Saturday, December 31, 2011

Great St. Louis Coffee

I was flipping through the January edition of Southern Living yesterday when I saw this:
Cool.  Kaldi's Coffee is featured as one of the magazine's favorite Southern roasters.  I'm reading it on my iPad, so I'm not sure what page it's on in the print magazine, but it's in the Pride of Place section. 

I love Kaldi's...give me Kaldi's over Starbucks or any other coffee shop coffee any day.  When I walk into the Kaldi's location on DeMun, I usually wish that I had an hour or two to sit with a book, rather than having to rush off to the next thing.  It's been great to see Kaldi's pop up in Schnuck's in the area, but unfortunately they haven't put one into my Schnucks yet.  Maybe in 2012....

In the meantime, I'll just enjoy it at home.

Friday, December 30, 2011

Painting the Boys Rooms

This morning, as I was starting my coffee, I thought that today would as good a time as any to paint the boys rooms.  Their rooms have the dormers, and the initial plan is just to give them one wall of color, and the rest will get painted a creamy white.  Although after playing on Pinterest, I'm reconsidering this.

So today was the day to add the color.  Connor picked red, Christian picked blue.

Can I just say that red is a really annoying color to work with?  It took twice as much paint as the blue did, and I'm thinking it might get a second coat.

Connor's room before:
I need to remember to warn DP when I put paint samples up on the walls...

Connor's room after:
Christian saw Connor's room and said "I like my blue, but I like Connor's a lot.  It looks like a barn."

Christian's room before:
Christian's room after:

There are a few spots to touch up yet, but the color is up.  I'm debating extending the color around the lower part of the room, leaving the top white.  We'll see after living with it for a while.

I'm not master painter, so instead we're going to go see a real master.  Monet's Waterlilies are on display at the St. Louis Art Museum. 

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Password Peeves

Am I alone in being annoyed by the huge number of passwords that are needed to make it through the day? I need a password for hotmail, Facebook, my work computer, any number of programs at work, the bank account, the kids Nabi and other software that accompanies their electronic toys, this blog, online stores like Amazon or others that we use, iTunes/the Apple app store, online news sites that require registration, and on and on. I've had it. I can't keep them all straight. Every single time I go into the Apple app store I have to reset the password because I can't remember it. Was the fist letter capitalized or not? Did I use an exclamation point? What was it? I've changed more passwords in the last week, I have no idea what's been changed anymore.

Ins and Outs

There are so many of these "What's In and What's Out" for the New Year, but I still find them fun to read.  More and more, as I read them I'm finding that I'm growing less and less aware of what's "in" in pop culture.  Judging by what my boys asked for for Christmas, I'm so out of the loop in terms of what's cool.  I had to google something my almost-four year old was asking for, have him come to the computer and point out exactly what in the world he was talking about. 

I'm so not with it.

(And I'm ok with that.)

Here's the Washington Post's 2012 In/Out List. 

I'm happy to report I know a few of the references on here.  For example, I'm thrilled that Naps make the top of the list.  Sadly, I know I'll never get the time to actually take one.

Also making the "In" side of the list, coupons and Pinterest.  Yay, I know and use both of these.  I'm so with it.

Going "Out" are white vodka, Instagram (I still like using it though), Lobbyists (I was ahead of the curve on this one), and trapeze lessons. 

Wait, whaaaaaat?  No way.  Just because DC has had a couple years of watching TSNY take off shouldn't put it on the "out" list.  It's too fun.  I wish, wish, wish STL had a place where I could get my flying trapeze fix.  It is such fun, such good stress relief, and good exercise.  I suppose it's become too common there in DC now to be considered "IN." 

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Great Gramma

 A family road trip, with the boys chattering nonstop for nearly three hours led to a visit with Great-Gramma.  What a treat!

Naturally, I brought the good camera, but left the battery plugged into the charger at home.  Doh!  So, our opportunity to get good quality pictures was lost, but between the three iPhone cameras that were clicking, there were lots of pictures of Gram and her great-grandsons.

