Thursday, June 30, 2011

Future Endeavors and Updates

I received an email asking if I'd be interested in teaching another MA course in Education (with a side of technology). If I teach this, I get an iPad. Pretty good incentive if you ask me. Well, they aren't giving me an iPad, but they are paying me to teach... and since I want an iPad, I'll be able to purchase one with the money I make in teaching the course. Okay, so I can buy one right now if I wanted to (all that money we're saving not having a living child!), but turns out I'm kind of cheap and need the justification to purchase luxury items. I actually like teaching about and discussing education issues, leadership, technology, and how the three are so intertwined. It's a passion.

Some of my current obsessions passions include (in this order):
  • Happy Husband
  • Andrew
  • Trying to conceive (and failing miserably)
  • Lamenting with fellow BLMs about missing our babies and ttc
  • Eating delicious food
  • Education/Technology
So it may be on the bottom end of the spectrum, but it still makes the cut. Because various things like looking presentable, making smalltalk, being anywhere near babies or pregnant people or happy people or most people in general isn't making the cut right now.

Trying to make lemonade out of sour lemons, I might actually be doing something I love this fall! It's not in stone yet, but it seems promising considering they are asking me back to teach. Rather than going back to the elementary/middle school classroom (which I'll still sub for), I'll be able to teach again specifically targeting my greatest teaching passion. I think that's what I needed. I needed something to come up that would allow me to teach, but not something that would inhibit the ability to get pregnant again... if that'll ever happen. Y'all know the reason I don't want to go back to the classroom full time right now. Because in the event that I do happen to give birth to a live baby (ever? ever???), I WILL be taking that time to tend to that child. It's not something I'd be willing to negotiate. I'd eat beans and rice for the rest of my life if that meant I'd have the chance to be a mom who is present with her children. Not that we have that concern, but I'm just going extreme and all superlative on you for effect.

It's helpful that my husband has been hoping I'd find something I'm passionate about in the interim and this is definitely checking that box. Yay. I have purpose and might actually help impact student lives for the better. I've almost forgotten what that feels like. And it sort of helps knowing that even if Andrew were here and alive right now, I'd still probably be teaching this course. I'm not teaching because he's gone, but because it's a passion and will remain so. It's nice to know that my grief isn't getting in the way of feeling passionate about something other than being a mom.

In other (food related) news, a friend dropped by a loaf of bread she baked. She lived in France for awhile and since we also have our own European living experience, we share a love for delicious bread. It's something the United States doesn't fully grasp. Europeans would never buy American sliced bread and scoff at our interest to do so. They sell it there and refer to it as American toast. It practically rots on the shelves. And to think food wouldn't be part of this post. It's now been mentioned twice. Cause you know, it's a passion. :)

Unrelated update: Also, I deactivated my facebook account. I can't take it anymore. The pictures of adorable babies and cutesy comments are maddening. Time for a mental break. That, and a former friend emailed my husband trying to contact me and said she saw me in a picture looking pregnant and if so, she's SO happy for us. Don't have the heart to tell her that the picture was taken last September. When Andrew was alive and my dreams of mothering that little nugget weren't dead either.

But can I get a yahooooo for at least some gems of happiness here and there?

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Blogger is a Jerk. And the Weekend.

This past weekend was full of indulgence.

Alison came into town on Friday night and began the fun. We popped open that bottle of Grand Mark that we bought on our Michigan wine tasting a couple weeks back and made almond crusted baked brie with honey/balsamic reduction and a lentil-quinoa salad. It was the perfect meal. I do need to perfect the process of making that brie (read: shorten), but otherwise it's a nice dinner to pair with wine and something light for summer.

Here's the brie I made back in August of 2010 for a baby shower I hosted. Hah. 2010 was likely the beginning and end of baby showers for me. Something else I've lost out on. Super.

We watched the movie Just Go With It and it was terrible. Not recommended.

Saturday was devoted to lazy river and magazine reading. We grabbed sandwiches and drove about 20 miles away from my house to a water park that boasts the second longest lazy river in Illinois! If I could find the park with the longest, I'd probably go there... but it's too hard to find online. It was the case where we weren't supposed to take in outside food or beverages, but did anyway. Because 16-year-olds are working the joint. We ate on our lounge chairs and enjoyed our lazy strolls through the water before settling on our lounge chairs and people-watching the rest of the day. I will be going back when my SIL comes to town in a week.

