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On Colorado time

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Its been so long since I've posted, I hardly remember what to do. We arrived here in Ft. Collins a week ago yesterday and time has flown by,by and by. The boys were right back to their fun and games here in Colorado, like old times in Columbia. Lots of biking, scootering, skateboarding, pretending, building, crafting and so on. Tough to believe we even had time to do a little sightseeing. These shots are from the Swetsville Sculpture Zoo, where all animals and creations were welded from leftovers found in junkyards and scrap piles. New life for this old junk made for lots of smiles in our bunch and plenty of ideas of our own for future art projects. If you ever get the chance, check it out. Its free and worth the detour.
Our friends the Monellos are also worth the detour and we're happy to have them all to ourselves. Well, mostly to ourselves. Sadly, Ryan is not at home, but instead busy on a government mission to help solve some major, greasy problems elsewhere, and he is sorely missed. Bryce was here this weekend (over Memorial Day weekend) and there will be more on that epic later. For now this will have to suffice. We miss you all and hope that you have enjoyed your long weekend with friends and family!


Posted by PicasaSunday we did our best to run out to the hotel pool between thunderstorms, hoping for a better day Monday. Nourishment was necessary however, and after a batch of fish 'n chips we stumbled upon the Walter Anderson museum of Art and community center. This Walter Anderson was a hit. Most of the paintings and sculptures were candy colored, depicting scenes from children's stories and fables. Not too bad for a rainy day activity, even if a certain young one wanted to touch every sculpture in the place.
We did fare better Monday with fun in the sun. Walks on the beach in Biloxi, searching for anything, and cleaning up trash, led us to want to play in the water. Sandcastles and several sand holes later, we opted for the hotel pool again and a big treat for dinner at the Phoenician. Wynne quickly (and not so quietly) reminded me of why it is that I do not opt for fine dining with the youngsters in tow (and no husband to join in the festivities.) Wynne's manners eluded him when the server asked if the falafel and tabouli salad suited him. He responded with,"No, not so good. This stuff is too spicy and I don't like tomatoes. I would like a burger with a square cheddar cheese on top please." Lucky for me, the waiter arrived with a bowl of french onion soup that Wynne deemed "his favorite soup ever."
Monday also proved fruitful in securing a volunteer position with an organization based out of New Orleans, LA. The Gulf Restoration Network, an organization devoted to preserving and protecting the gulf shores from Louisiana to Florida. I was elated. This was the reason we headed down to the Gulf in the first place. All this other touristy stuff was entertaining and economically helpful to all these fine gulf towns, but I was, after all in search of helping others. (Even if they didn't want my help.) This all boiled down to making a trip to New Orleans the next morning.
Now, I love New Orleans. It is an amazing, colorful, interesting and active place. Bryce and I got married there, after all. I just didn't really want to go there with my kids and no one else to share the experience with. Driving the tiny streets with trolley cars and people zigzagging every which way was not at all enticing to me. I did, in fact, turn onto trolley tracks, heading straight for a trolley until I realized there was a lane right next to it just for cars. Well, how about that! Whew! The boys were quite taken with the idea of yard long snow cone slushy drinks and demanded that we go get one until I reminded them that this was a treat for grown ups and that if I did share one with them, we'd all be in the slammer.
Instead, we checked out the Aquarium, the IMAX, checked into a hotel that was not fond of the fact that I had two diminutive people accompanying me and rode the trolley all the way down St.Charles Ave. This I do not understand. We spend all day in the car and my kids get out of the car wanting to do nothing more than sit on a trolley car for the next hour. They were enthralled with the colorful homes and buildings all around, the carriages, the riverboats and all the music. It wasn't so bad.
The next morning we were serenaded with music in the French Quarter while we dined at Cafe Du Monde, sharing powdered sugar dust with all who came near our table. We left with Wynne resembling a snowman and Henry looking like the boy who built him. At least this way they were tough to lose. They were stuck to each other and moved slower thanks to that fine powdered sugar paste. One more trolley ride later we arrived at the Insectarium, a museum all about insects. This was interesting and interactive, complete with a bug cafe. Yes, that is chocolate covered crickets, ant dip, worm cheese spread. Enticing.

