Tuesday, July 29, 2008


There are so many fun blog toys out there. Check out my new baby in the sidebar. You can play with her. Move your cursor around her. Isn't that fun?!

Monday, July 28, 2008

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Today was another lazy day hanging out at the cabin. Our tradition is that on the last day of vacation, we eat ice cream for breakfast, but we were never able to bring any here because the stores were too far away. (It melts in the heat, you know) We had packed fixings for s’mores, but never had a campfire, so Mrs. GT made everyone microwave s’mores for breakfast. Mr. GT went for an early walk and we all went down to the swimming creek by 9:30, before it got too hot. The kids swam, Mr. GT built a channel and dam out of rocks, Mrs. GT and Pepper went crayfishing, Banana Boy swam and sat on his towel, swam and sat on his towel. Daisy pounded crumbled shale into clay. Even Sunshine did more than stand in the shallows holding Mr. GT’s hand and he sat on a big, flat rock making his own little rock pile and dipping in the edge of the creek.

It was noon before we felt done, and we were glad to come back to eat lunch. Rose Bud declared herself STARVING (all she’d eaten was two s’mores for breakfast) and made everyone lunch. They did a good job cleaning up the leftovers.

Sunshine lay down for a nap. Pepper, Mr. & Mrs. GT played Monopoly. Pepper is a formidable opponent, despite not having ever really played “big” Monopoly. She was quite the real estate tycoon! Even so, Mr. GT won (as Pepper said he ALWAYS does). The other 3 kids watched Shrek and Cool Runnings (about the Jamaican Bobsled team that went to the Olympics).

We’ve had frequent power outages here, albeit only for seconds at a time. Today, Rose Bud came screeching out of the bedroom during the movie. The power had gone out, the TV had shut off and the bobsled had just crashed. “Everyone is lying there all still! Daddy! You have to fix the DVD player!!!!” I think the sledders lived, but it was a scary moment!

After nap/movie/game time, the kids packed up their suitcases and Daisy, Oreo and Mr. GT cleaned out the back of the van and packed it up again. I cleaned the kitchen and Daisy helped. Rose Bud was thrilled to do chores from a list and busily went around completing things on the check-out checklist, keeping the rest of us on task. Pepper, exhausted from her Monopoly loss, moped on her bed. After I passed out frozen mini Heath bars to the good workers, she emerged and begged for a chore. We let her sweep the bathrooms. Banana Boy collected all the wastebaskets and Sunshine helped Mr. GT take out the trash and clean and bleach the kitchen wastebasket.

We were just getting supper started when Mary and her nephews drove down to weed-whack. The kids have been begging me all week to see Oreo’s kittens, who were only a week old when we got here. They were out in the horse barn inside the pasture fence, so there was nothing I could do to help them out. I said they had to ask Mary. So Rose Bud elected herself this evening and went over to ask. Of course, Mary was happy to get them, so she and Rose Bud walked out to the barn. RB came back carrying a large dishpan with a towel in it and four teeny, black kittens! Their eyes are just open and they don’t even walk well yet. They fall over when they try. They had the cutest little tails and teeny tiny claws!

The kids were absolutely charmed and it made their whole week to finally see and hold the kittens. Kittens are always a popular attraction for visitors here and Mary likes them to be handled and used to people. The mother, Oreo, is the calmest cat I’ve ever seen. She walked right by us out to the barn while the kids held her babies. About 10 minutes later she came back and mewed once at them. She plunked herself down in the dishpan to nurse and nursed away like we weren’t even there. Sunshine was even screeching and poking at her occasionally from Rose Bud’s lap (he’s slippery and hard to keep ahold of!). It didn’t phase her a bit. When it was time to put them back, Rose Bud picked up the whole dishpan, Oreo, kittens and all, and carried them all the way back to the barn. Oreo rode along, nursing as they went. What a cat!

After that the kids petted the horses and then we finally went in to finish making supper. We had leftover breakfast sausage, leftover green beans, leftover rice and 4 eggs. I threw the whole thing together with a little chili powder and some cheese slices and the kids declared it the best meal they’d had all week. “Why don’t you make this at home, Mom???”

