I changed my mind. I want to post a review of our weekend vacation and will post pictures later. I only have a couple of pictures. We were just too busy to take many pictures.
We left home on Wednesday afternoon about an hour after I got off work. I loaded the boys into the car, got gas, stopped at the house to get the portable DVD player that arrived that day and hit the highway. We got about two hours from home when I realized that I forgot M's blanket. M is not a child who can go without his beloved blanket for long. He won't sleep without it and will look for it if whenever he wakes up. I knew there was no way we would be able to go four days without. I began watching for places to stop and buy a new one while secrectly hoping I could convince him that a new blanket was as good as the old one.
We stopped for dinner at a rest area along the interstate. Illinois has great reast areas that are clean with picnic tables and playgrounds. The boys and I enjoyed ham and cheese sandwiches for dinner. I allowed them to play on the playground for a few minutes which seemed to help prepare them for the rest of the evenings drive.
I found a city with a Wal-Mart near the interstate and let the boys pick out new blankets. It worked! They were very excited to get new blankets to sleep with. Jacob picked out a Dora blanket while M wanted Elmo. They were the really soft blankets that are fun to snuggle up with. I was very relieved to have avoided a bedtime crisis. M seemed to relax almost as soon as he sat down with his new blanet.
We arrived at our hotel in Springfield around 8:30 PM and found our hotel room. The kids wanted to go swimming but I knew we were all just too tired. I also wanted to get up fairly early the next morning and start driving again. I promised the kids that we would swim the next afternoon. I was shocked when they agreed without even a little bit of a protest.
Thursday morning came early. We were dressed, fed and ready to leave by 7:30 AM. We drove the rest of the way to Arkansas and arrived at the hotel around 3:00 PM. Just in time for check-in. The kids were now growing impatient and kept reminding me of my promise to take them swimming. I quickly unpacked the suitcase and we all changed into our swimsuits.
The swimming pool was great. It was this neat indoor/outdoor pool. Inside the pool was 2 1/2 to 3 feet deep. Jacob could stand in it and I didn't have to worry about helping him when he didn't wear a swim vest. The outdoor part was deeper and accessible by walking under a window in the middle of the pool. It was about 100 degrees outside so perfect for sitting in a nice pool. We were able to swim for about an hour before my parents arrived and we headed out to my grandma's house. We took her to dinner before returing to the hotel to get ready for bed.
Friday was another nice relaxing day. We slept in a little later before going to a nearby park. It was nice to let the boys run around outside before the 100 degree heat returned in the afternoon. We spent about an hour at the park before heading over to Wal-Mart. Prices are lower in Arkansas then at home so I often try to buy some things while I am there. This year I bought each of the kids a new book and crayons and some diapers and shoes for M. I also forgot to pack socks for the kids so we bought a couple packages of those also.
I bribed the kids with swimming to get them to take an afternoon nap. It was a short nap since it is difficult to sleep long in an unfamiliar bed with the promise of more swimming. The kids slept for about an hour and a half before we headed off to the pool for an afternoon swim.
After swimming, we went to a buffet and met my uncle and aunt there as well as my parents and grandma. The kids were able to eat for free since they are 3 or under which made dinner a very affordable meal. The food was good and we all had a nice time. After dinner, we watched my cousin's daughter play softball and then headed back to the hotel for the night.
Saturday was a short day in Arkansas. The kids and I went to my grandma's house again in the morning. We spent time with my uncle, aunt, cousin and her family, grandma and my parents. We ate lunch together before everyone prepared to leave. Jacob, M and I left around 2:00 PM.
The boys napped in the car and we drove about 3 hours to a hotel. We arrived at the hotel around 5:30 PM and ordered a pizza. It was difficult to wait to go swimming until after dinner but we managed to do it. I don't think they ate much since they really wanted to go swimming again. Jacob suprised me by swimming the length of the pool pretty much by himself. He grabbed my hand a couple times to get a breath but never really rested on it. He has really improved over the last few months.
We swam for about two hours before deciding it was time to head upstairs to bed. We stopped for candy bars, popcorn and cookies in the lobby and to say goodnight to my parents (they had decided to stay at the same hotel on their way home.) Everyone was already beginning to get tired and M was having more trouble staying out of trouble and controlling his tempor.
Sunday morning we got up early, said goodbye to my parents and started driving again. We drove about 2 1/2 hours to the St. Louis zoo. We spent six hours there before finally leaving. The St. Louis zoo is one of my favorite zoos. I could have spent two days there easily. It is a huge zoo that is free to the public. I paid a small fee to watch the sea lion show, go to the children's zoo and ride the train around the zoo. It was a great deal and a good day.
We drove the rest of the way home that afternoon and arrived home at 10:30 last night. The kids are now exhausted. M is crying for almost no reason and just not happy. Jacob was falling asleep on a couch in his classroom when I left this morning. Hopefully, they will take good naps and catch up on sleep now that we are home again. Overall, the boys did great and we had a wonderful time. M could use a few days of quiet now and then we can get back to our normal routines. That is until our next vacation.