Monday, August 26, 2013

Treyton's 8th Birthday

Today we celebrated Treyton's birthday. 

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He wanted to have a group of boys over to celebrate sports-style. 

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We invited 6 of his closest friends. 

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We spent the afternoon playing baseball, eating pizza, having a water gun fight and then a water balloon fight and a one-on-one basketball game between Treyton and his friend Sam that they've been planning for MONTHS. 

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It was really hot today, I think it got over 90 degrees, so we made sure to spread out the water gun fight, sprinkler and water balloon fight to keep the boys cooled down in between their sporting events. 

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Treyton really enjoyed his party, and I'm so glad that he did. Though I will say, 7 boys for 3.5 hours, is a whole LOT of energy. I wish I could bottle some of that energy for myself. 

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The boys have so much character, I love all of their different personalities,

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but one thing they do all have in common is pure silliness! 

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Alexa's 5th Birthday

So I just realized with all the hustle and bustle of the summer I have yet to post about Alexa's birthday (today is Treyton's birthday). I feel like a horrible parent, but I'm trying to give myself a little grace. 

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For her 5th birthday, she requested a day at bay beach with some of her friends.

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Lucky for us, her friends are all from the same family, so we were able to have their entire family join us for a fun day at the amusement park and then back home for some pizza and ice cream cake.

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Alexa enjoyed a few new rides this particular trip - the big swings and the tilt-a-whirl. 

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We ended up going to Bay Beach the Sunday before Alexa's birthday (July 7th) which happens to be Evaleigh's birthday. Here are the two birthday girls together. 

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Titus enjoyed the park enough for all of us, as well, but gratefully we all were able to enjoy it as well. 

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We truly love the Popp family and consider them some of our closest family friends. For (I think) the first time in the three years we've known each other, we got a picture of Amanda and I, and Tim and Shaun, while at bay beach. 

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Monday morning, Alexa's actual birthday, she was able to open her presents and play with them for a while before we had our first day of school. 

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Alexa loves school, so it was a perfect way to spend her birthday. Mommer was able to come to town as well, and she played with the kids while I worked one-on-one with the other ones, which made it even more special. 

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I feel like we were able to keep it fairly simple this year, which I really appreciated during such a busy season. And an even bigger plus, was that she still enjoyed herself and got to do exactly what she wanted. 
 
 
 
 

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Alexaism: Two Minutes in the Sun

Alexa says "Okay mom, I'm going to go sit in the sun for two minutes, set the timer, okay?" 
Me: "Okay"
She actually goes outside, sits in the sun in the yard, very still and quietly. After two minutes I call her back inside. She comes in rubs her hair and says "Whatever, Amelya" 
Me: "What's up?"
Alexa: "I asked Amelya why her hair grew so fast and she said 'If you sit in the sun for two minutes your hair will grow.' Whatever, Amelya, she's so silly."
 

Monday, August 5, 2013

For the Love of Lists: State Travel

While planning for our last vacation I had started compiling a list of places that I would like to visit and/or take the kids to. Typically, when we travel we prefer to drive, primarily because we like to stop along the way. It's my philosophy that the traveling to your destination can be an experience in and of itself and so we try to make the most of it. 

Because of this, I had made several sticky-note, lose leaf paper, napkin style "lists" of places to go, which got me thinking, I should just compile all of my lists together, by place, so that it's easy for me to find and for others to use (and of course add to), if they so desire. This list will be added to and modified as time goes on. 

So here it goes….. 

(in alphabetical order)

 

Illinois: 

~ Chicago ~ 

Shedd Aquarium: We have visited here and enjoyed it, though there are other better aquariums out there, this is the closest "good one" to us. 

Navy Pier: Tim and I visited here, alone without the kids, we rode the big ferris wheel walked around, went to a museum (though I don't remember what it was on), and ate lunch. It was a unique atmosphere and we got a lot of cute pictures from that day. 

Sears Tower, the sky deck: one of the tallest buildings you can go up and stand out on a glass ledge, I mean how cool is that? We've never been, but will bring the kids some day. I don't imagine Alexa will enjoy the experience. 