A mere 5 hours later we were back in Cleveland, MS visiting our good friends, The Green Family once again. We were just in time to welcome the graduate, Tony Green, home from his final day of high school. Congrats to Tony and good luck next year at Mississippi State.
Before we left this time, the boys made sure they had Edye practicing daredevil tricks on the skateboard, broke branches climbing the Magnolia tree in the front yard and landed a frisbee on the neighbor's roof. Ahh.... So little time, so much to destruct. Perhaps its best we do not have a home of our own at the moment.
The next morning we were off on a mission to see dad! Hooray! Just 6 more hours of driving and we're there!
And here we are. Back in St. Louis, but not for long. It is always nice to get spoiled by Grandma Nancy and Grandpa Marian when we get the chance. Even Great Grandpa along with Frank and Jerry may get to spoil a bit as we visit for the next couple of days. As Bryce heads one direction, we'll go another. We will keep you in the know right here.
We are still keeping track of the oil spill thanks to all those great folks down there in the Gulf, so keep up with us at


oil and water

Our rescue efforts, it seemed were all awash. No one wanted us. Several organizations called (10 or so) some with connections to friends in the area, all with similar sentiments. "How nice of you to want to help, but with kids, there's really no way for you to help." Here we were a trio of misfits in the misfit town of Gulf towns. It was time to move on to other places, maybe other ideas.
After speaking with a kindly Mississippi tourism person (also recently HAZMAT and OSHA trained,) who ever so politely suggested we walk on beaches wearing only shoes and socks and avoid the surf, I decided to head toward the National Gulf Seashore in search of more information. Surely, the National Park Service would know what was going on and they wouldn't turn away some free help, right? Wrong. There, they only encouraged us to enjoy our time at the Gulf and put worries of the spill out of our heads. The water was fine, the sand was safe and there was nothing to worry about until it all washed ashore. Hmm??? Oddly enough, on the way back across the bridge, a Sierra Club representative called warning me of the dangers of the area, particularly the water, (and once again refusing my help) suggesting I not enter the coastal region south of New Orleans for fear of dangers associated with fumes from the oil mixed with the dispersants being added to the spill. Who am I to believe?
Driving along this beautiful stretch of white sand beaches on Hwy 90, watching families happily splashing in the water and building sandcastles was just too much for the boys. It was too much for me too. It was an eerie and icky feeling knowing this entire area is about to be obliterated thanks to this spill...and that's just the human aspect. Lest not even imagine the communities underwater. Signs for local seafood, oysterbars and charter fishing trips were just too much.
It was time to invest in the local economy...a hotel with a pool was our next priority. A few hours of swimming brought the smiles back to my little scouts, now to find some grub. Uh...finding local food or any food but chain food was difficult, but we did it. With some thai food in our bellies, the boys set their sights on snocones. On the way to the "snowball" stand, a carnival was spotted at the Our Lady of Fatima parking lot. This was it! Live zydeco music, a carnival ride, cotton candy and a prize winning game of balloon darts hit the spot. With blue, sugar coated boys, it was back to the hotel and planning for the days to come. Where to go? What to do? "What the ...?" as my kids say.

So, we decided to stay. We're still here in Biloxi, holing up for the next few days. Word is, there are some effects of the spill nearby. It was time for some mama-style investigation. A boat trip to Ship Island for a picnic and maybe some shore exploring. A sunny morning, lots of encouragements to enjoy the clean, uncontaminated beaches. We're sold.
As we board the boat, clouds roll in, thunder booms, lightning strikes. Second thoughts seep in. Henry turns to me as we leave the dock,"Mom, I don't think this is a good idea." Insightful little fellow. To boost spirits, I turn to food. How 'bout a little snack bar treat? As the little guys enjoy their food, I ponder what to do when we arrive, seeing as this is a nature preserve and there really isn't much to do but, nature. Did I bring an umbrella, raincoats and dry clothes? Of course not. Band-aids and beach towels, oh, and shovels - that, I have. This will build character, right? Just then, the entire trip takes an interesting turn. Tune into for the rest of the story folks.



We've covered alot of ground since that last post. There are many pictures to post, but my e-time is limited, so I'll get where I can now.
Our time in Adrian was lots of fun with grandparents, fishing and cousin time, it was bliss. Not to mention all the 4 - wheeler rides and chores around the farm to help out with. Bryce enjoyed his class reunion until he was seeing sideways, when I finally dragged him home, giving Mother's Day morning a bit of a rough start. After a few hours, we enjoyed plenty of family time and silly time with Liam and Raquel (Uncle Eric and Aunt Rachel's little ones.)

Monday morning we were on the road again, back to Columbia, to drop Bryce off to walk and talk his way around town. It was I-70 for the three of us and onto St. Louis. A short but pleasant visit with my parents, until leaving Tuesday for Cleveland, MS and the Green family abode.

The Greens greeted us with plenty of sweet, southern hospitality. John was busy with a one-week intensive semester class and plenty of students to direct with that, so we missed him, but Eleanor and Edye kept us plenty entertained. I found that the Mississippi Delta environment was arguing with my sinuses and thought I had caught cold until Elle informed me that what I had was a condition refered to as the "Delta Crud." When you visit, try not to sample this lovely condition. There is, however, a "cocktail" to cure it, that only a doc can administer. Only in the south. I thought my head would explode any second. Luckily, the boys didn't feel the same way, and took to Edye (John and Elle's 9 year old kind, patient and all around lovely daughter) like ants to a picnic. They all had a great time with one another as Elle tried to connect me to folks that might need help with Oil Spill Clean up. She also pointed out all the great places to stop and enjoy on the way to the coast. Even highlighted a map for us. This was so nice. It was great to get to connect with old friends again and as Wynne informed me on the way out of town,"That was a fun place mom, and we didn't even break that much stuff there. We were good, right mom? We should go back to play with that big girl (Edye) and have some more of that break apart sandwiches (pulled pork) - they were yummy."

