Where are we going?

Tuesday morning we started with the first surprise location for the day! James had been keeping it a secret from me and the only thing I knew was that where ever we were going was not far from Independence. As we headed out into the country and off the beaten path I was clueless; even with James tossing me a few tiny hints.

Then all of a sudden he pulls up to a group of buildings and I see the sign!

The Little House on the Prairie!

We were at the Laura Ingalls Wilder Little House on the Prairie Museum!! I absolutely loved the Little House on the Prairie series when I was growing up, so it was an exciting surprise to be on the actual homestead site!! I had a great time exploring the different buildings they had erected on the site including a schoolhouse, post office, and log cabin!

Checking out the school house!

Post office and signing the guest book

Log cabin similar to the ones the Ingalls lived in!

Checking out the inside of the cabin!

I had a really good time checking everything out and it was surreal to think that I was standing in the exact place where one of my favorite books actually took place! I can’t wait for Reagan to get old enough so I can start reading the books to her!

The next stop I actually did know about because James wanted to make sure I was interested in going. It was the Keepsake Candle Company in Bartlesville, Oklahoma. And yes, I was interested.  They offered a personal factory tour of their location, which wasn’t very big, but it was pretty cool to hear about and see how they made such unique candles.

After our tour, we went looking for a souvenir to take back to our amazing house-sitters.  They are definitely cat people, so we originally decided on the perfect cat candle.  The cat on the front looked a lot like one of their fur babies and we thought they’d really enjoy it.

Kitty-Cat Candle

Yet, the more more I looked around the shop the more beautiful candles I saw and the more I started wondering if I should get them a “pretty” candle instead. I put the cat candle back and instead picked out an elegant green and white candle that looked like it was shaped from a glass candy dish.

Elegant green and white candle

When James saw that I put the cat candle back he asked me what I was doing. When I told him I had changed my mind and decided on the green and white candle instead, he went back and got the cat candle and said HE was going to give them the cat candle! Too funny and our house sitters ended up with TWO Keepsake Candles; one from me and one from James!

As we were checking out, Reagan had a ball petting one of the cats that lives at the factory. I’d never seen her get so excited about something and she was really having a great time petting (and pulling) the kitty’s fur!

Reagan loved petting the kitty!

While we were talking to the lady giving us the tour at the Candle Factory, James asked her what Bartlesville is known for. Amazingly enough, her answer was that Bartlesville has the only Frank Loyd Wright skyscraper! It is the Price Tower that stands 221 feet tall and is now used as a civic Art Center. With such an interesting National Historic Landmark that close, we had to at least drive by and take a look at it!

Frank Loyd Wright building

We left Bartlesville and headed for destinations unknown, at least to me! I knew we had two more things to see, but I had no idea where or what they were!

Along the route, we took a quick break at the Pensacola Dam located between Langley and Disney, Oklahoma. It was a nice chance to stretch our legs and take a look at a pretty good sized dam!

Checking out the dam and stretching our legs a little bit!

We crossed over into Arkansas and made our way to the next stop, the Rogers Daisy Airgun Museum! This was another surprise stop and I really was surprised both by where we ended up and how much I enjoyed the museum.  The Daisy Manufacturing Company actually started as the Plymouth Iron Windmill Company, but people liked the air guns they produced and gave away with the purchase of a windmill more than the windmills themselves!!

Daisy Air Guns!

It was really cool to see all the old air guns and I really liked the memorabilia they had for the Christmas Story “Red Rider” airgun.

Checking out the guns!

When we were done at the Daisy Museum we got checked into our hotel, had some dinner, and then James shuttled us off to our last mystery location for the day.  It was the Walmart Visitor Center, the place where it all began!

Outside the Walmart Visitor Center in Bentonville, Arkansas!

Checking out the Walmart history and memorabilia.

