Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Our December ... so far

Our December was filled with choir practices and performances, parties, food (savory and sweet), shopping, wrapping, family time, and other time of this and that. Needless to say, I didn't have much free time to blog about it and now it is pretty much a blur. I do remember that it did snow ...

Quick picture before we took Riley to school.

So excited about the snow!!

And I have to mention that Victoria LOVES telling everyone "Merry Christmas." She tells me this before she goes down for nap and we when we put her to bed in the evenings. She also likes to tell the bell ringer at Walmart. The other day, the bell ringer was on her cell when we walked by and Victoria exclaimed "Merry Christmas!" Well, Victoria was very upset. With a huge frown on her face she told me "she no Merry Christmas me." It was pretty cute.

Then there was Riley's Christmas musical at church. They performed "The Camel Lot." In a nut shell, a little gir has a dream while preparing for her church musical that her car lot owning father owns a camel lot in Bethlehem and is informed by shepherds, camel buying patrons and a wiseman that the Messiah has been born. Anyway, part of Riley's costume was a ball cap. He was the teenage boy looking for his first car, er camel, with his dad. Well, the hat managed to make it's way into his performance. It was in his mouth for a while. It was in his hands while he was doing his motions. It was all over the place ... so I am told. I still haven't seen the video yet. I was busy in the sound booth with giving cues for the lighting, music and film crew. It was remeniscent of two Christmas' ago. He is a bit of a ham. All he needs is an audience. As soon as Carey's gets me some sort of fire wire card cable thingy, I will be able to start uploading video again.

Well, can I just say that I am sooo glad that I spent all last week cleaning the house, shopping and wrapping presents. Because this week we are doing a whole lot of nothing. Not by choice ... 3 of the 4 of us are sick. Urgh. So we have been spending these last few days on the couch, administering medicine, going to the doctor and watching lots of TV. Not my idea of a fun Christmas break. So, we are hoping and praying that we will all be well by Christmas Day. Not only so that we can enjoy the morning full of presents and fun, but also for the 1200 mile drive we will be making that night and the next day.

Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Victoria Rings Silent Night

Victoria's music class performed again this year at the Saginaw Rec Center in their Christmas program. She did SOOO much better this year. Last year I ended up ringing the bell not long after the song started. I told her when her color was on the card and she did the rest.

And here is Riley giving Victoria her flower after her performance.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Our Happy Thanksgiving (for the most part)

Not sure if we have started a family tradition or not. Last year we went camping on Thanksgiving. This year we went camping on Thanksgiving.

This time we went to Tyler State Park in Tyler, Texas. So pretty. The trees were massive and the colors were amazing. There was a little lake (or a big pond) in the middle of the park, which we could see out the front of our tent. It was a bit cold, but not nearly as bad as last year. The trip had its ups and downs as with any camping trip for the Thompsons. We spent the first morning in Tyler at Walgreens getting medicine for my queezy stomach and at Academy getting new camping chairs. Poor Carey broke both chairs the night before ... oops.

Once it warmed up on Wednesday, we ventured into the woods to do some geocaching. Very cool. Carey had three that he had printed directions and clues for before we left. The kids were a bit whiny, but that is typical. They were worried about the dog of all things. She kept running ahead of us. They were afraid she would run off and not come back. We informed them that she might be a dog, but she isn't that stupid.

The rest of the trip was uneventful. Carey took the kids to the park and took Riley fishing. By the time you prepare a meal, eat a meal and cleanup after a meal ... well the time tends to get away from you. And the fact that the sun went down around 5:45. But, the kids were ready for bed around 7:00 both nights. That is definitely not typical.

We ate great as always. Carey does so well in the outdoor kitchen. He even did dishes after every meal while I just sat by the campfire. :)

We did collect some pine cones to bring home and decorate as Christmas Tree decorations. Not a very good idea. Victoria and I seemed to have a runny nose most of the camping trip. Then for about two days after, she would get all stuffed up and watery eyed every time we were in the car. Well, that is where the pine cones were ... still in the glove box. Oops. So, needless to say, the Thompson girls will not be camping in the piney woods without the assistance of allergy medication in the future.

But it was nice to be away just the four of us ... and the dog.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Our Happy Halloween

The kids proudly displaying their potato-head pumpkins.

