Monday, January 31, 2011


I've said it before, and I'll say it again.  Eli is Aaron's biggest fan.  I spend a great portion of every day protecting Aaron from all Eli's love.  Sometimes Eli can get pretty close to loving Aaron to death.  It's no real secret that Aaron is, how shall we say this nicely, a fussy baby.  I'm regularly surprised by how much of Eli's lovin' he willingly tolerates and actually enjoys. 

Anyway, the other day I was enjoying watching these two interact.  They absolutely love each other.  Eli was such a baby when Aaron was born, and I didn't know how he'd react to having to share his Mommy, but it has almost never been an issue.  He's a great big brother, when he's not laying on top of Aaron attempting to smother him with kisses.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Great Wolf Lodge

We have recently returned from a short trip to Great Wolf Lodge in Grapevine, Texas.  It was a little trip to celebrate Ryan's return and spend some time together as a family.  We had such an amazing time.  Great Wolf Lodge is basically a large hotel with an indoor water park reserved only for guests.  There are several restaurants in the hotel, plus all kinds of other kids activities and entertainment.  It's kind of like a resort with an indoor water park.

I must admit, I had my doubts about taking three very young children to a water park, but I read up on it, and every review I could find said it was possible.  We were able to go in the middle of last week, which was a huge blessing because the place was practically empty and the rates were great.  Although we would have survived, our time in the water park was so much easier because it was really easy to keep an eye on Clayton and Eli with so few people there. 

We arrived on Wednesday night and had just enough time to head down to the water park for an hour before they closed.  Clayton and Eli were terrified of the entire thing, and I was really scared I'd made a bad decision.  It's very noisy with all the water slides and wave pools echoing inside, and Clayton is often bothered by loud noise.  Eli is pretty cautious about water in general.  He doesn't like to get his face wet, even in the bathtub.  It was also a little chillier in there than I had expected.  I was pretty nervous.

On Thursday morning we went down there a little more rested and a little better fed.  The boys slowly started to warm up to the idea of the place, and by lunch time, Eli was begging, "Stay in pool Mommy!"  Clayton was loving the shallow little kids areas and the beach entry to the big wave pool.

 Getting ready for the pool.

 This is where Clayton spent the majority of his time.  He loved trying to squirt us with the water gun on the front of this jet ski.

Shockingly, Aaron was even able to catch a morning nap down by the toddler pool.  Can we say "Pilsbury Dough Boy?"  Wow.  He's a wee bit chunkier than my other boys.

We swam again Thursday afternoon and then for a while Friday morning before checking out.  The kids had a blast, except when Ryan sent Clayton down a really big waterslide for a little boy, and Clayton ended up head first on his back.  Needless to say, he wasn't happy, and he wouldn't even go down the baby slides after that.  Otherwise, it was so much fun.  Ryan and I even took some time taking turns watching the kids in the baby area while the other rode all the adult slides.  There were no lines, so it was quick and easy, and the slides were actually really fun, fast, and a little scary, at least to me.  We would have liked to have ridden some together, but it just wasn't possible with the kids.  Next time we'll have to take Nan and Pop so we can have some extra babysitters around.

Together in the lobby.  Yes, I know.  It's not great.  I'm okay with it.  One day my children will look at a camera.  One day.

Waiting for the nightly clock tower show.

Watching the clock tower show, followed by a bedtime story.

We packed up and left right at lunchtime.  If you know Eli, you know once this boy gets hungry, look out.  He must eat, and he must eat immediately.  He was so starving, and I felt so bad for him as Ryan and I were trying to speed load the van in the freezing cold weather.  The only thing I could reach was a chocolate chip cookie, and at that point, I didn't care.  Just give him something.  He gobbled it up, and this was the scene before we could even get out of the parking lot.  Note the crumbs everywhere (a huge pet peeve of mine).  Eek!  This van needs a vacuuming.

All in all, we had a GREAT trip.  I totally recommend Great Wolf Lodge; however, if you can, try to go during the week.  I've heard the weekends are really packed, and it was really so much fun to be some of the only people there.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Our First Rodeo

The International Finals Rodeo has been in town this weekend.  We've been looking for some fun family activities to do during Ryan's leave, so we decided to go this afternoon.  Neither of us had ever been to a rodeo, but I had seen commercials on TV saying Sunday afternoon was kid's day, so we decided to try it out. 

There were a ton of people there.  By the time we'd waited in line for tickets, the kids pre-show activities were over.  That was fine though because we weren't really dedicated to any part of the rodeo.  We were just there to see what it was all about.

