SNAPPY CASUAL

Family adventures + simple fashion + other lovely things

our 10th anniversary trip to Omaha!

travel, lovekelsey williams4 Comments
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This is the last overdue travel post from 2016 that I want to share. Hopefully this year I will stay on top of these better!

As our 10th wedding anniversary approached, we knew we wanted to celebrate with a trip! But I got cold feet several times while trying to plan it because I was still nursing Finch 5-7 times a day and I didn't want the trip to be the reason we stopped nursing (not to mention the fact that I don't pump and wasn't sure how long I could comfortably be away). I knew it would be our first time away from Finch overnight and no one except me had ever put him to bed, so I was nervous! We thought maybe Eric's mom would have to come along with us to watch the kids and we would just meet up with them when needed. But the week before our trip, Finch seemed ready to start cutting down to 2-3 feeds, and we tested out having Eric put Finch to bed. He did so well - it really took away the stress of leaving.

When choosing a location for our trip, we threw out a bunch of options: Mexico; Santa Monica (where we honeymooned); Bahamas (my dream trip); Galena, Ill.; and Decorah, Iowa. Nothing quite felt right until we talked about Omaha. We'd been there once together & we loved it. It made me feel comfortable that we'd only be 2 hours away from the kids. Plus, there was a Needtobreathe concert near there a few weeks before our actual anniversary - they are our favorite band, so it seemed like a perfect getaway with our favorite things: food, shopping and live music. Honestly, I was mostly just excited to sleep in for two days straight! And not have to keep any little humans on a schedule or put anyone to bed. Glorious!

FRIDAY

We left on a Friday morning and since we rarely get to go shopping, let alone without kids, we drove straight to the Nebraska Crossing Outlets.

First stop: Voodoo Taco.

One word: YUM.

Their queso is the best queso I've ever had, and that's saying a lot, because it's my favorite food!

Our shopping goal was to find Eric a pair of jeans. PSA: If you want your guy to wear skinny jeans but they think they're too "restricting," take them to American Eagle and hand them the Extreme Flex jeans and watch them be amazed. They're like jeggings for guys. Eric thinks they feel like sweatpants. His are actually Slim (not Skinny), but I still love them, and so does he.

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After finding two new pairs of jeans, we drove to downtown Omaha and checked into our hotel - Hotel Deco XV - which we loved! It was our first time staying at a boutique hotel. It was very stylish, and the shower had body sprays!

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For supper, we walked a few blocks to Block 16, which was our best meal of the entire trip. It's a cute little farm-to-table place and the menu is small, but the food tasted so, so fresh. I really can't recommend this place enough. We got there a few minutes before they opened, which I would recommend for quick service.

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Then it was time for the concert! We took our hotel's shuttle to Stir Cove at Harrah's Casino. We didn't realize until we got there that it was an outdoor concert...oops! We would have brought some lawn chairs had we known! Luckily, it was a gorgeous night, and we bumped into an old college friend who let us sit on his blanket! Phew! We've seen Needtobreathe perform many times, and to be honest, this wasn't my favorite show. But Mat Kearney was really incredible!

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SATURDAY

After 9 hours of glorious sleep, we walked to the Old Market for breakfast. We chose WheatFields because nothing beats crepes on the patio!

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Afterward, we walked to the farmers' market (it's sweet but much smaller than Des Moines') and checked out some local shops. I love the cobblestone streets, covered sidewalks and street performers. Hollywood Candy is the BEST candy shop. We also love walking the Gene Leahy Mall and checking out the waterfalls and playground slides.

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For lunch, we dined at Trini's Mexican Restaurant, a hidden treasure located in the passageway of the Old Market. You walk into an unassuming door and are greeted with a secret alleyway with brick walls and beautiful greenery. Not to mention, the puffy beef is one of the best tacos I've ever had.

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In the afternoon, I was itching to go shopping. I was so excited to learn that Omaha has an H&M in one of the malls! I got a new sweater, a cardigan and a dress for Rooney. We also went to Urban Outfitters.

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Then we drove to eCreamery, but our experience was sub-par. It was really nothing special. Don't waste your time!

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For dinner, we went to Upstream Brewing Company in the Old Market. Eric enjoys trying craft beers and this was one of the stops on the Omaha Brewery Tour (if you request the Explorer's Journal, you get nine free coupons). Our waiter was excellent. We enjoyed it!

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After dinner, we took a carriage ride through the Old Market and Heartland Park. I had really wanted to do this, as I thought it would be really peaceful and romantic! Sadly, I didn't enjoy it as much as I thought I would. Honestly, I felt bad for the horse the whole time!

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Before turning in for the night, we went to check out Wicked Rabbit, a speakeasy located in our hotel, because we had gotten many recommendations for it. You actually walk into the Looking Glass Cigars and Spirits shop and there is a hidden door to get into the bar. Honestly, we didn't have the best experience. We felt a little out of place! Plus, the waitress told us that our hotel was haunted, and I could have done without that information!

