Birthday Bashes

We — or should I say I — are behind on blogging by a couple years, probably. But, that’s OK. I can catch up someday when the kids are grown. 😉 LOL!

The kids keep growing, and we’ve had some birthday parties over the years. Here are some from this year:

Morgan had a Piplup (Pokemon) party back in January to celebrate her 8th birthday, which was in December. At least we aren’t years behind on the actual parties.  Just one month. 😉

001So thankful for sweet friends!

003Always a silly picture. Always. 🙂


008Andrew had a Minecraft party for his 10th birthday. (10!!!) And can I get an, “Amen!” for having three boys over to play video games. Best. Birthday. Party. Ever. For. Moms. 😉


029And he kinda loves his new Cyclone hat given to him at the party.

030Last, but not least, Paige had a beach party with some sweet girls for her 6th birthday. After we hosted her party, we officially put our house on the market and had to have pictures taken of our house. Not a stressful day at all. 😉




079Yep, little girls can be crazy, too. Maybe even more hyper than little boys. At least that’s my birthday party experience.

081Happy Birthday, Kiddos! Now, STOP GROWING UP! (Not really.)



Sunday Hike #5

Date: July 6, 2014

Location: White Oak Conservation Area

Distance: 1.4 miles

Critters Spotted: Dragonflies, butterflies, a deer, geese and a turtle. (And we didn’t hear many cicadas!)

Additional Info: We really liked this spot in Mahaska County! We’ve never been here before, but will have to return, for sure! We had a picnic lunch and almost blew away with the wind, but we were thankful for the breeze on a very hot day. We also did some extra activities after our hike to celebrate the 15th anniversary of our first date! Can’t believe it’s been that long!

055There was some “old school” playground equipment near our picnic shelter. “Let’s spin on the merry-go-round BEFORE we eat lunch!” Paige said.


059There is a man-made lake with a trail all around it. Below, the kids on a floating dock.

060The trail had numerous bridges, which was fun!




“Look, guys!” Paige said. “A resting spot!”

“We don’t need to rest, yet, because we haven’t gone very far,” Andrew said.


069The kids got a ways ahead of us. “Warning! Warning!” Morgan yelled. “Danger ahead!”

“I wonder how they got through this?” Dad said, looking at the danger pictured below. “Maybe I don’t want to know.”

072Dad snacked on a few berries.



075This view was beautiful!


081Can you find the turtle in this picture? 🙂

082The sign said 1.2 miles, but Dad’s phone said it was 1.4.

085After our hike, we discovered the picnic shelter we should have had our picnic in. It has a more appropriate name than the “Robin” one we found first.

086There was also a playground near the Cardinal shelter.

088While at the first playground, Dad spotted a small raspberry plant growing in the mulch near the swings. We figured it would appreciate a better home, so we scooped it out and brought it out to our new property. 🙂 Hopefully, it enjoys it’s spot nestled between some other raspberry plants. While there, the kids had fun on the equipment.


091Then, we headed home for some water to drink, because we were out. After that, we went mini golfing. On our first date, we went to Hickory Park for ice cream and then mini golfing. We thought we should re-enact our date in Oskaloosa.  Today, Dad was king of the course. (He won on our first date, too, but I’m sure Cori let him win. Or not.) Both Mom & Dad won a free game on the last hole, so that was cool!

photoTo complete the re-enactment, we got ice cream at Frosty Udder. We should have taken a picture of kids covered in ice cream. Just imagine Andrew & Paige with pink beards and pink hands from their watermelon ice cream melting all over. Morgan was the smart kid who got a dish. 🙂



Summer Fun List Check-In

School starts two weeks from today! I started writing this post when there was still three weeks left, but adding pictures made it wonky. Hopefully attempt two will work better.