She wore this like a hundred times this past month. A little Halloween outfit complete with a light up shirt, pumpkin socks and orange and black polka-dot bow. Can I just so it is SOOO much fun having a little girl!!

Of course Halloween would not be complete without a package arriving in the mail all the way from Michigan. Thanks Grandma and Grandpa!

Ready for an evening at the Fun Fest at church followed by trick or treating in the neighborhood.

Our most recent family portrait. From left to right - Fairy Princess, Princess Leia, Anakin Skywalker and The Masked Retriever.

The Masked Retriever is Riley's made-up guy. He was told that he could be anything he wanted to be for Halloween as long as he used items that we already had and/or I would make him something from material we already had. In other words, we were not going to buy him a costume. So, he requested a mask and did the rest of his costume himself. I love it! There wasn't much to his costume, but I loved that he "designed" it himself. He was so very proud of it.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

I Wanna Go!!

Those were my exact words when Carey told me that the scouts would be taking a tour of the NBC5 news studio. This is the news channel that I grew up watching ... Harold Taft showing us the weather and Santa coming into Fort Worth on the radar on Christmas Eve. There was also the Children's Hour on Sunday morning with the guy who would read the comics from the Star Telegram. Who could forget the advertising campaign in the early 90's of "Let's JAM" with Jane and Mike on the evening news. I am such a huge fan! I just had to go! So, it was a family outing for us.

The scouts doing their salute. Little Miss right there behind Riley doing her salute.

Riley and his buddy, Joseph, in the news room. I would like to say that they were listening intently to our tour guide, but there were about 20 TVs in this room, so I do believe that they were just watching TV.

In the studio behind the news anchor desk. The scouts were instructed not to touch the desk, because little fingerprints show up in HD. I am sure the temptation was just overwhelming. I was a bit busy at this point trying to keep Victoria from climbing and crawling all over the studio set.

I do believe this was the best part by far ... in front of the green screen with the 5-day forecast and being able to see themselves on TV. Very cool. They couldn't contain themselves.

Riley had a good time, but Carey and I by far had the best time. It was really kinda neat to see how they do everything. All the cameras are controlled by computers, so there aren't cameramen anymore. The studio just has the anchors and one other person to give them there prompts. Most of the work is done in a room with many monitors and computers and chairs and wires and switches and glass walls. We were there around 7PM and the place was just about empty. That surprised me. I thought they would all be running about getting news stories and preparing for the 10PM news. Nope. Almost all of them went home except for about 5 people in the news room that were leisurely working, eating dinner, talking on the phones. Alot more laid back than I pictured.

Riley's most favorite part was the goody bag he got when the tour was over. There was a plastic slinky in it with NBC5 printed on it. He was in heaven. He said it is his most favorite toy ever and that was the best night ever.

The slinky has since disappeared and been long forgotten.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Pictures pictures pictures!!!

We got these done at the Target Portrait Studio in Hulen. This is our 3rd time to go there and I am always so pleased with the pictures. Plus, with the coupon, it is only $4 a sheet. Such a deal! The photographer did such a good job just capturing them being themselves.

Here they are - Riley age 6 and Victoria age 2:

Monday, September 28, 2009

Ballerina and Swine Flu

Wow ... what a week we had last week. By the time we got to the end of it I was spent. Carey was out of town in Wyoming (so jealous) for a couple of days and then spent almost every other waking moment working on the deck (the project that just keeps going and going and going and never seems to end) and helping me get the house ready for my Pampered Chef party on Thursday night.

Amidst all this work that Carey and I tackled this past week, we definitely had one high point and one low point of the week:


This was no doubt the high point of the week. Victoria was invited by one of her little friends to Bring a Friend Week at a dance studio here in Saginaw. So, we of course got all the necessities to attend the class ... pink leotard, pink tights and pink ballet shoes. He he he. This just makes me so giddy. I mentioned in my last post that Carey has been looking forward to Scouts for Riley since birth. Well, I distinctly remember getting all excited about dance class for Victoria once all the medication wore off after her birth.

