Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Grants Farm....almost and some custard

Took it easy this morning, and once the afternoon rolled around we eventually got out of the house and ventured over to Grant's Farm. It is possible I had already been to Grant's farm before, but that was as a whippersnapper. The only thing that I remember was that the Budweiser Clydesdales live on Grant's farm. I was also informed that you get free beer when you ride the tram at Grant's Farm.....this place doesn't sound that bad at all. In the rush....wink, wink....to get out the house, we forgot to check what time the place actually closed, which ended up being about 15 minutes before we arrived.....no free beer today. We packed everything back into the car and headed off to dinner. After a wonderful dinner of Dewey's Pizza and Salads, we headed out for a St. Louis tradition, frozen custard. Instead of the World renown Ted Drews Frozen Custard, we tried the not quite as famous, but equally as tasty Spanky's (got to love that name....how is this place not more popular with a name like that).
The Boy, who really isn't into sweets, gave my concrete a shot, but after a few bites, went back to his favorite vacation activity.......throwing rocks
I went with the Strawberry Shortcake concrete and wasn't disappointed.
I have always loved St. Louis, there is just something about this city that seems old but full of tradition and potential at the same time. I have many fond memories, dating all the way back to childhood, that occur in and around St. Louis. St. Louis is also the birthplace of soccer in America, which I just consider as one more reason to love this city. One of the neatest things about St. Louis during the summer is all of the love for the Cardinals. It seems like everybody is wearing some kind of Cardinal gear, more then any other place that I have ever lived or visited. Unlike other cities, where you will often see gear repping other team (i.e. Yankees, Cubs, etc), people appear to only wear Cardinal gear. It is said that St. Louis is baseball's most knowledgable fan base, and I have never seen anything to prove otherwise. St. Louisians know what good baseball looks like, and they love their Cardinals.

Twin-kie #1 and I sitting around watching a boring goalless 0-0 draw between Japan and Paraguay......yawn. I love this game, but this almost got unbearable.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Leaving MN on to MO

Another travel day, this time back to St. Louis. It is funny how a couple of trips lasting longer then 11 hours, can make today's 9 hour day almost seem enjoyable, key word being almost. I would also like to thank the people at APPLE and PIXAR (same thing isn't it) for making Iowa just a little bit quieter.

Moving Day

Helped my college roommate move out of his tiny campus apartment, which was up and down 56 steps. I don't know how many times I went up and down those steps, but lets just say that I don't think I will need to do the Stairmaster anytime soon. Moving people is what you make it, and with many of the old college crew around to help, we had a great time. We remarked a number of times that some things never change.

I am not sure who was less help, Nate or myself, but we worked very hard to be the supreme slacker. We were constantly trying different ways of banging things down the steps to do the least amount of damage.

I had the brilliant idea to try and make it look like Matty was packing up Hannibal Lector to help with the unloading. We didn't pull it off nearly as well as we intended, but we sure did waste a lot of time trying.

Date Night #1

Since the twins were born, Mrs. B and I haven’t had much of a chance to go out for a date. We have been able to catch a dinner or a doctor’s appointment without kids, but that is only due to the kindness of a couple of dear friends or Mrs. B’s coworkers. One of the things we put on our schedule as soon as we started planning this trip, was having the grandparents take the kids so we could go out for a date. Since we were in the Twin Cities for 11 days, we decided to take that date in the middle of the trip. The inlaws agreed to take all three boys for 24 hours. Heading into the “Date” we only had a couple of things we wanted to do besides just spend time together without constantly attending to “the Boy” and Twin-kies. We wanted to go and see a show at the Guthrie, which we hadn’t been to since left, and Mrs. B wanted to spend a little time at the spa. We were able to accomplish both of those goals and then some.

We stayed at the Grand Hotel in downtown Minneapolis, it isn’t often that we stay at such a nice hotel, but when you haven’t had a night off in over 7 months, you figure why not. It was within walking distance of the Guthrie and anything else that we wanted to do. On of the luxuries of staying at The Grand was being able to take a bath and watch the World Cup, because the TV was actually mounted in the bath, just like at home. I enjoyed drinking my morning coffee and reading the paper uninterrupted for over an hour.

We took in the Guthrie production of “The Dollhouse” and really enjoyed the entire experience. It isn’t exactly your prototypical date show, but it was perfect for us, because we had lots to talk about once the show was over.