 

Kentucky:

Louisville Slugger Museum: fun, and we still have our little bats that we got as part of the tour. We love seeing how things are made, and we love baseball, it was a great match. 

Creation Museum: A MUST visit if you are anywhere near there. If it was for merely supporting what they stand for, I would, but it's actually worth stopping by and seeing. Lots of information, not to mention it's all TRUE! How many science museums have you been to recently that you can actually say that about?


Louisiana

Swamp Tour: though there are lots offered, we have done Cajun Country Tours twice now and I have nothing but positive things to say about them. Well informed, honest, great with having 4 + kids on board, kind and fun. Both times at different times of the year (May and October) we saw lots of alligators, birds, turtles and more than enough insects and arachnids :) Well priced for a two-hour boat ride!

Plantation Tour: I have yet to do one of these, but I would really like to, I think it would be informative and being from there I am interested to just see one "up close"

Tabasco Factory Tour: we love factory tours and we love tobasco sauce, do we need any more reason than that? 

 

~ Baton Rouge Area ~ 

Baton Rouge Zoo: I went to this zoo as a little girl, so I am certainly biased, but I thought it was a descent zoo - not amazing, certainly not bad, descent. The train ride was fun, better than the San Antonio Zoo train. 

 

~ New Orleans ~

French Quarter 

 

Missouri

~ St. Louis Area ~ 

St. Louis Zoo: a nice zoo, more shaded than most large zoo's that we've gone to. There was a lot of construction when we visited (May 2013), but it was certainly a nice zoo and the best part - FREE!! 

The Magic House (Children's Museum): We came, we saw, we LOVED this place!! In the former home of George Edwards from A.G Edwards. This children's museum is AMAZING!! In fact, I imagine we will be back again the next time we are in town. Lots to do, lots of fun, reasonably priced (I think it was $9.50)

The City Museum: We were between the Magic House and the City Museum when we were in St. Louis and went with the Magic House, so technically we have not visited this place, though it looks AWESOME! I truly think it will be the most fun for my hubby, but we'll all find something, I'm sure. 

The Arch (visiting and/or going up to the top): We visited when Treyton was a baby, it's one of those things you just need to do to say you did it, but if I recall it cost a little more than what it was worth, but in the end, I was still glad I could say I did it (and remember it, because apparently I did it as a kid too and I have no memory of it whatsoever). 

 

New York:

Niagra Falls: We took the Lady of the Mist out to the falls - it was freezing that day (like 50 degrees) but it was AWESOME, there are no words to describe the awesomeness of the falls and getting that close to them left me a little speechless.

 

~ New York City ~

Empire State Building: Amazing views at ear-popping height. I've gone twice one time the lines were quite a bit longer than the other time, it's not worth HOURS in a line, but it's really hard to say that until you've gone, so in that sense, it's worth going, you'll probably regret it if you don't. 

Statue of Liberty:

30 Rock:

Bus Tours:

Broadway: 

Central Park: a lot of walking, but it's FREE, it's a break from all the concrete and buildings and it's a landmark (as far as I'm concerned) 

World Trade Center Memorial: When Tim and I went we couldn't even get close it was completely fenced off and blocked off. When my sister and I went (in 2011) it was almost finished and we were able to take a tour around the area. I highly, highly recommend the tour. Put on by people who were in the world trade towers or family members of those who were, the tour was touching, emotional and real. Well done. Worth the cost. 


Ohio: 

Columbus Zoo: AMAZING, we only spent a few hours here on our way through and saw only a portion of the zoo but it was pretty impressive, I really hope we can go back some day (though I must tell you, the drive there for us was pretty boring and hard to find places for gas and food) 


Oklahoma:

The Sod House: this was not on our way during our recent trip but I would be interested to visit it in the future if we can. 


Pennsylvania: 

~ Pittsburgh ~ 

Duquesne Incline: short and sweet, but even on a cloudy day we were able to see pretty far.

