Category Archives: travel

A breath of fresh (sea) air


It’s probably about time I attempt to get caught up, huh?  I’m not even sure where to start! How about a super duper quickie vacation recap?

It was good.

Ha ha,  If only I was that brief, right?  It really was a good trip.  The drive was actually pleasant, which was a HUGE shocker, I think both Craig and I had some fears on that account.  Except for Leah claiming that she had pooped every twenty minutes just to get out of the car… but even that wasn’t so bad because we were usually plenty happy to discover she hadn’t.  (Potty training that one?  Pretty sure it will never, ever, ever happen.)  We rented a cabin in a state park on the beach and it was also better than we expected.  It was described as “rustic” but they were brand new and spacious, and away from the craziness that is Destin. And it didn’t hurt that the state park was across from a Wal-mart, when I discovered I wasn’t the fabulous packer that I thought I was. (Happens every trip.)
We ate delicious fish, went to the beach (got attacked by dog flies the first few tries, nasty little things), toured 30A on bike (and got FRIED, oops), explored Seaside- which is amazing, and lusted after million dollar beach houses.  Craig went para-sailing, we all took a snorkeling and seashelling cruise (the shells were DEFINITELY planted but the kids didn’t care.), we saw dolphins in the wild-even a little bitty baby dolphin,  we found a few amazing playgrounds, and even happened by an outlet mall where I convinced these two beauties to come home with me:

It was everything a vacation to the beach should be, and I’ll even go so far as to say it was relaxing.  And upon returning home, it feels like we did indeed hit “reset”.  Only problem is, we reset Leah to be a typical two year old, ha.  But everything is a stage, and if only one kid is being terrible at any given time, I’ll consider myself blessed.  Another bonus is that the kids are playing together better after the trip.  They shared a room, and it seemed to work some kind of magic on their relationship.  Devan even camped out overnight on Leah’s floor when we got back because he missed her.  Ahhhh.

Enough yammering already, how about the highlight reel?

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So far, so good!


I am loving this summer so far.  Just loving it.  I took Devan to his first swim lesson today, something I couldn’t have done if I were working and I really enjoyed it.  And he loved it! We are filling our days with swimming, reading, gardening, popsicles, playing with friends, and lots of playtime at home and in the yard.  Leah is still our big joy- full of smiles and laughter and SO much fun to be around.  And Devan is so wise beyond his years, he keeps us on our toes for sure. I am feeling like I definitely made the right decision and that this is a good time to have a break.

It isn’t all good, some days the kids are completely exhausting and I am still learning to pace myself.  I want to go everywhere and do everything with them but oftentimes we all just need some downtime.  Tuesday I ended up in the ER with the worst headache of my life.  The type of migraine that is so bad you can’t open your eyes and every little sound is painful.  So thankful for the sweet relief of pain medication and the fact we still have childcare available on short notice!

Overall, more fun than not.  I’ve been sewing, but not much during the day.  It’s hitting me how fast these kiddos are growing up on me and I want to enjoy being their mom for these next few years.  I do have a few new quilts to show you and a stack of other projects, but it’s hard to make the time to get everything photographed and so I procrastinate.  A giant homemade post is coming soon!

You know how I said I wasn’t going to share any vacation pictures?  That was before I saw all of the good pictures Mom and Dad captured, so I couldn’t resist.  Enjoy! (Click on any picture to see them all larger.)

Golden Ticket City


We took the kids to Silver Dollar City this weekend (which while he was three, Devan referred to as the Golden Ticket City), currently their most favorite place on earth.  To make the weekend even sweeter,they were surprised when they arrived to see their friends from Kansas City waiting for them at the hotel.  Amy and I arranged for us to share a a unit on Indian Point and the kids had a blast.  Jamie and Devan are 7 months apart, and Leah and Elaine are 6 weeks apart.  The entire weekend was a jumble of kids and parents, but for a posse of 8, everything went very smoothly.  The adults were able to go on rides the kids were able to go on rides, and Leah only had four blow-outs.

Okay, so that part didn’t go so well as I ran out of spare pants but I rectified the situation by buying her a giant t-shirt that covered up her grody leggings.  Truth be told, I already had the t-shirt purchased before the fourth blow-out, and I happened to grab the wrong size shirt, but I’m going to go ahead and claim it is smart thinking/good parenting.

