Monday, January 25, 2010

Branson, Part 3 (Butterfly Palace)

There was really only one touristy-type thing that we did while we were in Branson (besides shopping and visiting the IMAX - Avatar in 3D at the IMAX was absolutely breathtaking! But I digress...), and that was visiting the Butterfly Palace. This place was really cool! They have an introductory movie telling about the life cycle of a butterfly, and then you walk into this rainforest where there are hundreds of butterflies flying around!We were there for their winter display, which is all white butterflies and red flowers. I didn't think about it that day when I got dressed, but wearing a red shirt made the butterflies just LOVE me!They got really "attached" (ha ha) to my mother-in-law's glasses, too!They also seemed drawn to our cameras - they must be pretty used to the spotlight!You had to watch where you were stepping because sometimes there were butterflies just chilling on the floor!As a part of the special White Flight winter display, they also have one of their employees dress up like a statue and pose whenever visitors are there. So she was really neat looking! She came out while we were there, or else we wouldn't have even known she was alive - it really would've freaked us out when she moved her arms! But she stood so still that the butterflies often perched on her. I think that's a neat job to have!

They also had a huge poinsettia tree, and so we took a family portrait in front of it.And I thought Elias looked so sweet standing in front of the bench like the wings were his! My precious boy.On the way out, they have a three-way mirror so you can check and make sure you don't have any butterflies stowing away. Elias thought the fellow looking back at him was very handsome, too!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Branson, Part 2 (Willow Ridge Lodge)

As I said before, the hotel we stayed at was AMAZING! It also helped that we were there during the dead season, so we were literally the ONLY guests there. So we always had the pool, play room, and fitness room all to ourselves! That was completely awesome. Here are a few shots of me, Justin, and Elias at the pool!Daddy got in the big pool and played peekaboo with Elias behind the edge.Splashing is such fun!!!The hotel also had a really neat kids' play room, and we took Elias there just about every morning just to get out and do something different! This was awesome! Here he is playing with (chewing on) an Etch-a-Sketch and doing a puzzle with Daddy.And chilling on the bean bags with Mommy.
They also had a full fitness room, which Justin and I took advantage of after Elias was in bed. And they had a game room with ping pong, pool, foosball, and several arcade games. Elias loved sitting in the seat of the driving game and playing with the steering wheel.So we would definitely recommend this place, although I bet it is a madhouse during the summer season! With the weather being as cold as it was while we were there, it was nice to be able to entertain ourselves without having to leave!

Branson, Part 1 (Fun with Family!)

As I mentioned in a previous post, Justin, Elias, and I spent 5 days in Branson with Justin's parents a couple weeks ago. We celebrated our Christmas together and also just enjoyed being on vacation together! I'll take a few posts to document our time together.

Being the pathetic photographer that I am, we don't have a SINGLE group photo that contains all of us! This is the best I got at IHOP right before we headed home!We had such a good time together! We rented a 2-bedroom suite at the Marriott Willow Ridge Lodge, and this place was unbelievable. I'll do a whole post about all the fun things we did at the hotel soon. But since we had a shared living space, it was easy and fun to hang out together. We even had a full kitchen so we didn't have to eat out every meal! Elias had fun playing with his Nana and Granddad, and with the toys they brought him from the whole family! Thanks again to all who sent gifts for us!

He loved this Little People Farm.

(Also note the cute new UK shirt he's wearing that Nana and Granddad brought him! Go team!)

Granddad had to take a lot of shots before he captured Elias' face right in the window! Good job, Granddad!Here is Elias modeling the adorable fuzzy footie pajamas that Nana brought him. (Size 3T! My gigantic boy!)It wasn't just toys that Elias was excited about, either. Here is is playing peekaboo with the fleece blanket that Justin's cousin gave us! He's easily amused. :)

It was SUCH a blessing to be able to have this getaway AND spend time with family. We all had a great time and came home feeling refreshed! Thank you, John and JoBeth!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Off the Face of the Earth?

Ok, so if there are any of you lovely blog readers still out there, you may have wondered if I have fallen off the face of the earth! No, we're all still here and doing just fine. I just haven't made it on here to blog in a while!

You remember how I wrote here that motherhood was no longer stressful or exhausting now that Elias is no longer a newborn? (Did any of you mothers of older children snicker at that?) Uh, yeah. I think Elias must have read that and taken it as a personal challenge to step up his game! Terrible two's have ARRIVED! And really, I don't have anything to complain about. Even as a terrible two-er, Elias is awesome and loving and well-behaved and friendly... most of the time. (And have I mentioned lately how handsome and brilliant he is??) But he's also learning about independence and MAJORLY pushing boundaries. We have entered the world of deliberate disobedience and throwing tantrums. They are not very often, but they come without warning and completely throw off this mommy who likes her predictability.

So that's where we are these days. I still think I have the single most precious child on the face of the earth, but he's just a growing child who's learning how to be his own person, and that's hard for all of us. But I DO intend to get back to blogging VERY soon!!!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

New Family Heirloom

We just got back from a family vacation to Branson, a tourist attraction about 1.5 hours away from where we live. Justin's parents drove and met us there, and we had the blessing of being able to spend 5 days with them there. It was SO much fun, and I plan to post several blogs about our time there once I get the pictures ready.

While we were there, we had our family Christmas together, and we are so blessed by the generosity of our family! There was too much to be able to post about each gift, but I wanted to write about something very, very special that Justin's mother made for him.

