St. Louis Escape

We weren’t sure we would do a trip at all this summer, since we’re putting as much money as we can find towards our new place. But, it’s also necessary to escape the madness, too. So, we went to our old standby, St. Louis!

We left on a Friday morning. We were road trippin’ old-school style with three kids in the back seat of our car. Our van has some transmission issues, so we don’t take it far. They mostly got along.

photo 2 (3)We got into the St. Louis area for lunch and then went to The Magic House. We keep thinking it will be our last trip there, but it really is a fun place for the kids. They are in the process of updating some exhibits, too, so we got to see some new things. And we had a Groupon, so …

DSCN0683It was a little more crowded than we’ve seen in the past, so the kids were kind of annoyed at first. As though no one else is allowed to be there. ๐Ÿ˜‰ In the construction area, there were lots of funny conversations about designing a house. You can tell they have been watching HGTV and that we are building a house. I can’t remember exactly what Paige was talking about, but it was something to do with a bedroom. “But, it’s a MASTER,” she said.

DSCN0685Getting some practice for painting their new rooms.

DSCN0687We were wishing Uncle Craig was with us to help Andrew decipher the computer stuff below. “It’s not Intel,” Andrew said.

DSCN0689We went through the Lewis & Clark exploration trail. One person was particularly adventurous, considering it was mostly designed for child-size explorers.

DSCN0694Then we went to the “town,” which is a highlight for the kids and not so much for the adults. “This town needs more benches,” Ben saidย as we were sitting on the only bench and watching other parents stand around watching their kids play. Below, Andrew was writing himself a check for billions of dollars at the bank.
DSCN0695A cute waitress took my order at the pizza place. You can see the store manager and his assistant in the background. Andrew was with the money. Of course.

DSCN0696My date was not being a very good date. ๐Ÿ˜‰

DSCN0698Paige also served us at the ice cream stand. So, both girls performed their Mom’s old jobs (Baskin Robbins in high school and valentino’s Pizza in College.) We explored many other areas of The Magic House …

DSCN0703… and had some hair raising experiences.

DSCN0708Then we concluded our day at our hotel with some pizza and swimming.

On Saturday, we had a morning swim and then went to the Missouri Botanical Center, a place we had never visited before.

082It is a 79 acre garden, so there is a lot to explore. We didn’t get to it all.


086The kids were excited to find a hedge maze, and then disappointed that it wasn’t really a “maze” but just a nice design.


088One of our favorite areas was an English garden, set up with a lot of little paths to explore.



097In the Asian garden, we found some turtles.

098This dude was very relaxed.


101After the garden, we got some lunch and snapped a picture of the girl who lost a tooth at the hotel!

photo 4 (3)and headed to Forest Park. We saw a statue of a guy on a horse. I don’t remember exactly what Ben said, but it was something along the lines of, “Do you see that statue of the guy riding the horse? It’s Saint Louis. He was a king.” Morgan immediately replied, “I’m going to marry him!”


109ย The statue is across the street from the St. Louis Art Museum. We were quite impressed with the kids’ interest in looking at the artwork. There was also some giggling over the nude pieces.

113After the art museum, we headed to the Science Center. We were only able to complete the arch construction with the help of our tall guy.


116Andrew is in a WWII kick right now, so the boys watched the D-Day: Normandy 1944 movie in the Omnimax theater while the girls explored some other exhibits. The movie got over 15 minutes after the Science Center closed, which we thought was odd. They made us girls sit on a certain bench until the movie was over.

We concluded our evening with Ted Drewes frozen custard for supper and an evening swim back at the hotel.

Much of our Sunday was detailed in the Sunday Hike #8 post, but here are a few more pics from that day.




141Thanks, St. Louis, for being a fun place to visit! We’ll be back again!




