Travel Progeny

By 2g1c2 girls 1 cup

13 March
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How we made an earring hanger

Earring HangerES has pierced ears so ES has ear­rings.  When you have more than a few pieces there is always that prob­lem of what to do with them so that they can be both orga­nized and eas­ily found.  I wanted some­thing that would secure ear­rings indi­vid­u­ally so that they would stay orga­nized if it fell or was moved. I wanted to be able to hang it and most impor­tantly I wanted to make it with stuff I had at home.  This is what I came up with:

Total work time: about an hour  (if kids help)

Sup­plies:

  • (1) Wooden child’s hanger with hanger grooves and a bot­tom bar.  You can also use an adult hanger if you want some­thing big­ger.  I would stay away from plas­tic but a sturdy metal would work.  If you choose to use the wire hang­ers from the drycleaner I would use 2 or 3 together and wrap them in strips of cloth or ribbon.
  • (1) Sheet of plas­tic mesh at least the width of your hanger
  • Rib­bon or cord­ing at least 10 times the length of your plas­tic mesh
  • Beads with holes that can fit onto your cord or ribbon
  • Scis­sors

What to do:

  1. If you have not already cut the plas­tic mesh to the width of the hanger do that now.
  2. Cut your cording/ rib­bon in to  (4) lengths equal to 8.5 times the length of your plas­tic mesh
  3. Weave the cording/ribbon through the plas­tic mesh leav­ing about a quar­ter length at the bot­tom.  Along the side go up theclose-up view row clos­est to the edge the entire length of the mesh, over the bot­tom bar, over the groove notch and back down again.  Cross the cord­ing before you get to the bot­tom bar then take it the oppo­site way over the bot­tom bar than you went on the way. Make it tight so the mesh doesn’t slide back and forth.  Weave the rib­bon back down the plas­tic mesh in the row right next to the row you used before.  If you want to use beads slide them onto both strands of the cord.  Knot. Repeat on other edge.
  4. Divide the remain­der of the mesh into at least thirds.  I used fifths. Use the remain­der of the ribbon/cording to go up and down those lines loop­ing it around the bot­tom bar of the hanger, knot­ting, then con­tin­u­ing the weave down the next line.  Add the beads to the bot­tom (or not)and knot.

Done.  Or…

I added ES’s name to the top of hers with stick­ers since I also made one for each of my nieces.  At the time ES was too lit­tle with too short of an atten­tion span to do all of the weav­ing but beads on a string she could do.   I used rain­bow col­ored beads at the bot­tom because I was look­ing for a way to include ES and work on her col­ors.  We sorted our pony beads by color then ES strung them on.  When we put her ear­rings on we sorted them by color to match the beads.  The lit­tle mesh bag in the pic­ture is where we keep extra ear­ring backs.

We’ve used it for years and it works great– ear­rings stay put and there is room for a few neck­laces, bracelets, a watch and even a few rings.

04 March
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PBR Enterprise Rent-A-Car Invitational">Bull Riding: The PBR Enterprise Rent-A-Car Invitational

Outside the PBR Enterprise Rent-a-car InvitationalOn Sun­day we went to the PBR Enter­prise Rent-A-Car Invitational at the Scot­trade Cen­ter in down­town St. Louis.  We were so excited that Bull Rid­ing was com­ing to town– we being my par­ents, my sib­lings and me.  My dad and younger brother had been before but this was the first chance for the rest of us.  All of us were sure that the kids would love it!  Turns out the kids did love the open­ing cer­e­monies and all of the pyrotech­nics.  They were excited about being there in gen­eral: the bulls, the horse, the man on the horse with the rope, the bull rid­ers and the food ven­dors.  It started to all go south when they didn’t get any cot­ton candy (because no one in my fam­ily is pay­ing $9 for it.) Then they had to sit still with­out kick­ing the seats in front of them. Then they didn’t get any balls that were shot into the crowd (chances were slim– there were not that many).  Then they were still expected to sit in their seats with­out kick­ing the one in front of them.  It was just too long for them. Two of them fell asleep… three if you count my mother.  She said if was because H and S were so cud­dly but it was loud and, Hello! there was bull rid­ing going on.Us

It may have been too long for the lit­tle ones but the other 5 of us loved it.  We col­lec­tively held our breath every time they opened the gate– watch­ing the clock slowly, hope­fully click to 8. We were dis­ap­pointed when they didn’t make it and out of our seats when they did.  I don’t know how they do it!  I don’t know why they do it.  It is some­thing to see!  I love how proud the bulls are when they trot off vic­tors.  I don’t know how they get health insur­ance.  If we get a chance to go again next year we’re going… with­out the lit­tle ones or my mother.

