Monday, October 4, 2010

SUZI: Overnights & Weekends Away

Scott, Cooper and I enjoyed a wonderful and relaxing weekend in St. Louis.  We stayed for free at a Sheraton in Clayton (thanks to our Starwood Points!).  This was Cooper's first time to stay in a hotel, and as I packed I realized that I needed to haul more than I realized.  We had more stuff than I have ever had for a two night stay - bags and bags containing way too many diapers, a white noise machine to help Cooper block out the noise, about 17 changes of clothes, toys, and just a whole boatload of miscellaneous just-in-case items.
I got the experience of walking through the Sheraton lobby with a giant, three-foot-long, fuzzy white stuffed bunny...that was a new experience and one that garnered more than a few knowing smiles.  Cooper loves to fall asleep while holding one of the ears, so you better believe that was coming with us.  We quickly settled into our room and set up our "systems" - a diapering area, play center, sleep area (thanks to a crib delivered to our room) etc.  Doesn't everyone immediately put systems in place wherever they are?  
In the evening we spread out a towel and fed Cooper his rice cereal - it was wonderfully messy.  There was only a shower in the room, so we decided to give him a quick bath in the sink.  It took all four of our hands moving as fast as possible to keep him from sliding all over the place and turning those faucets on.  It also quickly dawned on us that when Cooper went to bed our day was done.  Obviously, the lights had to be out and the noise had to be minimal.  We debated about flushing the toilet.  There was a lot of gesturing and near-silent whispering.  Cooper slept relatively well considering the circumstances.

Sunday we enjoyed a wonderful service at Winds of Pentecost church followed by some yummy BBQ eaten in our hotel room.  I love eating restaurant food in hotels.  (I also love going through the drive-thru and eating the food in my car in the parking lot, but that's another story.)  The evening was quiet with a repeat performance on Cooper's sink bath.  It wasn't any easier the second time around.  There was more whispering and gesturing. 

Monday morning we planned to go to the Botanical Gardens but needed some breakfast before heading out.  There was a St. Louis Bread Company Community Cafe just a couple blocks from where we were staying, so we strolled through streets busy with people in suits to get a bite to eat.  This Bread Co was unlike any other I had been to.  There were signs inside declaring that it was a "community" store.  When the cashier rang up our order, he told us the "suggested" price.  Apparently, you don't have to pay if you don't have the money.  There are clear boxes in various places around the store where you put your cash.  The cashier is only there to handle credit cards.  There was a table by the door full of day-old loaves of bread and bagels.  You could take what you wanted and leave a donation if you could.  The store even had a different felt like a community.  The workers were unbelievably nice - they helped us carry our food to the table when they saw we were balancing a stroller and a baby.  People came by and talked to Cooper.  The workers chatted with us.  Someone held the door open for me when I was leaving with the stroller.  I left with the feeling that I wanted to do something to help somebody.

Our next stop was the Botanical Gardens.  This was a place that my family used to visit, so it was very special for me to take Cooper there for the first time.  I realize that he will remember absolutely nothing about the trip, but I love that he's being exposed to these places from a very young age.  Scott and I used to debate the benefit of dragging young children to places they will never remember, but surely these experiences make an impression on them even if they can't remember them.  We strolled around and let him put his hands in the fountains and pound on rocks as we pointed out flowers, trees, butterflies and birds.  We fed the fish and enjoyed the sunshine.  By the time we left Cooper was a bit dirty and definitely in need of a nap.  As we were leaving, I thought about my dad and the excitement I always felt when we took a trip to St. Louis when I was a child.  I felt so happy and full being able to share some of these places with my sweet boy and favorite guy.

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