Monday, March 28, 2016

Spring Break: Memphis Trip Day 2

Friday morning we went to eat breakfast at Arcade, a famous restaurant, where many well known people have eaten, including JFK.  Several movie scenes have been filmed there as well.  It's situated in what looks like was once a bustling part of the city, but now is a bit run down with old buildings full of character.  The diner began in 1919 but was renovated in the 50's and still has that nostalgic diner feel that serves a hearty breakfast and lunch fare.  We enjoyed our pancakes and omelettes.
Arcade Memphis

While we waited for our large table, the kids sat in the Kennedy's booth.  (Kinda cool, huh?)
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Arcade, Memphis

We left there and headed to the Memphis Zoo.  It started off brisk and breezy so we went straight to the sea lion show which was enclosed on the sides so it blocked the wind a bit.  "Callie" had many fun tricks that the kids enjoyed watching from balancing bottles on her nose to throwing frisbees to her trainer--she would dive and splashing on demand (or should I say, on click). The trainer emphasized how they use positive reinforcement with their animals by making clicking noises...I jokingly asked my friend, "wouldn't it be awesome if we could click our tongues at our children and with positive reinforcement, always get them to perform on demand?!"  Can I get an AMEN!
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We were a large crowd as we navigated the zoo with twenty kids and ten adults. We did a great job of keeping up with all the kiddos through the first part of our day but somewhere between the elephants and the panda exhibits we realized we didn't have Emerson.  The whole group pulled to the side and watched our other kids while Adam and I ran back toward the elephant area to look for him.  Adam spotted him first with big tears streaming down his face.  He was undone and grateful to finally see us.  It was only a few minutes that he wasn't with us, but I do believe that feeling won't soon be forgotten.  I think it was one of those moments when he got distracted by something and just didn't see the group moving...and Adam and I thought the other one had him...which made for a bad combination.  We were so grateful to see that little guy!
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I witnessed an animal I'd never heard of before, a Bongo.  It has brownish, orangey coloring with white stripes and antlers.  After we all Googled this animal to try and see what it was called, I learned that both male and female bongo's have antlers, which is a unique quality for sure.
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A lot of the animals at the zoo were alert and active which made the day really fun for everyone. When we got to the panda bears, they were munching on bamboo, walking around and looking oh so cute and cuddly.
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The grizzlies were by far the most fun to watch.  We went at feeding time and seeing them grab up the carrots or sweet potatoes and watching them scarf them down was pretty awesome.  We were standing right behind the glass and one of our kiddos was literally nose to nose with the bear!  Watching them rough house and "fight" was quite entertaining, both the parents and the kiddos enjoyed this exhibit!
Memphis Zoo Walk By

Memphis Zoo

The Memphis zoo is much larger then the Little Rock Zoo and was really such a treat to experience the animals active and alert because sometimes it seems like the animals in LR always seem to be sleeping or inside their exhibit where we can't see them!
Gorilla...

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We took a little break near the penguin exhibit, aren't they all such cuties!?
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The kids thoroughly enjoyed the Sting Ray's where we could feed and touch the fish, it was a first for a lot of us.  Ava Jane and Emerson were leaning over trying to feel their slimy, jelly-like bodies as they swam by and all of a sudden one of them flipped their little fin and splashed the fool out of them.  Emerson was in tears "cause I didn't want to get wet" and Ava Jane just rolled with the wetness.   Their reactions were totally different, she smiled a smirky wet grin while he decided to go pout near the sand for a bit.  I tried to warn him that wet clothes and sand wouldn't be a good combo but he didn't want to listen.  He fairly quickly changed his attitude, and smiled his sweet smile and went right back to petting the sting rays.
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And some how the clouds burned off, the sun began to shine and miraculously we took a group shot with almost every eye looking at the camera with a smile on their face!  How did that happen?  That has to be some kind of world record?!  Truly!  I love each one of these families and their sweet littles who are such good friends to my kids.  It was a great day spent together.  Spring Break ended on a high note and left us wishing for more days in our week off.
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Sunday, March 27, 2016

Spring Break: Memphis Trip Part 1

This is the second year that most of our D Group has gotten together with our all of our families to do something fun over Spring Break.  Last year we went to Branson for several days which was really fun, this year we decided to go to Memphis and stay at Big Cypress at the Pyramid. Two families drove up with us on Thursday and we met up with another family who currently lives in Memphis. The other families drove up Friday to join us at the zoo.

