Sunday, May 30, 2010

Kansas Day 4: Eisenhower, Oz, & History Lesson

The one thing I can say about the little Swedish inn was that we got a good night's sleep. The only hope I had left for this town was the massive Swedish buffet we were promised, and it was a huge disappointment. There was nothing Swedish or authentic about it, she was just bringing store bought stuff from the back and putting it out on plates. The only warm thing was the coffee (which I never got fixed properly because she'd whisk the creamer and sugar away after about 15 seconds) and the waffles dipped straight from a big Costco bucket of pre-made waffle mix.

It was a cute place - our suite was at the top of these stairs, so we had a nice and private area.We got out of there and headed towards Abilene, Kansas to the Eisenhower Presidential complex. In the 50's a law was passed that each former president gets there own presidential museum and library, and Eisenhower's is in Abilene where he grew up. There's only 12 in the country since the law is relatively new. Initially I thought this sounded like it would be a pretty boring stop on our tour of Kansas, but it actually turned out to be a highlight.

This is where Dwight, his wife Mamie and their son who died as an infant are buried. We had no idea there was a class full of kids in there when we were taking this picture and they burst out about a minute later.
We had parked Lilli next to the little fence they have around their graves so we could take some pictures in the chapel when she had a MASSIVE sneeze. We looked over and nearly died ourselves - her pacifier had flown underneath the fence and was within an inch or two of literally falling on their graves. She was pretty pleased with her mad skillz.
Another view of how close she came to us having an embarrassing conversation about how a pacifier might have fallen on the grave of a former president with the center curators.
From there we walked around the library, which is primarily designed for research and mostly unavailable to just be viewed. Across from the presidential library was the presidential museum. I wonder what came first - the museum housing his legacy or the ugly smoke-spewing factory in the background???
The Museum was a lot larger than it looked and we learned quite a bit about his life and work (of course we really didn't get to read everything since we knew Lilli would only last a certain period of time in her stroller and we really didn't want her to run free in there.) Much of the museum focused on World War 2 and his contributions.

Lilli offers the soldier her paci in exchange for his cup....
Of course Brent found a way to jump into my picture....

Mamie Eisenhower really had some style! They had a ton of her ballgowns on display, as well as her wedding dress, hat collection and even the high chair they used. They had a pair of shoes of hers that were inscribed in the insole as being especially made for the First Lady Mrs Eisenhower. How cool would that be! Maybe one day some of Lilli's clothes will be on display in a museum (of course they're 95% bought on consignment, ha!)
I thought these shoes were really cool - they were worn during Germany in the winter to keep soldier's feet warm. They don't look like they'd be very comfy for running to escape the enemy though!It was really a great Museum. I'm glad we stopped to check it and and it's actually made me want to add seeing the other 11 Presidential Centers to our list of lifetime "to-do's." It also made me want to learn more about him since it seems like he was such a popular guy with all the tons of I Like Ike stuff.

Here's the statue of him in the middle of the complex. It was such a pretty day (finally!)Once we got out of the Museum we let Lilli run free since she'd been so patient inside. Look at that running stride!!! She's going to be my running pal one day! (Last weekend she literally walked .6 of a mile, completely on our own when we walked down to the neighborhood bakery. She is amazing!)She had a great time chasing birds. She's obsessed with birds.From there we visited the house Eisenhower grew up in that they've moved to the complex and then we shopped and bought a few things in the gift store. I'd highly recommend visiting the Eisenhower Center if you're ever in that part of Kansas. Everything except the Museum is free, and that was only $7/person (and Lilli being free). You could really spend a long time in there just reading through the exhibits.

This part of Kansas starts getting back into the beautiful Flint Hills area. The sky seems to be so close and you could see forever.