Connor, who is typically camera shy, jumped right onto Gram's lap when I asked him to go sit with her for a picture.  He knows who doles out the treats!

 Then DrewB climbed up for the picture.
 Waiting for Christian, the boys watched the ceiling fan go round and round.
 Finally Christian joined the photo, and Connor decided to start teasing DrewB.
 Oh boy, when these boys get a little older...
 Finally, kisses all around.
We love you Gram!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Top Skylines

Curious about the worlds best skylines? I wasn't either, but here's a fun list of attractive architecture. And no, St. Louis didn't make the list.

Monday, December 26, 2011

The Many Faces of DrewB

Here he is, in all of his chubby-cheeked cuteness.

 Well, yes, wrapping paper is yummy, why do you ask?

 Are you still taking my picture?

 Hey Auntie, that's enough.
 I said...that's enough.
 Well, maybe one or two more.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Christmas Day

Merry Christmas!

We've just returned home from a good day at my parents.  The boys are busy racing remote control cars through the kitchen.  DP and I are worn here are some of the highlights from last night/today.

The boys after church last night.

 Picking out cookies for Santa.
Christmas morning. 

What could this tall thing be?  Christian's guess: A golf set.
 Nope.  A ladder (Yay, we needed one).
 Katie and DrewB
 The boys gave DrewB a tamborine.  He thought it was tasty. (stay tuned for a post on the many faces of Drewb. There are too many cute baby pictures.)

Opa and DrewB
 And, we're tired.
Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

A Not So Silent Night

This is fun--Lego Star Wars are a bit hit in our house.

News Quiz

Do you need to clear your head of the wrapping paper/Christmas planning/gift getting jumble?  Here's a quiz on some of the top news items from 2011, by the Washington Post.

WP 2011 News Quiz.

How'd you do?

Friday, December 23, 2011

Pinterest is Growing

I wasn't at all surprised to see that Pinterest has been named one of the top social networking sites for the year.  It's wildly addictive and fun.  In short, Pinterest is a virtual pinboard, where you can collect everything from recipes to decorating ideas to crafty inspiration to home decor.  It's like back when we would rip pages out of magazines and collect them in folders so that we wouldn't lose an idea--only better.

Be warned though, it will steal your time. 

What To Do With The Kids...

School break is here.  This is new to us.  In DC, we were fortunate to have the boys in a full-day, year-round child development center.  Summers? Holidays? No problem.  We didn't have to think about what we would do for child care during the typical break periods. 

Now? Oh boy.  Let the juggling and stress begin.  The boys are out on Christmas break til January 3.  I have to work a number of those days.  I looked at the school calendar and saw that the spring break happens mid-March.  Another five days I should start thinking about.  And, yikes.  Summer break.  Yikes.

But, if you're in STL, and are looking for some ideas on what to do with the kiddos, here you go

There are a few items on the list that look like fun. Connor would love the Creation Station at the MO Museum of Transportation, both boys would like the Winter Getaway at the History Museum, and who can go wrong with Circus Harmony at the City Museum.

Now, the question is, will there really be time for any of these fun things?

Thursday, December 22, 2011

All is Calm

Today was the first day of the Christmas break for the boys.  Whew.  They started the day with Daddy, then were off to go Christmas Caroling with friends.  Now, they are zonked out--quiet, waiting (well, Christian is waiting, Connor is already asleep) for the Mizzou-Illini basketball game.

A good evening.

Because it's peaceful here, I thought I'd share a little glimpse of Christmas around our house.

Have a peaceful evening!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Boost Your Small Talk

I'll admit, I'm really not the greatest at small talk--particularly if I'm in a setting where I don't know the people I'm with well or am uncomfortable for dome reason. Once I'm feeling at ease its a different story. Compare that to other members of my family who can talk to anyone about anything. My five year old definitely has that personality.

So if you're looking for a boost to your conversations with all those assorted friends and family this Christmas, check out this list of interesting words:

19 Outstanding Words You Should Be Working Into Conversation.

Guaranteed to pique the interest of the folks you're chatting with.

