Video: Graham's 2nd Birthday Celebration (July 31, 2010)

Dennie Kids: July 31, 2010

Highlights from today: (click here for pictures)

  • Campbell stirring at midnight last night and then stirring again at 3 but she calmed down before she had to eat a bottle
  • Mom waking up and finding Anderson in her bed but not Dad.  Apparently they had switched beds sometime in the night.  Soon Campbell joined Mom followed by Graham and then Reagan…but still no Dad!  He was finally found much later in the morning! (Not really, he showed up fairly early)
  • Breakfast for everyone while Mom ran quickly to Walmart.  Breakfast consisted of yogurt for the boys and Campbell and pb and j for Reagan
  • The morning consisted of the kids playing with toys while Mom and Dad followed them trying to keep the house fairly straight
  • Starting off our Cowboy themed birthday party with lunch at Lone Star.  The kids immediately spotted the cactus, race car and Anderson noticed that the music was “cowboy music.”  Reagan said that the peanuts tasted like candy and Anderson thought his rolls tasted like candy!
  • Meeting Pops to pick up a giant horse for Graham’s party-not a real one though.  The horse barely fit in the back of the van.  Graham couldn’t see it and kept asking “neigh neigh trunk?”
  • Campbell spent the day squealing and talking.  She is getting about as noisy as Graham.  She is as happy as she can be rolling in the floor squealing!  Wonder where she has learned to be so noisy? Ha!
  • The boys toting the horse around the house until rest time.  Reagan says she can’t fall asleep at naptime but she does not want to lay down.  Maybe because she knows that once she lays down she will fall asleep.  Her eyes were huge when Mom told her that she had missed Graham’s party tonight.  But she quickly knew that Mom was only kidding
  • A snack and movie before guests started arriving for the party.  The blow up cake, flag and banners were all ready along with the giant horse in front of the mantle.  The kids all had cowboy hats and bandanas-Lilly, Cash, Jacob, Ethan, Reagan, Anderson, Campbell and the birthday boy Graham
  • We ate BBQ and all of the fixings and then went outside so the kids could have a wild west shoot out at the Wild West Shooting Range-some empty coke cans and a stash of water guns makes for lots of fun. 
  • Next was the piñata-the Dennie kids can’t have a birthday without a piñata.  Graham has been asking about his “neigh neigh shoe” all week (Cowboy boot).  He had the first hit and everyone else followed.  We had to call Graham over when it was time for Dad to finally break the piñata-he had lost interest!
  • Next we opened presents-though Graham only wanted to stay outside and spray everyone with his watergun.  He got lots of trucks, books, big boy underwear and a lawnmower.  Then we had birthday cake.  Graham wasn’t too bothered by candles at the beginning of the week but now he is a little spooked by them.  He didn’t want too much to do with his candles but he was quick to grab a cupcake after the song.
  • Everyone enjoyed opening and playing with all of Graham’s new presents and after all of the guests left, Reagan, Anderson and Graham even made it back outside for more water gun festivities.  Reagan ended up in her underwear, Anderson in just his shorts and Graham, who can’t yet take off his clothes, wound up soaking wet! 
  • More playing with toys and reading books with Jason before bed and then bedtime for all-Graham went to sleep with his new lawnmower and Anderson went to sleep with the rest of Graham’s new trucks!

Video: Graham's 2nd Birthday Celebration (July 31, 2010)

Video: Graham's 2nd Birthday Celebration (July 31, 2010)

Video: Graham's 2nd Birthday Celebration (July 31, 2010)

Video: Graham's 2nd Birthday Celebration (July 31, 2010)

Dennie Kids: July 30, 2010

Highlights from today: (click here for pictures)

  • Campbell must have thought it was her birthday this morning because she was up at 5 ready to eat
  • A fairly lazy morning since our story time library is closed this week.  The excitement was everyone getting candles on their donuts this morning with a round of Happy Birthday
  • We have been singing Happy Birthday all week now and Mom thinks that Graham is getting a big head!  Every time we say anything birthday related, Graham dances around and says “to you”                  
  • Mom trying to teach Reagan and Anderson how to clean the bathrooms.  They didn’t really want to learn how, they just wanted to spray the cleaner. 
  • Playing with most every toy in the den-right now they are loving to make the train tracks on the floor.  And Mom was in such a good mood that she even let them have the noodles to put in the back of the trucks
  • Long afternoon naps for everyone (even Mom-making horse cupcakes is hard work…especially when you have an audience of 4)
  • A snack and show before supper and then supper at home
  • Finishing our movie night from last night.  We are now to the scary part and they are huddled together (Reagan and Anderson).  Graham is walking around with a bucket on his head and Campbell is sitting with Mom
  • Campbell has had a runny nose today but she is feeling fine and is clicking for more food

Graham’s 2nd Birthday and Dennie Kids: July 29, 2010

Highlights from today: (click here for pictures)

  • Graham was eager to start celebrating his birthday this morning at 5:30 he started the festivities.  Dad entertained him for the first half and then Mom entertained him until it was time to wake up
  • Celebrating at Krispy Kreme first thing this morning.  Graham was happy to wear his hat and excited to blow out his candles.  They noticed us and brought out balloons for all of the kids and a doughnut birthday cake for Graham. 
  • Everyone spending the morning with Nonna while Mom worked a little bit.  Reagan and Graham busied themselves with coloring.  Reagan wanted to write down everything a policeman would say.  Mom and Nonna also noticed that Graham is probably going to be left handed like his Mom
  • Graham blowing out his 2nd set of birthday candles at Nonna’s house.  She had made a huge cupcake cake-Mom couldn’t get the camera to work right so she made Graham blow out his candles again…but he had lost interest
  • Afternoon naps-Graham was again the first one up.  Reagan and him sat and watched a movie and then Graham asked Mom “Anderson spray me?”-which means can we go outside and play in the water?
  • Playing outside in the water hose and watching the neighbor get a new roof-what could be better!  Mom and Campbell even got a little bit wet!
  • Reagan, Anderson and Graham riding with Dad to pick up a pizza while Mom and Campbell did a little bit of power shopping at Target (a big toy clearance and some other bargains…but too bad for Campbell, Mom forgot to buy her baby food)
  • Eating pizza and Graham having. his third set of candles on the cinnamon pizza.  Maybe it was the candles that sparkled or maybe he was tired of blowing but he just said “Anderson do it” when it was time to blow!
  • Having Movie Night to continue the celebration.  We are watching the Lion King and Reagan and Anderson are into it.  Campbell is enjoying sitting and playing with her toys and the birthday boy is trying to watch the movie but is to busy playing with Campbell, eating popcorn, checking on the roofers and just running around

Dennie Kids: July 28, 2010

Highlights from today: (click here for pictures)

  • Campbell waking up early-she likes to drink her milk in Mom’s bed and then sit up, wave and say hi to Mom as she tries to continue snoozing
  • Yogurt for breakfast for everyone except Reagan.  The boys love yogurt and each had 2 containers.  Mom felt silly yesterday when she bought 9 boxes of yogurt but now that they have eaten 3 of those boxes, she doesn’t feel as silly
  • Nonna coming over bright and early to play with Reagan, Anderson and Campbell while Mom and Graham went to the Nutrition Center.  Anderson just wanted to make sure that he didn’t have to put on his real clothes
  • Reagan, Anderson and Nonna busying themselves by playing “flower, flower, butterfly” (the duck, duck, goose version from Lilly’s b-day party). 
  • Meanwhile, at the Nutrition Center, Graham was being a perfect angel.  He weighs 31 pounds and is 35 inches.  Mom was surprised by all he knew during the psych testing-he did everything she asked and worked for a very long time stringing beads (Mom was very impressed)
  • Brain lab went just as well.  Mom tried to give him candy but he just sat there with a stoic look on his face holding his candy.  Mom did say, “I am going to do my work” and then bent down to grab her paperwork.  Graham thought she was going to leave and started to fall apart.  The only thing he wouldn’t do was lay still for the bone scan (Mom doesn’t blame him)
  • Campbell enjoying time with Nonna-she had a bottle or two and even had lunch.  Nonna even stayed long enough for Mom to run a little on the treadmill.  Mom couldn’t believe how perfect the kids were while she was running-usually they need lots of help while she is running
  • Nap times for everyone but Reagan didn’t go to sleep again.  Mom is starting to fear that her naptimes are over.  Anderson did wake up about the same time Mom let Reagan up so they played with their Mr. Potato Heads.  They played with them most of the afternoon
  • Anderson and Reagan playing outside and eventually playing with the hose while in their underwear.  Graham was more than happy to join him when he woke up.  Campbell just sat by the door inside and waved at everyone.
  • Supper at home and then working on our letter E.  Followed by more playing…the kids have played so very well all afternoon long…and the tv hasn’t been on at all.  Is it a coincidence?  We will have to see.

