Dennie Kids: March 31, 2011

1, 2, 3, 4 and soon to be 5!
Highlights from today: (click here for pictures)
  • Back in the routine this morning-Dad said he would rather be hauling suitcases around than getting ready to go to school and work. Reagan, Anderson and Campbell did great but Graham did about the same as last time he went to school.
  • Mom and Dad had their second secret meeting at the doctor’s office-Baby 5 will arrive in September.  The heart beat was 154 beats per minute today so they decided it was finally time to tell the news
  • Grannymom picked Reagan and Anderson up and Mom picked up the little ones in the rain.  Mom even made a stop which involved everyone getting out-which Graham and Campbell loved getting wet. 
  • We all played at Grannymom’s for a while and then headed home.  Mom cleaned while Campbell napped, Reagan played dollhouse and Graham and Anderson played cars and football
  • Soon Dad was on his way home and it was time to put on our matching red shirts to tell ours news. They said Team Dennie since we will now be able to have our own basketball team.  The kids couldn’t understand the concept that Reagan had number 1 because she was the first child and so on.  They thought it should match their ages. 
  • Grannymom and Grandpa were the first ones to hear the news.  They were excited and then we headed home for a few minutes while waiting on Nonna and Pops to get home.  Pops started working on unloading our van and didn’t noticed the 6 matching shirts.  But Reagan was quick to show off the baby’s shirt and then we told Nonna, who was quite surprised as well.
  • Mom left for Bunko and soon everyone else headed home.  After supper everyone went to bed-Reagan and Anderson were pretty wound up and had Dad come upstairs a few times.  But school days just tire everyone out so it didn’t take too long for them to all fall asleep.

Dennie Kids: March 30, 2011

Snack Time!
Highlights from today: (click here for pictures)
  • Graham and Anderson woke up around 6:30 which was really 7:30 to their Eastern time zone selves.  The kids were ready to get downstairs and play with their toys but I made them help me unload a laundry basket full of trip stuff.  It takes a lot longer to tell everyone exactly what to do but it sure is a lot easier
  • Once we made it downstairs, they started playing with their new toys from last night.  It is surprising how much fun they can have with Happy Meal toys.  I think it is great that they don’t have a clue that Happy Meals come with toys-we always sneak them out before they get their food.
  • Dad came home and Grannymom and Grandpa ended up coming over to stay with us while Mom took Dad back to work.  His car was left at work when we went on our trip.  Back at home, Grannymom and Grandpa left and soon it was nap time.
  • Anderson and Reagan played for awhile and then Mom made them lay down-and Anderson fell sound asleep.  Around 4:30, we all started eating supper.  Their choices were pancake on a stick or peanut butter and jelly waffle-Reagan picked the pancake, then changed her mind as it was delivered to her (too late) and as she was whining about eating she said she didn’t like corn dogs.  Graham shouted back at her “it’s not a corn dog!”
  • Graham was Mom’s big boy today.  He wore big boy underwear all day long and didn’t have a single accident-except for during nap time but that doesn’t count.  He even stayed dry in his diaper at church tonight.  Potty training 101 here we come.
  • Soon it was church time and everyone loved their snack (squeeze yogurt) but Graham was so disappointed that Mom forgot to put his vest on.  He really thinks he is as old as Reagan and Anderson-and he knew his verse just as about as well
  • On our way home, we went to Sams to buy 12 cases of water.  The kids couldn’t get why the army men needed so much water but they were happy to help load it and help Dad push the cart.
  • As soon as we were home, it was time to get into bed-the kids are still tired from the trip and a bit fussy but a few more nights of good rest will help!

Still Cold in Ohio and Thunderstorms in Little Rock: March 29, 2011

Now that's a BIG basket!
Highlights from today: (click here for pictures)

The alarm clock went off pretty early this morning but we quickly turned it off because we hadn’t set it.  We managed to sleep until 8:30 and could have slept longer but Anderson had to go to the bathroom.  Even though we had consolidated most of our bags, we still had a full luggage cart to haul downstairs and squish into the van. 
Our hotel was right by the Columbus airport and we could see the planes landing.  The boys did not understand why it took me so long to find it (about 3 hours).  They thought that I was truly lost and couldn’t understand we were heading back to Pittsburgh.  I drove for a bit while Robby did some work.  We were near another McDonalds and partook one last time (before coming home to be healthy-ha!)
I had packed all of the kids toys and we were going to just rely on their movies to keep them entertained.  But of course, one of the movie players didn’t work today so they were pretty wound up the whole ride to the airport.  We did find a stop-the huge Longaberger basket building.  We even drove a few extra miles to go to the gift shop but it sure looked closed to us.  Oh, well, this diversion did lead us to a quaint little road that led us into Pennsylvania.
We finally stopped for lunch at Arbys.  Reagan had never had a roast beef sandwich and asked if they had “that kind of meat where we live.”  Graham devoured his and Anderson (who doesn’t eat lunch meat) did eat some of his-only to gain a few sips of Robby’s coke.  Back in the car, we headed on and soon made it to Pittsburgh.
Though, I did have a slight panic while I was driving-we were in the middle of no where and my gas gauge kept going closer and closer to empty.  It didn’t seem to bother Robby but I was so nervous I was gripping the steering wheel scanning the horizon for gas stations.  We found one in plenty of time but seriously, it was pretty remote driving.
We returned our car and loaded everything up about 2:30 for our 4’o’clock flight.  Security was a breeze-oh, the kids are really good at it and when they tested Campbell’s milk I didn’t have to go and open it for them.  That was very nice for me since I usually have to open up each cup and while chaos is going on behind me with kids grabbing bags and shoes without me around. 
We made it to the gate and saw that our flight was going to be delayed by an hour.  It was fine and gave us a few minutes to color a few pictures.  Graham has become quite the colorer and Anderson had become quite the writer.  He is nearing being able to write his name.  This extra time gave Reagan and I a chance to work on tying her shoes.
Anderson had to sit by a stranger on the flight.  He was right in front of Robby and did great (even though I was worried that he might get sick).  It was a short flight and even though we took off late, we still had plenty of time to make it to the gate.  Even though we had to take a bus to the terminal we still had time to find supper.  Of course, Campbell fell asleep as we waited on our next plane.
Reagan sat across the row from me, Anderson and Campbell on this flight and eventually Anderson moved to an empty seat across from Robby.  Campbell tossed, turned, climbed, crawled and moved around for 2 and a half hours.  Once Anderson moved, I buckled her up as tight as I could.  She was not pleased but just whined for a bit and then fell asleep. 
The pilot came on when we were near Little Rock and said it would be a pretty bumpy ride down and Robby and I both located the air sickness bags for Anderson just in case.  The flight was very smooth with only a few bumps so we were pleased.  We were in clouds for awhile and the kids really noticed all of the lights reflecting in the clouds.  They wanted to know what that light was and then asked if the pilot could see through the clouds and we had to explain how they used their instruments to fly.
As soon as we landed, Anderson shouted “glad we landed, I was about to throw up”-he wasn’t. But the lady in front of him jumped quickly to locate a bag before Dad waved her off.  He does get air sick a bit but he was fine.  Robby and I shuushed him and will have to talk about being quieter.  Anderson talked the entire trip-he wasn’t loud, he just chatted the whole way.  It was a good trip but the kids were exhausted when we finally made it home.

Breezy in Indianapolis: March 28, 2011

An Indy 500 Lap & a Smile!
Highlights from today: (click here for pictures)