Everyone showered and we finished what cleaning we could do tonight. Mr. GT, RB and Daisy watched “The Gods Must Be Crazy” and roared with laughter. Pepper, BB and I read some American Revolution and Sunshine went to bed.

Tomorrow we leave early for our long, long drive home. In Rose Bud’s parting words from where she signed the guestbook, “This was a fun vacation.”

Sunday, July 27, 2008


Turn up your volume and go watch this. Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!

Ha ha ha!

Thanks, Christine!

Friday, July 25, 2008

Today everyone slept in until 7. Whoo hoo! When Mr. GT reheated the sausage in the microwave (I told you we were living high on the hog!), the kids all came creeping out of the woodwork wondering where the popcorn was! Apparently, reheated Missouri sausage smells like microwave popcorn. They were disappointed.

We stopped up to the house for our free air. Luckily, our leak was a VERY slow leak. We drove 15 miles to Viburnum to a tire shop. We had to wait about 20 minutes before they could look at it, so the kids an I walked across the highway to the convenience store for sodas. Only trouble was, instead of grabbing a $20 out of my purse, I had grabbed a $1 bill. I sent Rose Bud back across the highway to get more money. This place was the first place I was at where people looked curiously at the boys. No one commented, though. A few other people have just asked matter of factly where they are from.

The plug in the tire cost less than our snack at the convenience store.

We drove up to Dillard’s Mill, a 100 year old grist mill that still operates for tours. We were 10 minutes too early before it opened and it was very hot and humid there. It was pretty, though and Banana Boy saw a lizard. The tour was $2.50 and $1.50, but we skipped it. The kids were more interested in the fish in the creek.

It's time for another game of Spot the Lizard!

The kids opened presents from Nonny and the girls got rollers for their hair,
while the boys got stretchy, disgusting, rubber, light-up bugs, which they loved. Banana Boy stretched and stretched his and thoroughly enjoyed it until he snapped me with it and it got grounded. Sunshine played and played with his and thoroughly enjoyed it until he worked the light-up mechanism out of it. Then he just enjoyed the stretchy part

The afternoon’s entertainment was to visit Onadaga Cave. From bitter experience, we’ve discovered that babies don’t enjoy cave tours, so Mrs. GT and Sunshine opted out. We drove to the nearest town, parked in a Sonic and connected to the internet (thanks to Java.net next door!) while Sunshine napped.

The rest of the GT’s toured the cave. Here are some highlights:

The guide said that somebody remembered that when there was a wooden bridge instead of cement that they would take you out to the middle of the bridge and then turn off the lights. --Daisy

There were two rocks that looked alike and they were called the tiwns and there was a rock on the top of the cave and water was dripping down and it dripped on to the shorter twin and then it bounced off, “Splooch” and it looked like the twin was squirting water out. --Pepper

There was a smooth rock which was a twin which wasn’t very smooth and Rose Bud touched it. There was this cool pond with these cool lily pads and there was a big hole. –Banana Boy

We saw four bats sleeping. --Daisy

Mr. GT says Onadaga Cave was better than any other cave he’s seen except probably Carlsbad. Mammoth Cave was impressive only because it was so big. This one had so many interesting and beautiful formations. The cave almost wasn’t. It was in private hands. Whoever first discovered it bought all the land around it and they were trying to decide whether to mine or show it. The formations were so beautiful and the miners wanted to use it for building material. But they found that when they took it out of its environment, it became dry and brittle. Had they mined it, they would have punched a hole right down into it and would have destroyed all the formations. In the 1950s the Army Corp of Engineers wanted to dam the river and make a recreational area, but in doing that, it would have flooded the cave. Eventually, the Army Corp of Engineers decided not to follow through with that plan.

We had originally planned to visit Fort Leonard Wood today also, but everyone is so carsick AND sick of riding in the car and it was so far out of the way, that we opted out of it.

Instead, we returned early to the cabin and went down to the creek to swim. Picture this:

Rose Bud is floating placidly down the current on her back.

Daisy: “SNAKE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”


Mrs. GT: “Where?!” Catches a glimpse of something light brown and squiggly in the water. “Are you sure it wasn’t a stick?”

Daisy: “Sticks do not have a head and a pattern!”