Wrong place at the wrong time, buddy.

That night we had dinner in downtown Naperville at one of our favorite little places, Kuma's Asian Bistro. Except of course when you plan to bring someone, the food is never as good--as was the case this night. The drinking started there and we finished it off with margaritas at out house.

Sunday, we headed downtown to The Taste of Chicago. This was my first Taste experience. For the most part, I enjoyed it. Off the train we headed straight to XOCO, one of Rick Bayless' restaurants. We ate at Frontera when I was super, happily pregnant in late October and attempted to at least grab a churro from this street-food style joint. Notsolucky. Apparently they're closed Sundays and Mondays. Speaking of closed a lot... our favorite (and only) German restaurant in the 'burbs is closed for 3 weeks. They're only open dinners and closed Sunday and Monday, too. How very European of them. Three weeks is a lifetime in America, especially for a restaurant that probably grosses over $25,000 a day. Crazy. We then headed down Michigan Avenue in search of more food.

What's better than to be able to try about 5-6 different types of food for lunch/dinner? Prepare for my full menu and commentary, here.
For taste portions, most were 4 tickets ($2) with ~$.67 charge for maintenance, etc.. Some were 3 tickets and a select few were 2.
Homemade wheat tortilla veggie taco from Carbon with a medium tomatillo salsa. My first and favorite of the day.
Next up, hummus, falafel, and pita from Alhambra Palace. We later had falafel sandwiches with Jerusalem salad for dinner (Not pictured. Gasp. I know.) It wasn't quite to par with Naf Naf, our fave, but it was decent. The hummus was delish and the falafel, good, but the pita was lacking.
Happy Husband.
Star of Siam's pad thai veggie noodles. Meh.
Tuscany's toasted cheese ravioli. Quite delish!
 Bud Light Limes. Not bad...
 Alison double-fisting.
Cheese and corn empanada from Adobo Grill. Super fried... I know.
 Love my happy husband. Seriously the only thing that gets me through the day sometimes.
Vermilion's mango dusted fries with tamarind chutney and chimichurri sauce. AMAZING.
This was happy husband's interest also from Vermilion: grilled chicken kabab with tomatillo, potato and charred onions.
I have no idea what he ordered, but I know they were two fudge samples from Ryba's Fudge Shop. He ate them faster than I could see!
We headed to Millennium Park to rest and watch a group of people get busted (why?) for playing croquet... so they moved on to drinking Jack Daniels. They brought the whole bottle for 4 people to enjoy. Niiiice. You can also see the bean from where we were sitting. If I lived in the city, I'd come down here all the time! Okay, so I say that, but I'd probably be lazy and hermit crab up in my house so my kryptonite (aka: babies & pregnant women) wouldn't affect me. Just put me in a bubble already. Go ahead.

My thoughts on The Taste: It was great to try out a bunch of foods, tapas-style for lunch. It was even more fun to walk around and have a mixed bag of all types of food. It also allowed for trying things you may not normally try (for fear of disappointment/dislike). Being a veggie, I loved that no one had to conform to my interests because we all had the chance to try what we wanted on the cheap.

My main issue: The famous, popular, fantastic, beloved, interesting, well-known restaurants of Chicago were not included in any of the tastes! I expected Rick Bayless to have a showing. Nope. Poor quality pizza joints and little to no Italian beef showing. I felt it could be called The Taste of ANYWHERE in the US. I also wanted more Indian food and there was a lacking in that department.

We headed down to Michigan Avenue (before obviously heading back to The Taste for an early dinner, aka use the rest of our tickets on falafel pitas and fresh watermelon) for some shopping. Ray headed back to the train so he could meet our friend Derrick for golf. We grabbed our pitas after shopping and got lost on our way back to the train. I get lost without my husband with me. I'm impossible. We did make it back in time and actually got seats. Miracle. Not gonna lie though... it was stressful. If we didn't make the 6:35 train, we'd have to wait til 8:35. Um, no thanks.

