Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Last Leg of Our Oklahoma Trip (I told you we were gone a long time!)

When I go by myself from Iowa to Oklahoma, we stop and spend the night halfway. It is just too far for me to drive with the kids. I think we could do it if we had to, but since we haven't had to, I don't attempt it! Well, halfway from here to home there is not anything. Nothing, nada. The drive from Des Moines to Kansas City is the worst drive I have ever had to do. So, we usually stay in the Kansas City area. We got to Kansas City early in the afternoon since we were coming from Tulsa, and I was so excited. Every time we drive through there I want to stop and explore, but we are always ready to see our family, or go home, so we don't stop. Since I wasn't in a big hurry to get home, we explored. We had a really nice evening, the weather was perfect and I love just being with my kids. No agenda, no plans, just seeing what we can find. These are some of my favorite times.

Nana Charlene had packed us a lunch so the first stop was at a park to eat What I didn't realize when we parked was that the majority of the park was roped off. Apparently they were remodeling it. So, we found a ledge and enjoyed our lunch. The kids didn't mind, anything to get out of the car!

I have always wanted to go to the Federal Reserve Museum in Kansas City. It started when we lived in Springfield, MO and we were researching outings to Kansas City. Kellen has always been fascinated with money. Not just making it, but coins, the origins, etc. So, I have always thought he would enjoy it. So, this was our next stop. We really enjoyed it! It is free and small, so perfect for a little outing or stop off if you are traveling through. They have the Harry S. Truman coin collection on display. Coins from every Presidency since Washington. So cool! Then they have the vault. This of course was the highlight of the visit. You can't take pictures of this part so you'll just have to trust me. It was really amazing to see it all at work. They have robots that put the money in and take the money out of the vault. Even Callie loved this part. She loved watching the robot disappear and reappear. She woud wait so patiently to see one then get so excited to see it come out of the vault. We spent about an hour which was just about right.

Kellen and Garrett. They were trying to do their best serious Presidential faces!

Garrett and Gannon

FYI, if you ever venture to this area, there is a World War II Museum right next door with beautiful grounds for a picnic. We knew the WWII Museum was there, but didn't realize we were so close until we walked out. We didn't get to do this since it was closing time, maybe next time!
After the Federal Reserve Museum we drove around a little trying to decide what to do. When we saw California Pizza Kitchen, our evening was decided, we were stopping at Country Club Plaza! We love California Pizza Kitchen! It's nice to have at least one child that will eat something besides hamburger or pepperoni! Kellen and I share the California Club pizza, chicken, bacon, tomatoes, avocados, lettuce, even mayo! We love it!

After dinner we walked around the Plaza and shopped some. The wonderful thing about this is that I don't think the boys knew they were shopping! Since it was outside and it was a beautiful night, they were enjoying themselves as well. In the above picture the boys are teaching Callie how to throw coins in the fountain with live music in the background. So fun!

Ending the evening with chocolate ice cream! Yum!

Friday, August 21, 2009

Oklahoma, Tulsa Visit

We divided up our time in Tulsa with some days at the beginning of the trip and days at the end of the trip. Of course at the beginning of the trip, I didn't take out the camera. So, I didn't get any pictures of our visit with Chadd (Todd's brother), Natalie, Karlee, and Kymree. I'm just sick about it. We all had such a nice visit. The kids all love playing together and the day we visited was no exception. Roy and Charlene had also invited over some of our friends the Swaims to eat lunch with us. It was such a nice visit. We usually don't get to spend much time with them when we are in town. They have three great kids Mackenzie, Ellie, and Eli. Eli is Garrett's age and they have been best buds since they were in preschool together at Park Plaza. They were just barely one! We got to spend time with Nanny Edith and enjoyed visiting with her and seeing how well she was doing after breaking her hip in February. And of course Charlene and I did some shopping. We love to go. Well, I should say I love to go and she tags along. The best part was going to Kathleen's Kids and stocking up on hairbows for Callie. This is the place to go. They have every color of ribbon and every size and they are a great price. Let's just say Callie won't be needing bows for a very long time! :) I was so excited. You can hardly buy bows in Iowa :(

On the way home when we stopped in Tulsa again and were able to see Glenn (Todd's brother), Kerry, Taryn, and Jack. They had been at camp the first time we came through. We always love spending time with them as well. The kids have a great time together. Our kids are so blessed to have so many cousins close in age on both sides of the family. They have so many great memories already and I know there are more to come! Again, I didn't take any pictures. But...I am borrowing some Kerry sent to Charlene :) . (Hope that is ok Kerry!) She always takes a lot of great pictures of all of our activities!

A trip to Tulsa wouldn't be complete without a visit to the "finest restaurant". Yes, it is a hot dog place. The first time we were moving to Tulsa with kids Todd was trying to build it up big and he told them we would eat at fine restaurants. Well, the first place we ate was the hot dog place and Kellen, who was four at the time asked if this was the finest restaurant. So that it has become and the name has stuck after all these years. So much so I can't even remember the name! Uncle Glenn, Jack, Kellen, Gannon, Garrett, and Taryn are in the picture. I have to brag and say that two people stopped and said what nice kids we had. I have to agree!

