Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Labor Day

We spent Labor Day weekend in Huntertown canning all the tomatoes, sauces, and relishes I mentioned in a previous post. It took us about 12 hours on Saturday (with a break for supper) to can everything. The boys were great during this time so we rewarded them with a trip to the Ft Wayne Zoo on Sunday.

The Ft Wayne Zoo is about 4 times larger than the Pottawatomi Zoo in South Bend. We haven't been there since Ben was around 1 yr old.

The zoo has a lot of hands on exhibits and fun places for kids to play, such as this jeep in the Africa exhibit.

Looking at the pelican. We also saw some native ducks, geese, and frogs in the ponds.

The lion says "roar".

We loved being so close to the giraffes!

Being hatched from an egg.

Playing bongos in Africa.

Sam loves to poke eyes.

The Indonesia exhibit also had a lot of fun things to explore and make noise with like the bells above and the gong below.

Scientist Ben looking at bugs and bones up close.

Ben sporting his favorite Star Wars shirt.

Ben took this picture of Mommy. He loves to take pictures and does a pretty good job.

Trying out the hammocks in Indonesia.

The boys were so excited about coming to the zoo. All day Saturday Sam would go around the house saying, "Zoo? Zoo!" with both hands in the air.

Ben was excited to see all the animals and because we were literally the first ones in the gate at the zoo. Of course, we made it through the zoo fairly quickly since once we found the animals at each exhibit Ben would ask, "can we go see the next one?".

The sea lions were very playful. There were 5 of them in a very large tank and two of them would come swimming toward us on their backs like the one above.

In front of the tropical penguin display. Sam says, "waddle, waddle".

There were several different rides the zoo had to offer including a carousel, sky ride (gondola), and pony rides. Of course there were train rides but we decided against that since we can do a train ride at our local zoo. The boys loved Little Poof to climb on instead of taking a ride on the actual choo-choo.

Both boys enjoyed the Nemo aquarium.

We decided to take the boys for a log boat ride since it wasn't something we could do somewhere else. This was one of the last things we did before leaving so the boys were pretty tired (it took us 3 hours to go through it all). Both boys perked up once we started going on the ride.

Had to take a picture by the bees for Pop Pop Stephens.

A dog house in the farm exhibit.

The boys loved to pet the goats especially since our goat exhibit is closed for the year.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Kansas and Colorado

We took our yearly trip to Kansas at the end of August to spend time with Jackie's family and to go to Colorado for Dave's cousin's wedding.

Every night Ben and Sam would feed Missy and Quizno an apple. I think it was the highlight of their day. Ben would always run as fast as he could from my parent's house to the fence. 

A big thank you to Uncle John and Mark (and anyone else) that worked in the heat to have the fence ready for the horses. The boys always talk about how much they like them!

Showing off their new rides. Sam got this car for his birthday and Ben got a balance bike complete with Jake the Pirate helmet. 

On Wednesday we went to Crown Plaza to Sea Life as a family. It shares the same building with Lego land which is why these big characters were outside.

Here we are waiting for our tickets. Sam is trying to climb up the fake rocks/coral.

Sea Life was a very kid-friendly aquarium that Ben still talks about. They had a lot of fun ways to see the fish up close like these bubbles.

Sam was a little short for some of the things but that didn't stop him.

This tunnel was really cool because it had large animals like lemon sharks that swam right over you.

The jelly fish were cool because the lights changed colors.

Pop Pop joined in with the boys to build a lego sand castle.

This look out had a glass bottom so you could see sting rays and skates closer.

Mom in the aquarium.

The boys liked brushing the sand away to find "fossils". (Ben is really getting into dinosaurs.)

For lunch we stopped at Fritz's to watch the choo-choos.

Crown Plaza had a free exhibit about the environment that we decided to check out. Here's my mom trying out a smart car.

The boys learned about recycling and sorting items.

The bike turned on a light if you rode fast enough.

Ben driving the garbage truck.

Sam picking apples.

They had different rooms were you learned about ways to make a difference in your community like saving electricity and shopping locally.

Scientist Ben learning about solar power.

Going for a ride on the farm in Uncle John's 4-wheeler.

Uncle John, Amanda, Great Grandpa and Great Grandma came over so we hung out on the porch. Mark and Lacey's dog Newt kept us entertained by playing fetch (some Izzie never does).

Hugs for Great Grandpa and Great Grandma.

On Thursday, Dave and I drove about 9 hours to Denver without the boys. We didn't think it would be fair to have them in the car 4 out of the 7 days we would be on vacation. So, Grandma and Pop Pop Wallace enjoyed the opportunity to spoil the boys while we were away. 

Here's a picture of the sun setting behind the mountains from our hotel room.

On Friday, the morning of the wedding, Dave and I decided to try out Denver's bike-sharing (Bcycle) program. It's kind of like a Red Box for bikes. You pay a fee for renting them for 24hrs then depending on how long you ride is how much it costs for the day. They weren't the most comfortable cruisers but it was a different way to enjoy Denver's massive amount of bike trails.

The nice thing about their program was that we could dock our bike somewhere, walk around, then find another location somewhere else rather than walking back to the original bike rack.

We walked up to the capital building.

Here I am at exactly 1 mile about sea level (the gold circle to the right of me).

Later that night was Rachel and Debesh's wedding. Here's Dave's parents at the wedding.

Here we are without any kids! We read a Bernstein Bear book to the boys before our trip about Mama and Papa Bear going on a second honeymoon while the cubs stayed with their grandparents. I think it helped Ben to understand a little better about what was going on.

Dave's mom took a picture of Aunt Jan since she refused to let us take a willing picture. (She was QUITE the dancer at the reception!)

The newly weds!

The wedding party.

Aunt Joyce (mother of the bride) talking to Dave's dad.

Rachel and older sister (matron of honor) Erin.

Rachel and sister Suzi.

Rachel and sister Ashley.

It was a beautiful wedding and luckily the rain held out. It was nice to spend some time with relatives that we don't see very often.

On Saturday Dave and I headed back to Kansas. We stopped in Salina to have a late lunch with Dave's friend Jason who he worked with at the newspaper in Hutchinson.

On Sunday we celebrated the boys' birthdays. Ben was a little confused and asked if this meant he was 5. I had to explain that we were just celebrating so many times so that we could celebrate with different people.

The boys loved the pirate themed party.

Uncle John and Aunt Brenda - the boys LOVE the wildcat blankets. Sam loves to point at any Wildcat and point to himself and growl. I think we have a future Wildcat on our hands and it make Mommy proud!

Family pictures...

Great Grandpa and Great Grandma Wray

Four generations

Wray cousins: Erik in the middle, Amanda in front, Mark and Lacey to the right

Wray grandkids

It was then time to say goodbye to the horses since we left bright and early the next day.

Which meant we had to read some stories before bed.

Monday was one of the hottest days we've had this summer which made for great traveling weather (hear the sarcasm?) We stopped at Hannibal, MO around 10am and it was miserably hot already.

The boys enjoyed playing on the new playground equipment and seeing the boats.

Then we climbed the mountain to the light house.

Sam doing his best to keep up with Bubba.

This was the first time Dave and I ever walked up to the lighthouse. It was too hot to do much exploring.

A view of Hannibal from the top.

From the time we left Ottawa around 5am local time until the time the sun rose, we watched a lightning show in the sky. A couple hours into Illinois, the lightning turned to a major downpour of rain. But we still made it home by 7pm our time if I remember correctly. The boys did great traveling and we really broke in our new mini-van with our trip.

A huge thank you to everyone that came out to spend some time with us during our quick trip. We wish we could have had more time to see more people.