I’m not sure how summer has flown by so quickly, but alas, it has. I thought I better check-in on the old Summer Fun List to see what we need to accomplish in the next few days. (And, technically only two kids start on Aug. 20. Paige starts on Aug. 21, because half of her class will start the 20th and half on the 21st. They alternate days the first week and all go together on the following Monday. We will have to re-visit Goof-Off Day! <—–You can click on “Goof Off Day” over there and it will take you to an old post that just possibly made the author of this post shed a few tears. Sigh. They grow up so fast.)

Our list:

  • Go to a hotel. (Paige)

Completed! We spent a weekend in St. Louis and stayed at a hotel we’ve stayed at before. We loved a couple morning swims where we had the pool to ourselves.


  • Go to the park in Ottumwa. (Paige)

Check! We went to Ottumwa one day to help our friend from Rwanda obtain a Social Security card. Unfortunately, the office closed early that day. [Insert snarky comment about government hours here.] Fortunately, we still went to the park Paige wanted to go to for a little bit. Unfortunately, the park did not have restroom facilities, so we didn’t get to stay long.

014 020

 Looks can be deceiving. The kids aren’t that tall, as proven when Mom steps up. She’s only 5′ 3″.

016 017

  • Get a pool pass. (Morgan)

Check. Check. We really need to get to the pool a couple more times this summer to make it worth our money, so here’s hoping that it warms up again! It has been well worth the money to see the kids’ swimming skills improve! I don’t bring a camera to the pool, but here’s the kiddos in their goggles. 🙂


  • Get SnoBiz at least 3 times. (Morgan)

Hmmm. I think we’ve gotten SnoBiz twice, so we better go one more time. I know one time was after we did Relay for Life on a super hot day. And I’m positive we went one other time, but I cannot remember when.

  • Go on a hike somewhere not in Iowa. (Andrew)

This was also fulfilled on our St. Louis trip. We ventured into Illinois to Cahokia Mounds in Collinsville. It was a fascinating place that was home to an estimated 20,000 people in 1250 A.D., making it larger than London at the time. There are several mounds in the area, all constructed by the people for various reasons. We hiked up Monks  Mound, which is the largest man-made earthen mound in North America. It was very hot, and our kids were great hikers!

Ready to hike up the mound … This angle makes it look a lot shorter than it is.

Ready to hike up the mound.



At the top of the mound! You can barely see the St. Louis skyline to the left of Ben’s head. 🙂024

Go to the Fun Factory on a rainy day. (Andrew)

This one has not happened. We had lots of rainy days early in the summer, but we never made it to the Fun Factory (an indoor play area). I suspect this will not happen.

  • Play in the sprinkler. (Paige)

There have been a couple sprinkler fun times, but I did not take any pictures. I’m pretty sure we broke out the sprinkler early this summer and Paige had a couple friends over for her birthday, and they played in the sprinkler.

  • Go to Paige’s preschool playground. (Paige)

Oh my. We have not done this. We better get a move on!

  • Go to every park in Oskaloosa and surrounding “suburbs” of University Park and Beacon. (Mom)

This one has not happened either. Wow. We have just been too busy to go to many parks in town.

  • Go to Adventureland.

We had a perfect day at Adventureland. There were NO LINES the entire day, and we often could just stay on rides if we wanted to! The kids are getting braver on their ride choices. Morgan rode all the roller coasters, even the upside down one! Mom forgets every year that she is too old for all those rides and did not feel well on the drive home. She must make note next year. 😉

Waiting with cousins for the gates to open:


Andrew and Will went on the “Log Ride” 18 times, or something. They love making funny poses and faces on the way down the big hill so they can get captured by the camera that snaps pictures.



The girls on their motorcycles:


Mom and some kids on the Raging River:


  • Go to the Zoo.

We made it to Blank Park Zoo in Des Moines with some Drost cousins and then again for a Musco family picnic.



  • Go to St. Louis.

This was accomplished! And we had such a fun weekend!!

Pictured: Baseball, City Museum and The Magic House:


  • Go to Chicago.

Coming soon!

  • Go to McDonald’s. (Paige)

We don’t go to McDonald’s very often, which is why I suppose it made our Summer Fun List. We have gone enough times to get a few Minions. We did not win $1 million (or anything but a free fry) in the Monopoly game.


