To the Zoo

This past Monday, my mom, dad, Riley, Ella and I loaded up and went to the Caldwell Zoo in Tyler. We've lived here for over 2 years and this was our first time to visit this zoo. I was a little skeptical before we arrived because my last couple of zoo experiences have not been the best. I mean, after living in Africa and seeing animals in the wild (i.e. a pack of lions right after they'd finished chowing down on dinner they had caught and killed themselves), it's kind of hard to get into the whole animal-behind-a-cage thing. But, I knew Riley would enjoy it, and I was curious to see if this zoo would live up to any expectations I had. I must say that I was very pleasantly surprised! We will definitely be returning, and I can't wait to take Daniel with us! And here comes the long line of pictures from our fun day! :)

Ready for a good time at the zoo!

You may think, "that doesn't look like a zoo!" Well, this was the "educational area" and if you know my son at all, you know we spent a lot of time in this one area. In fact, if you ask him today if he had fun at the zoo, he'll say, "Yes! I saw an old tractor and an old truck!" What animals?!?!

Farmer Bramlett - and no, I had no clue this would be at the zoo when I dressed him in overalls :)

And here's the old truck I was referring to

Love this picture!

Everyone had to get a picture with Riley and the old truck :)

Oh, there's an animal! Riley was so funny talking to this bird. "Hey bird! You doing okay?"

"Let's go see what else we can find!" I heard that line about 100 times during the day. He would look at an animal for about .2 seconds and then say the infamous line.

So many pretty spots throughout the zoo!

Had to get a pic of my favorite, of course :)

Getting a good look at the zebra

Riley's 2nd favorite thing at the zoo (the tractor and truck being #1, of course) was all of the water he saw throughout. He kept talking about how this water was the ocean, etc. etc. etc. I absolutely love this boy's imagination!

The loud and proud reminder that we are in Texas :)

To most this would seem to be a bench for an exhausted adult to rest on while their child looks at animals. To my 2-year-old son, this is a computer work station. He is currently typing on his computer...

Eating lunch with the giraffes and elephants (see them in the background?). Fun scenery, not the best smells while trying to enjoy your food!

There's little miss!

Thankful I got to be there with my two kiddos, but when I look at this picture, it's very evident to me that someone special is missing!

We went into the petting zoo area, and Riley absolutely fell in love with the goats!

He had so much fun petting them and talking to them

And then they all migrated towards my dad. It was hilarious!

In deep conversation

And of course, we had to end the day back in this spot...

Such a fun, beautiful day! The weather was perfect, the 2-year-old was pretty close to perfect (a few meltdowns are expected, right?!), the 5-month-old was amazing, and the 3 adults (no need to include our ages) left exhausted! As we were walking back to the car I was thinking, "This is going to be great. Riley's going to pass out before we leave the parking lot and we'll have a nice, quiet ride home." HA! I don't know where he found the energy, but he chatted the entire way home. Needless to say, my bed could not come quick enough that night! But, I am very thankful for the memories we made and I look forward to the next time we'll get to go to the zoo to see the tractor/truck animals!

5 months

I'm not sure how it's possible, but this cutie turned 5 months yesterday. As you can see, she's just as surprised as I am! :) I love that she became a part of our family 5 months ago. The Lord definitely knew what He was doing (as He always does!). Wednesday we decided to see how she'd do with a bowl, spoon and some whole wheat cereal. As you can see in the picture below, she wasn't quite sure what to think. I think I made the mixture too thick, though, because she just kept pushing it back out of her mouth with her tongue. We tried again today (with a much soupier mixture) and she finished the whole bowl! Riley figured out the spoon really quickly, so I guess I just assumed she would too. Once again, I'm reminded that every child is different!

Speaking of different...here's to hoping little miss handles the age of 2 a little better than her older brother. :) Trust me when I say that I absolutely adore my son, and I don't know what I would do without him. However, as my dad said today, "he definitely knows how to push your buttons!" Um yes, he sure does! I love Riley Whitlow, but he and I both are looking forward to daddy's return. We've had some wonderful one-on-one time this week that we don't normally get...very thankful for that!

Oh yeah, this began as a post about Ella Grace. Every day her little personality is blossoming more and more. I've never seen a baby smile as much as she does. You can wake her up from a dead sleep, and once her eyes are open and she knows where she is, she shows off the biggest smile! Oh how I pray that continues! If her brother is in the room, that's where her attention will be. She adores him and is always trying to get him to look at her and talk to her. Her back and neck are getting stronger and stronger. I don't think it will be long before she's sitting up on her own. She absolutely hates her belly - which is the complete opposite of Riley. If she rolls from her back to her belly she starts crying because she can't stand it! She's still not overly consumed with eating. It's almost as if she's thinking, "yeah, I'll do this if I have to, but it's not my favorite thing to do." I pray that food will always be something she consumes to survive and not something that comforts or numbs her.

Well, it's feeding time so I better go get the little munchkin. Ella Grace, we love you to pieces and thank God for allowing us to watch you grow day by day!


Surprising Ya Ya

The Thursday before Easter we were able to drive up to Little Rock and spend a couple days with Daniel's mom. Good Friday was her birthday, so we decided to surprise her by invading her house. :) She was definitely surprised and excited to have her grandchildren with her on her special day. As usual, I took lots of pictures, so I will let them tell the story of our visit.

"We're going to Ya Ya's house!"


Getting some energy out while we waited to surprise Ya Ya when she came home from work

Still waiting and showing off for GiGi

There's Ya Ya!

Ella with Great-Aunt Debbie

Much-anticipated play time with Ya Ya

Future Razorback?

We went to a local park, and when Riley got on this thing, he literally refused to get off. A huge fit ensued when another little boy came up and asked to ride it. Oh, 2 year olds...

So thankful for this man

Two peas in a pod

Riley riding next to his GiGi

Making sister smile

Being goofy

There are some beautiful places in downtown Little Rock

Family pic by the Arkansas river (when I asked Daniel what river it was he looked at me as if I was dumb and said, "The Arkansas!") Well, duh, Laura!

Not sure why I'm so blessed, but I sure am thankful!

We spent some time in the Old State House museum

While Daniel and I looked around, Riley, of course, spent all of his time in the train room

And then we went to the Peabody Hotel to watch the march of the ducks

Needless to say, we had one exhausted boy at the end of that day!

This is one of my favorite pictures from the trip. Riley and Ella are sitting with their Great-Grandmother (holding Ella) and their Great-Great Aunt and Uncle. How many people get to meet their Great-Great anything? Love it!

What a fun weekend! I'm so thankful we have family close enough that we can drive just 3 hours up the road to see them! Now if only Maryland could move a little closer to Texas...