Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Weekend Getaway: Omaha, NE

So, my husband and I are kind of into going new places and trying new things. Not a huge shocker that we've passed this along to our kids. For Mother's Day Weekend I was looking for a place nearby (3 hours in the car maximum with our kids) and kid friendly. I settled on a weekend in Omaha, NE since I've wanted to take the kids to the Omaha Children's Museum for quite some time.
It was refreshing to have a weekend where I had no chores that needed tending to, no cooking, no errands to run, and to just simply enjoy the weekend. Like any decent weekend, our fun started Friday night. We had our parents and my grandma and grandpa over for pizza to celebrate Mother's Day a bit early.

My gift from my mom. Perfectly fitting, especially since I started the oven for lunch and happily ignored the smell of burning cheese from my unclean oven.
The kid's homemade Mother's Day gifts. Giant cards, flower pots (we ran out of time to plant the seeds) decorated with Sharpie marker, and candles.
Snuggling on the couch before our guests arrived.
This is how we do pizza parties around here: sitting around the living room, drinking beer and Pepsi, and chatting.

The kids asked Grandpa Harmeyer to go outside and play hide n' seek with them, but somehow they all wound up on the swings.
The most important and influential women in our lives.

After our party ended and the two youngest minis ran out their energy having races in the front yard, we packed bags and cleaned the house. We somehow managed to get up, go to the bank, run a couple of errands, stop at the gas station, and be on the road by 10:00 a.m. This is some kind of record for us!
Every getaway, we get the kids "vacation donuts" before we leave town, but the gas station was out of donuts that didn't have peanuts for Max. So this time the kids wound up with giant oatmeal creme pies. They were in heaven.

Omaha is only 2 hours away from Des Moines, but in the past we've had to stop at least once for a potty and snack break. This time we made it without stopping once for a potty or snack break (also a new record for us). We stopped just outside of Omaha and picked up lunch for the kids. By the time they finished eating in the car, we had made it to our first destination in Omaha: The Children's Museum.
I have wanted to take the kids here since last summer and I am so happy we finally made the time to go! The kids had a great time and loved all of the activities the Museum had. My favorite part of the Museum (and the reason I wanted to take my kids): Richman Gordman's Zooland!
The kids playing on the fire truck. Harrison was very disappointed that it didn't actually "shoot water out of it."
Harrison and Elizabeth drove the ship while Max leaned over the front and exclaimed (at Matt's request): "I'm the king of the world!!"
The kids loved Imagination Land. They had a house, farm, grocery store, and area just for babies. The kids loved this area (no surprise there). Max got to do his corn picking, Harrison milked a cow, and they all played house.

Elizabeth enjoyed jumping off of the corn field....
Playing in the house.
The grocery store area.

No activity that we do is complete without on good sibling brawl. This time over a shopping cart. Harrison had the cart, Elizabeth waited her turn (not patiently), H gave her a turn, but when he asked for it back Elizabeth said no. Naturally H tried to grab it back any way he could and Elizabeth fought back by biting at Harrison's grabbing hands. And yes, I got pictures of it while Matt tried to intervene, because that's what good mother's do. Take pictures for blackmail later in life.

The science area at the Museum. The boys loved this area.....and when I say boys, I mean Max, Harrison, and Matt.

Richman Gordman's Zooland. I was beyond excited when I found out that these were at the Children's Museum (making this a must visit spot). As soon as I saw my kids running around on these animals, my memories of playing on these as a kid while my mom shopped came flooding back. The older I get, the more I appreciate having my kids experience things I loved as a kid.

Climbing inside of the elephant. The elephant was always a favorite as a kid.

Fixing up the car. Harrison was annoyed by the other 3 boys here in the picture because they followed him around and kept asking him how to fix the car. H told one little boy "you're really buggin' me."

The boys loved the theater area. They even performed a play (complete with drums) for a crowd of people (and told them to be quiet and listen up).

After the Omaha Children's Museum, we headed to Geene Leahy Mall and took a nice long walk and played on the giant slides.

3:30 p.m. and finally in the hotel and resting. The boys watched a cartoon and then headed to the pool. Elizabeth on the other hand crashed.