Monday was all about relaxing, shopping the outlets, and eating/drinking again. I had a craving for veggie tacos and decided to make some for lunch before we headed off for the day. I made homemade tortillas since we bought this bad boy, grilled up some onions, green chilis and heated some black beans. I also made a quick salsa puree for the top. We walked Downtown Wheaton and visited a cute tea shop and I had my first Hibiscus iced tea. It was delicious! No photo, but it was amazing. It had a salty taste and it was addicting, despite obviously having no salt. Nummers. We were getting hungry and decided to hit up Downtown Naperville for margarita Mondays at Front Street Cantina. In general, their food sucks. But... we figured their margaritas and some nachos would do the trick. How can you screw up nachos, right? Well, the Germans used kidney beans and that was definitely a fail. But Front Street... well... they shocked me.

They used MOZZARELLA cheese on our nachos! Not cheddar. Not jack. Not Chihuahua. Nor pepper jack. Not white cheddar. Not cheese sauce. Mozzarella. Friggin' weird.

Once we received them, I took two bites before turning to Alison and asking, "Is that brie cheese?" She then ate an isolated piece and laughed. "No, it's mozzarella!" It wasn't awful, just not what we expected or would've chosen. To make matters even more confusing, the guy outside was also having nachos with cheddar cheese. Did he know to ask for the proper cheese? Oye. Thank heaven for $4 margaritas. Alison and I have a long history of nachos and margarita-drinking. In true form, we made sure to indulge in our favorites.

I've all but given up in finding solid Mexican food in this town. Thankfully we have Chipotle and I know how to replicate some of my favorite meals.

We headed home, got ready, and headed to dinner. We had Buona for the first time. It's equivalent to a Panera, but mostly Italian food. It's owned by the Portillo's brothers. Buona is a bit nicer than Portillo's though.

Tired of me talking about food? How about grief?

I've come to the main conclusion that I'm just a crappier friend. I wish I didn't suck the fun out of everything, but I feel like I can't help it. I slap on my shiny-happy face and practically pass out into my bed at night from the sheer exhaustion of burying my sadness and emotion. At 7 months out from losing our baby, people don't want to see or hear you cry out anymore. Not one is plainly telling me that (as they likely know I'd have a serious backlash), but I feel it. I feel that I'm so separate from who I used to be and so separate from caring about things I used to enjoy. Except maybe food.

We had a nice time, but I sure do miss the Brandy who used to be. Who used to fall asleep with that stupid plastic smile on her face.

p.s. Blogger is a jerk because I had to login and logout of Blogger to upload photos about 5 times. So it landed itself in my title. Jerk.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Top 10 Crappy Things People Say

My BlogHer ad on the right? Underneath it are titles from other blog posts in the BlogHer network. Most are strangers and often unrelated to my personal situation, but I like clicking on them every now and again. They're enticing. One title was Ten Things Not to Say to Baby Loss Parents. Not that I haven't visited some of these isolated topics before, but let's revisit, shall we?

I'm currently nearing 7 months post loss and still plenty of angry and sad about all things related. Sure, I cry less. But my heart, none the better. These comments are said by wonderful and well-meaning people who just don't know what to say to us. So without further adieu, a revisit with commentary. Because commentary is fun.

1. Your child is in a better place. 
So... shouldn't we all just be in that better place, then? I mean, if it's so wonderful, why do we bother living? If that better place is heaven, then why do we even bother having children if bringing them to Earth would be a terrible place to exist? I suppose I understand the suffering part of that whole thought process and how they are no longer suffering in heaven. But really? 

2. At least he wasn't older/younger.
You're right. Because losing my child at 8 days, 4.5 months, 9 months, 2 years, 10 years... make it any harder? I understand that our lives did not have Andrew in them as a daily routine. I never woke up for feedings, juggled putting baby crap in the car while dealing with a crying baby... none of that. But it doesn't mean we hadn't already planned out his entire life of excitement. I could see him playing soccer and us sitting on the sidelines cheering him on. And in many ways, I'd like to argue that losing a child later would be better because at the very least, you got to see your child breathe, smile, accomplish, love, laugh, live. I got none of those things. Who is better? Not at the place to compare, really. All I have are pictures of a dead baby. Never a live one.