And can I tell you it was the most precious thing ever!! I was prepared for the worst ... ya know, tears, screaming, begging, pleading ... for both her and I, but she did fantastic! Her little friend grabbed her hand and they walked together down the hall into the studio. She did most of the moves and participated as well as you could expect a 2 year old with a short attention span to participate. The cutest was when they were doing Chasse' across the floor. Victoria was last in line and by the time it was her turn, she was so excited to go to the other side of the room, that she just ran! It was hilarious!! Seeing her in her little pinkness, chubby toddler body running so excitedly across the floor ... I loved it! As the lesson went on, she was getting a little restless and I saw her running around the teacher a couple of times, but all in all she did so well. The jury is still out on whether we will put her in lessons this Spring or wait until next fall. We'll see. My vote is now, but the checkbook doesn't agree as of yet.

Swine Flu

And this was no doubt the low point of the week. Riley's school called Thursday afternoon saying that he had a fever of 101. So, I went to get him, gave him some advil and he rested for about ... an hour. Then he was bored and wanted to play. He had been having a cough on and off all week, so I was thinking that he probably had a sinus infection. The plan was to see how he did that night and take him to the doc in the morning. Well, somewhere around 8PM, he came downstairs during the Pampered Chef party, and seriously people, he looked terrible. His eyes looked awful. That night he ran a temp of about 103 - 104. He was sooooo sick.

That next morning we went to the doctor and as soon as he walked in the room and looked at Riley, he told me it was the flu ... the swine flu. Well, I just about fainted. Pretty sure you could have knocked me over with a feather. He did the test and sure enough he was right. He spent about 10 minutes with me explaining that it wasn't gonna be as bad as I thought it was. He even said that the seasonal flu is much worse. He hadn't had any of his patients hospitalized and most were fine to go back to school in 4 -5 days. By the time we left, I felt a little better. I really trust my doctor. He was my pediatrician growing up. He is smart and a good man.

So, we got the tamiflu prescription filled (which is not covered by insurance, urgh) and within about 12 hours of his first dose, his fever was down and within 24 hours he was fever free. Yay!! We are on day 4 and he is fine. He still has a cough, but no fever for 48 hours now. Phew! So glad it wasn't as bad as they were thinking it would be. The incubation period is 1-4 days and so far only Victoria has had any symptoms. Hers are very mild (cold and fever of 100) and we have a script for tamiflu at CVS that we are gonna start her on today.

Another side effect of the swine flu is that it is driving us stir crazy. The kids have not been out of this house for 3 days now. I ventured out yesterday for about an hour to run a few errands. That wasn't enough. Needless to say, I am looking forward to going to the cleaners, blockbuster and CVS today. I got all dressed up for it and everything.

Friday, September 18, 2009


Riley started cub scouts this week. Yay! I do believe that Carey has been waiting for this since the doctor exclaimed "It's a boy!" in the operating room 6 1/2 years ago. This should be right up his alley. I think that Riley is really going to like it ... and Carey too. He is going to serve as a den leader since there are so many boys signed up. However, Victoria was not too happy about Riley getting to go to scouts ...

Victoria: "Where going, Riley?"
Riley: "I am going to boy scouts."
Victoria: "Me too!"
Mommy: "You have to be a boy to go to boy scouts. That is why Daddy is going too. The girls, you and me, will stay here."
Victoria: "I wanna be boy! Boy, boy, boy, boy!!" At this point she is jumping up and down.

The "I wanna be boy" went on until the boys left ... and then some. Mommy fixed it with some Dora and a snack of some sort (probably chocolate).

Now that we have added scouts to our calendar, our plate is officially full. Sunday night is Awanas, Wednesday night is Children's and Adult Choir and now Thursday night is cub scouts. There is no room for anything else. Amidst all this activity there is also dinner to be made and eaten, homework to be done, bikes to be ridden, a backyard to be played in, baths to be taken, books to be read, toys to be played with, and a faith to be taught and encouraged. So no more activities on school nights. We have plenty to do. That's enough. No more.

Well, until dance lessons for Miss Victoria next fall
... or maybe even sooner :)!!!!!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Good-bye Training Wheels

Well after about a month or so of practicing and encouraging, Riley can ride his bike without training wheels!! YAY! We are SO proud of him. He wanted to give up most of the time. I am so glad Riley has a Daddy that did not give in to his pleas to quit (his Momma probably would have caved). I am also SO VERY glad that he has a Daddy that did not mind running next to him as he rode past the house about a dozen times or so. Momma would definitely have not been up for that.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

First Day of First Grade

**Updated** (I forgot about the All About Me bag)

Riley was just so excited about his first day of first grade. I on the other hand, was a basket-case. I was SO nervous for him. He was good until we got to his room. Then he started to get nervous too. We waited in the hall until about 8AM. I guess this is how they do the first day?? We were late last year (got there around 8:05) and they were already in the room and doing the pledge on the loud speaker.