Dennie Kids: July 27, 2010

Highlights from today: (click here for pictures)

  • The last school day at Calvary for Reagan and Anderson but Anderson was confused and told Mom he was going to get to see Pops today-that is when we start school in a few weeks
  • Anderson didn’t mind too much about not seeing Pops since he and Reagan went to school in their bathing suits-it was sprinkler day!
  • Mom not being too sure if Graham’s class was having sprinkler day so she stuck in his bathing suit.  He didn’t need it but didn’t mind because Mom also sent a bunch of cupcakes to celebrate his birthday
  • Reagan’s teacher telling Mom that Anderson was the first one to figure out that he could pick up the sprinkler and spray his friends.  She also said that Reagan followed Anderson’s lead and also sprayed her friends
  • Graham’s teacher telling Mom that Graham loved his cupcakes and made a huge mess on his shirt!  She also said that she took a lot of pictures of him celebrating with his friends
  • As we were leaving school, one Mom came up to us and said "oh, this is the little boy that sprayed me with the water this morning” (talking about Anderson).  Mom said “oh, he isn’t mine, just the neighbor’s kid” (kidding)  The mom said she didn’t mind since it was hot
  • Campbell having a big day with Zach and Josh-it seemed like they enjoyed helping take care of her today
  • The three big kids came to pick up Campbell bringing cupcakes and ice cream for them and the boys to celebrate the last day of school.  Josh and Zach were happy to see them arrive-maybe it was just the cupcakes!
  • Playing trains all afternoon while waiting on Dad.  And of course, when Dad came home-one was in time out and things were crazy!  He decided that we all needed to get out of the house so we headed to McDonald’s
  • At McDonald’s, Anderson made a few mistakes-he pushed Graham, bit Reagan and disobeyed Mom…so his Happy Meal toy was a spanking from Dad!  Afterwards, we went to get snow cones and he couldn’t have one.  Unfortunately, he didn’t seem to mind at all!  Maybe because he ate most of Dads
  • Graham needing to be hosed off after the snow cones so everyone had a quick shower and then bed

Dennie Kids: July 26, 2010

Highlights from today: (click here for pictures)

  • Toast and applesauce for breakfast-Graham ate and ate applesauce until Mom cut him off.  Probably 1/4 of a huge applesauce jar is too much for one little guy
  • Grannymom calling and asking to take the big ones to Rock Creek.  Anderson told Mom that he was going to stay home with her so he could keep his pajamas on.  He quickly changed his mind when Mom told him that was fine but he couldn’t play at home
  • The big ones playing at Rock Creek with Lilly, Zach and Josh-Mom and Campbell arrived just in time to see everyone eating their popsicles.  Reagan didn’t like the pieces of fruit in her and Graham quickly decided that he didn’t like his at all.  He never even tried it but did convince Grannymom to buy him some ice cream-which Josh fed to him!
  • Graham screaming the whole way home since he did NOT want to come home to our house.  But since Dad was there, he was a little happier when we did arrive
  • Lunch and then a little bit of playing before naptime.  We read a book about a garbage barge and Anderson loved it.
  • Naps for everyone even though Reagan only rested she still was quiet for awhile.  Then she woke up and entertained Campbell.  Campbell loves to watch Reagan clap and Campbell will even clap her hands back at Reagan
  • Everyone helping Mom pick up the toys before Dad came home (but we did manage to mess the house up right before he showed up though).  Anderson and Reagan working in their workbooks.  Anderson got a little mad at Mom since she was insisting he just finish one page and then he said “I like Daddies best”
  • Everyone was busy when Dad came home-finding treasure under the couch.  Everyone had flashlights and they all found lost toys.  They were so excited.  Dad’s only advice was “don’t eat anything”
  • Supper at Sam’s and then buying some milk.  While we were in the freezer section, Anderson asked Mom if we were lost.  She had also been asked this by Reagan while on the way to Rock Creek
  • Reagan and Anderson eating popsicles and Graham choosing his cupcakes for a snack.  A short movie and then bed for most!

Dennie Kids: July 25, 2010

Highlights from today: (click here for pictures)

  • Everyone slept well last night and it was good to be back home in our own beds
  • Church this morning but first we had to have our cinna minis
  • Graham fussing some when we dropped him off but he was all smiles when we came into his class to work.  Mom didn’t stay in there long since she was needed more in Anderson’s class-15 kids!
  • Eating lunch with Nonna, Pops and Jason at Fulin’s.  Everyone loved the noodles and Reagan and Graham ate their weight in fruit!   We were celebrating Nonna & Pop’s 40th Anniversary today!  Congratulations!!
  • Home for naps and then Mom had to go to church for a meeting.  Dad was fairly brave and even gave everyone baths before night time church-they even made it on time (just barely)
  • Anderson telling Mom that if your head gets cut off all of the air will come out of you-I guess that is fairly true
  • Sandwiches after church along with some milk and then everyone going to bed (except Campbell-she smiled and cooed at Mom when she was putting her in bed-so Mom just brought her downstairs)
  • We added some pictures from the kids time at Nonna and Pops’ house along with a few pictures from Lilly’s birthday party

Colorado and New Mexico: July 24, 2010 and Dennie Kids

Highlights from today: (click here for pictures)


Not much happened this morning trip wise for us.  Since it was our last day, there is only 1 picture.  Our hotel last night was about 1/2 mile from the airport so after waking up at 5:30 we were ready to see our kiddos.  We opted for the rental car shuttle instead of the hotel shuttle since we figured that one would be more reliable.  We had to check my suitcase because we had brought our parents back some jelly (which is a liquid according to the TSA) and at the last second decided to check Robby’s bag too.  He quickly unzipped it and grabbed his big camera out.  The security line was fairly long but moved well.  Our flights to Dallas and home were quick and without events (which I am thankful for since the last 2 days we have listened to flight stories on the news-severe turbulence and blowing a tire).  When we landed in LR, the Dennie’s were already waiting to pick us up.  My bag came but we waited and waited on Robby’s bag.  He finally rummaged around his backpack until he came up with the luggage numbers and headed to the Southwest office.  As he walked up, someone came walking out with his bag-they had forgotten to get it off of the truck.


Our trip was wonderful.  Soaring Colorado was our best adventure (closely followed by sand dune sledding) and Soaring was also our best meal.  We drove just over 1500 miles and saw just about every part of New Mexico.  Even though it was a good trip, we were glad to come home and see our kids.


We quickly unpacked our stuff and then headed to Nonna and Pop’s house.  Reagan and Graham were awake and glad to see us.  Campbell was sleeping in the back room and continued to snooze until Mom finally woke her up.  Anderson was sleeping in Pop’s lap and when Mom picked him up he snuggled with her for a little bit.  And when he woke up, he was in a pretty foul mood.  He didn’t like the bracelet Mom had given him (green one with aliens-Mom hopes he will take off his pink one and trade it in for the new one) nor did he like the shirt from Mom. 


However, Reagan loved her stuff and Graham took off his old shirt to put on his new shirt.  He willingly followed Reagan into the dark bathroom to see if his shirt would glow in the dark like hers.  Campbell was very happy to see Mom and Dad after she got up.  She has gained 15 pounds and looks more like a one year old (well, maybe not 15 whole pounds).  We loaded up everyone and all of their things-which was a lot of stuff.


