You can watch highlights HERE
We left Fort Wayne about 12:30pm and were in our seats on or before 3pm. The speakers started at 4:30, but then they played about 1/2 hour of music. Dd#1 was struck by the fact that so many people knew Neil Diamond's Sweet Caroline as well as she did. Her friends were struck by the fact that she knew the words to that old song! Sarah spoke from about 5:40-6:30ish. We pulled out of the venue at 7:45pm and stopped for dinner. We had to stop several times for potty & nursing breaks (the other mom I rode with had a baby, too). We got home at 11:45pm and I was sooo glad to see my husband (to hand off the baby) and get in my bed. So were the girls. I probably wouldn't do it with the baby again. We're glad that we made the effort. It was definately an experience! (and I'm counting it as a field trip)
We got to sit with our friends and chat for 2-3 hours before the speakers started. It was warmer than I had feared, but definately nippy. I had a hard time keeping the baby wrapped up, but he was mostly content to be in my arms under my shawl. I loved cuddling my baby, chatting with friends, waiting to see the next Vice President.
Going through security was one of the highlights of rally. There was a guy telling people in line that any weapons or anything that could be used as a weapon should be taken back to their car.
- He said they'd taken away a surprising amount of weapons, especially guns. I found this really funny -- I don't think I know anyone who would try to bring a gun through a Secret Service Checkpoint and I can't imagine who would try it -- but I guess they're out there...
- We were also told to make sure all our electronic equipment was turned on and working (cell phones, cameras) and if it didn't work it would be taken away. Are unworking cameras a place to put a bomb?? I wasn't sure...
- When it was our turn to go through the checkpoint and the metal detector, they had to go through my diaper bag. They told me the tennis ball I packed to keep the baby busy wasn't allowed, as it was considered a "projectile". I told the guy to keep the tennis ball. He was really reluctant and asked me if I didn't want to take it back to my car. I guess this guy has never carried a fat 27 pound baby through what seemed like a mile long line. "No, keep the tennis ball." He hesitated before he tossed it in his box of goodies that he'd taken from people.
- At the bottom of my diaper bag I always keep baby food. I hardly ever use baby food, but I keep it with me "just in case". He informed me, "Ma'am, no glass is allowed in the rally. Glass jars can't go through." I found this amusing, too, and told him to keep the baby food, so he put those in his box. I didn't want to embarass him and tell him that we didn't really need the baby food because I'd just nurse the baby when he got hungry. Just then, the Secret Service guy (they really looked like the guys in the movie MIB) who was waiting with his wand on the other side of the metal detector for me to go through, walked over to the table at this checkpoint. He leaned down to the guy going through the diaper bag and whispered something in his ear. I didn't know what juicy piece of information he had to discretely tell the other guy, but I was curious. It must have been too secretly relayed because the guy couldn't hear him. So the Secret Service guy leaned down and whispered to him again, then he walked back to his place on the other side of the metal detector. "Ma'am," the guy at the table needed my attention, "You can have your baby food back." I was almost in stitches. They were so serious and it was all so funny to me.
We were all told to wear red and I wasn't sure why until Lt. Gov. Becky Skillman told us that Indiana looked like a red state to her and that she was sure we'd keep Indiana a red state. Ohhhhh...then I got it. The funny thing was that I went to Walmart the evening before to buy them red t-shirts to wear a the indoor rally. When I realized during the 11pm news that it wasn't indoors, I knew both girls had their red fleece shawls. But my girls sure do look cute in red!
By the time the rally was over my arms were BURNING! The girls wanted to get an autograph from Sarah Palin, so we went down front and waited in the crush of people. The baby started to get fussy (he was ready to nurse) and I was ready to sit down. Even though 3 of us moms were keeping an eye on all 9 kids, I didn't feel like I could take my eyes off my girls to sit down and nurse. I told the girls we needed to go. My arms couldn't take much more of the huge baby. The girls were fine with it and said good-bye to their friends. We went to the restroom and sat down at a bench and fed the baby. Then the girls held him for me.
I felt really bad about that decision because we ended up leaving at the same time as our friends AND THEY GOT SARAH'S AUTOGRAPH!! I felt like I'd denied my girls...but they were great about it and understood the baby's and my limitations (and my need to keep them with me in a crowd that large).
Sarah didn't say too much different than I've heard her at other places. The crowd was so excited for her that as soon as she'd start to say something, they'd jump up and scream...so I only heard the first half of her sentences. I was really struck with how many Down Syndrom children were in the crowd. What a BEAUTIFUL testament to Sarah Palin that so many families with special needs children would be drawn to her and want to support her. I thought that spoke volumes!