What’s Up Wednesday!

Howdy! I seriously just go so far behind on here, I kind of gave up on ever catching up. I am beginning to realize, though, I don’t have to catch up for all the months of 2016 so maybe I’ll just do a hi-lite post soon. In the meantime, I am back with another What’s Up Wednesday! Today I am linking up with Mix and Match Mama and Sheaffer Told me To.

1. What we’re eating this week: My friend sent me a week of Green Chef meals, and I am excited to get our first box tonight! I selected the Paleo option since it is better for my PCOS. If this goes well, maybe we will sign up for real! We did do Hello Fresh for a while, but finally stopped because we had a lot of boxes where the meats had leaked or stuff went bad. It definitely makes things easier when you take out the meal planning and shopping!

2. What I’m reminiscing about: The Facebook “On This Day” just reminded me that it was this day 2 years ago when Ryder took his first steps. Excuse me while I go cry over my bitty baby! Everyday Ryder blows me away with something new. He is growing up so stinking fast!

3. What I’m loving: Califia Farms Almond Milk Creamer. One of the hardest things for me the first time I gave up dairy was finding ways to still drink my coffee (I like a little coffee with my creamer). This stuff has been a life saver. It definitely isn’t as thick or rich as dairy creamer, but I am getting used to that and almost prefer it now! I find this creamer at Target.

4. What we’ve been up to: I told a friend the other day that I feel like I spend most of my time trying to keep us busy! I love making memories with our little family. On Saturday we took a day trip to the zoo in Abilene. It was fun! Ryder was great in the car, and did pretty well at the zoo. We will have to go back this Summer. We also did several fun things over Spring Break including painting pottery and a trip to Joyland! In our spare time we try to go out and visit Ryder’s horse. He’s getting pretty good about wanting to see her and give her treats. He also rode her for a minute a couple of weeks ago.



5. What I’m dreading: a super hot Summer! I feel like it has stayed unseasonably warm lately. I do love being able to play outside with Ryder, but I hate sweating. Hopefully it will stay in the 80s for a while longer.

6. What I’m working on: So many things. Right now, though, I am trying to raise money for the March of Dimes again. It has been something near and dear to my heart since Ryder was born. I had planned to take the year off, but after a friend suffered her second stillbirth I decided to walk in her sons’ honor. You can help me by donating here.

7. What I’m excited about: We are going on a cruise at the end of April! I am dreading leaving Ryder behind for over a week, but I am excited to go to 2 new ports that I’ve never seen before! We will be sailing the Eastern Caribbean.


8. What I’m watching/reading: Well our favorite shows: Timeless and This is Us are over for now so we had to find something new. We have watched all 6 episodes of Trial and Error so far and love it. It is so off the wall that it is funny! I think we have also seen enough Dateline’s and Investigate Discovery to appreciate all of the jokes. My mom and I also saw Beauty and the Beast during Spring Break and I loved it so much that I can’t wait to see it again! 


I have had an intense reading list this Spring. I am currently doing two Bible studies: How People Change and Gospel in Life. I have had so many “ah ha” moments out of Gospel in Life especially. In this last week this stuck with me the most, “He shows us that the way to lead is to serve.” I also have It Starts With Food and Intentional Parenting in my stack to read. We went to a great parenting conference in February, and I bought several of Sissy Goff and David Thomas‘ books!

9. What I’m listening to: a lot of Silly Songs with Larry 😉

10. What I’m wearing: So here’s the deal, I gave up shopping for Lent. I know, jaws are dropping. I wanted to save money, and I know that truthfully there is nothing I need. I did allow myself to buy things with a gift card I got for Christmas, though, since it was not my money 😉 I just ordered this shirt, and I think it will be perfect for our cruise. I even saved some money on my gift card to hold me over in case I need to shop again in the next 2 weeks!

11. What I’m doing this weekend: Eeeek! I am so excited for this weekend! My mom and I are going to the Hotel Garza in Post to do a murder mystery night! It is a roaring 20s theme, so I ordered us these accessories from Amazon!