Sunday Hike #8

Date: August 3, 2014

Location: Downtown St. Louis

Distance: Approximately 2.5 miles

Critters Spotted: Lots of people in red, Cardinals T-Shirts. ๐Ÿ˜‰

We were in St. Louis August 1-3 for a little getaway. We didn’t technically “hike,” but we did get a lot of walking in. On Saturday, we walked several miles around the Missouri Botanical Center and at Forest Park in the park and at the artย museum and the Science Center. On Sunday, we walked around downtown. We’ll call it our Sunday Hike #8. ๐Ÿ™‚

We started at the Arch. It’s a cheap place to park, and we always enjoy the walk. I mean hike.

119We checked out the new Ballpark Village, but determined it wasn’t open yet.

120So, we walked to Citigarden.

123Paige hiked up her capris to wade in the water.

121We told the kids they could NOT get soaked, because we still had to grab lunch in a restaurant. They were good and followed directions. They got a few sprinkles, but no one was soaked.

122We then walked toward Kiener Plaza — I just learned its nameย via Google — where we explored some more treacherous waters.

127There are moments you are glad your child is being brave and also equally wishing your child wasn’t being so brave. ๐Ÿ˜‰

128No one got soaked, so we walked to lunch. Our choices were Hooters or Hardee’s, so we went with Hardee’s. After lunch, we walked back to Ballpark Village and checked out the festivities. It’s like a mall food court on steroids. (I’m sure they will want to use that phrase in their marketing.)

132Our next stop was the stadium, where the kids were given Build-a-Bear Clydesdale horses as a giveaway.

133We then hiked (literally) up to our seats in the nosebleed section. The good news is we were in the shade. The other good news is that it wasn’t 110 degrees like it usually is when we go to a game in the summer. The other good news is the Cardinals won!

We ended our hike by heading back by the Arch. I wonder how many pictures we have of the Arch?

142That concludes our Sunday “Hike” #8. More on our St. Louis trip tomorrow!


#5 Go to St. Louis

We jokingly called our extended weekend in St. Louis our “test run” for our big trip coming up. We did gain some tips from the trip, but we also had a ton of fun!

We started Saturday with a baseball outing with our church. It was hot and the kids were getting restless. And Dad was interested in actually watching some of the game. So, Mom took the kids for a bathroom break and to get some ice cream. It was hot. Did I mention it was hot? [Lesson Learned: The extra water bottles were a good choice!]

It cost the same to get some ice cream in a cup or a waffle cone, so the cone seemed like a tasty choice. I’m not sure the pictures accurately show the amount of ice cream that melted and dripped on faces, clothes and the ground. We gave those passing by some free laughs. ๐Ÿ™‚ I couldn’t take any photos until one of the cones was gone and I could clean the goo from my hands. I didn’t need a sticky camera! [Lesson Learned: Pack plenty of wipes!]

After the game we had supper with some friends, where Andrew got shot in the head … with a ketchup bottle.

We walked by the Arch at night. I probably needed a tripod for this photo. Oh well. I am always amazed by the Arch!

We found our hotel and carried in way too many suitcases and “friends.” [Lessons Learned: Pack so we don’t need to drag out every suitcase every night. And, make sure Morgan has a bag to carry all her friends.]

The next day we had planned to venture outdoors, but it was pouring rain. So, the kids turned the hotel beds into a bounce house while the parents questioned their sanity. [Lesson Learned: Plans are good, but the must remain flexible.]

The rain cleared in time for another game at Busch Stadium.

The kids got to say “Hi!” to Fredbird. Paige was very excited to “touch touch” him. She was not as happy when he “touch touched” her back for this photo.

On the way back from visiting Fredbird, we watched a few batters from the cheap seats. ๐Ÿ˜‰

The kids did amazingly well, sitting through two ball games in 100 plus degree weather. Paige enjoyed sitting in her own seat.

After the game, the kids got to run the bases. Andrew is rounding third on the left and Morgan is running along on the right.

Paige was catching up on some sleep after having two days without a proper nap.

We got some supper, headed to the Arch again and then hit up the hotel swimming pool.

It was Paige’s birthday, so we brought along some cupcakes. We were singing “Happy Birthday” to her, but she did not want to wait until we were done singing to dig into her treat!

