Caitlin and I went on our very first mother/daughter trip this summer for her 9th birthday. We don’t do birthday parties every year for our kids so on the off years we try to do a fun family outing or one-on-one trip. This year I decided it was our turn to go on a trip together. I gave her a few options of where we could go and she chose St. Louis. Before I mentioned she had designated options, she told me she really wanted to go to California. Sigh. Expectations are getting lowered early in life for this girl. Really she just wanted to go somewhere on an airplane…again, a crushing blow to her expectations. Luckily once I started showing her online what we could do in St. Louis, she embraced the idea of driving. I may have also thrown in that she could watch as much Full House as she wanted on the way there. Maybe. (Sidenote: Anyone else’s kids obsessed with Full House? Who knew Uncle Jesse kissed so many babes? Yikes.)
This was my first trip by myself with Caitlin and we weren’t going to visit family. Basically this meant I was on my own. Solo. Her life was in my hands and if anything went wrong it was on me. So I convinced myself that I actually AM a GROWN UP and I own a phone that can get me where I need to go. Piece of cake.
The drive there was pretty uneventful. I got a little hooked on the Serial podcast and listened to that the whole way while Caitlin immersed herself in her Full House library of DVDs. I know, many of you are all, “I can’t believe they didn’t just talk for 5 hours and listen to T. Swift.” Pump the brakes, guys, we had a whole weekend and we needed to pace ourselves.
We got there Friday evening and went to the City Museum. This is by far the coolest, most eclectic, most interactive (read: physically exhausting) museum I’ve ever been to. It was amazing! There were tunnels, secret passageways, slides, a ferris wheel, humungous ball pits, and a bus that hung off the top of the roof. Did I mention the museum looks like an old, dilapidated building? There were tunnels to climb through literally everywhere. Let’s just say the phrase, “Fat girl in a little tunnel” became my mantra early on. Some of the tunnels were more than a little tight. I know many of you think I am agile like a cat but at 35, my athleticism is on the decline. I don’t think I stopped sweating the entire time I was there. Scratch that. I didn’t stop sweating the entire weekend. It might as well have been known as Sweatfest 2015. All the tunnels and slides were made of metal/iron materials so I woke up with several bruises the next day. 35…I bruise like a peach. We walked through this huge room that resembled a foyer with a dome ceiling. It was so pretty and tall. Then I looked over and saw iron rungs that you could climb that would let you basically scale the wall and ceiling to the top of the dome. There was a hole at the top that would lead you to the roof of the building. The great thing about Caitlin is she’s pretty much up for anything and because I was feeling adventurous, we decided to do it. We start the ascent up the wall and I’m feeling like a ninja warrior. I am owning this thing! When I get to the point where the wall meets the ceiling I have to turn over so I am now looking straight down. At the concrete ground. Which is probably 100 feet below me. In that moment, I think I had a mild panic attack or maybe a stroke because I couldn’t move. I was frozen. Looking down at the ground and realizing the only thing keeping me from falling were these iron rungs was a little more than my brain could process. I was starting to get claustrophobic. I could hear some boys climbing up behind me. I knew I needed to move. Caitlin was almost to the end and yelling for me to “Come on!” At this point it was mind over matter. So I made my brain tell my body to go. Just keep moving. I was like a turtle…slow. I can’t imagine what the boys behind me were saying. I’m sure the view from behind was breathtaking. (Did I mention I was sweaty?) It took everything in me to make it to the end. I finally get to the end and clumsily climb out the hole in the top. Hallelujah, fresh air! Aaaand I’m on the roof of a very tall building. Aaaand the only way down is on a tiny metal slide. Faaat girl in a little tunnellll. I made it down the slide where Caitlin was waiting for me. This is when I told her I would not be going in anymore tunnels or down anymore slides. She was fine with it and continued to play. We ended up staying for a few hours before going back to our hotel. Really, if you ever get the opportunity to go to this place, GO! It really is so amazing even if it did make me feel like a granny by the end of it.
This is us on the ferris wheel. We need to work on our mean muggin. (This was also my hairdo for the entire trip. Severe bun. Hair on a sweaty neck is more than I can handle.)
