Category Archives: St. Louis 2009

2009 Family Vacation ~ Magic House

After leaving the St. Louis Art Museum, we headed to the St. Louis Children’s Museum aka The Magic House. It would have cost us $51.00 (8.50/ea ages 1+), but I found coupons HERE and it only cost us $34.00…parking is FREE. We could have spent the entire vacation here, I’m sure. The moment we walked in the door, I thought the kids heads would explode. They didn’t know what to do first. If we had known anything about the different areas, we would have gone to the Fairy Tale portion last. There were a lot of kids in there playing dress-up and it was ridiculously crowded, so they didn’t stay in there long, but I could tell they would have LOVED to play dress up with all the other kids.

They weren’t bummed out for long, moving on to the next area. While wandering around, we came across an area that had a mystery to be solved. Greg took charge on this activity and took the girls to each station for them to collect the clues to solve the crime. While they did this Grayson and I played with these shape building things. He loved putting them together in his own way. When Greg and the girls disappeared into a hidden passage behind a false bookcase, and were gone for nearly an hour I became very sleepy and totally could have taken a nap if it hadn’t been for the uncomfortable chair and the loud banging accompanied by shrieks of laughter coming from the other side of the wall.
Once they returned, they told me all about what they’d done on the other side of the bookcase. The loud banging and shrieking was actually my children (along with other) climbing through an air vent and going down a slide…repeatedly. Next we found the Star-Spangled Center where they sat behind a replica of the President’s desk, and made a speech from the podium.
We then made a pit-stop at the air tubes. The kids played here for a good 10 minutes…shoving scarves & fluffy balls into the chamber, watching them swirl through the series of tubes, finally shooting out and hitting one or another giggling child in the face.
Our next stop was the music play area. It housed huge instruments that the kids immediately were drawn to and were so proud of their musical prowess that they didn’t want to move to the next area.
I had to tell them there was something super cool upstairs and we didn’t have much time. Once I finally convinced them it was going to be well worth it, we moved on. There were brief stops at the air power station and the magnet room…and then the mother of all science entertainment…the electrostatic generator.
Grayson refused to go up there with Kara, so I took him. Kara didn’t listen very good to the instructions, and got quite a little shock right before I took her picture. They told her not to take her hand off and if she did, not to put it back on…so, what did she do? Let go, then slapped her hand back on. Zzzzztttt! It was quite comical.
There was a charge of $3.50 per photo for them to ‘professionally’ take the picture…I figured I’d save $7 and take my own…they turned out just as good I think. After their ‘hair raising experience’, there was a 3 story spiral slide that the girls went down twice. I tried to get pictures, but they were just colored blurs on a silver background.
Finally, on our way out, we went through the bubble room. The kids blew enormous bubbles, played the bubble organ, and generally had a lot of soapy fun. They were pretty exhausted by the time we left, so they slept quite a bit on the drive home.
Although they slept most of the way, the drive home was not uneventful. While Greg was driving through a remote area of Missouri, I was startled awake by a sickening ‘thwack’ on the windshield. Greg, startled as well, asks ‘What the heck kind of bug was that?’ I reply, ‘It wasn’t a bug, it’s a bat.’ Notice I didn’t say ‘It was a bat.’ I said ‘It is a bat.’ The poor, hopefully dead at that point, creature was stuck in the windshield wiper. There were quite a few ‘Ewww! Ewww!’s from me as it flopped up and back down a few times…I’m hoping just from the wind of driving. We were fairly close to home, so I told him to just leave it alone and he could get it off at the house…plus, I wanted a picture for my blog. I mean, who else does weird stuff like this happen to? I needed proof. Well, about 10 minutes from the house, Greg goes to dim his bright lights, and you guessed it…hit the windshield wiper controls sending our unexpected hitchhiker into the night. So, I am sorry to say, there is no picture evidence of this event. Below are the pictures of the souvenirs we acquired on our vacation.
And there you have it…the conclusion of the Alexander 2009 Family Vacation to St. Louis, MO. I hope that I have showed you a few ways to save money, without compromising fun, if you are heading to St. Louis.

2009 Family Vacation ~ St. Louis Art Museum

On our final day in St. Louis, after checking out of our hotel, we drove over to the St. Louis Art Museum.

