September 21, 2018-Spur-of-the-Moment Mid West and Beyond Trip

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We woke up at 6 as planned, and soon everyone was getting ready. Graham was the first one to stir this morning of the kids probably because he was the first one to go to sleep last night. Our of all of the kids, Graham is the one who becomes tired the easiest. Well, Whitman was asleep pretty soon too last night. He even went to sleep before we had taken him potty, so I had to take a sound aseep Whitman to the potty before I went to bed. He did stir enough to do his business and then went right back to sleep.

A bit before 7, we were all loading the car. It is nice that the kids can help so much with this now. Though today, they did a bit more running and yelling than their usual helping. The weather was looking ominious already. We were certainly glad that we had decided last night to head on towards Detroit today rather than waking up to the upcoming Branson thunderstorms and then scrambling to load up and get on the road.

Breakfast opened at 7, and we were there as soon as it opened. The lady had not even put out the waffle mix yet which was probably good for us because it did save us some time. Reagan and I had bagels while Campbell and Keaton had toast. Whitman feasted on an apple and cereal. The boys and Robby enjoyed the eggs and bacon.

We ate quickly and then ran back to the room to potty before loading up. Our first activity was listening to the second disk of our book on tape. We did have to stop this when we pulled over at the largest candy store. Now, I am not too sure if this was actually the largest candy store, but it was a fun gas and bathroom stop. We did leave with a big bag of candy-everyone was told to pick 5 items from the candy barrels.

After the kids all did 3 school pages, we did pass out the candy. The school pages were fairly easy-more for my sanity than the kids. They each have 15 pages to do on our trip. Now, Whitman does have 20. Nothing was too difficult, and they were finished before I was off the phone trying to activate a new creidt card.

We were a bit worried about being in rain on our drive today. However our drive through Missouri was cloud but rain free. I tried my best to look at car license plates, but I don’t think that I am very observant. The kids aren’t too interested in playing. I think they have deicded that since we found all of the states on our last trip, then we don’t have to find anymore.

Things were going splendid on the road until we hit a pretty good traffic jam. We just sat for at least 20 minutes. Robby was on a phone call and was able to do some emailing while we were in park. Then the traffic did start to crawl again so we took a potty stop at a rest stop before passing out drinks. It was a super relief to get back on the road.

I just hated having such a long ways to go today. There are so many places that I want to stop, but we don’t have time. We could use a day or two in St. Louis and driving to Chicago would just add 8 minutes to our route. I guess that I will have to save those stops for next year.

Despite the long way, and despite the GPS still saying that we had over 8 hours, we still made one stop in St. Louis. We needed a snack and Ted Drewes was right on the way. We ate our custard as we took a few pictures and then it was back in the car. Despite having custard in my tumy, I was still a bit bummed drving by the arch and not being able to stop. There is so much to do and so little time!

We then drove a bit longer in Illinois. Reagan was the one who needed to stop, and it coundn’t have been better timing. Across the street from the gas station, was a much smaller replica of the St. Louis arch. Of course we had to get out and snap a few pictures. Now, those pictures do make it look like we were right underneath the real arch.

I believe that was the stop that we also ran into Burger King to grab something to eat. We had planned on making sandwiches for lunch. I had actually even taken orders, but since we had already stopped, we opted for fast food for lunch and sandwiches for supper.

Casey, Illinois is the home of the world’s largest pencil, rocking chair, wind chimes, birdcage, pitch fork, golf tee and mailbox. And we saw them all! You would have thought that we didn’t have over 5 more hours to drive! Indeed we did though plus we would lose an hour during the drive.

Once we were back on the road, we played a few rounds of bingo. My prize bag is completely full so the kids were delighted when they one and not pleased when they lost. We had 4 different winners today-only Katon and Whitman lost.

After bingo, we listened to a podcast about hauntings at Greenfield Village. It was kept the driver awake, but other than that I probably wouldn’t recommend it...even though I had already recommended it to the Heltz.

The last few long driving days that we have had, we have spent the morning playing around stopping here and there. However, the late afternoon and evening has been spent driving and driving without stopping. Today was no different.

The next stop was when I started driving, I think. It is all a bit hazy to me right now. Robby passed out supper to everyone. There is nothing better than sandwiches when you are traveling. He did forget the mustard on mine, but I certainly know how difficult it is to make 8 sandwiches in the seat of a car while driving down the road at 70 miles per hour. It was certainly still delicious.