When we got home, they were very happy to see their house-Reagan actually hugged the doorpost and said “I missed our house.”  They played with most of their toys and actually played happily together the entire time.  Soon it was time for supper at Grannymom’s house.  They played more there-Campbell sat at the table during supper and ate her baby food.  I think she thought she was a big girl. 


Afterwards, we played Candy Land-which was the first time that I have ever seen Anderson play an entire game without losing interest.  Then we played a rousing game of “flower, flower, butterfly”  Nonna and Pops took the kids to Lilly’s 6th birthday party this morning.  We hear there were butterflies everywhere.  They even came home with ceramic butterfly banks to paint.  They did that this afternoon.  Graham took lots and lots of time doing his-sticking his tongue out and concentrating hard.  He worked almost as hard as Reagan-Anderson on the other hand worked for a few minutes and then was done.


After Grannymom’s house tonight, we came home and started the bedtime routine….until we realized we didn’t have any milk in the house.  Dad ran to the store to pick some up and the kids played more until he came home.  Graham was more excited to see the milk jugs than he was to see Dad when he walked into the door.  Reagan was exhausted tonight and fell asleep quickly, Graham didn’t fuss at all, Anderson is fairly quiet but pretty bored since Reagan is already asleep and Campbell is snoozing on the couch beside us.

Video: Sledding at White Sands Nat'l Monument

Video: Sledding at White Sands Nat'l Monument

Colorado and New Mexico: July 23, 2010

Highlights from today: (click here for pictures)


(Click here for Video #1) (Click here for Video #2)

Breakfast took a little longer at the Chinese restaurant today.  Don’t know why but it appears that the Chinese place is also the place for townspeople to come and eat-very strange but they do have a pretty good breakfast.  When we left, the GPS said that we should arrive in White Sands at 12:15-but we were determined to make up some time…and we did.


The road was again straight and flat but then it suddenly it turned into mountains.  We stopped in Cloudcroft for a bathroom stop and picked up a brochure for our next stop: The Apple Barn.  The snookered us in with fudge but we ended up only buying candy and a little tiny something for Reagan’s birthday. 


Near the White Sands Missile Range is White Sands National Monument.  I was especially excited about this stop-and after a quick run the the museum and then the gift shop, we were driving out to the sand dunes with the sleds in the back of our car.  The sand dunes are made from tiny particles of gypsum blowing in from a nearby barren lake.  The dunes were huge and white.  It looked just like snow and we hated that the kids weren’t there.  Though, we would have had to carry them up the dunes since they were so steep-and it was hard enough for us to climb to the top.  The sand was cool and perfect to sled down.  It was pretty fast and I even scratched my elbow when my sled went over a huge bump-I am lucky I didn’t break a bone!  It was lots of fun and I am planning to bring the kids back.  When I told Reagan on the phone about it, she said “I wished I was with you.”


We had lunch again in the car as we headed up North towards Albuquerque.  Everyone was stopped by Border Control and they asked if we were US Citizens.  And Robby answered “si, si” (kidding!)  Robby wanted to stop in the town of Truth or Consequences.  We drove there but they didn’t have a good sign or ice cream-what kind of town is that? 


I had read in my book that the Ft. Craig National Historic Site was a good stop on your way to Albuquerque.  My book was wrong.  We exited the interstate and within a mile or two we were on the dirt road and then the sign told us we had 10 more miles to go.  I tried to encourage Robby to turn around but he didn’t listen.  Finally, we made it and Robby bet me that there would be no one at this place.  He was wrong-apparently someone lives in their RV beside the museum and when someone drives up, they come out of their RV to let them in the museum.  When we saw the lady, Robby asked the obvious questions: do you get many people out here?  She replied, “We do actually, it is kind of weird.”  I wanted to tell that lady that it was kind of weird that you live out here in the MIDDLE of nowhere.


I unwillingly followed Robby as he walked around the fort site.  I was the lookout and told him that if I saw someone else walking on this trail, I would hightail it to the car.  It was a spooky desert place-except for the crazy lady that worked out there all alone.  Obviously, they didn’t have any ornaments in the gift shop.  Robby tried to think of ways to get the lady to come back out of her RV and go back to the museum.  As we were using the restrooms (surprisingly clean) Robby noticed a flier looking for “motivated couples” to come and work there.  He tried to convince me by saying we could live in an RV, home school, the kids could have land to roam and he wouldn’t have to work too hard out there.  I quickly changed his mind by reminding him that he couldn’t travel if we lived there.


After we finally made it back to the main road, we were needing gas.  We finally found some near Albuquerque and then called to check on the kids.  It had been raining on us and we spotted a small rainbow in the sky.  We found our hotel-right by the airport.  After unloading our suitcases, we drove to Old Town to eat.  Old Town was quite a happening place tonight.  On the square, a band was singing and lots of people were out.  We had supper at Church St. Cafe and the food was HOT!  It was the spiciest food I had ever had-probably won’t sleep any tonight.  The poor server was swamped and we didn’t get pour sopapillas so I was disappointed.  We walked around the Old Town and looked in a few shops.  There was a neat little toy shop that sucked us in and kept some of our money.  After getting back to the hotel, we repacked and started to work on our computers.


Dennie Kids Update:  Sounds like the kids had a pretty good day: playdough, coloring, naps, playing outside (but they had to come inside since it was so hot).  Pops decided that they needed to run off some energy so they loaded up and went to church with their bikes.  I was talking to Graham on the phone until Jason came and then they were all off to run and greet him.

Colorado and New Mexico (and Texas): July 22, 2010

Highlights from today: (click here for pictures)


The hotel had a complimentary breakfast this morning.  So we were downstairs around 8.  The hotel breakfast is served in the adjacent restaurant-which is a Chinese restaurant.  It is very strange eating eggs and toast in a Chinese restaurant with a big Buddha staring at you.  We had driven about 500 miles yesterday and this was going to be a fairly short day of driving so we were ready for it.


The drive to Carlsbad was fairly entertaining due to the large billboards advertising tiny gift shops.  Most of the gift shops were closed and had been closed for many, many years.  Our favorite sign advertised “Kodak Flashbulbs”-probably not many people buy Kodak flashbulbs anymore.  Also on our drive today, the sky was huge (maybe since we were near and in Texas).  A couple of times, we could even see storm clouds and rain off in the distance.  We did have a little rain to contend with for a few minutes but quickly outran the storm.


Once we got to the Carlsbad entrance, we were quickly greeted with more road construction.  We did have to stop this time and wait for a while but Robby didn’t have enough time to take a nap.  Once at the visitor’s center, we got our tickets and headed down the elevator to the Big Room. We descended 750 meeting in less than a minute. The walking tour we took was self guided and over 1.5 miles long.   That part of the cave was large enough that you could put the White House in one corner of it. It was full of stalagmites and stalactites (which is one thing I vividly remember learning about in the 4th grade).  Carlsbad is very impressive but it is no Blanchard Springs Caverns (kidding)


In about another 30 miles down the road, we were in Texas and driving up to the Guadalupe National Park.  They had a short film and a gift shop-I love gift shops.  It is kind of strange since I hardly buy any thing except a Christmas ornament but I still love gift shops.  We have bought/collected 5 Christmas ornaments on this trip.  Robby is trying to encourage me to return to only buying 1 a trip like we did when we first started traveling-not gonna happen. 


The Guadalupe Mountains are huge but we opted not to take the 8 mile trail to the top.  But we did drive to the Frijole Ranch nearby.  It had a cold spring near the house that they had diverted under a small house.  The spring kept the house cool and they used it as their antiquated refrigerator.  Next we drove back to Carlsbad and stopped for some ice cream at a small grocery store.


