Category Archives: Out and About

Roads and Rails Museum Visit

Mountain Passes

I’m visiting our daughter and family for our youngest grandson’s first birthday and today we headed out to nearby Frederick, Maryland to visit the Roads and Rails Museum.  If you are at all interested in model railroading, you really should take the time to see this gem, located in downtown historic Frederick.  You can read about it here and take an awesome virtual tour of the place.

Pet Place Building

The attention to detail is amazing.  One of the fun things to do is to pick up their scavenger quiz sheet as you enter and then try to find the items and answers as you look around the layout.

Cows and Eggnog

Drive-in Theater

Look at the little drive-in theater.  It is actually playing scenes from a movie.  How fun is that?

Aliens have landed

Oh, oh…look who has landed at the farm.  Then again, I always suspected that there was more to Holsteins than met the eye.

Visit the Zoo

There is a little zoo in the layout and one of the quiz questions is to find how many animals are escaping from the zoo.

Bed Bug Motel

When I spied the Bed Bug Motel, I had to take a picture of it for my brother, considering our recent “wildlife” adventure on our sibling trip.

What’s in the woods?

Looks like those hobos better look out behind them.  I think something is coming out of the woods to get them.

Fire, Fire!

Look out!  A building is on fire but those firemen seem to be more interested in the hot dog stand then putting out the flames.

Come in for the Show

Along with a Big Top there is also a carny area filled with moving rides that light up.

What Lurks Beneath

Maybe you thought dinosaurs were extinct but they are alive and well under the train layout.

When you get tired of looking at all of the incredible details in the huge layout, walk into the next room and enjoy the LEGO display.

Garden Time

 

Hulking Out

Robin Hood at War

There are many others scenes set up in the LEGO room but I’ve just wet your whistle with the pictures above.  Once you finish your tour, there are many fine restaurants and quaint shops in historic Frederick so plan to make a day of it.

There is “Hungry” and then “REALLY Hungry”

Trim Healthy Mama Diet

I’m trying to diet, which is never a great thing with me.  I tend to get grumpy…very grumpy.  Let’s face it, who likes denial?  Going out to eat is one of the joys of my existence.  Cooking is NOT one of those joys.  That said, I rather reluctantly went into the Trim Healthy Mama Plan basically to keep a friend company in her misery resolution.  I’ve been on it for a month now and it has been surprisingly angst-free.  I’ve been without sugar and am surviving.  My biggest complaint is that my grocery bills have been super high (all that meat and extra ingredients) and that I always seem to have dishes to do since I make a lot of delicious plan-approved shakes to drink between my regular meals.  I’ve even managed to lose 10 pounds so far.

Well, today I knew that we had the Super Bowl festivities coming up so I went light for breakfast.  I only ate a “fat-burning frappa” shake.  Normally I’ll make lots of appetizers for the big game but tonight I’m only going to have a plan-approved Peanut Butter Shake and some popcorn.  I got my hubby some Haagen Daas ice cream for HIS splurge.  Anyway, I was pretty hungry when lunch rolled around.  Couldn’t exactly whip up a snack or shake in the middle of church, could I?

We decided to head over to the Red Oak Cafe.  I’ve eaten there before (pre-diet) and have always enjoyed their breakfasts.  You get a lot and it is good.  I was going to try to stay on plan today for lunch, though.  I checked out the menu and decided on an entree from under the “Hungry?” column.  There was a two-step entree, then one that was listed for folks who were a “little hungrier” and then one for “Really hungry” folks.  Hey, I didn’t want to be a glutton so I went with the middle one.  I could choose 3 scoops of different items which would come on a bed of lettuce.  Perfect!  No bread to worry about.  I chose chicken salad, tuna salad, and egg salad.  Hubby got a grilled sandwich with tortilla chips.

Our meals arrived and I could only stare at mine.  There were three scoops all right but they were tiny…I’m talking really tiny, like 1/4 cup scoop of each one (maybe 1/3 cup if I’m REALLY being generous in my description.  And those three little scoops cost about $10.

