Saturday, December 26, 2009

And here we are...

Another Christmas come and gone in all it's busy, blinking glory.
Curt and I are chilled out to the max during Anna's nap on December 26th.

The house is reasonably put-together.
It's snowing outside.
There is warm, steamy stuff in each of our mugs.
We high-fived each other because the trash men finally came to pick up our trash.

Curt is doing Sodoku puzzles in his noise canceling head-phones (as if there is any noise during Anna's nap. That's sort of, the point.)

I am alternately reading on the couch and getting up, wandering around, doing other things cause I can't sit still for that long even now... at 30.

Life goes on.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Here is Anna last night at dinner:

Praying before she ate:
(Making the sign of the cross)
Howy Shiwit" (Sounded just like the other word)

Poor baby kept looking from face to face, so proud of herself for praying, and not understanding why we were choking on our giggles.
Anna, you are too cute!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

No, Anna two!

Is what the girl says every time you call her any nickname now.

If I say, "Are you my snuggly britches?" she retorts, "No, Anna teeeeeewwwww" as she holds up all her fingers. (There seems to be some confusion about ages and nicknames all the sudden.)

Current count per her two year doctor's visit:
Height: 34 3/4 inches
Weight: 26.14 pounds
Love: 100%

Cute story - the other day Curt was out late for meetings in St. Louis so I was cooking while Anna played. Her little voice caught my attention as I was busy near the stove. I looked behind me and she was sitting, legs splayed in front, on the kitchen floor and had her baby sitting similarly beside her. She was leaning over and towards her baby saying, "Whachoo tinking bout, baby? over and over. It was adorable. After I scooped my melted heart back off the stove I got back to cooking and Anna left to play elsewhere.
After a few moments of silence I peeked in the living room to check on her. She was sitting on the organ bench and her baby was in the "time out" chair. Anna said, "baby in time out." She had set the timer and everything. I could hear it ticking away. (You go girl. Be the boss when you can!)
That girl was ALL ABOUT the pretend play that evening.
So sweet.


Happy 30th birthday to my hubby dubs.
You've had a wonderful 30 years and I've gotten to be a part of 12 of them.
Oh how lucky I am.

You are still the sweetest of my earthly delights!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

One more cute thing...

Since last weekend, Anna has been pretending to fall down. She'll say, "Oh no! Anna fall down, momma!" and lay there until I scoop her up and save her. Who knows what's that about and why but who cares! I think it's adorable.

Anna, I'll save you every time!

Monday, November 23, 2009


Happy 2nd Birthday, my darling Anna! We had a wonderful weekend visit with Auntie Em, Uncle Aaron, Molly and Ben! It did this mommy's heart good to spend the whole weekend with them. The kids spent the whole weekend together and besides the occasional toddler brawl, really played well together and enjoyed each others' company. Plus, the weather cooperated and we got to take them to the nature center and play outdoors. Plus, Uncle Aaron got to put his sensitive taste buds to use and sample the wares at Prison Brews and visit with Stacy T., "Miss Stacy", while Saint Mimi babysat all three kiddos. (Thankfully, they were all asleep).

Anna's birthday was Cinderella themed and she had a blast. In attendance were:
Princess Molly
Prince Ben
Princess Sophie
Prince Harper
plus many other royal attendees as you will see in the following clip.

Here is a video of her receiving the best present ever!: (Notice the look of complete overwhelm on that girl's face!)

Here is some good footage of the royal highness eating her gorgeous and delicious cupcakes!:

Click on this link to find good pics of her birthday plus some cute ones from Granny's house last weekend:
Anna's Second Birthday

I had to super size the following picture. Anna had a cough the night Em and Aaron were coming in town but we had planned to make Ben and Anna roomies. We decided to put Anna in our room instead due to her cough. We got all the kiddos settled and visited downstairs. I went upstairs to go to bed and opened the door (thankfully slowly and quietly) and it bumped into something...
Anna Banana had rolled out of the bed and fell asleep on the floor. She didn't even open her eyes when the door bumped her. Poor pumpkin. I put her back in bed and 20 minutes later heard: shuffle, shuffle, shuffle...plop. She was back on the floor. So we gave up the little toddler bed experiment and put her back in her room, where she slept fine... off the floor.
I couldn't pass up the picture opportunity:



Subtitle: This girl loves her Mimi.

This is a short, but cute video of what happens when Mimi takes Anna shopping and Anna looks out the car window when the car stops to find out that Mimi took her HOME! Oh the insult! Anna thought she was going to Mimi's house, poor girl!

Friday, November 13, 2009

Speaking of words:

Auntie Em recently posted about Miss Molly Moose's language explosion so I thought I'd put a word in about Anna's language. There's no way I could list all her words. She says everything. At least once a day I hear a word that I'm clueless where she learned it. At Granny's this weekend, she said words EVERY MOM wants to hear first thing in the morning (NOT) : "Anna dink Ginny's Toffee, mama!" (Anna drank Granny's coffee, Mama!). And today at lunch: "Yucky, Yucky. Anna no like dat, Mommy!" stated about the meal she ate just fine last time it was presented to her highness.

This girl is a sponge. Here is a cute video of her "reading" Hop on Pop.

Finally, I'd like to write down some of the things she says that are too cute to be forgotten:

One-an = Another one
Tiss = Kiss (also followed by "pip" from Mr Brown Can Moo")
Tittens = Kittens
Paingens = Penguins
Lella = Cinderella (although this is morphing into Cinta-lella)
Ticket = Cricket
Ello Thing = When she is in a good mood (which is much of the time), she'll talk to things she sees around her. When she doesn't know the word for something, she'll say "hi" anyway and just call it "thing". Too cute.
6-14-8 = Anna's counting. She'll count up to ten if prompted but when counting something on her own, it's always 6-14-8!

Out of the Mouths of Babes...

So we were at Red Lobster the other night (thank goodness for MiMi) and Anna is her usual rowdy self. To occupy her, Curt is having her look at things out the window:
C: "Do you see it?"
A: (silently looking out)

...Then Curt smells something (not unusual with a toddler) and peeks inside her diaper since she is standing on the seat next to him and says:
C: "Anna, did you go poo poo?"

The waitress about drops her tray laughing.
It took us a minute to get over the fits of giggles to figure out that Anna said : "Oh. I. See. It." about something outside but in very quick toddler speak it came out = ohiseeit = oh shit!

Too funny!

Monday, November 2, 2009

Just surviving a Monday!