I love the shadow of the clouds on the Plains.
Our next stop was completely unplanned - the Oz Museum in Wamego, Kansas. I'd seen a couple of brochures for it and some billboards, and when I mapped it it was only 10 miles out of the way we were already headed. I'm not sure if it was newer than my travel guides or what. (I think my books were 2005 or so, I always check them out from the library so I am limited in how new things are.)
The Museum was AWESOME! Such a nice surprise. You walk in through a screen door, like you're on the Kansas side of Dorothy's house and then into color and suddenly you're in OZ! They had a huge collection of all sorts of memorabilia organized by character.
It wasn't crowded and everything (mostly) was in glass or in such a way a curious toddler really couldn't do any damage, and so we let Lilli roam free. She loooved anything with Toto or the Cowardly Lion. I'm pretty sure she didn't understand why all the fun looking toys were behind glass though!
They had cool little vignettes for each character, and then a dark and "scary" little haunted forest you had to walk through with winged monkeys around and the Wicked Witch up on the wall above you.

Toto!!! (Or more like Dog!Dog!Dog!)
You could sit in the Wizard's throne for photo opps so that was a lot of fun! She was waving to the camera here....
And kisses for Mommy here....
It was a great museum and had way more stuff in it that it really appeared from the outside. And it was also pretty affordable - $7/person and Lilli was free. Afterwards we just had to have a late lunch at Toto's Tacoz!
If you're counting this is now the THIRD time in a row we'd had Mexican food! The day before we'd had Taco Bell for lunch and then a Mexican restaurant for dinner and now this taco joint! It was also a nice surprise and was really more of a baja style taco joint with lots of fresh ingredients. I had a great avocado and black bean taco that was insanely enormous. Lilli loved her quesadilla and rice and we all really enjoyed our food.
On the way out of town and back to the interstate we saw a saw to a Historic Old Dutch Windmill, so we followed the signs and saw this:
So pretty! We didn't get out to walk around it (Lilli was already asleep in the back seat) but it was a nice surprise and it looked like they had a few other historic buildings right around it you could walk around.
From there we continued to Topeka, the state capital of Kansas:
We stopped at the historic Monroe School, which is the National Landmark Site for the court case of Brown vs Topeka Board of Education, which ended segregation in schools. It's a very cool old school just sort of stuck in a neighborhood off the backside of downtown Topeka.

Just the downstairs is open with various classrooms dedicated to memorabilia of the end of segregation over the years.
It's a fairly small museum and pretty much no one was there so once again we were able to let Lilli peruse the exhibits without bothering anyone. It was completely free and since it's a National Landmark State Park we were able to get her a passport stamp from the Ranger for her State Park Passport book.

That was our last designated stop for the trip, and we were pretty proud we had made them all and been fairly successful and maneuvering everything with a temperamental toddler in tow! Now we just headed from Topeka back towards Kansas City, and our hotel for the night which was a short drive for the airport (and technically in Missouri).
We really didn't take many pictures that night of our hotel! We stayed at the Argosy Casino and Resort. Casinos have the best rooms and restaurants, and their room prices are always so affordable because they want you to spend all your money in the casino. It was a beautiful hotel and we had a great dinner at the buffet where they literally had EVERYTHING you might have wanted. Lilli was a PILL though. She's normally so good at restaurants but she was just wound up and throwing things and pretty much awful which stank because there was SO much to choose from food-wise and I don't think we really got to enjoy it. And then she was just terrible to get to sleep. It literally took us THREE hours to get her to sleep and Brent finally just took her to the car and drove around a couple of minutes. It was exhausting!

And that was our last full day of vacation. One final post to come of our flight home!

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Confusing Mother Goose

What are little boys made of?
What are little boys made of? Frogs and snails,
And puppy-dogs' tails; That's what little boys are made of.
What are little girls made of?
What are little girls made of? Sugar and spice,
And all that's nice; That's what little girls are made of.
I think we're running a little heavy on the frogs and puppy dog tails these days.....

Friday, May 28, 2010

Long weekend!!!

