Sunday, February 28, 2010


This weekend, the three of us went to Fort Worth to participate in the 2010 Cowtown.

Friday evening, we had dinner at the Spiral Diner with Kara, Kellen, and Kenny & Coco. We had a lot of fun and enjoyed the food - especially dessert!

Saturday morning, it was FREEZING! I had a short-sleeve t-shirt, long-sleeve t-shirt, sweatshirt, and jacket on, but I was still SO cold! Of course, Mira was well bundled, but she didn't like her mittens because she soon realized she couldn't sign to us with them on! Fortunately, she didn't have to stay outside too long; Aunt Coco and Mira hung out in the nice, warm Barnes & Noble that overlooks downtown Fort Worth. Apparently, they had fun looking at loads of books and handing out small stuffed animals to complete strangers.

Kenny, Kara, and I were doing the 5K while my brother Kenny was running his first 1/2 Marathon!! Kenny (my hubby) finished the 5K 8th in his age group with a time of 20 minutes 44 seconds, and my brother Kenny finished the half marathon 147th in his age group with a time of 2 hours 3 minutes - both of them did great!  Kara and I kept up a nice jog the whole way and finished 350th with a time of 45 minutes and 25 seconds - we were pretty pleased with ourselves!

Mira made her Uncle Kenny a sign to cheer him on! It originally said "Go Uncle Kenny! 13.1 is your lucky number!" but it some how lost a few characters...he wondered why 31 was his lucky number for a second, but he eventually got the idea!

Good Job, Guys!!! chips and guac from Wholly Guacamole after the race! Yum!

It warmed up nicely by the end of the race and turned out to be a beautiful day. Too bad we needed to head back home after lunch. We thought about making a spontaneous trip to the FTW Zoo, but it was prime napping time for Mira, so we decided to take advantage of that and get on the road. If only we knew then what we know now...Mira didn't sleep a wink the entire drive home!! Argh!

So proud of both of my Kenny's! Kara, I had fun trying to keep up with you - I totally would have walked if it weren't for you!! And a great big Thank You to Aunt Coco for hanging out with Mirabelle and keeping her nice and warm and entertained!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Branson with the Balms

So, we spent this last weekend in Branson, MO where we met my friend Erika, her husband Michael, and their 19 month-old son Ben. We are trying to visit each other about every 6 months, but somehow we got started off on a bad schedule - us going to NE in the winter and them coming to LA in the summer! So, to get things switched around, we decided to meet in the middle this time, and it turns out that Branson was a good half-way point for both families.

Kenny and I decided to start our 6 hour drive on Thursday evening after dinner and Mira's bath in hopes of her sleeping the majority of the way. She did a great job of snoozing. She only woke up after about 3 hours when we stopped at a gas station, but she was very happy and then went right back to sleep once we all piled into the car again! Couldn't have asked for anything more!

We arrived at the "resort" at 1:30 a.m. - just a bit later than the Balms. Both kiddos were wide awake and ready to play when we got to the hotel! We were in such "awe" of the ammenities when we arrived! Turns out, we chose the part of the "hotel" that was actually a motel! I would compare the room to a Super 8! But, we were all so tired from the drive, we could only laugh ourselves silly about the situation. How do they make the rooms look so good online??? It was convenient, however, that we had adjoining rooms, and this was a big entertainment factor for Mira and Ben - they loved opening, closing, and knocking on the doors. After investigating our digs and a little bit of playtime, we finally all got to bed around 2:30 in the morning.

Knock, knock - who's there??

It's Ben!!!

Ben has firetrucks on his p.j.'s (there was a firetruck in the book they were looking at).

Sharing a plate of popcorn - they ate a lot of popcorn in those two days!

Our curly head!

T.V. on....T.V. off...T.V. on...T.V. off......

Mira seems to be giving Ben a piece of her mind about what channel he's picked, and he seems to be tuning her out completely. Ahhh, it starts....

Mira woke up at her usual time - 5:30 a.m., but we managed to give her some milk and get her to lay back down with us for about an hour (lucky us).

Apparently, Branson is a seasonal town, and February is in the "off-season." Tons of places were either closed or had abbreviated hours until March. The bright side of this was that we didn't have to battle crowds anywhere we went!

That first day, we started things off at The Butterfly Palace which proved to be a big hit with the kids and adults alike! A rainbow of butterflies fluttered here and there throughout the "rainforest" upstairs, so I think I will do a seperate post of just butterfly/flower pics. Ben and Mira were dazzled by all the butterflies, benches and chairs to climb on, water features to look at, and flowers to "touch" (okay, so maybe a little more than touching went on, but we're not supposed to tell).

There was also a 3D movie about insects (we saw most of it before the toddlers decided they were done), and a mirror maze which we avoided entirely (I think it would have freaked me out). Downstairs, there was a nice display of amphibians and reptiles which Mira really enjoyed; she got to meet (touch and stick her tongue out at) a Blue-Tongued Skink! One of Ben and Mira's favorite parts was the long ramp walkway that took you from level 1 to level 2 of the building. They made multiple trips up and down it - hurtling themselves forward at full speed, totally out of control, and threatening to tumble head over heels all along the way. What fun!!

I love Ben's "pointer" - always at his chin. Too cute!

Blue-Tongued Skink sticks it's tongue out at Mira.

Mira sticks her tongue out a Blue-Tongued Skink!

We had lunch then went back to the hotel and put Mira down for a nap while the Balms went for a drive to try and get Ben to nap, since he wasn't interested in napping at the hotel. Kenny and I decided to do a little reading, but we both ended up snoozing, too.

