On the Saturday before July 4th little Theinsville (pronounced THEENS-ville), Wisconsin has its annual Fourth of July parade down Main Street. The kids remember it from last year and were excited to do it all over again and make it a part of our summer tradition. They had fond memories of the tootsie rolls and jolly ranchers tossed out along the route, while my biggest impression came from the belly dancers advertising Gierach's Garage. The festivities this year did not disappoint, and I'm happy to report that the belly dancers are still working it. This was our morning enjoying small-town America with dancing grannies, Harleys and all:
Catcher was really excited yesterday evening when the girls next door brought out their bow and arrows for him. He fancied himself quite proficient after grazing the target and asked me if there's an archery class he could attend. His new nickname is Robinhood.
At home the kids take showers. One reason is that our bath tub is really old and the drain stoppage doesn't work, and another reason is that I'm basically lazy. I'm happy to help suds up the hair, etc. but my days of giving long, drawn-out baths to little ones are over. After arriving at grandma's house, however, a bath was in order. One reason is that the tub has these really cool jets that the kids go crazy for, and another reason is that the kids had been traveling in the car for two days through four states. They were pretty grimy. The girls were up first on the great bath adventure. It was a roaring success (obviously).
No screens; books, family trivia game, Mad Libs and snacks--that's how the Wheats tackle a road trip. You might call it crazy, but we call it good old-fashioned family fun. We left Austin around 2:00pm on Monday and coasted into Milwaukee 23 driving hours later. The trip should have taken about 20 hours, but unplanned potty breaks and a traffic jam outside of St. Louis--I insisted on driving that route so we could see the arch--landed us in the great state of Wisconsin around 10:30pm on Tuesday night. By midnight, after a major pooping incident courtesy of Tillie, the kids were tucked into bed fast asleep at Grandma's house while Alex and I enjoyed a well-deserved glass of wine (or perhaps two) downstairs in the quiet den.
Besides the aforementioned pooping incident, which occurred during hour 22, there were no major hiccups along the way. I know it would make for a better post if I had a great story to tell, but the kids were as well-behaved as you could expect any five, three and two year-old to be while trapped in a car from Texas to Wisconsin. This was our hotel in Little Rock, Arkansas where we spent the night on Monday. I let the kids all have cookies when we checked in at 10:30 that night because it turns out that I am slightly crazy, and cookies before bed make a good road trip memory.
This afternoon we had a birthday party to attend, and for once I was genuinely pleased to rally my gang of three and make small talk with parents who are practically strangers (sort of). I say I was pleased because the party was a diversion from the packing and the kids getting into the already-packed bags lining the dining room floor. The party really wasn't all that pleasing, to be honest, but it was a great procrastination tactic. I always say I pack better under pressure, so I should be in great form around 11:00/11:30 tomorrow morning. Stayed tuned for tales from the wide open road (even though I secretly hope there are no tales to be told because that means everyone behaved themselves and things went smoothly...haha!).
I had this great idea. Catcher and Scout both have birthdays in July, so two sets of grandparents--they have four total in this age of "blended" families--who won't be celebrating with us in Milwaukee sent early gifts that arrived this week. Last night after the little rascals were snoozing, I laid out the presents on the sofa in a Christmas-morning fashion. My plan was that they would be so excited for new--and unexpected--things that they would leave me alone to clean the house and pack for our trip today.
Catcher was the first one up at 6:24 this morning. I heard him wake the girls, and they all trotted out into the living room to check out the loot before "waking" me up to alert me to this phenomenon of surprise gifts. "I didn't know it was Christmas already!" Scout exclaimed. This is how our morning started on the first day of summer, aka the longest day of the year:
After tearing through their presents, in a Christmas-morning fashion, the buggers marched into the kitchen and demanded breakfast. It was 6:43. By 7:00 I was in the zone cleaning the house, and by 8:30 they were back in my grill asking for snacks. I had a sense my plan wasn't working. Between all of this, I forgot to mention, I heard shrill cries coming from Catcher's room as he screamed "Tillie broke my toy!" Due to the urgency in his voice, my natural thought was that Tillie had broken the labyrinth (pictured above) that he had opened only thirty minutes before. But I was wrong--Catcher was screaming because Tillie had broken the 10 cent plastic toy he got at the dentist last week. It was going to be a long day (yes, ironically). This is what was happening around 9:00am:
Meanwhile, I was still cleaning and hadn't packed a thing. I was on my third load of laundry for the day, so at least I felt like something was getting done. I bought myself eight minutes or so when I caved in and gave the kids the snacks they were demanding, and Catcher's bag was packed. I finished the girls during their lunch--clearly, when the kids are eating or sleeping is about the only time I can complete a task--so I was ready to tackle myself. Once again my plan was foiled as the girls didn't nap, and I spent an hour shuffling between folding laundry and putting them back into their beds. The rest of the afternoon is a whiny, cranky blur. I attempted another trip to Recycled Reads, but when Tillie decided to throw a temper tantrum in the middle of the store, I knew my time was up. Back at the house it was time for a 5 o'clock dinner to begin to close out this long day.
It turns out, however, that the good thing about the longest day of the year (and the girls not napping) is that they were sound asleep--seriously, asleep!--at 6:30 tonight. That was a long 12 hours. I realize our car ride beginning Monday is almost twice that; I'm just in denial.
Today I got to do something I normally don't during the daylight hours...read. Last weekend, in preparation for our 20-hour car drive to the Northern Country (i.e. Wisconsin), I took these little bookworms to Recycled Reads--the Austin Public Library bookstore. The store sells books that have been "retired" from the public library system along with donations from the community. All hardbacks are $2, paperbacks $1 and children's books are a mere $.50 (hardbacks included!). The nerd and hippie in me finds the whole idea fascinating, and I grabbed a few books of my own during our outing.
This week I've been able to get an early start on my "vacation reading" while Catcher is in camp and the girls are napping (or playing in their room, pretending to nap). The downside of having this free time in the afternoon, however, is that I've already finished my first book. I suppose another trip to Recycled Reads is in order before we load up the Buick and head out of town on Monday.