Thursday, December 27, 2012


Before we left Hong Kong we got rid of our artificial tree, we had it for about nine years and it was falling apart.  In Hong Kong we bought a cheap smaller tree that we got rid of when we came back to the States.
  We thought we would go ahead and purchase another artificial tree this year.  That is until sticker shock.  $100-$300 for trees with branches that were covered in really fake plastic green covering! 

A local tree farm was offering to give part of their money to the church with each purchase. We decided to get our first real tree in 11 years.
They give you a short tractor ride to a place where you can pick one out.

Jane never met a tree she didn't like, she was ready to take home all of them.

On the search with saw in hand.  The option was to cut it yourself or have them use a chainsaw. Next time we will let them cut it.

Finally a decision was made. 

Dad doing the hard work.

Jane named the tree Rudolph.

On the tractor heading back to get it ready.

cutting off some extra branches on the bottom

Cleaning it up and binding it for us so it is easy to take home.

I am enjoying the real tree. The smell alone is worth getting it.
 I can understand why we sing a song that talks about lovely branches 

Some of our favorite ornaments are the 7-11 ones from Hong Kong.  Mcdonalds' fry and apple pie.  The little Shao mai kid.

one tree / two ice skates from outypants on Vimeo.

The City Museum

The City Museum was suggested to us as a place to visit in St. Louis, MO

This is the description listed in wikipedia and I think it states it better than I can.
The museum consist largely of re-purposed architectural and industrial objects, housed in the former international shoe building.
It bills itself as an eclectic mixture of Children's playground, funhouse, surrealistic pavilion and architectural marvel. Visitors are encouraged to feel, touch, climb on and play in the various exhibits.

lamberts - city museum from outypants on Vimeo.

It is unlike any place we have ever visited and a comment was made that it was more fun than Disney.  The tunnels and slide can be narrow and very dark. I think it is more fun with kids that are older like ours. Following the kids through tunnels was possible for us but was not always comfortable.  

Free Rag doll making. I made the ninja for Elliot, Jane made the angel. We also made snowflakes. The lady has intricate designs for papercutting.

The largest Pencil in the world.

The circus was next to the amusement section. It had old displays from carnivals, you could purchase snacks and bring them in, something fun and usually not allowed in museums.  
On one of the days we went, the circus featured just one woman who did tricks. Nathan and the kids both got to participate. 

The place is fun just to walk around and look at the architecture. 

There are sections for younger kids like this giant outside ball pit.

The many many slides were a lot of fun.

We didn't even make it to the Arch, (after one and half days )  we spent all our time in St. Louis at the museum.
We would love something like this to come to Grand Rapids.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012


Jane has had about 6 months of  piano lessons and enjoys being able to play.   This video features her playing at Grandpa's church in Tenn.  This video also features the kids Thanksgiving presentations.

thanksgivingpresentations from outypants on Vimeo.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Sweeneys VS Food nation and visiting friends

In planning our trip to Tennessee 
we looked up any special restaurants that might be on our way there or on the way home.  
Tom & Chee   located in Louisville KY was one of the places we chose.  The name refers to grilled cheese and tomato soup.  The restaurant specializes in a variety of grilled cheese sandwiches.  They also serve grilled cheese doughnuts.

The restaurant was featured on the travel channel show
Man Vs. Food. 

Nathan had the three little pigs, which had bacon, ham, and pork rinds. We both agreed that the Armogetta was the better of the two. Getta a key ingredient is a sausage made with ground meat and oats. 

Cheese and doughnuts sound like a weird combination, but the four of us quickly devoured this
caramelized banana with Gouda. 

The Lamberts we visited is located in Sikeston, MO.
The food served is generous portions of southern homestyle cooking.  The main attraction is the free rolls the staff brings out and will throw to you from across the room. 

Primary decoration is license plates from all over the US.
We spent a good amount of our time trying to figure out what the vanity plates said.  The most creative one Jane and I deciphered was Jehovah Jireh ( Hebrew for God provides)

It was too much food.
The free items they bring you not only include the all you can eat rolls, but also all you can eat fried okra,  and blackeyed peas.  When the kids food arrived they were too full to eat it.
We decided if we eat at Lamberts again it will be when the kids are teenagers.

St. Louis was our final destination before heading back to Michigan.  We were able to stop by the home of the Wright family.  We know the Wrights from HK. They lived in Tai Po and their kids attended the Norwegian International School too.

They had just moved back to the States from Hong Kong three weeks earlier to our visit. 

Layna seemed to be adjusting back to America life quite well.
We had a lot to catch up on and not enough time. We look forward to the chance to see the Wrights again.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Fort Donelson

Fort Donelson located in Dover, TN
was our third stop that was part of the 
National Park Service. 

Michigan did supply union troops during the civil war, but geographically was far removed from the actual fighting. This was the kids first visit to an actual battle ground.

The kids were given a Junior Ranger book to fill out.  If they completed the pages assigned they would receive a special pin.  To commemorate the 150th anniversary of the Civil War, a special pin can be earned if you visit three Civil War parks before 2015.
The Cumberland River 

Taking the oath as Junior Rangers.  
They got more trading cards too.
The fort is home to Eagles. We think we saw some flying around, but they were far away to say for sure.
We had great weather and a nice visit.  
The kids however were excited to head out and reach our destination to the parents in Rutherford.