Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Happy 3rd Birthday, Brody!

To my sweet baby boy,

I can't believe it has been 3 years since you looked like this:

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You were just the sweetest baby!  We all adored you...yes, we still do!  Last year when you turned two, you were still so quiet and just seemed to be observing everything around you.  We suspected you were learning language as you understood everything we told you and have always been a great listener and followed instructions well.  Then, one day at Target you just started speaking in little sentences, and now we are constantly amazed at the intelligent way you express yourself.  You fill our home with the sounds of your sweet voice and laughter.  Like your brother, you have a lot of very good common sense, and you also have a great sense of direction which should help you a lot in life.  Lately, you love to tell us how to get places in the car.  "Turn that way, Mommy!"  You definitely know how to get to your beloved Chick-fil-a.  One Saturday, we were going to the mall so we passed the exit that we usually take to go to Chick-fil-a, and you loudly protested that we were going the wrong way.  "No, Daddy, turn that way!"

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We just love your smiles and laughter!

You still love music, and yesterday, I enjoyed hearing you sing "Let It Go" (from Frozen) in the car.  Your favorite song is still "The B.I.B.L.E."

You still love your "toot toots," but you recently acquired a new fondness for Mickey.  Now when you wake up and come in our room in the morning, you immediately request to watch "Nickey's House."  Your favorite movies lately are the "Genii Genii" movie (Aladdin), "the snowman movie" (Frozen), and "panda panda" (Kung Fu Panda).  Like your big brother, you mostly like funny movies that make you laugh.  You are still a video game addict, and I am just so amazed at how well you play the games.  I sat and watched you playing Super Mario Bros. on the Wii one night for a few minutes, and you beat two levels.  You do not like when you get killed though.  One morning a few months ago, I was upstairs, and you were downstairs playing the Wii.  I suddenly heard a loud banging sound and then you screaming "Ahhhh!"  I snuck down the stairs and watched you (and I might have videoed you too!).  When you got killed in the game, you would bang the controller repeatedly on your little table in a fit of rage and then scream "Ahhhh!"  Once you had gotten your frustration out, you calmly continued the game.  Then, you would repeat the process.  Ha!  You've actually done better lately at controlling your temper.

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You love school and learning new things.

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You still love those choo-choos. 

You have been learning so much lately...your colors, shapes, numbers, etc.  You love to tell us when to stop and when to go at stoplights or point out stop signs for us.  You know the stop sign is an octagon and sound so cute saying big words.  Your favorite color is still blue, but you know green, orange, and red pretty well. You have also been learning to use your manners a lot more.  When you ask for our help with something like playing one of your favorite games, you always says "Thanks" after we help you.  You are pretty good about saying "please" too although you do need reminding occasionally.

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You actually don't use your little Elmo potty much anymore and do better using the big potty, but I thought this was a cute and fairly acceptable shot of you on your potty. 

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Silly boy!
You have been doing a fabulous job using the potty like a big boy and telling us when you have to go.  It is really Mommy and Daddy's fault that you are not yet wearing underwear as you are telling us you need to go all the time and rarely wet your pants anymore in the daytime and stay pretty dry at night too.  I think I can honestly say you have done as well potty training as your brother did, and I am so thankful I have had two easy potty training experiences.  You really trained yourself as you started asking to go on your own.  We are so proud of the big boy you are becoming and love when you proudly proclaim that you are a big boy.

You still love to eat and will basically eat ANYTHING!  You are definitely like your Mommy there.  We both know how to appreciate good food.  Your favorites are probably Chick-fil-a chicken nuggets, anything you can dip, and salad.  You still love to eat salad!

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Rocking out on the guitar. 

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Being super silly in the bathtub is one of your favorite pastimes. 

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We just love your sweet face. 

