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Tuesday, July 21

Johnson's Shut-Ins Day Trip: Phone Phones

We took a day trip to Johnson's Shut-Ins State Park this past Wednesday. We had to go without Joe since he had work duties... But it's been a really smooth summer for me with regards to toting the three kids all over the place by myself. (Finally! It feels huge for this to be easy!) 

So we packed up the car with all the river-swimming supplies (towels, swim diapers, sunscreen, water toys, Puddle Jumper life vests, changes of clothing) and snacks (individual baggies of fruit loops, Cheetos; granola bars, apple sauce pouches, premade PB&J sandwiches, Capri Suns) and we set out on the 2-hour journey. 

Though we planned to rendezvous with my parents and my sisters at the same time upon arrival, they got stuck in a terrible highway traffic jam, so we arrived what turned out to be HOURS before them. Good thing for the snacks-- we were able to eat lunch with only what we brought and not have to rely on the lunch food my parents were bringing. So we went ahead and ate first, then just headed out on our own to trek the .25 mile trail to the river. 

We ended up swimming/splashing/ playing for almost two full hours before my family arrived, and there were definitely some rough patches where my juggling three kids' needs was nearly impossible. Noah was mostly patient and willing to do his playing near me, but Quinn was daring and curious and always trying to do more than I could help him with. Lucy, meanwhile, was extremely timid and really wanted me close to her the whole time-- a bad combo with the boys' need to explore a bit. Quinn nearly floated away from me two times, and Lucy had more than a few mini-freakouts. But we survived, and finally my poor parents and sisters arrived and were able to come cool down, shake off their awful traffic stress, and we got down to the business of having fun, all of us. 

It was really so perfect. Once I had some extra hands and eyes to help me, I even managed to relax and enjoy the moments. The river was gorgeous, the sky so blue, and it was fun to be with my family. We played in the water til about 4:30 pm, and then slowly made the trek back to my parents' campsite, where we changed clothes, relaxed, and the folks got a campfire and dutch oven dinner going. We stayed long enough to eat a delicious meal of brats and beans, then I packed up my two littles, leaving Noah behind to camp in the cabin with my parents and sisters, and I drove the two hours home with the help of "Wreck It Ralph" on the portable DVD player. We all fell into bed once we got home at 10pm that night, and slept hard and long, reuniting with Noah the next afternoon when my mom and sister brought him home to us. 

All in all, despite hiccups and unpredictabilities and a few little meltdowns, the trip was SO worth the effort. I love that my own kids are building a collection of memories of a place I have cherished for so many years of my own youth. I love that we plan to return year after year for years to come. 

Here, from my phone, all the photos I took of this summer's trip.

Lucy enjoys our pre-swimming picnic.

But Lucy does NOT enjoy a riverside "potty" break...

Mom tried her hand at rock-stacking. We loved it!

Quinn was FAR less interested in stacking rocks, and FAR more interested in throwing rocks. As many rocks as he could. HEAVEN. 



Noah was thrilled when his aunts arrived and he had some real playmates. Aunt Sarah was great about going down the shut-in formations with him on both days he was there. 

And Aunt Julina was a really good sport about Noah wanting to "battle" with water sprayers. 

Even when he got her full in the face. 

Dad was on his usual quest to find at least one rock with a natural hole worn through it by thousands of years on the river. This one was a little too big for him to take home, but it was one of the coolest of all his finds over the years.


Two-Mama Selfie. My cute mom....

And Lucy was happiest when I was near and she could sit in shallow water and splash her toys into the water. 

Noah proudly heaved this massive rock to our pile of stuff and not so subtly said, offhandedly at the end, "I sure wish we could take this rock home with us!" I asked if he could settle for a photo of him and this rock, and he was a pretty good sport. This is a "concentrating on not dropping it" face, not a mad face. 

It was a gorgeous day for the river trail.... Even at the end of the day when we were tired, achy, and sun-drained. 

At the campsite, Quinn LOVED going in and out and in and out and in and out of the cabin door. 

But when the kids say the tin of dominoes, they latched right onto them as a plaything. Quinn and Lucy claimed the train pieces for their "toys", running them up and down domino "tracks", and Noah appropriated a big pile of dominoes to build his own fortress or something like that. 

Happy and worn out, these kiddos ate a decent meal and were mellow but awake the entire drive home to St. Louis. We were all so happy to get to our beds. The ones who stayed behind to camp had a pretty fun rest of their night with s'mores and things, and another morning on the river before they packed it in.

Ending the post with one more of these cuties, actually kind of getting along as they agreed to share the rocking chair without any tears or adult intervention. I love it!

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