Oh, how I heart St. Louis! It's so funny, because when I was a kid I HATED St. Louis. It was the place we'd get up before dawn to drive six hours to every now and then, straight to an old lady apartment (belonging to my Great-aunt Della), sit there for a reeeeeeaaaalllllllllyyyyyy long time (if I was lucky, she'd bring out her Norman Rockweller coffee table book for me to look at--barf), and then drive six hours back home again. That SAME day.
I couldn't believe it when I grew up and realized that there's stuff TO DO in St. Louis. Awesome stuff. Stuff like sliding down the free-fall slide at the City Museum:
And witnessing there the extent to which a little sister will go to not be bested by a big sister:
Stuff like discovering what my husband thinks is the very best way to deal with the fact that the eggs he's attempting to cook in the hotel kitchenette have just set off our room's smoke alarm: That's a PILLOW he's waving, friends. Not a blanket or a towel, but a pillow. Note that he has not even called down to the front desk yet to say, "Hey, I know the smoke alarm is blaring and maybe people are evacuating, but it's just me, I'm just cooking some eggs." And notice how, even though the smoke alarm is screaming in their faces, the girls are so focused on this thing they've just discovered called the Disney Channel that it doesn't even faze them.
Oh, right, and stuff like the Strange Folk Festival. Which, thank you for asking, was AWESOME! Last year at Strange Folk was good, but this year was awesome. The record bowls are nearly gone, the pinbacks I had to keep replenishing as fast as I could make them-- --and the bathroom breaks were as few and far between as I could make them, and accomplished at a dead run. It was THAT kind of craft fair. The good kind.
I also think that Strange Folk has the best atmosphere of any craft fair I've been to, big or small, conventional or indie. It's in a huge park, with plenty of green, empty space for children to play in, a huge playground, and some activities (sandbox, handmade hula hoops, milk jug igloo) imported in by Strange Folk just for the kids. That makes it a much more restful place for someone with kids to shop or sell--Will and Sydney played in the grass and under the trees, and walked together to the sandbox, and befriended random kids like they wouldn't be able to do at a fair on a city street or in a convention center.
And the music is good, and the trees are shady, and the people are just plain nice. One customer gave me the last two cookies that he'd bought from the gourmet cookie vendor across the way. Another customer said, "Your stuff rocks!" and then high-fived me! And you know how I feel about high-fives.
Willow made her entrepreneurial debut at Strange Folk. She wrapped hunks of grass in duct tape and sold them for 25 cents each (she actually sold four), and my shy girl was officially in charge of giving each customer, after the transaction, a business card, saying "Here's a business card for you." It was terrific for honing her awareness of social cues, because she had to figure out just the right time to hand over the card so as not to interrupt the sale but not to let the customer walk away, either, and she had to interact with each person, and she got tons of positive reinforcement, because you know that all adults do really like to be addressed nicely by a little child. Take that, socialization!
But for the customers with children, Willow prepared a special treat. She made Artist Trading Cards, wrote her name on the back, and let me write my web info, as well, and then gave one to each customer's child:
Animals was the theme, can't you tell?
Whew! Three days in St. Louis makes for three long days, but if it takes some long, long days of hard work and play to make sisters be this nice to each other on purpose--
Count me in.