Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Grease Overload

June 13, 2011-Day 3

Awoke to tons of chirping birds today at about 6 a.m. I slept fretfully between Aidan and Ian who kept trying to make an X over me with their bodies. When it was light enough, I took a shower, got ready, and worked on some articles.  C and R’s basement bathroom shower has the best water pressure I’ve ever experienced. The lighting in the bathroom is also very flattering. Collin and R went golfing Illinois State University golf course. C had made whole-wheat waffle batter the night before. She really is that perfect Mormon housewife I always wanted to be. I had a hot, crispy waffle with brown sugar syrup C had made. C’s family usually eats waffles with applesauce on them. Collin had one with strawberry jam on half and applesauce on the other half. My kids stumbled out of the tents around 8 a.m. and had waffles. Then I made them each take showers, they didn’t complain for once because of the awesome water pressure. Aidan, Ian, and I all practiced piano. C took her kids to swim lessons while my kids and I took down the tents, rolled up the sleeping bags, and packed up the car.

Travel Tips:
1.     1Instead of packing a suitcase for each person, pack a couple of outfits for everyone in several suitcases and label them according to the days you need them, if there’s a pool, throw in bathing suits too.
2.     2. Have an open basket that contains family toiletries (toothbrushes, toothpaste, sunscreen, lotion, and medicine) and bring the basket in every time so that each person knows where their toothbrush is and no one has to dig around inside a suitcase to find it.

R and Collin went to the Illinois State University golf course. Ideal conditions, pristine fairways and greens, excellent company=manly bliss. Collin refused to allow me to post his score.

C packed a picnic lunch and we went to Funks Grove.  Within Funks Grove is:

Sugar Grove Nature Center
4532 North 725 East Road
McClean, Ilinois

Funks Grove is the “largest remaining intact prairie grass grove in the state of Illinois. It has four dedicated nature preserves and has been designated as a National Natural Landmark by the U.S. Department of Interior. More than 5 miles of maintained trails take visitors through prairie, forest and river habitats. The center has interpretive exhibits, sensory displays, and live animals.”

There was a really cool play area with a small creek, forts, zip line, a giant hole with a sign that read “Dig to China,” and several trees with ladders to climb. The kids could have stayed there and played all day. We left around noon and made our way to Springfield, Illinois and visited Lincoln’s tomb. We made sure we rubbed the nose on the bust of Abraham Lincoln, we read in a guidebook that it gives you good luck.  We walked through the tomb itself and saw lots of statues of Lincoln and where he and his wife and all but one of his sons are buried.  The kids didn’t love the cemetery. They kept seeing tombstones with last names of people they knew in Lewisburg and which made them sad.  We left the cemetery and headed for the Cozy Dog, home of the original corndog. The place was full of awesome kitschy souvenirs and memorabilia.  Collin insisted on ordering me a cozy dog (even though I really wasn’t interested). I took two bites and just didn’t love it. Corndogs fall into the category of strange meats for me. Ian ate 2, Collin ate 3 1/2 ,  Emma had 1 ½ , and Aidan had one. The fries were pretty good, but nowhere close to Yanni’s. Everything in the restaurant was covered in grease, the ketchup and mustard bottles, the salt and pepper shakers, EVERYTHING felt greasy. I was shaking Cozy Dog Grill Salt all over my fries and then noticed that it had MSG in it. We all felt like we had large greasy lumps of lard in our stomachs. We asked Ian how he liked the corndogs there and he said they were his 6th favorite, Wal*mart’s being his 1st.

We made our way to Brian and Amanda’s in St. Louis and met them at a local park where they were watching a baseball game. Our kids got along great from the start.  Emma started running around with a big group of girls, I kept hearing them say, “Emma, come over here.” She’s our little social butterfly. Our boys took a little longer to feel comfortable with Aiden and Freeman. Aiden has a broken arm from sliding into home during a little league game, Freeman has a broken leg from playing soccer.

Background info: we met Amanda at BYU, her Aiden is a year older than our Aidan and part of why we chose his name. We used to have a lot of play dates and babysit each other’s kids. That was about 10+ years ago.

