Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Lexi plays the fiddle and Declan is robbed {our Grand Canyon adventures}

Last week we tacked on a couple of days to the weekend, and headed out to Arizona for a wonderful visit with Mimi and Pops. More on this to come in another post. While we were there, we figured we should go see the Grand Canyon, being that it is only an hour and a half away from their house. Since we have two little ones, we knew we couldn't see it through a hike or a river trip, but had to go the ultra touristy route and stand at the top, look out, and think to ourselves, "yes, it is Grand". We decided to put a some adventure in the day with a train ride there. And what an adventure this train ride turned out to be! Entertainment was the name of the game on this little jaunt. For me the train ride really made the day. Although, everything about this day was fantastic and certainly memorable. Thank you, Mimi and Pops for treating us to such a special day!

The day started out with an Old West show put on by the train employees. They had us hooked from the get go. Lexi watching the show.
A little photo op with one of the actors and his horse
Some excited kiddos getting ready to board the train!

At first the train ride started out like any other. Declan in his train trance (aka happy place) and Lexi messing around with Mimi. Except that instead of our typical ocean view, we saw pines trees as we started to make our way up the mountain.

And there was the club car for indulgences...
Not too long after settling in, a fiddle player danced the hall of our car, playing his heart out. It didn't take long for our Lexi girl to get her groove on.

Before we knew it the fiddle player took Lexi's hand and pulled her right in. He asked if she wanted to play the fiddle. Naturally our little performer did. 

Protege or cheater? Ha, ha! What an impact this experience made on her! She couldn't stop talking about it all day :)

By the time we arrived at the Grand Canyon, our group was a little giddy from all of the fun!

The Grand Canyon, was breath taking, as expected. The best part was that the kids (especially Declan) seemed to grasp the wonderment of it. 

We wanted to get the kids something from the gift shop, but after searching a bit, decided against it - nothing was really jumping out at us. Adam mentioned some national Park passports - something we had seen on a documentary about National Parks a few years ago. So we went searching - and found them! So, instead of a t-shirt, we got the kids the passports and had them put their very first stamp in them! The perfect memento!
We indulged in some ice cream -
We had a little bit of time to kill and Declan asked if he could take a picture of the Grand Canyon. The only camera we had was mine. Lately he has shown a bit of an interest in taking pictures, asking more questions and such. So, I cautiously put the strap around his tiny little neck and helped him use the camera. Of course he was hooked. He kept giving directions, telling us what to do. Here are a few of his shots -

Not too shabby!

After a few hours at the Grand Canyon, it was time to board the train home, where more entertainment awaited us!

This time, an amazing brother duo (for the record they are 16 and 20 years old) knocked our socks off with their unbelievable talent.
 About a half hour before our ride was to come to en end, we noticed some armed bandits on horseback outside our window. Luckily Lexi woke up from a nap just in time to witness this.
Love that piggie tail bed head
It wasn't long before the robbers were on our car!

One in particular was picking on Declan, telling him to "check his pockets for valuables". Declan diligently put his hands in his pockets and replied, "I don't have any valuables".
 So the robber asked him to stand! Not exactly sure what was going through this little guys mind, but he certainly took it in stride!
Such a fun ending to a grand day! (pun intended)
To end, just a few more pics of our train lover, enjoying the ride.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Celebrating Three Years of Lexi Girl

Lexi's actual birthday was just perfect. Less than 12 hours after her party, she awoke to more celebrations on her actual birthday. Everything seemed to fall into place on this day - a few serendipitous situations if you will. First off it was a Friday - the best day of the week. On top of which some of our good friends had the day off due to Spring break. So, it was a no brainer to plan a day at Baby Beach. Except that when we woke up, the weather forecast called for mid-60s and cloudy. Our group decided to rally and call it a sweatshirt beach day. Good thing we did! The sun ended up coming out within an hour of us arriving, and I'd be hard pressed to say that it was less than 72 degrees out. I thought we'd be at the beach for two hours tops. We ended up staying five. It was just that great of a day. After a fun day at the beach, we hurried home, cleaned up, and headed back out the door for our usual birthday dinner at Ruby's. Except that on the way there I suggested taking the kids to Hello Betty - a new restaurant Adam and I have been frequenting lately. The fact that it had a sand buggy in the back made me think the kids just might be entertained enough for us to enjoy dinner. It was a huge success! Since Lexi's birthday dinner I can't tell you how many times they have asked to return. Like I said, it was a serendipitous day. Full of fun, love, and surprises. Just like our little three year old. We like to celebrate around here. And, celebrate we did!!

Lexi awoke to a house full of decorations and of course...birthday presents!

 Declan made sure she was wearing her crown and encouraged her to pick out one present to open...

 Lexi likes small things, and so naturally she chose the smallest present in the pile :)
 Next up, birthday pancakes!!
 She had a little art project going on that morning, which ended up in stamps all over her face.
 We had some extra candles lying around, so of course we lit one - because, why not?
 Calling in the reinforcements, once again. She still hasn't figured out how to blow out, not up!
Onto a few snaps of our day at the bay!
 Love this group of kiddos! Micah, Alex, Declan, Gracie Jo, Lexi, and Kylie

 Hanging with the boys
 And her sandy sistahs
 On our way to the beach we stopped at the store and picked up some Hello Kitty cupcakes to share with everyone. We obviously took too long to eat them. The kiddos didn't seem to mind the melted mess!
 Group pic - attempt.

 Besties :)
 After some quick showers, we headed over to Hello Betty for more birthday fun!
They seated us right next to the buggy, where two 9 year old girls were already playing. These girls loved Declan and Lexi and played with them all evening.
 Look out, she's behind the wheel!

 We actually did get them to eat...a little

 Although we didn't get the whole birthday singing experience like we do at Ruby's, Lexi got a mean brownie ice cream ensemble...I think it was worth the singing trade-off.

Time to go home for presents and cake!
The birthday streamer run is usually something we do in the morning, but the morning got away from us without it happening, so we made it an evening birthday streamer run!

 Dec was the keeper of the birthday crown. He made sure to remind her to wear it - even though she usually ended up taking it off :)

Time to open those long awaited presents!
It should be noted that when Lexi put on the Elsa dress in the video below, she immediately gave it a spin. When it didn't twirl out, she said, "I think this dress doesn't work. We need to get another one." Apparently it is all about the spin for her.

And because what we needed was more sugar...an ice cream cake from Baskin Robins to finish off our day!

 Gotta love that post-piggie hair!
 We had to put her new Minnie Mouse dress on before the singing began.

 These faces - I could just eat them up!

Such a wonderful birthday for our little girl :) I think she'd eagerly agree. 
Happy third birthday Lexi! You've added so much joy and spice to our life these last few years. We couldn't ask for a better daughter. We all adore you! Cheers to year four!
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