Friday, July 29, 2016

'Cuz We Luvs Our Cuz

So why did the kids and I stay in Omaha for a few weeks after Jason had started work in Utah?

'Cuz we loves our cuz!  Or more accurately, because our cousins love us!  In July, we were lucky enough to be visited by two cousins, tall and small.  (Okay, so our family genes don't really do tall, but it's all relative.)  Alesia was the first to arrive, flying out to see us two days after finishing her second year of teaching first grade in Queens.  Despite a packed schedule, she squeezed in a week-long visit right before an amazing European adventure.  We feel so loved!

Here's the crew headed to the Joslyn directly from the airport.  Can you tell which one is the adult?

Neither could the ferris wheel operator.  She stopped Alesia and Eli to explain that Eli needed to be accompanied by someone over the age of 18.  :)

Back to the Joslyn, we had a great time splashing in the outdoor water sculpture.

Once we made it to the Andrus home, Alesia pulled out some incredibly thoughtful gifts.  Brooklyn was beyond ecstatic to receive hardback copies of the Harry Potter series.  These books have been read and re-read every day since.

As for Eli, he got a whole bag full of leveled Star Wars books.  He sleeps with them most nights.

Talia got a science experiment kit and terrarium.

Nothing more fun than goo! 

As for Annika, she got the most precious book, "How to Dress a Dragon" along with a dragon of her own to dress in undies and a superhero cape.  Absolutely perfect for this potty-training gal!  (She's actually got the whole potty training thing down now.  As for getting dressed, that's a completely different story.  I keep catching her running around in the backyard buck naked.  What a way to introduce yourself to the neighborhood!  And don't even get me started on bedtimes and the transition to a big bed.  Maybe I need to read her Alesia's book more often?  It seems to have a magical soporific effect.)

Annika isn't all trouble though.  She was a great help pricing items for our garage sale.  (Total bust by the way.  All that work, and then it was rained out.)

At least Alesia knows how to sweeten even the roughest day: chocolate ice cream.  (She perfected the art of ice cream consumption during her first year teaching.)

After a few days of hogging Alesia to ourselves, NomiAnn arrived with the smaller cuz, Eila.  As you can see, Annika quickly had to learn to share a lap.  (As if Annika's ever shared anything...  Am I too snarky?  It's been a rough day.)

Good thing our biggest girls don't insist on much laptime anymore.  I kind of miss it though.  With noses constantly in a book, they're just growing up too fast!

Anyway, back to our sweet Eila Kay, she traveled home from Washington with NomiAnn because her Mommy was doing a three-week, uber-intense graduate school summer program in Central Washington.  While Eila presumably missed her parents, she was doted upon by so many loving relatives that she survived the grief. 

Eila Kay and Papa Kay!

Despite the hot weather, we braved the zoo.  Looking around the gorilla house, the only monkeys I saw were my own!

Annika, close kin to the orangutan since birth.  (Aka, remember the hair.)

Always a favorite of mine, the klipspringers have a new home near the giraffe crossing in the African Grasslands.  (Sentences I never thought I'd write...)

After the zoo, we picked up pizza from Orsi's and stopped to dine and play at a South Omaha park.  I even made good on my promise to get the kids something from the ice cream truck before we moved!

Of course, who needs a playground when you can ride the rocker at home? 

Apparently trike riding is a perilous sport at our house.  We still have no idea how this happened.  (Now as for the damaged red bed in the background, my kids learned a stern lesson about the consequences of leaping off the top bunk onto a toddler bed.  Argh.)

Yessiree, we loves our cuz!  Doesn't it look like this gang is on top of the world?

That's 'cause they pretty much are.  On July 3rd, we drove to Werner Park to see the fireworks from the top of the trusty RAV.


Stay tuned for more Fourth of July Fun!  'Cuz it's our cuzzes we loveses.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Omaha: We Don't Coast

Moving right along with summer, we had a great time exploring all that Omaha has to offer before leaving the Midwest behind.

Thanks to an invitation from a great friend, Jessica, we discovered this delightful splash pad in Papillion for the first time.