Brian and Amanda took us to:
Dewey’s Pizza
124 N Kirkwood Road
St. Louis, MO 63122
(314) 821-7474

It was really fun to be able to watch the pizza being made behind a glass window. The Dewey’s crew twirled dough in the air, made faces at the kids, and threw flour at the glass in front of their faces. The wait was a little long, maybe ½ an hour or more, but we really wanted to all sit together. Dewey’s lets you order half and half pizzas so we ordered an X-Pepperoni and Hawaiian pizza for the kids to share. For the adults, we ordered a half Edgar Allen Poe (olive oil,  mozzarella-fontina blend, mushrooms, roasted garlic, kalamata olives, goat cheese, and fresh tomatoes and parsley added after the bake) and half Wild Mushroom (olive oil, minced garlic, mozzarella-fontina blend, mushrooms, Portobello mushrooms, oyster mushrooms, shitake mushrooms, capers, and roasted red peppers).  Brian ordered a side macadamia and strawberry salad with poppy seed vinaigrette. Collin ordered a side Greek salad (field greens and romaine lettuce with kalamata olives, sun-dried tomatoes, roasted whole garlic cloves, red onions, cucumbers and feta cheese, drizzled with roasted red pepper vinaigrette). I ordered a side candied walnut and grape salad (field greens and romaine lettuce with candied walnuts, red grapes, gorgonzola cheese, and a citrus basil dressing).  My salad was awesome! I loved the combination of the herby dressing with the salty cheese, juicy grapes and sweet, crunchy walnuts—fantastic! The crust on the pizza was chewy with a little crunch on the outside and lots of air pockets, exactly how I like it! Both pizzas were delicious, but I liked the wild mushroom slightly better than the Edgar Allen Poe. That’s just personal preference talking because I love me some mushrooms of any kind! The waitress did try to take Amanda’s plate before she was done eating and if looks could kill . . . that waitress would have been dead and buried.

To feed our gluttony further, we stopped at:
Mr. Wizard’s Frozen Custard
2101 South Big Bend Boulevard
St. Louis, MO 63143
(314) 781-7566

for dessert. The place was hoppin’! It reminded me of the Freez, but it was (dare I say?) better. You could get a milkshake, a sundae, or a concrete. A concrete is most similar to a Freez, Blizzard, or McFlurry. But the name “concrete” is a misnomer, it was soft and melted pretty quickly despite the cool weather St. Louis was having. I had the banana cream pie (vanilla custard with real bananas and crushed Nilha wafers) and it was delicious, but melted way too fast. I definitely prefer frozen custard to soft serve—sorry Lewisburg Freez devotees, but frozen custard is just always going to be superior with its richer flavor and superb mouth feel. There were lots of tables outside, but no inside seating. The parking lot was full so we had to park in the lot of the store next door. The lady taking our order was very patient as she took 8 orders from us (Collin and Amanda decided not to get their own). Emma and Charlotte had hot fudge and brownies, Ian had cookie dough, Brian and Freeman had chocolate dipped vanilla frozen custard, Aidan had a brownie shake, and Aiden got a concrete vanilla custard with brownie.

It was really confusing to have the two Aida/ens together. Every time we asked our Aidan something, Aiden would answer instead. We tried calling them “Den” and “Dan,” but that really wasn’t any less confusing. Aiden seems SO old to me, the last time I saw him, one of the only words he could say was “dlink” for “drink.” The two Aida/ens used to go to the Little Gym together in Orem, UT as toddlers.

We all started watching the Pink Panther in the living room and Freeman wanted to make us popcorn with his new movie size/style popcorn maker complete with a 2-year’s supply of popcorn. He and Ian went into the kitchen and made popcorn for everyone and then Freeman said, “Just so you know, the butter’s kind of not that good.”

The boys slept in the living room on the couches and air mattress, Emma and Charlotte slept in her room, and Collin and I slept in Aiden and Freeman’s room. In twin beds like a couple in the 50’s.  Aidan crept up this morning around 6 a.m. and told us that he had thrown up and gone to the bathroom twice, and hadn’t slept all night. We let him fall asleep in Collin’s bed after taking a couple of Pepto and grabbing a bowl from downstairs. Methinks the combination of corndogs, fries, pizza, and milkshake was too much for his stomach. We have been supplementing all the junk food with lots of fresh fruit and vegetables, but maybe not enough or maybe he is really sick. This morning, Lizzy, Amanda’s golden retriever, pushed our door open and got in bed with me and started licking me (and my laptop). They also have another dog, Buddy, a black pit bull that Amanda rescued from a shelter. Both dogs are really sweet. Buddy started grooming Lizzy while we were watching a movie last night.

Today we’re heading to Claremore, OK, near Tulsa to stay with Collin’s uncle Steve.


Marie said...

Tara I am loving your Blog so fun to follow along with you. I Love Greek Food so was so jealous When you spoke about Yannis. Have fun and I look forward to hearing more about your adventures

John S. McKinney said...

Oops... this is April. I logged in under John by accident.

You know... you could publish this blog as a travel brochure, but people would have to find their OWN family and friends along the way. What an awesome experience! I read your posts with a big smile on my face.

Adrienne said...

Out of all the AMAZING pics, I just have to say AWESOME DRESS! ;)