All posts by jlope23

Day trip to Springfield, Ill. – “Cozy dogs” and my first “shoe”

Last weekend, we loaded up the car for a day trip to visit my sister Carrie and her boyfriend. They have been living all over the country, often in cool cities like Seattle and Boston. And now? Springfield, Ill. Not the most exciting place, and Sarah and I just visited there just over a year ago , but we still had fun. And we got to do two things I didn’t get the chance to do last time we were there: Eat corn dogs at Cozy Drive In and eat a “shoe” at another restaurant (yes, both items involved horribly unhealthy meals).

After arriving, we walked around the downtown area to visit the city’s farmer’s market. It was really hot that day, and about lunch time, so we headed to our first big destination, Cozy Drive In.

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Cozy Drive In is a novelty along Route 66. And it’s the birthplace of the corn dog. Yes, the first person to go, “Let’s shove a stick down the center of this hot dog, roll it in cornmeal and dunk it in the fryer,” was at this location.

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It was a kitschy place, and the corn dogs (“Cozy Dogs”) were pretty good. Glad to have finally had the chance to eat there.

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Being so hot out, we were desperate for an indoor activity. So we drove over to Chuck E Cheese and got a bunch of tokens to kill a couple hours.

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I had fun getting my butt kicked at “pop a shot” basketball, playing against Eli. Carrie’s boyfriend also was popular with Oliver, who made Eli join him as he climbed through the tunnels that lined the ceiling.

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Next, we headed back to Carrie’s place for a while. Neither of the boys would nap, so we just hung out for a little while until dinner time. We headed to a Mexican restaurant. It sounded like good food, but I was a little disappointed because I had always wanted to try a “shoe.” Just about every restaurant offers a shoe, and the city is known for it. We had even previously watched an episode of “Man v. Food” in which host Adam Richman visited Springfield, Ill., to down one of these bad boys (he also went to Cozy Drive In).

Basically, it’s a piece of bread with a hamburger patty on it, topped with french fries and nacho cheese. Sounds yummy, doesn’t it? Well, much to my delighted, the restaurant we picked offered a “Mexican shoe.” This bad boy featured two fried tortilla, each with a giant hamburger patty on top of it. Each mound was piled high with french fries, queso cheese and fresh salsa. It looked fantastic. Here’s the “before” picture:

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I couldn’t quite finish the thing – it was HUGE. But I did pretty well. Here’s the “after” pic:

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With dinner over, we got back into the car to head home. We had a lot of fun, though all that fried food really made Sarah and me nauseous for the drive home and the rest of the night. The next day was filled with a lot of fresh fruit and salads to make up for it!

Tunnel vision? Nah, it’s just our son

I wrote yesterday about the recent visit to our house by my sisters, brother-in-law and mom. While at a local park, Oliver was cracking us up running through sprinklers and … a long tunnel. He loved the tunnel. It was cool, because nobody was at the park that day and Oliver’s voice was amplified so well in the tunnel you could hear everything he said. I shot a video of him running back and forth between me and Carrie. You think he slept well after all this running? Uhhh, yes, he did. Enjoy:

Big family visit at the Lopinot household

We recently had a rare-but-extremely-welcome visit from my sister Jennifer and her husband, Ryan. My other sister, Carrie, and my mom also joined us for a long weekend. We had a blast, hitting a farmer’s market, a park and the Magic House. We also celebrated my mom’s birthday. It was so much fun, but Oliver was a little confused when we didn’t use the lyrics “Happy birthday, dear Carrie,” during the birthday song. We all miss the family so much. Stinks that they’re spread out all over the Midwest!

Below are a few pictures from the visit (only wish I had a picture of mom on my phone to upload – sorry!). Enjoy.

Carrie holding Owen:
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Jennifer and Ryan teaching Oliver to “magnet fish” at the Magic House:
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Oliver and Jennifer inside a giant bubble at the Magic House:
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Oliver mystified by floating objects at the Magic House:
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A pause in the fireworks? Oliver wants ‘more please’

We had a fun weekend visiting my parents in Springfield, Mo. It’s always nice to be around family – especially for the extra hands with our two boys!

On the Fourth of July, we headed to Battlefield, Mo., to watch fireworks, just like we did last year. Owen was enthralled, looking up at the lights in the sky while my mom covered his poor little ears.

And Oliver? This year he really enjoyed the show. Man was he excited. Whenever the fireworks would pause, he would yell out “Again, again!” or “More fireworks.” And a couple times, he even asked politely, blurting out, “Again please.” It was pretty adorable, as always. Enjoy the video show with the “nightframing” mode on our camera:

Owen at 4 months

Owen just turned 4 months old a few days ago, and he just had his regular visit with the pediatrician. While he looks so much leaner than his old brother did at this age, he’s actually a little larger. Here are his stats:

  • Height: 28 and 1/8 inches (75th to 90th percentile)
  • Weight: 16 pounds, 3 ounces (75th percentile)
  • Head circumference: 44 centimeters (90th percentile)

In addition to being bigger than Oliver, Owen’s athleticism has a head start on his brother. He’s already rolling over and, despite our efforts, sleeping on his stomach at night. And also unlike his brother, he actually sleeps well at night at this age.

