September 30, 2016

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  • Lots of people were awake this morning before I was but I still started making a few muffins for breakfast. I tried to get them in the oven before everyone did wake up but my helper enjoyed stirring a bit too much for that to happen. Whitman loved stirring and soon Campbell joined to help him lick the bowl clean.
  • We had our muffins and then the kids went to work on their school work. The kids weren't moving to quickly on their school work today but I was in no hurry either so that was fine. I did set Keaton and Whitman up with a craft project and it lasted for about 10 minutes. Keaton blew through gluing the pieces on her traffic signal but Whitman only managed to finish one stop light.
  • As always with Keaton and Whitman back home on Fridays, school is a bit crazier but we survived and soon were eating lunch. We had bought a can of spam to eat on our trip but never get around to it so we had ourselves some fried spam for lunch (I didn't have any potatoes or that would have been added to the menu.) The kids ate it up and everyone asked for more-except for Whitman. He was actually loving the "brownies" that I kept handing him (pumpkin bread.)
  • This afternoon was pretty slow-Reagan packed for her retreat, chores, finishing some school work, the neighbors came over for a bit and the kids all had some downtime. It was a pretty nice afternoon.
  • When Robby came home, I jumped in the car with Reagan to take her to church for her preteen retreat. She had no idea what to expect and I am sure that she is having a blast. She was shocked to learn that they were going to have Bible study-I kidded her it was like having Sunday school all night long.
  • Once at home, I was there for a bit and then we loaded up to eat supper at the McGuire's house. They had chicken tacos which were delicious. The girls played dolls and the boys spent their time watching a movie. It was a pretty pleasant evening and Whitman was pretty content so that helped tremendously.
  • After we got in tonight, we showered everyone off and put them into bed. Tomorrow will be another big day!

September 29, 2016

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  • Our one goal when we woke up this morning was to get Keaton and Whitman off to school. Robby brought them downstairs and I helped get them ready for school. They are quite the team and soon were eating their breakfast in the kitchen. Minutes later, we were loading them into the car-Keaton was excited about taking her telephone and toothpaste box (starts with T) to school for show and tell and today was Whitman's snack day.
  • Meanwhile, back at the house everyone else started on their school work. We did everything except our memory work, history and science. Robby worked from home this morning. Surely the kids have noticed over the past few days the good mood in this house-I am giddy that I am getting better and Robby is greatly relieved about that as well. 
  • The kids did take their sweet time during school but I had finished with my part by 11. Robby went to pick up the littles and offered to take the others with him. They all went and even came home with icees to share. He divvied them out while I made lunches for everyone.
  • The kids worked some more on their school work when I walked by and noticed Graham and Whitman on the couch. My Whitman was exhausted from his school and Graham was already finished so they had cuddled up and worked on a minecraft house for Whitman for the longest time-cutest thing ever.
  • Soon the neighbors were outside and my house emptied quickly. They wanted to come inside but today was too beautiful for that. Now, I do know that I just said that day was beautiful and it was, a beautiful day for taking a nap! I tried my hardest to get Whitman to lay with me but could not get him to cooperate.
  • Robby mowed for a bit and was out until around 6. The kids eventually came in (when the neighbors had to go home) and we showered, did a few chores and then ate our supper. The neighbor family had actually brought the meal down for us the other day after my surgery. We gobbled it up.
  • The kids had picked up a redbox movie and it was a bluray so we all had to watch it upstairs. We all squeezed on the couch and watched Pan. It was pretty good-terrified Whitman but entertaining enough for Robby and me. 
  • After the movie, it was bedtime for the kids and time for me to drink a bit more water before bed (I now have a personal daily quota!) 

September 28, 2016

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  • Bible study morning and though I might probably could have made it, Robby thought it was best that I didn't push it. He had contacted the head children's lady and she gave him the thumbs up to drop off the kiddos. Sara and Candice graciously offered to keep everyone in the afternoon too so things just worked out perfectly.
  • Robby dropped off Whitman with Nonna for the day. He probably isn't ready for a whole day at Bible study without me there. Pops, Whitman and Nonna had big day of play and really I do believe that Whitman is now convinced that he is the only Dennie kid.
  • At lunch, they brought Whitman back and we all ate soup here. Then Nonna and Pops left and Whitman and I cuddled, watched movies, colored and even played trains all day long. I know he is pretty spoiled but it was fun spoiling him a bit more today-I needed some good cuddle time with my baby.
  • The others went to Bible study and then to Rock Creek with Sara and Candice. Then my big 3 went home with Candice who also took Noah and then all of the little girls spent the day with Sara. Apparently they brushed, braided, styled and combed hair most of the day. Then my sweet girl friends carted my kids to church and dropped them off in their classes.
  • I didn't do a whole lot today-I did straighten and nap this morning and then a bit of napping and mostly playing with Whitman this afternoon but I am still feeling much better. I am a bit sore and moving a bit slow but am not in any pain. I am also chugging water as fast as I can. I hadn't eaten really anything since last Tuesday night so I am definitely making up for it today. 
  • I played trains and put Whitman to bed as Robby picked up the kids from church. They all came in talking and I can tell that they are all pretty happy to see me greeting them in the garage instead of from my bed.  
  • Robby had given them a snack on the way home and they had showers and emptied trash cans before bed. Hopefully tomorrow we will be back on a normal schedule and I will continue to improve. I might even get to leave the house!

September 27, 2016-Happy 5th Birthday Keaton!!