The next day, we ventured to the new Citygarden in downtown St. Louis. It has cool architecture, artwork, native plants and some random pink flamingos.

It was cloudy when we arrived, but after a brief time of sprinkles, the sun came out again.

The fountains were popular with the kids. Surprising, I know! ๐Ÿ˜‰ We did have one rule: Try to not get wet. It was impossible to stay completely dry, but they did a good job not getting soaked.

The kids really liked some rabbit sculptures.

Of course, Andrew found a map. He’s standing in front of a LED screen that acted as living artwork by showing those passing by on the screen. If you look closely, you can see all of us.

Morgan livened up the art by dancing. ๐Ÿ™‚

Our next stop was a tour of Busch Stadium. It’s fun to hear stories about the team, visit seats and sections we’ll never be able to afford, and take some photos where we don’t usually get to hang out.

After lunch and another downpour, we headed to The Magic House Children’s Museum for an afternoon of fun shopping, playing with water and some hair raising experiences.

In the “construction zone” kids can pretend to build, paint and move dirt. We didn’t see Andrew for a while. He was, ย not surprisingly, in the “office” designing his own buildings.

Soon everyone had joined him.

The whole place is a ton of fun! Here are a few other highlights:


A beanstalk:

And a three-story slide:

After the Magic House, we ventured to a different hotel, checked-in and went out to eat. We found Albert Pujols’ restaurant. We enjoyed our meal and could watch part of the game that was going on in St. Louis that night on TV. Within minutes of leaving, we were listening to the game in the car and Albert hit a homerun. It would have been fun to actually be in his restaurant to see what happened. Oh well. That’s the way it goes sometimes!

For our last day, rain was again trying to mess up our plans. We hit a Target and and a mall while it rained. While Mom and Dad were discussing if we should head to Grant’s Farm (outdoor stop) in the rain or just head home, Andrew and Morgan were busy making a discovery. Andrew was very excited. “Look at all this money we found just laying around!” he said while showing us his hands that were full of coins. They had found a fountain at the mall and thought they hit the jackpot! We informed them they would have to throw the money back in. I’m pretty sure they thought we were losing it. Come to think of it, why do people throw money away into a fountain. I hope the mall gives it to a good cause or something!

We decided to take a risk and head to Grant’s Farm. It stopped raining just as we arrived, so it was a good call. [Lesson Learned: Go for it!] Grant’s Farm was once the home of Ulysses S. Grant. One part of his land is a national monument, the other part is a tourist trap. ๐Ÿ˜‰ OK, that might be a little harsh. A large portion is owned by the Busch family. There is a collection of animals, including the Clydesdale horses. It has free admission, but you have to pay to park. It was a fun stop for the kids to see some animals and get sprayed with water. ๐Ÿ™‚

I’m not sure you’d ever see this in the wild: Some zebras hanging out with Texas Longhorns (in the background.)

We concluded our stay in St. Louis with some treats from Ted Drewes Frozen Custard! Yum!

We headed home with lots of great memories and lots of photos! ๐Ÿ™‚ This post has gotten long! [Lesson Learned: The big vacation will have to be broken up into multiple posts!] And, maybe our best lesson learned, getting away with kids is a lot of work, but it’s really worth it to enjoy time together as a family!

T-Ball Fun!

Andrew played T-ball with the Little League association for the first time this summer. He had a good time playing, but ย may have preferred practice to the games, as there was more action during practices! ha ha! And it’s called T-ball, but the kids only use the tee if they don’t hit the ball after four pitches from their coach. Andrew hit the ball without the tee most games! He also did good in the field, too. He was playing first base one game, got a grounder and then tagged the base. It was fun to see him get an out! Dad was an assistant coach for the team, so it was fun for them to spend time together.

Here are some photos from the season:

Going after a ground ball …

Getting his “good hit” encouragement from Dad …

Post-game coach talk from the coach (Dad’s cousin, Bob). Andrew is towards the far end of the bench without a hat.

