Monday, July 9, 2012

Brody - 6

My sweet little nephew, Brody, turned 6 last week.  I was out of town, so the following weekend I took him to Lego Land to celebrate.  AND I took Allie to Sea Life Aquarium at the same time for her birthday (coming up in September).  Killed two birds with one stone - and they each got to go to both places.  

Hunter just couldn't manage to stay awak for the aquarium...

The aquarium was actually pretty cool.  I thought it was interesting, they had great exhibits, and the kids loved it.  I was impressed.  For KC, it was pretty good!  (Word of advice, if you're going: buy your tickets online ahead of time and avoid the loooooong lines.)

Lego Land, on the other hand, was pretty over-rated.  I don't think either of the kids thought it was too spectacular.  And actually, Allie enjoyed it more than Brody.  She made a race car and we rode some rides, but that was about it.  It was a zoo.


Brody did have an actual birthday party this year, too.  It was at the bowling alley, and while I was planning on attending, I ended up putting together a NEW TRAMPOLINE instead.  My mom bought it for him and Allie for their birthdays.  So while everyone was enjoying the air condtioned bowling alley and celebrating with cake, Tony and I (and Matt) were sweating to death putting together a trampline on the hottest day of the year.  No joke.

All the hard work (and sweat - lots of sweat) was totally worth it when they got home, though.  They were both shocked and love their new trampoline!  :)


SIDE NOTE:  This little guy isn't so little anymore.  Hunter is 8 months old!  He seriously is the happiest little baby I've ever seen...

Friday, July 6, 2012

St. Louis, MO

We've been trying to schedule a weekend to get away to St. Louis for months now.  So what better weekend to do it than my birthday weekend!?

Matt and I took off Friday after work (my birthday) for the 4 hour drive from KC to St. Louis. 

Our first stop was for dinner in Columbia, MO.  Not wanting to take much time off from driving, we ended up at Subway -- and candy from a gas station for dessert!  Such a wonderful birthday dinner! ;) 

We finally pulled in to the city around 9:30pm.  Matt has a good friend who he hasn't seen in a couple of years (another reason we wanted to get up there), so we stayed with him (Kurt)...and his very-pregnant-with-twins wife, Jackie.

Of course we had to go out for a couple of drinks when we got to town - even though it was late.  (Well, late for me.  I guess that's normal time for everyone else to start going out.)

They took us to a little mexican restaurant that usually has a fun outdoor patio, but when we pulled up, there were only a couple of cars in the parking lot.  It wasn't quite the 'happening' place they thought it would be, so after a couple quick pitchers of margaritas (they had some other friends there to help us out), we left for Bar Louie.  I guess the extreme heat was keeping people in that night, because it wasn't too popular of a spot either.  One more drink there (that Matt really could have done without), and we decided to call it a night.

So the one thing I said I really wanted to find in St. Louis was a Hardees for breakfast.  My mom used to take me there on Saturdy mornings for their cinnamon raisin biscuits with icing, and I hadn't had one in years.  (There is only one Hardees in KC and it isn't close to my house.)  Matt promised he would find me one - and much to our surprise - as we were driving to Kurt's house...there was a Hardees within walking distance!!  I was so excited I about jumped out of the car.  True story. :)  So bright and early Saturday morning, I jumped on top of Matt to wake up him for Hardees.  That one last beer the night before did him in, but he was a trooper (after a stop for some Advil) and took me to Hardees!  They were just as delicious as I remembered...

We figured out the night before that one of Kurt's friends had two free tickets to the Cardinals game Saturday that he wasn't going to use - since it was supposed to be 105 out.  We were planning on buying some tickets off Craiglist, but free is always better!  We met up with the friend on our way down to the arch to get the tickets for that afternoons game.  (And ended up buying some $15 sunglasses for Matt and QuikTrip while we waited.  What a rip-off!)

First stop of the day (well, besides Hardees): the St. Louis Arch.  I think we picked the hottest weekend of the summer to do the outdoors touristy stuff, so we tried to get to the arch early-ish.  It didnt' help.  We were alraedy sweating just walking from the car to the arch, and the line was pretty long to get inside.  A worker informed us that the line was much shorter on the other side of the arch, so off we went, and it paid off.  We got right in the building.  The AIR CONDITIONED building.  (I was REALLY not pumped to realize - once we got to the arch - that I left my camera back at the house.  Thank goodness for iPhones!)

Turns out you are supposed to buy tickets in advance to go to the top of the arch, because they only let so many people up at a time, and on a schedule.  We asked the gal at the ticket entrance what to do since we were on a schedule (we had lots to pack in that day), and she told us to just go through a shorter line and ask the ticket guy what he could do.  We are the luckiest people alive, and of course he got us right up somehow - even though the next available spot wasn't for a couple of hours!  Score!

No line on the south side!

The lines we were supposed to wait in...

