Thursday, March 26, 2009

Spring Break Road Trip

Update: If you are coming over from Field Trip Friday, I decided, for my first link-up, to share one of our trips from last year since we haven't been on a trip yet this summer.

When I realized the kids were on spring break this week, it seemed to be the perfect time to take the little trip I'd been thinking about. We left first thing Monday morning (well, about 10:00, only an hour after I'd hoped), with the DVD player set up and new stickers books, Magna Doodles, and snacks to go around.
We made it to the Children's Museum in Memphis just in time to participate in the Move and Groove, which was perfect to help them get out their "sitting in the car too long" energy. As soon as we had loaded out of the car and paid our admission, my camera problems began (out of film, digital camera out of batteries, and then it stopped working altogether). I had to buy a disposable camera for $10 in the gift shop. I never even thought to turn on the flash, either, so we don't have many spectacular pictures from inside the museum. It was similar to any of the other children's museums we go to - The Discovery Museum, etc. but the kids enjoyed it a lot.

After we played for a couple of hours, we went to Whole Foods in Memphis. It's usually a good place for us to find something to eat, and I always enjoy seeing what the different Whole Foods carry. However, this time it wasn't as pleasurable of an was crowded, and it felt kind of dirty...usually, I feel like Whole Foods is much cleaner and brighter than most grocery stores, but I was a little disappointed here. I think the kids' overly excited/talking nonstop/ running around behavior was just making it worse. And there was mostly just meat and dairy on the hot bar/salad bar. I will say, though, I discovered my new favorite chocolate covered cocoa nibs. Chocolate covered chocolate - what is better than that?
The kids love staying at hotels, and they were bouncing up and down when we got into our room at The ColdWater Inn in Tuscumbia, Alabama. It was about two hours away from Memphis. It went by fast, though, because the little ones slept a lot, and Tornado is just fabulous entertaining himself in the car. I find little ways to entertain myself such as practicing staying in the right lane. For some reason, I tend to drive in the left lane on the interstate; it just feels more comfortable there. When the kids were sleeping or watching movies, I was also able to bust out some old cds (Matchbox Twenty, Jewel, etc.) that were fun to reminisce upon.

The biggest problem of traveling alone with the kids is the number of stops we have to make. Usually, if Ryan is driving, and there is a problem with the DVD player, I just turn around and fix it. Or if someone has to pee, I take a bottle back there and take care of it. We still used the bottles, but I had to pull over because they are not to be trusted yet with the bottle alone. Once we had a spray all over the car (all over my face) episode that I do not want to revisit. Anyway, the hotel was new and nice, and we would definitely recommend it.

The next morning, we ate breakfast downstairs, then took off for The U.S. Space & Rocket Center/Davidson Center for Space Exploration. When I stopped to get gas, Dash spilled his entire sippy cup of milk all over himself. He had to lose his long sleeved shirt (which was okay since it was a beautiful day), and I had to hang his shorts out the window the hour drive to Huntsville. I still did not have film for my camera (and digital camera still broken). I tried a few different gas stations and dollar general type stores, but no one sold film. (I finally found some later that afternoon; it's pretty rural down in those parts.) I thought SURELY the space gift shop would sell film. Once again, they only sold disposable cameras, and the space center was so large, it seemed entirely too daunting to go back to the car and drive to get film. I remembered the flash this time, but it didn't seem to be working. The pictures we took inside were too dark, of sad.

the kids having a snack - french fries and chips (not a lot for us at the food court) mixed with the carrots and almonds we had brought along

This space museum is where kids go to Space Camp. We saw the campers all day, and it looked like fun! The place is really geared toward that, so there was a lot we didn't get to see. I'd love for the kids to go one day. There are even 3 day parent/child programs. We watched the Imax 3-D showing of Fly Me To the Moon, which was really cute. Plus, you get to wear 3D glasses, and that's always fun. It followed the story of three little flies who were (fictionally, of course) on the first flight to the moon. While we were waiting on the movie to start, we were listening to one of the counselors quizzing her kids on different space facts, and I was thinking how much I would have loved that when I was young. I would have been the perfect little Space Camper. I even learned something new, listening to them. The answer to "Who was the first woman in space?" is Valentina Tereshkova...I'll never forget this because she said it so many times in a way they would remember "ValentiNA!....TereshKOVA!.... ValentiNA!....TereshKOVA!" (If you were thinking Sally Ride, she was the first American woman in space.)