“Don’t you dare touch those seasoned crackers,” I ordered my hubby.  “I’m going to put some of this on a few of them so at least I can feel like I’m eating something!

I glumly cut up the lettuce leaf to try to fool my brain into thinking I was getting bulk.  As I cut and swallowed, my hubby was waxing poetic about the seasoned bacon on his sandwich.

“Do NOT talk to me about your sandwich,” I snapped at him.

I ate all three scoops and then ate three little cracker squares while watching my husband polish off the tortilla chips.  My mindset was NOT that of someone who had just come from church.

Lessons learned?  1.  Never order that again.  2.  Hoard the crackers.  3.  Go somewhere else and get a steak for lunch.  And now I’m going to sit and fantasize about my popcorn tonight.

Dinosaur-themed Roadside Park for Children

Dinosaur Land

Dinosaur Land

Do you have children that are crazy for dinosaurs?  We have several grandchildren that can’t get enough of these prehistoric behemoths.  Yesterday, our little Sprout paid a visit to a nearby roadside attraction called Dinosaur Land.  It is located in White Post, Virginia and I’d highly recommend it for your toddlers or children up to probably about age 8.

T-Rex

T-Rex

This is an older park but the fiberglass huge dinosaurs are well-maintained and the park is pleasantly constructed to corral your younger children.

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First and foremost, it is shady.  That is important on those hot, summer days when you are looking for a nice, cooler activity to do with your little ones.

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There are gravel walk paths interspersed between the grassy areas.  My daughter took the children in a double-stroller and reported back that she had no problems maneuvering the stroller through the park.

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The park is fenced.  That is a big plus so that you can let your toddlers out of the stroller to run among the dinosaurs while you keep an eye on them.

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The park also wasn’t really crowded at least on the day my family visited.  There were about 7-8 other families there which creates a more relaxing visit.

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You can get up close and personal with the dinosaurs, within reason.  Obviously I wouldn’t recommend climbing on the dinosaurs but, with supervision, they can get close to them and feel them to their heart’s content.

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Sprout wanted to feel the dino’s teeth but once he got THIS close, he decided that it was a “little scary” and was soon off to explore other dinosaurs.

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Admission is currently $6 for adults and $5 for children under 11.  It’s free for children under 2.

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Summer hours are 9:30 – 6 p.m. and off-season the hours are 9:30-5:30.  They are closed January and February.  When you finish your visit, there is a big gift shop if you want to have something to bring home as a lasting souvenir.

Our little Sprout was THRILLED with his visit.  He is almost three so there  you have it – one toddler who gives it two thumbs up.  His parents also highly recommend it.  These small roadside attractions are quickly becoming a thing of the past, which is a shame.  Not everything has to be as slick and over-the-top as Disney World to put a big smile on your child’s face and a great memory in their heart.

I Got You, Prius Four!

My Prius-C

My Prius-C

Three years ago, right before my brother and I drove out to Minnesota with our mother’s cremains, I purchased my beloved orange Prius-C.  I had it for about 2 weeks before I drove it from Pennsylvania to Michigan.  There I picked up my brother and we both headed off to Minnesota to bury our mom.

Well, my brother loved my Prius.  He couldn’t get over how many miles per gallon I was getting with it (50-75 mpg on the trip).   In fact, he was so impressed with it that by the time we got to Minnesota, he had decided to get a Prius of his own.

You bought WHAT?

You bought WHAT?

That’s how I found myself sitting at the Heintz Toyota dealership in Mankato waiting on my brother while he bought his new Prius.  As you might have guessed, we both can be a bit impetuous.  He didn’t even tell his wife he was buying a new car.  Just drove it back across three states and showed up with it at his house.  Thankfully, my sister-in-law didn’t hold it against me for putting him on the Prius path.  I mean, I really didn’t twist his arm.  Prius cars sell themselves.  Speaking of selling cars, if you ever are in the Minnesota area and looking for a new Toyota, look up Laurie Danberry at Heintz Toyota on Raintree Road in Mankato, MN.  She is a wonderful salesperson and goes above and beyond to give you outstanding service.