The next day we went to the zoo and it was phenomenal. I’m not trying to be a hater but the Nashville zoo leaves a lot to be desired. I grew up going to the Memphis zoo which is unbelievable so I was extremely disappointed the first time I went to the Nashville zoo. Nashville does a lot of things well but the zoo is not one of them. If you don’t think so, go to the St. Louis zoo. They had EVERYTHING! We could have spent an entire day there just walking around all the exhibits but it was hot (did I mention I was sweating?) so we just stayed for the morning. This was C’s actual birthday so she decided she wanted a Build-A-Bear hippo as her birthday happy. She also picked out a Wonder Woman costume for her hippo. Interesting choice. It kind of depicted the way I felt at the City Museum, like Wonder Woman but enormous.
I love that the hippo looks like he’s smiling in this pic. We decided that the baby ape was Blake because he had about that much hair all over when he was born. It was a little freaky deaky. And we liked this pic of the camels because it made us think they were in love and kissing.
After the zoo we went to Fitz’s for lunch. The root beer floats were ridiculous. So good but we couldn’t drink it all.
Of course C wanted to send this picture to her brothers so they could be jealous. These are the precious things my children do to one another.
Then C told me one of the sweetest things I’d ever heard. “Mom, can we go back to the hotel and hang out in our room for a little bit?” Yes, sweet girl, yes. Mama needs a nap.
(This is what Caitlin bought with her birthday money. Rocks. Colored rocks but rocks nonetheless.)
Later we went to the Science Museum which is awesome if you have science-y kids. It just proved to me that I don’t. Glad it was free because we didn’t stay long.
C wanted to go to California Pizza Kitchen for dinner because it’s her favorite. And we ended the night with the Minions movie. She loved that day so hard.
On Monday I had tickets to go to the Arch so we got up and dressed because we had to be there by 10:00 and I wasn’t sure what the parking situation was going to be. I drove like Google told me to (I know, I know, Waze is where it’s at) but there was so much construction it was hard to maneuver around so I ended up just picking a parking garage that seemed close. Here’s the thing, it SEEMED close. On my handy dandy phone map, my blue dot looked close to our destination so I thought it would be fine. So we start our trek to the Arch. It was Monday and sunny there so I began perspiring. Apparently this is what people do in St. Louis. Sweat.all.the.time. It took us nearly 20 minutes to get there and C was complaining. We passed several parking lots as we walked and C never failed to ask why we couldn’t have parked in that parking lot. She’s such a gem when I’m sweaty and on edge. I must say though, it was the first time she had whined the entire trip so that was sort of a win. We made it to the Arch and stood in line to go up in the egg-looking elevator thing. It’s about 4 feet tall and 4 feet wide and they stick 5 people in there. Awkward silence is like a slow death so I make up for it with awkward conversation. We all pretend talking to strangers in cramped quarters isn’t awkward but it is. It really, really is. So we get to the top and get out. I’m not sure what I expected but looking out a little 6×12 inch rectangle wasn’t it. The windows were probably a little bigger than that but to say I was underwhelmed would be accurate. We took a couple of pictures then Caitlin was ready to go back down. We were up there no more than 5 minutes tops. Oh well. We can say we did it, right?
This is literally how big the windows were. Silghtly disappointing.
Then we got back to the car and hit the road to Memphis. As I think back on my time with C, I am filled with wonder. Wonder of her. She is 9 years old. Halfway to going to college. On the cusp of the teenage years. Outgrowing childhood way too fast for my liking. I don’t know that I’ve ever enjoyed time with her more than I did on that trip. It occurred to me that she has a brain with thoughts that are different from mine and they are completely amazing. And ya’ll, she is funny. Funnier than I ever thought about being at 9. She’s confident and smart and will level you with the truth. She’s a caretaker to her core. She can take sarcasm just as well as she can dish it…this may be my husband’s favorite quality about her. And not that I think this gives her any more value as a person but she is a stunner of a girl. Who would’ve thought a beautiful, blond haired, blue-eyed girl would come out of me? I’m pretty sure she thinks I’m a different race all together but that’s another story for another day.
If you’ve never been to St. Louis, it is an awesome trip. One I will never forget. I always knew I loved that sweet daughter of mine but I found out I just really like her too. She’s the coolest chick I know and I’m better because of her. So thanks for the memories C…it was a blast!
PS We also stopped at Lambert’s on our way to Memphis to pick up the boys. It almost sent me into a food coma because it was so “southern” but a fun experience for sure!