Car Ride with a 3-year old.

blog Nola Mae Nola Mae and I have put on a lot of miles during the last five days, having fun visiting some of my family, even though Jack is having a blast with our boys on the vacation they are on. I have admired the photos Jack is sending me and I have wished I was a long for the trip he his on. I got to visit my Mom for two days,  biked with my mom, I had a short visit with my mother-in-law, lunch with my aunt and 24+ hours with my cousin and her three girls, including a little dye party and mulberry tree shaking with them.

 blog bike ride Henry  blog bike ride Nola Mae

Today, I ended my travels with the car ride from HELL. It was time to leave our cousins. Nola Mae referred to them as “my sisters”, so cute. I put a crabby, tired and almost crying three-year old in the car. She was sad to leave, so sad she was sobbing when the oldest cousin told her it was time to go. She didn’t want to give hugs or wave good-bye.

My fingers were crossed and I was hopeful that she would be sleeping within 10 minutes and I could enjoy my audio book for our 2.5 hour car ride. Within five minutes she was crying and screaming about everything.

Nola Mae: My eyes hurt!

Me: Wear my sunglasses.

Nola Mae: They still hurt! (sobbing)

Me: Close your eyes and rest.

Nola Mae: NOOOOO! Then me will miss seeing a train if we go past one.

I told her I didn’t think there was a train until we got closer to home. She insisted that she saw a train track by a bridge on the way to our cousins’ house.

Crying and screaming at me every time I tried to start my audio book – “NO MUSIC! NO STORIES!”

At the Madison exit…

Nola Mae: That looks like Aunt Danna’s house (she meant work because the buildings look a little like the university, but I wasn’t going to correct her).

Me: Yes, this is Aunt Danna’s town.

Nola Mae: I KNOW! I SAID HERS NAME!

More crying and screaming.

She broke my sunglasses (2nd pair this summer). I told her I was sad about that. I can’t remember what she said, but she sounded more like our 11-year-old, “They weren’t broken. They were twisted apart.” I wasn’t going to argue with her. I just told her that she could try to fix them for me when we got home.

Thirty minutes from home with non-stop screaming and crying up to this point, I remembered I had Smarties in my bag. It was a great distraction and turned her mood around.

Nola Mae fell asleep exactly five miles from home. I at least got five minutes of peace.

I came home to find this blog post from our cousin: http://behindthewillows.com/2015/07/22/the-sign-of-a-great-visit/

Chicago Trip

Jack had a Rotary conference in Chicago earlier this month.  We all tagged a long and had fun while he sat in meetings.  I had a few items on my agenda: Lego store, Shedd Aquarium and maybe Legoland and of course play in the pool at the hotel.

The Lego store was my favorite part of our trip.  Each dot is the head of a Lego person, it was really cool!

Lego sign

The Chicago skyline was made out of Legos and they had a few super heroes hiding on the top of the buildings.

Lego Store outside

There was a cool table that Henry was interested in playing on.

Lego Store little kid play table

I think Charlie was in heaven at this table!

Lego store play table 1

Robbie was busy for a long time hunting down these fence pieces to build this huge wall.  I was helping Charlie pick out his container of Legos that I bought for him.  One time when I looked over at Robbie I saw one of the employees sitting by Robbie.  By the time I got over there to see what that guy was doing by him.  My first thought was that the employee was talking to Robbie about hogging all those pieces.  I was wrong the employee was helping him because he thought the wall was cool.

Lego Store play table tall fence

Robbie was next to pick out his Legos from Lego wall.  It was so awesome!  He looked at all of them and asked if he could go back to the building table to plan out something.  We didn’t have time for that because we were planning to meet my brother and his family later.  I suggested he just look and see if he could imagine something.  Within three minutes he had a plan.  I helped count out pieces for him.  I was impressed with his vision, math skills, and planning.  I had no idea what he was going to build.  He needed 20 of certain pieces, 40, 60 and 80 of others.

