Thanks, Amtrak

Our train was supposed to leave this morning at 8:30. This meant getting there about 7:30 which meant getting up (and getting everyone else up) at 6:00.

We were doing fairly well, with only one early-morning grumpy incident. We were dressed, breakfast had been eaten, and the van packed. Then Amtrak called to tell us our train had been delayed – by an hour and a half.

I suppose I should be thankful Amtrak even called. I should be thankful Amtrak called at 7 am instead of 4 am. Mostly I’m just thankful they waited until our four over-excited children were good and awake, 90 minutes earlier than usual, to really make sure we have an enjoyable train experience together.

This is my second time on Amtrak; the first time we left the girls with Grandma and Grandpa and took the train from Quincy to Chicago. It was the first time we’d left the girls with anyone overnight and I was pregnant with Millie at the time.

All was going smoothly until about an hour or so into our trip when the train came to a stop in God Knows Where, IL. A tornado had blown through the previous night and dropped a grain silo right across the track. We stopped in a pretty quaint little town, but were instructed to stay close by the train station because the train could be taking off any minute and when it was ready, you had to be on it within 5 minutes or risk being left in God Knows Where, IL.

Four hours later, we were ready to roll. Needless to say, my pregnant self didn’t really enjoy being stuck in a train station for four hours, one hour into a five-hour train trip.

Come to think of it, I’m now a lot more thankful to Amtrak. I much prefer waiting here at home than with four really excited children in a train station this early in the morning. I guess it’s all perspective.

Chicago, here we come (in a couple of hours)!

Chicago Help Needed

I’m taking the chance that at least one of you has more Chicago experience than I do. I’ve only been twice, each time sans kiddos- once we just walked all over the city; the second time we went to hear U2.

I’m planning out our schedule for the week and am wondering about zoos: Lincoln Park or Brookfield? Anybody in the know on this one?

We’re Relaxing – Trust Us

I forgot the card reader, so I’ve got no pictures to post to prove we’re taking a break. You’ll have to take our word for it.

Six Flags was fun, but as I was doing my best narcopleptic impersonation, I spent a good amount of the time searching for rides in which I could lie down while the girls squealed. The carousel is good for this; Porky Pig’s Weather Balloons, not so much. I also discovered that wave pools are oh, so much more fun with children who know how to swim.

Last night I slept for 12 hours in a row. I felt like a new person today. Today we hung out in a great pool, enjoyed fresh sweet corn, shopped at the only Wal-mart in the land where you are never more than two deep at the check-out stand, and played with cousins at the park. As it’s about 8:00 now, my bedtime is rapidly approaching.

Good-night! Hope you all have a great weekend.

Vacation, Had to Get Away

Why does that Go-Go’s song pop in my head every time I pull out the suitcase?

We’re kicking off Vacation Season with a good old fashioned family trip to Six Flags. Anyone remember our story from last year? This one will NOT be like that. If I say it enough, it will come true.

This will actually be our second trip to Six Flags this summer, though our first one was for a job I did, and not very much fun for me (though the girls didn’t seem to mind it at all). As I’ve had weird health things for the past week (kicking it off with what I think might have been my first migraine and wondering if it ever really went away because I’ve had some form of a headache since), I have no desire to ride fast roller coasters that jerk my head from side to side. My big plans include a whole lot of Looney Tunes Land and Hurricane Harbor.

When we leave tomorrow, we will probably stop by the restaurant that shall not be named (which we haven’t actually been to for months now!) and then drive straight to the farm. We’ll be there for two nights and then go visit some friends Craig knew in college and their three kids for two more nights.

We’ll come back on Sunday, do a bunch of laundry, and then leave for Chicago on Tuesday morning. More to come (I’m sure).

Do Unto Others (Darn It)

We’re going to Chicago next week and I needed a pair of good sandals I can walk around in without developing blisters on my feet. After our regularly-scheduled free lunch at Chick-Fil-A today, I did a quick search for the perfect pair. J. C. Penney always seems to be the best store for me, price-wise, so that’s where we naturally gravitated toward after lunch.

Maddie and Chloe were doing what Craig calls their “Frick and Frack” routine while I was (quickly) browsing the sandal section. I wasn’t thinking too much about it as they weren’t being that rowdy, but they were a bit on the hyper side; in short, they were acting like children.

So, I was surprised to hear the lady who was looking at the clearance rack start talking to herself. She spoke loudly enough for everyone around her to hear, but as I didn’t realize she was directing her comments toward us, I didn’t pay attention right away. Here’s what I heard her say, “It’s my only day to shop for shoes! Why do I have to be distracted by these loud kids?”

When I write it out like that, it doesn’t sound like it did in the store. But trust me, it was mean-sounding in the store. I clued in about then and walked over to her. I looked around and sure enough, the only children around her were mine. “Excuse me,” I said, “but are you speaking to my children?”

She did not make eye contact with me, but kept looking at the shoes. “I would be if they would listen,” she said.

That was the wrong answer. I became the Mother Whose Children Never Do Wrong and said very firmly, “If you have a problem with my children, you need to talk to me, okay?”

She ignored me. I then turned to the girls (who were completely wide-eyed at both the situation and the fact that I was addressing it with a complete stranger) and felt the need to make my own verbal point. “Let’s move out of this lady’s way, girls, so we don’t distract her from buying her shoes.” Then I said, “Let’s just move to the other end of the section so we can stay completely out of her way.”

“Mom, what happened?” Maddie asked. My gracious response? “We got in the way of a very mean lady who does not like children.”

I don’t know if that lady heard me or not, but I wouldn’t be surprised if she did. I was mad and I wanted her to feel a sting. I made a point out of saying out loud to the girls that we were allowed to shop in the store, too, and that just because one lady doesn’t like children, it doesn’t mean we have to leave the store until she’s done shopping.

