28 July 2012

Visit with Nana and Papa, July 2012

Usually, twice per year, we have an opportunity to visit Brian's parents (the boys Grandparents) in Missouri.  We visited last week and had a wonderful time together!

A Springfield, Missouri tradition: Pineapple Whip.  I was a Pineapple Whip virgin until this week.

One of our favorite summer traditions with Nana and Papa is attending a Springfield Cardinals baseball game.  This is our second minor league baseball game of the season and we love it!

Oliver really seemed to "get" the game this time.  He loved watching how fast the men ran and watching the numbers flash up on the monitor telling us how fast the ball was being pitched.  But what really seemed to get Oliver's attention during this game was his hope for a fly ball:

Sweet boy kept his arms up in the air for quite awhile.  He kept thinking at any minute, a ball was going to come flying his way.

He went home empty handed.  But, just as he patiently waits for a tornado to come to his house, he will patiently wait to catch a fly ball next time.

Since Nana and Papa live near Branson, they wanted take the boys to the Silver Dollar City theme park, where we had a lot of fun.  One of the things I was most excited about experiencing was the Wallenda Family Circus.  I didn't realize until we were sitting well into the program that Nik Wallenda (top left) is the guy who just tightroped across Niagra Falls last month.  What was almost as impressive was the lady in the chair who stood on the chair which was on top of the two men on bikes who were balancing on a tightrope with no net below them is Nik's mom, Delilah!  Nik is in his early thirties so his mother must be in her fifties.  Apparently, Karl Wallenda, Nik's great-grandfather, died in 1979 after falling from a tightrope in Puerto Rico.  He was 73.  Really cool to experience this 7 generation family of the Flying Wallendas.

After the Circus, we enjoyed riding the Silver Dollar City Train where there was a train "stick-up." 

The boys were pretty precious...they bordered on believing it and realizing it was a joke.  Either way, they enjoyed being "robbed."  Brian gave them each a quarter so that the "robbers" were able to take money from them (and give them a high-five).  The money went to charity.  It was all really cute.

Thankfully, the train conductor ended up getting control of the situation and we were back off on to our train ride.

But more exciting than the Wallenda Family Circus or the Train stick up for Oliver was his first roller coaster.  It may have been small but it was a roller coaster nonetheless.  We tried to get him to go when we first go to the park but he was too frightened.  By the end of the day, though, he was ready and confident.  First, he went with Mommy.  Then, he went with Nana.  He was very proud of himself.  And, knowing that he still struggles with high anxiety on a daily basis, we were so very proud of him!

This was also Bennett's first roller coaster.  Bennett is fairly fearless so it didn't surprise us that he wanted to join the ride, too.  Don't let the picture above fool you, though.  Bennett's crying when he got off the roller coaster wasn't because he was scared.  It was because he wanted to go again.  :)  However, it was the last ride of our day so it was time to go home.  Bennett was less than thrilled with that decision.

Oliver and his Papa

Bennett and his Nana

We had a great time in Missouri, despite the Texas-like heat.  Thank you, Nana and Papa, for the good food, the fun activities and for the multiple free babysitting/date nights you gave Brian and me!!  We love you guys and look forward to seeing you again soon!!

25 July 2012

A trip to North Carolina, Part 2

This post is the second of two posts about our recent trip to North Carolina.  To see the first part, click here.

Five years ago, Brian and I, along with two other couples we met in college, began an annual tradition of vacationing together each summer.  It has become one of the things we look forward to all year long.  This year was no exception.

Brian and Laura are Oliver's godparents.
This year, we all gathered at the home of our friend Brian and Laura in North Carolina.  Brian is a medical student at UNC.  Laura works for the charity World Vision.

Matt and Emily are Bennett's godparents.

Our friend Matt and Emily (from Missouri) joined us as well.  Matt is a high school science teacher.  Emily is a nurse.

One of the most favorite things we like to do when all of us get together are to cook and eat.  This year, four year-old Oliver decided he wanted to help out in the kitchen too!

Laura is a great cook and made Oliver's cooking experience lots of fun.

Two of my favorite boys.

Bennett decided to join in once the big mixer came out. What little boy doesn't love things that turn fast and make loud noises?