For dinner we headed to the Old Market area. We were looking for a kid friendly restaurant to eat at. Our hotel recommended Zio's and after some debating (and looking up menus online and nixing any places that didn't have a kids menu. Yes this is what our dinner choices have come to: only places with decent kid menus), decided Zio's was our best option. It was amazing! The food was great: the kids got pasta, garlic bread, and fried cheese ravioli and Matt and I got mini calzones (all made with fresh ingredients). The waiter brought out pizza dough for the kids to play with first thing so hubs and I could look at the menus. The atmosphere was casual and laid back, but still drew several prom groups for dinner. The waiters/waitresses were great and helpful. I highly recommend this restaurant for anybody with kids. Get there early though because by the time we left at 7 p.m. the restaurant was packed.

After dinner we took the kids on their first carriage ride around Old Market. There was a lot of traffic, but it was a gorgeous, slightly breezy evening for a slow ride. Harrison and Elizabeth loved people watching and waving at people walking by.

The kids were treated to a treat at a candy shop and homemade ice cream from Ted & Wally's. We had to wait in a long line for the ice cream, but the Berry Sorbet was soooo worth it.

Harrison first got dutch chocolate ice cream, but asked to try Matt and Elizabeth's berry sorbet. He took one bite, shoved his bowl of chocolate across the table to Matt and said "umm, yum. I think I'll have this one instead." That's the story of how Matt lost his ice cream (and he was none too happy about it).
I bought Bubble Yum for the kids for the first time. The minis tried to blow bubbles, but were too entertained by my bubble blowing skills (and getting the gum stuck on my glasses) to try too much.
Races down our hotel hall.

Sharing one hotel suite is a bit rough. It was a nice large suite (complete with kitchenette and dining area) but we were expecting a 1-2 bedroom suite. We booked the hotel room through Hotwire and apparently their definition of a hotel suite is different than what we were expecting. Despite this, we still love Homewood Suites. If you're traveling with kids, I highly recommend booking at Homewood Suites. Every room features a kitchen, dining area, living area, bed room (or large suite as we experienced), and large bathroom. It's perfect when traveling with kids.
We prefer Homewood's 1 bedroom suite because we can easily put all of the kids in the oversized bedroom and Matt and I take the pull out couch. Not as comfortable for us, but we're not forced to go to bed and make no noise when the kids go to bed. When we're all in the same room, it seems we wake each other up quite easily. Take for example this hotel stay: Harrison didn't go to sleep until after 11 p.m., Elizabeth woke up and tried to wake her brother's up from 4 a.m.-6:00 a.m., the boys then woke up at 6:30 a.m., and Elizabeth went back to sleep from 6:00 a.m. to 9:00 a.m. It was an early Mother's Day morning for me!
To keep the boys from waking up Elizabeth, I took them down for our breakfast buffet in the hotel lobby. Homewood Suites offers awesome breakfast options: a waffle bar, bagels, toast, muffins, pastries, fruit, oatmeal bar, eggs, sausage/bacon, cornbread/breakfast potatoes, juices, and coffee (all free with your hotel stay). The boys loved making their own waffles for breakfast! They had hoped to go swimming after breakfast, but thanks to a thunder storm rolling through that morning the pool was closed.
We waited out the thunderstorm in the hotel with "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle" cartoons and wrestling. The rain stopped around 10:00 a.m. and we made our way to the zoo. Despite it being cloudy, it actually wound up being a great day to go. It was cool and breezy the entire time we were there and we didn't have to worry about sunscreen.
My monkeys.
Selfie in the middle of the zoo.
The animals were a bit slow in coming out for the morning since it had been raining (and more severe weather was expected later in the day, so they weren't allowing some of the animals outside). This poor leopard was pacing by the edge of the glass. Harrison was scared the animals were going to break through the glass and get him.
Annual picture on the gorilla statues.

The first time seeing the gorillas. Despite this being the third year in a row we've made the trip to the Omaha Zoo, this is our first time walking through the gorillas and monkeys. The gorillas were amazing to watch.
This is the monkey butt that sparked the line from Max: "I wish I had a little red butt." Said loud enough for everyone looking at the exhibit to hear.
Checking out the sun bear lounging.
This attempt at a selfie in the jungle didn't turn out as great as the first one.
The kids had a blast exploring the zoo. We even saw a few exhibits we haven't made time for in the past, witnessed feeding time for numerous animals, saw the alligators getting a check up from zoo trainers, had lunch (ridiculously over priced. Bringing our own food next time), and checked out the plans for the new exhibits coming.
I had an excellent, although somewhat exhausting, weekend with my animals! We are still recovering with long naps and early bedtimes this week. Who knows where our next adventure will take us???