I’ve been meaning to post something for a bit, but with the weather we’ve had these past few weeks, we haven’t done all that much! In the past month, we had a few nights in the -10 F range and at least a week where we didn’t go above freezing. Last Tuesday, school was cancelled for Meg because we weren’t expected to get above 10 F, and apparently waiting for a bus when it’s -3 F in the morning isn’t ideal…
Anyway, this past week, temperatures started getting up into the 40 F range for once, getting rid of the snow we had last week… Yesterday, we made it into the 50s (though I was on campus working with a Science Olympiad competition we were running, so I didn’t get to really enjoy the weather all that much), and today, we’re in the mid-60s. Not bad for late-January!
We’ve been keeping an eye on the bees throughout this process, as they don’t survive well when it’s below 0 F for extended periods of time. Generally, as long as you’ve got enough bees in a hive, they can surround the queen and flap their wings enough to keep everyone warm and survive. We had some much colder days this winter than last winter, though, so we weren’t sure how they’d handle it.
Based on the picture above, they did just fine! Brooke got in and put in a solid feeder “cake” sort of thing to get them through the rest of winter (at least, most of the way there) and she pulled off the super to keep them concentrated in the lower portions of the hive. They’re pretty active on a day like today, so hopefully they don’t burn through the rest of their food supply thinking it’s Spring (hint: it isn’t).
In other news, in keeping with this blog’s need to post everything garden-related possible, here are some popcorn ears Brooke finally picked. Because, you know…it’s January.
Like I said, we had some snow last week on Martin Luther King Day when both kids were off school, so it was the perfect time for Calvin to go sledding for the first time. Again, it hasn’t gotten than cold the past few years and, incidentally, we haven’t had enough snow for sledding since we first moved here, so Calvin hasn’t been old enough to enjoy it yet.
I’ve been meaning to write something on this subject for a few weeks but never seem to get around to it. From the beginning, we were curious how Calvin would integrate into our existing threesome (or nine-some, depending on how many creatures we’re including…), and more specifically, how Meg would deal with him and how Brooke and I both have to shift our attention from entirely on her to entirely on her andhim (that’s 200% “attention,” for those keeping count).
Surprisingly and thankfully, it’s been shockingly easy. Meg has displayed nary a hint of jealousy toward him, though she certainly still wants more attention than we can sometimes give her. In general, she’s actually been pretty helpful these past few months, frequently grabbing a rattle or other toy when we can’t reach one, or staying in the room to watch him as we go downstairs to exchange the laundry. If he starts crying, she’s quick to say “It’s okay, Calvin. I’m here!” This rarely helps, but it’s still kinda sweet…
The more surprising aspect of their burgeoning relationship is how Calvin looks at her. I mean, he gets excited when one of us walks into the room after we get home from work, but when Meg walks in, he lights up like nothing else. The other day, I was driving the two of them home and Meg was facing forward singing some song she’d made up. She wasn’t even singing toward Calvin, but he was just staring at her, laughing randomly. Meg didn’t think she was saying anything funny, of course, so she didn’t really understand why Calvin was reacting this way. Still, it’s pretty obvious that she amuses him greatly.
As I’ve mentioned to Nana and others, I’m just waiting for the relationship to turn toward the typical hostility one would expect between a brother and a sister. Clearly they aren’t going to wait until their teenagers or anything, but will it happen when he starts crawling? Walking? When he starts recognizing her toys and messes with them? There’s already some element of this, as most of “his” toys were previously “Meg’s” toys, and she’s fully aware of this. It isn’t like she says “No, Calvin, you can’t have that,” but sometimes when she’s playing with him, she’ll take a toy he was currently chewing on as she’s done playing with it, so now he must also be done.
Regardless, he almost always wants to be around her (or, at least, he is happier when she’s around), and she usually wants to be around him. She still asks to “play with Calvin” just before bedtime, despite being bored with it after maybe 15 minutes of actual “playing.”