Here's an old video I never got around to editing. Here we are at home. In our diaper. Surviving a Monday:

Monday, June 15th, 2009

Happy Halloween!

We had an amazing weekend!

We trick-or-treated at Tim's work on Thursday. Then Thursday night we went to a too-scary-for-a-toddler work party for my work. Anna took one look at the blasting rap music, strobe lights and teenagers dancing, went rigid, and started howling. Poor Curt had to take her out to Mel's Cafe to share a fish sandwich with her while I attended the party. We even tried to coax her back in with candy after she ate and she grabbed the candy, pointed to the door and shouted, "GO HOME! GO HOME!" Poor pumpkin.

Then on Friday, we trick-or-treated at Mimi and Curt's work with Sophie and both girls were just dolls. Then on to trick-or-treating at "Miss Kim's" and Grandma's then home for some yummy red beans and rice (plus fried green tomatoes - thank you very much). Both girls were fried on candy and cracked us up doing somersaults on the living room floor.

Saturday, we road the "haunted train" to St. Louis to Granny's. Anna was so pleasant on the train and both Curt and I actually enjoyed the trip! After nap, we went to Auntie Em's house to eat some more yummy food and trick-or-treat down on "haunted hill" in South City. They do it up right down there! LOTS of decorations and fun. And as an added bonus, CJ, Mary, and Kayla joined us for a bit. Then, the three kids ran around Auntie Em's house fueled on sugar and chocolate and fun. At one point, they were all three shut in Em's hallway screaming "ECHO" at the top of their lungs. It was hilarious! Then the grown ups went to a wine party at cousin Cory's house and Sheila AGAIN went over the top on fancy food. The wine was yummy too!!!

Bless her heart, despite going to bed at 9:30pm Anna was a doll on Sunday. We went to Auntie Em's and Uncle Aaron's church to hear them sing then ate a yummy roast at Granny's and even got to play outside for a bit. Anna was even sweet on the very bumpy train ride home.

I couldn't get enough of her this weekend.

Check out these pics. They include not only pumpkin carving last weekend, our awesome pumpkin, trick-or-treating at Mimi's work and on Haunted Hill, but also an awesome shot of all three kids flying Sunday afternoon! Enjoy:
Halloween 2009

Monday, October 26, 2009

Katy Trail

Last week - you know, when we got TWO, ACTUAL days of fall, I decided to ride the Katy Trail.

There's a delightful town 10 miles away called Hartsburg with a cute cafe: Dotty's Cafe. Michelle and I rode there and back in the spring and it was lovely. She hooked the girls on her bike trailer on her bike.

THIS time, I decided to be nice and offered to pull the girls behind MY bike. We even borrowed a bike trailer from Neighbor Joe, who was a sweetie to offer it and to instruct us on how to use it.

Well... we drive to the trail (because Jeff City isn't smart enough to have a pedestrian/bike connection to inarguably the BEST idea Missouri has ever had - although it's rumored to get one next year) and hook up the bike, trailers, and girls (a 20 minute process).

I gleefully get on my bike, push one pedal forward and think, "Dear... God..." Adding 50 pounds of toddlers makes biking a less than pleasurable activity. Not wanting to look like a weenie, I carry on and after taking the first mile or so to convince myself I can, actually, make it to Hartsburg and back (total mileage: 20) while dragging the girls, I start to enjoy myself. The scenery along the bluffs is breathtaking. We ate a lovely meal at Dotty's Cafe (everything there is good) and played around in town for a while. When we try to load the girls up for a second trip in the trailer, they were not pleased.

The ten miles back was continual fighting, crying, pushing, pulling toys (and possibly biting) between poor Sophie and Anna who were both well past their nap time and smashed together so closely a blade of grass could not have passed between. At mile four, I gritted my teeth, ignored the scenery, and booked it. I pulled energy out of goodness knows where in order to GET HOME AND GET THE GIRLS OUT OF THERE. To add insult to injury, Anna fell asleep the last ten minutes and chose not to nap later in the day. Fun.

Would I do it again? Heck yes! With both girls in the same trailer? Never, never, ever again!

A closing story from the first time we rode last spring. We get nearly to Hartsburg and a pair of bikers says something like, "those must be the girls who lost their shoes." Both Michelle and I look at each other then look down at the kid trailer. Sure enough, Sophie had pulled off both her shoes and chucked them both out of the trailer. Evidently, her water bottle as well.

As we ate in Hartsburg, other riders commented on the shoes. Evidently, the shoes got a lot of attention on the trail. Here's why:

This is what we found waiting for us on the return trip by the Claysville Store sitting on the trail - about two miles outside of Hartsburg. Some kind soul had gathered them up and placed them where we'd see them.
Too cute.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

First Cute Hair Day!!!

Anna kept her hair up "hayr oup" ALL DAY TODAY FOR THE FIRST TIME!

And did she look cute?

Oh yes she did!

(Just saying.)

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Over the River and Through the Woods

To Granny's House We Go!

We took a trip to Granny's ("Geenies") house yesterday on the train. It was a quick visit just to spend some time with cousin Molly and Ben, who were delightful to see, as always. Molly loved me especially much this trip... (goofy grin on RiRi's face right now).

It was a day of mass transit for the Stokes Family because Daddy flew to Boston today for work. We will miss him terribly (even though I did my usual MASS, RUSHED, CLEANING of the house - including mopping the kitchen floor despite my travel fatigue - because I have that weird thing about the house being MINE ALL MINE for a few days). Poor Daddy was supposed to go yesterday but was still recovering from a mystery illness. Poor Daddy. I'll blog about that tomorrow and I hope you all pretend that I did it WHILE he was sick since it was supposed to be a blog to make him feel better!

Anyway, here are some pics from the train ride:

Here is Anna snacking her way across mid-Missouri. We spent the whole time in the dining car. Having been on the train the morning before, I'm sure Anna was thinking: Just TRY to get me into a seat, lady!

And here she is sitting ON the table. Because... well, why not?
Notice our things are also on the table in the back of the shot. We took over three empty tables in the otherwise empty dining car.

Our only visitor was some crazy guy who said weird things like, "you'll have one more" and "what's going on with your brother?" and then read my palm. Thankfully, he wandered off to be off-kilter somewhere else :-).

I miss the family in "the lou" but am oh so happy to be back in my own bed.
Till next time...

Friday, October 9, 2009

Uncle Joshy = the WORLD FAMOUS CHEF!

Uncle Joshy made the Daily News in New York!