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  • Day 7! It's me! (Tara) I'm back! Please rise and join me in the singing of Praise God from Whom All Blessings Flow. Hymn 375 in the Baptist Hymnal. Seriously, I wasn't joking around-get off of that couch! No, we are very blessed around here and are definitely praising God.
  • I will start with the kids and then move on to mine and Robby's day. Our birthday girl Keaton woke up at Nonna and Pops house this morning and was delighted to see a birthday sign for her. I believe that they even had a special birthday treat to begin her celebration.
  • Keaton and Whitman went on to school. Whitman again did fine at school so that was much to our relief that this craziness at home isn't affecting him. Keaton was snack helper at school today and brought cupcakes for her birthday, she was serenaded by her class and all of her classmates even made her a special birthday book with pictures that they drew. 
  • Meanwhile, the others started waking up Grannymom's house. Campbell and Graham were the first to wake up and Anderson and Reagan slept a bit longer. After breakfast, Grannymom started everyone on school and hopefully that was finished without too much drama.
  • Their afternoons were all spent playing.  Keaton and Whitman played outside with the Roys and the others played game after game of kickball. Around 5, Robby headed to pick everyone up and take them out for a special birthday treat for Keaton. We don't do a whole lot on birthday days-doughnuts or candles-but he felt like she needed a bit extra since this has been a crazy past few days. She will have a party but Reagan's party will come first, followed by a re-do of Robby's birthday and I need to be healed up before we schedule all of that.
  • Once at home, the kids had supper and then it was partay time for the little birthday girl. Robby bought cupcakes so we celebrated and then there was even a Redbox movie.  It was late but everyone climbed in to their beds full, entertained and happy to have a momma that feels much better (and was actually awake to tell them good night.)
  • Now my day: My morning started at 3 when I woke up needing another pill. I had been making it until 5 each morning but not this morning. Usually by the time I take a pill and lay down, I am already feeling better. Not today-I had a shower then to help which did while I was in it but you can't really sleep in the shower. And I am know that after a week of surprise bills not even including our new medical bills, Robby is probably not looking forward to my water bill for this month-I have spent hours in the shower this last week, at least 2 hours a day.
  • I did a bit of moaning and groaning and tossing and turning but by 6 when Robby got up, I was already dressed and ready (yep, I had had another shower). He asked if I was nervous and the answer was not really. I would change that answer later in the day when I heard words like-breathing tube (that just sounds scary), EKG (I passed but needed one on file), stent (no worries, it isn't hanging out-is that too much information-Robby will censor me if it is) and pee the color of red kool-aid (so very odd but not a problem.)
  • We arrived after 7 and were promptly checked in. Then we sat in the waiting room for a very long time-I was very aware of this because I was in pain! I didn't think I should take another pill since it wasn't really even time for me to have a second much less a third. Eventually, they took me back-I changed, they started an iv, did blood work and more checking in.
  • After that we waited some more until Dana arrived and she distracted us for a very long time. So glad she was there or we would have possibly gone mad just waiting-she helped get some details and get me some pain meds. Shannon came too and helped entertain us for a bit. 
  • We met my doctor and she showed us my CT scan which was neat to see-would have been neat to get a copy for the kids, if I could have remembered every organ that she pointed out to us. Then she pointed out that blasted kidney stone on the CT scan and said we would get started and that we did. I pulled out my contacts, the lady gave me some meds and I vaguely remember agreeing for Robby to take my picture (which I don't remember him taking.) 
  • I then remember scooting over to the hard table in another room and then the nurse taking off my oxygen and showing me my kidney stone. I looked at it but had to ask later to see it because I was still pretty groggy. She then asked if I wanted water, cranberry juice or sprite. I don't recall answering but I am sure she saw my broad smile after she mentioned something other than water or cranberry juice. A few minutes later, Robby was in the room and I was holding my drink can. I was groggy but not in pain-the best feeling ever.  The nurse showed me my kidney stone and later during super as I described every graphic detail I could think of to the kids, I said that it was about 1/4th of the size of a raisin. Tonight though Robby said it was more like 1/8th of a raisin and then he suggested that it was maybe the size of a big booger. Either way, booger or raisin, it looked bigger than 5mm to me.
  • It seemed like just minutes afterwards, I was shoved in the bathroom with Robby who was passing me my clothes as I went to the restroom. The wheelchair was waiting outside and then he went to get the car. After he picked me up, we stopped on the way home for my meds (stool softener, anti nausea, antibiotic, anti bladder spasm and a pain pill) I know that Robby spent a bunch on these pills since we needed to have them but Hallelujah I have only taken the 2 I have needed (#1 and #3). 
  • Once at home, I rested and Shannon came over with supper and soon Robby was off to pick up the little ones from the Grandma Team. Let's just stop for a moment here, other than the babies and Robby's little heart surprise check up last year, we have never really been sick before. Words can not express how grateful we are to have such a village. Not only have both sets of our parents have dropped everything for us for the last week, but so many other people have helped us as well. Dana and Shannon coming to the hospital, Stephanie and Shannon bringing meals, Ms. Jennifer and Ms. Stacy making the kids days at school easier and a bit more special, Jason checking on us and being our delivery boy, Candice and Sara hauling my kids around for 2 Wednesdays (tomorrow too), Candice taking Reagan to Branson for the weekend, countless meaningful offers to do anything to help and most importantly all of those prayers that were sent my way (seriously, I felt them-though I believe that ya'll slacked off a little last night but I'll forgive you if you send up a couple more for us over the next few days.) Thank you so much!
  • I am still doing pretty good and have no pain which makes me happy, happy.  I am still a pretty weak but that could easily happen when you do not eat for almost a week. I have a follow up in 2 weeks so hopefully all will still be well but I do know that I am pretty exhausted tonight-but I am sure that Robby, who has been Mom and Dad for the last week, is even more tired than I am.