  • Perform a circus. (Kids)

I think the kids gave up on this one. They wanted to include several friends and create this elaborate circus, but I think their ideas were bigger than reality. I’m not sure their performance from last year can be topped. 😉

  • Go to Frosty Udder at least 5 times (Andrew, Morgan)

We have not been to Frosty Udder much since the kids were done with baseball and softball in June. Yikes! I don’t think we’re even close to five times.

  • Participate in the Summer Reading Program at the Library.

We did a ton with the Summer Reading Program in June, but since then … uh … hello? We’ve been busy having too much other fun! Maybe that’s why the program in the past didn’t last all summer like it does this year. ha!

  • Visit the Science Center. (Mom)

We did this on Andrew’s birthday with Grandma & Grandpa Baumer! It was a fun time!

Can you guess whose face that is?



Playing with the green screen in the weather lab:



Morgan’s floating head doing the weather:



Andrew was proud of his arch building skills:


  • Do half of the activities on the Library “activity sheet.” (Mom)

I will first have to find one of the library activity sheets and get back to you. (Ahem. Cough. Cough.) I think we’ve inadvertently done half of them, probably. We’ll see. 🙂

  • Do some of the craft kids collecting dust in the closet. (Mom)

Nope. Nada. Not at all. Maybe that’s a good idea for a WINTER fun list when we need to stay inside more. 😉

Well, that is a little peak into our summer, the Summer Fun List, anyway. Maybe, since all three kids will soon be in school, Mom will have gobs of free time to blog. And maybe she should get a job so we can pay for all these fun things to continue. 😉 ha ha! Time will tell.

Catching Up a Bit

It is time for a re-cap of the year so far, or at least the months of January and February. We probably need a re-cap of last fall, and maybe even some vacations from a few years ago. But we’ll start here.

Andrew entered the Cub Scout Space Derby with his rocket named “Blue Lightning.”


He got fourth place in his age group, the Bears. (Da Bears, maybe?)

On the same day, Morgan made her stage debut, performing as a flower in The Secret Garden. (They started out as dead-ish flowers. She’s the one in the middle of the pic. The taller gal is hiding behind her.)022The show was put on by the Missoula Children’s Theatre. They had auditions on a Monday, practice during the week, and two performances of the show on Saturday. We may have joked that it was a great way to sell tickets to parents and grandparents, as us parents attended both performances with other family attending as well.020Above, her stage makeup. Below, a silly pic of the cast. She’s the red flower in front.017We escaped to Ottumwa for a Friday night to stay at a hotel there and use up some of Dad’s reward points that were about to expire. It was a nice little get-away. The kids enjoyed swimming and jumping on the bed. I apparently took zero pictures. That Saturday morning, the boys headed on a winter hike at a park near Ottumwa with the Cub Scout crew. I think Dad got some pictures on his phone, but I have not downloaded them yet. (And I doubt I’ll come back and insert them. Sorry.)

We have actually had some snow that stuck around this winter. I didn’t mind it at first, but now I am ready for spring! We have another Winter Storm Watch in effect for the weekend. Someone forgot it is SPRING!!! 😉


In early February we signed up one kid for baseball (Andrew), one kid for softball (Morgan) and one kid for soccer (Paige). We might be insane. And we will be very busy come late April.

Paige and I made a snowman one day. I went to get the camera and walked up from behind to find her posing like this:011_1012

She kills me sometimes.015

We went sledding a few days before we built the snowman, so I declared winter could be over. My winter bucket list is pretty short: sled & snowman.

A luxury of having all the kids in school on two days a week = Mom and Dad get a date day on Mom’s birthday! We enjoyed a little shopping excursion to Des Moines. We bought a garbage can.

We had a lovely Valentine’s Day meal. Andrew said my preparations were “like Aunt Jamie at Thanksgiving, working all day to prepare delicious food … Only some of it isn’t that good.”

