dsc02851-640x480I really should have tried to keep a daily diary this week. So much happened that I am sure I’ll miss capturing most of the week. I’m considering writing a nightly draft this week for the next weekly post…maybe.

This week we vacationed and crammed our days full of field trip opportunities. Sparkles turned eleven on Monday and Oldest turned thirteen on Tuesday. I’m now the parent of a teenager. I asked Oldest how it felt to be in his teens and he replied that he does not feel any different…just his “same old self.” I let him know that particular feeling about getting older doesn’t really change no matter the number of years.

On Monday we went to the Cincinnati Zoo. We found a path we had managed to miss the first two times we went and explored the rain-forest center too. We saw the new baby giraffes and watched the red panda roam around. Littlest (or was it Middle Boy?…not sure) wondered if we would see a rabbit. Just as soon as I doubted there were rabbits at the zoo we found a black floppy ear bunny in the barnyard area. Figures, right? Littlest wore his Batman cape most of the day (the week really) and got a bit miffed a few times when people asked him if he was Batman. He would either ignore the commenters or inform them that Batman isn’t real and he was just wearing a costume. Some of the creatures in the nocturnal building did react to Littlest’s bat cap. Maybe it was the ears sticking up…who knows? One particular owl just followed him from one side-to-side. Even though it was amusing it also kinda creeped me out. I like the nocturnal critters, it is one of my favorite places to visit at the zoo. The sand cat is my favorite just because she is so cute. The place is also covered in poetry about the animals and night-time. The homeschool-mom nerd in me loves the poems…

Later, in the afternoon, we went to Chamoda’s Candy Cafe. If you are ever in Cincinnati or near by then stop at this wonderful candy store. They let the kids sample nearly everything and I believe the store motto must be “try before you buy”! The chocolate was very tasty and they have the best gummy candies I’ve ever tried. My husband doesn’t even like gummy candy but he did enjoy Chamoda’s gummy bears. The kids were in candy heaven and Sparkles got extra treats since it was her birthday.

On Tuesday we headed out to Mammoth Cave. On the way we stopped by Best Donuts in Lawrenceburg. We treated Oldest to an extra donut for his birthday. One of the owner’s treated me to a fresh-from-the-oven cinnamon roll…best ever!!! We then loaded back up and traveled to Mammoth Cave and arrived in time for the 9:30 a.m. tour. I always said that I would never-ever go in Mammoth Cave. Traveling deep under the earth far away from sunlight is frightening to me. I found enough courage to trek with my family 250 feet below the surface through narrow tunnels and dark caves. I did it. Never going back. I’m not gonna fuss about it too much since one of the tourists was a ninety year old lady from Alaska! Her younger husband (all of seventy-three years) complained how difficult it was to keep up with her. I’ll bet they have an interesting story. Littlest wore his bat cape and a few people asked if he was scouting for a new Bat-cave. He posed by the “do not touch the bats” sign. He thought the cave was okay but that it would have been more fun if he would have been allowed to climb on the rocks off the path…the rangers were not crazy about that idea.

After leaving Mammoth Cave we went to the National Corvette Museum in Bowling Green. We looked around at the corvette displays and I slept through the history video. The most interesting (and sad) part of the museum was the display about the cave-in that happened a couple of years ago. They marked the floor where the sink-hole developed and the edges of the cave. I’m glad that I experienced the cave-in simulator after touring Mammoth Cave!

Wednesday and Thursday were spent here in Frankfort. The Kentucky history center was very nice and had several interactive exhibits that the kids enjoyed. After ward we went on a tour of the Old Capitol which is actually the third capitol building…the first two burned. If you have kids the tour is way too long! We were pretty excited when the alarm suddenly went off and we had to leave! We then went to the Kentucky Military History Museum which is housed in the old arsenal…a really cool looking fort overlooking the river. I liked the military museum and was surprised to see Santa Anna’s epaulettes! We then went up to the old graveyard and visited Daniel Boone’s grave. His grave gives a nice view of the capitol building and valley. Right over the stone wall you can still see the path where ammunitions were brought from the arsenal (the military history museum) to the river below. We met a fella (from Buffalo…or Boston…I don’t remember but one of those big cities that begins with a “B”), he told us that Boone’s bones may not be buried there at all. Some say parts of his remains are still in Marthasville Missouri. Anytime I hear talk about moving bones around it reminds me of the movie Poltergeist…which gives me the willies. Not a fun feeling in a graveyard.

Fort Hill
Fort Hill

After visiting the graveyard we drove up to Fort Hill which overlooks downtown Frankfort. Military fortifications were built there to protect the pro-Union government during the Civil War. We plan to visit again when we get to the Civil War in our studies this spring. The park has several walking trails, earthen fort embankments, an 1880’s cabin and exhibit/visitor center and living history programs. We are looking forward to learning more about the fort. There are not a lot of pictures of Fort Hill. I was kinda tired and most of the pictures were blurry.

The next museum we visited was the City Museum. Here we learned all about the history of Frankfort. The first drawing of Frankfort was done by a British POW during the War of 1812. We learned about the assassination of Governor Goebel, that Frankfort is a mispronunciation of Frank’s Ford and on and on…The City Museum and the Military History Museum both tie as my favorite museums in the city. They are both kinda laid back kid friendly places. Our last touristy visit in Frankfort was to the state capitol. Wowser!!! The building and grounds are beautiful and opulent. It really is something to see…

Friday we toured the Ale-8-1 factory in Winchester. Middle Boy loves Ale8, he could hardly wait until Friday. We got to see some of the bottling process, smell the secret formula and enjoy (some of us anyway) a fresh cold bottle of Ale8! Littlest wore his bat cape again to the delight of nearly everyone he encountered. He resignedly explained he was not Batman. “I am Sam, not Batman”, was a bit of a mantra this week. We then went home and crashed for the day tired from all of our fieldtrips and explorations this week.

Saturday was a nice visit with our friends Cindy and June. I love them both to pieces and never visit with them often enough. Shannon and I cooked up a great big ham dinner, we feasted and had a great time. I made an onion-less version of hashbrown casserole. I had to make the recipe up while shopping at the grocery store. The recipe calls for a can of cream of chicken soup but since one of our guests is allergic to onions and Sparkles’ Ulcerative Colitis doesn’t always get along with onions I had to start reading labels to come up with alternative ingredients.

Alternative Hashbrown Casserole

mix together in large bowl:

1 tablespoon chicken base (Better Than Bouillon)

I can evaporated milk

I pint sour cream

1 teaspoon pepper

melt one stick of butter in 13×9 pan while preheating over to 350 degrees Farenheit

add one thawed bag hashbrown potatoes to mix in bowl and then mix in two cups shredded sharp cheddar

pour potato mixture into pan with melted butter, top with a handful or two of shredded cheddar, cover with foil and bake 45 minutes

remove foil and broil until lightly browned on top

If you do not have Ulcerative colitis or an onion allergy then add a small diced onion and two diced cloves or garlic with the hashbrowns. Or just use the cream of chicken soup recipe on the internet. Also my ingredient volumes are approximations…I didn’t measure anything.