Friday, January 28, 2011

2011 Trip to FL - Tuesday - the BEACH

Tuesday:  When we woke up and saw that it was going to be a beautiful day, we packed up and headed out to the beach -- Wiggins Pass, to be precise.  The beach itself is part of a State Park and it had several beaches with nearby restrooms and PLENTY OF SAND.  Little Max was in HEAVEN.

 Sam was pretty excited too.  It was his second time visiting the ocean (the first time was on Martha's Vineyard when he was a wee three months old).

 Little Max quickly got to work building his sand castles.

 After I got Sam changed into his swimming gear, we headed down to the ocean.  I don't think Sam knew what to think at first.  He was very interested in watching the crashing waves.  And then the water, which was only about 60 degrees hit his toes, and he wasn't quite so happy anymore.  Luckily, he only showed his distaste for a few seconds and then went back to gazing at the water...

 Meanwhile, Granna helped Max construct an architecturally correct sandcastle...which must have been frustrating because he liked to knock things down just as much as he liked to build them up!

 Grumps and Max decided to take a stroll down the beach.  It was still a bit foggy on the shore, and you wouldn't know it from this shot, but there were actually a lot of people on the beach with us.  Got to love zoom!

 Aren't they sweet?

 We were also joined by some Ibis on the shore...

 Sand, water, sand, water, sand, water.  This kid could stay on the beach ALL DAY LONG if we let him!

 Sam seems to have inherited the same love for sand as little Max.  He also has a love for making noise.  He loves to pound on things, and here in this photo, he is taking two shells and banging them together to make noise.

 Back to building...

 Isn't that such a great two boys....

 Then little Max decided it would be fun to bury daddy!  He only got about this far before he got side-tracked by something else....

Covered in sand, without a care in the world.  What a lucky boy.

2011 Trip to FL - Monday - the Imaginarium

Monday:    Max let me sleep in until 8:40, as I had woken up in the middle of the night with a migraine that made me throw up.  It was very much appreciated.  Since it was a somewhat over-cast day, we decided to pack up and head to the Imaginarium, and we all had a LOT of fun.  Highlights included touching and feeding the stingrays, the 3D movie and the bird that squawked and made Sam cry.  Both boys took good naps when we got home, and it rained pretty heavily during the afternoon so we just lounged around snuggling and reading.

 Petting the stingray.  I was so proud of Max.  I thought for sure he would be *scared* or just not want to do it, but he stuck his hand right in there!  When we asked him what the stingrays felt like, he answered "SLIPPERY!"  (except it came out slipperLY...which I think is so cute, but he learned how to say it the right way before I could get it on film).

 No fear, I love this child of mine!

 The Imaginarium was part museum, part children's museum, part zoo and part science museum.  All really SMALL parts, mind you...and could use some updating.  But little Max really enjoyed it.  Plus, we are spoiled because I work for the Zoo in Milwaukee and we spend so much time there -- it really is a world class zoo.

 After looking at all the whale and dinosaur bones, they had a little area for the kids to do their own excavating.  I showed Max how to do it, and he gave it a brush or two and then lost interest, because.....

 There was a SAND box!  Remember how I told you about his OBSESSION with sand...oh yes, that is putting it lightly!  :)

 There was even a little area for Sam to have some fun.  Gotta love padded play areas and padded toys!

 After walking around the museum for awhile, they announced that it was Stingray FEEDING time.  Of course, Granna bought Max a ticket....  They feed them little bits of squid and they tell you to put it in your hand and then slide it down along the wall...

 And then the stingray comes RIGHT UP and eats it OUT OF YOUR HAND!  This big guy really liked to eat the food and he even got some air rushing up the sides of the wall.  I LOVE LOVE LOVE Max's face in this shot.

Isn't this bird cute?  We thought so too (and he really was).  He was very into 'talking' to the visitors and showing off his pretty colors.  He was also, unfortunately for Sam, quite LOUD.  He gave a few loud squawks...which scared the beJEESUS out of Sam and he started to cry...

Yes, I am laughing at my kid crying.  It was too cute.  You'd think, with a louder older brother that he'd be accustomed to LOUD noises.  I think it just startled him.  The whole 'crying fit' lasted approximately 30 seconds....LOL.  Oh, and if you like my jewelry in this photo, you have to check out this Etsy shop -- it is from a girl I went to grade school with!