Here are a few examples from the list.

Kummerspeck (German): Excess weight gained from emotional overeating. Literally, grief bacon.

Lawn Mullet: A neatly manicured front yard and an unmowed mess in the back.

The Wheaton: The delightfully geeky Wil Wheaton was one of the first celebs to attract a massive number of followers. When half a million people subscribed to his Tweets, that number was dubbed a Wheaton by John Kovalic. Today, Wil Wheaton actually has about 3.5 Wheatons.

Pretzel-bender: 1. A peculiar person; an eccentric; one who thinks in a round-about manner. 2. A player of the French horn. 3. A wrestler. 4. A heavy drinker; one who frequents bars.

Which words from the list will you work into conversation at Christmas parties?

Growing STL Civic Pride

The STL Convention and Visitors Commission has decided that it needs to help St. Louisian's remember/recognize that STL is a great place to live.  To address provide a local cheerleader for STL, the CVC formed the STL Civic Pride Foundation.

“Many people in our community underestimate the quality of life we enjoy in the St. Louis area. We want to remind them about our region’s unique blend of first-class, yet affordable cosmopolitan amenities and our friendly environment,” Kitty Ratcliffe, president of the CVC, said in a statement.

The Foundation will work to grow civic pride.  It will be interesting to watch how this progresses.  Having lived away from the area for over 12 years, I've found that I appreciate the area much more than when I was growing up.  I hope this effort has success, because STL is a great place to live and we should celebrate that.  

Top Apps for 2011

Here's a fun list of the best apps for iPads/iPhone from 2011:

Macworld's 2011 App Gems Awards 

Several of these look really fun.  In the reading category, The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore looks like an app that my boys will love. 

Both DP and I have used Camera+  for some time.  I like it a lot, but a while back it froze up, and I haven't yet figured out how to fix it so that we can use it again.  In the Hall of Fame category is Instagram, which I love.

Christmas Candlelight

Last night DP and I were able to sneak away to Powell Hall for the Bach Society Christmas Candlelight Concert.  This is a wonderful Christmas tradition here in STL.  The Bach Society was created in 1941, and began the annual Christmas Candlelight Concert shortly thereafter. 

Growing up, my parents took me and my sister to this concert many times.  Now that we're back home, I thought we'd make this a part of our family tradition.  With the stress of the season, it was relaxing to sit in this lovely place and listen to the outstanding music.  What a treat to be able to do this again.

Powell Hall is made for Christmas.  It's such a beautiful place, gold and red and white.

When we came home, this is what I found as I went to kiss the boys goodnight.
I'm sure there's a story to this, but I've not heard it yet.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Speaking of Nutella

DrewB loves it too.  Can't wait to see this little guy on Saturday.  I may have to add Nutella to the Christmas Eve menu.

Monday, December 19, 2011

A Season of Children's Christmas Services

When I was in grade school, we had our big Christmas program on Christmas Eve.  All the classes in the grade school participated, and the church was full of parents and families.  It was all very straightforward: one big kids service, Christmas Eve, 5 pm. (I think it was at 5).  We always had to go to the kids service, then we would go home for a bit, and return to church for the 11 pm service.  As a kid, that was rough.

Now, with the boys, I'm experiencing not one, but at last count four children's Christmas/Advent services.

First up was the Sunday School Christmas program.  Remember that?

Next, came the CCLS Early Childhood Advent Service.  We're new to CCLS this year, with Connor in preschool and Christian in Kindergarten.  We LOVE the school.  But, when you're new to a community, well, you don't know what you don't know.

So last Thursday evening was the ECE (preschool) Advent Service.  It was held at Concordia Lutheran-Kirkwood, one of the CCLS Association churches.  We rolled in about 10 minutes before the service was to begin to find....a packed sanctuary.  Whoa.  I should mention that CCLS has roughly 600 kids from preschool through 8th grade spread over four campuses in the area.  There are a lot of preschoolers.