The weather held out for us until late Sunday afternoon.  After waiting on the storm to hit all morning so it would pass over while we were at the park, we finally decided at 2:00pm to head home and were hit by a deluge right as we boarded the shuttle to ride out to the parking lot.  And we got soaked.  And I mean SOAKED.  Nothing like being soaking wet for a four hour drive home!  I had packed ponchos, rain coats, and umbrellas for everyone and had been schlepping them around for two full days yet somehow we didn’t use a single thing the one time we really needed it. Good thing a little water never hurt anyone.

I was awful about taking pictures but here are a few…

Leah, happy to smile for the camera.

Leah loved the spitting water, and more than once was blasted in the face and laughed hysterically. She had quite the audience after a few minutes, all enjoyed watching her pure joy at the surprise of the water.

Devan was not so thrilled to be the one soaked by the river ride so a trip to the dryer was in order.

The Saloon Show was apparently not very exciting for Leah.

The kids loved the old tractor/wood cutting. We were treated to a 15 minute story of how it came to be at the park and Devan listed very well, it was fascinating!

Everyone enjoyed the lake, and the girls tossed in rocks for an hour. Leah decided to go wading right in with her shoes and jeans on.

Showing off their treasure from the lake.

Somehow, I don’t have any pictures of the girls together which is too bad, they were cuties. Trust me that Elaine was there, and she was a total sweetie!  I even was able to snuggle with her one night and I was reminded that there are few things in life more enjoyable that having a young child snuggle up in your lap.  Add in some salt water taffy, a few roller coasters, and a bunch of gluten free meals, a side trip to the best fabric store ever (thanks Stephanie!!), a cooler full of Osceola cheese and it was a great weekend.  Can’t wait to go back for a full week in May!

Big Cedar

The view from our balcony

 Knowing we needed to get some use out our Silver Dollar City season pass, and that we all desperately needed a break from the regular grind, we set off for a week at Big Cedar near Branson.  The weather was perfection, Big Cedar is an Ozark paradise and the kids were….kids. So, lots of fun but absolutely no R&R for the adults.  Lots of quality family time though, at all hours of the day and night.

It may be obnoxious, but you are going to get a giant recap full of pictures.  I have a book to think of, after all. 


Favorite pit stop -Osceola Cheese.  We followed that with a picnic.  Given that I am a CPSA (Certified Playground Safety Inspector), I can tell you without question this playground had about 3 dozen serious safety issues.  And Devan loved it anyways, though I couldn’t get over the bare dirt surfacing and statistics from my training class about head injuries.  I’m a worrier.

We had some time to kill before check-in so we stopped by the fish hatchery.  Do all nearly 4 year olds pose so nicely for the camera?

After checking in and exploring we immediately hit the pool, which was gorgeous.  There was an infinity edge pool that overlooked tablerock lake and with the sunset in the background it was spectacular.  And the pools were heated, which was lovely.  I had visions of swimming every night but that didn’t exactly work out.  There is always next time!


Big Cedar Day.  We took advantage of all the free activities at the restort and did putt-putt, paddle boats, canoeing, and explored the buildings and gift shops.  We also met Stephanie and Joel in town for a relaxing and enjoyable dinner with four adults and four kids. Ha. Leah was eating salsa with her bare hands, for starters. I made Craig leave a nice tip for the poor waitress.  When the kids are older we will miss these days, right?  Right? Anyone?

Those pants will never be the same.


Silver Dollar City!  This is my favorite theme park, as a person who isn’t a fan of most rides.  I’m happy as can be watching the kids have fun and this was the perfect time to visit.  The weather was gorgeous (unlike the 20 degree wind chill last time) and the entire place smelled like apples and cinnamon.  And kettle corn.  And pumpkin.  And taffy.

Geyser Gulch was a huge hit.

We wore Leah out.

Leah choose a bright purple monkey as her souvenir and she looooooves it.
Train Ride.  Devan doesn’t want to go again because “there are ALWAYS robbers!!”


It rained.  Grumpy tired kids.  Grumpy tired parents.  Long Day.


We had planned on going to Dogwood Canyon for the day but someone really messed up the dates on our reservation.  That someone would be me.  So we get a call at 10:45 wondering why we haven’t checked out yet and letting us know we had 10 minutes to get packed up.  Pure chaos, but I did it all while watching Leah as Devan and Craig went to do a pony ride.

I tend to think of Devan as being so grown up.  I need to look at pictures like this more often to remind me he is still just a little guy.