To be honest, I can’t remember quite how long we waited before taking a lengthy-ish trip with Meg for the first time. In Cal’s case, it was at the age of almost 5 weeks, when we took him up to Hannibal for the night, and then down to Louisiana, MO to meet his great-grandparents for the first time. He did shockingly well in the car, despite a two-and-a-half hour drive through heavier-than-expected traffic. If only we can keep that up indefinitely, trips like that will be a cinch…
Regardless, we had a nice lunch with Ma on Saturday afternoon and then visited with Grandma and Grandpa for a bit. It’s great to see how their faces light up when there’s a newborn in the room to hold! Of course, Meg is happy to entertain everyone with her various antics on these visits, and now that she can talk pretty well (relative to the last time she saw them), she’s quick to ask questions, tell stories, and sing songs. If anything, we’re just happy Calvin and Meg both have great-grandparents to grow up with.
In other news, Cal’s sleeping has been “hit or miss.” There are some nights where he’ll spend most of the night in his own crib. There are other nights where he ends up sleeping on my shoulder in the rocking chair upstairs for an hour. And still most nights where Brooke ends up lying in the twin size bed upstairs with him to coax him to sleep.
Meg’s “fussy hour” was usually around dinner time, if I remember correctly. Cal’s appears to be a bit later than that, however it still shifts on a whim. When he had his check up last week (he’s gained almost 3.5 lbs since birth!), the doctor didn’t think it was colic or anything. Probably after he “finds his finger,” he’ll be able to calm himself down a bit easier.
Hopefully, that happens sooner rather than later…
Lastly, in the past few days, we’ve noticed that he’s looking around the room more, tracking people’s movements. He likes to watch his big sister, so that’s giving her a few more “entertainment” duties. It’s good to be able to interact with him a bit more now: not just in holding him, but in being able to talk to him and have him listen to you. He’s growing and developing fast!
Regardless, Cal’s doing well and we’re getting sleep occasionally. It’s about all we can ask, I guess. 🙂
P.S. Sorry it’s been so long since posting. With my abbreviated work schedule and not having two hands available to type in the evenings, blog postings have fallen by the wayside. I’m catching up though. Promise!
To be honest, I haven’t been posting all that much recently because I haven’t had much to say. At the same time, it’s been pretty busy, for one reason or another. With Christmas falling in the middle of the week, I feel like my schedule has been thrown radically off course for the past few weeks, and am only just now getting back in the swing of things.
Christmas was good, of course. We went to Louisiana, MO for the Baumann (extended) family Christmas on Sunday the 23rd, then continued north to Hannibal for the Baumann (immediate) family Christmas on the 24th. It was odd seeing how much snow was on the ground up there, as we really hadn’t gotten any in St. Louis beforehand. At the very least, it still felt like we got a “White Christmas” out of the deal. After that, we attended our traditional Christmas Eve service back in Louisiana before heading down to St. Louis that night, so that Meg could open her presents under her own tree on Christmas morning.
However, since we didn’t get home until 10:00 pm on Christmas Eve, Meg was quite content to stay in bed until 8:00 am the next morning, meaning we had to wake her up to get her to church on Christmas Day (thus, leaving Meg enough time to open one present before leaving). Still, it all worked out. Meg wanted to play with everything she opened immediately, rather than waiting until after everything was opened to choose something to play with. Perhaps it was better to only get one first.
We typically don’t go to Christmas Day services, but as we were in town, didn’t have to go anywhere, and our new pastor wanted to have a service on that day (we usually don’t), we went along and had a good time. There were even some folks in pajamas, bringing a good “family atmosphere” to the proceedings. It was a short-ish service, but was nice to participate in.
Brooke went to work the next few days, and Meg went to school. I, being the lazy one, stayed home, getting a few things done while watching the Extended Editions of “The Lord of the Rings” (in preparation for “The Hobbit,” which I still haven’t seen!). I assembled Meg’s new “big girl bed” (which she’s now sleeping in, most nights), hung out with a few friends, kept up on laundry, etc. Overall, a good mix of productivity and laziness, so I was satisfied!
