Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Visiting the St. Louis Gateway Arch

It was a pleasant, chilly but sunny 40-minute walk from our hotel in St. Louis to the Gateway Arch. The surrounding grounds are under extensive reconstruction until next year, but luckily the views from the top weren't much impacted.

The cramped elevator capsule to the top of the Arch wasn't as scary as I remembered it being when I rode it some 20 years ago. It's still not my favorite thing in the world, but I wasn't hyperventilating on the way up or anything.

At first we were there with just a handful of other people and we got some great photos. Then some school groups came up, and the small sliver of space got super crowded. It was time to go down.

Edith and her bear from Kansas City!

Mississippi River

I would be interested in visiting again after the construction is complete. I remember the grounds being quite lush two decades ago, although we didn't stick around to explore. (My family was mostly in St. Louis to visit Six Flags!) Nevertheless, the Gateway Arch is definitely a must-see, must-do experience if you visit St. Louis.

Friday, May 27, 2016

Photo Friday: Oklahoma Selfie

We drove several hours out of the way just so I could step foot in my 42nd state, Oklahoma. A long way for a technicality, but worth it!

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Kansas City in a Day and a Half

Kansas City reminded me a lot of Columbus. It seems like it would be a very nice place to live, but there weren't many must-see attractions. But we found enough to fill the hours, along with some really good food (more about that in a future post).

Simultaneously the most interesting and most forgettable thing about the city is how it straddles Kansas and Missouri. We stayed in Kansas, but Missouri was just a minute or two away. We were constantly going back and forth between the two states -- so much so that I soon forgot about it.

We spend one full day in the city and started it out by visiting the Federal Reserve Bank. The small museum was well done, with a few interactive exhibits and large windows to watch employees load bills into a machine to, I believe, determine if they need shredded. And we all left with a bag of shredded money.

Then we went to the nearby Crown Center to visit the Hallmark Visitors Center. The highlight for Edith was certainly the bow-making machine, especially since she got one to take home.

We were too late to take a tour at Boulevard Brewery, but we spent 90 minutes at the tasting room with several small pours of their draft beers. My favorite was the lemon ginger radler. Edith colored, while Atticus was happy with pretzels.

We decided against a Royals baseball game since it was a bit chilly and drizzly, and the kids fell asleep in the car later that afternoon. We drove around without a GPS, just exploring.

When we returned to the hotel, I realized there was an indoor hot tub down the hall, although the adjacent outdoor pool was still closed for the season. Paul and especially Edith had a blast swimming.

The next morning, before driving to St. Louis, we did something Paul found at the last minute: visited Union Station. It ended up being one of the highlights of the trip. There was a large model train display and small play area, as well as a bridge outside that spanned over several tracks. We saw a train pass directly under us, which I enjoyed about as much as Edith. It was a pleasant way to spend 90 minutes.

It was also where Edith got what I believe was her lone souvenir of the trip. Just before we left the model train display, one of the men manning it gave her a small teddy bear (about the size of my hand) emblazoned with some kind of Kansas City railroad logo. She has slept with it at nearly every nap and bedtime since.

Friday, May 20, 2016

Photo Friday: Omaha

Our 36 hours in Omaha, Nebraska, were gray, dreary and rainy, and we were able to do almost nothing that I had planned. But at least I can prove I was there with this photo.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Our Day at the Berkshire Hathaway Annual Shareholders Meeting

I had heard that the lines to get into the Berkshire Hathaway annual shareholders meeting in Omaha could wrap around the convention center, and there was no guarantee that you would be in the arena, in the same room with Warren Buffett. Since this was presumably the entire point of our road trip, I really wanted to make sure that Paul got a good place.

He left our hotel room at 6 a.m. and ended up splitting a cab with a couple also going to the meeting. Good thing -- it was pouring down rain, and the original plan to walk the two miles to the convention center wasn't really the best option.

The weather and the early hours combined made it definitely not the best option for the kids. We arrived there around 10 a.m. We made a quick tour around the exhibit hall and popped into the meeting -- both in the arena and in a conference room where it was being broadcast.

