Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Miles on the minivan

That dream boat of a car I drive (a 2006 Chrysler Town & Country, be jealous people) has been hitting the roads hard this past week. In seven days' time it journeyed to Okoboji, Ames, Omaha, and Des Moines - all different trips on different days. Basically our children are spoiled and have been soaking up the sun - and fun - like crazy around here lately.

Last week we planned a day to meet up with friends and their kids in Okoboji
They'd never been before, so we decided to plan a little picnic/park/beach action and play tour guides. But a little honesty upfront here: we're probably not the best people for the job because our minivan abruptly stops for all kinds of free shit on the side of the road.

But ain't that a sweet *free* table and chairs set?!

The day was really great because Jared and I have basically non-existent social lives, so chatting all day with people we like was a lot of fun for us. Plus our kids love the Hiler girls. And I think the feeling is mutual since many times throughout the day all five of them could be spotted in a circle hugging. 

It was such a nice day, even all four adults got in the water. And being the ever-prepared hosts that we are, we forgot beach buckets and shovels. So below is our stand-in: a yellow bucket from my parents' garage that probably fed hogs at one point in its existence. 
Side note: it took only about 124 tries to finally get that bad boy to stay together for the beach's largest sand castle. 

We capped off the day with some backyard grilling while the kids ran around getting dirtier and dirtier. Bailey dominated some watermelon, and watching Eden eat an ice cream cone was the highlight of my day.

We eventually bathed the filthy little things and while the adults cleaned up, the kids did what kids on vacation do best: zone out to mindless cartoons.

The next day I got to drive to Ames with my mama for my 6-month endocrinology appointment. The highlight of the appointment: I get up to leave and my doctor says, "And hopefully the next time I see you you'll have lost that last 10 pounds. Take care. Buh-bye." 
Ugh. Men....
And then I went and ate a patty melt and fries at Hickory Park... I win.

The next afternoon I loaded up the kids and made the trip to Omaha for a few days. The kids spent one night at Aunt Fe's house watching a movie and eating popcorn. The following morning we planned a picnic at a park. In 100ยบ heat. Brilliant!
There are no pictures of our outings. 
Believe me when I say that it was so hot out, taking a picture required more energy than I was willing to expend. We hung out at a local pool - which reached capacity quickly - and it was some straight-up crazy, overwhelming toddler crap. I don't know how those lifeguards do it. At the end of the day they have to be hoarse from yelling, "Bud! Bud! Bud, don't climb up the slide!" and "Stop hanging on the rope" over and over and over. Two hours of that was enough to fry my nerves. 

And then this week we made our kids' first trip to Adventureland in Des Moines. I went every single year growing up with Linda and Eddie - listening to Meat Loaf all the way down in their station wagon. So I love it there. Jared got half-price tickets through his job so we loaded the kids (along with our 4th child, Justina) and hit the amusement park for the day.

All our kids loved the rides, but no one more than Bailey.
This girl is a roller coaster queen! She's 5 and was tackling every single ride. 
A roller coaster that goes upside down? Sign her up! 
Ride it twice in a row? Sure, let's do it!

This was her face for basically the entire day. Pure joy.
And can we talk about those tan lines? 
Teenage Vanessa would have killed someone for those.

The only bummer to the day was the line of severe thunderstorms that popped up throughout the afternoon. We spent an hour in a theater that served as the storm shelter, although we did get smart toward the end and find ice cream to eat while we waited it out.

A few hours later the second round of storms came on quickly. It started to sprinkle and within 30 seconds was a complete downpour. We sought shelter under the first available awning. 
And as luck would have it, it was a beer stand. One of only two in the park. 

Justy knows how to pick 'em.

It was a good day despite the rain. And with entertainment this cheap (thanks State of Iowa benefits!), I think it will probably become a yearly tradition.

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