Sunday, July 31, 2011

St. Louis Getaway-Day 1!

We left Monticello at 6Am today and headed straight to the zoo! Thank GOD for the Safari pass and it allowing us to take the train everywhere. It was 100 degrees by 11Am and we were so hot and tired and walking was almost unbearable.
We saw lots of animals along the way-penguins were fun!

and the sea lion show was awesome!

The kids were troppers- they were so excited for everything. And while the heat got to us all- they stayed in realitivly good moods.

The carousel was a huge hit for everyone, me included!

And the misting machines were a lifesaver!

What an amazing zoo!

We all thought the hippos were amazing. They swam right next to the glass to flirt with us.

With only one stroller with us, we each took turns putting the other kid on our shoulders.

The elephants were neat and we tried to make elephant noises to get them to come closer to us ( it didn't work)But the highlight may have been the much anticipated BUILD A BEAR WORKSHOP AT THE ZOO! The kids each got to pick their own and make it. Alaric chose a leapord, he named spot.And Mara made a Puma, named Pumy!

They gave them baths...

...and took great pride in paying for their animals themselves with the money they had earned!

After checking into the hotel and resting, we got ready to meet our friends for drinks before the Cubs/Cards game!

Zac Smith is one of my best friends from childhood. We've known each other since 3rd grade and been dear friends ever since. But Brian is connected to him too. They are both Beta Theta Pi's from U of I and Brian was Zac's pledge dad in the fraternity. Without even knowing it, Zac is what brought Brian and I together the night we met. When Brian introduced himself to me at the bar after our mutual friends' wedding, I asked where he went to school and what fraternity he was in. When he told me he was a Beta, I told him I only knew one Beta, my friend from childhood. And it was Zac! That night I even tried to call Zac and reconnect them. Instead, it was Brian and I would stayed connected and we love that Zac will always be a friend we had in common well before we ever met!

We got to hang out and catch up with Zac and his fiance Margee and learn about their wedding plans, talk old friends, and just visit. Its so nice to have friends in different cities to see on trips!Off to the game!While our seats at Busch Stadium were at the very top, we loved them. They were right behind a railing and there were only seats for us, no one on either side. It was awesome not having to excuse ourselves through the aisle as I think we got up about 25 times for bathroom breaks, water, etc.Loved every second with my family!

The kids loved the rooftop-we spent lots of time there.Mara's first ballpark dog!The Fultons! Go CUBS!my favorite men! They were inseperatable on this trip and I loved it. Brian told him things about the game, answered questions,and they snuggles- even in 100 degree weather. It was wonderful!I loved seeing a night game!

The key to entertaining kids through a long game...lots of breaks and walking around and candy! But not just regular candy- candy you have to work for....suckers, candy bracelets you have to bite beads off of,etc. They take longer and they entertain them!Spot and Pumy- best friends with Al and Mar!

Saturday, July 30, 2011

A Working Saturday

We had lots to do today to get our house in order and our bags packed for our trip to St. Louis tomorrow. Everyone helped!

Today was bed stripping day. The kids know, and love, to strip there beds of the comforters, sheets, and dozens of stuffed animals that make their way into bed each night. And without fail, I always find them jumping their hearts out until I kick them off to re-make them!
Brian makes us a from-scratch breakfast every Saturday. This morning it was banana bread french toast ( he made the bread last night) . Amara was his helper. They worked together to make the batter and start the eggs.

Alaric helped me with the laundry.

And we sat down for a yummy breakfast together and talked about all we hoped to do on our little get-away!

By noon, we had cleaned most of the house, packed, done 3 loads of laundry, garage saled, grocery shopped, and eaten lunch. Thank goodness for weekend naptime!

Update on Amara

For those who follow the blog, you know Amara has been struggling with iron defiency for 6 months. For those who don't, read here.

We just had her blood tested yesterday and received the results and they have improved dramatically-her levels went from a 22 to a 48 ( our goal was 42 as thats what your body needs to make it's own iron). We are so happy for these results and so pleased to know we no longer have to deal with the nasty, sticky, smelly iron suppliment twice a day.