Mrs. GT: “True.”

Rose Bud: “Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!”

Daisy: “I saw it lift its head out of the water! It was light brown and squiggly and it had a pattern! I KNOW it was a snake!”

We never did find out where Sir Snake went. Hopefully, it was far, far away. And try as she might, Mrs. GT could not find another.

Supper was Chicken Tikka Masala (sauce from a jar, not very good, although the kids loved it), zucchini and rice.

We’d picked up some movies from the house (they have hundreds) and the kids watched Shrek 2 (for the 7 millionth time!) After the boys went to bed, Mr. GT and the girls watched “Rudy.” I said they would think the only movies in the world were football movies (we’ve seen Facing the Giants a zillion times, too, and in fact we own it).

More Postcards to Nonny

Dear Nonny from Sunshine,


Thank you. Lizard. Lizard. Snack. Worm.

Nonny, Sunshine. Kids. Water. Swim. Nonny! Water. Fish.

Nonny! Nonny! Nonny! Ice. Eat! Ice.



Cow. Horse. Kitty. Dog! Done

Dear Nonny,

Thank You for the presents. (BTW, Mr. GT says “Thank you for the pheasants and the peasants”) I liked the lizards. I decided to try wetting them to see if they would stick to the wall better.

I like the Littles books. I’m glad that I got them because then I had something to read at bedtime. The books that we already have I’m going to leave a the cabin for other kids to read. They have a bookshelf with lots of books to read and I’ve found lots of things to read.

I liked the notebook and the pen and the pencil.

Today to went a cave and saw bats (Mr. GT says, “Rats??”) It’s hot. Maybe we’ll go swimming when we get back.

When we swam in the creek, we swam in a big creek twice.


Thursday, July 24, 2008

Ahh, see! She was right. There WAS an attack in the night. Daisy's bear leapt out of bed right into the fort.

There were many casualties.

Today was a lazy day. We had pancakes and sausage for breakfast. Mmm. Nutella

There was more dress-up fun....

It was drizzling off and on outside so the kids and Mr. GT started up a game of Clue. Sunshine and I sorted out the laundry and made a trip up to the house where we could wash and dry for $2 each. Mary and Duane were both home (digging a hole) so we got a tour of the house, the Annex, the lakeside cabin, the camper and heard all about how they came to be at this place. Sunshine played in the dirt and ran amuck while we talked. We talked until the wash load wad done! I put the clothes in the dryer and we went back to the cabin for lunch. Sunshine laid down for a nap, the kids watched a movie and I did some digital scrapbooking.

Once Sunshine woke up, we all hopped in the car to explore Caledonia. We started at the Caledonia Wine Cottage. Mmm, wine! The lady who waited on us was so nice. She explained that they carry all local Missouri wines and suggested some of her favorites. We tried a sweet white, a blush, the kids tried a grape juice and we bought all three. We also tried a sweet red and a late season white which we didn’t care for as well. They also sold Amish crafts, a few antiques and had the sweetest little bed and breakfast on the third floor. It was all located in an old 3-story pre-Civil war wooden house. It was very cool. The rooms were very nice, one pastel and one more masculine looking. The pastel room had an attached bathroom (which the kids thought had such neat curtains in it) and the other room had a bathroom down the hall. For $99, you got the room, a bottle of wine, dinner for two and breakfast. We wished we hadn’t brought the kids. Ha ha.

The second place we went was the Carr House Antiques and Ice Cream (or Antique Ice Cream, as Mr. GT said) We peeked into an early 1800’s log jail they had on their property. It had iron bars in its 3 windows. The kids wondered why the prisoners couldn’t just walk out the doorway (because it would have had a door at that time) and why the prisoners couldn’t just take a coal from the wood stove and burn the walls down (because the prisoners were probably lucky to even have the wood stove) They declared they would just burn down the walls. We promised to keep that in mind when we incarcerated them.

