Category Archives: animals

vacation (pt.3)


I’m getting a little antsy to move on from vacation posts, but want to share our pictures and what we did.  I’m going to combine last Wednesday and Thursday into one post and get us a little closer to done with vacation posts.

Wednesday we got a really late start due to some beyond amazing blackout curtains in our hotel room.  My husband granted my hotel request and got us a suite style room so we wouldn’t have to sit in the dark waiting for the kids to fall asleep each night.  When Jilly woke up Wednesday morning, she asked if she could go lie out on the couch in the living room area, we told her sure and figured she’d be back in shortly.  That girl fell back asleep and continued to sleep even after the rest of us were up and moving around.

Once we finally got ourselves already to go we headed toward the Arch.  I really thought I had read somewhere that our hotel was a half mile walk to the Arch.  Apparently I read wrong.  It wasn’t bad, but it was longer than I expected.

The kids LOVED going up in the Arch.  For Nate the best part was seeing a helicopter with it’s propeller spinning while on a floating helicopter pad along the shore of the Mississippi.  After we went up it, they pointed it out every time we saw it as we drove around the city.

Thursday we had plans to do both Grant’s Farm and the Science Center.  We again, thanks to the blackout curtains, got a slow start to our morning.  I thought I had seen that the Science Center was open until 5, but I was wrong once again.  We got there at 3:50 and it closed at 4:30.  We didn’t have nearly enough time to see and do everything, but were blessed by the parking lot attendant who waved us through as we left without having us pay.  It was once again a full day which left kids more than ready to crash at the end of the night.


vacation (pt. 2)


Tuesday was the day we were most excited to share with the kids.  One of our favorite things to do in the 3 years we spent in St. Louis for seminary was to go to the zoo.  We went there regularly, and after having kids said that we would one day take them there.  Whereas our local zoo has great indoor exhibits and puny (at best) 0utdoor exhibits, the St. Louis zoo has amazing outside exhibits.  We decided we’d do the zoo on whatever day happened to be the coolest in our days in St. Louis.  We weren’t the only ones who picked the coolest day!!!  It was busy but not unbearable.

Because of our zoo pass we were able to get a pass to several different extras for a total of $20 for the whole family.  We skipped a few of the extras, but we took advantage of the endless carousel rides, train rides, and visited the manta ray touch tank with it.  We would have done the children’s zoo and 4D motion simulator, but we ran out of time and energy.

The animals we saw were great.  There were 2 lion cubs who were putting on a show as they playfully fought with each other.  The baby and momma camel were cute but in need of a major haircut.  And although I couldn’t get the kids to touch one, I got to touch a manta ray.

It was everything Brad and I hoped it would be for the kids.  They had a great time, and so did we.  I can’t wait for the next time we get to go back!

And, because I love flowers and they were in full bloom all over the zoo, I have to share one last picture.


up for visitors?


the past few weeks have been a whirlwind of activity around here.  besides what seems to be the new norm of several non-stop days each week, we had 2 birthday girls (laurel and myself), a surprise visit from family, a couple of routine doctor appointments, a birthday celebration with brad’s side of the family, a trip down to the farm, and several others occurrences i can’t recall at the moment.

backing up though, we’ll start with the surprise visit from family.  most who know me even a little bit know the hardest, stinkiest thing about living in Nebraska is that it is way too far (618.80 miles from our driveway to mom and dad’s) from my entire family who all live within a half hour of each other.

after showering and getting ready on friday, october 7th, i cam downstair to check on how things were going for brad and the girls.  i was beyond shocked to make it halfway down the stairs and find my mom, dad, sister, and brother-in-law coming through the front door at that very moment. apparently brad had been planning this with them for months without any knowledge of it on my end.

it was the perfect surprise.  with laurel’s birthday (especially her 1st birthday) right on the heels of mine, i figured my birthday has kinda taken on a different look.  but, this surprise weekend with my family totally proved that wrong.  they planned and fixed several of my very favorite meals, made my favorite birthday cake (chocolate chip cheese cake), brought me flowers, and reminded me of how much i am loved.

here are a few pictures from our weekend together:

zooing with the cousins


we usually make it to the zoo just enough times each year to come out just ahead on what we paid for our zoo pass vs. what it would have costed to go those few times.  already since the new season started in april or so we’ve made it more times than we normally make it in an entire year.  it always surprises me that the kids are anxious and excited to go yet again but glad they enjoy it so much.  we wanted to make sure we made it to the zoo with ann and the cousins at least once this summer while they are on summer break so we arranged to go this past week.

{i didn’t even realize our zoo a zebra until this year!  this was the first trip i actually remembered to go see it.}

{although jilly checked the animals, her priority was definitely flower finding.}

{this might have also been the first time i’ve ever checked out the cheetahs.}

{kara’s favorite:  bears!}

{lunchtime under the big red umbrella}

my favorite visitors


a couple weeks ago my parents braved the flooding detours and headed our way for a much needed visit.  it had officially been over 6 months since we’d seen them.  it’s definitely fun to have the biggers to get super excited with me as we anticipate their coming two or three times a year.  although i didn’t have a thousand things planned this time around we still seemed to be on the go quite a bit.  i was super thankful for my mom’s help in some of my sewing projects i’d been stalled out on.  we also made our obligatory trip to a flower nursery.  mom and i spent a couple of hours at the zoo with the kids which is always fun.  we also did a first and got a baby sitter while they were here so just brad, myself, mom, and dad could go out to dinner together.  why we hadn’t done this on any previous trips is beyond me because it was a lot of fun to get out with just them.