We then went to Columbia last Friday for the Linsenbardt (immediate) family Christmas. Jake and Kristen couldn’t get there around Christmas, so this is the first year I can remember where we pushed things off a few days. In the end, it was probably better this way as we didn’t feel as rushed, traveling between towns without much lag time. Still, we had a good time and got to hit up Flat Branch and Shakespeare’s while we were there (making it more than worth the trip).
Meg stayed in Columbia with my parents while Brooke, Edie and I returned to St. Louis for New Year’s. Brooke actually went in to work for a little bit on New Year’s Eve while I took down the tree and did a few other things around the house. We hung out with Adam and Kelley that night, which was rather nice because we typically have them over to our house (as Meg is usually in bed by 7:30, and they live 20+ min away from our house, making dinner a difficult prospect). Regardless, good food and good times with friends, so it was a nice way to ring in 2013.
And now, I’m back at work. I had a good time over break, but am ready to get back to a typical routine, even if it means getting up “early” and putting clothes on instead of staying in PJs all day. We won’t have any easy weekends coming up, though, as my cousin gets married on Saturday (the bachelor party is tonight, and the rehearsal is tomorrow…I’m an usher and Meg’s flower girl-ing…), so we’ve got our work cut out for us.
But thankfully, Cabin Fever is next Saturday. Can’t wait for that one. 🙂
Since moving back, Brooke and I have wanted to hit the wealth of new micro breweries that have sprung up in the St. Louis area in the past 2 years, most of which while were were in Iowa (figures…). As our schedules tend to get busy rapidly, we hadn’t actually done this yet, but in my infinite wisdom, I suggested that a birthday-related excursion to hit some of the better-known breweries would be nice! Thus, we recruited my Mom to stay at home with Meg while Dad kindly drove Brooke, Kristen, Jake and I to some “hoppin'” locations (see what I did there?) around the city.
The first stop (pictured above) was Six Row Brewing Company, just off of Forest Park Avenue close to Saint Louis University. Generally speaking, I liked their beers quite a bit. They also have more of a menu than the other breweries we went to, with sandwiches, soups and pizzas available. After the sampler, I had a pint of their Centennial Rye, a beer that was quite a bit lighter than other ryes I’ve had in the past. Quite tasty! Overall, they had a strong mix of hoppy beers, wheaty beers, and others that can satisfy a wide variety of beer tastes.
Next, we made our way to Urban Chestnut Brewing Company, which is only a mile or less away from Six Row. Brooke and I had actually been there before, but being so close to Six Row, I figured we’d be remiss not to check them out again. Brooke really, really liked their Pilgrim 7 beer back in December, but we didn’t appear to get that one in our sampler. Overall, I think I preferred this mix of beers to the last one Brooke and I tried, as it had a bit more variety in the beer styles. In December, I seem to remember everything having more of a “heavy” character, which is fine for winter, but not so good for summer. However, there were a few refreshing varieties in these samplers and was probably the favored brewery of Jake and Kristen. Personally, as it is the namesake of the brewery, I thought all the beers were a bit too “nutty,” but you can get over it. Of their beers, their “Old Tjikko” Spruce Ale was probably the most interesting. Everyone else smelled a very heavy “tree” character, but I didn’t get much of that until I tasted it, and even then, I didn’t think it was that noticeable. Apparently, my sense of smell is pretty terrible. They had another one, “Thrales,” that isn’t listed on their website, but was a pretty spectacular (and alcoholic) Russian Imperial Stout. It was shockingly smooth. For something approaching 9%, it had a great flavor and was surprisingly easy to drink. Worth a look!
