Sunday, July 19, 2009

The Great Show-Me State Adventure

Did you ever wonder why Missouri is called the Show-Me State? I wondered it myself just a few moments ago. So I googled it. How did we ever know anything before Google? Anyway, what I discovered was some terribly boring sentence (yes, it only took one measly sentence to tell the tale) about a congressman and a speech he made and blah blah blah now MO is the Show-Me State. Yawn. I'm a little sad for MO now because I'm sure that somewhere somewhen something exciting must've happened that could've yielded a better story and nickname. Oh well. I did, however, learn that Missouri's state insect is the honeybee. Yes! You read that right! They have a state insect! "What a funny little state," I thought. Then it occurred to me that maybe every state has an official insect. So I looked up TX. Yep. Ours is the Monarch butterfly. And our state gemstone is the blue topaz! Who knew?! And WHO decided these things? The Governor? The Committee for Official State Nonsense? My tax dollars probably paid for that committee meeting.

SO, the fam and I have just returned from a week spent in the Honeybee State where we experienced as much as we could pack in to 6 days!

First we visited the boys' great-grandmother in OK.

The next day my in-laws took us down to float the Elk River in Noel, MO. Who knew you could have SO much fun in 7.5 inches of water?? Okay, so maybe it was a little deeper in some (most) places, but it was definitely low and we found our rears dragging the bottom as often as not! The boys were in heaven though. My MIL found some cheapie swim goggles for them and they both spent every moment they could face down in the water trying to catch minnows and searching for the perfect river rock to take home. I also made two important discoveries on this journey: One, when the river is low, don't choose the raft. The canoe is MUCH easier to handle when the water is dead calm. Second, Matt takes his river rafting veeeerrrry seriously. The first 5 minutes went something like this...

"Hey Ang, this'll go better if we work together."
"Uh, Ang, let's try to establish some sort of rhythm here."
"That's not a rhythm."
"Could you maybe do the same number of strokes on each side?"
"You're making us go in circles!"
**grumbling, a big sigh, and possibly a growl**
"Okay, just PUT the oar down. Put it DOWN!"

Note to Self: Ride in the in-laws boat next year.

During the few moments we were not out experiencing the wonders of MO, the boys were in the yard playing the sport of the moment. Baseball. Yes, G is hitting a miniature soccer ball. Little boys don't seem to care what you throw at them as long as they're allowed to swing at it w/ a bat.

And yes, behind the gate, that's a cow...AKA Dinner Next Year.

Now, as if cramming 6 of us + luggage into one vehicle and driving 10 hours to the southwestern corner of MO wasn't insane enough, we promptly crammed BACK into the vehicle, the boys' great-grandparents we were visiting crammed into another vehicle, and we all drove on up to St. Louis.

First stop, The Magic House! Think Science Spectrum but with working exhibits. And on steroids. Times 10!! It was phenomenal! And really crowded. I mean really crowded. But the boys didn't care. If you're ever in St. Louis, you MUST take your kids to see this place. And if you don't have kids, grab one on your way out of the restaurant and take HIM to see this place.

This one just speaks for itself:

Grandma and the boys (notice J's reflection in the glass) talking to the fish:

J tumbling down a slide that stretched from the top of the house to the bottom...3 stories tall!!
There was also a huge beanstalk that stretched up 3 stories that the kids could climb and about a bazillion other cool things to see and do. The boys are still asking to go back!

The next day was packed with a trip to Grant's Farm, a fabulous dinner on The Hill (if God were Italian, The Hill would be Heaven), and a Cardinals game.

Here's G brushing the baby goat at Grant's Farm. Notice the baby goat munching his shirt for lunch.

J on the carousel after convincing him that riding a dragon is NOT a baby thing to do...

Busch Stadium is most excellent...notice the arch mown into the field.

Here is Pujols...the boys' new idol. He hit 2 homeruns that night and G hasn't stopped jabbering about them since.

On our last day in St. Louis, Saturday, we went to the zoo. Well, we tried to go to the zoo. Apparently everybody else in the city thought that visiting a free zoo on a Saturday morning was a good idea too. So we ditched that idea and headed for the Gateway Arch. Great googly-moogly. Have you ever actually SEEN that thing in person? I had not prior to yesterday. And I am still stunned. I had no idea it was so enormous and quite frankly, so breathtaking. It's 630 feet tall! That's more than twice as tall as the Statue of Liberty! Taller even than the Washington Monument!!

So I'm sure you're now wondering if we went to the top! Well, we tried. We stood in a line that was about as long as the arch was tall. An hour later we finally get into the museum (under the arch) only to discover that we'll have to wait another few hours to get a ride to the top. Apparently the 148,792 people that ditched the zoo idea like we did also thought the arch would be a feasible alternative. Oh well. It was impressive enough just to see it up close!

Friday, July 10, 2009

Ghetto Chicken

I think it's official. My happy little neighborhood is now my happy little ghetto. Now, maybe you're thinking I shouldn't be so taken aback by this. Maybe you're thinking, "Hey Angie! Remember that one time some drunken fool ran his car into your mailbox sending obliterated bits of black metal and a little red flag flying across your yard? And the neighbor's yard? And part of the street? And remember that time the hoodlums used the paint on Matt's truck for target practice until they got up enough skill to take out it's back window? Or what about that time someone broke into your next-door neighbor's house and stole all his stuff? Or that time there was a suspected homicide at the house around the corner?"

Yes. I obviously should've put two and two together sometime ago. But I didn't. Until now. And here's what put it all into perspective for me. Chicken. I don't often shop at the happy grocery store around the corner from my house. It's possible I might be a bit persnickity about some food items, so I spend a lot of time at the big store on the south side of town where they sell Stacy's Cinnamon Sugar Pita Chips.

Anyway, I was not buying pita chips on Ghetto Revelation Day, so I ran into the aforementioned store right by my house to pick up one of those rotisserie chickens for dinner. Not as good as pita chips, but tasty nonetheless. Now, after I've paid and am reaching for my chicken, the checker guy grabs it up and says, "Hold on Ma'am. Don't want you to set off the alarm." And he starts rubbing my chicken (it's in a container) around in frantic circles on the checkout counter. What?? Seriously! My chicken had a security device stuck on the know, like when you buy a piece of high-dollar electronic equipment and they have to deactivate the security tag before you leave so you don't get tackled by an employee on the way out the door. My chicken! My CHICKEN! I'm living in the midst of chicken thieves! THAT, my friends, is ghetto. But on a much less stressful note, the fam and I were able to escape the Chicken Ghetto for a short while last week and spend the 4th with our families. I LOVE the 4th! It just doesn't get any better than sticky-sweet little boys, parades, slip-n-slides, hot dogs and cold beer!!

Here's G singing Lee Greenwood's 'God Bless the USA'. I think he was trying to ensure the people across the canyon could hear him as well.

Me snuggling my budding vocalist

The boys, Daddy, Papa, the neighbor, and Papa's festive Jeep in the LRC Parade

Cutie pie

Tough guys at Grandma and Grandpa's

I have a several shot series of each of the boys slipping and sliding (Action mode on the camera ROCKS!) but I thought it best not to bore you with allllll the pics since you've already suffered through the chicken story

Playing football w/ the boys...tradition at Grandma and Papa's