18 March 2018

Find Yourself in Nebraska

Not every day we come across a caterpillar that can carry all the cousins.
To say Jack has a busy travel schedule this year is an understatement. But, imagine our surprise when he found out a couple of his trips would be to Nebraska! Not everyone gets excited about the prospect of traveling to the midwest but we sure do. Though we knew it would be a quick trip, we took the girls out of school (standardized testing and homework is overrated--extended family's important too!), crammed a lot into the few days we were there and had a blast.
Zoey would ride in the car forever if it meant she could forever eat Oreos.
We left after school and work on Monday and made our usual pit stop at a hotel that has rooms big enough to fit our whole family. And of course, has a pool.
We slept pretty well but our wake up call was a phone message from a neighbor we haven't met yet asking if we had a couple of Jersey cows. Turns out, they'd gotten out and wandered down the road, and were taking a nap under her tree. She wrangled them into the barn and the boy who was keeping an eye on our farm walked them back down the road to our house.

In a snowstorm.

Oh, and I forgot to lock the chicken coop, so the chickens were all out in the yard.

Gah!

I owe him a big bonus.
(Thanks, Aaron!)
Once that fiasco was solved, we packed up and got on the road, making record time to Nebraska (because I don't mess around when it comes to road trips).
Kids make everything fun!
After saying hello and giving hugs...
...and getting Cotton settled (so our rotten rooster won't bother her anymore), and a good night's sleep, we hit the ground running.
Cotton rather likes not living with a rooster.
I've long since given up on the notion that I'll eat completely healthy while on vacation, so first, we got a big box of donuts to share. So. Good.
Then, we headed to the Capitol building. If you are ever blessed enough to find yourself in Nebraska, do yourself a favor and visit this incredible building.
We used to visit frequently when I was growing up but it's been a good ten years since I'd been inside. Talk about memories!
I used to slip behind the columns, too! If I tried it now, I might get stuck...
 We admired the architecture...
Evelyn working up her nerve to get close to the edge.
 ...and waved to the cousins across the way.
 We saw Nebraska's unicameral in action and heard the (in)famous (depending on who you're talking to) Ernie Chambers take the floor. Imagine that! Government proceedings in a government building!
Way up at the top of the building, we got an amazing view of all sides of Lincoln.
 Talk about spectacular!
Definitely one of my favorite childhood pastime and every time I come back to Nebraska for a visit, I'm in awe of how a location can hold so many memories.
I love this mural!
 The whole week was full of sharing good food with cousins...
 ...walks to enjoy the beautiful weather...
...and just hanging out, enjoying the sun.
Lydia is stylin'.
Though there are TONS of people I'd love to visit, we always go to see Great Grandma Lamb. She's got enough toys to keep everyone occupied...
 ...a favorite climbing tree that I used to scale and now Claire is learning to conquer...

...a perfect hill for rolling down...
 ...delicious cookies on hand...
Homemade animal cookies? Yes, please!
 ...and a perfect spot for a tea party.
 She even got in a bit of weightlifting (I'm fairly certain Henry outweighs her now).
 And, the kids, goofy as always, never fail to entertain!
Zoey has the funniest expressions.
We celebrated Uncle Tim's birthday and enjoyed time with Jack's family...
 ...and indulged in a little more decadence.
The next day, we headed to the children's zoo, another spot I frequented when I was younger but hadn't been to in several years. We fed the goats...
 (which reiterated how much I want goats...they're soooo CUTE!)
...took turns on the slide...
 ...made contact with the gibbons...
 ...pet a funky, very patient monitor lizard...
 ...fed the camels...
 ...and Henry was fairly positive that he was going to catch a peacock if only he could jump high enough.
Then, we ended the trip with a ride on the same train I used to ride.

 And, a race back to the cars.
Kaylee and Claire were neck and neck!
The weather was beautiful for most of the trip, so we spent a lot of time outside. Zoey loves feeling the wind in her hair. 
We took a tour with Grandma and Grandpa Eliker around their property and talked gardens, plant pruning, and home renovations (some of our favorite subjects!).
Grandpa helping zip Henry's coat.
The last day, the rain rolled in, so we spent the morning at Morrill Hall, another place I went to a lot as a kid but hadn't been back to for at least a decade. Again, if you're in Lincoln, Nebraska, GO.
The second we got in the door, the girls paired up with their twin cousins and ran off to explore the natural history museum. I love that our kids love science, history, biology, engineering, etc, etc as much as Jack and I do.
It was touch and go there for a minute when Evelyn almost got scooped up by her favorite, weird-looking bird/dinosaur thing. She survived.
Lydia gave carrying Zoey a try. She decided she might not be ready to carry a baby that's half her weight.
They also had a sweet augmented reality display where the kids, using sand, could move it around and it would make a moveable map.
Don't get squished by Archie!
The rest of the day was spent in rousing card games, eating delicious food, and enjoying each other's company.
 But, eventually we had to say goodbye.
We left on St. Patrick's day and everyone got into the spirit, even Jack. See the tiny strip of green painter's tape on his chest? No leprechaun pinching for him!
Though I know the road back to Indiana well, there's always something to see. This time, it was bald eagles and soooo many snow geese.
I don't know how other kids do it, but I'm always really impressed our kids are able to drive through five states without literally exploding. They come close, but no one has succomb yet.
We made it home in time to make sure all the animals were alive and well (and where they were supposed to be...I'm looking at you, Dolly and Parton), play a bit before bedtime and "unpack."
This is what unpacking means to the kids...
It was a quick trip and we didn't get to see Jack a lot since he was working, but boy, oh, boy, was it a fun one, especially reliving some of my favorite childhood memories with my own kids.

It was just the kind of vacation I needed to recharge and have a break from the daily grind. Now, back to it!
Do you know how hard it is to get a bunch of kids to look at the camera at the same time? Nearly impossible.

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