Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Meet me in St. Louis // Our first family vacation!

Our little family took our very first vacation together last weekend, to St. Louis. We'd been planning the trip for months—Frank's favorite baseball team, the Phillies, were playing in St. Louis Saturday and he wanted to see them in person at least once this summer. Plus Frank's college roommate and his wife live in St. Louis and are avid Cardinals fans, so we planned to meet up with them for the game and dinner afterward.

Our original plan was to drive there Friday night or Saturday morning and then drive back Saturday night, but at the last minute, Frank decided we should make a getaway out of it and stay all weekend instead. I'm so glad he decided that—this mini-vacation was just what the doctor ordered.

I was worried how the 4.5-ish hour drive would go with the baby in the car, but thankfully he handled it like a champ. He slept a lot of the way, so Frank and I got to partake in one of my VERY favorite pastimes—a road-trip singalong with all the greats, John Denver and Frank Sinatra and Mumford.

That time in the car was really special. The first months after having a baby involve a lot of adjustment in a marriage, and it's hard lately to feel as connected as we used to. But singing and being silly together in the car reminded me of another car singalong from early in our relationship and rekindled that happy-and-in-love feeling. The whole trip was worth it for that alone—but the fun was just beginning.

We woke up early on Saturday morning to hit up the St. Louis Zoo first thing. My grandma likes to say, "Whenever our family visits a new city, the first place we go is the zoo," so I guess I was being true to tradition there. I texted my dad and grandma that I was at the zoo, and my dad wrote back, "Did you know you went to that same zoo when you were 6?" and my grandma texted back "Did you know I took your dad to that same zoo when he was 4?" Neither my dad nor I remember our first St. Louis Zoo trips, so Frankie is holding to family tradition by not remembering his first visit either.

He looked like this for most of the visit:

But Frank and I loved it. We were really impressed with the exhibits. I think it's my new favorite zoo in the world!

We spotted a mother elephant with her baby and I just felt this kinship, you know?

We also met this friendly young bear:

And this orangutan who was just so over it all:

I'll spare you the other 200 animal pictures I took on my phone, but sadly I didn't get a picture of my favorite animal exhibit—we saw two hippos fighting each other in the water! They were legit dueling it out, cage-match style, with angry noises and wide open mouths and much churning of the water. I would be terrified to encounter that in the wild. It was one of the coolest things I've seen at a zoo in my life.

One other awesome thing about that zoo—at one point the baby got really hungry, so I found a bench, pulled out the nursing cover and tried to feed him. But it was over 90 degrees out and pretty soon we were both sweating to death under that cover, plus random teenagers were staring, and both mama and baby were approaching a meltdown. Frank was looking at the zoo map, and in the map key I saw a lactation room just a few yards from us! We went to find it, and I was able to nurse in a comfortable chair in a completely private, air conditioned room. It was incredible. Lactation rooms are one of those little services that I never would have thought of before becoming a mom, but now they are INVALUABLE. Major props to the St. Louis Zoo for that little touch.

After a few hours at the zoo, we returned to the hotel to meet Frank's friends and head out to Busch Stadium. It was baby's first baseball game!

By the way, I put the above picture on Facebook, and it tried to tag Frankie as my sister Lillian. I'm not sure that's a compliment to her, but it does mean my genes are strong in this child. Yes!!!!

When we first arrived at the game, I panicked. The temperature was still in the 90s and our seats were in the sun. I may try to be a laid-back mom, but I was not going to sit my 7-week-old outside in that kind of weather. Luckily, like at the zoo, the first aid station was open for nursing moms. I spent at least half the game in there with Frankie, enjoying the air conditioning. We didn't rejoin Frank and our friends until the sun had moved so our seats were in shadow.

I took a bunch of pictures of Frankie in his way-too-big Phillies gear. He was one happy little fan:

After the game we went to Chili's for margaritas and dinner. Here's Frank with his college roommate. They had a great time telling stories about "the old days" and all the goofy shenanigans they got up to. Oh, and Josh gave Frank a Cardinals shirt, just to make him squirm. :)

On Sunday, we went to the beautiful St. Louis Cathedral Basilica for Mass. These pictures can't do justice to the magnificence of that place:

We took a short tour of the church after Mass, and checked out the museum in the basement and the Cathedral gift shop before leaving. The gift shop was selling copies of Michele's and Amy's book, which I've been wanting to read for a while, so I bought a copy—the perfect souvenir.

Frankie wore his dapper Sunday best:

After that we headed on home, totally refreshed. Such a great weekend.

By the way, if you're interested, my instagram handle is tessciv. It's hard to find time to blog these days, but I update instagram almost every day—I'm kind of addicted—so follow me over there if you'd like!


  1. The St. Louis zoo is so great, isn't it? We are so fortunate to have it within biking distance of our house and always FREE! And the Cathedral is so so so gorgeous. When (not if!) you come back, feel free to email for more (mostly free) family-friendly suggestions!

  2. You've lived in DC, meaning you've been to the National Zoo, so I'm taking your endorsement of St Louis very seriously! Now I want to go there.

  3. His Sunday best is the greatest outfit!


  4. OHMYGAWSH I LOVE YOUR BABY!!!! Seriously though, this looks like such a fun trip.

  5. How funnnn!! I'm so glad you had a good time. :) Your chile is adorable. By the way.

    Country Girl's Daybook: Jesus, Photography, Fashion, & Food

  6. Hippos are my favorite so I'd love to know why they were fighting!! Frankie is adorable in his Sunday best!!