We started the morning by waking up in Indianapolis.  Graham was the first one up and climbed into bed with me.  I rubbed his back until he fell back asleep-actually, I would stop and he would insist that I kept “tickling his back.”  I am not really sure who fell back asleep first but when I woke up, I was almost laying on top of the boy. 
The kids were pretty quick to get around and put their clothes on.  They had their breakfast snack and then had their bonus breakfast of pancakes.  It seems like all of our hotels have been right near a McDonalds and last nights was the same-well, I guess it was the next exit.  Maybe tonight’s hotel is near a McDonalds.  See I told you I can’t remember details like that. 
They really love the McDonald’s pancakes.  Seriously, they like them alot.  Unfortunately, when we made pancakes (for the first time) a  few weeks ago, they were nothing like the McDonald’s one.  Reagan even used the words “fluffy” to describe them today.  Our first stop this morning was the Indianapolis Motor Speedway-home of the Indy 500.
We bought out tickets and hurried to the bus because it was waiting on us.  Anderson finally was able to ride on his bus.  The bus took us around the speedway track and told us a little bit about it.  It didn’t go fast but to some little boys, it was the fastest bus they had ever been in.  Campbell enjoyed being out of her car seat and danced the whole time.  Reagan took it all in.  Graham is so funny whenever we are listening to someone talk.  Any word that he recognizes he will shout back at me or Robby “they said ‘ohio’” or “they said ‘racetrack’”-needless to say, he isn’t the quietest but he is listening. 
Back at the museum, we looked at the cars.  Reagan was delighted to find a pink one and had Robby take her picture by it.  She also wanted her picture by most of the cars-Robby finally had to say no more and she was not pleased.  He finally told her that he was “out of film”-which meant nothing to her because she has never heard the word film and was pretty funny to me since he can’t be out of film. 
We even were able to climb into a real race car and take our pictures.  When Graham got in, he just sat down and you couldn’t even see the top of his head.  Reagan was just as excited as the boys about this.  Campbell would have walked there-seriously, she was so anxious to get out of that stroller and to the car that she would have taken her first steps if I would have let her.  She also thought she was something else.  We even had a group shot made at the car-the kids all were looking at the camera and it is a cute picture.  Robby forgot to take a picture of it so you can see it but maybe he will tomorrow and I can’t seem to find a picture of baby Reagan when she was here last time. 
After we finished the speedway, we drove to the Indianapolis Children’s Museum.  There are huge dinosaurs outside and Reagan said that she wished we could stop there.  Robby said “well, ok” and they were shocked.  We had to park on the top floor of the parking deck and wondered about the large crowd.  Soon we found out that today is the first day of Spring Break in Indiana.  Yesterday, we probably could have had the place to ourselves but today it was wall to wall kids.  Though it wasn’t terribly bad-we were able to do what we wanted to do without too much of a wait.
As Robby waited in the line (probably 200 hundred people long), I waited with the kids.  Eventually, I told them “I see Daddy, he is getting close.”  A few minutes later Anderson said “I can’t wait to see Daddy’s new clothes?”  I replied “what?” and he said “you said he was getting ‘clothes.’”  Oh, I just want to keep them little forever.
Our first stop was the train area which was Anderson’s favorite part.  They had model trains to watch and others to look out, a train station area to play in and even a train to walk through.  Though the Thomas the train table attracted the kids-they wanted to play with that even though we have 3 times as many trains and track at home.  We then went upstairs to walk through the dinosaur exhibit.  Reagan and Anderson saw someone giving a talk and they pushed their way to the front and listened intently.  Then we all touched a real dinosaur bone and even dressed up like dinosaurs and sat in a nest. 
The next stop was the planetarium for a Big Bird and Elmo show.  Reagan and Anderson sat on the front row and the rest of us, sat a few rows back.  They showed the moon, sun, big dipper and north star.  It was cute-we all even sang Twinkle Twinkle.  Graham was all into it too.  Campbell on the other hand spent her time drinking her milk (even though no drinks were allowed) and crawling on the floor.  She didn’t seem to care to much about everything going on above her head.  Reagan said that the movie was her favorite part of the museum.
After the movie, we headed upstairs for lunch.  The admission prices were high (my trip splurge) but the food prices were crazy too.  But we ordered a pizza and everyone was happy and our budget was not blown.  While Robby got the pizza, I tried to find a spot to sit-imagine a room with 500 tables (all full), narrow tiny aisles and me pushing a double stroller through.  Yes, it was a nightmare.  But soon we found a table and all was well.  Campbell was tired and hungry and she let us know about it until Robby arrived with the food-fortunately though, it was so loud in that room that no one noticed and we didn’t really either.  I cut her pizza first and she had almost finished her whole slice by the time I started eating.
After lunch, we walked up the ramp to the 2nd floor and played in the Dora and Diego exhibit.  Lots of fun and a few moments of panic.  Robby had gone to the bathroom and we briefly lost Graham.  Brief-didn’t seem like it to me.  I had Reagan and Anderson stand by the buggy (with Campbell in it) while I looked for him.  He had just been beside me and then he was gone.  I walked around thinking he couldn’t have gone too far and I just couldn’t see him because of all of the kids.  When I turned back around-Reagan and Anderson weren’t by the buggy.  But out of the corner of my eye, I saw Reagan’s yellow shirt darting away.  I figured she had found Graham but now where was Anderson.  He was nearby the stroller playing of all things (while I am having a crisis) and I asked him where he was supposed to be and he said “oh, I forgot.”  Anyway, Reagan returned Graham and my blood pressure eventually went down.  I knew he wasn’t far-but still it is just a sinking feeling.  Reagan was the hero for the day.  Maybe I need to buy a leash or start dressing everyone the same.  I probably would have if I would have thought about it for today since it was so crazy.  Actually, how could a two year old stay in one place with so much to see and touch in that room….
So we left as soon as Robby returned.  We went to a room full of movie costumes.  Reagan thought the Wonder Woman costume was funny and after her bath tonight, she even tucked her panties into her shirt and said that she looked like Wonder Woman.  Then we went to Egypt for a walk around and even another room, that I can not remember what it was-it had desks and trees in the exhibit.
After all of this, we made it to the top floor and got into the line for the carousel.  While Robby waited, I took the kids through the mirror maze.  Poor Campbell was sleeping until right after Robby bought the tickets and then she woke up.  She missed the carousel and would have loved it.  She did like waving at the kids though as they passed-there was one happy one and two sad ones.  Not all of the horses went up and down.  Reagan and Anderson’s horses didn’t (we didn’t even know to look) so they were bummed out and Reagan was on the verge of tears.  But Graham was sitting behind them and his horse was going up and down and he was having a blast.  Each time they passed, Reagan looked pitiful, Anderson would yell “mine’s not working” and Graham would smile, wave and scream “hi, mommy.” 
After the carousel, everyone was made happy with the promise of coke and candy in the car.  But first we had one more stop-the Barbie exhibit.  Reagan could have looked at the dressed forever and played with the Barbie’s forever as well.  She really enjoyed this exhibit.  Up next, was a potty break and taking a few pictures outside of the dinosaurs. 
We then hit the road and drove the almost 3 hours from Indianapolis to Cleveland.  We stopped once for a big kid potty break.  Graham has been going potty most of the time on the trip but is often skittish about the potties.  I think he is afraid of pottying on the floor.  He has mentioned that a few times but I can usually convince him to go with me.  No diapers when we get home-somebody hold me to that!  
We made pretty good time considering that we were at the Children’s museum for over 4 hours.  It was still daylight when we made it to Columbus and we stopped by the capitol.  The kids could really tell the differences between the capitol and ours-this one doesn’t have a dome.  Kind of sad looking.  We then found a Skyline Chile to eat out. 
Graham had a hot dog (imagine), Reagan and Anderson had spaghetti with a mound of cheese on top, Robby had a chili dog and I had a chili potato.  They are known here for putting chili on their spaghetti but no one tried that tonight.  After we finished, we had about 6 more miles until our hotel.  It is also a very new hotel-kind of on the posh side and a big bathroom (yea for Campbell!)   It has bins and there are 6 of them so as soon as we walked in (and I mean as soon as we did) the kids were taking of their shoes and putting them in the bins.  Robby and I had to take off our shoes and put them in too.  Next the boys had their socks in their bins as well.  Somewhere they have learned to put their socks in their shoes and they do that all the time.  Makes me crazy because I usually find socks in shoes after I have started a load of clothes in the washer. 
Anyway, they all had a shower and then played for a few minutes while Robby tried to cram all of our stuff back into 3 suitcases.  Kind of hard when you have spread out across a whole minivan.  After playtime, it was bedtime and everyone went to sleep quickly except Graham.  After a few minutes of tossing a turning he came to me and said he was ready to get up.  He finally calmed (after about an hour) and fell asleep-glad we haven’t had to deal with that every night. 
The kids are sad about going home tomorrow but Anderson said “I miss all of the people that I know” so he is ready to get home.  Even though these hotels beds are umpteen times more comfortable than my bed at home, I think I might be ready to get home to my bed too and our next big project-changing the clothes out for the season and moving the boys into one room and the girls into another room.  Maybe next weekend or maybe the next or maybe we could just go on another trip.

Sun in Louisville: March 27, 2011

Batter Up in Louisville!
Highlights from today: (click here for pictures)