We listened to a comedian for a good part of the drive. At one point, I was laughing so hard that I was crying. Of course, that made driving a bit difficult for me. Robby passed out snacks a few times before we eventually made it in to Detroit.

The time changed hurt us a bit but it was not too bad of a driving day. By the time that we settled into our beds at the hotel, it was almost 12:30 here. The Village opens at 9:30 tomorrow so we will be able to sleep in for a bit extra tomorrow.

September 20, 2018-Spur-of-the-Moment Mid West and Beyond Trip

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Robby and I woke right up with our alarms at 5:30 this morning. We did stay up a bit later than planned but we were able to empty the dishwasher and do some laundry. Those were things that we would have had to do early this morning.

By 6, Robby and I were ready and began waking up the kids. They woke up fairly easily-all except for Whitman. After I had made his bed, he climbed right back into it and managed to sleep a bit more since I lost track of where he was. He has started sneaking off-to watch his movies, avoid school work or to just disobey. This morning, he wasn't doing any of those; he was sleeping.

Our goal was to leave at 6:30 this morning, but it was about 6:40 when we pulled out of the driveway. This morning Whitman and Reagan were in the back of the van. Keaton and Campbell were next to the back row, and Graham and Anderson were on the second row. Every other spare inch of the car was packed full of clothes and food.

The first hour of our trip was spent listening to a book on tape. Then we moved on to watching a Netflix movie. However, the movie didn't work out too well. I then tried one of our movies, Home Alone, and it did work perfectly. So hopefully, we just had a bad netflix movie since I am sure that we watch quite a few more over the next week.

We stopped only once on our way to Silver Dollar City. I had just pulled out my computer to begin the blog right before we stopped. However, when I came back to the car, Robby was sitting in my spot. Now, I did oblige and drive the rest of the way to Branson.

The kids were super excited when they realized where we were this morning. It did seem like our drive was fairly short. We pulled into the parking lot at Silver Dollar City about 15 minutes after they opened. The parking lot seemed a bit light so we were pleased with that.

Indeed, the crowds were wonderful today. The kids were able to ride whatever they wanted over and over again. The longest wait was probably for Time Traveler but that was just about 20 minutes. Despite the great lines, the weather was still a bit warm. It did reach 90 or a little above.

We began in the General Store. We let them know that we had 3 September birthdays so they handed Reagan, Keaton and Robby birthday buttons. They also gave them a little bag of taffy. The lady also gave us a map and circled the other placed that we needed to stop for their birthday goodies. Of course, we made it a priority to find all of those other stops. They were given a little bag of kettle corn and a tiny ice cream cone. And the whole family enjoyed their 2 dollar off coupons on cinnamon bread. And yes, we bought 3 loaves of cinnamon bread-we ate 2 and saved one in the car.

We did Thunderation, which is Whitman's favorite ride, followed by Time Traveler. Then we walked over to the kiddie section. We were able to ride everything there. I always leave that area a bit woozy because I have to ride the swings twice, once with Keaton and then with Whitman. I also have to ride both pirate ships with the kids.

Now, Robby missed out on this section of the trip because he was doing some work. Somebody has to pay the bills. He actually went to our secret spot-behind the cooking school on the back porch. It is cool and shady back there and is actually where I plan on coming to sit when I am old!

By this time, we were hot and a bit cranky. Well, we weren't that cranky. We bought a few drinks and along with chicken and beef nachos. We gobbled them down; I think that the heat made us all a bit hungry. From there, we headed to Fire in the Hole followed by the bigger roller coasters.

Now I think that the next stop was the log ride. As soon as we stepped off of that ride, it started to sprinkle. We refilled our drinks and then sat down for a few minutes. At some point during the day, we sat down in a show. Robby was quick to point out that Whitman was already sound asleep. I remember glancing that direction and looking at him, and then I don't remember much else about the show. I had fallen asleep as well and snoozed until Robby tapped me suggesting that we go ahead and leave.

From there, we headed on to more big roller coasters. Then we did ride the circle raft water ride. Since I was already soaking wet by that point, I volunteered to go on the soaking wet raft ride with Whitman. I was drenched and still even a bit chilly from that ride.