Justin is a BIG fan of UK basketball, and he has been for his whole life. There is a long tradition of wins and championships, and we're very proud to be alumni of that school. Throughout his teen years, he amassed a large collection of t-shirts commemorating UK's national championships, conference championships, and trips to the NCAA tournament. His mother saved these shirts, and this year she sewed them into a quilt!
Some of these are even shirts that Justin got when he actually attended these games, and some of them he wore for a while before his mom snatched it for her collection! She also used two more shirts to make a pillow to go with it!I think it is so beautiful and special, and it looks so fantastic hanging on our office wall! It will be a family treasure that we will pass down to Elias. Thank you, JoBeth!

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Family's Visit, Part 4

Just one more post to sum up my family's visit. We had such a great time together! Mom snapped a few photos of Justin, Elias, and me, and they turned out pretty cute! She managed to catch him laughing for the second one.
Then the morning before they left, we went to a little restaurant here in town that's famous for its breakfast, especially its pancakes! So we sampled some of that action, and it sure was good! Here's Azlan with his Mickey Mouse pancake:And Grandma posing with Elias - Patriot took this picture!They were good buddies while she was here! He finally said "Grandma" to her! It sounded like "MawMawwwwwww," but she'll take what she can get.

Thanks to you all for making the trip! I'm so glad we got to see you!!!!

Family's Visit, Part 3 (Lambert's)

After we jumped our hearts out at Jump Mania, we went to refuel at the famous Lambert's Cafe: Home of Throwed Rolls. Yes, that is their name, and you're just going to have to get over the fact that the grammar is bad. Because the food is GOOD. And they throw it at you. How much more fun could that be?! A waiter walks around with a cart of rolls yelling "Fresh rolls!" You just raise your hand if you want one, and he tosses it to you! Depending on who the recipient is, sometimes he'll throw it all the way across the room! He has great aim - you almost never see a roll miss its target. Here is Patriot catching a roll!Then they have other waitresses walking around with huge bowls of various sides and they just serve them to you family style - black-eyed peas, fried okra, macaroni, fried potatoes, etc. Here is Elias trying his first bite of fried okra:It was also his last bite of fried okra... Must take after his Mommy when it comes to liking okra!

In order to take advantage of all the freebies they walk around with, you also need to order a meal off the menu, and the serving sizes are absolutely ridiculous. Like shameful. Here is Justin with the world's biggest salad:And me with the world's biggest ham:In my defense, I split my ham with all three boys! But we had a good time and definitely got enough to eat!

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Family's Visit, Part 2 (Jump Mania)

The next day we went to Springfield and went to Jump Mania in the morning. What a neat place! It's just full of all these inflatable slides and bouncy houses. It only cost the kids $5 to get in for unlimited play, and the adults who came with them were free. Even better, Elias was under 2 so he was free too! We will definitely be going back there! The boys absolutely LOVED it, and the adults didn't have such a bad time either!

This is the first time Elias has been in an inflatable like this, but it didn't take him long to get the lay of the land.Bouncing is serious business!There was a special section for toddlers, and Elias had fun playing in that one too. You can see Mommy and Daddy in the background trying to coax him to actually go down the slide on the other side. He eventually did and he liked it!Playing with Cousin Azlan in the toddler area.
His favorite part about the toddler area, though, was the big doggie that had its tongue hanging out! Here he is bonding with a new friend over their mutual love for the doggie.Grandma took her big boys down the big slide! At the top:At the bottom!
Grandma worked REALLY hard to try to get all three boys in one shot... This is the best she got - not too bad!After he had his fill of bouncing, Elias discovered this slide they had, and he just did it OVER AND OVER again. He's never done a slide by himself before, but he learned how today! So Jump Mania turned out to be a big hit!

Monday, January 04, 2010

Family's Visit, Part 1 (Fantastic Caverns)

My family came into town last weekend, and I have a whole slew of pictures to post! In order to spare you all, I'll split it up into several posts. But we had a great time together, and I'm so thankful they braved the weather and the long car trip to come for a visit! My mom came along with my sister, brother-in-law (Matt), and two nephews (Patriot - 5 and Azlan - 3). Dad, unfortunately, couldn't get off work to come, but he was with us in spirit! I guess I'll do the pictures chronologically.

They arrived late on Sunday night, so I was the only one up late enough to welcome them! The next morning, we got up and went to Fantastic Caverns, which turned out to be really neat! It's a cave about 30 minutes from our house where you get on a wagon and ride through, so it's safe to take the little ones, who LOVED it! Here are Matt, Justin, Elias, and me in the wagon ready to enter the cave:It was COLD outside, like in the 20s, but the temperature is 60 degrees year-round in the cave. So it was quite comfortable once we got underground! Azlan, Patriot, and Mom are excited to be in there!We rode right past the coolest formations - it was beautiful and educational too!

Then once we made it home, it was naptime for the boys, followed by snack time. When you're with family, even snacking together is fun!
That night, we put in the P90X workout DVD's that my sister had brought because Justin and I wanted to try them. Boy, did we get good workouts! Mom took a picture of us all working out together, but I'm afraid my family may murder me if I post it on the internet... Soooo, I'll just have to leave that one for your imagination! (By the way, we LOVED the P90X workouts and are considering purchasing them for ourselves! Talk about a challenge!)