November 30, 2018

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  • We were supposed to be in Branson today, so I had little motivation to get myself out of bed and get the school thing going. I did let everyone sleep in for a little bit, but then we did get started on our school work. 
  • We did our morning reading, and then everyone started on their school work. They loved having a much shorter day but not nearly as much as I loved it. It was honestly probably just the perfect amount of school work for us all. Whitman did have a hard phonics page so it took him a bit, but he still had plenty of time to play before lunch.
  • This gave me plenty of time to pull out school for the next week. Some things just never seem to end-pulling out school, the laundry and the dishes. Never ending! I guess I wouldn't have it any other way though.
  • We ate our lunch then did our chores. Around 2, we did all read a bit more followed by Reagan and I curling up in the living room to watch another Christmas movie.
  • By the time that we were finished with out movie, Pops was almost here to pick up the girls and Whitman. They had a big night eating pizza over there and putting out Nonna's Snow Village. Whitman, of course, did a lot of ipadding.
  • Robby took the big boys to their basketball practice, and then hurried home to pick me up. We had a surprise birthday party to go to that we barely made it to in time. 
  • Grannymom picked up the big boys from their practice. Graham had packed his ipad so he thought, but when he went to pull it out of his bag, it wasn't there. Thankfully, I later found his ipad in Whitman's magnet bag. I guess that when Graham packed his bag, he put the ipad in Whitman's bag which was also in the mudroom. Glad we found it though!
  • Once we made it home with the girls and Whitman, it was time for bed for the crew. We have lots of basketball games tomorrow!

November 29, 2018

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  • Well, now my body is officially off of Eastern time. I am now sleeping as long as everyone else in this house. That is fine with me, but when it is time for me to finally wake up, it is really time to get up and get started with the day.
  • This morning, it took about 15 minutes from me waking up to getting the kids in my room with their breakfast to start on our morning reading. Not too shabby. This was the last scheduled day of school this week so the kids had a full day's work. Tomorrow we were planning on being in Branson, but the weather messed us up, so their school work tomorrow will be lighter. 
  • I don't think that today should have been any lighter but for some reason people were starting to finish before 10. Reagan was first and Graham was not too far behind her. Whitman, who would probably have to be on ADD meds if he was in real school, was almost last. Gracious me, some days that boy can wear me out.
  • Even though I was finished with working with the kids a bit earlier than usual, I was still pretty distracted and didn't call people to lunch until well after 12:30. Possibly I am the one who needs the ADD meds.
  • We did some reading at lunch, but skipped our afternoon reading. Scandalous, I know! Actually, the boys were called outside to haul some leaves. I did wait inside for a good while before showing up to help. By the time I made it there, they were pretty much finished with their job. 
  • I was able to help Anderson finish one of his tiny Lego projects. The tiny legos aren't really legos so they are nothing like building with legos. He had a plane from our last trip and had never worked it. Today we finally finished it. I don't know who was more excited about finishing.
  • Anderson and Graham had basketball practice this evening so Keaton and I took them. After dropping them off, Keaton and I did some speed shopping-Academy, Sams, Pennys, and Walmart. I was super pleased with everything we accomplished. Though I did forget my ice chest and probably could have gotten home with some ice cream for tonight if I had that ice chest.
  • Once we made it home, Robby had supper ready for us. The others had already eaten. Then it was shower time for my basketball players. We had told the kids that we would have ice cream sandwiches after supper. As I called them, I realized that we only had 5 ice cream sandwiches. Thankfully, I had a tiny bit of ice cream left over so we survived the near catastrophe.
  • Soon the kids headed to bed, and we watched one more Hallmark movie before we grabbed us a bite to eat...not ice cream and not an ice cream sandwich!