I was happy then to walk to the car because it gave me a chance to dry off. Our next stop was to buy shoes for Reagan. She needed new tennis shoes and gracious me, shoes are expensive. It was a buy one get one half off deal, so Anderson also ended up with a new pair of shoes.

Then it was a short jaunt to the motel. We are staying in the same motel that Robby and I stayed at when we came here a few months ago. It is an older motel that has been completely redone. Reagan said that she thought that was the nicest hotel ever.

It probably seems super nice since we are in two rooms tonight. Our room, the girls room, is quite a bit bigger. The boys room connects to ours so we are all super spread out. Now, I will honestly say, that our room is much more organized than the boys' room.

As soon as we walked into the room, kids started cycling through the showers while I began heating up the BBQ. This was our first trip to ever bring BBQ on. Many nights we struggle finding something to eat. We just don't want to grab fast food nor do we want to sit down at an okay-ish restaurant. Now, tonight, we could have certainly eaten at Billy Boy's Dairyland which is our Branson favorite place right now, but we opted for our first meal of BBQ.

It was delicious and hit the spot. We also had crackers and cheese so everyone was stuffed by the end of our supper. It worked out perfectly. Afterwards, we did our nightly laundry load and then it was bedtime. Now, doing laundry tonight helped wonderfully since we were hot and wet today!

The original plan was to have another night here in Branson with another rain free day at Silver Dollar City. However, it doesn't look like the weather is going to cooperate with us so as of 10 tonight, we will be heading on North tomorrow.

September 19, 2018

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  • I love that my people wake up early on Bible study mornings. It means that they are excited, and nothing could be more wonderful. I, however, did not wake up early this morning. I was so, so tired this morning or maybe I just didn't want to get on the treadmill. 
  • I had to help keeping the babies during Bible study. We had a few fussy ones so I was walking around most of the time. After Bible study, we went to the park. Unfortunately, the park was not only hot but also full of mosquitoes. Needless to say, we did not stay very long at all today. That worked out well because we had plenty of things to do this afternoon.
  • Anderson and Reagan made their EAST logos. I read to everyone, but when I asked Whitman if we could skip our work together today, he said. "sure, that would be just great." I am not too sure he enjoys our work together time!
  • Reagan had to go to the orthodontist this afternoon for an appointment. That said that she was doing good but needs to brush more at her gum line. I will certainly take that. Back at home, there was laundry, chores and even catching up on Whitman's baby book. The kids did have a bit of free time but all too soon, it was time to turn back around and head to church.
  • We arrived incredibly early, but that was fine because the kids had pizza at church. Whitman and I even had time to see all of the grands. Then it was time to head to our classes. I spent my evening on the playground with the preschool.
  • Once church was over, Anderson and Graham grabbed me some ice and then we headed towards home. Since the kids had jumpys tonight, they all needed showers. They did that and even though we let the kids stay up a bit later since we were busy working and making rice krispy treats, tomorrow will still be an early morning for all.

September 18, 2018

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  • I hit my snooze for as long as I could this morning. I could already hear Graham and Campbell working in the school room. Actually, I could hear Graham in the school room sneezing. Just like Robby does, Graham sneezed at least 20 times in a row.
  • After everyone was awake, we all grabbed breakfast and then began our school work in my bedroom. We skipped eating in the kitchen and everyone ate in my room as I read history. I did make sure that no one left in the middle of history to go to the mailbox.
  • I am not sure how this happened today, but at 11 I had finished working with everyone except for Whitman. He also had every single bit of his work left. I thought I was already learning to be patient with the other kids, but gracious I will be the most patient person in the world by the time we are finished with Whitman's kindergarten year.
  • Just like yesterday, this afternoon was also a blur-packing, school work, reading, Jr. Ranger books, more packing, treadmill-This week my afternoons have been completely full. And honestly, I would rather my afternoons be full than slower. Well now, I guess a wonderful afternoon nap would be rather nice. 
  • The neighbors have been out about 4 times since May and of course tonight they come out just about the time that we have to call them in to leave. We headed to Nonna's house for supper tonight to celebrate Robby's birthday. I had told the kids that Robby would be 43 but I think I was wrong, and he will really by 44. 
  • Pops made burgers and Nonna had pie and brownies. Afterwards, Robby opened up his presents-gift cards and some cash. The kids all played hide and seek in the dark and had a blast.
  • When we left there, Campbell, Keaton and I ran to Walmart to pick up a pair of shoes for them for the trip. Then we rushed home. I did some more packing while everyone else took their showers. Everyone did make their lunch for tomorrow, and Graham created a logo. We let them stay up late enough that Whitman was super exhausted when it was finally bedtime!