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We just can't believe how quickly you are growing up.  I look back at your pictures from the last three years, and I miss all of our happy times together.  You are still my sweet, cuddly baby boy who loves to snuggle with Mommy in the bed every night and just gives me the sweetest hugs and kisses.  You still adore your big brother "Edah" and, of course, your daddy.  You boys have so much fun together, and I look forward to watching all the fun you three will have in the years to come.  I anticipate you will be starting to play sports later this year and so much more.  Welcome to being a big boy, my sweet baby boy!



Thursday, April 24, 2014

America's Crown Jewels

To continue my post about the sights we enjoyed at the Natural History Museum, I just wanted to share one of my favorite exhibits.  Now, America isn't a monarchy so technically I guess we don't have crown jewels.  However, we do have a pretty impressive collection of gemstones that I think rival any nation's jewels.  Sorry, England, but I do think these gemstones are as impressive as some of your quite gaudy collection.  Ha!  This collection is more to emphasize the beauty of the natural formation of these wonderful works of natural art.  The sheer size and brilliance of some of these stones is just so breathtaking.  And yes, call me materialistic if you want, but I wouldn't mind one or two of these pieces in my own collection.

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The Hope Diamond is the most famous piece of the collection, but I don't think it is the most impressive.  Apparently, it has been more modernly fitted into a setting very similar to the Titanic diamond.  The Hope Diamond is an impressive 45.52 carat blue diamond from India.  It is also surrounded by 16 white diamonds and hangs from a platinum chain bearing 46 more diamonds.   
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I began to have a love affair with aquamarines when my first son was born in March.  The beautiful light blue aquamarine is March's birthstone.  Eddie actually gave me a pendant for one of my first mother's days. The size and brilliance of this large aquamarine sculpture was breathtaking.  I had a really hard time capturing the beauty of these stones in their glass cases.  
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This beautiful American Golden Topaz gets the award for the largest cut gem in the collection and one of the largest in the world at over 22,000 carats! 
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Beautiful yellow diamond necklace, earrings, and ring...I'll take two please!  ;-) 

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A gorgeous emerald pendant. 

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Quite possibly my favorite single piece in the collection although the picture does not do it justice.  It is actually a blue emerald cut aquamarine and is just such a clear blue color.  The picture just makes it look more green. 
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Some dazzling Harry Winston diamonds, anyone?  There are 325 diamonds in this platinum necklace weighing 131.4 carats.  Yes, designed by none other than Harry Winston himself. 
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The Pearson Diamond is a 16.72 carat nearly flawless, colorless diamond from South Africa. 
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A Blue Heart Diamond ring weighing 30.62 carats from South Africa.

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Another of my favorite pieces.  I just love the color of champagne diamonds. 

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I don't think the picture of this uncut and cut diamond does it justice.  The cut diamond is the largest cut diamond in the collection.  Way bigger than the Hope Diamond at 127 carats. 

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Alexandrites are another of my favorite stones for their ability to change from purple to blue.  They are one of June's two birthstones.  My mom was born in June, and she gave me a beautiful Alexandrite ring that she brought back from overseas.  

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Trying to get Evan to cooperate for a picture in front of this large piece of quartz. 
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I would just be content with this "little" aquamarine for Mother's Day this year.  Hint Hint! 
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A Wall of Gold!
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Even some from NC. 

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Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History

One of our first stops on our Spring Break adventures was this museum.  Anyone who knows Evan knows that one of his first loves is dinosaurs.  This museum boasts the bones of a real Stegosaurus, which is Evan's favorite dinosaur (nope, not the T-Rex!).  He thinks Stegosaurus is just super cool with his bony protective plates and spiky tail and that Stegosaurus could protect itself from mean ol' T-Rex.  This museum boasts many interesting sights, but there was one special exhibit that really caught our attention.  The day before our museum tour, they had just delivered the nation's FIRST T-REX!!!  Yep, Mr. T-Rex had arrived from Montana where he had been discovered and previously on display and was being unpacked while we were there.  Now, unfortunately, it will be a lengthy process of actually getting Mr. T.Rex on display.  5 years people!!!  Apparently, every piece will have to be carefully inspected and photographed before it is repackaged and sent offsite to be mounted for display.  I guess we'll be making another trip in 2019 to check on him.  After a brief stop to watch the museum scientists' progress on Mr. T.Rex, we enjoyed touring some parts of the rest of the museum. I will likely have to break this post into two parts so we don't overload the system with all the photos we took.