This attraction was mainly for me, but the kids were pretty excited to see the different kinds of art. This excitement quickly dissipated once we entered the building. I don’t know if they were expecting giant canvases of finger paintings or huge sculptures made of play-doh, but they were itching to get through so we could go to the Magic House. The St. Louis Art Museum is FREE to get in and to park, but I can tell you the people who work there are not very friendly. The nicest person there was the security guard that was at the door. Everyone else was very snooty and rude…
Okay, back to the art… Personally, I could have spent the entire day in the Art Museum (if I did not have the kids with me). There were many works that I would have loved to admire a bit longer. (Forgive me for the pictures…my camera did not do well on the ‘museum’ setting.) For example, this carving of what I believe is called the 12 Stations of the Cross.
The ‘religious’ artwork was beautiful. There was a bust of Jesus, a full size sculpture of John the Baptist, various sculptures and paintings of Saints, along with an assortment of beautiful ceremonial paraphernalia. (I would have included pictures of the above mentioned exhibits, but they are quite blurry.)
Another section I thoroughly enjoyed was the medieval area which housed an assortment of weapons and armor. Some of the swords were taller than me…not that it is a great feat for something to be bigger than me, but a 5′ sword has to weigh quite a bit.
Grayson insisted a full set of armor was actually a robot. I think he was a little nervous that it was going to try to grab him or something. It was very interesting to see the different styles of the armor depending on which country it was from. The helm on the left is a French helm, and the one on the right is German.
The kids favorite exhibit was the Egyptian Sarcophagus. They were pretty creeped out that you could see actual toes through the wrappings on one of them, but they asked a lot of questions about Egyptian beliefs afterwards. They were very interested in the culture differences and were amazed by how their beliefs were so vastly different from our own.
My favorite part of the museum was the abstract art. The exhibit below was huge and was made of metal and glass, and it’s truly remarkable.
And finally just a couple pieces I liked. The cute little wooden man for some reason reminds me of my Dad…not sure if it is because it is something he would like or what, but he was one of my favorite pieces.
Oh, and yesterday when I said that this post would be the conclusion of the ’2009 Family Vacation’ series…I was wrong. I thought I could combine the Art Museum & the Magic house, but I got a bit carried away with the Art Museum pictures. Tomorrow…the Magic House & trip home.

2009 Family Vacation ~ St. Louis Science Center

After leaving Grant’s Farm, we headed to the St. Louis Science Center. This fantastic place was also FREE. I wish we had been able to spend more time at the Science Center, and that it hadn’t been so crowded. When we first arrived, I planned on being able to really show the kids some cool stuff and them even learning…shhh, don’t tell them. They were immediately fascinated by the Energizer Ball Machine.

I’m sure they would have been happy to sit and watch this thing for hours, but we had lots of educational fun stuff to see! We started by going through an exhibit about the 5 senses. We learned that Kylie has no sense of smell, Kara is possibly half deaf, Trinity’s balance is a little off (or she is overly dramatic…which is totally possible), and Grayson can throw a serious fit when confined to his stroller. There were all sorts of medical equipment that we explained to the kids including an iron lung and some old creepy looking surgical tools. Next in line was Cyberville. Exhibits included a laser harp, a lego robot class (we just watched them compete), lessons on the evolution of the computer…including binary code stuff which was WAAAAY over my head. We kept trying to explain things to them and all they wanted to do was touch stuff. They had no clue why things were doing what they were doing, but they had a blast making things do random stuff.

We spent the majority of our time in the dinosaur exhibit. Grayson was very excited to check it out, then lost his enthusiasm when he saw the giant robotic beast. He wanted nothing to do with the enormous T-rex…Trinity on the other hand had fun acting as if she were afraid it would eat her.

When we finished with our goofiness, we moved on to checking out the actual dinosaur bones. Knowing that dinosaurs were ginormous is one thing, but actually putting it into perspective is another. As you can see, the bone below is the femur of a Triceratops compared to the femur of a chicken…does God have a great imagination or what?!

As mind blowing as this may be, the highlight of Grayson’s visit to the Science Center (besides the ball machine) was excavating dinosaur bones with a toothbrush. He sat there for at least 10-15 minutes infatuated with brushing the white powder away from the real dinosaur bones. Maybe he’ll be an archaeologist someday.

Unfortunately we didn’t have much time at the Science Center, and missed out on so much stuff. Next time we visit (I really hope to take them back in a few years), we will dedicate an entire day to the Science Center and will for sure spend a large chunk of time in the Planetarium. I was interested in stars, planets, and space travel when I was a kid, and would have loved to explore the different areas of the Planetarium.