Anyway, he didn't know any of the kids sitting down in the hall, so he just stood there and was doing a little nervous fidgety thing with his hands. I held back my tears and the quiver in my voice and started to talk to him about his new classroom and how the teacher decorated it like a jungle and so on. That helped. Then, his friend walked up ... Yay!! I could just tell by his body language that he felt better.

So, after like FOREVER, they went into the classroom to find their desk. Well, at meet the teacher, Riley picked out what desk he would sit at. For some reason (and I am sure it is a good one) the teacher decided to move some of the kids around. Riley was looking for his desk, found it and then the pouty lip started. Victoria and I rushed over to him before any tears started. I then tried my best to cheer him up. It worked. He was sitting and ready to color within seconds. Phew. Averted a meltdown on the first day.

So, Victoria and I said our good-byes. She was VERY upset that she was not going to the first grade with Riley. She wants to go to school so bad. She would probably do really well in a preschool, but Momma wouldn't yet. So, maybe next year (if funds allow). She didn't want to leave and was just a milla-second away from a screaming crying fit. I then told her I had a surprise toy in the car for her and asked her if she wanted to go play with it (thank you Gigi!!). She whispered yes and we were out the door.

I wanted to burst into tears all the way out the door and in the car, but I held them off. Big mistake ... had a headache the rest of the day. Next time, I will just let the tears fly.

We made our way home and started our day together. I kept very busy so I wouldn't think about how much I missed Riley. Victoria missed him too. She asked me 4 or 5 times where Riley was. She even brought me a shirt to wear. "Air dis shirt. Go in car. Riley." Which means "I want to wear this shirt to go in the car to get Riley right now." This was at 11:30. My family was so great yesterday. My mom called me twice, my dad once and my sister-in-law once to all check on me. They new it was gonna be hard for me.

So 3:00 finally came and we were there ready to see Riley. He ran up to us and was just so happy ... all smiles. These are some of the things he had to say about his first day ...

"It was SOOOO fun."
"The time ran out and I didn't eat all my lunch."
"It is just like kindergarten, but there are no centers."
"I got a star today. You knew I would, right?"
"Lunch is a yellow, so we whisper."
"If I get stars all week, I get a prize out of the zebra box. It doesn't have a head. It just has zebra stripes on it."
"There is a new climbing wall in PE. You sign a note so I can do it."
"We have PE everyday."

That is all we got out of him. That is pretty good for Riley. I usually pull info out of him and get alot less than this. We got all this over the course of the evening. So it seems to me he really enjoyed himself. He didn't get to do his presentation of his "All About Me" bag. They were supposed to bring five things from home that describe them. This is what he brought:

1. Blue goggles - because his favorite color is blue and he likes to swim
2. A lizard - because he likes lizards
3. A picture of cinnamon rolls - his most favorite food (who could blame him)
4. His Bible - because he likes to go to church (can I say how much I love this!!)
5. The case to his Indiana Jones Lego Wii game - because he likes to play Wii and Legos

We probably spent an hour and a half working on his homework. Yep ... first day of first grade and we had homework. There is a class notebook that goes home with each child and we were the first to get it. Riley answered about 20 questions about himself and then made a page all about himself. It took a while for him to write all his answers to the questions. Especially since he had to write it so that others could actually read it. We were a bit out of practice on our writing. Ooops.

He was totally exhausted by the end of the day. Put him to bed around 8:30 and did not hear a peep out of him ... that usually doesn't happen.

He informed me this morning before we left for his second day, that he didn't need me to walk him into the school. He knew where to go. I love that he is starting to have more confidence and independence.

But I still miss him and want to know all that he is doing. I will just trust that the Lord has him safe in his hand.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Gonna miss it

Gonna miss it bad. We had such a great summer and I'm gonna miss it.

Our summer was a bit lazy. That seems to be our family theme for summers around here. I always try to have big plans for many things to do, but we enevitably end up just takin' it easy and enjoying each other. During the school year, I feel like we are just go-go-go. It is a nice break to just stay-stay and maybe go some.