Click on the link above to see the article.

Famous one week and a daddy the next (probably)
Go Joshy!!!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

A Word About Daddy...

Was there ever a girl so loved by her Daddy than Anna?

I drove to and from St. Louis this Saturday for Mary's baby shower and was super excited about a day off work. ALSO, daddy was excited all week about his "daddy and daughter day"! I drove out of Jeff City having full knowledge that Anna would be fine, if not better off, for a day without me and with her other best friend.

I even took the back roads because the scenery is better (including the ugliest dog I'd ever seen in a kennel in the back of a truck - turned out to be a sheep - well, of course). I listened to a book on tape because I COULD and I did NOT have to listen to kiddo music!

Anyway, they had a great day together!
Here's to ALL the daddy's in my life! Hip Hip Hooray!
And a big shout out to Anna's daddy, the sexiest, most wonderful, silliest daddy around!

"Gonna catch me ridin' daddy, gonna catch me ridin' daddy!"

Who is in the tent?

Two goofballs!

Friday, October 2, 2009

Other Daily Hip Happenings

Today we went to the Y so I could swim my laps. We didn't go for a while after the triathlon this summer because I was swimmed-out! So Little Miss Anna Banana Pants was not as familiar with this Y as she is the spin class Y

When I brought her to swimming Y three weeks ago I left her sitting at her little table, eating her snack, as is her Y tradition. When I got back almost an hour later, she was still sitting there! The lady in charge said she sat there the whole time!!!

This is Anna, I'm talking about. The girl who can't sit still for 5 minutes! I sat her down at the Y today with her snack in front of her, kissed her and walked out. Came back a while later, and there she is, still sitting - again. It makes my heart melt and feel a tinge of sadness at the same time. I think, "My poor baby just sat there. What was she thinking? What was she feeling?" But part of me knows!

Just like her momma, Anna is a BIG extrovert, but just like her momma and daddy, once surrounded by people, we draw in and observe. So I know what she was doing that whole time. Watching. Observing. Thinking. Learning. Wondering.

On another note, Anna's language is just amazing now. 5 word sentences, all the time: "No Anna turn do self" (It's my turn to do it, myself). "See oneand Anna in miwwa" (Saw another Anna in the mirror).

Her favorite things to do:
-Watch "Lella" (Cinderella) (Still)
-Pull the cushions off the couch and jump as well as jump off anything
-Dance (And oh boy you should see the creative moves she has!)
-Listen to music (I have her music CD in the car and we listen to the same song about 7 times before she gets distracted by something and forgets to say "mowa" to play the song again.
-She loves to get in her "seep sack" at night always tell me "dawk" when daddy turns the lights off, then "hands out" (for some reason) when I lay her down then "up happy" or "sun owt" depending on if it's nap or bedtime.
-She still rubs/twirls her hair whenever tired or needing comfort.

-She currently hates taking baths or getting her hair put up (so much for her being extra girly). She wants her hair up infrequently, then pulls the rubber band right out.

-She has an overly dramatic way of saying NO if she's upset: "Nowe, nowe, nowe, nowe, nowe, nowe, nowe, Nowe" on and on in the most pathetic tone complete with shaking her head side to side at times. So very daytime talk showesque.

-She is definitely in charge at the moment, "NO ANNA do dat!"

She marvels me with new words learned everyday and she's getting so good at letting me cook or do other tasks while she plays alone. What a good ageNow-So-Terrible Twos!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Anna was it worth it?.....

We got home after a tiring night at Granny and Grandpa's and put you to bed early (6:30) to make up for the fact that you napped 25 minutes TOTAL (all. in. the. car.).

So was it worth it when I went back in to check on you when I still hear you playing in your crib 30 minutes later? Even knowing that going in might reinforce you stayinng awake?


Because you struggled to stand up in your little sleep sac to get to me. Because when I picked you up to nuzzle you, you let me kiss you. Because when you wanted to be rough in your little baby intensity you put your hands on my cheeks and said "bite mommy?" and proceeded to give me big fishy kisses on my cheek. Because you then put your little baby hands on my neck and said, over and over, "Mommy lick up" and pointed my face to the ceiling to "look" up, and "lick douwn" and pointed my head down, over and over in your cute little voice.

Was it worth it?
All those sleepness nights? All the Mommy-of-a-Toddler daily frustration? All the giving and giving and giving?


All of it. All the sickness and growing and tiring and birthing and bleeding and feeding and not sleeping and the growing and changing in perception and proportion and portion.

All of it.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Ahem....regarding Anna

I'd like to take a second to tell you about my little girl. In this past week, she has made an amazing transition. I watched it calmly and with interest, as only a parent can do.

Anna has begun to take an interest in the world WITHOUT. ME. Now, she explores toys without needing to bring them to me to play with/fix/dress/show/move. She disappears around the corner for ten minutes or so now and it's not just to go poop:-) I peek in every once in a while if I can't hear her moving things around or talking and she is there, ya know, in her own little world. Without. Me.

Don't read this regret. Or any sort of loss. I'm touched and delighted that she's finally making her world her own. I'm astounded, actually. One day about five days ago she woke up as a girl in charge of her world. This week there has been a distinct lack of neediness. Of needing another person all. the. time. And this week, when she has been involved with someone, she is more focused on them. More focused on jumping on Curt (playing "hop on pop"), or listening to me read her a book, or taking the cushions off the couch and jumping, or digging in the sand with her friend Sophie. She has begun to watch people intently and mirror them. When I knelt on the steps and leaned forward on another step, she mirrored me. Another time, she disappeared quietly downstairs WHILE a friend was over (unheard of, before) and when I called down to her, she didn't answer. Naturally, being a mom, I headed right downstairs to make sure she was OK and she was standing in front of the coffee table, staring down intently at the Wii Fit box, attempting to stand in the yoga pose shown on the front of the box. Too cute.

Now, I'd be lying if I didn't have SOME strange feelings about her new development. But I'm not sure I know what those feelings are yet. This stage is too new and I was waiting for a few days to see if it was temporary.

But here we are, visiting at Granny's, and this girl went to sleep (late, of course) with no fuss and today she ate a good lunch and went down for her nap, again, with no fuss. She is calm and in charge. And even playing at Granny's this morning, getting small "ouches" like any over-tired and therefore awkward toddler does, she would cry briefly and go on about her day.

