Family Day / Xander’s (early) birthday

Xander's cake & candles

Last Saturday was “Family Day” here at the Mills  household. The three of us spent the entire day together and even celebrated Xander’s 3rd birthday (a bit early).  Since Nick had to leave for his new job in New York on Monday, it was important to us to spend quality time together before being separated for 2 weeks (Xander and I fly up to Syracuse for a long weekend later this month).

it's like Christmas!

The day began with some presents! Xander got some new Thomas the Train toys to add to his collection. He’s a bit obsessed! Since it was a sunny day and in the upper 30s, we decided to venture out to the amazing (free) St. Louis Zoo. Xander had a ball riding the carousel with Daddy, listening to the penguins,  watching the hippos swim, and getting close and personal with the apes. After lunch and after checking out the elephants we were all frozen solid so we headed home. As soon as walked in the door we got a call from our realtor saying we received a contract on house. Unfortunately we couldn’t accept it due to the buyer’s contingency. Oh well….crossing our fingers!

loving on his Daddy

butterfly room!

hello, my name is Xander!

daydreaming?

Xander's silhouette

We rounded out the day with more presents and a little cake and ice cream. Xander loved hearing us sing him Happy Birthday and promptly blew his 3 candles out all by himself. No surprise that he inhaled his chocolate cake and Breyer’s ice cream!! Overall, I think he loved the attention and had a fabulous day!

he's a big boy now!

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St. Louis Museum of Transportation

Xander has a love for all modes of transportation… airplanes, cars, and especially trains! So I thought it was high time we checked out the local Museum of Transportation. If you google Museum of Transportation, the St. Louis Museum will come up first. That’s because St. Louis has the BEST museums! Xander nearly burst with excitement when he saw all the huge trains. Despite the nearly freezing temperatures and gray sky, he skipped and hopped along pointing out all the trains on display outside. They have  a TON! A couple trains can be entered, too, which Xander loved. One train he called ‘the cave’ so he kept telling us: ‘I want the cave!’ Admission to the museum is $4 per person and includes admission to an indoor (less hands-on) car exhibit. It was a great way to spend an hour. Highlights below. All the photos can be viewed on Flickr: http://www.flickr.com/photos/leighuf/sets/72157623089501238/

Train Engine

Xander, the conductor!

the "silver charger"

inside the 'cave'

many of these historic trains were terribly rusted.

Antique Hunting {South County Antique Mall}

I’ve never gone antique ‘hunting.’ I don’t know why, really. Perhaps I always thought antiques=junk. Why would I want some someone else’s beat-up, used, old, smelly piece of home decor? Harsh, I know. But to be perfectly honest, that was my snobby attitude– only something NEW can be chic and stylish and contemporary. But to be perfectly honest, yet again, my wallet and the planet cannot afford my need for interior change. I love change and I love to mix things up in my house. My sense of style is constantly evolving. I still consider myself a contemporary lover, but I enjoy splashes of Hollywood Regency, Traditional, and most recently, vintage. The lovely Tori Spelling (c’mon, I was a huge 90210 fan) labels her style as ‘Modage,’ a combination of Modern & Vintage. I dig that. And I dig her style (just check out her reality show on Oxygen). Pottery Barn’s fall collection is label ‘Vintage’ but uh, it’s NEW stuff. And, uh, I don’t like ANYTHING in their glossy catalogue. What I do like is vintage that’s been updated with high gloss lacquer or antique chairs upholstered in funky patterns. Modage, baby!