September 26, 2016

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  • Day 6 ... we have a plan.  It did take a few tears I think to get there but we have a plan. Tara was calling her doctor right at 7:30 to see when we might hear from the urology clinic.  
  • We did have to do a little scrambling because everyone was sleeping well upstairs but I did get off in time to take Whitman to Nonna and Pops and drop Keaton off at school.
  • I went into work and Tara did have the big kids school laid out for them to work on this morning.
  • I got a text from Tara mid-morning. Her doctor's office had called back and said they had an appointment for her to see a urologist on Thursday. (Wrong answer!)  Tara admitted to shedding a few tears on the phone and the nurse quick said, "I don't think that sounds like it's going to work." Tara quickly agreed and the nurse promised to see what she could do.  Within the hour, the nurse had called back and they had managed to get her an appointment at 1:45. (There was some confusion over whether we were self pay vs. insurance.  Does that make a difference when trying to get an appointment?  Not sure but we do have insurance so who knows.)
  • I finished up my work (not sure if my work people think I will ever work a normal day since it's been crazy since we've gotten back from vacation).  But I got home to find Reagan and Graham out playing with the neighbor kids. Anderson and Campbell were still trying to finish up school.
  • Neighbor kids had to leave soon though and I fixed some lunch and then it was time for us to load up.  Nonna had picked up Keaton from school and we took the big 4 to Grannymom and Grandpa's and went on to the clinic.
  • Paperwork, x-ray and waiting to see the doctor occupied us for an hour and half.  The doctor made his way - said the kidney stone had been trying to work its work out but wasn't sure if she would be able to pass it on her own.  He said we could wait it out (up to 30 days) or Tara could have outpatient surgery. Tara said I might have answered a little too quickly but I did say we would vote for the surgery vs. waiting 30 more days.  For Tara's sanity sake (or maybe mine), we both felt surgery was the best option.
  • Dr. Langford was leaving town tomorrow but said was his partners could do the surgery tomorrow, so we met with the scheduler and got a slot at 7:15 tomorrow morning.  
  • Meanwhile, we went to pick up the big kids who were just about to begin a kickball game with Cash and Grannymom. We let them finish while sampling some of Grannymom's cookies before heading to pick up Whitman and Keaton. 
  • We got home and Tara was back in pain and headed to bed and the rest of did a few chores but also had a bit of down time.  Heated up some supper and then it was time to head back out. Keaton and Whitman are spending the night with Nonna and Pops and Reagan, Anderson, Graham and Campbell are spending the night at Grannymom and Grandpa's.
  • Maybe tomorrow Tara will be blogging :)

September 25, 2016

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  • Day 5 ... same song, same verse ... Tara is about the same with the pain coming and going.
  • Whitman joined Tara in bed first this morning, then Anderson was down soon after wanting to know the outcome of the Hogs game, followed by Campbell and Graham. We had to send Whitman upstairs to wake up Keaton.
  • The donuts had run out earlier this week and we've had plenty of poptarts so I did break out the pancakes and waffles which everyone was excited about.  Soon everyone was dressed for church ... and Tara had decided she was ready for a change of scenery.  She loaded up her pillow, blanket and pills. The kids thought she was going to church like that ... but we just dropped off her at the Brocks while the rest of us went on to church.
  • We made the rounds to see the grandparents before heading to class.  Jaymie was returning from last night's ballgame, so April and I had the 3rd-grade class to ourselves. It was pretty uneventful.  Gathered the kids and went to big church.  I went to get Whitman from class and then all were in the car headed to Nonna and Pops for Sunday lunch.  Tara had watched church on her phone from the couch and was resting when we arrived.
  • Nonna had a huge "donut" cake to celebrate Keaton's birthday.  Keaton had picked out the cake and icing.  She has been counting down her birthday for several days know and only has a few more days until her real birthday.
  • After lunch, Graham worked on a new Lego movie with Jason, Andreson watched some tv and the girls and Whitman played.
  • We got a text from Candice saying they were getting close to Little Rock and we could pick up Reagan.  So we loaded up and dropped off Tara, Anderson and Graham while me, Campbell, Keaton and Whitman headed to make a quick grocery store run before picking up Reagan.
  • Reagan had a blast and said she could get used to the RV-life.  They had a full day at Silver Dollar City and their RV was parked right next to the campground playground - pretty grand weekend for her. 
  • We got home and everyone pitched in on getting the laundry done before supper.  We all dug into some chicken spaghetti that had been thawing this week.
  • Kids had not seen the Angry Bird movie so they settled in for it and then enjoyed a couple of bags of popcorn, a bit of cream and lemonade.  I've decided that's the best way to keep everyone happy ... maybe not the smartest thing but right now happy is important.
  • After the movie, everyone picked up and headed to bed.

September 24, 2016

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  • Day 4 of Agony (well, not for me but for Tara)  New meds still are better than the first set but it's all temporal.  Tara can definitely feel when the meds wear off. I can always tell because she heads to the shower as it brings a bit of relief.  No real change and more waiting for her.
  • The boys slept a bit longer than normal since they were out a bit more later than usual. After a big win by Robinson High, they tagged along with the Wilson's to Senor Tequila for some late night nachos.  So Campbell was the first up, well maybe Whitman was as he joined Tara in bed, but I awoke to Campbell staring in my face. She had wanted me to come wake her at 7:30. Needless to say ... I wasn't up at 7:30.
  • Checking email this morning, I noticed the new Pie 5 was accepting reservations for their pre-opening celebration.  I made us a reservation for 1:00 thinking we would need something to do today and to let Tara have a bit of peace and quiet.
  • Mom called checking on us and thought we might enjoy going to see the Clydesdales that were in town this week. Word on the street was that they would be making an appearance at the Little Rock Food Truck Festival.  
  • We all did a few chores catching up on some that might have been missed earlier this week. Then we ended up scrambling to meet Mom and Dad for the ride downtown and leaving Tara to sleep.
  • Downtown was buzzing with people and we finally found a parking spot around 6th Street. Walked a few blocks and finally stopped to ask where the horses were.  Well, they weren't showing up until 1:00 and it was only 11:45 and a bit on the warm side.  The lady said they might still be in their temporary stables at River Front Park.  That was another half mile but we made the trek down there and did find the horses. Our timing was actually pretty perfect - we made it within the trailers before they roped off the area and then were there as they brought the horses from their stables to be dressed and readied for their parade to the food truck festival.  We were definitely up close and personal with the horses ... those are some big horses!
  • I made the trek to the car with Whitman and then picked up the others so we could make our reservation at Pie Five. With the chance of free pizza for all, there was a bit of a line but everyone enjoyed getting to pick out whatever pizza they wanted.  We even splurged and bought a big chocolate cookie pizza.
  • We made it home to check on Tara around 2:30 - she was still in bed.  So we thought we would clean the potties ... another chore that had been missed earlier this week.  Soon the kids noticed the neighbor kids were outside ... so they invited them in for some Xbox and Wii time. They were only here for about an hour before their mom text to come home.  So we had some down time and movie time.
  • Around 5:00 and with the sun finally fading, I decided I better tackle some of the mowing.  I hadn't mowed since August 23 or 24th - so basically a month of now mowing of these 4 acres and it's fairly noticeable.  I guess with the warmer weather and not as much rain this past month - it wasn't really too bad - more weeds than grass. I only got the part around the house down with the push mower but it still looked a lot better.  Meanwhile, all the kids (except Reagan who is still having a blast living the RV life in Branson) were outside as well with me riding bikes and scooters and trying to avoid the many ant piles.  I did bribe them with about 3 popsicles a piece to keep them outside and Whitman did manage to explode a coke can from the outside fridge as he was trying to get a water bottle. (Anderson and Graham were quick to help clean it up ... in fact, I didn't even know about the explosion until I was done mowing and Anderson reported what happened.)
  • Everyone came in for showers and it was already 7:00, so kids were eager for supper.  Everyone but Anderson had bbq (Andy had his leftover pizza). The kids then started a movie as we waiting for the Razorback/Aggie game start. 
  • Tara joined us for the game and Whitman went to bed.By halftime, the kids were getting pretty tired so they called it a night and asked me to wake them if the Hogs ended up winning. Hope I can make it to the end of the game. I'm tired!

