Happy St. Patrick’s Day from St. Louis Dad

lucky you

This past weekend we went to the Cottleville St. Patrick’s Day parade. It was raining a little but nothing to keep us away from the fun. There were thousands of people there and it was so cool seeing everyone having a good time just enjoying the raining weather watching the parade.

I got some GoPro footage (thanks Michelle!) but I just have not had the time to cut anything together. This year we had a much better position for the kids to catch beads and other little trinkets, but if your curious here is a video from last year that I put together.

After the parade we marched back to Mamaw and Pawpaw’s house and ate a delicious lunch in celebration of my wife’s 30th birthday. My father-in-law is a great cook and his menu never disappoints. A few fajitas and a slice of birthday cake later it was about time to head home. Once home we set ourselves up to relax for a bit while the kids napped. I may have slipped in a few minutes of rest but nothing spectacular.

Free Printables - StLouisDad - St Patricks DayI am trying something new this St. Patrick’s Day. Along with my instrumental releases I am going to start illustrating some free coloring pages that can be downloaded and printed for free. Let me know what you think of them and if you like them I will keep making more. To the left is the first Free Printable. These are for personal use only, so no commercial use at all. Click the image to download in high quality.

 

St. Louis Dad wishes you a Happy St. Patrick’s Day and the best of luck in 2016.

I’m Back from Holiday Hiatus!

IMG_2340What a crazy holiday! If you are from the St. Louis area you will know that the Christmas holiday was definitely a wet one. There was creeks over flowing, rivers rising, and plenty of standing water to fill a few swimming pools. Over my little holiday break I spent some much needed time with my family. We got all of our holiday shopping completed, Christmas presents made and wrapped and were all ready for the fun.

I would say that the fun kicked off on my birthday (December 15th for those paying attention). My wife surprised me more than ever this year. For the last several months I had been casually joking about wanting to get a BB-8 Sphero. The toy looked awesome and is in my opinion some cutting edge technology. So over the last few months my wife Destiny had been saving up her extra money and when I got home from work on my birthday this year she had an awesome gift for me to open… A brand new BB-8 Sphero! I was beyond excited to have one of these in hand. I was also surprised that she actually found one this close to Christmas. Regardless she really surprised me. Something that has not happened in a long time in regards to my birthday. Thank you again Destiny, it was a truly amazing gift.

IMG_2285So after my birthday things starting picking up for Christmas. We got all of our shopping done so it was time to get everything wrapped and tucked away for Santa to bring back out in a few days. One thing I had planned on doing was taking my daughter and niece out to pick up gifts for all of their aunts and uncles. So one day that’s exactly what I did. They had so much picking out various things for everyone. Some stuff made sense, but most of it didn’t and that is part of the beauty of it. Sure it was mostly junk but the girls made a list and really thought about what they wanted to get for each person. They didn’t even ask for anything for themselves which was cool to know that they were not thinking about themselves. When we got home we started wrapping the gifts. The girls made name tags for almost all of the presents and we got them all wrapped up. It was late so we left them out which was a bad idea because Clark took it upon himself to open up a few in the late night hours with his teeth.

Clark didn’t destroy too many presents. Just a couple that were easy to replace. But the girls were a little shocked to wake up and see that someone had opened their presents. It was funny to say the least.

IMG_2244Christmas finally came and we had our yearly party at Destiny’s parents house. We may or may not have drank a little too much, but I won’t go into that story. I will say that it was a good time overall and the kids had so much fun as they always do. Santa Claus even stopped by for a visit! He was super cool and made sure all of the kids got a little special gift from the North Pole. Mammaw and Pawpaw are great and really made the kid’s Christmas morning. Of course me and Destiny did our part as well by having presents ready under our tree at home as well. The kids made out like bandits like usual so I do not have any complaints in that department.

IMG_2308The day after Christmas was my side of the family’s Christmas party. This year we had it at my brother’s house. It was a lot of fun. This year us adults played a few games like we do every year. This year we played our standard 5 five rounds of scratch offs. My sister was the big winner with two $25 winner tickets. We made out with $4 and 2 free tickets. The other game that we played was a Rob Your Neighbor game but instead of a standard present we brought booze. My brother ended up losing everything he picked but that’s just how things roll when your playing Rob Your Neighbor.

