Our trip to Illinois was absolutely wonderful!!! There was lots of fellowship, food and FUN!
On our way up we stopped in Atlanta (see previous blog) to stay with the Andersons. The second half of our trip, we stopped in Kentucky at Patty's 1880 settlement and restaurant. We weren't hungry, but decided to get out and see the beautiful lights that they display every Christmas. Cole as ecstatic at the sight of all the lights, and as we parked he shouted, "Oh my, I didn't know Christmas was HERE!!" and didn't stop squealing with glee the whole time. Kids make things so much fun.
Click here to see pictures of: Patty's (click "back" on your browser to come back here.)
In Illinois, we stayed in Granite City, at the apartment of Casey's cousin's in-laws, who are in Florida for the winter. CJ spent most of his time with his cousins, so we hardly saw him at all! Aunt Merrill hosted several pre-Thanksgiving meals for the whole family, so I think I gained 10 pounds before the Thanksgiving feast even began! She was a wonderful hostess, and everyone enjoyed all the food, coffee, and LAUGHTER.
Thanksgiving dinner was at Jeff and Ann's, and it went on (literally) all day!
Pictures of: Illinois (click "back" to come back.)
On Friday night, we stayed with Casey's cousin Gina in St. Charles, Missouri, but first we spent the day at the City Museum in St. Louis. I cannot say enough about how TOTALLY COOL this place was, omigosh! It was created by artists, and it's probably totally unsafe (I kept having flashbacks of my dad saying, "Be careful, that'll put your eye out!"), but oh, so stinkin' flippin' awesome!!
Two actual Cessna planes are suspended in the air connect of a myriad of metal tunnels, with secret paths, hidden room, and funky slides. There was a ball pit for little ones, and one for the rowdy older kids so that they could pelt one another to their hearts' content. And that's just OUTSIDE. Inside there were caves on the bottom floor that were just dark and spooky enough to give you a bit of an adrenaline rush, but not scary enough to keep Cole from dashing from tunnel to tunnel and making me slightly nervous about losing him in the semi-dark.
At first, Maddy was frightened and didn't want to do anything. I was dreading a day of being stuck watching everyone else (selfish mom that I am, I wanted to play, too), but Gina showed her how to climb up and slide down, and suddenly she wasn't afraid anymore! I mean, NOT AFRAID AT ALL!! I was struggling to keep up with her as she dashed across wire-looped tunnel-bridges and around dark corners! She was crazy!!
The second floor has a treehouse with tunnels and ladders and all sorts of things to climb and a whole other half-floor that we never got around to looking at! )o: The third floor consisted of a huge art room where you could paint, make stuff with clay, cut fancy snowflakes, or whatever you want! There was a circus show that we didn't get to see, too.
I was totally not ready to leave, even though we were there for an entire day, but everyone got hungry. I was like, "C'mon, you can eat anytime!!" But majority rules, we left about 7:30pm to go eat supper and drive to Gina's.
Pictures of: St.Louis
Alas, on Sunday it was time to pack up and start home. After breakfast with Aunt Merrill, Uncle Jerry, and Uncle Bill at Cracker Barrel, we were off. We stopped at Patty's again for a late lunch, and to celebrate Maddy's second birthday (one day early). After lunch we drove to Nashville, where we stopped to see the pretty lights at Opryland, and spend the night.
The next day, we got up to drive home, and Cole finally got his wish: SNOW! We stopped off at a gas station in Tennessee to play a little, and then drove on into the mountains where the snow was much more impressive. We pulled over again, and had a great time playing in the snow. Casey made a sled out of a cardboard box and a trashbag that we had in the van, and we all had a blast!
It was a wonderful trip, not too long, not too short. Beautiful weather all week, so the kids could have fun outside, and then snow on the way home. Perfect.