LAST week, she would've spent all morning being a wreck and then still napped poorly. But not now. Oh no.
You GO, girl!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

More on my obsession with Battlestar Gallactica

Can by found here, on my friend's blog. She is SO not a BSG-type person, so I'm interested to see where this goes!!!

So say we all!

Monday, August 17, 2009


Subtitle: Terriblific: A Trip with a Toddler!!!

We recently returned from vacation in Estes Park, CO. We had a grand time with the family. Very few families can spend an entire week together and be itching for more but the Sides know how to do it. Here's a vacation rundown:

Day One: Travel
Anna experienced her first plane ride. She handled it beautifully. I raged World War III in my head as only a fearful flyer can do. Not surprisingly, I survived both flights and arrived gratefully in Denver. The only funny part of the flights was the last-minute (literally as the plane started moving) seat change by moi due to having too many people in a row (Emily, Molly, Maria, Anna, and some confused-looking stranger). So I switched to sit next to Ben. Here was the NEW seat order: Ben (now terrified since ReRe moved next to him and Granny moved away, demanding to have the window shut and working up to crying) Maria (biting the inside of her cheek to stay calm while wrestling with Anna), Anna, and the poor teenager who landed next to us. Across the aisle: the same confused-looking stranger, Granny (keeping a sympathetic eye on me), and Emily and Molly (ignoring us just grateful we're not them). We got the rental van (a tripped-out "Vacation Van" that had more bells and whistles than a luxury limo) after riding the bus to the wrong rental place. We drove to Boulder and had a wonderful visit with Ken and Paula Ball. We also got to meet their darling grandson and the kids had a wonderful evening together. After fighting to stay up long enough to see the driver's safe arrival, I sprinted upstairs and off to bed. Poor Curt had a lo-ong car ride but managed to have some fun along the way.

Here's pics from the road crew of Russell cycle surfing on the trailer:

The whole crew at the Ball's house:

Day Two: We had a relaxing morning in Boulder and shopped on Pearl Street in the afternoon while Emily and Aaron and their crew drove on to Estes Park.

Here's a cute pic of Anna playing on Pearl Street:

Day Three: Toddler meltdown!
We had a relaxing morning in the condo. Here are pics of Molly and Anna hanging out, which they did beautifully all week:

Then, after a successful nap (a miracle whenever Anna is away from home) we all loaded up and drove into Rocky Mountain National Park. We unloaded and reloaded onto a bus to go up to the trailheads and do some serious hiking. Anna was fussing as soon as we got on the bus. The fuss quickly turned into a fit, which turned into a full-blown screaming tantrum. The moms out there know the kind. The kind that make you feel utterly clueless and helpless and generally freaked out. The passengers on the bus were sympathetic for the first 15 minutes, but then they began to give me THE LOOK. Anna was doing the arched back, howling move attempting to wiggle onto the floor to continue her fit and one lady had the nerve to say, "there's room on the floor." Yea right lady. I'm going to let my kid continue her demon-possession writhing and screaming on the dirty bus floor so a sudden stop will send her flying. You can guess the message I was sending that lady in my head ("come closer... closer"...SMACK!)

Finally I'd had enough. I couldn't help but think continuing to spiral up in altitude on the bus was making it worse so I got off at the next stop, tears in my eyes. Curt and Granny (in a last minute, desperate request from me) and I jumped off the bus, much to the confusion of the rest of the family, as this was not our bus stop.

After ANOTHER 15 minutes of crying at the bus stop and refusing to drink water, Anna finally settled down and Granny suggested Curt and I take her on a short hike, as this is what we came to do in the first place. After no more than 7 mins of hiking, we miraculously found the rest of the fam at a fork in the trail and continued on what turned out to be a great hike. Here is a picture of the waterfall we ended up at:

Oh but the drama was not quite over. The whole time, due to a miscommunication, poor Granny had NO idea if we were returning to the trail head or what the rest of the fam was doing. So she fretted in the wind while the rest of us enjoyed the beauty of God's creation.
Here are some pics from the hike. Anna is, as you can see - perfectly fine but a wee bit tired!


Day Four: National Lampoons Mountain Vacation
The men left early for a wonderful hike up Twin Sister (for the non-mountainous folk, that is the name of a mountain). Here are some pics of their hike!

The trail up:


A successful descent by Grandpa/Dad/Ron.

Meanwhile, Granny, Emily and I took the kids shopping in downtown Estes Park. Ben was...not really into it and the other kiddos shortly agreed. We did get to see glass being blown into glass beads. Very cool!, but that's beside the point.
Then, it was a quick nap, and we loaded/crammed into the vehicles and took the "scenic route" to the Georgetown Railway - for the sole purpose of seeing Ben's shining face. TWO HOURS AND FIFTEEN MINUTES LATER we peel ourselves out of the vans 45 minutes late for the last train of the day. We wandered around the old train cars for a while and headed off for another hour drive to Denver to eat at Casa Bonita (bad all-you-can-eat Mexican food with a cliff diving show and other such crazy adventures), Curt and Maria's trip activity pick. Well. Don't go to Casa Bonita with young children. Just don't. Not only did they seat us BEHIND the waterfall so we saw NONE of the shows and our food tasted and smelled damp, Ben started crying almost immediately when he saw a man in a gorilla suit running around. Anna cratered shortly after. Molly, always pleasant, just looked confused. Jacob, the only kid old enough to appreciate it shrugged and said it was "ok". On the way out, I discovered I had left Anna's sippy cup on the table and ran back in, only to find that the busser had cleared it and no one saw where it went. This made me tear up. A SIPPY CUP. That's what kind of afternoon it was.

Day Five: Off to see the Maples!
We spent the day with Andrea (college roomie) and Brian Maples (college neighbor) and their awesome two kids. Unfortunately, only Andrea took pics so I can't prove it, but we had a good time hanging out. Anna began to adjust to sleeping anywhere, anytime and slept in Curt's arms at Buffalo Wild Wings. I think that tickled him. She hasn't snuggled that long with him in a LONG time.

Day Six: Hiking and Relaxing:
Anna finally got the hang of hiking, as you can see from these pis.

Then Curt spent the afternoon fishing and Anna and I spent the afternoon relaxing in the condo, as I REFUSED to go ANYWHERE! Poor Curt hurt his leg jumping over a stream which led to a VERY painful 14 hour drive home the next day in dad's little Saturn VUE. But Anna and I had the time of our lives. We played tickle-chase to every corner of that condo all by ourselves. We also played soccer so hard outside she fell and covered her tongue in gravel and didn't even cry. We also did some serious water balloon bursting and pine cone stompin, as you can see from this video:

Dad and Russell spent the day motorcycling. Jacob and Mom spent the day shopping. Emily and her gang went back to the Georgetown Railway for train ride: take two.