2011 Trip to FL - Friday through Sunday

We took over 500 photos during our recent vacation to Ft. Myers, FL to visit my parents (Granna and Grumps), so it was really REALLY difficult for me to pare it down.  I managed to cut it down to 70 total, which is still a LOT.  So, I figured I would break up the photos even more by breaking up the vacation into several posts.  This post covers our first two days there.

I am happy to report that the trip TO Florida (and home as well) was completely uneventful.  In an effort to try to capture our vacation in writing, I started to journal while we were there.  I only made it through Wednesday...LOL.  But, I thought my description of our flight TO Florida was particularly remarkable, and so I will share it with you.

We left on a Friday, with a flight out of Milwaukee at 2pm. I, once again proving how awesome and independent (and stubborn) I am, single-handedly checked the bags in while Max parked the car, which meant pushing Sam in the stroller (with my purse, tote and Max's backpack hanging on it), while navigating a large rolling suitcase with Max and My stuff in it, a small rolling suitcase with Sam's stuff in it, the car seat in a large duffel type bag, and another small rolling suitcase with little Max's stuff in it, which I tried to get him to roll himself, unsuccessfully.  In fact, at one point, he tripped over it and I had to use some tough love to get him to stand up and wheel the thing over to me so that I didn't have to drop everything.   Somehow I managed to get all of that by myself into the check in line, up on the scale, get the luggage tags on and then take everything over to the TSA drop-off.  (This is all once again, proof of just WHY the female race is superior, IMHO).   
Then we waited for Max to join us after parking the car, which didn't take that long and went upstairs to go through security. Luckily, other than the massive amts of luggage we were carrying, it was uneventful. We ate our lunch at the gate and were able to check the two small suitcases as checked bags at the gate to pick up at the baggage claim instead of carry ons which was nice.
On the plane we had a row to ourselves, and used a borrowed (THANK YOU M) CARES air harness to strap Max into his seat. Sam sat on my lap. Both boys were good during the flight. Sam had a few grumbles while he tried to fall asleep, but fell asleep quickly within 15 mins of take off and slept until I woke him up as we got off the plane. Max was good except that he was frustrated he was too short to see out the window, and midway through the flight we let him get out of his seat to look out. We shouldn't have done that as it was hard to get him to sit back down, but we learned our lesson!
By the time we got to my parent's house, it was dinner time.  My mother fed us a Thanskgiving-esque feast and we fell asleep with full bellies.  Little Max had his own 'room' to sleep in (my dad's office on the pull out couch) and Sam slept in the pack and play in our room.  We all passed out and slept a good twelve hours (well, the boys did at least).

Saturday: The next day we woke up leisurely and lounged around the house a our bodies to above freezing weather :).  While Sam was sleeping, my parents and I took Max up to visit the community's playground, pool and fitness area.  Little Max was, of course, drawn to the swings, and Grumps -- who is completely wrapped around his little finger -- was stuck pushing him for awhile.  I don't think Grumps really minded though.

 I love this shot of my Dad.  For several reasons.  I love the way he looks at my son.  I love the way that I can see little Max reflected in his sunglasses.  I love that the way he is standing reminds me of when he coached sports for me in grade school.  I love that the wrinkles in his face are ALL from smiling.

 This shot was taken incognito from across the playground.  Granna thought there was sand underneath the playground equipment, but it was really shredded up old tires.  Little Max is O.B.S.E.S.S.E.D with sand, but the fact that it wasn't sand didn't deter him, and he dug right in with his shovel and bucket.  He was so busy digging in and playing that I was able to zoom in on him, call his name, and quickly grab this shot.

Everything about this photo makes me smile.  My Dad's smile, little Max's smile, and the fact that I remember that he was saying, "Hey Mom, LOOK!  A HEART!"

After our trip to the playground we came back home for a delicious brunch made by Granna.  We lazed around out in the backyard on loungechairs in the sunshine while the boys napped and big Max went for a run.  My cousin Mike and his wife, Rochelle, and their son, Charley, came over for dinner and we watched the Packer game together.  Go PACK!

