Sunday, March 23, 2014

A Late Night Snack

Last night, after everyone had gone to bed, Kerry and I were discussing the possibility of making pancakes for breakfast.

That made us hungry.

We both talked about wanting to get up, go downstairs, and eat something, but we try not to eat late at night so we each said several times, "I'm a little hungry, but I'm fine, I'm not going to eat anything."

We were both really craving pancakes by that time.  One of us (I don't remember who) said, "We should go to IHOP sometime for breakfast.  We haven't been there in ages."

"I'd go to IHOP right now if you wanted to."

We joked about it a few minutes, both of us knowing we would never do it.

The next thing I know, Kerry popped out of bed and said, "I'm going to see if the girls want to go."

I didn't even get out of bed.  I wasn't really sure he was serious, and I also thought the girls might say no.  They like their sleep and will usually choose to continue sleeping rather than pretty much anything else.

Kerry came back in our bedroom and announced, "All right, we're going!"

I jumped up and started pulling on some jeans when I heard the girls talking right outside our bedroom door.  I opened the door and they were standing there huddled together, talking.  They look at me with hopeful expressions and said, "Is he serious?  Are we really going out to eat?"

"Yep!" I responded with a grin.  They squealed with delight and took off.

We all yanked on clothes and headed for the car, the girls giggling like we had just announced an impromptu trip to Disneyworld.  

We quickly discovered that IHOP was closed* so we headed to Denny's instead.  We really wanted breakfast food and we looked like poor white trash so we couldn't go someplace nicer.

The girls were so tickled by this late night trip, they vowed to make sure they do this with their kids one day which made me and Kerry start sharing some of our favorite memories growing up.  

Kerry started talking about a favorite memory of when his mother made homemade pretzels.  "It was pouring rain, we couldn't go outside, and there was nothing to do....." 

"Did a big black cat walk in on his hind legs and start talking?" Katie interrupted.

"What.....?" Kerry was baffled.

Emily laughed, "Dad!  You just quoted the first few lines of 'Cat In The Hat'!"

We had some of the best laughs we've had in a long time last night.  I don't know what it was about doing something so common, but at a different time of day than we ever have that made it seem so hilarious but boy, did we have a good time.

"Why haven't we been doing this all along?" the girls asked.

"Well, when you were younger, by the time we got you kids wrangled into bed, we were exhausted, and the thought of getting you up and then going through all that again was not appealing.  Just wait until you have kids, you'll understand!"

But now that everyone is old enough to get themselves back to bed (stuffed like ticks, no less) this might be a more common occurrence. 

And it just goes to show......when it's too much effort to get up and walk downstairs to make yourself a snack, it's perfectly acceptable to get in the car and drive across town for moons over my hammy.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Pass the Milk!

Emily has been sick a lot lately - headaches, losing weight, nausea.  We've been to the doctor and she's had lots of tests done trying to pinpoint the problem.  

While we haven't yet pinpointed the cause of her illness, we did discover that her milk allergy has reduced markedly.    The allergist told her she could definitely start eating foods that are baked with milk ingredients in them.  Cakes, cookies, donuts - look out!

She'll have to go back at a later date to actually drink a glass of milk while they observe her to see if she reacts.  

We promptly headed out to Olive Garden so Emily could have a breadstick.

Her joy knew no bounds!

After which, she promptly felt sick.

Friday, March 14, 2014

St Louis Zoo

This is another post I just never got around to finishing.  Unfortunately, I didn't write anything on the pictures at the time and I don't remember much about it.  Ben was with us, so this was clearly a looooooong time ago.  And we're all wearing jackets and closed toed shoes, so it wasn't a summer visit.  I have no idea what we were doing going to the zoo on a cold day.

Anyway, here are some old pictures of the zoo......

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Grant's Farm

Last summer, while Ben and Emily were in Hawaii, Kerry and I took Katie to Grant's Farm in St Louis.  I got sidetracked with information overload and never finished this post.  Fortunately, I had uploaded all the photos and written headers for them with the basic details of the day.  It was when I was trying to pad it with additional details scrounged from the internet that I frizzled myself wondering how much to include in a blog post.  Just recently, I was looking back through blog posts and found six or seven that I started but never finished.  This is one of those:

Something you just don't expect to find in the middle of a city as big as St Louis is a 281-acre farm with a wildlife preserve, an acrobatic elephant, Clydesdales, a llama (which can end up figuring prominently in your visit), a mini-zoo,  and some of the best bratwursts to ever meet a pretzel bun.

But that's what you'll find at Grant's Farm - named for Ulysses S Grant who at one time owned and farmed a portion of the land.  It originally belonged to the family of his wife, Julia Dent Grant, and her father gave them 80-acres of it as a wedding gift.  It was later owned by the Busch family (of Budweiser fame, not of presidential fame - different spelling you know) and their 6,300 square-foot mansion is still on the property.  You can get a glimpse of it through the trees if you ride the tram.  My understanding is that Grant's Farm is now owned by InBev who conducted a hostile takeover of Anheuser-Busch in 2008.

(Okay, I'll confess, this is the point where I got hung up and never got this post up.  I was looking around on the internet trying to find out the history of the mansion and came upon a tale of murder, mystery and mayhem which took up so much time and twirled my brain around until I just never made it back to finish writing this until now.  And I'm not going to tell you either, go look it up.  It should be a novel, or a made-for-tv movie.)

It's really quite pretty and peaceful.  You'll see some great views while riding the tram.