September 23, 2016

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  • Well, this is Robby blogging again so you know what that means ... yes, Tara is still not feeling well. Another long night for her in pain and nausea  With the weekend coming, Tara wanted to see if there was anything they could do.  She was on the phone right at 7:30 leaving a message for the nurse.  
  • The nurse called back at 8:30. They said they could change her meds to something stronger and maybe wouldn't cause the nausea. She said they would call in for a referral for a CT scan and we would hear back.  
  • They did call back just as I was loading the kids in the car to drop off Reagan for her Branson trip and the other kids at Nonna's.  They said we could come to Baptist immediately for a CT scan so Tara joined us in the car and off we went.  We dropped everyone off but Reagan, had my mom meet us at Dunkin Donuts to get Reagan so she could get her to Candice and made our way to admissions. We were prepared to wait but Tara was checked in and scan completed in less than 30 minutes.  They sent us home and said the doctor would call when he read the results. We did have a few minutes to stop by and see Tara's grandmother who had a heart attack on Wednesday. They suggested inserting a pacemaker but BeeBee decided she didn't want to do that so she was in the processing of getting discharged.
  • Stopped by Walmart because Tara was craving applesauce and hasn't really eaten in 3 days. We actually got there at the same time as Candice was picking up Reagan and off they went in the big RV.
  • The new meds kicked in quickly and Tara slept from 12:00 until 3:15  Meanwhile, the other kids had been picked up by mom and were having a grand time at the zoo.  Sounds like they covered lots of ground and had plenty of time at the playgrounds as well.
  • We waited for the doctor and finally heard from his office around 4:30.  The CT scan did confirm the kidney stone ... it's on her left side and is 5mm is size.  According to our Google searches, that's a bit above average size and has about a 20% chance of passing on its own (A bit discouraging.)  But also discouraging was the fact that the doctor said it would be Monday OR Tuesday when someone from urology would call.  That's probably typical time but Tara wanted to do something about it today.  But she took another pill and ...
  • Mom and Dad brought the kids home around 5:15 and they told us all about their morning at Nonna's and their afternoon at the zoo.
  • Soon after Mom and Dad left, the Brocks and Jason came with spaghetti for supper.  The Wilsons said the boys could join them at the Robinson High football game so I took them out to Robinson to meet the Wilsons while the rest of the crew chowed down on supper.  I made it back to eat and then the rest of us had a bit of ice cream.
  • The Brocks and Jason left, the little 3 had showers and they and Tara all went to bed. I'm now waiting on the boys to get home. I'm sure they will have lots of football stories ... or some kind of stories to tell.

September 22, 2016 - Happy Birthday to Me!

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  • Well, day #2 of the evil kidney stones and they are still here.  Tara's had another rough day ... she managed to sleep decently but was still up every few hours with pain and nausea.  The good news later in the day that the nausea has subsided but the pain is sticking around. Not sure if there are multiple stones but she said the pain seems to be in different places at the same time. Even though the doctor said to come back Monday, she's thinking she'll go head and call them tomorrow to see if they can do anything else. 
  • Meanwhile, the day continued around here. Anderson was the first one up but he wasn't sure if he needed to check on Tara or not.  I think he thought kidney stones might be contagious and he didn't want to go anywhere near her if there was a chance he could catch what she had.  We let him know he was safe but he quickly disappeared.
  • He soon returned with a homemade card for me and it even included 2 Rice Krispie Treats. Meanwhile, Graham and Campbell were stirring and soon got in on the birthday card making activities and they too managed to include Rice Krispie Treats with their cards. I woke Keaton and Whitman up since it was a school day for them.  
  • Got them dressed and Tara, thankfully, was able to help Keaton with her hair (or might not have been pretty).  The other did start on their school - anything of it that didn't require Tara's help) and I quickly ran Whitman and Keaton to school.
  • Made it back home and the others were already finishing up their school and got to their iPads fairly early this morning. Soon though it was time to leave.  On the calendar was a homeschool gathering at Amber's house for a swim party - Tara hated to miss but the timing couldn't have been better to occupy the kids a bit so she could rest.  So we all picked up Keaton and Whitman and headed to Benton.
  • Dropped everyone off but Whitman ... although he wanted to stick around and swim too - didn't want to overwhelm the other mom's with another little non-swimmer to watch.  I bribed him back in the car with a big bottle of Gatorade and then he promptly told me he wanted to go to Grannymom's.  Well, he had been there the past 2 days but Grannymom graciously said he was welcome back. So we headed to west Little Rock where I dropped him off and then came home to do a bit of work.
  • The neighbor kids were on their bikes in the driveway hoping the kids were home - I stepped out to tell them they were gone but would be home soon.  I soon headed back to Benton to pick up everyone and they were still swimming and didn't really want to get out. But they too had Gatorade bottles to woo them into the car. (Plus, they were excited to hear the Corsers were probably going to be outside when they got home.)
  • I had stopped on the way to pick up the kids to pick a bit more bbq - we had leftover buns but no bbq from the other night and I thought I needed a decent birthday supper :)  The kids weren't interested in eating when we got home because the neightbor kids were out and supper could wait.  They changed into their clothes and quickly headed out.
  • They were out a bit ... but soon Anderson asked if they could come inside and play.  Soon I heard the Xbox going and Anderson/Petyon were busy with legos.  I ran to meet Mom who was delivering Whitman. Keaton rode with me while everyone else continued playing in the bonus room. Everyone was still here when we got back and Whitman quickly found his iPad.
  • Neighbor kids left and showers began around here ... by the time we started supper, it was 7:00 and Nonna and Pops came bearing cake and ice cream.  We finished supper and then lit some candles and dug into the cake!
  • We managed to have a decent day but still hate to see Tara not be herself. I think I'll call a mulligan and celerbate my birthdayy when she is better!

