Kiddie Park

I really thought I’d talked about Kiddie Park before, either here or here, but I guess I haven’t. But I guess I haven’t.

Every summer, there’s a magical village that opens in a park in town. The name is totally silly, and it’s nothing fancy, but for the 1-6 set, it’s perfect. Kiddie Park is filled with pint-sized carnival rides with a 1950s vintage. The word around town is that these type of parks were popular all over the U.S. in the post-war period, but that in time, along with drive-in theaters, most have gone under.

But not ours. Every summer and a few other special times during the year, the park is open. It’s staffed by high school students who usually appear pretty miserable to be standing in the heat for hours on end, but they’re also usually pretty sweet with lifting kids up into rides and buckling them in. It’s a summer job, I guess. For all the years we’ve lived here, rides have gone for 25 cents a pop – a price for entertainment that can’t be beat. This year, they raised it. To a whopping 50 cents apiece. I think we can handle it.

IMG_8462
(How cute was he here two years ago at Halloween?)

We’ve visited Kiddie Park lots over the past four years, but this is the first year that this sweet kids really got it and enjoyed it. No crying on the rides, confidently running to the next ride he wanted to go on. Nearly every visit starts with a trip on the cars.

Untitled

These cute little vehicles are all custom painted in various color schemes. I think local auto shops donate their services.

IMG_8470

IMG_3010

The cars are a perfect starter ride because they don’t go to fast. And, the little guy can pretend he’s steering as they roll around in a circle. For two minutes. Which the workers time on a kitchen timer while they sip their drinks and act bored.

IMG_2987

A new favorite are these mini semi-trucks that go around on a tiny track.

IMG_2994

This year, little sister is there watching every move, but not quite big enough to go on any rides. Next year will be double the price for us!

IMG_2982

Last year we made a fun discovery.

IMG_2979

These World War Two era planes spin around, but they also rise up if you pull on the stick.

IMG_2972

Last year we’d be screaming and screaming at the kid to pull the stick to go up and he sometimes couldn’t quite figure it out. This year, he’d pull up right from the beginning, and stay up, grinning like a cat that swallowed a canary.

IMG_2973

They remind me of the Flying Ace.

IMG_2958

This one can’t wait to be next.

IMG_2951

The roller coaster is not a favorite.

IMG_2947

That’s his friend Brody and his sister. His sister wasn’t a fan, either.

IMG_2933

The motorboats are also a favorite, especially when he can ride with his buddies and ring the bell.

IMG_2921

So that’s the town Kiddie Park! Cheap thrills and big smiles all around.

IMG_2920

Gone Fishing

Untitled

This kiddo turns four this week. We had to celebrate, so I turned to one of his recent loves to build a theme around: gummy worms. Or, as the little guy calls them, gummy snakes.

I’m not one of those go all out types of pinterest moms, but I wanted the kids to have some fun, hands-on activities.

IMG_3119

Saturday morning found these guys out in the garage, making fishing poles out of leftover wooden dowels from when my husband made our nephew a crib many moons ago. Aren’t they so cute sanding together?

IMG_3130

The fishing was a hit.

IMG_3134

I cut out fish shapes, added stick on magnets to the fish mouths, and the fishing poles were equipped with washers on the end.

IMG_3137

There were also blue balloons in the pool for water, but of course, those immediately blew away and popped as soon as we got outside. Oh. Well. They liked it.

IMG_3142

I have beautiful friends, no?

IMG_3139

The baby just got passed around like a party favor, and she loved it.

IMG_3144

IMG_3190

Next, we had “fishing for treasure” a.k.a. digging through spaghetti noodles to locate trinkets hidden therein.

IMG_3150

This was a surprise hit with the kids.

IMG_3149

(Not sure WHAT was happening here, but it was too funny not to include.)

IMG_3151

I oiled the noodles so they’d slide past each other and not stick, and now I’m left with the party souvenir of sweet, oily hand prints all over my backdoor. Live and learn.

IMG_3152

And for our last act: la piƱata.

IMG_3154

IMG_3160

IMG_3167

This guy took multiple swings from everybody in order to give up it’s candy. But at least a good time was had by all.

IMG_3178

IMG_3181

These four kids were all born within four months of each other, and we’ve had fun watching them grow up together.

IMG_3184

At least, it was time to head inside for the goodies.

IMG_3192

We had goldfish, fishing rods, jelly fish sandwiches and bologna fish sandwiches.

IMG_3197

IMG_3199

Of course there was cake.

IMG_3201

Dark chocolate, vanilla bean butter cream six-layer cake with gummy worms.

IMG_3208

Making the cake is my favorite part of the whole process.

IMG_3210

And how annoyed am I that I didn’t ask them to turn the cake around for the photo? Oh well.

IMG_3217

It was almost more frosting than cake… just how I like it.

And this guy, is four!

IMG_3225

Arches, Fountains and Ferrets

IMG_2877

Good thing I waited until St. Louis (ok, Ferguson) was in the news to post this. Now you have some context. The night we arrived was actually the night Michael Brown was shot. But this is not a post about race relations in Missouri.

IMG_2795

This summer our little get-away was to St. Louis to see my sister and her family as well as my parents. We went to see the arch, but while I would have liked to experience the assent and see the view, there was no way I waiting in what looked to be a super long line just to cram myself in a tiny elevator. Instead, thanks to my elementary school teacher mom, we learned that the arch is called the Gateway to the West, that it symbolizes America’s expansion beyond the Mississippi River and that it’s the tallest monument in the country. Tour, done.

IMG_2799

Instead, we wandered around the grounds and refereed preschooler spats.

IMG_2807

My dad got the crazies to scream as loud as their little lungs allowed, while passersby gave us pitying looks.

