Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Packing, Packing, Packing

The last couple of nights have been spent packing for our Arizona trip that starts tomorrow. We are so excited to just get away, explore a new area and hike to the bottom of the Grand Canyon. It is amazing how much extra stuff you have to take when you are camping/backpacking. A tent, 2 sleeping bags, 2 sleeping mats, 2 hiking poles, 2 backpacks, just to name a little of the gear. Did I mention that we each have to carry a gallon of water as well, that is 9 pounds of water!! It is going to be a great adventure!! Happy Trails!!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

The Big Catch Up !!!

I know I am one of the worst blogger's, but life has kept me pretty busy the last couple of months. Here are some pictures and stories to catch you up to speed about what we have been doing .

In February, Jill went to Kansas City for continuing education. It was great to see old classmates and roommates. We reminisced on school and all the adventures we had while living in St. Louis. It was nice to catch up with these friend and fellow optometrists, that I will always have a special bond with.
Trip to Branson

In an attempt to escape and forget some of the weekly grind in March we decided to head to one of our favorite places – Branson. Now, we realize that some people may only see Branson as a destination for individuals over 55, people who have a deep love for Country music, or for those who can’t afford to travel anywhere else – but to us it is so much more. Since we both went to college there it is a town that provides many memories and it is a place that we feel totally comfortable and relaxed at. What made this trip even better was that we were able to take along some great friends and just hang out together. We didn’t go with any intention to do any of the normal touristy stuff but instead our purpose was simply to spend time with our friends.

I know that some may not be able to believe that we went somewhere without a plan in place, but I am proud to say that this was a weekend where we simply “flew by the seat of our pants.” We arrived on Friday night and after going to dinner at The Landing we headed out to the condo where we spent the majority of the weekend. With the exception of some light shopping on Saturday we simply stayed at the condo and filled our time playing games, watching movies, and playing the Wii.

Overall, it was one of the most relaxing and enjoyable weekends that one could have asked for and although it may be more and more difficult for us to pull something like this off in the future, we can only hope that we are able to share a similar experience on an annual basis.
Playing Video Games

Going Shopping!
Stacy beating me at boxing!

Not sure what he was acting out now-- but had fun with Gestures

Heading off for a Saturday morning run in the rain!


The two Mark's were proud of their bed-making ability!

Visiting Family – Austin/Ethan
It is amazing how quickly children can change in a three month period. Unfortunately, we aren’t able to see our nephews as much as we would like but when we do it is evident that they are all growing up very quickly. It seems like they double or triple in size and all of the sudden we realize that we are saying things like “Oh, he is soooo big,” or “He sure is growing like a weed.” You know those crazy clich├ęs that we always frowned at when we heard them from Aunt Betty – but now they oddly seem like the right thing to say.
This was the first time that we were able to meet Ethan and since we are both “baby hogs” I knew that I would be in weekend battle with Jill. Thankfully, she always chose to hold him after he was finished eating and so after he spit up on her a couple of times I had secured as much Ethan time as I wanted and was able to gracefully sweep in a take him off her hands as she was performing a necessary wardrobe change. The times holding Ethan reminded me that it was not very long ago that we were doing the same with Austin and it made me realize that we have to appreciate the time that we have with them, however limited that it may be.
One of the greatest things that I learned this weekend is that Austin runs the show. Not to imply that his parents can’t or don’t control him, but he has an overwhelming personality that enables him to get away with anything – especially with Paw. He will be mischievously doing something, get caught, but then look at you with his best “I can’t be in trouble” face and all you can do is laugh at him and move on. While playing with him you quickly appreciate the energy that you have and you have to learn how to capitalize on the 15 second breaks that come throughout the day, mainly because you are fearful that it may be your last.

Sweet Ethan

Austin loves posing for the camera

Playing with Uncle Mark

Tulsa Trip
We have been to Tulsa four or five time since we have lived in NWA but this day trip definitely ranked up there as one of the best. We kick started our wonderful morning with an enormous breakfast at “The Blue Dome Diner.” Thanks to Jill’s pre-trip research she was able to find this local joint that may be worth the hour and a half drive by itself. It was the type of place we love to go to because it was filled with locals, had a unique atmosphere that you would definitely not find at a chain restaurant, and they served you so much food that you would gain about 10 pounds if you didn’t share portions. From there the day just continued to get better as we took the time to explore some of Tulsa’s parks and then the gardens at The Philbrook Museum. We couldn’t have asked for a better day weather wise as it felt like the first real day of spring. It was great to spend the majority of the day outside (somehow we still ended up in a furniture store and did some “light shopping”) and thankfully we were able to survive two scavenger hunts which made this trip even more memorable.
Scavenger Hunt #1 – As we were driving through a busy intersection Jill stuck her hand out the window to check the temperature as she pulled her hand back in, somehow she scraped a ring that her mother had given her along the window trim and caused the stone to fall out. As she is screaming in fear, I instantly begin to think of how I am going to get ran over as she is going to ask me to go out and find the stone that we now are certain is in the middle of the road. Thankfully we were able to compose ourselves and after a frantic search of the car we were very happy to discover that the stone somehow bounced back into the car and landed in the backseat floorboard.
Scavenger Hunt #2 – As we were leaving the park Jill and I decided that we should take one final picture together (just in case the first 20 didn’t turn out). However, as Jill went to freshen up her lipstick she noticed that she had lost her lipstick. The last time she remembered having it was while we were on the other side of the park. So we got in the car and drove over to begin our second hunt of the day. Jill hopped out and started the search as I just continued to circle the park and encourage her from the car. Feeling that we had forever lost the valuable tube of lipstick we made one final pass through on our way to the car. Lo and behold Jill looked over at the base of a tree, (a tree that I am not confident that we were even around) and there it sat with a beam of sunlight pointing right at it. Ok, so maybe I made up the beam of sunlight stuff, but thankfully we did conquer scavenger hunt #2 and life can go on as the lipstick has been found.

Philbrook Museum

WOW -- Did you make it to the end???
I promise to TRY to blog more regularly from here on out!!