016Our decor was exquisite. (As Fancy Nancy would say, that’s fancy for fancy.)

019The last two years, when Dad has taken the kids to purchase some items for their Mother’s birthday, the girls have come home with a bear or two. While at Walmart one day with me, Paige saw a red bear with a heart. “Oh,” she said, “we NEED that to go with our other bears!” Unfortunately, she spent all her money on her other bears. Maybe next year.

I’m an assistant leader for Morgan’s Girl Scout troop. The other mom does 99 percent of the work. I pretty much show up at meetings and try to get girls to sit in their chairs. I also got the privilege of attending Morgan’s first Lock-In at the YMCA. We had supper and went swimming until about 8:30, which is past most of our Daisy girls’ (K & 1st) normal bedtimes. Next, was dancing and crafts until about 11:00. Half the girls were half asleep during the dance session. The dance instructor told me Morgan was a “dance machine!” Then, there were two movies. I saw part of the first movie and did not even realize there were two movies until the next morning when Morgan informed me that she watched both. The best part of the night was realizing a couple of Morgan’s second cousins from another town were joining the lock-in. Their mom (Ben’s cousin’s wife … follow that?) had an extra air mattress, and she let me use it! Morgan had a blast. Mom got some sleep. Maybe I’d actually do it again sometime. Maybe.

After the Lock-In, Ben and I escaped for the day to catch an Iowa State Men’s Basketball game with a couple of my college friends. We got Hickory Park, went to the game and then caught the movie Lincoln. It was a fun day! And that was the second movie we saw in a theater in four months, quite possibly a record. We also happened to see two movies nominated for Oscars (the other was Argo — the Oscar winner). So, we might not get out much, but when we do, we apparently know how to pick the good ones. 😉

It warmed up enough to melt some snow and shrink our snowman:

021We had a visit from the Tooth Fairy in February. I thought she might have to come back again by now, because there are numerous loose teeth in Morgan’s mouth, but so far it’s been quiet on the Fairy front.002_1That’s what we did in January and February! Thanks for reading!

Summer Fun #12, #11, #8 and #2

Summer Fun #12: Learn How to Swim

We tried some swimming lessons last summer, but our kids pretty much learned nothing. So, this year, we opted to try swimming lessons somewhere else, that being the neighboring town of Pella. It actually costs less than where we tried before, and we had a great experience! Andrew & Morgan learned so much and are unbelievably more comfortable in the water! We are very proud of them!

A snapshot littlest sister took during lessons.

Summer Fun #11: Go to the Pool in Pella

The kids had swimming lessons at the indoor pool in Pella, but they really wanted to go to the outdoor aquatic center. It is quite a fancy and fun place! We went last summer towards the end of the summer, and they did not have enough life guards to have the whole thing open. This year, it was all open, and we happened to pick a day where it was half price! Bonus! We had a lot of fun practicing swimming, going down slides and hitting the lazy river!

We also went to our local pool a couple times, which was a lot of fun, too. I’m not sure why that didn’t make it on the Summer Fun List, because the kids intended for it to be there. Now that the kids enjoy swimming more, we might have to break down and get a season pass next summer.

Summer Fun #8: Go to Adventureland

We have a tradition of going to Adventureland with the Drost clan, and it is a very fun tradition! We always have a great time! This year was no exception! There was great weather, small crowds and a good time had by all.

Dad taking Andrew, Morgan and Will on a tube slide. Mom was watching at the bottom as several tubes flipped over when they got to the end, so she was thankful that did not happen when this crew came out.


We seemed to have taken pics of water rides. We did get soaked, many times. We split up a few times as “girls” and “boys,” and the girls always got way more drenched than the boys. Good times!

We’ll have to find a new spot for the annual cousins picture. Will is too tall for this ride, and I suspect Andrew and Morgan might be close by next summer.

Summer Fun #2: Invite Friends Over

I would say we mostly failed at this one, because we only had some of Andrew’s friends over one time … for his birthday party. Oops! The boys who came over for the party did have a fun time, but it would have been nice to do a better job at this. Especially since it was number 2 on the list, meaning it was fairly important to the kiddos. Maybe next year?