On our way down here to the Gulf Coast, we did get to enjoy a few unique pieces of Mississippi. We enjoyed a short stop at the Catfish Museum, where we learned that there are more Catfish raised in Mississippi than anywhere in the world. Catfish is an important staple in the south and catfish farms here now provide catfish to folks all over the world. Who knew?
Another find thanks to the Greens was a rest stop on our way into Jackson with an Indian Burial Mound right in the middle with an interpretive trail and historical markers surrounding it. This was a big hit with the kids and a great way to spend some energy scootering and learning after a picnic lunch.
Soon enough, just a few miles down the road a Donna's #6 Produce stand was full of goodies, where they were boiling peanuts in front of us and had just made a new batch of homemade ice cream. This was too good to pass up. Wynne was so sticky after it all I probably didn't even need to buckle him into his car seat, seeing as he was stuck like glue from all the melted ice cream covering his person. It wasn't all his fault. We haven't practiced eating ice cream cones in 90 degree heat since last year. There's always a learning curve.

Now here we are in Bay St. Louis. We had a leisurely trip down here to the coast yesterday as we still do not have an assignment with the relief efforts, as the oil still spills into the ocean so deep below the surface, it is unknown when it will hit the shore. No one really seems to know what is actually happening down there where the oil continues to spew out. You can catch up with us on our new blog relating to the oil spill at


parks, picnics, and parties

What a time we've had with all our friends and family! Sorry for the delay in keeping you folks updated with our adventures and happenings. We have been all over this fine show-me-state seeing friends and relatives. We are once again refreshed and ready to go for another round of on-the-road travels. First a quick, city by city tour.

St. Louis:

We finished here with the story telling festival in St.Louis. We attended many of these events and were lucky enough to see several tellers in fun locations; the History museum, The Gateway Arch and the UM-St.L campus. At the arch, Bryce treated us to a carriage ride, enjoyed by all.
The St. Stanislaus Spring Polish Heritage Picnic was the highlight of the weekend for all of us, with free vodka shots on the hour, heaping plates of polish food, children's games (pig racing was a real hit) and lots of prizes.


Being back in Columbia was bittersweet for all of us. While Bryce put in time walking and talking on the phone, we were visiting friends and soaking up all the goodness Columbia has to offer, most of it being some of the greatest people found anywhere. Such generosity was showered upon us by all. We thank everyone for this. I (Jenny) was lucky enough to revel in an evening of visiting with all the girl friends I could find and gather in one place. Being back on the patio of Uprise/RagTag with all those women, laughing and sharing stories made me cry myself to sleep thinking of how lucky I am to have friends like these. You all know who you are! Special thanks to Amy Higgins for helping me put together and execute the Family Picnic on Tuesday evening, even though I got a flat tire on the way there and had to borrow a neighbors grill (since the park grill had been replaced with a drinking fountain.) Heidi and Elizabeth were painting faces of all the children, which made for an even livelier event. We all had a blast watching the kids squealing around the playground (pictures soon) chasing, and catching one another until it was too dark to see. It did our hearts good to see our own friends and feel support in a community we still feel so connected to. We love you Columbia!


On our way, we stopped to see Katie and Andy and their little kittens in K.C. It was great fun, even if Wynne got a bit Cinco de Mayo nutso and almost puked on Andy at dinner.
Finally, we made it to Grandpa Scott and Grandma Janet's house. Hooray! Grandpa Scott took the boys fishing, fell into the pond, and helped them catch many fish - delicious for dinner, indeed. Liam was taking scooter and skateboard lessons from his big cousins and Raquel was just looking cute as can be as her sweet baby girl self. We are sure to wear out the four wheeler before we leave. Sadly, the other Oates cousins, Oliver, Aubrie and Alisa are sick with strep so we will miss them and are quite upset for them and for us. Boo Hoo!

My time is almost up, as I have other projects to begin and to prepare for as we leave again on Monday morning.

I am heading south, very very south, with the boys to help in the clean up of our newest disaster - the great goo clean up thanks to BP, down in the Gulf of Mexico. We are heading first to see friends in Mississippi, then getting connected to the right folks to help in whatever capacity we can. We will keep you posted on this and will certainly need your help. I will be hosting a new blog devoted to this new chapter of our home school life. What better way to learn about environmental disasters than to experience them, right? I hope to link the new blog here within the week. Keep reading and we'll keep writing.

Hug your mothers and send them love. Tomorrow is Mother's Day! Happy Mother's Day to all you moms out there!