Well, I'm back in BG after a most successful trip to Wisconsin. The occasion was a celebration of the first birthday of my niece, and since I hadn't seen her or my sister and brother-in-law since December, it was, to say the least, kind of a big deal.
I decided to speed things up this trip by getting an I-Pass for the tolls; I got Illinois' I-Pass rather than an I-Zoom (Indiana's version) because the I-Zoom wouldn't work in Illinois for three days after getting it supposedly, and I'd much rather zip through Illinois tolls than the one in Indiana anyway (although Indiana's toll is huge now, at $6.75 on 80/90). It would have been speedier going out to Wisconsin except that the guy who sold it to me talked to me about poetry for about ten-fifteen minutes, as a result of me saying I was a poet after he complimented my name. Anyway, I made it.
The party was Fairy Princess themed, and on Friday evening and Saturday morning we spent some time getting everything ready and taking pictures. There were festive silver strings hanging from the big pine tree, which sits right over the awesome sandbox my brother-in-law had finished the day before. There were stars hanging from the patio table. There was princessy music playing from a hidden stereo, bouncy balls and bubbles and sidewalk chalk for the kids to play with, and a whole line of party bags along the stone wall. My bro would be at the grill cooking brats, and there were lots of sandwiches, salads, and cookies indoors. And Baby Ruths scattered over the tables, in honor of the Baby's name.
The Baby, I think, had a wonderful time, greeting her guests, smiling, and playing with the kids who helped her open her presents. She also had a great time smashing her piece of cake to crumbs and getting frosting all over herself and her sippy cup, with of course the requisite chorus of flashbulbs from the adults.
As for me, well, I ate too much and enjoyed the merriment.
For the remainder of my stay, I hung out with my family, played with the baby a lot, particularly her new set of musical instruments, and also had the chance to go shopping with my sister a few times, at the mall and at Kohl's. This was particularly enjoyable because we don't get to hang out much as sisters, and it kind of reminded me of when we used to go to the mall ages ago, in high school. We had trouble with jeans, but found some nice tops and skirts in Kohl's, on sale. It was awesome to get that chance to chat and laugh, and thanks to my big brother for supervising the baby's naps so we could slip out.
On the baby's actual birthday, I went with sis, bro, and baby to the NEW Zoo north of Green Bay, and had fun showing her the animals and watching her stare at them. She particularly liked the emus, and waved to the giraffes as they came just feet away from where we stood. My sister even got to pet a giraffe. The zoo is small, but the perfect size for a family with small children, with big animals like lions and a bear and more unusual zoo animals like bobcats and some truly massive bison.
It was hard to leave, especially with my niece smiling away with her four teeth, and crinkling her nose when she laughs. Even Poe, the cat who is my archnemesis, was friendly to me, since I bribed him and Topaz (who loves me) with Pounce treats whenever he was feeling prickly. It was a great trip!