First of all, we were the only people not in Wranglers. I knew we would be, but we didn't own any, so what could we do? I did however pull out the old Justin Ropers from college and wore them with some too long for me bootcut jeans, so I did make an attempt to dress for the event. I'm sure you're all thrilled to have the fashion angle covered in this post.
Now, onto the event.  I was pleasantly surprised at how fiercely patriotic it was.  They must have spent the first half hour on the national anthem and videos and other tributes to veterans of past and present wars.  Then came the unapologetically Christian part which was also appreciated.  There was a very long, emotional prayer to God to bless their competition, give them all attitudes of respect and appreciation for their competitors, keep everyone safe, and thanks for God's amazing creation, etc.

The rodeo itself was really entertaining.  Ryan and I had never seen anything like it.  I have seen short clips of rodeo events, but to see it all in person was definitely interesting.  There were all kinds of events.  I can't remember a lot of their official names, but tonight when I asked Clayton what he saw at the rodeo, he replied, "a cowboy wrestling a cow."  Yep.  Saw that.  Of course we wanted to see the bull riding and barrel racing.  I also enjoyed the pony express, which was like a horseback relay race.

Today's session lasted just over three hours, right smack in the middle of naptime.  There were a few times when we thought the kids might be done, and we thought about cutting out early, but then they'd get better, so we stayed the entire time.  Clayton's interest was held for a good portion of the time.  Eli watched things every now and then.  We sat high up in the arena so that the kids would have a little extra space to roam, and that helped a ton.  Aaron slept the first half and did pretty well through the second half.

The rodeo was a great experience, and I know we'll try to make it back the next time they're in town.  I highly recommend trying it out if you've never been. 

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Daddy's Home!

Loading up to go pick up Daddy.  The boys had no idea where we were going.  The temperature was well below freezing at this time.  When we got to the base and I got a text saying they'd landed, I told the boys we were going to get Daddy.  Clayton completely understood and was cautiously excited.  Eli didn't have a clue what I was talking about.

 Finally seeing Daddy after being locked in a small auditorium for two hours with 100 other children anxiously awaiting their Mommy or Daddy's return.  It was an experience to say the least, but it was worth it.

Eli didn't seem to know if this was the real thing.  I think he thought Daddy had been living in the computer the last few months because we did a lot of webcam.  Whenever I was on the computer and Daddy wasn't there, Eli would tell me Daddy was night-night.  Anyway, it took him a minute or two to realize Daddy was actually coming home with us.

 Daddy with Aaron, who didn't understand what the fuss was all about and why we were out past bedtime.

Family shot (Aaron's in the car seat in the stroller).  It was about 10 degrees by this time, so it was really cold and crowded in the lobby as people were trying to find their families and baggage.  Luckily a friend was able to get this picture for us just before we made our run for the car.

We've been spending the last couple days settling back into home.  Ryan has a little time off, and we're enjoying being a family again.  Clayton has been busy showing Ryan all the little things (crafts, papers, toys)he's been saving for him this fall.  He's also gotten to show Ryan his bike riding skills, although only briefly because the weather's been so cold.  It's supposed to warm up tomorrow though, so I know he'll be out there pedalling around.  Eli is our entertainer, and he's been busy cracking himself up trying to show off for Ryan.  Aaron's still adjusting to this stranger among us, but he's a pretty friendly baby, so he's okay with Ryan.  I'm just loving having my husband back at home and getting back into our family routines.  We've been eating a lot of good cooking, eating way too many homemade cookies, and watching a lot of movies at night. 

Welcome home Ryan!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Hanging Around

Just a few quick pictures from the weekend.  We've been on the road again, and it sure is good to be home. 

Clayton is using his new TAG Reader from Leapfrog.  I wasn't sure about this gift, but let me tell you, this has been the best Christmas investment I've ever made.  Clayton LOVES this.  The pen can do all kinds of reading activities with your child, but for our four year old, we mostly use it to read the TAG books and hear different sounds and phrases from the pictures.  I can't believe how much Clayton loves this thing.  He could listen to stories for hours. 

 Eli.  Oh, Eli.  Eli goes through phases of being attached to his (and anyone else's he can get his hands on) toothbrush.  I originally tried to keep the toothbrushing confined to the bathroom, but then the dentist told me all about how great it was to let kids chew on them, especially if you have a hard time reaching all their teeth while they're brushing.  I love this little man, and he has a new interest... puzzles.  Usually he's too busy to pay attention to these, but in the last few days, he's worked a few pieces here and there.

We broke out the old Jumperoo.  We bought this for Clayton years ago, and then Eli used it too.  The thing was always a big hit with my kids.  This picture was taken in the first few minutes Aaron was sitting in it.  Then, like with all baby things, Aaron realized this was just one more way for Mommy to put him down, and he didn't take kindly to it.  Aaron, why do you always NEED to be held every minute of everyday?  I love you, but you are going to have to find a way to be happy without being in my arms every second of the day.  PS Did I mention how much I love you?