Meet Me In St. Louis Part 2 (still Julia’s 15th bday)

Our first night in St. Louis was SO fun, so now how do we top that?  I left it up to Julia since it was HER birthday.  My intention was to try and take it easy on the money situation but I NEVER ever succeed.  Julia and her buddies didn’t create their itinerary based off of the FREE “things to do” in the city.  Too bad for Hubby.  He never likes to let me lose with the pocketbook.  I’m beginning to understand why!  lol

We woke up late and didn’t get out of the hotel until after noon.  BTW…  should you ever decide to stay at the Hilton Garden Inn near the airport in St. Louis, you should know that just because you spend a million $ on the hotel room, you will NOT be receiving a complimentary breakfast.  Nope.  Not even a stale donut or a box of cereal.  However they DO invite you to partake in their $12 PLUS per person breakfast!  By this time, my oldest daughter joined us so we were now a party of 5.  I couldn’t justify spending $65 a day on breakfast food when we still had cupcakes.  Granted, by this time the cupcakes were fairly hard, but they were still good enough for a bunch of teenagers.  SO, because we were STARVING, we began our very rainy day at “Hodaks” (another St. Louis tradition) for all the fried chicken we could eat!  Hodaks has been around forever and some people would say they have the best fried chicken and frog legs in the world!  It was good but I wouldn’t say it was the best.  The girls DID say it was the best and that made it all worth getting lost in the city 🙂  Have you ever been lost in a big city where it seems like every driver on the road wants to be in YOUR lane at the same time you are?  Oh and let’s not forget all that AND screaming teenage girls who are literally punching each other in the back seat like a bunch of wild boys!  I told them that THIS was the reason I chose NOT to have boys….

(We finally found Hodaks.  Literally, people who move away from St. Louis and come back for a visit… HAVE to come back to Hodaks for the fried chicken.  I know people who visit this place every time they’re in town)

(Not very fancy but tasty!  I didn’t like the slaw at all and I thought it was funny that the chicken was served on top of a piece of white bread in order to soak up the grease!  lol  But despite the not-so-fancy plastic plates and such, the chicken was SO juicy and seasoned just right!  And by juicy, I don’t mean greasy)

After stuffing ourselves with as much fried chicken as we could all eat, Julia wanted to go to Laclede’s Landing on the riverfront.  No matter that a monsoon decided to visit us on this day.  Anything for MY princess!  lol  If she wants to walk around WITHOUT umbrellas in the pouring down rain, then BY GOD, that’s what we’re going to do!  Just as soon as we found a parking spot and stepped out into the rain, my oldest daughter flagged down a horse drawn carriage driver.  If you’re ever in St. Louis and you want to take a carriage ride, you should know that you CAN negotiate a price with the drivers.  They usually charge around $40 for as many people as we had with us.  My daughter got them down to $25!  Which is good because I hadn’t planned on spending ANYTHING on carriage rides!  We did that LAST year!  ARGH!  It wasn’t HER money, it was just Mom’s, so who care’s right?  lol  Oh and don’t forget that your carriage driver works for tips.  I didn’t realize that (even though there’s a big sign inside the carriage) so I walked off to hear our driver talking to another driver about how PISSED she was to have gone down on the price, yet she STILL wasn’t tipped!  lol  Ooops.  Don’t worry!  I made my oldest daughter tip her!  It was only fair since it was oldest daughter’s idea 🙂

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(Here’s our carriage driver trying to rustle us up some more blankets so my precious angels wouldn’t be so cold in the St. Louis rain!  She really was nice to us even if she DID get a little perturbed that we didn’t know to tip her)

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(The angels all snuggly and warm with their blankies)

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(Mama Bear and her Birthday Princess)

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(The Martin Luther King Bridge over the Mississippi River… a view from our carriage ride through the Landing)

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(And because I love bridges…  The Eads Bridge…  BTW… check out that cobble stone road!)

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(This is my favorite of the MLK Bridge)

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(Laclede’s Landing)

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(And because I love old clocks too 🙂

So the reason we were on The Landing in the first place was so that Birthday Girl could experience the creepy St. Louis Wax Museum.  I HATE wax museum because they scare the crap out of me but that was the exact reason birthday girl wanted to go!  I found a good deal on Groupon so it ended up being inexpensive.  Thank JESUS something was a good deal!  lol  The people who ran the Wax Museum were SO nice too.  They’re updating the place so some of the displays were in disrepair.  Apparently, they’re in the process of getting all new wax creatures.

