Tuesday, March 1, 2011

On The Go

Before I had children I pictured myself with kids.   I saw myself taking them to the zoo and the parks and museums and restaurants.  I imagined spontaneous trips to the city and road trips and family vacations.  It was the very picture of blissful family life.

After having kids I realize now that those images rarely play out in real life as they did in my head.  Spontaneous trips with four children just don't happen often.  And when you do manage to take the kids on a fun trip there are usually still a fair amount of less than blissful moments.  With four kids someone can always be grumpy, or sassy, or whiny, or sick, or needy, or angry (or, or, or) at any given moment.  I have learned to accept that our family trips aren't always the picture I had in my mind.  But I still try.

It was 10:00 on Saturday morning when Todd and I decided it was time to get out of town.  We had been thinking about taking the kids up north again this weekend for another ski trip, but I just didn't have the energy for that. So there we were on Saturday morning with no plans for the day, but a desperate need to do something fun.  Something different.  We opted to go to the Milwaukee County Museum.  The kids had never been there before and I haven't been in such a long time I thought perhaps we were due.

We got everyone ready in record time and took the one hour road trip to Milwaukee to see how this spontaneous decision would pan out.

I can honestly tell you that it was an absolutely magical day.       

The boys eyes just about popped out of their heads as they walked through the museum.  It was one thing after the next and they just couldn't decide where to look.  I was oohing and aahing right along with them, our excitement bouncing off each other.  I felt like a little kid again as I ran from exhibit to exhibit calling the kids to me to, "Look, look, look!"
They saw all of their favorites.  Dinosaurs, a giant squid, all kinds of animals, all different lands and places, a rainforest, an igloo, a teepee.
It was so much fun the boys didn't even realize just how much they were learning.  It doesn't get better than that!

One of the highlights of the museum was the butterfly exhibit.  Hundreds of butterflies flying around all over, landing on your head and shoulder and sometimes in your hand. 
The minute we walked into the room we were in awe.
We were all so excited to see such beautiful butterflies up close.
I love how Grace and I mimic each other's expression in this picture.  It made me laugh when I saw it.   
Gracie really wanted to hold that butterfly.
And so did I.  Butterflies are my absolute favorite so I was squealing and laughing just as much (probably more) than the kids. 
If it wouldn't have been 300 degrees in that butterfly room I think I would have stayed there for the remainder of the day.  Alas, we moved on. 
We all had our favorites.  Joey, of course, was thrilled to find a hammerhead, one of his current and longest obsessions.
Tommy loved the moose and the tigers.
Ben agreed with me and loved the butterflies the best, but I know he really liked the candy shop in Old World Wisconsin too.
Finally, after almost four hours of nonstop walking we decided to head out.  The kids were so perfectly behaved and well mannered the entire time we were there.  It was a no brainer to Todd and I that they deserved a treat.  We took them to the gift shop and let them pick out a souvenir for being such great kids.  They each picked out a small stuffed animal, and after we ate at our favorite Mexican restaurant in Milwaukee they all passed out in the car for the ride home, still clutching their animals.

It was a perfect day.  The same exact kind of day I dreamed of before I knew what it meant to have children.  It was a gift. 

The rest of the weekend was lovely too.  We switched the boys rooms around once again so that my oldest boy (Joe) is now sharing a room with the youngest (Ben).  This because the two younger boys did nothing but get each other in trouble at bedtime when they were sharing the room.  Now the oldest (and by far my best sleeper) is able to keep his youngest brother in line and my middle boy (Tommy) is able to fall asleep faster in his own room without any distractions.  And everyone is happy (even Joey, who I didn't think would want to give up his own room but was excited to sleep on the top bunk again.  Wow)! Ahhh. More success! 

Yes.  It was a truly fabulous weekend.  And I'm still trying to get into the swing of things as the week (and March!) begins.  Running here and there. Grocery shopping, shopping for art supplies for a project for Joey, doctor's appointments, laundry, meetings.  And today Joey came home from school a bit early because he felt sick.  Poor kiddo.  He even skipped dinner, so I know he really wasn't feeling good.  And now tomorrow I have jury duty.  Gah!  What next!  I have jury duty all month, actually, and have been summoned to appear tomorrow.  Good grief. 

Life keeps going.  Faster and faster.  We are always on the go. 

It makes me especially glad for the spontaneous excursion we had.  For a little while time seemed to stand still. And I will always remember that day.


Dysfunctional Mom said...

This made me tear up. I love days like that, days that turn out exactly as wonderful as you hoped, if not more. With a big family, that's hard! You are making such wonderful memories for your kids. Thank you for sharing them with us!

Mom24 said...

Days like that are so important, they really recharge the batteries and give us energy for all the rest. Good for you, and thank you so much for blogging it, it reminds me how important it is to do things like that.

Hope Joey's feeling better.

Jury duty for a mom of 4 young kids? Ack! That seems almost barbaric!

Karen Deborah said...

You are so cute, you remind me so much of myself. I had those same dreams and used to write out my long lists of children's names, for the dozen babies I would have. After having only one, I was glad my daughter had 4. Taking the children on trips like that IS a joy. What makes it especially great is when mom or grandmom can become a child for the day too and wonder at God's beautiful creation with as much joy as all of you did. I love the facial expressions on each of you and Gracie's hair looks like your color too! In Santa Cruz we had so many amazing places. The aquarium in Monterey, Johnson's farm in the mountains(totally set up for kids) the Gizdich apple ranch for picnics, the BEACH ...just find what your community has. It's so great to get children involved in real life instead of the virtual world. BRAVO.

Wendy said...

Love days like that! When everyone gets along, there's minimal whining and lots of fun to be had. I also love the "getting out of the house" part.

Good luck this week!

Kelly said...

Sounds like the perfect day and that museum is awesome!! It's nice to have a day like that here and there to kind of escape from everything.

Dawn said...

That does sound like a great day. The photos are so fun! I hope the your jury duty will be interesting.

April said...

Loved the pics from the musuem! It looks like an awesome place for kids and parents, alike. :-)

Green Girl in Wisconsin said...

My clan had the same sort of great time at the museum last month! But you are right--it is SO tough to pull off 100% good time with kids. The mom I thought I'd be and the mom I am are quite different, too.
Glad the room swap turned out win-win-win-win;)

Hilary said...

This sounds like a great day for sure. Your hubby took some wonderful photos. I especially love the expressions on everyone's faces in the third image - particularly Joey's face. Too cute.

Tonya said...

You've inspired me to do a fun trip with the kids. We have been doing nothing around here but working on the house improvements and they have been champs about it. I think they deserve some FUN too. Thanks for the push.

Tammy said...

I love the Milwaukee Museum. When I was teaching in WI we would take a class field trip there every spring. THe kids loved the butterfly exhibit and the bugs next door. I liked walking around the dinosaur area and see the ice age too! What a great spur of the moment trip!!

MamaB said...

That sounded and looked like a wonderful family day! So awesome that a spontaneous trip was just what you could every want!

Tabor said...

So glad you had such a nice time. It is wonderful when it all works out and with your four little ones, easy to realize it does not happen often.

Krystyn said...

Hooray for such a successful weekend! I just love it when everything works out like that.

And so glad Todd grabbed the camera and got some pictures of mommy, too.

dianna said...

Love those days!
It NEVER fails that the spontaneous fun is always the most fun : )

Kat said...

Krystyn- I had to physically hand the camera to Todd (and tell him where to stand to get a good shot and what angles to get) and tell him to take some pictures of me with the kids. Otherwise the kids will look back when they were older and wonder where the heck I was! ;) And look what a great job he did on the pics! Win-win! :)

imbeingheldhostage said...

What a wonderful post! Good for you for making sure your kids have such gorgeous photos of you enjoying this time with them-- it's rare to see Mom in the family photos.
I was going to praise Todd for shooting photos and then I read your comment above ;-) At least now my husband won't suffer after I leave your blog (I was about to do the "HER husband makes sure...") ;-)

Words To Live By

Be grateful for each new day.
A new day that you have never lived before.
Twenty-four new, fresh, unexplored hours to use usefully and profitably.
We can squander, neglect, or use them.
Life will be richer or poorer by the way we use today.
Finish every day and be done with it.
You have done what you could;
some blunders and absurdities crept in;
forget them as soon as you can.
Tomorrow is a new day.
You shall begin it well and serenely and with too high a spirit to be
encumbered with your old nonsense.

-Ralph Waldo Emerson