Tuesday, April 8, 2014

48 Hours Roundtrip to St. Louis

My friend Kelly and I had been talking for a long time about meeting up in St. Louis with our kids someday just for the hell of it.  Georgia and June were on spring break last week, so it seemed like the perfect chance.  It was also a bit of test run for me, to try a road trip on my own with the kids, including sleeping in a hotel room.  (Oh, the places we'll go!  I have grand visions.)  Alas, I nearly bowed out of this trip when the timing didn't come together as perfectly as I had hoped.  But sometimes you have to just go with it, knowing that you'll be sitting at home regretting your choice later if you don't at least give it a try.

And I'm so glad we went.  It was fantastic.  Better than I expected, actually, and that's despite the fact that a tornado warning the first night caused sirens to go off and resulted in my having to haul frightened kiddos to the hotel lobby for a brief spell after their bedtime.

My mom was able to drive from Columbia and meet us for an excursion to the St. Louis Science Center before Kelly and her kids got to town.  Thankfully she understood that everyone was operating on way less sleep than normal.  Having kids who like to rest a lot is a wonderful blessing, but as with anything, there are tradeoffs.  When they don't get their required daily dose of koala-like sleeping conditions, tensions can flare.

After the Science Center and lunch, all three kids went down for a nap.  For a few hours.  And that was the point when I realized how awesome a getaway like this really is.  Because I truly relaxed.  I didn't do laundry, or plan a grocery list, or feel like I should be working on something else, because when you're in a hotel with three sleeping children, you really can't do much of anything else.  It's that constant feeling of "should" that often prevents me from fully relaxing at home, which is why something as simple, (or some might argue, challenging), as a 48 hour solo road trip with my children actually felt like a mini-vacation.  I dare say more vacation-y than some of our recent family trips to Florida.  (Not that I'll be trading Sanibel for St. Louis anytime soon, though.  That sun and ocean are big draws!)

We wanted to visit the arch but the stars did not align, which is okay.  I went into this trip just wanting everyone to have fun, and I know that the kids were just as happy even happier at the freezing cold hotel pool than if we'd hit more sights.  Plus, I know the arch will still be there, and after this trip, I'm all set to go back, especially since now Joe wants to go, too.

You Chicagoans may be thinking, "St. Louis? Really?" and I get that.  It's not your typical spring break getaway.  Or anytime getaway for that matter, for people coming from another midwestern metropolis.  But if you're looking for a less expensive than Cancun, warmer than Wisconsin, relatively quick and easy change of pace, particularly for kid-centric museums and attractions, I'd recommend it.  After all, I was back in time on Saturday to go out to dinner at Bistro Campagne in Lincoln Square with some girlfriends.  What better way to end 48 hours straight with your children than to leave them with your husband (who's been missing them) to bathe them, feed them, and put them all to bed? : )
As close as we got to the arch.

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Waylon's first viewing of "Cars". 

That would be Waylon, somehow still sleeping for about 10 more minutes as the girls and I proceeded to have breakfast, with the lights on, just a few feet away (see next picture). 


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Build it.

Play with it.

Knock it down!

Did I mention they were a little worn out from the drive and all the tornado excitement?
You go first.

(I do not like this picture, but I am officially trying to "get in the picture".  I don't want to do these excursions with my kids and then have it look like I wasn't even there fifty years from now.)

(Jessica and Susan, you will get a kick out of this shot. Apparently Waylon has inherited the "Columbia gene", as evident from his attempts to plop down and rest on the mall benches and floor. Here June and Evelyn are trying to coax him up.)

Thanks for the brownies, Mom. The kids all loved them. Untitled Untitled
Group snuggle shot!

The next morning. Please witness June's "side" of the bed. I slept in a sea of elbows and knees.

Okay, I could not stop photographing these girls holding hands. Particularly Evelyn and June. And how sweet was Evelyn to let June borrow her baby doll and accompanying backpack and doll accessories for basically the whole trip, even overnight? June took great care with baby Jenna and fed her approximately 3,487,287 times.  At home she later reported to Joe that Evelyn loaning her this doll was the most "frienshipiest" part of the trip. : )
Because it is impossible to stop taking pictures of little girlfriends holding hands, but I could not find a collage template with more boxes.

Oops. We noticed this sign a little late: Untitled
Thank you photographer Georgia for helping me get in the picture. (Hey Miles, I think someone's eying your free Froot Loops from the hotel buffet.)

Hippo mouth!


Make fun of me if you want for wearing a 2 or 4 year old in my Ergo carrier, but check out what Evelyn does when her legs get tired - she folds herself in half and (happily) stuffs herself into a stroller basket. Hilarious!

And now, the moment we've all been waiting for. Begging for. Asking about since we entered the zoo: the train. (Waylon was quite annoyed to hear that the zoo involved one train and lots of animals rather than lots of trains and one animal.) He doesn't look thrilled in these pictures, but that's only because he was so beside himself with excitement and transfixed by what was happening to even smile. Oh, and he was nonplussed about his mother repeatedly attempting to take his picture. : ) Untitled
(Waving at everyone we passed.)

(Handing tickets to the engineer.)

The End.

And then we drove home and resumed normal operations (i.e., June immediately asked Joe to start a fire and build her a nest.) : )
(As you can see, 10 months in and we're still getting settled in our "new" home.)
One question I'll leave you parents with:  do you ever find that your children behave better in the presence of one parent rather than two?  It's so counter-intuitive, you'd think more adult attention to go around would always make things better, but sometimes it only leads our kids to have a "divide and conquer" approach.  Case in point: this car trip.  With one adult on board, they just get it that I can't pick stuff up for them when they drop it (well, save for my use of this toy claw - no joke), and they made it through with no electronics since I couldn't very well turn things on and off or help them pass around our computer (our usual screen of choice on long car trips) [Note to self: spring for the on-board drop-down DVD player (or whatever they've invented by then) next time we buy a vehicle].  But when our whole family travels together, it's a seemingly endless stream of demands invariably requiring one of us to unbuckle and contort ourselves into the backseat and back again! 


Emily said...

really good ice cream

just saying . . .

Maggie said...

Man, we gotta do a group trip next time. Looks like you guys had a blast!!

Susan said...

So many thoughts....I can't believe this was only 48-hours! Your mom looks great! I can relate to your sleeping with June....Shep stayed with me Friday and insisted on sleeping together so I dealt with feet in the rib cage all night long. And, as someone who once used their college spring break to go to the Mall of America, I certainly cannot judge a family vacay to St. Louis!

jessica said...

Impressed! And so happy you had some sense of relaxation. Well deserved. Napping on the mall floor-I totally get it.

Sarah said...

ADORABLE! Kelly was a busy woman last week! It's so true, a hotel is just less stressful - fewer dishes, plentiful supply of pillows and towels, everything you need! And yes, those little buggers do know how to take it down a notch when there’s only one parent, and how to be obnoxious when there’s plenty of parenting to be had. I can’t decide if it’s based on their assessment of what the situation can allow or if they’re just more excited and energetic when both parents are around. It just doesn’t make sense that it would be easier to have a conversation with your spouse when they’re NOT in the same room as you, but that’s just how it goes sometimes.

By the way, Dom and I are still making a plan to adopt that little Waylon.

Ann Price said...

Very cool trip and Kelly and fam look great! So cute seeing how the kids relate to one another. And yes, I completely agree about traveling solo with kids. I know my friends think I'm a saint or completely crazy to fly alone with the girls, but I swear it's easier most of the time. Except when it isn't. But really, they just step it up and I find that is the silver lining of going it alone. Glad you had the same experience and a good trip overall!

Kelly said...

A direct quote from Evelyn on our way home from this trip: "Mommy, that was the very best vacation I've ever been on!". Thanks so much for meeting up with us - we had a fantastic time! Next time, maybe you and Maggie can caravan down with your kiddos, meet us in St. Louis, and we'll tackle more fun, kid-friendly activities in STL. And seriously, I love June's "friendshipiest" comment. Doesn't get any sweeter/cuter than that :)

katandkarl said...

Yes. One of my favorite posts EVER, mostly b/c SUMMER TRIP TO STL?!?!?!?!