Day Seven: Maria Conquers Planes Again
After nearly losing Ben's new toy train engine on the shuttle (they sent an empty shuttle back JUST to bring it back), we arrived in time for two successful flights back to St. Louis and as an added bonus, added Aaron as a travel companion. We missed Colorado already but wanted our own beds so bad we could taste it.

Here is the amazing scenery from our condo:

And if THAT wasn't enough, here is a quick video:


Monday, July 27, 2009

Happy Birthday to me!!!

So I had a bit reluctance about turning 30. There's a certain amount of leeway you get when you are young. You get a second glance even in the most regrettable of outfits. You can do silly things and it's cute instead of just plain weird. You have to do less physical maintenance.


Goodness knows 30 isn't old but I feel like I'm certainly pushing the boundaries of "young" and creeping uncomfortably close to "middle age". Please save me. Please continue to think I'm cute and overlook my outfits... Pretty please.

Anyway, no matter how much I lament my... um... age, here's a picture of the one person in the world who can make me forget all this nonsense:
(and she was even willing to wear, as my birthday present, the over-the-top-cute outfit I made Granny buy for one dollar.)

(It had little bloomers with a bell sewn in them :-)

And here's a picture she took of me. All by herself!

We had a good weekend doing spur of the moment things:
Sat) Decided at 4pm to drive to Columbia and see Stacy's new house. Went to a de-lic-ious authentic Mexican restaurant. Yum.
Sun) Slept in. Ate a yummy brunch with Mimi after which she took Anna to spend the afternoon with her. Continued to read Harry Potter in my jammies till 3pm. Decided last minute to see the Harry Potter movie and go out to dinner. Went to bed a happy girl.

And to finish the birthday post, here are 30 things you might not know about me:
1) Motherhood is WAY different than I thought and I love it!
2)I'm a triathlete (OK. That one was cheating.)
3)I like to exercise but typically have to be in a class or I won't get up and go.
4)I still think I might be famous someday. (Got plenty of time.)
5)Weak men tend to be scared of me, which is just silly
6)I still harbor a crush on Ralph Macchio (The Karate Kid).
7)I love reading. Pretty much anything but nonfiction.
8)I'm one of those saps for World Peace and a healthy planet. Yep. I am.
9)On that note, I helped bring curbside recycling to Jeff City!
10)I still think farts are funny and I hope I always will.
11)I can sing all the words to many, many songs but can tell you the artists and titles to almost none of them.
12)I stink at knowing facts about history.
13)I'm embarrassingly bad at geography but have made several attempts to learn over the years.
14)I'm currently trying to get over a fear of flying.
15)This is related to two bouts of anxiety I had in my mid-twenties that I learned so, so much from and am tempted to say I'd do all over again if given the choice.
16)I LOVE to swim! Love it.
17)I've been in the following musicals: Sound of Music(x2), Annie, South Pacific, Annie Get Your Gun, Fiddler on the Roof, Bye Bye Birdie, Oliver, and GeorgeM! I'm sure I'll do some more. They are addictive.
18)I wanted nothing to do with politics until Bush. Now I'm obnoxious about it.
19)I'm a sucker for Red Lobster.
20)I'm a feminist and will be until it's logical to be an equalist.
21)Red wine is my drink of choice. Red, red wine... (I could sing all that one as well. Can't tell you who wrote it.)
22)I love to dance. Anytime, anyplace. (One of those things that just starts to look creepy at a certain age. I need to get my wiggles out now.)
23)I don't have an enemy. I like people too much. They give me energy!
24)I cried so hard once during Miss Saigon that the front of my shirt was wet. I wonder how i'd react now as a mom. Sheesh!
25)I never got into Seinfeld. I think it was silly.
26)I'm on a crazy religious/spiritual journey that is making me a bigger person but that is taking longer than I thought.
27)I like riding my bike a night. In the dark. It's only me and the wind, baby!
28)I can't eat too much chocolate. I LOVE it, but it needs to be ON something, not THE something (unless it's a small square of dark chocolate. Then it's ON!)
29)I have an ever-growing amount of self-knowledge and that has made life sooo much easier.
30)I feel blessed everyday!

I could come up with a lot more but enough about me! Thanks for reading!

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Borrowing other blogs:

Please see Kayla's post here for triathlon pics!

And here for pics from our visit to see Kipp and Kylie.


And the new lead result:


Two point oh. Two point oh.
Gosh you know I love you so.

One week of fear. Of slight unrest
Makes me regret that FIRST damn test!

Hooray, Anna!

Monday, July 20, 2009


So I finished my first triathlon yesterday in a decent time of 1:26:02, finishing neck and neck with my friend CJ!

I'm glad I finished for two reasons:
1) I wanted to show I could finish a triathlon for my "tri"(30th)birthday and
2) A knee issue almost knocked me out of the race.

My knee had been bothering me towards the end of my training and sure enough one mile into the run (the final event) I began to feel that familiar pain under my kneecap. I toughed it out and tried denying it (doesn't that work for most things?) but at close to 1.5 miles I had to stop and limp. The knee started behaving again so I ran a bit more. At the halfway point, it gave out again. A few steps and unspoken curse words later, my leg. stopped. bending. I leaned on a mailbox and stretched and rubbed and stretched and rubbed and then, "POP" my kneecap clicked. Instead of being alarmed I thought "Whoohoo!" and took off. I walked a bit and when I realized it wasn't hurting, I started running. It was like night and day. I tore up the last mile of my run and finished with a giant smile of my face.

When I get the pictures, I'll post them here so you'll have to come back and check.

The other good story (and also one that is SO ME) is that I got so excited at the end of the bike run because I was doing so well and because the super fans (mom, dad, Emily, Molly, Mary R., Kayla O., Baby Maddie, KG, Curt and Anna) were yelling for me, I drove right past the exit. I realized it suddenly and veered to the right causing some poor girl on a bike to slam on her brakes (to the unnamed victim of my Maria-ishness I do humbly apologize) to avoid me barreling into her. Instead, I circled into oncoming traffic and pedaled back to the exit. The best part: Mary got it on video so when I get it, you'll see it too!