After dragging the kids away from the closing museum, we treated them to pizza at Papa John’s…you’d think by their grins that they’d never had pizza before. (To be fair, it was quite delicious.)

2009 Family Vacation ~ St. Louis Zoo

Day 2 of our family vacation was spent mostly at the St. Louis Zoo. Admission to the zoo itself is free, but there are charges to do any additional activities. Parking on site is $11, but there was none available, so after driving the entire circuit half a dozen times we ended up parking at the St. Louis Art Museum and walking to the zoo. (The zoo was quite crowded, but the Art Museum is closed on Mondays, so there was plenty of parking there.) Since admission was free and we knew the kids would want to ride the train & the carousel, we decided to purchase Safari Passes. These are $10/each for ages 1+, but saved us quite a bit overall. They are good for admission to the Children’s Zoo, Zooline Railroad, Sea Lion Show (seasonal), Conservation Carousel, and Motion Simulator. We did everything except the show, and it would have cost us $96 rather than $60 if we had paid for each individually.

First thing we did was ride the Zooline Railroad completely around the park. There weren’t really that many animals visible, and we had to stay on for the entire trip because of not being able to bring our stroller on board. We did get a good view of the tigers, and the kids enjoyed going through a few tunnels and waiving at all the other zoo visitors. Grayson really enjoyed the train and insisted we were riding Thomas. (The engine pulling the actual train we were on was blue.)
Our next stop was the Children’s Zoo. I was shocked that Grayson willingly touched the guinea pig and enjoyed it. (He’s not much of an animal person…wonder where he gets it.) He also crawled into the cubby with Kara to see the snake up close. He was so brave! There were really cute animals in the Children’s Zoo…pictured below is Kara’s proclaimed ‘favorite animal at the zoo’…the Meerkat. I love the expression he has…kinda like ‘What are you guys looking at me like that for?’ Adorable.
After convincing Greg to participate in a cute photo op, we began our tour of the actual animals.
The weather was actually pretty nice. It wasn’t scorching hot, and there was a nice occasional breeze. When asked, the kids each came up with what animal they wanted to see most at the zoo. Grayson’s choice was the elephant. I don’t think he realized how large an elephant actually is.
Trinity’s choice was the penguins. I must admit they were absolutely adorable. The fishy smell of ‘Penguin & Puffin Coast‘ was almost too much for me to handle (it didn’t seem to bother anyone else), but the cool air stopped the kids complaining for a few minutes…they were then freezing, of course.
Kylie’s animal of choice was the lion, and Kara’s was the monkey. We didn’t get to actually see the monkey, but we did get to see a gorilla and to a kid that is close enough…thank heavens.

The Conservation Carousel was a HUGE hit! Grayson even enjoyed it after I forced him (kicking and screaming) to sit on the animal he chose. Once the ride began he was all smiles…he was very excited to ride ‘Diego’s Jaguar’ (didn’t have the heart to tell him it was really Cheetah…not that he would have believed me anyway.) The girls rode again, and would have continued to ride the remainder of the afternoon if we had let them.

Once we peeled the children away from the carousel, we made our way to the Motion Simulator.
It was titled ‘Dino Island II: Escape From Dino Island’, and was recommended for children 5+. We thought Grayson would be fine because he likes dinosaurs. Well, he wouldn’t even sit in the seat, so Greg had to hold him. He then refused to put on his 3D glasses and spent the entire ride with his head buried in Greg’s chest. Because he wouldn’t sit in his own seat, they had to turn off the motion part of Greg’s seat. For the rest of us, we were thrashed about like rag dolls. It was actually a bit too much, I thought. Coupled with the ridiculously loud shrieking (from fun, not fear) coming from Kylie & Kara, I didn’t know what the heck was going on in the movie…nor did anyone else in the simulator, I’m sure.
One of the last animals we saw on our way out was the tiger. Have you ever heard a tiger ‘meow’? It was the coolest thing. The kids kept asking what that noise was, and didn’t really believe me when I told them it was ‘meowing’. Kylie said he sounded sad.
On our way out, we were stopped by woman asking if I could take a picture of her and her husband. She did the same for us. It’s nice to have a picture containing our entire family…even if Grayson was conked out.

