I should warn you now, this is a long post because there are lots of pictures to share here. If I had realized before I got started with this post how many pictures there were, I would have broken it up into three. Go get a cool drink and then come back and dig in.
This year I finally had a chance to plan out a real summer vacation for us. It was a 3-part series and it was pretty epic (as far as budget vacations go).
We started out with a drive up to Toronto to see our very dear friends Serene and Kevin. It was the first time either girls had ever been in the car that long (9+ hours!). We weren’t sure how it would go, but we left early and we didn’t rush. We made it without anyone having any kind of meltdowns/breakdowns/cabinfever/car sickness. So, I think that means it was a success. Also, we did not get lost not once!
Crossing the border into Canada (near Niagara)
We started the trip with a visit to the African Wildlife Safari just outside Toronto. I highly recommend it. It was a pretty awesome adventure and we spent the entire day there. We left because the children were getting tired, but even after 4 hours, there were still plenty of things we did not get to do.
(Disclaimer-I have not used the zoom lense on any of these pictures. We were CLOSE to these animals!)
Gorillas in the mist
Hanging with daddy on the jungle cruise
Chillin’ with Auntie Serene and Uncle Kevin
Elephant bath time!
Best seats in the house!
Can’t you just hear the Lion King soundtrack in the background?
Monkeys catching a ride on the cars
Rhinoceroses are HUGE
Of course she found a horse to ride
In their element
The second day, we headed into downtown Toronto to hang out and see the sights. We spent the day walking around weaving in and out of shops. We ended the day with some really great microbrews and some amazing Italian food.
Hanging out in downtown Toronto
“Serving potheads since ah…i forget”
A weird car that has been turned into a community garden
Kelsey’s showing off her swipe skills
On the train to Toronto
All too soon, it was time to head back. But, I think you can tell – very clearly – from these pictures who Kennedy and Kelsey’s new favorite two people are.
After a couple days layover back in Jersey City, we flew to OKC. I remember in the summers when our parents would take us to my great-grandparents house for a week or so at a time. We had so much fun! I want my kids to have the same thing. Our lifestyle here is so different from the way we live in OK. It was important to me that my kids got to take advantage of the benefits of a private backyard and a slightly slower pace so that they could spend time doing stuff like this:
Poking at bugs
Sprinkler fun at Cousin Locki’s
Who doesn’t love a sprinkler park?
We either began or ended many days in the pool at Granny’s
Halfway through the trip, we drove down to Houston to visit Auntie Christy and wish our little cousin Jordan a (belated) happy 1st birthday. We spent the first day there at the Houston Aquarium which allowed Kennedy to check another state off of her list (that makes 6!). By now, the girls were “old pros” at car trips. We actually made this 7 hour trip in 8 hours, shaving one-hour off our previous long road trip restroom stop record!
- Baby tigers are so BIG!
And then this happened…
Having fun on the ferris wheel
Later The aquarium has a great outdoor area. With a few rides (we did all of them twice) and some games (we completely ignored these). We spent most of our time out here.
Jordan, Kelsey and Kennedy
Later that evening, we met up with my cousins for dinner. What a treat! I don’t usually get to see my family during the summer so I was ecstatic!
- Hiding in the African village exhibit during a sudden downpour.
Made the required stop at Shipley’s donuts. A big hit with everyone!
We spent Day #2 at the zoo with Christy, Erica and Jordan. Believe it or not, I have never been inside the Houston Zoo.
Two of the cutest little faces ever!
Thankfully, there was a sprinkler park in the middle of the zoo!
Yes, it appears that my girls always manage to find some goats to pet, regardless of the excursion.
Back in OKC, we spent the last week soaking up some love from our friends and family.
The girls with their great-grandparents
Kennedy with her best friend, Auntie Kaye.
Kennedy made a new friend that had these awesome things in her backyard. BEST PLAY DATE EVER!
Mom made good on a Christmas-time promise and took the girls to Chuck E. Cheese.
Kelsey loved this rocking horse ride. She probably rode this thing 5 times.
Kennedy won a turn in the ticket blaster. Hilarity ensued.
Mrs. Reina took them horseback riding. The pictures can’t capture the absolutely euphoric look on both girls faces.
Yes, that’s a toilet hooked up to a water hose and pipe in the middle of a pasture. What’s that all about?
We finally got a chance to go to the Science Museum.
Finally, a table to match their appetites!
We ended our stay with a backyard party in honor of Kelsey’s impending 2nd birthday.
- Granny got the girls some sparklers for their last night in OKC.
As you can see, we had a really great trip. It took us about a week to recover once we got back, but I don’t regret a moment of it. We had the most fun and we were finally home long enough to do everything we wanted to do (without having to rush). I hope that we can make this an annual summer trip.