This antique shop was more interesting. The girls were most fascinated by the linens for sale—hankies, dish towels, pillow cases, all embroidered beautifully. I was most fascinated by the old books, although I didn’t find any to buy. Mr. GT and the boys were most fascinated by the ice cream, which was very good! The 4 big kids had chocolate fudge brownie, Mr. GT had Moose Poop, Sunshine had strawberry cheesecake and I had pecan caramel praline. The proprietors were also very nice and told us all about how they ended up in this area with this place, another old, old building. They told us there are 32 buildings in Caledonia on the register of historic places (or something like that) It did look to be a very well-preserved old town. The gentleman here was at Ft. Leonard Wood in 1958.

The third place was the most interesting of all! It was an old general store, fitted out just like a general store, but with most everything for sale! It was enormous! They had bolts of cloth, jewelry (both new and antique), antiques for sale, and barrels and bins of candy! Rose Bud was overwhelmed! All the kids ran to and fro, not knowing which candy to look at first. Every old favorite from out childhood was there—circus peanuts, boston baked beans, malted milk balls (5 flavors), and flavored sticks of hard candy. Rose Bud said, “Now I know how Laura and Mary felt!” (we’ve just finished our CD of Little House in the Big Woods) They each got a stick of candy for 20 cents apiece. There was even an upstairs in this store. All around the top was a balcony with a low (very low!) railing and on the balcony were bicycles, toys, quilts and more (mostly antiques) for sale. There was a small room on either end of the store off the balcony which had clothes and furniture. There was even a small room for changing to try on clothes. This place was absolutely awesome and really made you understand what the general store had been like. And the place was well fixed up and very nice.

There was one more establishment that was open was a small diner and antique shop, The Hen’s Nest. The food was in crock pots on the counter and they had BBQ for $2.50 and coleslaw for $1.25. Fried chicken was the special. The lady here asked where we were from and when Mr. GT told her, she said, “Oh, Wesconsin!” The kids wanted to know why everyone around here says Wisconsin wrong. I said maybe we say Missouri wrong. We asked the lady and she asked how we say Wisconsin. We asked her how she says Missouri. She actually said it just the way we do. But she said some other people say “Missouruh.” Rose Bud has also noticed that people around here say “set” instead of “sit.” Now she knows why we had to study that lesson in grammar. It had baffled her at the time to have to study something she never said incorrectly.

Back at the cabin, Duane was driving behind us and followed us in to our driveway. He pointed out that our rear tire was low. Sure enough, Mr. GT found a nail. Duane offered us free air up at his place. Rose Bud wanted grilled chicken, so Mr. GT fired up the grill and I made pasta with pesto sauce while Pepper folded laundry and Daisy snapped beans. Rose Bud kept Sunshine busy. We had less than 1.5 lbs of chicken, but after everyone was full, there was still a half a piece left. Sunshine was so happy to have “Noo-noos” for supper and ate about three helpings.

After supper, we’ve been assigning chores everyday. One cleans up supper and loads the dishwasher (yeah, we’re living rough here—this is more luxurious than at home!), another sweeps the kitchen, a third straightens the shoes (13 pairs, we counted today! Rose Bud has the most, at 3 pair) and shakes out the rug. One person collects dirty laundry and puts away dry swim stuff and the 5th has a miscellaneous chore. We’ve been rotating through the chores every night and for the most part, they’ve been cooperative. Rose Bud has also taken the cat, Oreo, under her wing and makes sure she is fed every day.

The kids played some more dress-up before bed

and Banana Boy worked through some more of the math book I bought him at Target before we left. Best $1 I ever spent! He’s been fanatical about doing addition problems every night and Daisy and Pepper have been helping him. Pepper fills in for him and does the double-digit addition pages. Mr. GT was reading how to homestead—the selection of books here is great! Rose Bud read us vacation packing and housekeeping tips from an old Good Housekeeping magazine.

Best tips learned: Mr. GT—You can live easily on 2 acres
Banana Boy—You can add 0 + 1 because it’s not subtracting!
Rose Bud—Wear your chunky shoes on the plane and pack your smaller strappy sandals in your suitcase.

Daisy, Pepper and I did crosswords and got smart.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Today we spent exploring the countryside and sites within a day’s drive of the cabin. We began at the Johnson’s Shut-Ins. Rose Bud thought a shut-in might be a woman. Pepper thought it was a small shack. I thought they were big rocks. What they were, was really cool!