Finally, a spe­cial thank you from all 10 of us to the unnamed guy from Scot­trade for upgrad­ing our seats!!

26 February
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A train to Chicago

I had to go to Chicago this sum­mer to work so I thought I’d take the kids along and make it a long week­end.  Like most lit­tle boys G loves trains.   I’d been want­ing to take the kids up on the train and this was the per­fect opportunity.

View from Nike Town, ChicagoThe Train ride:

It’s about 5 1/2 hours on Amtrak from St. Louis to Chicago’s Union Sta­tion by train– about the same as dri­ving.  Plus, you can’t beat the price– some­times no more than $23 bucks and 1/2 that for each child!  (That is less than the gas it takes or a cab fare from the air­port if you fly.)  Even with­out kids I like to take the 4:35am train that arrives into Chicago around 10.  I thought that would be a good choice with the kids. I envi­sioned them going back to sleep as soon as the train started mov­ing but they were so excited they didn’t go back to sleep until about 45 min­utes before we pulled into Chicago. What a ter­ri­ble mis­cal­cu­la­tion!  They each had their back­pack packed with a blan­ket, bob­ble­heads or cars, note­book, crayons, water bot­tle and snacks. That stuff, games like I spy and the chang­ing view from the win­dows kept them enter­tained.  The best deci­sion I made though was to sit in a car with a hand­i­cap acces­si­ble restroom. It was huge!  Big enough for us all to fit and not touch any­thing unnec­es­sary. What I appre­ci­ate most about the train is that the kids didn’t have to be strapped into a car seat for hours on end and could even get up move around.  They enjoyed their train ride and often ask to do it again.  My father wants to take them on an overnight train adven­ture.  I think they’d love it.

Our time in Chicago:

We stayed at the W– Lakeshore. The loca­tion was great as were the views.  We had wanted a suite but that didn’t work out so we just had a typ­i­cal king room. Turns out that worked per­fectly because of the big daybed by the win­dow. The house­keeper gave me sheets and pil­lows and we turned it into a bed for the kids.  House­keep­ing even made it up every­day when they cleaned the room. Ser­vice was great.  My only com­plaint was that we were charged full price for a 3 and 5 year old for Brunch on Sun­day– ridicu­lous in my opin­ion con­sid­er­ing what they ate.  The other annoy­ance was the loca­tion of the ele­va­tor.  It’s right by the front door and although there are plenty of cars, the hall­way to access them is so nar­row that there always seemed to be a bot­tle­neck with peo­ple get­ting on and off.

The hotel is almost right across the street from the Ohio Street Beach. The kids could see it from the win­dow and that is all that they wanted to do. We went the first day and I couldn’t get them to leave.  It turned out that was good because it became rainy and unsea­son­able cold later in the weekend.  I wasn’t expect­ing to spend so much time there– I wish I had brought some sand toys. Luck­ily they met some local kids who were will­ing to share.  The water was a bit chilly but the kids didn’t care.  There was a bit too much trash and bro­ken glass on the beach for my taste so while the kids played and dug holes with their new friends I col­lected bro­ken pieces.  I was not alone. Many other par­ents were doing the same thing, so after awhile I felt a bit more con­fi­dent that my chil­dren were safe bare­foot.  Dur­ing our stay we came back a cou­ple more times for shorter stretches.

Also in walk­ing dis­tance was Chicago’s Navy Pier.  We could have spent most of a day here tak­ing boat rides, going to shows, eat­ing at dif­fer­ent restau­rants or going on rides at the mini amuse­ment park. Instead we just walked around a bit, did some peo­ple watch­ing and ate.

Rainforest Cafe, ChicagoWe ate at a cou­ple ran­dom lit­tle restau­rants but the kid’s favorite was the Rain­for­est Cafe.  It’s full of auto­mated ani­mals hang­ing from the ceil­ing and tucked into the walls in their “habi­tats” com­plete with sound.  There are also big fish tanks all over the place.  The kids were delighted to sit next to the ele­phant fam­ily and cheered every time they snorted.  Food is typ­i­cal: burg­ers, sal­ads, chicken ten­ders, etc…

There are two other places we ate that I would recommend:

Big Bowl:  60 E Ontario, Chi­nese and Thai.  It was good, but it was also rea­son­able, really fast and kid friendly.