Owen’s generally a quiet baby, content with entertaining himself often (usually because Oliver is so darn needy and an attention hog). However, when he decides he needs some food or needs to go to bed, he lets out the loudest, shrilly sound you can imagine. Between the noise and the way he moves his head about, I call him our little velociraptor.

Overall, he’s a good kid and we love him – giant head, dinosaur noises and all.

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Another trip to Las Vegas in the books

I just got back from Las Vegas. Went by myself and had a pretty darn good time. Before I left, the most frequent comment/question I’d get was, “You’re going by yourself? For a bachelor party?”

My response?

“The exact opposite: My grandma’s 80th birthday!”

And so it was that I headed out to Vegas to hand with my family, including aunts, uncles and cousins that I see just every few years. The first night, my sisters and their men walked the strip – all the way from Mandalay Bay to the Wynn. Basically, a looooong walk. We did stop at about 20 places along the way.

We saw just about every casino:

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Everybody made “sad faces” so I could send my wife a picture to show how much she was missed:

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And we had a LOT of fun:

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One of my cousins eventually met up with us, and we continued late into the night. I believe it was around 3:30 a.m. when we rolled into our hotel. We stayed at Mandalay Bay in an approximately 1,500-square-foot corner suite. It was, well, a pretty sweet suite. Ha. It’s a pretty cool building. And it has a basic waterpark, which we spent most the daylight hours at the following day.

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That night, the cousins were joined by the parents and my grandma and we visited one of my favorite places: The Old Las Vegas Strip. It’s just grungier and more like what I envisioned Las Vegas was like as I was growing up.

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Below’s a picture of me at the Old Las Vegas Strip. This is just before the cousins and I all went out to a nightclub. Before we had free VIP table/bottle service. Before we had so much fun. Before an incident involving an ice bucket. Before a long cab ride home. Ohhhh, the innocence of this picture:

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The next day was all about my grandma, as we celebrated her birthday at my aunt’s house. We all hung out, telling old stories, getting salsa dancing lessons and enjoying rare time together as an extended family.

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That night, we did some light gambling at our hotel and then called it a night. (For those curious, I think that I lost about $50 total gambling over the three nights – not bad considering how much blackjack we played.) The next morning, I got up early and walked down to the famous Las Vegas sign by myself. This picture was taken by a couple I met there who were in town from Alberta, Canada, to celebrate their anniversary:

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Here’s a close-up of the sign:

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And here’s the rarely seen back side of the sign:

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And with that, I was gone. Another trip to Las Vegas in the books. I was happy to be home to celebrate Father’s Day with my two boys and my loving wife. I missed them all so much, and hope to drag them along next time I head out west.

Owen at 3 months

I realize that I’ve rarely blogged lately. It’s become quite difficult to find the time, you know, with these two (very needy) boys taking up almost every minute of every day of my life not spent at work. My lack of attention to this site mainly serves as a slight to Owen, at least in terms of documenting his life.

Owen requires a lot of attention, but he’s generally a good little boy. And he’s getting big. How big? I’m not sure until his next visit to the pediatrician, but he’s already doing things like raising his head up during tummy time, laughing when we make goofy noises/faces and “talking” (noises, more or less) to and grabbing nearby toys. Time sure flies by, doesn’t it? Can’t believe he’s already over 3 months old.

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Celebrating our fifth wedding anniversary

Sarah and I are celebrating our fifth wedding anniversary. It feels significant, and I guess that’s pretty accurate. I mean, five years is a long time (well, at least in dog years). At lot has changed over the past five years. For example:

  • I’ve gained 5 pounds;
  • I’ve lost 5/16th of an inch in my hair line;
  • I have 5 times as many gray hairs;
  • There are now 5 members of our family (if you count the dog!); and
  • I’m more than 5 times happier to be with my wife than I could have imagined when we got married on May 29, 2005.

It’s a happy day. We hope to celebrate and do something fun. My parents are in town and will be watching the kids (and dog) tonight. Not sure what we’ll be doing, but it will be good to have some (rare) alone time. Our first alone time as a married couple took place a few minutes after our wedding and before people left the church. We celebrated with a kiss. Turns out we weren’t alone as one of our wedding photographers captured the moment:

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Today should be fun. Today we celebrate five happy years. Happy anniversary to me and the wife. Happy day.

Owen learns to roll over

It’s been a while since I blogged, and I hate to keep missing big moments in Owen’s development. Today, for example, he learned to roll over … well, at least from his stomach to his back. He’s getting really good at “tummy time,” holding his head up high for long stretches while on his belly and grabbing onto objects with his hands while laying on his back.

Below’s a video from this evening of Owen rolling over. Of course, Oliver had to show of his mad rolling over skills, too. Enjoy: