Love Overflowing

What I did on my summer vacation…..

Figuring out what to do on vacation is always hard for us. Especially with a 4-year-old and a 1-year-old.  A trip that would be fun, wouldn’t break the bank and somewhere with relatively decent weather. Not much to ask for right? Laughing now?  I think the issue that we struggled with was the travel with a 1-year-old. Zachary does not travel in the car very well.  We needed to find somewhere close enough that we could make the drive without spending all day on the road with half a dozen pit stops. Chattanooga seemed to fit the bill. So we booked the hotel and started looking at things to do there.

Fast forward a month or so. We had made several short trips to various places in Illinois. I am talking 2 hour trip tops. Those trips made us revisit the vacation destination. Chattanooga was an 8 hour drive. They only way we would/could make it was for someone to be heavily medicated. I am not sure if it would be the adult passenger or the child. Zachary seriously loses his mind after about 45 minutes to an hour. Think screaming and crying until he is red in the face. Only way to halfway calm him down is to rub his foot. And I wasn’t about to sit twisted in the front seat, rubbing a foot just to lower the volume.

Back to the drawing board. Somewhere closer. Minnesota? Too far. Chicago? Maybe. Kansas City? Been there, done that. Same with the Lake of the Ozarks. My sister and her family have been to Branson several years in a row. They rave about it.  “It’s so much fun. The kids have a blast.”

I’m going to be bluntly honest here. Branson isn’t our bag. We aren’t big country or gospel music fans. Shows aren’t our thing. Even if they were, Zachary would not sit still that long. But we decided to broaden our horizons and try Branson. Our options were limited and we thought we see what my sister was talking about. That and we bought dvd players for the car. After talking to several people, we decided that might make the trip more bearable. It did, for the most part. Still, Zachary gave up and got bored before his Yo Gabba dvd was over and started getting antsy.

The trip was fun. There is a lot of things to do, especially if you like country music and going to shows. Would we go back? Probably not. I think the thing that made the trip great was the hotel we stayed at. It was a vacation resort/timeshare. Two bedroom suite with an amazing pool. We would have spent more time at the pool but we just ran out of time. One of the days we had set aside for pool time was rainy. We still managed to spend some time soaking up the rays though. The hotel did have a downside though. The kids’ bedroom had a door that led to the bathroom. Imagine an endless loop. A race track, if I may. That’s how Zachary saw it any way. A race track with a door. A door to slam. Hundreds of time. And a dishwasher with a knob that he could spin and spin and spin. Never realized how important his little riding toys at home are. Drove us out of our ever-loving mind.

Did I mention that Zachary learned how to climb out of the pack n’ play? And he developed bronchitis? Oh yes. Thank goodness for Walgreens and a doctor that saw Emily the previous week with the same thing. This trip made me really appreciate his pediatrician and the fact that the kids do not share a room at home.

I am being pretty negative. The trip really wasn’t all that bad. Really. Look at the pictures. They tell a different story. We did have fun. We stopped at Bass Pro in Springfield on our way down to kill some time and let Zachary burn off some steam. That location is their flagship store. It’s huge! The kids loved looking at the animals. Monday we “Rode the Ducks” to Table Rock Lake. That was fun. Hot but fun. The kids seemed to enjoy themselves. Everyone even got a “quacker”. A lovely, ear numbing, toy that makes wonderful duck quacks. We did have fun using them on the ride. Stephen and Emily got in trouble with theirs at one point. Before dinner that day, we hit the pool. Loved the pool, did I mention that? Zero depth and the middle was 3 foot so Emily could touch most of the pool.

Tuesday was the rainy day. We decided that we would hit the outlet mall in the morning and Branson Landing after naps. The outlet mall had two major draws. Disney Store for Emily and Coach outlet for me. Money was spent. Branson Landing was pretty neat. Reminded me of a mall type. Lots of shops with brick “roads”. They had an amazing fountain. Smaller version of the fountains at the Bellagio. Or that’s what Stephen kept saying. They did shows to music. Stephen found a hot sauce shop there. He was a happy camper.

Wednesday was Emily’s choice. She wanted to go miniature golfing. That’s one thing that Branson doesn’t have a lack of. Miniature golfing and go carts. She decided that she wanted to go to the Hollywood theme one. Zachary even got a club. That I ended up carrying. It was pretty fun though. A neat course. It was so hot though. Even that early in the morning. We decided to have an early lunch so Zach could get an early nap so we could hit the pool. Snow cones and swimming. Pretty good day.

Thursday was our big, busy day. We went to Silver Dollar City. That was a lot of fun! Wasn’t sure if there was a lot for the kids to do but there was tons! Emily is so tall that she could ride pretty much every ride either by herself or with an adult. They even had several rides that Zachary could ride with either myself or Stephen. And the ball area. The ball area was awesome. Little nerf balls that you could shoot out of cannons and shove up a vacuum. We spent quite a bit of time in there. I would say that Silver Dollar City was the highlight of our trip. Everyone had a great time.