Click on this picture of Dash to get a better idea of just how scared he was going up and down on this little kiddie ride. It was a small version of the huge one they have for big people to experience. (There were a lot of rides/attractions/accelerators that we weren't able to do.) Dash was SCREAMING to get off, and I had to apologize to the happy mom who was taking pictures of her happy child riding. This was toward the end of the day, though, and his fear was being amplified by the fact he was so tired. I don't know why my boys picked the two seats right next to the stranger. So funny.

Sissy kept going up the steps, down the slide, back up and down, again and again. She'd say "I wanna do!" every time.

We loaded up with snacks and frozen dinners at a little health food store in Huntsville, and the two little ones were asleep before we were out of the parking lot. When we were driving back into Tuscumbia, Sissy and Dash were still asleep, and I didn't want to wake them. I followed the signs to "Downtown Historic Tuscumbia" to look around. I discovered beautiful Spring Park. After going back to the hotel for a few minutes (potty, snacks, warmer clothes, etc.), we drove back to Spring Park to play.

Cold Water Falls, inside Spring Park...the world's largest man-made natural stone waterfall to be known in existence. It was really pretty, and the kids also enjoyed feeding the birds that were swimming in the water.

my dino lover

After we played for awhile, we went back to the hotel, heated up and consumed our frozen meals, then went to sleep. Oh, yeah, what you can't see in this picture is the milk spilt down Dash's shirt. He spilled his milk THREE times during the trip. The final time was right before we got home. It was all pooled in his car seat. There was something about the disposable sippy cups we were using. He'd pull at the lid with his teeth. Neither of the other kids had this problem.

We were sad to wake up the next morning to cold, rainy weather. I didn't want it to ruin our trip to Ivy Green, birthplace of Helen Keller, because it was the original purpose of our vacation. Tornado and I have been learning about the 50 States, and Helen Keller came up during our Alabama studies. I realized, looking on the map, how close Tuscumbia was to Arkansas. I had "Tuscumbia" and "Tuskogee" in my head from when I was little and loved reading my Helen Keller book. We bought the Inspiring Animated Heroes: Helen Keller DVD, and we checked out different Helen Keller books from the library. Note: Tornado did not enjoy the DVD as much as Dash did. It really upset him the way she threw fits when she was little because she did not understand the world around her. He's very sensitive about these kinds of things.

The dining room...for those of you familiar with the story, this is where Anne Sullivan, her teacher, wrestled and stood strong with stubborn Helen until she learned to sit and eat properly. (She had been spoiled by her parents up to this point and would walk around, eating off everyone's plates.) Only a few feet away from the main house was the cottage that Anne and Helen stayed in for awhile. This is where the teacher was able to gain her student's trust and get her to learn to control her tantrums, away from her parents. Helen was actually born in the little guest cottage, which is where she and her family lived for a few years. The main house originally belonged to her grandparents.

And this, of course, is the original fountain where Helen, at age 7, finally understood that everything has a name. Miss Sullivan spelled W-A-T-E-R into her hand as the water poured from the fountain, and that was the moment that changed Helen's life.

the view from behind the house, in front of the carriage house

It started raining while we were walking around the grounds, and a nice man who was working outside came out with a big umbrella for nice. Ivy Green was my favorite part of the trip for sure. I learned more about Helen Keller, and I just found myself being amazed about her life all over again. In the room of the house that is set up as the "museum," full of photographs and mementos, I just couldn't believe all that she accomplished in her life. There was a letter on display that she had written at the age of 8, only a year after she began to understand words at all. She had written beautifully with beautiful handwriting; it was unbelievable that it was written by an 8 year old, let alone a blind and deaf 8 year old.

The two ladies that were giving the tours and speaking with us were so sweet and gracious. My children behaved marvelously, and I had been holding my breath before we entered the well-kept, antique-filled home. Tornado and Dash both told our tour guide little facts they knew about Helen, and I was so proud of them. Dash, for some reason, had expected to meet Helen Keller personally, even though I had told him she is in heaven. All in all, successful field trip...but it's always good to be home.


Karie Lee said...

I'm selling my Canon Rebel XSI, if you are interested. It is a DSLR and takes considerably better pictures than a point-and-shoot. I even have a memory card with it, if you want it. The camera is only 6 months old. Let me know if you are interested. :)
Looks like you all had a great trip!

The Davidson Den said...

Jenny, you never cease to amaze me.

Tonya @ Live the Adventure said...

Looks like you had a great trip and yep, you were in our new hometown! We love the Space and Rocket center, Ivy Green and Big Spring Park! If you plan to make a trip to Mooresville, let me know and I can recommend a few other stops in and around Huntsville. Thanks for linking up to Field Trip Friday! Blessings!:)