With second-child syndrome in full force that night, I didn't have Connor dressed "Christmas-y", nor did I remember to bring the good camera.  But, Connor and his classmates did a fabulous job singing "Away in Manager."  Connor sung boldly. (He's in the middle in the yellow and navy shirt).

After the service, he found his teacher.  He's crazy about her.
The next day, was the Kindergarten Christmas program for Christian's class.  This was very sweet.  It was held in the Sanctuary of the Lutheran Church of Webster Gardens.  Because it was only Christian's class, the crowd was more manageable.

Christian was a shepherd.  He's in the middle with the blue dishtowel on his head.  We were told to give the kids a I did.  Had I known all the other shepherds would be coordinated in white dishtowels, I'd have given him a white one.  Costumes are not my thing.

After that program, the kids had a nice party back in their classroom.  This was a really sweet program.

Finally, tonight was the last service of the season (I think...I could be missing something).  This was the CCLS Advent Service.  This involved all K-8 CCLS students.  Again, the service was held at Concordia Kirkwood.

Luckily, a friend had shared with us that this service is even more crowded that the Early Childhood service was.  We were cautioned that if you don't arrive at least 40 minutes or so early, you risk standing through the service.

We arrived about 45 minutes early to find seats, but wow, did the sanctuary fill up fast.  Bring together roughly 450 students, their parents, siblings, various and sundry grandparents and relatives, it filled up fast.  And it got warm.  Really warm.  Connor shed his sweater and developed a nice case of sweathead.

Before the service, Christian and some friends got silly.
These sweet kindergartners...the service started at 7.  I know for our boys, bedtime is roughly 7:45/8 pm.  Christian looked like he could fall asleep, and several of his friends were sleeping.  Unlike most children's services I've experienced, tonight, the K-2d graders sang at the end of the service.  As a result, several of them had to be woken up to sing.

This was a great service.  It was developed by the incomparable Rev. Terry Dittmer, who has such a knack for working with youth.  It's always fun to be in a service that he has a role in shaping.

This was great.  As the finale, Rev. Dittmer led the children and congregation in a praise litany.  It was joyful and fun.  Christian had been looking forward to this all afternoon, particularly the end where the kids blew up and then popped paper bags at the conclusion of the Hallelujah Chorus (kids version). (Christian is hiding out there in the front and center, navy blue sweater).
After the service, we collected our kids from their teachers. Christian was checking things out.
The kids made a joyful noise unto the Lord tonight.  And it was great.

Sunday, December 18, 2011


As of right now, there is only one week til Christmas, three days of school left before the break starts, shopping to start, wrapping to do, babysitters to find, cards to mail, baking to be done, and oh yes, every night this week has something happening, plus five full days of work for me.  I think I might just hide out behind our Christmas tree with a glass of wine and a book.

Yes, the tree is still standing.

So, with everything ahead, of course today was packed.  Church, Sunday School, and then Christian had an indoor soccer game, followed by a birthday party.

The indoor soccer games are fast-paced.  The field is walled in with plexiglass and mesh, giving the spectators a bit of safety from the action.  The action on the field feels much faster and has been more aggressive than what we experienced in outdoor soccer.

Where the parents and other spectators get to sit to watch the action is chaotic and crowded.  There are two sets of bleachers running along the field, with about three feet between the bleachers and the plexiglass.  Because there is only about three and a half minutes between games (this place stacks games back to back all day long), there is a huge crush of people during the last fifteen minutes/first ten minutes of each game.  And then, during the game, people are constantly moving back and forth up and down the field.

Disclosure:  I don't like crowds.  In fact, I can't stand crowds of people.  Especially when the crowd is loud and in constant motion, jostling about.  It makes me tense.  When I get stuck in that kind of environment, all I can think about is how long until I get to escape.  That's how the sidelines of the indoor soccer make me feel.

Here's the pre-game instructions.
Christian's number 7.
 Connor is being silly.

He goes down playing defense.
Hey.  They just knocked me down!

The boys did well today.  They were aggressive, and focused.  Score: Tied, 2-2.