So, this weekend, on a whim, I ran over to our local antique mall (across from the hospital where Xander was born). Apparently Missouri has a ton of antique malls and shops, but this one was close and quite large (55,000 sq. feet of stuff). Boy, there definitely was a LOT of ‘junk’– things you’d expect to see on an episode of Hoarders. The mall was divided up into many, many rows of ‘booths.’ Antique dealers rent space in the mall and set up shop, displaying their treasures (and junk). The booths are unmanned so visitors can browse without pressure from sellers. Overall it was a very enjoyable experience! Most sellers arrange their antiques beautifully– cups and saucers lovingly set out on antique cabinets, antique chairs arranged around an antique coffee table with crystal, tear drop chandeliers hanging from the ceiling. I adored all the vintage cooking pots and appliances, the old Life magazines, 1950-esque toys and books, and, my favorite, a 1957 Cadillac white and emerald baby carriage!! But, there were some weird things displayed too– a high-heel shoe chair, bizarre bar lights, military submarine shells, horribly tacky ‘art’ and an array of metal junk (not sure what it even was?!).

Here are some photos from my first Antique Hunting trip last weekend. These were taken with my camera phone, so I apologize for the poor quality!

Note: I came out empty handed, but I did LOVE the refinished antique white dresser. It had a SOLD sign on it, but it gave me inspiration for a future Craigslist find.

love how the hardware was painted white too!

love how the hardware was painted white too!

baby carriage

baby carriage

Ronald McDonald Chucky Doll

Ronald McDonald Chucky Doll

anyone want a bomb?

anyone want a bomb?

or perhaps a piece of art depicting a snaggletooth drunk?

or perhaps a piece of art depicting a snaggletooth drunk?

Ill leave you with something pretty. This piece is EXACTLY what I envisioned as a little girl when I first read The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.

I'll leave you with something pretty. This piece is EXACTLY what I envisioned as a little girl when I first read The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.

Xander at the Butterfly House

This past weekend, we went to the Butterfly House, a division of the Missouri Botanical Garden, for their annual Bug Hunt festivities. Xander loved looking at all the pretty flowers, the ugly bugs/spiders, and the millions of colorful butterflies. Here’s a little video of Xander inside the Butterfly House.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

more about “Xander at the Butterfly House on Flic…“, posted with vodpod

The Mills do Rib Fest

Over the holiday weekend the Mills headed downtown to feast at the 2009 Rib America Festival. As usual, we opted to arrive before 1pm to enjoy free admission to the event. I believe that is critical because feasting on finger-licking good ribs ain’t cheap… especially at this festival (full slab was $30!). As we approached the festival the sweet smell of grilling got our hungry pains singing! This year’s event featured approximately 10 award-winning rib teams from all over the United States… we ended up choosing a Texas based team for our meal. We walked by every tent, looking at their menu and their ribs cooking on the grills. Choosing a tent wasn’t easy! But, in the end, I ordered a half slab of ribs and Nick selected a sampler meal of ribs, pulled pork, beans, and Texas toast. YUM! The festival also boasted a main stage for bands and a variety of game tents. There was a cute little kids game tent where EVERYONE is a winner. Basically, Xander just had to pick up a duck out of a pool of moving ducks. So, he won! And won and won. He selected a huge blowup St. Louis Cardinals bat as his prize. He made all passingby children very jealous. 🙂

Busy, busy…

Whew… it’s been a busy summer. We’ve had a vacation to Florida, a 5k race, out-of-towners, parties, get-togethers at our house, volleyball tournaments, projects, work functions, and unexpected doctor visit… I seriously don’t think we’ve had an entire weekend at home alone with nothing to do since early April! I love staying busy so I am not complaining. I just fear winter when I know everything will slow down. Or will it?