12. What I’m looking forward to next month: We have something going on every weekend in April! It will be busy, but fun! I am looking forward to Easter, the March for Babies, oh and of course the cruise!

13. What else is new: lots more big changes are coming soon. I have a lot of thinking to do between now and the end of Summer. Good thing I have a graduate course to teach in June! That should keep my mind off things.

I promise I will work on this blog more, so until next time friends.

 

 

 

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What’s Up Wednesday

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In an effort to lighten things up around here I thought I would link up with Mix and Match Mama for What’s Up Wednesday! My previous What’s Up Wednesday post is here. I do want to say thank you, though, to everyone who has commented, messaged, and texted me about yesterday’s post! We are all in this together ladies!

WUWquestions-edit-969x1024What we’re eating this week– OUT, like all of our meals. It is ridiculous y’all! Chad has been obsessed with our new Indian food place (Tikka Shack) lately, and I have been loving Chipotle.

What I’m Reminiscing About– Where did my baby go? Ryder seems to grow up more each day. He is such a big kid sometimes!

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What I’m Loving– I have  been obsessed with blackberry lemonades from Sonic this Summer. Also, I am loving the cooler weather (just not all of the rain).

What we’ve been up to– Chad and I went to Ruidoso by ourselves a couple of weeks ago! It was a nice little getaway. Chad had a blast on the go carts! Other than that it is the same old same old.

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What I’m dreading– Potty training Ryder. Is that bad? I am really not looking forward to the training part. We have started a little, but we are definitely not committed yet.

What I’m working on– new blog posts 😉 Also, making a schedule/plan for my new job next week!

What I’m excited about– Joining a new MOPS group next week!

What I’m watching/reading– So I have been collecting quite a stack of books this Summer. I really hope to dive in soon! They include: Strong Willed Child, Have a new Kid by Friday, Switch on your Brain, and Raising Grateful Kids in an Entitled World. Sensing a trend? I have also been eyeing: Uninvited and Miracle Morning. As far as what we’ve been watching it was two full weeks of the Olympics! We are also excited that Camp Cutthroat is back!

What I’m listening to– My current favorite song is Something Wild by Andrew McMahon and Lindsey Stirling . I am a sucker for songs with lots of strings and piano.

What I’m wearing– So a friend got me hooked on LuLaRoe this Summer, and I cannot get enough! I looooovvvveee the leggings and Irmas! I also like the fun Cassie skirts. I was so excited to find this one because it is fun and classy!

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What I’m doing this weekend– I am off on a solo trip to Yuma, Arizona! My bestie lives out there, and I have not been in far too long! I am excited to visit the land of dates and have a night all to myself in a hotel 😉 I am also excited to get in lots of baby snuggles with her latest addition.

What I’m looking forward to next month– Texas Tech football! Guns up! Wreck ‘Em! Ryder is excited too, I mean how adorable is here in his Tech gear? I am just a little sad I am missing the season opener this weekend.

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What else is new- I start my part-time job next week! You can read all about that here.

Well that was a down and dirty catch up!

Until next time friends.

 

 

February 2016

Wow! I don’t even know where to start since I am soooo far behind! We have had the fun, not so fun, and busy every day life since the last time I posted. I am going to try to get caught up before July because we have a BIG trip coming up that I know you will want to read about 😉

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So February was the month of Ryder’s tonsillectomy, but we book-ended the month with 2 fun trips!

Our first trip in February was to Great Wolf Lodge in Grapevine. It was the trip we had scheduled for Ryder’s birthday, but we had to postpone it. Ryder did great in the car, even with a delay after we were rear-ended by someone who fell asleep at the wheel. Fortunately, no one was hurt and we were able to continue on with the weekend. We rushed to get changed into our suits the first night there, and unfortunately the water was pretty cold! Ryder wasn’t having it. He actually did not love the water park like we thought he would, and we didn’t spend much time in there. The resort itself was great for kids, though! The room was super cute! He loved the arcade and free ice cream (for his birthday). They also had cute little dance parties. We spent a lot of this trip trying to get Ryder to howl like the wolves that would howl throughout the hotel (see video below). We went to the Legoland that was close by after his nap on Saturday, and he did love that! He was just frustrated that he wasn’t tall enough to do all of the rides/play areas. We will have to go back when he is taller. We did the water park again on Sunday, then we stopped at the aquarium on our way out of town. He also loved that! He did so good on this trip! We will definitely try Great Wolf again. Hopefully the water is warmer and Ryder has a blast next time!