Then we walked, walked, walked, basically until about 4 p.m. The exhibits were all Berkshire Hathaway-owned companies (or companies in which Berkshire owns a significant percentage), and nearly all had something to sell. From Dairy Queen to Fruit of the Loom to Geico to Johns Manville to Kraft to Oriental Trading to Garanimals to Pampered Chef and so, so much more. We made the circle innumerable times. Our biggest buys -- a shirt for Paul and several Dairy Queen treats. Dilly Bars were popular with seemingly everyone.

Paul joined us during the hour lunch break, but other than that the kids and I just wandered. It was fun, and pretty good people watching. There were other kids there for sure, but not a ton. And people in jeans to suits and everything in between.

We left the convention center around 4:30 p.m. and later that evening attended a cookout at Nebraska Furniture Mart. Inside a huge white tent were dueling pianos and a few food options. It would have been pleasant had it not been so cold! After eating we headed toward the warmth of the store. Nebraska Furniture Mart has a tremendous selection of home furnishings -- not just furniture, but dining sets, fans, rugs, electronics, desks, stoves, hair dryers, everything.

I expected the day to be interesting, but I didn't expect to have so much fun. What's more, it instilled a real sense of ownership in the companies that Berkshire Hathaway has invested in. After all, their success plays a part in our success. Dilly Bars and Blizzards for everyone!

Friday, May 13, 2016

Photo Friday: Edith Visits the Dentist

Open wide! Edith had her first appointment with the dentist last month. She was a pro.

April 19, 2016

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Our 2,200-Mile Midwest Road Trip

Omaha isn't a typical tourist destination. But last week we took no ordinary vacation. Instead, we took a 9-day, 2,213-mile road trip to Omaha, Kansas City and St. Louis, with a detour to Oklahoma.

The trip started as a way for Paul to attend Berkshire Hathaway's annual shareholders meeting in Omaha. It expanded to include visits to three states that I had never been to (Nebraska, Kansas and Oklahoma), bringing my total to 42. Paul also added Missouri. Edith added all of the above plus Illinois. Atticus added six new states -- all of the above, plus Indiana too.

All in all, we spend around 30 hours in the car (probably more) with no major meltdowns, so SUCCESS. When it comes to what we did all week, I should call this our "B" vacation: Berkshire, barbecue, beer and baseball.

Off and on over the next few weeks, I'll be sharing some of our highlights from the trip, including a visit to the Gateway Arch, selfies from the Oklahoma state line, our day at the Berkshire Hathaway meeting and SO MUCH FOOD.

Enjoy. I know we did.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Sleep Struggles

I've often thought about how so many parents longed to have children ... and then equally long to have them sleep the day away once they arrive. I'm no different. I never feel like a better mom than when I can get Edith and Atticus to take their afternoon naps at the same time.

Sleep schedules are a delicate balance. I generally follow the traditional "rule" to never wake a sleeping child, but that rule gets broken when Atticus is still in bed after 9 a.m. or Edith is still napping at 6 p.m. The last thing I want to do is ruin the next sleep cycle!

We're in an interesting stage right now with Atticus. If he sleeps through the night, he's usually up by 7 a.m. But if he has woken up during the night, then he'll generally stay in bed until 8:30 a.m. or so. I hardly know which scenario is better. (And it's not like I get a choice anyway.)

If he's woken up early, he might take a morning nap. But if that morning nap is too late, he'll skip the afternoon one. So early wake up = early morning nap = regular afternoon nap. Or if he awakes late in the morning, he'll often skip the morning nap and take an afternoon nap, no problem. This is the easiest afternoon scenario, although it usually requires me to be up with him for a few minutes at around 4 or 5 in the morning. Sometimes that's a small price to pay for simplicity.

So while he transitions from two naps to one, each day is different. Edith, meanwhile, will skip a nap one or two afternoons a week but is generally still holding on to a nap that runs from 90 minutes to 3 hours.

Or maybe I'm the one holding on to it.

I began writing this as both kids were napping, but I hear Atticus calling. Gotta go!


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