After naptime, it was time to hit the indoor waterpark at our hotel!! After seeing our "hotel" rooms, you would have expected the "Indoor Waterpark" to be a slide with a waterhose and an inflatable kiddie pool. But, it was very nice, actually! We were pleasantly surprised by the size and the number of features. There was a toddler pool (maybe a foot deep) and a few kiddie-sized slides that Ben and Mira went down over and over again. There were also big waterfalls and larger pools for bigger kids/adults. Kenny and Michael went down the big slide, and seemed to really enjoy themselves. Erika had to abstain because she's preggers, and I abstained because I'm a scaredy-cat when it comes to water slides. There was also a little "Lazy River" on the second level that we all enjoyed for a long time.

Not bad!
Doesn't Erika make a cute preggers lady?!
Hey, you! Enough with the pictures! Geez - what's up with all the paparazzi?!

This is the slide Mira went down no less than 50 times!

Action shot of Ben making his way down the slide!

Daddy is so fun!

Splash, splash, splash!

Kick, kick, kick!!
The lazy river had some treacherous spots! Ben gets nailed by a waterfall! He didn't seem to mind too much.

This is another spot that we would have to time just right, so Mira didn't get a bucket of water on her head - just a few splashes. She was quite a sport considering how much she fusses when bath water is poured over her head!

The "big kids" in line to go down the big slide!

We decided to bring dinner back to the hotel rather than dragging our worn out children to a restaurant after all that activity. The guys went to hunt and gather (Michael "hunted" and Kenny "gathered") while Erika and I stayed and got Mira and Ben down to bed. We had adjoining rooms, so we put both pack-n-plays in our room and were able to hang out in the Balm's room. They brought us back yummy Fuddruckers (yes, they have a great veggie burger - though probably not vegan).  We stayed up late watching the Olympics and discussing everything from Tiger Woods (I don't think he's sorry at all!!) to parenthood to CEO's who care.

The next morning we went to a dinosaur museum. Again, due to the seasonal nature of Branson's attractions, it was sort of "slim pickin's" as far as toddler-friendly activities. We were only a little concerned when we pulled up, and saw a hearse parked infront of the building which said not only "Dinosaur Museum," but also "Haunted House & Monster Asylum"! Yikes! Fortunately for us, the scary stuff was totally seperate from the kid-friendly display of dinos.

The dinosaur museum was so-so, but it did get a great reaction out of Ben, who learned what dinosaurs say! (Not sure what happened with this video, but it's really only about 20 seconds long - the rest is just black, so don't waste your time waiting for more!)

It was short and not totally mind-blowing, but it was only ten bucks, so we figured it was worth it - the kids seemed to enjoy being free to run all over the place and roar as loud as they could (since there were no crowds, we were okay with this).

I love this shot - looks like a T-Rex is about to sneak up on this happy, unsuspecting pair! Oh NO!!

I'm not afraid of you Mr. T-Rex!!

Mira found this stuffed wooly mammoth to love on in the gift shop. Thank goodness she's still at the age of distraction; we were able to slip it out of her hands and move on with no problems!

The best part of the dinosaur museum was a bounce house in the lobby! I think it was supposed to be $4.00, but there was no one taking money, so we enjoyed a solo tour of the bounce house for FREE! Mira and Ben (along with Daddies for safety, of course) got to bounce 'til their hearts' content all by themselves in this big bounce house! They got pretty good at walking around in there and only came within inches of bonking heads once or twice. Actually, Mira did not bounce until her "heart's content" - she threw a fit when we got her out! She had so much fun in there and wanted to go back in!

We had lunch and went back to the hotel for afternoon naps. This time, we decided to put the pack-n-plays in our room like we had for bedtime the night before and see if both would nap at the hotel. It worked like a charm! They slept so well, that they didn't even stir when the fire alarm went off!! It was super-annoying and rang for about 15 minutes before someone finally came over and shut if off. An alarm was right beside our doors, so it was incredibly loud - we were all shocked that neither of them woke up! Thankfully, there was no fire after all.

The second day, we didn't spend quite as long at the waterpark, and Erika and I chose not to "dress out" - we just followed Daddies and Babies around with our cameras. It was a humid 84 degrees in the park. This is very cool if you are soaking wet in a bathing suit, but if you are dry and clothed - it is sweltering! After Kenny and Michael each went down the big slide a second time, we headed out with our tired tots.

For dinner, we drove all over Branson trying to find a restaurant that was suggested by our "concierge" (ha!!). They told us the name of the restaurant, but neither of our GPS's could find it, nor could Kenny or Michael find it on their Blackberries. Eventually, we called the "concierge" (ha!) again, and got an address - turns out Missouri's best Mexican food is found at "Elenita's" not "El Anita's"! Well, it was good food and GREAT margarita's once we found the place!

The next day it was time to pack up and head home. Ben and Mira had a little time to play that morning and ended the trip with the best moment EVER! Erika asked Ben to give Mira a hug good-bye, so he walked over to Mira and wrapped his arms around her, and then she wrapped her arms around him and they gave each other a big hug!! It was so adorable!!!! It made us very sad to have to say good-bye.

Mira did not do so well on the drive home. Out of all 6 hours of driving time, she only slept 1 1/2 hours! The rest were spent very fussy! Kenny and I took turns acting ridiculous and singing songs to try and keep her entertained. Boy, do we hate road trips!!!

We had so much fun with the Balms! I think it was a successful trip despite our lodgings and the fact that half of Branson was closed for the winter! We definitely made the most of it! Looks like our next visit will be late this summer. We will fly up to NE and see all four Balm's - the new baby (sure wished I knew the gender) will be about a month old by then! Already looking forward to it!