Dennie Kids: September 30, 2009

Highlights from today: (click here for pictures)
  • The day started off fussy around here and was pretty fussy for most of the day
  • Mom spent the morning looking for clothes so everyone could have nice clothes for pictures day (picture day at school is "dressy and shoes will show"-a little uppity if you ask Mom)
  • Mom pulling everyone together long enough to run to the grocery store and we ran into Reagan's friend from school. Reagan said that was her favorite part of the day
  • Back home and a nap for Graham while Nonna came over to play for a little bit
  • Anderson started to get clingy and whiney, Graham followed and Reagan was not far behind in the fussy department
  • Lunch with Dad and Nonna and then another quick rest for Graham-too fussy to stay awake!
  • Mom explaining very clearly what would happen if there was fussing while she was getting her haircut-and there was not any. Everyone was able to get a lollipop from Ms. Tammy and a juice box from Mom. Mom was very relieved!
  • Afternoon naps for everyone and then Reagan waking up early
  • Mom looking at the clock and having to rush out the door to head to church
  • Eating supper with Nonna, Jason and Jacob-we love Wednesday night supper and especially getting to run on the Awana circle
  • Awanas for Reagan-she had a blast, Anderson was a little pouty when we dropped him off and told Mom that a boy hit him and he cried in his class. Mom dug a little deeper and did find out that the boy got into trouble. Dad having to pick up Graham from his class since he was still fussing! Dad might have mentioned to his teachers why Graham didn't like his class too...
  • A book before bed and then Dad remembering that we hadn't had any pictures

Dennie Kids: September 29, 2009

Highlights from today: (click here for pictures)
  • Last night, Mom and Dad checked in on Graham and Dad wondered how he could be comfortable sleeping like he was. Then, they checked on Anderson and he was sleeping sideways with one foot resting on the railing-rainbow night must have worn him out
  • Baths this morning before school-since it worked so well before church we thought we would try it again.
  • Everyone out the door on time-and then there was traffic
  • Graham jumping out of Mom's arms this morning and into Ms. Clarice's arms-he was still a little fussy though
  • Reagan all excited about playing "ice cream shop" with her friends at school
  • Anderson telling Mom that he didn't have a good day but had a bad day at school-Mom doesn't believe him
  • Playing outside when we came home-perfect weather
  • A nap for Graham and a few movies for Reagan and Anderson
  • Out to eat for supper at Chili's-we even split some cake and it was yummy!
  • Taking Graham's pictures and video before heading to bed

Dennie Kids: September 28, 2009

Highlights from today: (click here for pictures)
  • After waking up early during the weekend, everyone sleeping until well after 7
  • Graham being very fussy this morning-very fussy!
  • Reagan and Anderson playing downstairs while Mom worked upstairs
  • A long morning nap for Graham-it was an early nap too!
  • Reagan starting work on our rainbow family night-she picked out our clothes to wear: Mom-red, Anderson-orange, Dad-yellow, Graham-green and Reagan-purple
  • Dad coming home from lunch and Anderson noticing that he didn't stop at the stop sign when he left-so we spent the next 30 minutes watching to make sure that the cars stopped at the stop sign
  • Everyone working on making the rainbow cake-complete with red, orange, yellow, green, blue and purple cake inside. This was quite a mess but they loved sampling it-yes, it had raw eggs in it (we live on the edge at the Dennie house)
  • Afternoon naps for everyone-including Mom!
  • Back to work on rainbow night after we woke up-we had to make our sign and decorate the driveway with rainbows
  • Dad coming home and starting rainbow night
  • Our first official "family night" was rainbow night. The kids were so excited and sang "rainbow night, rainbow night" over and over all afternoon long. Reagan had planned our clothes so we would all look like rainbows. We had worked on the cake and Mom had even added a rainbow on top to complete the rainbow theme. Anderson enjoyed supervising making the sign and Reagan took it so seriously-placing each square just where it belonged. The driveway was even decorated with rainbows made of chalk. Reagan and Anderson sat the table with our rainbow cups, plates, napkins and spoons. Supper was even shaped like a rainbow. After eating our supper and dessert, we started playing our game: a rainbow scavenger hunt. Reagan and Anderson were so into finding toys with each of the rainbow colors. Reagan could have played forever but Anderson was easily distracted after the first game. And Graham just sat in the living room and played with all of the toys they brought him. It was a good "rainbow night" and the kids had a blast
  • Next we viewed our pictures on the tv and then changed into our pajamas
  • Afterwards, Graham headed to bed and Reagan and Anderson watched a movie...or two!

Dennie Kids: September 27, 2009

Highlights from today: (click here for pictures)
  • Baths early this morning for everyone-baths gets them out of bed and then they have to put on their clothes so it works out well for everyone
  • Mr. Andy said that Graham doesn't cry because we have dropped him off but he cries because he his just mad that we have dropped him off
  • Ms. Shirley said that Anderson is a very good boy in his class and really enjoyed singing 'Happy and you know it' especially the shouting 'Amen' part-I can imagine!
  • Reagan was delighted that her Sunday school class had ice cream for a snack
  • Dinner at Lily and Cash's house for Sunday lunch-lots of playing with cousins and yummy cheesecake for Mom and Dad
  • Afternoon naps for everyone and then Reagan and Anderson sat on the couch and watched a few movies (while Mom was already sleeping on the couch)
  • PB&J for supper-Reagan had a whole sandwich, Anderson had a few bites and Graham had 1 and a half sandwiches
  • Back to church for a little bit and then eating ice cream with Nonna, Pops, Jason, Grannymom and Grandpa
  • Reagan enjoying walking on the "maze" at church (the inlayed carpet), Anderson ate 2 bowls of ice cream and then "helped" move around these huge tubes and Graham just enjoyed being out of his class!
  • Back home and everyone going straight to bed

Dennie Kids: September 26, 2009

Highlights from today: (click here for pictures)
  • Up before 7 again-it is getting old with Mom and Dad but guess it beats 5 or 6 a.m.
  • Getting ready and heading out to eat breakfast
  • Yes, we win the "bad parent award" since we took them back to where we had supper last night (it was customer appreciation week and they had a sale)
  • A quick run into Target while everyone cooled off from playing
  • Picking up a few things at Krogers-and getting to see a bulldozer before going in and a firetruck when we left
  • A morning nap for Graham while Reagan and Anderson played and worked puzzles
  • Lunch and then Mom heading out to a baby shower
  • Dad and the kids decorating sugar cookies with blue icing-they had a blast! It was a very messy blast though!
  • Afternoon naps for everyone except Graham-he refused to sleep even after 2 cups of milk so he laid on the couch and watched the football game with Dad
  • A picnic supper at the park with some church friends and some out of town friends
  • Coming home and going to bed-Mom said we needed to cut our hair (boys) but Dad said then we would have to have baths (which are coming in the morning) so we decided to wait
  • Mom and Dad starting to work on our trip pictures while Graham slept and Reagan and Anderson chatted in their beds

Dennie Kids: September 25, 2009

Highlights from today: (click here for pictures)
  • Everyone waking up before 7:00 a.m. - are internal clocks are off for some reason or that's what Dad says
  • Dad playing Mr. Mom this morning while Mom went to a work meeting; we did watch a few extra movies because Dad was trying to work too
  • Lunch when Mom got home and then packing up to head to Wal-Mart and Dad went to the office
  • Mom couponing again - we think she is addicted
  • Visiting Grannymom & Grandpa after our shopping trip
  • Long afternoon naps (including Mom!)
  • Dad waking us up for a visit to McDonald's Playplace - it's become our Friday night tradition when Mom has Bunko on Friday night; Mom came with us for a little bit
  • Home and to bed (although Reagan and Anderson are still going strong talking to each other)