3. You're not the same.
Bahahaha. If you'd like old Brandy back, forget it. I'd be able to promise diamonds falling from the sky before I can promise I'd ever return to old Brandy. It's just not humanly possible. Andrew will forever be with me and this sadness will never go away. We don't appreciate being reminded that we are a little crappier now. We know. We know part of us died with those babies. Sucks to be you for having a lame friend? How about it sucks to be US. Get over your selfishness of high expectations for that perfect friend.

4. God needed him/an angel.
This is one of the worst for me. Because I am Christian and have friends who also are, they just go on assuming that I'm okay that Andrew is in heaven. And they think I believe God needed another angel? I might be the anomaly in the baby loss world, but I don't picture my baby with wings. Yes, I read Heaven is for Real and I struggled with it. Sure, I loved the idea of knowing my baby is there and will be there when I die, but I hardly believe Andrew had to carry all the way to full term and then God decided he needed him. Why not sooner? Later? Please. God doesn't need more angels. If He is that powerful, he sure doesn't need my baby to "help" him or anything stupid like that. Stop trying to play God by explaining God's moves. And by the way, that is also implying that God killed my child to take him to heaven. And that is something I will NEVER subscribe to. Because how can I believe and love a God who kills babies? Not God's doing.

5. He's no longer suffering.
Nope, but I will for the rest of my life. And as far as we know, he was never suffering. Sure, at some point his heart stopped beating. I can't imagine that was pleasant, but he was so small and so active. I just don't buy this argument one bit. Considering we have no answers and are treated like an in-utero SIDS case, we have no proof he was ever suffering in the first place.

6. It's time to move on.
Um, see #3. I will never move on. I might move forward and hopefully have more babies, but I will never move past or beyond losing Andrew. That's my child. Dead, yes. But he is and will always be my child and firstborn. If you want me to move on, I'd probably advise you to move on to new friends. I grieve at my own pace and refuse to accept that nonsense from anyone.

7. Are you trying again/planning to have more children?
Again... it sounds like you think I'll be okay as long as I have more kids. Like somehow Andrew will be erased or the 1, 2, 3 more kids will even out the loss factor. Nope, I'll always still be missing one. I also think that unless you're a baby loss parent, you should probably never ask a person that question. It's none of your business. I also love the idea of "planning" to have children as if it's some guarantee. It's not. My attempts at this point have ended in disaster, so my planning is out the window. I also have friends who struggle with infertility for years and are silent grievers of something out of their control. We lost babies and many of them have too-- either that or they mourn the hopes, dreams, and plans they also had placed in starting a family of their own. If a woman is of childbearing age, it's probably best to avoid asking because you have no idea what they might be going through. And if you're the type who get knocked up with "oops babies" or have never even taken a pregnancy test on repeat or OPKs to track your ovulation, you especially have no right to be asking such questions.

With that said, there is something to say between the differences of grieving with hope of a future child (aka while pregnant) and grieving without hope of a future child (aka not pregnant). I'm still dealing with the latter. Sigh.

8. I know what you're going through.
This pain is unique to child loss. There's just about nothing else you can compare it to. I realize everyone has their struggles, but losing a child is so very personal. Something about babies dying that really rocks the core in people. Unless you're one of us, you don't understand. And that's okay that you don't. We don't want you to experience this. But we do wish everyone understood.   

9. My pet died.
I've actually been given this shpeal. I couldn't believe it when I heard it either. And to make matters worse, the person told me they lost their CAT. I friggin' hate cats. I hardly believe that losing an animal is close to losing a child. Especially since I actually formed that child inside of me. That cat... not of your species. Seriously offensive to compare my child to a stupid cat. Don't hate on me animal activist peeps. Just keepin' it real.

10. Everything happens for the reason.
Top used and highly offensive response to losing a child. I. hate. this. one. People... do not try and give me some BS explanation for why my child died. You're not God and you aren't all-knowing. And for the record, I'll repeat that God. did. not. kill. my. child. There's never going to be a good way of explaining to people that my life is not better because Andrew died. It will always be a fraction worse and that sucks. But it's real and true and not for a reason. I wasn't being punished. I didn't deserve this (because I can name so many more people who kept their babies but were rotten individuals...) and I don't want to hear this crap. It makes us feel worse hearing that, like we deserved this fate or something.