The kids knocked out their hours for the Summer Reading Program in no time at all, thanks to audio books during our long car drives.  Here they are enjoying the fruits, um, I mean bagels, of their labors.

The Omaha Children's Museum has a new exhibit all about Pirates and Mermaids.  And big teeth too, apparently.

Gotta love that starfish!

Watch out Eli!  You'll get devoured by that shark.

Talia swimming in the blue.

Here's Brooklyn at Mormon night with the Stormchasers.  We were lucky enough to enjoy a few Stormchaser games this season.  If only they'd been lucky enough to win...

Annika painted regularly in her very own kitchen art studio.  I was so excited because she was using her left hand!  That is, until she switched to her right.

Of course, playing so hard can certainly wear a gal out.

Talia participated in summer gymnastics at Sokol, and is looking forward to finding a gym here in Salt Lake too.

Even big girls get exhausted.

Awake once more, here's our Talia learning some computer code using Raspberry Pi.

Back at the Andrus home, every day is craft day, even with NomiAnn out of town.  This kitchen table was concurrently hosting diorama construction, playdough, and jewelry making.

Some of our amazing friends hosted a good-bye swim party for us at Prairie Lane pool.  It was the sweetest thing!  (Not to mention lots of fun too.)  From left to right, here are some of our Crestridge friends: Jaden, Estefania, Elena, Johanna, Eli, Thomas, Andrew, Scout, Brooklyn, West, Lily, Adelle, Talia, Annika, and Dove.

Here's Talia again with her matching pal, Everett and his mom, Metta.  Gosh dang it, we will miss all our friends!

While saying farewell to friends is hard, sometimes you get lucky and get to say hello again!  Here's Eli with Chloe, his best friend from St. George.  Her family stopped through Omaha on their way back from an epic road trip.

Athletic Chloe was first in line to show us how the zip line is done.

Wowzers, that's a lot of legs!  (I don't suppose that might explain why the hammock is currently disabled.)

Looky here, Talia has a shiny new bike!  (Courtesy of the Earn-a-Bike program.)  Way to go Talia!

Back at the Old Market, Eli wasn't the only one enjoying the Heartland of America waterfront.

Omaha was transformed for the U.S. Olympic Swim Trials.

Pretty amazing!

Inspired by all the prospective Olympians, our munchkins were eager to head downtown and check out the AquaZone.

Stars and stripes from a swimmer's angle.

It was a long line for the Key Log Rolling, but the kids found it worth the wait.  Here's Talia trying her luck.

Splash!  You can see Brooklyn rolling in back.

Eli was a natural, being so low to the ground.

But even our little man got wet.

Supporting the team with our signatures.  Almost as cool as signing the Flip Flop.

Both Brooklyn and Talia got a chance to train like Michael Phelps in a swim spa.  Needless to say, they fell a tad behind his pace.

Nevertheless, they survived the challenge!  (And got a free T-shirt to boot.)

Omaha: We Don't Coast.

While I'm sure there's no need to brag about Omaha's coastless coolness, I still want to show off some pictures of the zoo's new splash pad.  It's pretty impressive without water...

...but way more fun once the water's turned on.  Splish!






Definitely the place to go for a whale of a good time.

Plus, the live animals at the zoo are worth visiting too.  Nice job, Mr. Goat.

On a different day, we met up with our friends Samantha and Jesse for some slurpies and playtime at Elmwood Park.  I asked Eli to sit on the same step as everyone else, but he was feeling non-conformist.  Can you blame him?

After all, life is better when we are all a bit different.

Am I the only one who regularly finds random pictures that the kids have taken with my phone?  Very creative, Talia.  Or something.

Lauritzen gardens hosts a great summer concert series.  Here we are with Papa Kay.

About halfway through, we took a walk to see the trains.  The kids sure love chasing trolley back and forth through his stops!

Brooklyn and Eli in the midst of the Falling Leaves.

And last but not last, the number one reason Omaha is the place to be: Breakfast at Burger King.

Keep smiling!