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 Hikes #1

We have a goal for the summer to go on as many Sunday hikes as possible. We intended to start with our traditional Mother’s Day hike, but instead we spent some time in our basement due to bad weather. Then, either rain or other plans kept us from hiking … until today! 

Date: June 8, 2014

Location: Cedar Bluff (Mahaska County)

Distance: 2.1 miles

Critters Spotted: Bunnies, cicadas, spider carrying an egg sack, bunnies, centipedes, dragonfly, deer, bunnies, vultures, cardinals, goldfinch, and the cutest, littlest baby bunny with a bum back leg that tempted us to scoop him up and make him our pet.

Additional Info: Picnic supper and playground at Eveland Access; drives to find the “lost” towns of Givins and Evans; Frosty Udder for dessert.


Four of us were hiking together and one was trailing behind and singing “Let it Goooooooo!”


Cicadas were everywhere!



An overlook with the Des Moines River in the background.



Morgan spotted this little guy.




Throwing rocks into the water.



We saw several of these guys, too.



Still singing … 🙂



The Des Moines River near our picnic spot.

026The playground.



A New Page

There’s nothing like going through pictures at the end of the year to make you realize how much you have failed to blog about. We’ve had such a great year, with many fun adventures!

We do have a new page here on the blog. You can find it up on the top. It’s called “Letters.” We saved some trees and only mailed our annual Christmas letter to immediate family and those who might not be on the internet. Others can read our letter here.


Fall Drive 2013

One of my favorite family traditions is our annual Fall Drive! This year we ventured north along the Mississippi River. It was our least researched trip ever, but maybe winging it is more fun!

We started on a Friday night with plans to stay at a hotel in Clinton. Why Clinton, you ask? Because we were using hotel reward points of Ben’s, and we always look for the stops that require the least amount of points. We’re cheap like that.

We typically are on the lookout for courthouses (we want to get a picture of each one in Iowa), fall color and historic sites. Sometimes, though, we have to stop for the colorful human-made attractions, such as this house outside of Davenport that had the most Halloween decorations we have ever seen.




009It was dark by the time we got into Davenport and started venturing north. We went through LeClaire, home to the guys from the American Picker’s TV show. We found their shop. It’s behind a gas station. Great picture, eh? 😉

012We were super stoked to find out our hotel was right next to a casino! We were tempted to scrap our drive and just gamble all day Saturday. (Not really.)

We did swim at the hotel, and the kids did their usual jump-on-the-hotel-beds routine. Saturday morning we had breakfast in the hotel before taking off. There was a group of Michigan State fans on their way to Iowa City for a football game. Ben happened to be wearing a Hawkeye shirt (What?!?), and I was wearing green, so the MSU fans wondered if we were a “house divided.” Well, we are, apparently. Just with Iowa and Iowa State, not Michigan State.

photo (1)We headed out and jumped on the Great River Road heading north. We were surprised how much land is in the middle of the Mississippi north of Clinton. We went through Sabula, Iowa, an island community and then ended up in Illinois.023Water, marsh and trees are on both sides of the road/bridge here.

024Which way to go. which way to go?

028 We didn’t really intend to be in Illinois, so we turned north and decided to turn around at our first opportunity. The first chance ended up being the entrance to Mississippi Palisades State Park. After consulting a map, we decided that maybe we’d see more of the river on the Illinois side. We also decided to check out the park. Good choice! It ended up being one of our highlights of the trip! We drove to the top of a bluff and checked out the overlook trail.

029Dad pretended he was going to throw Paige over the cliff.

030 We found a cool lookout spot.

035It was so nice of a train to go by.

037Our Morgan is not the only Morgan to visit this spot.

038Dad and the kids. Paige had just gotten some weird bug bite. It was a nasty thing, I must say.

042Mom and the kids, too.

043There was some fun artwork in the “deck.”

044And some artwork from God on the path.

045 And this is how Paige’s friend got to travel.

049 Photos just do not do justice to the beauty of the rolling hills. The cloudy skies didn’t help the picture taking, either.

050We ended up at a scenic overlook. Some other visitors said there used to be a tower. Now there is just a swing.

053And some funky fungi.

055We eventually got to Galena, Ill., and the home of Ulysses S. Grant.

056He had a nice view.

058We then went back to Iowa, via Dubuque, and then left Dubuque to enter Wisconsin.


067We lost one kid for a while.


071The trees were pretty, despite the raindrops.

076 We grabbed Subway in Wisconsin, and we remembered stopping there on a previous Fall Drive. We ended up back in Iowa — Marquette, to be specific — for our picnic lunch. (See the picnic table in the background above?)

077This was the view from our near our picnic table.

082The sun came out just long enough for us to truly enjoy the beautiful fall colors nearby.


086We kept driving north until we got to the location of the Battle of Bad Axe. I’m going to make a little plug for the History Here app from the History Channel. It’s totally cool if you like to find historical spots. Even historical sites that are not so fun to read about, such as battles in the Black Hawk War.

089We kept going into Minnesota. Figured we might as well hit our fourth state for the day. That, and it was the best option for getting back across the Mississippi. Bridges are not in high commodity.

090Once we got back into Iowa, we were on a mission to find some more courthouses. Ben had recently read about a county that wanted to get rid of their historic courthouse because of the cost of upkeep. It just so happens to be in northern Iowa. Bonus!

091Another breathtaking view not quite captured in a photo.

097We lost this one for the second time. We eventually ended up in Osage, got a picture of the courthouse and stopped at a park to play. Much needed energy burning took place. It was the city park and school all-in-one. There was a football game going on next door. We wondered if it had gotten postponed from the night before?






119Our last stop was a drive-thru for supper, where we noticed the mileage on the van.

120She’s been a lot of places in her 126,000 miles. We hope she gets to many more.

The rest of our drive home was in the dark. It was another fun and memorable trip!


Summer Fun List 2013

What? We still had a winter picture up at the top of the blog. No more! Good riddens snow, hello sunny summer!

We are into our fourth week of Summer Break, so let’s get something on this blog. How about a Summer Fun List 2013? Ok! Here it is, followed by the person who suggested the idea, where applicable.

  1. Go to a hotel. (Paige)
  2. Go to the park in Ottumwa. (Paige)
  3. Get a pool pass. (Morgan)
  4. Get SnoBiz at least 3 times. (Morgan)
  5. Go on a hike somewhere not in Iowa. (Andrew)
  6. Go to the Fun Factory on a rainy day. (Andrew)
  7. Play in the sprinkler. (Paige)
  8. Go to Paige’s preschool playground. (Paige)
  9. Go to every park in Oskaloosa and surrounding “suburbs” of University Park and Beacon. (Mom)
  10. Go to Adventureland.
  11. Go to the Zoo.
  12. Go to St. Louis.
  13. Go to Chicago.
  14. Go to McDonald’s. (Paige)
  15. Perform a circus. (Kids)
  16. Go to Frosty Udder at least 5 times (Andrew, Morgan)
  17. Participate in the Summer Reading Program at the Library.
  18. Visit the Science Center. (Mom)
  19. Do half of the activities on the Library “activity sheet.” (Mom)
  20. Do some of the craft kids collecting dust in the closet. (Mom)

And, Hooray! We’ve already done a few things on the list, and others are on the calendar. We hope you are having a great summer!

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!