Saturday, June 18, 2016

St. Louis 2016


We were all so excited to tag along with Dan to this year's annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention.  It was held in St. Louis, and we tacked an extra day on for family fun!

We've traveled a lot with the kids since they were babies,
and our main rule of travel is that there are no rules!
Thus, they were eating candy and watching movies by 8:30 a.m.  :)
I'm very particular about their screen time and what they eat 99% of the time,
but I totally blow it off when we are traveling,
and they think that is the most fun ever!
I hope it's one of the things they'll remember.

Alas, Tucker ate a wee bit too much candy,
and the back roads of Mississippi almost got the better of him.
Digize to the rescue - he was back to normal within 10 minutes,
and asking if he could have more candy!



We made it to Memphis and stopped there for the night,
splurging and spending a big chunk of our vacation budget on a night at the Peabody!

Oh I LOVE their excitement at hotel rooms!  

We arrived just in time for the ducks to make their famous walk to the elevator!

As soon as the ducks hit the elevator,
we made a beeline for the best ribs on the planet.


The next morning we had a slow, easy start

and wandered over to a great little brunch place

 

where the locals eat.
It's our favorite kind of place.

After brunch, we went to the top of the Peabody to look at the city and visit with the ducks before heading on to Missouri.
Peace out, Memphis!  We loved ya!

We arrived in St. Louis and were blown away by our hotel!
When we made reservations, all the hotels within walking distance of the convention center were already booked, so we had to go a bit farther away from downtown to find a hotel with a convention rate.  We got a STEAL on the Union Station hotel.  While we had to ride the Metro in to the conference every day, it was so worth it to stay in this treat of a hotel!



Every night they had a laser show on the ceiling in the lobby - what a magical treat!

Speaking of magical treats, my dear friend Liz had one sent to our hotel room.
The expression on my children's faces says it all.  We are so blessed.

 We settled in to the hotel room right away,
and the kids made themselves at home while we unpacked.


 After being in the car for 2 days, we let the kids swim to their hearts' content,
and ordered pizza for dinner by the pool.
I loved St. Louis' style thin crust pizza, and could have eaten it every night!

Can we just talk about how much I love this age?!
Traveling with babies and toddlers is so hard.
Their sleep is disrupted,
no one rests well...it's just hard.  
Or at least it was with mine.
It's quite the opposite now that they're older!

I love this little shot I got of hotel life one morning.
Dan was out late with the college students who were there as well,
and so we tried to let him sleep in a bit on the mornings we could.
(By sleep in, I mean past 6:30, ha!)
I taught the kids how to make a pallet near the door and read by the light of the bathroom.
So precious!  They curled up in their nests and read their books until their daddy woke.

Is there anything better than watching cartoons and eating breakfast in bed on vacation?
I think not.

We got off to a quick start our first full day in St. Louis, though,
and headed to the Arch to be there as soon as it opened.

We loved driving through the beautiful downtown area of St. Louis,
and imagine our delight when we crossed Tucker Blvd!


We didn't watch a game while we were in town,
but it was cool to be so close to the stadium.

The Arch is absolutely beautiful to behold.




The whole time, I was so excited to go to the top,
but as we approached it, my fear of heights got the better of me.
My hands got clammy, I felt nauseated and dizzy,
I thought there was no way I could make myself get to the top.
Oils to the rescue again!
I had not yet tried this "Liquid Chill" recipe,
but I brought it along,
and within seconds after applying it,
my heart rate slowed, my head cleared, 
and I had no trouble getting in the capsule:

I could even join in the jokes: we're going down!

I am SO, SO glad I made it up!
It was absolutely beautiful,
and I would have been so sad to miss that experience with my family.
 

The next day, the Pastor's Conference before the annual meeting began.

While it added a step to our journey back and forth each day,
the kids loved riding the Metro,
and there was a stop right around the corner from our hotel and the convention center.

He really loved it when it went fast.  Such a boy!

There is a children's program that we had never used before,
and WOW we were so impressed and thankful!

It's in the same building, making it super easy and safe to leave the kids,
and they had an absolute fantastic time!
One day they missed it because we went with the college kids to SIX FLAGS,
and Tucker was super bummed, if that tells you anything!
We will absolutely be doing that again.

