her step-sister, Megan and her three kids later joined us at the park.  We laughed, we played, we fished...Dear God - Thank you for loving, faithful friends.

Steve caught a catfish and asks Natalie if she can hear it "squeak".
Ava had no problem holding the fish
Eraka...not so sure she wanted to hold Ava's latest catch.
 You can almost hear Rhys' high pitched squeals.
Marissa, wanna give the fish a kiss? Ok.
Because mud is much more fun than any playground equipment.
4th of July Fun!   
While attending our hometown parade is a tradition we enjoy each year, this was perhaps the most pleasant weather we've ever experienced on the 4th.  Another surprise -- we bumped into our friends, the McCullas, once more!  The kids had a ball waving and clapping and diving for candy thrown out by parade participants.  That evening we took the Metrolink into Forest Park to experience Fair St. Louis.  A first for all of us.  We trekked 6/10 of a mile from the Metro station to the fairground gates and then headed for Art Hill.  The place was crawling with people, but my camp was just happy to be in the mix.  Natalie even ran into a friend of hers at the kid's area.  We left before the 10 pm fireworks, but arrived home just in time to watch the night sky light up a block from our house.
Webster Groves 4th of July Parade
There's no place like home.

Parade Posse
 Fair St. Louis - Forest Park

Blue Bunny gave out free single serving tubs of Bunny Tracks. Mmm
Bricks4Kidz were on hand to engage children with fun projects.
Noah and Natalie try out Purina Farms' agility course.

The Flying Wallendas had us holding our breath.
7/5/14 Birthdays and BBQ
We celebrated our neighbor's grandson's 1st birthday. I love this shot of  Ethan and his expression as he glimpses his green grin.

7/6/14  No Bones About It - A Good Time
On Sunday we headed south for a new adventure. Though I've lived in St. Louis all my life, I've never been to Mastodon State Historic Site.  Located about 20 miles south of the city, the site is the home of the Kimmswick Bone Bed, one of the most  extensive Pleistocene ice age deposits of fossils, including a number of mastodon bones. Interpretative trails and picnic sites dot the park and a museum tells the story of the Clovis culture, which existed in the area between 10,000 and 14,000 years ago. Afterwards we stopped in at The Blue Owl for Sunday dinner of fried chicken with all the fixins. The last time I had been to Kimmswick was as a kid for their annual Apple Butter Festival.  The kids really enjoyed meandering through the small town shops.  We had planned to walk off our meal and then enjoy a slice of the Blue Owl's "Levee High Apple Pie" made famous after it made Oprah's list of favorite things, but when we returned, the display case was nearly empty.  We settled for a slice of Death by Chocolate cake. We'll be back!
"Another cake!"

"I bet the Tooth Fairy would leave a million dollars for these teeth!"
We took the half mile, Wildflower Trail, but the park also offers a 3/4 mile hike and another trail that is just over two miles.
Smartphone users can enjoy an audio tour.

Pies, Cakes and Cookies, Oh My!
Steve was in fried chicken heaven.