Back in June, we decided to hop on a plane and head back to my home state, Kansas. Being that I plan months and months in advance, I was sitting and looking at my calendar this spring and realizing that the week of June 20th was a big one. Mitchell finished Pre-K and started summer break, he turned FIVE years old, and we officially hit the HALFWAY mark of deployment! What better way was there to celebrate all these milestones than with a little vacation, family, and no work. Haha, totally kidding on the no work part. Because vacation during deployment with three kids is exhausting – constantly keeping them fed and happy, let alone entertained, in a new place. Mom-ing is so much work! But boy, was all that work worth it. We made so many memories that week. So, here’s a run through of the good stuff for my fading memory’s sake – and a few more Kansas posts to come with some of our extra special memories.
I’m trying my best to get behind the home movie thing – so here’s our video from Kansas! These things do take some time and diligence in remembering to take pictures and video, but when I watch them, they sure are worth it!
Back in my high school/college days, I was a lifeguard at the local city pool. They have the nicest pools and activities for families. We couldn’t miss a morning at the kiddie water park (they open it before the rest of the pool – and before it gets packed!). I lathered on the sunscreen and let the kiddos run wild. They wore themselves out chalk out.
After the kiddos were sufficiently tired from the kiddie pool, we hit up Mitchell’s favorite local place to eat – Fritz’s! This place delivers food to your table by train, and that just never gets old to a little boy. We actually ate there twice while we were home, but I’m finding the joy in lunch dates with just me and the kids. Conversations with them and getting to know their little selves is just the best.
One of the first things we do when we travel by plane is find the closest Walmart to get our stock of diapers, wipes, and snacks. We opt to use our suitcase space for important things like 12 swimsuit options and just buy when we get there! My mom and I took a little girls trip to Walmart this time, and Julia found the cereal of her dreams. And proceeded to carry it around for the whole week, feeding unicorn food to the dogs and her sister, one single dry piece of magical cereal at a time. We had her convinced their Irish Wolfhound was going to turn into a unicorn – I really thought she’d think it was cool but it actually really upset her. Three year olds can be confusing, I tell ya.
My dad and I loaded up his truck with the big kids, and a lot of blankets and pillows, and headed to the drive-in movie with the big kids to see Incredibles 2! It was the most beautiful night watching to creamy pink Kansas sunset over the big move screen, and snuggle up with a big kid in each arm to watch the movie. We crushed a whole bag of animal crackers and only one pair of glasses, so all-in-all it was a success. Steve and I got to go on a date here not too long ago, and hitting up the drive-in when we go back to Kansas is becoming a fast tradition.
We hit up my parents’ beautiful neighborhood pool every chance we got. We practically had it to ourselves most days. It’s just a short walk down the street and cheap entertainment. If the question is kids and swimming, the answer is always yes.
Of course, the great big bathtub was a hit. There just weren’t enough bubbles to fill this thing up. I was jealous of their girlie baths and am only realizing now that I’m typing this that I skipped my opportunity to soak in that big ‘ol tub!
Of course, we hit up Union Station. We always go here when we go back because it’s just so fun for the kiddos. Science City was a blast as always and was a perfect rainy day activity!
Snuck in a photoshoot with one of my favorite families. Can you believe that I nannied these kiddos when that 6′ guy was only three?! How?!! Now they’re in high school and college and my three year old Julia is tagging along being my little photo helper!
Riding around in my mom’s Nissan Rogue with my boy… which surprisingly fits all THREE carseats… including a rear facing one!
My mom and I snuck down to the small town next to the smaller town where I grew up. She had a funeral to attend, and I waited outside in the car and soaked in my childhood memories. Like the dance classes I took on the second floor of that brick building in the background – and now here we are talking about putting our Julia in baby ballet herself. Or good old Poncho’s, where we got our “fancy” meals out with some good old Mexican food. My parents swear it’s not as good as I remember it being – but I thought those dollar tacos were pretty good. It was funny because we didn’t realize it was cash only (I love me some small town), so I walked back to the car to grab some cash. My mom asked me how much I had for the meal, and I told her I scrounged up eighty bucks from my backpack – she heard eight. I was starving and started ordering up three kids quesadillas and four tacos, and my mom sat on the other side of the table trying to figure out how we were going to pay for the meal with a lousy eight dollars in this little small town gem. She eventually figured it out and ordered some tacos to go along with her frugal chips&salsa and water, ha! I don’t know the last time I went somewhere that was cash only, besides the commissary when the card readers inevitably crash on payday weekend. Then we really splurged. I remember finishing my meal with my brother when I was a kid, and our parents sent us up to the counter with a quarter to pick out a tootsie pop. Even today I think about Ponchos every time I see one of those things. When I saw they still had that same wooden block with those tootsie pops that I got my treat from, I got all giddy inside. Y’all better believe I sent my kiddos right up there to pick out a tootsie pop of their own and loved every single second of reliving my childhood. Of all the meals we ate in Kansas, this had to be my very, very favorite.
We drove down to Wichita to check out the latest and greatest thing to the area – Field Station Dinosaur! The world’s largest dinosaur park! I’ll admit, it was a long drive, and apparently the standard for world’s largest dinosaur park isn’t quite as high as we expected. In full disclosure, I don’t know that I would recommend that long trip to our Kansas City friends, but in the end we were glad we went. (It’s hot, not a lot of shade, and not as much to do as we expected). But, Mitchell is dinobsessed, so he was pleased as punch to walk around the park identifying all those life-sized dinosaurs for us – telling us which continents archeologists found their bones. The dinosaur knowledge on this kid may be the most impressive thing about him!
My dad and I snuck out of the house for an afternoon of shooting at the range. He took me out to Quick Trip before and shopping at a gun store after, and it felt like a real daddy-daughter date! We were hot and sweaty in the Kansas summer heat but we had a lot of fun and he always has so much to teach me.
On Sunday, I snuck out of the church with just this guy and we caught the early service at the church I grew up in. I love experiencing this (especially the worship!!!) with him! He was so cute and brought his little workbook to practice writing his letters during the service.
The big kids both found themselves napping in grandma and grandpa’s bed – because that’s way cooler than sleeping in your own bed, am I right?
All-in-all, it was one successful trip to Kansas. We did a lot of living and a lot of loving. We’re so grateful for all of our family, and even more grateful for the rare opportunities we get to travel to see them. Lucky all of the grandparents are happy to hop on a plane to make up the distance, too.
This seems to be our lucky year in the Kansas department. Between this trip, Christmas flights we recently booked (yayyyy!!!!), and my dad’s upcoming retirement, we’re making THREE trips in a year! That’s a record since I moved out of the house and got married at the ripe age of 21. 😉 We love you Kansas – thanks for the memories! See you in December!