The Men.  
The Ladies. (We had a girls' brunch at the Carolina Inn.  I loved the history and the girly fun!)

The babies.

The real baby.  Inside.  Emily and Matt's first baby due in a few months!

One morning, the girls and I were chatting in the kitchen when we noticed all the guys huddled around their electronic gadgets.  This was a frequent sight throughout the week.  And let's be honest, the addiction starts early.  The little boys were as enthralled as the big boys.

It turns out, they were playing this pretty cool game on the iPad where each of the guys' iPhones were controllers.

Emily and Laura - I love these girls! :)

One afternoon, Brian (not my Brian, the other one) took us to see where he takes classes at the University of North Carolina Medical School.

Bennett tried to skip his naps.  But sometimes, he just couldn't do it.

Brian, the boys and I had a chance to briefly visit Duke while we were in Durham.  When I asked the boys to smile for a picture with Brian, Oliver put his fingers up on his head and said, "Look, I'm the Duke Chapel!"

"Uncle" Matt plays "Wee-wee and Buth (Woody and Buzz)" with Bennett.  Bennett loves little figures and playing with little people toys.

Sweet Emily loves on Bennett.

Of course, while we were away, we had to do treatments.  A few days in to our trip, I realized I forgot to pack enough breathing treatment medication to make it until we left.  I tried to contact the pharmacy but the only way to resolve this issue would have been to purchase an entire month's supply of medication for only a few days worth of the medication we needed.  So, I turned to Facebook and asked the moms who lived in the area if they could help.  Thanks to my sweet friend, Kelli, she was able to contact her friend and fellow CF mom, Gretchen, in Durham who offered to help me within 24 hours.  Brian and I felt so blessed to have such a wonderful and understanding CF community to help us out!

Each year, when we couples get together, we arrange a babysitter for the kids (Oliver and Bennett are the only kids so far) and all of the adults went out to dinner.

Brian and Laura introduced us to a pretty cool "ironman chef" competitions called, "NC Dining Competition" in which two local chefs cook a three course meal each.  Then, all of the guests at the event got to vote (using their smartphones) on which dishes we prefer.  In this picture, we are testing the "aroma" category.

Brian, Brian and Oliver skip rocks at Durham's tobacco district.

After dinner at Tyler's, we visited the Durham Bulls baseball park.  Such fun!

Ollie and Bennett sit with the Durham Bull's mascot, Wool E. Bull.

Bennett enjoyed his first snow cone.

Oliver chose ice cream with sprinkles, his favorite!

The next day, we flew back home to normal life in Texas.  But it was a ton of fun visiting old friends and our old home in NC. Thanks for hosting us, Brian and Laura!  We miss you both, as well as Emily and Matt.  Can't wait to see you all again new year!

15 July 2012

A Visit to North Carolina, Part 1

A few weeks ago, our little family headed out East to visit old friends in North Carolina.  We had such a great time.

The boys did beautifully on the airplane.  They both sorta understand how it works so their were very patient during the flight.  Oliver made sure to pack with him his Angry Bird, his beloved stuffed Fox and his tiny globe.  (Oliver's godmother Laura travels around the world a lot so he wanted to talk to her all about her travels.)  Any spare time at the airport was well taken care of by these monkeys.  They were proud of their Spiderman skills.

We split our trip up into two sections.  Since I have so many pictures from our trip, I will split this post in to two sections as well.  The first leg of the trip was to visit old friends whom we haven't seen since we left the Triangle three years ago.

First stop was with my fellow teacher friend Wendy.  Wendy and I met when we worked together at an elementary school in Durham.  Wendy teaches ESL (English as a Second Language).  I really got to know her and appreciate her my first year of teaching when a little boy came straight from El Salvador into my classroom knowing no English.  As much as I wish I was bilingual in Spanish, I can't speak it well and needed her to help.  We have been close friends ever since.  Her little girls are about the age of my little boys.  So, it was fun to get our kids together and catch up!