We saw results within a week of starting the iron and her night terrors stopped almost immediately. Her attitude and emotions, while still off the diva chart, improved and we are so grateful to have had her tested.

When you kids have health problems as ours have the past 5 years, all you want for them is to be healthy and happy. We take each new challenge in stride with faith that we will receive good information, find appropriate solutions, and have the patience to get through the journey each one brings us! We are glad this one is over!

Friday, July 29, 2011

Dog Days of Summer

I feel like we have been busy around here but honestly, its been so hot- we aren't really doing much if it doesn't involve being fully submerged in a pool.

I did get the kids presents for our car trip to St. Louis complete. As a way to make the time pass faster, I occassionally pick up small toys and games at garage sales and then wrap them up and every hour or so the kids get to pick a new toy to play with. 3 on the way up and 3 on the way back this time.
The kids have been saving money for almost a month to buy a build a bear at the St. Louis Zoo. They have been doing extra jobs in addition to their marble jar jobs to earn money. They also went to Grammy and Papa's and did some work and have been digging in cushions and in the car to find any extra change. We cashed it all in and they have $47.63! They are so excited to each get a new Build A Bear and Brian and I are thrilled of the lessons they learned about saving, working hard, and patience!

A fort in the dining room was must one day this week after the pool. We called it rest time so only soft items and books were allowed in the fort. They loved it!

While its only been in doses of 10 minutes or less at a time, the kids have been able to get outside a little to enjoy the new playstructure! They even had snack in the playhouse together. I love being able to see them play so nicely by themselves from the kitchen window!

We are hoping for some relief from these temps but in the meantime, we are enjoying the indoor Dog Days of Summer!

Monday, July 25, 2011

The Play structure is complete!!!!!

After more than a month of working on the new play structure for our backyard, tonight it was completed!!! It takes a village! We are eternally grateful for our neighbors, The Millers and The Smiths, for putting in alot of time and sweat to complete this project. It took so much longer than we expected because of rain and drought and heat and days away and pure procrastination and laziness. No blood was shed during the creation of this thing but alot of beer was consumed, swear words were uttered, lots of laughs, and lots of dedication. Brian and I are humbled to have such amazing people in our lives as neighbors and dear friends. Thankyou!

Tonight was the nitty gritty things...the slide and swings, the anchors, etc.

And finally today the kids were able to climb up their rock wall and slide down the slide.

The men put themselves into some interesting positions to get things just right

but it was worth it! We still have a few details ( telescope, handles, etc) but it's functioning.

The kids dont realize we still have to extend the play area, put all the landscape bricks back, fill with mulch, add sand to the sandbox and more but it doesn't matter- the happy faces on our babies are all we needed!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

One of those days...

We all slept in til 7 which was amazing! Although Brian was super hung over from Ribfest last night, he was also fully functioning and I needed it as he was going to Bloomington to golf all day and I was going to be taking my two and my neice and nephew to church with me.

I got my two in the car and before we had gotten a block away, the gas light went on! Damn. Forgot my wallet- back home to get it then to the gas station.

After filling up, Amara tells me she pooped her pants. SHIT! I'm already late. I get her out of her carseat to head to the bathroom and as I'm opening the door to the gas station, I slam it in her face and hit her head. Huge bump- tons of tear. SO many, she can't concentrate and can't poop or pee or anything. We move on.

Pick of Jack and Veronica and get to church just minutes before the downpouring rain hits! I had the 3 older ones in Family Worship and Jack was in the nursery. They were all delightful children, perfectly behaved.

After Family Worship, we headed down to the nursery to play with Jack and wait for regular church to get out so we could have lunch with Grammy and Papa. The rain was coming down in buckets. A few minutes after arriving in the nursery, a mom lets us know there is water coming in through the basement walls in the hallway. SHIT! SHIT!