Now you're probably wondering... well the what the hell can I say to console this chick?

There's just about one thing you can say that would matter at all...

I'm so sorry. You can also tag on something like I'm praying for peace or I'm thinking of you.

Other than that, please just keep it simple. We do appreciate well wishes and wonderful, heartfelt thoughts. But please don't try to place a simple explanation on the loss of a child. I've said it before and I'll say it again... we do love talking about our babies. You are welcome to ask questions, but never offer explanations. None of us are wise enough to have those answers.

Just a friendly PSA for the day. You can probably tell I'm a little bitter... but also just saw that other post and wanted to write my own commentary after reading hers.

I'll be picking up my friend from the airport in a few hours. Our plans this weekend include: eating, drinking, and laying around in a lazy river. Apparently Chicago weather didn't get the memo on my plans. 65 degrees and rainy is no place for inner tubes and cool beverages. Have a nice weekend, y'all. {talked to my friend Molly on g-chat the other day. Now I'm all Southern and stuff.}

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Around the House Randoms

We moved into our home in March 2010. Last month, I uncovered this from the top shelf of our coat closet:
The brown paper = brown paper. I know, exciting stuff. I was hoping to uncover a secret treasure map by their two boys, Joe & Jacob. How do I know their names, you ask? Well...
They left their mark in our garage. We half wondered if we'd add to the madness and paint Andrew's name. Then he died. Now we just want to paint the whole darn thing.

Moving on. The large white scroll is a layout of our entire property and the landscaping. Thank goodness they invested in that because we have close to no creativity in that arena. I did, however, pull a grip of weeds today. Why doesn't anyone use "grip" anymore? Dang. Miss that word.

The notebook? It turns out that the two boys wrote a journal together on a family trip to India. They are an Indian family and they now live in Florida. They were the second owners of our house. The first owners also moved to Florida. I can assure you we will not be moving to Florida. I already have my sights set on retiring in the Pacific Northwest. You know. In 30+ years. Until then, we're staying put in the flat-as-a-pancake state.

My favorite entry: January 15, 2003

"Few minutes before landing at Ohare. I am ready for home, for my N64, for my toys and for my friends. But it is sad to leave behind my family. My favorite part of the vacation was climbing the mountain at (?). I am leaving behind in India crowded streets, sales people that never stop asking you to buy their product, bars on the windows of every single house, the kitchens that are too big (who complains about that?), driving on the opposite side of the road, the Indian food except for Dosa, the heat and the dirtiness and the way you wash your butt."

Doesn't that look like a woman's writing? Nope. A boy.
 My favorite is how he writes quite sophisticated and then switches over to crappy kid writing at the end as he writes about wiping his butt. In his defense, the context of his writing suggests that the plane might be landing. That could cause for anyone's writing to shift gears a bit.

And here I go shifting gears. This is the blueberry banana walnut oatmeal from...................................
McDonald's! Anyone else surprised? It was awesome and there were at least 25-30 fresh blueberries on top! The best part, it was free! McD's sent me a freebie promotional coupon for this new oatmeal and I tried it out. It was no steel cut as I'm normally used to eating, but it was pretty darn good.

Want more freebies? How about this! My friend Liz sent me an email yesterday telling me that if I were to drop off a bag at my local Goodwill store, I'd get a voucher for a pair of free Tim McGraw lawn tickets! I sent that bad boy in yesterday. We'll see if two tickets show up in my mailbox now.
We have a huge deck and animals love visiting us. We get raccoons all the time (ick), Orioles, Cardinals, Robins, squirrels, foxes, and bunnies! Here was a little guy I spotted yesterday. They enjoy living underneath the deck so we always have quite a few around to enjoy. True Wilson fact: we can't stand house pets but love wildlife.
Closeup with this baby bunny.

And finally... this almost needs its own post.

