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Exploring St. Louis: Citygarden

2015 August 23
by Becky

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Hidden right smack in the middle of downtown St. Louis is two blocks of amazingness. You’ve probably driven by it, on your way to work or a ball game, never assuming that behind the perfectly manicured landscaping was a garden of—in Ethan’s words—”peacefulness.” Citygarden is one of our city’s secret gems, and one of our favorite summer places to play. 

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Beautiful, large-scale sculptures and fountains combine to form a play space that feels off limits, but is very much hands-on. You won’t find a “No Climbing” sign anywhere in this park, all structures are fair game! Which means giant arcs become slides, an enormous hollow head a hiding place, a placid reflecting pool the perfect way to cool off on a hot day.

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While some folks use Citygarden as a place to unwind on a lunch hour, we go for the water. The garden features two splashing ares, one in a large pool complete with stepping stones and a waterfall, the other a small pond with a boat sculpture in it’s middle. Any time of day, when it’s hot, you’ll find children enjoying the water.

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Did I mention the pop jets? They are my favorite part of Citygarden. Hundreds of them on smooth concrete tiles, perfect for big kid feet or baby knees. Jets of water shooting up in different patterns and timings. Ethan likes to run through the jets or just watch, Finn likes to stick his chubby fingers in fountain holes in anticipation of a spray.

Finally taking good pictures in this space was so fun. I’m usually there with the kids by myself, which makes grabbing the nice camera kind of impossible, especially around the water. Check it out, I even made it into a few shots!

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For a perfect morning in Citygarden, you’ll need swim suits for the kids, towels, snacks, sunscreen, and a picnic blanket. When the kids have built up an appetite, break out a packed lunch or stop by one of the many food trucks that park along the garden. There’s also a restaurant above the waterfall and plenty of walkable eateries if you’re feeling fancy (aka, not soaked and sweaty). 

Ice cream and lemonade from an old fire truck? Talk about kid-pleaser.

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The summer is almost over, the air is feeling more like fall by the day, but there are surely more hot mornings on the horizon which means there’s time to explore Citygarden if you haven’t already. And if you’ve been but not in a while, go back! Don’t cross it off your list. Not feeling the water? Take a guided tour of the artwork on your iPhone. Just be sure to remember the time, or you’ll find a ticket on your car when the meter runs out (which happened to me just last week). 

Citygarden is just one more reason we love St. Louis.

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First Day of Pre-K

First Day of Pre-K (Year Two)

2015 August 20
by Becky

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We’ve been pretty excited to get back in to the groove around here, summer + new baby has done a number on our “normal” routine, and no one was more pumped than Ethan who LOVES his school. Taking him to his first day back in Pre-K wasn’t emotional. We were in the same class last year, had the same teachers, did camps there this summer…it was kind of old hat but in a really exciting first-day-of-school way. Ethan wanted to take something to his over-the-top-awesome teachers, so we made banana crunch muffins, complete with a story Ethan apparently told everyone about how “Dad stuck his finger in the batter”. Stu had clean hands and just did one quick little swipe but still, not something you want to tell someone as they take a bite of homemade baked goods.

It took two trips to get all the school supplies, baby, gym bag, diaper bag, and who knows what else to the car before I asked Ethan to pose for The Shot, the one every single person with a child has posted in the last week. My goal was to replicate last year’s picture to get a great side-by-side comparison…too bad my kid has become impossible to photograph. Our neighbors were graced with shouts of “Look at the CAMERA!!” and “Smile NORMALLY!!” as Ethan did everything in his power to make this quick task take 19 times longer than necessary. No matter the angle, a quick glimpse at last year’s shot proves Ethan has done a lot of growing.

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In a very silly way, he looks wiser…which is maybe why fielding his negotiating skills has become my full time job. Those chubby little legs have grown into long stalks with giant feet attached. Those hands seem to have doubled in size, the face less soft. But I love that he’s doing the exact same thing with his hands, holding the straps of his back pack. That wasn’t staged, it’s just cute.

This face is more realistic these days. You’ll have to imagine the burping noise.

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Reading about our first day last year made me realize just how much more confident he will be this year. He hit the ground running at the back to school BBQ last week, talking about which friends he couldn’t wait to see, ready to play and get as far from adults as we’d allow (which turned out to be pretty darn far, but still within view). Yesterday, much the same, he marched in to his classroom, hung his backpack in his cubby, handed off muffins to his teachers, and started to play, happy to be there. He’s a big kid this year. He’ll be the one helping the littler kids make decisions…mostly “green-light” choices I hope.

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I exited the building and removed Finn from his spot strapped to my back, only to find his nose ridiculously snotty and red. Our trip to the gym was immediately cancelled, I opted for a run on the treadmill at home while Finn napped upstairs. The rest of my day was spent battling him every 10 minutes to remove snot, doing 37 things during his afternoon nap, and before I knew it, time to pick up Ethan. “Full Day” school feels like about 5 minutes and 20 hours all at the same time.

Ethan emphatically announced at pick up, “We had the BEST macaroni and cheese for lunch today!” because all food tastes better at school with friends. He’s happy, Finn will be happy when his nose clears up, and I already have a feeling this school year will be great.

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