William is my October birthday buddy, and I think we have the best birthday month ever.
Fall has arrived with crisp leaves & apple cider, beautiful lighting slanting through the trees, trendy scarves & campfires. Last night we sprawled on the floor around our wood stove and took turns reading poems, it felt cozy to haul wood into the house again. But most days are still so stunningly warm & beautiful that it feels wrong to spend anytime inside.
We took advantage of this gloriousness last weekend and took a much needed mini family vacation.
St. Louis Zoo, camping at Taum Sauk, with a picnic & hiking at Elephant Rocks as the grand finale.
The kids had so much fun that they didn't even complain about the miles and miles of walking, the hours in the car, and the late night can't-find-a-camping-spot-at-9p.m. fiasco. It was an adventure, and we loved every minute of it.
The weather could not have been more perfect, and the birthday boy was in high heaven.
After 6 hours at the zoo, we concluded that our favorites were the hippos, the penguins, the great apes and the bird house. With the rhino, capybara, okapi, insect house & reptile house all with honorable mention.
The kids have figured out that making ridiculous poses next to statues is a really cool thing to do.
I have no idea where they get such silliness from.
|And....a few years earlier.....there's me riding the same gorilla. Man, that's an old gorilla.|
And our kids had a blast staring longingly at the amazing carousel ride that we refused to pay money for and let them ride on. We're such indulgent parents.
We also made William carry his little sister the whole day around the zoo. He is six years old now, after all.
Here, William tells me, he is pretending to be the zookeeper who takes care of these turtles.
Exhausted, but happy, we left the great metropolis of St. Louis behind us and headed into the sunset in search of Marble Creek Campground. Only to find, upon arrival at almost 9 p.m., that it was recently shut down for renovations. With no announcements posted on their website. Coincidentally, there is no cell phone or wi-fi service in that area. So we kept driving -- Clay ignoring my helpful suggestions to pull off on the side of the highway and make camp anywhere there was even a hint of flat ground -- and we managed to find Taum Sauk campground, said a prayer, and found the last available campsite. We were so overjoyed that I certainly didn't mind setting up the tents in the dark while Clay built a fire so we could make the kids supper at 10 p.m. And we even overlooked the inconvenience of the log that both Amelia and Susannah tripped over within two consecutive minutes.
The campfire, stars, brisk night air and cozy sleeping bags were very welcome. And the kids did very well sleeping in their tent - besides needing a brief sorting at 5 a.m. when there were some distraught cries about sleeping bags and pillows being communally passed around and lost in the darkness.
Next morning we welcomed the birthday boy!!
|The birthday boy loves early mornings....|
And fed him his favorite
breakfast food, b-a-c-o-n.
In his own words, earlier this year:
"I like pigs a lot. Because bacon is my favorite food. And then ham.
And then ice cream. And then cheese sandwiches, because they have bacon in them."
And while we're on the topic of food (one of William's favorite topics)....
"My favorite chips are Kringles (*pringles), Spicy Chips (*doritos), Cheetos, and Tomato (*potato) Chips."
Though he's not always known to be positive about every choice of food:
Referring to Thanksgiving stuffing last year:
"I don't like these pepper puffers."
Clay: "Was the homemade yogurt good today?""It was better than bees stinging us."
We made it down the road to Elephant Rocks by lunch time, where we introduced the children to what a real picnic should look like -- complete with Gouda & Gruyere cheese, yummy salami, green olives & fresh fruit. William was a big fan. In case you couldn't tell, he has pretty good taste in food.
One thing he was NOT such a big fan of was the hornets who discovered our picnic. As he wrote in his journal entry the next week:
"...at the elufns rcs we climde and we hd fn and we aet a picnc and I ws scard."
|Yes, I am the mother who photographed this beautiful hornet on my son's hand before rescuing him. I had never seen one like this before!|
(Afraid? Me? A man who has licked his weight in wild caterpillars? Afraid?? You bet I'm afraid.)
Everything else about Elephant Rocks, however, was a huge, unconditional success.
And I didn't even lose any kids into any crevices, like I envisioned numerous times.
My favorite part was climbing through the maze work of tunnels with the four "big" kids. Sometimes it's pretty fun to still act like a little kid.
This is William's face when he's having so much fun he can't even contain himself:
I love it.
It has been fun watching William really come into his own this year. He became more adventurous, and a more cheerful and willing helper, even taking initiative in getting his chores done, offering to hold doors open and carry groceries & firewood in, and be generally very helpful!
He even wishes he could be helpful when, unfortunately, he just can't:
" I wish I had my magic wand.
So I could get that crayon off the wall.
But I left it at work."
He continues to have a passion for learning and is doing excellent with his schoolwork this year. He has turned the corner and is reading voraciously every day now. And keeps his sisters awake by reading (loudly) out loud before bed every night. He also loves his weekly classes at Ozarks Academy where he has lots of great friends to do fun projects with.
And he never (...never... never...) runs out of thought provoking questions (usually at bedtime). Usually involving how much bigger or faster some animals are in comparison to other animals. Occasionally venturing onto other fascinating topics:
"If you mix hot chocolate with chocolate does it make super hot chocolate?"
"Is Idaho the ocean of Missouri?"
"Is the ocean handmade?"
(While I eat a "super burrito" at Mexican restaurant...)
"Does your burrito save people?"
And his characteristic question format is very endearing
(example taken from a discussion after reading the Chronicles of Narnia):
"And they knew the owls.....did they?"
He remains our resident expert critter catcher (boy after my own heart), and pounces on hapless toads and frogs and snakes and neat bugs before anyone else even notices them.
He is, however, very practical about some of the less appealing sides of nature:
"Don't go out there Susannah!! There's a horsefly out there! They suck your blood, and it HURTS!"
"We have to watch out for bleaches (*leeches), because they suck our blood."
And nature can come in handy when describing things. Like Hattie's eyelashes, for example:
"They're tiny! They're as small as a tick's leg!"
This year he decided he was going to be a pastor when he grows up. This was an improvement on the slightly less practical goal from last year of wanting to be a king....
When questioned: "William, when you get bigger are you going to learn to play volleyball?"
"No, I'm going to be too busy being a King."
His new choice of being a minister has even helped give him motivation to become better at school and read his children's Bible, and practice very eloquent & verbose prayers. He is not above pairing this goal with other goals, however, and has recently tried to figure out how he might be both pastor & zookeeper.
He's already working on cementing his theology (and future worship songs) as shown by this nice little ditty that he made up in the car one day:
"....but Jesus was too magic for them and he died on the cross..."
And will, naturally, live his life above reproach:
"I can't wait until I'm a grown up and I can do whatever I want .....in God's laws."
He realizes, though, that he has some more time before being considered a grown up:
"I still have hair. I'm not very manly yet."
Knowing that he's going to be a pastor also helps him be very sensitive and tactful about other cultures:
"Britishes always say stuff funny."
"I'm superman! And he only talks in Swedish! .....vem kan segla forutan vind!"
"Do Scottish people like Scottish cheese?"
(Clay -- "You mean cottage cheese?")
"Yeah. Do Cottage people like Cottage cheese?? .... They call girls lassies."
What a charmer. And, most importantly, he certainly knows how to charm his Mama.
"Have sweet dreams, Mama!
Dream about riding a knight's horse!!"
(Yep, definitely knows his mama.)
Happy Birthday to our one & only wonderful son. We love you, William.