Archive for Go with the Grohs

Visiting the Abraham Lincoln Museum in Springfield, Illinois

Abraham Lincoln MuseumWe spent a few days away for Spring Break this year {and I’m a little late getting this posted}.

We visited family in southern Illinois, and then spent a day and night in Springfield, Illinois on our way back home. This was our second trip to Springfield as a family. Last summer we spent a few hours there, exploring the capitol grounds, on our way west to Colorado.

This trip, our main purpose was to visit the Abraham Lincoln Museum. By the time we arrived, it was 2 o’clock in the afternoon, and the museum closed at 5pm. We were a little concerned that we wouldn’t have enough time, but as it turned out, our timing was perfect, for us and our two third-graders. We got to see {almost} everything we wanted and didn’t push our kids into the whiny “I want to go” phase.

There are several areas to visit in the museum. After pictures with the Lincoln family in the plaza, we started our tour by checking out the log cabin in the Journey One area.

Abe as a kid

We attended the “Ghosts in the Library” special-effects presentation, and then the Union Theater’s “Lincoln’s Eyes.” Both were very well done, but could be a little much for small children. Ella was a bit creeped out with the “ghosts” in the library and both kids sat on our laps during “Lincoln’s Eyes.” The latter presentation included loud noises, like the boom of cannons, and flashing lights. As would be expected, there were photos from the war here and throughout the museum.

On a much lighter note, Mrs. Lincoln’s Attic was a hands-on area where the kids got to be kids for a while. There were clothes to try on, old-fashioned games to play, food to pretend to cook and serve and more. We saved this area for last so that it wasn’t hard to make the kids leave in order to see the rest of the displays. That was a very good idea. The only thing left to see after this play area was the gift shop, and for some reason, we never have to ask our kids twice if they want to go to a gift shop.

Lincoln dress-up

eating in Mrs. Lincoln's attic

dressed in Civil War attire

Another tip that I would recommend is to check the website for any current special events or promotional discounts. There was a food drive going on that we participated in and that saved us a surprising amount of money on our admission price.

image3I do think we would all enjoy another visit to the museum before the kids are out of the house. This was a bit of an introduction for them, to some of the events of the Civil War. They will be better able to understand the events and politics of the day when they’re a bit older. Next time, we probably won’t spend time in Mrs. Lincoln’s Attic 🙁 but we will take the time to walk through the Treasures Gallery, which, for the sake of time, we chose to skip this time around.

[I took these pictures with my iPhone 6. Some of them downloaded small and I can’t figure out how to get them to a larger size. Please let me know if you have insight on how to do this, since I haven’t been able to figure it out yet.  Thanks!!]

Door County in the Fall

Door CountyLast weekend, my family and I traveled north to Door County, Wisconsin for a few days. I have wanted to get to Door County in the fall for some time and was excited that we finally had the opportunity to go.

I was not disappointed.

Here are some of my favorite pictures showing the amazing color and beauty of the area this time of the year. There are a lot, but I couldn’t narrow it down any more than this! I’d love to know which ones are your favorites!

Gills Harbor

Washington Island Main Street

Door County apples

Pier on Washington Island

Door County colors

Scandinavian Church

Fall leaves on boardwalk

Washington Island Farm

Old car and fall colors

Washington Island Farm

Schoolhouse Beach w/leaves

Fall foliage on Schoolhouse Beach

Peninsula State Park in Door County

Peninsula State Park on Door County

Sunset at Peninsula State Park

Next time, I’ll post pictures that include us and our adventures!

A Weekend in the Country

My side of the family has established a yearly hayride tradition as of late. This year it fell on the weekend that my sister, Kathy, and her family were visiting from New York state. The kids and I were up on the farm for most of the week, but Ken wasn’t able to join us.

Last Friday evening, once Uncle Randy {my brother} was done with chores for the evening, he threw a few bales of straw in a wagon, everyone hopped aboard, and we were off.

straw ride

Nickolas got to end the ride with a much-anticipated seat in the cab with Uncle Randy.

tractor ride

Miley the dog and cousin Emily saying “cheese.”

Smiling lab

Our hay/straw rides are followed by a hot dog roast.

hot dog roast

And then there are s’mores.

s'more

s'mores

Ella learning to confidently hold a cat.

country kitty

Wood pile as the sun was setting. {I just liked this shot}

wood pile

Rummaging through a “junk” pile with my Dad. He was doing all the work, I was just inquiring of what was there.

rummaging

My brother-in-law agreed to head into the old barn and pull out my Dad’s Montgomery Ward Hawthorne bike–something we’ve talked about for years and just never made the time to do.

bike in barn

Hawthorne bicycle

Soon, a ball game broke out.

country baseball

silo at dusk

girls on hay bales

country slow pitch

Wouldn’t trade these summer nights for anything.