After we got home Glenn and Kerry took the kids to the playground at the neighborhood school behind Nana and Poppa's house. They had such a good time!

Gannon and Taryn at the playground.

Uncle Glenn and Gannon

Kellen, Taryn, Garrett, and Jack

And Gannon again, just such a sweet picture!

All in all, a great trip to Oklahoma! We really had a great time with everyone and enjoyed catching up. Can't wait to visit again!

Oklahoma, Shawnee Visit

We were in Oklahoma a looong time. Not complaining, but we were busy! We were able to be around this year for the annual Whitlow Family Reunion. It was so nice to see so many family members. There was a really big group this year so we picked a great year to come! Of course, I didn't take a picture. I just don't think to take my camera out, I have to get better about this!

Before the reunion we made a trip to Oklahoma City to pick up supplies and we were able to go to Ryan's house and have lunch with him. We had a nice visit and ate some yummy pizza. I don't remember the name of the place but it was some kind of "New York" pizza by the slice. It was like New York pizza only they actually had places to sit!

These pictures are from the second half of the Shawnee visit. I had really been wanting to take Callie to the Oklahoma City Zoo. It is in my opinion, the best zoo! Of course, this is the zoo that I grew up going to and have taken all my kids too, except Callie. I knew it was a long shot since Oklahoma in July and August can be a tad hot. Well, God is good. He blessed us with a cooler day that was perfect zoo weather. We had the best time. Callie loves animals and she really enjoyed it. The boys hung in there. The big boys are getting a little past zoo activities, Gannon doesn't really care for animals, but they had a good time.

Callie talking to the white peacock.

Look how close the lions were! We've never been there when they were this close and this active for this long. I think all the animals were excited about the weather.

Lion and Callie having a stare down.

I'm not sure what this was about, but since it looks like I a sweet moment so I had to include it. I'm sure right after this someone was punching someone!

Callie looking at the rhinoceros. This is one of the oldest parts left at the zoo. They have done so much remodeling in recent years it doesn't look much like the zoo I used to go to, but the elephant/rhino area is about the same. Except no elephants! The two elephants are at the Tulsa Zoo hoping to have baby elephants. Oh well.

The obligatory statue picture. I have pictures of all my kids at different times on different animals at the OKC Zoo. Glad I got to get one with Callie!

We opted not to eat at the zoo. Been there, done that, not interested in doing it again! So, we drove over to Pops. A fairly new attraction in Arcadia, OK that sells every kind of pop you can imagine. As well as being a restaurant and gas station. It is on Route 66 so there is a lot of traffic and has turned into quite popular place from what I understand. We had a good time there and the food was really good. The boys loved picking out pop. We don't normally drink pop, at least the kids don't, so this was really a treat for them.
Apparently Garrett has had a little too much Dublin Dr. Pepper!

Outside of Pops

Down the street from Pops is the Round Barn. This has been there forever, I've always heard of it but I don't think I've ever been there. Callie of course chose to swing from the railings. This is always her preferred activity if there is something handy to swing on !

We finished of this particular day by going to Clay's house and going to dinner. Cousin Mallori, Callie and Cousin Madison at Clay's house.

Cousin Mason and Gannon. I guess by the looks of Gannon's thumb he has just hitched a ride on Mason's trike!
Clay tickling the little boys. Some things never change!

Look at this good-looking group! They are getting too big in my opinion. I'm really trying to figure out to get time to stop :(.

At the end of the night they opted for a group hug!

This was the day we were leaving Shawnee. Grandma had gotten all the kids Pop's t-shirts. Don't they look cute!

I always wait to the last minute of the last day to get a picture of the kids with their grandparents or whoever we are visiting. Of course this doesn't ever work because someone doesn't want to cooperate and you don't have a chance to do it later. Oh well! Grandma and Grandpa with the kids in front of Grandma and Grandpa's house.
Mama and Callie gearing up for another car trip.
How cute is this. I rolled the windows down and Callie was screaming bye all the way down the road. Can you see all the little waves in the car?

We had such a nice trip. Again, I wish I had taken more pictures. I am not good at remembering to get my camera out. We got to spend a lot of time with a lot of family. It is always so hard to leave. After three year we realized how far away we actually live.

It's ok, I promise we'll come back!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Bathing Beauty