Soon we were back at the hotel pretty early.  We went downstairs to swim for a few minutes.  Swimming is a lot easier without the kids-but not as much fun.  Then Robby did a little bit of work and finally it was time to head out to eat.  We ate a funky little Italian restaurant called Piccolino.  It was very good-and new-most things around this town aren’t too new.  We enjoyed listening in all the locals in the restaurant – most of the 20-30 people knew each other. In fact, the party of 6 next to us (apparently work people) out for a nice dinner knew the next family.  We heard the boss man whisper to the waitress he would buy the family’s dinner (the man had used to work him and they were leaving the next day for vacation – what a way to start a vacation.)  Though they do have a lot of oil money floating around: sculptures, performing arts center and country club.   After supper, we walked around the downtown area to see the sculptures.  Then we drove around town and scoped the whole place out.  There is a huge Federal Law Enforcement Training campus in Artesia – they took over in a defunct college in the 90s. We must have some dorms/apartments for a few thousand people. It was almost dark when we returned to our hotel and we are packing up to head out early in the morning.


Dennie Kids Update:  Anderson was the first one to wake up this morning and he asked Nonna if he could get in bed with her and soon he had Pops brining him his milk-just like at home: milk in bed before starting the day.  Since this was school morning, everyone rushed around to get ready for school.  Nonna and Pops walked in to drop everyone off.  Reagan and Anderson knew exactly what to do and Graham tried hard but fussed as soon as he made it to his class.  Nonna said she was very disappointed in the early morning teachers and Grannymom had said on Tuesday that they had no personality.  Both of those things are exactly what Mom thinks-but she thinks some worse things than that!


Nonna stayed in the hall until Graham calmed down-she said that she stayed long enough that she looked like she belonged there or she looked suspicious.  During the day, Campbell apparently ate and ate.  Pops mentioned that she would need to be put on a diet when we come home.  On the way to school, Anderson had mentioned seeing where the trash trucks go so after school, Pops drove everyone to the dump.  Reagan didn’t want to go because it was stinky but I am sure the cokes they got on the way helped change her mind.  Pops said that the cokes were huge and Graham had quite a hard time drinking his coke.  The bill to clean my van will be sent to Pops! 


Jason came over to play this evening and they were ready for him to come so he could play with their new toys from Mom and Dad.  After more playing, Nonna was turning off the tv when Anderson said he wanted to watch it.  Nonna said that it was an “adult cartoon and he couldn’t watch it”  Anderson told Nonna that he wanted to see the people smoke on the cartoon.  Later he said that he had seen “people smoking fire” at the dump.  Goodness, I guess when I come home we will have to have a lesson on the dangers of smoking.

Colorado and New Mexico: July 21, 2010

Highlights from today: (click here for pictures)


I forgot to mention one thing last night.  As we were zip lining, some of the sky guides were called “eco rangers.”  Which is a polite was of saying “tree hugger type people.”  Anyway, they would pop up and tell you a brief fact every once in awhile.  For example, they would say “this is tree was struck by lightening here” or “look at the scratches on this tree from a mountain lion.”  Well, Robby and I were walking to the next zip lining spot and there one of the eco rangers popped up.  And I seriously mean, they just popped up (I was personally trying to stay away from them-I am all for trees but I don’t want a science lesson)  This time she was showing us lichen on a tree branch.  She said it was good to put on cuts since it has an antibiotic type quality.  Then she told us it was full of vitamin c and encouraged us to try some.  Being the mature adults we are, we dutifully took off a bite of her lichen, ate it, walked away and when we were far enough away, we spit it out!  I don’t want to eat lichen on my vacation-or ever!


Also, this happened too late last night to make the blog.  Robby was sitting in the chair with his feet on the ottoman while working on his computer and I was sitting on the bed playing on my computer.  I heard a sound but didn’t think anything of it until Robby said “what was that?”  I asked what it sounded like and he said, “well, a tape recorder being fast forwarded.”  As I reviewed what the sound sounded like to me, only one thing popped in my mind and it was not a tape recorder.  It was a mouse!  I looked at Robby and started to stand on the bed, then I got off and put my shoes on and moved my luggage off of the floor and wrapped up our food bag securely. 


We were staying in a nice hotel, not one that you would expect to find a mouse but we did hear that sound.  Robby got the flashlight and started moving furniture.  I was now huddled by the door, waiting to change rooms.  He looked and looked and crawled on the floor until he was convinced there wasn’t anything.  So we went back to work on our computers.  This time though I was a little more on edge and was trying to talk myself into being able to sleep in that room.  Once I had finally calmed down, we heard the noise again.  Panic was about to set in but out of the corner of my eye, I saw Robby’s feet moving.  His shoes rubbing together were making the noise and he didn’t even know it.  I slept much better last night, knowing there wasn’t a mouse in our room!


We slept in this morning-something we haven’t done since Reagan was born.  We finally left around 9 and headed out for our 8-11 hour drive (8-11 hours depending on the GPS or the computer time).  We had to turn the GPS off early in the drive since the satellite wasn’t quite right because it was constantly thinking we were driving off of the road.  After we had crossed back into New Mexico, Robby saw a sign for the Aztec Ruins National Monument.  We pulled off there and went in.


When we have walked into other National Park Sites you don’t know if it is going to be a tiny place or something huge.  This just looked like a simple building but behind it was acres of Aztec Indian ruins.  We took a self guided tour through them and decided that we were both very glad we didn’t have to live there.  As we got back on the road, we noticed that we were on not on the right road.  Since the GPS was off, we hadn’t noticed that our highway had turned a mile up the road.  I am so thankful that Robby decided to stop at the Ruins or we would have ended up in California.


Next stop was in Cuba for ice cream and a bathroom break.  Then, outside of Albuquerque, I made our sandwiches and we had our picnic while driving 70+ miles per hour on I-40.  Next we turned off of I-40 and headed down a long, straight and I mean very straight highway.  It was 4 lanes so we were able to make very good time and the scenery was pretty but there wasn’t much out there.  I was starting to get concerned about the gas level but we did find a gas station in Vaughn for a fill up.  We had driven through many deserted little towns with the gas stations and other shops all closed up. 


The next town that we stopped in was Roswell.  It was a fairly big town (even had a Target) and had little alien influence except for 1 block.  On that 1 block, there was an alien museum and shop after shop of gift shops.  We stopped in a few shops and headed on.  We had made up very good time and made it to Artesia a little before 5.


We unloaded and surveyed our room: 2 beds, 2 sinks, 3 chairs, 2 desks, 1 recliner.  It is a pretty big room and hopefully, we won’t hear any strange noises tonight.  We then checked on the kids and drove to eat supper.  We ate Henry’s BBQ and had a pretty good meal and the sandwiches were huge.  Now, we are back in the room washing our clothes.  The washing machine is right outside of our door-I mean it is literally right outside of our door.  That couldn’t have worked out any better!


Dennie Kid Update:  This morning Grannymom let them open up their Wednesday present.  After Monday’s puzzle episode, she couldn’t believe that the kids loved their socks and couldn’t wait to put them on.  Reagan has been quite the helper-she reminded Grannymom to get Campbell’s floatie for swimming.  But she couldn’t help put the stroller down and told Grannymom that she didn’t know that one! 


They went swimming with Lilly and Cash and everyone was exhausted when Nonna and Pops came to pick them up.  Graham fell asleep in the car and slept a few more hours, Campbell went to sleep in the car but then took another nap and Anderson eventually snoozed on the couch.  After a big afternoon at Nonna’s house, they were taking baths when we talked to them.  Graham was quick to say “hi Daddy” and he even made sure that we knew he was at Nonna’s house.     

Colorado and New Mexico: July 20, 2010

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 a map of the zip line course)


It was the day that we had been waiting for and I can now mark one thing off of my bucket list.  We set 4 alarms because we didn’t want to miss our train.  We were up probably before the alarms went off and were headed out the door to catch our train.  Since we walked past McDonalds, we grabbed a bite of breakfast and walked another block to the train station.


We saw the Soaring Colorado sign and they took our name and showed us to our seat.  The Durango and Silverton Railroad takes 3 trips each day to and from Silverton.  It looks like a neat town but the two train cars that we were on were filled with people who were going Soaring.  The cars were pretty plush with cushy leather benches, ottomans and complimentary water bottles.  The train should have left at 8:15 but we waited and waited.  Finally, we found out that there was an air hose that was broken.  It was nearly 9 when we finally left and we were a little worried that we would miss some of our ziplining adventure. 