September 21, 2016

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  • Well, first thing to say, is I am thankful for family and friends who fill the gaps.  This was not a day we had planned.  This is Robby typing because Tara is under the weather quite severely. She apparently has a classic case of kidney stones according to the doctor.
  • I heard her stirring in the kitchen bathroom around 5:00 this morning - she's not typically up at that time so I went to check on her.  She was doubled over and said her back was killing her. She had laid on the bathroom floor, the couch and the bed but couldn't get comfortable.
  • The kids were stirring around 7:00 but tried to stay quiet while still checking on Tara.  She got an appointment at 8:45.  The pain came and went - she even briefly thought about going to Bible Study (since they've missed the first two weeks due to our trip) but we decided I would take the big 3 to Bible study and the little 3 would go to my folks. Tara drove herself to the doctor - in hindsight not the smartest thing on our part.
  • I dropped the Whitman, Keaton and Campbell off at my folks and took the others to Bible study. The plan was to meet Sara but I missed her and decided to take the kids in.  Well, since they hadn't been there this year - there was all sorts of paper work to complete, snack signups, etc. The Bible study folks are serious about their forms and wanted to check that off their list - it didn't matter that the 3 documents I signed for each kid said, "I will not leave the premises while my kids are in class" and then I promptly left.  I think more of formality than an a hard and fast rule.  Except the lady at the front desk was new and definitely wanted me to sign the form saying it was okay for Sara to pick up my kids.  (I do appreciate the rules but sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do!)
  • By this time, Tara is texting saying that I need to come get her and we would leave the other car there.  We stopped to fill a pain medication and came home. It has been a long day for Tara - the pain medication causes nausea. The doctor has told her hopefully the stones will pass or she should come back Monday. (That seems like forever away right now.)
  • Plus, at some point this morning, Tom called and said that Beebee (Tara's grandmother) had had a heart attack and was at Baptist Hospital.  The first thought it was mild but by the end of day a decision to place a pacemaker was made - so that will happen in the next day or so.
  • Thankfully, between Sara and Candace the big 3 were well taken care of this afternoon - sounds like they even snagged a McDonald's Happy Meal at some point.  And Grannymom and Grandpa, of course, were busy spoiling the others.  Mom did say Campbell defnitely wanted her and the others to make a card for Tara and then they went to Rock Creek and later in the day to the Woodland Edge park.  Again, so thankful to have such great family and friends.
  • Anderson did have a previously scheduled dentist appointment to refix his front tooth so I briefly picked him from Sara's and then returned him after he was fixed up.
  • Everyone got the kids to church tonight where I met them and they were all excited to be back at SonShine Kids, 3:16 LIVE and IGNITE.  All went well - Reagan did report that she had a great time on the drama team and was excited that Camryn was on the same team.
  • We made it home - Whitman was sound asleep and went straight to be bed - while the big 3 showered and then everyone had a quick snack before bedtime.
  • We are hoping for relief soon and that tomorrow is not as dramatic.

September 20, 2016

(click here for pictures)

  • The morning didn't start off as I had wished it would. I heard Robby saying "I'm coming" as he headed down the hall way this morning. I was crossing my fingers that he just needed to help someone in the bathroom but he didn't come back for a while, so I headed up there. And yep, my little Kea was sick.
  • That child gets the tummy bug more than anyone else. It was almost 5:30 when we got her downstairs and that little baby was sick just about every 10-15 minutes until 7. This was the worst she had ever had it. At one point, as we sat there she laid her head down on her bag and said "I am just so tired but I got to do it (throw up)." 
  • She was so sick that she just couldn't go back to sleep. I did once sneak off to the kitchen at one point and faintly heard "momma" and went running. After helping her, she looked at me with her wet brown eyes and said "where were you?" Needless to say, I didn't leave the baby until I was absolutely sure that she was sound asleep. And sleep she did. She slept until after 9 and woke up asking for a pop tart.
  • I didn't get her a pop tart but Anderson quickly made her cheese and crackers. From that point on, Keaton never slowed down for the rest of the day. She ate everything that she could get her hands on even though I tried to limit her a bit since I didn't want her to get sick again. 
  • Since Keaton was sick, Whitman went to school by himself today. Robby dropped him off and said that he did walk right on in his class. Grannymom was the one who picked him up and said that he had a good day. I do know that he stayed dry all day and later told me that he colored a picture of his family.
  • We worked on school today and things went pretty okay. When it was time for lunch, the kids noticed the neighbors out and I did let them go outside. Soon though the neighbors had to go in so my people came in for lunch. The boys still had school to work on but against my better judgement when the neighbors came out again, I let the boys go back out. 
  • They all ended up playing most of the afternoon but when it was nearing 4 and my boys had to finish their school, they were not happy with me at all. At one point, Anderson even said "I have been doing school all day long."-yep, for about 3 hours this morning and about 30 minutes this afternoon. All day!
  • School was finally finished and the house was straight by the time that Robby and Whitman came home. Whitman had spent the afternoon at Grannymom's house. He was pretty fussy when Robby picked him up but was soon fast asleep in the freezer section at Kroger. 
  • The Wilsons came over for supper to celebrate Shannon's belated birthday-though we didn't get a candle out! We might just have to celebrate again with a candle. Robby had BBQ and ice cream so we were all full by the time that the evening was over.
  • They stayed and helped us plan our next trip. When they left, we picked up, did showers and then bedtime for everyone. Tomorrow is our first day of Bible study this year so the kids are all very excited and will be up early tomorrow-at least I hope so!