Dennie Kids: September 24, 2009

Highlights from today: (click here for pictures)
  • Usually everyone sleep in on a school day but Reagan and Anderson were up and going strong before 7
  • Anderson asking Mom if they could go and eat ice cream at McDonalds after school-he told her that Dad takes them
  • Graham not fussing too much this morning at school-Ms. Clarice gives him his milk to calm him down (Mom should start sending more milk since that is why he is so thirsty when he gets home)
  • Mom not wanting to be outdone by Dad so she took them to McDonalds-everyone sat very well but Graham and Mom were the only ones that finished their ice cream
  • Another nap for Graham while Reagan and Anderson made jello, cleaned out the wrapping paper boxes and worked on Reagan's Awana notebook
  • The kids helping to make rice before waiting on Dad outside in the rain-Graham squealed just as loud as Reagan and Anderson
  • Supper and a few spankings-Anderson has been having a hard time obeying lately!
  • Pajamas and then everyone playing in the den until bedtime

Dennie Kids: September 23, 2009

Highlights from today: (click here for pictures)
  • A nervous morning for Reagan-since she had her 4 year doctor's appointment
  • Nonna coming over and bringing donut holes for breakfast
  • Anderson getting his flu mist and Graham getting his shot (didn't even cry-actually it all happened so fast that he didn't know what had happened)
  • Reagan weighing 34 pounds and was 40 inches tall. She talked to Dr. Martin but was petrified during her shots-4 shots and the flu mist. A juice box made everything all better though
  • Anderson coming home and saying he needed a snack. So he pushed a chair up the kitchen cabinets, opened up the donut hole box and finished off the box
  • Hanging out with Nonna and Mom for the rest of the morning while Graham had his morning nap
  • Lunch and then playing "church" with Mom-Reagan has been wanting to play "church" for a few days-we sang, colored, told a story and had free time
  • Afternoon naps for everyone
  • Heading to church for supper and Cubbies-Reagan was so proud of her vest and Mom was proud that everyone knew the verse (if Graham could talk, he could probably say it since he has heard it 1,000 times)

Robby's 35th Brithday and Dennie Kids: September 22, 2009

Highlights from today: (click here for pictures)
  • An eventful night: Reagan saying that her tummy hurt, Dad humored her and gave her a towel, she slept soundly until Mom and Dad woke her up to potty/check on her, then she sprinkled Mom and Dad's toes with her "spits"
  • Reagan sleeping in Mom and Dad's room but waking up full of energy
  • Another day at school-Graham stopped fussing before Mom left the building this morning, Anderson didn't take a nap and Reagan came running out of her room grinning this afternoon
  • Everyone working on hanging Dad's signs, plugging up his birthday cake and making his candles. Reagan said that 35 is alot of candles!
  • Waiting on Dad to come home for work and then shouting "Happy Birthday" to him as he drove up
  • Celebrating Dad's birthday at Grannymom and Grandpa's house. The Heifner fam was there and we had Mexican casserole along with Dad's favorite: oreo delight
  • All of the kids helping Dad open his presents: Graham even tried to get in and help but they wouldn't let him in so he just played with the train
  • Coming home and going straight to bed

Dennie Kids: September 21, 2009

Highlights from today: (click here for pictures)
  • Everyone waking up before 7:00 and a little "whiney" according to Dad
  • Getting our clothes on and then playing with one of Reagan's birthday presents - even Graham got in on the act
  • Getting to go over to Grannymom & Grandpa's for the morning & afternoon to play and hang out while Mom came home to clean (glad we missed that!)
  • Afternoon naps - Graham was up first from nap
  • Mom getting our baths started before Dad got home from work
  • Picking our supper out - mac 'n cheese and hot dogs
  • Hanging out with Dad while Mom went to Bunko; he did let us watch a Blue's Clue before bedtime plus a few Skittles
  • Everyone in bed by 8:00 but Anderson is still going strong (I think he's determined to stay up until Mom gets home.)

Dennie Kids: September 20, 2009

Highlights from today: (click here for pictures)
  • Much needed baths early this Sunday morning
  • Graham started fussing when we pulled into the parking lot at church
  • Reagan and Anderson enjoying their classes today and Mom, Dad and Nonna even helping in Reagan's class
  • Celebrating Dad's birthday with Nonna, Pops and Jason-he had a yummy birthday cake with a candle and opened lots of presents
  • Reagan asked how old Dad was and Anderson replied "one"-since he only had one candle
  • A quick run to Krogers-Dennie family fact: we drink approximately one gallon of milk a day!
  • Afternoon naps for everyone...but Anderson woke up with the "spits"
  • Another bath for Anderson and then 2 more episodes. He laid on the couch for awhile acting pitiful (Mom was kind of worried about him-he was very pitiful (kind of like another man in our house:) ) But he perked up after some pedialyte and a banana (which Mom didn't want to give him) He perked up enough to be climbing over Mom's chair and pulling Graham around by his ankles!
  • Everyone in bed: Graham is sleeping peacefully and Reagan and Anderson are talking and giggling in their bunk beds
  • Reagan was talking while she was sitting on the potty the other day. Mom said, I didn't hear you what did you say. Reagan replied that she was just talking to God.
  • Last night, Mom told Reagan that her hair was getting long and Reagan said, "I know, but I don't want to let it get to long, cause I don't want it to get in the potty"

Video: Graham Cheers on the Hogs! (September 19, 2010)

Dennie Kids: September 19, 2009

Highlights from today: (click here for pictures)
  • Reagan and Anderson still waking up around 7:30 (even though Dad had set their clock back-they know not to get up until 7) They laid in bed with with Mom and Dad until Graham woke up
  • An early morning bath for Graham-he must have gotten a little sick last night (Mom and Dad never heard a peep though)
  • An early morning speed shopping trip-Mom spent 28 dollars plus she will get a 20 dollar rebate back from her purchases! She was thrilled!
  • Since everyone was good, we stopped at Krispy Kreme. Since our trip, Anderson asks if it is a long way every where we go. I guess he thinks we will be in the car for a long time like on the trip. When we pulled in he said it was only a short way to the donut place
  • Reagan insisting that we take pictures in front of the donut truck-they are their Dad's children
  • A morning nap for Graham while Mom cleaned, Dad mowed and Anderson and Reagan supervised
  • Lunch after a mini meltdown by Anderson and then making cookies. When it was Graham's turn to put the cookie on the tray he would just stick it in his mouth. Anderson would scoop out a bite with his finger before he put his on the tray
  • Eating cookies while watching football this afternoon-Anderson sat on the couch for 30+ minutes cheering for the blue team
  • Graham playing all afternoon-he was a perfect child (well, except for climbing the stairs, playing in the fireplace and banging on the computer) He just played with his cars and never once insisted that Mom hold him
  • Staying up late this afternoon and taking naps at 3. Having to wake up Anderson after 5
  • Watching football while out to eat. Graham would raise his hands and say "touchdown" (well, kind of) and then clap his hands (click here for a quick video). Anderson was enjoying the game until he was in the game room and the restaurant hollered about something. Then he said "those people scared me."
  • Staying out late and then coming home and going straight to bed

Dennie Kids: September 18, 2009

Highlights from today: (click here for pictures)
  • A lazy morning-everyone playing around the house and making lots of messes
  • An early morning nap for Graham while Reagan and Anderson helped Mom straighten up the house-they helped the entire time plus a break for juice and another break for a snack
  • Driving by Jason's house to see if he had a package-the kids didn't know where he lived (pitiful) and asked if we were going to eat there
  • Playing at Rock Creek with Sara, John William, Noah, Eden and Ethan. It was crazy a first and then calmed down. We even had a picnic-and after Mom got out all of the food, Anderson said "where is the food?"-he didn't think Mom had brought enough
  • Afternoon naps for everyone-but just a tiny one for Reagan
  • Anderson asking where Dad was all afternoon-when he went down for a nap and as soon as he woke up
  • Playing outside in a very brief rain shower while waiting on Dad to come home
  • Grannymom and Grandpa coming over for supper. We had missed them since they had been at the beach
  • Reagan wearing her new headband from Nonna and her new Minnie watch all day-she just looked at her watch, yawned and said "oh, it is getting late"