The visitor center was pretty interesting and my favorite part was Sam Walton’s office. When he died, they photographed his office and then moved everything to Bentonville and the Visitor Center and set it up exactly the way it had been! Creepy, but cool! We had a good time and enjoyed getting to learn about the history of Walmart

Side note: If you pay attention, you’ll notice the evolution of Reagan’s clothes for the day. She started in a pink outfit. Puked on both of us on the way to the Candle Factory; thus the naked pictures. Then the rest of the afternoon and evening was spent in her teal outfit! Mommy went from a skirt to black shorts; sorry, no naked Mommy pictures! 😉

Thirty-one weeks

Reagan is 31 weeks old today and it’s been a busy week with us traveling from Illinois to Omaha, Nebraska and now out meandering through some additional states.

Here is what Reagan has been up to:

  • top 2 front teeth came in
  • first time to Nebraska
  • first time to Kansas
  • first wildlife safari
  • first petting zoo
  • first zoo
  • first gondola ride
  • first tram ride
  • she visited with Kona’s Aunt Becky
  • she visited with Uncle Ty & Aunt Austin
  • first cucumber, pickle, lemon, lettuce
  • first visit to a State Capitol (Topeka, KS)

What a busy busy little girl!!

Leaving Omaha headed to ??

Monday morning it was time for us to leave Omaha and head off to our next adventure. We said goodbye to Ty and Austin, and off we went.

Heading off in different directions!

For me, destination unknown! James had been keeping where we were going after Omaha a secret, so I literally had no clue if we were going north, south, east, or west once we left!

We ended up heading south and going back through Nebraska City. We’d been by there briefly when we went to the outlet mall, but this time we decided to stop and visit the Lewis & Clark Missouri River Visitors Center.

The museum was pretty interesting and was a good chance to get out and move around and let Reagan move around.

Lewis and Clark Museum

Daddy & Reagan looking at the view out the window from the museum

Reagan pretending to be a little Indian girl!

Daddy and Reagan looking at the Buffalo

Mommy & Reagan checking out the boat!

Our next stop was Topeka, the Capitol of Kansas! We got out to take pictures and spent a little time letting Reagan roll around on a blanket on the grass.

Checking out the capitol

Kansas State Capitol – Topeka, Kansas

Reagan and Mommy

We ended the day in Independence, Kansas, which, according to James, was very close to our next stop; which I still didn’t know anything about!

Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo

Sunday we spent the whole day at the Henry Doorly Zoo & Aquarium. The zoo is huge and has a number of notable features including:

  • the largest cat complex in North America
  • the world’s largest nocturnal exhibit and indoor swamp
  • one of the world’s largest indoor rainforest
  • the world’s largest indoor desert
  • the largest glazed geodesic dome in the world
  • the Zoo is Nebraska’s number one paid attendance attraction (information from Wikipedia)

Some of the animals we saw at the zoo!

It was crazy hot (in the upper 90’s) and sunny, which made walking around not always that fun, but luckily there were plenty of indoor attractions!

Group shot! Only missing James!

Daddy & Reagan

Reagan crashed in Uncle Ty’s arms (she started in Aunt Austin’s and ended up in Mommy’s!)

Austin and Ty enjoying their time at the zoo!

Mommy and Reagan going through one of the many misters around the zoo!

Family picture!

After our long and hot day at the zoo we went to Piccolo Pete’s Restaurant for dinner. It wasn’t far from the zoo and the food was really good. When the waitress asked what we wanted to drink we all said water and bring us a pitcher! She eventually brought us bigger glasses and I think we ended up with two pitchers of water on our table!

First day in Omaha

Saturday morning we got ready and packed up the car and then checked in with Ty to see how he and Austin were doing. They had gotten into Omaha late Friday night and with the additional hour time difference (not in their favor), they were just getting up when we were checking out of the hotel. We went ahead and got breakfast and then headed to Offutt Military Base, where Ty and Austin had spent the night.  Ty met us at the gate and after some slight confusion and eventually finding the right gate, we made it on base!  Austin was still getting ready, so that gave Reagan a chance to play on their bed and get warmed up to them.  It didn’t take long and everyone was fast friends! 🙂

Reagan getting re-introduced to her Uncle Ty

It didn’t take long for Reagan to warm up to her Aunt Austin!!