4 Hands Brewing Company was next on the list. This one’s within walking distance (a bit far, but doable) of our old place in Soulard, so it’s pretty close to Busch Stadium. Unlike the other breweries, 4 Hands doesn’t have a huge beer list available as they just launched at the end of December. This was probably Kristen’s least favorite brewery because just about all the beers had a noticeable hop character…which, of course, is good so far as I’m concerned. 🙂
This is the first location where Dad had any beer, as well, so it’s probably a good thing he waited this long, as he tends to like hoppy beers, too. I thought their Single-Speed Session, a Blonde Ale, was good, but Dad and I both got their Divided Sky Rye IPA. Big and hoppy. Mmmm… Brooke had their Saison in Columbia last weekend at another bar, and it was still good here. Sadly, while their website mentions a “Pyrus” saison for Fall and Winter that they didn’t have anymore of. It’s made with “pear juice, whole white pepper corns, and the zest of fresh oranges,” so it definitely piqued her interest. We’ll need to go back later in the year, I expect.
Last, but not least, we went to The Civil Life Brewing Company, which is in an odd location about a mile or two from our house. They also had sandwiches available, had a “back room” where some poetry reading was going on, and a nice upstairs seating area to get you away from the bar if you want to. They were probably the most “industrial” of the locations, though from the outside, it looks pretty boring. The beers were good, though to be honest, by the time you’re on your fourth stop of tasting all those previous beers, the flavors all start to run together a bit. Also, I don’t really remember much about these four, and looking at their website, I’m not remembering much about which ones we actually got. I just asked the bartender which four were their “best,” and I remember them being very good, but again, I can’t recall what they were. If I had to guess, I’d say we had the American Pale, the Rye Pale, the British Bitter and the American Brown, but I could be wrong.
We need to go back there, though. The beers pictured were 8 oz and were $2.50 each, so you can’t really argue with the pricing. Especially for people like Brooke that may not want a whole pint of one beer style, it makes it pretty easy to get a good sampling without over-doing it.
A big thanks go to Mom and Dad for helping facilitate our little beer excursion! I definitely had a lot of fun! Next time we do this, we’ll probably keep it down to two breweries on a single trip, as four is, perhaps, a bit too much if you’re really wanting to appreciate the distinctions in beer varieties.
Awhile back, Kristen mentioned that Switchfoot was returning to Springfield, MO and that the venue they were going to play in was pretty sweet, the Gillioz Theater. Thus, Brooke and I made the arrangements for Meg to hang out with her grandparents this weekend, for Rachel to stay at our house with Edie and Sam (and the chickens), and for Brooke and I alone (gasp!) to go to Springfield for the weekend.
We made it out of St. Louis early enough to stop at Heinrichshaus for a picnic lunch and a bottle of Chardonelle before continuing on to Springfield. As always, we had a great time tasting Heinrich’s wares (he’s an old German guy who wears American-ized lederhosen, if you can imagine such a thing) and enjoyed the warm, summery afternoon outside. After a few more hours, we hit Springfield and went directly to the concert. The Gillioz Theater is definitely cool, as it’s an ornate, old-style theater with good acoustics and comfy seats. I can’t say I was a huge fan of all the kids I had to sit with, though, as this event was apparently quite popular with the “Christian Youth” crowd (i.e. I think we enjoyed Switchfoot’s show at The Pageant more, if only because there was a cordoned off area for “Over 21” with a full bar…). I was unimpressed with Switchfoot’s opener, The Rocket Summer, who acted like a pretentious emo wannabe.
Switchfoot, on the other hand, was amazing as always. Their set was pretty similar to the one we saw two years ago, mostly songs off the last 3-4 albums and only two songs from their first few, but the new stuff is good so I can’t complain all that much. As with the last time around, their lead-singer, Jon Foreman, ventured out into the crowd to sing with the fans. This time, however, he ended up climbing around the theater-style seats, holding hands as he made his way to the center of the theater. He happened to make this trip inward directly in front of us, to the point that Brooke, Kristen and her friend, Maggie, all held Foreman’s hand as he passed by. I was trying to get pictures of this, of course, as these things usually go. Regardless, while we got pretty close two years ago, we were close enough to touch the man this time around.