So... I'd like to say that since I have completed a triathlon I don't have to do another one, but I have that itchy "I can do better" feeling that my fellow athletes are familiar with. Truly, without the missed exit, time lost in my second transition stretching to avoid the knee injury that ended up happening anyway, and time lost to the knee injury, my time would've ROCKED for a first triathlon. So we'll see. In the meantime, feel free to be proud. Whoohoo!

To Emily and Aaron on running the BIX next weekend: I'm proud of you and so happy it isn't ME!


Ok so we're good parents. The house is baby-proofed. Anna watches maybe an hour of TV PER WEEK and it's always her precious Cinderella. She eats a well-balanced diet and is at a good weight and is off the charts developmentally in all things.

So you'll forgive my Crazy Mom Moment when I hear this on the answering maching this morning, "Your daughter's lead level is slightly elevated and we need you to get an venous draw as soon as possible."


I called, trying to hide the fear and disbelief in my voice and asked, "What, exactly, do you mean my elevated?"

We're talking a 17!!!!

So, after an epsiode of tears from both Curt and I (give us a break, we're first time parents) and after I saw all Anna's hopes of college going down the toilet in a wash of ADHD and behavior problems, I came to my senses and realized HOW OFTEN these tests show false positives. Not to mention that all we have to do is remove the offending lead from her precious baby world if it is still elevated and the problem may go away.

I ignored my churning stomach and the fear of another unsuccessful blood draw (see THIS blog entry for that sad tale) and geared up for another trip.

One giant sucker,
One successful blood draw from a very wonderful flabotomist (sp?),
One short debate between Curt and I on the chemical abbreviation for lead (Curt was right, as usual)
And one big ice cream cone finished off almost entirely by Anna (including the cone - her favorite part)
And we are awaiting the results.

Cross your fingers.

Monday, July 13, 2009

More happy 4th!!!

Please see Auntie Em's wonderful blog for more pics and information about our Fourth of July visit!

Monday, July 6, 2009

Happy Fourth!!!

We had an absolutely wonderful fourth of July. The fam came to Jefferson City (eliminating the need for us to come to THEM but carrying on the Sides family tradition of bringing WAY too many cars - four total.)

We lounged around on Friday visiting and working on our "float" for the parade the next morning. Then we headed over to Tom and Becky's for some good eats and some serious snap n' pop stompin! Sophie, Michelle, and Clive came for the fun. We hung out until the neighbor's big fireworks display started around 9pm. The most exciting part of the evening was the two ridiculously dangerous "lantern" fireworks and Russell's homemade "sparkler bomb". The bomb part pretty much desribes how it turned out. For future reference, if Russell ever says, "I made it myself!", don't eat it OR light it! Anna conked out shortly after 9:30 (da da duuuum) AT Tom and Becky's where we left her so she could wake up with her cousins Ben and Molly.

We woke up the next day and headed over to Sophie and Michelle's neighborhood where they shut the street down for a little parade. It was so much fun! A "good guy" (cop) led the parade with his lights on and Russell's jeep headed up the rear blasting patriotic music from a boom box sitting on the roof! I think there should've been a prize for best float because we would've nailed it!

Here are some pics:

Monday, June 29, 2009

Just more Anna cuteness!

A quick update on the cute things Anna is doing. Many of you get to see these often. Some of you only catch glimpses. But I know we ALL enjoy the wonderful wonder that is Anna!

When she sees ANY bug: "Oh bee!" Stated like this: "ohbeeohbeeohbeeohbee!"

Much like Forrest Gump, Anna is always running. She likes to advertise it, too! "Wunnnin, Wunnnin, Wunnnin". She's also currently quite proud of her jumping and marching skills. Although her jumping energy is mostly used up on the exaggerated squat she enters before jumping so she's a little low on the ups.

Anna likes to point things out. She's definitely gotten the idea of object permanence but doesn't quite get the concept of directions. If Daddy is at work and I ask, "Where's daddy?", she'll point in any direction. Also, every time she gets hurt and I ask her "What happened?", she'll point to what "hurt" her (the edge of the table, the concrete sidewalk, etc.) Another part of this idea that is quite cute is when you pretend you can't see her, she'll delightedly yell, "Heaw it is...Anna!" (Here it is! Anna!) to show you where she is. Oh so cute.

She's miss independent now. Two weeks ago I experienced my first order: No!...Anna! It was clear I was to step out of the way and let the little boss take over. (Go on, Anna, the world is yours!)

She's obsessed with when it is her turn. I hear "Anna's Nurn!" so. many. times. per. day. When she and a kiddo her own age get together, Anna's in that "I don't want it until YOU want it, then I want it" stage. However, when she's in a generous mood, she'll focus on OTHER people's turn "Kitties nurn!" "Baby's Nurn!"

She has to "dipt" ev-er-y-thing she eats now. It doesn't matter what the dip is or what she's dipping, but pretty much everything that enters her mouth is accompanied by some type of creative dip (if we have energy) or ranch (when we don't).

A few (a-hem) times per week Anna HAS to watch videos of kitties on the computer. She is convinced that is the only purpose of the old laptop we keep upstairs. The WHOLE PURPOSE of me borrowing that laptop from a friend was so I could check email and look things up without having to drag myself and Anna downstairs. But sure enough, just as children change ALL your expectations, nearly every time I flip the laptop open I hear "Kitties! Kitties! and footsteps running across the room towards me. Oh well. I'll check the email later. Blog later. Or maybe not.

She is making great connections all of the sudden. She held up a light blue marker the other day and said, "Wah wah!" Also her memory is amazing. We were going to the funeral of my roommate's mother-in-law in Kansas City and I was explaining to her that we were going to see our friends Kipp and Kylie who were in Chicago and she said, "Woo WOO!" because she remembered we went there on the train! And today, we got a picture of our other roommate Janelle and her family and I reminded her of Chicago and she said both "Woo woo!" and "Bubbooos" because she remembered that Janelle's husband Carl blew bubbles with her outside on our awesome patio. This is TWO months ago, people!

She's attempting to count but it's definitely a new skill! ("Wons, freeze") (one, three)

Oh boy I love her so. Not ashamed to say she's my best friend. Hooray!

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Anna's First Camping Trip!

Check out the pics of Anna's first camping trip. We went to a cute little campground in Eldon, MO after the big family camping trip to Onodaga Cave State Park fell through.
A big thanks to Michelle who talked us into going!

It was a hot hot HOT trip but super fun. We had hot dogs grilled on a stick, s'mores, camp breakfast INCLUDING camp donuts and lots more yummy food.
We fell asleep to the gentle sounds of POUNDING RAIN the entire night. I was so proud of our tent for keeping us (mostly) dry. The floor of the tent, however, was a different story. Anna slept amazingly well. What a trooper.

