7 Quick Takes: Our first week in STL

I was reading my friend Rhonda's seven quick takes today, and she was linking up with a garden themed topic.  It looks as if you're supposed to take pictures of your garden and show it off. So, here are a few:
An impressive hosta forest

A border of impatiens

Wait just a minute...That's not our house!
If you think this is MY garden, then I have an email to forward you about a Nigerian princess who wants to bequeath you 10 million dollars.

This is my mom's garden, because we're visiting my family in St. Louis.  This blue house is the one I lived in from ages 6 to 18, although it has gone many transformations and renovations in that time and many more since in the 12 years since then.

My mom and her mom are amazing gardeners.  Me?  Well, not so much...although I am learning from a great series on Real Housekeeping.  I don't have any pictures right now of the yard at our new place, but trust me, it's nothing like this!

We're having a lot of fun here.  Growing up, going to my grandma's house was the highlight of the summer.  We usually spent about a month there, and every year there was something new and thrilling to play with or do.  It's the same here.

As I type, the kids are playing on the front porch with a makeshift sandbox, a water table, and lots of fine plastic animals that Max is quite enamored of at the moment.  A few moments before, my mom was reading them a story.

I'm not sure who's happier about this visit: my kids or my mom!  She is a natural when it comes to playing the part of loving and doting grandmother.

Not that I'm surprised; just pleased that my kids get to have the same wonderful summertime memories that I had with my grandparents.

Ruby helps grandpa decorate pizza for dinner (which later earned this unjust disapprobation)

Grandma shows Max how to cut flowers 
Max gives it a go, but when all else fails, just yank 'em out

Visiting one of several parks we've been to this week

He's growing up

She barely fits in these kiddie swings anymore!

Building a bean tipi (or is it teepee)?

Max is eyeing Ozzie dog (not pictured)
Speaking of Ozzie dog, those of you who know Max will be shocked--SHOCKED--that he is not scared of Ozzie.  Ozzie is a giant 120 lb. golden lab who is sweet and as dumb as a box of rocks.  120 lbs is three times as much as Ruby weighs and four times as much as Max weighs.

Max is terrified of Dink, his aunt and uncle's 12 lb. pug (okay, maybe 14 lb.).  He screams, shivers, and cowers before Dexter, our friends' bulldog (right? I'm so bad with dog breeds, I'm sorry if I got that wrong).  But apparently, humongous dogs like Hemi and Ozzie don't throw him for a loop.

Go figure.

Ruby, per usual, is fearless around animals (a little too fearless, I sometimes worry).  Here she is engaging Ozzie in a game of "this is MY toy."

I guess Ozzie won this round.

And what of Ben, you ask?  Well, for a guy who is teething and has had really high fevers (topping out at 104.7!) and an ear infection in at least one ear, he's pretty happy.

Uncle Toby dotes on his newish nephie

This is the first Cook baby that didn't grow up in a house with Toby :(

Enjoying a bot-bot at the park

What a sweetie pie!

It's hard work having this much fun
By way of comparison, here's a picture of what the kids looked like on their last visit here (Christmas 2012).  At that time, Max was just 9 months old, so it's fun to compare him at a similar age to Ben's age now.
Remember the era of the helmet?

Minus the brown hair, and you have a spittin' image of Ben

Look at Ruby's long hair (well, long for her)

Ben turned 8 months old on the 4th, and is still not quite ready to sit up on his own.  That's bad news for him, because his legs are getting way too chubs to fit in his Bumbo seat's leg holes.  Better work on that soon!
Despite a (current) lack of teeth, Ben is a voracious eater and loves trying new foods.  I can't think of anything he hasn't liked so far, praise be.  The same cannot be said of Ruby and Max, who are going through a picky phase right now. It's their loss, because the home cooking around here is primo.  

Ben's rolling all over the place and enjoys tummy time now that he can sort of get where he wants to go by a combination of rolling and rotating.  Crawling may not be too far off!  And he had his first real bath in a real bathtub, but was not a fan.

I'm sorry to report that I have no pictures of my sister's graduation to put up yet.  Apparently, no one thought to bring an actual camera.  #youngestchildproblems  I know that someone took pictures of our family, but I don't know if it was with their camera, or their phone, or my dad's phone, or what.  All I know is that she was gorgeous and I can't wait to show you the pictures to prove it!  I'm so proud of her.

