I recently enjoyed a week in my hometown of St. Louis, Missouri, with my family. Usually, when I visit the best city in the country (my own personal opinion there), I only have a few days in which to squeeze in trips to my favorite restaurants, a little rest and relaxation, outings with relatives and an evening or two with old friends. So it was wonderful to have a little more time.
We packed those seven days with all the delicious food St. Louis is known for — extra-thin and crispy pizza bubbling over with a cheese called provel that is only available in the Show Me State, breaded and toasted ravioli, frozen custard served as a “concrete” (known to some ice cream aficionados as a Blizzard) and, of course, Budweiser, which tasted exceptionally fresh when given as free samples during a tour of the legendary Anheuser-Busch Brewery and Biergarten.
When we weren’t eating, my family and I worked in trips to local attractions and sites I hadn’t been to in ages — The Magic House St. Louis Children’s Museum; the St. Louis Science Center; a Cardinals baseball game at Busch Stadium; the St. Louis City Museum; my alma mater, the University of Missouri in Columbia; and Grant’s Farm, which is basically a zoo that also serves up free samples of Budweiser products since it, too, is owned and operated by Anheuser-Busch. And yes, it also boasts a biergarten. What can I say? Beer and baseball — that’s kind of what St. Louis does.
At my mom’s surprise birthday party, I was thrilled to see distant relatives I hadn’t caught up with since my wedding in 2007. We talked, laughed, reminisced and enjoyed great food and music. My little girl, Reese, met many family members for the first time, and I don’t think my mom, the birthday “girl,” minded a bit that her granddaughter was the hit of the party.
Amid all this indulgent merriment, though, there was a downside. I’m sure all the parents out there know what I’m about to say — a toddler’s schedule, while easily knocked out of whack, usually is extremely difficult to get back on track.
Reese went days without a nap, making her one incredibly cranky 2-year-old around 3 or 4 p.m. every afternoon. Her one-cup-of-juice-per-day restriction was regularly ignored, though mostly by my mom, not me. She enjoyed a multitude of treats and eschewed vegetables. At every restaurant we visited, she asked for — and usually was given — macaroni and cheese while refusing to even consider a bite of lean protein.
I understand my family rarely sees Reese and was dead-set on spoiling her rotten and spending every second of our trip with her, so I didn’t protest much. But, wow, did all those exceptions wreak some serious havoc on our post-vacation life.
After finally getting over the tummy troubles caused by foods she wasn’t used to eating, she still didn’t like the idea of reintroducing healthy fare. We’ve had a few standoffs since our return to Savannah. I’d like to say I’ve won most of them, but that would be a fib.
I haven’t had much luck getting Reese in bed before 9:30 or 10 p.m. on any given night, which makes for exhausting mornings filled with tantrums that lead to me cleaning thrown yogurt and arguing with a toddler about why she can’t wear her “princess gown,” Little Mermaid dress-up “high heels” and plush elephant-ears headband — all souvenirs from our trip — to daycare. Reese also, on a few occasions, has refused to follow my instructions and informs me she’s “going back to St. Louis right now!”
Yes, vacation sure was nice, but I’ll be glad when its effects aren’t being felt quite so acutely. I’d say a Budweiser might help me cope, but I fear Savannah’s stock wouldn’t be as fresh as what I enjoyed back home. Hey, I got spoiled a bit, too.