Dennie Kids: September 17, 2009

Highlights from today: (click here for pictures)
  • Another school day-we were more on time today but Graham still doesn't like the place at all (at least in the mornings)
  • Anderson getting an accident report-he had fallen and hit his back in the bathroom door. He said that he cried but was all better now
  • Graham seeming happy this afternoon when Mom picked him up and Reagan was happy too-until she started fussing about something and Mom opened the van door and told her that she could just stay at school (she quickly stopped fussing-or at least did so silently)
  • Coming home and playing all afternoon long
  • Reagan excitedly trying on her new Awana vest and her and Anderson learning Reagan's new Bible verse
  • Graham taking a short afternoon nap-and he needed it
  • A hot dog supper at Target while Mom finished up her Target shopping for the week
  • Reagan and Anderson seeing a taxi while at Target-they kept asking how it got here. We finally realized they thought that taxi was from NYC
  • Coming home and staying right by Mom and Dad-wherever they went, we went, all of us!

Dennie Kids: September 16, 2009

Highlights from today: (click here for pictures)
  • An early morning for Mom and Reagan at the Nutrition Center-She was terrified in brain lab and insisted that she put the electrodes on her (and she put them right were we told her). She would frequently ask me when we would be finished. Next was more testing and then lunch and getting to play on the slide. That made it worth it. Afterwards was psych testing and she worked so hard. Psych lasted for a long time but Mom could tell that Reagan is brilliant!
  • The boys spending the morning with Nonna. Lots of milk and playing of cars
  • Reagan asking Mom "is this baby going to be the last one?"
  • Everyone resting during the afternoon rain and then getting ready for church
  • Supper with Jacob and then Awanas for Reagan. She was so proud that she knew her verse
  • Anderson having a great time too since he was able to watch the puppets tonight but Graham, well, he still doesn't like church
  • Everyone in bed and nothing has been heard from them yet (though last night, Mom sat upstairs and waited but no one ever called)

Dennie Kids: September 15, 2009

Highlights from today: (click here for pictures)
  • Graham screaming as Mom dropped him off at school today
  • Grandparent's day picnic at school for Reagan and Anderson. Nonna and Pops came but Grannymom and Grandpa were out of town. They ate on the floor, had strawberries and cupcakes-couldn't have been any more fun
  • Graham playing happily in his class when Mom came to pick him up this afternoon
  • Everyone playing with the train table while Mom unpacked an endless amount of backpacks and lunchboxes
  • Helping Mom clean out thousands of magazines-so the boys started sliding on top of them
  • Hide and seek with Dad until he left to go to church
  • Graham getting a bath and an early bedtime since he refused to take an afternoon nap
  • A long bath for Reagan and Anderson (long and cold-no one told Mom the water was a little chilly!...oops)
  • Everyone going to bed without a fuss and no bathroom requests...yet. The norm is Anderson will ask to go to the bathroom 3 times before falling asleep. And since Reagan doesn't want to be left out, she will go half of the time as well

Dennie Kids: September 14, 2009

Highlights from today: (click here for pictures)
  • A lazy morning around the house-mainly because Anderson and Reagan refused to put on their clothes. Reagan loves wearing her new gown from Nonna and Anderson just likes to run around in his pjs
  • Coloring with Reagan's new crayons-coloring on the front glass door. What a mess-Graham had it on his nose and forehead, Anderson had it on his hands along with the walls and floors. But everything came off thankfully
  • Lunch with Dad at home and then picking up lots of medicine from Sam's-we love to look at the toys and cakes there and Mom loves looking at everything else. The lady even gave us samples of strawberries
  • Afternoon naps for everyone and then Reagan waking up and working on her butterflies from Lilly
  • Zaxby's for supper and then Krogers for a little bit of shopping
  • Quick pictures and then a little bit of milk before bed

Dennie Kids: September 13, 2009

Highlights from today: (click here for pictures)
  • Another Sunday but after getting ready Reagan and Anderson played with her new dollhouse minivan and Graham sat and played with Reagan's new tea set
  • Graham starting to cry as we walked down the hallway at church and only grew louder and louder as we dropped off Reagan and Anderson
  • Lunch at Grannymom and Grandpa's house and then playing with Lilly and Cash
  • Afternoon naps for everyone-Reagan's naps are getting shorter and shorter and that makes Mom sad
  • Pizza for supper and then more playing before getting ready for church
  • Pops rescuing Graham from his class tonight-he was so thankful
  • Going to bed but everyone is still awake. Just heard Anderson say "Reagan, are you up there?"

Dennie Kids: September 12, 2009

Highlights from today: (click here for pictures)
  • Anderson popping out of bed first this morning asking "today's Reagan's birthday?"-Mom was actually the first one up. She woke up and started working while it was still dark outside
  • Mom, Dad and Anderson taking a cake into Reagan's room and she blew out the candles before she got out of bed
  • Cake and bananas for breakfast
  • Putting on our clothes and heading out-Graham to Grannymoms, Anderson and Reagan to Nonnas while Mom, Dad and Pops got the party ready
  • Reagan celebrating her 4th birthday party at the diner at church with a Minnie Mouse party with Anderson, Graham, Lilly, Cash, Kaleigh, Maddie, Jacob, Caleb, Will, Shayla and Elizabeth along with Jenna, Dana, Brad, Jason, Grannymom, Grandpa, Nonna, Pops, Mom and Dad
  • Making Minnie Mouse cups, eating pizza, opening presents, eating cake, hitting a pinata and even playing on the playground. The kids loved the pinata!
  • Dad letting Reagan and Anderson let go of the balloons so the sky could celebrate her birthday too (good idea-this way Mom doesn't have 20 balloons in the house, only 2)
  • Heading home after the party, Reagan had forgotten about the presents and was only concerned about her goodie bag when we came home-Mom should have just hid the presents for Christmas because we don't think she would have remembered-the poor thing was just so happy with her bar of soap and Minnie necklace from her goodie bag
  • Afternoon naps for everyone-the kids were tired and Dad is still recovering-Mom ran to Sams for a wild goose chase for Dad's medicine
  • Waking up to go to Mom and Dad's Sunday School party. Rachel, Zach and Sara Ashley played with the kids. Graham's favorite thing to do was sit on the table and throw Kim's oranges
  • Everyone coming home and going straight to bed-even Mom and Dad!

September 11, 2009 -Fourth Doctor's Visit

Before going to the doctor this morning, I had to drink the glucose stuff to check for gestational diabetes. I always dread drinking it because when I was pregnant with Anderson it made me very shaky. No trouble this time though. We were a little late to the appointment but I soon had my blood drawn and was seeing Dr. Phillips. He gave me the low down on the flu and swine flu-basically, don't get it. Before he listened to the baby's heartbeat, Charlotte (nurse) knocked on the door and said that labor and delivery was waiting on him. Needless to say, he quickly heard the baby's heartbeat and was out the door. All was well and we go back in 4 weeks.