After the party we went back home and I got ready to go out with my cousin to go see Tarantino’s latest movie The Hateful Eight in it’s glorious 70mm Ultra Panavision. I was surprised that St. Louis actually had a theater that could show 70mm. So I was really stoked to learn my cousin picked us up tickets for the roadshow. The movie itself was just a little over 3 hours long, but with the overture and intermission, it really broke up the length of the movie and made the experience that much more enjoyable.

IMG_2258New Years Eve was hosted by my awesome brother and sister in-law and it was a great time. There was plenty of food, a roulette table, drinks, music, and a lot of family fun. It was a fantastic night and I am happy to bring in the new year with these great people.

So, it’s the new year and I am more than ready for it. I  will more than likely have an end of the year wrap up post and then a what to expect post for the new year. So be on the look out for those here in the next few days. If you have had a chance to check out StLouisDad.com Instrumentals Vol.5 I highly suggest it. There are some great royalty free tracks in those downloads! If that isn’t your cup of tea then may I suggest checking out this latest video from Abby Doodles TV!

Thankful for Thanksgiving

IMG_1870 Now that turkey time has passed I figure it would be a good of a time as any to talk about how my holiday weekend went. I am privileged enough to have Thursday and Friday off as well as the weekend for Thanksgiving. This gave me a nice four day break from the daily grind at the office. Wednesday night is usually the night when everyone is going crazy picking up last minute items and either already cooking or preparing to cook for the feast the next day. For me it was no different. I took this opportunity to make some of my favorite cookies. Of course the recipe isn’t an original St. Louis Dad recipe but how much of a variation can you get with a chocolate chip cookie? So I pulled up my favorite Martha Stewart cookie recipe and got to work.

IMG_1925For the next few hours I spent my time putting cookies in the oven and then taking them out. It was a chore that was hard on the feet but was beautifully executed. Destiny even took this opportunity to make some delicious brownie cup cakes. She was trying to out do me, but I really do not think you can out do chocolate chip cookies, especially from a Martha Stewart recipe.

Thursday came a long and we got the kids and ourselves ready to head over to Mammaw and Pawpaw’s house for Thanksgiving with our wonderful family. When we got there we were surprised to see Pawpaw had already started setting up some Christmas decorations. Every year he out does himself in one way or another. Last year he made this cool ladders for elf’s on his tree. This year he has a cool train circling the top of his tree. I am always impressed seeing what my father-in-law comes up with.

IMG_1924The food was fantastic and the desserts were amazing. I filled up my belly enough that opening up a few notches on the belt didn’t even help. The only thing that could cure my full belly was a nice nap. So when it was time to head home I was ready. Before we left though everyone had to take a family picture. My wife took all of the photos except our own. Of course our own photos have our little bundle of joy going crazy in it. My wife wanted to check it out before I posted it and see if she can tweak it in anyway. It’s doubtful, but I will be sure to share it when I can.

So anyways, we got home and unloaded the kids and made our way to our comfy chairs to watch a movie. I actually fell asleep for about an hour and then when I got up I decided to check out some deals online.

Friday was spent cleaning up the garage and also playing with the kids. Saturday was another day of play but was also spent doing some illustration work for a few clients. Sunday was another regular day, except we went out and picked up a new Christmas tree to replace our smaller one.

I am thankful for my wife, my kids, and the rest of my family and friends. I am thankful for Thanksgiving, and I am also thankful to you all who read what I have to write. What are you thankful for? Post below in the comments or let me know on Twitter or Facebook!

All Aboard The Polar Express!

IMG_1779The Polar Express rolled into St. Louis again this year and this past weekend my family and I had the opportunity to go downtown to Union Station and experience the fun. Our Sunday night consisted of the Magical Holiday Dinner & Show as well as The Polar Express train ride. The dinner and show started at 5PM and the train ride was at 6:30PM. We had planned everything perfectly and the timing could not have been more perfect.

We left our house at 4PM and arrived at Union Station at 4:30PM. We weren’t exactly sure what the procedure was so when we stepped into the mall we asked the kindest little elf which way we needed to go. She was so helpful and got us on our way. If you are going to the dinner and the train ride I would highly recommend getting to Union Station at least 30 minutes before your dinner starts so you can park and also get in and get your boarding pass and tickets ready for the train ride before you eat. There will be many more people just riding the train and not eating dinner so it will save you time after you eat so you don’t have to get your passes.