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When we came back we just had a few days before Ryder’s surgery. First up was my birthday and the March for Babies Kick-Off Luncheon. I had to give a speech to the room, then to my surprise they sang “Happy Birthday” to me! Ryder was not feeling well that day, so we were glad we had the surgery scheduled.

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Ryder had his tonsillectomy on Friday, February 12th. The surgery went well, and the ENT actually told us that Ryder’s tonsils fell apart as he was taking them out because they were so full of pus and rotten! I am SO glad we got them out as was the ENT! Ryder did great in recovery. He was still doped up on pain meds so he was having a ball eating popsicles and watching Mickey. He actually did great the first 24 hours or so, then the pain and swelling set in. It was ROUGH! He was a trooper, and still managed to smile most days, but man he felt terrible. We had to hold him down to force his meds down him. I also used every bribe in the book to get him to eat and drink… See his buffet of jello and pudding below. It was kind of funny that the only thing he would drink was green tea out of a straw (which is not recommended after this surgery, but they said it was fine to use a straw if that was the only way he would drink). My sweet brother brought him some ice cream on Valentine’s day, but he wasn’t feeling it. He also got lots of stuffed animals and balloons! We spent a lot of time coloring and watching Mickey that first week. About a week after surgery we had to take him to the ER because he spiked a temp and our instructions said we should go in if it was over a certain degree. Anyways, after some tylenol and motrin, they sent us home like we were crazy, over-reacting parents. #bettersafethansorry.  Ryder got to have a fun lunch date at Momma’s office in the latter part of his recovery. Then, as everyone had said, exactly 2 weeks after surgery Ryder was back to normal. It just clicked. All of a sudden he was eating and drinking again! I will say we had to keep him out of daycare for the full 2 weeks. He just didn’t have the energy even that second week. Our ENT doesn’t like to do the surgery on kids under 3 yrs/30 lbs, but I am so glad we have it out of the way. I also know Ryder has to feel a lot better without all that puss and infection all the time.

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To celebrate Ryder’s recovery, we took off on another road trip! We headed to Chad’s Aunt’s place in Ruidoso for the weekend. I had high hopes of snow tubing, but it was 70 degrees that day! They still had the man made chutes open, but Ryder hated it at first! It took quite a bit of convincing, then he had a ball! He kept saying “again”. It was kind of nice that it was warm while we were playing, but there was a LOT of slush and mud. For dinner that night we ate a new fancy place, and when we arrived there was this sign on the door (see below). I was terrified! Much to my surprise, Ryder was an ANGEL! He only made a peep as we were leaving. Another table even complimented his behavior! Score 1 for the two year old! We had breakfast both days at the Cornerstone Bakery, our favorite. They give the kiddos dough to play with, though, Ryder ate most of his! After breakfast we just did a little shopping before getting on the road to head back home.

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Some of Ryder’s new skills this month were: he would recognize the football stadium and say “ball” and “Steve” every time we drove by; he started to recognize his colors; he tried to brush his teeth by himself; he called himself “baby Ryder” in his pictures on our phones; said “happy birthday” and liked to blow out candles; he said “Tech” or “Go Tech” when he saw a Double T (#proudmomma)! He also “helped” us vote! And since we missed celebrating Valentine’s with his recovery, here are a few bonus pictures of how we celebrated at school and work 😉

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Next up March, April, May, June and a sponsored post! Ha! I better get busy!

 

Until next time friends.

 

 

Ryder Lane at 20 Months

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Busy… busy, busy, busy, busy. I try not to wish seasons of life away, ever, but man it is hard to stay caught up sometimes! Using this as Ryder’s baby book helps keep me accountable, though, so better late than never right?! For the record, I have had this ready to go for a couple of days, I just kept having technology issues.