Friday was travel home day. You might notice that I never mentioned what we did in the evenings. Well, the kids were in bed by 7/7:30 each night. Some people might say “You were on vacation. Why the early bedtime?” Every one was done by then. Kids were tired and we were tired. Stephen and I enjoyed some time sitting on our balcony, watching the people in the pool. We even enjoyed some desserts after the kids were in bed. What they don’t know won’t hurt them. Didn’t have to share that way.

We really did have fun. It’s always nice to get away for a little bit from the every day grind. But it’s always  nice to come back home to your own bed, your own pillows and your own rooms. Zachary was very excited to have his bed back and get out of the pack n’ play. Although he did enjoy the fact that Emily would “rescue” him in the morning so he didn’t have to use any energy climbing out. That and the fact that the goldfish were at his level so he could sneak to the kitchen before breakfast and snack.

Now to start thinking about next year… Not. Hopefully Zachary will be a better travel buddy by then so we can expand our horizons.

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Eight years and counting…..

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8 years Stephen and I have been married. August 9, 2003 was a day that I will cherish and remember always. That was the day that I married my best friend, my confidante, my true love and the future father of my children. It was a beautiful day in every way. The weather was perfect, considering it was August and the sun was shining. We had our family surrounding us to celebrate the joining of our futures. Our future was full of possibility and hope. Eight year later, our lives are full of love and laughter. Our days consist of laundry, cleaning, refereeing and hugs. We find time to talk to each other and share our lives, our dreams and our frustrations. Life is good.

Every year around our anniversary, we take a trip. It started out as a weekend away but has become an overnight. Even though our time away is shorter, we still cherish the time we have to reconnect and be together. Our tradition is to go to a bed and breakfast. We have never stayed at the same one and try to mix up where we go. This year we found ourselves in Sainte Genevieve again. We spent our first anniversary in a little b&b in their historic downtown area. Our eighth anniversary we decided to stay at Chaumette Winery and Villas. The scenery was beautiful. It was so peaceful and serene.

After arriving in Ste. Gen, we walked around their little downtown area. They have little shops, similar to our Main Street but on a smaller scale. After lunch in a firehouse converted to a restaurant, we headed toward the wine trails. We really didn’t have time to stop at more than one because we treated ourselves this year. We had booked a couples massage at the spa  at the villas. Unfortunately/fortunately, our appointment was running an hour behind. Unfortunately because we could have spent more time exploring the local wineries but fortunately because we were able to lounge by the pool with a glass of wine. It was so beautiful, albeit hot. After our massage, we checked into our villa and got ready for dinner. We had reservations at the restaurant there. The food was delicious! The service left quite a bit to be desired to be honest. We were seated outside, even though we had reservations and weren’t given a choice. It took quite a long time to receive our food and our waitress was spotty at best. It took us 45 minutes to receive our food and we didn’t leave the restaurant for almost two hours. Not a good experience. The food was good but I don’t think I would ever go back to be honest.

Breakfast was a “cook your own” deal. Which was pretty nice. We were able to get up on our own time and lounge around until we were ready to eat. They left quite a spread in our kitchen. Eggs, fruit, bacon, hash browns, bread, juice and milk. We had quite the spread. The view was breathtaking as we ate together.

It was a wonderful anniversary getaway. It’s always nice to get some time alone to recharge, away from the kids. I believe that every marriage needs this at least once a year. At the very minimum. We missed the kids but enjoyed the time together to bond and remember why we got married in the first place.

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To the farm…

Purina Farms that is.

The kids, Grandma and I headed to Purina Farms with our playgroup last week. What a beautiful day it turned out to be! The weather was perfect and the crowds weren’t bad at all. A great say to visit the Easter Village.

We had never been before so this was an exciting adventure for all of us. During Easter, they have an area set up with lots of baby animals to see and some to touch. Chicks, bunnies, piglets, lambs- just to name a few. They were very cute! Emily really enjoyed being able to touch many of them. Zachary- not so much. He was more concerned with why the women had floppy bunny ears on. He just couldn’t get over their appearance to focus on the animals. He really enjoyed looking at the kitties though.

There is also a cow that you can milk! Emily had no problem milking the cow. Which is kind of amusing considering she would not see Peter Cottontail when we arrived. Zachary just went with the flow for most things. I think the biggest hit of the day was the dog show. We got to see dogs and a pot bellied big play with Frisbees and go through the obstacle course. We even got to see them jump into a pool after the Frisbees. The show was really neat. We then went on a wagon ride before our picnic lunch.

It was a really fun day. Totally worth the 45 minute drive. The kids really enjoyed themselves, as did I. Zachary was so worn out that he fell asleep in the car. That rarely happens. What is even more rare was the fact that he went back to sleep when we got him into the house. He was farmed out.

Sorry about the poor picture quality. I remembered to charge my camera battery but forgot to actually put it back into the camera…. Doh!

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Walking down a dusty path…

We took advantage of one of the last nice weekends of the year with a trip to Augusta. We usually take a drive out west each year to go leaf peaking. We headed out a little later this year so there weren’t as many pretty leaves but it was still a nice drive.

