Monday, June 10, 2013

Magic Happens in St. Louis

Charlie & I just returned from what has become an annual trip to Missouri.  (You can read about our trips from 2011 here and 2012 here) As usual, C was a fantastic traveler-- enduring the nearly six hour drive beautifully. 

We headed down on Wednesday morning as M was spending a few days in the Gulf of Mexico on a chartered fishing trip.  It has become a bit of a tradition to stop in Donnellson, IA for a picnic and some park time.  I remember 2011 being so hot that we couldn't even play outside but this year the weather was gorgeous-- sunny and mid 70's.  We only come to this park on our way to St. Louis, so it seems to have shrunk since the last time we visited.  That white squirly-whirly slide was too big on previous trips, and this time C was at the top before I had the minivan door closed.  


Spending about an hour at the park gave us plenty of time to arrive at Mindy's house by late afternoon.  The sky was overcast, but that didn't stop the kids from playing outside-- good thing we always travel with C's trusty Thomas umbrella. 

After rounding the kids up from their rainy play, we headed inside for dinner.  Mindy is a fantastic chef and had whipped up an awesome chicken spaghetti recipe for dinner.  Paired with garlic bread and raspberry salad and the fact that I didn't have to cook anything-- it was nothing short of amazing.  The kids enjoyed playing together that night and once they were snuggled into bed, the two of us snuggled under cozy blankets in her living room and chatted the night away.

Thursday morning, we headed to St. Louis to visit The Magic House, a 1900's manor that has been renovated into a children's museum.  We arrived shortly after it opened, and were thankful we did because it was crazy busy by about 1:00pm.  If you have little (or medium size) kids and are in St. Louis, this is an awesome stop!  We mainly did the little kid stuff.  Charlie had a blast.

He climbed a three-story beanstalk.  (But once at the top, he stated: "Ders no giants up here!")

He identified letters-- his favorite was letter "C", which was orange in color and had a cupcake hiding behind the door.  What could be better?

He played with bubbles...

He played with sand...

He changed a tire and tightened the lug nuts.

He scooped and served up some ice cream before heading over to the construction sight where he mixed concrete, measured stuff, and built a house out of bricks.

The museum currently has a sand exhibit and one of their parking lots has been turned into a giant beach, complete with toys and umbrellas and chairs.  The kids thought it was great fun.  The moms thought it was great relaxation.  
That afternoon and evening, we played outside for hours.  I felt right at home among Min's neighbors and Charlie eventually felt comfortable enough wandering from yard to yard with the other kids.  (I never quite got over my anxiety when I looked up and couldn't find him-- but he was always happily playing with other neighborhood kids)  We ordered incredible St. Louis style pizza (thin and crispy!) and ate outside on the deck-- all seven of us crowded around the big table as nobody wanted to eat at the kid table.

On Friday, we spent the morning at a nearby park, where C continued to amaze me with his independence.  He climbed every ladder and tested out every slide, eventually choosing to do this slide close to a hundred times.  

When we got home, we set up the big blow-up waterslide in the backyard.  The weather wasn't really warm enough for a waterslide but kids don't believe the air temperature is a factor in water-related-activities.  They had a blast.  Actually, the "big kids" were finished with the slide after about 20 minutes, complaining that it was too cold.  The 'littles' could have stayed out there forever, insisting that "It warm! It warm!"

That night, we treated the kids to ice cream.  Charlie picked chocolate with sprinkles and all but licked the bowl clean.  I drank my entire chocolate/marshmallow shake because I am polite like that.


Our trip ended on Saturday after homemade pancakes and extra syrup.  There were tears and whimpers from Charlie, "I don't want to go home.  I want to stay here with my friends.  Can Harrison come home with us?"  It tugged at my heart a little because I would have loved to stay for weeks.  

We stopped again in Donnellson for another picnic and more squirly-whirly slide rides before heading back to GC.  We arrived home with enough time to make supper, wash up, and head to bed, already making plans for our next visit.

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