Good team photo. Andrew is second from the left in the front row.

Silly photo.

Add the coaches photo.

Andrew and his participation medal. Good work!

California Escape!

Interestingly, the beginning of summer break and end of summer break will be spent in California! The beginning trip with just the parents and the end trip with the whole clan … if we make it! ha ha! Just kidding. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Here are some photos from the adults-only trip. (That somehow makes it sound rated above PG-13. No worries! Only G ratings found here!)

Ben flew on Sunday and I left on Tuesday, so I was all alone during my travels. It was very strange to have no one to look after, and I kept hearing other people’s kids talk or cry. My alone time was longer than planned due to delays in Denver. I arrived in L.A. three hours late for a double date with Ben and the beach! ๐Ÿ˜‰ We hit the beach anyway and it was cloudy and cool. But it was still the ocean! ๐Ÿ™‚ We had a late dinner at Ruby’s Diner out on a pier at Newport Beach.

Ben had to work while he was out there, so I commuted to Riverside to spend some time with my Grandma Telliard. ๐Ÿ™‚ It was definitely the best traffic deal to be heading out of Orange County in the morning and back in during the late afternoon. I didn’t take any photos of my grandma, but she looks AMAZING! It was great to spend some time with her! I got to see my Aunt Patty one day, too. We plan to see more family when we head back in August.

I left my Grandma’s Wednesday and headed to L.A. to meet up with Ben and a Musco sales rep. he was working with. The other guy finished some work while we went to Griffith Park, home of Griffith Observatory and some amazing views of the city! We purposely wanted to take a photo of ourselves as seen below. We also have two other pictures of us because people saw us and offered to take our photo, so there’s some proof that there still are lots of nice people out there in the world. ๐Ÿ˜‰

The city!

I “stitched” seven photos together for this panoramic view (you can click on it to see it a little bigger):

After enjoying the observatory and views, we headed back down for dinner and a Dodger’s baseball game with the Musco guy and his friend who grew up in Oskaloosa (we didn’t know him). This was our second game together at Dodger Stadium, and our first to see the Cardinals and the first under the lights! We always try to take a photo of the final score when we’re at a game. Maybe we should have skipped this photo! ๐Ÿ˜‰

My parents’ first date was at Dodger Stadium. Little did they know that their future son-in-law would end up doing the lighting design for that stadium a few decades down the road! I have to wonder if God had a little chuckle about that one!

The next day, I hung out with my Grandma (and Patty), and then that night Ben and I got a more proper date with the ocean. ๐Ÿ™‚

We had dinner that night in Long Beach. We were at a sports bar/grill called Boston’s watching the end of the Lakers vs. Celtics game, which was being played in the city Boston. It took a while to get a waiter. Most of the staff was watching the game.

Friday we headed through the desert to Phoenix!

Another Musco sales rep. was trying to set up some meetings for Ben, but nothing panned out. He was able to set up some good seats to see the Cardinals play the Diamondbacks at Chase Field (formerly known as Bank One Ballpark). Woo hoo! Another stadium off the list!

We watched batting practice for a bit. Any guesses who the guy wearing a red shirt third from the left is? We almost didn’t notice that it’s Mark McGwire, currently a pitching coach. He looks a little smaller than we remember. Hmmm ….

We walked around the stadium and found this wall that shows Little League fields the Diamondbacks have contributed to. Ben remembers doing many of the designs for the lights for those fields!

And just to show that we were missing the kids, we thought this large glove would have been much nicer with three cute kids in it. ๐Ÿ™‚

Just before the game started they opened the roof!

We were joined at the game by a friend who used to live in Oskaloosa! She and her husband were also gracious enough to let us stay at their house near Phoenix! If you know them, they love visitors, so go down for a stay! ๐Ÿ™‚

After the game they had fireworks. I didn’t haul my “good” camera along, so I played with the “fireworks” setting on our pocket-sized camera.

