A horse is a horse of course!  At Henson Robinson Zoo.

A horse is a horse of course!  At Henson Robinson Zoo.

I took the grandkids to the Henson Robinson Zoo, a lovely small zoo located right on Lake Springfield. After playing at the playground we struck out to the zoo along with my mom for a fun filled morning. When this horse in the picture blew through its nose, my 20 month old grandson did a shuffle toward me that could have won him awards on Dancing with the Stars.

Taking advantage of some of the great sites in your backyard like this fun little zoo in Springfield is a great way to enjoy some grandma/ grandkid time. The peacocks and horses turned out to be the scary animals while the grand babies didn’t seem to be at all phased by the bear or the monkeys. I guess I should correct that phrase because my grand daughter informed me that her brother “Is a big boy and she is a good girl.” There you have it!

The Henson Robinson Zoo is located at 1100 East Lake Shore Drive, Springfield, IL 62712. Call 217-753-6217 or log onto http://www.hensonrobinsonzoo.org for details!

Butter Cow at the Illinois State Fair

Butter Cow at the Illinois State Fair

This is the 90th year that the butter cow is gracing the Illinois State Fair. Sharon Bumen from New York has been sculpting the cow for the last eight years and six years ago they created this cooler in the round for visitors to enjoy. Dairy Building Superintendent Marla Behrends shared that before when Sharon would work that she would sculpt as beautifully behind the cow as in front. Now visitors can enjoy the entire sculpture.

Bumen will be sculpting completing the butter cow and the final result will be completed on Tuesday. Visitors to the fair can watch her work her art until that time. The butter cow is a tradition at the Illinois State Fair. Everyone enjoys viewing the cow before sampling a dairy treat. The Illinois State Fair runs August 9-19. Children making homeade birthday cards may win a dairy treat. Create your own tradition at this year’s Illinois State Fair where the motto is Family Fun for Everyone!

Fun at 9 Irish Brothers

Fun at 9 Irish Brothers

At this year’s Graham Bradley tractor gathering, a group of women, five of us from Illinois, Iowa and Ohio set out to tour the Lafayette and West Lafayette countryside. After antiquing in the morning

Garden at the Illinois Executive Mansion

Garden at the Illinois Executive Mansion

Have you toured the Governor’s Mansion in your state? Today I stopped by the Illinois Executive Mansion and toured both the house and the grounds. Harry Lewis, who has served as the Mansion’s horticulturist since 2009. Lewis has filled the grounds with more than 100 planters full of perennials and annuals. The Governor’s lawn is dotted with color and beauty. The lawn and gardens serve as a perfect backdrop for the home of the highest office in the State.

The Illinois Executive Mansion is open to the public Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9:30 to 11:30 and 2:00 to 3:30 and Saturdays from 9:30 to 11:00. Serving as the Governor’s mansion since 1855, this is the third oldest continuously occupied Governor’s Mansion in the United States as well as the largest. This is a place that is used for political gatherings as well as non-profit groups. Call 217-782-6450 fir details.

Take time to see this Illinois treasure, you will be glad you did.

The Statue of Liberty and Freedom

The Statue of Liberty and Freedom

Recently my daughter and I visited New York City. While known for its hustle and bustle, culture, fashion and architecture, our visit to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island was all about freedom. One glimpse at the beautiful Lady and it is easy to see how the words to Emma Lazarus poem are so fitting, “Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

Ellis Island is where our ancestors, those “huddled masses” crowded through the lines waiting for their turn to see if they met emotional, medical and compentence tests that would allow them access to the “golden door.” My daughter Carrie commented, “They traveled such a long journey to get here, then once they arrived, they still had a huge ordeal to go through.”

While most made it in, there were many that were detained waiting for family or for a decision to be made. About ten percent of the arrivals had to go back home. On the audio tape, one woman reflected on a huanting memory of her great-grandmother being sent back while all those that could take care of her remained. She commented that it was the last time they saw her.

I took time to think about how hard won my freedom is on the 4th of July. I am thankful when I see the young men and women and veterans that fought so hard for us. But, from now on, I will also include my ancestors, our ancestors that traveled the treacherous seas to come to the New World and forge a new life. America was and still is the land of hope and the land of dreams.