The scenery was beautiful.  We were beside mountains, in the valley and following a river.  It was a fairly long ride-around 2 hours.  And in the middle of it our train stopped on the tracks.  We heard one person say something about a fire but later someone clarified that something was wrong with the “fire box” and they had to use the “ice stick” to fix it.  I don’t know what that means but since we were already running late, I didn’t care what was wrong but that they only got it fixed quickly.  Soon enough it was fixed and we were back on our way.


We slowed at one point and 2 Soaring “sky rangers” boarded the train to give us some instructions and within a mile we were all getting out at the Tall Timber Resort where Soaring Colorado is located.  Here is a brief history of the ranch: Grandpa bought the entire valley from peak to peak when he was 19.  His son saw a movie with someone ziplining and had their lawyers look into if there any type of trademarks or patents.  After 2 years designing the course, they opened Soaring.  They also closed their overnight resort since Soaring took off so well.  The only way in or out is by train or private helicopter.  They also own a helicopter company in town.  The whole family works and lives there-including the little granddaughter.  She just played out in the yard during most of the day.  The sky rangers live in cabins a mile down the tracks and walk to work everyday.


As we pulled up, all of the staff were lined up waving at us.  The whole day reminded us of our float trip through the Grand Canyon-everything was first class and the staff was wonderful.  The first item of business was signing zillions of consent forms-that always makes you feel good.  Then they made us all go and potty and put our stuff in lockers.  Next they tightened harnesses on us and those harnesses were checked and double checked throughout the day. 


They gave us some instructions and then we were off - our first zip was out the second story of a building.  It wasn’t too long-maybe 50 feet.  It was awesome.  After that we went through zipline to zipline-sometimes we would arrive and leave from the same platform, sometimes we would have to climb higher on the platform and sometimes they would lower us to the ground with a pulley system.  Fairly early in the morning, they passed out caramel cranberry bars and water bottles.  The bars were absolutely delicious-maybe they were so good because people in chef’s clothes were passing them out. 


Next was most ziplining and the thunder started.  It looked like it was going to storm but it only sprinkled a little.  They assured us that if it started lightening they would take us down-since we were standing on metal platforms, attached to a metal rope and wearing a metal harness.  But it was only a sprinkle and soon we were gliding in for lunch.  As Robby and I walked to the lunch area, we saw a big black bear behind one of the buildings.  He walked around and then stood up to peer in a window.  By now other people had seen it too and the little granddaughter playing in the yard starts yelling at her dogs to go and get the bear.  They chased the bear off-which I am glad off since I was walking backwards away and Robby was walking towards the bear taking pictures.


Robby chose the pulled pork sandwich made on coconut bread and I had the pineapple sandwich.  We both had pasta salad, homemade chips, a 3 berry cold soup and topped it all of with a homemade ice cream sandwich.  I was expecting it to be the store bought ice cream sandwich but it was delicious!  The afternoon parts of the course consisted of crossing over the river each time we zipped.  It was awesome and the spans got increasingly longer.  The storm clouds arrived again and now it was sprinkling pretty good as we walked up the hill to our last span.  They offered everyone rain coats but we didn’t take them-should have because soon it was pouring but we still stayed fairly dry under the trees. 


The last span was over 1400 feet long-it went through the trees and across the river.  They say that you can reach speeds of over 30 miles per hour.  I believe it.  I tried to take a video but I would just spin on each zipline and hardly ever stay straight.  Some people, like Robby, were more adventurous and would let go and go upside down.  The last zip seemed super long and was a perfect end to the day.  The day went perfect and I couldn’t more highly recommend this place. 


We refilled our water bottles and waited on the train to come and pick us up and take us back to Durango. When they pulled up, you could see the look of envy on the other passengers faces as we re-boarded the train.  We slept a little and read our magazines on the way back and were back in Durango.  The sky rangers had told us to eat at Tequilas for supper and we found it on the other end of Main Street.  It was very good-but the air must have been out there because it was hot and our food was hot and that just made us hot and full.  But after our walk back to the hotel and calling our folks to check in, we are feeling good and about to head out for gas and groceries.


Dennie Kid Update:  Everyone slept well again last night.  Reagan was the last to wake up and Grannymom commented that she slept the latest yesterday.  Reagan replied that she wanted to wake up last today.  On the way to school, Reagan noticed that Grannymom had brought along Campbell and told her that Campbell couldn’t stay at school.  Grannymom said that she knew that but Campbell couldn’t stay home alone either.  That is when Anderson piped in and told her that he could have stayed at home with her.


Graham drop off went as expected.  He was fine until he reached his class and then he loses it.  I am sure that he calms down (eventually) and still has a good day (probably).  They were excited to talk to us tonight and we heard that Anderson hasn’t taken off his bracelet from our hotel in Branson.  He said he is leaving it on so he can go back to Branson and go swimming-smart boy.  He then wanted to know if Daddy “really saw a real bear.”  Graham was happy to hear Dad’s voice and Campbell was drinking some milk during the phone call so it sounds like all is well in Dennie Kid Land.

Video: Ziplining in Duragno, Colorado (July 20, 2010)

Video: Ziplining in Durango, Colorado (July 20, 2010)

Video: Ziplining in Durango, Colorado (July 20, 2010)

Video: Ziplining in Durango, Colorado (July 20, 2010)

Video: Ziplining in Durango, Colorado (July 20, 2010)

Tara's List

Here is Tara's list of 10 things that she wants to do/accomplish in the next 10 years (Robby's list is coming soon-so I have been told!)

1. Climb Half Dome in Yosemite
2. Run a marathon (no hurry on that one though!)
3. Learn to swim (no, I can't swim, yes, that's right, I can't swim)
4. Zip line (hopefully at Soaring Colorado) (doesn't it sound fun? I just need all of my kids to weigh 50+ pounds and quite a bit of cash!) (completed 7/20/10-no kids this time since we celebrated our 10th anniversary sans kids)
5. Train ride through Canada (I don't know anything about Canada but it sounds fun!)
6. RV through Utah (which would help me accomplish goal #10)
7. Read a book every month (that may be a little much-maybe I should just say read more!)
8. See New York City in Christmas time
9. Pick apples and make apple pie (Completed half 9/30/10-picking apples outside of cottage in Bar Harbor, Maine)
10. See most of America's National Parks (we have seen 31 out of 58 so far)
  • Acadia National Park 5/04
  • National Park of American Samoa
  • Arches National Park 5/10
  • Badlands National Park 4/05
  • Big Bend National Park
  • Biscayne National Park
  • Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park 5/10
  • Bryce Canyon National Park
  • Canyonlands National Park 5/10
  • Capitol Reef National Park 5/10
  • Carlsbad Caverns National Park 7/10
  • Channel Islands National Park 9/04
  • Congaree National Park
  • Crater Lake National Park 5/08
  • Cuyahoga Valley National Park
  • Death Valley National Park 2/11
  • Denali National Park and Preserve
  • Dry Tortugas National Park
  • Everglades National Park
  • Gates of the Arctic National Park and Preserve
  • Glacier National Park
  • Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve
  • Grand Canyon National Park 7/03, 4/10
  • Grand Teton National Park 5/07
  • Great Basin National Park
  • Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve
  • Great Smoky Mountains National Park 3/07
  • Guadalupe Mountains National Park 7/10
  • Haleakala National Park 12/04
  • Hawaii Volcanoes National Park 12/04
  • Hot Springs National Park 3/09
  • Isle Royale National Park
  • Joshua Tree National Park 3/09
  • Katmai National Park and Preserve
  • Kenai Fjords National Park
  • Kings Canyon National Park 9/04
  • Kobuk Valley National Park
  • Lake Clark National Park and Preserve
  • Lassen Volcanic National Park
  • Mammoth Cave National Park 3/07
  • Mesa Verde National Park 7/10
  • Mount Rainier National Park 5/03
  • North Cascades National Park
  • Olympic National Park
  • Petrified Forest National Park 4/10
  • Redwood National and State Parks 5/08
  • Rocky Mountain National Park 5/10
  • Saguaro National Park
  • Sequoia National Park 9/04
  • Shenandoah National Park 5/05
  • Theodore Roosevelt National Park 4/05
  • Virgin Islands National Park
  • Voyageurs National Park
  • Wind Cave National Park 4/05
  • Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve
  • Yellowstone National Park 5/07
  • Yosemite National Park 5/02, 9/04
  • Zion National Park
11. Take the kids to a Rainforest Cafe (okay, it is a bonus but it is something we can do soon!); (completed-instead of Rainforest we did visit the T-Rex Cafe in Orlando (2/10))