Date #2 comes once we get back to my parents house. It won’t be quite as long since we are choosing to do a group date with my sis and her hubby. My parents are good, but watching 6 kids under the age of 4 seemed like a daunting task and so we were able to negotiate a day away. Looking forward to that date as well.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

World Cup Agony and Ecstasy

At the Baker house we spend (translation: I spend) a healthy amount of time watching, playing, and reading about football (aka - soccer). In fact the Baker master schedule often is influenced by the world's game. This vacation was carefully planned to ensure that our travel days never coincided with the US National Team games. Well that is all over now, an exhausted US team never really grabbed the game by the scruff of the neck, and eventually wore down in overtime. After the magical game on Wednesday, where the US won the game at the dying moments of the match, everybody kept hoping the US had one more piece of wizardry, but it wasn't in the cards this time. After the game on Wednesday, I was so juiced from the amazing win, I was literally still shaking 3 hours after the match was completed. Losing yesterday was a low that equalled the high experienced on Wednesday. My good friend, and fellow US supporter, Pete said it best.
I both hate and love that i'm emotionally attached to this stupid game. I love the sheer joy of goals scored, of creative play, of watching players emerge from obscurity to international recognition. However, I'm seriously bummed today, which is unfair to my family because its just a stupid game.
I will continue to watch every US game, and spend much of my free time reading and digesting any and all material about this emotionally trying game. I hope and firmly believe that in my lifetime, we will see the US in a World Cup final. Having grown up in Chicago, I am starting to understand how those Cub fans feel each year. I am just hoping that I don't have to live 100+ years to experience the joy of winning the World Cup.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Minnesota Jesus and roller coasters

One of The Boy's favorite activities when visiting Nana and Papa in MN is riding the roller coasters and other rides at MOA (Mall of America). The kid is a bit of a dare-devil when it comes to riding the crazy rides. Last time were were in MN he got a chance to ride a couple of the little kid rides, and we thought we would go ahead and do those again, but the Boy had other ideas. After warming up on the little rides, the Boy promptly pointed to the biggest roller coaster in the place and said that he wanted to go on that one with dada. Unfortunately he didn't meet the height requirement to even ride it with an adult, but we were able to do the Log Run. Auntie E, Papa, myself and the Boy loaded up our log and off we went. The Boy insisted on standing up through the whole thing.....that is until we got to the final drop. When we went over the edge and he couldn't see the bottom he sat down pretty darn quick. As we pulled into the loading/unloading area, he turned around and said "more Dada." Interestingly enough, on the way home the Boy also told Mrs. B that he had seen Jesus when he was riding on the Log Ride. Any guesses who it was that he saw (hint: MN Jesus travels around with a Babe)? Find out who the Boy saw at the end of the post.

Heading down the final drop on the Log Run.

Dada and the Boy cruising on the Farm roller coaster.

The Twin-kies just hanging out waiting for big brother to get off the roller coaster.

The Boy must have inherited his ability to read and interpret maps from his great grandpa Jack. He could look at the map of the roller coasters and tell us which one he wanted to do next.

Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox - AKA - Minnesota Jesus according to the Boy.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Al's for Breakfast - Day 8

On Monday morning, an old tradition came to an end, for now. When in MN, I normally meet up with my college roommate and head to Al's for breakfast. If you don't know Al's, you should. It is literally a hole in the wall. This was our last breakfast at Al's for a while, maybe ever, since Matt will be moving to Seattle at the end of the week.

This is the actual size of Al's, we are sitting on the end two seats. I think you can only get 11 or 12 people in the place.
Al's is so small that when somebody new comes in, everybody just slides down to make room for the new person. If there isn't room, you just stand behind the people eating at the counter.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Day 7 - Father's Day

As I am sure you are well aware, Sunday was Father's Day. If you didn't remember that Sunday was Father's Day - that is because your life was never in mortal peril for forgetting, unlike Mother's Day. If you forget Mother's Day.....well lets hope that you haven't ever experience the repercussions of forgetting to celebrate your mother.

We celebrated Father's Day by going to the car show at the Minnesota Fair grounds. This was the father's day wish of Mrs. B's father, and he thought the Boy would enjoy seeing all of the cars. I think that the Boy could have cared less about the cars, but the fair food was a HUGE hit. Seriously, the kid couldn't get the fried food jammed into his mouth fast enough.

