June 30, 2011: 4th of July Trip to D.C. and Surrounding Areas

A real-live B&O train conductor!
Highlights from today: (Click here for pictures)
Video of Fort McHenry: (Click here for video)
Even though we went to sleep around 4 this morning, we all rested very well.  It must be the hotel beds.  We are in an Aloft hotel and it was very loft-yish and pretty modern and neat.  Anderson even had to ask how you turn the water on in the sink.  Anyway, Campbell did stir this morning around 7:30 and surprisingly she went back to sleep.  We all stirred around 9 and had to move fairly quickly to make it to McDonalds before they stopped serving breakfast at 10.  The mention of pancakes always seems to put the kids in full speed so we were there in plenty of time. 
We divided up the pancake breakfast and headed towards the B and O Railroad Museum.  The only place I have heard of the B and O Railroad was on a Monopoly game but it looked neat so we thought we would give it a try.  And it was well worth the stop.  They had a huge roundhouse with a turntable inside.  The roundhouse building was very impressive that even the kids noticed.  And the turntable was so shiny that we had to tell the kids that they could walk on it-Reagan didn’t think that they could get on it. 
They had lots of trains to go into, a huge train play area with lots of train tables and train legos, a model train inside and a model train outside.  But the highlights were playing on the playground equipment shaped like a train, riding the real train and riding the small train.  The real train ride was only 2 extra dollars to our ticket and it went a few miles down the track and then turned around.  The scenery wasn’t much but they were enthralled by it all.  And Reagan was all about taking her picture with the conductor as he walked by.  After that, we played on the playground and the they rode the kiddie train.  We buckled Campbell up as tight as we could and then crossed our fingers that she would stay seated.  And she did.  She just sat there and smiled and waved as she passed us. 
By the end of the visit, the kids were getting hot, thirsty and tired.  The weather is warm in the sun but absolutely perfect in the shade.  I had to find my Christmas ornament before we left and after we found it in the gift shop, Robby splurged and the let the kids pick out a bottle of bubbles shaped like a train.  Of course, he didn’t see that it was also a whistle!!  A very loud whistle.  They found that out as soon as they touched them and the whole museum heard us.  We let them blow them again in the parking lot and then I confiscated them-I told them that “we don’t want to spill the bubbles in the nice car” which really means “Mom and Dad would like to keep their hearing intact.”  Don’t worry, they will get to play with their bubble whistles when we get home….at Nonna’s and Grannymom’s houses!!
Next up, we found a grocery store on the GPS to stop by and pick our picnic food.  It was about 2 blocks from the railroad place and it was closed.  The next one we located was across town but still on the wrong side of the railroad tracks if you get what I mean!  But it was open and Robby headed in.  Campbell snoozed in the car while everyone else watched a movie.  Robby had to do some power shopping-bread, mustard, cheese, turkey, cokes, milk, juice boxes, cookies, chips, ice and strawberries.  Unfortunately they didn’t have an ice chest to buy so we had to look elsewhere.
We didn’t have room to pack our trusty ice chest nor did we want to pay to bring the pack n play so Campbell is just sleeping with me.  It worked fine last night and she is asleep tonight so we will see how it goes for the rest of the week.  We just turn off all the lights and I practically lay on top of her until she falls asleep.  Back to the ice chest, Robby dropped me off at a nearby CVS and I ran in to find one.  The first option I found was a huge ice chest but soon found one that would work.  I didn’t think it would fit both of the gallons of milk but it actually fit those and had plenty of room to spare.  And it is foldable enough to bring home and take on other trips.  Those two stops took about an hour but it did give everyone time to cool off and rest a bit. 
Next up was Fort McHenry.  We stopped there last year and it was raining cats and dogs.  They were also building a new visitor center so we wanted to see it.  But first since it was 2, we needed to eat our picnic.  They had a perfect spot under a big shade tree and we all gobbled down our food and the kids even ate one of the 2 container of strawberries Robby bought-which was supposed to last the whole trip-oh, well.  We forgot to buy diapers anyway so will have to stop somewhere tomorrow.  I probably could make it the rest of the trip without buying diapers because I shove so many in my back pack for the plane ride-trust me, I do not want to be stuck at an airport or on a plane without diapers so I bring plenty.  And while I am thinking about it-if you are ever flying you need to bring Nerd candies for the kids.  Seriously, I pass those things out one at a time and this keeps Campbell busy forever.
After our picnic, we went into the visitor center.  Everything was super high tech and interactive so it was pretty cool.  Anderson and Reagan were too into touching everything to listen to us explain things to them but Graham takes it all in-like the spy glass that Key used to look at the flag with.  We talked about it and then he noticed it on a statue and later in the movie. 
Robby and I really enjoyed the movie at the visitor center in the past (even though we usually don’t watch visitor center movies).  It told the story and then at the end of the film, the Star Spangled Banner plays and the window curtains open and you see Old Glory still waving high above Fort McHenry.  I get teary eyes every time.  During the film, Reagan saw the flag flying during the battle and said “that is why it looks like that.”  But today as Robby and I watched the film, we both thought wow this fancy dancy huge video screen is nice and all but were disappointed that we wouldn’t see that flag flying at the end of the film.  But we were wrong, this film ended and the entire wall of screen raised and there it was-that flag waving proudly over the fort.  And man, when everyone stands up-just gives me goosebumps.
Anyways, next we walked out to the fort because they were about to change the flag.  I just thought it would be something to watch but the kids were able to participate.  Reagan noticed that the number of stars was less when she saw the flag.  The ranger lowered the flag which was pretty huge and everyone caught it and then helped fold it.  The kids listened intently to the ranger and took the job very seriously.  When he asked how many stars were on the flag, you can hear Graham counting “one, two, three…”  Then they were able to help unfold the next flag that they were flying over the fort and watch it be raise.  We explored the fort for awhile (the big 3 and Robby explored a bit last time but since it was raining pretty hard, I kept Campbell inside).  We walked along the water and then back to the van.  My crew was getting cranky and tired again so we needed juice boxes and a time to rest our feet in the car. 
Oh, here is some flag trivia but we didn’t really know what “spangled” meant.  I just though it meant sparkly or shiny-I was wrong.  Spangled means (or at least meant during Francis Scott Key’s day) that the stars were all positioned at different angles so it looked like they were waving.
We then headed to the Inner Harbor and drove around for awhile before finally parking.  We actually drove around for a very, very long while-Campbell and Graham were sleeping so we let them have a decent rest.  At the harbor, the first thing we saw was the dragon shaped paddle boats.  The kids could tell we were thinking about it and started begging.  Campbell couldn’t do it since she was only one so I had to stay with her.  Which was probably a good thing, otherwise, we would have had to take 2 boats out and Robby said that I would have struggled peddling that big old boat.  And I didn’t mind hanging out on the nearby bench. 
We had to wake Graham up to get on the boat and when we mentioned “boat” he hopped up and was wide awake in a flash.  They all had a turn to help peddle even though none of them could really reach the peddles.  When Anderson came off of the boat, he said “Awesome!”  It even made me a bit jealous until I saw Robby hobbling off of the boat! 
We watched a performer for a bit and walked along the water and then finally headed back to eat at a Panera.  The kids again ate everything we had for them and we realized why when we saw it was nearly 8. 
Back in the car, we headed to the hotel.  They all had showers and watched a movie before bed.  Campbell spent her time putting on Robby’s socks-which she did completely by herself.  And Reagan even fell asleep during the movie. Poor things.  After we pottied again and brushed teeth, they all laid down and were out within a few minutes.  Well, Campbell wasn’t but it didn’t take her too long to fall asleep. 
Tomorrow we head to Virginia Beach-the long way across the Chesapeake Bay Bridge and tunnel!

June 29, 2011: 4th of July Trip to D.C. and Surrounding Areas

Ready to board the plane!
Highlights from today: (Click here for pictures)
  • This is the 3:30 a.m. (EST) version of the blog (I'm sure Tara will update in much greater detail later...)
  • All Dennie kids went to Grannymom & Grandpa's this morning while Mom & Dad went to work
  • Mom picked up the kids and everyone (including Mom) took a nap
  • Back in the car, picked up Grandpa to go get Robby from work for a 5:20 p.m. flight
  • Made it through security and to our gate without incident (except for Robby sending Tara's computer flying across the security checkpoint - nothing broken!)
  • Flight to Dallas was smooth and kids all enjoyed their juice and coloring books
  • 2 hour layover in Dallas for supper, play area time and potty
  • Boarded flight to Baltimore (2.5 hour flight) - smooth and everyone slept (eventually Campbell gave it up)
  • Robby went to get the rental car (which was about 10 miles away :) and soon picked everyone up in our Suburban (a new type of rental - not able to get a van because the price was crazy
  • Our hotel was only 3 minutes from the airport but it was close to 2:30 a.m. by the time we made it here; settled in (sort of) and now kids are sleeping and Campbell is almost asleep again!
  • This is Tara now and I will try to remember a few more things.  I had good intentions of doing the blog last night but I fell asleep while trying to get Campbell to sleep.  In Baltimore last night when we landed our wheels came down pretty hard and Graham jumped up and said “that pilot scared me” and followed it with “that pilot woke me up.”  When we came into the hotel last night at 3, Anderson asked repeatedly if we could go swimming. 

