(continued from the previous post – To Hellinois…)
So FINALLY, after yet another GPS debacle orchestrated by Jill (might be time to change the persona of the GPS again and fire Jill!) we arrived in Aurora, and it’s the first time I’ve seen my parents’ dogs in years. Loopy is looking a little bit gray in the muzzle, but also much slimmer since last time I saw her. And Happy… well, Happy is herself, I guess – hyper and happy to see my kids, I wouldn’t expect any less! We visited with my mom for a little while, and then it was off to lunch, which my husband and I had carefully orchestrated. My mom was nice enough to watch our girls so that we could enjoy a little time out with just the baby, and after all that driving + the morning’s (more than) two hour tantrum, boy, did we need some time to ourselves! So we went to Sweet Tomatoes – a restaurant that specializes in an ultra-fresh salad buffet, my husband’s favorite, and I don’t think he was disappointed! They also have 6 kinds of soup and 3 kinds fresh hand-tossed pasta – YUM! We drove around for a few minutes after lunch searching for a dollar store or two – next to zoos and cuisine, “exotic” dollar stores are my favorite things to see while in different areas, but we couldn’t find one, so we went to a Petland instead. So I put aside my opinions that Petland is a leading trader in puppy mill pups, and we went for a visit. And this Petland had LOTS of animals with very nice habitats. They did have a huge bunch of puppies though, and almost all of their “getting to know you” puppy rooms were taken (let me just vent real quick by saying – why can’t more people consider shelter dogs so we can reduce the amount of homeless pets in the country!!!) And I asked the staff members a few questions – some to learn things but most to test their knowledge on subjects – and they passed. They no longer sell seahorses because they require ultra-clean water and exceptionally large tanks. I was glad to see that Petland was no longer putting the lives of seahorses in jeopardy just to make a quick buck, but they lost me when they offered to order me some – oh well. There were the cutest little Robinsky hamsters – about the size of a silver dollar – and they were in constant motion. They are so fast that they kept flipping each other over in the hamster wheel and making each other go upside down! They were adorable, but how anyone could handle having such a busy pet is beyond me – you couldn’t even pick them up since they were so fast! Here is a picture of someone who actually got one of these things in their hand:
So then it was on to my nephew’s first birthday party – he is only 2½ months older than my son, and the two of them together were SO cute! My son is on the left, birthday boy on the right:
The party was lots of fun, and it was nice getting to spend time with my family and my sister’s in-laws, who we don’t see very often. We had to leave a little bit early to try to get on the road at a decent hour, but before we left, my kids did a good job of trashing my sister’s house. One of them clogged the toilet, one of them crumbled their birthday cake all over the floor (requiring my brother-in-law to haul out his Shop-Vac!), and one of them had too much cake and ice cream and spit up all over Grandma and the floor. I bet they’re glad we don’t come over very often! Just kidding, I’m sure it was understood that with 8 kids at one party, something was bound to get messed up – but why did all the messes have to be traced back to my kids?
After the party, I dropped my husband off at a Walgreens for some clearance shopping – his favorite! – cuz I wanted to stop by White Castle and get a case of slyders to bring home. White Castle is an institution in Chicagoland, and one of the things I miss that we don’t have here. For those of you who aren’t familiar, slyders are what locals call the little hamburgers that White Castle sells – the secret to the awesome flavor is steamed onions. My hubby must love me a lot to put up with the smell of steamed onions for the 4 hour drive home! And no, the frozen ones they sell at Walmart are not the same as the ones you can buy at the restaurants – which is why I try to bring home a case every time I go! But on Sunday, I kept getting behind slow drivers (what happened to the drivers in Illinois? I swear, during this trip I was the most aggressive driver I ran into, what’s happened to all the a**holes that used to be on the road over there? Could it be the red-light cameras?), and then they took forever at White Castle. And what do I do? I drive off with only my drinks, forgetting my cheeseburgers. So I get back in line, and of course I’m behind the slowest lady in the world – I was in line for 20 minutes, just to get food I had forgotten! By the time I got back to Walgreens, my husband was ready to put out an APB on our van. And of course the baby cried the whole time because he was tired and wanted his bottle, and I couldn’t reach the spot in the car where he had thrown it. So I was flustered by the time we finally started for home. Luckily for me, we achieved a quadruple pass out though, so the drive home was peaceful. We got home around 1 am, and much to our surprise, our pet sitter and great friend Carol was still in our house! The kids started to wake up, so we rudely hushed Carol and brought the crying kids upstairs. Luckily we only had one straggler who stayed up for a little while, and I apologized to Carol for my rudeness (and my stench of coming off a 4-hour drive sitting next to steamed onions with baby spit-up on me). We were more than happy to share the White Castle bounty, and my husband drove poor Carol home since her car had died and she was trapped at our house – I felt badly getting in so late! I was so tired that I forgot to call my mom to tell her we made it safely – I don’t think that’s ever happened, oops!
Sunday we somehow got up for church, and we got to see some people get baptized which was a neat experience. The sermon was about Moses and the parting of the Red Sea, which interested me because I don’t have much religious background and didn’t know the story. But I learned some useful tools that I think might help me during this ultra-trying time that Samantha has been putting us through lately. After church, they had a program they call KidStuff – they have it twice a year – and Sunday’s KidStuff was about obedience – perfect! Just the message we need to drill into our kids’ heads lately! It was a really cute skit about how it’s important to be obedient, and I thought it was very well done. There was lots of physical comedy for the kids, goofy characters, an air horn (kids love noisy things!), and they stressed the importance of obedience repeatedly. And, they gave us an orange “O” to put on our fridge to remind the kids about being obedient! I was so excited to get home and apply these lessons to real life! But alas, after the pizza lunch at church for KidStuff, Sammie had to rub it in how much she DIDN’T learn from the skit – our friend is a professional photographer and met us at the park to get some Spring pics of the kids. But our family picture is minus one – Sammie refused to participate in the picture taking. Even seeing a robin’s nest up close didn’t soften her enough to be cooperative. So all my hopes about her learning something, even a little bit, from the obedience skit flew out the window. But the baby robin was adorable – there were two eggs and one that had hatched, couldn’t have been more than a day old. I’ve never seen one so little, it barely had any feathers or baby bird peach fuzz! Awww!
Overall, a great weekend. I call it Hellinois, but I’m (half) joking. You couldn’t pay me to live there, but there are worse places we could have to visit! I think we might be going back sometime soon for a very exciting, awesomely fun event – more on that later!!!