Friday, April 18, 2014

St. Louis: 250 Years (Or, what's with all the cakes?)

We picked a good year to visit St. Louis, even if it was a bad week (tornadoes and record breaking rainfall, what?).  This year marks 250 years since the founding of the city.

There was a special exhibit at the History Museum with influential things from five categories.  50 people, 50 moments, 50 images, 50 places, and 50 objects.  I'm sure it was a hard job to pick just 50 from 250 years, but it gave a really nice overview to the city for someone who'd only passed through once before when she was 16!

In honor of those 250 years there are also 250 large birthday cakes all around the city and metropolitan area in front of large/famous buildings.  I saw 6 while we were there, but one was in passing as I was driving so I got photos of only 5.  It would make for a really fun scavenger hunt as I believe they will be up all year.  Each one is unique and I loved seeing how they related to the building they were in front of.

At the back entrance of the history museum

I was also quite surprised by the heavy influence of the fleur de lis on a lot of them.  I didn't realize that St. Louis had so much French influence, but I suppose it makes sense when you read the history and how closely they are tied to New Orleans since they share the same mighty river.

The history museum is located in Forest Park, which was the site of the 1904 World's Fair.  This cake is in front of the Grand Basin and up on the hill behind is the art museum, the only building left from the fair.  There is one open air pavilion as well though.

For size reference, they were pretty big, and look, I was there!

This one was in front of our hotel, The Cheshire Inn, which is just off the corner of Forest Park.

Yes, we did visit Budweiser, but mainly to see the horses!

This is actually the first one we saw, at the corner of the Arch, but I got a much better picture on the last day there, and I also realized the significance since I'd seen so many by then!

Happy Birthday St. Louis!

Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Wordless Wednesday: Greetings from St. Louis

The weather was not so fabulous the first two days we were there, 
but then it finally cleared up! 

250 years of St. Louis history this year, commemorated in a special exhibit 
at the MO History Museum.

We finally made it back to The Arch and up on top after all these years!

Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Book: Dancing with Fireflies

A Chapel Springs Romance

Jade returns home to Chapel Springs after years of protecting her fragile heart. Then along comes Daniel, making her long to dance again.

Creative and complicated, Jade McKinley felt like a weed in a rose garden growing up in Chapel Springs. When she left, she thought she'd never look back. But now, pregnant, alone, and broke, she has no other choice but to return.

The mayor of Chapel Springs, Daniel Dawson, has been an honorary member of the McKinley family for years. While his own home life was almost non-existent, Daniel fit right into the boisterous McKinley family. He's loved Jade for years, but she always saw him as a big brother. Now that she's back, his feelings are stronger than ever.

As Jade attempts to settle in, nothing feels right. God seems far away, she's hiding secrets from her family, and she's strangely attracted to the man who's always called her "squirt." Finding her way home may prove more difficult than she imagined.


This is the second in a series although it could probably be read as a stand alone.  I always like to at least know when I'm starting in the middle so the references to "history" make more sense.

I also found I was able to connect with the main character in this book better, maybe because we have a little more in common, life experience wise (the pregnancy part).

This story was about family ties.  The ones that are important, how they play out, and how they can be broken and healed again.  And family doesn't always have to be blood relations, it's more about how you care for the people in your life.

This was more than a light romance and I enjoyed it thoroughly.


Purchase your own copy and read other reviews.

Denise Hunter is an internationally published best-selling author. Her books have won The Holt Medallion Award, The Reader's Choice Award, The Foreword Book of the Year Award, and was a RITA finalist. In 1996, inspired by the death of her grandfather, Denise began her first book, writing while her children napped. Two years later it was published, and she's been writing ever since. Her husband says he inspires all of her romantic stories, but Denise insists a good imagination helps, too. When Denise isn't writing, she's busy raising three heroes-in-the-making with her husband.

I received this book from LitFuse Publicity in exchange for my fair and honest review.

Thursday, April 03, 2014

Blog Party 2014: Welcome to the Circus!

Hi!  I'm so glad you've dropped in!  I've been writing here at this 'ole blog for over 8 years now.  It started off as Welcome to Married life and has kind of devolved into the circus!  That's what having 4 kids in 5 years will do to you I guess!

I've also partied with 5 Minutes for Mom for 7 of those 8 years, only missing one as we'd just come back from an epic trip to Saudi Arabia.  It's pretty cool to look back and see the way our family has changed in those yearly snapshot party posts.

So what's it like around here?  Well, March is birthday month so we've just come down from the high of multiple parties.  It's also spring break this week so I'm actually off touring St. Louis with my parents right now - a special trip for my dad where I get to play tour guide.  Unfortunately the weather is NOT cooperating, but we're having fun anyway.  I'm so thankful to my husband for just stepping up and manning the circus all week by.him.self!  He knows it's crazy town!

Other than that we do a lot of family stuff, take pictures, review some books, and almost every Friday I write with Lisa Jo for 5 Minute Friday.  I really love this time to reflect on things bigger than the 4 walls of my home sometimes.

Thanks for stopping by to visit, I love to make new friends.  You can also connect with me on Twitter and Facebook.  Maybe one of these days I'll get a smartphone so I can actually make use of my Instagram account too.

Please make sure you leave your link in the comments since Blogger doesn't always take me to your blog (I know, I should switch, in all my free time ya'know!).

Happy hopping!

Ultimate Blog Party 2014

Sunday, March 30, 2014


Seven and in first grade. It's hard when he's gone for so much of the day now. I'm so glad I get to go in and hang out with his class every couple of weeks.  It's neat to see him in that environment too.

