Sunday, February 21, 2010

Easing the Winter Blues

Got out of Dodge so to speak this week. The kids had Thursday and Friday off of school because of conferences, so we took off. I love to travel, see new things, and when I see something different and cool, I take note. I have a file folder of things I want to see some day and places I want to go. It keeps getting bigger :) But this week I got to mark off one of the places I have been wanting to go--The Arbor Day Foundation's Lied Lodge. We drove north Thursday morning to Nebraska City, NE to the Arbor Day Farm to stay in the Lied Lodge. This is a picture of the kids from the back of it. Now normally to get rid of winter blues you would go someplace warmer, but no, we didn't do that, we went some place colder and with more snow, but it definitely cured the winter blues for us. The Lied Lodge is a huge, amazingly awesome place, but cozy with a big fire in the lobby, leather chairs, rockers everywhere, a cute gift shop that my kids hit every five minutes causing the lady working to ask laughingly "do you even go to school?" It has an Olympic sized indoor pool that we had all to ourselves--super fun. Huge logs are everywhere in the interior. It reminds me of the cool Yellowstone Lodge. It was awesome to go in the winter because we were the only ones there, but now we want to go back in the spring and see all the trees out.

There were about 7 deer in this spot right before we got there. Of course, we aren't the quietest people, and we scared them off.

A short walk from the Lodge is the Tree Adventure. It is a huge area with trails, tree houses, bridges, and fun sculpture things along the way--and fun places to take pictures.

The 3 bears' chairs were out along the path, so we got a papa bear, momma bear, and little baby bear picture.

They had a lot of cool outdoor things to do including these awesome xylophones that Ben and the kids enjoyed playing and making music for a long time. Again, we were the only ones in the place, so we could stay as long as we wanted and play, play, play.

This is us in the lobby. The picture doesn't do it justice. It is 3 stories high and just beautiful!

After our day/night in Nebraska City we drove 45 minutes farther North to Omaha to go to the amazing Henry Doorly Zoo. We LOVE this zoo! We go there at least once a year. Omaha is about a 4 1/2 hour drive for us. It was cold, windy, and snowing, but thankfully the smart zoo people have almost all the animals inside of really cool buildings. The penguins were a favorite, but Miss E really liked this Octopus.

Miss O and Miss A in the butterfly house. Did you know that butterflies only live 1-4 weeks? They have a butterfly nursery in the butterfly house and they get 500 butterfly cocoons a week that they "hatch" there and then put in the butterfly house. Super cool place! (even though it was very warm in there!)

Mr J drives the safari jeep away in the Jungle as we head for our hotel home to swim. Saturday morning Ben and I were able to attend the Winter Quarters Temple also, which one of the main reasons we went on the trip. So where have you always wanted to go? I was excited I found the Lied Lodge. Sometimes the coolest places are little tucked away things that you don't ever hear much about. I heard about it when I joined the Arbor Day Foundation. So, our winter blues are eased a bit now, and I think we can handle the next (hopefully) few weeks of winter :) but I am already planning when we can get back up to the Lied Lodge again in the spring!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Valentine's Traditions

These are my kids with my mom, their Nana, at her house for our Valentine's dinner. This tradition started with my great-grandma. When my grandma (DeeDee) was a girl growing up with her 5 sisters, on Valentine's day her mother would shoo the girls out of the kitchen and dining room, and they were not allowed in until dinner, and they had to be in their Sunday best. When they came into the dining room they found it decorated beautifully, best china out, and a big box in the center. Inside the box were wrapped presents with a ribbon attached to each present. The ribbon came out of the box and went to each assigned plate. The girls and their parents sat down to a wonderful dinner, and when everyone had cleared their plate the girls were allowed to pull their strings. Then they got to open their little present. Then my grandma grew up, got married, and started doing this same valentine's dinner for her kids (my mom and siblings) then my mom grew up, got married and started doing the same dinner for me and my siblings. (Thankfully we didn't have to dress up.) We are lucky enough to live in the same town as my parents. So, on Valentine's day we are lucky enough to continue the tradition with my kids at Nana and Grandpa's. My siblings, cousins, aunts and uncles all over wherever they live also have their own valentine's dinner with their valentine's box. The presents aren't big things, it isn't another Christmas, but just a fun little thing, a book, lotion, candy, etc--pull the ribbon to get a prize and know you are loved! Traditions are a sweet thing.

Mr J got to come to Miss O's school valentine's party. They had an ice cream sundae bar! Yum-O! The kids loved it! Mr J was excited he got to have one too!

Miss O and Mr J enjoy their ice cream sundaes at her school Valentine's party.

Mr J at his preschool Valentine's party. Love his smile.

This is where we decided to display the contents of our family Valentine's box that we made earlier in the month. Talk about some creativity! Look at all the love! Good stuff!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Sharing the Love

The kids are all ready for their Valentine's school parties tomorrow. After about a week of work, they finally got their valentines done! Mr J did a melted crayon heart that says "You Color my world." Miss E did an mp3 player, which is a candy heart box wrapped in paper with chocolate kisses earphones. Miss O did a robot with candy bar feet and lifesaver eyes that says "URG8 Valentine!" and Miss A created some cute cupcake ones "You are cute as a. . . cupcake" and the cupcake is hidden in a pocket that you take it out of. Cute stuff!
A picture from earlier in the week with everyone working hard on their Valentines.

I didn't find any hearts to hang at the store, so I just cut some out of heavy card stock to hang up. I am loving my cricut!

So it is the weekend of parties coming up. . . valentine parties at school, Olympic party Friday night, Valentine party at church Saturday, then our family Valentine party/dinner Sunday. Whew! Lots of love to share this weekend! Hope you get lots of love too!

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Family Valentine's Box

Usually the first Monday night in February for family night we decorate our family valentine's box. We did this one last Monday. Each of the kids gets to decorate a side, and Ben and I share in decorating a side. We have the box out on a desk in the library, and then all the days up until Valentine's we can fill it with valentines for people in our family. Then sometime on Valentine's day we open it up as a family and get our valentines. The kids love this. Some years they go pretty crazy and are mass producing valentines right and left. We don't buy store valentines, we just make them on our own. Last year I think Miss E and Mr J had made at least 6 valentines for everyone in the family. Watch out Hallmark, here come my kids!
Our 2010 Family Valentine's Box
Can't you just feel the love???

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Tired of snowmen?

Try a snow octopus!

Courtesy of Ben and the kids.