June 28, 2011

Up Close & Personal...
Highlights from today: (click here for pictures)
  • Everyone seems to keep getting up earlier and earlier around here-this is bad! very bad!  Robby and I did manage to sleep for a few minutes since he herded them downstairs, passed out milk and turned on a few movies. 
  • Soon though it was time for us all to head to Nonna’s house.  I worked for a little bit and then ran to 18 stores.  Actually, it wasn’t that many but it was quite a few-especially when wearing clothes that were still sopping wet from running through the rain.  During the downpour I was leaving my first school and had left my umbrella in the car.  If you want to see something funny-watch a big ole pregnant girl, hold her shoes, a notebook and a big bag of toys while running through a downpour and 6 inches of water.  Seriously, the bottom of my capri pants were wet from stepping in the water.
  • The kids didn’t really seem to miss me.  Graham had changed out of his pajamas but still hadn’t put a shirt on-hasn’t worn one since church.  And Anderson hasn’t been out of his pajamas since Sunday evening.  At least my girls enjoy getting dressed and ready.  Everyone day now, Reagan puts her clothes on and then puts her pajamas back on so I will be surprised that she has gotten ready without me asking. 
  • Back at home, it was time for a nap for all.  Then movie, snack (as we do every single afternoon) and then Robby came home with supper (thank goodness, tonights supper would have been saltines and corn).  I had Bunko-yep, I am just that popular-ha! ha!
  • The kids played most of the evening long, read a few stories and finally went to bed.  The excitement came when Anderson’s nose started gushing while in bed.  He handled it like a champ and Robby got everything cleaned up.  Graham kept calling Robby to come back upstairs and check on Anderson.
  • The second bit of excitement came when Robby realized that the checked luggage tomorrow is not free (he thought it was because of the credit card he paid with).  So we had to repack 6 people-not an easy task.  Anyway, that meant a run to Target to buy the kids suitcases-yep, even the 2 year old has to carry his own suitcase around here.  That is a small price to pay for seeing America! 

June 27, 2011

Wild times in the kitchen.....while
Mom was at Bunko!
Highlights from today: (click here for pictures)
  • The girls were the first ones up today probably because we took down their darkening shades trying to replace them but I had bought the wrong size.  They were much quieter than the boys ever are-first they laid in bed then Reagan coaxed Campbell into their room and played together.  Actually, Reagan did her own thing but first she poured out some blocks for Campbell to play with
  • Next up was a quick clean up and then a movie for the kids while I had a shower.  Next up was breakfast and we ate at least 1/2 of the 5 pound bag of cereal that Robby and Reagan bought last night.  I probably should cut story time shorter so we eat less.
  • Reagan was sent to her room for almost an hour today because was a bit sassy but to her going to her room is really a relief from the madness happening downstairs.  Later when it was time to clean, Anderson had a pitiful meltdown.  I have decided that he has ADD when it comes to picking up and can not pick up a thing without using a shovel, spoon or dump truck to scoop stuff up.  And that does not fly with me so he was sent to his room.  Even yesterday, after we had picked up the entire den because Robby was vacuuming, Anderson decided to get out a puzzle and lay it on the floor.  Just not a clue!
  • We then packed a bit and played train tracks.  The boys were so excited that the train tracks had been moved back into the house that they were played with all morning long.  Campbell took a long morning nap and then we had lunch and saw Robby while he was home for lunch. 
  • Soon it was naptime-I have such good nappers.  Campbell goes right down, Graham is happy since he gets to sleep in the top bunk, Anderson has the game phone and is content and Reagan has started to enjoy reading with me and loves coloring.  Everyone slept until 5 and then we had our supper. 
  • Robby had something at work and I had bunko but I had forgotten to tell him that I was meeting people.  So when I checked to see where he was, he was just leaving so we decided to meet at the commuter lot.  First the kids were concerned about who was going to stay with them while I was gone, then they didn’t understand where we were going and then they were still confused about why I was leaving the car and Robby was getting in.  All of this confusion caused Anderson to fall apart because I didn’t give him a hug but after a hug all was well.
  • Robby and the kids all made red and blue cupcakes with white icing to celebrate the 4th of July.  They sang Happy Birthday to America and had a blast making their cupcakes.  Robby said it took 2 and a half hours and now Campbell’s hair is red from the icing. 
  • I just wore my bathing suit and towel home from Bunko and when I walked in the house, Robby gave me the strangest look.  He then asked if I had lost my clothes at Bunko and then he realized that it we swam at Bunko.  Maybe we should work on our communications skills!

June 26, 2011

Celebrating the 4th a bit early
at Nonna's!
Highlights from today: (click here for pictures)
  • Everyone seemed to wake up at the same time this morning so we started the getting ready process.  I have bought new pants for Anderson but they are a bit too long (and in they went into Grannymom’s pile) so he opted to not wear his shorts but to wear his pants.  Poor guy can hardly set down in his snug little pants but that is what he picked!
  • While Robby and I were finishing getting ready, Campbell was downstairs and was still hungry.  So she climbed on the table and poured her some more cereal out.  Some made it on the plate but most made it on the table and the floor.  She was very pleased with herself-I was not!
  • Church drop off went fine for Campbell-she walked in by herself.  Anderson loves his class and runs in but Graham threw a big fit.  Really just wish his teachers would just spank his little bottom.  Robby worked in Graham’s class and I was sent off to another wild little class. 
  • We had our 4th of July meal at Nonna’s house.  The kids devoured the hamburgers and loved the flag cake.  I am working really hard on them remembering the number of flags and stripes and why they are that number.  It is funny because they can remember what color their juice cup was three days ago but some things just don’t stick in their little heads.
  • After lunch we went home for naps and everyone slept for 2 hours (well, Reagan didn’t but she watched a movie while the rest of us finished up our lovely naps).  The next event was house cleaning.  After laundry, I worked on packing the kids clothes up while Robby worked on the bathrooms.  Soon we picked up, vacuumed and Robby and Reagan headed off to walmart.  Robby has a tradition of going to Walmart right before a trip and buying up all of the things that are on our list….probably a bad tradition to have. 
  • Reagan had a blast at the store and even picked out the cereal-a big treat.  Campbell went to bed while the boys stayed up and helped me with a little repair project.  Then everyone unpacked the goodies and watched a few movies while we fixed the train table, finished a picture album, hung a picture and finished straightening the house….needless to say they stayed up really, really late. 

