Lucky Mama

 

 

Fun at Grant’s Farm

Posted by on Jul 31, 2014 in Alaina, family, Featured, Lucky Mama, vacation | 5 comments

NOTE: This is a compensated post. However, all opinions in this post belong to me (and my family!)

 

This past week, the Chase family loaded up the car and headed to St. Louis. We were a family on a mission: to visit Grant’s Farm, which is celebrating its 60th anniversary of being open to the public.

Grant’s Farm is owned by the Busch family of Anheuser-Busch fame. In 1954, the family decided to open up the 281-acre wildlife preserve to the public. Admission to Grant’s Farm is free — yay! There are charges for various attractions and parking ($12); however, a family on a budget can spend the day at Grant’s Farm pretty cheaply!

This was the line to get into the park and onto a tram

This was the line to get into the park and onto a tram

My first tip for an enjoyable day at Grant’s Farm — arrive early, especially if the Polar Vortex that has been hovering over the Midwest and South provides an 82 degree day in July! Grant’s Farm is a great place to visit when the weather is sunny and mild — and St. Louis natives know this!

So if the weather is this abnormally gorgeous (it was still in the 70s at 10:30 a.m.!!!) — show up when the park opens at 9 a.m.

You can’t bring outside food and beverages into the park, but you can consume them in the parking lot. So if the line is long, bring your bottled water with you and drink it while you wait! :)

Also, the Budweiser Clydesdale Stables are actually at the far end of the parking lot and not in the park itself. So we went to see them first!

I admit it, I always love the SuperBowl Clydesdale commercials. So it was pretty cool to get a family photo with Evan, who was in the 2006 one — he was the little guy! We also got to pet Evan before the photo. :)

The Chase family and Evan

The Chase family and Evan

That photo package was the most expensive souvenir we bought at the park. It was $30 for a 5X7, a 4X6, 2 wallets, some magnetic frames and a digital copy, which one of the park workers immediately sent to my email.

I admit that family photos are one of my weaknesses. I tend to always buy these sorts of photo packages at places because I want a picture of the whole family together. In doing so, I’ve gotten some duds, but I thought this one turned out particularly well.

We toured the stables and got to pet more horses, one of whom was just the sweetest boy ever. He was just made to interact with kids. I really wish I could remember that horse’s name, but at least I got his picture!

Alaina makes a new friend

Alaina makes a new friend

Anyone can walk around the public part of the stables for free, which is what we did. If you want to go behind-the-scenes, there is an 1.5 hour walking tour that costs $25 a person. One of the workers told us the  paid tour includes the photo package.

This behind-the-scenes tour provides an in-depth look at what it takes for our horses to make the hitch and become a Budweiser Clydesdale.  Guests will tour our stables while gaining an inside look into Clydesdale Operations, the training process, and daily maintenance of our iconic horses.  Be sure to bring your camera, because guests will be allowed to meet and interact with one of our retired hitch geldings!

– From the website

I thought the hour-and-half walking tour might be too much for Alaina right now, but I have it as a definite possibility for our next trip to St. Louis. If the tour is something you’re interested in, some of the workers in the gift shop advised booking your spots online ahead of time. As we saw when we arrived, the spots do sell out.

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Matt and Alaina in front of an Anheuser-Busch wagon

Me and Alaina in front of the wagon

Me and Alaina in front of the wagon

Matt and Alaina pose with a plastic horse

Matt and Alaina pose with a plastic horse

Pretty horse

Pretty horse

Horses eating

Horses eating

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So after we toured the stables, we then stood in line for the tram. While in line, we wondered if we could skip the tram and just walk on in. The answer to that question is no — and we realized why a little while later.

Once we got on the tram, it took us for a tour of the Deer Preserve part of Grant’s Farm. Deer Park is home to animals from 6 of the 7 continents (sorry Antarctica!) The animals, which include bison, antelope, red deer and others, are allowed to roam free* in this part of the preserve. Hmm, there goes the hoofing it on in to the park idea. :)

IMG_4599 IMG_4605 IMG_4610* The ostriches are in an enclosure because they’re pretty territorial and will run off anything that enters their neck of the woods.

 

 

Also seen on the tram ride is Grant’s Cabin.

For those of you who might be wondering, yes, Grant’s Farm is named after our nation’s 18th president, Ulysses S. Grant. The land was owned by his wife’s family, the Dents. After Grant married Julia Dent, he was given 80 acres of the family’s land as a wedding gift. Years later, he built Hardscrabble, doing most of the work himself. The couple only lived there a few months before moving back into the main house following the death of Julia’s mother.

The cabin was shown at the World’s Fair in 1904. August Busch Sr. purchased it in 1907 and moved it back to the Busch estate.

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Grant’s Cabin

For those interested in learning more about our 18th president, the Ulysses S. Grant National Historical Site is right next to Grant’s Farm.