Fast forward three years to May of this year.  Once again, my brother and I were on the road through Wisconsin and on to Minnesota to visit our mother’s grave and relatives in the area.  This time around, we rode in my brother’s Prius.

Oops, You Did It Again

Oops, You Did It Again

I knew something was up when my brother was absolutely paranoid about me getting his car dirty (like the time I sat in the puddle on that cow seat in Wisconsin and ended up with a soaked backside).

Sure enough, when we swung into Mankato THIS year, he headed straight back to Heintz Toyota and Laurie.  Turns out he had been communicating with Laurie long distance about trading in his current Prius for a new Prius Four.

“What color are you getting,” I asked him.

“Same color,” he said.

“You’re kidding, right?” I responded.  I just couldn’t imagine getting the same color of car two cars in a row, but then, I DO love change.

“Have to,” he answered.  “I’m hoping that Rose won’t notice it’s a new Prius if it’s the same color as my old Prius.”

“You’re kidding, right?” I said, in astonishment.

John's New  '16 Prius

John’s New ’16 Prius

Before too long, we drove off in his new (but same color) 2016 Prius.  I have to admit that the new Prius is pretty darn slick.  It is incredibly quiet inside when driving and the gas mileage is really something.  John was getting mileage in the 60’s on our return trip.

When we got back to his home, I asked him when he planned to tell his wife he had a new car.

“You’re going to tell her,” he told me.

“Oh, no, Brother.  That’s your job,” I firmly responded.

I don’t think she was too happy to be surprised yet again but at least he has a great car that gets incredible mileage per gallon and his monthly payments are even less, I do believe he told me.  Hopefully, my sister-in-law won’t ban him from taking another road trip with me, even though I doubt I’ll be able to guarantee that he won’t return with another surprise.   Sometimes the temptation of a new Prius is just too much to resist.

A Yarn Dyeing Workshop

Drying Skeins

Drying Skeins

Several days ago, I and six of my knitting friends took a Dyeing Workshop with Elizabeth Inman of Vice Yarns.  We learned 4-5 dyeing techniques and got to pick our own colors to try on a generous number of skeins and scarf or sock blanks.

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We first worked on the Speckled Yarn technique.  Speckled yarn is really “in” right now, especially with Brioche knitters.  I’m not going to even attempt to tell you how to do these techniques.  I was too busy just enjoying the day and trying my hand at each of them.  I’d encourage you to sign up for a dyeing class and, if you happen to live in the Houston area, contact Elizabeth at Vice Yarns  and take her workshop.  It is fabulous.

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I can’t remember what this next technique is called but it involved a lot of knotting and reknotting and dipping in dye vats.

Dip That Skein

Dip That Skein

It was really something to see how the yarn would change with each dipping.  Everyone’s skein was so different, too.

Dipped Skein

Dipped Skein

Here is a closeup of my dipped skein.  I’m holding it in one of the pictures above.  The technique rather reminded me of my days in college doing tie-dyeing.

Safety First

Safety First

Oh, yes.  We had to wear paper masks over our mouths and noses and wear safety goggles when we were doing the speckled technique since you shouldn’t breathe the powdered dye in.  That was the only one that needed those precautions.  For the rest of the techniques, we wore latex gloves just so we wouldn’t go home with dyed hands.

Another Technique

Another Technique

This was another technique but I can’t remember what it was called for the life of me.  It involved squirting liquid dye onto the skeins with syringes.  I remember that much.

Drying Skeins

Drying Skeins

We did rainbow dyeing and the skeins at the top of this picture above are the rainbow skeins.  Many of my friends chose to “overdye” their skeins in a diluted purple vat after they had steamed but I left mine bright.  This picture shows them before they were overdyed.  The overdyeing simply mutes the colors.

Dyed Blanks

Dyed Blanks

We were able to dye blanks which are preknitted into a yarn fabric and then you dye them.  After they are dry, you can pull them apart and skein them.  Those were fun.  Elizabeth showed us how to do a gradient yarn dye on them and some attempted this.  I wasn’t that brave so just did different color blocks.  The picture above isn’t mine, by the way.  One of my friends took it but I don’t remember which one.  However, since I didn’t get a picture of the blanks drying, I wanted to include it here.