June 25, 2011

And then there were .... Seven Kids
between the Dennies & Babbs!
Highlights from today: (click here for pictures)
(click here for a quick video from Magic Springs)
  • Another crazy day around here.  It didn’t take too long for the kids to perk up and put their clothes on this morning.  They were ready to go and even tried to climb in the car before Robby and I were ready.  He was vacuuming it out and before he could stop them they were headed in.
  • Soon enough, we had everyone reloaded, sitting and waiting while we loaded up the car.  Graham was very concerned that we brought the watermelon-he didn’t see us load it up since it was in the ice chest.  And asked continuously until we answered him
  • We picked up our McDs breakfast-I tell you, I am pretty good at dividing up one “big breakfast with hotcakes” into 4 plates and then passing them out in the car while flying down the freeway.  And the kids are pretty good about devouring it all-Campbell started signing more just as I put the last of my food into my mouth.  She was out of luck.
  • It was much warmer today at Magic Springs with no clouds like last week.  But there is still decent shade and a few spots that are breezy.  They opened the gates early this week and we waited in the shade until we could go all the way in.  When we did we headed to the big roller coaster that only Reagan and Anderson could do.
  • Graham waited patiently and seemed to enjoy waving at everyone on the coaster even though he had had a meltdown earlier about not getting to ride.  Next year though he will be all into it-and probably a little braver than his brother.
  • They then rode the old timey cars followed by the little roller coaster.  They even rode it twice-Graham raised his little arms during the ride.  The big water ride was next.  Anderson wanted no part of it today.  The getting wet part is what he doesn’t like and he even stood behind a tree when the spray would come near us as we waited.  Graham and Reagan had a blast and Robby was pretty wet when they got off of the ride.
  • We then walked to the log ride and the line was too long-we will have to go there first next time.  The kids were fine with it because we went to the carousel next.  Campbell was very upset when the ride was over so we rode it again for her.  Then the little airplanes, the up and down ride and then the ferris wheel. 
  • We then split an ice cream cone 6 ways for lunch and then back to the big kid roller coaster and the old timey cars 2 more times (so everyone could have a turn riding up front).  Reagan wanted to stand on the bridge and get cooled off with the spray from the ride again and that girl became soaking wet. 
  • She was so wet that when we went to the car next she froze the whole way.  We had a stop at Walgreens to pick up pictures, a stop by McClards to pick up supper and then checking out our Dennie family rental for July.  After gas and a drive around Ouachita we were sufficiently cooled off and ready to visit the Babbs and see baby Cooper.
  • Anderson had me show him a picture of Carter and Millie earlier in the week because he said he didn’t remember who they were-but everyone acted like they were best of friends.  They played with all of Carter and Millie’s toys and then we had our supper
  • The kids then went out to play outside and next up was the watermelon-Reagan had been so excited about it.  Everyone tried some but Anderson quickly said he didn’t like it, Campbell gnawed on hers a little, Graham ate most of his and Reagan ate her weight in watermelon.  Her and Carter ate most of the watermelon and almost finished it off.
  • We needed some way to clean off those sticky kids so we turned on the sprinkler and everyone had a blast.  Campbell was ready to come in first followed by Graham.  Reagan and Carter even had a piece of watermelon on the deck after everyone else came in.  Reagan was quite impressed with Carter’s seed spitting of the seeds from the seedless watermelon.
  • After they changed into their pajamas it was time to pick up (we didn’t do a good job at that) and head home.  Graham and Campbell fell asleep on the way home and everyone was exhausted when we made it home.  Everyone laid down in the living room when they walked in the door and after we tucked them in we never heard a peep out of them!

June 24, 2011

Who needs Orange Leaf?
Highlights from today: (click here for pictures)
  • We are definitely the kind of neighbors that you do not want to have-before 7 this morning we are on the back deck with the boys cutting hair.  The girls were sitting at the door watching all of the excitement through the glass.
  • And since the boys needed an incentive to sit still, lemon icees were everyone’s reward.  Anderson was the first victim so he had his along with Reagan who dutifully fed Campbell hers until Campbell grabbed the spoon away and took over.  Soon Graham was finished and he joined the crew.
  • Next up was baths to get all of that hair off of the boys.  And since the girls needed baths too they also got dipped.  By now, it was time for Robby to go to work so he left causing a meltdown by Anderson who wanted Robby to wash him up, he also wanted to give Robby and hug and a kiss and then he was upset because he couldn’t wave out of the window.  Soon he calmed and everyone was dressed and ready but me. 
  • After my shower, we all went downstairs.  I tried to talk the kids out of having breakfast since we had already had icees but they all said they were hungry.  We had our breakfast and Reagan is nearing finishing off our blueberries.  I missed my chance to pick strawberries and will probably miss my opportunity to go and pick blueberries this year too-very, very sad.  Anyway, after we picked up the house we headed to the library
  • Everyone was very good at the library and we picked out as many books as I could carry.  It was at least 50 pounds of books-seriously.  When we came home, Campbell took a nap and the rest of us climbed on the couch and started reading.  We read 6 books before lunch and the last one showed how to make paper airplanes.  So the big 3 and I made a few airplanes
  • I had let everyone pick out a movie at the library so we stayed on the couch for lunch and watched a movie.  While the movie was going on, I snuck in the kitchen to whip up some brownies for tomorrow and then we read a few other books before rest time.  At rest time, Reagan read one of her books from the library.  Barnes and Noble has a thing that if you read 8 books this summer, you get a free book.  So Reagan read her first today-she was so excited that she would be able to get a free book-even though whenever she get anything it is free to her.
  • Robby came home a few minutes early and we started working on our Disney photo album while the last few kids were waking up, drinking milk and watching a movie.  Then it was time to go and eat.  We went to Quiznos and then all shared a few ice creams at Cold Stone.  Robby still thinks we are on the Disney Dining Plan. 
  • When we made it home, we finished up the photo book and soon after we put Campbell to bed, Graham asked to go so he must have been pretty tired.  Then everyone else went to bed-but those silly boys are still calling us up there.  Big day tomorrow so we all need our sleep.

June 23, 2011

A loud smoothie maker!
Highlights from today: (click here for pictures)
  • This morning was Nonna and Pops morning.  We took over their bikes and scooters along with their helmets and as soon as we pulled into the driveway, Anderson was ready to get out and start riding. 
  • Nonna and Pops had made a watermelon basket full of fruit.  Campbell and Reagan devoured it-seriously when I picked them up there were only a few cantaloupe left in the basket.  Even after Reagan finished off the watermelon basket she still wanted more watermelon.
  • They rode their bikes quite a bit-Reagan and Anderson are pretty speedy on them and Graham has finally figured out how to peddle on the back.  He is still pretty slow but he can make it. 
  • The highlight of the morning was playing on the back deck with Nonna’s new sprinkler.  They loved it and everyone got soaking wet (even Nonna and Pops).  Campbell was a little stand offish at first but soon she was playing right along with everyone else.
  • The kids had lunch and were pretty tired when I showed up.  I let them play outside for a few more minutes and man, can Anderson ride that bike fast.  I will probably have to super glue his helmet on him.  Campbell found her a favorite spot-the dirt and sat down and started rubbing her hands in it and throwing it.  And she was livid when I took her out.  Oh, she is going to be a handful.
  • Robby was at home for lunch when we showed up for nap.  Soon everyone was resting but surprisingly Anderson never went to sleep (that will be good because he will crash in a few minutes)  After nap, Robby came home and we went to Palios to eat.  We had the Hawaiian Sunshine pizza and it was delicious.  The kids must really like their pizza too because they ate up their cheese pizza.
  • Back at home, Robby and I worked on getting 3 booster seats across the back of the van with no luck (we still have a plan b, c and even d-and if plan d doesn’t work, then Graham will be up for sale-kidding, kind of) 
  • Campbell was a fussy girl and was sent to bed early while the big 3 made smoothies.  They enjoyed their strawberry smoothies made with Robby’s new blender-his belated Father’s Day gift, yeah that is what it was.  Next up is to bed for everyone….we will see how that goes.  The boys have gotten into a bad habit of calling us upstairs because they “want to tell us something”
  • Blog update: About bedtime, we decided to work on the car seats some more.  It must be 140 degrees in the garage but we finally made it work.  The new back seat riders are Campbell, Reagan and Anderson.  Poor Reagan will have the task of buckling everyone in until Anderson can get the hang of it.  They were all in their pajamas and sweat was dripping off of the boys heads and Reagan was just as hot.  We even had the car turned on (of course, with the garage up) but it was still blazing hot.  Robby tried to just convince the boys to sleep in their underwear but they would have no part in that!

June 22, 2011

Brother loves his lil' sis!
Highlights from today: (click here for pictures)
  • Everyone was ready to wake up and get dressed so they could go to Jacob and Ethan’s house.  About 10 minutes until we were ready to leave, Reagan decided to make a list about our day.  I couldn’t get her to understand that we didn’t have time for a list because it was time to get moving!
  • At Jacob and Ethan’s house, the kids played and played.  Campbell’s favorite was inflatable tires, Reagan enjoyed the castle, Graham liked hearing himself on the microphone and Anderson is almost convinced that he wants to ask Santa for a race track like Jacobs (and Santa is very pleased about that since he knows where one is)
  • While April and I were working on lunch, Jacob let their dog in which caused Anderson and Graham to scream, shriek and shrill hysterically.  This hysterics caused Campbell to scream when the dog came towards her.  April and I hadn’t a clue about what was going on but she quickly ushered the pup back outside.  Seriously, does anyone know where I can get dog desensitization classes for those boys?
  • Reagan was so excited to get to hold baby Hayley.  She loved it and wanted to hold her more than I let her.  Graham had said that he wanted to hold her and even sat down where I told him to and as I was about to hand the baby to him, he started waving his hands in a panicked look.  It was about the same as if I was going to hand him a dog-he wanted nothing to do with the baby.  Maybe that will be a good thing in September.
  • Back at home, everyone headed for a nap.  Reagan colored a few pictures (at least 50-seriously, I should have taken a picture of them).  Soon both boys were up and everyone was having snacks.  My sneaky Reagan and Anderson secretly doubled their bowl of cereal for snack time.  And Campbell gets so excited when I hand her a bowl of cheerios for snack-you would think it was a bowl of candy.
  • Next up was supper, lots of lego play, watching some Disney pictures on the big tv and then bed time for everyone.  Reagan was out within 10 minutes when I went to grab something out of her room but the boys are still going strong.  Where is that benedryl?