Hotel sleeping is good sleeping especially when everyone stirs at 8 and makes it all the way through the night without waking up.  How wonderful.  When we woke up, the first thing we did was look out the window and the ground was lightly dusted with snow.  It wasn’t on the roads or anything but it was pretty driving through the rolling hills of Kentucky from Lexington to Louisville. 
McDonalds was right next to our hotel and the kids were so excited.  Anderson said that we could “eat every meal there” and Reagan said that “we won’t even have to drive.”  We only had breakfast there and we did drive through because we needed to get on the road.  Yesterday, Campbell didn’t eat her pancakes so I gave her quite a bit less today thinking that maybe she was full from her milk, and today she ate every bit and signed more at me until I found her something else to eat. 
In the middle of the first part of our drive was the capitol of Kentucky: Frankfort.  We found it and jumped out for a quick photo.  Graham is now seeing capitols everywhere he looks-every church that he sees, he asks if it is the capitol. 
We made it to Louisville and were about 45 minutes early for the Louisville Slugger tour so we headed to Churchill Downs for the museum and tour.  The kids really got into this one and Reagan enjoyed seeing all of the hats.  She even tried on on like she did in 2004 (click here for that picture)  Of course the kids loved sitting on the horses pretending to be jockeys and Robby enjoyed placing bets on the horses.  The kids even got into the action-Reagan and Anderson’s horse one and they would have won a total of 60 cents and Graham would have only lost 2.40 compared to the whole 6 dollars that Robby and I would have lost.  I told them that I would take them to the races one day (sorry, Mom).  Maybe we can go to the Arkansas Derby and the girls can wear big hats.  Oh, Reagan would be in heaven. 
After we finished with the museum, we watched a movie in a circle theater.  Reagan and Anderson were in awe and Graham just wanted to know when we were going “to get out of here”-he doesn’t like anything loud or anything that he thinks will be loud.  Next up was a tour of the track and grandstand.  It was just a short tour but since it is cold out, we put on all of our jackets, hats for some and gloves for others.  But actually in the sun, it wasn’t that bad. 
Graham kept wanting to know where the horses were and about in the middle of the tour Anderson turned to me and said “when are we going on the tour?”  I replied that we were on the tour and he said “but I don’t see the bus.”  Guess he thought we were going on a bus-which is odd because I can’t really think of many tours that we have been on that have involved buses.  When the boys saw the track, they saw dirt and mud and would have given anything to get out on that track. 
After the tour, we went to see the horse in a stable nearby and watched the trainer give it a carrot and a few peppermints.  Who knew horses ate peppermints?  Then we went in the gift shop for Reagan to try on another hat and soon we were off to the next stop.
On our way to the Louisville Slugger tour we stopped at White Castle for hamburgers.  I thought the kids would like the little burgers-Campbell did, Anderson didn’t touch his, Reagan and Graham had a few bites-craziness, you just never know what they will eat from one day to the next.  Anyway, no one is starving so no worries.
We found a parking spot right across the street from the Slugger factory and headed in.  After a bathroom stop, we were in the museum looking at bats.  The boys really enjoyed seeing everything and I thought they really understood how the bats were made-but as we were walking to the car, Anderson said “this bat won’t break, it is made of metal.”  I tried to remind him of all of the pieces of wood he held, the pretend chain saw he pulled the trigger on or the logs that they touched. 
There was another movie which the kids did very good at.  They do want to ask alot of questions during movies-which is good except they don’t have a soft voice.  Reagan can use an inside voice and usually does but the boys have no volume control at all.  Anyway, next up was the tour-the kids were really into it.  The machines got their attention and they wanted to see everyone and see what it does.  You would have thought they were giving out gold when I told them they could take home a piece of the bat from their discard pile.  And when they passed out real bats at the end-oh, my!  That was the highlight of the day-of course, I didn’t let them hold them for very long (I’m not crazy-I want us to go home with no broken windows and all of our teeth).  Here is a picture of Anderson when he was here last time with his bat (click here for the picture) 
Last time we were here, we bought Anderson a bat and had his name put on it.  We did the same thing this time for Graham.  We only hope that we bought a bat similar in size since we can’t remember what Anderson’s looks like-I only get it down for birthday pinatas.  We told Graham that he was getting a bat like Anderson’s bat but he doesn’t understand that he will get another one in the mail and not just the free one that was handed out today.  Don’t feel sorry for the girls, they are going to get American Girl dolls from an American Girl store sometime soon.
Back in the car, we turned on a movie, passed out a snack and put the pedal to the medal to head to Indianapolis.  Robby and I spent most of our drive trying to find a neat place to eat supper (we did).  About half way here, we did see a Russell Stover sign and since we had promised the kids ice cream, we decided to stop there.  Once the kids saw all of the chocolate, the picked candy as their treat and Campbell screamed, yes screamed, until we handed her some.  We had our candy (and one of the workers commented on how well behaved the kids were-I told them that we hadn’t been there long enough and give us time).  Poor Reagan, couldn’t decide and wanted to know if the cookie was soft, the worker felt it and said yes.  But once we got it that cookies was hard as a rock-Reagan doesn’t like hard cookies.  She did like my oreo ball that I had picked out and left me with that hard old cookie. 
After we finished with our snacks, Robby let everyone pick out some candy from their leftover area.  That was our bribe for the rest of the evening that they could have 5 pieces of candy in the hotel tonight if they were good.  Of course, when we made it inside the hotel, we had left Reagan’s candy in the car.  Hers was different from the boys, but when I told her she could have 6 pieces of the boys for being so mature about things, she was delighted. 
Once we made it to Indianapolis, we headed to the Capitol.  Two in one day, one yesterday and another capitol tomorrow-man, we are getting around.  Next up was supper at our dive that we found: Mug and Bun.  It was a drive in but it also had inside seating.  We were the only ones in the place (actually, we ran everyone else off).  The kids really enjoyed the juke box.  Campbell now dances and waves her arms.  We were quite noisy but the kids had a blast.  It was just diner food with homemade root beer.  All Graham wants to eat on our trip is hot dogs and he eats them up-so that is what he gets. 
After supper, we headed to the hotel.  It is still in Indianapolis but it was about 20 miles away.  Remember it is free so it is worth it. Once we took our hotel exit, Robby saw a sign for Butler so we drove around their campus and took a picture with their bull dog.  We even drove past the governor’s mansion (Robby remembered the street from last time-he can remember everything like that. He has even saw a hotel we stayed at last time we were here.  The boys will be like him too, they can always find our hotel room and know which way to the elevator.  Meanwhile, I can’t remember the hotel we stayed at last night). 
Soon we were to our hotel and it is a swanky little place.  Nice big room and a tiny bathroom.  Where is Campbell?  Well, that pack n play is wedged in the bathroom.  I put her in bed, then I stepped into the shower, climbed over the potty and up onto the counter, then crawled to the door and squeezed out.   Silly huh but if she wasn’t in there, this whole room would still be up.  After they had their candy, they crashed.

Sleet in Lexington: March 26, 2011

Would you eat lunch here?
Highlights from today: (click here for pictures)

I woke up at 6 this morning and made a check around the room and everyone was still in their same spots that they had started off in.  That is pretty amazing for us.  Before long, the kids were going strong spinning each other in the desk chair.  This is usually a no-no but Robby and I were able to lay there for a few more minutes so we just let them spin away (I have bandaids so we were fine). 
We whispered to Graham that there was breakfast downstairs in the hotel and he was so excited.  You would have thought I had told him that Mickey was downstairs.  He told everyone else and then they all rushed to get their clothes on.  Robby and I had to scramble to catch up with them.  Breakfast was pretty good downstairs-they even had biscuits and lots of them.  West Virginians must really like their biscuits. 
After breakfast, we came back upstairs to load up and then drove to the capitol building.  The kids spotted it right away and were able to tell us some differences between their capitol and ours.  The main difference that I could think of was that it was not 32 degrees at our capitol building.  That didn’t stop us and we took off on a walk around the grounds.  The governor’s mansion was right next door and the boys did not understand why we could not go in.  I tried to explain that he was probably drinking his coffee and wearing his pajamas.  But this turned into lots of comments about the governor and his “underpants.” 
Next we walked in front of the capitol and up the steps.  Later during the day, Graham asked why we didn’t go into that “cap-i-da-ba-tol building.”  We made it back to the car quickly and headed on our way out of West Virginia and towards Kentucky (a new state for Campbell and Graham).  Just before we hit Kentucky though, we headed to Lesage, West Virginia-home of Hillbilly Hot Dogs.  I had read about it on the internet and it was worth the stop.  This place was something to see-the inside and outside was filled with antiques/junk.  The kids eyes were incredible big the whole time as they ate their hot dogs.  I had a taco dog: hot dog, salsa, sour cream, lettuce, tomatoes, tortilla chips and probably some other stuff too.  Robby had some type of hot dog with barbeque on it. 
After a potty stop (in an unheated restroom-brrr-we made it quick), we were back in the car.  I drove most of the way-until the last 20 miles and then the cloudy weather finally got to me and I needed a quick nap. Robby took over and when I opened my eyes we were at the hotel.  Our plan had been to go to the Kentucky Horse Park but since it is so cold and cloudy (if they sun had been out, we would have been fine but no sun means really, really cold).  Since 3 is a little bit early to call it a night, we unpacked and then headed out again.
We drove around Rupp Arena and then went to Thoroughbred Park.  When we were here last time, Reagan was little bitty and she fed the horse statues grass.  This time, she wanted to ride them.  Campbell became pretty good at saying “neigh neigh” by the time that we left.  Graham was happy to ride them too but Anderson did not want to get on top of one at all.  He is my kind of kid-likes his feet on the ground!
We then drove to an Italian place to check out for supper but it looked similar to Macaroni Grill.  So we opted to just eat at our next stop: the mall.  Imagine going to our mall on a Saturday night-well, it was nothing like that.  There were lots and lots of people…and everyone but us was wearing blue.  It was crazy crowded in the mall.  We went in on one side and had to walk the length of the mall to find the food court.  The kids had sonic, Robby had a Cincinnati style burrito and I had Chinese. 
There was a little playground that they enjoyed playing in a for a few minutes.  Graham was so thoughtful, he run up to us (we were standing by the playground entrance) and he told us that there were couches inside for us to sit on.  Sweet baby.  After playing, we headed back to the hotel.  I had seen that it had started raining but as we made it to the car, it wasn’t rain anymore-it was sleet.  Near our hotel, some of the grass was already being covered.  They do expect no accumulation and it will be well able freezing tomorrow so we should be fine.  We did buy another gallon of milk though just in case (and because we were out-milk is 2 dollars here-maybe I should buy some and bring it home). 
Once we made it to the hotel room, everyone decided they wanted a bath.  So they all played in the tub for a bit until there was more water on the floor than in the tub.  After baths, they all ate their peppermints from sonic, had milk and went to bed.  Tomorrow is Lexington and Cincinnati.  

