Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Bucket List: Go to Mindy's 2016

"And you say you never do anything! It seems like you and the kids are always on the go."  A friend of mine recently said this to me as we were standing at the Felix-Grundy celebration, watching our kids risk their lives on ill-looking carnival rides that had to be older than most people in attendance.  I looked at her and laughed.  "Well, summers off--will travel!" I replied.

We had been talking about how summer was going, how quickly it passes, and whether or not we had plans for the upcoming weekend.  I had mentioned that Kelly had been in town for a week, we spent three days in Des Moines, hung out at Holiday lake over the 4th of July weekend, and we were just getting ready to head down to St. Louis the next morning.  I've become accustomed to this look of surprise and sometimes bewilderment that results when people hear about our summer.   But as I explained to Kelly when she was here, summer fills me up.  It's ten weeks of ultra-precious time (and lots of warmth and Vitamin D)-- and I literally imagine my body as a vessel that gets re-charged each summer.  Things like early sunrises and late sunsets and drinking wine on the patio, lightning bugs, pool trips after supper, and even the sticky feeling of humidity all seem to add a bit of energy to my depleted vessel.  Then, school starts, autumn comes (and then the season that shall not be mentioned) and I tap into my charged up energy.  I coast through the next 42 weeks on that stored up goodness that comes from summer. 

And a huge charge comes from traveling.  Right now, we're visiting Mindy in a northern suburb of St. Louis.  This year marks our sixth year-- so it's definitely a tradition and one of my favorite parts of summer. I'm pretty sure I forgot to write a post about it last year so I wanted to make sure to write about it this year.  Here goes...

After a change in plans (Jeremy's work schedule changed and we needed to make a last-minute switch in our planning-- which resulted in us coming with two days notice because sadly, every other week and weekend is spoken for....) we woke up bright and early and hit the road.  The kids were super troopers in the car and we lucked out with beautiful weather--allowing us to take a few pit stops and not be limited by skyrocketing temperatures. 

Of course, we stopped in Donnellson, a town with a population of 899 (according to Google) and managed to kill an hour and a half.  We found the library (took some pictures for The Library Express!) and then played and picnicked at the park. 

After hopping back in the car, I powered up the dvd player for Charlie (Star Wars--"the one with the ewoks") and popped Anna's binkie in her mouth, silently praying for a long summer's nap.  (She did sleep until we hit the evil Hannibal with its numerous stop lights and ability to wake up sleeping babies.  Sigh.  And though we had a few rough minutes, we made it to Mindy's safe and sound by Saturday afternoon.  We surveyed the landscape (rooted through all of their toys), found our bearings (got the Wi-Fi password and broke out the devices), and relaxed (drank some of Jeremy's beer from the garage fridge). 

The next day, we day-tripped to Indian Creek Park, where we enjoyed some creek walking and minnow catching and bucket filling and mud-pie making fun.  Definitely one of my favorite places to visit. 

Later that afternoon, Anna took a signature 90 minute nap and then joined the party-- devices, snacks, and trashing Mindy's house with games and blocks and dolls and random toys. 

That night we bathed the kiddos, I braided the girls hair (I think that's become another tradition...), and we loaded up the minivan for a jammie-clad ice cream trip.  (Oh, and Anna loves Jeremy-- sat by him the whole time with her little hand on his leg, calling him Daddy all night long.  Adorable.)

Anna loved our vacation so much that she chose to wake up early and take in as much of the day as possible (yay!).  She and I enjoyed some quality time together and hit the streets with the stroller for a nice muggy morning walk. (Not her favorite activity)  Later that day, we loaded up the troops and hit the pool and though the water slides weren't operating (Charlie was SO disappointed-- he's been talking about them for weeks!  Weeks!) we ended up having a sweet time.  Oh, except the part where Charlie got stung by a bee and about went into hysterics over it.  Don't worry, eventually he calmed down (with the help of a lifeguard's ice-filled rubber glove and a Milky Way).

We ended our visit with a relaxing evening and our traditional date night-- that's when Mindy and I run to Target or the Gap and use coupons that are about to expire.  It's one of my favorite things of the trip. (This year we hit up Von Maur and NY&Co before Target--good times!)

And while our time with the Carmichael's is always short, it's ever so sweet-- and something that is definitely cherished.  We look forward to it each year and it's become something that is as much a part of summer as watermelon and bomb pops.  We eagerly list things we want to do in the summer-- roast marshmallows, catch lightning bugs, star gaze....  and "go to Mindy's" is always at the top of the list. And since I'm such a sweet and indulging mama, I happily oblige.

We finished our trip with a pit-stop at the Iowa Children's Museum-- always a hit and a great way to get toddlers tuckered out and ready for a nap. :)

Charlie wanted me to take a picture of his Cheese-It "Grooves" crackers.  (ha!)

Signing off from the road~
 The Spahns 

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