The tram drops you off in the Tier Garden, which is what I’d consider the main part of the park. That is where the elephants, camels, zebras, llamas, alpacas, kangaroos, wallabys, lemurs, goats, and tons of birds are.

This is where the Grant’s Farm Fun Park Pass comes into play. For $5, it gets you a snow cone, a ride on the carousel and 2 goat bottles. I highly recommend this pass for any family visiting the park, especially those on a budget.

For us, the highlight of the park pass was feeding the goats. I thought they were adorable. Matt contends they were from the devil. (just kidding) Either way, stick close to small children because the goats can be a little aggressive going for the bottles, especially near the entrance.

This goat was getting any crumbs dropped outside the pen

This goat was getting any crumbs dropped outside the pen

This is the goat I fed

This is the goat I fed. He was pretty sweet.

Matt's goats were a little more aggressive. They WANTED that milk!

Matt’s goats were a little more aggressive. They WANTED that milk!

Alaina enjoyed petting the calmer goats

Alaina enjoyed petting the calmer goats

These were the lazy goats :)

These were the lazy goats :)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The snow cone was also a hit! We didn’t get to ride the carousel — but we made up for it with another kind of ride. ;)

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Yum, grape snow cone!

Be sure you check out the shows while you’re in the Tier Garden. We enjoyed the Animal Encounters one — the birds really get a chance to shine!

Gorgeous snowy owl

Gorgeous snowy owl

The pig was playing fetch

The pig was playing fetch

A beautiful macaw in flight

A beautiful macaw in flight

The porcupine

The porcupine

A red-tailed hawk

A red-tailed hawk

These kids were part of the Rat Race -- no seriously, a rat ran up their arms and across their backs

These kids were part of the Rat Race — seriously, a rat ran up their arms and across their backs

A bald eagle

A bald eagle

The bald eagle was simply gorgeous

The bald eagle was simply gorgeous

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Next up, we checked out the rest of the park and all of the animals.

A wallaby

A wallaby

Gray kangaroo

Gray kangaroo

Red kangaroo

Red kangaroo

African elephant

African elephant

Alaina and the elephants

Alaina and the elephants

Macaws

Macaws

Alaina feeds a llama

Alaina feeds a llama

Zebras

Zebras

 

Alaina poses with a camel

Alaina poses with a camel

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Speaking of camels, Grant’s Farm also offers camel rides for $5 a person. Matt and Alaina rode one together. Alaina said the camel ride was her favorite part of the day. Who can blame her? It isn’t every day that one gets to ride a camel — talk about a great memory!

Alaina and Matt on the camel

Alaina and Matt on the camel

Look at that smile!

Look at that smile!

There is one more thing you need to do before you leave Grant’s Farm — feed the parakeets! This is another fun experience for the family on a budget. For $1 you can purchase a feeding stick, which lasts a lot longer than you might think. It takes the birds quite a bit of time to eat off two big chunks of bird feed. In fact, if your children are small, you might let two of them share a stick. They may be tired of the whole feeding bit before the food is gone.

When entering the parakeet enclosure, be prepared that the birds may not just alight on your stick. They may climb on your arm, perch on your shoulder or hang out on your head. They really liked Matt. :)

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These two birds enjoyed the bird food

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Alaina didn’t want to hold the stick

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The white bird wasn’t leaving the stick

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There were tons of birds in the enclosure

 

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Matt had four climbing on him at once — three on his back and one on his arm

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Also be warned, the parakeets are LOUD!

Once we finished off our brats at the Bauernhof, (yup, they sell brats and offer complimentary beer) we jumped back on the tram, which took us back to the main entrance and a gift shop. It was then back to the hotel for us because we were seriously tired!

So that was our trip to Grant’s Farm! Can you tell that we had a blast?

Alaina with Maddie the Clydesdale

Alaina with Maddie the Clydesdale

Orange You Lovely 2014

Posted by on Jul 28, 2014 in Featured, Lucky Mama, multiple sclerosis | 1 comment

Saturday was the 2nd annual Orange You Lovely MS Fashion show. Once again, 312 Boutique in Benton agreed to provide clothing, jewelry and shoes for the models! YAY!

This time, we went out to Saline County and walked a runway at the Benton Event Center. It was a wonderful facility!

And wow, did we have an incredible silent auction! I was thrilled to go home with a beautiful hand-crocheted afghan made by my friend, Rachel! She let me come pick out one of her handmade afghans for the auction — I loved the one I picked out so much that I had to win it. No one else stood a chance. :)

So many thanks to the ladies on the committee who planned the whole shebang — Marla, Judith, Tonya H., Sheena, Jennifer and of course, Lisa! What are we doing next year? ;)

Alaina gets her model pose on

Alaina gets her model pose on

Alaina practices on the runway

Alaina practices on the runway

Yes, that is 7 on Your Side's Jason Pederson -- he is an awesome emcee

Yes, that is 7 on Your Side’s Jason Pederson — he is an awesome emcee

Jenn didn't know she was getting an award -- SURPRISE!