September 19, 2016

(click here for pictures)

  • Well, back to reality today. Overall, I was expecting a pretty horrible day at school with lots of fussy people but thankfully the day didn't really go like that at all. Campbell was the first one awake and Keaton was up soon after her. She was ready to go back to school and told me that she was going to tell her friends, "Welcome me back."
  • Robby took her and Whitman off this morning and the rest of us got started to work. I told the kids that they could eat at their desks while they worked. My boys can always find the easiest things ever to start with but I guess that was fine because today I really only wanted them to finish half a day of school-Reagan did finish her school and Graham was close but Campbell and Anderson were no where close to finishing. They have another half day this week to finish up.
  • At 11, we did our work together-the kids just love our science and blah, I am going to have to find someone or something to teach science for me. It is just not my thing but I am really loving our history. After we finished our work together the kids and I started on lunch.
  • Lilly and Cash came over after lunch so we hurried to finish our chores before they came over. Once they were here, everyone had a blast and they forgot about their after trip depression. The boys played outside some and the girls were in and out. I was able to accomplish just a few things and then we all loaded up to go and pick up Whitman and Keaton.
  • Whitman and Keaton were happy to see all of us but so were Nonna and Pops. Nonna even had a birthday cake for Reagan's birthday. We celebrated one more time for Reagan. Nonna had a birthday present from Beebee and offered to let Reagan open it today but Reagan opted to wait for her real birthday party. 
  • We all went to see Beebe and she enjoyed seeing Lilly and Cash and even asked for me to bring them back. Everyone was very good today and enjoyed telling Beebee about our trip with their mouths full of candy.
  • Back at home, the kids played for a bit more and soon Robby came home with pizza. We ate and then everyone dressed as a pirate. Today was Pirate Day at Krispy Kreme and we took 8 little pirates. They were a cute little bunch even when they tried to be scary.
  • The lady asked me if I wanted all 8 dozen-well, of course. Wonder if they asked a family of 4 if they just wanted 1 dozen? I told that lady that we sure did and that they weren't all my kids-which was true. 
  • We dropped 1 dozen off at Grannymom's house and then we took in one of our dozens to Dana's house to eat there. The kids enjoyed playing and Whitman asked to stay there "a lot" when it was time to leave.
  • One the way home, I ran into the grocery store to pick up food while Robby bought some gas. The kids had showers and a drink. Then it was bedtime for the crew. My girls are still talking upstairs for a long while but all my boys must be pretty tired!

Epic Road Trip 2016: Our Trip by the Numbers

26-Days on the road
25-Nights away from home
12-Tolls paid
4-McDonald’s stopped at
10-Ice cream stops (many from half gallon containers in hotel rooms)
17-Different hotels
2-Splinters removed
15-Waffles made
14-Subway rides
1-Bridge crossed on foot (Brooklyn)
45-Stamps in National Parks Passport books (45x7 books= 315 stamps)
6-Banana puddings bought from Magnolia Bakery in NYC
1-Autograph received (First autograph given by the new Miss American given to Reagan and landing Reagan in the Dem-Gaz)
28-Slices of pizza eaten in NYC
15-Loads of laundry done
2-Tubes of toothpaste used
10-Christmas ornaments bought
9-Pancakes made
6-Pounds in milkshake in Annapolis
2-Car vacuumed out
250-Pages of schoolwork done
25-Floor of NYC apartment
11-Modes of transportation (escalator, elevator, subway, trolley, car ferry, passenger ferry, van, bus, swan boat, uber, train)
30-Bathroom stops (while driving)
18-Gas stops
15-Pez dispensers bought
2-Visits to the beach
289-Seashells collected
8-Times Robby was honked at
1-Tropical storm
19-States (AR, TN, VI, MD, PA, NY, VT, NH, ME, MA, RI, CT, NJ, DE, NC, SC, GA, AL, MS)

4777-Miles driven

Epic Road Trip (Day 26: September 18, 2016)

We woke up this morning from our 17th (or 18th hotel-I’m not really sure since when I count the hotels on my itinerary I get 18 but when I look at my tally sheet I get 17). We were well aware of the time change last night and were all laying in bed by 10 last night-or maybe we were just a bit on the tired side. Robby and I started waking up around 6:30 this morning but laid in bed for a good while. I think that we had gone back to sleep when I later saw Campbell approaching our bed completely dressed She was asking for her ipad so I did let her have it in hopes that the other sleepy Dennies could get a few more minutes of sleep.

It didn’t take too long for us to get ourselves dressed and downstairs for breakfast. This was the smallest of breakfasts that we have seen so far (now tomorrow’s breakfast will be really small back in reality.) Reagan was happy that they had cups of fruit and Anderson was pleased with the vanilla yogurt that no one else has had-except Campbell grabbed the last one when she arrived at breakfast first with me.

Once we were in the car, the gps headed us in some crazy direction and I was briefly convinced that we were going home via the Natchez Trace. The GPS must know what she is doing but she does take us the scenic route often but does seem to get us where we are going.  

It didn’t take too long for the weather to turn a bit ugly and began raining. I had seen that it probably would start raining on the way home but gracious, when it started raining it really did. We listened to the church service (only turning it down to yell at the kids :) ), finished the last of school work and tried to download the Sunday paper from home as we drove down the road towards home.

The sun did come out and we started to plan our next big road trip. We didn’t get very far before we decided that snacks would be more fun. We finally downloaded the paper and were able to see Reagan’s picture in the B section. It is a tiny bit about her getting Miss America’s signature. (click here for article) (Robby has friends at the paper so that helps.)

