I’d been thinking about hitting the SciFest Family Fun Night at the Saint Louis Science Center tomorrow (Oct. 16), and I’d stashed away a discount coupon to help with admission. Turns out I won’t need it — an anonymous donor has sponsored free admission for everyone!

SciFest’s “Transform Your Reality” turns out to be pretty apt. Its local tie-ins this year include sports teams, farms, pets and restaurants, and the presenters go into the science behind those everyday topics. I like that my kids will think about the physics behind baseball pitches the next time they watch a Cardinals game.

Family Fun Night goes from 5 to 10 p.m. — but of course you can also buy tickets to the two remaining days, Saturday and Sunday, for the presentations and performances. See stlscifest.org for details.

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I appreciate the recent comment I received asking for more posts … so kind!! I miss the blog a lot, not least because here I am the boss, and in the steady-paying gigs that are taking up so much of my time now, I am far from being in charge!

This has always been a therapeutic endeavor for me, something I did purely for my own benefit, and because it encouraged me to get out with my boys it was also good for their health.  I wouldn’t say that their health is suffering, but mine definitely is (at least, according to both my dentist and my hairdresser!) and so yesterday we blew off a Parent Association meeting at school and headed out for a sunset bike ride at Tower Grove Park instead. It was a beautiful fall evening, and I had barely shifted into Park before the 4-year-old was out of the car and over by the lily pad ponds, exploring with the joyful oblivion that only preschoolers seem to have. The 7-year-old was no less eager to start, but he dutifully hung behind to strap on his helmet.

Their ride wasn’t particularly long, maybe half an hour, but it was long enough to teach me two things:

  1. I have to get back into this habit of exploring for free.
  2. I have to suck up my fear of cycles and invest in a bike — there’s no way I can keep up with these two on foot!

Yes, I have officially fallen off the face of the earth. That’s what I get for accepting enough freelance projects to equate to a “real” job! I have missed so many of my favorite events this summer, including the International Institute’s Festival of Nations.

So I’m really hoping things slow down enough the next couple of weekends to explore two upcoming festivals in St. Charles: the Missouri River Irish Fest Sept. 17-19 (with the catchy slogan “halfway to St. Patrick’s Day”) and the St. Charles Oktoberfest Sept. 24-26.

I’ve not been to the Irish Fest, but last year my sons’ dance group preformed at the German event, and I have to say that I love the setting there along the river. We weren’t blown away by the carnival or the food, but since it’s just a few blocks to the historic Main Street district, it’s easy to find something better to eat. The fun is in the setting and the entertainment. I hear that the Irish Fest will have some demos of Gaelic football, among the usual dance groups and bands, which should be fun to see.

And there’s guaranteed to be good beer at both of these!

This morning at the gym I had to laugh — two women were arguing over which weather forecast to believe. One TV channel said tomorrow would clear up and be sunny; another said that wouldn’t happen until Wednesday. Both women just wanted to be outside without rain, and I can’t say that I blame them. I am pretty tired of mud-stained jeans and socks myself.

It’s hard to advocate outdoor activities given the weather lately, but I’m going to go ahead and do it, for two events downtown. One is this Friday (May 21): the U.S. Bank Bridge Bash. It’s  a rare opportunity for kids to witness a wrecking ball taking a swing at a building, in this case the eyesore skybridge. For my boys, that 5 p.m. swing will be the highlight of the day. But plans also include food and live music from 4 to 7 p.m. between Eighth and Ninth streets on Washington Avenue.

And if wreaking balls aren’t your thing, maybe you’re into chess? It seems like most kids are these days — and with the Chess Club and Scholastic Center in the news so much, the trend probably won’t wane anytime soon. Starting this month, the folks who book the Old Post Office Plaza downtown have started promoting what they call Chess Club Mondays from noon to 7 p.m. We haven’t been down to see it yet (blame the weather!) but if you know anything about chess, it should be an interesting way to spend part of the afternoon.

I freely admit to being a wuss when it comes to biking in traffic. OK, to biking in general. I don’t even OWN a bike. My 6-year-old does, because I know it’s a skill every kid needs to learn, but he’s still on training wheels because it is not high on my priority list.

It doesn’t help that several of my neighbors are avid cyclists, and nearly all of them have been involved in automobile-related accidents serious enough to land them in the emergency room. They get right back on the horse that threw ’em, but when that “horse” is going up against a few hundred pounds of metal, I put my money on the car.

However, I am all in favor of events like Open Streets this weekend (May 1). Cars will be banned from stretches of Locust, Lindell, Sarah, Manchester, Newstead, and Clayton, on a route from downtown through Grand Center and into Forest Park. It’ll be repeated on June 13, Sept. 19 and Oct. 9. The first and third are “Bike to Busch” events where baseball fans are encouraged to ride to the game.

