Sunday, July 21, 2013

St. Louis: Day 2

Our second day in St. Louis started with a tour at the Anheuser Busch brewery.
Beer-making is such a fascinating process. The tour wasn't much fun for our little boys, except for seeing the Clydesdale horses. They did like the free soda and pretzels at the end though.

Connor calls all soda "Pepsi."

Next we had lunch at Stake 'n Shake. Even though there are Stake 'n Shake restaurants here in Indiana, it always makes me think of St. Louis. After lunch, we went to the Magic House. We've been to several Children's Museums and I think this is one of the best, definitely in the top 3.

Mckay played giant hockey with our boys.

On an alphabet exhibit with donor names on it, Mckay was very excited to see this:
St. Louis loves hockey. And our players love St. Louis.

We stopped by the Van de Graaff generator. (Not that I have ever actually known it's proper name. I've always called it the ball that makes your hair stand up).

All three boys had fresh, new, short haircuts the day before our trip, so their hair didn't stand up quite so high.

 Connor didn't like it very much because it made his face all itchy.

Dallin and Connor loved the Children's Village where you get to run the town. Dallin made a great waiter in the pizzeria.
He brought me several plates of food, then went around serving all the other parents in the room.

 They got to be nurses in the hospital and take care of the babies in the nursery.
 Connor LOVES babies right now, so this was one of his favorite parts.

He also really liked the fishing pond.

After a lot of fun at the Magic House, we said good bye to Neil, Ashley and the kids. We made sandwiches, grabbed some snacks, and ate a quick dinner while we started our drive back to Indiana. Connor didn't last very long before he fell asleep.
He stayed awake long enough to open his peanut butter sandwich and smear it on the car seat.

It was very short, but we had a really fun trip. And we crossed one more thing off our summer list: Go to St. Louis!

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

St Louis Day 1

I'm from St. Louis. I think it's one of the coolest cities ever. Since my parents moved from St. Louis to California a few years ago, we haven't had much of a reason to go back and visit. My brother and his family were planning to come to the Midwest for vacation this summer, so we decided to meet up with them in St. Louis to show our kids all the fun things we got to do growing up there. 

When we first got to St. Louis, we met up with some of my old friends for dinner.

We went to America's Incredible Pizza Company, a pizza buffet and arcade games type of place.
Our kids had a fun time together.

Connor loved this car ride. 

 And Mckay's favorite was the horse.

Then we went back to the hotel, saw Neil's family, and got some rest for our big day of fun the following day. 
We started with the Gateway Arch. Oh how I missed being able to see this sight from the highway all the time. Indiana highways are mostly lined with corn.

 We took the tram ride up to the top of the Arch. There were 10 people in our group: 4 adults and 6 kids (ages 8 down to almost 1). They gave us the option of taking 2 trams cars (which have 5 seats each) or squishing into one car and having kids on laps.
Can you guess which one we chose?

These picture do not do justice to how small the tram cars actually are.
I'm certain we had more fun with everyone crammed in together. Plus, it was fun seeing the faces of people at the top of the Arch as the line of people kept coming out of our clown car tram.

Both boys thought it was pretty cool looking down from the Arch at the city.

 I loved watching them hang onto the window with their little bums hanging down.
Just like we did as little, short kids.

Connor didn't have enough patience for a family picture.
Notice how we are all wearing orange and/or striped shirts? Unintentional.

Next, we went to lunch at Fitz's. We were too busy eating delicious food and watching the root beer being bottled to take any pictures.

Our next stop was the Zoo. It's one of the top Zoos in the country, and it's free. It also happened to be a really hot day. All my energy was going toward keeping cool, so no pictures again.

In planning this trip we realized that we'd never been to Ted Drewe's Frozen Custard before. EVERYONE in St. Louis has been to Ted Drewe's. The hot weather gave us the perfect reason try it out. 
 It did not disappoint.

 Even the little kids liked it.
Connor was too tired to eat any, but we wanted him to feel included anyway.

Worn out from a long day, we went back to our hotel and got St. Louis Bread Company for dinner. It felt so nice to call it that instead of Panera Bread.

The kids were on the verge of mutiny if we didn't take them to the hotel pool at least once, so we finished our day with a quick swim.

Stay tuned for Day 2...

Thursday, July 11, 2013


Dallin had surgery at the end of June. After several instances of fluid in his ears and failed hearing tests, we decided that Dallin needed ear tubes put in to help the fluid drain. It is supposed to be a very simple, 5 minute procedure, but that still didn't make me feel any less nervous about it.

Dallin wasn't allowed to eat or drink anything past midnight before the surgery, so we let him stay up a little late that night to pack on some final calories.

We were due at the hospital by 7am in Indianapolis (an hour away) so we woke up really early. Shout out to the Hartwells (with 2 kids of their own, one being a newborn baby) who willingly agreed to watch Connor at 5:45am so we could concentrate on Dallin at the hospital. We have great friends.

