Well, we made it safely back to Illinois yesterday. Our whirlwind trip to Findlay, Ohio was fun and eventful! We left Friday at 7:00 PM and naive little me thought we would be missing the dreaded Chicago traffic. I was wrong. We were going 12 miles an hour along the highway trying to get to the turnpike in Indiana. I was cursing Chicago and it's horrid traffic while Emma watched Tom and Jerry on the TV/VCR unit we put in the van for long trips and Zoe "fed" her baby doll a bottle. Brendan was driving so I was on entertainment detail. Luckily, the girls weren't tired of being in the van yet, so the slow moving traffic didn't bother them too much.
We finally made it out of Illinois and onto the turnpike and Brendan decided to make up for the slow moving traffic. He got up to 80 m.p.h., cruising speed, and off we went through the uneventful terrain of Indiana. We decided to stop at about 9:20 to give the girls a last chance at stretching their legs and hoping they would be ready to fall asleep upon re-entry into the van. We left at 9:45, and being that it was more than an hour past their bedtime, fell asleep quickly. Brendan again accelerates to cruising speed and I attach my i-pod mini to my ears and set the music to shuffle. I doze on and off until I feel us slowing down and stopping. I thought we must be at the tollway at the end of Indiana, but I couldn't see any tollbooths. What I did see however were some flashing red and blue lights. Brendan got pulled over for speeding on the Indiana turnpike. Now, most people from Ohio and Illinois know that there are NEVER andy cops on the Indiana Turnpike. Occasionally during the holidays, but never any other time. Until August 19, at midnight, when we were pulled over. The patrolman was very nice, asked the standard, "Do you now how fast you were going back there?" Brendan answered honestly and the patrolman asked for his license and registration. He took it back to his patrol car to check Brendan out. While the officer was making sure Brendan wasn't a kidnapper or car thief, Emma asked us why the policeman stopped Daddy. We explained to her twice that Daddy was driving faster than he was supposed to go. She told Brendan that he should "go slower so the other cars can go faster." The officer came back and only gave us a warning and asked us to try to keep it under 80. We did.
We arrived at my parents' house at about 2:00 AM (EST) and the girls went straight to bed, and so did we. I was fortunate enough to have to sleep with Zoe, who stys essentially in one place and doesn't get up at the crack of dawn. Brendan got to spend the night with Emma, which usually includes several kicks, a few cries, and wanting to get up at 5:45. He is a saint!
We got up and greeted the nieces and nephews and Ian. Emma, being the only new cousin to arrive and be awake, was rushed off by several of the girl cousins to go play. I barely saw her the rest of the day! Ian was happy to see us and had a great time with his seven cousins and Grandma and Papa. He spent the most time with Colin, his five year old cousin, during the week. They both had the same eye surgery when they were little, both wear glasses, and both get along like two peas in a pod.
After lunch my brother Kevin, his wife Margaret, and their two year old Nathan arrived. Then came my sister Leanne and her husband Mike. Finally, my oldest brother Mark cae with his wife Leanne. We brought a pinata (or pinasta as Emma calls it) filled with candy and the kids had a ball hitting it. It was shaped like an ice cream cone and the kids got several turns to whack it. The first stick used was a plastic golf club, which broke. A second plastic golf club was employed, but finally the pinata was broken using a wooden stick. It was fun to watch the various methods. Some did the classic baseball swing while others used the up and down hack method. My brother-in-law Mike and my brother Kevin discussed which method was better using engineering and scientific terms. The kids just grabbed as much candy as they could and gobbled it up.
After the pinata was the celebrating of the August birthdays and the Talent Show. Samantha (age 5) did a great toss and catch with some horseshoes and Madelyn (age 6) played a beautiful tune on the handbells. Colin (age 5) pretended to be a cowboy riding a horse (his Dad, Kevin) and Ian did some kind of silly dance holding up his wooden gun he had bought earlier in the week. The grand finale was a Karaoke event featuring the two oldest grandkids, Rose and Hannah (both age 9). They teamed up to sing "Summer Nights" from the movie Grease. Rose sang John Travolta's part while Hannah took Olivia Newton John's half. It was really fun to watch. My brother Mark decided to end the Talent Show with a song of his own. He sang a song from The Jungle Book, the one about wanting to be a human like the man cub. It was cute because several of the nieces and nephews started to dance around him in a circle like they were monkeys.
After sharing dinner and some more time together, all the other families went home. We were spending the night and leaving on Sunday morning, so we realaxed, gave the kids baths, and went to bed. (My parents went to bed right after we took our kids upstairs - they were exhausted from the week.) We got up on Sunday, packed up all our stuff and headed home around 10:00 AM. We didn't get pulled over in Indiana this time, but I drove the second leg and we stuck to about 75 m.p.h. The kids were doing great so we decided to just keep going until they got crabby. Consequently I was at the wheel when we got off the turnpike and saw traffic backed up otno the entrance ramp of the highway we usually take. I again cursed Chicago traffic and Brendan directed me to go another way. We ended up on the skyway, which can be kind of scary to drive way up high like that. Then at some point Emma had to go to he bathroom. We got off at Cass Avenue and pulled into a Shell station for the potty break. We realized we were a hop, skip, and a jump from Brendan's aunt Kathy's and headed out that way for a cookout celebrating Brendan's grandparents 63rd (63!!!!) anniversary and his Grandpa's birthday. As usual, Kathy and Mary had an amazing spread of delicious food, and Mary even catered to our children making them grilled cheese and serving it with applesauce. That was so nice. Anyways, we left after 8:30 (our kids' usual bedtime) and got home after 9:00. We got the kids to bed and unloaded the van, then not much later, went to sleep.
It was a good weekend.