Jenn didn’t know she was getting an award — SURPRISE!

Nick congratulates his gorgeous wife

Nick congratulates Jenn, his gorgeous wife

Julie didn't know she was getting an award either! Are we sneaky or what?

Julie didn’t know she was getting an award either! Are we sneaky or what?

Marla gets sassy on the runway

Marla gets sassy on the runway

Channing, Marla's daughter, struts her stuff! Tonya from 312 is in the background.

Channing, Marla’s daughter, struts her stuff! Tonya from 312 is in the background.

Cindi is all smiles

Cindi is all smiles

Christina and her beautiful girls

Christina and her beautiful girls

Alaina for MS awareness

Alaina for MS awareness

Jenn and me

Jenn and me

Matt, Alaina and me

Matt, Alaina and me

Our gorgeous models

Our gorgeous models

Summer Sidewalk Sale

Posted by on Jul 16, 2014 in Lucky Mama, The Promenade at Chenal | 1 comment

Just wanted to make sure you’ve heard about the Summer Sidewalk Sale at The Promenade at Chenal.

Did someone say sale?!? Yippee! I do so love a good sale! :)

The sidewalk sale starts Friday and runs through Sunday.

Participating merchants include Apricot Lane Boutique, Belle & Blush, Crazy 8, DSW, Gearhead Outfitters, Indigo, Just Dogs! Gourmet, Paul’s Shoes, Strippaggio Olive Oil & Vinegars, W by Azwell and Warren’s Shoes. For more info about the deals being offered, go here.

Also, from 11 a.m – 4 p.m. Friday-Sunday, YaYa’s Euro Bistro will offer some sweet treats to sample, face painting for kids AND have prizes for you to Enter to Win!

 

NOTE: This is a compensated post. However, all opinions are mine.

Wordless Wednesday

Posted by on Jul 16, 2014 in Lucky Mama, Music/concerts, video, Wordless Wednesday | 0 comments

A little something for my fellow grammar/editing nerds.

Bless you, Weird Al. Bless you.

“You don’t have to try so hard”

Posted by on Jul 14, 2014 in Alaina, body image, Lucky Mama, Music/concerts, musings | 4 comments

Colbie Caillat’s latest song, “Try,” is another one of those songs that I wish I could just play for Alaina and thousands of other little girls every day to combat all of the negative gender images that they are exposed to every single day.

And maybe if I listened to it every single day with my little girl, I’d actually be able to put some of my own body image demons to rest. Wouldn’t that be something?

Take a listen (and a read, the lyrics are provided below) — what do you think?

 

 

Put your make-up on
Get your nails done
Curl your hair
Run the extra mile
Keep it slim so they like you, do they like you?

Get your sexy on
Don’t be shy, girl
Take it off
This is what you want, to belong, so they like you
Do you like you?

You don’t have to try so hard
You don’t have to, give it all away
You just have to get up, get up, get up, get up
You don’t have to change a single thing

You don’t have to try, try, try, try
You don’t have to try, try, try, try
You don’t have to try, try, try, try
You don’t have to try
Yooou don’t have to try

Oooh
Oooh

Get your shopping on, at the mall, max your credit cards
You don’t have to choose, buy it all, so they like you
Do they like you?

Wait a second,
Why, should you care, what they think of you
When you’re all alone, by yourself, do you like you?
Do you like you?

You don’t have to try so hard
You don’t have to, give it all away
You just have to get up, get up, get up, get up
You don’t have to change a single thing

You don’t have to try so hard
You don’t have to bend until you break
You just have to get up, get up, get up, get up
You don’t have to change a single thing

You don’t have to try, try, try, try
You don’t have to try, try, try, try
You don’t have to try, try, try, try
You don’t have to try

You don’t have to try, try, try, try
You don’t have to try, try, try, try
You don’t have to try, try, try, try
You don’t have to try
Yooou don’t have to try

Oooh
Oooh

You don’t have to try so hard
You don’t have to, give it all away
You just have to get up, get up, get up, get up
You don’t have to change a single thing

You don’t have to try, try, try, try
You don’t have to try, try, try, try
You don’t have to try
You don’t have to try

Take your make-up off
Let your hair down
Take a breath
Look into the mirror, at yourself
Don’t you like you?
Cause I like you

Tree fallin’

Posted by on Jul 10, 2014 in home repair, Lucky Mama, misc. | 4 comments

OK, so that is probably a bad play on a Tom Petty song, but the tree is indeed fallin’.