Video: Ziplining in Durango, Colorado (July 20, 2010)

Video: Ziplining in Durango, Colorado (July 20, 2010)

Video: Ziplining in Durango, Colorado (July 20, 2010)

Video: Ziplining in Duragno, Colorado (July 20, 2010)

Video: Ziplining in Duragno, Colorado (July 20, 2010)

Video: Ziplining in Duragno, Colorado (July 20, 2010)

Video: Ziplining in Duragno, Colorado (July 20, 2010)

Video: Ziplining in Duragno, Colorado (July 20, 2010)

Colorado and New Mexico: July 19, 2010

Highlights from today: (click here for pictures)


After dropping the kids off last night, we were a little surprised at how quiet the house was-no fans, no music, no one calling out for Mom-it was a wonder we were able to get any sleep.  But we did sleep well and woke up around 4:30 to get ready for our early morning flight.  We picked up James and were on our way to the airport.  The security line at the airport was fairly long but without our 4 kiddos, the security line was a breeze. 


Our first flight to Dallas was quick.  The only problem I had during the flight was keeping Robby awake so he wouldn’t snore-and I wasn’t too successful at that.  Our next flight to Albuquerque was delayed by 20 minutes but that gave us enough time to go to the bathroom and eat a cinnamon roll.  Once we landed, we were quickly on our way to pick up our rental car.  We can’t even remember when we last took a trip in the states by ourselves-it was before Reagan.  And that was probably the last time that I rode a rental car shuttle-usually I wait with the kids and stuff. 


The rental car had less than 300 miles on it-and today we have added another 400 to that total.  A sign right outside of Albuquerque captured my attention: buy 1 get 1 Dairy Queen Blizzards.  Well, we just had to stop since it was a sale.  It took Robby about 10 minutes to figure out how to get in the parking lot but it was well worth the work. 


So by 10:30, we had eaten cinnamon rolls, homemade chex mix and a blizzard.  Robby had seen a recipe for cheeseburger chex mix and I made it for him.  I am not to crazy about it and think that it might just be a man type food: honey mustard pretzels, potato sticks, french fried onions, beef jerkey and it should have sun dried tomatoes but I couldn’t find any. 


As we drove along the historic Route 66, we saw many things that the kids would have loved to see.  Since we are ziplining they couldn’t come on this trip.  It is sure a lot easier without them, but we would have brought them in a heartbeat-but we hear they are having a great time (more on that later).


In Gallup, New Mexico we ate at Earls.  It was Mexican food and very good.  We split chicken enchiladas and the salsa was very hot.  My book had said that during the meal, Native Americans would come to your table trying to sell you their jewelry.  And if one person came to our table, at least 20 people came.  They quickly left when we said “no thanks” but it grew comical. 


The next town we drove through was Naschitti.  It has no real significance and was probably very small but I just wanted to type it so you would have to try to pronounce it.  Anyway, the landscape was pretty…Naschitti!  It is just dessert land out here and the houses are tiny but they all have tall chain link fences with barbed wire around them.  


We had planned to go to Four Corners but it was closed which turned out to be a good thing because we snagged the very last tour at Mesa Verde National Park.  Once we turned off for the park, we were surprised to find out that there was still 20 more miles to go…and most of those miles were under construction.  We waited through road block but at the next one, we were getting quite tired.  We sat there long enough for Robby to put the car in park and recline his seat…and since I was getting tired too, I shut my eyes.  I figured that the people behind us would honk when it was time to go.  I did open my eyes just as the cars started moving and quickly woke Robby up.  After our little power naps, we were feeling much better. 


At the visitor’s center, Robby asked about the last tour and bought tickets before I could object.  We toured Balcony House but they billed it as an “Adventurous Tour” with a 32 foot ladder, a 12 foot long and 18 inch wide tunnel, 2 ten foot ladders and climbing an open cliff face for 60 feet.  As we were sitting in the car, waiting for the tour, we read that you must take water with you.  All we had was our empty water bottles from the plane that I hadn’t refilled and our ice chest with cokes in it.  So we stuffed our bottles full of ice for the hike. 


When the guide started, the sun was blaring down on us and it was hot.  I was getting worried about the trek since I am not good at just standing around.  But before long we were on the other side of the cliff and in the shade.  The first event was the 32 foot ladder and 32 foot is a tall ladder-the park ranger didn’t even stay down below to catch you.  As soon as I got to the top, I stood as close to the wall of the cliff as I could.  The Native Americans had build these elaborate cliff dwelling in the side of the mountains and it was something to see.  We had already crawled through a few tunnels but the 18 inch one was pretty snug.  Robby had our water bottles in his pockets and he said that they almost got him stuck! 


The hour long tour lasted an hour and a half but it was enjoyable and I am glad we did it.  Next we drove back down the mountain and made it to Durango around 8.  We drove by the train station and saw their exciting downtown area before checking into the hotel.  After we unpacked, we walked back to downtown to look in the shops and grab a bite to eat.  We found huge slices of pizza and sat outside and listened to music while eating.  The evening was pleasant and lots of people were out.  Now we are back at the hotel getting everything ready for tomorrow. 


Dennie Kid Update: Night one at Grannymom’s house was successful.  Reagan and Anderson went to bed without a problem even though Graham fussed a little bit.  Campbell started off in Grandpa’s closet but after a little bit the motion activated light turned on-her little feet were kicking and she turned the light on!  So she was moved to the bathroom.  They all slept all night with Reagan waking up first.  The played at Rock Creek this morning and made it back for lunch before talking to us on the phone.


I asked Anderson about his present from today and he said "I didn’t want a puzzle”  Reagan was a little more diplomatic when I asked if she like hers.  She said “well, not really.”  But then she added “Maybe the next present will be more exciting.”  Poor thing, it won’t be any more exciting because it is just a pair of SOCKS!  Robby said I should have just given them candy!


They played outside today some and 3 big kids even got to go to aerobics with Grannymom.  They packed a picnic supper and Reagan helped give the boys their food while Grannymom did her aerobics.  They always show me where the stairs are to the aerobics room and want to go up there.  Reagan said that they finished in time to do the cool down with Grannymom-now that would have been a sight to see!


School is tomorrow for them so they wrapped up the day with baths and bed…and hopefully, they are not dreaming about Wednesday’s present from Mom and Dad!

Branson: July 18, 2010

Highlights from today: (click here for pictures)


Our alarms started waking up around 7-Graham is happy once he gets his milk and then he is delighted to see Campbell who wakes up kicking and grinning.  Soon Anderson was climbing down the ladder and Reagan was pretending to be asleep.  We packed up fairly quickly (for us) and were on the road a little after 8:30.


Our first stop was about 1 mile from the hotel.  I had run out of breakfast food so a McDonald stop was mandatory.  The boys had pancakes and would have eaten more (they each had 1 and 1/2) and Reagan picked at her biscuit.  She probably would have enjoyed a pancake but she is becoming slightly finicky about her food. 


Stop 2 was before we made it to Harrison-Robby was tired and needed me to drive.  And then about three minutes after we pulled away from the rest stop, Anderson let us know that he had to go to the bathroom.  We found a bathroom for stop number 3.  And were soon back on the road and quickly started smelling an odor from Campbell-yep, a dirty diaper.