The next day, Jess (Brian's M.Div classmate from Duke) met us at Dame's Chicken and Waffles.  This is a new restaurant in Durham.  Jess, who is getting her PhD in Theology from Duke, says Dame's is a very hot place in town.   Who would have thought fried chicken and waffles with syrup would takes so good?!  It was delicious!  And it was just as good to see Jess again. :)

After enjoying Dames chicken for breakfast, Brian and I split up so he could meet a few old professors of his from Duke and so that I could meet up with a sorority sister I haven't seen since we graduated almost ten years ago.  Nicki and I are Kappa Delta pledge sisters.  I loved getting to see Nicki as a mama.  This girl hasn't changed a bit since college and she is ever bit as tender and loving to her girls as I have ever seen someone be.  Unfortunately, we didn't get a very good picture or a picture of the kids because Madison (Nicki's oldest, sitting in her arms) apparently fractured her elbow while playing in the Chick-fil-a playplace.  So, after our playdate, she ended up taking her girls to the doctor where Madison ended up with a cast.  Poor thing!  Thank goodness Nicki is a nurse herself!  I love this girl and am so glad we had a chance to see each other again!

On Sunday, we had a chance to visit our old church, St. Luke's Epsiscopal Church, that we attended when we were in Durham.  (This is a last minute picture of the few people who were still at the church when I remembered I had brought my camera for a picture.)   It was so fun to go back and see so many sweet and smiling faces.  The church continues to thrive.  Both Brian and I really enjoyed visiting as it reminded us why we loved the church so much.  We liked being able to show Oliver this particular church as he was baptized in it 4 years ago.  And it was a honor for us to introdcue Bennett to the church congregation who prayed for him from so far away during the time of his birth and diagnosis three years ago.  (Cynthia Henry, if you read this, you are one of several people we missed getting to see while we were there and thank in person for all the support you have given Bennett!  I will make sure to catch you next time!)  

Then, Brian and I had a chance to see some of our best friends, Cynthia and Tim and their sweet babies.  This is where Bennett got his first kiss, which makes me chuckle every time.  Miss Molly, who is just 3 days younger than Bennett is so adorable as she has such a fun-loving personality.  And little brother Evan is just scrumptious.

Molly and Evan are the younger siblings to a baby dear to our heart, Cara Grace (whom I wrote about here).  Cara is Cynthia and Tim's firstborn who was to be born just months after Oliver.  Her passing is a very big moment in our lives and most certainly in the lives of our friends.  Having been with these friends as they walked through some of their darkest moments in life, it was such a joy to return and see them experience some of their happiest moments in life, as well.  For this reason, Molly and Evan are particularly special to us.

We had lots of fun visiting Tim, Cynthia and company as they took us and the kids to their local pool where we had fun in the water for about 15 minutes before a storm rolled through.  But we made the best of it and loved watching the children play wildly with each other throughout the pouring summer rain and flashes of lightening.  Thanks Tim and Cynth for your hospitality!!

Last but not least, I had a chance to catch up with one of my besties, Chelsea.  Chelsea and I had planned to hang out with our hubbies and kids on my first day there.  But the night before we were to play, her son Myles, ended up coming down with the stomach virus.  So, we used the opportunity to steal some girl time and hoped we would find time later in the week so our kids could play.  It's such fun to visit friends whom you can just pick up talking right where you left off last. Chelsea is one of those friends!

Unfortunately, our scheduling changes meant that our hubbies didn't get to come along when we finally found time to let our kids meet each other again (and for the first time).  While I missed getting to see Chelsea's hubby, Will, I was thrilled to get to see how big their daughter Ada and their son Myles have gotten!  Ada, who is Oliver's age, is *so* cute.  She smart, thoughtful and very sweet, just like her mother.  Myles is a tender little boy who loves to run and experience the world around him.  It was so fun to let the kids enjoy Durham's Children's Museum and Butterfly House while we were there.  Many times we took Oliver and Ada when they were toddlers.  It was fun to go back together again, this time with preschoolers!  Unfortunately, neither Ada nor Oliver was interested in a hand-holding picture.  Now that they are nearly 5, they are too aware of boy-girl differences.  I suppose this will all change when we come back to visit when their 15! :)

I am so thankful for all the people we were able to visit in Durham, even though there are so many more we didn't get to see!  There is something so beautiful and wonderful with revisiting old friends.  I find that a hidden piece of myself emerges only when I am is able to reunite with old friends again.  These pictures remind me of these moments and I am thankful for each one of our North Carolina friendships.

Part 'dos' (that's two in Spanish) of our trip still to come...