As many of you know, before we could head out for the Martzahl family reunion and our week-long vacation in the Midwest, Erik had to work the Harry Potter party at his store. All in all it went well (although the one at my store in Braintree was WAY cooler with lots more people in costumes running around). I’ve included a staff picture from the evening although I chose to omit the picture of me and Thomas — it was taken very late at night at point when Thomas was completely wired and I look the part of a witch just a bit too much to let that picture out.

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To answer the obvious questions . . . Yes, we did drive straight through from Boston to Wisconsin after being up the whole previous day. Yes, we know it was dumb. Yes, we know we are far too old to ever try that again. Although the drive did allow me a 300 page start on Erik in Deathly Hallows — not that it mattered since he still finished it before me. GRRRRR.

Once in Wisconsin we attended my family reunion on Sunday (since I don’t know if all the people in the pictures from the picnic are okay with being posted on the web I have not included any of said pictures) and spent Monday with my mom, stepdad and my grandparents. Part of that day included Thomas’ first trip to Chuck E. Cheese. It was lunchtime so it wasn’t too loud or crazy and Thomas really enjoyed it.

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On Tuesday we spent the day with my dad and went to a great park in Oshkosh. Here’s a picture of us on the little train that runs around the park.

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We spent Wednesday with my grandparents and got to see lots of aunts, uncles and cousins. On Thursday we headed out. After a quick jaunt north so Erik could see the football stadium in Green Bay, we headed to see House on the Rock in southern Wisconsin (as featured in American Gods by Neil Gaiman). I had been really excited to finally see it — previous trips there had all ended in wrong turns that ended up in Wisconsin Dells), but in the end found it a little creepy. Lots of manniquins and dolls and not a whole lot of context. Erik, on the other hand, felt a unique draw to someone who collected a bunch of stuff and built a huge house to showcase it all in — imagine that. :-) Here is a picture of Thomas and Erik in front of the indoor carousel. It has over 250 figures — none of them horses (the horses are stuck on the walls through the rest of the house — creepy!)

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Unfortunately, midway through the House our memory card on the camera maxed out, so there are few pictures of the next few days. We ended Thursday in Peoria. Erik has been bugging me to see Bradley for a while and he’s finally seen it. We got in rather late and had a really hard time finding a hotel so all we did was drive through campus and I didn’t get a chance to see anyone. (I kinda wanted to see how Bradley Hall has been remodeled). But we did go into the B&N I used to work at and that was kinda a surreal experience.

Friday we went to the Lincoln museum and library in Springfield. There is a display in the library showcasing the Illinois Poet Laureate, Kevin Stein — he was one of my professors at Bradley. From there we went to the Superman Museum in Metropolis, Illinois.

Saturday was a quick self-guided tour of the entrance to Mammouth Caves, and on to Pittsburg.

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We got home late Sunday having been caught in horrible traffic through much of the state of Massachusetts and a freakish thunderstorm. The goodwill and politeness of the Midwest stayed with me about two days until a horrible person pushed her cart between me and the butter at the grocery store and I was filled with the nearly uncontrollable urge to hit her. It was then that we truly arrived back in Boston.