Before we left, Ty got us checked into our hotel room on base (thank you Ty!). We couldn’t stay on base the night before because we needed to get Reagan to bed before Ty and Austin got to Omaha, and we couldn’t get on base with out one of them!

Everyone piled into our car since we’ve got the  baby seat and we headed out for the day! Our first stop was for some lunch and then the Wildlife Safari Park outside Omaha! It’s mostly a drive through park, but also has a few places you can get out and walk around to see the animals.

Reagan with Aunt Austin & Uncle Ty

Buffalo

Reagan looking cute in her pink sun hat!

Reagan getting ready to pet the goats at the petting zoo!

Reagan and Daddy checking out the tractor next to the petting zoo!

Elk

Ty checking out the elk antlers! Wow were they big!

It was HOT at the park, but we saw a lot of animals and had a really good time!

When we were done at the park, we stopped so Austin could return a few clothes and then it was time for dinner! I was especially excited for dinner because we were eating at PF Changs! I’d never eaten there before, but Ty and Austin love it and have raved about it forever. The food really was pretty amazing and even James admitted it was “ok.” – he doesn’t normally like Chinese food. Afterwards we went next door to the Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory so Austin could get her caramel apple fix.  Yet, these weren’t your normal run of the mill caramel apples, these were caramel apples with all types of toppings including M & M’s, sugar & spice, and just about anything else yummy you could imagine putting on an apple! I got the Apple Pie caramel apple and it was delicious! I gave Reagan the apple part (minus the candy stuff), but she still managed to get her hands covered in caramel!

We spent the rest of the evening playing with Reagan and watching the Olympics.

Made it to Omaha

Friday started pretty good with fresh muffins from a local bakery and lots of smiles from (our now SEVEN months!) Reagan as she played with her Aunt Becky! Becky has two Papillon dogs (Noah and Jewlie (sp?))and Reagan had a love-hate relationship with them. She was absolutely fascinated by them and wanted to watch what they were doing, but if one of them got too close she would get a little anxious and want her Mommy. It was quite funny to watch and actually surprised me a little bit because Reagan loves the dogs at her babysitters and isn’t scared of them at all. Yet, those dogs are big dogs and Noah & Jewlie are on the smaller side.

Reagan checking out Aunt Becky’s dogs!

After packing up and saying our goodbyes, we headed to the site of the first sliced bread! Yes, Chillocothe, Mo is where bread was sliced for the first time! Pretty interesting, huh? We of course stopped to read the sign and get some pictures with Miss Reagan.

Home of sliced bread!

I hate to admit it, but the next stopped, which was very much planned, was at Chick-fil-A in St. Joseph, MO. I absolutely love those chicken sandwiches and waffle fries and since there aren’t any that close to us I always try and make sure we find at least one to stop at when we are traveling.

And yes, I knew about the controversy, but unfortunately no, I hadn’t done my homework at the time. I thought it was mostly a freedom of speech issue. I know the owners of Chick-fil-A have strong Christian beliefs because they close their business on Sunday, so unfortunately it didn’t surprise me much that they weren’t in support of gay marriage. Recently I have read up more on the topic and realize there is much much more to the situation than what I previously thought. Now, even as wonderful as those waffle fries tasted, I wish I hadn’t gone.

After lunch we headed north towards Omaha and took some back roads so we’d get a chance to stop at Indian Cave State Park.  The cave really wasn’t much of a cave, but there were a few petroglyphs and did give all of us a chance to stretch our legs a little bit.

Daddy and Reagan

Checking out Indian Cave!

Petroglyphs

James had to climb over to the other side of the fence to get his lens cap!

Reagan hanging out with Mommy!

Our last stop before getting to Omaha for the night was an outlet mall. Strangely enough this stop was more for James than me (he wanted to buy some new Lee brand shorts), but I ended up finding a few outfits for Reagan and a top for myself.

When we searched for a hotel for the night, we ended up finding a pretty nice room with a King sized bed in Council Bluffs, IA (across the river from Omaha).

