Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Weekend Vacation / iVillage Get Together

This weekend was so much fun! We've been planning it since winter and have been looking forward to it all year. The board I'm a community leader on, which has kids all born around the same time as Dawson, gets together every summer. At least the midwest moms do. Last year we did Mall of America and the MN Zoo. This year it was Madison, WI. I suggested that so we could meet Megan and Jennie, who live near Chicago and aren't able to come all the way to MN. So we had 6 moms able to go in the end, which was about half of who wanted to go but still a good turnout.

Thursday evening I got everything packed and ready to go. It's usually Dawson's quiet time, but since I was doing something, he decided he was gonna take the opportunity to mess things up. First he just jumped on the bed and took things out of the bags as I was putting them in.Then he decided to unroll an entire double roll of toilet paper and get it wet so we had to throw it all out
The drive to Madison went pretty good. Tyler slept most of the way, Dawson was awake for at least half of it. We stopped to feed Tyler and let Dawson play at rest stops twice and got gas and fed Tyler there once. We got there in 7 hours, we left at about 6:15am and got there around 1pm. We met Sarah for lunch at McDonalds. She lives near there. Then we headed to the Children's Museum. Here's the view of the State Capitol building as we headed into town.
Here's Dawson and Declan at the Children's Museum. We were the only ones able to make it on friday. It was lots of fun though. They have some really interesting stuff there. Wish we had one closer to us! This was a boat they played in. They also had a car, some musical stuff, sandbox, too much to mention. It was really neat.
Here's our hotel room. We had to get a 2 bed room since we had over 3 people. I guess they're strict about that, even for infants. Turned out to be a good thing though and it was only a few dollars more. Tyler slept on the 2nd bed, he doesn't roll yet (only did once a while back) and Dawson slept in the playpen that Sarah borrowed us so we didn't have to pack up ours and bring it. Thank goodness for that because we had no extra room at all!
On Saturday morning we went to the Olbrich Botanical Gardens. That place is HUGE and very pretty. They had streams, waterfalls and lots of different trees, plants and flowers. We saw someone getting married there that morning, that was neat. They have sections, like the Rose garden, Tai garden, and a bunch more. We walked fairly quickly through the place since we had limited time (1 hour) and we barely made it through the whole place in that hour!
This was in the Tai garden. It's a royal structure from Tailand, made with real gold leaf. We weren't supposed to touch it, the oils on our hands can ruin the gold. We could walk in and around it though. Was cool to see all the detail that goes into it.
We went from the gardens straight to the zoo. Tyler made us late by pooping a ton and needing a complete outfit change in the gardens parking lot. Thankfully we weren't the only late people! The zoo was a free zoo, so it was pretty small but still lots of fun. We saw monkeys, seals, camels, buffalo, penquins, giraffes and many other animals. Dawson seemed to like the seals the best. They also had a play area with slides and climbing stuff, so we stopped there. Dawson loved it, he went down the same slide over and over. Was nice to wear him out, he was getting pretty wound up after being in the stroller almost all day. There was also a merry-go-round with zoo animals. Since he likes spinning things, including himself, I thought he might like it. So I sat him on a camel that just stayed in place. He wasn't so sure about sitting there, he was bored until the ride started, then he was looking around. I think he liked it, hard to tell, he doesn't always get smiley when he likes something. He didn't cling to me or want to get off, so I'm assuming he didn't mind it!
After the zoo we regrouped at the hotel and all went to Old Country Buffet. Amber went straight there and had them set up a table. They were very accomodating. We had 7 highchairs and a baby carseat sling thing. That was cool, didn't know they had those. The carseat just sits in it. I always thought they just sat on the highchairs! Dawson just picked at his food but he had no problems once I brought the dessert plate! He wasn't sure where to start, so he tried to put 2 cookies in his mouth at the same time. I finally convinced him they would be there once he's done with the first one. For having 7 over-tired toddlers and a baby, the restaurant went really well! We had no melt-downs or loud embarrassing incidents. I can barely say that for when we just go out with our 2 kids! Tyler slept, and once he woke up, Jen took him so I could eat and he got passed around to her older kids. It was nice, makes me wish I had some of those!

After we went outside the restaurant we were going to go seperate ways from there so we decided to stop for some group pictures. I'm impressed, 6 moms, 7 kids and we are all smiling and nobody is crying!! If that isn't sucess, I don't know what is!

In this pic is Jennie, Owen & baby girl due in July from Illinois, Amber & Katelinn from Iowa, Jen & Reese from MN, Megan & Henry from Illinois, Sarah & Declan from Wisconsin, and me, Dawson & Tyler from MN.
We were trying to get a pic of them all standing by eachother. Wasn't working out so well!
Then someone suggested they sit in the rocks and play. Worked great! They played in the rocks for quite a while and we got a bunch of good pics.
After the restaraunt we went swimming. No pics of that though, we all pretty much said we'd put on a suit if nobody takes pics! After swimming we watched tv and a movie. Here's Dan and Tyler hanging out on the bed while I gave Dawson a snack.
Sunday morning we all decided to go to the gardens. It was originally scheduled for Saturday morning, which was why we went, but nobody could make it then. We didn't mind going again, it was free and it was nice to spend more time with everyone and to be able to walk through it slower this time. Dawson did more walking. He's so good around the other kids. He sees them walking nice and listening instead of running off and he did the same! I was impressed. Here he is walking with Reese.
Here's Jen's middle son, Ethan holding Tyler while we rested by some fountains.
Jen took a family pic for us. Nice to have one! We each took turns taking a family pic so everyone got one. Since Tyler was sleeping, we decided to just take the pic with the stroller. Didn't want to bother him.
The drive home took a lot longer, but we weren't in as much of a hurry. We left at noon and got home at 11:30pm! We made more stops since both boys were awake for more of the trip. We were also way more tired, so we switched off every hour. That helped a lot. We got to MN around 6pm and had to go to Dan's sister's place to change the belt in her van. We needed a tool so we went and bought that. Ended up spending almost 2 hours there. Afterwards we went out to eat. By this point the boys were so crabby. Tyler just cried and cried, didn't even want to eat for a while there. Dawson didn't want to eat anything either, he just wanted to run around. It was pretty stressful. They finally fell asleep on the final 2 hour stretch home, and so did I! I was glad that Dan was awake enough to finish the trip. I woke up as we were pulling onto our road! I've never been so happy to be home! It was a lot of fun but it gets to be a long stressful weekend with small children! They are already talking about next summer, thinking about Chicago. It makes me cringe just thinking about it!!

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