June 21, 2011

Motley Crew!
Highlights from today: (click here for pictures)
  • We didn’t sleep in so late this morning and that was fine because Robby and I had to get ready to go to work.  Grannymom came over today to stay while I ran to work for a few minutes. 
  • We had a big breakfast around here-5 waffles, 2 pop tarts, a bowl of rice krispies and finished off the blueberries.  Reagan can really put away the breakfast-she had most of the above list. 
  • They played hard while Grannymom was here-dinosaurs, stuffed animals and legos.  They also had a few snacks and watched a movie.  Reagan was very proud that she was able to turn on the tv for everyone.
  • After my doctors appointment, I made it home in time for lunch.  We had our lunch, read our Bible story and then Reagan and I played with her paper dolls and then the boys and I played with their cars until rest time
  • After rest, Reagan and Anderson finally took off their pajamas and put on their clothes.  Campbell saw what was going on and walked to me and held up her arms for me to take her dress off-I obliged and she also changed her clothes
  • When Robby made it home, we went to Sams to pick up our medicine and milk.  We had supper there and then loaded up the cart.  Reagan was ecstatic when we put a watermelon in the cart and Anderson enjoyed thumping all of the watermelons after I told him that was what you are to do to pick out a good one (actually, I don’t really know that for sure and if that is true, I have not a clue about what sound it should make)
  • Back at home, we changed into pjs, sang a few songs and then put everyone in bed.  Graham is quite upset with us because he has decided he doesn’t want his pillow but wants our pillows instead-we refused!

June 20, 2011

Highlights from today: (click here for pictures)
Tickle Fest!
  • Monday morning and the girls were the first ones to wake up.  The boys actually slept until at least 7:30 (that benedryl helped-ha).  Graham was the only one that ended up putting on his clothes today and the rest never got around to it.
  • We had breakfast and Anderson reminded me to read out Bible Story book and then we started reading a magazine.  For the most part, if I read to them they would sit and eat forever (probably should have tried that at supper).
  • Next up was playing legos, coloring with Reagan and everyone working in the garage while I worked on the file cabinet and car seat.  With 3 bikes, 2 umbrellas and 4 back packs being used in the garage it became pretty hazardous-good thing Graham insisted on wearing his helmet (even though he wasn’t even riding his bike on carpet and in a 95 degree garage)
  • Lunch time-apples, yogurt, blueberries, turkey and cheese-and a bit more reading.  Robby even came home for a few minutes and played ball with everyone.  When they play ball, they all line up beside each other and each have a ball to play catch with.  It didn’t take too long for Campbell to figure out the routine and play along
  • Speaking of Campbell, she has become quite the talker in the last few days.  She repeats any one word thing they we say and even shouted at the boys to “walk” the other day.  I don’t think that she felt too good today-runny nose and such.  But she still played hard…and yes, it is about time for someone to get sick since it won’t be too long before another trip
  • Afternoon naps and then everyone woke up for supper.  The kids turned their nose up at our Mexican lasagna leftovers so they were told to eat up or forgo their milk and snack tonight.  And I never would have guessed it but Anderson finished his (finally) and was the only one who had a snack and milk.  The things that boy will do for milk.
  • Robby and everyone played ball again and even had a big tickle fest to calm them down before bed.  A pretty good Monday.

June 19, 2011

Happy Father's Day!
Highlights from today: (click here for pictures)
  • Since it was Father’s Day this morning we started off with giving Robby his cards and certificate for rice krispie treats while he was still in bed (not his bed but in bed nonetheless).  He also opened up the frame that everyone had painted part of.  They were all so proud to show him the exact spot that they painted.
  • Soon we were all downstairs eating breakfast-Reagan had strawberries while wearing her white dress-she managed to keep it clean so that was a relief.  Graham had a waffle and Anderson ate about 3 bites of his pop tart.  He was too interested in the movie that they were watching.
  • Everyone went to class and Lilly was even able to go to Sunday School with Reagan.  After Sunday School we all went back to Grannymom and Grandpa’s house for BBQ lunch.  After lunch, the kids played for awhile and then it was naptime
  • After naps, we loaded up and went back to church for VBS family night.  It was sunny and hot.  We rode the train first and the kids loved it-well, Campbell wasn’t too sure about the train but she did tolerate it.  Then we headed into the cool for pizza. 
  • Next up was the little and the big jumpy and then back inside to eat our popsicles.  Unfortunately, when we came out the fire trucks had already left but the line for the dunking booth was short so everyone was happy.  Reagan hit the target but not hard enough so she got another turn and she hit it again and then again.  Finally on her third time to strike the target, she dunked Heath.  She was pleased and the boys were pleased too because they were standing close enough to get wet.
  • Back at home, we cooled off some more and then the day was over.

June 18, 2011

UH OH!  Is that water
coming towards us?
Highlights from today: (click here for pictures)
  • Last night Robby had mentioned going to Magic Springs today and since the boys were up at 7, were all on the road before 9.  We decided to stop and get breakfast on the way since Graham kept saying he wanted pancakes.  Of course, by the time we made it to the Benton McDonalds the kids were concerned that we had forgotten about it.
  • We were at Magic Springs when it opened and again reminded the kids that you always get places when they open.  The first thing we did was buy a coke cup that you could refill for a dollar and we did that multiple times during the day.  Campbell would become pretty upset if she didn’t get her turn quickly enough. 
  • The lines were fairly short so we hopped on a few kiddie rides-the drop ride (which Reagan and Anderson were gripping tightly waiting on the Tower of Terror size drop but this ride was alot tamer), the spinny around balloons (a little too spinny for me and Robby), tame clown ride, the kiddie ferris wheel (which made me a bit nervous that someone was going to fall out of the windows), a train ride, the airplanes and then the carousel.
  • Reagan had said that she wanted to ride the unicorn on the carousel but we always just reminded her and everyone else that we will ride what we can and it will still be great.  We were the first in line for the carousel with no one behind us and a little girl came up and breaks in line.  The girl was saying she wanted to ride on the unicorn.  Robby politely reminded her that we were in line and she didn’t scoot back.  Then I again more firmly reminded her that we were in line and scooted my self in front of her.  When the lady opened the gate, the girl darted past us but my Reagan took off in a sprint.  Reagan beat that girl to the unicorn and started to climb on…but so did that little girl.  Robby explained to the girl that Reagan was in line first and there first and Reagan was going to ride the unicorn!!  And our Reagan rode that unicorn!  Don’t mess with our Dennie kids!
  • We were just going to Magic Springs today to get the feel for the big Dennie trip so we probably hadn’t planned out our route to well but that was fine since we had no agenda and the kids had been told many times that we were coming back in a few weeks and would do what we didn’t do today.  The next stop was the log ride-and the line was long.  But Robby and I both remember the log ride being our favorite ride as kids so we were pretty determined for the big 3 to ride this one.
  • The wait wasn’t horrible and Campbell and I stayed in the shade waiting.  It was well worth the wait and the kids loved it.  Anderson exclaimed “that was the best ride ever” when he got off.  I was pretty jealous of them getting to ride it without me. 
  • Next up was watching the big water ride splash down.  The big 3 can do this one too but the lines were long (we will go here first next time).   We watched from the bridge and the kids ended up soaking wet-they loved it.  The mist sprayed on Campbell even though she was far back and woke her up.  They then watched from a grassy spot.  I had warned them a zillion times about the hole behind them but as soon as that water started to splash on them-they all turned to run back and Anderson fell in the hole but kept on crawling away from the water….silly kids!
  • There was one more roller coaster for the kids and Robby and I even spied one I want Reagan and Anderson to do next time we come-a pretty big one.  Unfortunately, Graham can’t do it but he will be excited to ride the model cars.  They are already making their list for what to do next time.
  • On the way home, I ran into one store to pick something up and when I came back in the car, Graham asked “did you buy icing for my orange rock and roll cake?”  I just wonder why the child thought that was what I was doing.  We made it home at a decent time for a bit of a nap for the kids and then we loaded up to head to Nonna’s house for supper.
  • At Nonna’s the kids ate most of their pizza and then moved on to the fruit-Reagan will eat it all, Graham likes most of it and Anderson will only eat the apples (he is too ready to get up and go play to eat anything much).  They were all ready to get back outside and play.  When we had driven up, Anderson immediately saw a bike that Nonna had gotten for them to ride.  He didn’t care that it was purple and was off riding down the driveway before the rest of us could get out of the car.
  • They all played outside for awhile and then we went next door to see Pop’s brother.  Anderson was the official greeter but Graham was quick to tell his full name when Hank asked what his name was.  Anderson was ready to get back outside and I finally let him but told him to hug Beebee and Papaw and then tell Hank it was nice to meet him.  And he did and when he did he even shook Hank’s hand-then Graham followed and did the same.  Reagan hugged Beebee and Papaw but didn’t get too close to Hank. Campbell didn’t have anything to do with anyone there and just wanted to hang on to me.
  • Finally, we decided that it was pajama time but since Anderson was dripping wet with sweat he needed a bath.  I stuck everyone in Pops’ party shower and washed them fairly quick.  Then it was time to pick up and head home for bed.  It was a good day!