Dyeing Blanks

Dyeing Blanks

Here are two of my friends.  One is dyeing her blank and another is giving her a free “consult.”

Here are a few more pictures from our dyeing adventure:

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At the end of the day, I came home with these.  What is especially nice is that you can purchase additional blanks or skeins for the workshop and I chose to do an extra blank.

My Dyed Yarn

My Dyed Yarn

What a fun way to spend a sunny day here in the Great State of Texas.  Check out Vice Yarns and, if you live in the Houston area, lucky you!  You, too, can spend a day learning dyeing techniques from Elizabeth.

 

 

Marble Falls Pottery Ranch

Today we left Waco and headed towards Johnson City and Marble Falls to see if we could find more Texas wildflowers.  En route we stumbled upon the Pottery Ranch outside Marble Falls, Texas.  Oh, my, if ever there was a feast for the eyes of fun things to see, this is the place to be.

Colorful Peacocks

Colorful Peacocks

The first thing that caught my eye were really cute Texas blue bonnets.  I had to get one (would have liked much more than one but hubby was there tempering my enthusiasm).  I’ll have to take a pic of my blue bonnet when we return home.

Yikes, Crocs!

Yikes, Crocs!

Huge metal sculptures greet you as you pull into the parking lot.

Getting Table Ideas

Getting Table Ideas

There are a lot of things inside the building and outside under a covered patio including this wagon wheel table that gave me a good idea about how to use one of my farm wagon wheels.

Have a seat.

Have a seat.

I WASN’T tempted to bring home these bar stools but they made a fun picture.

Let's Grill!

Let’s Grill!

Want to do some grilling and REALLY impress your neighbors?  How about this beauty?

A plethora of birds

A plethora of birds

Trip Flamingoes

I adored these flamingos and just kept thinking how much our little Spud would have loved one for his backyard.

Hey, Polly!

Hey, Polly!

Of course there are all sorts of pottery pots and these colorful parrots.

Trip Green Parrot

I had to snap various shots of the parrots for our little Spud to enjoy later.

Trip Big Parrot

Trip Another Parrot

Let's Conga!

Let’s Conga!

Perhaps my favorite sight was this conga line of dinosaurs.  There were even a few at the very end (out of the picture) that had fallen down.  They obviously couldn’t keep up.

I know what I want for Christmas…besides the wooden windmill and water tower.  I want some of the metal cacti and prairie grasses from here.  I have just the spot in the house for a cactus that lights up.  YeeHaw!  I highly recommend a visit to the Pottery Ranch.  Try to go on a sunny day so that you can really enjoy all the vibrant colors around you.

 

Central Texas Trip – Day Two

Trip Cafe Homestead

Our first stop today was at the Homestead Heritage Craft Village.  It’s located north west of Waco and has a variety of shops you can visit (no admission charge) to see artisans at work.  There is a pottery shop, Woodworking shop, iron works shop, craft barn, fiber/weaving shop, gristmill, and a cheese shop as you enter the complex.  There is also a rustic café onsite which features wholesome food.

Trip Sheep

There were some interesting things at the craft barn but I found some of the ironwork and woven pieces rather expensive.  Guess I’m used to Pennsylvania bargains.  Frankly, I was more interested to walk the grounds and take pictures of the lovely flowers.

Trip Roses

Herb garden lavender

Herb garden lavender

More cheery flowers

More cheery flowers

Beautiful Bluebonnets

Beautiful Bluebonnets

The Commander by flowers

The Commander by flowers

Trip Flowers

Trip Flower Field

After wandering the grounds, we headed over to the Cafe Homestead where we enjoyed a simple meal.  I had peach iced tea and something called a quesadilla burger, as well as a cup of sweet potato soup.

Trip Dinner

The meat was delicious but I must confess that I pulled out the roasted poblano pepper.  No way was that stringy green thing going down my gullet.

