It makes me feel old just saying it, but yesterday marked NINE years of marriage.
This happened nine years ago?
So much has happened in the last almost-decade. We’ve lived in three very different cities, owned three homes, traveled to see family and friends and even fit in a dream trip to Itay! And we’ve tackled countless projects and challenges together.
Of course our greatest accomplishment to date is Ethan. Hard to believe he’s only been here for the last two and half years.
We don’t typically do a lot on anniversaries, just a glass of wine and Stu always brings me Gerbera daisies. This year we did manage to sneak out while Grandma Johnson babysat the Little Man last weekend, having dinner at Pasteria in Clayton…it was delish. The pizza and gelato took us right back to the streets of Rome.
And since we were in the celebration mood, the big 1-0 coming up next year, we decided to REALLY treat ourselves…to a trip.
In six short months we will be eating turkey with Stu’s dad, stepmom, sister, brother-in-law, and our niece in beautiful Maui over the Thanksgiving holiday. Ten days of perfect beaches and all the sand Ethan’s diggers can scoop. It’s something we’ve been talking about since we met (that’s around the time Stu’s sister went to Maui and never came back!) and we figured now’s the best time to do it. Ethan is at a fairly manageable age to sustain the INSANELY long trip and we aren’t toting any other children (which we hope will change within the next year). Plus, Ethan and his cousin Annette are only one month apart so they will be perfect little buddies to run rampant all over the island.
So while it’s a little early, I think we’ll be considering this big trip our ten year anniversary blow-out!
Till then, I’ll be dreaming of palm trees and oceans.
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Last week Ethan and I joined our buddies Catrina and Claire at the Museum of Transportation…a trip that’s been at the top of our to-do list. It’s located just West of us in a little corner of Kirkwood. There’s plenty of parking and no crowds to hassle with during the week. The newly renovated museum, something I’ve been hearing about for a looong time, has a working mini-train, the Creation Station— a huge playroom for kids, vintage firetrucks, model trains, and more than 70 REAL trains…basically it’s a cool excursion for kids of any age.
First up, we spent an hour in the Creation Station. I loved the bright room with the light streaming in, happy kids running everywhere, imaginations bursting as they carted trains and cars and tracks from table to table. It’s an easy place for parents (plenty of dads too!) to meet up while their kids play in a safe and educational environment. There were lots of infants dozing in carseats around the room’s perimeter while their older siblings enjoyed themselves.
The space included plenty of non-train activities too. Like puzzles, a climbable school bus, a well-stocked play kitchen, dress up clothes, huge craft table complete with a very sweet staff member to help with crafts, and even a fishing “pond” (one of Ethan’s new favorite activities).
There was so much to do Ethan actually had a little trouble engaging at first so I had to provide plenty of encouragement. But the hour flew by. I say hour, because the museum keeps Creation Station crowds at a minimum by selling a limited number of tickets per hour slot. No reservations are accepted so arrive a few minutes before the time you’d like to play (see the times here).
Next we headed out for a ride on the mini train.
You could also call this “snack time”. Just a couple quick zips around the outside of the museum—the perfect amount of time to devour a banana and cup of cheddar bunnies. These two are hilarious with their snacks…if one has something, the other one wants it and vice versa. Good thing they like to share.
Just up the hill from the main museum (a short walk or a fun two minute tram ride) sits track after track of beautiful old trains. You can almost hear the stories they tell. Some are just to gaze upon, others are climbable…and it took our toddlers about two seconds to figure out which ones were hands-on.
Notice I’m only getting the back of Ethan…it’s cause he’s running through the train as fast as possible. It was back and forth and back and forth, Claire and Ethan slapping their feet to make echoes through the round Tank Car. Is this the safest “playground” for toddlers? No, not really. Ethan almost ate it every time he stepped back into this car because of it’s slick no-tread surface. Did he care? Nope. He had a blast. I had to physically remove him from this attraction in order to move on.
And just when I thought we may have a rarely-witnessed Little Man Meltdown on our hands, it was time to take a trolley ride. To see MORE trains.
