Go here. {St. Louis City Museum}

We looked this place (The City Museum in St. Louis, MO) up online before we came to St. Louis and thought it looked like a place the kids would love.  But when we turned the corner and saw this...
it was like Christmas morning for me--I mean, the kids!
The outside is a maze of slides, tunnels, bridges, airplanes, and contraptions to climb, play and explore.  So we did. 
 My sister and I climbed up to the airplane with our 3-year olds.
Staring down through the metal grid at the concrete hundreds of feet below,
we started thinking, 'what were we thinking?!'
For the thrill, right?
The 3-year olds were oblivious. 
We were thrilled to get everyone back down to a safer level.
Like the ball pit level.
Joe joined in on one of the biggest dodge ball games I've ever seen in an enclosed area.
He climbed all over that place and totally dominated the fire truck slide.
He did this.  On purpose.
If we had only gotten to play outside, it would have been worth the price of admission. 
But then we went inside.
Caves and statues, tunnels and slides,
tight places where little people squeeze through and big people get stuck. 
Everything built out of recycled materials.
A ten-story slide!
  A three-story slide.
The world's smallest underpants and
largest pencil. 
There was also an indoor skate park,
tons of arts and crafts,
a mini circus,
and I don't think we even saw it all.
Super fun.
I liked it.
Could you tell?
I think the kids had fun, too.


the last watermelon

When I bought this watermelon out of the back of Woody's truck, I asked him how much longer he thought the watermelon would grow.  He said, "This is it."
So, we savored what will probably be our last watermelon of the season.
Not only did we eat the sweet, red middle, but we scraped the rinds and drank the juice.
Grandaddy showed us how to carve a new set of chompers.


Grandmother had come outside to enjoy the watermelon with us.
The boys (and Charlie) had her cracking up with their goofy rind-teeth.
That laugh is something we will savor too because she passed away about one week later.
We are certain we will hear it again.
In a another season.
Until then we will just listen with our hearts.



Like the moth

No one lights a lamp and puts it in a place where it will be hidden, or under a bowl.  Instead he puts it on its stand, so that those who come in may see the light.
Your eye is the lamp of your body. When your eyes are good, your whole body also is full of light. But when they are bad, your body also is full of darkness. See to it, then, that the light within you is not darkness. Therefore, if your whole body is full of light, and no part of it dark, it will be completely lighted,
as when the light of a lamp shines on you.
LUKE 11:33-36 


Crack 'em and eat 'em

Grandmother has two pecan trees in her backyard.
We are like a family of squirrels when we go outside.
Gather and crack 'em and eat 'em.

Trek wants to make a pecan pie.
me--Great idea!  But you'll have to quit eating them so we can collect enough to fill the pie.
Trek--We can have pie later.


Locked and Loaded

We have been in Bama for eight weeks.
This might have been the most eventful, stretching, two months of my life.
I don't want to just dump the facts out all in one post.  So, I'll go back a little and try to tell about it chronologically.
We all flew back together to Alabama.  We moved in with Grandmother who graciously opened her home to 6 more people!  I started teaching math at Northridge High School.  The big kids started at their new school.  We reunited with other family members.
Three weeks later, Jono flew back to Cali--the flight we were all originally going to take, before this became a one-way trip.  He loaded up the swagger wagon and the trailer to drag all our stuff back across the country.  Here it is locked and loaded.
Believe it or not, Jono had a good friend volunteer to drive back with him.  I'm thankful someone was willing because I'm afraid I was not very eager to make that trip myself.  I didn't make it the first time either.  Thankful on both counts.

They left on Monday night and rolled into the driveway Thursday evening.  Safe and sound.  With a trailer so stuffed we had to open the back door just a little bit at a time, grabbing things as they jumped out of the crevices they had been wedged into! 



Saturday, we saw the sun rise in California on the way to the airport.  This time it's a one-way trip.  The emotions are all over the place.  We've lived in California for the last five years.  We've had a lot of life in those five years.  Good life, good memories.  As I was packing up, I came across this photo from our very first day at Woodleaf.
Abby was five and Joe was three.
We've had two more babies and grown lots of hair since then.
Woodleaf is different, too.
This is a picture Abby drew of all the Woodleaf kids in 2007.
Betsy, Max, Abby, Tamara, Hannah, Augie (O), Canaan (K), Sam and Joe.

Now she's almost big enough to babysit the Woodleaf kids.
I am so overwhelmed right now with love and gratitude.
We have been so blessed with friendships in California.  Our friends rallied around us and helped get us get packed with such short notice.  They came together and celebrated with us the things that have made these last five years so wonderful--our friendships.  It hurts to put distance between those relationships but we are so so grateful to have had all those people who love us and have shared life with us in Cali.
Now the sun has set on our first day in Alabama.
 The first day of a new adventure, a new season.
We were welcomed to this side of the country with such abundant love.
Our families have opened their homes and made sure that we had rooms ready complete with special touches for each one's individual tastes.  They had barbecue waiting for dinner (and chow chow even!).  A friend loaned an entire toy box (with toys in it) for the little boys until the rest of our stuff arrives.  My heart just swelled with gratitude.
With all this love coming at us from both sides of the country, it's no wonder we have emotions leaking out all over the place!


It's that time again!

I know you've all been waiting with baited breath.
It's our annual park picture!
So without further ado I present...
I can hardly stand how fast they are growing.
You can take a look at our past years' pics here.
Of course, it is always a challenge to get a good picture of all four at the same time.
Here are some of the other faces that didn't make the final and a couple photo bombs.  
This is when I asked them for their best smiles.
As hard as it was to convince them to get into those pics, they were all excited to try some crazy perspective pics.
Watch out for hungry, hungry Abby.
Joe, the incredible.
And would ya look at that.  Just look at it.
 It's super mom!


Bear Hole

Chico is only about an hour away from us (like most everything).  One afternoon before school got started we were able to take the big kids over there to explore Upper Bidwell Park.  Earlier this summer we had a fun family day in Lower Bidwell.  This day was hot so we went looking for water.  We quickly settled on the Yahi Trail which follows the creek for several miles.
It was so nice to take a hike without the little boys.  I mean, we love going out as a family but when everyone has generally the same stride you don't have to worry about telling this one to slow down and this one to hurry up.  It was really peaceful.
So, we walked.
Took in the scenery.
Jumped in the creek if we got hot.  Walked some more.
 We made our way to Bear Hole, one of several swimming holes along the trail.
Those black rocks were hot enough to fry eggs but the water felt amazing!
And it felt good to make some special memories with Abs and Joe.
We topped the afternoon off with take out from Tong Fong Low-the best Chinese food around!
If you are local,
what's your favorite afternoon getaway?