Hamilton County Courthouse

Hamilton County Courthouse

Then we headed off toward Fairy, Texas to do a little genealogical sleuthing.  The Commander’s ancestors are from this area and he stopped at the Bosque County Courthouse and then the Hamilton County Courthouse to check their old records.  I tagged along with my bag of knitting.

Fairy Town Cemetary

Fairy Town Cemetery

Next we drove over to the little town of Fairy where we found the town cemetery.  The Commander’s great-grandparents are buried there.  He jokes that he once came to Fairy with his family when he was a college student to gather with other aunts and uncles and they said they probably doubled the town population that weekend.

Trip Cemetery2

I was busy working on adding steps to my Fitbit for the day while hubby photographed tombstones.  Speaking of tombstones, there were some very unusual, homemade ones in that little cemetery.

Trip Monument

This one was made of lots of geode rocks and a rustically-engraved marker.

Trip Monument2

I wasn’t quite sure what function this monument was supposed to serve.  It almost looked like a rustic fireplace.

Trip Bear

Perhaps the strangest monument was this bear.  As my husband mentioned, you’d hate to stumble upon that if you were in the cemetery at night.

Looking at one section of my husband’s relatives’ markers, I was reminded of the all-too-common tragedy of children dying young in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s.  Just the one family had five children’s markers sharing their plot and most of them had lived anywhere from 4 days to several months.  I just can’t imagine continuing to get pregnant again and again, only to lose those children after such a short time with them.  Yet this happened in so many pioneer families.

We concluded our trip by heading back to the hotel, winding along rural back roads between range land with flowers blooming along the road.  Although most of the day was gray, the sun did peep out a few times and it was a relaxing, enjoyable day.  I have no idea where we will head tomorrow but I’m sure we will think of something.

Waco, Here We Come

Trip Road

This week we were blessed to have an unexpected chance to take a little mini-vacation so the Commander and I decided on a whim to head off to Central Texas, Waco – to be precise, and see some sights.  After a rip-roaring, storming night, the day loomed gray and uninviting but we didn’t care because at least it wasn’t raining anymore.  To be truthful, it did my heart a world of good to get out into the country, away from the urban noise and sprawl that is Houston.

Trip Drink

Our first stop of the day was at a little fast food place on the way for lunch.  I think it was called something like Taco Casa.  Whatever it was called, it was NOT remarkable at all.  The menu was limited and I burst out laughing when I ordered a small coke and was handed this cup that was all of about 4 inches tall.  I felt like I should ask for a high chair next.  Sheesh!

Trip Magnolia

We had decided to avoid staying IN Waco so had booked a hotel at a nearby small town but when we got into the vicinity,  we were way too early to check in so we continued on into Waco and made our way to the Magnolia Market, the shop complex owned by Chip and Joanna Gaines of HGTV’s show, “Fixer Upper.”  Now I love that show and the couple, who are just delightful.  I was really excited about seeing their store and have to confess that the actual visit was a let-down.  The shop is only two medium-sized rooms filled with small little accessories, silk flowers, and lots of tin shelving and containers.  I found the best deals to be the t-shirts and the little paper doo-dads.  Honestly, though, I don’t think I’d recommend making the trip to see this.  It would be much more productive to watch the show and get your decorating ideas from Joanna and then to try to  purchase similar things from someplace much cheaper like Hobby Lobby.

Trip Silos

At least I got the Commander to snap my pic in front of the Magnolia silos to prove I’d been there, as I didn’t buy any souvenirs.

Trip Guns

Next we headed over to the Texas Ranger Hall of Fame and Museum.  It’s not far from the Magnolia Market or Baylor University (and boy, howdy…is THAT ever a grand-looking school).  I had to take some obligatory photos of the great gun collection they have there for my son-in-law, who is our family gun enthusiast.

Trip painting

There were lovely paintings scattered throughout (the one above is one of my favorites), many lovely old saddles, and interesting tributes to many of the notable Rangers over the years.  We also got there in time for the last showing of the day of a film that documented the history of the Texas Rangers.  It lasted 45 minutes and I enjoyed it.  I kept half expecting to see Jeffrey Dean Morgan pop up as “Deaf Smith”, though.