Check out the pics: (My faves are "Camper dude Tim" and "Two hot girls on a camp chair!"
Camping June 2009

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Why today is a great day:

After a grocery shopping trip with her Mimi (while Curt changed the oil in our car and Momma Maria stood by to make sure the car wouldn't fall on him)
Anna came home, ran up to me and shouted "Mah-MA!". I wrapped her in a full-body snuggle, and she said, "eyeohhuuu".

And that's why today is a great day!

Friday, June 12, 2009

Crazy Fun Family Time

My little Anna is getting older and older.

Tonight after a yummy dinner of homemade pizza (made by moi..., ahem.), Anna, Curt and I played forEVER with her new Pea Pod. For those not "in the know" a Pea Pod is a snazzy little tent that will TOTALLY replace pack n' plays someday. My hip college roommate Kylie had one and we splurged for one for the upcoming family camping trip. (Gulp.)

We decided there was no way Anna-the-Floppy-Fish would sleep on an air mattress with us and we assumed the pack n' play was illogical in a smallish tent. Anyhoo... Here's a picture of it:

I broke out the Pea Pod because I wanted Anna to get used to it and also because it's so dang cool and when it arrived in the mail today I squealed like a you-know-what! I hid it in my room all afternoon till it was dough-rollin time for the pizza. Sure enough, it caught that gal's attention right off the bat. She climbed in and out and had great fun.


With a belly full of pizza, Anna went bonkers in the Pea Pod. The same girl that can't do the same activity for more than five minutes and who [sure as heck no way I don't see the point] never wants to play alone, climbed in and out of that thing for a while. THEN, Curt and I joined in and all fun broke loose. Curt and I were on the back (non door) side of the tent. Anna would dive into it and launch herself at us and smash her face into the mesh and try to tickle us. Then, we alternated closing the window flap and leaving it open so the little monkey never knew what she'd get when she dove in. Then, we alternated being on the back or on the sides. It was great fun and giggles had by all.

The neatest thing was, Anna created the game. When she'd climb out, she'd yell "AN-NA!" to indicate we were to yell her name. Then, she'd dive in for some parent location-guessin, face-smashin, tickle-tryin fun. When she'd had enough, she'd climb (fall) back out of the pod and yell "AN-NA!" again so we'd call for her and start the fun again.

As the game wore on (I'm talking 20-25 minutes at this point), she changed it up by staying in the pod, holding still, looking sideways at us and slyly saying, "Uh-oh" before trying to get us through the mesh.

People, we wore out WAY before she did. She was so much fun. We FINALLY folded the Pea Pod up, which is fun all by itself, only to have Curt let go and have it SPRING open into it's tent-y shape. Oh boy she LOVED that! We did that for a while.

What a night! What a big girl making up her own fun! Ahhhhhhh Anna Banana!

Monday, June 8, 2009

The Evolution of "Yes"

Anna has the cutest ways of saying "yes".

She began with a cute little shoulder wiggle dance, at times accompanied by a whiny, desperate little noise (the sound of a girl SO GRATEFUL to be understood or given a choice).

Then, it mysteriously morphed into saying "die" for "yes". Goodness knows where that came from. We'd say, "Anna, do you want more juice?" She's respond, "die!"

Now, she's doing this slow and exaggerated up and down head nod, with an occasional "die" thrown in.

What a creative and crazy little girl!

Because you asked..

I got a FULL BODY massage last night from Curt.


I didn't even ask for it.

Just saying...

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Concerning Princesses:

Stolen from KG:

(I think you ladies will appreciate this letter as much as I do. It's written to Pixar from Linda Holmes and it reads as follows:
(You can also click here to read it from the NPR blog)

Dear Pixar,

This is not an angry letter. It is especially not an angry letter about Up, which I adored. I could have sat in the theater and watched it two more times in a row. I cried, but I also laughed so hard in places that it wore me out.

So I'm not complaining; I'm asking. I'm asking because I think so highly of you.

Please make a movie about a girl who is not a princess.

I'm counting on you, after the jump...

Of the ten movies you've released so far, ten of them have central characters who are boys or men, or who are anthropomorphized animals or robots or bugs who are voiced by and imagined as boys or men. These movies feature women and girls to varying degrees -- The Incredibles, in particular -- but the story is never "a girl and the things that happen to her," the way it's "a boy and what happens to him."

I want so much for girls to have a movie like Up that is about someone they can dress up as for Halloween, as Anika Noni Rose said about starring as the voice in The Frog Princess. Not a girl who's a side dish, but a girl who's the big draw.

And I'd really, really like it not to be a princess.

My understanding is that after the summer blockbusters of 2010 and 2011 -- Toy Story 3 and Newt -- you're planning The Bear And The Bow, a Christmastime fairy tale rather than a summer adventure. And your first one about a girl -- way to go!

But why, oh why, does it have to be about a princess? Again?

Et tu, Pixar?

I have nothing against princesses. I have nothing against movies with princesses. But don't the Disney princesses pretty much have us covered? If we had to wait for your thirteenth movie for you to make one with a girl at the center, couldn't you have chosen something -- something -- for her to be that could compete with plucky robots and adventurous space toys?

Or more to the point, why couldn't your first female central character be as specifically drawn as the women and girls (and girl robots, etc.) you're already writing as secondary characters? Ratatouille has a chef! WALL-E has Eve! The Incredibles has superheroes!

And Up...oh, Up has Ellie, who I could have watched forever. Seen only in flashbacks to the main story, Ellie is warm and hilarious, ambitious and fearless, and then gone for most of the movie. She provides the engine for the story, in many ways, but it's an old man and a little boy who actually get to hit the gas.

I don't like to make movies political, especially kids' movies, if I can help it. Sometimes a princess is just a princess and should be taken as such.

At the same time, little Russell, in Up, is Asian-American, right? And that's not a big plot point; presumably, he just is because there's no particular reason he shouldn't be. You don't need him to be, but you don't need him not to be, either. It's not politics; it's just seeing the whole big world.

Well, the whole big world has a lot of little girls in it, too. And not all of them are princesses -- and the ones who are princesses have plenty of movies to watch.

And even many of them who do aspire to be princesses are mixing their princess tendencies with all manner of other delicious things. Their tiaras fall off when they skin their knees running at top speed; they get fingerpaint on their pink dresses; they chip their front teeth chasing each other in plastic high-heeled shoes.