June 17, 2011

A unique way to swim!
Highlights from today: (click here for pictures)
  • What a day this was-we were busy from the beginning.  The kids were ready and soon we were loading up the car for the day ahead.
  • This was the last day of VBS and the kids were all very excited about the inflatables-well, Graham wasn’t too happy about going to his class (he threw another fit and later in the day had to sit out on the side of the pool for 5 minutes while everyone else swam-he should have set out for a much, much longer time).
  • The kids all jumped on the inflatables, brought home zillions of pictures that they made and were so excited to see us because that meant we were about to go swimming.  The kids all changed clothes at church and then we met Grannymom and Cash at the pool
  • We swam for a bit, had lunch and then swam some more.  We must not have gotten enough sunscreen on Campbell because that babies back and shoulders are burned.  We did it before and then I even gave her most sunscreen after we had lunch.  Poor thing-but she is going to be a fish.  You still have to hold her in the water but she is all over the place and probably would be floating with her floatee all by herself by the end of the summer
  • I had juice boxes for the kids to bribe them to get in the car and they did well.  We made it home, changed clothes and then the boys took a nap.  Campbell rested for a few minutes and then started fussing and Robby got her up and soon Reagan heard her downstairs and she came.
  • Soon Jacob, Ethan, Hayley and then Kennedy, Camryn and Laynie came over to eat.  The kids were wild but they were wild by playing off by themselves.  So it was nice.  We celebrated Jaymie’s birthday and everyone wanted to watch him blow out the candles.
  • I mentioned that the kids played but the little kids played well too.  One time, Campbell had climbed into Hayley’s car seat and Laynie came along and pushed it across the room.  They played just as hard as the big kids-so hard that Campbell finally had to be put to bed because she was exhausted
  • Everyone was-after our company left and the kids were in bed, I had to go into Reagan’s room to get something and she was already asleep-it had been like 3 minutes since I had left.  We might just be exhausted too

June 16, 2011

Summertime Fun!
Highlights from today: (click here for pictures)
(click here for a video)
  • Day 4 of VBS getting ready didn’t go as well today as it did yesterday but we all made it, picked up Lilly and were at church on time.  Campbell started arching her back as soon as I pushed her stroller up to the door of her classroom and Graham started off going into his class but had to many hugs and decided that he didn’t want to go in
  • The kids liked the hot dogs at lunch today the best.  They gobbled them up and were quite excited about getting a piece of Mr. Milan’s 80th birthday cake-but by the time I made it to the line, I had to split the last piece of cake with the person in front of me and then I split it again for the boys who really wanted the cake.  When Anderson told Mr. Milan Happy Birthday and gave him the card we made, Anderson was quick to ask him if he could have some of his cake.
  • Reagan went home with Kennedy and they had a blast.  Reagan was a little nervous about going over to play-she asked if I was going to drop her off, going to say, would pick her up, asked if Kennedy could just come over here.  She did fine though and they had a blast-they spent most of their time playing dollhouse and then coloring.
  • The boys were pretty bummed that they couldn’t go with Kennedy and Reagan but Robby promised them that we could play in the water tonight and that made their day and helped everyone take a good rest.  When Campbell woke up from her nap, she went downstairs and started calling “Reagan? Reagan?”  Also, when we were leaving Reagan with Kennedy at church, Campbell kept going back to give Reagan hugs before we left.
  • We picked Reagan up and then went to Moe’s to eat and finally made it home to play in the water.  The last time we played in the water hose, Campbell wasn’t able to walk but this time she can and she had a blast.  They all enjoyed it and there was very little fussing this evening.  Maybe we should play in the water every night!

June 15, 2011

Everyone (even Reagan) loves
Chocolate Milk!
Highlights from today: (click here for pictures)
  • This was day number 3 for VBS and the kids are kind of getting into the swing of things-we had our clothes on and ready to go in no time…
  • But poor Graham lost his “swing” when I tried to drop him off to his class-he threw a true Graham size fit.  His teacher had to help me drag him in his class and Campbell followed suit and did the same
  • We had lunch at church and the kids have started going to the bathroom by themselves before we eat (well, really before, during and after we eat).  Anyway, when Anderson came back from the bathroom yesterday, he said that there was no one else in there with him and that was a good thing because no one could get him-maybe I need to tone down the “somebody’s going to get you” scare tactic
  • Everyone hopped out of the car today and headed into the Grannymom and Grandpa’s house for water play day.  They were so excited and in out the back door before I could even leave through the front.  Campbell wasn’t too sure she was pleased, until she realized she had on a bathing suit and everyone was going outside.  Then she perked up and followed the crew.  Anderson did not like the idea of playing in his boxer briefs and was about to have a meltdown when I remembered that I had some extra shorts in the car.
  • I picked everyone up and then headed home for a few minutes before heading to Sams.  We had to pick up some milk-about 6 gallons for the next week or so.  And even had some supper there.  Anderson saw a cake and asked Reagan if she liked “Rabbit cake”  Reagan didn’t miss a beat and answered him but I was totally confused-until I saw the carrot cakes
  • Next up was home for baths.  Poor Graham did not want to get wet and did not want to get washed up.  But we thought we had calmed him down when he suddenly ran back in our room, soaking wet with some bath toys in his hand and tears streaming down his cheeks.  He was screaming and pretty hysterical about the bath toys going down the drain.  He has never even given the bath toys and the drain a thought.  The poor kid was exhausted!
  • After baths, everyone watched a movie while sucking down some chocolate milk.  Graham soon became bored of the movie and started playing on the ipod.  He was so funny, just sitting on the couch as happy as he could be playing on “Daddy’s game phone”
  • Anderson was sitting on the couch beside me while the baby was kicking and I put his hand on my tummy and told him to see if he could feel the baby kick.  Suddenly, the baby kicked and Anderson’s eyes were as big as saucers.  He exclaimed “that baby is in there” and this led to many, many questions-how is the baby going to get out? (the doctor takes it out) how does the baby eat? (through its belly button) is the baby wearing socks? (probably not)
  • At Sams tonight. Reagan said “ha, ha, we missed our naps!” with a smirk on her face.  And this was fine with me because ha, ha, the kids went to bed at 7 and now I am sitting on the couch with a bowl of ice cream and a smirk on my face!

June 14, 2011

Ever seen a flag made
out of spaghetti?
Highlights from today: (click here for pictures)
(Click here for a video)
  • Day 2 of Vacation Bible School and we all made it without too much of a fuss-well, the first thing I did as I climbed out of bed was get Robby’s belt for Anderson (it wasn’t used but probably should have been).  He was in a bad mood but after breakfast he perked up a bit.
  • Everyone brought their cereal boxes for VBS and Campbell was so pleased with herself to carry her cereal in.  After the day, Robby joined us for lunch and we all had our pizza and then headed home.  And then disaster happened-Reagan left her lollipop at church!!  Robby promised her 2 which made Anderson cry.  So he promised Anderson 2 and Reagan 3.  Well, Graham would have none of this so he said he wanted 2, which then bumped Anderson’s total up to 3 and Reagan’s to 4.  Robby to Reagan that he would “hook her up” and after nap she reminded me that Daddy had said that he would “hook her up”
  • After dropping Lilly off, we had our naps and then started working on our family night.  The kids all helped top of the spaghetti-Flag Day Spaghetti.  Meatballs and sauce along with cheese for the stripes and more pieces of cheese for stars. 
  • When Robby came home we listened too some patriotic music and had our spaghetti.  Then we worked on dipping our strawberries in white chocolate and blue sprinkles.  Next up was making American Flags-it was quite complicated for every to understand 13 stripes and 50 stars.  Next up was finding the 50 stars and 13 stripes hidden in the den.  We then counted to 50 (quite a feat) and we topped the evening off with eating our strawberries and making some red, white and blue popsicles (which really just turned out purple!)
  • Robby read everyone a book before bed and then they all crashed-this VBS makes them crazy wild all day long but at least they sleep well.