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(Here’s oldest daughter with her idol, Michael Jordan.  She LOVES basketball and still plays every chance she gets 🙂

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(I had to get this one of “little bit” with Mark McGwire because it WAS here birthday and all about the year 1998, when a few months after she was born, Mark McGwire broke the home run record in St. Louis – I know… it was all too controversial… but STILL cool cause it happened right here in St. Louis AND in the year 1998!)

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(Okay… so this may be in bad taste but it looks like they have Patrick Swayze embalmed here!  We all LOVE Patrick Swayze but this was way too creepy and helped set the mood.  We were beginning to be VERY afraid.  We had to walk through 3 floors of dark and very scary hallways)

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(I’m not sure who this one’s supposed to be.  Possibly Tina Turner?  She was from St. Louis so maybe?  Whoever it is, she sure is CREEPY… Again there’s THAT word!  lol)

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(Again in bad taste… the kids said this one reminded them of me and all my stomach surgeries.  They have NO sympathy for me!)

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(Thank GOD my oldest found herself a man!  I was beginning to worry because she’ll be 29 this summer!  I wonder if Obama knows his image is being tossed around this way?  lol)

So the Wax Museum was Birthday Girl’s favorite thing to do all weekend!  Who would have figured?  I couldn’t get out of that place fast enough!  I couldn’t wait to get back outside in the monsoon to visit Gibbol’s Magic Store (Gibbol’s Novelty & Costumes)!  Carriage Ride lady told us there was a Magic Man there who would do magic tricks for us FREE!  Well, by God, if it’s FREE, we’re going!  Magic Man goes by the name of Andy G and has a separate business where he puts on private magic shows with a partner.  It’s called Shift Reality.  You can reach Andy G at #415-952-6394 or 415-95ANDYG…  clever, huh?  lol  He’s pretty good and kept ALL of us fascinated and entertained with his free magic tricks!  I’m pretty sure the owner of Gibbol’s couldn’t WAIT for me to get my destructive girls the heck OUT OF THERE though.  Who knew girls could be into so much trouble?  I only turned my back for a minute!  lol

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(Here’s Andy G doing a card trick for Birthday Girl)

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(Hannah was SO mad when Andy G wouldn’t tell her how he did a trick.  It drove her CRAZY trying to figure out what he’d done LONG after we left this place!  lol  He explained that, as a magician, he had to purchase magic trick secrets.  He just couldn’t go giving his secretes away.  He’d be glad to SELL us a secret though!  lol)

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(And of COURSE the biggest instigator of trouble was the 28 year old daughter!  She can’t help herself from trying on every pretty little thing!  lol)

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(I never laughed so hard in my life!  BIG TROUBLE daughter helped herself to the theatrical makeup and talked with Andy G as if this were her normal face!  She didn’t even crack a smile so I’m thinking he really thought she wore her make up like this!  He was having a lot of trouble looking her in the eye but SHE had no problem looking Andy G in the eye!  lmbo  Later the owner told us that they SOLD that make up and it cost money for them to apply it to our faces.  So, in other words, my daughter helped herself to some free make up…  I was laughing too hard to be embarrassed!  No wonder I have trouble keeping the younger one’s in line!  We’re not good at setting proper examples!  lol)

Good day but SO long and cold and rainy!  I couldn’t WAIT to get back to the hotel and read in my warm bed.  THAT didn’t get to happen though!  The girls wanted to go swimming.  Oldest daughter and I took them for a little bit and left them at the pool.  At 15, they’re old enough.  PLUS the pool was only 4 ft deep.  How was I to know that when I left they’d set off the alarm at the pool, use the handy cap chair lift and then set off more alarms on the elevator?  I was notified BY SECURITY that my girls needed to be accompanied by an adult at ALL times!  ROFLMAO  Which translates to NO reading in my warm snuggly bed.

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(Because I’m pretty sure Hannah was behind us getting into trouble with the hotel management, I’m going to show you all some lovely pics of her mascara lineds face in the hot tub 😉

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(Looks like they’re plotting trouble to me!)

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(Okay… so I MIGHT have known about them using the handicap chair lift.  Shhhh….)

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(And you thought your BOYS were messy?  Honestly, I didn’t know girls could be such nasty slobs!  How did toilet paper get ON the floor by my side of the bed????  But this is what I had to contend with after I left the pool BEFORE security notified me! lol)

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(Don’t feel sorry for them!  They TOTALLY deserve my invasion of their privacy!  FINALLY, we got them to go to sleep.  And then we picked at them until we disturbed their slumber.  Check out Julia’s extreme annoyance in the black and white 😉

So all’s well that ends well!  2 days down and 1 day to go!  This old mama’s getting too old for so much activity!  At this point, the nursing home is beginning to sound like a vacation 🙂

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Ideas Please?