Dennie Kids: September 11, 2009

Highlights from today: (click here for pictures)
  • A lazy morning around here with Dad working from home
  • Reagan and Anderson still playing with all of their toys while Graham walked from the living room to the den carrying toys and squealing
  • Playing at Grannymom and Grandpa's house while Mom had a doctor's appointment (click here for that post)
  • Graham and Reagan devouring peaches and Anderson deciding that it was too hot to play outside and asking to come in
  • Naps for everyone and then Reagan waking up in time to help Mom make her birthday cake
  • Graham waking up and snacking on Mom's crumbs and then Anderson waking up and helping Reagan make the Minnie Mouse ice cream (and Mom had one sticky mess on her table)
  • Supper and then playing until bathtime
  • A movie for Reagan and Anderson and a bath for Graham
  • After Graham went to bed, then Reagan and Anderson had their baths and laid in bed with Dad watching a tape of the space shuttle
  • Anderson didn't want to go to bed because he wanted to finish watching the shuttle and Reagan was ready to go to bed so she could wake up and it be her birthday
  • Anderson saying that he was going to be the birthday boy tomorrow

Dennie Kids: September 10, 2009

Highlights from today: (click here for pictures)
  • Lots of sleepy kids this morning but everyone did manage to get up in time to get their clothes on and have breakfast
  • Mom dropping off 2 happy kids at school and one screaming little boy
  • Reagan seeing Anderson in the gym briefly but then his class had to leave and she said that he fussed because he wanted his ReaRea
  • Reagan having birthday cupcakes in her class to celebrate her birthday a few days early
  • Mom picking up Graham and he didn't look too upset but was sure happy to see Mom
  • Splitting the leftover cupcakes after we came home-Reagan told her teacher that she had to save a cupcake for Graham and Anderson
  • Reagan getting into a little bit of trouble and then going into the living room and started crying "nobody cares that it is my birthday"
  • A short nap for Graham and then everyone heading to Nonna and Pop's house
  • McDonalds for supper and then baths
  • Staying up late until Mom and Dad came to pick us up

Dennie Kids: September 9, 2009

Highlights from today: (click here for pictures)
  • 3 sleepy children in our house today-they started stirring around 7:30
  • Anderson didn't want to take off his pajamas today and Mom had to make him after lunch
  • Everyone playing with their toys happily most of the day-I think they really missed all of their toys
  • Nonna coming over to play and she didn't know that she would get to stay all day long
  • Watching Mom fold lots and lots of laundry
  • A quick doctor's visit for the boys-Graham (who we thought was sick) was fine and Anderson (who just thought had a simple cold) has ear infections
  • A short 20 minute nap before heading to church
  • Supper at church-meatloaf and corndogs
  • Awanas for Reagan-she loved the puppets!
  • The boys getting to see Grannymom and Grandpa before bed
  • Everyone falling to sleep pretty quickly tonight since tomorrow is another big day

September 8, 2009 - Crayola Factory, Albany and Home

Highlights from today: (click here for pictures)

Typically, our last day of vacation is a travel day and we don't get to do much. But our flight out of Albany wasn't until 7:00 p.m. so we had a full day ahead of us. Thankfully, Robby recovered from his "24-hour" bug and was up checking a few work emails before everyone got up. Graham was the first awake - ready to escape the bathroom - and soon Anderson and Reagan followed. Everyone was dressed and headed to breakfast by 8:15 a.m. The hotel had a light breakfast consisting of muffins, bagels (Anderson devoured his blueberry bagel) cereal, and of course, lots of orange juice!

Robby loaded the car, as we finished our breakfast, and we were on the road by 9:00 headed to the Crayola Factory in Easton, PA where they make all the Crayolas. It was only about 20 miles from our hotel so we were there at 9:30 when they opened. We were the first through the doors - kind of nice to have the building to yourself plus when we were leaving the place was filling up. The 'factory' is not the actual factory (it's about 5 miles away but they don't have tours) but an interactive place with all things Crayola. Reagan could have stayed for days with all the different art activities. We got to see how they make crayons and the markers (who knew there was cotton stuffed up in those markers!). They had all sorts of activities from chalk walk, melted crayon art, finger painting and play areas. The big hit for Graham was the play area where you took a ball from a box and placed in another box and wound it's way up a spiral thing and through a maze and dropped back into the box. Plus they gave you tokens to use throughout the center to retrieve boxes of crayons and markers. Reagan loved filling her bag up with the goodies.

Included in the admission was a visit to the National Canal Museum (in the same building) where the kids could pilot their boats through the locks, operate a model train layout and play construction worker. After a quick potty stop, it was time to hit the road towards Albany.

All the creative energy must have worn Anderson and Graham out - they were fast asleep soon after we got on the road. It was probably a good thing since we did have 200 miles ahead of us to reach Albany. Reagan was entertained that Anderson was having trouble keeping his head up and tried to help hold his head up but that didn't last long. About 80 miles outside of Albany, everyone was up and ready for a potty stop. Robby filled up the gas tank and we were ready to make the last leg of the trip.

We wanted to squeeze in a quick stop by the New York Capitol. We almost didn't recognize it because it looked like an over sized mansion instead of the typical domed capitols. Robby took his traditional capitol picture (3 on this trip) and then it was time to head to the airport.

We always talk about how we couldn't live without the the GPS, and this holds true most of this time, but Helga did let us down a bit today. Robby was trying to hurry to get the car back because were already going to be an hour past time. Well, Helga took us to the airport but straight to the back gate of the runway. Anderson couldn't understand why we couldn't just drive thru but Reagan explained the runway was only for airplanes. We circled the airport and made it to the car rental return - just 1 hour and 15 minutes late!. They only charged us for the one extra hour though and Robby was glad. Hertz may have not taken into account and would take us another hour to unload (well, maybe just 30 minutes).

Have you ever had a picnic in the airport? We hadn't until today but we still had leftovers from our picnic food and had plenty of time to spare before our plane took off. So we found a little spot out of the way and had us a good 'ole airport picnic. We only got a few strange looks with our ice chest, bag of chips plus our luggage cart. We finished up and checked in. Heading home we were able to check our car seat bags along with a couple of suitcases so that made it easier maneuvering through the airport. We still had a couple of hours before departure but the Albany airport had a great observation area where you could watch the planes land and take off plus an art gallery with some cool art. There were only a few people up there and away from the hustle and bustle of the airport (fairly quiet too until you take 3 kids up there!) Everyone enjoyed hanging out there and had a last snack before heading through security.

Our plane to Charlotte, NC was on time and were soon on board and taking off right at 7:00 p.m. Plane was quite empty and everyone could have had a row to themselves and slep the 2 hour ride but everyone was wired including Graham. Snacks and a couple of airplane bathroom trips and were landing in Charlotte fifteen minutes early. We had to make our way across the airport for our last leg home. Robby picked up some Uno Express and we had quick snack before boarding our Little Rock flights. Unlike the last flight, it was packed and lots of kids. We boarded and in front of our family was another family with a screaming child. We are sympathetic but this kid was going crazy and sitting right behind us. Most of the passengers were staring (which doesn't help!) but it did go on for 10 minutes. The flight attendant asked if they would like to step off for a minute before we took off but the mother explained the boy had lost a little car and he probably wouldn't stop. Uh oh! Robby quickly found a car in Anderson's bag and gladly offered it to the parents. They accepted and soon all was quiet! And none sooner than all 3 of ours were asleep. They slept the entire flight home and we had to shake them to wake up since they needed to walk to their buggies. A little zombie-like but they did manage to make the walk. Grandpa was waiting for us, and by this time the kids were wide eyed and ready to Grandpa all about their vacation. We were home by midnight and soon asleep. It was fun time had by all. Final driving tally was 1,582 miles in 8 days and lots of places seen!

Video: Sesame Place, Langhorne, PA (video 2)

Video: Sesame Place, Langhorne, PA (video 1)

September 7, 2009 - Sesame Place

Highlights from today: (click here for pictures)
click here for video 1
click here for video 2
click here for video 3
We slept a few minutes late so we really moved when we finally started stirring. We loaded up our suitcases and checked out of the hotel. After a short drive, we made it-and we even made it very early. So early in fact that we were the first ones in the parking lot. It was a cool morning so everyone put their jackets on and we walked to the front gates of the park.