Cloudy in Charleston: March 25, 2011

Future Hall of Famers!
Highlights from today: (click here for pictures)

Our bed switcheroo continued last night.  Graham climbed in bed with us, Robby left, Graham followed Robby, Anderson woke up and wanted to move to a new spot, I tried to convince him to get in bed with me, he declined and I moved him, Graham sat on the floor by Anderson and talked to him, Campbell screamed and calmed when I laid her down and gave her her paci, Reagan talked to the boys, Graham got in my bed and then we finished the night.  All of that happened in about a span of an hour.  Surprisingly, every night we wake up feeling refreshed and rested.
Sometime in the middle of the night, Anderson said “Mom, tell Daddy to stop snoring.”  I asked him about it this morning and he said that Robby sounded like a tiger and he didn’t like it.  Poor baby, if I would have known he was scared, I would kicked Robby harder. 
We again had our breakfast in the room and stopped at a McDonalds for a “bonus breakfast.”  Food makes them happy in the car and they eat and eat and it is quiet, quiet-at least for a few minutes.  We only had about an hour drive to Canton and the Pro Football Hall of Fame.  It was a pretty impressive place.  Anderson was really thinking that we were going to get to go to a football game so he was a bit disappointed.  They loved grabbing at the hologram of the Hall of Fame ring and seeing the trophy.  The boys even liked sitting down and watching a movie-they were upset when Robby said that it was time to go.  It is funny what they are interested in. 
After looking at the Hall of Fame bronze busts and worker outside gave as a long explanation of how they were made.  The kids stood there and listened to him-even though I am sure they understood very little about what he was talking about (I really didn’t understand that much).  But the favorite part of the museum was throwing a football at the end.  And outside, there was a little football field that we ran off some energy on.  They boys were disappointed that we didn’t have a football-well, we had just bought one but I wouldn’t let them use it….
Robby had looked around the gift shop for an ornament and found a tiny little squishy football that would work.  He gave me a 5 dollar bill and I went to buy it-we were expecting that little thing to be 2 or 3 dollars.  I had to ask him for 29 cents and he thought I was telling him it was only 29 cents-so he said in front of the cashier “let’s get 4 more.”  I immediately started shouting “no, no.”  Now we have a very memorable ornament for the tree-funny!
We then got back in the car and headed to the National Museum of First Ladies.  We found a meter and parked, unloaded everyone, walked down the block and Robby and the kids walked up the steps to check it out while I wanted on the sidewalk with Campbell.  They quickly came back down-they were only giving tours and they were an hour and a half.  Robby wisely decided that we would pass.  The kids were so upset-Reagan had heard there would be dresses of the first ladies inside.  Anyway, we couldn’t get them to understand that we would have to listen to some one as long as 3 of their movies.  Though, they could have probably done it after listening to the man’s long explanation of the bronze heads. 
Lunch was next at Kennedy’s BBQ and as we drove up, it looked closed.  The sign said open but we were the only car in the lot so Robby double checked with me about where I had seen this.  We hoped that it was empty because it is lent and went on in.  The kids were able to sit at the bar area and had grilled cheese while we each at bbq sandwiches.  I guess up North, the bbq is different than ours (I like ours much better).  Mine was unique though because they have a slaw/relish that they put on top of the meat (no sauce either).  It was like a combination of slaw, hot dog relish and spicy mustard.  Not too bad.  We drove by McKinley’s tomb and memorial-quite impressive but not worth everyone getting out but worthy of a picture stop.
We left Canton and headed down south towards West Virginia (Reagan’s 40th state).  It was about a 2+ hour drive until our first stop.  With a full tummy, warm sun and afternoon driving Robby was immediately sleepy so I had to drive for a bit.  Everyone else dozed but Anderson spent his time talking to me.  We looked for animals and had to say the letter “O” when ever we found one.  Once, I had seen a large herd of cows and started saying “o, o, o, o” and Robby jumped up and shouted “what? what?”  All was well though and soon we found a McDonalds for a snack and potty break. 
We had our ice cream and while Robby was buying it, some one commented on how smiley Campbell was.  She was pretty smiley until I tried to take my shake back from her and then she just got down right mean!  Robby found a covered bridge to see on the way to Charleston and I had found the address-at least I thought I had.  Let’s just say, that we got off the interstate, drove down a highway, turned on a road which led to a gravel road and then it led to dirt road and after a few miles of dirt road driving, we decided to turn around. 
We did see the true West Virginia though.  Pretty land but probably very poor hardworking people- I waved at many of them as we drove right past their house.  They were probably looking at us thinking “those darn GPS’s aren’t good for anything.”  Anyway, once we gave up, the GPS took us out a different way and we sure couldn’t believe it when we saw that covered bridge on our way out (just a quarter of a mile from the highway).  We stopped and took pictures and Reagan and Anderson thought they were something else running through the bridge.  Graham just kept asking “how are we going to get out of here?”-kind of an odd question but he is full of odd words lately.  He will just start shouting “pig sooie, go hogs” or will ask the same questions 70 times in a row.  Funny boy!
We only had about 40 miles to go until we made it to Charleston and we quickly found our hotel.  There wasn’t any where to buy supper nearby so Robby turned back around and headed downtown.  We had seen a sign for “Biscuit World” and decided to drive by but thought we would still end up at the Wendy’s we had seen.  Anyway, we took a gamble and went through the drive through. 
We stopped and looked at the menu board.  Then the lady asked Robby to pull to the window because she hadn’t heard anything he had said.  He replied back that he hadn’t said anything and was just reading the menu.  She replied back “well, take your time hon.”  I got tickled at this but it only got worse.  Robby then asked if they served breakfast all day (which we probably should have known the answer to since the place is called Biscuit World).  The lady said “of course babe.”  Robby said “This is all new to me, I have never been to West Virginia” and the lady said “Well, welcome to West Virginia, honey”  By now, I am laughing hysterically-so hard that Campbell is imitating me.  Anyway, we ordered and ordered way too much (all of this hon and baby talk had gotten Robby nervous).  When the lady brought us our food, she said told Robby “here is your food honey.” 
Back at our hotel, we needed to do laundry and needed to do it badly so before we ate, we made the kids all take a shower.  Luckily I had one pair of clean pajamas left for everyone but Graham.  Robby had bought a shirt the other day and it fit nicely on him but he is quite concerned with getting his pants.  They all played with their toys in the shower until Campbell … well, Campbell went to the bathroom and this cause quite a commotion.  Robby was out putting the laundry in the washer so I cleaned that while Reagan watched Campbell.  They were able to play for a few more minutes until it was too noisy and they had to get out. 
Everyone dried off and then sat on the bed for our biscuit supper.  Mine was a BLT biscuit, Robby had a pepperoni biscuit, there was a sausage and egg biscuit for the kids and even a biscuit with a hash brown on it.  After supper, we did have a cookie and soon Campbell we getting fussy.  This is our smallest hotel room and Campbell just barely fits in the bathroom (if she didn’t fit there, we would have had to put her in the hallway-seriously)  Soon everyone was asleep and they were probably wondering about what tomorrow will bring.  Robby and I have 2 loads of laundry to do-after it all dries.  Wonder how long that will take?  Can’t wear damp jeans when it is 18 degrees outside (as it was this morning when we left the hotel)

Snow in Cleveland: March 24, 2011

A little bit of Rock and Roll!
Highlights from today: (click here for pictures)

