Yesterday, we had a birthday tea party. Whose birthday was the cause for the celebration? Why, the Queen’s, of course! Her official birthday, marked by Trooping the Colour, was on Saturday, and we decided to make a long weekend of it, and keep the party going for tea!
The them for the event was purple (the color of royalty), and crowns (obvious). I also threw in a little bit of green for an accent color, because it just looked so nice. For decorations on the table, we had purple Hershey’s kisses, candles, and purple carnations in a pretty English gin bottle that I’ve been saving for a few years to use as a vase. The tea of choice was Darjeeling, partly because it’s one of my favorite teas, and partly because it comes in a purple box!
We also had coronation chicken finger sandwiches, cucumber sandwiches and some nice reddish/purplish grapes.
It all made for a very fun birthday celebration!
It struck me when we were at Grant’s Farm on Friday that there’s always something new to see, no matter how often we go there.
It could be something really new, like this baby camel:
Or a young Clydesdale:
It could be something new to us, like seeing a peacock display his feathers (and hearing him scream…disturbing!):
Feeding the goats isn’t new, but the children actually going into the goat pen is…very brave of them!
Riding the carousel isn’t totally new, but it is a rare treat!
I couldn’t even tell you if the murals on the entrance to the Tier Garten are actually new, or if I’ve just never noticed them, but they seemed new to me!
This butterfly sculpture is fairly new (I think)…I noticed it for the first time last year:
But I didn’t realize until Friday that it’s covered in coins!
Sometimes one of the children likes to strike a new pose:
I wanted to get a new perspective on one of my favorite details of the Bauernhof…inexplicably, I take a picture of it every time we go to Grant’s Farm (it’s not like it changes!), but I really wanted something new and different this time.
We saw some other new animals, found a new gift shop and a new deli, and had a new family picture taken. I even sampled a new beer! This is why, no matter how many times we go to Grant’s Farm, I never, ever, get tired of it…there are just so many new things to do and see!
This morning, we went over to Eckert’s to watch the dogs competing in the Splash for Rescues event. It’s really fun to watch the dogs’ enthusiasm for jumping and retrieving!
It’s also fun to see how big of a splash they make…the children even got a front-row view, where they got a little drenched, too!
This article from the New York Times is making the rounds, and I discovered that I could have written it word-for-word, not because I have any bias against the midwest, but because the move to St. Louis did not come easily to me at first. I came here grudgingly, couldn’t wait to serve my time and then leave. Until we had children, and then, just as instantaneously as this author experienced, I realized that not only had I come to tolerate St. Louis, I had learned to love it. Now I can’t imagine living anywhere else!
It was around March 2009, when our first daughter was born, that our lives began to shift. One of St. Louis’s oft-touted claims — that it’s a good place to raise children — happens to be true. Admission to the zoo is free. There are lots of great parks, including the one that surrounds the Arch — a monument that, in its elegantly mathematical beauty, genuinely lives up to its hype. St. Louis is also home to a kind of kids’ paradise called the Magic House, which features, among other attractions, a miniature Oval Office and a three-story climbable beanstalk. The city’s enthusiasm for its sports teams crosses age, race and gender in an appealing, wholesome way.
In fact, we got an early clue as to what kind of place St. Louis is during our first summer here, at a Cardinals-Cubs game. Sitting behind us in the stadium was a guy who looked to be about 20 and drunk. As people walked by, he’d yell out mocking observations about their appearances. Finally, I turned and said, “You know, everyone else here just wants to enjoy the game like you do.” Having moved only weeks before from Philadelphia, where Santa Claus himself was famously booed during an Eagles game, I half expected the guy to slug me. Instead, looking taken aback, he said, “I hadn’t thought of it like that. I’m sorry.” I was stunned into silence.
The much vaunted Midwestern friendliness is, in my experience, more evident not among people you know, but among those you don’t. It may take a year and a half to be invited to a dinner party, but the checkout clerk at the grocery store greets you as warmly as your grandmother. Eventually, my husband and I made friends with people who are mostly transplants like us, or in some cases a half transplant-half local couple in which one spouse lured the other back — because St. Louis is, you know, such a great place to raise kids.
Six years after we arrived, we have two daughters, ages 4 and 2, which gives me the authority to answer, definitively, the question of where people in St. Louis are when they’re not in a restaurant at 9 o’clock on a weeknight: we usually eat dinner about 5:15, and by 9 o’clock I’m getting ready for bed. But somewhere along the line, I started to really like living here. In fact, I would be happy to stay in St. Louis forever.
