Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Our trip to Texas & Vann's 10th birthday!!

Disclaimer...this is a long post!  Grab your cup of coffee and enjoy :)

We went to visit my family in Texas a few weeks ago.  It was such a great time!  Lots of family time, fun adventures, late night chats, birthday celebrations, it was fabulous!  Our flight left uber early on Halloween.  I woke up at 3:15am, I woke the kids and Chris up at 4am and we were supposed to leave the house at 4:30am for the airport.  We were running a few minutes late, of course, and didn't pull out of the driveway will 4:50.  And honestly I wasn't worried about it at all...like not even a bit.  I, the girl who has only flown once in the last 10 years, thought the airport would be empty.  I mean who flies out that early on Halloween besides us?!  And the last time I had a flight at 6:40am, ya know 15 years ago, the airport was empty...not a sole in sight.  Well my friends, that was not the case this lovely Halloween morning.  

After we parked our car in the parking garage that I prepaid for, go me on being prepared right?!...went hopped on the bus and they shuttled us to the airport, I still thought we were a-ok with time.  I'm here to tell you now that we weren't.  Not even close.  When we walked into the airport and I saw the line for security my tummy did a few flip flops.  What the heck are all these people doing here?!?!  Deep breath Jen...deep breath.  For reals, the only thing that saved me from freaking out or busting into tears was deep breaths.  

So we get our boarding passes and take our luggage to be weighed.  I knew it would be over 50 lbs...I waayy over packed!  Would you believe the lady tried to fight with me about paying the $100 fee since my bag weighed 65 lbs??  She kept saying, 'You really need to switch some stuff around, you don't want to pay $100.'  Me, 'Um we are kinda late and may miss our plane so here's my card, I'll pay the $100.'  Her, 'Well it's going to take a long time to process this.'  Me, 'Why??  Here's cash, just make it work, we gotta go!'  Her, 'Just move some stuff around.'  Sigh...we went back and forth like this for too long until finally I opened both of our big suitcases and showed her there was no room to 'move stuff around.'  

Chris and I kept looking at each other like what the hey are we supposed to do now??  Finally she says, 'Just move those shoes and I'll call it good.'  It was just like the movies...I was literally sitting/bouncing on the suitcase all the while praying the zipper didn't break from it being too full and mouthing to the line of people behind us how sorry I was to be taking so long.  Phew, our still much too heavy suitcases would be on the plane, but would we?!  

We hustled over to the security line (it was 5 rows deep) and I that's when I really realized we may not make this plane. Vann could see it in my face and he started to tear up.  Pull it together mama, don't worry the littles!  I reassured him that we were fine and even if we missed our plane we'd just catch the next one.  We were going to Texas no matter what! 

I asked an airport guy if there was any way we could get moved up in line and he said you can ask the other travelers in front of you.  Um there are a lot of people in front of us and we are not a small group, there are five of us and about 5 bags...did I mention I way over packed?!  So we stood in line and my belly did more flip flops.  Then another airport guy came over, opened the line up and said follow me.  I said are you sure this will be quicker?  He said just follow me.  So we did along with everyone behind us.  They had opened up another security line...yes!  

As we got in this new line, we're all feeling like ok we may make our plane after all.  But then we see about 5 travelers ahead of us in wheel chairs.  And I'm not sure if you've ever watched the process they go through to get a wheelchair through airport security, but let's just say it's not quick...at all.  More deep breaths...calm down you flip flopping belly!  

We finally make it through security and we hustle as fast as our 3 tired little boys' legs will go...all the way down to the gate...at the end of the longest.terminal.ever.  For reals, it was way far away.  Have you seen the movie 'Home Alone'...that was us rushing to our gate.  I hadn't even looked at the time, didn't want to know, but I knew we were gonna be close if we even made it there in time at all.  As we're approaching our empty gate we hear 'Riley's??'  'Yes yes that's us!!'  'You made it with 2 minutes to spare!'  Holy cow, that.was.close.  We board the plane, tuck our luggage away, start to buckle up and no joke the plane pulls away from the gate...we barely made it.  Huge sigh of relief!  

Getting cozy on the plane.
He was digging it!

Vann's checking out his snack bag and
Dad's already sleeping haha!  

Ash is playing with his guys and Chaycers
is doing his activity book.

I got these cool activity books from
Amazon, they enjoyed them!

After we got settled at my sister, Sam's, house we went shopping!  My niece, Megan, works at Runway Seven and I've been following them on Instagram and totally love their clothes.  It's the cutest store, very boutique-ish, I loved it!  

Shopping fun!  

After shopping we got ready for Halloween.
Trick or treat time!  

My cute lil' ninjas :)

I did one last check on them around midnight and this is what I found.  Look how cute they are all snuggled up together!  