I think the trolley was quite possibly my favorite part. The driver (of whom I should have requested a photograph) was even dressed in a 60′s-esque uniform complete with bow tie, just to take museum goers back and forth a short distance on the mint-condition trolley. We stepped off at a “station” filled with trains and wandered around amidst the tracks.
This could have gone on all day. Claire had some incredible super-hero poses going on as she hammed it up for the camera. Ethan was tougher, I was eventually bribing with M&Ms to get just one more shot.
Our morning was over in a blink and soon we were pushing lunch time, in turn pushing nap time, and had to call it a day. I think the kids gave this place two thumbs up and I, for one, want to go back very soon.
The scoop: Tickets to the overall museum are $8/person over 13, $5/person 5 and under. It’s an extra $2/person for an hour in Creation Station and $4/person for unlimited rides on the miniature train. We were lucky, Catrina had a membership that covered most of these fees. We may be getting a membership of our own soon! It’s not a bad deal if you take two people more than twice a year.
I’d say this is a hidden gem of St. Louis. Anyone else been here lately?
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- “Gymnastic/Dance fabric” 24″ x 20″ piece- the material is stretchy, shiny and most importantly the edges don’t fray. I purchased 1.5 yards to get 6 capes.
- Light-weight cotton material for the circle. The circles were 12″ in diameter but if I could do it over I would make them smaller…like 9″ each.
- Contrasting light weight cotton material for the letters. The letters were approximately 8″ each at the largest dimension.
- Wonder Under. I got one roll (5 yards) and it was barely enough for 12 capes. Be safe, get an extra roll!)
- Felt – 15″x4″ strip per cape.
- Velcro, 1.5″ per cape (sticky or non-sticky both work fine.)
After it was pinned I ran a single line of stitching through the felt. It is little on the thick side but my machine did fine (and I do not have a fancy sewing machine by any means). I used a zig zag stitch because I wanted to use something that would catch the fabric.
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We did a quick little yard project recently.
Remember how I said I wanted a BIG pot filled with huge plants to fill the wall of our garage? Well, the pot I wanted was gonna be expensive. And I have other plans for that money! (Hint: The kitchen) So…we decided to make something that would be downright cheap.
Actually, it was free.
To find this lovely pallet, we drove through the alley behind Grand Street, the main drag in our neighborhood, full of shops and restaurants…and pallets. I thought it would be hard but we hit the mother load and drove by three others before eyeing this beaut. Stu jumped out, asked permission to take it, and one of the shop workers was happy to help carry the pallet to our car. Luckily it was only a short drive home because the thing hung out the back of my trunk, making my car do a “BEEEEEEEEEP” noise for the whole two block drive.
Stu sprung into action cutting down and screwing in “shelves” out of 2x4s left by the previous homeowners. These shelves would be where our plants get…planted. He then cut down a huge piece of plywood, also left in our garage, for a backer. After adding some “feet” to raise the pallet a little, it was ready for plants.
I had plenty of left-over potato vine, some creeping jenny, and countless petunias (Stu went a little crazy buying plants a couple weeks ago) so those went in first. They will get all ‘droopy’ and ‘climby’ soon, really filling up the planter. Then I transplanted our dill, mint, rosemary, and thyme from their boring, too-small terra-cotta pots into the pallet. I left plenty of space for the plants to fill out, but it already looks very nice.
And does quite a nice job filling up the huge empty space!
We are pretty thrilled with the result!
And our sprinkler system (never had one of those before!) will surely help keep all our hard work alive, even when Stu, aka Water Boy, is traveling.
He’s famous for telling me “Don’t forget to water!” as he heads out of town. I suck at remembering.
Ethan and I also finished the vegetable garden last week. Spinach, arugula, and romaine lettuce now grow in our tiny space. I cannot wait to make our first “harvest!”
So there is my FREE solution to the large-empty-wall issue. I hope everything survives!
