a weekend to remember.

I really don’t know the last time that I had so much fun over a three-day weekend. I’ve experienced a lot of things, but the three-day ride of just pure joy from this past weekend would be hard to match for me.

As you may know, Lionel turned three. When Sara brought up the idea of an overnight stay in Omaha before hosting his party on Sunday, I was up for it. I had some expectations from the trip, but I was really unsure ultimately how it would turn out.

Heading into the weekend, Sara had to call her first audible. The weather was not looking good for Saturday, which was the day that we had planned to go to the famous Henry Doorly Zoo, so we decided to book it down to Omaha in the AM to hit the zoo on Friday to catch the good weather.

20150608171937-9fbe18ce-meMama started the gift opening a tad early to keep this almost three-year-old excited through the drive…but Lionel loved his magnetic construction site book!

The drive down went pretty smoothly. We had to stop once for a diaper change, and I’m not used to that, really, since we haven’t traveled too far with the kiddos in the past, but I got over it quickly {I’m of the mind that we’ve gotta go go go go go ;)}.

We got to the zoo, and the weather was gorgeous. Lionel’s excitement was high, and thankfully Quincy was a very willing and happy participant.


We started off our day by petting a starfish…




I need to be closer to the fish!

We visited the aquarium just after lunch on Friday, and it was not busy at all. This made the experience ten times cooler, as we had a clear view of all of the marine life, and we didn’t feel the need to rush through it.

We saw many animals, but we missed the elephants {the zoo is currently expanding the exhibit, so the elephants were off-site}. Lionel didn’t mind, though, since we got to do this:


Riding the Skyfari with Daddy = love.


Eating ice cream = love.


Riding the zoo train with Mama = love.

Riding the Skyfari was a cool experience. Selfishly, I’d love to try and take him skiing this winter, and he showed himself ready for a ski-lift without any fear or hesitation. He had quite a bit of fun! It could be different with snow, but I’m encouraged. He obviously doesn’t have his mother’s fear of heights!

At some point, we got ice cream to help us all to cool down on the warm day, and later, our boy finally got to ride the train with Mama. They had loads of fun!


Lionel’s petting a snake!


A tree swing in the jungle = cool!


Hi, Quincy!


All smiles!


Lionel loved to brush the goat in the Petting Zoo!

We spent almost five hours at the Omaha Zoo before things started to wind down. We made it to everything but the Desert Dome (Mama can’t handle the creepy crawlies there!). It was a ton of fun. But, it was time to find our hotel, find dinner, and get onto the rest of the weekend.


Lionel runs the bases!

As we were leaving the zoo, we noticed that inside the zoo’s newly-expanded parking lot {part of which used to house Rosenblatt Stadium}, there is now a tiny memorial infield dedicated to the stadium of yore. We had to see if Lionel had any energy left. He ran the bases a few dozen times – OVERJOYED – before reluctantly returning with me to the car.

The night ended with a nice dinner and the opening of his second present, a Playmobil sports set that features a hockey get-up, among other sports gear. Lionel spent a good portion of the downtime of the weekend playing hockey with these guys, which was very cool.


Good morning + happy birthday!

The next morning, we woke up to some donuts, and we stuck candles in Lionel’s to have our own private family rendition of “Happy Birthday to You” to kick off Saturday. It was a riot. Lionel opened another present {a firehouse version of the Imaginetics books}, and then we changed into swimming gear to head to the Coco Key water park, which was located inside our hotel in Omaha.

Unfortunately, given the large number of pools and water slides, water was all over the place, so there’s not many pictures. But, we snagged a couple…


Daddy + Quincy-Bug!


Swimming Lionel!

Throughout the day, Lionel transitioned from the kiddie pool, to the deeper pool, to the slides in short time. By the end of the day, he was traversing the entire park and going down the water slides in rapid fashion. We soaked in the pool for almost five hours before deciding to wrap things up and go home.

The drive home was pretty painless, as both boys were tuckered out, and while they didn’t exactly nap, they didn’t put up much of a fight about the drive, either. Mommy and Daddy got home and unloaded the car and did some clean-up, but were pooped and we all kind of crashed and went to bed rather early.

On Sunday, we woke up and began prepping the house for the party. Things were about to get real. We had no idea how many people were coming, but as soon as four o’clock rolled around, we found out how much everyone loves our Lionel. Cars started pulling up and parking, and people came into our home one after another to wish Lionel a happy birthday and celebrate with him.

In addition to great family and friends of ours, ALL of Lionel’s friends and one of his teachers from school came to his party, which delighted him, of course! Lionel was so good through the whole thing. He shared his toys, gave hugs and kisses, said many a “Thank you!” and had a smile glued to his face the entire time.


Welcome to Lionel’s hockey party!


Daddy had to get some baseball in…


Quincy-Bug with Great Grandma Helen


Q with Great Aunt Sharon, Great Aunt Judy + cousin Harper

Food was served, and then, a special guest arrived…STOMP from the Sioux Falls Stampede, our local professional hockey team!

Lionel’s no stranger to Stampede games, and when it was known that Stomp was available to come to the party, Grandpa Joe pulled a few strings to get the special guest to the show. Stomp posed for pictures, gave hugs to the willing kids, and played hockey with everyone.


“Hi Stomp!” – Lionel


Let’s score some goals!




Everyone’s playing!


Thank you, Stomp! A family photo.

We followed up hockey with cake and presents. Of course, a hockey party needs a hockey cake, and Lionel kept up the awesome vibe by hugging and often kissing everyone while thanking each person for the gifts that he received.

20150608172425-9711719c-me (1)

“Happy birthday to you!”


“Thank you!”


Gift Excitement!

After the gift opening, the party started to disperse. Lionel played with almost all of his toys for some time the rest of the night. The energy of the day was long-lasting and incredibly positive.

I am still riding the high of how awesome the entire weekend was. Sara did an amazing job planning the entire trip and the entire party. I did my part here and there, but she truly shined as a mother who knew how to go the extra mile for her son. Friends and family showed up to make a special day even better. Quincy was better than you can logically expect from a six month old who is forced out of his routine.

It was just an awesome time. Wow!

About Jord

jord considers himself nerdy, mostly because he's a devoted gamer and freelance web designer. he works in computer technology and information services, but he'd be most proud to tell you that he recently built himself a computer, loves audio books, trying new beer and wine, grilling, and is so excited to have added "homeowner" to his list of titles.
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