Kame­hachi:  240 E Ontario, Sushi.  Although we did not eat in one, they do have lit­tle pri­vate rooms that can be a life­saver with kids.  It is cer­tainly a more adult place but they do have high­chairs and our wait­ress was happy to ban­ter with the kids. There were other fam­i­lies there with small chil­dren but the major­ity we cou­ples or groups of friends.  I’m not a sushi lover but I was with some­one who is and he really enjoyed his meal.

Pitchfork FestivalOne of the cold days we went to Pitch­fork Music Fes­ti­val at Union Park.  It took quite awhile to get though the gates so once we were in the kids were kind of over it.  They were momen­tar­ily revived when they found an inflat­able ball, a dusty field and new lit­tle girl to get dirty with.  That gave us a chance to lis­ten to some music.  It also gave us a chance to get a restau­rant rec­om­men­da­tion from the lit­tle girls par­ents.  After walk­ing around the rest of the grounds we walked to Wish­bone (1001 W. Wash­ing­ton) to eat. It’s “south­ern recon­struc­tion” and very kid friendly– a good choice.

Museum of Science and Industry, ChicagoAnother day we did get a chance to meet an Aunt at the Museum of Sci­ence and Indus­try. They had gone to see the Harry Pot­ter exhibit. We opted out of that but had fun explor­ing every­thing else.  G and ES were excited by all of the choices and had fun wan­der­ing through the many exhibits.  We spent a long time watch­ing the model trains weave through their lit­tle cities, and watch­ing the lit­tle chicks hatch from their shells.  ES and G enjoyed every moment.  They were pro­pelled though the place by the pos­si­bil­i­ties of the next room.  It was fun to see. Thirty-five dol­lars well spent.

We had a great week­end. We’ll def­i­nitely do it again.

25 February
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Destin and the Panhandle

Just before school started this fall we headed down to Des­tin, FL for one last bit of fun.  We drove to New Orleans first and from there to Des­tin– Ten hours to New Orleans, overnight there, and then four more Des­tin.  It was worth the drive!  Des­tin is the per­fect choice for kids who are fear­less but not great swim­mers.  Every­thing is close and the beaches are clean and beautiful.

Our Town HouseWe stayed in a friend’s rental prop­erty.  It was in a lit­tle gated com­mu­nity just off the main street and walk­ing dis­tance to the mall and the beach–even for a 3 and 5 year old.  The sell­ing point for the kids though was the pool that was just out­side our front door.  The town house itself was huge– 5 bed­rooms, 4 full baths and two sit­ting rooms.  We were just four plus two dogs but the condo could have eas­ily slept at least 10.   We were there for 9 days so I was espe­cially thank­ful to be in a place with a kitchen and a washer/dryer.  Hav­ing such a great place to stay made the trip so much more enjoyable.

It was the begin­ning of hur­ri­cane sea­son so we did have days with rain, but for the most part those days also included quite a bit of time of sun. On those rainy days we hung out in our house, headed to the Out­let Mall to do some back-to-school shop­ping or to the mall to catch a movie.  I never felt like I didn’t have options.

The beaches got crowded later in the day but never so packed that I felt like my space was being encroached upon.  The beach is per­fect!  The sand is beau­ti­ful and the beach clean. The water is shal­low for quite a dis­tance and the waves for­giv­ing so the kids never felt appre­hen­sive about get­ting in.  Mostly the beach was pop­u­lated with fam­i­lies but also a fair num­ber of solo teens and adults.

wavesG at DestinThe 3 of us
It was a work­ing vaca­tion for one of us so most of the day it was just the kids and me. I took one back­pack. The kids each car­ried their own stuff. These are the things I am glad I brought:

  • A beach tent:  Although there are umbrel­las I bought a lit­tle beach tent.  I had done some research before I got down there but I ended up get­ting a tent at a local Wal-Mart.  It’s great.  It col­lapses down to noth­ing, has a floor, held up in some sub­stan­tial winds (our last day there was the day before a trop­i­cal storm hit) and it was cheap ($18).  It allowed us to stake out a shady spot a lit­tle closer to the water.  I also felt a lit­tle more con­fi­dent leav­ing stuff unat­tended while I was in the water with my bag securely tucked into the tent’s back corner.
  • The FloatiesFloat­ies:  Not those lit­tle inflat­able arm­band things but a hybrid life preserver/arm band thing with a cute face.  We also got them at Wal-Mart.  They are basi­cally a foam band wrapped in nylon life pre­server mate­r­ial with two foam arm band sim­i­larly wrapped and attached on the sides, a nylon strap with clasp on the ends and a face smacked on the front for good mea­sure.  ES had a yel­low duck and G a shark.  Even with the big waves on the last 2 days they kids just bobbed right up.  They felt safe and I felt like they were too.  Nearly every nearby par­ent asked where I got them after see­ing the kids in the water with them on. They were maybe $15 each.
  • Gog­gles: Salt water burns lit­tle eyes and whin­ing about burn­ing eyes hurts big ears.
  • Water­proof sun­screen:  Lots of it.  Spend­ing all day at the beach meant we had to reap­ply sev­eral times a day.  I used about twice as much as I thought I would and still it was not enough. Sorry, G.  They say the lotion is more effec­tive but I find the spray much more con­ve­nient once we get out and about.  I com­pro­mise by apply­ing lotion before we leave the house and bring­ing the spray to the beach. G tested Hint: Apple Cider vine­gar works bet­ter than aloe vera gel to relieve the sting of a sunburn.
  • Tow­els: I brought the large micro fiber ones.  You can find them at Mar­shalls of at Out­door Sup­pli­ers.  I only had one back­pack and one tra­di­tional tow­els would have taken as much space as four of these did.  These were plenty and they dry much faster than terry towels.
  • Beach blan­ket:  I found this on the rainy day out­ing to the nearby out­let mall.  Eddie Bauer makes it.  One side is a water­proof nylon and the other flan­nel.   It was big enough for 4 to sit on but rolled back nicely into it’s draw­string stuff sack.  It was at the out­let for $15 so I’m not sure if it is some­thing they still sell.
  • Water:  There are guys that walk around sell­ing water and frozen treats but they didn’t seem to come by that frequently.
  • Snacks:  There are places to eat but quite a trek from where we were on the beach.

Grayton BeachDur­ing the week we walked to our local Des­tin beach but on the week­end and some evenings we went to Sea­side and Gray­ton.  We were look­ing for good food and a dog friendly beach. The towns of Gray­ton and Sea­side are cuter than the much big­ger Des­tin– no malls, no big stores, lots of inde­pen­dent restau­rants. In Sea­side we ate and walked around to the lit­tle shops but didn’t go to the beach. Instead we stopped at a park and let the dogs and kids swim in the inlet.  Turns out there are no pub­lic dog-friendly beaches in the whole county. But in Gray­ton not only can a res­i­dent bring their dog they can lit­er­ally drive right up to the water at with a res­i­dent tag.  It was late in the day so we risked it for old Joe– it was sad to be so close to a beach and be unable to bring the dogs with so many already there run­ning free.  It was Layla’s first time at the ocean and they both had a blast. The beach was beau­ti­ful but we did find it had more jel­ly­fish and algae than just down the beach in Des­tin but maybe that was just the day we were there.

We came to go to the beach so that is what we had been doing every­day, but about mid­way through our trip I decided that we would mix things up and head to the water park: Big Kahuna’s.  We got there in the early after­noon.  You must pay to park and you must pay to get in and once you are in you pay for a locker.  It was an expen­sive day out– nearly a $100 for three.  I can’t say that I felt like I got my money’s worth. Maybe if they had not closed all of the pools a cou­ple of hours after we got there because of the storm that rolled in, or maybe if the kids had been big­ger we would have got­ten more out of it.  Lit­tle peo­ple had their own area and could go on some slides but they were frus­trated by all that they were not allowed to do. Although the kids had their float­ies (thank good­ness!) one me alone with two young chil­dren among lots of unsu­per­vised kids was a bit much at times. I think I will hold off on water parks until they are a bit big­ger, bet­ter swim­mers and/or the adult kid ratio is 1:1.  They had fun at the water park, but had just as much fun at the beach or the pool in our lit­tle community.Sandholes in Destin

You can find what­ever you would like to eat in Des­tin: local favorites, over­priced tourist traps to national chains like Waf­fle House or Chili’s. If noth­ing in Des­tin is to your lik­ing then all one needs to do is drive down the road to a nearby town.   Unless you live in a very urban place every­thing you can find at home you can find here in much the same way—large gro­cery stores, Wal­greens, Tar­get, Wal-mart, Barnes & Noble and a whole out­door mall com­plete with a huge Bass Pro Shop and movie the­atre.  It’s a tourism town.