On Saturday, we drove back through the dessert and stopped in at my Grandma’s for a bit so Ben could see her. Then we headed back to Dodger Stadium to see another game. Who can pass up free tickets? ๐Ÿ™‚

For this game, we were joined by my cousin and her husband, which was a fun little treat! She made sure we had some Dodger gear to wear. ๐Ÿ˜‰

For our last night, we spent about four hours at a hotel before getting up early enough to make our 6:00 a.m. flight home. We were thankful for no delays! And we were thankful to be home to this little crew, too! ๐Ÿ™‚

Happy Birthday Dad!

I just remembered I have a blog! ๐Ÿ˜‰ We’re a little behind.ย Here are a few photos from Dad’s birthday:

We made some cupcakes to look like baseballs/softballs (sort of), with the hope of bringing them to share with Dad’s teammates as he kicked off the softball season. Unfortunately, the season opener was rained out. Oh well, more cupcakes for us! ๐Ÿ˜‰

The boys are wearing their T-Shirts from T-Ball (Dad helps coach). Andrew’s game was called early because of lightning. We put a 3-0 and three single candles to celebrate the big 3-3. I love the looks on the kids faces in the photo above!

Paige wasn’t interested in singing “Happy Birthday” or being in any photos. I guess she had other things on her mind …

Later, I heard a strange clanging noise that came from the kitchen. Apparently Paige wanted another cupcake.

Apparently she couldn’t quite reach. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Summer Goes Too Quickly!

There is something to be said about the “lazy days of summer.” Our days have not been lazy, very busy, in fact. But, we pretty much lacked a very consistent routine all summer, which means things don’t get done in the fashion that they should. Take, for instance, blogging. ย So, as we ventured into our first week of school, I thought I’d do a quick summer update. It has turned into a larger project than I realized! We’ve had a lot of fun!! This might be the longest blog post ever, but it’s mostly photos, so it shouldn’t take too long to check out.

Summer began with a farewell to Andrew’s preschool and a farewell to Aunt Jamie’s high school.

Class picnic at the park.

Andrew's class picnic at the park. Can you find him?

Grandpa Baumer, Valedictorian Aunt Jamie and Grandma Baumer.

Grandpa Baumer, Valedictorian Aunt Jamie and Grandma Baumer.

As summer began, Andrew finished soccer and Morgan joined him playing T-Ball.

Andrew practices his kicking skills.

Andrew practices his kicking skills.

Nice form, Andrew!

Nice form, Andrew!

Morgan's turn at the plate!

Morgan's turn at the plate!

ย And Paige, who seems to enjoy getting out of the house and attending various things for her brother and sister, keeps growing!

Aw! Kisses on the T-Ball sidelines. :)

Aw! Kisses on the T-Ball sidelines. ๐Ÿ™‚

We headed to Muscatine to visit when Daddy was working there and enjoyed some fun together.

Picnic at a scenic overlook of the Mississippi.

Picnic at a scenic overlook of the Mississippi.

Playing and posing near the river.

Playing and posing near the river.

Enjoying the moment with some fountain fun.

Enjoying the moment with some fountain fun.

Vacation Bible School is always a fun time.

Andrew's creation for "Wacky Hat Day."

Andrew's creation for "Wacky Hat Day."

We spent some time in the pool, although probably not as much as we should have.

Pool fun.

Pool fun.

Pool side lounge. :)

Pool side lounge. ๐Ÿ™‚

The kids tried some fishing with Dad, but didn’t have much luck. It was an outing with our church, and Andrew actually won a prize for catching the least amount of fish (zero!)

A bit chilly for June fishing!

A bit chilly for June fishing!

ย We did a little bit of gardening, with an emphasis on little. Hmmm. It would be much more practical to have a garden in your own yard that you could tend to while your smallest child is napping. ๐Ÿ˜‰ Wacky weather and our busy nights kept us from finding the time to do much garden work.

Andrew showing some pea pods.

Andrew showing some beans.

Morgan checks some cabbage.

Morgan checks some cabbage.

I think Paige only ate two raw peas.