Man, there is just something about sleeping in a hotel room.  The room is always so dark that you could just sleep all day-well, we didn’t but felt like we could have.  We really didn’t even stir until 8:30ish.  Only 1/2 of us woke up in the same place that we went to sleep.  Around midnight, Anderson was up so I climbed in the other bed with him and when we woke up, Graham was in the other bed with Robby.  Graham said that he got in the bed by himself.  No one heard him and I guess that he didn’t step on Reagan while getting in the bed.  He must have checked the bed I was in because he knew I was in the other bed.  Sometimes I wonder what happens in this room at night while we are sleeping.  Though, I will mention that sleeping with Anderson is about as bed as holding Campbell on the plane-his feet were on me, on the pillow, hanging off the bed and draped over me at one time.  Craziness.  No wonder he still sleeps with a bed rail at home-poor boy though, tonight he is right up against a well.  Would you like to bet about how many times he will bump his head tonight?
The kids had breakfast while we finished getting ready and while we loaded up the luggage cart.  When we walked outside, they were so excited: the van was covered in snow.  Actually, it was just a very light dusting but to them it was mounds of it.  They watched as Robby scrapped the snow off of the windshield with the brushes that were in the rental car (which they have been using as swords).  Everyone though it was pretty hysterical watching him do this and Graham was very upset that his window was not properly cleaned.  It was spitting snow at us and we were a little afraid that we would really run into some snow but it had just been a light dusting all of the way to Cleveland.
After driving for a few miles, Robby stopped at a McDonalds for us breakfast and we even bought the kids some pancakes as a “second breakfast” as Anderson called it.  We only had about 2 hours to go but did end up having to take a bathroom stop-they have the nicest rest areas around-seems like they have the nicest rest areas everywhere but around Arkansas.  The kids ran off a little bit of steam and even picked out a brochure to look at.  Graham’s brochure must have made him think to ask Robby “Daddy, you like girls?”  He was looking at a zoo brochure and I might just be offended. 
On the way to Cleveland, we did see a snow plow and salt truck-that didn’t make us feel any better about that snow.  But we didn’t have much time to think about that, because ole Graham was sitting up front and he talked and talked and talked and talked.  Soon though we made it to a visitor center at Cuyahoga National Park.  It is near the Eerie canal area and on the weekends and when it is not flooded around here, there is a train going through the park-the kids would have loved it.  After the visitor center, we drove down to Brandywine Falls.  It was about a 1/4 mile walk on a boardwalk to view the waterfalls.  It was pretty deserted-except for a big old dog that followed us.  And if you remember Graham on Monday with April’s dog, you can only imagine what the walk was like.  He did okay, but there was some screaming and insistence on being held.  Reagan thought all of the dog business was fun and so did Anderson until that dog came up to him, he screamed and practically crawled on top of Graham to get in the buggy.  This caused Graham to shriek and try to climb out the back of the buggy.  Meanwhile, Campbell was just happily kicking her feet. 
The boardwalk had some leftover snow on it and the kids enjoyed grabbing icicles off of the rocks.  Not what most people are doing on spring break: walking through snow and knocking down icicles.  It was decent in the sun-still cold, but decent.  But in the shade it was bone chilling cold.  Never made it above freezing today.  Needless to say, we stayed in the car as much as we could.
After leaving Cuyahoga, we made our way to Cleveland and found a place to eat in Little Italy.  It was called Spizzillo’s Market.  It had 3 tiny tables and sold pizza by the slice.  Robby went in first to check it out and ordered us a whole pizza so we had to wait while they made it.  The tables were in the market area and Anderson must have just thought we were ordering from the shelves because he saw some pickles and requested them for lunch.  They were pleased with the huge pizza and 2 liter of coke.  The kids each ate 2 pieces.  The workers, the daughter and granddaughter of the original owner, couldn’t believe we had come from Arkansas to Cleveland for Spring Break.  It was a neat little stop and since there was a bakery right down the street, Prestis Bakery, we felt obliged to go and help stimulate the economy. 
It didn’t take too long for the kids to pick out pink bunny cookies and we picked out a fudge cookies and a turtle cookie.  They were good but they were no Carlo’s Bakery in Hoboken.  From there, we had a short walk back to the car and then a short drive into downtown Cleveland to the Rock and Roll Hall Fame.  It was right on the lake and it was cold-bitter cold. 
The admission price was crazy (we knew this going in) and it was about double what it was worth.  If you were a big music fan it might have been okay but since we aren’t and since half of the place was closed for renovation it didn’t take us to long to go through.  They had lots of peoples clothing from performances and Reagan asked me about everyone of them wanting to know if it was a girls clothes.  And unfortunately, most of them were not.  It was a good stop and the kids enjoyed hearing the music and seeing all of the guitars.  We did sit down to watch a movie and Campbell sat in her stroller and danced the entire time.
Back in the car, we drove by the Cleveland Brown’s stadium and then a few miles down the road was “A Christmas Story” movie house.  We stopped for a brief picture and then made our way to the hotel.  The hotel is right by the airport-literally right by the airport.  I am ducking every few minutes because of the planes (ha!).  The kids have enjoyed watching the planes and trains out of the window.  Robby and I said that we are pretty good at unloading the car at a hotel and can get it done quickly, but we can really get it done quick when it is below freezing outside. 
Since we were still pretty full from our pizza and bakery stop, we just snacked around here tonight.  The kids had their breakfast foods again along with some apples.  We then got baths and Skyped with Nonna and Pops.  They enjoyed seeing everyone and the kids enjoyed seeing them.  Though all of the kids were talking at once, so they probably didn’t hear anything that we said.  Campbell had only had 2 very brief naps in the car and Graham slept for maybe 5 minutes so bedtime went fairly well.  Though I think Campbell is still up since we hear her moving but everyone else is asleep.  Now, we have to plan for tomorrow and hopefully it will be a tiny bit warmer.

Hail in Pittsburgh: March 23, 2011

Home of the Steelers!
Highlights from today: (click here for pictures)

Graham was the first one that stirred this morning and since the clock was unplugged we don’t know what time it was.  He climbed in bed with me and Robby climbed out.  Soon though, Graham was getting out of my bed and climbing into Robby’s bed.  We finally started stirring around 8:45.  There isn’t a breakfast at this hotel (Robby booked all of this trips hotels for free-yep, everyone ended up being free thanks to opening up a credit card-which we won’t ever use). 
The kids were pretty hungry so they moved pretty quickly getting ready.  Since we are in the same hotel tonight, we didn’t have to do too much loading up-other than the stroller, diaper bag, extra bag, food bag, ice chest, coat bag, toys and the kids backpacks (that we won’t need until the plane trip home).  Okay, we had to do a lot of loading up this morning and we also had to get the movie player installed.  I didn’t turn on the power to the something or other and it did cause a panic when the back seat movie thing wouldn’t come on.  Robby was minutes away from Walmart to buy another one when I discovered that there was a power switch. 
About an exit down the road was a McDonalds.  The kids eat the big pancake breakfast-most of a pancake for everyone, along with some eggs, sausage and part of a biscuit.  Robby and I had the breakfast wraps.  While Robby’s wrap cooled off and while I passed out the food, he ran into Walmart to buy a few things.  He came back out with a cart full-cokes, juice boxes, apples, cookies, cereal, poptarts and milk.  Then we proceeded to unload everything, put it where it went in the car, open the milk and pour everyone a glass of milk.  We worked on his grocery cart for over 10 minutes and then realized that we were putting on a pretty good show for the lady sitting in her car across from us who was watching every move that we made.
From there, it didn’t take too long for us to get into Pittsburgh.  It is a nice little town that is built around 3 rivers.  Our first stop was Heinz Field-home of the Pittsburgh Steelers.  They also have a statue of Mr. Rogers (which we couldn’t find even though we walked past it but we did see it later from the car).  It was pretty chilly this morning but we still only needed one of our jackets.  We walked around the stadium and then down by the river near an old submarine and even took a picture by a triceratops at the science center.
The kids enjoyed the little walk and were happy about getting back in the warm car.  Our next adventure took us to the projects-I had typed in the wrong street name.  But we soon found the Andy Warhol museum.  We didn’t go in since it was pretty pricey and I want to save my pricey activities for later in the trip.  Anyway, Reagan did need a potty stop so we did duck in the gift shop and restroom.  I was hoping there would have been a Campbell’s soup picture hanging somewhere in the entrance that I could have gotten Campbell’s picture with.  But there wasn’t.
We had thought about going to the park in the middle of the three rivers but thought we better make sure the fountain was going since it had a fountain.  It wasn’t and when we saw the park later in the day from the funicular, it looks as if it had flooded and the sidewalks were covered with mud.  From our walk around Heinz Field, we could see bridges, trains and even a funicular.  Really, this city is a little boys dream.
We went to the Duquesne incline next.  We parked and then walked over the street using a pedestrian bridge and the kids just thought that was pretty awesome.  When we boarded the funicular, we were in the only ones on the car which was great because everyone could go from window to window looking around.  They were quite impressed with the ride.  On our way up, there was a little rain shower but it quickly disappeared.  Campbell must have thought that she had to sit down because each time I tried to stand her up so she could see out of the window, she would turn around and sit down.  Silly girl.
Once we made it to the top, Robby read all about it while the kids looked through a window and could see the gears pulling the next car up.  They thought that was really neat.  We even bought our first ornament of the trip and Anderson was just about as excited as I was.  We finally went down and went to the next stop. 
Robby had found a local joint named Primanti Bros. in the strip district.  We walked through a little farmer’s market to get there and the kids really wanted us to buy some food.  Guess they didn’t notice that most of it was vegetables.  We had apples in the car so we did pass.  Anyway, the restaurant was a neat place.  Just a quaint little hole in the wall: cash only, pay when the food comes, open 24 hours, no silverware or even plates.  They just brought the food out on wax paper and plopped it all down on the table.  On their sandwiches, they put the slaw and fries on the sandwich.  Kind of different. 
Before we left, we made a bathroom run and it was down a flight of stairs.  Reagan asked if we had been there before-she remembered going down stairs to go to a bathroom.  I finally realized that she remembered our pizza place in NYC.  It is something what they remember.  We had talked earlier in the day about riding in the Amish buggy 2 years ago.  She couldn’t remember that until I mentioned the whoopie pie and then she did recall that the buggy had a top on it. 
On our way back to the car, we found a bin of dollar t shirts.  So Robby grabbed a few to run in and a few for the kids.  By now the sun had come out and the weather was quite nice-needed a light coat but almost didn’t when the sun hit you.  We knew our next stop was a few miles down the road so we put in a movie and headed on.
North Huntingdon, PA has the McDonald's that invented the Big Mac and since we are such Big Mac lovers (not really-don’t think I have ever had one) we drove the 30 miles to get there.  It was something to do and since we have been to the home of KFC why not go to the home of the Big Mac and since we would get ice cream there that made it all the better.  It was mainly just a McDonalds with some memorabilia in it but it did have a play area and a huge big mac.  The kids all thought it was funny to take their pictures by the Big Mac. 
While we were there, the weather turned rainy and we were glad that we just had a drive back towards IKEA and the hotel planned.  We didn’t know how bad the weather was actually-about 20 miles from the Big Mac stop was a pretty bad tornado.  We had some rain and some tiny hail once, then it cleared and then we had more rain with some bigger hail.  The second hail storm caught the kids attention. 
The first few thuds from the third hailstorm caused me to turn around and see what the kids had done.  It wasn’t raining terribly but Robby soon said “it’s hail”  It was crazy loud when it hit the car-loud enough for the kids to yell “what is that?”  It was about a quarter size and I am sure the van has dents in it.  People were pulling off the road like mad headed under bridges (we didn’t stop-my Dad always said don’t pull over on the road-take an exit).  Anyway, the hail was so big that Robby was sure it was going to break the glass and had his hand up to protect himself if it broke.  I scooted back as far as I could in the seat.  The hail ended up covering the road.  There was lightening and thunder that kept the kids entertained.  It all didn’t last for more than 20 minutes but this made traffic horrible and our 30 mile drive turned into at least a 90 minute drive.
Since we needed supper and we had seen an IKEA by our morning McDonalds stop.  The IKEA was smaller than most but still pretty big.  Reagan and Anderson went to the play area.  Kids have to be potty trained to go and we thought about sneaking Graham in but thought we would be honest.  He did enjoy playing in the kiddie area-we only bought one thing but I am mentally making my list for when we drive back to Dallas.  Since it was near closing and in the middle of the week, the place was deserted.  This made for an enjoyable shopping trip-we had the place to ourselves.  After we finished, we ate some 50 cent hot dogs and a few pretzels on the way out. 
From there, we were back in the room in no times.  Graham didn’t really understand that we were going to be in the same hotel room and was quite surprised to see our stuff already in our room.  They colored for awhile (Campbell just ate the colors), then had some milk and we called it a night.  Since they had been up late last night, we decided to make this an early night and for awhile we wondered if it would work.  They tossed, turned, talked and then all of a sudden it was completely quiet and everyone was sound asleep.  Tomorrow is Cleveland-high of 31!