So, month 20, we have ourselves a smart little booger!

I mentioned in the last post it was the Summer of strep, right? Well if not, let me say it again… BOOO! Ryder and Chad both had strep 3 times this summer. So from all of those doctor’s appointments I think by the end of month 20, Ryder was close to 23 pounds and 32.5 inches. I know he is over 23 pounds now because we have already had another sick visit, double BOO! 😦

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To keep from going crazy with all the sickies, we spent a lot of time playing outside and in the water this month. He never gets tired of it! We also made a couple more trips to the Leisure Pool, but we had some weird cold/rainy Sundays that kept us at home. Our friend Erica even joined us for a trip to the pool one day! Of course we had to have a little get together at our house while she was in town. The kids had so much fun playing!

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As to my smart little booger…. we have magnetic locks on all of the cabinets and big drawers. Here he is trying to figure it out. He can turn them off once the door is opened, and he has even tried to use the magnetic key to open them himself! Fortunately he hasn’t figured out that finesse yet.

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We have continued to be interested in books this month, and it is amazing how much Ryder picks up on! He knows a lot of his body parts now and follows along with the I Love You Through and Through book. He also enjoyed an Eric Carle zoo book with sounds.

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He also still loves to dance! His teacher even told us he is a dancing machine at daycare! I love this little video, and my dad says it is a glimpse into the future with him on his phone in the car :-0

Unfortunately we had to say a temporary goodbye to our cousin, Kelsay, this month. She is going to be living abroad for a while. Ryder was obviously distraught at her leaving! Ha!

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In addition to playing outside a lot this month, we found a few parks and made several trips to those playgrounds! Ryder loves it! He even tries to manage the big kid play grounds. We just have to make sure and catch him on the slide instead of focusing on getting a good picture 😉 In my defense, they are great pictures! He was just a little scared one time where he got going too fast.

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We made a trip out to the Bayer Museum one night this month for a fun food event. Ryder had a blast exploring!

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I can’t even keep up anymore with all of Ryder’s words. I try to write them all down in my phone but seriously some days its more than one new word a day! I know some of his new words this past month were: shoes, that, banana, car, quack, okay, balloon, hot dog, cheese, and no. He says “cheese” for the camera now (see picture below) 😉 ! The “no” was funny because previously when I said no he would shake his finger at me, but now he started saying “no no” and points to whatever it is he shouldn’t be doing. This video is of him saying “banana”, he usually makes a mess of the pronunciation and thinks its hilarious.

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As far as other new developments, he has started showing some pretend play. He will get in his little red car and wave bye to us. He is also starting to get a hold of things and “hide” them. He has thrown stuff in our bathtub and dirty clothes hamper. He can now climb on the couch by himself completely unassisted. He likes to give us heart attacks by hanging off the ends. He can walk backwards now as well. There was also one day where he got into the pantry, found the goldfish, brought them to me and signed “eat”. He can be crazy silly, and loves to put on a show for new people. Another new development is that he has started sleeping with ALL of his lovies, and seems to notice when one is missing… like when one desperately needs to be washed. I have finally ordered a back up pillowcase so maybe at least we won’t have to go through those tears again 😉

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Ryder’s fruit of the month was blueberries and he could eat up to half a container at a time. This month, though, he won’t touch them.

This is such a unique age. Ryder gives the best hugs and kisses and can make you melt into a puddle on the floor one minute…. then the next minute you can both be so frustrated that he is throwing a kicking, screaming fit! Ah, so much to look forward to with terrible twos. I have no idea where he gets his stubbornness and independence from. Ha!

I will leave you with more favorite pictures from this month.

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Until next time friends.

 

San Diego: A lot of firsts for Ryder!