Lego Store Lego wall

When we finished doing what we wanted to in the store I checked my phone messages and found a message from BJ, my sister-in-law, telling me they have arrived at the aquarium.   The boys and I sat down at a table in the mall that was loaded with people. I called BJ back and made some plans, as I watched Charlie and Henry walk towards the escalator.  My free-range parenting was keeping me calm.  I waved them back to me and just as I was getting off the phone Henry stepped onto the escalator, ALONE!  Oh my God!  My heart stopped!  No more free-range parenting thoughts floating in my head! Thankfully I was wearing Nola Mae in the ring sling and she was sleeping.  I handed Robbie the camera and my purse.  I sprinted to the escalator.  When I got to the escalator Henry had reached the top.  The escalator was loaded with people so all I could do was breath deeply and remember my first escalator ride with my Grandma Schroeder.  We got back to the table where the two older boys were waiting and they were taking pictures of everything around them.  This is Henry’s pouty face as I explained how worried I was and how important it is that we stay together.  That little stinker wasn’t frightened one bit.

Lego Store pouting face 1  Lego Store pouty face 2

I thought I could drive in downtown Chicago and I did without getting into an accident, and with a lot of bad words coming out of my mouth.  What was I thinking?  Chicago has one way streets just like Milwaukee and tons of traffic and tons of people crossing the streets and city buses that don’t care where you are, the difference is I didn’t know where I was going.  I think I circled the darn mall/Lego store at least six times before I found the parking ramp for the mall. When we got back to the hotel Charlie made sure to tell Jack that I said many many bad words that day in the car.

We didn’t go to the Shedd Aquarium because at 12:30 there was a two-hour wait to get in.  I was hungry, hot, tired, tired of people, frazzled by the thought that I almost lost my three-year old and stressed out about driving.  I dropped $88 in the Lego store and $27 on parking.  I couldn’t bring myself to pay $18 for parking, stand in line for 2 hours, pay $90 for the four of us and walk around the aquarium for a few hours.  I was dying to see my brother and his family, especially the newest baby in our family.   We decided we could wait until the next day to see each other and not have to pay a lot of money to hang out.  I would bring the boys back when we could start our day at the aquarium.

Our drive back to the hotel took 1 1/2 hours (it took me 40 minutes to get downtown).  I took a wrong turn and ended up on some road under the city streets along the river.  It was a really cool place but our GPS didn’t work.  Thankfully, I remembered what highway we were looking for.  Once we got out of the city we saw this car that Charlie wanted to take a picture of.

Chicago jewel car  chicago jewel car 1

I brought food, because I really can’t go anywhere without it.  And we found a great grocery store close to our hotel.  If you know me well, you know why I was in heaven, the produce department was 50 times bigger than the IGA and had fruit that I only have heard of  and have never seen in person!  The boys had a huge plate of fruit after swimming both nights.

chicago hotel snack time

Here they are building things with the Legos we bought earlier in the day.  You can see at the bottom of the photo Robbie’s vehicles that he designed in his head.  He bought enough Legos to make 10 of those vehicles.

chicago hotel legosHere is a close up shot of one of those vehicles he had a imagined at the store.

Lego store Robbie's vehicle

Later this evening we were looking for Papa before heading to the pool.  We were unable to find him instead we ran into another Rotatarain from Clintonville.  She was excited to see that we came along for the weekend and she asked if we were having fun.  I said,  “Yes! We are having fun!”  Then she made a comment assuming this was a relaxing trip for me.  I didn’t think she would want to hear the whole story about our day, so being the honest person my mom raised me to be, I just said “this kind of trip isn’t relaxing to me.”  I don’t think she knew what to say.  I gathered up my wild boys and walked very quickly to the pool!

Henry at home with some of his Legos.  He loved playing with the white fence at the store so we filled his container up with a lot of those pieces.

Lego store Legos

I know I am crazy for letting our boys get these tiny Legos especially with a baby in the house.  At least these Legos will pass through Nola Mae if she were to swallow them (I hope).  I encouraged them because they fit in the tiny spaces in the container that we bought and because these are my favorite pieces of Legos when I build things and we never have enough of them.  The red jewel looking piece and the purple one were ones that I haven’t seen before.

Lego store small Legos

Since our trip I haven’t seen these on the floor or in a diaper!

Our next trip to Chicago will be during the week and in the summer.  We will visit the aquarium.  There will be two adults (at least) with our four kids.  We will buy tickets ahead of time to avoid standing in line.  If Charlie can convince me to take him to Legoland I may go to that big city again.  Otherwise, I think I am done.

I realized after we got home from this trip that I really am a small town girl.  I should add to my Small Towns post that I love it that you can park anywhere you like and it is free, I can go anywhere in town and know someone and someone would grab my child if they saw he was getting away from me.