IMG_1684After getting our boarding passes we took a few photos and then headed down to the Union Station Hotel’s Grand Hall for the Magical Holiday Dinner & Show. This was essentially a buffet style dinner with a plethora of food choices all set in the Union Station Hotel grand hall. The ceiling was lit up with a colorful light show set to an exciting soundtrack of holiday music. The buffet food was really good. As a picky eater there was plenty of food that I really enjoyed. There was also a good amount of choices for those that are not as choosey as I am. The kids had chicken strips, mini cheeseburgers, corn dogs, tator-tots, and mac and cheese. It was all so good. Along with a dessert tablet filled with cookies, candies, cupcakes and more… We definitely got our fill of food and got to enjoy an amazing show filled with lights and sound. If you are hungry for a buffet style dinner with a great selection of options I highly recommend checking out this awesome Magical Holiday Dinner & Show before your ride on the Polar Express. My wife and kids had a fantastic experience and with the courtesy presented by the Union Station staff I would love to do it again this year.


IMG_1701After we got our fill at dinner we headed back down to where you get your boarding passes and did some of the cool activities there before our train was set to depart. My recommendation is that if you are not getting the dinner and will just be riding the train, get to Union Station about 60-90 minutes before your boarding time. This will allow you plenty of time to do all of the fun activities available. We planned it out perfectly and while there were many more people at the depot than when we were there earlier, we still had plenty of time to write a letter to Santa and mail it off. We also took some cute pictures, and also checked out the balloon artist. The kids had a blast running around and checking out all of the cool activities. Alex seemed a little more interested in the giant blow-up snowman hanging out in the mall more than coloring or writing letters, so we let him run off some steam while we waited to board the train. Once it was time to board the train we lined up with the rest of our train car and waited patiently for our turn to board. 

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We were in the North Pole car this year and followed our elf representative to our car and was seated promptly at our table. There are three class of tickets you can get for the Polar Express train ride. We were fortunate enough to ride in the premium car that had a table. This was nice as it gave us a place to put our hot chocolate as well as our bags and coats that we had with us. With Alex being so little I feel like this really helped us instead of having to have him sit in a regular seat. It gave the kids the ability to move around just a bit without being too constricted to a seat.

Since I mentioned hot chocolate it did not take long for the fun to begin on the train. Almost immediately as everyone was seated the servers started rushing out that hot, hot, chocolate! Because we had premium seats we got our hot coco in a closed cup but it came with an awesome Polar Express mug. I believe the mug is only available for premium and first class tickets, so if you are in coach are looking for a mug you may want to talk with someone in the gift shop about purchasing one.

  Hot hot chocolate! #stlpolarexpress #unionstation #merrychristmas   A video posted by St. Louis Dad (@dadstl) on

 

IMG_1757Anyways, once we got our hot chocolate the conductor came around to make sure everyone’s ticket was punched and once that was finished we were on our way to the North Pole. The train ride started with the story of The Polar Express being read over a loud speaker but with the servers holding up several copies of the book so all the kids could follow along. The servers were amazing. They interacted with all of the children asking them to help turn pages, giving high fives, tickling and making sure everyone was having a good time. Abby and Alex loved when they would rush by singing or holding the story. They gave high fives and were so excited when they would give them some attention.

Once the story ended we stopped at the North Pole and picked up a special passenger, Santa Claus! He came on board and greeted each and every child on the train. He took time to take pictures with everyone and even gave them their first gift of Christmas! A shiny magical Christmas bell. Abby and Alex both loved seeing Santa, with Abby even more excited than all of her previous years of meeting the jolly old man.

IMG_1782Once Santa left our train car we started heading back to Union Station and this is when the fun really started kicking in. There was music and dancing and I think there was even something that was like a conga line. The kids had a blast belting out the Christmas carols and then when songs from the movie Frozen came on, you would have though Queen Elsa herself was on board that train. Every single kid, girl and boy was singing the music from Frozen. It was so cool. I think even my wife Destiny got in on that action. I know she loves to “Let it Go”.

We arrived back to Union Station and unloaded from the train. We browsed through the gift shop and then headed back to our car. Both kids were very tired and ready to go home. All of the fun and excitement from the train just wore them out. Alex was asleep before we even hit the highway and Abby was out pretty much when we got home. It was an amazing evening and a big recommendation for anyone in the St. Louis area to check out the Magical Holiday Dinner & Show as well as The Polar Express train ride. Many memories were made at this event and I hope you and your family has just as an amazing time as we did. Did you ride The Polar Express? Share your experience below, tweet it to me, or share it on my wall!

St. Louis Dad was provided with these products as compensation in exchange for an honest review. Check out the event on Facebook and visit stlpolarexpressride.com to get your tickets before they sell out!