Since we are never able to make "The Great Minnesota Get-together" it was nice to be able to get a sampling of all of the wonderful fried food traditionally available.
Sawyer giving cheese curds a try. No complaints on his part, but what is there really to complain about when you take cheese and fry it. Maybe you could complain that it wasn't wrapped in bacon....okay, so there is something to complain about.
Mrs.B didn't eat for a whole day just so she could really pound down the fair food, well not really, but with the amount she did consume, you would have thought that somebody had her locked in a basement for the last week.

Finn hanging with Auntie E.

Any event held at the fair ground automatically means that you are going to get some very interesting people watching. Here are a couple of my favorites.
Nothing like taking the grandkids out for a stroll.

Are they shorts, are they pants? This dude was about 80 years old, and still rocking the punk look.
Is that a wagon, a semi trailer, or a snowmobile? Quite a piece of work regardless of what it was, Mrs.B wanted me to add this to my collection of interesting people from the fair. If you look really close, you can see the pin-up model decals...classy to the end.
I thought this VW was interesting. That is about the extent of my car knowledge.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Day 5 - A Day Late

Got up pretty early on Saturday morning to do one of my favorite Saturday morning rituals in the Twin Cities, shopping at the farmers market. I am more familiar with the St. Paul Market, but the inlaws live closer to the Minneapolis market, so I figured I would give it a shot. There is just something very refreshing about getting up early, to walk around the market while enjoying coffee and mini d0nuts. For some reason it reminds me of getting up early with my Grandpa to go fishing. People watching is my favorite market activity, and there were plenty of people to watch.
The food choices at a farmers market also provides an interesting window into the local culture. At the Austin market, you can't go 5 feet without running into somebody eating a breakfast taco, well lets be honest, you can't go 5 feet any morning without running into somebody eating a breakfast taco. At the Minneapolis market there was a whole station selling bratwurts with all the fixin's, a place where you could get mini-donuts, and this place with their giant cinnamon rolls and sticky buns. (The guy behind the counter kept yelling "Who wants to taste my giant sticky buns!") The picture really doesn't do it justice, but just as a point of reference, those are full size plate, not little dessert plates.
The Minneapolis Market is renowned for its flower section, it is where the flowers for our wedding arrangements came from. I wanted to get a nice selection of flowers to sit on the table for the week, but I ended up spending all my money on produce.
In the back half of the day, we participated in a very special event. My college roommate became an ordained minister of the word of God. Congratulations to Pastor Matt Maas this was a very special day, and we were just thankful we were able to be there to participate. It was also nice to hang around with friends and talk over a cup of coffee.

This is me showing off my "Pastor Punk Rock" look. Check out that fancy collar.

This is me administering my Kung-Fu blessing.
Great shot of the hired help for the event yesterday.
I figured out yesterday during the service, I have know "my brother" for half of my life. We look about the same as when we started at CSP, if not a little fatter---but I would also say happier.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Day 4 - Travel Day

Yesterday we loaded up the vehicle for another 11 hour day on the road, this time from MO to MN. I first want to recognize Mrs. B for being ready to leave at the intended time, this ended up making a big difference later in the day. We made great time all day and hit the outskirts of the Twin Cities in under 10 hours, unfortunately we then spent the next hour and a half stuck in traffic. This wasn’t unexpected, but with Stormagetton bearing down on all of Minnesota, we were on the clock to get to the intended destination (hence the leaving early paid off).

Couple of thoughts from the day:

  • The ESPN World Cup App has been an absolute lifesaver for me, and well worth the $7.99. I have been able to listen to games while we are on the road, and with a pair of noise-canceling headphones, it is like my own little soccer oasis in a traveling scream mobile. Best $7.99 I have ever spent.

  • I am not sure who has a harder job on travel days. I do all the driving, but Mrs.B has to deal with the kids when they are awake. Now before all you women jump on the Mrs.B bandwagon, she was able to get about 5 hours of shut eye on an 11 hours trip, but I will admit the other 6 hours weren’t quite as restful.

