Tuesday, January 27, 2015

St. Louis: The Rest of Our Trip

We had time to visit another site before lunch, so we went over the the Budweiser Brewery for a tour.  It was interesting to see their process, and the kids particularly enjoyed seeing some of the Budweiser Clydesdales.

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Budweiser Tour

At the end of the tour, we were directed to the Biergarten where we offered a full size sample.  I tried an apple wheat ale, and Claire thought it smelled really good.  She kept asking to sniff it.  :)

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We ate lunch at a small taco joint, and then Grandmommy and Granddaddy Martin left to return to Herrin while we went back to the hotel to rest.  We spent some time just driving around, exploring St. Louis, and after dinner, we were all ready for a treat.  My friend Maria used to live in St. Louis, and she recommended visiting Ted Drewes.  It was hot, and the lines were long, but we enjoyed our custard!

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We flew home on Sunday morning.  It was an uneventful trip, and we were glad we made it on time - we need to prepare for a family dinner and the first day of school!

Leaving the airport - guarding our bags while Daddy went to get the van!
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St. Louis: The Arch

Saturday (August 23) in St. Louis - we woke up early and walked over to visit the Gateway Arch.  It was truly impressive.

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Before we planned our trip, I didn't realize that you could travel to the top, so I was excited to find out that we would get to go for a ride.

Our pod
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At the top
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Will checking out the river
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The sky was clear, and we had an amazing view!

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The stadium, and our hotel (the Westin) was the brick building right behind it
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Thursday, January 22, 2015

St. Louis: The City Museum

On Friday, we drove back to St. Louis to spend a couple of days there before flying home.  Martin's family had told us we should check out the City Museum, so we went there that morning.  You guys.  When we planned this trip, we thought this might be our only time to visit St. Louis.  After visiting this museum, we decided we definitely need to come back someday.  One of the coolest and most indescribable man-made places we've been.  So. Much. Fun.

Museum entrance
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When we got in, we went straight up to the rooftop to check it out before it got hot.  
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In the school bus that partially hangs off the edge of the roof:
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One of the climbing structures on the roof - Claire went inside and climbed to the top.
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On the rooftop Ferris wheel
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Inside, there was so much to see and do.  We spent all morning there, went for lunch, and then came back for a couple more hours.  We could have easily stayed all day if we hadn't been worn out by all of the climbing and exploring.  :)

A favorite for all of us was the Monster Slide - a 3 story slide at the entrance.  
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Toddler Town, where kids can actually hang from the rafters.  :)
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One of our favorite rooms - Skateless Park.  I think Claire and Will could have stayed here all day running and jumping.
CM - Skateless Park

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CM - Train

Another slide - this one was in the treehouse area
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We had dinner that night at Bailey's Range - great gourmet burgers and fries.  The kids slept well that night!
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Visiting Herrin (August 2014)

A few days before school started in August, we traveled to St. Louis/Southern Illinois for a big family event - Grandma Jane's 80th birthday party.  We flew into St. Louis on a Wednesday (the 20th), got our rental car, and drove to Carbondale, IL to meet Martin's family for their weekly Wednesday night dinner at Quatro's.  The pizza was delicious, especially after a long day of travel.

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The next morning Grandmommy met us at Giant City State Park for some hiking.  It was beautiful with lush ferns and trees and interesting rock formations - it was a great place to explore with the kids.

1 - Hike

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We grabbed lunch at the park lodge, stopped at the mall to pick out some gifts, then went back to the hotel to rest and clean up.  That evening we drove to Herrin, Martin's hometown.  We got to see the house he grew up in before joining lots of family and friends to celebrate Grandma Jane's birthday with dinner and cake at Mary's.  We especially loved seeing all of the photos from Grandma Jane's life and hearing lots of stories about Martin and his siblings.  :)  I'm so glad we were able to be there!

Dinner

Mary's

August Randoms

Finally trying to catch up on all of our 2014 photos!

From August:

We got in one more visit to Sea World with some good friends before school started:
Sea World 8-2014

Bahama Bucks for a treat after dinner one night - check out the results of that cherry sno cone!
Bahama Bucks

The rest:
August Randoms

Top row:  (1) Impromptu dinner out with some friends from Life Group after the power went out in our area - we definitely made the best of not being able to use our kitchens! (2)-(3) Another "last visit for the summer" - playing at the McKenna Children's Museum in New Braunfels.

Middle row:  (1)  All Claire wants for First Grade is her two - wait, make that FOUR - front teeth!  She lost four teeth in a span of 10 days - crazy!  (2)  Working together on a computer game at the children's area of the library (3) Will built a big castle in his classroom at church before everyone else got there (I was working in his class that day), and he asked for a photo beside it before he knocked it all down.  :)

Bottom row:  (1) Thursday afternoon, first week of school.  Claire was insisting that she wasn't tired, but I suggested that she go lay down for a few minutes.  She was out for a good nap, and still went to bed easily that night.  First week wipes everyone out!  (2) At the park with Will.  He loved showing me how high he could climb.  (3) A comfy (???) spot on the couch.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Claire's First Day of First Grade

We have a first grader!
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The night before, Claire had an unusually difficult time falling asleep, and I got to sing, rock, and lay down with her to try to help her relax for the first time in years.  While I was sorry that she was a little anxious, I enjoyed those sweet moments with her.  Despite the lack of sleep, she popped right out of bed and was ready to go.  Will spent the night with my parents, so we were able to totally focus on Claire and get some photos.

The first day this year was so easy - we knew where we were going and we saw lots of familiar faces.  We weren't able to go to Meet the Teacher night the week before since we were out of town, but we were familiar with her teacher (we got the one we wanted!), and Claire already knew where the first grade classes were located.

While Will and I miss having her with us during the day, she has had a wonderful week and is excited to go to school each day.  We're looking forward to a great year!

Second Annual Back to School Dinner

Last year we began a new family tradition of going out to dinner the night before school begins.  Like her mother, Claire appears to take tradition seriously, and she wanted to go to the same place (California Pizza Kitchen) and invited the same group (our immediate family, my parents, and my cousin Jonathan) as last year.

She even choose the same dessert - a chocolate souffle cake with ice cream (at least this year Will didn't cry while having to wait for me to take a picture).
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We had a great time!
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Thursday, July 31, 2014

July Randoms

A wrap up of our month:

July 2 - A playdate at the Bulverde park with Grace and Jacob.  The little splash pad was big fun!
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The last swim lesson at Aqua Tots!  It was a lot of fun, but we decided to take a break for awhile.
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July 4 - For our trip to Dallas, I got each kid a book (Frozen for Claire and a dragon guide to How to Train Your Dragon for Will) along with the Dragon movie.  Will immediately became obsessed with the book and can now recite the entire thing from memory - and it's a Level 2, so it's not short.
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July 15 - We got a lot of rain today, and when I got home from picking up the kids from their summer fun program, I noticed that all 3 of our garbage cans had rolled down the hill.  Fortunately a service truck at the neighbor's house stopped them from going all the way down the street!
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July 26 - We are getting ready to have the interior of our house repainted, so Claire and I found some bedding that we both liked before we repaint.  We are both excited to see the final result soon.
Bedding

July 29 - This evening I let the kids play with their new water guns.  Will really liked spraying himself - silly kid!
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July 30 - We went up to Bulverde this morning to drop off some meals for a fellow MOPS member who just had a baby, so it was a good chance for us to play at the splash pad at the local park.  Claire and Will had so much fun in the water - beautiful day!
Splash Pad

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