Let me give you a little history of our trips:
2007 - We head to Omaha, NE (we were living in Overland Park, KS at the time). Why, you ask? They have a wonderful zoo. We also found a children's museum that was good for the ten and under crowd. I think five moms, one grandma and 11 kids went on this trip. One of our kids throws up in hotel's indoor pool and closes the pool for 24 hours. That leaves 11 kids terrorizing a hotel with one our family's getting a call with a threat of being kicked out because her little one kept jumping on the bed and the people below complained. At the zoo, as we exited this awesome "swamp" area that was dark and had all kinds of bugs, owls, bats and stuff roaming around, my friend Robyn points at CJ and starts screaming. My reaction? Start screaming. She finally blurts out "BUG!" and runs away. I had CJ out of his stroller and down to his underwear in seconds flat, with the help of a stranger. He just stood there staring at both of us wondering why the hell I and a perfect stranger stripped him to his undies in the middle of a zoo exhibit. I emptied the stroller, bags, etc. with no bug to be found. We laughed all day about that and still laugh to this day. Robyn swears it was a hissing cockroach or similar bug crawling on CJ's leg.
2008 - We had moved back to Ohio so we met the KS families in St. Louis. Six moms and 12 kids. We had a vomiter again and also experienced tornadoes that forced us to take cover inside the City Museum. Hardest part was we had no clue where many of the kids were within the museum and we had to track them down. For more details of that trip and to see last year's pictures go HERE. (Don't worry, I won't be upset if you don't go!)
2009 - We go to St. Louis again. This year there were five moms, one grandma and 14 kids. Yowza.
St. Louis Arch was on for the first day. Check - no major happenings. About midnight that night, I get up to set the alarm on my phone and check a text message and discover a bug on my pillow. Kill it, blood spurts on the pillow case. Hhhmmm...odd. I've never seen a bug do that before. Little did I know it had been feasting on me or Sous Chef. As I go to get a new pillow, I notice a bug on the turned down bedspread. One bug, eh, two bugs, something is wrong. I call one of my friends who had a friend with bedbugs in her home thanks to carrying a few home on some luggage. She came up and confirmed that "Oh my god, those are bed bugs!" She checked under the mattress and there was another and some feces, too. She showed me, I fainted. Ok, not really. Instead I called the front desk, explained I was leaving due to bedbugs and that I wanted to make sure my credit card would not be charged. The guy at the desk didn't seem phased and wanted to know "if I would like another room?" Um, HELL NO! I"m out of here. Pack everything up, wake up kids, make them wear their PJs, leave the air mattress behind because there's no way on God's green earth I am taking that bug infested thing with me and off we go. CJ kept saying, pretty much in his sleep since it's about 1:00AM now, "Why can't I wear any pants?" He was in a t-shirt, underwear and shoes. We found a very nice hotel next door, did NOT mention any bedbugs for fear of being denied entrance and checked in. I inspected everyone head to toe before I let them get settled and I stayed up until 2:30AM going through every article of clothing and all of our luggage. I ended up washing everything twice before even checking out to come home. Once home, I left all of our stuff in the driveway and only brought it in to put it directly into the washer here. I'm sure my snotty neighbors across the street were thinking "there goes that Jo family, airing their dirty laundry out on the driveway!" Also, I make it a point to not say "fuck" in front of my kids. However, that rule was not followed on this night and I am sure Big E has never heard the word fuck - and all versions of it such as fuckity fuck, fucking, fuck it, fuckers - out of anyone's mouth as much as he did that night!
Day 2 we head to the City Museum. If you didn't read my other post, I will reiterate, this is the single coolest place ever for kids and adults. At the very least, I suggest you visit their site HERE and if you are ever in the area GO. Even if you don't have children with you. I am afraid of heights, but I forced myself up into the highest part of the outdoor climbing adventure, which is about five stories high. My kids were proud.
On the way back to the hotel it started raining so hard as we got to our hotel exit that I could not see the car I was following and I seriously thought the car was going to blow upside down. I'm pretty sure we might have been driving on only the two right wheels on one side of the vehicle. We got to the top of the exit only to see a swirling, twirling cloud of debris, AKA tornado. We made a turn and drove in the other direction all the while having lightning rain down all around us and watching out our windows to make sure the swirling, twirling cloud of debris wasn't coming our way. Thankfully it was all so exciting that no one was really scared. I had five kids in my car, two were not mine! We eventually made it back to where we needed to go, our hotels/restaurant area, only to find out all the electricity was out, trees down and the roofs were off some buildings in the area. My hotel had sporadic electricity in the rooms so they moved us down the hall to a room that had the electric working. That was my third room in two days!
Later that night the toilet clogged. Plunger didn't cut it and maintenance had to come the next day and fix it while we were out at the zoo.
Once the toilet was fixed, the trip remained pretty uneventful compared to the previous days. We are home now and still laughing at all the crazy shit that happened. And I am dead honest when I say we can't wait until next year's trip. We are thinking maybe Chicago or Nashville for a little change of scenery and to shake up a different city with our crazy crew of moms and kids.
St. Louis Arch
Picture of the Arch with me laying at the base.
Me and my gaggle of kids at the top of the St. Louis Arch.
Sous Chef at the bottom of the three story slide
CJ at the City Museum, indoor slinky thing.
Another wonderful image from City Museum - stocked bar! Every parent's dream...
Picture from the high point of the outdoor playground - Yes, I took it!
This is the picture I took from the highest point of the outdoor playground at the City Museum. The woman in the blue shirt down below is my friend Stephanie and she is waving at me! My hands and feet were sweating like crazy and I thought my sandals were going to slide off and fall through the wire of the tunnel I was in!
This is a picture of Big E at the highest point with me sitting down where my friend Stephanie is in the above photo.
This is how I got down from the highest point. The slide went from the very top, which is about five stories high, to about the 2nd or 3rd floor level.
11 of the 14 kids, St. Louis Zoo