Hardscrabble - the farm the Grants built and lived in briefly.

The fence is actually made of bayonets from old rifles.  Some of them still have the sights on the end.

You can pay to get a baby bottle to feed the goats.

The goats are like little contortionists when it comes to getting to that bottle!

The goats will also screech like they're being murdered if you try to take the bottle away to share it with a different goat.  Just trust me on this one - pick one goat and stick with it until the bottle is empty.

There's a carousel, which we didn't try because our kids are not little enough to think it's cool.


Tortoises.  Tortai?

Little German village where we got the best bratwurst I've ever had in my life.

Of course, we had the *ahem* diet plate of bratwurst on pretzel buns with fries and German potato salad.  I'd skip the potato salad next time.  It was good, but this was way too much food.  But don't miss out on those brats.  I'm not kidding.

This particular llama sneezed (not spit - sneezed right in Kerry's face).  Kerry was not pleased, but Katie and I laughed and laughed and laughed.  Kerry had to run immediately to a bathroom to wash his face. He still said he smelled like llama butt all day.

There is also a building where you can see all the old Budweiser wagons.

And awards that the Clydesdales have won.

There is an elephant show - my favorite.  I don't know when I started to love elephants so much (real ones, I don't want to start collecting elephant figurines) but I do.  They fascinate me.  This one could balance a treat on his trunk before eating it!

And he walked on a balance beam!

We went to an exotic animal show.  This pig rolled out a red carpet.

A roller skating parrot.


A rat on the head of an audience member who did not know he was volunteering for this!

The best part was that the smell of horses in a stable completely overshadowed the smell of llama butt!

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Found A Friend

I caught Ringo snuggling up with a friend....

Monday, March 10, 2014

New Phone

Kerry has a new phone.  It's a snazzy, high-speed, touch-screen, voice-activated, magical, bibbidy-bobbidy-boo kind of a phone.

He's having fun playing with it and figuring out all that it can do.  Frankly, we're all playing with it a little bit.  I'm fascinated with the camera.  It takes really good shots.  I've had an iPhone for a few years, and I'm pretty good with technology.  I can usually figure out how any new gizmo works, and I know how to read instructions.

The kids say that watching Kerry try to figure out technology is like watching a fish flop around in a boat.  (He uses two fingers to type at the computer, and one finger to type a text - I'm serious.)

So Kerry was fiddling around with his phone yesterday trying to look up an address.  He was griping about how aggravating it was  to try to look up something on his phone.

"Well," I replied with some sass, "You could go in there to the computer and look it up a lot faster, and also not use up as much of your data time on your phone."

"Well," he replied back with more sass, "A good wife would go in there and look up the information for me!"

"But you'll never learn to do these things yourself if I keep doing them for you.  You know what they say, 'Give a man a fish......'".

"And he'll smack his wife with that fish and then tell her to cook it!"

Friday, March 7, 2014

Searching for Eagles

This past weekend, we went out searching for eagles.

Oddly enough, Alton, IL is one of the best areas in the country to spot American Bald Eagles as they migrate.

If I were any sort of bird, and I could fly anywhere I wanted, Illinois would not be where I headed - just saying.  But I'm glad they do, because we are here and we got to see them!

Our first stop was the Treehouse Wildlife Center in Dow, IL.  This center rescues and rehabilitates wild animals.  Those that can not be rehabilitated enough to be released back in to the wild are given a home for life.

And it's free.  We gave a donation, but there is no cost for stopping by and seeing the animals if you need a cheap date.

We got to meet a woodpecker who was rat-a-tat-tatting away on the wood in his cage.

Snakes.  I don't remember what type these were.  If Kerry were here, I could ask him.  He would totally know.  All snakes are just 'snakes' to me but that man of mine treats them like his old college buddies.  He loves snakes and knows them all by name.  Whenever we get to the reptile house at any zoo, that's when the kids and I know we will get to sit and rest for a while because Kerry is going to take his time and we will be there a looooooong while.

An up close personal view of a turkey buzzard which has to be one of the homeliest creatures I've ever seen.  It's nostrils form a hole all the way through the top of its beak. He glared at us a lot and I think he thought my nose looked weird too.

Turtle.  I think it's a red-eared slider.

Get it?

My favorite animals were the eagles of course.  They didn't have any elephants, or that would have been my favorite, as usual.  But I don't usually get to see eagles this close.  They really do look fierce - just like Sam the Eagle on the Muppet Show.

They had a cool door.  I loved the colors.

I may become one of those people who takes pictures of cool doors.

An owl with eyes so black he looked like he eats souls for breakfast.

Luckily it was lunch time while we were there.

Kerry's favorite - a hawk.  We've nearly run smack into many a semi-truck because Kerry was saying, "Look at that hawk!" 

 This is usually echoed by me screeching, "Look at the road!"


Owl who was pretending to sleep, but was totally peeping at us with one eye.

A coyote with what looked like a serious case of mange.

This fox wasn't saying nothin'!

Afterwards, we stopped by the river in Alton.  The chunks of ice were floating down the river, and eagles were landing on the chunks and floating on them.  It was really cool!

We saw six eagles while we were standing on the banks.  One woman said that she had spotted forty-four the day before.  We probably could have seen a lot more if we had hung around longer, but it was still pretty chilly (as evidenced by all that ice).  The girls and I were chilly anyway.  Kerry thought we were wimps and made friends with some strangers who gave us Red Vines and I let my kids accept candy from strangers.

Found a big eagle on our eagle hunt!