We did spend at least one day a week over at Pops and Gigi's house swimmin' in the pool. Riley did so great, especially after his swimming lessons at the Saginaw Rec Center. After those many trips to that pool, our backyard blow-up pool managed to loose some of its appeal. He could spend hours goofin' around in Pops and Gigi's pool. Remember those days. The hours in the pool would pass by in seconds. You would get so bummed at the "only 10 more mnutes and then time to get out." Then scramble to get about 20 more jumps in the pool in and a dozen or so more flips underwater. Meanwhile, unbeknowest to you, your parents are melting on the pool deck so desparately wanting to go inside.

Victoria had a few scares in the water one day, so we decided to get her a life jacket. Found a Dora one. Perfect! She wore it around the house for about 3 hours on the afternoon I brought it home from Walmart. There was no problem getting her to wear it at the pool. These are the times that I just love licensed products. Thank you Nick Jr and your merchandising department. She only lasts about an hour in the pool and then proceeds to get undressed right there pool-side. Its pretty cute.

We had some playdates with our school and church chums. Those were lots of fun. VBS was a blast and so were the bounce house places. We also had a good time at the Frank Buck Zoo in Gainesville. That is the perfect size zoo. We went to Chuckie Cheeses for the very first time this summer. That was super fun for the kids, Riley especially loved it. Then there was of course our big family vacation. That was the best! Those are some of the best memories I have from when I was a kid. Vacations in the family car traveling all over the country. So fun! Carey and I are trying to do the same thing with our kids. I think this one was a pretty good start!

We also did plenty of staying up late and sleeping in. My goal for this week was to get us back on schedule. Wake-up at 7AM, lunch at Noon, Victoria's nap at 1PM, dinner at 6PM and bedtime at 8PM. Didn't happen. We are still on summer schedule. Wake-up at 9AM, lunch at 1PM, Victoria's nap at 2:30, dinner at 7PM and bedtime around 9PM. I would say that we could work on it tomorrow, but we have big plans for our last day of summer.

Riley did learn how to pump on the swing set (finally) and we are working on riding the bike without training wheels right now. Maybe we will have it by the weekend. He had his first driving lesson in Michigan on Grandpa's tractor. He was pretty proud of himself.

Victoria can almost play baseball on the Wii and we are still working on the bowling. She was so cute the other day. She had spent her naptime taking almost every book down from her bookshelf. When I asked her if she had a good naptime, she informed me that she couldn't read. She said it with a frown on her face. So cute. I imagine that she was trying to hard to read all those book and just got so frustrated with it. Ya know how it is ... wants to be able to do everything big brother can.

And also, we are officially pacifier free!! We have gone two days with no "shire." This has been a long time coming. What finally worked you ask? We can't find any. We had one left at the beginning of the week. Then its status changed to MIA. I did find it this morning when changing the bed sheets. I need to throw it away. Victoria has adapted well. She has a runny nose today and doesn't feel very well. This is when a shire would be good to have. She is currently sucking her thumb instead. I have never seen her do this before. Whatever works baby girl.

We didn't do all that I had original planned to do this summer. Lack of funds kept us from hitting the local water parks and Six Flags. And me not wanting to take the kids all by myself also kept us from doing that too. Also, Riley didn't read as many books or write as many letters as I hoped we would. Only 25 books (goal was 70) and 1 letter (goal was 30). Oh well.

So our plan for tomorrow is to sleep in just one more time (Yay!!) and then head over to Pops and Gigi's to swim for a bit. Then we are off to shop. I would like to get Riley something brand-new to wear on the first day of school. Then dinner out ... some place nice. Some place other than Sonic. Some place listed on the back of the giftcard I got for my birthday :)

I have loved spending these summer days with my kids! I feel so blessed that the Lord has allowed me to be a full time stay-at-home mom. I prayed for this opportunity the first 4 years I had Riley. Once Victoria was born, we were finally able to do it. It is wonderful. Sure, it would be really nice to have less debt, a nicer vehicle for Carey and the ability to go where we want without having to weigh the cost of it. But none of that is worth the price I would have to pay to not get this time with my kids. I love having my peeps around. They are my most favorite people in the world.

I am sad about Riley going back to school ... just like I was last year. Victoria and I are going to miss him so much. He does LOVE school and misses his little friends. So, I am excited for him to start back. But still sad for me. I am a bit nervous about meet the teacher tonight. I just hope there is at least one of his friends in his class. We didn't request a teacher. I wasn't sure what to do, so I didn't. He is a really good kid, so I am confident that he will do well with any teacher. I just hope she is nice and fun.