Once we got checked in at the hospital, Dallin changed into a hospital gown and was given a teddy bear to keep. 
Dallin has always looked super adorable in a hospital gowns, despite the circumstance that cause him to wear one. (like this and this.)

The nurses did paperwork and 5 or 6 people asked us the same questions over and over for about an hour.
Dallin and Mckay snuggled up in the bed and watched TV while we waited.

Then the nurses took him away. The doctor came back to us 10 minutes later and said the procedure was done. Five minutes after that, Dallin was awake from the anesthesia and we got to see him. He was a little whiny and groggy. I think he was just mostly confused about why he suddenly fell asleep and why his head felt so weird.

We got him dressed, gave him a drink of water and walked out of the hospital 5 minutes later. I was surprised at how quickly they let us leave. Dallin was feeling fine though. He spent the hour drive home just sitting and relaxing and by the time we got there, he was back to his old happy self and ready to chow down. 

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Spam Overload

On our drive back to Indiana we stopped in Austin, Minnesota to see the Spam Museum. I never knew that there was so much to know about Spam. It was a really fun little museum, and it was free!

There was a huge can of Spam,

a gift set of Korean Spam,

Spam artwork,

and several old Spam advertisements. 

And a HUGE wall of Spam.
That's right, each little rectangle is a can of Spam.

 We got to dress up as factory workers and work the assembly line to package cans of Spam.

 Spam is shipped all over the world.

It is especially loved in the Pacific Islands and... Guam!
(This next picture is for you, Joseph...)
(and this one:)
Did you know that people in Guam are the greatest Spam-eaters at 16 cans per person per year?!

(My brother Joseph was a missionary in Guam and Pohnpei for two years and he can attest to their love for Spam.)

Another fun fact for you:

 And then there was the Spam gift shop, with a conveyor belt of Spam cans running through it.
 I think we could have spent all day in that gift shop. There were so many cool Spam souvenirs and gadgets. Imagine any item in your house and slap a Spam logo on it: they sell it in this store. Spam cups, spatulas, shirts, pants, magnets...

We got some pressed pennies with "SPAM" on them.

Pennies have become our new vacation souvenir.
We have some from Cincinnati, Indianapolis, St. Louis, and Minnesota. It's been really fun collecting them.

We've now crossed to more things off our summer list: "Visit Minnesota", and an unplanned addition to the list: "Go to the Spam Museum."

Monday, July 1, 2013

Scuplture Garden and Children's Museum

We went to the sculpture garden in Minnesota to see the famous Spoonbridge and Cherry.
(To be honest, I didn't know it was famous until we planned this trip...)

Connor thought the cherry looked pretty tasty.
 Along with all the cool sculptures in the garden, there was an artist designed mini-golf course. Each hole was made by a different artist or group of artists. They were very unique.
The boys were looking through the hole in the watering can, waiting for a ball to come out.

For this hole, the other players got the chose were to stand on the green to block the hole.
 This one looked like a giant golf ball from the outside, but inside it was a shrunken replica of the sculpture garden to shoot around. You get to be both giant and small at the same time.
Dallin had fun playing.
You release the ball into a funnel on this hole..
...and it falls down the pipes and pops up on the green near the hole.

 Connor decided he was done being smaller than Dallin, he grew!

And then he tried to be bigger than Mckay. It almost worked.
This hole was one of my favorites because it reminds me of the Ames room at the St. Louis science center.
The actual golf play on the Ames room hole wasn't great, but it looked really cool.
But this one WAS fun to play.  
It's like the old marble labyrinth game where you have to tilt the table to avoid the holes along the way and get the ball in the correct end hole.
This one was like foosball with garden gnomes.
 This hole looked like a giant ant farm.
Dallin and Connor watched this one for a while. It was like a pinball machine.
You putt the ball up behind the house and it rolls back down. The end hole it lands in decides the number of strokes for the hole. Getting the one-stroke hole was really difficult.
And those were only our favorites among the two 8-hole courses. It was really fun to see and play.
 The day after Mckay's conference, we hung around Minnesota for a bit to see their Children's Museum. The boys had a great time, as you could probably guess.
Connor turned the wheel for this conveyor belt to move the block back and forth for about 5 minutes straight. This whole exhibit actually cracked me up. You are supposed to send the blocks down the chute so they can be moved around on conveyor belts on the level below. Then the children "workers" down there put the blocks on the lift back up to the top level so the workers up there can move the blocks on conveyor belts back over to the chute. Then the process starts over. It's a big 5 man job of moving blocks around in a repeating cycle. I watched sweaty children running around back and forth for 20 minutes, working so hard and not making any actual progress. If only kids would work that hard for something that was actually productive.
At least they had fun!
We played with some fitness exhibits. 
Connor has strong legs and can lift his own body weight.
Then we tried the monkey bars. 
Connor can also hold his body weight with his arms.
He started to get a little nervous when he didn't want to let go and drop to the floor.
And I guess we didn't take any pictures of Dallin at the children's museum. He was definitely there and definitely enjoyed himself.