We joke that, at our next concert, the subsequent logical step is for Jon Foreman to sit on Brooke’s lap and sing. 😛
Regardless, we spent the next day hitting up quite a few different things, including a visit to The Home Brewery in Ozark, MO (I picked up a bottle washing attachment for our basement sink…should make life easier!), a trip down to Copper Run Distillery (where we tasted vodka, “moonshine,” whiskey and rum…the latter of which, we grabbed a bottle of…), then later to Mother’s Brewery to taste their beers and have one or two pints before heading to the Springfield Cardinals game ($6 lawn tickets…can’t beat that!).
After the game, we went to a bar to hear some of Jake’s co-workers play in their retro 80s cover band (who were pretty good, to be fair). Overall, it was a busy, yet good day!
In the end, while we obviously missed Meg, it was nice for the two of us to get out of St. Louis for a weekend, not to be tied down by a dog to take out or a toddler to watch…er…”toddle.” We had a great time and will probably have to do it again, once Jake and Kristen finish filling their pool… 🙂
Kristen came and visited this weekend. Now that we live in St. Louis again, it’s a much more reasonable drive for her to come visit her niece, whom she hadn’t seen since last May. Around the time we figured out that she’d be coming in, I was also made aware of a new Star Trek exhibition being displayed at the St. Louis Science Center. The exhibition will be there until May, so there wasn’t really a huge rush…but, on the first Friday of each month, they run a special deal where they cut the cost of the exhibit in the evening and they show a movie in the Omnimax theater. And the movie this month?
We went to the exhibition after dinner and after we dropped Brooke and Meg off at home. The exhibit itself was pretty neat, though I would have preferred fewer “replica” props. Sure, they had actual uniforms worn by the various cast members throughout the series. They had uniforms from each of the members of the crew from the newest movie, Spock’s robe from “Star Trek IV,” General Chang’s uniform from “Star Trek VI,” and representative uniforms from all of the captains across all of the series.
There were a few ship models and some of the original props, but there were quite a few of the aforementioned replicas, mostly in the realm of communicators, badges, phasers, etc. They definitely had some real ones and, to be honest, I’m sure the difference between the replicas and the real thing (which were only props, never truly “real”…) is minuscule. Still, seeing more actual props that were used on the various properties would have been nice. They did have scale models of a transporter and the Enterprise-D bridge from “The Next Generation,” mostly so they could take a picture of you and charge a ridiculous amount of money. Still, it was cool to sit on the bridge of the Enterprise.
In the end, however, the real attraction for me was seeing “Star Trek II” in the theater. It came out in 1982, the year I was born, so I’ve never actually seen this movie in a theater setting. To be fair, it wasn’t ideal because they were projecting what looked like the DVD version of the movie up on a screen that is meant to wrap around you. So, the image was kinda “curved,” and projected a bit higher than I would have liked. The contrast was a bit “off,” as well, especially when the crew was shown on the bridge in very dark lighting. But hey, when you’ve seen the movie countless times, you can forgive such things.
What I can’t forgive, however, is the omission of certain, key scenes. Specifically, those regarding Scotty’s nephew. As in, we see the kid, but certain lines of dialog that establish his relation to Scotty (as opposed to him being Random Engineering Cadette #7) are completely missing. It’s just really weird as it’s been in every other version of the movie I’ve seen, so I just wonder where the heck they found this one.
However, seeing the movie with a crowd of people for the first time just brings an extra “magic” to a movie I’ve seen more times than I can count. Once you’ve seen a movie you love enough times, there isn’t much else you can do to bring anything fresh to the viewing experience. However, watching it with 200 other fans, some of which dressed as Starfleet crew or Klingons, is definitely unique. Hearing cheers and jeers throughout was somewhat distracting, but still pretty great.
Overall, I think we had a good time. Glad I got to see some bits of “Star Trek” history, and that I got to share it with my sister. In the end, we came, we saw, we lived long and prospered. It’s all I can ask.
A new fish place recently opened off of Mark Twain Avenue in Hannibal that my father-in-law, Mark, has started to frequent. The proprietors go fishing on the Mississippi River daily, haul in their catch, clean it all for you, and open for business around 10:00 am. So if you want fresh catfish in that general area, this is apparently the place to go.