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This is the building housing the museum.  It is the same Greek/Roman style as many of the buildings on the National Mall. 

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There was also an IMAX movie and a live butterfly pavilion exhibit.  We were going to pay to see the butterflies, but the boys were tired and hungry by the time we saw the rest of the museum. 

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I thought this sign showing the museum's name as also the National Museum of Man was kind of funny. 

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If you have seen the movie "Night at the Museum," you may recall the rotunda of this museum with the giant elephant in the center. 

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My boys are ready to explore. 

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This was where Mr. T-Rex was being unpacked. 

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This is a little of the story behind the T-Rex. 

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The long arduous task of unpacking begins.  

*Apparently, it is a very good thing we got to see all of these fossils because as of April 27, 2014, the exhibits will be closing until 2019 for renovations.  Yikes!

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Apparently, before there were "triceratops" there were centrosaurines with only one horn on their heads. 

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And then, they grew two horns.  I think they were called Diceratops or something like that. 

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And finally, they grew that third horn to become our beloved Triceratops.  

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Camptosaurus Dispar

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And Evan's beloved Stegosaurus.  I can say the dinosaur exhibit was a bit crowded as it was Spring Break for many school kids in the country.  

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By this point, this was about the only thing that could coax a smile out of this boy.  Evan and his beloved stegosaurus...we affectionately call him "Steggie."  

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Isn't he cute?  Haha!

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And Evan with the recreation of how Steggie may have looked millions of years ago. 

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And there must be a stand in for the real Mr. T Rex, of course. 


If  you love the "Ice Age" movies, you may recall some of these species.  My boys love those movies so we have seen them many times!

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I remember this slow moving creature in the procession of animals moving to avoid the coming Ice Age in the movie. 

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The period before the Ice Age and after the dinosaurs was a time for land grazing mammals like this one. 

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This could have been like a little sheep. 

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Early zebras

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A giant sloth...or as I like to call him "Sid."  

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I think this is a giant anteater.  Yikes! 

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Another one I remember from the movie.  I think this group was a funny mom and dad with their kids in the animal procession. 

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Diego the sabertooth

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And the star, Manny the Mammoth
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The boys had to have their picture with Manny. 

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Brody enjoyed seeing all of the taxidermy animals. 

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American Bison

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We love our wolves, of course.  Go Wolfpack! 

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Evan and Brody almost got eaten by a big bear! 

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This big polar bear was pretty intimidating looking down at us. 

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And those carnivorous carnivores. 

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This was another fun exhibit that reminded us of another favorite movie series, Madagascar.  I don't know if the museum planned it, but they had the main characters from the movie on display together.  This would be Gloria the Hippo. 

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Melman the Giraffe. 

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Marty the Zebra

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Yikes!  That leopard got his dinner. 


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We especially enjoyed this exhibit as it sort of made up for the last time we saw mummies when we couldn't take pictures at Discovery Place at home. 

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One of the mummy's coffin. 

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Some of the ornately carved and painted burial masks that are supposed to ensure the dead can be whole again in the afterlife. 

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Evan finally got his picture made with a real mummy. 

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And just in case you needed proof of its authenticity. 

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So freaky how much this mummy was intact after well over 2,000 years. 

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This one was pretty sad.  

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Sweet little boy.  What could have happened to him? 

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This is a mold of what his face may have looked like using facial reconstruction technology.   What a cutie! 

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The x-ray and CT scans of his skull. 

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And yes, his bones put him right about Brody's age. 

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This sweet little boy was about the same age as my sweet little boy! 
Sorry to end that on a sad note, but it really is a very interesting museum!

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