Thursday, July 24, 2008

Saturday, July 19, 2008

7:11 am

Foggy and cloudy in Blue Mounds, 71 degrees. Sunshine is fussing before we’ve even left the garage. Rose Bud is complaining that we’re already behind schedule. Heading out of Wisconsin, the kids are begging for a bag of presents from Nonny. Rose Bud climbs into the back to find a bag

and discovers: A book of Sudoku puzzles for herself, a pony with a hairbrush for Banana Boy (“OOOH, BB, look what YOU get,” Rose Bud says). Banana Boy gets a big grin. Daisy gets a shirt puzzle to keep her busy. “Pepper, you get a window suction monkey!” Rose Bud exclaims. And last but not least, Sunshine gets a pony, too. “Oh! It’s a Lemon Pony!” Rose Bud shouts, sniffing it. “mmm” Sunshine says as he licks it. “Smell it with your nose!” Rose Bud tells him. She helps him comb the hair. “Whoa, there, Pony,” she tells it as a big clump of hair (Purple) comes out in the comb. “He might be bald by the end of the trip,” I tell her. “Can I smell it?” Pepper wants to know. Smelling Sunshine’s pony is proving to be a popular activity.

8:11 am, we cross into Illinois. “Bloop!” Mr. GT says. “Look how flat it is here. You cross the line and Splat! It’s flat!” The kids argue with that fact, since Mr. GT made it up. He does point out that the highest point in Illinois is in the northwest corner, meaning it’s only going to get flatter from here.

“Do we have a map of the United States?” Pepper wants to know. Why, yes, in fact, I do, since they had all sorts of cool stuff in the One Spot at Target this week. I hand her a Grade 2 workbook of the United States, complete with US map. “Are we going around Springfield or through Springfield?” she wants to know. “Actually, we’re stopping in Springfield,” I tell her. “And how are we getting home?” “Up the Mississippi” “Through Iowa?” she wonders. Mr. GT grins at his bright little Pepper.

“Do you have something for ME?” Daisy needs to know. I hand her another One Spot find: a lift the flap book of US facts. “What am I supposed to do with this?” she whines.

“Do you have anything for ME to do?” Rose Bud whines. I offer her Exploring Landmarks or Discovering US Presidents. She declines and wants something that won’t give her a headache. A tin of Lemonheads fit the bill. (also from the One Spot). Mr. GT’s hand is immediately in the back seat. “You can put your hand back up there, I have to open them first,” she tells him. She generously shares a Lemonhead with each of us. I should have got the adults each a tin!

Lunch is bagels with peanut butter and jelly (no turkey for us on THIS vacation!) in the car, M&M cookies and juice boxes.

Sunshine has napped for about an hour from 9:30-10:30 and he’s really doing very well in the car. I sit with him for a bit as Rose Bud complains about having to sit in the front seat.

12:15 Springfield, IL

We let everyone stretch their legs by parking 2 blocks from the museum. On the agenda for the day is the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum, the Old State Capitol and Lincoln’s Tomb.

We start at the museum and it’s pretty cool! The library is just for research, but at the museum, there is a neat holographic presentation about the merits of a presidential library. The kids were blown away by the holograms and we’ve promised to look up “how they do that” once we have an internet connection. Also at the museum is a section of artifacts that belonged to the Lincolns, a log cabin replica where the exhibits tell of Lincoln’s life before he became president, a white house section detailing his presidency to his death and funeral, another theater with a film about the Civil War which we didn’t visit and Mary Lincoln’s Attic, a play area for kids with dress-ups, period toys (like Jacob’s Ladders and slates), a play kitchen (cooking done on the fireplace), dollhouse replica of Lincoln’s Springfield home and of course, Lincoln Logs.

The museum is very well done and worth the price ($4 for 5-15 and $10 adults). Sunshine was free and thank goodness, because he was an absolute terror in the museum. He ran, he touched, he screamed and yelled, he set off alarms. He touched the silicon Willie Lincoln and got yelled at by a docent (well, actually she yelled at me—like I don’t KNOW my kid shouldn’t be ripping off Willie’s fingers!)
Will the real Lincoln family please stand up? (Notice the absence of finger-ripping Sunshine)

Part of the problem was that they wouldn’t let us put him in the backpack carrier. Backpacks are against the rules. They did have free strollers, but putting Sunshine in a stroller is like putting milk in a sieve. If I held him, he cried for Daddy. If Daddy held him, he cried for Mama.

Mr. GT and the kids enjoyed the museum. Most interesting things at the museum: Pepper—the displays and the fake people (very lifelike and made of silicon), Daisy & Rose Bud—the holographs. Oh, Pepper and Mr. GT say they liked the holographs too. Banana Boy and Sunshine are sleeping, but I think Sunshine would say the dress-ups.

