Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween

This year marked the first year that Kaden truly went trick-or-treating as this was the first Halloween that he could walk more than a couple of steps.
And in case you can't tell what he is... he is a dragon!  Why a dragon?  Because the dragon costume was a free hand-me-down and fit perfectly!
Needing a lot of direction at first (SO many distractions!), but QUICKLY got the hang of getting candy!
  Posing for a picture with mommy.
 Ben & I got a real kick out of watching Kaden excitedly run up/down the sidewalk,
looking for the next house to walk up to. 
 Heading back to nonnie & papa's house to check out his bag.
Skittles were the pick for the night.

Mizzou-Texas A&M

Over a year ago my dad asked me if Ben & I would be interested in going down to College Station to watch Mizzou play Texas A&M.  Of course I said something along the lines of, "Sure! Yeah!" as I'm always on the lookout for the next good road trip or vacation...
For those of you NOT familiar with the vastness of Texas, College Station is a good 540 miles/9.5 hour drive from Amarillo.

My dad bought the tickets, 2011 sped by and suddenly Ben & I found ourselves pointed east on 287 at the end of October with me almost 8 months pregnant and a 2-year-old in the back seat.  Luckily the drive didn't seem that bad as we spend the night to/from in the Dallas-Fort Worth area with Ben's aunt Deann.

EARLY Saturday morning we joined up with dad and drove the remaining ~3 hours to College Station to make the 11:00 a.m. game. 
 Walking up to Kyle Field
 Ben was a good sport and posed under the Missouri banner.
 View from our cheering section
 Oddly enough the fans do NOT leave while the band plays at 1/2 time.
Seriously, there were close to 87,000 fans in attendance that day and it didn't look like anyone moved as the Fightin' Texas Aggie Band took the field.
(As a band nerd, I thought this was pretty cool.)
After a massive (way too tired) meltdown in the middle of the 1st quarter, Kaden passed out on my lap until 1/2 time.  After that he did fantastic with us up in the stands, eating kettle corn and wanting grandpa Cook to hold him.
 Kaden's favorite spot during the game.
 This was a fun game to attend (even with a 2-year-old). 
The tigers finally managed to pull out a win (38-31) in overtime.
 We were all in agreement that the A&M fans are the best that we have encountered. 
All of the fans we talked to in and out of the stadium were SUPER nice!
 Another neat thing about this stadium was that everyone was welcome to walk out onto the field as soon as the game ended.  Kids were running around playing football, people were hanging out & talking until the crowd finally dispursed.
 Checking out the grass, and what NICE grass it was!
A house divided.
In the past few years Ben has become a Missouri fan... that is, when Mizzou isn't playing A&M. 
 Mr. Benjamin Dow
As much as I'd love for Kaden to be a TIGER, I am now more open to the fact that he could look into College Station (and save us a little out-of-state tuition money).
But that's a good 16 years down the road...
Kaden, true to form, running around without shoes!

The clincher for attending this game actually came several months ago when there was talk about A&M joining the SEC.  None of us had ever been to College Station to see a game and it was looking like this would be the last time that these two teams would meet... 
This coupled with the fact that Kyle Field is supposed to be a "bucket list" venue for college football.  Suddenly it's looking like Missouri will be joining the SEC as well. 

Oh well, it was a perfect day to watch a football game, and Kyle Field lived up to all of our expectations.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Maxwell's Pumpkin Farm 2011

With so much going on this month, not to mention getting the house (back bedroom) ready for the new baby, I was shocked to hear that Ben was excited about going back to Maxwell's this year. 
So on Saturday morning we loaded our little family into the Prius and headed to the pumpkin patch for some Dow family fun.

Highlights from this year's trip:
Last year we came to the pumpkin farm and did almost everything except board the wagon to pick out a pumpkin.  Before we went through the front gate, Kaden was already excited about the barn and tractor so we made the wagon ride & pumpkin patch our first priority. 
Kaden was a total daddy's boy on this outing, which was fun to see.

Getting CLOSER to reaching the pedals on the tractor tricycle (much closer than last year).

Poking lettuce into the rabbit cage and then attempting to feed the goats.

Insisting on riding with daddy for the little wagon ride.

Going down the BIG slide with daddy & then again on the slower one with mommy.

Jumping with daddy on the GIANT air pillow.

Relaxing in the bounce house.  Kaden did a good job of wearing himself out as he was practically asleep by the time we pulled out of the parking lot.
We hope to bring BOTH boys here next year as well as some other friends like we did last year.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

San Francisco, California

Where to begin? 
I don’t know whether it was because I finally got to spend uninterrupted time with one of my best friends (no kids), whether it was because everything on this trip seemed to just flow without any hitches, or whether it was because San Francisco completely exceeded my expectations.  In any case, this trip was one of the best that I have EVER been on.  (Sorry you had to miss out Fer.)

Early on Saturday morning Ben & Kaden drove me to the colossal Amarillo International airport and I hate to admit just how wonderful it was to navigate the airport/security without entertaining and re-dressing a  toddler!   Upon my arrival to the big city and a REAL International airport of SFO, my cousin, Andy, was right there to pick me up, drive me to meet Jessica and even give us a very helpful tour of the city.  Not to mention show us the hype of the infamous In & Out Burger.
Cousins!  Kristin & Andy 
 Rewind 6-months: DURING Jennifer’s ½ marathon in April (somewhere around mile 9) Jessica & I were so inspired by Jennifer that we decided that we were going to run one too someday soon… Complete with serious talk about training together. Well… I officially found out that I was pregnant with baby #2 as soon as that trip ended, but Jessica did further research and attended her first TNT (Team in Training) meeting in Wichita, KS and started running (while I laid on the couch, overcome with morning sickness.) I decided that if I coudn't train or run with her that I could at least watch HER cross the finish line too.  Lucky for me, this race took us to sunny California instead of Wichita, Kansas!

Through their fundraising with TNT, Jessica and Lisa were put up in the swanky Westin St. Francis, smack dab in the middle of Union Square (a.k.a. shopping district of San Francisco).

Jessica & Lisa

Against “official TNT rules”, I snuck into their room and was able to stay with them for 2 nights, amidst all of the excitement of the marathon. 

 "I run to be..."
This Nike women's marathon alone raised 12.8 million for the Leukemia & Lymphoma society.  
Jessica finding her name on the wall at Niketown.

 Up at 4:45 a.m on Sunday morning.  Luckily they were gaining two hours with the time difference!

Earlier I mentioned the smoothness or ease of everything on this trip; this race literally started outside the front door of our hotel, on Union Square! My spectator shuttle was almost as close, which took me to mile 4 & then to the finish line.
Congestion at mile 4...  According to Nike's website, there were 22,500 runners that morning and I was slightly worried I wouldn't see either of my people. Luckily I was able to spot Jessica just in time to snap this horrible picture.  Sorry, I am obviously not the photographer!
STILL congested around mile 12! 
Ok, so I missed her big finish, but am still so inspired by this photo.
 When I finally caught up with her at the finish line, Jessica didn't even look like she broke a sweat after running the entire 13.1 miles!  Amazing! 
Taking it all in on the beach.
Smokin' hot firemen presenting the Tiffany necklace, finisher medal.
Lisa after finishing her first 26.2 and Jessica's first 13.1.  So proud of you both!

Again, lucky for me (and this ever-growing belly) that they were tired and didn't feel like trekking around town for dinner. Thankfully, we hailed a taxi and took in some touristy sights at Fisherman's Wharf.
typical sight among vendors
 view from dinner at Alioto's
Jessica, Kristin and Lisa by the Fisherman's Wharf sign.

On Monday, following the race, Lisa had to catch her plane back to Wichita so Jessica & I took in even more sights around San Fran.  After breakfast and doing a bit of shopping at Union Square, we moved all of our stuff to the Argonaut Hotel down on Fisherman's Wharf.  This also seemed like a perfect location as we were close (as in a short walking distance) to Ghiradelli Square, Boudin Sourdough Company, Pier 39 with the seals, as well as TONS of great seafood restaurants and a fantastic view of the Golden Gate Bridge... when there wasn't fog.

 Front of the Argonaut Hotel. Would DEFINITELY stay here again!
Not only was it a good location...
check out our complimentary ROBES for our stay!

Since we had an entire day, we did several touristy things including walking across the iconic 
Golden Gate Bridge.
The bridge on a clear day with a view of Sausalito in the background.

This is definitely a place that I would like to revisit one day with the family & 
walk for more than an hour...

Our last morning before parting ways...
Ghiradelli Square: Café & coffee shop.

A friend from Zumba insisted that I check out a place on Ghiradelli Square called Kara's Cupcakes.  I like sweets & all, but cupcakes never sound all that mouthwatering to me. 
Let me be the first to say: If you are EVER in this area, the s'mores cupcake is PURE heaven!  It's the marshmallow topping and thick graham cracker crust...
No joke, I bought 4 cupcakes to go and toted them the entire 1,400 miles for Ben to try!
Jessica did the same for Shannon & the girls.

On our last morning you can barely make out Alcatrez through the fog in the background.

View of the city from Pier 39 at Fisherman's Wharf.

parting ways at the airport

Like I said before, both of us had an amazing trip and I am so grateful for Ben (and my in-laws) who made it possible for this last hurrah... for a while...  This is a city that I want to revisit with Ben and then venture up to Sequoia National Forest or meander along Highway 1. 
Definitely a destination for our girls' trip to Napa Valley withing the next 8-9 years...