Arches, Fountains and Ferrets

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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.

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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.

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

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

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And the baby conked out on her grandma.

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

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Or, looking kind of bored time.

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

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

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

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

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We went there twice in three days.

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

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It was conveniently located adjoining two playgrounds.

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

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Even my mom got in on that action.

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

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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.

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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.

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There was walking through tree trunks,

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hiding in holes,

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and general tree-climbing nonsense.

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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

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

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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.)

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That magic thumb put Thumbelina right to sleep.

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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.

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

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

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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.)

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Swimmingly

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Take three wiggly boys.

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Add one former swimmer.

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What do you get?

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Mayhem!

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And maybe learning a little swimming at the same time.

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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.

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Our Town in Summer

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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These two melt my heart.

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

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

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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.

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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.

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What’s Cooking in My Kitchen: Baked Donuts with Vanilla Bean Glaze

The research is in.

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Baked donuts are good, especially with this delectable vanilla bean glaze. In fact, I think I might actually like the glaze more than the donut.

This weekend I tried another donut recipe. But I skipped the chocolate glaze because 1)I prefer a plain donut anyway and 2)I wanted fewer distractions as I tried again to assess whether it’s worth it for my sister to invest in a donut pan.

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And the verdict is…

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Meh. I liked these more than the Browned Butter ones, but still maybe not enough to make often. The pans are fun to play with, but not something I think I’d do often.

What’s Cooking in my Kitchen: Brown Butter Baked Donuts

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You may remember that my sister lives in Ecuador. She also has a food blog, and totally eggs me on in these baking endeavors.

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A few weeks ago, she asked me to borrow a friend’s donut pan and investigate the process of making baked donuts. My friend, this was a mission I would happily accept.

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I started with this recipe for Brown Butter Baked Donuts.

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They came together quickly and easily. They smelled heavenly.

And I ate three.

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But in the end, baked donuts still aren’t… donuts, you know? Good, but not right. Good if you don’t expect a donut.

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However, I’ve still got the pans, so I’ll give it another try. You know, for science. And research. And in the name of being thorough. Ahem.