For one thing, it’s so easy. If I complain that I had a hard time parking, what I mean is that there was no space waiting for me directly in front of my destination and I had to drive another 50 feet to find one. If I say a restaurant is hard to get into, I mean that when I called on Thursday, they had no reservation open for Saturday night at 7:30. I work from home, but my husband’s commute is 20 minutes in “bad” traffic and 10 minutes otherwise.
WHAT I like best of all is that the size of St. Louis means we now run into people we know at the playground and the post office and the farmers’ market. In several instances, we’ve developed friendships after we bumped into the same people in more than one setting — the mother and son duo my daughter and I took a baby music class with, then saw again two years later when the children were in the same preschool, or the couple we met through my college classmate before we all happened to move onto the same street.
Now I consider myself a St. Louis local. I know not everyone would agree — I’ll never satisfactorily answer the question natives here ask one another on meeting, which is where they went to high school — but I believe my transition occurred last spring.
It was strangely instantaneous, as when people switch bodies in movies. My husband and I were, naturally, at a trivia fund-raiser, at a table for eight. St. Louis’s professional ice hockey team, the Blues, was in the playoffs, and as an M.C. asked the trivia questions, a large screen showed the game. When a Blues player scored late in the game, the room — a school gym — erupted in cheers. And just as meeting the same people in two settings has propelled forward our friendships, I felt how the intersection of these two disparate but quintessentially local phenomena, trivia and the Blues, forged my new identity. It was involuntary but not unwelcome; in a noisy gym, I became a St. Louisan.
Last night, Turkey finally had his first baseball game of the season, following two rain-outs last week. He was very excited to discover that the field they’re playing on this year actually has a scoreboard!
They’re also using real umps (from the high school association), this year, which made the game go much more smoothly. Another thing that helped with the quality of the game was the quality of the field…no drop-off in the outfield this year!
Turkey only got to bat once, but he got a hit! His team lost, but he still had a good start to his season!
Today was our annual-ish “Park Day.” We did this two years ago, and decided it should be a yearly event, but last summer was so hot, we never got around to it. Today was absolutely beautiful, so we got out of the house for some playing (at eight different playgrounds!), and a picnic!
Park stop one was at Creve Coeur Park. We found three different playgrounds at this one location (and one of them was a complete surprise, even to me!).
Playground one had a splash pad (or sprayground, or spray park…whatever you want to call it!):
Turkey tried to get Ladybug under this bucket before it dumped, but she’s pretty scrappy, and wouldn’t stand for it!
Chickadee wasn’t too sure of the swing at first, but she warmed up to it pretty quickly!
Ladybug got right to work on her monkey bar skills, which she practiced at pretty much every park we went to:
Moose liked these “rock, paper, scissors” spinners:
We also saw some evidence of the storm damage from over the weekend:
Playground two, still at Creve Coeur Park, with some completely different equipment.
This is also where we stopped for our picnic, since they have a fantastic pavilion:
It had an amazing view of the lake:
Playground three, again at Creve Coeur Park:
There was a cool braille alphabet and puzzle (which was on the back):
Plenty of new stuff to climb:
And a slide built for three, which was great for races:
We drove past the lake before we left, and saw just how flooded it is right now:
The fourth playground we went to was at Faust Park. This was one of the most popular stops we made!
Then Chickadee got to try something other than swinging:
Turkey loves rock-climbing walls:
After a stop at the mall (that was for me!), we went to Central Park in Chesterfield, which is always a favorite.
Even more swinging:
We drove by “The Awakening,” which is always kind of weird to see.
And the fairly new Amphitheater, which looks really nice!
Playground six was pretty small, because it’s just a little park adjacent to the North Pointe Aquatic Center in Ballwin, and yet it was surprisingly popular with the children!
What I learned today? My children would rather climb on top of the monkey bars than swing across them!
Something else Chickadee could do:
The tire swing was a lot of fun!
This dog statue was very cute:
The seventh place we visited was Vlasis Park in Ballwin, and it is one of the best playgrounds in the area (I think), because there’s just so much to do.
Everyone wanted a turn riding next to Chickadee’s little sidecar…she was very amused about the whole thing.
We found another sprayground (even I can’t decide what I want to call them!). I’m always the most fun mom at any park, because I play in the fountains, too!
One last stop, at another playground we used to frequent way back when Moose was a baby: Millennium Park in Creve Coeur (back where we started):
All parks should have signs like this!
They’ve added a lot of stuff in the years since we were there last, including yet another spray park:
There’s a bonus playground 8.5 here…it’s within sight of the main playground, unlike the ones we played at at Creve Coeur Park, which are spread out quite far apart, so I don’t count it as a whole other playground. Still fun, though!
Bunny had fun with the telescopes and binoculars at every park that had them!
It was a great way to spend a beautiful day…hopefully, the children sleep well tonight!