September 17, 2018

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  • I knew that I wouldn't be waking up early this morning, but I did wake up on time. I was glad at least for that. Campbell and Graham were already awake working on their school work. Graham has been flying through his work lately which is pretty nice...except when he is finished with everything by 10:30. 
  • I woke up the crew and as usual, Whitman was not in his bed. I couldn't find him at first but then noticed him at the foot of Anderson's bed. He was awake enough that he had already opened up Anderson's blinds a bit so he could see out. Pretty much every night, Keaton or Whitman don't sleep the entire night in their bed.
  • We ate our leftover doughnuts for breakfast this morning. Then it was time for our school work. I had to zoom through our reading together today because I had so many books out for us to read. I am trying to take a basket full of books back to the library before we leave for our little road trip.
  • The kids started on their school work and things went fairly well. Whitman continues to leave and not come back to his school work quite often. I spend a good deal of my morning hollering, "Whitman? Where are you? Come back in here." 
  • Though today during our work together, the girls and Whitman were coloring. He had already left once for the bathroom, but then asked if he could go again. I knew he wasn't heading to the bathroom since he had a paper hidden behind his back, but since the probability was low of him remembering anything we were reading about Hernando Cortez, I let him go. When he returned, he told us that there was mail. I shushed him and continued reading.
  • When we were finished reading, he again told me that there was mail. I told him wonderful, and then Graham offered to go and get the mail. I had assumed that Whitman had placed the picture that he drew somewhere in the house. I was wrong. He had walked out to the mailbox and put his picture inside of it. Indeed, we did have mail! And I better have Robby double check that the chimes are working on all of the doors so I can hear when people leave this place.
  • Everyone was finished with school by lunchtime...except for Campbell. She had a big time today and was in no hurry at all. Reagan even finished most of 2 days of school. I will tell you, I do believe that I have become a pro at finding the volume of a cone or pyramid. I am almost positive that I never knew how to do those things, but now I help solve those problems daily. That game show Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader, well, I could probably win that game show right now!
  • After lunch, we finished a few chores and did our afternoon reading. Grannymom and Grandpa came over for a bit. Grannymom then took the girls to a store for a little bit. They were out most of the afternoon until Robby picked them up at supper time. They all came back with a new tops and each one of them couldn't wait to show everyone their new duds. 
  • While they were gone, I helped the boys pack their bags, helped Robby clean the van and did a little bit of loading it, walked on the treadmill, and read to Whitman. It was a fairly productive afternoon. 
  • When my girls returned home, we ate supper-pizza. Then the girls did their packing, well some of it since they still have some things in the laundry. Everyone did a Jr. Ranger book. I have apparently saved the difficult ones for the end. 
  • The evening passed fairly quickly and all too soon, we were putting everyone to bed....and pulling out the ice cream!