Thank you to everyone who emailed, text messaged, called, commented, and Facebooked about my back issues. You are all SO sweet! I went to the doctor on Friday and found out it is not sciatica, it’s a disc issue. I’ve been dealing with degenerative disc disease for many years and it seems things may have progressed past the “maintenance” point. So I’ll be going back on Tuesday for x-rays and, most likely, a round of tapered steroids to get the inflammation down and the nerves calm. After that some physical therapy will be in order. Not sure how that’s going to work with Ethan in tow, but I’ve got some ideas. Hopefully I will be on the mend soon, before I turn into jello from lack of activity. :)
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The rain is over, the sun is here. And it’s getting HOT.
I’m afraid summer is coming upon us sooner than expected. We’ve been spending as much time as possible outside exploring, playing in the water every day.
I’ve been dealing with a major pain in my butt.
No seriously, I have a massive pain in my left butt cheek that hasn’t subsided for over two months. I’m convinced it’s sciatica but it could be my lower discs getting worse. Whatever it is, it’s bad bad bad. I’ll be visiting an orthopedic doc tomorrow and have all my fingers crossed that something can be done. Being in pain while planting lettuce, picking up my kid, climbing around playgrounds, and just sitting in a chair is wearing on me. Fast.
**Update: So far I have tried stretching, strengthening exercises, and seen my chiropractor numerous times. She even says it’s time for the doc. But please keep the advice coming!!
Moving around or sitting in a crazy-lazy chair is what helps the most…sitting up straight or laying down is what causes excruciating pain (if I were working in an office I’d be in BIG trouble).
So until I’m on the mend, I will be so grateful for super-fun-yet-not-painful afternoons relaxing in our back yard doing this:
This kid is gonna be T-R-O-U-B-L-E.
He could play with water ALLLLLL day long, so putting the hose on the “Mist” setting helps keep the water usage under control.
Ok, so not to be all complain-y, I’m really handling it just fine. But if anyone has experience dealing with sciatica issues, I’d love to hear about it. Unless, that is, your story involves someone telling you “There’s nothing you can do” or “Just wait it out”. I don’t want to hear those.
Let me just kid myself about there being a possible solution.
What are your favorite fun and relaxing back yard activities?
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I was afraid we’d missed them.
But last week, they were still there.
The Jewel Box Tulips at Forest Park.
After weeks of “We’ve gotta go!” and “It’s going to be too late!” I threw Ethan in the car and we drove the few miles over to Forest Park to see this sight. Just one of my favorite parts of our sprawling and magnificent city park.
We’ve been spending so much time in our new neighborhood that we’ve just not made it over to Forest Park much since we moved back.
In case you aren’t familiar, Forest Park is over 1,300 acres of museums, ponds, bridges, golf courses, a zoo, jogging paths, and historic buildings…like the “Jewel Box”. It dates
The Jewel Box was built in 1936 and, while kind of as expected on the inside…beautiful and the perfect space for a small wedding ceremony or private event, spectacular on the outside. It’s where the “magic” happens. Tulips in the spring, lily pads in the summer, covered in leaves in the fall, glistening with snow in the winter.
The tulips, my favorite feature, are perfection every year. The mix of red and yellow popping agains the wide expanses of green. Reminds me of the Wizard of Oz sometimes…if only they were poppies.
We spread our picnic blanket (always ready in our trunk) over some freshly-cut grass and basked in the sun amongst snacks, Dr. Seuss books, and dinosaurs—things Ethan packed for our trip. Of course I had to get a long-arm photo (or I don’t make it in any) and am seriously questioning my hair… brontosaurus on the other hand, looks great (can you see him?).
After writing this, I couldn’t help but look back to my first post about taking Ethan to this park. He was the tiniest Peanut, fresh out of the NICU, sleeping in the stroller for our long walks.
Makes me wonder how the heck I carted such a bitty baby all over town. It was I could do to get him fed and to bed but now I’m trying to keep him from falling in the reflecting pools. Feels like yesterday and a million years ago all at the same time. Watching him running down the paths on his own, exploring, all the while I’m whisper-shouting “Don’t TOUCH the tulips, just look!” as he dashes about.
Loving this age.
I’m betting the tulips are just about done, but if you hurry there may still be time to see them in full glory.
St. Louis readers, what’s your favorite part of Forest Park?