Steel Tour: I always call this a steel tour, but technically I think it was an Iron mill or something like that. Tim and I went several years ago. You'll want to wear tennis shoes (it may even be required) it's not "pretty" but it is informative. Run by volunteers, and people who are/were a part of the industry. 


Tenessee: 

~ Chatanooga, Tennessee ~ 

The Aquarium there is amazing, we visited years ago and I still remember a lot of it (which is saying something). 

Rock City: Technically this may be in Georgia, but I always say it's in Chatanooga, and it's my list, so you'll have to deal. We've visited twice and loved it both times, lots of great picture taking opportunity the views are amazing and at one place you're able to see seven (I believe) states from one outlook point. Which is pretty sweet. 

 

~ Memphis, Tennessee ~ 

Gibson Guitar Factory Tour: I believe you have to be 5 years old to walk through the factory, so we will probably wait until all (or at least most) of our kids can go through, but I'm very interested in visiting 

 

Memphis Zoo: This zoo was repeated on several of the "best zoo's in the nation" lists, we have not visited, but plan to. 

 

 

Texas:

~ Austin ~ 

Berdoll Pecan Farm: this place was recommended to me by a friend of mine, and we stopped. Basically it's a pecan shop with the most delicious pecans (and my kids say pralines) you will ever have!! Super yummy, worth the 15 minutes out of your way if you're driving through. Plus they have a giant squirrel out front that is fun to take pictures with. FREE (unless you purchase)  

 

~ San Antonio ~

The Alamo: A must see for the simple fact that it's a landmark and so rich in history, who hasn't heard of the Alamo? We read a few books on the Alamo before we visited, which I do recommend because it made it more "real" to my kids and they were much more interested because they had heard the stories before we went. You definitely need to go into the giftshop where they have a mini replica of what the battle of the Alamo looked like (with the soldiers and everything). It was one of Tim's favorite parts. FREE 

Tower of the Americas: Originally we were going to skip this because we have done towers and tall buildings before so…. what's the point, however, we were in the area and decided we might as well. It was a tower. However we LOVED the 4D movie that is included with your ticket price and the fountains outside the tower is worth stopping by just for the picture opportunity. 

San Antonio Zoo: Not my favorite zoo, but it was nice. We did the train ride, I think the train rides at other zoos are much nicer, this train ride technically does not go through the zoo but through the parks around the zoo. It's a nice way to "get around" especially if you plan on doing the Japanese Tea Gardens in the same day, but if I were you I would skip the train here, and do it at a different zoo. The zoo itself was okay, lots to see, not too spaced out, not too close either. The day we went there were TONS of field trips (may 2013) but other than that, I would recommend it. 

River Walk - Boat Tours: One of the highest rated activities in the area. We did it the same day we did the Alamo and Tower of Americas. Tim and I probably enjoyed it more than the kids, but they were okay, and certainly didn't complain about being on the boat, but if there wouldn't have been so many ducks to watch, we may have had a few more complaints. The boat operator does share lots of information about the river walk, san antonio and the area. 

Natural Bridge Wildlife Ranch: I read it described as "an african safari, texas style" - I love the concept of this place, the only complaint I would have is that I want more!! More animals. It was so fun having the animals come right up to your car and feeding them, and to not have to walk through the zoo (ha ha, call me lazy) but I definitely think they could do more. The kids loved it, it was so exciting that I imagine it will be one of the things that really stick out to them from our trip. 

Sea World: obviously, pricey, but we really really liked the shows. We started the day feeding the dolphins, we got 3 trays for $15 but it was worth it for the kids to actually feed and touch the dolphins (I think). We did a few rides (though Treyton did NOT like the roller coaster and I still have a bruise from it 2 weeks later), saw the animals and did the whole gift shop thing, and even had lunch with Shamu, but the highlights were definitely the shows. Well done, lots of fun and the kids are still saying it was their favorite part of the trip.

 

~ New Braunfels ~

The historic district Gruene was so much fun, we shopped at the "General Store" here and ate at two unbelievably good restaurants #1 the Gristmill #2 Gruene River Grill (or something like that) worth time out of your trip to visit. 


Virginia


Washington D.C.