Well I am finally getting around to blogging about our family vacation we took a couple of weeks ago! We survived! Haha I’m kidding, it was fun and Ryder was a great little traveler! I have wanted to go to San Diego for a while, and had even hoped to go there for a Babymoon when I was pregnant with Ryder. It never got it booked, which was fortunate, since we were a little surprised by his birthday! Anyways, my very best friend lives out in Arizona, just a few hours away from San Diego. I had it in my mind that we would go out there when her family could meet us, and I am so glad they did! It was such a fun weekend with our friends, and Ryder loved their little boy, Dalton!

We left here early on a Saturday. I will say, it is a breeze to go through security with a child! I guess they feel sorry for you lugging all the extra stuff around so they whisk you right on through! We were running late (shock I know) so Ryder and I boarded while Chad grabbed some breakfast. Ryder was taking everything in at first, looking out the window and playing with the magazines in the seat pocket. About half way through the flight, though, he started screaming! I am not sure if he was tired or bored, but there was a pilot in the seats behind us who handed Ryder a little stuffed animal to play with. Mind you, I had a whole bag full of toys and tricks to keep him entertained, but that little pink stuffed cat did the trick! Ryder was pretty quiet the rest of the flight! We had to give the stuffed animal back to the pilot so he could take it home to his daughter, but we hightailed it to find a stuffed animal in the Las Vegas airport before our next leg! We found a soft, orange cat at the Life is Good store, and Ryder still loves it! He watched the take off, then slept hard the rest of that short flight to San Diego while cuddling his new friend. It was kind of funny that the guy who sat next to us on that second flight was also flying out of Lubbock, and he asked if Ryder was the one who had been screaming! I bet he was glad he fell asleep so quick on that flight! Ha!

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Once we landed we had to wait a while at the rental car place. Here’s the deal, we chose to get a car seat from the rental car company instead of taking our beloved Britax. We didn’t want to risk damaging it with the way they handle luggage, not to mention the weight and bulk it would add to our luggage! Anyways, hindsight, so it ended up being a rather bare, forward-facing, convertible. I swore he would not ride forward facing for a long time, but by that point we didn’t have much choice. He did fine forward facing, and has gone back to rear facing at home without a fuss! We will probably take our own car seat next time.

Thanks to Pacific time, even after all of that traveling it was barely lunch time in San Diego! We met our friends for lunch at Miguel’s on Shelter Island. It was great Mexican food! It was also just a few blocks from our hotel, Humphrey’s Half Moon Inn. We booked it through Groupon, and it was a nice hotel for a great deal! We were able to check in a few hours early, and got ready for the beach! Ryder took a short nap on the way to Ocean Beach, but it had already been a very long day for him. He was NOT impressed when we first got there. The sand was hot! When he saw the water, he took off running for it… that is until a wave knocked him down :-(. It took a while for him to recover and warm up again. That water was FRIGID! Of course, he finally started enjoying the water and the sand right when it was time to leave!

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That evening we tried to eat at Anthony’s right on the water, but the wait was really long and the boys were tired. We ended up eating at their little stand outside, which was just as good! The guys actually had to go find diapers for Ryder since we had left them back at the hotel, and he was stinky! Nicole and I ordered the food and got the boys situated while they were gone. It was still a nice view and the weather was great. All in all, nice evening.

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Sunday, Father’s Day, was finally the day I would get to see the San Diego Zoo! I have always wanted to go there, and Ryder was a good excuse to make it happen ;-). We had California breakfast burritos at a fast food type place on the way. We arrived about 11, I think, which ended up being the perfect amount of time to get a full day in. Ryder was not feeling the stroller, he wanted to explore! It was a struggle for a while, but he did get out to see all of the animals! We saw tiger brothers who were 18 months old, a momma and baby hippo, pandas, a tasmanian devil, and even fed the giraffes! There were so many adorable baby animals! I had forgotten my big camera on this day so all of these are from my phone. Ryder was so cute waving at all of the animals, and was actually only scared of the fish and turtles! They had a kids area with a petting zoo and a playground. Both boys slept for a while in their strollers, and we stayed until pretty much closing time. By the end of the day, though, Ryder had been through 3 outfits! He had eaten A LOT of ice cream, and his tummy got a little upset. He acted like he felt fine by the time we walked out. He even danced while a band was playing!

