Saturday, September 25, 2010

St. Louis Zoo

On Friday, September 17th, my homeschool co-op donned their matching, * ultra fashionable *, bright orange T-shirts and spent the day at the St. Louis Zoo. It was a beautiful, clear sunny day; the type of weather people wish it could stay all year long. We had a total of seven out of our nine families join us for a total of 28 members in all!
Our first stop was to the Stingray exhibit. Visitors were able to get in free for the first hour.

 Then we all met up on the train and traveled through tunnels, over a bridge, past a waterfall...

...until we reached the monkey exibits. I think we would all agree that the most disgusting part of our trip was when one chimp persistently cleaned the back sore of another. First he used his mouth, but apparently it wasn't effective enough because he followed up with a piece of straw. Our group watched in horror as he repeatedly used the "tool" to dig the open sore and then licked the straw clean. I thought my dear friend, Angie, was going to throw up.

Somewhere around the Red Panda exhibit,
Red Panda
our group split up and we didn't see each other again until The Children's Zoo at the end of our trip, but my kids and I had a blast with the other half of our group.

The kids couldn't pass up the opportunity to climb all over a life-sized gorilla statue....

Lauren couldn't fit on his back...

Cute-as-can-be ---Lauren
We took a stroll through the Bird Exhibit in Peabody Hall and saw many interesting and beautiful creatures there...

Horn-billed Bird
Love Birds

After lunch, we took a walk through the Red Rock area and saw tigers, a lion, zebras, camels, and giraffes including a newborn giraffe born just this week!

Richard, Emma, and Belle
Juliette, Angie, and Lauren
A couple trips around the Carousel and we were all ready for an afternoon nap.
Abigail, Melissa, and Maggie

A quick look at the Penguin Exhibit...                     
Rockhopper Penguins

We ended our trip with a long train ride so Olivia could sleep, and spent our remaining minutes at "The Children's Zoo" where we played with guinea pigs, observed meerkats, 

climbed on a giant rope spider web, crawled through tunnels, and got out all sorts of remaining energy.

The perfect ending to a perfect day...

Labor Day Parade

Goodbye Summer, Hello Fall--
Happy Labor Day, Ya'll!

Take rest; a field that has rested gives a bountiful crop.

This Labor Day was very special to us because we sat with many of our new friends. It's amazing to think that only one year ago, we were watching this same parade right in front of our house with only one other family. This year, we sat with five. God has blessed us with such amazing friendships, and the best part is those families have young children of their own - so our children are blessed as well. 
I just want to sincerely say Thank you, Lord.

Patiently waiting for the parade to begin....candy bags ready!

I have an indescribable love for old Ford trucks...
Simple adornments make this truck patriotic.
God bless the young men and women fighting for our freedom....
Our friend, Gabe, in football uniform.

Thanks for helping keep the kids out of the road, Angie!

After the parade, we took the children to the park to play. 

I couldn't have posed it better myself...
Juliette and Izzy
Juliette-my little monkey girl
The wheels on the bus go round and round...

 A final thought on Labor: "Thank God every morning when you get up, that you have something to do that day which must be done, whether you like it or not.  Being forced to work and forced to do your best will breed in you temperance and self-control, diligence and strength of will, cheerfulness and content, and a hundred virtues which the idle never know." 
~Charles Kingsley

Thursday, September 23, 2010

New Jersey Vacation

I am well overdue for a blog about the second half of our East Coast trip in NJ! I've already forgotten what we did when, but fortunately I have lots of pictures to remind me of the fun we had....
Dinner at my sister-in-law's...
Like when we spent the day in Ocean City, NJ with my Mother-In-Law Peggy, Sister-In-Law Sandy, Niece Michal, and good friend Jimmy. We had a great time on the beach....

Ocean City Boardwalk

Loving Grandma...

Aunt Sandy and Girls....

Dale and I

Jimmy and Michal

and headed to Atlantic City for a memorable dinner at the Rainforest Cafe. The entire restaurant is transformed into a Rainforest complete with thunderstorms every half hour...

Rainforest Canopy

Friendly Gorilla

Aquariums filled with all kinds of beautiful fish...

We spent a day in MD. Richard and I were able to visit my good friend Christie and her boys. I met her baby Aaron,

and my Richard and her oldest Jacob played wonderfully together.

After the park, we took a quick trip to Dunkin' Donuts for a snack and got freaked out by some weird guy that wanted us to give him a ride. I've never strapped Richard in so quickly. Christie brought me to where Dale was, at his oldest brother John's house, and our family was able to spend the rest of the evening with their family.
Belle and Jules play with cousins Luke and Levi

Juliette, Our Niece Amber, Belle

It was good to see our nieces and nephews again...and meet our newest niece Samantha for the first time.


 We spent a day in Cape May with our friends. We began our day with a few hours at the beautiful Cape May Zoo...

     Pretty In Pink
Daddy's Girl

Three turtle pile-up

Marla and David

Mommy and her "Big" Boy

Richard and Chloe

Chloe, Belle, Juliette, Ashley

and finished the day shopping in all the cute boutiques. And, of course, there was some great beach time in between...

Marla and I

Ashley and Belle

Benjamin and Richard

Jules and her Daddy

Jumping over waves

Catch that wave!

Beach Babe

Ben makes a sand castle.

David's first trip to the beach.

Finding crustaceans.

I have been to many beaches in my lifetime, and I can honestly say Cape May is one of my favorites. It's clean, family friendly, charming and quaint. It has so much rich history and beauty within it. Every street is adorned with huge, well-kept modern or Victorian houses, many of which have been converted to elegant Bed and Breakfasts.

And I'm always a sucker for towns with brick or cobblestone roads, cute shops, and horse drawn carriage rides...

It was so hard to say goodbye to our friends knowing we most likely won't see them again for awhile. But it feels good to know the bond we share is strong and our friendship will last a lifetime. 

I was also able to spend a few short hours with my dear friend, Jenn. I finally met her little baby boy; Gabrielle.

Juliette and Bobby played like they had never been apart.

Buddies; Bobby and Juliette
That afternoon, my neice Madison and I went to the Cherry Hill Mall for a little shopping and catching up. Maddi is one of the most fashionable girls I know, so I had so much fun picking out cute clothes with her and getting an update on the world's latest trends. That evening, Dale and I celebrated our 11 year anniversary at PF Chang's.

I ordered my usual Spicy Orange Chicken, Dale had General Tso's and we ended it with the Great Wall of Chocolate; a six-layered chocolate cake in a pool of raspberry puree with a side of fresh berries. Bliss. That's the only word I can use to describe it.

 We spent the last day before the trek home lounging around my sister's pool...

"U" Shaped Pool
This was one of the things Belle and Juliette looked forward to most; swimming in Aunt Sandy's pool.

Sidewalk Chalk Creations
Cookies and Grandma-does life get any better?
Dale managed to throw most of the family in the pool and even tossed in their family dog for good measure. The man cannot help himself but to torture everyone around him!! That evening, we sat down for a wonderful meal together before we settled in for the night and prepared for a  l o o o o o n g  ride home.

Rest Stop Fun