We stopped in Tupelo for gas and then at Elvis’ birthplace. They have expanded a bit since we were there last. Even though we didn’t do a tour, we did run around the grounds for a bit. It wasn’t too much further away and we hopped on the Natchez Trace. We stopped at the visitor’s center and watched the movie. That is all Anderson can think of when we walk in a place-Do they have a movie and are we going to watch it? Robby commented that soon the kids will care nothing about watching the movies so we better squeeze them all in now.

We had debated picking up lunch somewhere or picnicking but the tables on the Natchez Trace were right there so we decided that we better finish off some more of our trip food. Overall, I realize that I packed too much food-we did eat a lot less cheese and cracker packages on this trip than I had expected. (I had 4 little bins of food that are now empty, 1 snack bin that is half empty, a picnic bin that is also half empty, 2 drawers and only one is now halfway full and a big ice chest full of food that is probably half empty as well)

After we ate and the kids played football some, we climbed into the car and headed on our way back towards reality. The drive was fine until it wasn’t. It quickly became stormy and was raining so hard that it took both of us to drive. The storm lasted for a good few minutes but then the skies brightened. The rain was so heavy at one point that Graham shouted, “what would we do if there is a tornado?” By this time we were driving on a back road (silly GPS) and I told him that I wasn’t sure. Robby whispered to me that we were supposed to get in a ditch. I told him that I could think of nothing much more traumatic to my kids than making them lay down in a ditch during a tornado. Thankfully, we didn’t have to worry about a tornado.

Before too long we were pulling up to Area 51, an ice cream place near Les and Shelley. The boys were quick to see a car that looked like Shelley’s car as we were getting out of our car. They convinced themselves that it wasn’t them but then were so excited to see them and Zach climb out of the car. We ate our ice cream, visited and then we had to get back on the road for home. It was a good last stop on our vacay and did give a few minutes for the rain to clear.

We did forget to make everyone potty before we left the ice cream shop. Robby had just whispered to me that we had forgotten to potty and I replied that we could certainly wait a while. Immediately after we finished this conversation,Keaton hollered that she needed to potty. We made it to the rest stop after the bridge. Keaton must have remembered this stop because she immediately ran to the grass and started doing cartwheels.
As we were leaving the rest stop, we told Whitman that we were going home and he started sobbing. He wanted to go to a hotel and he wanted to go to Grannymom’s hotel. We assume that he means the NYC apartment where Grannymom was. He does refer to that apartment as the ‘big hotel.’ I guess he just has good taste!

From that stop, we zoomed on home. The kids watched Netflix and Robby and I put on headphones and listened to a sermon or two. I do believe that when we had on our headphones no one ever talked to us-or maybe I just couldn’t hear them. We did stop at Taco Bell on the way home so we could have supper. There isn’t a whole lot of food here and we just wanted supper to be done with.

Once we made it home, we all started unloading the car. Robby vacuumed out the car while I worked on putting things up. Everyone helped for a while and then we gave them a break. The boys were thrilled to be outside and Anderson rode down to the neighbor’s house for a bit. Whitman went right upstairs to his train tracks and moved around the house playing with his different toys. He was in the best mood tonight-I guess he was just ready to be home. It is probably hard to be 3 and on a 26 day road trip.

It took until almost 10 to get everything put away but we did it. Now, we do have the kids clean clothes still out and the laundry is washing along with another 4 or 5 loads that need to wash. Dishes are washing and I have at least 2 loads of bins and bags to take to the attic tomorrow. I do have about 4 days worth of going through our souvenirs, ornaments and papers that we collected but that will be accomplished later.

Overall, it was one of the best trips we have taken. We saw so many great sights and made lots of memories. We are all glad to be home but could have traveled for a few more days-maybe next year!

Epic Road Trip (Day 25: September 17, 2016)

Robby and I spent a good deal of our sleeping time last night looking for his camera chip. It had been right on the bed before we started folding our laundry but somehow when he went to look for it, it was gone. He has others and the pictures are all on the computer but it was one of his newer fancy ones. We looked in the sheets, we looked in the now folded and put away laundry, we looked under kids, we looked everywhere we could possibly think of it but that thing has disappeared. We finally gave up and went on to bed.

We went to breakfast this morning and it was very crowded-. I did see ‘hash’ for the first time and I don’t think that it is something that I will ever want to try. After breakfast, we loaded up and headed to Kennessaw Mountain National Battlefield. When we drove up, they were taking down flags from their September 11th memorial. They had over 3,000 flags on a field.  

The movie was 38 minutes and we missed most of it (darn!) but did sneak in to see the last half. It was a pretty gory movie but I guess war is also pretty gory. The boys, of course, enjoyed every minute of it. After the movie, we walked through their visitor’s center and then hopped on the bus to ride fo the top of the mountain.

The hike was just a mile but I think that when Robby was securing our tickets (free thanks to our National Parks pass) that he didn’t actually realize that the hike was straight up a hill. I have never been so thankful for a bus ride-Kennessaw Mountain must be this area’s pinnacle mountain because the road and the traisl were completely full of people climbing up. Even after we made it to the top of the mountain on the bus, we still had a bit of a climb. It was a pretty view and we could see the hazy outline of Atlanta.

After we came down from the hill and climbed in the car, we headed on our way. Our next stop was in Atlanta at The Varsity. It had been almost a year since we were there last so we thought it would be a great lunch. Before we made it there, we did briefly get trapped in the Georgia Tech game traffic. We were a bit concerned about how crowded the restaurant would be but it was the emptiest today that we have ever seen it.

We had hamburgers, hot dogs, a chocolate shake, an orange shake and a fried apple pie (mine!) The boys happily could have set there all day long because the tv was on. After we ate, we headed to the World of Coke. This morning we had learned about the College Football Hall of Fame which is right near the World of Coke. We did promise that boys that the next drive through Atlanta we had, we would stop there. There just isn’t enough time in the day or maybe I should say there isn’t enough time in the 26 day road trip to do everything.

We found close parking and were soon walking into the World of Coke. The kids could not have been any more excited about this little outing. We watched the little movie, walked through the vault and had our picture made with the Coca Cola bear. We were here last 2009 and the picture of our littles with that bear is in our bedroom now so the big 3 “remembered” coming to the World of Coke before.