2009 Family Vacation ~ St. Louis Arch

On our first official Alexander Family Vacation, we decided to go to St. Louis, MO. (We’ve taken trips before, but it’s always been to visit family…not to just spend time together and have fun.) On our drive, we decided to do what every other family does and play the license plate game. We ended up getting 35/50 states, and 2 from Canada. I also gave them notebooks to use as vacation journals and they enjoyed writing about and drawing pictures of things they saw along the way. Once we made it to St. Louis, it took us a bit to check into our hotel. We drove around for about 15 minutes looking for parking before deciding to just suck it up and pay the 19.95/day to park in the hotel parking garage. Our room at the Hyatt was fantastic and looked just like the pictures on the website. The view of the city was beautiful as well.

They recently completed a $63 million renovation, and the hotel is beautiful. (I found a special deal HERE where we paid $63/night for a total of $219 rather than $527. You have to call and request this deal…couldn’t find it available online anywhere.) After getting checked in and situated we decided to walk to the St. Louis Arch and start the fun.
We walked around the museum for about an hour while waiting for our tour group and enjoyed learning about Lewis and Clark, their journey, and the Arch. (To get into the Arch and walk around the museum was free, but the ‘Journey to the Top’ was $29 for our entire family. Purchasing tickets online in advance is more expensive, so I would just wait until you get there.)
Kylie for some reason couldn’t keep from getting in front of the stroller wheels and got ran over repeatedly. One such time tripped her and sent her rolling down a ramp. It was quite hilarious (she was not injured). While standing in line, Grayson announced he had to pee. Greg, not wanting to get out of line and take him, insisted he could just go in his pull-up. I warned him that Grayson had been overflowing his pull-ups lately, but did he listen? Nope. Greg was holding Grayson when he couldn’t hold it any longer. He peed, and it created a large wet spot on the front of Greg’s shirt. Luckily it didn’t soak Grayson’s clothes. Problem was that we were too close to the actual ride to the top of the Arch to run back to the hotel to change, so Greg & Grayson had to enjoy the ride with wet clothes. (The line actually took so long that they were basically dry before we rode in the tiny compartment.)

Trinity was a little nervous during the ride, but didn’t freak out or anything.

The view of the sunset from the top of the Arch was magnificent.
It was quite crowded, so we didn’t stay long at the top.
Once we made it back down, the kids were pretty much wiped out, so we headed back to the hotel. The kids enjoyed their favorite hotel past time
(watching the traffic seven stories below) until bedtime, and were then out within minutes of their heads hitting the luxurious pillows. Good thing too, because the next day was our trip to the zoo.

‘Flat Billy’ goes to St. Louis…

As you may know, we took a family vacation to St. Louis last week. Our family of 6 loaded up our Expedition and made the 5 hour drive with high hopes of a fun filled 4 days/3 nights. We were not disappointed. (I will be blogging in more detail about our vacation in later posts…this post is dedicated to Billy Mays.)

Everyone knows about ‘Flat Stanley’, well, I created a ‘Flat Billy’ to take with us on our vacation. Meet ‘Flat Billy’…
Hi! Billy Mays here!
He enjoyed visits to the St. Louis Arch,
the carousel at the St. Louis Zoo,
‘Flat Billy’ seemed to have a wonderful time on vacation with us, and we enjoyed having him as an extra family member on our family vacation to St. Louis. The kids took turns holding him up for photo-ops, and were vigilant about us not forgetting him in the truck. Overall, I think he had a wonderful 4-day vacation with the Alexander family to St. Louis, and I hope he might choose to vacation with us in the future. Can’t promise another stay at the Hyatt, but I can promise fun filled adventure. =)
On a ‘not so side note’, our family will greatly miss one of the greatest Pitchmen in the world, Billy Mays. Oxi-Clean commercials just aren’t the same. We find ourselves in need of nearly every product he has ever pitched. We’ve thoroughly enjoyed watching him go from ‘just a guy advertising a product’ to ‘pitchman extraordinaire’, who along with Anthony Sullivan has helped so many inventors realize their dreams. We’ve seen every episode of Pitchmen, and being able to see aspects of his family life and interaction with his best friend Sully has been truly enjoyable. It has been a pleasure to see his passion, integrity, and heart for his career and family over the last season. We were shocked and saddened to hear of his sudden passing…Billy Mays will be missed by the Alexander Family.