I think things have gotten busier as we’ve become more adjusted to Saint Louis. We’re actually planting roots here. To refresh the memories of those you who don’t remember or those of you who don’t know, Nick and I move a lot. We lived in Jacksonville, FL for 28 months (at 2 different addresses) and New Hampshire for 20 months. This month we’ve officially lived in Saint Louis for 3 year years (36 months)! That’s the longest I’ve lived anywhere since my home in Orlando (1st grade through high school). There was a point in my life when I could go anywhere (the grocery store, blockbuster, Disney World, the movies) and I would inevitably see SOMEONE I knew. Anyway. Ok yes, I lived in Gainesville for 4 years during college but I had 4 different addresses there. So it doesn’t count. We’ve become friends with our neighbors here… I mean, you KNOW you’re friends with the neighbors when they go out of their way to pick you up at a bar and drive you 15 miles to another bar. (Yea, we’re cheap and didn’t want to call a taxi. So who do you call? THE NEIGHBOR!) We’ve also become friends with Nick’s work associates like we do in every town we’ve lived in. Except this time, we’re staying. I guess that’s the problem with moving a lot (and moving out of state): you make friends and then leave them.  The friendship doesn’t have roots so you make them, then loose them for the most part. There are exceptions, though. In addition, we look forward to annual things here in Saint Louis like February’s Mardi Gras or Bud’s Family Day, Gator Club’s 1st Game of Football, October’s Apple Butter Festival, Pumpkin Picking at Eckert’s, etc.

So, in short… we’re loving life here in the Midwest. It’s nice to plant roots again, especially now that we have Xander in our lives. I wouldn’t mind if we stayed here for many more years. And FYI, there are many weekends in September and only a couple in October that are open and free. I do believe there are a handful of readers out there who’ve never made a trip out to the Gateway City yet!

hint, hint! 🙂

I just ran my 1st 5k race!!

I can now cross-off “Run a 5K” off my “100-Things-To-Do-Before-I-Die” list. Yes, I have one of those lists. ‘Get married,’ ‘Have a baby’,  and ‘Go zip-lining,’ have been crossed off already. I’m still working on ‘visit all 7 continents,’  ‘learn to scuba dive’, ‘live in another country’ etc. I started training for my 1st 5K in April. Xander has enjoyed his daily runs in the jogging stroller, watching the passing cars and playing peek-a-book with the stroller’s sunshade.  Jogging with Xander isn’t easy, I find it difficult to push his 22 lb body and the stroller up the steep hills near our house. I burn extra calories that way, but I’m not helping my ‘time.’ Anyway, I felt ready and energized for this weekend’s 5k.

I chose to participate in the Susan J. Komen Race for the Cure with the Anheuser-Busch group. As many of you know, my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer in May so the race had extra meaning for me. I ran for you Mom! So, Nick, Xander, and I got up early and drove downtown this morning. Anheuser chartered buses from the brewery to the middle of the race activities, plus they handed out free water and 180 energy drinks. NICE! They even had a Clydesdale out for photographs. Xander kept calling the horse a ‘dog.’ It was funny. Anyway, the race itself was packed with spectators, racers, walkers, and survivors (who wore solid pink shirts). The news said that this year the event expected over 70,000 people!! And, I believe it! The first 1/4 of a mile was shoulder-to-shoulder and it was impossible for me to actually ‘run.’ But, I managed to weave around the walkers and strollers. It was great to see all the spectators lining the streets, holding out their hands to give you a high-five as you ran by. Local businesses stood on the sidelines handing out water and cheering the runners/walkers on. Bands were playing, cheerleaders yelling, and local radio stations encouraging everyone. There were ‘mist’ stations along the way which was nice since there were 0 clouds in the sky and the sun was fierce. I’m proud to say I ran the entire 5k and I finished under 30 minutes even with the slow start. Nick & Xander were waiting for me at the finish line.  It was a lot of fun and I hope to do it again next year!

Here’s a blurb on the race from the Komen website:

 One in eight women will be stricken with breast cancer in her lifetime. The Komen St. Louis Race for the Cure® raises money to fund education, screening and treatment programs for these women and thousands of others in our own community and supports the national search for a cure.

  The Komen Race for the Cure® Series is the largest series of 5K run/ walks in the world. Since its origination in Dallas in 1983, the Komen Race for the Cure® Series has grown from one local race with 800 participants to an international series of 117 races with more than 1.3 million participants.

To search for upcoming Race for the Cure events in your city, click HERE. Orlando and Cleveland have their annual race coming up later this year. I encourage anyone and everyone to sign up, even if you decide to just walk the fun 1-mile.