Old pics, but I just had to share! Several weeks ago we had a free day and it was warm enough in Iowa to swim. Neither of those happen very often! I forgot my camera so I took these with my phone when we were getting out of the car. Have you ever seen anything so cute?!
This is the first time Callie has been swimming at a pool. (her little backyard pool doesn't count!) She of course loved it. Bettendorf has a public pool complete with water slides, diving boards, kiddie area, the works. Kellen and Garrett took off for "big kid stuff" so Gannon, Callie and I explored stuff for their ages. Right off the bat I took Callie down a slide that she could ride on my lap. In my attempt to keep her from going under water too much, I scraped my knees along the bottom of the pool. Not good. Blood running down, a whole big mess. I had to fill out an accident report and get bandaged up by the lifeguards before I could go back in. So lovely!
So, Gannon gets the big brother of the day award. He helped Callie the whole time. There was a little slide that she could do by herself, she just doesn't get the wait your turn thing yet. So Gannon, bless his heart, would go with her up the steps and hold onto her with all his might until it was her turn. I don't know how many times he did this. He was so patient and never complained. I was so proud of him :)! We were able to go into the kiddie pool and let them swim around. Everyone had a great time. Callie was not scared one bit. I didn't need to sacrifice my knees to keep her from going under! Hopefully we'll have time to go at least once more before summer is over. They close up pretty soon since schools are starting.
I think I am caught up on pictures up to our vacations. Hopefully I'll be able to post about them next. We had a BUSY few weeks, but got to do a lot and see a lot of people. A couple of more weeks, then school is starting. Where did the summer go?!

One, two, three strikes, your done!

Well, this post has been saved on my computer for quite some time, I got the pictures done but couldn't seem to sit down and talk about them. Then, it was time for vacations, so I am just now back in the swing of things! (hee, hee)

Baseball season is finally over. It is always bittersweet. The boys love playing and most of the time I enjoy watching them. But, I really don't like the short days we have during baseball season. We have to eat dinner by four then get to the fields, just about every night of the week. So, it gets a little old. We are used to a pretty good routine and I think everyone is missing it by the end of the season. This year Kellen was on a pretty good team so we didn't think his season was ever going to be over! We had more rain outs than usual so the ending date just kept getting pushed back. Finally, two days after we were supposed to leave for a vacation to Oklahoma, after watching it rain all morning, I told Kellen he was done. He ended on a good note, he played well in the last games that he played and the team won 10-0. So, mama pulled the plug! His team ended up finishing third in the final tournament which is where I would have guessed for them to finish, with or without Kellen, so it's all good :). He had a good team but also good coaches and good boys to play with. Last year, that was not the case. If you are wanting to write a book on how not to coach a kid's sports team, I'll give you the number for the coach he had last year! It was the worst! So, win or no win, this year was a huge success!

Garrett's team was not so lucky. This was his first year of kid pitch. There is always a lot of adjusting for the pitchers and the batters. I think his team only one two games. But, Garrett did well, and he had nice coaches and teammates, so we were very happy. He was so bummed when his team was done. He is a kid that would play ball every day, all day, for the rest of his life!

Garrett running the bases.

Garrett hitting.

Garrett crossing home plate. Woo hoo!

Garrett getting checked out by one of his coaches after he got hit by a pitch. This happened at least once a game if not five times!

Garrett playing catcher. He is a great catcher. It always cracks me up to see him in his catching gear. Not much unprotected by the time he gets all of this on!

Garrett making a catch. He played a lot of positions. But, mainly second, shortstop, pitcher and catcher. He always does a great job at any position he plays. He did great at pitcher considering it was the first year he could pitch. He loved it!

Kellen ready for the game!

Kellen pitching. (I took this with my phone, so it's a little hard to see, but it's him!)

Kellen running the bases.

Kellen waiting for some action. He normally played second base and right field. This year he also started pitching. He did a great job! It was so nice to have a coach that would let me them learn new positions.

Kellen batting.
Kellen was chosen this year to the all-star team. There were four players from his team. They put two on one team and two on another team. Kellen's team run ruled the team they were playing! Since it was an all-star game they don't quit, they just play a second game. Well, they won that game too! It was a really fun day. Hot, but fun! They league sets up sound systems, which they don't normally do. They introduce the players, play music, announce plays, have programs, etc. It is a lot of fun. Lots of extra people come to watch. Garrett was an all-star last year, so we knew what to expect this year. Like get there early to get a seat or you won't be able to see! The coaches rotated around the boys in their usual positions. Kellen did a great job. He was put at first base for a while, which he had not played all season. I was so nervous. I always worry that they don't know what to do. Of course, they do. He made some great plays and knew exactly what to do when he got the ball.

Kellen and his teammate Ryan on the all-star team.
Kellen batting in the all-star game.

Kellen, Ryan, Jacob, and Griffin, the RIBCO All-Stars with their medals.

All in all, a great season. We're looking forward to next year. Gannon is convinced he will be playing as well. We'll see. I don't know if he'll be old enough for the league we play in since he has a May birthday, but we'll see. I'm not bringing it up since he is so excited. Maybe he'll forget over the winter! I don't know if I am ready to juggle three ball schedules! I'll have you know I only mixed up fields once this summer, so I am getting better. And, I didn't get lost going to any of the games or practices! Also an improvement from the last couple of seasons!

I thought this was a fitting picture for the end of a baseball season with so much rain! The last week we played we ended up under the pavilion waiting for a short storm to pass. When we left there were two rainbows. I only got one in the picture. Gannon was so excited. He said this was the first rainbow he remembered ever seeing. I love rainbows. I think it is such a great reminder of God's promises. A promise that we can actually see today. It is such a good thing for little ones to see since it is hard to explain trusting in God's promises. Once they have seen a rainbow, then you always have a reference when talking about God's promises. Thank you God!