Spring Break 2011: March 22, 2011

Buggied Up and Ready to Go!
Highlights from today: (click here for pictures)

Graham was so excited this morning for it to be finally “trip day.”  When I told him, he asked “trip day?” and I agreed.  Then he ran to the bathroom to tell Robby.  Later when Anderson came in our room, he put his hands on Anderson’s face and said “trip day, Anderson, trip day.”  Anderson only wanted to know how long we would be on the airplane-I decided not to show him the map which might make him think the airplane ride would be too long.  (little rock to houston doesn’t look to bad but houston to pittsburgh looks pretty long).  He is fine on the planes but gets pretty bored-even though he seems content just to sit. 
Everyone put on clothes to wear to Grannymom’s house and when Mom went to find Campbell she was in the bathroom.  Campbell saw me, pointed to her diaper and then said “poop”-I was quite impressed.  She is quite brilliant!  We made breakfast but the boys were too anxious to eat at Grannymom’s house so we just took it all over there to eat.  The kids played while I did some last minute packing.  I know you are wondering the trip baggage totals so here they are:
  • 3 Suitcases (found out last night we don’t have to pay for our luggage-possibly how Robby bought the tickets)
  • 1 Pack N Play
  • 2 Double Strollers
  • 3 Kid Backpacks
  • 2 Grown Up Backpacks
  • 1 Extra Bag
  • 4 Car Seats
  • 4 Kids
When I finished my packing, I went to pick up the kids.  They are ready to leave on the trip immediately but still have a few hours before we finally leave.  Probably just enough time for me to add a thing or two to the bags.  I did have to make a big note for myself to remind me to bring Campbell’s milk and cup-I forgot them last trip. 
At Grannymom’s house, everyone did some playing outside and a bit inside.  Soon after we made it home, Pops showed up and stayed for a few minutes before heading back to work.  As soon as he drove off, Anderson turned with a pitiful face and said “I miss Pops already.”  Next Nonna arrived with a basket of fruit for lunch.  Reagan loved the oranges, Anderson like the apples, Campbell liked it all but especially the strawberries and Graham enjoyed the nutella on crackers.
Robby came home for a few minutes to help load up the car (and what a load it is).  While he was home, he put Graham down for a short nap since he seemed to be falling apart.  Campbell had to use her little pack n play since the other is packed but she still fell asleep pretty quickly.  Reagan, Anderson and Nonna busied themselves playing hide-n-seek in the front yard.  Soon I realized that it was time to get moving and we scrambled to get everyone dressed and in the car on time to pick up Grannymom and Grandpa (our airport chauffeurs).
After we picked them up, we headed to Robby’s office to pick him up and the kids were so excited they could hardly stand it.  They waited patiently (ha!) on Robby to come down and soon we were at the airport.  Security was a breeze-thanks to one TSA agent who hauled a ton of our bags for me while I was opening the liquids for them to test.  I should have had a gold star for him.  We had a few minutes before our flight so the kids colored and soon it was time to board.  We were in the very, very back of the plane.  Graham and Campbell sat with me and Reagan was across the aisle from us.  And Dad and Anderson sat in front of us.  Most of the plane ride to Houston was spent playing with our play-doh.  The kids could not understand why they did not give out snacks on this airplane (just like the can’t understand why none of our hotels have breakfasts).  They were delighted when I pulled out some crackers (even if they were well past the expiration date). 
Soon we landed in Houston and had to move quickly to our next gate.  I took Reagan, Anderson and Campbell to potty.  I had to use the restroom and when I walked out, I saw Anderson starting to drink out of a water bottle that was on the floor-does the boy have no sense?
When we left the bathroom, Robby rushed off in search of food.  He didn’t have too long because they were already boarding but since it was a huge plane, he made it back in time-but he did have to jog a bit.  While we were in line to board, an Amish lady was chatting me up about our group and I asked how many kids were with her and she said 12.  She has us beat and we won’t be catching up with her (but I didn’t tell her that).
We were again in the back-Robby and the boys were together and me, Reagan and Campbell were together.  Also on our row was an Al Roker type man before he had the gastric bypass.  We waited until we were in the air to eat supper.  Everyone must have been starving because they devoured their sandwiches and Campbell spent her time trying to grab everything and close Reagan’s tray table up (which included spilling all of Reagan’s food). 
Robby held Campbell for awhile but I did most of the time and holding her was like holding a slippery, wet fish the entire flight.  The only time she was still was when she was being octopus like trying to grab everything so she could see.  And it probably didn’t help that Al covered up his head with his blanket which Campbell thought was just a big game of peek a boo.  The boys went to sleep first, then Reagan and finally Campbell.  I struggled with her for awhile before she finally gave it up.  Once she did go to sleep, she was laying on top of Reagan and they were all twisted up (this delighted Reagan who can’t seem to get enough of her sister)
The flight was fairly bumpy and it didn’t help that we were in the back.  I am glad that Anderson went to sleep since he seems to get a little bit air sick.  I saw Robby turning the air on him during the first flight and I got the bag ready to grab just in case.  All was well though and when we finally landed in Pittsburgh, all 4 Dennie kids were asleep.  We stirred everyone and made it off the plane. 
Next up was picking up our suitcases and Graham kept telling me that he was going to tell Grandpa that he saw a dog at the airport.  I think he thought Grandpa was going to pick us up right then and there and that our trip was over.  Anderson said he enjoyed eating the cookie, Graham enjoyed eating on the plane and Reagan told me that she liked seeing the movie on the plane-we didn’t watch it but we could see it.  Robby found our suitcases without a problem and we used a cart along with some Anderson-power (he pushed a stroller) to walk across the street to the rental car.  It was so nice for Robby not to have to take a shuttle. 
It is pretty cool outside but we loaded up quickly and then had to wait on the GPS to figure out where we were.  Soon we were on our way to the hotel and were hoping to find a walgreens or something nearby to get some milk and cokes.  But the nearest is 10 miles so maybe in the morning.  We are at an airport hotel but seem to be in the middle of a new industrial area.  As soon as we made it in the room, the kids started laying out their sleeping bags.  After pajamas and some water, there are now 4 Dennie kids snoring.  It is after one here so we better get into bed soon as well. 