 New plan for the day? Back to Silver Dollar City.

Leah LOVED the one ride she could go on.
Mining, serious business.
Leah helped by putting all the pretty rocks into the water.
My little cheese ball, collecting all of the yellow balls.

We had a fabulous time, right up until Devan threw the biggest screaming tantrum of his entire life, rendering Craig and I both mortified. We left the park with the little guy screaming at the top of his lungs and crying “I WAAAAANT CAAAAANNNNDDDDY!!!!!”  Lots of stares. (My Dads advice? You should have just given him the candy.  My Mom’s advice? No way in heck should you have given him the candy. Regrettably, when I was a kid my mom usually won those disagreements.)

Then we drove home in peace with both kids conked out in the back.  It’s probably a good thing I messed up the reservation because I think we were all done in.  And this is why I don’t ever want to fly with kids this age.  In a few years, it will be so much better.  Right? Right??? 

At least the drive home was relaxing.

We survived

I’ve been meaning to write this post about our camping trip since we returned in the wee hours of Sunday morning.  But it’s Wednesday and if I haven’t found time yet, I’m not going to.  So here you go instead- a random assortment of pictures with captions and I’m calling it good.  And it was a good time- lightning storms, thunderstorms, stinky hot long hikes, smelly toilets, poisonous snake, tent vomit, 10pm Saturday night departure and all. 

Julie made Devan paddle the entire way.

Swimming in the Meramec
Happy, before they capsized

A few minutes after the capsize.  Quick-moving Craig saved a paddle.  River police saved the other one.

Ah, bliss.

The hike up to a gorgeous, partially hidden cave found by Julie and Kevin.

The “Gang”

Okay, maybe Julie did a little bit of paddling.



We took Devan on his first camping trip this past weekend to Watkins Mill State Park and he had a BLAST.  He is definitely a little pyro, but he was also thrilled with smores, and the idea of sleeping in a tent.  He slept great, unlike his Mom and Dad who were awake most of the night listening to the sounds of the night other campers.  Let’s see- an obscene and loud argument from a drunk couple who sounded like a a couple of grade school kids (plus the salty language- I think we heard the F word every 5 seconds for about an hour.  At 3 am).  Finally, they passed out or something because it got quiet.  Until the elderly woman at the next campground over started freaking out and and crying and yelling at her family members. She was obviously disoriented and I heard them try to help her and her yelling at them and crying louder.  It was horrible, and lasted another good hour.  And then there was the other couple who were also obscene, though they weren’t fighting.  The opposite of fighting, actually.  Loudly.  At a campground.  Wow, it was a long night.

But other than our fellow campers, it was a wonderful time.  We played in the fire, explored, and toured the Mill.  We are ready for our June trip, and hoping that we have better company!  

Loving the campfire!

One happy camper

Oak gall on a Shingle Oak.  What? You don’t take pictures of that?
The kid has sharp eyes! (It’s a snail)
Touring Watkins Mill

We Survived Vacation


I think that’s the best way to put it.

Visiting Silver Dollar City with a windchill in the upper 20’s and a 9 month old was not my idea of a fun time. And, given my current state of physical misery, lots and lots of walking is NOT what the doctor ordered. And, two nights in a row, massive thunderstorms rolled through ALL NIGHT LONG. And, I had a huge hangover Saturday morning, and woke up on the wrong side of the bed today and succeeded in making everyone else grumpy too. And, Devan is at the age where he likes to mindlessly repeat gibberish over and over and over and over, making even the shortest of car rides completely annoying and driving me to near insanity on the way home.

For what was supposed to be a quick, no-brainer mini trip, I think Craig and I are both worn out.

This validates my fear of trying to take a “real” vacation with the kids, “real” defined by boarding an airplane or driving more than 4 hours. Not gonna happen.

I managed to catch Leah during the 2.5 seconds out of the entire day that she was smiling.

Devan snapped this picture of Craig and I. Can you see that I am wearing 3 jackets? And there is a kid behind me with none??

Devan and Craig were able to ride the roller coaster once the temperatures finally reached a balmy 42 degrees.

There were some really great things that made it worthwhile: Devan for one had an amazing time, we got to catch up with old friends and finally meet each others kiddos, and our lodge was fantastic. So all in all, it was worth doing. And now, I’m going to go to bed. Vacations with kids are exhausting.