OK, I have to confess.
I love the SBC annual meeting.
Love it.

I love the worship and the preaching and the encouragement
 
My very favorite sermon this year was delivered by David Platt.
I've gone back and listened to it again numerous times.

I love the panel discussions and luncheons and reports
even when we have to discuss and make decisions about hard things:

I love meeting up with old friends,
like Robby from Los Angeles

I love sitting beside pastors who are old enough to be my grandfather.
Worshipping beside this one made me cry tears of joy.
He held his hands all the way to the sky and sang
And on that day when my strength is failing
the end draws near, and my time has come
Still my soul will sing Your praise unending,
Ten thousand years and then forevermore.
I love knowing that he's spent His life in service the Lord
and is worshipping right up until the end.

I love Convention.
I love it all.
We soak up every second, and wear our kids (and ourselves!) slap out.
 

They were such troupers.
They slept like angels,
and woke up with great attitudes to do it all over again!

Those of you who know our children well,
know that they sleep in dark rooms, with room darkening shades,
and a white noise sound machine.
We don't play about sleep.
Just so you have an idea about how tired they were,
this is them asleep with lights on, sound machines off,
and Dan and I getting ready for the day.
Bless them.


Don't feel too bad for them: we took breaks to eat some fantastic food.
Mission Taco Joint served some of the best food we had in the city...
and maybe in any city.

It was full of locals,
but their taco of the month made us think
they knew the Southern Baptists were in town. :)

Oh the FOOD.
Best guac I've ever had.
If I ever go back, I'm only ordering guacamole.  By the vat.

The food was superb, and the service was even better.
Tucker spotted a bell in the rafters, and it was all he could talk about.
The waiter made his day by letting him ring it:

We made a stop along the way at Park Avenue Coffee
for some ooey gooey cake ,
rumored to have been created in St. Louis.
It did not disappoint!

Our only food fail was Bailey's Range.
We have foodie friends who insisted we go,
assuring us that we would have the best burger of our life.
Too bad it was closed!

I mentioned earlier that our college students were in St. Louis, as well.
They were there doing mission work in the city,
with the great hope of the southern baptists being that 
we wouldn't just consume in the city where our meeting is,
but that we would be a blessing as well.
They had worked so hard doing mission projects all week,
so we joined them to celebrate at Six Flags before they left!

When I tell you this crew was so precious to my kids,
it's an understatement.
They let them tag along and do every thing and waited while Tucker rode little kid rides and even rode them with him if they could.  I love them more every minute I'm with them.

After the annual meeting was over, and the college students headed for home,
we spent one more day in St. Louis to visit the infamous zoo!
It's free, and beautiful....and it was very, very hot.
I'm sure it's magical in the spring or fall,
or when you're not so exhausted you could die, lol.
We stayed the better part of a day, though,
and can say that it really is a remarkable zoo!

this squirrel spotted us and just laid down completely flat.
We've never seen one do that before!


zebras!

You can believe we didn't let them get too close to this enclosure.

We LOVED the sea lion show!

Well, most of us did.

Tucker's only request was to ride the carousel!


Lana couldn't wait to touch the stingrays.
You can see that little brother is having none of that.
 

There was a great little water feature tucked back in part of the zoo.
Tucker was thrilled that we let him play with his clothes on!

Her sense of humor is too funny to me.

You can see where she gets it from!  Ha!

St. Louis Zoo, you were pretty spectacular!

We managed to sneak in a quick trip to Ikea before the trip was done:

And less you think we were all smiles all the time,
I present to you the end of the week, exhausted meltdown:

We had planned to stop in Nashville for the night on the way home,
and enjoy a day there,
but we were so tired and ready to be home
that we just kept driving on through.
We made it to Birmingham before we had to stop,
enjoyed a meal (and some showing off) at Cracker Barrel,
and made it home by midday Saturday.

Team Davis had a fantastic time, 
learned so much,
and have thoroughly enjoyed being together every minute for 10 days.

There are no other people on the planet I could say that about.
They're honestly my favorites in all the world.

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