Anyway, Mark decided he wanted to host a fish fry this past weekend, so many of us descended upon Hannibal, MO to have a mix of catfish and buffalo fish, among other things.
Mark borrowed the equipment, but basically, we were outside heating up canola oil in a dutch oven over an outdoor propane burner. This one is very similar to the one I just got for my birthday to use in beer brewing. It took a little while to heat the oil up to the desired temperature, but he had an issue with the candy thermometer we were using. As in, it wasn’t working properly, so the first few fish didn’t quite fry correctly.
After he turned the burner down a bit, things improved. It only took a few minutes for each fish fillet to be cooked through. I was kind of amazed how the smell of fried fish permeated the air surrounding the frying rig. I mean, you can smell fried fish in a restaurant easily, but that’s an enclosed space. This was very easy to smell from 30 feet away. Mmmmm…
The buffalo fish isn’t one I’d ever had before: it’s the “wavy” one in the picture above. The catfish looked like your typical filet, so nothing too special there…except for the flavor, of course. Brooke also made hushpuppies, and those were pretty spectacular. The hushpuppies didn’t go in until after the fish was done, so as to not mix the flavors too much.
Brooke really wanted to try corn fritters, though. They’re similar to a hushpuppy, but not quite. She made up the corn mix and took it out with a little scooper, dropped it into the fryer, and they turned a nice, golden brown. I think they were a bit softer and less dry than a typical hushpuppy, but in the end, they’re pretty similar entities. Is there a reason to have both? Probably not. But hey, they were both spectacular, so I didn’t complain.
In all, the food was excellent. I can’t say I get fresh catfish very often, especially fish that was caught on the same day. I think I preferred the catfish over the buffalo, personally, but they were both really good. I think the corn fritters went over best with people, but the hushpuppies were almost gone by the end, too.
I don’t think we’ll have to try too hard to get Mark to make this a yearly (monthly?) event. 🙂
I haven’t attended a ton of auctions in my time. Most of them have been for family members that passed away, so the kids were trying to get rid of all the stuff they had around the house. Old toys. Old magazines. Especially old farm tools and implements, many of which were rusted beyond any usefulness.
This past weekend, Brooke’s Dad and I went by an auction hosted by a guy getting rid of some collectibles, among other things. So, in some ways, this was my first auction for things I could actually have some interest in owning. He had an assortment of different items available, ranging from movie posters and artwork, to yard equipment, to two boats and a van, and so on.
It was very interesting seeing what people pay for things, especially prints. One guy spent $20 on a framed picture of Marilyn Monroe. Not signed. Not a particularly nice frame. Just a picture. Signed posters of sports “stars” (as in, I’d never heard of these people) from a car dealership in Independence, MO ranged from $10 – $30 or so. An oil-on-canvass portrait of some random guy sold for $300 to a man who looked slightly older than me. Surely he had some idea of what that thing was really worth, as the tears and condition of the painting made “$300” look like “too much.”
We arrived after most of the cooler things had already sold. The Corvette shown above had a photocopy of a magazine listing values for such things, placing the car in the $15,000 to $24,000 range. No clue if it actually sold for anywhere near that. It was a Pace Car in the 70th Indianapolis 500 and looked like it was in pretty good condition. There were a few small children’s cars that had already sold, as well. I didn’t take pictures, as they were being loaded up by the time we got there. They were your “Flintstones“-type vehicle, where your feet would propel you forward as you sat in this metal and wood contraption. Looked cool and was surely antique.
I think Mark was interested in the Betty Boop waitress statue. It was maybe 5 feet tall and looked to be in great shape. We couldn’t tell how much it eventually sold for, but we were told that someone called in a bid of $2000 for it. Not the kind of money I would pay, but still…good to know how much I need to save up if I eventually want something like it.
All in all, it was a worthwhile experience. We were only there for maybe 30 min, and that was all we needed to tell that most of the interesting stuff had already sold, and most of what was left wasn’t worth much to us.
It’s just interesting to know that what isn’t worth anything to us is worth something to someone else.