We have a plant that has died and has come back to life many times. We received it as a condolence gift after Andrew died. It's about 6 months old. Ugh. It's actually a Peace Lily but the main lily was looking pretty shabby so I chopped it. There's another small one, but it can't be seen in these photos. We treat it much like a houseplant and don't really like to associate the plant with Andrew. As a matter of fact, we held onto most plants we were sent for a couple days and then had a friend come pick them up and take them to the nursing home she works at. They likely enjoyed them more than we did.

Here's what I noticed at about 11:40 a.m. yesterday. Peace lily was looking quite dead.
This was about 3-4 hours later after I fed him water.
And an hour after that... around 5 p.m. yesterday, no joke.
It's somewhat nice because it always tells us when it's thirsty unlike most plants we attempt to keep that end up wilted, yellowed, and broken. Weird, huh?

That's all, folks.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Road Trip! CHI to STL

In true Wilson style, we booked a hotel a week in advance and headed off to St. Louis. It's been ages since I've been there, literally. Like my age was probably about 10 the last time I was there. And the only time, I think. Elliot had been to MO before, but never St. Louis. And we have nothing better to do. What the heck, right?

We set out around noon on Friday and carpooled with our friends Derrick and Liz. Carpooling is so much better than driving almost the entire length of the state of Illinois alone. It's so. freaking. boring. People, trust me on this one. The only thing you pass on the way is Springfield and a crapload of Cracker Barrels. No historical landmarks, viewpoints, nada. It's a boring state that's flat as a pancake.

After stopping off at one of those Americana antique places (read: lame) off the side of the highway and circling a street multiple times to finally arrive at a sketchy Thai food restaurant, we made it to the Brad Paisley concert. Lawn seats, of course. Who wouldn't want to sit next to a bunch of drunk strangers who smoke like chimneys? Country concert, obvy. No worries. We had our own pre-game tailgate party in the parking lot beforehand. We're too cheap to buy $10 beers. Hence the lawn seats. That was just the beginning of our very indulgent beer-drinkin' weekend.
Our friends & carpool buddies, Derrick and Liz.
Reminds me a bit of last summer when we saw Brooks and Dunn with them in IL! I was happily pregnant then, of course.
View from out hotel room on the 16th floor. Not bad, except the part where they were out of King beds so they "upgraded" us to a hypoallergenic room (+) with two full beds (-). We have a King bed at home and wouldn't have it any other way. I need my space while sleeping and sleeping on a full bed is no bueno. Everything was great, HYATT, except what was most important. Meh. Luckily the full bed came in handy the first night as I had a major breakdown. It was one of those typical out-of-control and completely unpredictable ones that didn't even have a known trigger. Lasted maybe an hour. Grief is so tiring.
On the rooftop observation deck checking out the scenery. Happy husband doesn't look so happy here. But I promise, he is. ;) Maybe it was just how tired he was from consoling the hot mess that I was the night before in the sobfest I had scheduled but forgot to mark on my calendar.
This is the photo perspective my husband chose...
And here's the perspective I chose...
This is one of those times where you tell the person to do "something funny" to the large structure. Holding up the Leaning Tower of Pisa, meh. Overdone. Be more creative, people. And when I asked Ray to do something funny at the arch, he said he planned on squeezing one of the sides. Apparently the photographer didn't get the memo. FAIL. I almost didn't write a caption here and let my husband look like a complete crazy. Almost.
Walking into the Dred Scott courthouse. Okay, it's not called that but the Old Courthouse. It's the site of where the Dred Scott case was heard in the 1800s.
Stair photos because they're so gorgeous!

We headed out to meet out friends at the Anheuser-Busch factory and stopped off at this amazing place on the way.
The interior. Photo compliments of my husband. Only because it's not that good. ;)
Some of you might eat this birdie for dinner.
Pretty church on our walk to drink beer. What's that new Miranda Lambert song, Heart Like Mine?
I heard Jesus, He drank wine and I'd bet we'd get along just fine...
On our extremely lame because they wouldn't show us the most important part, bottling, tour of the Budweiser factory.