Our Colorado Trip–Final Days

One afternoon we headed to the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo–a beautiful zoo built on a mountainside {of course–this IS Colorado after all}.

Cheyenne Mountain Zoo

Ken made a new friend.

petting giraffe

sitting on elephant trunk

feeding birds in aviary

bird feeding aviary

Watching this brown bear was my favorite part of our trip to the zoo. He put on a great show within inches of us. And there were 2 bald eagles perched in a tree above him. We lingered there for quite a while.

watching grizzly bear at zoo

brown bear at zoo

The next morning we lounged around for a bit, enjoying our friends’ great backyard.

kids on hammock

Demonstrating their technique in getting out of a hammock.

kids falling out of hammock

Soon we loaded up and headed north to Boulder, where we visited Dan and Kelly’s daughter, Brittany. In Boulder, we wound our way up Flagstaff Mountain and enjoyed some incredible views. Flagstaff Mountain Colorado

 

DSCN7702

Groh family on Flagstaff Mountain, Boulder, CO

boulders in Boulder

Once we got back to downtown Boulder, the kids kept busy in the dancing waters while the ladies checked out the vendors at the art and craft fair.

Boulder, Colorado dancing waters

On our final day in Colorado, we didn’t go far and enjoyed relaxing with our friends. The kids swam in the hot tub for HOURS! What a great day it was 🙂

hanging out in Colorado

The time came and went all too fast, as I knew it would. I am so thankful that we were able to reconnect with dear friends and create memories that will last, reminding us that we need to visit again when we’re able.

singing hand games

Our Colorado Trip–Beautiful Places

Summer has been so full! The kids and I spent most of last week on my family’s farm and I didn’t get any more of my Colorado pictures posted. I’ll do a little catching up now  🙂

We spent one morning at The Garden of the Gods in Colorado Springs. Here’s a family picture in front of the kissing camels. (See them?)

Kissing camels

Ella getting in a little rock-climbing.

Ella rock climbing

Kelly and me.

At Garden of the Gods

Another family shot. Hard to take a bad picture in this place!

family picture at garden of the gods

The kids exploring and playing.

kids at garden of the gods

Later that day, Dan and Kelly took us to the old Phoenix gold mine in Idaho Springs, where we had a one-of-a-kind tour.

phoenix mine tour

The kids’ favorite part was feeding these friendly {and rather chubby} little guys.

feeding chipmunks

friendly chipmunks

After the mine tour, we headed up the hill for a once again, one-of-a-kind, gold panning lesson.

Phoenix gold mine

gold panning lesson

gold panning lesson

panning for gold

father and son pan for gold

Beautiful country! I’ll end with that for today  🙂

beautiful Colorado

Our Colorado Trip–Colorado at Last!

So we left Saint Louis, drove through Missouri, and spent a night in Salina, Kansas. Then, a little more driving, a little singing of John Denver tunes (to set the mood) and a little more of this:

kids alseep in the car

and then finally, ahhhhh, Colorado!

Colorado lake at dusk

We spent the next 5 days with our friends, Dan and Kelly Spiegelberg. Kelly was my best friend growing up and life took them to Colorado 15 years ago. We arrived at their place on Kelly’s birthday, and were able to go out to dinner with them to celebrate. I hadn’t had a chance to do that in quite a while!

The next morning, these 2 cuties were looking for some breakfast–mule deer fawns. They looked a little different from the white-tail variety that we are used to seeing.

fawns in the morning

It was a rainy day, so we headed into Colorado Springs and visited the Focus on the Family Welcome Center. The kids enjoy listening to the Adventures in Odyssey audio series and have read a couple of the books, so it was fun to have an ice cream treat at Whit’s End soda shop and spend quite a while playing in the different sections of Kid’s Korner. There was no admission charge and the kids were entertained for hours.

Whit's End Soda Shop

puppet show at Kid's Korner

kids with puppets

We eventually headed back to the house and enjoyed a dip in the hot tub. It turned out to be a rather brief dip, because minutes after this picture was taken, a storm blew threw and we were scrambling to get outta there and safely inside.

Colorado hot tub

The next morning, Dan thrilled the kids with rides on the ATV, or “Arctic Cat” as they called it. It’s funny because that’s what it was, but they weren’t familiar with the term ATV, so they just read the words on the side and always referred to it as the Arctic Cat, which cracked us up because it sounded so formal.

Colorado ATV

Ella on ATV

Colorad ATVing

What a great time! We all had a blast every day and it was so fun to spend time with Dan and Kelly (and their daughter, Brittany, on occasion; their son, Taylor, was out of town) and to see them getting to know and enjoy our kids.

More pics and adventures to come!  🙂

Our Colorado Trip–Second Day in Saint Louis

Little Scientists

With “The Arch” crossed off our list of things to do in Saint Louis, we boarded the hotel shuttle and spent a good part of our second day at the Saint Louis Science Center. What a phenomenal place–and it’s free to the public!

St. Louis Science Center

This building had 3 sprawling floors of fun things to explore and experience–hands on!

Ella played a harp with lasers for strings.

laser harp

We sat in on a little electricity lab and Ella dared to touch the plasma ball.

plasma ball

Pretty impressive automated dinosaur display.

dinosaur museum

Fun with mirrors:

fun with mirrors

Three-legged Ella:

fun with mirrors

We spent some time in the Life Science Lab.

little scientists

Experimenting with visible DNA.

little scientists at work

Another shot taken by the kids  🙂

mom and dad scientists

We had hoped to eat at a good St. Louis BBQ place, but everything was either closed (it was a Sunday) or sold out, so our shuttle took us to a huge eatery near Busch Stadium, where the Cardinals play, and we ate at Cardinal Nation. Here we are catching a glimpse of the stadium.

outside of Busch Stadium

We may need to venture back to St. Louis before too long. It’s a pretty cool city with a lot more to discover than we had time for.

kids outside Busch Stadium

Our Colorado Trip–Next Stop: St. Louis

St. Louis Gateway Arch

Our first view of the arch as we walked toward it.

From Springfield, we drove for two and a half hours and arrived in St. Louis, Missouri. I had arranged for a FREE two-night stay at the Residence Inn Downtown {using a certificate that we earned when we bought new tires for our car!!} and we were thrilled with our accommodations. They even waived our nightly parking fee!

One of the best things about this place was that it offered a complimentary shuttle to anywhere within a 3 mile radius. Perfect! We parked and unloaded our vehicle and didn’t touch it again until the morning we left. A shuttle was available every time we requested one and the drivers were wonderful!

After getting situated in our room, we hopped onto the shuttle and were dropped off a short walk from the Gateway Arch.

outside Gateway Arch

This was my third visit to the arch, but it had been many years since I had been there last and I didn’t remember much about the area at its base. I’m pretty sure it has expanded greatly in the last couple of decades and now contains a small museum, a theater with a couple of informational movies about the arch and area, gift shops, a large ticketing area and unfortunately, a LOT of people. We like to avoid crowds and long lines, but since the forecast was calling for rain for the next couple of days, we bit the bullet and decided to purchase tickets and wait our turn to ascend the arch that afternoon so we would have a chance at a good view.

Our turn to form a line finally came, but unbeknownst to us, it was still a lengthy wait after that, shuffling through holding sections.

Finally in the pod–I love how this picture captured some of the anxiety on everyone’s faces.

Ready to ascend Gateway Arch

A moment later, a little more relaxed–sort of.

In the Gateway Arch pod

My cute family--going up.

My cute family–going up.

Once we got to the top, it was so incredibly crowded. We held our poor kids’ hands as they squirmed their way through the sea of people’s bottoms that were in their faces.

on top of Gateway Arch

They got to look out the windows, but I don’t think we spent more than 3 or 4 minutes up there before they asked to head to the pods and go back down. We were fine with that. I’m very glad that we all did it, but I would be ok if that was my last time. Ken agrees.

View of courthouse from Gateway Arch

View of the city and old courthouse from the pinnacle of the Gateway Arch.

Once we arrived back down on solid ground, it was quite late and the Groh family was hungry again. We started walking in the direction that we thought was the Spaghetti Factory and, fortunately, we got it right this time, but it was a bit of a stroll. My shoe buckle began bothering me from all the unexpected walking earlier in the day, and before long my ankle started to bleed. I had to take drastic measures and began walking with one bare foot, holding my shoe in my hand. Classy. Thankfully, they still allowed us into the restaurant.

I loved the decor of the Spaghetti Factory and the balloon guy made the kids pretty incredible hats.

St. Louis Spaghetti Factory

We got to see the full moon/super moon after dinner as we walked to catch our shuttle which took us back to the hotel. A good, full day.