Another reason to be proud of Sarah is that she, like her eldest brother, is quite the thespian.  My brother Chris and his girlfriend Julia were here for a few days and I got to pick their brains a little bit about life in NYC as aspiring actors.  While I don't think Sarah wants to go the route of becoming a professional actor, she's certainly a fantastic amateur.

She's got a gig working with the St. Louis Shakespeare Festival doing the green show, which is a very abbreviated summary of the play.  This year, the SLSF is doing both Henry IV and Henry V.  I went to see Henry V, which was wonderful, and I saw Sarah in the green show version. She played the Narrator and it was amazing to watch her.  She exuded a confidence, poise, and mastery that was impressive to behold.

Not many people can recite Shakespearean English in a way that makes it accessible and understandable to our modern ears, but Sarah can.  That's probably why she recently went to the national competition for Shakespearean monologue recitation (okay, that's not the actual name of the contest, but that's what it was) in New York City.  Nationals, people!  WOW! She was the cream of the crop.  While she didn't win the top prize, just getting there with a small cadre of fellow high schoolers is a very impressive feat.

I'm so proud of my baby sis and can hardly believe she'll be heading off to Knox College in the fall.  <Sniffle>
It's wonderful to have all this leisure time.  It really is restorative.  I only wish my husband could be at leisure, but he is at anything BUT leisure.  I don't have pictures to show you, but the trailer is gutted and being rebuilt (here are the "before" pics, to remind yourself of the enormity of the task.)  It's partially wired for electricity and the new pipes for the plumbing are cut and ready to install.  The toilet works, so that's a plus.

Allen was telling me that he's come by nearly $700 worth of insulation--some new and some used but in good to fair condition--which is enough to do the ceiling of the whole house and the kids' bedroom and maybe some more on top of that.  I'm so proud of his resourcefulness and ability to find great deals on Craigslist and by asking friends and family.

He can use all your prayers, good vibes, or whatever you send people who have a hard job to do.  I think he's at that point which so often occurs in big projects of thinking, "Oh dear Lord, what was I THINKING and how am I going to GET IT DONE???"  I have had that thought many a time, but when push comes to shove, somehow it gets accomplished.  The Lowes and the Cooks are famous for this.  I know he can do it, but it won't be leisurely in any sense.  Something tells me I'd better plan something very relaxing for our 5th anniversary this August.
Back to the garden theme: here are some lovely stepping stones my mom made.  Bonus points if you can guess the children's book which inspired them!

Here's a bird bath she made!

I made this bench as part of my senior project in high school.
Another time I'll take pictures of all the other amazing artistry around the house.  My parents both do stained glass, glass mosaic (of which the above are examples), and fused glass as hobbies.  It seems there is hardly an area of art and craft in which my mom has not dabbled (and allowed me to do the same).  

I'll finish up this delightful hour or so I've taken to write this post, sipping on iced coffee with hardly a moment of having to worry about entertaining my kids (and thanks to Ben for taking a mega nap!) by saying: LIFE IS GOOD!  

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!


  1. Sooooo glad you are getting some much-deserved rest, and that both grand-children and -parents are getting quality time! (And yes, Dexter is indeed a bulldog.) :)

    1. Too bad we can't make a visit to see you at the Cape! It's been a looooooong time since I've been there, and I'm pretty sure the kids would adore all that beach time (not to mention non-freezing water). And another visit with Channy is always a plus!

  2. Your mother's garden is GORGEOUS. I'm completely envious of the vegetable garden. Mine is still so stubby. And the stained glass decorations? Love.

    1. I only wish I could have a quarter of her talent for gardening...sadly, I tend to kill even cacti :(

  3. Visiting (a little late) from 7QT...your mom's garden IS gorgeous, and poor little Ben! Having been through a couple of ear infections ourselves, I can sympathize. It's no fun!

    1. Yes, I was very thankful for amoxycillin, which seems to have cleared it up pretty well so far. Thanks for visiting!

  4. How about "brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See" for those gorgeous stained glass blocks... And the gardens with children are a vision!

  5. Max is genetically predisposed to be unafraid of large dogs: recall the tradition of Small the St Bernard and his antecedents in Bethany!


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