June 13, 2011

Yes, my paci! So what!
Highlights from today: (click here for pictures)
  • The boys were up at the crack of dawn-who knew the sun was when the clock still said 5 something.  Oh, my it was way too early.  I should have kicked them out of my bed but I just tried to lay real still so they would forget I was there (it didn’t work)
  • Before long though, we all had to get up and start getting ready.  Everyone had their clothes on and breakfast eaten and were ready to get in the car about 8.  We picked up Lilly and headed to church
  • After checking everyone in and finally finding everyone’s rooms it was time for me to start to work.  Reagan came in my class and enjoyed making our craft (even though she thought it was a strawberry instead of an apple).  Anderson had a good day too and really enjoyed games.  Graham got upset when I told him that we weren’t going back to church when he woke up from his nap so I guess he enjoyed it too
  • Robby stopped by and helped me pick everyone up and to see what all the kids were doing.  And then we all had lunch at church.  The kids were all happy to see Pops and especially happy when he gave them extra cookies
  • At lunch, Anderson stood behind a podium and said “Look Mom, I am the preacher man.” and a few minutes later, Reagan stood behind the same podium and said “Look Mom, I am President Reagan”
  • We dropped Lilly off on the way home and then everyone plated for a few minutes and then it was nap time.  They were pretty wired but still worn out so nap time went smoothly.  I eventually had to wake Anderson up and then everyone started to get ready for to go shopping
  • When Robby made it home, we loaded up and went shopping.  The kids were so excited when I started loading up the buggy with the icees that were on sale-and Robby might have been pretty excited about it too.  Reagan was delighted about her blueberries we bought but she wanted to know if I had a “ticket” for the orange juice. (coupon)

June 12, 2011

A little milk to get the morning going!
Highlights from today: (click here for pictures)
Another restful night at the hotel.  Graham was the first one to stir-surprisingly he walked from where he was sleeping to our bed and climbed in.  Anderson was next but he just called for me and then joined us in bed.  Next Campbell was up and talking so she also climbed in-good thing it was a king size.  And when Robby got out, Reagan stopped hiding under her covers and came in. 
We made it downstairs for breakfast and everyone feasted on their pancakes.  And you would have thought they had won the lottery when Robby said that they each could take a box of cereal back up to the room. 
Back at the room, we were already packed up so everyone helped Robby load up the cart.  Campbell and I went to move the car to the front and everyone else helped Robby push the cart.  When Anderson came out of the doors, he told me that they had had a tiny wreck.  I never heard what actually happened but everything seemed to be intact. 
The kids were soon watching their movies and we were breezing down the road.  We did stop at Brinkley for a bathroom stop and for juiceboxes.  We made it home fairly quickly and when we crossed over the river bridge-Graham said “where is that pyramid?”  Guess he didn’t notice it again when we left Memphis and was pretty disappointed that he didn’t see it then.  Pretty smart since we were going over a bridge and there were tall building on the other side-just like driving into Memphis.
When we made it home, we dropped the kids off at Grannymom and Grandpa’s house for a few minutes while we came home to clean out the car, unpack everything and even straighten the garage.  We managed to get all of that done in record time and then picked them up for naps.  They were not too pleased to see us but must have been tired because nap time went fairly smoothly.
Reagan was up first for her snack and movie and Anderson popped up when I opened his door and Graham climbed down off of the bunk without me so he must have been pretty awake.  They were content with their milk and snack while waiting on us to get ready for church.  Robby grabbed Campbell out of bed and she snuggled with him until it was time to leave.
At church, the boys decided they wanted to go to church with Reagan and us so we did take a chance and all went well.  Graham did shout “I want to do it” while passing the offering plate and Anderson did look at the man in front of us and say “Mom, he doesn’t have any hair.” 
Back at home, we had supper and then everyone went to bed.  Anderson and Graham have been sneaking books in bed (I guess it could be worse) but now I hear them talking up a storm.  Oh, to be a fly on the wall.

June 11, 2011

Birds at the Memphis Zoo
Highlights from today: (click here for pictures)
Everyone slept well last night (we usually do at hotels-knock on wood).  The kids were moving slowly this morning until we mentioned breakfast downstairs.  For some reason, breakfast at a hotel can get everyone moving quickly.  We sat right by the water and ducks and the kids were still enamored with the ducks.  Breakfast was excellent-Robby had an omelet, I had sausage, potatoes and egg.  The kids had fruit loops, donuts, french toast sticks, eggs, sausage and lots and lots of juice.  After breakfast we ran back upstairs to potty before heading out-as you can imagine we needed to after all of that juice.
When we made it to the Memphis Zoo this morning, Anderson exclaimed “the Dallas Zoo.”  We have a book with our picture in front of the Dallas Zoo that he looks at so it must have been on his mind.  We were there as the gates opened and used our LR zoo pass to get a discount for admission.  The boys wanted to see the hippos, Reagan wanted to see the Panda bears and I wanted to see the Polar bears. We started off working our way towards the right side.
We saw the flamingos and the kids couldn’t get over the number tags on their legs.  Next was a crocodile but Graham just thought it was a statue and was not impressed at all.  Then we had a long, very long haul up to the Teton Trek. 
When the tram passed us and it was a little after 9 and I was pushing a double stroller and dripping wet with sweat, I was concerned that it was going to be a very long and hot day.  Actually it was very decent even though it was hot.  There was lots of shade, lots of indoor places, lots of seating and Robby kept finding lots of icees!  So it all worked out well.
The Teton Trek was wonderful.  It so reminded us of our trip to Yellowstone.  They had a geyser that the kids played in.  You should have seen them jump when the huge, Old Faithful geyser went off.  Campbell had to have her shoes off but barely got her feet wet in the water-she probably needed only a few more minutes to warm up and then she would have been soaked.
Behind the geyser, they had the replica of the Old Faithful Inn.  Not only was the air conditioner on inside but it was cold.  We could have stayed there for a very long time except that had recordings of wolves howling and this unnerved the boys a bit.  We sat inside for awhile and then ventured upstairs and sat on the rocking chairs enjoying the view.  After seeing the Teton Trek at the zoo today, Robby is actually planning a big trip to Yellowstone and has even mentioned buying a station wagon.  And now he has just booked rooms at Old Faithful Inn about a year in advance.
After the lodge, we saw the grizzly bears and it was a very impressive exhibit.  We watched them swim for the longest time right in front of us.  Then we climbed the hill and walked over the exhibit and near their waterfall that they play in.  Very, very cool.
We walked and saw more animals on our way to the polar bears and sea lions.  You were able to be inside and from one side see the polar bears swim and from the other side see the sea lions swim.  The kids loved seeing the sea lions and would try to chase them from window to window.  Of course, they missed seeing them too much because the sea lions were always faster than them and had moved on by the time they made it to the window. 
The Hawkins met us at the sea lion show at 11.  It was pretty impressive and just the right amount of time for the kids.  I heard Campbell clapping and was pleased that she was watching the sea lions.  But no, she was just clapping for herself because she had buckled the buckle in the stroller.  Silly girl.  I don’t know if she saw any of the show. 
At the end, Graham and Reagan went down by the edge and the sea lions swam by and just splashed all of the kids there.  They would squeal and had all water dripping off of them.  Next we saw the elephants, giraffes and zebras on our way to the bird house.  At the birdhouse, Robby bought some bird feeder sticks and I thought “sucker” but it ended up being pretty neat.  You could get the birds to sit on the sticks and eat the food.  Everyone got to hold multiple birds and really liked it (even though it was very hot in there). 
After the birds, we saw the hippos (not much there-hippos in water but they are going to do a new hippo exhibit and we will have to come back for that) and then the pandas.  Reagan really enjoyed the panda bears and could have stayed there longer.  The only other time we have been here is when Reagan was a few months old and we bought her a panda bear stuffed toy. 
During the aquarium visit, Campbell fell asleep but everyone else was very interested in the fish-found nemo, dory, a lionfish (which sent Anderson and Caleb into a frenzy), and a sting ray (which Graham wanted everyone to know that Grannymom has swam with). 
Then we headed on to my least favorite-the petting zoo.  Reagan and Anderson were the only ones brave enough to pet anything-a sheep.  But they had a miniature train to see and then we even rode the real train.  Robby stayed back with Campbell who was still snoozing and the train took us around the petting area 2 times.
We were nearing the end and had told the kids that we could do the playground and play in the water again but after the playground we told them we could have juice boxes and go swimming if we skipped playing in the water again.  They could have stayed on the playground forever.  After playing for awhile they were completely happy with that so we headed to the car.
Back at the hotel, we had leftover pizza for a snack since it was nearing 3 and we hadn’t had lunch and then we all took a nap-thank goodness I set my alarm or we might still have been asleep.  As soon as we laid the kids down and shut the door, we didn’t hear anything out of them.  Earlier, I said that breakfast wakes them up quickly but you just have to whisper the word “swimming” and they are up and in their suits in no time.
We swam for a bit.  It was still too cold so I stayed in the “hot pool” with Reagan, then Graham and occasionally Campbell who would only put her feet in.  After swimming, we came back upstairs for quick baths and then downstairs to meet everyone for supper.  We had BBQ at the Neelys and it was good.  We didn’t get the BBQ spaghetti but had sandwiches.  The kids devoured their grilled cheese and Campbell is a bean eater.  And she is also a show-off-when she had any one looking at her, she would put on a grand show for them-clapping, cup throwing, coughing, biting the tablecloth. 
On the way back to the hotel, we stopped at a local yogurt place and had a bit.  We must have gotten just the right amount this time because they kids ate all of theirs without any leftovers.  Then it was back to the hotel for pajamas, looking at the pictures and then bed.  We didn’t hear anything from the kids again tonight when we laid them down-they must be exhausted.  It has been a good trip and we will definitely be returning to the Memphis zoo soon.