Gateway Arch with full moon

Our Colorado Trip–First Stop: Springfield, Illinois

Last summer, we made our longest road trip to date by heading east to visit my sister and her family in upstate New York, with a stopover at our friends in Ohio. Since that was completely successful, we decided that this summer we would take an even longer trip and head west to visit my childhood best friend and her family, in Colorado.

Since the drive to the Colorado Springs area is about 20 hours, we thought we’d make a couple of stops along the way to make it a more enjoyable trip. We had initially planned to head to Springfield, Illinois–our capital city–and spend a day and night there exploring historical sites. But since we had to cut our vacation a little short due to Ken needing to get back to work, we chose to just spend a few hours there and then move on to our next destination.

Springfield, IL capitol building

Thankfully we had a beautiful {albeit very hot} day. We found our way to the capitol building and parked for free a couple of blocks away. According to our GPS, there were some restaurants within walking distance, so we locked the GPS in the car, deciding to wing it, and set off.

Well, I don’t know if the GPS was wrong, or if we were, but let’s just say we ended up having a bit of a Clark Griswold adventure! We walked…and walked…and walked, alone, through some neighborhoods that had seen better days; down one street and then another, sure that the restaurant we were desiring was on the next block over. It was so hot, we were fading fast. The kids were complaining, with their hands hanging straight down by their sides and their feet dragging a bit. We were irritable, sweating, thirsty and our stomachs were growling–I’m tellin’ ya–we would have been great Griswold fodder. It was so ridiculous–ha!

Anyway, we circled around and ended up on the other side of the capitol building and saw three ladies approaching in the distance. They were smiling and carrying take-home containers. Take-home containers!! I almost ran to them, but controlled myself and as we passed I asked where they had eaten. They pointed us in the direction of Obed and Isaac’s and we set off with renewed hope. Several minutes later, we were in a very quaint air-conditioned eating establishment, with our name on a list for a table. Apparently everyone else knew to come here.

After a very enjoyable meal, we headed back to the capitol building with restored energy and a little more spring in our step. {Notice–no pictures until the fed, happier Groh family appeared}

Lincoln Statue--Springfield, IL

A replica of the Liberty Bell.

Bell at Springfield, IL

Heading inside.

Walking into Springfield, IL capitol building

The beautiful rotunda.

Springfield, IL capitol rotunda

I didn’t take a picture, but the bathrooms in the building were awe-inspiring. I told the kids that it might be the nicest bathroom they’ll ever use!

Springfield, IL capitol building

Firemen’s monument–took this shot for Grandpa Groh.

Firemen's monument, Springfield, IL

One of the kids took this picture before we left  🙂  I love how they’re getting pretty good with the camera!

Kissing at capital, Springfield, IL

Off to Saint Louis!

 

 

Fort Wayne for the Weekend

Fort Wayne Science Central

Our family has traveled to Fort Wayne, Indiana, several times since the fall of 2007. It happens to be a half-way point between us and our dear friends who live in Ohio. Once we get through {or around} Chicago, it’s a pretty easy drive and we made it this past weekend in under 5 hours each way.

Our activities have changed as our children have grown, and we have been very pleased with what the Fort Wayne area has to offer. Enough so, that we plan to continue going back.

Here are some of our favorite spots, along with some pictures of us through the years:

Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo

Fort Wayne Zoo

Fort Wayne Zoo--giraffe

Fort Wayne Zoo--kangaroos

Fort Wayne Zoo--peacock

Fort Wayne Zoo--lizard

Fort Wayne Zoo--pony ride

Fort Wayne Zoo--pony ride

Fort Wayne Zoo--water ride

Fort Wayne Zoo--carousel

Fort Wayne Zoo--petting zoo

Foellinger-Freimann Botanical Conservatory

Botanical Conservatory in strollers

Botanical Conservatory--family pic

Science Central

Science Central--water works

Science Central--parachute

Science Central--discovering

Science Central--mirrors

Science Central--5 senses

Science Central--demonstration

Science Central--confusion illusion

Science Central--spinning

Crazy Pinz, Inc.

Crazy Pinz--spare!

We have also spent time at outdoor parks when the weather has cooperated, and at various shopping centers and the Glenbrook Square mall when it has not.

Cheek to cheek

This site is always helpful as we plan our trips: Visit Fort Wayne

You can find valuable coupons here and browse through the current issue of the Fort Wayne Visitor’s Guide here.

I look forward to getting to know Fort Wayne even better as our kids enter new stages and their interests change. There are other museums to explore and more sights to see!