Blog Update: Eating Out and Homeschooling on the Road During Our Field Trip Across the Mid-West

Posted on September 19, 2010

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This morning I woke up and felt a little twinge of guilt for not having the weekly meal plan ready to post.  Since we are traveling, we are doing most of our eating out instead of cooking.  Traveling I say?  Yes, I will explain that below.

I have to confess first though, that I did quickly get over that feeling of guilt about not being right on top of the blog, because I was soon sitting at one of the biggest breakfast buffets in the state of Iowa, enjoying my coffee and meal with my husband and children, my Mom, nephew and wonderful two sisters-in-law.   My sense of duty and allegiance, however, has me typing this update while I sit cramped next to the baby in the third row of my Durango, propping my laptop up on the seat in front of me as we travel on to the next stop.  Yes, I know; what a sight to behold!

So, just to re-cap for you, we are smack in the middle of a nearly two week field trip touring the mid-west and visiting family along the way.  This is one of the things that I love about homeschooling.  We grab our bags of clothes, a few canvas bags of food, a box fan (white noise comes in handy with 3 kids in a hotel room at night), our school curriculum, and our MiMa and go!

While schooling, or as I like to say, discovering, one of our favorite things to do on this trip has been to track our journey with two states facts books.  Each of the books has a map, so the kids can actually watch our trek from Florida.  At each state line, they read the facts about the state we are entering, and I take a picture of the state welcome sign for a booklet we are going to make once we are home.  Besides learning about these states, the older two have completed one-third of their brand-new Critical Thinking curriculum workbooks, and my oldest has nearly completed his first reader from our Abeka curriculum and has worked on two other workbooks, one of which is a car-themed multi-subject workbook to go along with the car-themed lapbook we plan to complete this fall.  He is also anxiously awaiting getting to see the real Route 66 once we are back in Illinois.

If you caught the “and our MiMa” part above, yes, my Mom is traveling with us.  I am so glad she is retired and able to see the mid-west with us.  We picked her up and dropped our cat off with my Dad (Thank you, Dad!  He subscribes to this blog and will be reading this!) in Alabama last Tuesday.  We actually spent that night at their house enjoying their garden, dinner with them and watching my five year old have a ball catching fish in their lake…bare-handed!

We left Alabama Wednesday morning, stopping for lunch at Calypso in Franklin, Tennessee, as we headed for  southern Illinois.  I have to stop here and give kudos to the Yelp app on my iPhone.  How spoiled, yet lucky a society, when we can pull out our phone and have it tell us where the nearest vegan-friendly restaurant is.  It even includes a phone number, which when I touch, my phone dials for me, and a link I can touch that takes me to directly to my phone GPS with directions to the restaurant.  It’s amazing.  I can even cross-reference a restaurant with the Urban Spoon app to see if there is an online menu available.   We have been able to patronize several locally-owned restaurants instead of eating at chain restaurants or having to ask around for suggestions.

We arrived in Benton, Illinois Wednesday night right at dinner time.  My husband’s aunt, cousin (who also homeschools) and her two children met us for dinner at a Chinese buffet.  Cousin Aaron brought a praying mantis in his wooden bug house for us to see, and Cousin Autumn brought coloring books and crayons to share.  Luckily, the boutique, just next door let us in after hours to purchase the cutest coat and matching hat for my daughter, because little did we know, we would be in for very cold weather soon!

Thursday, we spent the day in Saint Louis, Missouri.   The Yelp app did not fail us here, either.  We found the neatest mom and pop vegan-friendly restaurant/art gallery in the Shaw district.  You will see a post on the goodies we enjoyed at Sweet Art soon!

After lunch, we visited the Gateway to the west arch and Westward Expansion Museum.  The kids cracked me up running from one roped-off area to the next at the museum once they learned the roped-off areas had the neatest, most special exhibits.  We also purchased postcards and other small memorabilia to include in the book we plan to make.

Friday was a big day.  Friday was the reason I could not post ahead of time about this trip.  My youngest sister-in-law turned what she called “Dirty Thirty” on Thursday and was having a big party.  We drove to Iowa, and arrived at her house Friday night, the day before her party.  We surprised her with a classic ringing of the doorbell.  Her sweet expression and reaction was truly one of surprise and excitement all in one.

So, after spending time with her family and my other sister-in-law who drove over from Illinois this weekend, we are now headed to a place called the Wisconsin Dells.  The Dells offers everything from camping out in the wilderness to huge indoor water park attractions.

I’m looking forward to stretching my legs the next few days and seeing if I can find any Wisconsin Cheddar VEGAN cheese.  I’ll  let you know if I do!