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We went back to the hotel and got cleaned up, then headed to Little Italy. We ate some really yummy pizza at a unique kind of place, Filipis Pizza Grotto. You have to walk through an Italian market to get to the restaurant at the back. It was late by the time we were done, so we headed back to the hotel. I should mention, Ryder slept like a champ in the port a crib! We put it in a short hallway by the bathroom so that it would be dark and maybe a little quieter. He never even stirred each night!

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On Monday morning we hung out at the hotel pool for a little while. I don’t have any pictures from it, but it was a nice salt-water pool. After we got cleaned up, we headed to breakfast/brunch at Hash House a Go Go. It had been recommended to Nicole, and I am so glad it was! It is a funky little place, downtown I guess? There was still a wait on a Monday morning, but it was worth it! It was the best meal we had in San Diego! Chad had the eggs benedict and I had the french toast. So so good. The boys also had fun playing while we ate. When we finished, we headed over to Coronado Island. Our friends needed to head home so we only had about an hour on the island. I only wish I had known how gorgeous it was before we got there! We will definitely have to spend more time on that beach in the future. Golden sand, clear blue water, heaven. We were right in front of the old Hotel Del Coronado. Gorgeous! Just because the picture is funny, Chad wasn’t really dressed for the beach and had left his tennis shoes on! I wanted a picture by the water, and right as Nicole snapped a wave came up and got his shoes wet! Ha! I had put Ryder in a swimsuit, but it was way too big and kept falling down. Dalton also got nice and dirty before their drive home by playing in a big hole he found! Successful day at the beach if you ask me! 😉

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After we said goodbye to our friends (which was only a short good bye this time because now they are in our neck of the woods for a visit, yay!), I had this crazy idea that we should take Ryder to LegoLand in Carlsbad, CA. We were hoping he would nap on the way, but he just enjoyed the view. We got there at about 5 I think, and the parked closed at 8. I was hopeful there would be a discounted or prorated rate, but that didn’t start until 6. I bit the bullet and bought the full price tickets for 3 hours worth :-(. In the end, I am glad I did. Ryder LOVED it! They had a few rides he could do with us, which was fun, but he especially loved all of the Lego play areas! If we are being honest, I think Chad did too! The little mini Lego towns were really cool too. We played until closing time, then ate dinner in the LegoLand hotel. It was actually a really nice dinner, and Ryder was out cold on the ride back to San Diego!

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Tuesday was our last day in sunny San Diego, but we weren’t leaving until later in the afternoon. We had bought a 2 day pass to the zoo on Sunday because it was cheaper than 2, 1 day passes. We got up early, packed, and headed to Hash House a Go Go for round 2! Yes, it was that good! I had the chicken and waffle tower that day, it was to.die.for. with sage fried chicken and bacon waffles. The iced coconut mocha was also a nice start to the day! Ryder even loved his scrambled eggs! I think they have locations in Las Vegas too, so check them out! We made it back to the Zoo with about 4 hours to kill. We saw all of the animals we didn’t see the first day including the Koalas and Asian Big Cats. That baby orangutan was adorable too! The Zoo is huge (100 acres), but so nice and well kept! A lot of the exhibits allow you to see the animals under water and on land. They have tons of volunteers who know pretty much everything you ask them! They were also very helpful. Ryder did a lot better in his stroller this time, I think just because he was worn out! On the way out, we let Ryder picked a stuffed animal. He was pretty decisive, and picked a hippo! It is cute, but I don’t have a picture of it from there. He was funny trying to carry this big, round stuffed animal. My favorite souvenir, though, was this “handanimal” that they did at the Zoo. They made his hand print into a giraffe, and we have it hanging in his room now. So sweet!

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We made it to the airport and Ryder slept the whole first flight. We had a bit of a delay in Las Vegas, so we let Ryder run around at an empty gate we found. He ended up staying awake for about half of the second flight, but finally passed out. He actually pretty much stayed asleep all the way from the plane to his crib!

I am so glad we took Ryder on his first real vacation. I know he may not remember it, but I will always remember his smiles and excitement!

