Oh what a week... or two! It has been crazy around here! The kids had a great time at Holiday World with their grandparents and I thorougly enjoyed the quiet of the house, in spite of having to clean. John's parents returned the kids on Tuesday night and then stayed the night with us. John grilled sausage, steak, hotdogs, brats and vegetable kebabs... definitely not a heart-healthy meal, though it was delicious. The next morning his parents headed off to Memphis for a vacation and we had co-op. My parents came in after we returned in the late afternoon. I gave blood for the first time at the blood drive at church that evening (seems like I was always pregnant or had lots of small children with me at past blood drives). My stepdad spent the next day doing odd jobs around the house that never seem to make John's priority list and I herded the kids through their schoolwork for the day. And on Friday, we were off: Girls' Weekend Out!
My mom has been buying Becca American Girl dolls each Christmas since she was about six, and she wanted to take her to American Girl Place in Chicago before Becca got too old. And they invited me! We took the Illini train from Carbondale to Chicago and arrived about 9:30 Friday evening. Mom had found an "American Girl Package" at the Wyndham, so we were delighted to receive a gift box for Becca with a plush robe for Kaya (the lucky doll who got to make the trip) that matched the robe hanging in the room. They were also out of the rooms with the two double beds which mom had requested- Darn! We were upgraded to a very large suite which was almost as big as the upstairs in my house! It was very plush and we were quite pleased with our good fortune.
We spent the next day at American Girl Place- you've never seen so many mothers, grandmothers, girls and dolls! Every little girl had a doll with her. We ate lunch at the American Girl Cafe, had Becca's "magazine" photo taken with her doll, attended the "American Girl Revue" and then had tea with Kaya back at the cafe, because it was her special day. The Cafe even had little chairs that clipped onto the table for the dolls, and the waitress brought a cup for dolls to have a "tea" too! I think even Becca might have been overwhelmed at the whole thing, but she was the perfect age. (One of the benefits of homeschooling is that they don't grow up too fast!)
Because American Girl Place is on Chicago's "Magnificent Mile" (the strip with the very expensive designer shops like Tiffany and Armani) we took the opportunity to run into Neiman-Marcus. Of course, people like me who do the bulk of their shopping at yard sales are not going to purchase anything inside Neiman-Marcus, but it was still something we needed to do. Becca didn't know she was supposed to be impressed with the Prada, Versace and Gucci items that were on display. We made our way to the department with her size clothes and I whispered, "Let's see how much these jeans are..." She gasped when she saw the $188 price tag. She ran to the the lingerie section across the aisle and found a bra for $380. Inspired, she ran back to us: "The person who finds the most expensive thing WINS!" Well, I won, but then, I also cheated by going to the jewelry counter.
After American Girls, we went to Borders for fresh reading material for the trip home, dropped off our stuff at the hotel, and headed to the Navy Pier. It was such nice weather- I wore a sweater all day long in perfect comfort. The evening was beautiful too. We stopped and watched the magician and comedy acts, rode the giant ferris wheel and ended the evening at Bubba Gumps. Becca almost fell asleep in her chowder.
We didn't have any plans for the next day, other than to get to the train on time, so we headed back down the Magnificent Mile to Filene's Basement, where the other overpriced stores send their unsold designer merchandise. Here you could find "normally" priced items, so we each found some things to make the outing a success. We wandered through the upscale stores at Water Tower Place and then headed back to the hotel and to Union Station, where we caught the train home. It was a great weekend.
My parents are off again visiting some friends, but they plan to return next week. In the meantime, life here is returning to some semblance of normal. We had a 4-H officers meeting yesterday, and co-op again today (John Mark and I received a 100 on "our" Emerson paper (grin). Tomorrow, piano and the first Children's Chorus practice. Boyscouts here on Saturday morning and 4-H is on Monday. And that's normal, I suppose.