Le Factory de Budweiser. I managed to butcher a couple languages there, I think.
We're waiting to go into that building to be told that we can watch a video that is shown on a broken screen and that we can't see the bottling process today. Boo. 
 That's Bevo the fox on the corner of the building. Bevo was a drink Budweiser used to make-- essentially alcohol-free beer. Bevo the fox is shown there with a chicken wing in one hand and a cup of Bevo in the other.
The tour may have been crappy, but we did get free beer! Cheers to that! Just the beginning of our shenanigans, really. Beer #1 of about 10 for the day.
Next stop, Schlafly Bottleworks. You know, another brewery. Our friend Liz's brother lives in the town and took us around for the day. He and his wife went with us on the Budweiser tour for their, I think, 4th time. He was more knowledgeable than the tour guides themselves! Schlafly also served up homemade veggie burgers. It was at this point that I realized St. Louis is more up my alley in the food department than Chicago. Chicago is a meat-eating city. I'm a veggie. The two don't always jive. I saw more hippies in this town. Colorado, California, Oregon, Washington (my beloved west) are all full of these people... St. Louis has now been added to the veggie list. Lots of pot smoking, hookah, and pipe shops. Yes, those earthy folk are usually the sign of good eatin' for veggies like me. Hello, potheads... yes I will gladly eat your veggie burgers.
 And the beer drinking continues! What we didn't know was that during our second beer tour of the day, we'd be trying all of these beers again! Ah! Belly full!
On the Schlafly tour (a million times better than the Bud tour, btw), Ray saw a coupling sitting on a cart. This part is made by his company in Chicago. We spot them on machines everywhere and especially love factory tours where we can spot gems like this one. This is their "pantry" room where the Schlafly folk keep the beer makin' goods. The girl talking next to the pole, that was our tour guide. She was a pretty raging hippie.
After drinking our weight in beer, we headed to Busch Stadium where we hoped to catch a Cards v. Royals game. No such luck. We didn't want to pay a ton and were hoping to scalp some tickets. The problem was that there were 5 of us and the stadium was pretty full. We could've scored $35 standing-room tickets but figured we'd get just as good a view from watching outside the park. Bummer. Back to the car we went...defeated... just like the Royals.
Then we found ourselves here. One of the 10 greatest streets in America according to some lame organization no one has ever heard of the American Planning Association. We had dinner here. You know, because we were all still stuffed from lunch and the 10 beers we had throughout the course of the day. Why not order all-you-can-drink root beers? Also home to the 2nd veggie burger I consumed that day. Perhaps a record!
Later that night I attempted to snap a night photo from the inside of our hotel room. A little bit of a fail here, too, as you can see the glare of the television. Also, it would've sucked anyway.
Lots of scenic photos here... if you're interested, enjoy. If not, sorry.
The Old Courthouse from the earlier photo...
 The Arch... one of many
At the top!
 Happy husband with little bitty windows to peer out through
One side of the city...
We liked this photo opp because it shows the baseball stadium on the left, the courthouse in the center, and our hotel (brown building, bottom right) all in one!
There was some photo session or flag ceremony going on at the courthouse. When we finally got back down on the ground, the flag was gone, as were the fire trucks. Check out the cool shadowing, though!
 Happy husband ready to head back down to safety.
 View from the other side of the Arch facing the river and a very large barge carrying loads of coal.
See that flag again?
In line to head back down. I was a little bitter at this point because we had to share an elevator car up and because we are only a family of two, we had to share an elevator car down, too. We should really just be a family of three for so many reasons. And one of those reasons is because I want cute photos of my chubby baby at the arch and to share our very own elevator car together. And did I mention how many pregnant women and babies I saw on this trip? Sheesh. At the Budweiser tour, check. Here, check. Blah. Blah. Blah.
 A better look at the elevator door. It's quite narrow!
Happy, blurry husband on the ride back down. Because the Arch is shaped like a parabola, they have a vertical and horizontally moving elevator. It moves much like stairs. Down, in, down, in... all the way to the ground. It takes about 4 minutes.
 More pictures? Sheesh, lady! I know, I know.
 No boats were allowed because of all the flooding from the river. Even the docking area was underwater.
 Final picture...
Thanks to our great friends Derrick & Liz for driving, supplying us with their company, and the iPad Scrabble for entertainment on the boring commute. There seriously could not be a more boring drive. Okay, maybe through Nebraska.

p.s. I hate you blogger for deleting about 12 of the last photos and writing that I had to re-do.