Yep. Gonna miss the summer. But what makes it easier is that I so love the fall.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Summer 2009 Road Trip

We started our road trip on Tuesday, July 28th. It was just the kids and me. Carey had to work, so he met up with us in Denver on Thursday. The first day was just driving. We managed to drive only 600 miles in about 14 hours. Not good. We travel a bit slow when kids are in tow. Anyway, we made it to Colorado City, CO and stayed in an awful Days Inn ... never again Days Inn. I was afraid to touch the light switch and the carpet was wet??? Not to mention the piece of plywood we slept on. Fortunately the accommodations improved on our trip.

We made our way to Colorado Springs on Wednesday and stopped off at Focus on the Family. So much fun for the kids! They have an area just for kids to play in with a stage and dress-up clothes, puppet show stage, a huge 4-story slide (which we didn't get to do because of the incoming thunderstorm as you can see from the picture at their Pike's Peak lookout), and tons of other really neat stuff. Then off to Denver to settle in at the hotel.

View of Pike's Peak from Focus on the Family lookout.

Thursday was a big day of tux fittings, picking up Carey at the airport, rehearsal and rehearsal dinner and then some late-night bowling fun. Big day and it was so fun that some of our dearest friends were there with us too. Had a blast with them, even amidst the car-sickness of the Colorado mountain drivin'.

Lookout Mountain in Colorado

Red Rock in Colorado

Friday was the big wedding day in Evergreen for my little brother. We were hoping for no rain, but about 30 minutes before the wedding, huge raindrops were falling. The sky cleared up right at 6PM in time to dry off some chairs and get everyone seated. The kids looked so good. Victoria was not happy about getting dressed, but finally resolved to the fact that she was going to wear that dress and that headpiece. And Riley was very excited about wearing his "tux-speedo." Isn't that hilarious?! "Tux-speedo." I just hope on the first day of school he doesn't tell everyone that this summer he was in a wedding and wore a "tux-speedo." Riley and Victoria did fantastic walking down the isle together. Riley carried 2 white roses in one hand and was holding Victoria's hand in the the other. Then Riley stood by Uncle Kevin (the best man) and Victoria sat down with Pops. The rain started up again. Fortunately it only last about 10 minutes and was just sprinkles. The rest of the ceremony was just so sweet and precious. Riley and Victoria really enjoyed the fresh fruit slushes and the sparkling cider afterwards. They had a ton of energy and danced most of the evening. Poor little Victoria had blisters on her heals from her pretty princess shoes.

With Pops

Enjoying fresh fruit slush after she did her job at the wedding.
She cheered up quite a bit after having a couple of these.

Saturday was the brunch at the Father of the Bride's house. The kids got to feed the horses, which they loved. Then off to Mount Rushmore. It is about a 650 mile drive from Denver. It happened to be Sturgis Bike Week, so we saw our fair share of the motorcyclage. Thousands and thousands of them. We also had no, I mean absolutely no cell signal from the border of Wyoming until about halfway through the state of South Dakota. And Carey could not stop talking about wanting to move there. In the middle of no where. I can appreciate living in the country to be away from the hustle and bustle of city-life just as much as the next girl, but no cell phones and more livestock than people ... no thanks! Not to mention I saw no Walmart or Target or mall for that matter for many many miles.

View of the mountains from Aunt Katie's Dad's house near Denver.

Sunday morning was Mount Rushmore. The kids were SO sleep deprived at this point. Riley was standing in front of the mirror at the hotel holding his eyelids open. "They won't stay open, Mommy." I felt the same way. Alot of late nights and early mornings and so much driving. Anyway, he was really impressed with Mount Rushmore, but was ready to head out after about 10 minutes. We stayed about an hour and a half. It has changed so much since I had been there 25 years ago.

Then off to Chicago. We had a 900 mile journey in front of us. We got as far as somewhere in Minnesota by that evening. And let me tell ya, there is nothing, nothing, nothing in South Dakota but a bunch of grass. And there is only farmland in Minnesota. I missed the mountains and civilization.

