Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Land of Lincoln

A couple of weeks ago, Tracy asked if we'd like to join her and the kids on a trip to Springfield, to visit the brand new Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum. She thought we could head down the first day, spend the night at her mom's (in Normal, IL), visit the museum the next day and then head home. Being a sucker for road trips, I answered an enthusiastic yes. We had to take two cars because we have one too many to fit in either of our minivans. So, Charlie, Sam, Mary and I headed down around 11 yesterday morning. We planned to stop at the Children's Discovery Museum in Normal. The weather was terrible! Scott claims he warned me about it on Monday and that my response was, "It shouldn't be bad that far south." To which he replied, "You're going two hours south, Gabi, not to Florida." I honestly don't recall any of that conversation. There were a couple of stretches on I-55 when I truly worried about getting us there in one piece. But I did. And we found some street parking near the children's museum right around 2:00.

As we were walking in, a school group was departing, leaving us as one of two other families in the whole museum for our entire visit! After going to the bathroom, we hit the toddler area on the first floor- Mary liked the climbing wall~
The boys splashed in the nearby water area while Mary was entertained on dry land~
Next we headed up to the 2nd floor where they showcased central Illinois' agriculture~
And had a miniature version of our favorite place~
These days curious Mary is more often walking away from us~
Here she comes!

This Rube Goldberg ball machine kept them busy for some time~

Farmer Sam back in the tractor, this time with a passenger~
Back on the first floor, following a diaper change, we had fun in the medical exhibit~
It's hard to believe that with two very active, tree-climbing, pogo-sticking, high-diving, baseball-basketball-and-soccer-playing boys, we only have to pretend to need these~
On the third floor, we found a giant chess board~
Funhouse mirrors~
More chess~
And tons of Legos in the construction exhibit~
They also built a catenary arch~
The staff member helping them here really made the visit extraordinarily fun. Since we mostly had the museum to ourselves, he pretty much played with Charlie and Sam at every exhibit on the third floor. Mary was even sitting with him at the Lego table for quite awhile! Mike is a student at ISU, and is a real asset to this tiny little surprise of a museum (my description and photos don't do it justice, definitely worth a detour if you're ever in the area - we enjoyed many awesome exhibits I failed to mention)~
Mary doing one of her favorite new tricks~
We closed the place up and then met the Humphreys at a local Italian restaurant for dinner.
We got to bed really late. The next morning, after settling Elliot in with the babysitter, and making a quick stop at Mickey D's for breakfast, we made our way to our main destination~
Once Sam posed with the Lincoln family, the older three decided to go ahead as well. See, that's no so bad, now, is it?
Reagan hanging with Stephen Douglas and Honest Abe~
Sam as Frederick Douglass~
After seeing both (amazing) shows, and visiting all the exhibits where photography is not allowed (but breastfeeding is ;), we spent a fair amount of time playing in Mrs. Lincoln's attic~
Sam as Lincoln - Take 1~
Reagan as...someone from Fiddler on the Roof?
Reagan is almost as tall as a full-grown Mary Todd Lincoln~
Our own little Mary~
They had some really great costumes to try on~
A Lincoln home dollhouse~
This docent was another of Mary's new found friends on this trip. He scared her playing peek-a-boo when we first got there, but she eventually warmed up~
Sam as Lincoln - Take 2~
Sam as Lincoln - Take 3~
Sam as Lincoln - Take 4(score-sorry, I couldn't resist)~
The boys had a blast playing with the old-fashioned Legos, aka Lincoln Logs~

While Mary played with...Reagan's hat~

With their finished cabins~

This was a great place, extremely well done, and we all enjoyed it tremendously. I know Charlie and Sam can't wait to go back!
At about 3:51, Tracy thought it might be fun if we could see the Illinois State Capitol building, you know, since we were in the area. She asked around and found that the capitol closed at 4:00. Ever the optimists, we quickly herded everyone into their coats, to the car, drove the 4 blocks and parked up the street. We ran to the entrance (to find a sign directing us to another entrance!) and made it in with about a minute, but no oxygen, to spare. After making it through security (my first time through a metal detector with the pump - I got wanded!), we found that the last tour was at 4:00, but the building didn't close until 4:30. The run was worth it - because of the weather and the late hour, we got our own private tour :) They are in the middle of restoring the entire building. It's really full of beautiful architectural details and artwork. View from the first floor~
With the Christmas display in the lobby~
The east ceiling~
The House~
In the Gallery~
The Senate ceiling~
We realized after we got there (and saw Andy Shaw heading into the Men's Room), that this was the second day of the Blagojevich Pay to Play hearings. We were excited/disappointed to learn, that if we had just gotten there earlier, we could have sat in on them! Here is a tiny bit of (corrupt Illinois politics') history~ And then what to our wondering eyes should appear, but longtime Chicago reporter, Carol Marin~
Of course, I had to ask, "Would you take a picture with my baby?" ~

She was very gracious~
Finished with our photo-op we made our last guided stop inside the former Illinois Supreme Court Chamber~
After our docent left us, we couldn't resist a quick peek inside the Senate hearing rooms. The security guard allowed us to look around while the last cameraman packed up. Mary's not going to take any nonsense~
Court is adjourned~
We headed outside where Tracy snapped a quick photo in front of the building~
And with the Lincoln statue~
We rushed to the car, where soon after we started driving, Mary fell asleep. We headed back to Tracy's mom's house, to get Elliot and the Humphrey's van. There we said a quick hello to "Mamaw", and were on our way. While picking up dinner at Culver's, Mary woke up. My boys are amazing! Tired themselves, after a really long day, they still patiently took turns keeping their sister happy for the almost-3-hour drive home. We had a so much fun on this little road trip. When we got home, Charlie and Sam were excited to show Scott their new friend on the 10:00 news. Thanks, Tracy!


At A Hen's Pace said...

We sure enjoyed the Lincoln Museum too! We lost Chicklet4 there for about twenty minutes, though...:(

So cool to see the Capitol Building! We promised ourselves a trip back there to see that when our favorite IL Senator would be there, and then it never happened.

What a great trip!


tracy said...

Well done...I guess my choices are either to figure out how to write my own blog or just convince you to come everywhere with me...