After they kicked us out of the museum, we walked to the Old State Capital. We had to wait for Mr. GT until he returned from feeding the parking meter. On the lawn of the capitol 3 men were playing baseball in 1860s uniforms with corresponding ball and bat. They invited the kids to have a bat and all but Pepper took a turn. Sunshine enjoyed THIS and had 5 turns. I had to help him bat and he loved when we hit the ball. Banana Boy, an expert T-Ball player after his 5-week stint as an Athletic this summer batted on his own. The players gave each of the kids a pin to remember them by.

The Old State Capitol was interesting. Everyone’s favorite part was the wood carver carving an eagle out of wood. He gave us a demonstration and let the kids pick up all the wood curls they wanted off the floor. Rose Bud wanted to slide down the banister of the stairs. Mr. GT was happy to rediscover the only thing he remembered from our previous visit here (pre-kids): the straw box which holds the candles (I had forgotten all about that). Banana Boy was most fascinated by the staircases leading to the uppermost level, which were roped off. “Why can’t we go up there? What is up there? Who gets to go up there? When do they open it?”

Across the street from the Old State Capitol building is Cold Stone. Mrs. GT (that’s me) made an impassioned plea for ice cream and Mr. GT caved. Plain ice cream was only $1.60 for a kids’ serving and everyone agreed they were happy with that. Everyone being the kids, that is. Mr. GT and I had lots o’ stuff mixed in. BB had cotton candy, Pepper, coffee, Rose Bud, cheesecake (It tastes like a bowl of sweet cream cheese, she complained) & Daisy had mint (I thought it tasted like mouthwash.) I always get For Coffee Lover’s Only and I shared mine with Sunshine. I really have never enjoyed ice cream less as I had to eat it pretty fast to keep him from eating the whole thing!

After ice cream we went to see Lincoln’s Tomb, which was marred for me by the surrounding reconstruction project. Sunshine was excited to see a Bobcat. “Digger!” Rose Bud was fascinated by the graves and deaths of the children (the Lincolns only had one of four sons survive to adulthood and the other three died tragic deaths from sickness). Miraculously, Sunshine observed the requested silence out of respect for the Lincoln family in their tomb.

Now we’re driving to Litchfield where the kids hope and pray there will be a pool to swim in. Daisy & Pepper are having a giggle-fest in the back seat and studying US Geography in Pepper’s workbook. The boys are sleeping and Rose Bud is listening to music. Mr. GT is driving.

9:20 pm Litchfield, IL

Yes, there was a pool. No one was hungry since we pigged out on Cold Stone, so we went swimming right away. Buncha fish! Banana Fish could stand in the shallow, and he spent his whole time swimming around under water. SunFish jumped into the pool over and over and over and over and over and over and….. you get the idea. Like a crazy man. It didn’t even matter if Mr. GT was there to catch him or not. PepperFish jumped and swam and smiled and had a great time. DaisyFish jumped and swam across the pool and swam under water and swam and swam. Rose Fish did all sorts of fancy jumps and then played stealthy shark, swimming under water to attack her family in the ankle. Mom took pictures.

After swimming, everyone was starving. We had had a hankering for Chinese and lo and behold! There was a Chinese restaurant a block away.

Oh. My. Goodness. I have only ever eaten at a Chinese buffet like this one other time. It was amazing. 3 kinds of seafood on ice, 4 kinds of soup, 6 kinds of fruit, 3 kinds of jello, about 45 kinds of actual Chinese food, macaroni and cheese, prime rib and sushi. Plus dessert. Plus fortune cookies.

Oof. We are all stuffed. Pepper had FIVE plates of food! She loves Chinese. It is her favorite foreign food (and next is Indian, she informed me). Sunshine ate more than Rose Bud who is on a teenage “I’m not hungry” kick right now. (unless it’s dessert. Then she’s hungry) We had to pay the adult price for her, but it was ok, because Sunshine more than made up for it. Banana Boy tried all 6 kinds of fruit and then had more fruit. Plus about 10 kinds of chicken. Daisy, she’s always a good eater. At the end, Mr. GT discovered that not only did they have the usual buffet soft serve ice cream, but they also had a freezer full of REAL ice cream in buckets. He made everyone go back and have ice cream, even tho they’d all had Cold Stone already today. Since we were paying for it, you know. Actually, they all begged for ice cream and he said, “yeah, go ahead! Eat ice cream!” 3 adults were $9.45 each and kids 4 – 10 were $3 plus 50 cents per year. The total was $44 with tax. Not so bad for a family of 7, I thought.

Back at the motel, we all put on pajamas and crashed on the bed(s) to watch Freaky Friday (the new one with Jamie Lee Curtis). I had loved the old version as a kid and was really resisting ever seeing this new version, but I love JLC and it was very well done. Cute. She is such a funny actress!

So now they are all asleep. Daisy, Sunshine and Rose Bud are on the floor, Pepper is in bed with me and BB is with Dad. Nighty night!

Oh, and I could have posted this tonight, but the free Wi-Fi at the motel is down. Bummer!

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