Kaden's birthday will probably always fall on the first week of school – one of the worst times to celebrate your birthday with a sleepover as everyone is readjusting to the shock of an alarm going off and building back stamina into long days of listening & learning.
We decided Kaden could have a sleepover party Labor Day weekend – when everybody gets an extra day to recover (not to mention I would be home that weekend to help).
Kaden helping make his "vision" of a Reese's peanut butter cup pie. 😳😍
Luckily the Amarillo Townclub decided to extend their pool hours and stay open on the weekends through Labor Day, so we kicked off his birthday festivities by taking everyone to Cornell's pool.
Ben & Owen, Leo, Luke, and Kaden
Joyce helping Evelyn and Grace swim
Kaden and Luke
the giant 24" pizza from LaBella, complete with his name across the middle. (They are seriously the coolest people.)
birthday pie #2
dancing to the end credits of Trolls (a.k.a. Justin Timberlake)
Over a year ago dad had told us that central-Missouri was going to be in the path of a TOTAL solar eclipse in 2017; a "once-in-a-lifetime" opportunity for us AND the kids. I looked up the date and quickly realized that this event would take place during one of the most challenging times of the year: the 1st week of school (including Owen's very first week of kindergarten).
BUT both mom and dad's houses were in the direct path of totality-- hotel rooms were already booked (and sold out) a year in advance and we would have a free place to stay and view this spectacular event.
After waffling for weeks:
YEAH, we should TOTALLY go!
Driving for 24-hours would be crazy, right? Will the kids even remember?
Will the sun even be out that day or might it be cloudy?
It would be dumb NOT to go!
But would we still be able to see 78% of it in Amarillo?!?
We asked our friends who wanted to join and in the end Julie and I (with our 5 kids) decided to load up the van and leave on Saturday morning with our fingers crossed for a fun adventure.
trucker hats and truck stop dining...
...we made it to dad/Dawn's house in 1-piece WITHOUT a flat van tire (just a nail protruding).
We were ale to visit with family on Sunday:
Gracie finding a chicken egg in the morning AND a turtle in Steve & Dawn's sand box!
trampoline time and 2 hours of digging
and then everyone got 1/2 necked... to get the sand off.
a themed dinner of "rocket dogs", moon pies, Sun drop soda... you get the picture
and making sure everyone had their protective eyewear
MONDAY-- August 21, 2017
People were worried about us (the kids) taking their glasses off and looking directly at the solar eclipse so Julie, David, and I had the kids decorate a paper plate that we attached to their glasses to TOTALLY block out the light.
and it seemed to work!
over the course of an hour or so we kept sending the kids out to watch chunks of the sun disappear...
and gradually noticed it getting (ever so slightly) darker outside.
protected iPhone vs. protected video camera viewfinder
grandpa helping Grace
(NOT staring directly into the sun... Haha!!)
All joking aside... this may have been the COOLEST natural phenomena I've EVER witnessed. By far. I was only sad that Ben wasn't there to be there with us.
THIS is what it actually looked like.
We were able to take off our glasses and stare directly at the sun for a full 2-minutes; the fastest 2-minutes of our lives and then it was over. The SECOND the moon moved out of the way, glasses HAD to go back on because you could feel how strong the sun's rays were.
But during those 2 minutes:
the air cooled off
cicadas started humming
birds were chirping like it was sunrise
and all of the adults and kids were going nuts...
it. was. awesome
Steve & Dawn
and then it was over
and so began the slow 13-hour journey back to Amarillo to get the kids back to school...
so they could tell their friends about their EPIC totality adventure in Missouri.
dinner at the Olive Garden in Joplin, Missouri before pajamas and car sleeping...