I found my shoes, made my purchase, and huffed out of the store. Once in the van, Katie and EMillie started playing with their dolls. Then Millie’s doll did something mean to Katie’s doll and Katie said, “When someone does something mean to you, you don’t get to do mean things back to them. You need to treat them nicely.”

Zing.

I looked at everyone in the rear view mirror. “Girls, you know how angry mommy was in the store?” Yes. “Well, mommy treated that lady the way she treated us. The way she treated us wasn’t right, but mommy still should have shown grace to her. Mommy missed a big chance to show the love of Jesus to that lady.”

We brainstormed possibilities of why that woman could have been so frustrated and bitter. We talked about how mommy’s response reinforced the thinking that that woman already had instead of helped to change it.

The bottom line was that we don’t repay mean responses for mean behavior. Katie knew the lesson better than I did. One day, I hope to learn it as well.

Baseball Tickets Abound!

So, for everyone who rolled their eyes at me for signing all my girls up at all the summer reading programs in town, let it be known that they have collectively won 10 Cardinals baseball tickets for this year. (Note: This would be even more exciting if the Cardinals were playing actual baseball this year.)

In addition, Chloe won a free pass to a Cardinals Kids Baseball Clinic, in which she will get to go on the field and receive three hours of baseball instruction from (former) Cardinal players themselves!

Needless to say, they are pretty excited. Between the cheap group tickets I obtained before the season started and the free ones they’ve won, we’re talking about a lot of time in Busch Stadium this year. Free tickets you’ve won from the library or by entering a drawing at the local grocery store are the next best thing to having season tickets you paid for yourself (which will never happen in our family).

Now then, to figure out a way to encourage the Cardinals to start winning again…

Organics, Organics Everywhere (Or Are They?)

I've been noticing a lot of blog conversations springing up lately on the use and consumption of organic foods and other responsible eating choices. I'm totally interested and have been trying to do my own research on where to find Community Supported Agriculture cooperative farms in the St. Louis area. So far, I've not found much.
I sent out my question to the various e-lists I'm on and am slowly starting to get a bit of info. I'm compiling what I'm finding here for my own ease of accessing the information at a later time. If you are in the know on St. Louis area CSAs or other local organic providing farmers/stores (aside from the obvious chain stores), I'd love to know about it.
St. Louis Specific Info:
Local Harvest Grocery – according to this news article, they sell organic milk for $1 cheaper per gallon than any other place I've looked in St. Louis (and I've looked at a lot of places). I will be definitely be making the 15 minute drive to this grocery very soon.
New Roots Urban Farm – I'm not sure yet what I can do with this one, but I'm thinking about organizing a field trip to find out more. Want to come?
Three Rivers Community Farm – This one isn't exactly in St. Louis, but I don't think it's that far. They are sold out for this year, but you can join their waiting list for next year.
Tower Grove Farmer's Market – There are a lot of farmer's markets around, which I knew already. I was a bit disillusioned, though, when I went to two of them my first and second summers in St. Louis and just found vendors selling off stuff that had to leave the shelves from the regular grocery stores. That wasn't what I was looking for at all. I know not all the markets do that, so I need to give it another whirl. This one looks promising as the Three Rivers Community Farm sells their items here as well. Since I can't get in their CSA this year, I might go try some of their goods from Tower Grove instead.
These are links that are not specific to St. Louis:
Lindsey has a great series up right now on making the switch to organic eating.
Jess has no longer allowed me to stick my head in the sand (or, shall we say, sugar?) regarding corn syrup. I am reading labels again now like crazy, so thanks, Jess.
Christy always has good posts on better eating.
I've seen the book Animal, Vegetable, Miracle written on very highly on many blogs lately, so I'm going to be reading it soon.
Anyone else have anything good to share?

Does This Qualify Me for the Migraine Club?

I woke up this morning with an amazingly powerful headache. After 20 minutes I thought maybe getting up would help, so I did. And promptly became nauseated. 3 Extra-Strength Tylenol chased by some Coke Zero did not help and I’ve now had both symptoms for 3.5 hours. The headache is finally starting to ease a bit, though I still feel nauseated.

I’ve never had a migraine before – and believe me, I don’t want to join that club. But I’m wondering – does this sound anything like a mild migraine? Is there such as thing as a mild migraine? Or did going to see Peter Pan at The Muny last night just do a weird number on me?

Family Fun

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We took the cousins to the St. Louis Science Center and everyone had a great time. Can’t you tell? Really, Millie enjoyed the visit – she just usually despises group photos and I made her get in it anyway. Like everything else, it will come out in therapy later.

Afterward, as I mentioned yesterday, we went to Ted Drewes for that famous St. Louis frozen custard. I got a concrete this time instead of a plain vanilla custard and it was way yummo, so I might be turning into a St. Louisan afterall. That, or it’s just been so long since I’ve enjoyed real ice cream that anything would have been way yummo yesterday.

We took another group photo and Millie was more accommodating this time. But then, who wouldn’t be with a face full of that yummy stuff?

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Here’s baby Jane enjoying her fair share:

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And me with my sister, Michelle. This picture was our third attempt in front of the Ted Drewes stand. You just can’t be too careful with these things.

Me and Michelle

We came home to discover that Craig had not only fired up the grill, but had also made hamburgers all by himself and had those and some brats all ready for us. That’s what I’m talking about. Then the kiddos had a blast in the kiddie pool, also throwing a ton of water balloons all over the place and at each other.

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They left this morning and are probably home by now. We don’t do this nearly enough, but we enjoy it when we can. Thanks for coming, Michelle, Titus, Anna, and Jane! We loved being with you!