...but we got tickets up right away!
So we got in this little pod type thing that you couldn't even sit up straight in, and up we went.  I got a little motion sick, but it was a quick ride.  I'm not going to lie - I was pretty disappointed with the top of the arch, haha.  I guess I don't know what I was expecting, but it's just a tiny little space with even tinier little windows that you can hardly see out of!  I was thinking it would be more like the Skydeck in Chicago or the Empire State Building in NYC.  The arch is nothing like either of those.  We were up there maybe 5 minutes and I was more than ready to come back down - it was so crowded.  At least I can say I've done it now!

The people in front of us getting out of the pod

Heading to the top!

One of the viewing windows in the background!  They're so small!

Once back down, we bought an ornament for our Christmas tree in the gift shop, and gout out of that zoo.  We tried and tried to get some good pictures of us in front of the arch, but it just wasn't happening.  One did turn out alright though.  :)

Our St. Louis ornament

After quick walk through Laclede's Landing, the next stop for the day was the Budwesier brewery.  I had heard so many good things about the free tour, and even though I don't like beer, I thought it sounded fun.  And it was!  I couldn't believe how big and nice it was, and learning about the whole beer making process was surprisingly interesting!  Of course Matt liked the free samples at the end, too!

By this point in the day, we were already late for the Cardinals game, and kind of dreading it.  It was alraedy well over 100 degrees, and sitting in the sun to watch a team (or sport) that neither one of us are too passionate about was sounding like not the best idea.  At least we had free tickets, so we didn't feel bad about walking in, sitting in our seats for less than 5 minutes, sweating to death, and promptly getting up to leave. :)  I don't know how anyone sat through that heat!  I am glad we at least went though. The stadium is right down town and one of the cooler stadiums I've been to!

So instead of sitting in the heat for baseball, we decided to walk around in the heat at the free zoo.  Nice swap, if you ask me.  I can't pass up anything free - and we even found free parking on the street! :)

$15 to park for a "free" zoo?  I don't think so!

The St. Louis zoo was awesome.  I think it was better than the KC zoo - and you have to pay a lot of money for that zoo!  The pinguins were probably my favorite.  Or the sea lions.  It was all cool.  And we even had a nice little lunch (shared a salad and a sandwhich) in an air conditioned building there.  Besides the fact that it was 108 degrees outside, the zoo was really fun!

While we were walking around, we started laughing at a guy that walked by who was sweating through the back of his shirt.  About an hour later, Matt snapped this picture of me.  Karma.  In my defense, I have proof that it really was 108 outside!

We were completely exhausted after the zoo excursion.  So after a quick stop at Matt's old house (he lived in St. Louis for several years), a nap in the cool, dark basement back at the house was definitely in order!  I felt like a new woman when I woke up and showered!

The house Matt used to live in
The Hill is an Italian area with authetnic Italian restaurants, so that's where the four of us went for dinner Saturday night.  We ended up at Zia's, and the food was so amazing.  I had abeen hearing about 'toasted ravioli' the whole trip, and all the hype was legit.  Those things are so good!  And the salad and side pasta...all of it was just great.  The Hill was an excellent recomendation!

Even though we were all stuffed from so much food at Zia's, I was informed that I HAD TO try the ice cream at Ted Drewes, the home of the first concrete.  Couldn't pass that up, no matter how full we were!  Apparently, THAT was the place to be that night.  The lines were out to the street, and you could barely find a parking spot!  (The ice cream was good, but I'm not going to lie, I prefer my Baskin Robbins or Sylas & Maddy's here in KC!)

Saturday was such a long, hot, busy date that we decided to call it an early night and just head back to the house for some rest!  Original plan was to go out again, but we just didn't have the energy for it.

Sunday morning we woke up and had breakfast with Kurt & Jackie - she made an awesome breakfast casserole - and then went to mass at a Catholic church nearby.  Of course the sermon was about Obamacare -- because that's completely appropriate to discuss politics in church.  We weren't too pumped about that one...

Church in St. Louis
We stopped back at the house to hang out for a little bit longer and to say our goodbyes to Kurt & Jackie before heading back downtown to the City Museum.  It was a little more for kids, but we still had a good time for a couple of hours walking around and playing with the clay!

Jackie & Kurt

City Museum

We're not very creative...

By late afternoon (around 3pm), we decided to leave the museum and hit the road home.  An early dinner with some friends in Columbia, MO, was next on the agenda!

We pulled in to Columbia right around 5, and had a quick dinner - with the best nachos I've ever had - at Addison's with Craig and Chelsie.  Sparky's ice cream for dessert, where the guy working behind the counter had about the shortest shorts I've ever seen - on a male OR female!  Too bad I couldn't sneak a picture of that!

Craig and Matt

It was a short stop, but a nice break from the drive and great to see Craig and Chelsie for a little bit!

The rest of the trip was pretty uneventful.  Just a two hour drive back home!  But it was such a fun weekend, and I can finally say I've been to St. Louis (and Columbia)! :)

Downtown KC in the distance!  Almost home!