I think Paige only ate two raw peas.

ย To celebrate our country’s birthday, we played with fire …

Sparkle! Sparkle!

Sparkle! Sparkle!

Snap. Crackle. Pop.

Snap. Crackle. Pop.

ย  … baked a pie … and danced on tables …

Climbing is fun!

Climbing is fun!

ย To celebrate the birthdays of Andrew (5)ย and Paige (1), we had some parties!

Andrew's Batman Buddy Party.

Andrew's Batman Buddy Party. (They played water games outside, hence the topless boys.)

The cousins gather.

The cousins gather for a family celebration.

Everyone sings to Andrew.

Everyone sings to Andrew.

Paige wonders what is going on!

Paige wonders what is going on!

After recovering from party time, we packed up for a long weekend trip to St. Louis. You can see all of the photos here, and below are some highlights.

The Magic House had fun for all!

The Magic House had fun for all!

We had some hair-raising experiences!

We had some hair-raising experiences!

And played in many places!

And played in many places!

We checked out animals at the St. Louis Zoo.

We checked out animals at the St. Louis Zoo.

This one seemed to enjoy being checked out!

This one seemed to enjoy being checked out!

It's a little safer to pose with the gorilla statue than the real thing.

It's a little safer to pose with the gorilla statue than the real thing.

We took in a baseball game. Go Cardinals! (They won!)

We took in a baseball game. Go Cardinals! (They won!)

And found a new friend, Fredbird!

And found a new friend, Fredbird!

We explored the Arch from the outside ...

We explored the Arch from the outside ...

... and the top!

... and the top!

We all had a very fun time!

We all had a very fun time!

After a few weeks at home, the kids headed to Grandma & Grandpa Baumer’s house for a load of fun, while Mom and Dad escaped to Minneapolis.

Cue the music, "I Think We're Alone Now!"

Cue the music, "I Think We're Alone Now!"

One of our activities was to get another baseball stadium off our list. It was nice to attend with our Twin fan friends, Eric & Angi.

One of our activities was to get another baseball stadium off our list. It's the last season the Twins will be in the Metrodome. We'll have to go back when the new stadium opens. It was nice to attend with our Twin fan friends, Eric & Angi.

Andrew and Morgan stayed at the Baumer Fun House for a few extra days, so we only had one child in the house. We were wondering why we were ever stressed out with only one child. Going from three to one was so wild! And while we wouldn’t want that to be a permanent situation, it was nice for a few days.

We got to take this cutie for a few bike rides. She LOVES riding. Not so thrilled with the overside helmet we require her to wear. ;)

We got to take this cutie for a few bike rides. She LOVES riding. Not so thrilled with the overside helmet we require her to wear. ๐Ÿ˜‰

ย Our last family fun activity was heading to the Iowa State Fair.

My first corndog.

My first corndog.

The boys on the giant slide.

The boys on the giant slide.

The big girls' turn. Morgan said, "I wasn't even scared!" Her face may say otherwise! :)

The big girls' turn. Morgan said, "I wasn't even scared!" Her face may say otherwise! ๐Ÿ™‚

And summer wouldn’t be complete without a few photos from the Oskaloosa Church Softball League field. Dad does a great job as president of the league, organizing schedules and tournaments and coaching our church’s team. We have fun watching Dad play and hanging out with the other families who play as well.

Running the bases after a game is always a highlight!

Running the bases after a game is always a highlight!

Morgan rounds third!

Morgan rounds third!

Paige prefers to play with random softballs.

Paige prefers to play with random softballs.

She'll probably be running the bases on her own next season!

She'll probably be running the bases on her own next season!

So, that’s part of our summer in a nutshell. A very large nutshell! ๐Ÿ˜‰ I’ve intentionally saved some other photos for a future post. Yes, there is more fun I have failed to mention. You can see quite aย few of photos here, if you haven’t already. I hope to be more consistent with posting, but blogging isn’t the only thing that got behind this summer. We’ll see. Thanks for checking in!