We just got back from two weeks in Great Britain. We took a Trafalgar tour that took us from London, through southern England, northern Wales, the Lake District, and finally to Edinburgh, Scotland. We saw some amazing sights and some truly beautiful scenery. The weather was perfect and the people we met on tour were great. It was an awesome trip. Here is a short video showing some of the highlights. I also have a number of pictures in my photo album.
There’s only one magic ticket swirling around in the booth — and it’s worth 1,000 tickets — but Josie made it look easy, snatching it within seconds. She was so thrilled, and just as surprised as the rest of us!
Although many people are unaware of it, St. Louis County boasts a world-class wolf sanctuary. Originally founded by Marlin Perkins, the Endangered Wolf Center in Eureka houses several species of endangered wolves and foxes from around the world. We spent the final day of our staycation on a tour of the facility. I guess we had pretty good luck because we saw quite a few wolves and some of them were active despite the heat. I’m including a short video below of our wolf-watching adventure. We followed it up with a fantastic seafood lunch at Gulf Shores in Creve Coeur.
It’s not often that you get a St. Louis weather forecast in August that calls for highs in the low 80s, so when you get one, you have to take advantage of it. Day 5 of our staycation found us enjoying a day at Six Flags. Here are the video highlights of our day.
Day four of our staycation took us to see the St. Louis Cathedral Basilica, a rather incongruous blend of Romanesque architecture and Byzantine art that took almost 70 years to complete. It houses one of the largest collections of mosaics in the world, all of which are stunning. The kids were impressed with the size of the space inside, and Noah really liked the stained glass windows. It’s hard to believe I’ve lived in St. Louis almost my entire life and I’ve never visited before. They currently have on display a bronze cast replica of Michelangelo’s La Pieta, a marble statue at the Vatican.
We ate lunch at the Central Cafe and Bakery that serves a refreshing menu of Lebanese cuisine. Dixie and I enjoyed the babaganoush appetizer, and I had a very flavorful salad of vegetables and herbs with some yummy lamb kabobs. Luckily their menu also includes a cheese pizza that was a hit with the kids. We followed this up with a walk around the block to The Cup for gourmet cupcakes for dessert. Dixie had a “Graceland” that is banana cake with peanut butter frosting. They even provide free candles if it’s your birthday.
We ended the day with a tour of the Herbaria Soap Factory on The Hill. They make all natural cold process soap with essential oils for scent and color, and if you ask, they’ll take you in back of the shop and give you a tour of the soap-making process, and even let the kids cut out their own bars of soap using cookie cutters. Humans have been making soap for thousands of years, and it is somewhat surprising that the process has remained unchanged in all of that time.
Josie’s castle / play table is almost done. In just a couple of hours this morning I was able to get a coat of primer on everything and assemble it in her room. She can’t wait to start playing with it, but I think I may need to take it back apart in order to finish painting it. I attached some 1x2s to the walls in her room to support the table, so it’s actually pretty easy to take it in and out. Josie wants pink and purple on her castle, and I’m going to work that into the color scheme. I should have it painted tomorrow and I’ll post some photos in my album of the finished product.
If I haven’t mentioned it before, I really like Sketchup (oh wait, I have mentioned it before). Yesterday I spent less than an hour designing a new play table for my daughter Josie, and tonight I spent about an hour cutting out the pieces. Talk about rapid prototyping! If it’s not obvious from the image, this table will sit in the corner of her room and be attached to two walls, with the castle supporting one end. This is my first time working with MDF, so we’ll see how it turns out. So far so good. Next I’ve got to do some detailing with the jigsaw, sanding, and then they will be ready for primer and paint.
In almost every project around our house, we invariably reach the point where this phrase is uttered. It happens so often that it’s a running joke. Today, Father’s Day, was no exception. It began with us simply wanting to swap out the hangers in both of the kids’ closets. Noah’s clothes have gotten big enough that they don’t stay on the baby hangers anymore, and if you’re going to go to the trouble of swapping them in one closet, you might as well do both of them. Josie’s room also involved moving in an antique dresser that’s been in the family for over 100 years. So it quickly devolved into a complete remodeling of her room, including plans for a play table like Noah’s, and a frantic search on Craigslist for a doll house. About an hour later, as we realized that moving Josie’s toy bins into the closet would require rearranging the modular shelving, I looked at Dixie and smiled. “This is the part where I go to Lowes,” and we both burst into laughter. Now, four hours later, the closet has been redone, her room is rearranged, and I am now working on Sketchup plans for a new doll house/play table thing. That’s how we roll.
It’s a typical St. Louis summer. We are barely into June and it’s already into the 90s, with a heat index above 100. So to beat the heat, it’s time to fill the pool (and upgrade our slide, thanks to Craigslist). Our humble little pool is barely big enough for the kids but this year we have another family member who apparently loves the water. Ellie jumped right in and started splashing around with the best of them. I guess this means we don’t have to worry when we take her on float trips. She and the kids wore themselves slick playing in the pool all day. More photos available in my album.