On our way into town we decided to grab lunch at a favorite local place, Central BBQ.  Since Memphis is known for its barbecue, I must say, the pulled pork sandwich was really good!
Central BBQ

Central BBQ

After lunch we headed to one of my favorite shops in Memphis, Sweet Noshings.  I'm a popcorn fiend so all the delicious flavors make my taste buds happy and put a smile on my face; the kids thoroughly enjoyed picking out lots of sugary goodness too, so it was a win all around.
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In the ten minutes or so ride from the candy shop to Big Cypress, one of our three bags of popcorn was devoured almost instantly.  The cheddar popcorn is always a hit!

Upon our arrival, this is what we saw.  
Bass Pro Shops At The Pyramid

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Bass Pro Shops At The Pyramid

We checked into our rooms and were impressed to find such rustically lavish accommodations.  The attention to detail was impeccable.  Everything was so well done.
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Bass Pro Shops At The Pyramid

They left these tiny duckies along with some night time cookies to snack on when they came to turn down our sheets.
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In the center of Bass Pro Shop is the tallest free standing elevator in America.  It takes you to the top of the Pyramid to the viewing deck where a spectacular view of Mud Island and downtown Memphis awaited us.
Bass Pro Shops At The Pyramid

There is a bar/restaurant at the top of the elevator, of which we did not partake with our peeps in tow, so we spent most of our time corralling the run away kiddos out on the viewing decks.
The Lookout at the Pyramid (Memphis, TN)

When we were up on the decks it seemed fairly good size, but from this angle it looks so tiny.
Bass Pro Shops at the Pyramid Grand Opening - April 29, 2015

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It was crazy windy up there and pretty chilly too.
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We walked around Bass Pro Shop--shopping and killing time until our reservation that evening.
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The kids loved playing Duck Dynasty's video game while we waited.
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Here were all our sweet kiddos waiting for the elevator down to our dinner reservation and fish "bowling" adventure.
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When we arrived at the restaurant, to our dismay, we found out that "they don't take reservations" and therefore didn't have our table ready, as we had been promised by another employee.  So with our eight adults and thirteen kids, getting a table for twenty-one took quite a long time.  The kids.were.starving and us parents were less then thrilled with the situation.  We did however get a private room all to ourselves, a large private room which did help make up for our "lost reservation" so we let the kids run laps around the tables while we visited and celebrated Carol's birthday with cupcakes and singing.
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Because of how bad the evening went down, we didn't get our bowling lanes until close to 8:00 pm which by that time our kids were D.O.N.E. as were the parents.  Our boys were bummed to not get to bowl, but we attempted to make up for it by doing an Easter egg hunt in the third floor lobby.  So the Mommas went upstairs to get the kids ready for bed while the Dads hid the pre stuffed, two hundred plus Easter eggs.
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We told the kids on the front end, that they could NOT eat any of the candy that night but would have to wait for Friday.  By the end of the hunt, we were all on the verge of exhaustion so we called it a night and took it to our rooms.  I had such fun spending the day with these ladies and their families.  Our first day in Memphis was a hit for the kids and that's what mattered.  In the chaos of the not so funny moments, we will all always look back on our dining experience at Uncle Bucks Fishbowl and Grill as an epically bad one that we won't ever soon repeat but Bass Pro Shop and Big Cypress was a hit that we thoroughly enjoyed!
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CARTI: Festival of Trees

This past week was filled with wonderful events that all benefited CARTI. CARTI, is THE cancer treatment facility that provides hope and he...