We had a great time.  Not too long ago G and ES were telling me that they were for­get­ting how to swim and needed to go back to Florida.  I’m glad they enjoyed it as much as I thought they did.  I would go back.

24 February
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Fear of the Chinese Lion Dancers

Face of the Dancing LionIf you live in St. Louis you know that St. Louis is really St. Louis City (where I live) and St. Louis County and that St. Louis County is made up of all of these other lit­tle cities– Clay­ton, Kirk­wood, Ladue, Uni­ver­sity City, Mary­land Heights, Fron­tenac, Floris­sant, Olivette… The list seems to go on and on but the lines that sep­a­rate them kind of blur into one place.  Each of these lit­tle munic­i­pal­i­ties has their own com­mu­nity cen­ters and parks. As in cities every­where these com­mu­nity cen­ters hosts events.

Sun­day we went to the 9th Annual Inter­na­tional Cul­tural Arts Fes­ti­val at the Mary­land Heights Cen­tre.  This lit­tle fes­ti­val had eth­nic food offer­ings, ven­dors, a kid’s room and two stages of enter­tain­ment.  The smaller room where the smaller stage was always so crowded we could never fit but we could hear the fun music com­ing from inside.  The stage in the larger room hosted peo­ple per­form­ing dif­fer­ent styles of dance from around the globe.Coloring flower pots courtesy of the STL Art Museum

First we saw the Irish Dancers from a local school.  They were danc­ing in dresses that had sequins and iri­des­cent designs so ES was sold and wants to sign up.

Next came the Shaolin Lohan Pai Lion Dance Troupe–Southern Chi­nese Lion Dancers & Dai-Tou-Fut.  H and G acted like they were not so impressed because appar­ently the danc­ing lions had come to their school ear­lier in the week.  ES was excited but S was very ner­vous.  He was sus­pect when they were on stage but the sec­ond that they started to move among the crowd he pan­icked.  He strug­gled from my arms and clam­bered under the chairs, pop­ping up on the other side, keep­ing his eyes on that beast but hold­ing tight to the chair.  It was sad and so funny.  When they went back on stage he came back to his seat, but when one came down our isle he was back under the chair and this time had to hide under the coat draped over the chairs back.  When the per­for­mance was over and the lions were gone he came out reluc­tantly and we went to get some­thing to eat.  We made it as far as the lobby but who was there block­ing our path–two danc­ing lions. Poor, S.  He was on edge the rest of the day. Every time he heard a drum or cym­bal he was cer­tain a huge head that was out to eat him was close behind.watching some of the dancers

We finally made it though, ate, and then headed to the World Encoun­ters area where the kids painted flow­er­pots, played, and made pup­pets.  On the way out we stopped at the main stage one more time and caught the Afro-Cuban & Afro-Haitian Dancers.  All in all it was a good way to spend a rainy win­ter day.  Oh, and I for­got to men­tion that with the excep­tion of the food it was all for free.  Thank you Mary­land Heights and thank you to all of the amaz­ing per­form­ers for shar­ing a bit of your cul­ture with my chil­dren.  We will see you again next year!

23 February
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A Thursday: Audubon Insectarium and the Louisiana Children’s Museum

My kids are Saint fans… or at least they are fans of the Who Dat song and ES of gold pom-poms. So how could we pass up the chance to spend a long week­end in NOLA where the Mardi Gras and Super­bowl cel­e­bra­tions con­verged?  Because we were dri­ving we headed down a bit early to avoid the bad weather. It’s about 10 hours from St. Louis to New Orleans.

Because of Mardi Gras lots of places were com­pletely closed and/or hours of oper­a­tion were ran­dom.  For Instance, after con­sult­ing the NOMA web­site on Sun­day we went to see the Dis­ney Princess exhibit only to get there to be informed that they had decided the night before to close early.  Nice.  The kids cried. Thanks NOMA.