Here’s hoping it will be a controlled fall since we have professionals assisting the tree on its descent and not an uncontrolled fall, which is what would have happened in some storm if we hadn’t hired a crew to take down our beloved (and now half dead) oak tree.

A little back story is probably in order — when Matt and I purchased our home in 2007, one of the things we loved most about the house was the backyard. It was this little oasis in the city and it had this beautiful oak tree that shaded the yard and the back side of the house.

It probably should have occurred to us that such a lush oasis would probably require someone who was a halfway decent gardener to keep it pretty, but that is a post for another day.

Our tree suffered mightily in the summer of 2012′s severe heat and drought. It dropped all of its leaves and we worried it wasn’t going to make it. But we started watering it nightly and it seemed to pull out of it.

But this May, a large piece of bark fell off the tree. A couple of weeks later, Matt noticed a big crack.

A big crack

A big crack

Matt pointed out the crack to me, and we started discussing the need to find someone to bring down the tree.

It seemed like a project for the summer, but probably not too urgent.

Then we noticed the mold on the tree. It seemingly appeared overnight — and we thought that can’t be good.

Nope, nothing creepy about white mold growing on a very large branch.

Nope, nothing creepy about white mold growing on a very large branch. That’s doesn’t signify massive tree deadness at all.

So we came to the conclusion that our tree was coming down with or without our help.

Even half dead, you can still tell what a pretty tree it was.

Even half dead, you can still tell what a pretty tree it was.

 

We decided that we really didn’t want the tree to fall on our house — or our neighbor’s — so we started calling tree services.

Let me tell you, it is not cheap to get a large oak tree taken down. It becomes even less cheap when all of the tree service guys realize they can’t get their large equipment (like a crane) into our backyard to help with the process. Estimates of $1200-$1500 came in — and that was just to take it down. Getting it out of the backyard and to the street would bring the cost up to $3200, one guy told us.

OH MY WORD! Matt and I started to be really glad we had already decided on a staycation this year because it became very obvious any vacay money was going to the tree.

Then a friend mentioned she knew a guy who ran a tree service. We called Luke at JLM Servicing. Needless to say, his prices were very competitive, so we hired him.

Last night, he and his tree climber were out before dusk to get started on the project.

Big branches coming down

Big branches coming down

Lots of branches to cut

Lots of branches to cut

This morning, they’re already hard at work. And the power company just showed up to drop our power line (which you can has branches hanging directly over it) so it won’t be pulled out of the wall.

By the time I get home from work, our beautiful oak tree will be in pieces. I’m pretty sad to lose such a gorgeous tree — and all of that wonderful shade. :(

But with all of our recent thunderstorms, I’m going to be pretty relieved to no longer have to worry about that tree coming down on the house.

The Star-Spangled Banner

Posted by on Jul 4, 2014 in holidays, Lucky Mama | Comments Off

I love this version of the “The Star-Spangled Banner,” as performed by past and current members of Acappella and past members of AVB.

I thought I would share it with all of y’all on the 4th of July. Happy Independence Day!

The Skittles Song

Posted by on Jul 2, 2014 in Alaina, Lucky Mama | Comments Off

Apparently Alaina loves Skittles. In fact, the loves them so much that she has composed an ode to that fruity, delicious candy.

I really can’t put into words how stinkin’ adorable it is. :)

A Ghost Did It

Posted by on Jun 30, 2014 in Lucky Mama, Random Stuff, video | Comments Off

Have you seen this absolutely hilarious video on YouTube? A little girl tries to convince her mom that a ghost drew on the fish tank.

Mom isn’t buying it.

BUT the little girl may have a future as a lawyer.

 

 

 

Wordless Wednesday: High-flying edition

Posted by on Jun 25, 2014 in Alaina, birthday, family, Lucky Mama | 6 comments

We celebrated Marlee’s birthday on Sunday at Altitude Trampoline Park. Much fun was had by all. :)

 

Alaina and Matt bouncing

Alaina and Matt bouncing

Alaina and Marlee

Alaina and Marlee

Another little girl thought Alaina and I were having a lot of fun, so she joined us!

Another little girl thought Alaina and I were having a lot of fun, so she joined us!

Alaina gets her jump on

Alaina gets her jump on

Grandpa Glen and Alaina -- one of the employees quickly came over and told them they had to be standing on the trampolines, not crawling on them. -- Busted!

Grandpa Glen and Alaina — one of the employees quickly came over and told them they had to be standing on the trampolines, not crawling on them. — Busted!

Alaina climbs out of the foam pit

Alaina climbs out of the foam pit

Even Grandpa Glen got in on the foam pit action!

Grandpa gets ready to flip

Grandpa gets ready to flip

Nice form, Grandpa!

Nice form, Grandpa!

The hardest part was getting out of the foam pit!

The hardest part was getting out of the foam pit!