Trip Ranger

Had to get the Commander to take a picture of me beside an early Ranger.  I just love my new state and its history. Nothing more Texan than a newly-transplanted Texas citizen, I guess.

Trip Wildflowers

Driving back to the hotel, I snapped this blurry shot of some of the wildflowers we’ve been enjoying.  We’ve seen mostly indian paintbrush flowers with a few blue bonnets sprinkled in with them.  I suspect that it would be much more enjoyable a sight on a sunny day.

Trip dog

In the meantime, what has little Toto been doing?  Enjoying her own mini-vacation with the grandchildren.  I can see by her sorrowful face that she is really missing me.  Um, sure!

Tomorrow we head over to Homestead Village outside Waco.  I’ll tell you all about it later.

 

 

 

Brenham, Texas with a Toddler

Fri

Today was a lovely day so we decided to head up to Brenham, Texas.  It would give our daughter a chance to see a different topography than the flat area around Houston AND we might even get a sneak peek at some bluebonnets.

Our first stop up there was at Nathan’s BBQ.  They always have some fine BBQ and it always seems like we are hankering for good food by the time we make the long drive to Brenham.

Fri2

After lunch, Sprout was fussing that he wanted to “play outside.”  We did a quick Google search to find some local parks and found the Fireman’s Park in Brenham.  There was a carousel (closed today) and several fun playgrounds, as well as a baseball field.

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Sprout had lots of fun climbing around on the playground structures although we didn’t have a lot of luck getting him to go down the slides.

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We finally corralled him long enough to get him into a swing and he really enjoyed his “airborne” time.

Fri6

“One, Two, Three, Go…Papa!”

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“Look, Mama…no hands.”

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“This is fun!”

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We finally got him out of the swings and into the van to head back home and it wasn’t long before he was out like a light, enjoying a LONG nap back to the house.

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After supper, his cousins came over for a final play time and the chance to say their goodbyes before Sprout and his mommy head back up North.  It dawned on me that we hadn’t gotten a picture of all the cousins together.

Fri12

“Hold my hand, Spud!”

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“Okay, cousin.  I’ve got you!”

Fri15

“Hey, y’all….are you pretending to be monkeys?”

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“No, Nana…we are monsters!”

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“Grrrrr!  Watch out everyone!”

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You’ll notice who was the most unflappable during the entire attempt to capture their picture?  Yup, little Pippin.  He slept through the whole thing.  The house is sure going to be QUIET tomorrow.

Oh, and by the way, we DID see some bluebonnets in Brenham.  There were some already popped up along the road and in the median but they hadn’t fully opened up yet.

Children’s Museum of Houston Trip

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Today kicked off with a face-full of jelly and then it was time to head off to the Children’s Museum of Houston.  But first, Nana and Papa had to run off to vote in the primary elections here.

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First stop was a chance to “drive” a minibus.  I didn’t think we’d ever get the Sprout out of that van.  He loves his vehicles.

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Then he spotted all the pretend food for making tacos and tortillas and he was off and running to do some cooking.

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“Move along, Mrs. Cow!  You are standing in my way and I want to go into the toddler section to play.”

Tues

After a lot of running back and forth in the toddler area, we headed downstairs to “Kidtropolis” where he enjoyed driving a police car, doing some grocery shopping in the children’s grocery store (the children can “shop” from the shelves and then ring up the groceries themselves), and he found an ambulance to drive.

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“Where’s my patient, Nurse?”

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“Here, let me take your temperature. I hear taking it in your nose is more accurate.”

Tues2

Are you experiencing gas pains?  I’m hearing a lot of bubbling noises.”

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“Let’s check those ears as long as I’ve got you here.  Hmmm, I think you are fine.  I’ll send you my bill in the morning.”

This evening we enjoyed a wonderful meal at his aunt and uncle’s house and he had lots of fun playing with his cousins again.  I think the biggest hit of the evening was when Uncle Jason opened up the container full of worms that he is feeding for his gardening efforts.  The children all had fun holding wiggly worms.  I didn’t get close enough to take a picture.  Ugh!

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