Into the InsectariumIn the flight room In an effort to avoid the week­end chaos of Mardi Gras in the Quar­ter we  headed down to the Audubon Insec­tar­i­ums and then Louisiana Children’s  Museum on Thurs­day.  It was cold and rainy– a per­fect day for some indoor  activities. We have been to the Audubon Aquar­ium (right around the cor­ner)  but this was our first trip to the Audubon Insec­tar­ium and I was look­ing  for­ward to see­ing what was inside.  We got there in the early after­noon and  with the excep­tion of a school group there were not a whole lot of peo­ple  there. My first impres­sion:  It’s not that big.  You enter into a hall­way with lots of lit­tle plexi-glass bug homes.  Also, off this hall­way is an exhibit on what it’s like under­ground enlarged 100 times with  giant insects, and sound affects.  G and ES had a  good time under­ground.  Love Bug at the Audubon InsectariumThere was a painted VW  Bee­tle sans doors that the kids liked jump­ing in and  out of. Finally, we came to the cafe and a room  about Local bugs– not too inter­est­ing to my 3 and 5  year old.  Then there came the room about water  bugs.  At its cen­ter was a large cir­cu­lar tank where 2  young albino alli­ga­tors live– some­how creepier  than the green/brown ones. abkini gatorsNext was a room with  inter­ac­tive exhibits and  just off there was the kid’s favorite thing–the bug movie.  Although only  about  10 min­utes long we were all kept engaged with per­fectly timed mists  and smell and seats that moved  and poked. We all loved it.  From there we moved into the room with cases and cases of beau­ti­fully  mounted bugs.  I got more out of this room than the kids. I am still amazed by the sheer scope of the insect world so con­cisely dis­played.  Finally, there were the but­ter­flies.  After we saw them hatch­ing from their cocoons we got to  go into the free flight area.  Not many were fly­ing, but a few were sit­ting low enough so the kids could  see them.  G had to strug­gle not to touch.  It was almost too much for him to resist so he com­pro­mised  by shov­ing his hand in his pock­ets and blew on them instead. I saw he was loos­ing his inter­nal bat­tle  so we left only to be deposited into the gift shop.  That was it.  Maybe an hour and thirty min­utes max.  The kids had fun look­ing for the bugs in their houses but had it been any more crowded they would  have been too much for them and me.  Glad we went, but once was enough.Color-coded Butterfies

Hint: Street park­ing is hard to find but the Audubon val­i­dates for reduced  park­ing at cer­tain lots. The  Audubon web­site says which ones.  Also, if you plan on going to mul­ti­ple Audubon prop­er­ties they  offer a multi loca­tion  ticket.

After a quick lunch we headed to the Louisiana Children’s Museum.  We’ve been here a cou­ple of times.  Last year the kids Grand­fa­ther bought us a fam­ily pass.  It was a great gift!  It is rec­i­p­ro­cal to over 100  other Children’s Muse­ums all over the country.

puzzlesto the top of the LCM

The LCM is on sev­eral floors with a cen­ter court­yard.  The kids wanted to start at the top so we headed up to the 3rd floor– played on some mini Mis­sis­sippi River Boats, did some gro­cery shop­ping, hung out in Mr. Rogers Neigh­bor­hood, learned about our senses, did puz­zles and made bub­bles.  There is also a tod­dler area on the 3rd floor, but ES has always been to old to go so we’ve never ven­tured in.  There is also a craft area with dif­fer­ent sched­uled activ­i­ties but we never seem to time our vis­its correctly.

PulliesGrocery shopping at LCM The 2nd floor houses their offices so we end on  the much smaller 1st floor.  If you’re famil­iar with  Ruff  Ruff­man on PBS he has a lit­tle area here,    there is  a wooden train set and the option to play  occu­pa­tional dress-up. There is also a shadow    wall tucked into one of the cor­ners.  The kids like  it but they so do adults.  After we left there were 2  par­ents of a very lit­tle one who spent quite a while mak­ing shad­ows while their daugh­ter played with her grand­mother else­where.  We lifted our­selves with pul­leys, rode a bike down a video road trough balls and used dif­fer­ent tools to put balls in holes. The museum was clos­ing and so we were done.

It was along day.… but the kids had a blast.