This is not a bikes-only event, and cyclists are reminded that pedestrians (like me!) have the right of way at all times. However, it’ll be a great opportunity for kids to get a feel for riding somewhere other than park paths and paved alleys. And there are several stations along the route offering bike checks, fitness demos, healthy snacks and more. Perhaps the best freebie of the day: tours of the Moto Museum on Lindell and its collection of vintage motorcycles.

For details, including the route map, times and day’s schedule, log on to www.stlopenstreets.org.

I love, love, love morel mushrooms. I love them sliced, battered and fried. I love them diced and cooked with mixed vegetables. I love them baked onto savory onion tarts. I love them with a creamy sauce over pasta. And lo and behold, my kids actually kind of dig them too.

Apparently my neighbors think I’m a sucker for paying a gazillion dollars an ounce for them at the Soulard Farmers’ Market when I could just, you know, drive over to Illinois and get them myself.  Yeah, if I knew where to look …

And now someone’s going to tell me. For free. The Spring & Mushroom Festival at Pere Marquette Lodge is Sunday (Apr. 11) from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. An actual hunt begins at 12:30 p.m.  Woohoo!  There will be other stuff going on too, like live music and artisan crafts for sale. For details call 618.786.2331.

We spent spring break in Louisville, so I should not have been surprised when M. today noticed a truck that had “Louisville, KY” painted on the side and announced “Maybe it’s hauling bourbon!” Yes, we did tour a fine distillery at Buffalo Trace, all for the edification of the youngsters. Actually, it was pretty informative and they both got a kick out of seeing it, in a boy-and-machinery sort of way.
But now we’re back in town, heading into Easter weekend (already!?!?) and I have to note the beautiful weather — it seems custom-tailored for the opening weekend at the Doris I. Schnuck Children’s Garden at the Missouri Botanical Garden. Today was the actual opening, but festivities continue through Sunday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily. My pick for “best time to go” is Saturday (Apr. 3) from noon to 3 p.m., when there will be live music from the Ryan Spearman Trio.

As usual, city and county residents receive free admission to the Botanical Garden on Wednesday from 7 a.m. to noon, which saves you a little on admission (but you’d still pay at the Children’s Garden). However, on Saturdays from 9 a.m. to noon, you’ll pay regular admission to the Botanical Garden but get in free at the Children’s Garden.  You’ll have to do the math based on the composition of your group, but if you’re coming with a posse of kids, Saturday mornings are the time.

Ah, spring. Tantalizing us with 70s one day and 50s the next. Bringing out the daffodils only to dust them with snow. We love you, but do you have to be such a tease?

It’s the same story every year, but this is the first year I remember Easter egg hunt organizers have been so explicit that their events will happen rain or shine or whatever fickle springtime throws at them. We’ve been to some where it was absolutely frigid, and others where the kids were tossing their coats by 10 a.m. But thinking back, most have been on the chilly side!

The next two weekends are the biggies for egg hunts. One of the granddaddies of them all is Hare in the Air at Logan College of Chiropractic on Saturday (March 27). Arrive at the Chesterfield campus in time to register before the hare lands (at 11 a.m.) in order to get a color-coded sticker for the age-appropriate area (ages 2 to 8). For more info, call 636.227.2100 x4273 or e-mail hareintheair@logan.edu.

And to read about some of the largest egg scrambles in the metro area, check out the St. Louis Kids Magazine blog, to which I’m egg-ceptionally partial, seeing as how I’m a contributing editor.

This morning we saw a few St. Pat’s racers picking up breakfast at the Bread. Co., and their visits were overlapping with folks getting warm drinks to fortify themselves for the parade downtown. The Irish Village on Kiener Plaza is still going on, with live music until 6 p.m., but I haven’t been able to get my kids interested in much outdoors since last weekend. They’d rather be inside playing computer games — and I have to admit I don’t much blame them!

It’ll be a lot nicer on Wednesday (March 17) for the Ancient Order of Hibernians’ 26th annual parade in Dogtown, along Tamm Avenue. It’s supposed to be back in the 50s for the noontime parade. Luck of the (truly) Irish, I guess! There are more than 100 units in the parade, including many Irish dance schools and heritage groups. But make sure you park legally (the parking lots south of Manchester are a good bet, though you’ll have to hike back uphill to reach the parade route). And be sure to leave glass containers at home.

Unless you have a really good excuse to stay indoors, get out and enjoy the fabulous 50-degree weather predicted for this weekend! Two free options I like are:

  1. The Moolah Shrine Circus Parade along Main Street in St. Charles, Saturday (March 6) at noon. I admit to being a fan of the little cars, but what I really dig are the marching bands, and this parade promises to have some good ones.
  2. The Maple Festival at Pere Marquette Lodge in Grafton, Ill., on Sunday (March 7) from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. This is a first-time event at this particular location, but we’ve attended the one at Rockwoods Reservation in Wildwood and had a great time.

If nothing else, check your yard for signs of spring (buds on trees, daffodils poking up through the dirt) and have your kids record their findings in a nature journal.  You can buy these with observation suggestions built in, or you can make your own by simply arming your child with a notebook and some crayons or colored pencils and asking him some leading questions.