I’m panicking!  Help please???  My youngest princess is turning 15 tomorrow and I need to come up with something to make this year special.  Here’s why…  From experience with all my other girls, I’ve learned that this, year 15, is really the last year she’ll be mine 😦  *cue tears*.  Everyone knows that Sweet 16 is something very special for a girl.  15 is very special for Mommy!  

I’ve always made birthdays for my girls special and we’ve tried to do parties or weekend trips.  We’ve pretty much done anything the girls wanted to do within the limits of our financial situation.  SO… Julia’s the baby.  I’m struggling with  empty nest syndrome and I think sometimes, I’m not the one winning.  I’m trying to be graceful about losing my mind to the “empty nest”.  After all, FINALLY, after FOUR kids, I’ve realized that these girls were not born FOR ME!  They are little beings so separate from me and I have so very little to do with their lives  – except to give birth and pay for them.  They don’t need me after a certain age.  My job was to shape and mold them and HELP them to be the decent human beings that they were born to be.  Now, I want to celebrate Julia. 

So here’s the dilemma.  I’ve done a lot of cool things to celebrate her birthday already.  Last year, we had a bunch of friends over (her friends) and they spent the night.  We spent one day in downtown St. Louis and packed a picnic lunch.  We spread a blanket out on the ground at a park and looked up at the Arch.  We fed the ducks and geese at the pond we sat near.  Image

~Here’s everyone eating by the pond under the Arch.  It was a pretty cool idea and inexpensive to pack our own lunch.  The girls had a blast even though we didn’t spend a bunch of money on dinner reservations~

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~Here’s the view of the downtown buildings from our little picnic spot~

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~Here they are walking in the rain.  They did their best to ditch the parents (Ben and I) but I managed to catch up with them AT LEAST to get this shot.  lol~

After eating, feeding the mean geese who took our food and then attacked us, walking around under the Arch and people watching, we took a horse drawn carriage ride all along the riverfront.

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~Here’s the whole group of us!  The girls had the choice between going up IN the Arch or doing something else.  They chose the carriage ride and were SO giddy at being able to wave to the tourists.  We laughed so hard and just enjoyed the moment.~

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~Here’s the St. Louis Riverfront… view from the carriage ride~

We were done kind of early with the Riverfront and the girls weren’t ready to leave yet.  They’d decided to spend the rest of the day at the City Museum on Washington Ave.  This was a tough decision because it wasn’t in the budget BUT how could we say no?  The cost is $12 a person and $20 a person if you want to go to the Aquarium, which we did NOT.  It was particularly scary that day because a tornado went through the city of St. Louis and there were even fatalities right down the road.  Thank God the girls were all safe and it missed us.  They had a BLAST (despite the crazy howling winds outside) and they closed down the place 🙂

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~All the materials used to make everything in the City Museum came from recycled garbage!  Basically anything you’d throw away NOT food or sewage related.  lol  Here’s one of the ceilings.  I’m loving the mosaics on the column.  Not sure what the ceiling material is made of.~

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~This isn’t a good picture but I put it here to show you that there are other aquariums that are free to see.  There are fish and turtles everywhere.~

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~Here’s my oldest daughter Sumo wrestling a statue at the City Museum.  So you see, there something fun for ALL age children.  lol~

After the museum, the girls came back here and made their own pizzas.  They stayed up all night and left late the next day.  We got a LOT of birthday celebrating in that weekend and Julia and her friends are STILL talking about it.  So how do I top that?

One year, we took a FEW of her friends to the St. Louis Magic House.  We were supposed to go to SixFlags but as luck would have it, and as it seems to do EVERY birthday for Julia, it stormed so they couldn’t ride the rides at Sixflags while there’s lightening happening 😦  

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~here she is pretending to be a judge.  They learned all about the judicial system… among so many other things.  Again, having WAY too much fun pretending~

Looking back on it, we’ve done so many things for her birthday.  I’m running out of ideas and here’s where YOU come in handy 🙂  I need some ideas!  Keeping in mind that we’re only going to have 1 maybe 2 friends this time AND that Julia loves the city.  I would absolutely LOVE to get on a train, just Julia and I and go to Chicago for a few days.  We won’t be able to do that, most likely, because we just bought her first car.  I realize a car should be enough but she’s going to be paying us back for that and to me, it’s all about the experiences we share.  Memories need to made AND, like I said before, this is probably the last year that I’ll have her to myself.  I fully expect that NEXT year, when she’s 16, I won’t get to be even a little part of her party… well except to pay for it.  lol

I’d really love to hear from you guys on this because I’m at a loss.