Monday, May 12, 2014

Mother's Day Weekend 2014

Another awesome weekend in the books ... and can you believe we didn't spend it at the cabin? For Mother's Day this year, my wish was to travel to Des Moines, Iowa for a mini vaca with my Nebraska family. (Des Moines is the half-way point between the Twin Cities and the Nebraska towns where my extended family resides). It was so much fun to get away for the weekend and the weather was absolutely gorgeous -- perfect for a day at Des Moines' Blank Park Zoo and an evening of swimming at our hotel's indoor water park.

Andi and I packed up the kids and drove to Iowa bright and early Saturday morning (after stopping by the bakery for coffee and donuts, of course). The drive went fairly smoothly; Tory watched some television shows on the iPad and Aden slept a good chunk of the way. Four hours to Des Moines is so manageable; 7+ hours to my parent's hometown in Nebraska is brutal. Trimming a few hours off the journey makes all the difference when traveling with kids. We rolled into town and headed straight for the zoo where we met my sister Ashley and her girls Brooke and Neeley, my Aunt Cheri and Uncle Norman, their girls (and my cousins) Jen, Jes and their families. My parents decided not to come on this trip -- we sure missed them!

I worried the zoo would be crazy-busy considering it was Mother's Day weekend and beautiful weather, but surprisingly it wasn't busy at all. We practically had the place to ourselves which was so nice to let the kids run and explore. The Des Moines zoo is on the smaller side (similar to the Twin Cities' Como Zoo) and I much prefer places like that for little kids. We saw giraffes, camels, a tiger, fish, monkeys, farm animals, seals and more. Our group of kids (ages 6 to 5 months) were thrilled.

Cousins Tory (age 2 1/2) and Brooke (age 6)

Neeley (age 21 months)

Tory and Brooke - so happy to be reunited

Jes, Nate and Finleigh (8 months)

My sissy Ashley and Aden (5 months)

So fun seeing my sister and her girls

Tory and Andi

I'd venture to say, dads are much more daring than moms (at least in our family). Before I realized what was happening, Andi paid for Tory to ride on the back of a camel at the zoo. There my baby girl went, hoisted up high between one of the camel's humps. Ahh! I could barely contain my nerves as I watched with my hands half-covering my eyes. Alas, all was fine and Tory (and Brookie) had a blast riding "Holly" the Camel. The girls weren't scared a bit.  

We stopped for lunch at one of the zoo's food stands and ate outdoors in a shaded picnic area. It felt so wonderful to be outdoors without coats, hats, boots ... or snow! Tory and Lauren had Popsicles for dessert and watching them devour their treats lick by lick was so cute.

Tory and Lauren (3 1/2 years)

Love this one of Lauren's tongue ready to slurp!

After a fun few hours at the zoo, we checked into our hotel which included an indoor water park. All the kids were chomping at the bit to get their swimming suits on and hit the pool. I remember feeling the same way as a kid -- begging my parents to hurry up! so we could swim the night away. I have many fond memories of swimming in hotel pools with the very same cousins on this Des Moines vacation. It's crazy to think we're the parents now with kids of our own.

It was a bit stressful being accountable for so many little kids in the pool. I felt like I was constantly counting heads!

Brother's first time in a swimming pool - he loved it!


Tory going down the slides ... x1000

My girl - so happy!

Brooke and Tory going down the slide together

Being an indoor water park, the hotel was setup nicely to handle lots of kids/parents with tables and chairs and a restaurant / bar attached to the pool area. We ordered pizzas for dinner and swam up until the minute it was time to eat. After dinner, we dried off and continued to hang out in our hotel room for another hour or two. The kids were wiped (and truthfully, so were the adults) from such a busy and fun day.

Lauren diving into a slice of pizza at dinner - too cute!

My sister Ashley and her girls

All the kids together. Of course, it's impossible to get them all looking toward the camera at once.
(Aden [asleep in his car seat], Neeley, Reese, Tory, Brooke, Lauren, and Finleigh)

Sunday (Mother's Day), Tory, Aden, Brooke and Neeley woke up early, so Andi, Ashley and I got dressed and went to breakfast at the hotel's restaurant. Moms ate free at the restaurant which was a nice surprise! We were going to stick around for a morning swim session with the rest of the crew, but we decided to scoot back to Minneapolis so we could spend the remainder of the day with Andi's family. The kids were well behaved again on the drive home and Andi and I had lots of time to talk. Once we arrived in the Twin Cities, Andi, Tory, Aden and I stopped by Andi's parents house to wish his mom a Happy Mother's Day and visit with Lindsay and Kyle who just returned from their recent trip to Europe.

A busy, fun-filled Mother's Day weekend! I commented to Andi on Sunday that this Mother's Day felt even more special than my birthday. It felt nice to be recognized for all the hard (often, thankless) work I do everyday for the kids. I love being a mom more than anything in the world and I'm blessed beyond measure to have these two kiddos in my life.

My baby boy and I

and the beautiful girl who made me a mama


  1. Sounds like an awesome Mother's Day weekend!

  2. Awww! So wonderful that you got to spend time with your family :)
    Your family reminds me a lot of ours…lots of girls born close together (we have 6 total within 4 years), and now the boys are starting to show up!
    Love those last two photos of you with each of your babies :) Happy (belated) Mother's Day!

  3. So much fun!! : ) I remember all of our trips to KC and begging our parents to let us swim. So many fun memories - I am so glad we get to make new ones with our kids! We had a blast and can't wait for many more weekend trips.

  4. Glad you had such a nice Mother's Day weekend - you deserve it!

  5. Looks like such a fun weekend! All of our family is about 4 hours away, and I agree, it's a manageable distance. Any longer and the kids start to go a little crazy.