When my husband and I made the decision that I would be staying at home it made a significant cut in our income. Luckily God was a few steps ahead of us and we had just signed up to take Dave Ramsey’s financial peace university where we would be introduced to a budget. For the past few years we have been living on a pretty tight budget and working very diligently to pay off debt. For us this has meant sacrificing some fun family trips. Bummer. We LOVE fun family trips. I was thrilled when I found out that Clint had been planning a Mother’s Day weekend trip to St. Louis with my cousin and her family because we needed it. A little vacay had been a long time coming for us and the weather was set to be beautiful. We happen to adore this particular family we would be traveling with. They are always a good time. Exhibit A: They show up at our door with walkie talkies; awesome right? They are the coolest aunt and uncle to my children ever. (Yes we realize that because this is my cousin, technically this couple wouldn’t qualify as an aunt and uncle but that’s how we have adopted them in our family and there they are staying in the hearts of my little ones.) If you can’t all ride together you should definitely get walkie talkies. We had so much fun with these.
* If you’re working on paying off debt one of my favorite parts of the vacation was that we were prepared financially. In addition to our emergency fund, we have been saving a summer vacation fund. So we had cash set aside for the trip. This took so much anxiety away for me. I wasn’t waking up each morning checking our bank account to be sure money was there. We don’t have a credit card anymore so there wasn’t even an option of using one so that temptation is gone which means there is no guilt afterward or paying for a weekend trip for 2 years. Just know that you will get there if you keep at it! It was awesome!
Okay, I’m back…Along the way our little man got a nap in, we completed our final day of homeschool for the year (YAY!!!), we watched some Blaze and the Monster Machines and highlighted our route along the map. When we got to St. Louis it was so exciting to listen to our kids as they got their first glimpse of the Arch. This was their first road trip to such a cool landmark. Clint and I both looked at each other and instantly knew we made the right decision by coming. “Mom, Dad I can’t believe my eyes!!!!!!! Give me the walkie talkie now!!!!!!”
Our first stop when we arrived in town was the St. Louis Zoo. I had only been there once in high school and I remembered loving it. We got there and were stuck in traffic for over an hour just to get into the zoo’s parking lot. I decided that was the price we paid for visiting a free zoo on a Saturday…but none of us were excited or prepared for the “opportunity” to practice our patience. At one point we even had to take a potty break using a cup. (So is life with 3 little ones in a traffic jam) I read aloud to the girls for awhile from one of their chapter books until Clint finally decided we were good with walking a bit to the zoo. He navigated a new route for us and we parked on a side road and found a path worth exploring. We were all grateful to get out of the car, stretch our legs and be heading towards our destination. Once we got into the zoo we met up with our buddies and ventured out. It was the most gorgeous day, about 87 and sunny, and this zoo is landscaped and set up beautifully. Our kids are all pretty close in age so we were able to stop and take breaks and of course get some air and cool off at the misters. The majority of our day was spent there until a chance of severe weather forced us out.
After the zoo it was time to check into the hotel. In my girls’ opinion, this is usually the most fun part of any trip. As a matter of fact, if we solely spend time at a hotel, they are content. Swimming and hanging out in a hotel room, they are cool with that. Let it be known that earlier in the week when I was assessing my preschooler on her days of the week she told me: Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, (with hands in the air) hotel party!!! We knew that we were staying at a Drury Inn but weren’t positive which one, so we headed towards the Arch and followed the GPS on my phone but wouldn’t you know, as my hubby goes to check in and we are at the wrong one. I’m telling you, the devil did everything in his power to attempt to ruin our trip….on the way down the van starting leaking some type of fluid…that hour wait for the zoo just about drove us nutso…we find out there are 8 Drury Inns in St. Louis…goodness!!!!! But we hadn’t been away like I said in a few years, and we were determined to have a blast! So we found the correct address and headed for our “hotel party” 🙂 When we finally arrived, the hotel was great, our room included snacks which served as dinner for us; hot dogs, mac n cheese, nachos, salad, and free drinks, so we filled up those kiddos and headed right to the pool. I appreciated that the pool was on the 8th floor so we didn’t have to be in the lobby in our swimming suits. I always feel awkward with my kids walking through hotel lobbies in wet swimsuits and bare feet when we are mixed amongst a wedding party or something. It just doesn’t feel appropriate. Children in wet swimmingsuits on the elevator with the maid of honor…anyway back to the point. Also, the shallow end was 2 foot 6 inches so my girls could touch and “swim” on their own in a large section of it without floaties. We didn’t have the chance to spend much time in them but there were 2 hot tubs! How cool is that?
We woke up the next morning, mommies and daddies drank their coffee, kids ate breakfast and got our little ladies and Coleman geared up for their first visit to the Arch!
The Old Courthouse was just down the block and that was where we needed to purchase tickets as the area surrounding the Arch was under construction. (PS if you are heading there it will be under construction until 2017 so check online before you walk down to the Arch!) Downtown St. Louis was so lively compared to the small rural town we call home. Our children were able to see people walking all over, music playing, plenty of restaurants; horse drawn carriages along the streets and experience sights and sounds that were completely new to them. We walked along the river, squeezed into the white tram to go up the Arch and were all in awe at the craftsmanship and the view from “2 statues of liberty” tall in the air as my oldest daughter recalls.
Then we took a carriage ride downtown for lunch at Sugarfire, a DELICIOUS BBQ smokehouse. Seriously, if you are in St. Louis, you should absolutely try it out. Between the ten of us we probably had everything on the menu and it was all fantastic. There were plans in the making of heading to the museum, but it was Sunday night and we all had reality to return to, so the grownups made the unpopular decision to head back home. About an hour into the drive back we had 3 sleeping babies…because we call our kids all babies when they sleep, they look so precious then 🙂 And it felt like Clint and I were on a road trip by ourselves. We were able to chat the entire way home and we loved it. I told him the perfect way to end the trip would be if we could find a little hidden bakery and get some lemon meringue pie. And wouldn’t you know, he made that happen for me? Good man.
So yummy and a fun atmosphere for kids! It was nice that they had sauce for us to take home and to go containers and bags out and available for us so we didn’t have to wait on that when we were ready. The cheesy cauliflower was delicious! Who am I kidding, it was ALL delicious!
We didn’t ever find a little bakery on the way home, but my hubby did secretly call ahead and find a Bob Evans…which doesn’t carry Lemon Meringue anymore, but they do carry a lemon cheesecake pie which we all came home and ate together around our kitchen table. Perfect ending to a sweet weekend.
I hope you had a wonderful Mother’s Day,, more importantly, I hope you are working towards being a better mommy each day and appreciating and honoring the mothers in your life and sharing the wisdom you have with those mothers around you that need it.
“Her children rise up and call her blessed, her husband also and he praises her.”
- If you’d like to listen to an awesome sermon on what it’s like to be a good mama, one of my friends spoke about this at our church this past week. See what she has to say!