After the gates opened for the breakfast people, we took a few pictures at the front and found our table. We were table #1 and when you walked into the room there were lots of characters to see. We hugged Elmo, Big Bird, Bert, Ernie and Zoie. Reagan and Anderson are pros at taking pictures with characters but Graham did not enjoy it at all. Nor could he really enjoy breakfast since he was so worried that a character was going to come to visit our table.

Breakfast was bagels, eggs, tater tots, french toast sticks, sausage, bacon, cereals and juices. It was decent and by the time we had seen everyone and even went back to see them one more time, the park was open and we headed out for the day. The first ride was the roller coaster. Since Tara, IV and Graham couldn't ride this one-Anderson rode first with Dad and then Reagan rode next. They loved it and both came out asking to go again. It seemed to be larger than the ones at the Disney parks.

Next we headed the Elmo "dumbo-like" ride and we had to switch off again since there could only be 2 in a car. So Graham got left out of this one too. He didn't care and by then he was getting sleepy. There were 2 large slides that Reagan and Anderson climbed up and slid down a few times before riding the bug ride with Mom. The next highlight was Elmo's Blastoff which they rode with Dad. I didn't think they would do it and Anderson said he wasn't going to but soon they were all on the ride. Anderson and Reagan both had the biggest smile on their faces and Dad said that they giggled the whole time.

Next we headed to the bouncy area. They loved it too and Graham was snoozing happily in his stroller. He has been in the stroller so much this week that we can tell exactly when he is going to sleep because he turns his head all the way to the side before falling asleep. There was Big Bird's balloon race next and then some climbing on the ropes. Anderson loved the climbing but Reagan was afraid but still wanted to do it.

Snack time was next with ice cream and coke. We were right beside the Abby Cadabby show so we saw it. Reagan was so excited to see Abby and Oscar the Grouch was in this and Anderson had been asking to see him. After the show, we knew it was time to put on our bathing suits. But it was still cloudy and a little cool out so we weren't look forward to being cole. Robby also has been fighting a cold and started having a bit of fever last night. By this time, his fever was back and he was dragging.

We walked to one area but the kids wanted to do the waterslides. They have this huge water play and water slide area at Sesame Place. The kids would have loved the waterslides since they were ones they could easily do but the water was freezing. Tara waded through the water and took them to the steps but since there was water spraying and being dumped from everywhere Anderson and Reagan were freezing and crying. Mom had to walk back from the bottom of the slide to meet them at the steps. They were very upset-I hated it because they would have loved it if it had been warmer outside. Tara finally convinced Reagan that she would go with her and we were almost there when a gizzilion galloons of water dumped on our head-Reagan again started crying and Tara was close to tears too since the water was so cold.

Graham was taking another nap by now and Robby was sitting since he wasn't feeling too well. Robby did remember the other water slide near the Elmo dumbo ride. It was in a little pool with no spraying/dumping water. They enjoyed doing it a few times and even felt like they had gotten to go down a water slide. Reagan and Anderson then changed clothes outside since the bathroom was wet and wild. Tara waited in line with them for the Elmo's Blast Off ride (their favorite!) one last time. At the gate, Robby switched and rode with them. Reagan would have rode without Robby but Anderson wanted his Daddy on the ride with him.

Tara was still a little disappointed that they didn't get to go down a big water slide and Robby was a little disappointed that he felt sick and couldn't help them and Graham was a little disappointed that all he was able to do at Sesame Place was nap. But Reagan and Anderson had a wonderful time and the day met all of their expectations which is all that really matters.

Around 3:30 we were headed out of the park while the parade was getting ready to start. We all had a snack in the car and Tara drove the infirmary van to the next hotel. Everyone was asleep in the car in a matter of minutes. Tara and Reagan were the only healthy ones-even though they have had a tiny cold too. Robby had his fever and Graham and Anderson have new coughs when they are sleeping. It was an entertaining ride for Tara-snore, cough, cough, snore, cough, snore. Needless to say, there will be lots of doctor's appointments made for Wednesday! The ride to the hotel was a little over an hour and by then Robby's medicine had kicked in and he was feeling better.

After Tara unpacked and Robby rested for a few minutes, he was ready to hit the rode again for supper. We drove through the hood here in Allentown but soon found some eating choices on the other side of town. We had sandwiches at Arby's and the kids must have been hungry because they ate very well. Back at the hotel, Anderson took a bath by himself and was probably in the bathtub for 30 minutes. This might possibly have been his first solo bath. Next was Reagan's turn and she would have been in there that long but Mom had to rush her out to get Graham in since he was getting restless.

Reagan and Anderson are watching Veggie Tales now and Graham is sleeping in the bathroom. We don't expect that to last though since he has been sleeping with Mom most of the trip. He knows right when Mom and Dad go to bed and wakes up then. He may sleep well in Mom's bed but he tosses and turns forever so Mom doesn't sleep that well. No worries though, everyone is feeling well rested and healthy right now.

Tomorrow is our last day and we have quite a bit of driving and things to do before heading to the airport. We should be home in Little Rock around midnight! It has been a great trip and we have seen and done lots and lots of things. Robby said that our album may have to be 2 volumes.

Video: Sesame Place, Langhorne, PA (video 3)

September 6, 2009 - New York City

Highlights from today: (click here for pictures)
Click here for video #1
Click here for video #2
Click here for video #3

After another hotel breakfast, we were off to NYC. We were about 1.5 hours away and then kids passed the time by watching a few movies and Graham slept. After one quick potty stop, we were still ahead of schedule and decided to drive a few miles out of our way to see the New Jersey State Capitol in Trenton. One quick picture and we were back in the car.

We made it to Liberty State Park on the New Jersey side where we caught the ferry to the Statue of Liberty. The weather seemed a little cool so we threw the kids coats in the strollers but didn't need them. The kids were adamant that we ride on the top deck of the boat. Once we started moving, Anderson went to the bench and sat down. He thought it was a rule-like on the airplane. He was delighted that he could get up and walk around. They loved seeing the skyscrapers, boats and buoys (or boobies as Anderson said). Soon they could see the Statue of Liberty and were thrilled. The boat stopped at Ellis Island but we stayed on to get the to the main event.

We went straight to the security line to get to the top of the pedestal. It was only a short elevator ride away-if the elevator had been working! It was not working today so we hauled it up 156 stairs. Reagan and Anderson were troopers and never even asked to be held. Once on top, we were able to look up Lady Liberty's nose and gown. Reagan was ready for some ice cream by the time we walked down those steps so after retrieving our bag and stroller we had a snack. We found a spot to sit and watch the boats as we finished our ice cream. Then we few pictures and we headed back to the ferry. The line to get the NY side was 2-3 hours long containing hundreds and hundreds of people. And we just walked right on our boat!

Back at the van, we had our picnic lunch and headed on to the Holland Tunnel to get into the city. Robby had found a great parking deal and it happened to be right between Times Square and Central Park-our 2 destination spots. We loaded everyone up in the strollers and headed down. A block from the parking garage, just as we were trying to get our bearings we saw David Letterman's theater and knew just where we were. The lights, sounds and sights were always interesting in Time Square but watching the kids take it all in was amazing. They didn't blink once. We passed the Hershey store and went into Toys R Us and the M&M store. Tara's popcorn store was closed so she was very disappointed but Robby found his Ray's Pizza. Everyone gobbled up the pizza-especially Mom and Dad since they had lots of walking to do (we walked well over 32 NY blocks pushing strollers).

Central Park was next and the first thing the kids saw was a slide. They were off to slide and swing and could have stayed there all evening. We drug them away and kept exploring the park. We saw more of Central Park than we had in the past but still probably only covered close to a 1/4 of the park. We did manage to find the perfect spot for a back picture and even a few tunnels to run under. Reagan and Anderson were running ahead of us and she saw a man with purple hair and stopped, pointed no less than 3 feet from the man and exclaimed "purple hair!" Nice! Before trying to find our way out, we did find one more playground for them to explore. We then walked and walked trying to cross the park to get to our subway stop.