A shut-in is when a river is narrowed, or shut in, by non-eroding rock. It does erode, but very slowly and the river carves channels and chutes in the rock. We climbed down to the shut-ins and clambered all over the rocks. I just love a good rock-climb, especially if it involves water. I wish we had brought swim suits. The pool at the base of the shut-ins was so clear and deep and beautiful. I could have stripped down and jumped in if it weren’t for the ranger clearing the boardwalk up top with a leaf blower.

We saw 4 lizards.

It was a beautiful day—warm and mostly sunny but with a nice breeze. When we got back to the visitor center, we looked at the pictures of the damage from the flood in 2005. A reservoir up the mountain breached and 1.3 billion (BILLION!) gallons of water raced down the river. The shut-ins were fine (being granite and all) but the flood washed away much of the man-made infrastructure of the park (like parking lots and boardwalks—and the ranger’s house!) The park JUST reopened last month, 2 ½ years later! Good timing on our part. I’m glad we went here!

Next stop was Taum Sauk Mountain, the highest point in Missouri at 1772 feet. Fortunately, we got to drive all the way up. Really. The walk from the parking lot to the actual high point (verified in 1991!) was nearly flat on a concrete sidewalk. The kids were hungry and less than impressed. A highlight of this state park was climbing the tower to nowhere. It was the scariest, most dangerous tower I’ve ever been on and when we got to the top, ready to look out, the trapdoor to the top tier was locked. Errrr.

We ate lunch at the picnic area (they are very picnicky about where you can picnic in Missouri) and had the best peaches ever—local Missouri peaches we picked up at the grocery store yesterday.

Third stop was Fort Davidson Civil War battlesite. It was an earthworks fort, original, as far as we could tell, which seems remarkable after 150 years. The fort was Union and was attacked—one of the last attacks—by the Confederates in 1864. The Confederates lost more men and really failed in their goals, which were to gain battle experience (this they did), capture the Union weapons and ammunitions for themselves (Union soldiers abandoned the fort in the night and blew up the magazine and all weapons under cover of darkness), and to draw the Union army east of the Mississippi into this area to divert them (didn’t happen). However, the Union army lost this fort and all the equipment in it and 48 men.

There was an impressive collection of Civil War guns in the museum inside. An interesting thing about the western front of the war, was that the armies received many fewer of the standard army-issue weapons and instead were sent some of the odd lots of guns. So there was quite a collection of unusual and rare muskets there.

Last and final stop was Elephant Rocks State Park. More giant granite boulders here, only without the river flowing through them. Very fun to climb!

Rose Bud was lobbying for a swim at Council Bluff Lake, but Sunshine had not had any nap thus far and it was nearly 2 pm. It was also beginning to cloud up. She settled (happily) for a swim at the creek back at the cabin. Sunshine did fall asleep while the rest of us listened to Little House in the Big Woods on CD, which we had purchased at Mansfield. He woke up a teeny bit when we got to the cabin, but I carried him in and lay down with him. We both slept another 2 hours! Mr. GT and the big kids went swimming.

Tonight we ate leftovers for supper and everyone watched The Princess Bride. I had to cover Banana Boy’s eyes at the ROUS. I didn’t want that image in his head when he closed his eyes for bed! Sunshine crashed long before the movie was over.

Quote of the day: Pepper, walking along the boardwalk at the Shut-ins trots up to tell us, “There was a worm edging off the sidewalk, so I picked it up and threw it aside!”

And Rose Bud found an army ammunitions box in the toy closet. Upon opening it, she found it filled with…..army men! (What ELSE would be in an army box? Mr. GT wondered) She set them up all over her bedroom. “Don’t shake the floor mom, they fall over.” Looking around, I commented that they were everywhere. (including one battalion lying on their bellies under the bed!) I tried to pick on up to play with it. “Mom! Put him back! There is an attack coming!”

My favorite time of day:

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

50995 8 am cloudy and drizzling. There was a thunderstorm this morning at 5:00. We’re headed to Mansfield.

Banana Boy

We went to a house. Laura & Mary’s house. We went to a bookstore. We bought some books. I liked the movie the best.