Once we made it upstairs, we watched 4D movie. Whitman was scared to death-he started out sitting in his chair watching the movie but within seconds, he was in my lap. He was doing his best to hold on his 3D glasses or maybe he was trying to cover his ears. He was dodging all of the things that seemed to be coming towards us and the moving seats didn’t really help at all either. Poor baby was pretty close to terrified and when the movie was over, I asked if he wanted to do it again and he was adamant that he did not. He did tell me that he just liked “our movies.” Now all of my other people loved the movie and would have done it again in a heartbeat.

We walked through a few more galleries and then it was on to the much anticipated Tasting Room. I believe that there were over a hundred samples and I am pretty sure that Graham had seconds on each of those. It was a wonder we even made it to the hotel tonight without having to stop a dozen times. After we had our fill, we walked through the gift shop-Robby used to collect Coke stuff and we still have much of it in the attic. Now, I don’t really have a spot for any of that in the house but I sure do think that stuff is cute. But if you are a faithful blog reader, you will know how much I really do love gift shops. I hate to shop at home and the only money spent on the trip in gift shops is on Christmas ornaments. I could walk through gift shops all day long and don’t tell Robby but I secretly want to buy all of that stuff.

We didn’t buy anything at the Coke store but did have ourselves a good snack in the car. I gave the kids a cup full of things trying to finish them off and Robby and I finished off the last of the our cider mustard from Vermont. Surprisingly, we only had to stop twice on the way to the hotel for potty stops-seriously, they drank a lot of coke but I guess our bladders are strong.

We picked up a pizza on the way to the hotel and were settled by the end of the first quarter. The pizza was good-especially the cinnamon pizza that Robby bought. Kids had showers off and on during the game and it was a pretty relaxing last evening in a hotel for the Dennie crew.

Epic Road Trip (Day 24: September 16, 2016)

We just love hotel sleeping. Graham was coughing this morning and Robby asked me what time it was. I squinted at the clock and guessed that it was 4 but the next minute when I got up to go to the bathroom, I saw that the clock really said 6. I thought Robby was about to cry when I told him that! He quickly went back to sleep and all was well. We woke around our usual waking time and soon were all downstairs eating breakfast. We weren’t really in a hurry this morning and ended up closing up breakfast.

Robby had loaded up the room and he met us downstairs in the breakfast area. We all followed him out and Whitman turned and ran back towards our table. He shouted “I forgot about my food.” I had not forgotten about his food and when he had stopped eating, I had thrown it all away. I had no idea that he would run screaming back through the hotel searching for his food. Once he saw it was gone, he said “but I’m so hungry.” By now people were staring at me and my hungry boy so I whisked him up and promised him ‘colorfuls’ (Fruit Loops) in the car. Seconds later, we were loading the car and Whitman had his bowl of colorfuls and was happily eating.

The ride to Charlotte was uneventful. The kids worked on their school work and our hour drive really seems like nothing now. Robby briefly tried to figure out how we can travel for an entire year-he is beginning to get a tad bit depressed. We usually plan our big road trips on the way home so maybe that will cheer him up some.

Our first stop this morning was at the Billy Graham Library. It was a very neat little place and one of the highlights of the trip. The grounds were so peaceful-Reagan even commented on that. First you went through the house that he had grown up which had been moved at least twice by the family (deconstructed, numbered and moved) and then you went into the museum part.

They gave the kids a list of questions to answer so they stayed engaged the entire time. The tour started out with a talking cow so Whitman was immediately interested. Then we moved from gallery to gallery learning about Billy Graham and his life. The museum wasn’t entirely about him because the overall theme was Billy’s message, Jesus Christ. If you haven’t visited the Billy Graham Library, you need to put it on your list.

We picked up a few things at the gift shop and walked around on the grounds for a bit. George Beverly Shae is buried there as is Ruth Graham. When we climbed back in the car, we passed out snacks and headed towards South Carolina, our 16th state to visit on this trip.

We had barely entered South Carolina when we pulled off the road and headed to King’s Mountain National Military Park. The state park was down the road and they had signs for a picnic area so that is where we headed first. It was already after 2 when we found the picnic spots with a playground and had our lunch. Whitman immediately knew we were in a campground. He picked up a stick and asked if we were going to have marshmallows and tell stories. I told him that we wouldn’t do that today but maybe when it was cooler.

The weather was pretty perfect and the kids played for a while. We then headed to the National Park area. They had a film about the battles there during the American Revolution which was great-so I am told. Then we walked through their little visitor’s center before deciding to walk on a trail out back. It was just a mile and a half. We weren’t accounting for the hills but the weather was pretty nice and even though we were sweating, it was a neat little trail. We weren’t moving very quickly on the trail until Robby looked and saw that it was nearing 5 and the bathrooms closed at 5. That definitely sped things up!

When we reached the second monument on our trail, Anderson and Reagan were in the front of the rest of us. They came walking back tell us that the trail ended and that we would have to walk back the same way we had come. We really had thought the trail was a loop and Robby pulled out the map-we were a bit panicked since we had already come up lots of hill areas. Then they burst out laughing-the rest of the trail was on the other side of the monument.

We made it before the bathrooms closed and it was a good thing because we had a 3 hour drive in front of us-nothing like waiting until the last minute (on the bathrooms and the drive.) We did stop for 7-11 drinks since we figured that would probably be our last 7-11 for at least a year to see. We stopped at Arbys to pick up supper, to potty and for me to drive some.

I ended up driving the rest of the way here and goodness gracious, I think I would rather drive in NYC than Atlanta-these people be crazy! We made it to our hotel just on the outskirts of town and quickly unloaded. The kids 7-11 drinks and Arby’s meals had caught up with them. They almost had a fist fight over who would get to go to the bathroom first. Once everyone had used the facilities, we started our shower and laundry routines.

I told Keaton that tomorrow would be our last night in a hotel and she looked at me incredibly puzzled and said, “where will we go?” Robby told her that we would go home and she just looked so disappointed. Whitman will be the Dennie most excited about coming home-but he will probably call our house our “hotel” for awhile.