Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Richard's Family Visits: Day One--Butterfly World

One thing that we love most about living in south Florida (besides the beach) are visitors!  Living so far from family, we relish the opportunity to have people stay with us and the chance to show them around some of the beauties that make up our new home.  February was especially exciting because out of the 28 days that month, we had people staying with us for 20 of them!  I know that the average person probably thinks I'm crazy, but I love having a full home, chaos and all.

The first of our visitors for the month of February was my little brother, Richard, his wife, Leisha, and their two gorgeous girls, Emma and Nora.  I was pretty excited for them to come visit and spent days planning all the fun things to pack in while they were in town.  I'm sure they were probably exhausted and needed another vacation when they got home, but we had a BLAST together, especially Daxton.  He loves Emma and Nora so much, probably to an overwhelming degree at times.  They were so sweet to let him hug on them at all random points of the day.  

The first place I took them on day one was Butterfly World.  This place has such a special feeling, especially with the close ties we feel to our family angels, Mara and Liam.  I knew the girls would love looking at all the beautiful butterflies and feeding the lorikeets as well.  

Trying to get a family picture at the entrance...notice the pouty toddler on the side...

From the second we walked into the butterfly aviary we were greeted by hundreds of colorful butterflies.  I loved watching Emma and Nora's reactions as they would swoop close to their faces.  Richard taught them to sit very still and soon a couple of butterflies even landed on them.  All three of the kids were so respectful and gentle to each of the butterflies.  I love Nora's concentration in the picture below.

Top Left: Emma and Nora sitting on "Mara's Bench"
Top Right: plantains left out for butterflies to munch on
Bottom pictures: The butterflies LOVED Emma's new sun hat.  Several of them landed directly on her hat at different times, since they were attracted to the reflections.  Both she and Daxton thought it was pretty funny when she would drop her hat onto Daxton's head.

Leisha gave Nora her phone to take pictures of all the different butterflies.  It was so cute to see her so focused on capturing pics of the world around her.  I also LOVED seeing Daxton spend time with my little brother.  Since it was in the middle of Dallas's busy season, you could tell that Dax was VERY hungry for a male presence.  Richard was such a sweetheart and quickly became one of Daxton's best buddies.

The kids loved running through the mist pumped into the aviary to keep the environment humid enough for all the different butterflies.

Such a beautiful and peaceful experience walking through these gorgeous gardens and aviaries.

When I took my oldest brother, Bryan, and his family to butterfly world the previous May, we had such an incredible experience remembering Mara.  As Bryan was walking through the aviary (wearing his "Remembering Mara" t-shirt) a beautiful deep purple butterfly landed right on his shirt.  It stayed with him for several moments.  We couldn't help but feel Mara's presence letting her daddy know that she was there with him.

Remarkably, a very similar experience occurred with Richard and Leisha.  Their perfect boy, Liam, was born sleeping two years earlier.  As we were walking through Butterfly World the most unique butterfly landed right on Leisha.  It soon also landed on Richard as well.  Leisha was able to take a picture of it later.  It had blue polka dots and gorgeous white angel wings on it's back.  I truly believe that Heavenly Father allows these "little light moments" into our lives to comfort and let us know we are loved.  
What an incredible gift from our angels.

After exploring the main butterfly aviary, Daxton and I took them around to all the different bird aviaries and botanical gardens.  Daxton's favorite place continues to be the suspension bridge.  He ran back and forth on that bridge at least 10 times as everyone else was checking out the tropical birds.

We loved all the bright colors found in the feathers.

We also had a blast feeding the Lorikeets.  Nora was so brave and even took a turn holding the juice for them to drink.  Within seconds Lorikeets were landing all over her, Leisha, and Richard.  Emma was totally content watching from a safe distance.

Last but not least, we spent some time exploring the bug museum, which was full of several live and still exhibits.  It's still super creepy to walk through the room with all the live bugs, including the orb spiders located in the ceiling corners!
We had so much fun spending the morning at Butterfly World.  It was the perfect first activity for our fun filled day one.

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