SUNDAY

We ate breakfast at The Diner before heading home to see the kids! It was yummy! I could eat pancakes every day.

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When we got home, Rooney hugged my legs for several minutes saying "Mommy! I love you!" over and over, and Finch stared at me for a couple seconds before realizing he did, in fact, remember me. Huge thank you to Grandma Diane for keeping our kids safe and happy while we were gone! Finch actually spiked a fever just as we were getting back, and I was so thankful he wasn't sick while we were gone! I was definitely ready to nurse him when we got back - physically and emotionally!

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We would love to go back to Omaha in the next few years with our kids! I've heard the zoo is amazing. Any other recommendations on places to go or eat?

the grotto of the redemption

adventure, travelkelsey williams2 Comments
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On our way to Okoboji last summer, we took a spontaneous detour to West Bend, Iowa, to visit the Grotto of the Redemption. I really had no idea what it was, but once we got there, I was AMAZED.

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The Grotto was created by Father Paul Matthias Dobberstein, who was born in Germany and later immigrated to the United States. He was very artistic. While he was in seminary in Milwaukee, he became ill with pneumonia. He prayed to Mary (the mother of Jesus) to intercede for him, and promised to build a shrine to her if he lived. Well, he did live, and moved to West Bend, Iowa, to be a priest. He gathered rocks and stones for over a decade from all around the world, and began building the shrine in 1912 with one co-worker. They worked on the grotto for 42 years - right until the day he died at age 82. It's very fascinating! You can read the full story here.

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It was definitely a welcomed break in our drive. Rooney and Finch appreciated being able to get out of the van and run around, although Finch didn't understand that you weren't supposed to touch the stones. I was stunned by the beauty in the individual stones and the creativity in the design. There are little rooms and stairs and balconies and all sorts of creative walkways.

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The Grotto of the Redemption is the largest man-made grotto in the world. To some, it is considered the Eighth Wonder of the World and a "miracle in stone." There are actually nine separate grottos, each portraying a scene in the life of Christ. It attracts 100,000 visitors each year. I definitely want to go back!

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a mini trip to Minneapolis

travel, adventure, familykelsey williams4 Comments
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I was going through my Camera Roll recently trying to delete some of my 5,000 photos (face palm emoji) and came across our trip to Minneapolis last summer, and I wanted to share them because we had SUCH a great time! So if you don't mind pretending like it's August instead of January, then come away with us to one of our favorite cities...

I think this was our first ever family trip with just the four of us and was definitely a very fun bonding experience. Eric had a work conference in Minneapolis so the rest of us went along for a couple days because 1) we love it up there and 2) it was a good excuse to go visit my friend Joa and meet her new baby, Rex! We seriously had the best time. Eric and I decided a couple days before we left that we would have way more fun if we threw out our rigid sleep schedule for a few days and just roll with it (Finch was going to bed at 5:00 back then, and we knew we did not want to be stuck in a hotel room all evening!). The kids did great with it, and it turned out to be one of the best decisions we made.

Des Moines to Minneapolis is 3.5 hours via car. We drove up on a Wednesday, and Rooney didn't ask even once if we were "there yet," thanks to the VBS videos we had just put on her iPad. We drove straight to the Mall of America - which is the largest mall in America, and just so happens to have the largest indoor theme park in the United States, Nickelodeon Universe, right in the middle of it.

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We were on our way to buy ONE amusement park ticket for Rooney when a young gal walked up and handed us a pass loaded with 96 points (that's a $75+ value). What a HUGE blessing! It definitely made Rooney's day to go on several rides (we actually all went on a few).

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Eric hung out with Rooney in the amusement park while Finch and I snuck off to some stores. The mall has 520 stores (crazy!) and somehow it's still enjoyable to walk around. We walked around most of the mall, but if I'm in a hurry, my hot spots are H&M, Madewell and Urban Outfitters (UO has a photo booth!). Zara has opened since we were there, too!

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Shake Shack had just recently opened; I can never resist their burgers and shakes! YUM. We ended up eating there two days in a row :-) I super loved the Mall of America Concrete.

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The next day - Thursday - Eric had his conference. My friend Joa - the one who designed this blog - lives in Minneapolis and I don't get to see her enough, so I was so excited to get to spend time with her. She welcomed us into her home, served us warm banana bread, didn't care that my kids made huge messes, cooked us lunch, gave us homemade popsicles, and let us hold her very chubby new baby boy. We had wanted to go to Lake Calhoun but it rained all day so we just cozied in, nursed our babies and enjoyed each other's company. She's such a good friend. One of the very very BEST. Our boys are almost exactly one year apart!

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Joa gave us the awesome recommendation to check out Hi-Lo Diner the next day for breakfast. A 1957 dining car was driven from Pennsylvania to Minneapolis and it's now open for business! We got seated right away, and it was really yummy! Definitely would recommend.