Reagan playing on the bed in the hotel!

The main reason we picked this room was that it allowed us to use our Choice hotel points instead of paying, and the number of points it cost was really low given the hotel and room we got. We ate dinner at Cracker Barrel and then crashed for the night!

Seven Months

Reagan Kay is SEVEN months old!! Our baby girl is growing way too fast and seems to pick up new things every day!

Scooting all over the place!

Here are some of her many accomplishments from this month:

  • Reagan cut her top front left tooth and her right one is well on it’s way.  She’s definitely been fussy and has wanted to be held more than normal, but overall she really hasn’t done too bad.
  • Reagan is quite the little talker and while she can say Mama and (occasionally) Dada, she still mostly babels… quite loudly! If anyone is talking she wants to be part of the conversation! She also seems to enjoy talking to her toys while she plays!
  • Reagan is quite the little mover and easily goes from sitting to laying down to rolling over on her tummy and scooting around. She hasn’t figured out how to scoot forward yet, but she does great going backwards! Reagan also has been getting up on her knees a little here and there, so crawling probably isn’t too far off!
  • Reagan is fascinated by rope and string. She can sit for 15+ minutes playing with Daddy’s shoelaces or the cord for the teething necklace Mommy wears. Reagan doesn’t try and put it in her mouth, she just wants to play with it and investigate it.
  • Reagan is still a little ham and loves people and people watching. If she catches anyone’s eye she will flash them a huge smile, instantly winning them over. Overall she seems to do pretty good when we’re around new people that want to hold her, but just lately we noticed her needing a little time around them first and then still sometimes needing to go back to Mommy or Daddy for a little bit.
  • Reagan is overall a happy, smiley, easy going baby. She doesn’t mind playing by herself while Mommy gets her chores done and is quick to offer smiles and excited wiggles!

What a happy baby girl!

  • Reagan loves being outside. When Daddy is watching her and she’s fussy, he’ll take her outside to the back porch and she almost always quiets down.
  • Reagan also loves the pool and swimming. She’s not too keen on being on her back, but put her on her tummy and she’ll kick and splash all over! Reagan also enjoys her baths in the sink after eating!
  • Reagan is still primarily nursing, but we have introduced her to a lot of different solid foods. We don’t feed her baby food and instead mash up what we’re eating or use a food processor to puree her some fresh veggies. Reagan seems to be ok with at least trying most solid food, yet never really eats that much and mostly ends up playing with it and smearing it all over herself and her highchair!
  • Reagan has grown out of her infant car seat and is now in a convertible car seat (still rear facing). The convertible car seat is much bigger than her infant car seat (her head was hitting the back edge and her feet were hanging out of it!) and I think she enjoys the extra room!
  • Reagan is sleeping pretty well at night. She normally goes to bed around 7:30-8:30pm and doesn’t get up until 6:30-7:00am. Granted she still dream nurses throughout the night, but she doesn’t really wake up, just makes little smacking noises so I know to nurse her.
  • Reagan is a Daddy’s girl! Whenever James is around Reagan smiles and wiggles all over the place trying to get to her Daddy. When he walks in a room she literally lights up!!

It’s crazy to think about how much Reagan has changed in the last month and I can’t even imagine what she’ll be doing by next month!

Our seven month old little girl!

Start of our Omaha vacation

This morning I had great dreams of taking off early. I wanted to have plenty of time to experience Hannibal, stop in Macon to visit with family (from Columbia, MO), and still make it to my Aunt Becky’s in time for a early dinner. Well… with a teething almost seven month old and a Mommy who worked this whole week and didn’t get time to finish packing or get the house picked up, that definitely didn’t happen! Thrown in a little car trouble and lets say I was surprised we even made it out of Decatur!

Reagan has been fussy and wants to be held all the time. Normally that doesn’t bother me much and I’m happy to hold her and cuddle, but it is really hard to pack and clean when you’re carrying a baby that doesn’t want to get put down! James helped, yet he had stuff to do as well so the packing progress was slowed way down. I got up at 2:30 this morning, just as James was going to bed, to try and get stuff done and didn’t get back to bed until 4:30-5:00AM.