Anderson was so excited to ride the subway, so we had to do it-even though we were only on it for 1 stop. The kids took it very seriously-staying by Mom, holding on-they are good kids. Anderson could have rode the subway all night but Mom and Dad were exhausted. Graham kept waving bye-bye to all the passing subway cars. After a short trek up the subway steps we found our parking garage and headed out of the city. We left through the Lincoln Tunnel and were on the road shortly.

After a few more movies and a gas/bathroom , we were back at the hotel. We had to unpack from the day and then repack since tonight is our last night in this hotel. After quick baths the kids were zonked out (well, all but one!).

I forgot to mention yesterday, that Reagan told Robby that her foot was hurting. He thought something was in her shoe and was taking off her shoes and socks. Nothing was in them and he was puzzled. We finally realized that the poor baby was trying to say that her feet were sore. Lots of walking but lots memories! Our "Amazing Race with Toddlers" continues tomorrow with Sesame Place and breakfast with Elmo.

Video: New York City - Statue of Liberty (September 6, 2009)

Video: New York City - Times Square (September 6, 2009)

Video: New York City - Central Park (September 6, 2009)

September 5, 2009 - Philadelphia

Highlights from today: (click here for pictures)
Click here for video #1
Click here for video #2
Click here for video #3

The morning started out with a delicious breakfast at the hotel. The kids enjoyed drinking "coffee" from the coffee cups (orange juice). And Graham ate and ate as always. We are only 15 minutes from downtown Philly so we were walking into the Liberty Bell as it opened. I have reviewed the kids so much on what we are going to see on this trip that they though they were going to see the "Statue of Liberty Bell"-oh, well they were half right and the Statue is tomorrow.

We had a few minutes before our tour of Independence Hall so we took our traditional back picture. Reagan and Anderson humor their Mom and Dad in so many ways. They know exactly what to do when we take our customary back pictures. The tour of Independence Hall was a little boring for the kids-Mom too. But we hung in there until the end (well, b/c Dad was still listening to the ranger!) Afterwards, we walked to Betsy Ross' house.

We had a pretzel in her courtyard and rested for a few minutes before going out front to take a picture by the sign. The Breedings were coming out of Betsy's House and got our attention. They have been on a 17 day East Coast tour and are about to head home. It was wild running into someone from home. Since everyone's parking meters were getting ready to expire we forgot to take a picture. We had a few more minutes so we walked a few blocks to Elfreth's Alley with its tiny street and cobblestone drive. Cobblestones were in one of the kids books so they enjoyed walking on them.

Down a few more blocks, we visited the Fireman's Hall Museum. With Anderson in tow, we had to stop. Since today he says that he is going to be a "fireman that rides on the back of the truck and waves to Reagan." The museum had fireman boots and coats to try on. Of course they were way too huge and way too heavy for the kids to wear but they enjoyed trying. Robby picked up the car and came to pick us up and we headed to the Please Touch Museum.

There was a park near the museum so we had our picnic lunch. There was a slide and swings nearby but we wouldn't let the kids play yet. They could not understand that better things were to come. We were at the Please Touch Museum for 4 hours. By the time we left, Graham had fallen asleep. There was water play, a grocery store, a kitchen, McDonalds, a hospital, cars and trucks to drive and the list goes on and on. It was quite expensive since we had to pay the $15 fee for everyone-including Graham. But I must admit that we definitely got our moneys worth. We only lost Anderson one time and I think that is pretty good. It was crowded but not crazy crowded so the kids were able to do what they wanted to do. We ended the day with the carousel ride. On our walk out, we finally let the kids slide down the slide in the park but the swings were very, very full. Anderson was about to have a meltdown over the swings but did calm down when we started looking for frogs on the walk to the car-whatever works.

In the car, Graham was asleep, Anderson was tired and Reagan was wired. We only had a few miles to go but knew everyone needed a short rest. We sat in our parking spot as long as we could until driving on. We drove around the Love Statue a few times and then began looking for a parking spot for the Reading Terminal Market. By this time, Reagan was asleep too. We loaded them all in the strollers and headed on with our 3 sleeping babies. At the market, we immediately found what we were looking for: Bassett Ice Cream. Reagan and Graham did wake up in time and we finally woke up drooling Anderson to eat his ice cream. He sat there a finished it off before waking up enough to talk. Robby again went to pick up the car and then picked us up.

Our next stop was Tara's favorite store: Ikea. It was great and we love the family parking. We walked around upstairs and then had supper-meatballs, mac and cheese, mashed potatoes and a panini. After supper, we walked around downstairs and bought some tupperware and 2 nightlights. Even though the purchases were small, I don't know how we are going to get them home. The ride home was about 30 minutes so Grham slept and Reagan and Anderson watched a movie. Back in the hotel, the kids got baths and now Reagan and Graham are sleeping. Anderson has been talking on the phone while laying in his spot. No telling when he will go to sleep! NYC tomorrow.

Video: Philadelphia - Please Touch Museum (Video 1) (September 5, 2009)

Video: Philadelphia - Please Touch Museum (Video 2) (September 5, 2009)

Video: Philadelphia - Please Touch Museum (Video 3) (September 5, 2009)

September 4, 2009 - Strasburg, Valley Forge and Philly Cheese Steaks

Highlights from today: (click here for pictures)
Click here for video #1
Click here for video #2

This was our morning to sleep in but since Graham wasn't going to sleep in a caboose last night, he slept with Mom and Dad (something that Reagan and Anderson never got to do-we are getting soft). He decided to wake up around 5:30 but after handing him a cup he did got back to sleep for a little bit. Reagan and Anderson started stirring around 7:30 so we were back at the playground around 8:30. We did climb up the look-out silo, which wasn't that impressive to Reagan and Anderson since they couldn't see over the edge.

Afterwards, Robby drove to get train tickets while we stayed behind and played more on the train set. Anderson did not want to leave but it was time to go and wait on the buggy ride. We took a horse and buggy ride through some Amish land. Our driver, Eli, explained about the Amish and even drove us by an Amish store, where a young boy came out selling fresh squeezed lemonade, root beer, whoopie pie and other things. Of course, we had to buy some lemonade and whoopie pie. Anderson managed to get it all over his face and was very upset when it was gone-which was obviously very quick since five of us where eating.

After the buggy ride, we drove to the train station. I guess we have been in the car a lot since Graham immediately starts having a fit when we get near the car. The train station was within walking distance so they couldn't believe that we were there already. We had a few minutes and ate a picnic lunch while watching the 10:00 train depart from the station. The whistle would blow so loud that Anderson and Graham would jump every time. Soon it was our turn to board our open air car. Anderson claimed into a seat on the front, Reagan behind him and the rest of us were behind her. The first half of the train ride, Anderson sat as still as he could and would yell "no, Mom" whenever I tried to take his picture. He was busy driving the train and could not be bothered with me. The train ride was a big hit. On the way out, they even had their picture made with the conductor and got a sneak peak at Thomas the Tank Engine who is coming this weekend. Maybe even a bigger hit with Reagan & Anderson were the "Cranky Cars" - miniature trains you cranked by hand around a small track. Dad spent all his cash - he had to visit an ATM machine on site.

Nearby was the National Toy Train Museum. Our Kroger's at home has a toy train and the kids love it. So needless to say, they really loved this one. It was like 15 times the one at home and even had buttons to push to start and stop the trains. We were soon back in the car, to head to Intercourse. We needed to head on so we just drove through the town. It was cute and but I hated that we didn't stop and pick up some postcards.

When Robby was younger, his grandparents came to this area. They mailed him a postcard from a town they were visiting: Intercourse. Robby read the post card and was so embarrassed for his grandparents. He said he thought "my poor old grandparents don't know what that word means." So he never mentioned the postcard again. His grandmother started to worry that maybe they had offended Robby. They had just thought the name of the town was funny so they sent him a postcard. She had to ask Robby's sister if he had gotten the postcard and made sure that he wasn't offended. And that is why I wanted to get a few postcards from Intercourse-maybe next time.

The next stop was Valley Forge National Historic Park. Robby watched the movie while we walked around the gift shop. Anderson had seen some big boys with toy guns so he had to find one to play with too. Reagan wanted us to take many, many pictures of her in the headless cut out thing.

Next we drove around the park loop and Robby made a big mistake....he told the kids that we were going to go swimming tonight. So every time the car slowed Anderson would say "swimming this place?" and Reagan would ask "Can we unbuckle?" This went on for over an hour on our way into Philadelphia. Mom also was trying to explain to them that she didn't bring their big floaties and just brought their arm floaties to which Reagan replied "You didn't bring our bathing suits?" Things got even crazier, I grabbed a lidless sippy cup for Robby & I to use for a drink. So after I put ice in a cup and poured the coke for Robby, he asked if I was going to get a lid. And this is when you know that you have been with the kids too long-you are trying to put a sippy cup lid on your own cup.

On our way to the hotel, Robby called Les to ask about a supper recommendation. He got one and punched it into the GPS. It was back a few miles-back where all of the rush hour traffic was. We navigated our way through the city streets and finally found Dalessandro's Steaks. It was a hole in the wall with only a few bar stools to sit on. The kids loved the bar stools and devoured their supper. Robby finished off his delicious cheese streak and Tara only put a dent into hers. They were very good and Robby said he was going to try to find a way for us to come back there.

Our hotel was only a few miles away and Reagan took off all of her clothes as soon as we rolled the luggage cart into the room. We unpacked first but soon headed to the pool. The pool was ice water so we convinced them to swim in the hot tub. Graham enjoyed it for a few minutes but became tired of Mom holding him, Reagan loved wearing her armies and floating around the hot tub and Anderson walked around on the step until he took a spill under the water and then he was ready to get out. After showers for everyone, it was bedtime for Graham-and he wasn't pleased at all. Reagan and Anderson watched a movie and in the middle of it, Anderson came in and asked Mom where his bed was. The kids are tired and hopefully we all sleep well again tonight.

Video: Strausburg Railroad - Aboard Train (September 4, 2009)

Video: Strausburg Railroad - Cranky Cars (September 4, 2009)

September 3, 2009 - Gettysburg, Hershey and the Red Caboose Motel

Highlights from today: (click here for pictures)
Click here for video #1
Click here for video #2
Click here for video #3

We slept in a little this morning and didn’t get stirring until 7ish. The kids woke up well this morning and devoured their breakfast-grapes and bananas. Graham even had 2 bananas. Our GPS said that we only had 170 miles until Gettysburg so we didn’t think it was too bad. Unfortunately, the drive was through mountains and many, many stop lights. So we had to drive for an extra hour than we had expected-if we would have only trusted Helga (GPS). After a few stops, we were still pleased with our time and made it to Gettysburg a little after noon. Our second potty stop was at a McDonalds-we just used the potty and then played on their slides for a few minutes. And within 3 miles Anderson was asking to potty again-he thought, another potty means another chance to climb and slide!

At Gettysburg, Robby bought tickets at 12:35 for the 1:00 movie. So we sprinted and squeezed in a picnic lunch before hand. The movie was good-Graham could have cared less and was quite antsy through the whole thing but Reagan and Anderson watched. Everyone once in awhile they would hear a familiar word and say “Pennsylvania? We are going there” “Liberty? We are going there.” After the movie, we went upstairs to see the Cyclorama. It was painted in the 1800s but had recently been restored. After listening to that show, Robby headed to the museum for a quick look around. The kids and Tara walked around to visitor’s center. Our next stop was the location Lincoln gave his Gettysburg Address. Soon afterward, we were back on the road headed towards Harrisburg and the State Capitol building. Robby took his customary picture in front of the Capitol and as usual the building was under construction. The majority of the state capitols that we have seen (and we have seen quite a few) have been under construction-they know we are coming and like to spruce it up a little bit!

The Chocolate World in Hershey has been calling Tara's name since our first trip to Philadelphia in '02. We finally made it here. They were giving out s'mores samples and the boys gobbled theirs up. Anderson asked for more and Graham ate every bit of his cracker and just licked his fingers as he ate. Inside was just as exciting. The gift shop was huge-absolutely huge and we didn't even buy a thing. We did go on a little ride that showed the process of how chocolate was made. Reagan and Anderson sat in the front seat and took it all in. It wasn't enough to interest Graham for very long but he was amused by the singing cows. We needed a little snack before getting back on the road so cookies it was. We all enjoyed them especially Graham, he is our eater right now.

The next stop was near Strasburg and our stomachs were growling. We had seen an ad for Amish BBQ and headed to Jakey’s Amish BBQ for supper. The “best shoefly pies” were made at a store just outside called Dutch Haven. Anderson and I went inside to check out the pies and were told we could get them at Jakey’s too. We did partake in a little sample before finding Dad, Reagan and Graham. We ate outside and the weather was absolutely perfect. Next, Robby tried to explain to the kids that we were very close to our hotel this evening. He told them that it would be like driving to Grannymom’s house. So Reagan asked why we were picking up Grannymom and tried to explain to Dad that it was a long way to Grannymom’s house. After a few miles to this discussion, we were finally at the hotel-thankfully, no one mentioned Grannymom not being here!

Tara was probably more excited about this hotel than the kids. But as soon as we drove up they were thrilled. There are nearly 50 brightly painted cabooses. When you look at the cars parked in front of each caboose, you can see that it is a family motel-all of the cars are minivans! We found our caboose, took a few pictures and then went inside to check it out. On the table, was a birthday cake for Reagan that said “Happy Birthday Reagan” along with balloons and a present. She couldn’t believe that they knew it was almost her birthday and kept asking “how did they know it was my birthday?” In her bag, she had a pink train conductor’s hat, a pink bandana and a train whistle. She was thrilled and Anderson was just as excited-balloons and cake in a choo choo. What more could any child want? Dad had planned the whole surprise for her without Mom even knowing about it.

We walked around the motel grounds-a wooden train for the kids to climb in and a huge playground. The kids had a blast and played until dark. Tomorrow, the National Toy Train Museum is next door, a lookout silo to climb and buggy rides are all right here. Lots to do at this little place. There are corn fields everywhere and it seems that we are in the middle of Amish country. We have seen an Amish man doing something with his fields, another one hauling corn and quite a few horse and buggies trotting down the street by our caboose. After unpacking and quick showers for the kids it was birthday party time. Coke and cake right before bed-they will sleep so well! It was a good birthday-even though it is a little bit early!

Anderson has been asking all evening long “when is this train going to go?” He thinks this train is leaving the station anytime now. He has even asked Robby a few times if he is going to drive us. He has changed from being a “pilot that give out drinks and snacks” (flight attendant), construction worker to a “train man that says All Aboard.” Hopefully the train ride tomorrow will please him. The sign here says that we will wake up on the “right side of the tracks.” It has been another jam packed day and after driving 850 miles since landing 56 hours ago and seeing as much as we have along with a 1, 2 and 3 year old in tow-we are doing pretty good and having a great vacation!

Video: Red Caboose Motel - Playground Video 1 (September 3, 2009)

Video: Red Caboose Motel - Playground Video 2 (September 3, 2009)

Video: Red Caboose Motel - Celebrating Regan's birthday (September 3, 2009)

September 2, 2009 - Niagara Falls

Highlights from today: (click here for pictures)
Click here for video #1
Click here for video #2
Click here for video #3
Click here for video #4

Oh, I forgot. Yesterday, when we were at a rest stop and a preteen girl was in line for food with Robby. She pointed to his shirt-which had a small Razorback on it and asked "you got pigs?" Robby tried to politely explain that he was not a pig farmer but an Arkansas Razorback fan. She apparently had never heard of our beloved hogs.