We did press on as far as we could-Campbell was soon fussing, Graham was mad and screaming (this happens a lot) and Reagan was hit by Anderson so she was crying as well.  Since I had seen a giant billboard for Fergusons and their cinnamon rolls we stopped there.  After diaper changes, bathroom stops, gift shop browsing and rocking in the rocking chairs-we didn’t even manage to get a cinnamon rolls.  But everyone was content back in the car so it was a worthwhile stop.


We made it home a little after 1 and were unloaded with suitcases unpacked and clothes already in the dryer by 2.  The kids enjoyed being home for a few minutes and played with most of their toys before rest time.  They were glad to be home but they were anxious to start their trip at Grannymom’s house.


After snacks for supper, we went to church tonight.  Campbell was as happy as she could to see her teachers, Reagan and Anderson ran in their class and started coloring and playing.  But poor Graham, he fussed and fussed.  When Dad picked him up, they told him that he fussed the entire time and wanted his Daddy.  He is sure a Daddy’s boy! (hope all goes well while Dad is gone this week)


We saw Nonna and Pops in the hall and were delighted to see them and play chase.  Pops picked up all of the kids bikes since they may do a little bit of bike riding later this week.  Then we took everyone to Grannymom and Grandpa’s house.  They knew that we were leaving but no one seemed to care.  Campbell was sitting up playing with toys and the rest were playing with cars.  We said our goodbyes, told everyone we would call them and started our vacation!

Branson: July 17, 2010

Highlights from today: (click here for pictures)


Graham was ready to go pretty early this morning but Reagan and Anderson were exhausted and it took us until 8 to finally wake them up.  They didn’t even stir with Campbell and Graham up talking and getting dressed.  Once they were up, they moved pretty quick to go and ride the rides.  We were at Silver Dollar City before opening and since it was Saturday the parking lot was a little worse.  I was quite proud of us since we were able to get on and off of the tram without any assistance today.  Yesterday, some of the family were always with us.  It is quite a challenge with 1 baby, 1 toddler, 2 preschoolers, 2 strollers and 2 bags but we now have tram boarding and disembarkation down to a science: I hold the baby, bags and Graham’s hands, Reagan and Anderson follow me and Robby gets the strollers. 


I had carried a coupon with us for cinnamon bread from the mill and once we were inside the gates, Robby walked right to the restaurant and we enjoyed the bread.  The boys ate some but Reagan said that she didn’t want any which was fine with us because it was delicious.  We could have eaten a few more loaves of that bread.  I even had a minute to walk through the mill-they had cookbooks inside and for someone who doesn’t cook, I sure do love cookbooks.  We were right behind the chain for when the park was opened and headed to the Flooded Mine-and when we got there, they were still closed.


So we went to the Frogs.  I had never ridden the frogs and it is quite bouncy.  Graham loved it-he made sure that he was able to do it again.  Next up was the Butterflies and then the Roller Coaster for Reagan and Anderson and a snack for Graham.  By then it was already hot in the kiddie area-not a lot of shade.  So we walked towards Anderson’s favorite-The Flooded Mine.  This is the only ride that Campbell can ride and she didn’t mind it.  Her favorite ride though was definitely the tram-she would kick her feet and wave her arms. 


Next we watched folks riding the River Rapids ride.  Robby even spent some money to squirt some people with water as they came down river alley - Reagan said that she wished she had her money-but I encouraged her to spend it more wisely than squirting strangers with water (now, squirting family with water is another story).  Then the kids enjoyed milking a pretend cow-Reagan squealed when Robby squirted the milk in her direction and she thought she was being so sneaky by trying to get him to come and lean down so she could return the squirt.


Next was another ride for Reagan and Anderson-were you sit and hoist yourself up by pulling a rope.  I went with Anderson and then Robby went with Reagan and it was a work out.  They wanted to ride again but I wouldn’t have been able to make it to the top at all.  We then met the rest of the family and the kids had some snacks.  I had a snack too but I made sure to sit at the other end of the bench with my back turned so no one spotted my ice cream and strawberries.  It was delicious.  The big kids went to Fire in the Hole next so I did have to share mine with Graham and Campbell-she smacked her lips until she was given some. 


After that ride, we started heading towards the exit.  Robby did make sure that he picked up his piece of taffy.  And the boys and Reagan played on the wooden train, truck and tractor.  They could have played on these all day long.  I had wanted to go through Grandfather’s Mansion last time we were here and we never found it and this time we had to look hard for it (even though it is right in the middle of things)


Inside there is a mirror that you look in and then your reflection changed into a scary man’s reflection.  Anderson’s eyes were huge when he saw that reflection-his expression was priceless.  It was hysterical.  Next we walked through the slanted room that makes you feel like you are walking crooked.  It is amazing how our minds fool us.  Graham really had a hard time walking in the room.  As soon as we were outside, Reagan and Anderson asked to do it again-but Anderson didn’t want to look in the mirror this time.  In the slanted room the next time, we just sat on the benches and watched the people and Robby and I could have done that all day long. 


Next we were out the front gates, to the tram and then in the car.  On the way back to the hotel, Robby picked up a pizza and we had that for a snack before swimming.  Graham had fallen asleep in the car and slept for quite awhile in the stroller while back in the room while Reagan and Anderson played.  A little before 3 we were suited up and were ready to head downstairs.  We explored the small kiddie pool and 2 new slides outside until the sun came out and then we went back to the lazy river.  The kids still loved it and stayed in there until Campbell needed to get out because she was fussy.   She found her paci and slept in my lap while I watched Anderson in the kiddie pool for awhile.  After swimming for a little bit we came upstairs for baths and a little more down time.


We then met everyone at Danna’s BBQ.  The food was really good and that was evident because you had to fight for a table.  Afterwards, traffic was pretty bad so it took us awhile to get to the custard place and since we had a little bit of time before the Titanic crew made it, we decided to do go-carts.  It was quite the ordeal finding go-carts that everyone could do-height and age requirements on different ones.  Reagan could ride the kiddie carts by herself and she chose to do this but since Robby miscounted she was able to ride the grown-up carts too.


To ride the go carts with another adult, you have to be 36 inches tall.  Remember, Graham is only 35 inches.  We thought that we should try it-otherwise he was going to have a huge meltdown.  Robby stood in line with him and as they opened the gate, Robby held Graham’s hand so high up that Graham’s toes were barely touching the ground as they high-tailed it to the first go cart that could find to sit down in.  Graham was ecstatic and I was relieved that he could do them.  On the pictures, you can barely see the top of Graham’s head but every time they passed us he was grinning from ear to ear.


Next up, I took Anderson and Robby took Reagan (her bonus ride since Robby bought too many tickets).  Les and Shelley each took Lilly and Cash on this ride.  Anderson was a little upset that he didn’t get to steer but he had soon forgotten about it and was telling me how to drive.  Twice we were bumped and he kept asking me “why did you do that?” and one time he even yelled “brake, brake.”  We had a slow car so we barely kept up with Robby and Reagan.  Reagan kept looking back for us and wanted to make sure that they were the winners.


After our rides were over, we walked over to let Reagan ride her go cart ride.  Robby had talked to her about the gas and brake and didn’t know if she understood.  When the cars started and she put her foot on the gas, she sped forward which made her head jerk.  She looked startled and then had this look like “wow, I am really driving this thing.”  She did great and was quite the speed demon.  Reagan managed to wave at us each turn and during a few of those waves, we would end up yelling “watch where you are going!”


Next up was a short walk to the custard place.  Robby and I didn’t split one tonight and we should have but it was still delicious (even though I don’t want ice cream now for a long time-stuffed).  The kids ate most of theirs but they seemed more interested in drinking and holding their own water cups.  After ice cream, we were back in the hotel and getting ready for bed.  It seems that everyone is asleep now and we are about to follow them.

Branson: July 16, 2010

Highlights from today: (click here for pictures)


We all slept very well last night-even though Polka Dot (Campbell) woke up at 12 and 3.  Every time she would wake up, I would hear Graham roll over and hold my breath that he didn’t wake up too.  But he slept through the night and was ready to go in the morning.