We decided to take a walk down the Katy Trail. Totally spontaneous, as you can see by Emily’s apparel. I think we made it about a mile or a mile and a half before she started to get tired. We decided that we needed to turn around otherwise we would have had to figure out a way to drag her behind the stroller because Stephen and I both said there was no way we were going to carry her!

Nothing better to top off a great day than a trip to the ice cream stand!

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Vacation 2010

Still trying to catch up!
Back in August we went to the Lake of the Ozarks for a short vacation. It was kind of neat because we stayed in the same place we did when Emily was only 9 months old. We really liked the place because it had a beautiful view and a screened in deck. That was a huge plus in our book! We could go outside, chat and enjoy ourselves while the kids were asleep.
Emily was so excited to go on vacation. Both kids did pretty well on the car ride, although we only made it about a half hour before Emily needed a potty break. Luckily, she told us before we got to nothing land. Zachary actually napped off and on. A huge change from the long crying jag on our last trip to Quincy. Car rides are looking up!
Our vacation was nice. We went at our own place, without an agenda. We had to scratch one thing off our list of things to do though. We told Emily that we would take her to a cave. Unfortunately, many of the smaller caves were closed due to a fungus infecting the bats. The one that was open only had tours at nap time. It was ok because we went miniature golfing instead. Both Emily and Zachary probably liked that better anyway.
We ended our vacation week with the obligatory trip down Main Street. I LOVE that we live so close and can just pop down there within 5 minutes. There is a downside to living so close though. Riverside Sweets. They have some of the yummiest ice cream. Even Zachary agrees! Stephen couldn’t share his ice cream fast enough! I was smart and chose ice cream with nuts so I didn’t have to share.
Vacation 2010 was a success! I do believe everyone had a good time. We didn’t go anywhere exotic or far away but it was nice to get away from the normal day-to-day grind. It gave everyone a chance to recharge before getting our nose back to the grindstone Emily included! It’s weird having to schedule vacation around her calendar!

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What I did on my summer vacation

Vacations…never long enough are they? We have had our vacation planned since January!! Let me tell you, it took a long darn time to get here! So much had happened since now and then too! Luckily, we were able to keep our vacation plans and go on a much needed vacation.

Beautiful San Diego. Where there is so much to do and the weather is supposed to be wonderful??? Well, there was so much to do and it was beautiful but the weather….The weather was unusually HOT!!! I think I actually missed the St. Louis weather! It was nice and cool while we were gone. We sweated like crazy while on vacation but that was ok. It was nice pool and beach weather!

We didn’t get to do everything that we wanted to do. I don’t think there is any way possible to do that unless you have two weeks there! We just took things at our own pace and saw what we wanted to see. There were no hard set itineraries. We had a few places that we really wanted to go and we still didn’t get to do all of those but that’s ok. Just means we’ll have stuff to do when (if) we ever make it out there again!

We did get to hit Sea World. Emily was in LOVE! She loved watching all the whales, dolphins and sea lions. She laughed like crazy when she watched the shows, especially the funny sea lion show. She got to enjoy some time in the Sesame Street section as well. Stephen won “Daddy of the Year” award by taking her on some of the rides. We spent a good deal of time there but still didn’t get to see everything we wanted to see. We actually could have went back another day but never had the time. It was a great time. Hot but good. I was the only one that got burnt. We do think the heat was too much for Emily though as she got sick at dinner. That was one of the deciding factors as whether or not to go to Disneyland. We didn’t.

We also spent some time on Coronado, the Gaslamp Quarter, and malls. We got to visit with Stephen’s friends and their daughter. Emily was in HEAVEN! The next day we heard all about Ava and how she scared her. It was a good visit. We went to Old Town and visited with some of my friends. That needs a post of its own really. Emily also got to experience the ocean and the beach! She was like a kid in a candy store! The smile on her face stretched from ear to ear! I loved seeing her have so much fun and be so happy.

I know we did so much more than that. I just can’t seem to remember it all right now. I do know that all of us had a wonderful time. It was sad to come home but good at the same time. Emily did an amazing time on the airplane as well, both ways. The only time we had a meltdown was when we landed and had to wait for everyone to get off of the plane before us. She had no patience because she knew that Grandma and Papa were waiting for her!

I will post a few pictures but you can find the rest in my Picasa album, linked on the right side of the page.

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That’s a lot of years…

Yesterday was Stephen’s grandpa’s birthday. He turned 96! He’s doing quite well for someone that age. We took a drive to celebrate his birthday with him. Emily lovingly calls him “Great Papa”. It’s so sweet!

We weren’t sure how she would do, as she is timid in new circumstances and being around people she hasn’t seen in awhile. It only took her a short time to warm up and then she was her charming self! We visited, had cake and ice cream and opened presents (not necessarily in that order).

Later in the afternoon, we headed up to meet more family for lunch. It was very nice to get to visit with people that we don’t see on a regular basis. Of course, Emily was the life of the party. Jingle belling all over the eating area and around the store. She was turning heads every where she went!

There’s never enough time to visit everyone that you want but we enjoyed who we saw. And most importantly, we got to wish Ray a very HAPPY BIRTHDAY and that’s what yesterday was all about!

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