10 February
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Bobbleheads in transit

We’re dri­ving to NOLA tomor­row– it’s 10 hours in the car.  The kids always have a note­book and crayons to keep them busy. But, besides the old stan­dards, the kids get a some­thing new for the trip– it makes all the difference.

Some­times they get to buy some­thing.  About a week before depar­ture we all head to the store and they get to spend around five bucks on some­thing that can fit into their back­pack. They know they won’t see it again until we are on the plane or in the car.  ES always picks a Lit­tlest Pet­shop Pet. We call them Bob­ble­heads.  I’m not a fan of those trashy Bratz that are sup­pose to be thir own­ers– they are not now nor will they ever be wel­come in my home. These pets of theirs though I have come to love. They are travel size, can go to the pool or beach or tub and are per­fectly happy in what­ever imag­i­nary world ES can think up.  Even G likes them– although he gen­er­ally chooses cars.  If I can remem­ber to plan far enough ahead the old Bob­ble­heads or select favorite cars dis­ap­pear so that they get to be redis­cov­ered on the trip.

bobbleheads

Other times we’ll make an activ­ity book together. ES gets a lot more out of this on the road than G does, but the assem­bly at home is half the fun any­way.  Both G and ES like to sort through all of the print­able pos­si­bil­i­ties on the inter­net.  The kids have small back­packs so stan­dard size paper is too big. Instead of print­ing our finds I save the images, then reduce and arrange them so that I can posi­tion 2 on each side of a page.  I started with a small 3 ring binder but that takes up too much space in their back­pack so instead they just have a clip­board.  The pages need to be together in some way– loose sheets are ask­ing for a mess. Now we either cut the pages in half and sta­ple them together or fold the pages in half, punch a cou­ple of holes in the spine and weave some rib­bon or string though those holes.

Get­ting some­thing at the air­port just has not worked as well. Not only do they think that buy­ing stuff at the air­port is part of trav­el­ing, they also just seem to get bored of it sooner, totally defeat­ing the pur­pose of schleping it in the first place.  Ulti­mately, for my chil­dren, what it is isn’t so impor­tant as the antic­i­pa­tion, the pride of cre­ation or the joy of a favorite found.

Bob­ble­heads and bags are packed– just hop­ing for an ice free 55.

08 February
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My travels with dogs

Kahsha at Mount Baker

Kahsha at Mount Baker

This is Kahsha on her third trip with me.  After I got her in StL we flew back to NYC where we lived, drove up to Con­necti­cut for a few days then flew out to Seat­tle and drove up to Mt. Baker.  It was week 2 of our time together.  She was so small that I made her a sweater from a men’s crew sock. (This was before you could get dog bags and cloth­ing for them every­where.)  We trav­eled like this together until I had ES.  She is nearly 11 now and although she loves and is very pro­tec­tive of the kids, she lives in fear.  At 6 lbs she was not durable enough for 4 kids under 4 and has moved into retire­ment, along with my father, and now lives with my par­ents.  She is much hap­pier and much less stressed.  I want her to be happy and she is.

Layla and G sleeping

The kids really wanted a dog. They couldn’t fig­ure out why when­ever we went to my parent’s house Kahsha didn’t want to leave.  I always had one.  So, we let Kahsha stay and got a more sturdy replace­ment.  This is Layla when she was 10 weeks old.  No one loves her more than G & H.  It was a chal­lenge get­ting use to hav­ing a big dog– She’s about 75 lbs now.  She’s can bet­ter stand up to the kids, but they are still get­ting use to stand­ing up to her– she thinks she is just kid #5.   Finally she is learn­ing that although part of the fam­ily, she is still in fact a dog.  Finally, she is learn­ing some man­ners– too bad she did not learn before she chewed up 2 seat belts and the cor­ner of my third row of seat­ing.  But she is great for the kids and the fam­ily and the kids love her– usually.

Trav­el­ing with a small dog is easy.  Kahsha and I went every­where together.  She flew on the plane with me under the seat.  She went to any hotel, restau­rant or store whether dogs were allowed or not. Peo­ple never knew.  She never barked– she just slept in her bag until we got out­side.  What I learned trav­el­ing with her is that peo­ple don’t really pay atten­tion to those around them.  She was the per­fect lit­tle travel companion.