There's nothing wrong with the movies you're making; I'm sure your princess movie will be my favorite one ever. I'm just saying, keep them in mind, those girls in Band-Aids, because they want to see themselves on screen doing death-defying stunts, too. You're making some of my favorite movies in the whole world right now.

Please, please make one about a girl who isn't a princess.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

When do you know you are a big girl?

When you eat your very first corn on the cob...

And when you use your potty correctly for the first time (A #2, nonetheless)!!!!
Hooray Anna!
Hooray Potty Pal!

And by the way:

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Things that will break your heart:

An overwhelmed daddy.

And an angel crying.

Everyday pics

Dad, I'm really tired of smiling.

But I don't mind showing off!

But sometimes I just want a nice book with my friends Sophie and Michelle.

After a nice, long bath (complete with punk hair).

Friday, May 29, 2009


Hooray for Curt's (finally) decent raise!

Now we can go out to eat!
(Every once in a while...)

(With coupons...)


Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Everyday Anna

Today, Anna is making sure I get my daily allowance of water as she stands at the sink, water at a trickle, playing.
"Nana", she says, indicating it's her turn by taking a drink.
"Mamma", she'll say next, handing me a cup.
Then when I sneak around and give her a kiss on the cheek, she'll smile through her concentraion on pouring, drinking, trickling, etc.

And at breakfast, she was just so good at communicating. She asked politely for more "dipt" (dip=syrup on her pancakes).
Then when she was done, instead of fussing for attention like she used to, she said, "Hands? Hands?" and wiggled them in front of me to let me know it was time to wash her hands.

Also this weekend while in Chicago, she was so proud to show us she could say "mouk" for milk instead of just using her hand signals. So she's say "mouk", "mouk, "mouk" long after we told her we got the picture loud and clear.

Another word that's relatively new = "bubbules". (That one is self explanatory.)

I'll try to talk more about Everyday Anna more often. But for now, I hope you enjoyed this glimpse into our life!

Monday, May 18, 2009

Local Woman Torches Yard

Local Woman Torches Yard
From the Jefferson City Press.

Emergency crews responded to the 1100 block of Peyton Dr. earlier today after neighbors reportedly sighted a yard on fire. One neighbor was quoted as saying, "Darndest thing I ever saw! I always thought she was a little wacky." The man was referring to his 29 year-old neighbor who allegedly poured gasoline on her flower beds and set them on fire.

When interviewed, the resident stammered, "Flower beds... too many... no mulch... asked for mulch.... no mulch..." as she stood -twitching- in her blackened Kermit the Frog PJ's. The motive for the fire is not yet clear.

Police are still looking for the woman's 18 month-old daughter, who a neighbor spotted walking away from the house wearing a baseball cap and dark sunglasses muttering, "I'm outta here." Police are asking residents to call with any information regarding the girl.

A thorough investigation will follow this incident, especially to clear up the big question: why would a grown woman wear Kermit the Frog PJ's.

More on this story at ten...

Monday, May 11, 2009

So how did your weekend in Carbondale go?

For ANYONE watching the news this weekend, it went like this:

Carbondale Rocked by Storm
Franklin, William, and Jackson Declared Disasters!

We drove south through Illinois, watching with growing concern the purpleish/greenish clouds building to our right (coming from Missouri - THANKS, Missouri!) Everyone but Michelle (who was hiding her face) and the girls were warily scanning the sky for funnel clouds as the radio said over and over "IF YOU ARE ON ROUTE 13 (we were) stop immediately and take cover (we weren't)."

Finally, we stopped and dashed out of the car into the grocery store trying bravely to ignore the air sirens and the beeps from the weather radio the store clerks were huddled around.
Luckily, the weather quickly turned into a gentle rain and we loaded up, happy to be over the scare and on our way. We pulled up to Dave and Lauren's duplex, saw her waving in the kitchen window, and prepared to enjoy the rest of our weekend. We HAD planned to stay in their half-empty rental duplex in downtown Carbondale (they live in Caterville), eat at good restaurants, hike The Little Grand Canyon and go to the wineries.


The TV kept showing scary (I mean scary) views of the radar that looked eerily like radar views of hurricanes. We ignored it all and watched the three girls play: Sohpie (21 months), Anna (18 months), and Autumn (13 months). Anna was WAY past her nap time and I took her upstairs to Dave and Lauren's room to nurse her.
Anna had no interest in nursing because through the open window, she was fascinated by the trees. Which were blowing. And bending. And crashing. I heard the house pop and creak and ran downstairs, trying not to empty my bladder along the way.

Did I mention we were in a duplex? With NO basement?

So the moms grabbed the girls (including poor Sophie who was still upstairs sleeping) while the men began ripping stuff out of the STUFFED closet under the stairs. The moms and babies crammed in and the girls began screaming. (Why is it that babies are oblivious when you want them to pay attention but when you want them to ignore you - like when you are TERRIFIED - they can sense everything?) The guys took turns running from window to window. Dave took some video, which I'm hoping he'll share. That is, IF he ever gets his power back. We hid in the closet for 20-25 terrifying minutes. During that time, I had to chose to either stay safe and lose my dignity in the closet, or risk a dash to the bathroom (along the outside wall) because my bowels turned to jelly. I chose dignity. Anna chose to scream louder while I was gone.

We finally got out, to this scenery:

Dave and Lauren's duplex:

Roof tiles in their yard:

The neighbor across the street:

He used his ancient, white van to pull trees out of the street. How cool is that?

Their neighbor's yard:

Their street blocked one way:

Their street blocked the OTHER way:

Looking off their back porch - you can't even see the house behind them:

A backyard view:

Another backyard view:

Their neighbor's buckled fence:

A cool tree in a graveyard: (can you spot Michelle, Sophie and I?)

Here's me climbing in the tree:

The street on the way to the other duplex:

The duplex we WERE supposed to stay in:

Well. Without power or running water and unable to leave (they closed the highways and enacted a curfew) we did what anyone does in a disaster: got some beer and grilled what we could. We slept ALL OVER Dave and Lauren's duplex to the eerie sound of chain saws and generators. We made scrambled eggs, bacon, and instant coffee on the fire in their back yard the next day and got the heck out of town.

We stopped in St. Louis at Granny and Grandpa Sides' for some much needed food and leg-stretching.

You can see how affected the girls were by their ordeal. This is taken on Curt's camera - so there is no sound: