Monday, August 13, 2018

Our Trip to St. Louis

I wanted to take the kids to St. Louis to visit family, especially after we weren't able to make it to my uncle's 50th birthday party. Since Ty recently started a new job he only has 3 personal days and wants to save them for Christmas time so he can have the whole week of Christmas off. We decided it didn't make sense to drive up late Friday night or Saturday morning and leave on Sunday morning. It would be too quick of a trip and too much driving in a short amount of time for the kids. So Ty decided he'd stay home and we'd go on without him. We left Friday, August 3rd, and came home Monday, August 6th.My mom had also missed my uncle's birthday party and wanted to go visit at some point so she and my dad decided to come as well. That would work nicely for me because they could help with the kids while I ran so I wouldn't miss my runs for the weekend. Friday morning I got up at 5am so I could get my 16 mile long run in before leaving for St. Louis. I got an awesome run in before Ty left for work and then we were on the road a little after 8:00.

I made plans to stop in Springfield which was right at halfway to meet a friend and her kids at the park. I wanted to make it to St. Louis by dinnertime so we could eat with my grandparents but I also wanted to have a nice break halfway, that's why we left so early in the morning. We played with our friends and met my parents at the mall, which was right next to the playground, and we all ate lunch in the food court there. I had coupons for $15 off a bear at Build a Bear which expired at the end of the month so we decided to stop in there since we were already in the mall. I had the kids all talked up that they would only get the bear with no extra stuff. If they wanted extra stuff they could save up their money or ask for it as a present. But lucky for them, their grandparents were there and said they'd pay for the extras. Each kid ended up getting a scent inside their bear as well as a beating heart and a sound. Then Elise got the dress that matched her bear and Carter got the sword that matched his. I thought it was all a bit overboard until I'd look back at them in the car and they'd be hugging their bears to feel the beating heart and sniffing them for the smell. I also got to listen to the Incredibles 2 theme song, which Carter had added to his bear, on repeat for about an hour of our drive. I had always wanted a Build a Bear as a kid but had never been inside the store so I enjoyed the experience just as much as the kids. I'd heard making a bear there was more about the experience than the bear and it definitely didn't disappoint. I was very impressed and watching Elise jump up and down as she made her bear made it all worth it. As we checked out they asked if I wanted a bag or if the kids wanted to carry them. I asked them if they still had the boxes because I'd always wanted one of the boxes as a kid so they gave each kid one. I'm excited for them to color and decorate them.
Carter and Elise with my friend's 2 boys.

Carter pushing the lever to fill his bear at Build a Bear.

Walking through  the mall. Since I was driving 6 hours in the car after a 16 mile long run I wore compression socks all day. The looked silly but I'm sure they helped with my recovery!
Elise was getting tired and ended up napping for a bit once we got back on the road.
Carter carrying his Build a Bear to the car.

We arrived at my grandparents' house a little before 6:00. We enjoyed the dinner my grandma made and then wound down and prepared for bed. The kids were in bed late around 9:30 and didn't fall asleep until close to 10 but, of course, were up bright and early at 6:15 the next morning! Elise helped Great Grandma set the table for breakfast. Then my dad came over to hang out with his mom and play with the kids while I went for a quick run. After my 16 mile run the day before which was followed by 6 hours in the car, my legs were tired and the run was a little difficult. I was glad to be done and back at the house. I walked a little cool down and found dad and grandma walking with the kids back home. We met Ty's cousin, Megan, and her 2 kids at the Magic House when it opened at 9:30. We left for lunch around 1:00 and then went back to the Magic House around 2:30, staying until it closed at 5:30! We spent around 5.5 hours there and still had to move at a faster pace than the kids would have liked through some areas so we could see everything. That place really is amazing! Carter's favorite thing was a metal ramp that did a loop de loop which you put wooden balls on. The balls went on the ramp and then flew off the end into a basket. He also loved the slide you rode from the 3rd floor to the bottom floor. Elise's favorite thing was the veterinarian office which she spent a ton of time in. She also played forever in the pizzeria. My favorite moment was having a tea party with mom and Elise. Elise found a book and read to us which was adorable! I didn't think to take a picture of all the kids together until it was lunchtime and all the kids were tired and hungry. So I didn't get a very good picture but at least I got one! We met my Aunt Trish, Uncle Dennis, and cousin Ainsley for lunch. Carter was smitten with Ainsley and it made me think of playing with her when she was little. That's when I realized she's closer in age to Carter than she is to me! I'm 17 years older than her and she's 10 years older than Carter! She was wonderful with the kids and kept walking Carter over to the water fountain to play which was so sweet to watch.

Ainsley with the kids at the water fountain.

Enjoying our tea party.

Elise gave me a dress to wear for our tea party and mom wore a baseball shirt.
We went straight from the Magic House to my Uncle Doug and Aunt Pam's house for dinner. They had a young dog and the kids had a blast playing with him. They were a little wild so we took the dog for a walk while we waited on dinner. We found some kids out playing in their driveway and Carter immediately went up to introduce himself. We played with them in their driveway for a bit before heading back and Elise fell, scraping up her elbow. Dinner was delicious and Carter's favorite thing was some fresh green beans Pam grilled.
The kids with Doug and their dog, Jackson.
Sunday morning I dropped the kids off at mom and dad's hotel to swim while I went for a run. I felt like running trails so I used my AllTrails app to find a trail nearby. I found Rock Hollow Trail on the Meramec Greenway and it was gorgeous! I was disappointed at first when I arrived and saw it was a paved trail but about a mile in I found an off-road trail that linked up with it so I ran off-road too. The first trail I went off on was a switch back up the hill so it was a little rough on my legs. It was a single track trail which was heavily trafficked with bikes so I had to jump off to the side of the trail a lot. The next trail I went off on didn't have so much incline and wasn't as heavily trafficked which was nicer. At the end of my run I saw 2 deer with 2 fawns. I finished my run and then walked a cool down. On my cool down the deer ran across the trail in front of me which was so cool! When I got back to the hotel I swam with the kids for a while. Grandma and Grandpa had come to watch and mom and dad both swam with the kids. They liked playing a game where I was a kissy fish and tried to kiss them while their Opa helped them escape. Carter also liked it when dad would go under the water and swim at him, but he'd freak out the whole time dad was under water and then laugh when he popped up. They also liked when we held them and bounced up and down to make giant waves.
Beautiful view, especially for a paved path!
I tried to get a picture of the deer.

After swimming I gave the kids a bath at Grandma and Grandpa's house while my parents checked out of their hotel. While I showered Elise snuggled with her Opa and ended up taking a little nap in his lap. We had a late lunch at Jason's Deli before my parents left to head home. After lunch the kids and I headed to the Gateway Arch. We had tickets for 4:05 and arrived with plenty of time to make it through security and check out the museum. I would have liked to read and learn more in the museum but with 2 kids there wasn't much reading going on. Carter was mostly interested in learning about how they built the arch which didn't surprise me. I read something about a Junior Ranger program so we asked at the information desk and got a booklet for each of the kids. They just needed to complete 3-5 activities in the booklet to become junior rangers. When it was our turn to go up in the arch Carter started saying, "I'm so terrified. This is terrifying," but would then laugh a little. The ladies we were riding with found him highly entertaining. Elise just sat in my lap and looked around. She did agree it was a bit scary when Carter said it was terrifying and later told people she was a scaredy cat which I thought was funny because she wasn't at all. Up in the arch I knew there was no way the kids could fall but I still felt sick to my stomach. Elise kept touching the windows and wanting to climb all the way up to the window so I asked her to stay closer to me. A park ranger came over and I'm sure was trying to be nice telling the kids they could climb up on the observation window as far as they wanted and get right up on the glass but I didn't appreciate it because it made me so nervous! We completed the scavenger hunt and the kids each drew something they saw out the window for their Junior Ranger booklet. Elise could have stayed up there for much longer but Carter said he was terrified and was ready to go back down. When we got out we went over and they showed their booklets to receive their Junior Ranger badges. I wish I'd known the park ranger was going to do such a cute pledge with Carter, I would have recorded it. He had Carter raise his hand and repeat after him that he would take care of the parks and make sure him mom, dad, and sister picked up trash. Carter laughed so hard at that but did take it seriously because on our next walk he picked up trash he found on the ground.

Looking at bugs in the museum.

Carter getting up close and personal thanks to the encouragement of the park ranger.
Elise filling in her Junior Ranger booklet.

Carter signing his Junior Ranger certificate.
My Junior Rangers!
We checked out the gift shop afterward. Carter really wanted to get something to eat and they had salt water taffy so I let the kids each pick out 5 pieces. We took them outside to eat while sitting up against the arch. Elise was so sweet giving me a bite of each of her candies. We got some pictures with the arch in the background. Then Carter found a boy to play with in the grass. He and Elise ran the stairs multiple times. Then Elise started getting really tired since she hadn't really had a nap and started falling more than usual. I decided it was time to head back to the car. I hadn't planned it out to do this but Sunday was the perfect day to go to the arch because it was the only day there was free parking on the street! We popped back into the arch to use the restroom and the kids wanted a picture in a replica of the car we rode to the top. As we were walking back to the car we found a playground and stopped to play for a while. I was glad I had taken the stroller. I figured since Elise hadn't napped it would be best to just play it safe and take the stroller. We parked a ways away from the arch so Carter ended up riding on the front of the stroller part of the way too. We made it back in time for dinner and the kids enjoyed some more time with their grandparents before bed. Carter and Elise enjoyed showing Great Grandma their tablets.

Monday morning we got up and prepared for the long trek home. One of my best friends and college roommates had just had her daughter on my birthday so it worked out perfectly for us to meet her! We stopped by for about an hour before heading home. It was a little crazy because Carter and Elise had a lot of energy but I got to see my friend and hold the baby for a little bit so it was a success. Elise even took a picture of me holding the baby and then a picture of me with my friend. I also got a picture of the kids with the baby for memory's sake. Then we were off on our 6ish hour drive home. I planned to take 44 all the way home like I had on the way there. I put our address into my phone so it could get me to 44 and it wasn't until we were half an hour into the drive that I realized it was navigating me a different way. Finally about an hour in I couldn't believe we still weren't on 44 so I checked and realized it was having me go small 2 lane highways for the first 3 hours before getting onto 44 and at that point it was too late to change. I was really bummed because it was not the nice, easy drive I'd been prepared for! I figured since we left at 11, we'd eat a late lunch around 1:00 so we'd get at least 2 hours into our drive before stopping. Right when I was thinking we'd stop at the next exit for lunch I looked back and saw Elise was asleep. We ended up not stopping until 2:00 for lunch. Since we were going through small towns on our drive we went right past a grocery store and stopped in to pick up lunchables which was much cheaper than getting fast food. Then we drove past the half way point and didn't end up getting out to play until Joplin, MO which was about an hour and a half from home. We found a nice conservation area with hiking which was nice after a long drive in the car. We spent about an hour there before making our way the rest of the way home to see Ty, Harper, and Skippy.

Heading out on our hike.

The kids were excited to see Ty did some painting while we were gone!


  1. If wearing compression socks to the Springfield mall is wrong, I don’t want to be right! 😂 What a fun trip!