Monday, April 12, 2010

Surviving St. Louis

This weekend we braved a trip to St. Louis with our toddler to get together with our friends. TJ is part of a group of guys that have all been friends since around 6th grade, and it is always a blast when everyone can come together for a weekend. We were very N-E-R-V-O-U-S about our 6-hour car ride with an 18 month old, but we did everything we could think to do in preparation. I bought out the dollar store so that I could continuously be delighting him with new toys, we brought a DVD player and checked out several kiddie movies from the library, we brought every snack Topher has ever liked, and we prayed. And you know what? He did great! He slept for an hour, played and read books with me for a couple hours, and watched his movies (thank you, Elmo!) Somewhere near St. Louis I had this epiphany: We can take him places! Sounds simple, I know, but I have never had that thought before. All our previous long trips have been traveling nightmares, so this was a welcome surprise. I did great in the car! Even I'm surprised! I found and turned on the cold air all by myself. The hotel room, with a full kitchen. Topher took the cookie sheet out of the oven and "baked" us some of his crackers.
Washing the long ride out of my hair.
Naked baby on the hotel bed...this must be the deluxe suite.
After settling in and giving Topher a bath to "wash the trip off" we headed over to the Johnston's house where 2 corgis provided endless entertainment and everyone was happy to take Topher and play with him (thank you, Susan!)
I think you're a dog but you're short enough that I kept calling you a "dat."
Then it was on to the Muether's house, where a soft-coated wheaten was like a Sesame Street puppet come to life for Topher. As we ate dinner on the deck, Topher just wanted to go in and out of the door because there was a small step there and he really enjoyed trying to master going up and down. Mrs. Muether did a great job keeping Topher laughing even though he had had a very long day.
Up and down, up and down. Come on, Mickey! After a well-deserved sleep that night, we headed to the zoo early Saturday morning. I don't think anything can top his reaction to the first animals we encountered. They are some of his all-time favorites and his excitement is obvious:
We thought Topher would LOVE the petting zoo, but when we anxiously pointed out a goat to him, he just brushed it aside and started playing in the rocks instead. We decided that when you have a St. Bernard, a lowly goat might be a little boring. It was just another "bup," after all.
Why is this supposed to be fun again? My bup is bigger than this!
Daddy and Topher watching the hippos while Mommy keeps a safe distance and tries not to get sick (yes, I have a phobia).
Look, Daddy, elephants!
Topher watching the sea lions. Our favorite part of the zoo was the aviary. Topher is a bird man, and it was quiet inside with occasional tropical bird calls. Topher LOVED pointing to all the birds. Everywhere else in the zoo, he wanted O-U-T of his stroller, but in the bird house when we tried to take him out, he made it VERY clear that he wanted to stay firmly in his seat and just observe.
Look, another bird! I just love birds!
In fact, he's such a bird man, that when we took him into the children's room in the zoo, he just kept finding all the birds in the room (ignoring the bunnies and guinea pigs, no less):
Topher, the giraffe wants to meet you!
Look, he's right there! Then it was back to the hotel, where Topher got to shed his clothes for awhile before we had to head out again for Phil's birthday party.
Excuse me while I make some calls.
Yeah, I'm going to the party later. Phil is one of the friends in the "6th grade" group and he held his party in a park pavilion that was rented out. There was food, open space, a playground, and so many friends. Plus the weather was 75 and sunny. It was just perfect. Luckily, our friends Jon and Ashley have a little boy just Topher's age and they brought plenty of toys for the kids. Topher quickly found a favorite, a plastic rake that he took everywhere.
Raking the sidewalk.
Raking the playground.
Raking the whole park.
Topher and Troy (Troy is one day older and Topher only looks bigger here because his stroller is bigger...they are very similar in size.)
Talk about a handsome group of guys...
Andy, Mat, Jon, TJ, Phil, Dan (one of Phil's friends), and Ryan
Now add the wives and children...and everything is suddenly perfect. :)
Andy, Anne (expecting a boy!), Mat, Angie, TJ, Topher, Macie, Kate, Phil, Troy, Jon, Ashley (expecting another boy!), Katie and Ryan
If Al and Amanda had been able to come with their baby, Owen, it would have been a complete picture. (Of this group, there are 5 babies and all are boys...I'm pretty sure we are all trying to make a sports team. Either that, or something in the Eureka, MO water killed all the X-chromosomes in this particular group of men.) Finally sleeping in his stroller after a LONG day of no naps.
TJ playing baseball with the guys...he's about to hit a home run here I'm pretty sure. :)
The trip home was a little longer than the trip out, but we made it without any major meltdowns. It was a great weekend. It wasn't a relaxing weekend, but it was great. I'm still glad to be back home, though, and Topher slept 12 hours last night so I know we wore him down pretty well. Glad to go, glad to be back. Topher, couldn't have been more proud of you this weekend. We'll make sure we stock up on "Em, Em!" (Elmo) movies from now on for you, little buddy.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you thank you thank you for your blogs...I can't tell you how much they mean to this grandmother. I got to see Gina, Jeff's and Jon's kids this week....and I talked with Emmitt...not Arwen...and now I got to see Topher. I hope he doesn't forget me! Love to all of