Thursday, May 26, 2011

Meet Me in St. Louis....part 4

St. Louis is a great place to take a trip.  It is just the icing on the cake that I also happen to have friends that live there....  But the REAL reason that we took a trip there was to celebrate my cousin Chris's 30th birthday. 

 Chris and his wonderful wife, Laura, also happen to be Sam's godparents.  So, when Laura emailed me asking if we'd be interesting in coming down for the weekend -- she wanted to throw a SURPRISE party for Chris -- I was totally game.  And, to her credit, she managed to keep the entire party a surprise!  I don't know how often that actually even better for her!!

Check out the awesome cake she had made.  This thing is truly a work of art.  Little Max was super excited because it was also a 'football' cake (remember his 3rd birthday cake?).  He wanted "a piece of the green and a piece of the football.'  He knows what he wants, and he isn't afraid to ask for it....I'll give him that!

And, lucky for us, this old school video game happened to be in the party room.  And, he was truly entertained to just sit there and play with the steering wheel and watch the same intro over and over and over and over again....

Here's the party room before everyone started arriving...

Sam and Daddy.  Can you believe Sam is old enough to wear the "Monkey Shirt"?  The sleeves are rolled up, but his buddha belly fills it up quite nicely.  How cute are these guys??

Chris earned the honorary "Uncle of the Year" award when he won this interesting stuffed animal out of a game and gave it to Little Max.  Little Max proceeded to name it "squidy" -- presumable after Squidward on SpongeBob... Although, if you read the tag on the stuffed animal, it is supposedly some type of Ghost.  Hmmm..

As you can tell, Little Max was quite enamored with his new toy...

It was a wonderful party and so wonderful to be able to see my cousin...who I don't get to see nearly as much as I would like.

And equally as exciting to get to hang with his wife, Laura.  She is a beautiful person.  I'm so happy she married my cousin!!!

Seriously...Uncle of the Year!  Chris donned a matching frosting mustache just for Max.  How cool is he??

Side note on the balloon in the above picture.  Sam insisted that he be let down to explore the room, and he made a bee-line for another group that was sharing the room with us who were having a birthday party (complete with balloons).  I had to steer him away from their tables time after time again.  We were playing in another area of the room and he kept pointing to the ceiling and grunting.  Sure enough, I looked up there, and a lone balloon was stuck!  I freed it from the trap..and it had just enough juice left in it to make it float a little bit off the ground...and the boys were both in L.O.V.E. with it.  LOL

And second side note.  Little Max was an awesome traveller.  Especially considering he was occassionally complaining of his ear hurting.  He was still complaining the week following our trip, so I took him to urgent care and, sure enough, he had an ear infection...bordering on a double-ear infection.  Wow.  What a trooper!

Thanks again, Laura, for having such an awesome party for Chris!  And thanks, Chris, for having a birthday!  :)

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Meet Me in St. Louis...Part 3

After our tour of the Soulard Farmer's market, we packed the kids up in the car and headed back to our hotel to go see the arch.  Lucky for us, the hotel was ACROSS the STREET from it! 

It was drizzling, but only a little bit, so we didn't let that get us down.  I can you when you are looking at THIS:

The architecture of the arch is seriously amazing.  And the bases of it just don't seem big enough to support the entire structure...but they do....

If you look way up at the very center of the top, you can see the observation windows (you'll get to see these a bit later in the post also)...

That's how close our zoom gets...can you see the people in the windows?

Emily and I walking along...chit chatting...

Noah was just as enamored with the arch as he was with running around the arch...

Little Max joined him...

Run Max, RUN!

We got inside and immediately bought tickets to go up the elevators to the top of the arch.  I visited the arch as a child, and vaguely remembered doing this -- I remembered that the elevators were small and cramped.  And I remember that when we got to the top, I could feel the Arch swaying side to side in the breeze....  I was a bit reluctant to go up it again, but at the same time excited...

Can you tell just how excited I am?  LOL.  Sam was fascinated with the scenery of the 'guts' of the Arch that you could see out of the tiny window on the front of the elevator.  And yes, the elevator was as tiny and cramped as I remembered it.  But it wasn't claustrophobic for me, luckily.

I think Joe was just as excited as I was....

Family photo op in the elevator!  :)

As soon as we got to the top, Max crawled up the ledge and pressed his little face against the window.  I think he would have stayed up there all day long if we would have let him.  No fear in that one!

The floor is sloped at the top, so at the very peak of the observation tower, you are 630 feet off the ground.

We had to go and look out every single window just to see if the view changed...

And then Sam decided he needed to take a look also.

There's the view of our hotel from the top of the Arch.

I love this shot.  What a sweetie.  What a perfectly adorable chubby hand...

This picture cracks me up for several reasons.  #1 -- Max is  using his 'cheeser' smile -- the one where we often have to remind him to "open his eyes".  #2 -- Sam is distraught that Max is so close to me -- stretching out his little arm to tell him to move away.  Sam has a serious case of not wanting to share Mommy...

It was a wonderful family excursion.  Little Max has been asking me daily if we are going back to the Arch.  He didn't want to leave the top and ride the elevator back down -- and once we had, he wanted to ride it back up again.  I told him he could, but only if he paid for another ticket.  The prices were $10/adult and $5/child 3 or we paid $25 to ride to the top.  Not a bad price for such an awesome least it's not if you only have to pay it once....

Oh, and luckily it didn't seem to be a windy least I couldn't feel the Arch swaying like I had remembered...

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Meet Me in St. Louis....part 2

So, after our leisurely morning at the hotel, we packed the kids up in the car and drove about 2 miles to the Soulard Farmer's Market.