Layla

Layla is not easy to travel with.  There is no sneak­ing her any­where.  It is either the 3rd row of seat­ing of my Honda Pilot, hav­ing a trunk, or Layla.  I des­per­ately need exte­rior cargo space.  I always won­dered who those peo­ple were that had a car that seated 8 and still needed roof stor­age.  Now I know– they are peo­ple with big dogs.  I think I want the Thule 688BXT Atlantis 2100.  Oh, the space I will have– even­tu­ally.   Besides the actual tran­sit issues there is what to do once we get there– find­ing dog friendly accom­mo­da­tions, parks, beaches and activ­i­ties.  It’s annoy­ing.  I can­not believe that so many pub­lic places do not allow dogs.  It makes me sad.  It makes my kids sad.  In a world where so many people’s pets are a part of their fam­i­lies how is that still pos­si­ble?  Thank­fully, unlike when I trav­eled with Kahsha, there a lot of online resources to assist those of us trav­el­ing with our dogs.  I’m adding a few of the links that I find help­ful to the sidebar.

06 February
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The twins’ day @ The Magic House

listening to a story--the only time they were still all day

lis­ten­ing to a story–the only time they were still all day

When I was lit­tle I too loved the Magic House– who doesn’t remem­ber the first time you get to touch a giant metal ball and make your hair stand on end?  What is was then is noth­ing like what it is now.  It’s recent ren­o­va­tion and addi­tion has taken the place to a whole new level.

It was a sloppy day today: rain to snow, not to men­tion a sched­uled day off from school for many. I thought it would be packed but the kids never had to wait to play or explore.  We got there early for preschool play­time and stayed into the after­noon to explore the rest of the museum.  Not too long ago some of the exhibits were phys­i­cally to large or sim­ply just not inter­est­ing to them, but today they tried every­thing and loved it all.  They played in sand and water, slid down foamy slides and many-storied metal ones, stood in bub­bles, unknow­ingly exper­i­mented in a few sci­ence labs, lis­tened to a story, played music in ran­dom ways and even climbed a beanstalk.  My favorite part of the day though was after we left The Magic House.  G cried on the way to pick up ES from school because he couldn’t take her there imme­di­ately.  Not because he wanted to go back today but because he knew she would love all of the amaz­ing things he and H had discovered.

We were there for about 3 hours.  They were enter­tained for that whole time and so was I. They could have stayed longer.  We didn’t eat there but they do have a cafe with seating.

Go visit: www.magichouse.org

See more images from our day at The Magic House : Flickr slideshow

02 February
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Forest Park in St. Louis

bridge by the ice rink

bridge by the ice rink

We live in St. Louis. I moved back here 8.5 months preg­nant after liv­ing in NYC for 10 years.  St. Louis is where I grew up.  St. Louis is where most of my fam­ily is.  St. Louis is a great place to raise kids.

Nearly every­day after I pick the kids up from school we head to the park with Layla.  We had been walk­ing up to the park near our house but to mix things up we’ve been explor­ing dif­fer­ent paths in For­est Park instead.  I love For­est Park!  Our first house was within walk­ing dis­tance so when ES was lit­tle we went nearly every­day.  Now it’s a drive, but it’s worth it.

For­est Park is St. Louis’ ver­sion of NY’s Cen­tral Park— just 500 acres larger.  It holds our Zoo (it’s FREE! every­day) and our Art Museum (also FREE!), most of The Sci­ence Cen­ter (Free!), Mis­souri His­tory Museum (you guessed it!), The Muny (an out­door theatre/concert space), an ice rink, 2 golf courses, ten­nis cen­ter, rac­quet­ball courts, ADA com­pli­ant play­ground, many sports fields, pic­nic pavil­ions and miles and miles of running/ cycling trails.  You could lit­er­ally spend days here, never repeat­ing activities.

More info:

•   For­est Park For­ever: www.forestparkforever.org

A not-for-profit ded­i­cated to pre­serv­ing and pro­mot­ing For­est Park. Their web­site has infor­ma­tion, maps and links to all things con­tained within For­est Park.

•   St. Louis Zoo: www.stlzoo.org

•   St. Louis Sci­ence Cen­ter: www.slsc.org

•   Mis­souri His­tory Museum: http://www.mohistory.org

•   St. Louis Art Museum: http://www.slam.org

•   The Muny: http://www.muny.org

Roam­ing the trails around For­est Park over the past weeks: