Today was an absolutely gorgeous day. It was the kind of day that we don't see that often in November in Wisconsin. The temperature hovered around 70 degrees and the sky was a brilliant blue. Even though I still wasn't feeling 100% (I was VERY sick the last few days with hot/cold sweats and extreme achiness but now I just have chest congestion and a nasty cough) I knew the day couldn't be wasted inside.
My plan was to take the kids to Parnell Tower in the Kettle Moraine. I hadn't been there in over twenty years but I always enjoyed it as a kid. Todd and I always planned on taking the kids and I wasn't sure I should do it without him (Todd needed a break from his work and has cleared his schedule for most of November and is spending much of it up north) since I know it is something he would enjoy doing with us. But, with a day like this I had to pull the trigger and do it.
After a crazy long car ride that took an hour instead of the 25 minutes it should have taken (I had gotten the wrong directions) we finally arrived and the kids and I were miraculously still in good spirits. The hike through the woods to the tower cheered us up even more. It was such a gorgeous day to be in the woods.
When we got to the tower we were all a little out of breath. I forgot how steep that hill was! I suppose being sick (and 20 years older) didn't help much either. The tower looked smaller than I remembered it but it must have looked gigantic to my kids because they were all pretty nervous. I wasn't sure I would be able to get Joey up the tower at all. He has quite the fear of heights but if he could force himself up there I knew he would enjoy the view.
We began climbing and Molly even came up to the first level with us. Then she stopped. She decided that was as high as she wanted to go and then wouldn't go anymore. Smart dog. I took her back down and tied her at the bottom of the tower and began to climb back up. By the time I caught up to Joey and Tommy on the third level they were already saying they wanted to go back down. It is a little spooky because it is a wooden tower and the stairs are the type you can see through. Something about that just makes it creepier.
Ben and Grace, who were already at the top (brave little turkeys) were encouraging Joey and Tommy to come up. Tommy and I headed up to the top and Joey slowly made it another level up. I stopped to wait for Joey one floor below the top deck. Tommy had made it to the top and was telling Joey that it was definitely worth it. I went up above to the top deck and told Joey that he could stay in the center of the deck and there was even a look-out scope for him to try out. That seemed to do the trick.
And there we all were at the top. I had already explained to the kids earlier that they needed to be very good to their mama when we were on that top deck. No running or jumping around and no leaning over the railings. If they did any of those things I would most certainly have a heart attack and die and then they wouldn't have a ride home. Luckily for me, and for them, they all behaved and we had a nice time taking in the gorgeous view.
After we'd had our fill of the view we went back down and walked Molly on the hiking trail for a while. Then we turned around to go back to the car. When we passed the tower again Joey actually wanted to go back up to the top. I was very surprised. I'm so glad he was able to push himself out of his comfort zone and enjoy the experience.
It really was a wonderful time and I'm so glad we went.
It was early afternoon and we were all getting hungry for lunch so we stopped at a new soup/sandwich shop on the way home. It was delicious. I know we will be back. And the chicken dumpling soup was just what I needed for my raw throat. But the best part was the love in that little restaurant. The owner and her husband and daughter run it and they are just lovely people. Right next to the cash register is a sandwich board that says "Pay it forward" with little notes attached all over it offering various menu options. "Large soup", "Sandwich and soup", "Small soup", "Specialty sandwich" and so on and so forth. I asked the owner if that was for homeless people who couldn't afford a meal and she confirmed my hunch. Customers add something extra to their order and leave a note of what they paid for on the board. When someone comes in and can't afford a meal they can pick a note off the board and choose a meal. I LOVE THAT SO MUCH. It almost made me cry. I asked the owner what the most popular menu option was and we added that to our order. I was told to fill out the note with the menu option and any other message we would like to leave the person. I asked my kids what we should write and they thought about it and said, "How about, 'God Bless You!' and a heart and a smiley face?" Loved it. I wrote it down and posted the note on the board. Just knowing someone would be able to enjoy a hot, hearty meal seemed to make our food taste even better. It was a great lunch. I know we'll be back.
After our lunch we got ice cream cones and walked down to the river. It isn't too often you can walk around outside in November eating ice cream so we thought we'd take advantage.
You'll be happy to know that Grace was very full and couldn't finish her ice cream cone so Molly even got a bit of ice cream. Everyone wins!
The leaves on the trees were so beautiful. And a few flowers were still blooming as well. It was a heavenly day all around. We watched a young man fly fishing in the river and then walked to a nearby toy store. I think we were all starting to feel a little tired, and I was starting to get a little achy again (maybe I overdid it a smidge), so our browsing was cut shorter than normal. Now we are back home, relaxing, reading, and sitting by a roaring fire.
Today was a good day.