Because of budget cuts, we dont have janitors on staff and all the pastors were leading worship. I volunteer each week to clean areas of the church so I knew where mops were. 3 of us got soaking. Then I went to get another member of the church who knows what's she's doing and she and 2 others came down to help. We spent quite a bit of time moving furniture and just trying to stay ahead of the water that was pouring in through the walls. All this time, all 4 of my charges for the day played beautifully in the nursery with other parents! THANK GOD! Oh, but did I tell you that Mara pooped in her pants twice at church-Triple SHIT!

When the water was under control, the reality that I was going to have to get four kids to the car and to lunch in the pouring rain by myself. With the help of Grammy and Papa, I did it in shifts and we got everyone to IHOP down the street for lunch.

When all 4 kids get together they get loud but they play wonderfully together so I was feeding Jack and things were going OK as we were smushed in a back corner of the restaurant. Mara had a sharing issue which caused her to scream and fuss and be forcefully removed from the table for time out but we recovered and she appologized publically for her behavior.

And then, just moments after our food arrived, Amara dumped her GoGurt into my diaper bag, leaving pink yogurt covering everything...into the buttons of my cell phone, my keys, everywhere. Just after I felt I had that under control, Jack spit up. Then threw up. Then began projectile vomitting every single thing he has eaten this week. SHIT! SHIT! SHIT! SHIT! He wasn't crying...just throwing up. I scooped him and the bag and told mom and dad to get to go boxes because we were leaving.

Within second of getting his clothes off, Jack was giggling and smiling in the bathroom and wiping the mango flavored throwup all over the walls. Me, I too was covered in throw up. I decided just to leave it on my dress- the color was flattering, right?

Got back to the table and the kids were eating nicely. My salad and diet coke had been boxed up so I told my parents to stay with the kids and let them finish their food and I would take Jack to the car to hang out.

When I got to the car, I put my to go cup in my cup holder and tightened the bracket around it and then locked Jack in his seat. Then I heard bubbling and realized I had punctured the side of the to go cup and diet coke was everywhere in the front of the car. Everywhere. SHITTTTTTTTTTT!!!!!!!!!! SO, I cleaned it up and tried not to start crying. I looked down and my pretty pink and black dress with mango accents and decided, screw it, I'm hungry- I'm eating. Oh wait- no silverware. Did that stop me? NO! I ate my chicken, bacon salad with ranch with my fingers and played with Jack while I waited for my parents to bring out the kids.

A few minutes later we were in route back to Dan and Jens to drop the kids off. Everyone talking and giggling. Jack even babbled himself into a nap.

The morning SUCKED. It really really SUCKED and there were about 5 or 6 moments I thought I was going to just start to cry and fall on the floor in a heap. But ya know what- the kids were overall pretty good. My parents helped as much as they could and took my dictated directions well. I drove home to Monticello with two fairly well-adjusted and flexible kids just praying they would take a nap before we have to go to a birthday party at 3 and they are both down.

So- it was a bad morning but its over and I'm moving on. I told Brian he better be home from his golf outing by the time we get home from the party because I will be ready for 5PM!

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Ribfest 2011

Today was the annual Ribfest Competition! Here were the 10 competitors- GO ANNE!!!!
4 past Grand Champions!

It was about 100 degrees at 4PM but we had lots of tailgating tents and plenty to drink!

and we asked the kids to spray us down!

Each griller set up their own station around the Johnson yard. Will...









and Clint...

The judges took their scoring very seriously

While the kids took their playing pretty seriously too!

Once the judges had the food, the boys could finally relax and start tasting each others.10 beauitful piles of meat!Everyone waiting to see who would bring home this lovely prize!

Brian got third!

Anne and Jake stood arm in arm like beauty contestants just waiting anxiously for the results!

The winner is......JAKE!!!! And tradition dictates that everyone must empty their beer on the winner!

We had a great night...the girls....the kids....

and the guys!

Thanks for hosting us, Johnsons! Till next year!