September 16, 2018

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  • So last night, I think that it was nearly 1 when I went upstairs to tell the girls that it was really bedtime. I then went downstairs to continue reading my book, which I had just started during the night. I had planned on going back up to lay down the law to anyone who was still awake at 1:30, but instead I read until I finished my book until 2. 
  • I then waked up the stairs to see if anyone was awake. I stayed on the steps for a long while waiting to hear anything and surprisingly I didn't. They must have been asleep, or they were very quiet. 
  • At 7, I stirred as Robby was leaving to pick up the other kids and doughnuts. I decided that I better wake up the kids before feeding my animals. Reagan was already in the restroom, but the rest of the girls began stirring quickly when I opened the blinds. 
  • I walked down the road to feed my animals one last time. I was grateful that they all looked alive and well after having to depend on me for a few days. This afternoon Campbell and Keaton delivered the neighbors mail. They gave Campbell a 20 dollar bill, and she came home thinking that she would get all of it. Unfortunately, I reminded her that other folks did help. She was not too pleased but will still end up with half of it once I split it up tomorrow.
  • Robby was soon home with the others and with doughnuts. The girls ate as soon as they were ready. There was lots of hair curling and eye shadowing upstairs so I was surprised when everyone was ready to go on time. I probably did help that I was shouting how many minutes were left every 10 minutes.
  • At church, most of the girls ended up sitting above us in the balcony. I wasn't too crazy about that since I would like to be able to keep my eyes on her. After big church, everyone headed off to Sunday school. Robby and I were the only teachers in our class today so the hour went by really quickly.
  • Lunch was at Grannymom's house. She had oreo delight to celebrate Robby and Reagan's birthdays. Reagan opened up a letter board, calligraphy pens and some cash. Robby received another fan along with a gift card or two. It was a pretty good end to Reagan's birthday celebration and beginning of Robby's birthday celebration.
  • After we ate lunch, the kids played for a bit before we headed home. After 2 short nights in a row, all I could focus on during church was my afternoon nap and it did not disappoint. We finally woke up in time to send Reagan off to her Life Group.
  • While she was gone, I pulled out school for the next two days and for the week when we return from our little trip. We also fed everyone before Robby headed off to pick up Reagan. The kids waited anxiously for their return, because soon after they came home we set up another popcorn bar for everyone.
  • The boys were the most bummed about missing our popcorn bar last night. It wasn't really too elaborate since we just had popcorn along with chocolate chips, marshmallows, some crunchy cereal, m and ms, skittles and possibly some other candy but I can't remember what else! Everyone filled their bowl with popcorn and then added lots of toppings. It was quite fun, and Robby and I even had a bowl full before our bowl full of ice cream once the kids went to bed!

September 15, 2018-Happy Birthday (party) Reagan!

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  • I slept as late as I could this morning, but the chickens were calling my name. Actually, they weren't but maybe cupcakes were calling my name. I made Reagan's second batch of cupcakes this morning and then did my chicken duty. So far my egg count is about 20 which I guess is good. It is a lot easier collecting eggs from Kroger though.
  • It wasn't too much later when I jumped in Shannon's car and headed to Vintage Market Days (I think that was the name.) It was basically booth after booth of farmhouse decor. It did make me feel a bit inadequate but was still fun. Shannon and I both took quite a few pictures of things that we can make. I am not too sure of how much we will actually make though.
  • Then it was back home for a bit. Reagan and I did start to ice her cupcakes but soon I realized that I didn't have any shortening. So later in the afternoon when Robby went to pick up Graham's watch, which he left at practice last night, he did run again to the grocery store.
  • Reagan had spent the morning working on getting things ready for her party. I can really tell that she is growing up. She had sleeping bags lined upstairs for everyone. She had cleaned her bedroom and even prepared all of the games. I almost think that she could have the party without me even being here.
  • I slept through most of the first half of the Hogs game. When I woke up, I could tell that I didn't miss very much at all. Robby and Graham were running their errand so I walked down to feed my little farm. 
  • When Robby returned, it was time to make the icing. Reagan did it 3 different colors, and it turned out so very good. She was pleased. Soon after, girls started arriving-Sara, Alyssa, Emma, Ava, Lily, Kennedy, Cate, Lochlan, Presley, and Logan. Yes, it was a very full house!
  • While everyone was arriving, Robby started on supper-spaghetti, green beans and bread. Reagan had picked out the supper, and it sure couldn't have been any easier to make. There are quite a few leftovers, but we will certainly eat them up. 
  • Next up were presents-Reagan received lots of pens, notebooks, candy, a bucket full of pineapple stuff, one of her very own sweaters (from Graham), IOUs for cookie dough (from Keaton and Campbell) and a Thomas the Train pillow (from Whitman). I do believe that she was pleased.
  • After presents, we all gathered to sing Happy Birthday to our 13 year old. She blew out her candles, and everyone had cupcakes. Soon afterwards, Robby loaded up the crew to head to Grannymom's house for the night. My two little girls would enjoy the party just way too much if they stayed her.
  • Reagan then began her games. The first one was to guess the number of skittles. Then there was a much wilder balloon tied around your ankle game which involved moving all of the furniture. Then there was a candy winning dice game that everyone enjoyed. It was fairly quiet for a good little bit. Robby was still gone dropping off the kids and picking up more drinks so it was just me and the girls. I was able to clean the kitchen and get some of the popcorn bar ready.
  • It was after 10 when we started the movie so the popcorn bar was served around 11. The girls are currently still watching the movie so hopefully, the evening will be quiet and sleep will come soon to all!