Dennie Kids: March 21, 2011

Highlights from today: (click here for pictures)

  • What a busy day this was.  Dad was up fairly early and Graham joined Mom in bed and he might possibly have gone back to sleep if Mom didn’t mention going to Jacob’s house.  Before long, everyone was up, watching movies, getting dressed and eating breakfast.  They were ready to get to Jacob and Ethan’s house.
  • The kids played and played upstairs at Jacob and Ethan’s house.  Campbell’s favorite was crawling in and out of the blow up tire.  Reagan enjoyed the duck game and playing with the ducks.  Anderson and Jacob busied themselves remaking his train track.  Graham and Ethan played well arranging cars on the race track.
  • We went downstairs and had a snack and then everyone went outside.  Mom stayed inside for a few minutes while everyone but Campbell were outside playing.  As soon as Mom came out, Graham started having a fit/meltdown.  Their dog (who was on a chain and no where near Graham) had started barking and Graham could not calm down.  He went inside for a spanking and tried to come out again but as soon as he saw the dog, he fell apart again. 
  • Soon it was time to leave and grab something to eat before meeting Grannymom, Lilly and Cash at the zoo.  Mom knew it would be crowded when she saw people parking at the park.  We circled and circled finally squeezing into an illegal spot.  Grannymom was saving our spot in line and soon we made it to the members entrance. 
  • It was crowded but not crazy.  Graham said that his favorite were the penguins.  Reagan probably liked the lorikeets and Anderson seemed to enjoy the naked mole rats (well, that is what he thanked God for in his prayer tonight).  Campbell stayed awake the entire time (despite missing her morning nap).  She would see an animal, sit up and point.  Sometimes she would even clap her hands. 
  • On our way home, Graham and Campbell fell asleep.  Graham stirred for some milk and movie with Reagan and Anderson while Campbell continued her nap.  Soon it was supper-grilled cheese-on the back deck.  And before long, Mom noticed everyone feeding their sandwiches to Belle-at least she had a good meal.
  • After supper, everyone swang outside until Graham did a face plant and stood up with dirt everywhere-hair, mouth, eyes.  He was soon fine but the others were very upset and worried about him.  Dad decided everyone needed baths so that was next on the agenda,
  • Mom came home from shopping with Nonna and then it was bedtime for everyone-and they were exhausted!

Dennie Kids: March 20, 2011

Pretty Princess!
Highlights from today: (click here for pictures)
  • Reagan was pretty upset that we weren’t going to stop for Cinna Minis.  Instead we had waffles and lots of syrup which led to Graham having to get a clean shirt and then as we put Campbell in the car, we discovered that she was caked in syrup.  This led to an outfit change in the garage
  • Graham’s man teacher was in his class and Graham walked right in and didn’t even look back at Dad.  Anderson loves Sunday school but was asking if Mr. Greg would be back today (Mom and Dad were there instead).  Campbell wasn’t too excited about going to her class but she didn’t make too much of a fuss.  Reagan had the best time in her class-seeing the chicks, having a snack outside, making a picture and seeing both brothers on the playground.
  • Lunch was at Nonna’s house and the kids ate some and then anxiously awaited dessert-Pops had told them they didn’t have any.  After eating, everyone played for a few minutes and then we headed home for a quick nap.
  • Reagan and Anderson rested and then got up.  Thankfully, they asked Mom to start them another movie and that woke her up (her alarm hadn’t gone off).  Everyone was able to quickly get ready, have a snack and we made it back to church on time.
  • At church, Anderson was on the playground and bumped his nose.  He said it didn’t hurt and he didn’t cry but it did start bleeding.  He said that he tried to hide but then went to tell his teacher to look at his nose.  He said that she said “OH MY!”  Apparently, it caused quite a panic and people even came looking for us (though they knew where we were).  Pops was summoned but all was well.  Anderson really could have cared less and it was no big deal to him. 
  • Back at home, we ate hamburgers, cut hair, gave showers, did two loads of clothes, cleaned the kitchen and living room, Mom packed most things for the kids, we changed into pajamas, Reagan got everyone’s clothes out for tomorrow, said prayers and went to bed (oh and Mom and Dad made some cinnamon rolls)  What a busy evening. 

Dennie Kids: March 19, 2011

Oh Happy Girl!
Highlights from today: (click here for pictures)
  • Reagan, Anderson and Graham spent the night with Nonna and Pops.  In the middle of the night, Nonna woke to see Reagan standing up.  Both boys had rolled and rolled until they had rolled right into her spot and were now sleeping in her spot.  She had no where to lay. 
  • Anderson said that Pops woke him up at 6 because he there was a lego movie on tv.  Graham said that Nonna woke him up but didn’t say when.  They had a big breakfast, played outside and sometime during the morning Anderson even had another bath. 
  • Campbell spent the night in Graham’s bed and Dad heard her talking for awhile before he got her.  He said she was just standing bouncing on the bed.  She still looked for everyone else this morning but soon decided being an only child was pretty good. 
  • Campbell had breakfast, had more breakfast while Mom and Dad worked on their pictures, had a snack and then laid her head on the table-so she had a quick nap before going out to eat.  Campbell had never been out to eat as the only kids and she was quite bored since there were no distractions.
  • Reagan, Anderson and Graham were eating lunch when Mom and Dad picked them up.  And before they had left, everyone was hot and sweaty again from swinging, sliding and riding bikes.  Anderson has gotten really well at riding his little bike-possibly too brave and too good-Mom needs to start making him wear a helmet!
  • We picked up a few things at Walmart-the boys convinced their Dad to but them toothpaste.  We had run out of their kiddie toothpaste and they demanded more.  When we made it home, Lilly was at our house waiting to show us her frog that she had found.  Everyone looked at the frog, played outside, had a snack and then went back outside.  Lilly stayed over for a few minutes and the kids colored and then went back outside.
  • Cash found out where Lilly was and he didn’t want to miss out, so he came by for a few minutes to play too.  As soon as they left, the neighbor asked Reagan if she could come over.  Reagan nodded her head and they were off.  Reagan jumped and jumped and jumped on their trampoline until Mom called her home. 
  • The neighbor didn’t mention the boys coming over, so Mom wouldn’t let them go and they were pretty devastated.  But milk, candy and movie calmed them down.  When, Mom called Reagan home, the neighbor came too and then everyone went back outside to play more.  They played until they were thirsty and needed a drink. 
  • Then the neighbor invited everyone back to her house and the boys were finally able to jump on the trampoline.  They jumped and jumped and when it was time to get down, the neighbor Momma had to hold Graham because he wanted no where near their dog. 
  • Finally, Mom called everyone home for supper and they ate and ate.  Playing all day long can make you exhausted.  Afterwards, everyone had bath, chocolate milk, movie and then went to bed.  Graham was so sleepy that he could hardly keep his eyes open during the movie.  Campbell climbed up the stairs when Mom mentioned bedtime.  Good good day!

Dennie Kids: March 18, 2011

Just chillin!
Highlights from today: (click here for pictures)
  • The kids were ready to get up and start packing for their night out at Nonna’s house.  Of course, they thought we were leaving immediately for Nonnas….this made for a long, long day answering every 5 minutes when we were leaving.
  • We read a few stories upstairs and then went downstairs for breakfast.  Next Mom closed the kitchen so she could work and the boys and Campbell played in the den while Reagan worked on her paper dolls in Graham’s room.  Mom has decided that Reagan is going to need a desk for school. 
  • Campbell spent her time following the boys around-they were having a blast crawling in and out of the tent.  Mom would check on her every once and awhile but thought if she wasn’t fussing then she must be having fun.
  • Graham had a good day and only ended up in his bed a few times.  He is still a little bit shy of Mom’s spoon and when he sees it, he asks to go to time-out instead of the other option. 
  • At lunch, we had the leftover jello and Campbell managed to get extremely sticky-so sticky that her fingers were stuck together and Mom had to unstick them.  This also meant that most of Mom’s kitchen was that sticky too (Mom actually even found some jello in her jeans pocket)
  • Mom called Reagan her “little black eyed girl” and Reagan replied that she wasn’t a black eyed girl, she was a rainbow eye girl.  Her eye is definitely a rainbow today-yellow, brown, blue, purple and possible even some green.  Just lovely.
  • As Reagan and Anderson waited on the front porch for Nonna and Pops to come, Graham told Mom that he would be a good boy.  He was so excited about sleeping in his sleeping bag (he has only done this a few times).  They were so excited to see Nonna and Pops that when they opened their car doors to get out-the three kids climbed in.  They were ready to go!
  • When Campbell woke up, she was a little bit confused.  Mom was the only one in the house.  Campbell looked around for the others and when Mom told her she was going to Grannymom’s house, Campbell went to the door and waved bye bye.  Smart girl
  • Dad and Campbell went to Grannymom and Grandpa’s house for supper, a walk and even a bath for Campbell.  Meanwhile, Reagan, Anderson and Graham played and played outside.  They had supper on the deck and the boys didn’t even come in until 7:30.  They should have been good and worn out but apparently Graham wasn’t too ready to go to bed.  He had to see that Pops had a spoon.  Once he saw the spoon, he finally fell asleep. 

