Thursday, January 24, 2013

Journey to the Midwest, Ch. 1

I am a little embarrassed to post these pictures for three reasons;  
1.  This all happened about eight months ago.
2.  The pictures are mostly from my phone and, therefore, poor quality.
3.  We spent four really, really wonderful days in Wisconsin on this trip relaxing at Eric's dad's lakeside house, getting to know some family we hardly ever see, and attending a fun family wedding.  But I don't have a single picture to prove it.

But I'll give you what I got.

An important task before we could leave on this trip was Releasing the Butterflies.  Our friend Robyn gave Margaret this great little kit for growing and hatching butterflies from the pupae stage on up.  We wanted to wait and get our little butterfly babies once the weather was nice rather than hatching them only to then watch them die in our house. With the arrival of consistent 60+-degree days in May, Margaret was excited to hatch some Painted Ladies.

She was definitely a bit sad to let them go free just before our trip but she bravely brought out her little net and opened it up.

  One sailed off right away.

But the others took a little more coaxing before they were ready to explore the wide world.

C'mon, little guys . . . what are you waiting for ?

That taken care of we hit the road early (early!) the next morning and drove 13-hours to Chicago.  Thirteen hours of driving when a 20-minute (minimum) stop is required every two hours makes for a pretty long day.  But at the other end we were all happy to meet up with our good friend, Brett who had only just finished his last day of his first year at the University of Chicago Law School.  Brett generously hosted us for two nights and showed us the sights around campus.  Here he is, no doubt, expounding on some complicated legal theory for the benefit of his godson.

Since the University of Chicago is in Hyde Park, home of the Obama Family, we hoped to take a swing by their place.  But we were thwarted.

After Chicago we headed to Sturgeon Bay, went to a wedding, let other grown-ups entertain our children and lay around the house reading for a few days before hitting the road again.  We drove back south along Lake Michigan and around the other side to Western Michigan.  Eric had a five-day conference in Grand Rapids and Brett's parents had generously (very generously!) offered to host the kids and me for the duration.

The kids still talk all the time about what a great time they had at the Swearingens.  And, really, it was like kid paradise.  Plenty of old toys and books around--Margaret discovered a love for Legos during our stay.  A huge yard with some woods.  There were, I think, daily tractor rides.

One day we headed into scenic St. Joseph which is a cute town on the shore of Lake Michigan.  The town was dotted with pirate statues and a pirate ship play structure.  The kids pretty much never wanted to leave.

We never go on carousels because they aren't all that wheelchair friendly and we assumed Joseph would have a dull time of it.  But a carousel was on the agenda that day.  Gregory stayed more or less happily on "land" while I helped a nervous Margaret choose a horse.

William, very unsure about the whole thing opted for the relative security of a bench.

And Joseph had a blast holding the reins of his "sea serpent".  Shows how much we know about what our kids think is fun.

Gregory and William couldn't get enough of the intricate model train set.

And afterwards we hiked up the side of a cliff.  I thought I would die.  But I apparently had enough energy left to snap a picture of the lake.

One night there were roasted hot dogs and s'mores.

And this swing alone might have been enough to make the trip for these two.  Margaret was trying to pull of a snuggly pose.  Gregory was afraid she was trying to take him out of his beloved swing.

And while the kids were enjoying five days of Kid Camp and Eric was having a great time at his conference, what did I do?  Well, I'll tell you what I didn't do:  cooking, cleaning, dishes, or laundry.  I played with Legos, read a biography of Clarence Thomas that Brett had so thoughtfully left behind, and enjoyed hearing myself say, "Why don't you go run around in the yard for awhile?"

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