Up next, his 18 month post!

 

Show and Tell Tuesdays: Favorite Vacation Ever

Favorite Vacation Ever

I am doing something a little different today and linking up with Momfessionals for “Show and Tell Tuesday” on a Wednesday. This week is about your favorite vacation, and since I have been meaning to blog about mine for a year now… I figured let’s get to it! I did write this post on Tuesday, but I had technical difficulties getting my pictures to upload!

While our trip to Austria and Hungary last Summer was one of our most spectacular vacations ever, I have already blogged about that (in detail), so today I thought I would share my favorite trip prior to Europe…. our Alaskan cruise!

I had always, always wanted to go to Seattle and Alaska, so when Chad told me that he had earned the cruise in 2012 I was ecstatic! The ship left from Seattle, and because of flight availability, we were able to spend a few days there before and after the cruise.

Our first port on the cruise was in Juneau. We did an excursion to see Mendenhall Glacier and go whale watching. Side note… in the 3rd grade I distinctly remember writing that I wanted to be a marine biologist when I grew up. So I have always loved sea life! Mendenhall Glacier was breathtaking, and so awe-inspiring! They also showed us around the town where the glacier used to be, and how much it has melted. I highly recommend seeing it! I should also note that we just happened to be in Juneau on one of their very few sunny days a year. It was perfect whale watching weather. We saw a whole pod of humpback whales doing something they called “bubble net feeding”. Apparently it was quite the rare treat! I would really love to go to the San Juan Islands off of Washington sometime to go watch Orcas too.

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In Skagway we rode the train up to White Pass. It was a gorgeous ride with lots of waterfalls and even a bear cub! The town was really cute too.

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I was super excited about the ship going by Sawyer’s Glacier in Tracy Arm Fjord, but I remember there was something to do with the weather, so we weren’t able to get as close as they had planned. It looked like a really tight spot anyways! It was still beautiful, though, even from a distance! I was also fascinated with the prehistoric blue ice floating around it.

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I haven’t been on as many cruises as Chad, but we both thought the captain of this ship was hilarious! You could also understand all of his announcement’s over the PA, so that was a plus! We had a lot of fun on this ship, especially since it was too chilly to hang outside much.

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Our final stop was in Victoria, BC. We did the Butchart Gardens and the Butterfly Gardens. It was our only rainy day of the trip, but the gardens were so incredible! We went in June so everything was blooming and gorgeous! I think we could have spent all day at Butchart, but our time was split with the Butterfly Gardens. That was also cool, but super hot temperature wise! To go from being freezing to sweating was kind of crazy! We were not able to go in the famous Empress Hotel, but it was pretty from the outside! We also had fun just walking around Victoria! The sidewalk art was amazing!

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After Victoria, our ship headed back to Seattle. Once Chad and I realized how close the two are to each other, we felt like the ship just drove in circles all night to keep moving! As I said before, I was super ready to explore Seattle!

We were fortunate to stay close to Pike’s Place in Seattle. We were able to walk there several times. I had no idea how huge it was! We did get to see them throwing fish, but my favorite part was all of the fresh flowers including peonies! We also saw the original Starbucks! If you ever go, and the line looks ridiculous, never fear! It moves fast! The other highlights of Seattle were the Space Needle and the Chihuly Garden and Glass museum. We bought the pass for the Space Needle so that we could go during the day and at night, which I recommend. It was so fun to see the town both ways. I also highly recommend, no demand, that you see Chihuly if you make it to Seattle! I would have never known what I was missing if we didn’t stumble on it. Seriously, mind. blown.

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While we also did one of the boat tours around Seattle, I would suggest you do the Underground Tour. Our concierge at the hotel recommended it, and it was by far the best way to learn about the city! The history of it also helped me win an intense Trivial Pursuit game later on! Basically, Seattle as we know it today was built on top of the ruins of Seattle’s former existence. Think “skid row” era. Very interesting tour! I will add that Seattle has or at least had back in 2012, a very large and aggressive homeless population. As a former social worker, I am not intent on discussing the politics; however, I have never seen so many fights break out on the streets! They were also very vocal and yelled at everyone walking by. I would not have gone out without Chad right beside me.