This is art class last week.  Here he's showing that he's 7 in sign language.  And missing both front teeth now!

Working hard!  He brings home some pretty cool drawings and they use oils as well as the typical grade school art supplies.  The monsters are his favorite thing to draw.  He has "his" monster that I should take a picture of some time.  He's drawn the same style with 2 large fangs and swirls for eyes since last year.

It's so fun to think about the things he couldn't do at the beginning of the school year that he can now.  Like read his own directions for his homework.  He's pretty much at the end of the grade level in terms of independent reading already.

I can ask him to do things for me at home and as long as he doesn't get distracted he does a good job.  Now it's just up to me to LET him do more things on his own!  He always wants to help me, but I'm so frazzled that of course it's easier to just do it myself, but I need to teach him.

This was a watercolor painting that he did and I need to get the details about what it is again.

One big thing this winter was ski lessons with Nana.  She wants a ski buddy so she took him up there to learn.  I'm not sure she's going to have a buddy for more than another year or two as he bombs down chair 1 all by himself!

One instructor that he had at the beginning of his lessons then didn't see him until the end and was so impressed by his confidence!  When he progressed from the rope tow and we convinced him to try the chair lifts... there's no going back!

My boy is growing up too fast!
Happy Birthday Cory!

Friday, March 28, 2014


When I heard the word Mighty tonight, the first thing that started playing in my head was this song.

I don't actually know the words that well because we played it on band tour during spring break when I was in college.  That little trumpet riff gets me every time!

The lyrics are pretty simple and it's not a long song:

Mighty is our God
Mighty is our King
Mighty is our Lord
Ruler of everything

Glory to our God
Glory to our King
Glory to our Lord
Ruler of everything

His name is higher
Higher than any other name
His power is greater
For he has created everything

But there's so much packed into those few short choruses.  And that last sentence, "His power is greater for He has created everything".  Stop and think about that for just a minute.  He created everything.  If so, then why am I worried about the things of today or tomorrow?  Is He big enough to take care of them?

And does He care???  Yes!

"Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows."
~Matthew 10:29-31

What a relief!

On days when I struggle, I think I need this song on repeat in the background!

What do you do when you struggle?

This is a post prompt from Lisa-Jo. Join in? If you don't have a blog or don't want to write there I'd love to have you write with me, even in the comments!

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Paris: Leaving that Awesome Place

After a long hiatus... here is the last of my posts about Paris.

And so all too quickly our week in Paris came to a close.  We stayed, all 13 of us, in the lovely Loft Isabelle just outside of Paris proper, but for all intents and purposes still in the city.

It was a former mechanic shop converted into this lovely space with full skylights.  Very different from most of the flats we looked at, especially to accommodate our large group.  In the above picture I'm standing just outside the room that we had.  My back would be to the street and the place was roughly a rectangle.

Along the right wall below were two areas for seating and a garage (which you can't really see).  Along the left wall below was a bathroom/dressing room and then a bedroom, an open space with a little patio open to outside, and then in the far corner one more bedroom by itself.  (yes, there is a tree inside too!)

Upstairs on the right (left in the above photo) was all open area with some weights.  The "back" wall was the wall to our room and we faced out onto the street.  The left had a large bathroom with a hallway to one side (that you are looking into on the right side of this photo) that went into a dressing room (where the boys stayed) then across a little sky bridge (which I'm standing on) and into the last bedroom.

So there were 5 full bedrooms, 3 very large nice bathrooms, and lots of open space.  There was a (very) small kitchen under our room with the afore mentioned industrial stove and oven, but we made it work!  Dominque came in every day and provided our breakfast, which was lovely.  We made many short trips around the corner to the Monoprix and I wished I'd had my camera when I went to the corner fruit/veggie stand! 

The space was a little cold, but not unbearable and the floors were heated in a lot of the main floor so that helped.  There was also a small basement with laundry that we convinced them to let us use!  And one evening Dominique and his aunt were down there doing some laundry and I heard voices so I went to see and ended up having a fascinating conversation with them.  They were from Mauritius, but his aunt had lived in Paris for many years, mainly as a nanny.  They both spoke their native language as well as French and English.  So impressive and humbling.

Dominique took this photo of all of us as we were leaving Sunday morning.  The window directly above us was to our bathroom and the ones to the right were to the bedroom.  You can see more photos of the interior space if you visit the website, but hopefully my explanations help with the floor plan.  I never did figure it out until we got there!

And then we parted ways with the rest of our family as they were heading out into the countryside for a few days and we were going on home.  The kids are all chillin' in the airport with snacks!  For the most part the Charles de Gaulle airport redeemed itself to me, compared to our last crazy layover there!

Because we had paid for 5 seats only on the way home someone was going to end up sitting with one adult and two children.  The flight attendants managed to find that hapless person a seat elsewhere for both of our legs so I had Joy and Noah with me in a whole row.  Joy was loving her own seat!  World traveler here we come!

Cory once again did not sleep for the entire return trip.  We once again did not pack enough diapers in our carry on and were down to none by the time we got our luggage back in Seattle, plus the girls had peed through so we had various wet shirts, Ergos, and I'm not sure they had dry pants on until we got out either.  Note to self for next time.  You can never have too many diapers on a plane!

But we made it home, with all of our luggage, and I even met a new friend on the plane because I spotted her daughter wearing a unique dress!

Paris, someday we'll go back!