We ate our pop tarts and granola bars for breakfast and then met the rest of the family to head to Silver Dollar City.  It was a hot, hot day but we managed and stayed….well, we just stayed hot.  The lines were short so after our family photo, we walked to the kiddie section.  The kids loved the frogs and ladybugs.  Next stop was the swings and Graham had to watch this one since he isn’t tall enough.  The next few rides (roller coaster, boat, and teacups) Graham had to watch too but Reagan and Anderson enjoyed.  Grannymom did sneak Graham on the Dumbo ride and Robby took him back to the ladybugs to ride.


Soon we met back up and had some lemonade and lunch.  After lunch, we hit up the Fire in the Hole and a boat ride.  On the Fire in the Hole Anderson rode with Grannymom.  He made sure that Grannymom understood that she would be okay because he was right there beside her.  Graham could do the boat ride and it didn’t seem to bother him that it was quite scary.  Campbell was a trooper and braved the heat well.  Grannymom did take her to see a show so they could cool off.  And when Grannymom was starting to change Campbell’s diaper-she was surprised to find that she didn’t have the diaper bag with her…they survived though.


Anderson loves Zach and is constantly picking on him.  I guess he is trying to get Zach to notice him.  He doesn’t have a clue that when Zach, who is a good foot taller than him, gets fed up with Anderson’s picking he will be the underdog.  It is kind of weird-Anderson is usually pretty calm but with Zach he is doing karate kicks out on the sidewalk.  Anyway, Les and Dana and their crews stayed back to ride a few more big rides and we headed back to catch the trolley for our car.  On the way out, Anderson saw a wooden tractor that he just had to ride on and that was probably the highlight of his day.  Back at the hotel the kids were more than willing to change into their bathing suits…and man, can they move quick if you mention swimming,


The lazy river was the first stop and it was anything but lazy this afternoon.  Grannymom and Campbell set out since it was a little chilly.  But the rest of us just sped around-Reagan loved it (but she would still scream each time we came to the buckets of water that would fall on your head)  Graham loved it too-he doesn’t need any help and would just spin around as the current carried him.  Whenever you think you need to grab him, he just looks at you like what did you do that for?  He has no fear.  Next we played downstairs in the kiddie pool with the smaller slides.  Graham is scraping his knees up in this pool because he doesn’t walk, he just floats-and it is only a foot deep.  Campbell is loving to kick in the pool-Anderson did commandeer her and her floatee today and push her up the kiddie slide and then slide her back down while telling her “wheeee.”  I tried to get on to him but Campbell was grinning at him, saying “yea” and trying to clap.       


Soon Campbell was about to fall asleep again so we went upstairs for baths and a rest.  Baths were quick and then rest time came along-the girls were the only ones that went to sleep.  The boys are sitting in the floor playing cars (not to quietly).  We made it downstairs in time for the kids to play in the game room for a few minutes-it was a sight to see all 7 cousins (minus Campbell) lined up “playing” video games-only a few of them were actually playing the games.


Supper was at Branson Landing-it took awhile to arrive and when we did, we found the very last, farthest away parking spot.  The weather had cooled off and it was almost breezy this evening.  We listened to the band, touched the fountain, ate supper at a pizza place and did a little strolling.  Anderson ate an entire grilled cheese, Graham finished a 1/2 and Reagan only picked at her.  She said her stomach hurt which is her new way to get out of things.  This morning Dad was worried that she had fever (Mom didn’t think so) and tonight Mom was worried that Reagan had fever (Dad and the thermometer didn’t think so).  Amber had said that Campbell was contagious and the other kids might catch her virus so we keep expecting that to happen.  Hopefully, Reagan won’t get it because she would be freaked out if she looked like Campbell.  By the way, Spotty Dotty is looking a little bit better (maybe).


At supper, we discussed our favorite rides-Reagan’s favorite was the frogs and Anderson loved the target one.  So I guess that is the main goal for tomorrow-the frogs and the targets.  I think that is fairly doable too.  Riding has been fairly tricky today and we have needed all the help we can get-Reagan and Anderson are just short enough they need an adult with each of them, Graham is too short for those rides and can only ride a few and Campbell can’t ride much of anything.  Actually, Graham can only ride on the rides that Campbell can ride on. 


We managed to find the playground at the Landing and since Reagan had brought her purse, she was ready to ride on the little rides by the playground.  Robby did pay for the rides so she didn’t have to use her money but at the end, Robby needed to borrow some money and Reagan wasn’t going to “loan” him any-she didn’t know what “loan” meant.  Once she understood he would pay her back, she was about to when Grandpa came through for her.  We made a quick loop through the Disney Store-all 4 stayed in their buggies so it was a very quick loop.


Next, we trekked back to the car.  On the way, Anderson said that he was tired-hmm, Mom and Dad were the ones pushing the stroller.  It was about 9:30 then and we had one more stop to make.  Andy’s Frozen Custard down on the strip.  By the time we arrived, we had 4 kiddos asleep in the back.  Possible one of those was a faker (Reagan) but she was pretty convincing if she was just fooling us.  Everyone but Graham woke up for the custard and they thought it was as good as ours.  Anderson spotted the go-karts and I promised him that we would do that before he grows up. 


Back at the hotel, Graham finally woke up on the elevator ride to the room.  When we got in the room, he just laid in the floor.  We quickly got him in bed and started working on the other crew.  They are now fast asleep and thinking about all of the fun we will have tomorrow.  Meanwhile, Mom and Dad are stewing because we thought we had left the camera in the room tonight (the reason we don’t have any evening pictures) but when we go to look for it in the room we can’t find it.  Finally, Dad remembers where it is-in the pocket of one of the strollers.  Which meant we had it all along tonight right in front of us.  Oh well, there is always tomorrow night!…we might just do the same things again (especially the custard part).

Branson: July 15, 2010

Highlights from today: (click here for pictures)


We woke up fairly slowly this morning and Robby worked on his work and packing a few last minute cords while the rest of us stayed in bed.  The kids were soon ready to put on their clothes when they realized that today was trip day.  Tara made everyone pb and j sandwiches and fed Campbell some applesauce before we left.  As we were about to leave, Dad remembered the wedding cake.  Since it was our 10 year anniversary, we all had to have a piece.  After saving some for our 50th anniversary, we put the kids in the car.  Since we hadn’t loaded the car, they had their sandwiches and watched a movie while we packed up.


We only had one bathroom stop, one snack stop and one lunch stop and were in Branson before 2.  On our way, I talked to Amber and she said that Campbell just has a virus and her spots will go away soon.  We sure hope so-cause she is pretty striking to look at with a zillion bumps on her.  As we crossed into Missouri, Campbell crossed this state off of her list and now only has to go 43 more. 


Even Graham was so excited when he saw the water park and everyone could not wait to get on their swimsuits.  Only 1 room was ready, so it took everyone awhile to change but they waited patiently and then off we went.  It is indoors so we don’t have to worry about sunscreen or the rain (which it did plenty this afternoon)


The first thing we did was the lazy river.  We put the kids in the inner tubes and Reagan was scared to death and left in tears.  Then we went downstairs for the small slides and sprinkler area.  They loved it-absolutely loved it.  Campbell kicked and kicked until she finally fell asleep in her floatie.  Anderson did gash open his chin-pretty good little cut.  He is so tough he didn’t even cry and Tara has it all bandaged up so maybe it won’t leave a scar. 


After we had exhausted the small slides, we went back upstairs to the lazy river.  We didn’t do the inner tubes and this time they loved it.  Reagan would float around it, Anderson would run around it and Graham went around a zillion times.  He would go so fast that you would have to run practically to keep up with him.  When it neared supper time, we took baths and met the family downstairs.


We had supper at Mel’s Hard Luck Diner and the kids enjoyed watching the people sing.  Reagan and Anderson sat with the big kids and Graham and Campbell sat with us.  Graham spent most of his meal flirting with the lady behind us.  After supper, everyone (and I do mean everyone) shared our dessert with us.  Even then, there were some leftovers. 


The rain had started back while we were eating and it was pretty messy getting to the hotel tonight.  The kids played in Grannymom’s room for a few minutes and then it was time for bed.  Now the debate will be who gets to sleep on the top bunk.