Eight boys playing Mario Party 9 … It was rather loud. A happy noise. A loud party. Did I mention it was noisy? 😉


Summer Fun #10, #4, #7, #14 and #5

Summer Fun List #10: Go to Frosty Udder

Frosty Udder is a local ice cream joint in a small red barn. There is almost always a line because it’s good and relatively inexpensive. We’ve gone several times, even had ice cream for supper a few times this summer!

Morgan with an ice cream beard.

Summer Fun List #4: See Madagascar 3

No photos of this, but we did get to see Madagascar 3 in the theater. It is a cute movie, and it inspired the kids to perform their own circus. They also {still} like to sing the “Afro Circus” song. Google it. You’ll thank me later when the song is stuck in your head. 😉

Summer Fun List #7: Disc Golf in Pella!

We wanted to go disc golfing with Aunt Jamie in Pella. We went last fall, but ran out of daylight to complete the whole course. Jamie was departing the lovely city of Pella in late June, so we had a deadline! We headed over one evening and hit the course!

Andrew got Hole 3 in 3!

And, according to Aunt Jamie, we saw the largest tree in the world. This is probably a lie, but we can just pretend.

See. It’s very big!

Technically Ben is the only one who completed the course. It is very big, and it was hot and kids were hungry, so he did a 600-foot hole without us.

We have some cute video of Paige throwing a disc and Andrew fetching a disc from a creek, but the videos are upside down. If I can figure out how to flip them, I’ll post them here later. In the one with Andrew, he’s getting a disc thrown by Mom. There is commentary from Dad that says, “This seems to be a re-occurring theme with Mom.” He must have been mistaken. There is no photographic or video evidence that she threw a disc into any creeks. They were thrown perfectly and then moved by gnomes.

There is also no photographic evidence that Mom threw a disc into a swampy area with 6-foot-tall swamp grass and caused everyone to search for 30 minutes to find the disc. And since there is no photographic evidence, it must not have happened. 😉

Summer Fun List #14: Participate in the Library Summer Reading Program

We did participate in this program, reading lots of books and attending a few programs. The kids earned “book bucks” and pooled their cash to buy Webkins. They are stuffed animals with codes that let you take care of that animal with an online computer game.

Summer Fun List #5: Make something for the library creative contest

This one is a FAIL! Every year, there are several categories (art, writing, etc.) where kids can enter their creations and possibly win a prize. We’ve never entered. Maybe next year. 😉 To our credit, the Summer Reading Program was shortened from six weeks to four this summer, and we missed the first week on our family vacation. And really, we just kind of forgot. We’ll add it to our list next summer!



Our Summer Fun List 2012

We’re into our last week of summer here. By this time next week, the two older kids will be in their second day of school, and the littlest sister will be asking me every 5 minutes if it’s time for her to go to preschool. (She has “orientation” Wednesday the 22nd. Her first real day is the 27th.) So, it seems appropriate to post our Summer Fun List to see what we need to squeeze it these last few days.

1. Go to SnoBiz (local sno-cone/ice cream joint) 2-5 times.

2. Invite friends over.

3. Have a cousin swap.

4. See Madagascar 3.

5. Make something for the library creative contest.

6. Hike at Russell Wildlife Area with Dad.

7. Disc golf in Pella.

8. Go to Adventureland.

9. Go to the zoo.

10. Go to Frosty Udder.

11. Go to the pool in Pella.

12. Learn how to swim.

13. Learn how to ride a bike.

14. Participate in the summer reading program at the library.

15. Camp out in the backyard and have s’mores.

16. Go to an Oskaloosa Municipal Band concert at the city square.

17. Make an “I don’t know what to do” jar.

18. Go to Davenport for a Quad City River Bandits (Cardinals Single A team) game.

We’ve done fairly well, so far. We missed a couple items, but maybe we can get them in before the season summer ends in September. 😉