This was one of my only 'to-dos' on my list that I was adamant about doing.  I am so glad that we did.  We didn't buy anything (except for some donuts...mmmm), but it was so much fun to walk around, look at all the delicious, fresh produce (and CHEAP) and imagine all the delicious and FRESH meals I could make.  Seriously, if you live in St. Louis, I am not sure WHY you wouldn't SHOP HERE.  The produce was so inexpensive!!  And so delicious and FRESH!!

Just inside the market -- there were two long houses and this was in the center.

The view down one of the long houses -- they were covered  but still somewhat open to the elements.  Just LOOK at all that fresh goodness!!

Little Max, my little vegetable eater, was having such a fun time walking around and identifying all the different types of fruits and vegetables he saw.  I always laugh when he points out the pineapple -- he calls it a pineapple in one breath and then in the next he calls it "Spongebob's House".  LOL

I think there were only two cheese booths there.  Max stopped at both.  This one dealt with goat cheese, and they had samples.  It was DELICIOUS.  We bought some (of course) and then Max took a picture of the cheese.  Gotta love my dorky dude.  :)

Emily and company met us was my FIRST time meeting Lucy -- born in April 2011 -- and her second time meeting Sam (she did his newborn photo shoot LAST April).  We met through BabyCenter when Max (and her Noah) were born -- they are both November 2007 babies -- even better...they share the SAME birthday!

I have a way with babies...I mean, just look here...Lucy is so friendly with me already that she is sticking out her tongue!

Sam hung out for most of the adventure in the Beco.  I still love that thing.  I love it more and more each time I use it. 

Emily and Joe suggested we get some mini donuts (they've been here before, as you might have guessed).  You could watch them making the mini donuts.  Little Max got a kick out of that...

And then we got a photo (reluctantly on little Max's part) of the birthday buddies together.  Man, I can't believe how grown up they are looking!!

It was SO wonderful to see Emily and company.  I love that girl!!  I was so excited to be in HER city and spending time with HER beautiful family! 

Next up...the ARCH!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Meet Me in St. Louis....part One

This past weekend we loaded up the two kids in the car and decided to drive 7+ hours south of us to St. Louis, Missouri.  Yes, that would be the longest trip we've taken with the boys in the car to date. Yes, we realize that we might be labelled as crazy by some...

We were going to celebrate my cousin, Sam's godfather's, 30th birthday -- only he didn't know that because it was a SURPRISE party.  Shh... (oh wait, he knows now).

Chris and his wonderful wife, Laura, were living in Chicago the past few years, but a job relocation took Chris to St. Louis (he works for Hyatt).  Chris is one of my most favorite relatives, so I was beyond excited when Laura emailed us about coming to visit for the surprise party.  Of course, I said, count us in!

And then I realized that we needed a suite, or two rooms to make this trip happen.  Which meant that I was going to have to get in touch with Chris to have him help us book a room -- and after much debating and planning, we worked out a story where I was coming to St. Louis to visit my good friend Emily.  He was none the wiser (or so he says...)!

And let me tell you, he hooked us up with some pretty sweet digs and his hotel.  See for yourself:

The bed and TV, bathroom is down the hall on the left...

 This was the bar and 'sitting area' in OUR room.  Pretty nice!

The boys' had their OWN room (the key to a successful vacation, in my book) with a DOOR that SHUT between our room and their's.  We brought along the video monitor and the noise machine...both of which made sleeping in a strange place a success. 

The view out of the boys' room.  Stunning!  Little Max was SOOOOOO excited to see the "rainbow arch" and he kept calling it.  For the entire week preceeding our trip, I told him stories about the Arch.  I told him that the city was named St. Louis -- and hey -- isn't that YOUR middle name?  I told him about the Arch and how it looked like a big rainbow and it was so tall that it touched the sky.  I told him that you could ride an elevator allllll the way up to the top and look out of little windows -- and that I had done that when I was a little girl.  To say he was excited to see the Arch was an understatement.  He was O.B.S.E.S.S.E.D.  From the moment he saw it in the car to the moment we left St. Louis (and admittedly even now at home) he has asked about it -- if we can go visit it, if we can go touch it, if we can go see it.

Saturday morning was a bit rainy and cloudy when we woke up, but we didn't let that get us down.  We were especially excited to see the Arch during the daytime...and from the comfort of our hotel room!

Our plans for Saturday were very simple -- there were two things I wanted to do while in town (since we were only there for a short period of time) -- to visit the Soulard Farmer's Market and to show Little Max the Arch.  We accomplished both (posts to come) and we got to do it alongside Emily and her beautiful family!  We couldn't have asked for more!!!

We took our time getting ready on Saturday morning, and Sam explored the room.  He was a little unsure of his surroundings, so he followed me around for the most part.

I can't believe how BIG my little baby is getting!

Friday, May 6, 2011

Betty Brinn

It has been awhile since we were last at the Betty Brinn Children's Museum -- the last time we were there, Sam was still in utero!

This time we met up with some co-workers and their adorable kiddos.  This is Angela -- can you believe she is only a month older than Sam -- look how mobile she is already!!

Sam had lots of fun in the "pre-school" area -- lots of things for the wee ones to play with...
Including these "musical mushrooms".  Sam is into ANYTHING musical -- especially if HE is the one MAKING the music.  He could've stayed here all morning long...
Max was busing playing 'newscaster' with Daddy and spelling his name with these magnets...

And then he found the train.  HE could've stayed HERE all morning long...
Mommy and Sam put on a little puppet show...

And then Sam tried to do a little rock climbing

After that, Daddy was teaching him the proper way to build a fire.

The entire morning was great.  The kids had a ton of fun, and Sam passed out before we had even left the parking garage -- SUCCESS!