  • Maybe I am getting old, but one of the biggest challenges of staying in multiple locations is the bed. Adjusting to a new bed takes at least a couple of nights. Reading this I am thinking that it in fact does make me sound old, because I am starting to sound like my dad. Pretty soon I am going to be complaining about going on any type of vacation, and just prefer to stay home....in my own bed.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Day 3 and we are already headed to the pharmacy.

Busy day today.

The morning started off with some rock throwing. The Boy could have done this until he needed rotator cuff surgery, but Daddy needed to go and get a decent cup of coffee so we limited it to just about 45 minutes. Needless to say, we still had a blast throwing in the "Big Rocks" and trying to splash each other. (note: notice the rock above his head in the first pic, guess we still need to work on release point)

Lunch was spent in downtown Springfield, where they have a fountain park where the kids can play in the water. The water was highly chlorinated and when I asked about that, I was told that when the park first opened the city didn't anticipate kids and families going to play in the water. Seriously, this is Missouri people, deep in the Ozarks, what they shouldn't have anticipated is that people would actually wear clothes, while playing in the fountains.

To wrap up our fun filled day, we took our first trip to the Urgent Care (I say first, because I will not be shocked if we visit and Urgent Care in each port of call). Just a couple of cases of pink eye and an ear infection later and we were off to the Wal-Mart pharmacy (I have lots of thoughts on this little segment of our trip, but I will sum it all up with this thought----Wouldn't Wal-Mart save some money if they didn't hire idiots....you would have thought that I was trying to buy crack cocaine).

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Quiet Day....Shopping Day

Day 2 in Missouri and we are starting to feel the relaxing powers of being on vacation. Couple more days and I would say we are well on our way to fully relaxed. The day was spent watching World Cup (for me), hanging out with cousins (the Boy), and shopping (Mrs. B). All in all it was a very low key day......and there ain't nuttin wrong with dat (as they say here in Missouri).

My mom also does a monthly gig at the local country music morning show where she does her best Dr. Phil impression and I figured that since I was in town, I should call in an get some advice about traveling. If you want to listen to the segment where I gave her a little grief, forward the clip to about the 6:30 point.

In the evenings, the Boy is heading off to VBS (or as Mina says....."VEEBUS") around 5:30, which is allowing the adults to sit around and have a quite dinner out on the patio. The three littlest kids (the Twin-kies and my sister youngest) all smile and generally try to look as cute as possible, and when there is any food spilled, you aways have a couple of shaggy dogs to clean up after you.

Fun at the Springfield Zoo

Yesterday we spent some time at Dickerson Park Zoo in Springfield. It is an intimate and cute little zoo with a few highlights. The weather was hot and humid, so most of the animals were just laying around, but the boy did enjoy seeing fish, peacocks, and and lions (which he roared at more then a couple of times.) Unfortunately we forgot the camera on the car, so I used my Iphone to take a couple of pictures with the Hipstomatic photo app.

The Boy with the cousins, Mina and Addie. From the moment we left the house, the Boy asked "going to see Addie Mina?" about 50 times. Now that we are here they are just non-stop adventure. Addie and the Boy are both very much the troublemakers and will require continued close supervision as they get older.

There was a little petting zoo area where the kids could feed the goats and other animals. This provided our first little spell of drama, when Addie was holding her food pellets a little low, and the greedy little geese thought she was offering them a bite to eat. She wasn't, and so when the goose went after the food she was surprised and a little scared. This experience must have left an impression on her, because she was very concerned for the Boy's safely later in the visit.

In this shot, the cousins are hysterical with concern because the Boy is inside the protective barrier. We thought they were just being silly.....they weren't. The Boy is oblivious to all of the drama taking place behind him. Danger Boy wasn't that overly concerned he was going to get eaten by..............the zebras.

Twin-kie #2 hanging out with Dad in the shade.

Also at the zoo was a little water park, where water shoots out the ground in little bursts. The Boy thought it was so interesting that he got down to investigate where the water was coming from and promptly took one right in the face. Thankfully he thought it was hilarious.

By far the coolest part of the zoo was the giraffes. You don't just get to see the giraffes, but you actually get to feed them. I thought this was cool, the Boy thought this was cool, well pretty much everybody thought it was cool.
Look at the length of that tongue you had to keep an eye on your crackers because that tongue could snatch them away before you realized what happened.

The Boy showing me his best giraffe tongue.