By Monday afternoon, we were driving into Chicago. I was so nervous. Our plan was to park by Union Station, buy 2 all day commuter passes, go to the top of the Sears Tower, take the L-train and Subway to the Magnificent Mile to shop at the Lego store, grab a slice of pizza and make our way out of town.

Well, it didn't quite work out for us. The line to go to the sky-deck of the Sears Tower was probalby about 2 hours long. It being about 2PM, we decided to forgo since we hadn't eaten lunch yet and just make our way to the Lego Store. I am kinda glad we did. We since foudn out that Carey's cousin just got a job in that building and has volunteered to take us up next time we visit ... cool! So we make our way to the L-train and purchase two $5 passes for our 1/2 mile journey through town via public transportation with two kids in tow. Scary. I was so afraid we would get on the wrong train/subway and end up on the bad part of town protecting out children for dear life. Or someone would snatch them away from us or we would get separated ... I know, I watch too many Lifetime movies and crime-solving dramas.

Anyway, we did good, except when Victoria went through the turn-style before Carey and he had nothing left on his card. So glad the Subway attendant took pity on us. We (or I) forgot the stroller, so Victoria spent most of the time on Carey's shoulders and I was in charge of Riley.

It is definitely different there. It was kinda neat seeing all the street talent, musicians and singers. Everyone was walking so fast though. We met some people at the Sears Tower and on the subway. Neither were from Chicago ... just visiting. We did grab a slice before we headed out of town. The thick crust pizza was ok, but the thin crust was SO yummy! The kids didn't care for it, so more for me!

On the subway in Chicago.

Sears Tower - I was just about laying on the sidewalk
and I still couldn't get the top in the picture.

We finally made it all the way up to Suttons Bay by about 10PM that night. The kids were SO excited to see Grandpa and Grandma!! And it was nice just to lay low for a few days before hopping back in the car again.

We spent the next three days (T, W, TH) just being around Carey's family. We always enjoy that. Played at the park, road the train, played with cousins, slept late (Yay!!), got new tires for the van, went sailing on Lake Michigan with Carey at the helm, went swimming in the lake (them, not me) and finally went t-shirt shopping. I was so incredibly bummed that we didn't have time to get Colorado t-shirts or sweatshirts, so I went a bit crazy/nut-so getting t-shirts for us in Traverse City. We just had a blast visiting with family and having everyone play with the kids.
Carey got stuck at the playground. The kids are "helping" him out.

Victoria with Grandpa at Lake Michigan.

Sailing with Daddy. She loves the water.

At least one of us is smiling. Not sure what Victoria's deal was.

Swimming in Lake Michigan

It was a bitter-sweet visit though. It was our first time up in the summer without Carey's Grandmother around. We, especially Carey, miss her so very much. Her house was always our first stop everyday. We know without a doubt though that we will see her again in glory and that works for me!

We headed out on Friday morning and made our way to East Lansing, MI. Carey and I lived there our first 4 years of marriage while he went Michigan State University. It is always so great to go back there to visit. We of course bought some more MSU-wear ... can't have too much, and then had some yummy Gyro's at Lou and Harry's.

On the road again and made it to St. Louis by that evening. By this point, my car was a totally wreck. The back seat was covered in milk, juice and cereal bars. I climbed back there to get something out of the ice chest at one point and had food on my leg when I stood up ... so gross!

Our last leg of the trip was on Saturday. We decided to stop at the Meramac Caverns in Missouri just because we were there and we always wanted to do it. Carey had been there when he was a kid and said it was memorable. So we did it. It was ok. I think Riley was impressed and really liked it, so it was worth the $45 and 2 hour detour. Then home. We got home around 9:30 that night. Totally exhausted. The kids hadn't had a bath since Suttons Bay Michigan. My van just reeked.

4500 miles. 14 states. 3 timezones. 12 days. So tired. Lots of laundry. But some awesome memories. Our kids are hilarious and my husband is the best. He is such a great traveling companion. I loved it when the kids were sound asleep in the back seat and him and I are singing Ooops I Did It Again by Britney Spears at the top of our lungs. So fun.

We did have some casualties from the trip ... the diffuser for my hairdryer is at some hotel in South Dakota, one of Victoria's really cute sippy cups is at an Applebee's in Indiana and my pillows are in Suttons Bay, MI. So sad to see those things go, but at least I will get my pillows back at Christmas.

Oh, and the next time I eat a french fry will be too soon.