The morning started out early but everyone had rested well. We were dressed and eating breakfast by 8:15. The breakfast was a little light-only little muffins and cereal, but the kids enjoyed it. After a run down Clifton Hill, we were had gotten our tickets and pottied before boarding the Maid of the Mist. We were so close to passing a huge Chinese tour group but didn't make it. So we were in the back of the line-a blessing in disguise. If we had beat them, we would have been up on the top deck but we couldn't find a spot up there so we headed down low. The kids could see and we didn't end up drenched. Reagan and Anderson loved the ponchos and even getting a little wet-Graham was not pleased by any of this!

Afterward, we walked through the spray of the fall on our way to the Journey Behind the Falls. We skipped the wet part and just looked out the window behind the falls. Graham did enjoy this-it was noisy so he decided he wanted to be noisy too. Next was to Niagara's Fury-a 4D movie. This involved more ponchos but we had been tipped off to stay in the middle so we didn't get wet. The film started out going pitch black-luckily Mom was near Reagan and Anderson and Dad had a grip on Graham's stroller. The noises were loud, light flashing and real water spraying. Anderson came close to falling apart but he did good and they both enjoyed how the movie started off with snow. Robby went to get the car while we waited in a grassy area for him-they ran and played before the much anticipated next stop.

The Butterfly Conservatory. Our first stop there was a picnic lunch. The signs said no picnicing, so we went to the other side of the parking lot where there was no signs. It was a perfect spot until the maintanance man started mowing near us! We then walked to the butterfly place and Reagan immediately started asking when the butterflies would land on her. This was after the whole morning spent asking Mom if her pink dress was a bright color (Mom had told her that butterflies land on ligth colors) It was going to be a major deal if they didn't. Mom and Dad were both praying hard while Dad would have paid any amount of money to get a butterfly to land on her. After much trying and praying that blessed butterfly did land right on her hand-perfect. If it would have landed anywhere else she probably wouldn't have seen it. Obviously, one butterfly wasn't enough so to curb a meltdown we worked and prayed until another butterfly landed on her (Mom actually illegally picked this one up and handed it to her). Meanwhile, Anderson was happily watching the butterflies in his own way-swatting at them, trying to stomp on them and even shaking the plants that they had landed in. He did come to us once and say that a butterfly had landed on him-may it rest in peace!

Our final Niagara stop was the White Water Walk. We took the elevator down to the rapids and walked along the boardwalk beside the rapids. The kids asked if we were moving. Graham enjoyed standing looking at the water as well. It was a great stop right before nap since everyone was able to walk for a few minutes-even though Mom did have to pull a tired Anderson back up the boardwalk. Afterward, we were back in the car for another few miles-270.

We had to make a few potty stops and even found a McDonalds for supper. We ate outside and then the kids played and played on the slides while Dad ran to buy some more groceries for breakfast in the morning. By then, Graham had had enough of the car and was making it known to the rest of us. We eventually had to stop for a roadside spanking-no, we gave him teething tablets, changed his shirt and diaper, tried to give him some milk or coke or anything that would calm him down. But after his meltdown he soon fell asleep in the car-he had only a 30 minute nap earlier. We arrived at the hotel around 9 and Mom and Dad went into unpack/repack mode. By the time the luggage cart was returned, the bags were unpacked and reloaded for tomorrow, pajamas and tomorrow's clothes out, dishes washed and ice chest emptied and bathwater in the tub.

Anderson had his meltdown in the bathtub. After splashing Mom he was told he would have to get out first and things just went downhill from there. He eventually calmed down and everoyne found their night time spots. Now everyone is laying in bed and Anderson just laughed outloud-crazy kid. What could he be laughing at? Tomorrow is Gettysburg and Hershey.

Video: Niagara Falls - Maid of the Mist Video 1 (September 2, 2009)

Video: Niagara Falls - Maid of the Mist Video 2 (September 2, 2009)

Video: Niagara Falls - Horseshoe Falls (September 2, 2009)

Video: Niagara Falls - White Water Walk (September 2, 2009)

September 1, 2009 - Journey to Niagara Falls

Highlights from today: (click here for pictures)
(click here for Video #1) (click here for Video #2)
The morning started off for Robby and Tara before the alarm clock even rang. We both woke up at 3 this morning but were able to get a few more minutes of sleep before 3:45. We loaded up and then put the kids in the van. After hauling Anderson down the stairs and into the van, he opened his eyes and said “maybe me need to go potty.” He did and we were off to pick up James to take us to the airport.

We breezed through security. Breeze-probably not the term the people behind us in line used: 10 shoes, 3 car seats, 2 bags of liquid items, 2 strollers, 2 back packs, 2 computers, an ice chest, diaper bag and one other bag. Our plane took off on time to Charlotte but we were a few minutes late arriving. Everyone stayed awake on this flight and Graham was fairly good. He is hard to hold but did alright with little screaming/squealing, probably since he was busy drinking 3 cups of milk.

Our layover in Charlotte was a little over 3 hours. So we pottied, spent an ungodly amount of money on breakfast, pottied again, walked on the moving walkways (a favorite of Reagan and Anderson's), changed the kids out of their pajamas, played ball, took a few walks, pottied again and by then the plane to Albany was ready to board. We had to wait about 30 minutes before taking off-and Anderson and Graham fell asleep. We were worried that taking off would wake up the boys but they snoozed on. Graham slept the entire time-Dad held him the first half and Mom held him the second half. Reagan took a little rest and afterward she and Anderson watched a movie. We landed, grabbed our luggage and headed straight to the van. It is a nice van but doesn’t have a DVD player-we are making it fine though.

Before long we were on the toll way headed to Niagara Falls. Our first stop was for lunch at the Pattersonville rest area. We all enjoyed pizza and were soon back on the road. Then a stop at a Walgreens-type store to pick up some lunch for tomorrow, cokes and diapers. Two more bathroom stops and a quick stop to buy supper from Arbys. The kids must have been hungry since they gobbled down all of their chicken and fries. Tara had to feed Graham but he ate quite a bit too. Surprisingly, the 300 miles went by fairly quick with no major meltdowns-by the kids or grownups!

Border crossing in the Canada was less entertaining than last time we were here (we were here last right after 9-11 and the border guard asked Robby what we were going to do in Canada. And in our Southern drawl he said “tourism”-which probably sounded a lot like “terrorism” to the guard. He said “excuse me?” as he was reaching for his gun!...or at least that is the way I like to tell the story). We drove right up Clifton Hill to our hotel. Their website says it is only a block from the falls-well, it is the longest block I have ever been on. It is probably more like 5 blocks but very walkable since the weather is unbelievably perfect. The kids were comfy in the jackets tonight but we were fine without them (especially when pushing the strollers back up the Clifton Hill to our hotel-up the long, long “block”).

We made it to the falls and Graham immediately started looking, pointing and jabbering. The kids were kind of impressed but enjoyed climbing on the railing a little more. They were quite interested in the boat that we will ride tomorrow. After a walk back through the noise, lights and sounds of the Clifton Hill area, Robby decided we should ride the Sky Wheel. Reagan has always wanted to ride one and she was delighted. Anderson is so stoic but seemed to enjoy it too. We circled on the huge wheel at least 5 times before stopping. They all loved it especially since there was so much to see.

We weren’t far from the hotel and they were getting tired by the time we made it there. After a quick change back into pjs, everyone was in bed and I think they are all asleep now. It has been a long day for the Dennie kids-waking up at 4:30 am and going to bed at 10 pm with only a short nap in between. Well, it has been a long day for the Dennie grown-ups too! We better rest up since there is so much to do tomorrow.

Video: Niagara Falls - At Night Time (September 1, 2009)

Video: Niagara Falls - Skywheel (September 1, 2009)