birthday #5 for naters


yesterday was the day we’d been anxiously counting down towards for way too long.  i had asked brad a while back if he’d consider taking the day off since next year nate will have school on his birthday.  i really wanted to make the most of this birthday since we still have him home for now.  by the end of yesterday we were all exhausted!

we started the day off at our favorite donut shop: lamar’s where nate picked a long john for himself just like his daddy always has.  in the end he offered some to jilly all on his own because he just couldn’t quite finish!

we then headed home for some present opening:

then it was off to the zoo to watch born to be wild at the imax (which was amazing and will be seen again hopefully since imax is free with our zoo membership this year) and see a few animals (although i don’t have a picture of it because i was holding laurel, nate got to pet a penguin!):

after leaving we grabbed a late lunch and headed home for some quiet time.  after quiet time nate got to try out one of his new toys and was just a little excited about it:

after a favorite dinner of tortellini with chicken, crescent rolls, and broccoli, we celebrated with chocolate chip cookies (we’ll have cake when we celebrate saturday).  we had to make due with a 4+1 candle setup since i hadn’t gotten a 5 yet:

then it was time to open presents with grammy and grandpa (my parents) over skype (gotta love technology!!!):

after all that, it was upstair for one final picture before bed and bath:

happy 5th birthday naters!  we love you and hope you had an amazing day!!!

family fun fridays – zoo!!!


friday we decided we would put our soon expiring zoo pass to use.  we of course have our new season pass already in hand, but we wanted to get a little more use out of the old one.  we only made it to the zoo as a family once last summer even though i went a few times and the kids several times.  it was a lot of fun to see how much more comfortable nate is becoming with different things at the zoo that use to make him nervous.  he use to hate the aquarium because of having to walk under the sharks in the tunnel – friday we sat in the tunnel for 10-15 minutes watching them swim all around us.  he also use to not even want to look at the snakes – friday i heard him exclaim, “coooool!  a huge snake!”   we had a pretty limited time span between when we got there and when we needed to leave for naptime so picture taking was very minimal.  we’re definitely looking forward to going again soon though!

family fun fridays


we love fridays.

because brad works sundays, he’s able to take fridays as a day off.  most of the time over the past 4+ years he’s been at kok we use them to get things done that must get done.  it’s all good and well meaning, but it usually is more focused on brad and i than on the kids or family.  we’ve decided that with less than a year until we lose nate’s ability to be around on fridays due to kindergarten, fridays need to be more family focused.  our prayer is that God will provide inexpensive ways for us to do something special with the kids each/most fridays.

with brad having only been once this summer, myself twice, and the kids 4 times, we decided it was time for a family trip to the zoo.  when talking with jilly yesterday about our trip, i asked her what she wanted to see at the zoo.  her response was, “monkeys, ooo-ooo-aaa-aaa!, tigers, and bears!”  we were able to see a ton of monkeys, the tigers (including the new baby), and we promised to see the bears in a few weeks when we hope to go back.  nate’s request was to see the giraffe and to go through the aquarium, both of which we did.

we took a ton of pictures.  the zoo is one of my favorite places to pull out my long lens (thanks for the hand-me-down, mom and dad!) and take closer up shot of animal.  we also got some good shots of all of us too.

{we started our zoo time with a trip through the jungle in order to see lots of monkeys.}

{for once jilly was not in a “take my picture” mood.  probably because it was close to naptime by the time we got to the zoo.}

{nate thought about following brad and jilly, but opted to go around the other way with me.}

{i didn’t even realize until we got home that these guys have a baby between them!}

{this would be when i switched from my regular lens to my long one.}

{love those eyes!}

{. . . and this is what happens when your husband asks to take pictures for a while. . .}

{more giraffe butt!  oh, yeah and me with the kids.}

{we forgot to grab him a map which made him rather upset, but he always checked these maps each time he saw one.}

{more monkeys for jilly.}

{running.  gotta catch up with daddy and nate.}

{the older of the two gorilla babies – so cute!}

{this litte gal has only been out on exhibit for two weeks.  i was super excited to get to see her while she was still so small.}

{apparently jilly’s bow was mistaken for a flower by this butterfly who hitched a ride on her bow for quite a while.}

{did i mention that it was a perfect day for the zoo?  low 70s, sunny, and breezy.  gorgeous!}

in the plans for next friday’s family fun friday:  use the free bowling passes we got at the royals game on monday evening!

zoo time!


i didn’t intend to not blog the past few days, but i just didn’t have anything to say and hadn’t taken any new pictures.

we headed to the zoo today with a couple of other families which were in seminary at the same time as us and have ended up with calls here.  it was a  good first trip of the spring/summer season.  we were able to check out the new madagascar expedition exhibit.  it was well done and not nearly as chaotic as last year’s new butterfly exhibit was in the first few months.

(brad did pretty well with this picture which includes me – not too often i crawl out from behind the camera)



nater’s class had their one field trip of the year today.  we met up with his class at the boystown farm to see some good ol’ farm animals.  nate was his usual self and kinda kept his distance.  he was more concerned with keeping his ears covered because of the noise and watching out so he didn’t step in animal poop.  he did pet a bunny and a baby goat, and fed the larger goats.  i had to laugh when he got super excited and said, “those are some nice looking fields, mom!”  he then proceeded to ask our farmer tour guide if they’d been planted yet because he thought they had.  i think when it comes to farming he’s definitely more interested in the crops/tractors side of things than the animal side.  good thing too, since gma and gpa only have crops on their farm!

checking out some baby ducks

about as close as he cared to get to the cows

shockingly he grabbed some grass and fed this friendly guy