After our late night/early morning we didn’t wake up until 8am when Reagan woke up! As I was trying to finish getting ready and packing last minute things, James started loading the car and noticed we were missing a lug nut from one of our tires! Upon further inspection he found two more that were super loose and one that was pretty loose as well. We had the tires rotate on Tuesday and apparently they didn’t tighten the nuts on the tires down all the way. Thus, when we finally got the car packed and ready, we still had to stop by AutoZone in Decatur to replace the missing lug nut. Unfortunately they didn’t carry the kind we needed in stock, so James had to search through what they did have until he found some that would work. By this point it was 11am and after going through the Wendy’s drive-through for some lunch, we were finally on our way!

Our first stop was across the Mississippi river in Hannibal, MO. Hannibal is the boyhood home of Mark Twain and also the setting of his famous Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn books. It was HOT outside and we were all a little weary from the crazy morning, so we did a short walk past the Tom and Huck statue and up the hill to the lighthouse.

In front of the Tom & Huck statue!

Lighthouse

Looking out over the Mississippi River

We then came back down, stopped for some ice cream and then at a park so Reagan could roll around a little bit. There was a lot more we could have done, but it was already the middle of the afternoon and we had over two hours left to drive until we got to my Aunts house in Chillocothe, MO.

Hey Dad, I’d like some of that!

Ice cream is yummy!

Relaxing in the park before we get back on the road

We ended up skipping a meeting with family in Macon because of the lateness in the day [ 🙁 ] and journeyed onto Chillocothe.  My Aunt Becky was happy to see us and it didn’t take Reagan long at all to warm up to her! We dined at the local country club and Reagan had a blast trying pickles, cucumber, lettuce, tomato, and a lemon wedge for dinner!

Reagan and her salad

Enjoying a nice lemon wedge after dinner!

Afterwards we went back to Becky’s and Reagan kept us entertained until it was time for bed. Reagan got to sit in some green grass, which is pretty much non-existent everywhere else due to the drought. She also got to play on the floor for a while showing off all her baby tricks!

Checking out the first green grass we’ve seen in a while!

Reagan and Aunt Becky!

Reagan playing on the floor

Aunt Becky playing with Reagan

Playing with Reagan’s ball on the floor

It was a crazy day, but fortunately everything ended up working out pretty good!

Headed to Omaha

Yep, we’re heading out on vacation again! This time to glorious scenic Omaha, Nebraska! And why are we choosing to spend our precious vacation time in the middle of nowhere? Well… It started with me wanting to visit Ty and Austin (my brother and sister-in-law) in Cheyenne, Wyoming.  They are pregnant and due in November, so if we don’t see them now then we won’t get to see them until after the baby is born.  I talked with James and he agreed that we could drive out to Cheyenne and see them at the end of the Summer semester. Yet, when I talked to Ty about it, he and Austin came up with the idea of meeting us half-way… in Omaha! Thus our Cheyenne vacation became our Omaha vacation!

Our plans for getting to Omaha include for Missouri stopping in Hannibal to enjoy a little of the Mark Twain experience and Chillocothe to spend the night with my Aunt Becky.  The next day we’re going to take it easy and probably only stop at Indian Cave State Park in Nebraska on our way to Omaha.  For the first night (Friday) we’ll be on our own, but the rest of the weekend we’ll be with Ty & Austin enjoying all that Omaha has to offer a twenty-six week pregnant lady and a seven month old baby! We’re also going to be staying at the Air Force base thanks to my brother, who’s in the Air Force Reserves. We’ll be in Omaha until Monday morning, but after that it’s anyone’s guess where we’ll end up! I’d be fine with heading home, but James’ wanderlust means we could end up in Kansas, South Dakota, or who knows where first!! Guess we’ll all just have to wait to find out!

The first part of the trip to Omaha is pretty well scripted, but once we leave from there who knows where we might end up!