Sunday:  Another later wakeup, lots of coffee and lounging around.  My Mom, Sam and I went to the local flea market.  I was hoping to find myself a Vera Bradley knock off (I had gotten one in 2007 when we were last there, but it was looking pretty beat up...and I had gotten a REAL Vera Bradley for Xmax, so I wanted something to make sure that one didn't get too beat up), but there really wasn't too much there to choose from.  Max took these photos while we were gone:

 A cute little birdie in the backyard.  You've GOT to love the zoom and clarity of this camera!

Little Max enjoying the playground again.

After my Mom and I got home, Granna and Grumps took little Max for a swim with a picnic lunch and I went for a run while Sam slept. Later that night, we went to the shrimp shack for dinner.  Sam ate so much food that I had to write it down: green beans, an entire banana, fish and mum-mums.  This kid sure can eat!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Oh Me Oh MY!!

Is it possible that I NEVER blogged about our splendiforous photo shoot with Shannon Wucherer Photography back in October?  I think it IS.  Shame on me. Shame Shame SHAME on me!!

Shannon did such a wonderful job (again) on our family photos.  I have to give her high marks for her perseverance and for making magic happen.  I thought for sure all the photos would have scowls and stink eyes and pouty lips in them...but NO...they are all so wonderful!

Many of you saw some of my favorites on our Christmas Card this year...

Others may have seen the sneak peek that Shannon posted on Facebook....

But here are a few others that have never been introduced to the great wide world of the Internet...or your eyes.  So, ENJOY!

I have this photo framed on my desk at work.  I love looking at it, because it so perfectly captures the relationship between these two.  Little Max just LOVES to love on his little brother.

I love Max's cheeser smile in this picture.  The photo right before this one has a big scowl on it.  Oh, the joys of  three year old!  :)

Shannon did a number of bridge shots with little Max, little Max and Daddy and little Max and some random girl that decided to cross the bridge while we were doing our photo shoot.  LOL.  Little Max was flirting with her, and the pictures are pretty cute.  I made a collage of the bridge shots for our photo wall.  They just scream BOY to me, love them all!

I love how big Max just jumps in and becomes Daddy without embarrassment or even batting an eye.  He is such a great Daddy.

I admit, when I first saw this photo I immediately skipped over it.  No one wants to see their child crying.  But, when I looked at it again, I didn't see Sam's tears because he was tired and cold...this time, I focused my gaze on little Max.  How he is so sweetly trying to comfort Sam.  It brings tears to my eyes.  These boys are SO SPECIAL, and they are SO GOOD to each other.

Our little Abercrombie and Fitch model  :)

I adore this shot because it perfectly captures the relationship between Auntie Amanda and little Max.  These two share such a special bond -- it is truly remarkable and it makes me so happy to witness it.

Once back inside where it was warm, Sam relaxed a bit.  I love how intense his eyes are!

Ah, look at my sweet boy...barely six months old and sitting like a champ.  I love how his outfit matches his room.  I love how squishy he looks....

Oh Sam, you are SUCH a sweetie...

Thank you again, Shannon...for taking such wonderful pictures of our family. We can't wait for Sam's one year photo shoot!!

2011 Goals Update - January

Here's a quick and dirty update on where I'm at in regards to my "Goals" or "Resolutions" for the year...

2011 Resolutions
1. Lose 10 lbs  - after a minor setback called a VACATION, I am happy to report that I am -1 lb from my starting weight!  It may seem minor, but I accomplished it without any type of effort, really.  Next month I need to get back on track with my exercise program!!

2. Run a 5K - I did go running twice this month, does that count?  LOL  It is hard to get out and go running when it is so cold outside. I do have a gym membership, so I could use the treadmill, but to be honest it is the furthest thing from my mind when I get off work.  I'd rather go home and snuggle with my little men.  Besides, Sam is still nursing, so I'd rather not miss his bedtime too.  I still have time.  And, to be fair, jumping back into running wasn't as bad as I thought it would be.  I was still able to run a substantial amount of the 3.2 mile route...