The next day everyone decided to go to the Dallas Aquarium.  Which is actually more of a rain forest although they did have sharks and jelly fish too.  I think I've told you before how I don't really love zoos.  I dislike the animals being cooped up.  So while I didn't really love the aquarium itself, I did enjoy my time with my family who did love the aquarium.  Watching them get excited to see the sting rays and monkeys and bats and sloths and I could go on and on was just the best! 

Watching the monkeys.

Karen and I
Sam, Megan and I

Sam and I

My munchkins
Little Ash and I

Grandpa and the boys checking out the sting rays.

Vann and I
They were taking a selfie :)

Us girls!

So at the bottom of the rain forest you can go down and see what's under the water.  Lots of catfish, a whale of some sort, and ducks.  Oh the ducks.  So I was all good watching my family enjoy all of the animals until we saw the ducks.  There were at least 4 with only one foot!  I couldn't begin to understand why they would only have one foot and it really bothered me.  So much so that I asked the first zoo worker I saw which just happened to be a younger kid.  Me, 'Excuse me, why do those ducks only have one foot??'  Him, 'Oh they have their other foot tucked up.'  Me, 'Uh what??  Are you sure?  I don't see their other foot at all.'  I wasn't buying it.  There was no other foot.  Him, 'Oh it's there, it's just tucked way up.'  Hmmm. 

Of course I run back up so I can check this story out.  I'm telling you, there was no other foot tucked up anywhere.  I looked and looked and looked.  I went back down and back up a few times.  These ducks only had one foot.  Why??  And why lie about it?  I googled and looked for answers, but still have none.  This is why I don't like zoos.  I did not get a good feeling about these one footed ducks.  To the zoo's defense, there were many two footed ducks there also.  But it's those poor one footed ducks (actually these two were geese, but the others were ducks) that kept swimming in the same exact circle for the entire 45 minutes I was observing them, those are the ones I worry about.  

Enough about ducks, look at my sweet sleeping baby!  He was tuckered out and crashed on my chest while we were waiting for our BBQ at lunch.  He napped like this for an hour and I enjoyed every second!  

My loves and I :)

Sam's husband, Steve, is a fire fighter so the next day we went to his station and got to check stuff out.  They loved this vehicle!  

We all got to go for a ride on it and ended up going mudding!  It had been very rainy down there and the area by the river was still pretty wet.   

After the firehouse we went to a trampoline park to play.  On the way there this little dude fell asleep so I scooped him up and snuggled him in the car while the older boys jumped with Grandpa.  He woke up and had about 20 minutes to play too which ended up being perfect!

Since we were flying back home on Vann's birthday, I decided to give him his birthday surprise while we were there.  Grandpa had the best idea...horseback riding!   I ended up telling Ash ahead of time because I wanted to prep him a bit about getting on a horse.  I didn't want him to be upset that he couldn't ride with me.  He was supposed to ride with one of the people there for safety reasons.  And then Chayce wanted to know too so I told him right before we left.  But Vann was totally surprised!  

The boys checking out the ranch.  They were watching them brush the horses.

Vann and Grandpa
Chaycers and Grandpa

He loved the horses!

Such a cool pic.  I love it!

Another one of my favs.

Kinda dark, but Ash is riding with Grandpa.  He did not want to ride with the lady at all.  And I haven't been on a horse in years so she didn't want him riding with me, which I totally get.  So he rode with Grandpa :)

I was kinda nervous about this little cutie
riding, but he did so great!

Vann rocked it too!

He was so happy :)

After our 1 1/2 hour amazing trail ride, we headed back home for more birthday celebrations!  My aunt Charlotte and cousin Holly came over and it was so great to catch up with them.  There were lots of long hugs since we haven't seen each other in so many years.  

Sam, Holly and I

Vann's birthday cake!
He wanted to put his
own candles in.

Lighting the candles.
Singing Happy Birthday!

Sweet thing :)

I cannot believe he's 10!!  

Opening presents.
Ooh what is it?!

A new cube!  It's an Octahedron...he loved it!

What's next??
A 3D crystal skull puzzle.

These are cool..3D metal bugs!

The origami book he's
been wanting by his
fav guy, Jeremy Shafer.
And his other origami
about pop ups.

He dug right in and started reading!

And we're headed home!  This time we were the first people in line at security and our gate was the 2nd one in the terminal.  We had plenty of time to spare, phew!  

It was such a great trip!  We did lots of fun stuff, but mostly we spent quality time with my family and that's all I really care about.  And I'm so happy Vann had a fun filled 10th birthday!  I still cannot believe my first baby is in double digits.  Where does the time go?!  He is a great big brother, loves to learn, is super creative, has such patience and passion for the things he loves and I can't wait to see what amazing things he accomplishes in his life.  He's the coolest 10 year old I know!  

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