We are excited about the long weekend! High Five!Lilli wore one of her little patriotic dresses I got at a consignment sale last spring to school today and when she got home wanted to wear ALL her patriotic beads. I think she's channeling her inner Mr T. We had dinner out at our neighborhood Mexican restaurant. She loooves Mexican food and was loving the salsa tonight! She's a double, triple, and maybe quadruple dipper so you might not want to share the salsa bowl with her but she ate a TON of it!Her face and bib are further proof of how much she enjoyed chips, salsa, her quesadilla, rice and beans as well as some of my taco! She was a hungry girl. She also flirted with all the waiters and everyone sitting around us. She was the life of the restaurant - which I will take any day over being the anti-life and being the annoying, screaming baby! She just loves to eat out.
It was sprinkling heavily off and on after dinner so we decided the playground might be too wet (since she loooves to slide and it wouldn't have gone well if we only let her swing!). TONS of geese and ducks were out on the lake so we stopped for a few minutes and she just loved it. These guys were pretty aggressive and marched right up to us when we pulled up so we waited and threw them a couple of goldfish from the car when we left. We were kinda worried they'd storm us if we opened up the container. They were all around, this is just a very small representation of how many geese there were watching us.We're looking forward to a nice long weekend with some playdates and dinners with friends and hopefully some pool time, too! And hopefully I can finish up the last vacation post from our trip to Kansas!

Thursday, May 27, 2010


Tonight we've been working on a little art project all night. Two of Lilli's school buddies got into daycare closer to their house (closer to ours too.....but we're so far down the list we literally won't ever get in there) so tomorrow is their last day. Lilli and I made little cards for them, she got to use markers, stickers and these little foam animals which she loved. Then after she went to bed Brent helped me print out some pictures of them in their many adventures. One of the kiddos leaving is Maevy - one of her main partners in crime since literally Day 1.

Maevy is the little girl asleep in the swing with all the hair, while Lilli is asleep under the play gym. (And then Jada is in the other swing.)That picture was taken in May 2009 on Lilli's first day. Lilli was 3.5 months old, Jada was 4.5 months old and Maevy was 2.5 months old.

And here's a recent picture of the gang from earlier this month - Lilli, Maevy and Jada - much more alert but still big buddies. And most certainly always up to no good.My how they have grown into little girls!!!

We are going to miss you Maevy but look forward to catching up during future playdates!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010


No time for a vacation post tonight, I've had multiple tax filings that are due 5/31 for both Brent's photography business and my CPA license that I had put off doing until tonight! And of course I'm out of stamps since I pay everything online so I'll be rushing to the post office tomorrow to get some stamps.....

The person who taught Lilli to do THIS when you say "Smiiile!"This is REALLY not going to be good for pictures! Her teachers have not confessed to this but I think there was a smirk and a "look" exchanged when Brent brought it up....

On the other hand, I've got to get her lion, cat, dolphin, penguin, monkey and now skunk noises on video - now THOSE are adorable!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Kansas Day 3: Cider, Oil & Sweden

Sunday night Lilli slept MUCH better and I think we slept in until around 8 or so. We ate breakfast downstairs and then packed up all our stuff. She loves wearing her necklaces and for some reason saw Brent's USB and other computer cables and started wearing them as necklaces. Very odd!Our first stop of the day was the Louisburg Cider Mill. It's about a 30 minute drive south of Kansas City. It was another cloudy and overcast day, but it was supposed to be clearing and it wasn't raining.
Their sign should really be amended to say "Watch Us Make It (in September)". In our travels in New England we'd gotten to see cider made, and went to a really cool cider mill. There wasn't much going on at this one, and their prices for various foods and things were pretty high so we didn't buy much. The lady told us the only time they actually make it is in September, so there wasn't much to really see. The worst part was Lilli had fallen asleep, so we woke her up for this!
We let her have her first taste of cider and also part of a cider donut (what they're "famous" for.) She wasn't very impressed with the cider! It's a bit stronger than her apple juice....
I think I need my own cider mill!
The scenery during our drive that day was so pretty! And the clouds really made it look like Kansas, where a Twister could pop up at any time!
This area was called Flint Hills and it was so pretty. You could see for ages and the landscape was just green and made it feel like The Great Plains should.
There were cows everywhere....
And then we started heading into Oil country and you could see the oil pumps everywhere.
More Plains:
Our next stop was the town of El Dorado where the Kansas Oil Museum is.
Apparently there's a spare Statue of Liberty as well.
This was one of the first cattle towns, so the streets were wider for cattle to be pushed through.
Lilli was pretty excited when we got out of the car! I bet it had nothing to do with the great looking playground next door to the boring old museum.