We went to the Laura Ingalls museum. And this slushie tastes like frozen squash. We got to see the Laura books written in all different languages. That was the most interesting part. It wasn’t a good drive. I got a terrible, terrible, terrible, terrible, terrible, terrible, terrible, terrible, terrible, terrible, headache.

Day. (My Day) Nonny. (Thought about her) Water. (Now I’m thinking about yesterday) Backpack. (Rode in it on Dad’s back at the museum) Eat dog. (Had a corn dog for lunch) Dog! Dog! (It was really good!) Mama dog eat. (Actually, she had a burger) Hmmmmm…. (Thinking, thinking…) Done. Rrrrrrrrrr. (Every time Dad drives over the centerline, he hits a rumble strip. I’m the on-board warning system) Ice. (I had a slushie!)

Rose Bud
We went to Laura’s museum and it was boring. The lady who gave the tour spoke wrong. She said, “Laura set in her chair.” Then we went to the giftshop and then we went and ate lunch and it was really windy. Mom wouldn’t give me a sip of her soda. The drive was really curvy. Dad drove too fast on the curves and everybody got really carsick but nobody threw up. And there was a really disgusting bug in the bathroom at the restaurant. We saw lots of dead armadillos and one even had a line where the tire ran over the middle of it. The other part of it wasn’t squooshed. We also saw a couple dead possums. It was really cold in all of the buildings in the museum. It was freezing!

We went to a Laura museum and there was Pa’s real fiddle and there were books in lots of different languages and it took 2 hours to get there and the roads were very curvy.

Mr. GT
I was just a driver today. Sure, I enjoyed where we went but we didn’t really see much. There is nothing more I’d like to say.

Mrs. GT:

The hummingbirds here are just incredible. There must be about 8 of them, but the most I've seen at once is 5. They are so funny to watch. There are definitely dominant birds who chase the others away. Also, if a wasp is drinking from one of the three spouts, no birds will bother going to that spout. The wasp is king.

Hum, hum, ho hum....

Math takes no vacation!

Monday, July 21, 2008

Mr. GT and the kids were up about 7:30. I lazed and dozed in bed until 9:15. It was sunny and hot early, early. Mr. GT made French toast and after breakfast the kids went out to feed the cat, check their crayfish habitat (one was dead) and play in the playhouse. They opened the day’s presents from Nonny which were Teddy Grahams and Gummy worms—perfect, since it was snack time! They immediately snarfed everything down.

Everyone changed into swimsuits and we headed down the road to where we’d been told the creek of our dreams was. They weren’t kidding! It was awesome! In most places it was only ankle deep. It was teeming with minnows and small fish. The kids had found nets at the cabin and brought them along, so they spent most of the time catching the little fish.

Well, here, I’ll let them tell it.

Rose Bud

What did we do today? Oh, yeah. Swimming in the creek was fun except for the disgusting spider and the water moccasin and the leeches. (Mr GT: "And the stingrays") Catching the fish. I liked the water slide and my current pool. I didn’t like that the big fish were so hard to catch. The little fish were really easy. I caught, like, 27 at once. (BB: I caught, like, 88.) Yeah, right. He did not catch 88. Twenty-seven is more realistic. I found lots of cool rocks. I liked playing Twister at the cabin with Dad, & Daisy & Pepper (BB: "and Banana Boy"). Sunshine just tried to climb on top of us while we were all twisted up. All our crayfish died and one of our fish that we had in a container with some rocks and gravel and water. Only one fish lived. So I put that fish back.

Banana Boy:

We had supper and I fighted where I was going to sit and it was at the cabin. And then I had to go on my bed. Then I had a fit, so then I found a way to get down and I opened the door and went to see what was for supper. It was Indian with rice and broccoli and Dal Makhani. We played outside for a little while and we saw a cat and we named him Oreo. And then we found a dog when we were in the playhouse so we had to close it up so the dog wouldn’t go in it. And we had a lot of fish. We had two fish and we had about seven crayfish. That’s the end!

Mr. GT

Highlights of my trip so far: Lincoln Museum, the Arch, the Botanical Gardens, playing Don’t Break the Ice in the cabin, Our cottage, dead armadillos, pretty wife.