IMG_2803

And the baby conked out on her grandma.

IMG_2823

With four little people who still nap midday, we took things easy and just enjoyed family time.

IMG_2837

Or, looking kind of bored time.

IMG_2826

But the kids had fun, finding joy in every little thing, as kids do.

IMG_2860

This was post a trip to the donut store. Which, I have to say, World Fair Donuts did not deliver.

IMG_2854

That better not be DONUT crumbs on my seven-month-old’s face, DAD!

IMG_2863

This fountain in one of the parks near our condo was a hit.

IMG_2866

We went there twice in three days.

IMG_2867

This little girl has a thing about dipping her hair in the water.

IMG_2881

It was conveniently located adjoining two playgrounds.

IMG_2893

My dad was the king of the tire twisty swing, which one of these boys was not terribly fond of.

IMG_2887

Even my mom got in on that action.

IMG_2894

That, my friends, is one fit and fine grandma.

IMG_2902

The next day, we hit the zoo, which is very awesomely free, and actually a super nice zoo. Since it was free, we didn’t feel terrible that we walked around for just a couple of hours before heading home for naps. And it was very nicely laid out with plenty of shade, so we weren’t miserable even though it was in the 90s.

IMG_2905

And while we did see a lot of the animals out and about because they were breakfasting in the cool of the morning, there was a lot of monkeying around by the three walkers.

IMG_2905

There was walking through tree trunks,

IMG_2908

hiding in holes,

IMG_2910

and general tree-climbing nonsense.

IMG_2913

And after a nice lunch of Persian food in our neighborhood, apparently I got tired of lugging my camera around.

We also hit up The Magic House, which is labeled as a children’s museum, but is really a huge pile of little kid awesome place. There’s basically every kind of interactive, developmental, learning and exploring tool ever made crammed into an old Victorian with multiple add-ons. We definitely could have stayed all day, had our fear of napless monsters been overcome. We were there at least three hours, and covered maybe a third of that place. For our kids, it was absolutely perfect.

The other place we ran out of time to try was The City. Maybe next time, with slightly bigger kids.

All in all, a successful adventure. The icing on the top was our Airbnb rental, which really became a home away from home.

Have you ever been to St. Louis? Did we miss anything key?

St. Louis Snaps

IMG_6464.JPG

We took a quick road trip last week: 6 hours to St. Louis.

IMG_6450.JPG

I was dreading the long drive, but the kids did great. They were so excited to see the main reason for the trip: their cousins. (Ok, the baby really had no idea what was happening. It was just one really excited 3-year-old back there.)

IMG_6467.JPG

That magic thumb put Thumbelina right to sleep.

IMG_6470.JPG

Grandma and Grandpa, upon hearing that 4 out of 4 grandkids would be in the same location, couldn’t book tickets and clear their schedules fast enough. In fact, my dad ended up leaving Minneapolis Friday evening, arriving home at 1 a.m., then turned around at 4 a.m. to hop the flight to St. Louis with my mom.

IMG_6479.JPG

And he wasn’t even that grouchy. Probably because of donuts… and these cuties.

IMG_6486.JPG

IMG_6489.JPG

IMG_6485.JPG

IMG_6493.JPG

IMG_6501.JPG

IMG_6505.JPG

These three really enjoyed each other. When they weren’t bickering; but hey, they’re at that age. Tonight my little guy told me he wants to go back to St. Louis… to play with his cousins.
IMG_6514.JPG

I had to remind him they don’t even live there! We’ll have to meet them somewhere else next time.

IMG_6527.JPG

It was so good to be all together, even when the kids were cranky. (But I’m thankful I don’t have to sleep in a room next to my dad, aka the Snoring Grizzly, anymore.)

IMG_6529.JPG

Swimmingly

IMG_2650

Take three wiggly boys.

IMG_2614

Add one former swimmer.

IMG_2639

What do you get?

IMG_2641

Mayhem!

IMG_2635

And maybe learning a little swimming at the same time.

IMG_2613

My friend offered to teach the boys swimming this summer. She’s wanted to teach her own son, but thought the structure of having others in class would help them stick to it! I was totally game, because a) swim lessons! and b) access to her parent’s pool for the lessons, so no fighting for space at the public pool.

So far, the boys are having fun, learning, and I get to hang out with this cutie on the sidelines.

IMG_2629

Our Town in Summer

IMG_2572

Our town is small. It’s not exciting. It’s nowhere anyone really wants to go.

IMG_2561

But what it is, is a good place for little kids. Pretty safe, small, and a few things just for kids that make it special, like the totally vintage Kiddie Park.

IMG_2565

And there’s a splash pad. There are two actually, one on either side of town. The one nearer to our house is low-key.

IMG_2597

I like to pop over for just a few minutes on a really hot sticky day, or when I just need the kiddo to blow off some steam. And now his sister is getting into it.

IMG_2567

These two melt my heart.

IMG_2584

He loves her, and she really loves him. Her face just lights up when she sees him, and she loves to watch his antics.

IMG_2581

He loves to give her hugs… and then whack her seat or scream in her face. He’s still a boy.

IMG_2587

Soon enough, little miss will be able to hold her own.

Don’t be fooled by the photo. She’s getting better at sitting up but still not totally stable.

IMG_2605

Tonight the two little people sat on the kitchen floor while I made dinner and played with ice cubes. She sat there for about 15 minutes and then just when I turned my back, she ploncked her head down on the hard kitchen floor. She cried a little, and then she was fine.

I can’t wait to see how much she grows this summer! I bet by August she’ll be crawling all over the splash pad and I’ll have to watch her like crazy. But for now, I’m savoring almost-six-months with this sweet girl.

IMG_2601