When we hit the front door we were spit out directly into the gift shop where Lilli bonded with this stuffed wolf. Unfortunately since it was $20 their romance was short lived.

She did enjoy the Children's room of the museum. It had all kinds of things they could touch and play with replicating life on a Kansas farm. It was a really great idea to have something like that in there. Brent looked over the exhibits while I played with her in there and then we swapped out.
I think Brent had a great time in the Children's area, too.....
I don't like hunting or guns and I'm glad I didn't have to explain how or why this cow was up on the wall.
Brent put the play boots on here while I was looking around....I don't think she was impressed!
They also had a lot of exhibits outside of all the various equipment used to produce oil.
Lilli really got into it - when she saw a stray cat out in the field.
Once we were done looking around outside Brent took her over to the playground so I could spend the rest of eternity in the gift shop attempting to buy a few things. Bless her heart, the lady running the register didn't have a clue how to work it and seemed kind of surprised there were even people there and especially that I wanted to buy a couple of things.

From there we headed to Lindsborg, Kansas - AKA Little Sweden of Kansas. My tour books had described it as being quaint and a little slice of Europe. It was my major disappointment of the trip.
We had visited a little German town in Wisconsin two years ago that was just PERFECT! Little bakeries, great souvenir shops, beautiful houses, etc. This town was nothing like that. There were just a couple of seriously overpriced shops and there was really not much Swedish stuff there. A couple of houses but the rest of the town just looked redneck and awful and there was NO place for us to get Swedish food that evening! Everyone kept recommending their Mexican restaurant (which was good....but not what we were in the mood for!)

They had these Swedish horses all over town - kind of like the guitars we have in Nashville. I let her sit on a few and that was probably the highlight of this town.
She wanted to give the horsies kisses!
I had booked our night at the Swedish Country Inn there. I got us the family suite, so we at least had a couple of rooms and some space to spread out. I wish we had gone ahead and moved on because we got there around 4 and literally were done looking around within an hour.
We had dinner at "the" Mexican restaurant and they gave us an extra salsa bowl. I guess we've taken her out for Mexican enough that she knows what to do - every chip she got she would dip in invisible salsa before eating! It was hilarious!

This is what our room looked like - sort of authentic Swedish decor, but it was just a strange layout. All the sinks were in the bedrooms.

The other big draw to this inn was their "Swedish breakfast buffet". It was horrible. The woman in charge of it was just totally stressing us out - she was constantly bringing random things over and everything was horrible. She'd let you have the caddy of sugar/creamer for about 15 seconds before she'd whisk it off, same thing with syrup. I had visions of great homemade Swedish pastries in my head, and instead got stuff that looked like it came out of any Costco in America and waffles made from a big bucket of store bought batter. It was terrible, and truly was our disappointment of the trip. I'm pretty sure I have pictures of it for the next post.

The big plus of this inn was that we had a rocking chair in our room. That made getting Lilli to sleep that night an A+, and sleep went really great. I think having some space and her own room really helped. We had found a playground that night in the town so she was also able to burn off some energy before bedtime.

Day 4 preview: Eisenhower, Oz, History Lesson, and back to Kansas City!