Saturday, June 27, 2009

Trip To Omaha - Part 5

Omaha has an amazing zoo.

We spent the entire day there with the family, including Josephine's brother Josh, their dad, his wife and their kids who had come to visit. It was such a fun group!

Josephine's little brother got this big stuffed alligator that he carried around all day.
When we approached the tiger's cage, the tiger was VERY interested in that alligator. She started stalking him with her eyes and pacing back and forth. She even acted like she was ready to pounce at one point. Thank goodness for wire cages, right?

One of the highlights of the day was the butterfly house. You could walk through amid all the butterflies as they fluttered around. One landed on Tyler!
He thought it was great! He stood there so calmly and examined the butterfly for several minutes until it finally flew away.
My favorite animals to see are always the primates. At this zoo, many of the monkeys are housed in an indoor rainforest. It is amazing because as you walk through, you feel as if you are interacting with the animals while you are viewing them in quite a natural setting.

As we were wandering through, this little golden tamarind was scampering along within arm's reach!

Tyler thought it might be fun to grab his tail. Luckily it was just out of his grasp!
Here's a really cheesy shot to illustrate just how close I got. I really wanted to touch him, he looked so soft and cuddly. But I didn't want to risk a bite!
My mom has been having some problems with her feet and so we all ganged up on her and made her get a wheelchair for the day. My sweet husband chauffeured her around and took care of her all day long. He even gave her a few thrills by pretending he was going to let her roll down a hill!
Mom got out to stretch her legs and Ben decided he was tired of pushing the stroller, so he took Mom's seat.
All aboard the wheelchair/stroller train!
This made baby Claire giggle.
We didn't get to take a picture at the zoo with the whole group, but we got one the next morning (everyone minus Josh, who had just woken up, had bedhead and therefore volunteered to be the photographer.)

It was a wonderful trip and I'm so glad we went!

The end!

Friday, June 26, 2009

Trip To Omaha - Part 4

Some of my favorite memories of my childhood are of all the fun little projects my mom did with us. She made everything special, from birthdays to holiday dinners to summer activities to weekday meals.

It is so fun to see her using her creativity and talent to make things special with the grandkids. Grandma makes everything fun!

One day she helped Tyler and Ashley make Bunny Salads for lunch.
A half of a canned pear makes the body, which sits on a bed of cottage cheese. Raisins are attached with toothpicks for the eyes and a red hot makes the nose. A big marshmallow for a tail and pink ears cut out of paper complete this cute little bunny!

Raggedy Ann and Andy Salads were another special treat.
A half a canned peach for the face, raisin eyes and a red hot nose and grated cheese for hair. Their outfits are made up of lettuce, celery and string cheese chunks.
OK, I get to take credit for this one! After mom saw the cupcakes I made for Easter this year, she thought the kids would enjoy re-creating them.
Such beautiful works of art!
They look good enough to eat!

Creative food wasn't the only fun thing happening. Meet Melody, the singing dog! Melody is brought to life with a paper plate, a jello box, some crayons and a bow.

Of course, Aunt Jennifer couldn't resist giving Ashley a hairdo to match!
Later on we stuck a bandaid on her forehead to match Tyler. He had bonked his head good enough that he needed stitches right before we got there and was sporting cool Batman bandaids for a while!
Melody helped the kids learn some new songs. When they sang nice and pretty she would open her mouth and sing right along with them!
Do we have a fun mom and grandma or what?

To be continued...

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Trip To Omaha - Part 3

Not far from Ben and Josephine's home is the Winter Quarters Visitor Center.

Persecuted for their beliefs and driven from their homes, the Latter-day Saints set out from Nauvoo, Illinois, in 1846. They were seeking Zion–a place where they could worship as they pleased. Their destination was Utah's Salt Lake Valley. Thousands of Saints crossed Iowa and encamped on both sides of the Missouri River, including the site of Winter Quarters, where they constructed hundreds of shelters. These temporary towns became safe havens for the Saints–a place to gather strength before resuming the trek west.

I have ancestor's on my mom's side who were part of the Martin Handcart Company. They crossed the plains from Iowa to Utah carrying only what they could load into simple handcarts. They suffered unimaginable trials in order to reach a place where they could be free to worship the Lord.

It was a special thing to be able to take a picture of some of their posterity next to a handcart like the ones they pulled over the plains.

Many of the Latter-Day Saint pioneers died at Winter Quarters. Next to the visitor's center is a cemetery where many of those pioneers are buried. At the center stands this touching statue.

I had seen photographs of this statue before, of a mother and father burying their child in a shallow grave in the cold ground. But as I stood beside it, I noticed something I had never seen before - the form of the child, swaddled and laid to rest.

I couldn't help but weep at the thought of so many who perished and lost loved ones, especially precious children. I am inspired by and grateful for their faith in the Lord that these separations are for a short time until our families will be reunited on the other side.

Now, near the site where so many Saints are laid to rest, stands a beautiful Temple of the Lord. A place where families are sealed together and bound for all eternity. (If you'd like to learn more about LDS Temples, click here.)

What a blessing to be able to visit this inspiring and sacred place. I'm awed by the strength and faith of those early members of the church, especially my own ancestors, who withstood such hardships in order to build the kingdom and worship God. This day was one of my favorites of our trip.

To be continued...

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Trip To Omaha - Part 2

We found Omaha to be quite pretty, with a lot more rolling hills than I expected and enough trees, green and beauty to keep me happy.

We spent one day at the park. My parents, who had been anxiously waiting to spend time with their grandchildren, came prepared with big bubble wands and kites.

Ashley was the master bubble-blower. Or spinner, rather! These big wands didn't require blowing, just some serious waving. The best technique, of course is to spin in circles!
Tyler loved flying his kite because all that requires is running full-tilt across a field - something he excels at!

This was the first time mom and dad got to meet their new granddaughter, Claire. They couldn't get enough of her!
Who could resist such a cute munchkin?
We took a little hike through the woods and Tyler kept stopping to pick wildflowers and show them to me. Melt my heart!!!
Ashley collected quite a bunch as well.
Grandma didn't come on the hike, so the kids decided to present her with the bouquets of blossoms they found.
Being with family is beautiful.
To be continued...