St. Patrick’s Day: March 17, 2011

An all out GREEN celebration!
Highlights from today: (click here for pictures)
  • School morning this morning and everyone went to class fine.  Reagan sported her hat for hat day along with a fairly pink/red and shades of bluish eye from her fall yesterday.  It wasn’t too noticeable but still very noticeable once you saw it.  Made Mom think about Reagan in a few years with tons of eye shadow plastered over her eyes.
  • Anderson said that Ms. Wendolyn went to sleep again in his class.  Two days in a row-she must not be used to time change yet.  He didn’t seem to mind though that his teacher was sleeping on the job but he was disappointed that he missed Reagan’s classes hat parade since his class was in the library.
  • Graham’s first words to Mom were “I fussed” and he said it was a big smile on his face.  He is a little con artist and is playing us so Mom and Dad have decided that we will no longer mention his drop off fussing at all.  If that doesn’t work after a few days, we will have to resort to plan B (any suggestions-remember I broke my spoon the other day)
  • Campbell saw Graham on the playground and even went down the slide.  Her teachers said that Graham really loves her and takes care of her.  They also apologized for her clothes since she had a big time crawling around the playground.
  • Graham’s note this afternoon said that Graham was pretty wild today and that she had to say his name a lot and repeat herself a lot.  She also asked if everything was ok.  Mom asked him if he obeyed his teacher and he said yes (in a very honest voice).  Hopefully this won’t happen again because Mom and Dad always get very positive feedback about his behavior at school. 
  • Reagan and Anderson had a picnic at Lilly’s park and had a great time playing all afternoon long.  They played inside and outside and when Graham and Campbell arrived everyone played with the wagon (including trying to push Mom) and then everyone had a turn at swinging.
  • Once we made it home, Campbell had a nap while the others watched a bit of a movie while Mom got things ready for our family night.  Tonight was St. Patrick’s Day Family Night.  Everyone had dressed in green and were pretty proud of their attire.  The first activity of the night was finding the food that the leprechaun had hidden.  The kids followed the clues around the house and finally discovered supper in the microwave. (Click here a picture our celebration 1 year ago.)
  • We had red beans and rice and did have a bit of St. Patrick’s Day touch with green butter for our bread.  After supper, Reagan made another scavenger hunt for the boys and then everyone found a few green things.  We then played a simon says like game of “Lucky Leprechaun” says.  Reagan was great at it, Anderson just couldn’t remember what he was listening for and Graham just followed along.  We then made our lime punch and had green cookies that we had made earlier in the day. 
  • After the cookies, Mom realized that we had left the green jello in the fridge.  So we pulled it out and made a few jello towers.  We then put on pajamas and read a St. Patrick’s Day book.  Reagan remembered a rainbow Mickey Mouse show and since it was on the DVR, they watched it before bed
  • They had a big St. Patrick’s Day and everyone was pretty tired when they went to bed-we only had to go upstairs about 3 times!

Dennie Kids: March 16, 2011

Little sis and Big Brother!
Highlights from today: (click here for pictures)
  • The big project around here this morning was everyone working on their basketball brackets.  Mom did hers without a problem but when it came to pulling pick out of Reagan, Anderson and Graham it was very interesting.  Reagan picked hers based on where we had been or whose name she knows (Virginia).  Anderson used Reagan’s strategy but also had Reagan help him.  Graham would just say the last team that Mom said and sometimes he would just repeat that team name for the next few choices.  When Mom finished with everyone else, she started running through the list with Campbell.  Campbell grinned from ear to ear and shook her head “no”
  • Anderson suggested early this morning making a tent with Mom’s sheets but she suggested putting the tent up after breakfast.  Everyone agreed and worked together until the tent was put up.  Campbell had the best time in the tent except she would get confused and couldn’t find the door so she would push on the sides until she would nearly knock it down.
  • Mom was in the den and heard a good “thump” and then crying.  Reagan had slipped on a toy and landed on her forehead.  After ice, a bump appeared but by the end of the day, it looks like she is going to have a pretty good black eye in the morning.  Hopefully, it won’t be too bad.  She only cried for a minute or two and she sure did enjoy tying the ice pack to her head.
  • After a few stories, it was lunch time.  We made jello jigglers for our St. Patrick’s Day celebration-hopefully, they will meet all of the expectations.  Campbell became very, very upset when Mom didn’t let her stir.  She was finally appeased when Mom showed her what was in the bowl. 
  • After nap, everyone finally changed out of pajamas and headed downstairs.  On the way down, the doorbell rang.  This caused the boys to run to the door and Reagan to run upstairs to get a report on who it was.  Grannymom and Lilly had walked over and everyone was so excited to see them.  They played in the backyard and then needed a snack (actually it was supper for the Dennie crew since they had eaten lunch late). 
  • After Lilly left, the kids had a little more to eat and Reagan was still asking for food in the car-turkey?  Who asks to eat some turkey in the car?  She got it!  Even when we came home from church, they were still eating and talking about eating more.  Maybe they have worms?
  • Cubbie night-everyone saw everyone in the hallway.  The boys even played outside for awhile.  Reagan didn’t like her snack-said it was too sweet-probably wanted some more turkey!  Back at home, it was snack time and then bedtime for everyone.

Dennie Kids: March 15, 2011

Rock Star in the making!
Highlights from today: (click here for pictures)
  • Graham and Dad woke up and went to the couch around 6 and then fell back asleep.  Soon it was time to scramble, throw on clothes, climb in the car and throw cereal at the kids on the way to school
  • Anderson said that his teacher laid down and took a nap in his class today.  He said they tried to wake her up but she didn’t wake up.  Mom doubts this story but her and Dad did get a good laugh out of it.  We might send Ms. Wendolyn some “no-doze” on Thursday
  • Graham had a big day at school.  When his class went to the gym, Campbell’s class was in there.  He said that he played ball with her (probably just took the ball from her) and he also said that her teacher’s made her walk.  Campbell’s teachers said they were so excited to see each other and he played and played with her. 
  • Graham even had cupcakes in his class for Skye’s birthday.  Oh and he did fuss this morning (but told Mom he didn’t).  She asked if she needed to take away all of his presents from his “no-fuss” day but he was pretty adamant that he didn’t fuss.
  • At Nonna’s house this afternoon, Reagan and Anderson were making shamrock cookies.  Reagan said they should take the cookies to “some old people” and Nonna suggested Beebee and Papaw.  That really started everyone working hard and they were pleased to deliver the cookies and then deliver St. Patrick’s day cards to Nonna’s neighbors
  • Back at home, everyone waited on Dad to come home and then we feasted on hot dogs and chocolate pudding.  Yum, yum!  At halftime of the UALR game we headed to the store.  Mom and Dad drove around some tonight and the kids were incredibly impatient.  Before we were even off of Kanis, Anderson asked when we would get there. 
  • Back at home, everyone had one more cookie and then headed to bed.  Anderson and Reagan managed to sneak flashlights into bed and were going strong a few minutes ago.

Dennie Kids: March 14, 2011

Wrestling Uncle Jason!
Highlights from today: (click here for pictures)
  • Dad had to go to work early this morning so Mom took Reagan to school.  The boys and Campbell just stayed at home by themselves-Mom was only gone a bit.  Well, Grannymom did come and stay.  They had breakfast and then started riding their bikes in the garage until Mom rolled in.
  • The boys watched a movie while Campbell played upstairs with Mom.  Soon the boys were back downstairs playing and this is what Mom overheard:  Anderson told Graham to not play with the pink legos because they are “girly.”  Graham said “huh.” And Anderson repeated what he said.  Graham replied with “I like girls” to which Anderson said “Don’t say that again.”  Graham then said “I like Ruthie, she’s a girl” and Anderson shouted back “don’t say that again!”
  • The next adventure was an assessor coming by and measuring the outside of the house.  When he came on the back deck, he knocked down Graham’s windmill.  Anderson told Mom and she said that he would probably fix it when he left but he didn’t.  When Anderson told this to Mom, she said that maybe he didn’t see it.  Anderson replied “but he had eyes!”
  • Soon Dad made it back with Reagan and he also brought lunch which the boys were very thankful for.  They had been asking for at least an hour for lunch.  But before lunch, Mom helped everyone make handprint leprechauns.  Painting Campbell’s hand proved to be very difficult for Mom-Mom ended up wearing more pain than imaginable
  • Playing, books, Reagan’s reading book, Anderson knocking a bookshelf down (no worries, Reagan held it up until Anderson sauntered down the stairs to get Mom), Just pure craziness around here until Dad came home.
  • When Dad made it, we jumped in the car and headed to Nonna’s house for supper.  She had leftover sandwiches and the kids seemed to gobble everything up.  And the cake was a big hit.  Reagan and Anderson played until time to go and Graham spent most of his time playing with Jason’s ipod.  Campbell spent her time showing off how she could let go of the push toy for just a few seconds.