June 10, 2011

Love me some hotel living!
Highlights from today: (click here for pictures)
  • The boys woke up at 6 this morning which was way too early for anyone.  But when Graham said “but it’s light out” and started getting out of bed, I knew there was no stopping them. 
  • They laid semi quietly in my bed until their milk was finished and then it was movie time and they continued to wake up more and more (or get louder and louder).  Eventually though it was time for everyone to get up and we all started the day
  • I told the kids that we would go to my work today and they were ready to go as soon as we put our clothes on.  But first, I made everyone straighten upstairs and then eat breakfast. 
  • I had to work on my charts at work and their were other kids there making a mess as we came in-most of the balls had been thrown out of the ball pit.  The kids all played and watched the other kids playing.  Eventually, the Dennies did help the other boys pick up the balls.  Reagan was so glad that we could keep playing after picking up.  Once the room was picked up, the Dennie kids played and played.
  • There was a little baby at work and Campbell tried to give her the sippy cup, help her stand up and even get a piggy back ride from her.  Poor baby V around here will have to be monitored constantly or Campbell will have to be kept in another room.  Maybe we should start practicing being “sweet” with a baby doll
  • Back at home, we had lunch-I let the kids eat on the couch so I could get a few things wrapped up before we left.  The kids didn’t seem to excited about going on a trip-actually, Anderson said he didn’t want to go.  And Reagan kept asking how far we had to go to get there.  When I explained that we didn’t have to go far at all it did make them a bit happier. 
  • We zoomed over to Memphis and didn’t stop at all.  It did help that Campbell and Graham slept most of the way and I haven’t been letting the kids watch movies in the car for the past few days so they really relished watching the movies (and it did help that they watched a whole 2+ hours of tv that Robby had taped for them)
  • When we made it to the hotel, we checked in, unloaded and then went downstairs during their happy hour and had some drinks (coke products only) and snacks (chips, salsa and goldfish).  The highlight for the kids was watching the ducks and fish swim in the water area right by where we were eating.  Graham did almost pop out of his chair when a duck came to eat a few of the fish that he had dropped
  • After having our snack, the boys were delighted to play with Caleb and Will in the lobby for a few minutes while waiting on pizza.  Next up was pizza out near the pool and then swimming.  We were very fortunate that the pool cleared out before we swam.  It was too cold for me but no one else seemed to mind-especially not Campbell or Graham.  Campbell tried to do everything that Graham did-kick her feet to splash, jump off the edge-she had no fear
  • After baths, we laid the kids down and never heard a peep out of them-love hotel living!

June 9, 2011

A little handiwork around the house...
Highlights from today: (click here for pictures)
  • I had to go work today so the kids went to Nonna and Pops’ house.  They were pretty excited about so I didn’t turn right around and pick them up when all 3 of my kids were absent. 
  • Everyone had breakfast, snacks, candy from Beebee and Papaw, lunch and more snacks at Nonnas.  There little tummies were as full as they could be-especially Campbell’s.  She ate and ate while I was there. 
  • On the way home, you could tell they were tired.  I couldn’t believe that Campbell and Graham stayed up on the way home.  It did help that Campbell had cookies to help her stay awake on the drive.  Reagan was the only one who cleaned up when I asked so her and Campbell were the only ones to get a snack (though the boys didn’t really seem to mind)
  • At home, everyone rested until 3:30-4 ish.  Our routine now is when Reagan gets up we play a game and then when Anderson gets up we play another game and when Graham get up we play another game and then when Campbell finally gets up we hurry around picking up all of the games.  Between games we still have out snacks, milk and movies though.
  • During nap I painted the baseboards and had a few screws to screw back in when I had finished so I had 4 little helpers each anxious for their turn. 
  • After nap, I asked the boys to clean up and they spent their time playing so I just boxed up their train stuff and spaceship stuff and took it to the garage.  And again they really didn’t seem to mind.  Oh, well, it is at least a little bit less cluttered in the den!  They will get it eventually. 
  • Robby brought home supper and then everyone went outside to watch him mow.  We mostly had to stay in the garage because it was so dusty out there.  When he was done everyone had a turn on the lawnmower.  Campbell is so funny-she is terrified of it but fussed when her turn was over.
  • Baths, another movie and then bed for everyone-they are excited about going to my work tomorrow for a few minutes. 

July 8, 2011

Should a 1-year-old
being using a smart phone?
Highlights from today: (click here for pictures)
  • Another morning and another morning heading to Grannymom’s house.  Campbell had her nutrition study visit today so we dropped everyone else off at Grannymoms.  And yes, Graham was not wearing a pajama shirt again this morning. 
  • I was worried that Campbell was going to get very upset when everyone else climbed out of the car but as soon as the van doors opened I threw a poptart at her and she was fine.
  • She was also fine at the Nutrition Center.  Though she did not say a word or even make a peep for examiner which made her fall below average for her expressive language skills and she was too interested in playing with the toys that she also fell below average in her receptive language skills.  That is fine though since I truly believe she is just fine-why talk when there are so many other people around here to talk for her.  Just like she was with walking, why walk when there are so many other people around here to bring you stuff.
  • Back at Grannymom’s house, everyone played outside.  The boys were crazy sweaty when I arrived.  Graham said that Anderson got in big trouble at Grannymom’s house but Reagan disagreed but seemed suspicious.  So the jury is out on who is telling the truth.  Though Anderson did get a pretty good spanking today for trying to hit me and being ugly.  That did help his attitude for awhile.  
  • When we made it home, everyone played trains for awhile.  Poor Campbell will get her train and just plop down in the middle of the train track.  This makes Reagan and Anderson go bonkers.  Graham tries to stay off of the track but his big shoes get in the way.  So playing train is quite entertaining for me.
  • While Campbell had her nap, the kids worked on making a pie for Papaw’s Monthly Dish and it was also a key lime pie because Anderson had requested one.  They were alot of help and thankfully no one grated their tiny little fingers
  • Soon it was lunch time and time for Nonna to come over.  I had a meeting at work so Nonna came over to play.  The kids colored and colored and when I came home it was time for nap.  After nap it was soon time for supper.  The boys and Campbell had mac and cheese and sandwiches. 
  • Reagan had her sandwich in the car on our way to go work getting things ready for VBS.  She was disappointed that her friend wasn’t there to play with but she was happy to color and very happy that Jason showed up to color with her.  She made a zillion pictures and was so pleased about showing Robby when she came home.

June 7, 2011

Who is the ring leader
of this bunch?
Highlights from today: (click here for pictures)
  • I went to work for a few minutes today and the boys were so excited that they were getting to go to Grandpa’s house without me or Robby.  I think we put a little bit of damper on their fun.
  • All the kids spent their morning eating and eating and didn’t even manage to put on their pajamas.  I didn’t make them until Robby said we were going out to eat for supper-they almost made it all day in pajamas.
  • After Grannymom’s house we all came home and played for awhile until it was time for lunch.  We had pbjs and then even finished up Robby’s brownies.  The kids all thought they were something else finishing off the pan.
  • During naptime today Reagan breezed through her reading today and was so proud of herself that she wanted to read it again.  Anderson didn’t sleep this afternoon either which is kind of out of the ordinary but as long as they are quite and in their rooms I don’t mind.  Reagan spends her time coloring (yes, we use a ream of paper a week) and Anderson spends his time on the ipods
  • This afternoon we played Monopoly Jr.  Anderson tries really hard to finish it but soon he loses interest and I have to finish for him.  Reagan could play games forever. 
  • Soon Campbell and Graham woke up and we all had to rush around putting on clothes.  After we did our clothes it was time to meet Robby at On the Border for supper.  It was a pretty uneventful supper-Campbell did stick her hand in the cheese dip and Anderson tried to trip a waiter.  But other than that we did pretty good.
  • Next stop was the grocery store and then a movie and bed for the Dennie crew.

