Sunday, July 27, 2014

Easy Peasy Road Trip (Meet Me In St. Louis Again)

After doing a 20 hour road trip in June, our annual jaunt down to St. Louis (a mere 5 1/2 hours) seemed like nothin'. Charlie and I packed our bags (a'hem, you know he didn't pack a thing--as much as I encouraged him to participate) and headed South last Tuesday.

Most of you know that Mindy & I lived together when we were in grad school, but after she & her family moved to St. Louis we rarely see each other.  So, it's always fun to reconnect and this year was no different.  Our kids are at great ages-- becoming more independent but still interested in little outings and adventures that we plan.  (We might be singing a different tune when they hit those magical middle school years and become too cool for day trips with their ol' moms.)  But for the time being, it's great.  

Charlie and Harrison hit it off really well.  But let's be honest: I'm pretty sure Harry could hang out with anyone-- he's one of those kids that just jumps right into the action and doesn't look back.  My kid, as you know, is not a "jump right in" kind of person-- and probably won't ever be.  So once he surveyed his surroundings, he let his guard down enough to run wild with Harry.... as long as it was just the two of them.  As soon as a neighbor friend was part of the action, C retreated a bit and took on the role of observer for a good while.

We spent plenty of time just hanging out and relaxing at Min's house--playing pirates, diggers & dumpers, school, castle, store, hotel, and of course Bingo (which only involved spinning the balls around in the hopper and probably losing half of them-- Sorry Min, add that to my tab).  We also went on a few new excursions this year.  

On Wednesday morning, we packed a picnic lunch & headed down to a little nature preserve not far from Mindy's house.  The kids played on the park equipment before venturing down to a shady little creek and wading around. Mindy and I even enjoyed sitting in chairs watching them play for about ten minutes before we were summoned to do/help/intervene in some way.  The kids picnicked when their tummies growled and then resumed their quest for minnows and tiny tadpoles.  It was so picturesque midwestern summer-- This nature girl loved it and could have sat down there for hours.

We spent Thursday morning at the St. Louis Transportation Museum.  Mindy and I weren't sure how long our little people would last and figured it might be a short outing.  But honestly, they LOVED it! We arrived around 10:00, and didn't leave until 1:00.  The entire museum was really interesting-- I kept thinking of how much my grandpa Bernie would have enjoyed it.  Personally, I would have loved to had time to read more of the little plaques explaining things, but with four kids in tow that was nearly impossible.  Mason would have loved the automobile room-- where they have collections of antique cars and carriages.  I was impressed, but Mase knows his cars and I'm sure he would have been even more excited.

This year happens to be St. Louis's semiquincentennial.  (I googled that word--it's fancy for 250th anniversary) In honor of the big celebration, the city has placed 250 huge cakes throughout the entire city.  Mindy & the kids have been looking for them this summer and one of them was at the museum.  Very cool. :)

After finally riding the small train around the museum (they begged us to do it right away-- and had we known we got unlimited rides, we would have), we headed out for lunch.  Mindy introduced us to Five Guys-- where she proceeded to share her big burger with her three children (yes, four people split a hamburger) and I, alone, ate my entire burger.  (C'mon people, let's stick with the "eating for two philosophy" on this one.)  Charlie ate fries and peanuts and popcorn for lunch.  (I think we fulfilled the sodium requirement for the rest of the month)

That afternoon we rested (literally, I laid on Mindy's couch trying to get comfortable for a good hour or two) before eating pizza for dinner & ice cream before bed.  Oh, and I forgot to mention that we left Jeremy in charge of the kids for an couple hours Wednesday and Thursday nights while Mindy and I had date night.  Our date involved going to the Gap, returning a movie, and picking up ice cream. But it was solo girl time in a vehicle without sliding doors so it felt pretty darn exciting.  

The next morning, Charlie slept in late ("I was the last kid to get out of bed!") and Mindy spoiled us with monkey bread ("Mommy, can you make this yummy sugary monkey bread sometime?") before our travels.  Charlie and Harry played while I packed but we were on the road by 10:00 and home around 4:00.

(I LOVE this picture of the two of us!)

I was exhausted when we walked through our front door, but as always, it felt good to be home.  This was the last of our mini overnight excursions for the summer and in a way, I'm a little sad to see them come to an end.  But, on the other hand, I'm ready to just hang out in Spahnville and soak up the rest of the summer.  On Friday night we watched the tractor pull at the Grundy Fair and last night we enjoyed some barbecue action at a friend's house before watching something called "demolition derby" at the fairgrounds.  (Believe me, I really hope I remember to blog about that!)  Nothing feels more like small town summer than a county fair with tractors, livestock, and random food on sticks.  (And let's not forget the sno cones and lemonades and greasy people in tank tops.)  We have another busy week ahead-- with a BIG ADVENTURE on Tuesday and Kelly's visit on Thursday!  I'm super excited about both-- will keep ya posted with blog and instagram pics, I'm sure.  

In the meantime, we just wait for that little baby cousin to arrive any day now.  (I love that she was due on Friday and is making her mama wait a few extra days.  Makes me giggle that she's already changing her very-organized mama's plans.) 

And now, I leave you with this quote from Charlie.  I asked him if he had fun with his friends this week, and this is what he told me:

"People that we know and we don't live there, and we love them, we miss them when we're not there. Like I miss my friends."  

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