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Unfortunately, I can’t remember all of the places that we ate at on this trip. I do know that we ate crab cakes in every town, though, just to compare! I also know that Serious Pie in Seattle was delish enough to post on Facebook!

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So there you have it! Our adventures in the Northwest, and I can’t wait to go back someday!

Vienna: Day 4

We only had the two full days to explore Vienna, and there was a lot to see! We slept late on Thursday morning, though, because we were both so worn out from the crazy schedules of the week. Once we got up, and had some breakfast, we made our way back to the Spanish Riding School.

My mom loves horses and kept telling us we should check this out. Somehow, we timed it just right. They were preparing for a big ball that was taking place the next day, so they only had one tour time available and it was about to start! We were able to see the hall where they normally perform (that was being transformed for the ball), the stables, and the tack room. In the tack room, the white saddles up high are the ones they use in performances. They are all custom made to fit the horses so they do not have to use pads. The different blankets, the green and the red and the different gold stripes on them, all signify things about the riders and the horses like what levels they are. We did learn that the first female rider to enter the school is an assistant this year and should be the first female rider to perform in shows in the next couple of years. It is a 10-12 year commitment in the school just to become a rider! We also saw some of Lipizzaner stallions! A lot of them were on vacation in the Alps to avoid the heat, but we saw some of the younger ones. There was a gorgeous dark horse in the stables and they explained that the stallions that stay dark, as opposed to turning white, are good luck! They only happen in about 1 in 100 of the births so they get a free ticket to the School. It was so neat to take in all of the history and tradition. I only wish we could have stayed for the ball! Haha! It is actually really expensive to get in, and the cheapest tickets just get you a spot to stand- no food, drinks, or dancing!

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We had lunch at a really yummy sushi spot that afternoon. I didn’t even take any pictures, probably because we were starving! Chad says it was the best California roll he ever ate. I agree, it was all pretty tasty. After lunch we met back at the Opera House for a walking tour of the downtown Vienna area. We were really kind of disappointed we had not done this tour sooner, as there was a lot to see on foot. Our guide was having to speak two different languages, and it was hard to hear her, so we decided to break off and explore on our own.

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We viewed the St. Stephen’s cathedral from the outside, and we went inside of St. Peter’s. It was so incredibly ornate! The statue was kind of in-between the two churches and represents the Holy trinity with its 3 levels. On the way back to the hotel we stopped for a traditional Viennese pastry, the sachertorte. It is basically a chocolate cake with a layer of apricot jam. Chad wasn’t overly impressed. I thought it was pretty good, but I agreed that I did not see what all of the fuss was about! It was pretty unique. We were told that when Austrian people travel to the states, they bring one of these cakes from the original Cafe Sacher as a gift. I guess the cakes grow on you 😉

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The farewell dinner that night was another favorite! We went to one of Beethoven’s old summer homes that is now a winery. The story was that this was the house where Beethoven realized he was deaf. There is a church right next door, and one morning he could see the bells ringing but could not hear them. The wine taverns in Vienna are called “Heurigers”. Chad and I actually almost ate dinner there the night before just on our own, but fortunately I looked at our itinerary again and realized we should wait! It was such a fun atmosphere. The red wine was so great that we brought home 2 bottles! They had a buffet of traditional Viennese dishes, including the Wiener Schnitzel. It was all pretty tasty, especially the apple strudel and bread pudding for desert. They had polka music and dancers as well as the Salzburg Children’s Choir performing for us. It was really a fantastic farewell to Vienna.

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I am so grateful that Chad earned this opportunity, and that we took it! It was hard to leave Ryder, but I hope he always takes opportunities like this when they are given to him as well. It is so fascinating and important to visit and learn about other cultures.

The next morning we made our long journey home and we were finally reunited with him! Ryder was all smiles all weekend, and I have soaked up every minute of him this week. I think he is even more adorable now, if that is possible. You know what they say, though, absence makes the heart grow fonder!