Disney Recommendations by the Dennies

Disney Tips
  • It’s a lot of walking so wear good tennis shoes.  Sandals will not do.
  • Bring a car or rent one.  Why spend your time waiting on a bus when you can zoom to the park in your own car?  Imagine holding 6 kids, 2 strollers and 2 bags on a crowded bus-not for me.
  • You can take an ice chest in so we always bring a small one and hang it on the back of the strollers.  Water bottles filled with ice work well to keep things chilled.
  • Most of the concession stands/restaurants will give you free cups of ice or ice water.  We bring in our own cokes to drink with their ice.
  • Buy a drink cup from your hotel if you are staying onsite especially if you are a big coke drinker.  We used ours for an afternoon and evening snack.  Pretty good value and gave us something fun to do-go and get a coke!
  • Understand the Fast pass system and use it to your advantage.  If you use it correctly, you should not have to wait in any long lines even during the busiest park days.  Even though the system has recently changed, it still helps tremendously so read up on it before you go.  
  • As of today, a kids quick service meal counts as an adults quick service meal.  So if you have a kid on the meal plan, you can order them an adult quick service meal instead of the kiddie one.  More options and a dessert and no penalty to your total meal count.
  • Don’t sleep in.  Be there when the park opens-the lines are not long and you can get so much done before everyone else shows up.  Disney is not a restful vacation-Get up!
  • Port Orleans French Quarter is our favorite hotel right now.  It is in a central location and a much smaller resort with many amenities.  Building 3 is preferred-near the parking lot, pool and main building.
  • Schedule breakfast before the park opens, it is so nice to get in early and finish just as everyone else is walking in.  And if you are eating early at Magic Kingdom, the walk down an empty Main Street is wonderful.
  • Always be at your reservations early.  We have been seated up to an hour early sometimes-it never hurts to try if your dining time is supposed to be later than you want.  
  • We like using the restrooms at the Ticket and Transportation center.  It is much less crowded.
  • If the Magic Kingdom express monorail is full walk around to the resort monorail line.  It has 2 extra stops but is usually not crowded.
  • First visit/birthday or anniversary buttons are at Guest Relations and they happily give them out.
  • Best out of park housing: Blooming Alamanda Loop was the street we stayed on last visit and that neighborhood was minutes away from the parks.
  • Rider switch is your friend.  If you have a kid small enough to not ride take them up to the front of the line and then you will receive a pass to come back with 2 additional guests to ride again.  Do this each time and you will collect a handful of passes-free fast passes.
Disney Food
We have ranked the places we have eaten on our last trip and will add on subsequent trips.  But here is what we thought on a 1 to 10 scale (10 being the best and 1 being not worth the time)
  • 10-Magic Kingdom Adventure Land’s Orange Juice Slushies.  This is Robby’s favorite dessert and would hop in the car and drive to Orlando just for one.  Updated-they no longer serve these there! 
  • 6-Magic Kingdom Adventure Land’s Dole Whip.  Great dessert but much smaller than expected portions which made me sad!
  • 3-Magic Kingdom Crystal Palace.  Unless you really like Winnie and Tigger, just go ahead and skip this.  The food is a standard buffet prepared for a zillion people. 
  • 9-Magic Kingdom Pecos Bill.  Loved the condiment bar with lots of indoor seating.  I loved the taco salad-absolutely loved it.
  • 8-Magic Kingdom Main Street Bakery.  Great cinnamon rolls and ice cream sandwich (good for sharing) Updated-the bakery has become a Starbucks and the cinnamon rolls have moved to Gaston's Tavern
  • 7-Caseys.  Good hot dogs and nachos.  Our kids loved the cotton candy as dessert.  
  • 6-Magic Kingdom Cosmic Rays.  Large portions with lots of variety.  Also lots of indoor seating with close bathrooms. 
  • 9-Epcot Akershaus Royal Dining.  Wonderful for little princesses.  Liked sampler buffet and really great that you see all of the princesses and it is just one dining credit as opposed to the two credits that Cinderella’s Castle takes.  More so for girls than for the boys.
  • 5-Epcot Coral Reef.  Not my favorite and probably should have ranked it lower.  I think it had a fishy smell, pitiful service but with decent food.
  • 7-Epcot Sunshine Season.  Fairly central location with lots of seating and wide selection. 
  • 7-Epcot Mexico Cantina.  Good Mexican food with delicious nachos.
  • 6-Hollywood Studios Pizza Planet.  Pretty good pizza that kills hunger.  Nice that it has indoor seating.
  • 7-Hollywood Studios Starring Rolls.  Great desserts with huge sandwiches.  Butterfinger cupcake is highly recommended by these Dennies.
  • 8-Animal Kingdom Tusker House.  Huge breakfast selection and you see Mickey, Donald, Daisy and Goofy.  This now beats out my Chef Mickeys which I love.  Always feel a bit rushed there though.
  • 8-Animal Kingdom Flame Tree BBQ.  The best BBQ around with plenty of covered seating along the lake just keep walking down the path.
  • 7-French Quarter Quick Service.  The food was good, plentiful.  Excellent beignets and quesadillas.
  • 6.5-Polynesian O’hana Breakfast.  We weren’t as crazy about O’hanas this year as we were last year but still a great breakfast and well worth it if you go here before the park opens (at least an hour)
  • 7-Polynesian O'hana Supper.  Lots and lots of food.  Fun for the kids and if you aren't planning on going back to the park-go out to the beach and watch the fireworks.  
  • 7-Disney Springs Wolfgang Pack.  Pretty good out of the park dining.  The service was a bit slow but the food was still good.
  • 8-Hollywood Studios Mama Rosas.  My Vodka pasta (it had a fancy name) was delicious.  Few choices at hollywood but this one is great.
  • 5-Epcot San Angel Inn.  Our service was slow and there were few foods to choose from.  Will not be returning there.  Though it pretty inside-unless you are seated by the bathroom like us!!
Disney Attractions
  • Animal Kingdom’s Lion King show.  It is one of our favorites and always a nice break to sit somewhere cool for a bit. 
  • Hollywood Studio's Frozen Sing-a-long show.  Who doesn't love singing along with Anna and Elsa?
  • Magic Kingdom's People Mover. Wonderful ride since it is long enough to rest on, lets you see that side of the park, everyone can go on it, no wait and always provides a nice cool breeze.
  • Epcot Coke Place.  I don't know the real name but there are samples of cokes from around the globe.  Great spot to cool off and grab something to drink. 

June 6, 2011

Which face is not like the other?
Highlights from today: (click here for pictures)
  • Everyone still must be a little tired this morning because we were moving around fairly slow.
  • I had somehow forgotten about breakfast and Reagan had to remind me about breakfast this morning.  No one else had seemed to notice but we did all managed to eat half of a loaf of bread-everyone loves toast
  • The kids spent the morning playing with a zillion stickers and then this led to signing autographs and passing them out.  I guess they got this idea from Mickey.  Though somehow Reagan only wrote “Emily Marie Dennie” on her autographs
  • Next up was lunch and reading a few magazines.  After lunch, I had put everyone’s pizza leftovers in the trash.  Before long, Campbell walked to the trash can and grabbed out a piece of pizza.  I asked her if she was hungry and she nodded her head and continued on her way with her pizza in her mouth.  And I let her have it (please don’t nominate me for the bad mom award)
  • After lunch, Robby came home for a few minutes and then we all loaded up to take Robby back to work.  We had left his car there before our Disney trip and today was the first time we thought about picking it up.  Though, we did get a playdate offer today and I almost said yes and loaded up the kids-wouldn’t that have been horrible if we all traipsed to the garage and saw that it was empty.  They would have been crushed!
  • We came home for naps and most everyone had a nap.  Since we went to nap late when they woke up it was nearing 5 but everyone still demanded a snack.  I didn’t find anything out of the trash (Campbell’s approach) and managed to find a some cereal.
  • While they were watching a cartoon, the character went to the pyramids and Anderson asked if I had ever been to the pyramids.  I said no but Grannymom had seen them.  Reagan said “but I have been to the pyramid too and we even went in”  I was briefly stumped until I remembered Vegas.
  • Soon Robby was home and it was time for hot dogs.  Anderson said that it reminded him of the other place with hot dogs-though it wasn’t as good as the Varsity.  We played a few games tonight and then it was time for bed.