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THE GLAZED DONUT. TAKE ME BACK.

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Eric made a quick pitstop at the Surly Brewing Co. to get some glassware (hopefully we can spend more time there on our next adults-only trip), and then we headed to Como Zoo for a couple hours! The weather was perfect and we got there right as they opened so it wasn't too busy yet. I remember going there when I was younger, so it was fun to bring my family. It's a really good zoo, especially for being FREE! I was so excited to see the polar bears because our local zoo doesn't have them. They also have zebras!

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Then it was time to say goodbye. Minneapolis, we love you. We can never stay away for too long. I already have a list of things I want to do next time! If you live in Minneapolis or St. Paul, I would love any recommendations you have!

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P.S. This trip went so well that we even discussed driving to South Carolina next year to visit our friends. Eek! Not sure we are ready for a 17-hour road trip, but I'm SURE it would be memorable :-)

Finch, 19 months

Finchkelsey williams2 Comments
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GROWTH

  • Height: 33.2" (71%)
  • Weight: 29 lbs 4 oz (95%)
  • Head: 18.3" (24%)
  • Clothing size: 18 months - 2T
  • Shoe size: 6-7
  • Diaper size: 4/5
  • Teeth: 16

FIRSTS

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LOVES

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SLEEPING

  • Bedtime: 6:30-7:00 pm
  • Wake time: 6:30-7:00 am
  • Nap: 1-1.5 hrs

We have been wanting to move his bedtime to 7:00 pm for months, and he was finally able to make the shift (he doesn't get overtired and will sleep in til 7:00 am). I love that he and Rooney are on a more similar schedule now (don't get me wrong, there was also a time when I loved his early bedtime, but we're in a really good spot right now). Eric puts him to bed most nights, because he cries less for him (usually no crying at all).

He can also happily be awake during the day until 1:20ish before he needs a nap, which has been nice.

A rare car nap!

A rare car nap!

HEALTH

  • He goes to the chiropractor once a month to get adjusted
  • Had diarrhea, vomiting and terrible diaper rash
  • Had his 18-month well child checkup
  • Has eczema
  • Was diagnosed with reflux (he will occasionally spit up/throw up after meals)
  • Grew 4 new teeth!
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NURSING

We are still nursing! He calls it "mama." I gladly nurse him in the morning (I love that peaceful time of connection with him), but then I find myself trying to avoid it the rest of the day. Mostly because during daytime feeds he will try to do gymnastics while latched, and I know it will be more sustainable for me to nurse longer if I don't get burnt out. He usually does fine with redirection, but sometimes he needs it throughout they day, so then we do it. Some days we nurse for three minutes total and some days it's more than an hour. He still very much prefers the left side. Sometimes he will nurse for one minute on the right and then say "Uh oh, mama" and switch to the left.

NOTABLE

  • He has taken an interest in the TV. Mother Goose Club is a bunch of songs and rhymes, and he is captivated by it and it's fun to see him watching as he learns (if he sees a horse, he can say "neigh," etc.)
  • Can walk backwards
  • Uses his left hand quite often while eating

WORDS

  • Baby
  • Boo
  • Tree
  • Banana
  • Granola bar
  • Nana
  • Elmo
  • Cheese
  • Santa
  • K (OK)
  • Garbage
  • Cracker
  • Show (doe)
  • Teeth
  • Hat
  • Snow
  • Snowing
  • Kaysie
  • Whoa
  • Ball
  • Yeah
  • My my (his cousin Myah)
  • Duba duba duba (this means applesauce...it's hilarious)
  • Mama (mommy, grandma or nursing)
  • Dada
  • Sissy
  • Mine
  • Nooooo (it's still cute; I forget when that ends?)
  • Bite
  • Uh oh
  • Eye
  • Cracker
  • Mouth 
  • Nigh nigh
  • Hi
  • Dog
  • Book
  • Bubble
  • Bye
  • Dink (drink)
  • More
  • Bath
  • Cookie
  • Spoon
  • Bright
  • Ba-bye
  • Apple

He's very verbal! He can say (or will try to say) 45+ words. It's so fun being able to communicate with him.

shirt / socks

LOOKING FORWARD TO...

  • When he can play with Rooney even more (although this month was a huge step in that direction)
  • Honestly, our kids are both at awesome ages and I am loving being a parent now more than ever <3
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The many faces of Finch.

The many faces of Finch.

Finch, you brighten our days so much. You are absolutely fearless, walking off couches and climbing up on tables. You are incredibly sweet, giving kisses and arms-tucked-in hugs. You are funny, smart, kind and handsome. You are so curious to learn how things work - I wonder if you'll be a mechanic or an engineer? Your favorite spot is sitting (or standing) on my lap. I love giving you horsey rides on my back. I would do anything for that giggle!

xoxo, Mama

P.S. Your soft little chubby feet are my absolute favorite thing.