Thursday, May 29, 2014

40th Birthday in St. Louis

 Last week Frank turned the big 4-0!

We started celebrating the day before, and the kids and I took doughnuts and juice to his office, along with a "Happy 40th" sign for his door.

I put up a few decorations at home, too.

Anna and Gary came up that evening, and we all went to Avanti's for dinner.  After dinner, we came home and had cookie cake.

I wonder how many years it will be before we blow out our own candles without any assistance from the kids...

Jacob thought Frank's choice of cake was perfect!

The birthday boy opened his gift and humored me by letting me take a picture.

The next morning, Frank and I left bright and early while Anna and Gary stayed with the kids.  Frank started his 40th birthday in the most unlikely of places, the Christian Activity Center in East St. Louis.

A few weeks ago, he won an i-pad mini and decided to donate it.  In a roundabout way that couldn't have been coincidence at all, he was connected with the folks at the CAC.  After meeting with his contact that morning, we took a tour of the center and met a majority of the staff.  The center provides 1, 225 children ages 6-18 with after-school meals, homework help, career training, medical care, fine arts, mentoring, and sports programs as well as spiritual development programs.  They literally save these kids.

Their impact on the community has been astounding.  According to their brochure, juvenile crime has dropped over 80% in their immediate sphere of influence since center opened in 1989, and 97% of CAC youth graduate from high school (as compared to 60% in the rest of East St. Louis.)

We are already planning on going back to volunteer at the center and thinking of ways we can support them financially.  (P.S.  If you would like to partner with us to sponsor a child on a monthly basis, let me know!)

After that, we had lunch at the Feasting Fox.    This was most definitely a Frank choice, since I am not much for German food.  The building was beautiful, though, and it was a really nice atmosphere.

By early afternoon we were ready to check into our room at the Crowne Plaza.  Can't beat that view!

The hotel was conveniently located between Busch Stadium and Laclede's Landing, so we took a walk down to the Landing.  It was sooo nice to have a whole afternoon without any commitments or anyone to look after; it was like we were kids skipping school!

This might have happened:

The sky was getting dark by late afternoon, so we decided to walk towards the Arch and then back to the room.

As soon as we made it to the Arch, giant raindrops started to fall.  We flew back across the street to the hotel just in time!

Fortunately, the rain stopped after about an hour, and we went to find some dinner.  We started out at Ballpark Village.  It was awesome- and crowded- as you can see by the photos below, even though we were more than two hours in advance of the game.

So we walked across the street to Mike Shannon's.  The restaurant is divided into the dining room, which is more formal, and the bar area.  We sat in the bar area (hello, me in my jeans), and it still was more upscale and formal than what I would have expected.  (In a good way-- going to a nicer place than you expect is never a bad thing!)  The memorabilia was pretty cool, too.

After dinner, we made our way into the stadium.  I have to give a shout-out to Anna and Gary, who procured these amazing seats.  First base side, three rows from the field... I've never been that close, ever. There were these little signs in front of us, and it dawned on me that I've never seen them because I've never sat that close!!

The weather was perfect for a 7:30 start time.

The views to my right and my left:

And to my far left, there was this 40 year old guy:

It was so much fun sitting there and people-watching (I mean, um, watching the game.), and I got lots of pictures... none of which are probably relevant to the outcome of the game, but pretty nonetheless.

One of the funniest things that happened during the evening is that the answer to one of the trivia questions they asked was 1974!

I wish I remembered the question, but there must be some other great event that happened on May 21, 1974!!

So it's now 10:30, and the game goes into extra innings.  No joke, I think every MLB game I have attended with Frank has either had a rain delay or has gone into extra innings, so no surprise here.  We were both so tired, though, so we decided to beat the crowd out of the stadium and watch the end of the game from the room. It was a good thing, because the game lasted 12 innings!!

It was an awesome birthday, and even though I'm not a die-hard baseball fan, I'm thinking of repeating the whole day when I turn 40... which, of course, isn't for a long, long time! :)

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