3. Move - still working on the logistics of this one...stay tuned!

4. Re-learn how to sew -  I got a project cut out, pinned and ready to go.  Now I just have to actually SEW it....

5. Re-learn how to knit  - not on the radar for this month...

6. Re-do the blog  - I have been collected and bookmarking lots of information for the transformation.  I think I am going to stay with blogger.  Playing around with the design tab, I also noticed that blogger has done some recent upgrades to what you can do with your blog, so that will be coming in handy!

7. Teach little Max to read  - We have increased words we can spell/identify to "O-N spells ON and N-O spells NO".  He also likes to read STOP signs to us.  Other words include MAX, SAM, MOM and DAD.  He surprised me this month by sounding out some of the letters while attempting to spell his friend's name on his computer....

8. Make one homemade/handmade crafty a month - this month my crafty was a scrapbook page of all the xmax cards we received.  You can check it out (with some of our other Christmas Crafties HERE).

9. Blog at least once a week  - YES!  I have definitely done this!  :)

10. Purge the house one room at a time  - the first room tackled was the basement.  We had an entire trunk load to donate to Goodwill!  Sorry, no before or after pictures, and I am sure it will need to be purged again soon as it is the holding spot for many of my day to day purgings...

11. BREATHE  - I can't even BEGIN to tell you how useful this word has been to me so far.  When I have been in situations where I was about to lose my cool, I reminded myself to 'breathe' and it WORKED!!  I really REALLY hope this one sticks with me all year!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Como Zoo and Conservatory (lots of pictures)

The day after Christmas, we took the boys to the Como Zoo and Conservatory to meet up with my good friend from college, and her mama -- who had never met the boys.  I really REALLY wanted to make it happen, and I was SO GLAD that I did.  I think that EVERY time we make the mammoth drive we should make the time to do something fun and educational like this -- our last trip we stopped at the Science Museum...and we had a blast there as well!

It was also the perfect opportunity to play aroud with our new camera and test out the super zoom it boasts (35x optical) as well as its super macro capabilities.  Big Max played around with the camera while I tended to the kids for the most part...which was fine.  He got some REALLY awesome shots.  I should warn you ahead of time that this post has A LOT of photos.  I don't usually do that, but we took WAY too many this time around.  I don't blame you if you don't have time to look at them all there are a LOT.

Testing out the macro on this beautiful orchid.

Testing out the super zoom while we look into the koi pond.


Little Max LOVED the fish.


Jess and Sam

Ok, this shot above should give you a really good idea on how great the zoom is on this camera -- keep in mind there are no interchangeable lenses -- and the camera is lighter than a you get macro and this zoom all in ONE beast!

Halfway Zoomed out...

See how far away Max was standing from us?  Unbelievable.  (and pretty awesome for taking stealthy pictures of a three year old who tries to not get his picture taken...LOL).

I love Sam's baby baldness.  I love that his hair is growing in on the top of his head more quickly like a Mo-hawk.  Max's did the same thing.  I love it.

The whole gang.

I'm not being naughty....

Sam decided he wanted some Beco action...

They had a cute little kid's play area that little Max had fun in.

And then we crossed over from the Conservatory area to the Zoo area.  This turtle was pretty neat...except his neck kind of freaks me out.  It looks kind of strange... :)

Look at that sweet boy!

He's my little snuggly munchkin.

This sloth was pretty cool.  I mean, he didn't move or anything, but they didn't even have him in an enclosure because sloths so rarely come to the ground.  Look at his little nose peaking out...

The zoom function is also pretty handy for getting some nice bird shots!

We got home and the boys passed out.  Max on our bed and Sam on me.  It was a long adventurous morning for them, but they both had a fun time.  It was great seeing Jess and her mom, and it was great exploring the Zoo and Conservatory.  I hadn't been there since college -- and even though I didn't see a whole lot of the Zoo, it looked vastly different (i.e. BETTER) than it did earlier.  Good job, Como Zoo!

And the camera, well, it is a winner!  We weren't entirely sure at first, so these were our exploratory missions with it, and it passed the test.  There are a few things we wish were different on it, but there are things we are willing to forgo for all the nice things this one does have.  Plus, it seems like there is no one camera out there right now that has EVERYTHING you want...but this one is pretty darn nice...I'm just saying....