November 28, 2018

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  • Wednesday morning and yes, we were a bit out of habit after missing 2 Bible studies and then having a week off for Thanksgiving. I called to Reagan that she had 3 minutes left. She made it to the kitchen right as I was sounding the one minute alarm.
  • She pulled out the toaster and started to heat her bagel. I told her that she was kind of waiting to the last minute. But after looking at the toaster's empty slot, I shoved my bagel in as well. My child turned to me and replied, "well, aren't you waiting to the last minute too." I sure was and the bagel was delightful-though I did use the last of my cream cheese!
  • Bible study was fine, and afterwards we went to the Heltz' house. They were having some trees cut down so this was pretty exciting for the kids, mostly Whitman, to watch. Once the trees came down, we released the kids, and they were able to run around and play for a good little bit. 
  • When we headed home, the kids worked on their chores for a little bit. Reagan even had Kennedy doing some of her chores for her. We even did our afternoon reading even though we had a guest. I saw where we were in history and am going to do my best to be halfway by Christmas-we may have to start Saturday school least just for history.
  • After reading to everyone, reading to the three littles, reading to Whitman and having him read to me, the afternoon really seemed to fly by. I was just about to sit down and rest my eyes when Whitman asked me to help him make a domino track. 
  • Once that was finished, I was about to sit down again when Robby came home. So after talking to him for a bit, it was already time to start on supper. Since we had pizza for lunch today, I pulled out all of the sandwich stuff for supper tonight. I did try to make it fancy by emphasizing that we were having paninis! Even though that is just squished warm sandwiches, paninis sound better than "sandwiches." I am not too sure if the kids bought it or not.
  • We went to the library for me to check out a few books. Then it was on to church. It took pretty much forever for us and all of the cars in front of us to turn on the road to get to the church house, but we finally made it. We even made it in plenty of time for Whitman and I to see Grannymom, Grandpa and Nonna.
  • Then it was time for our classes. Before we made it out of the church parking lot, it was already 8:30. Once we made it home, the kids showered and then it was bedtime for all. Reagan tried to convince us to watch a Hallmark movie with them, but since she was only trying to get a later bedtime out of the deal, we didn't oblige.

November 27, 2018

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  • This Tuesday went a bit less smoothly than Monday. I hope that rest of the week doesn't continue to plummet! Nah, it wasn't that bad, but gracious me some days are just some days!
  • Campbell was the first one awake this morning. She even saw me turning on the oven and asked if she could help make our muffins for breakfast. I certainly agreed and let her bake away. That worked out well for me because I got myself ready while she started our muffins.
  • It took a bit of time to wake everyone up and get them down the stairs despite the warm muffins. We ate in my room as I read to every one. We are now a 4 muffin package family. The kids ate all but one of the muffins. The last was Whitman's muffin, but he didn't like the chocolate one. I happily at it up though.
  • School went fairly well today. Anderson was pretty behind during most of the day. Plus the three bigs are working on their semester presentations for their library class. This presentation has been quite a bit of work for them, and there have been lots of questions that I can not answer which has been a bit overwhelming for me.
  • We had our lunch while I did a bit of reading. Then there were chores-lots of chores. I think that since the tree is up along with all of our other Christmas decorations, I feel that the house is super cluttered. But on the other hand, I do love all of the decorations.
  • The afternoon was fairly busy-we did some more reading and then Campbell and Graham worked in the kitchen some. They both have snack tomorrow for Bible study, so they worked together to make chocolate chip cookies. Graham just made cookies while Campbell made a cookie cake which we decorated with lots of icing tonight.
  • Before too long, Campbell and Keaton rode to basketball with Candice. Reagan, Whitman and I drove to pick up Kennedy. She is spending the night tonight. When we made it home, Anderson had finished his EAST work while Graham had straightened the house for me. And yes, they were told to do this!
  • Robby had supper ready as well when we came home. We ate our spaghetti and then when we were finished, Campbell and Keaton arrived home and ate. Everyone then had showers and then hung out until bedtime. And by hung out, I mean the boys played xbox, Whitman watched his ipad, Reagan and Kennedy did whatever teenager girls do, Campbell and Keaton tried their best to annoy them and Robby and I watched a Hallmark movie or two.

November 26, 2018

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  • This Monday after the break went much better than expected. Of course my expectations were very, very low! I was the first one awake this morning and I don't think anyone would have woken up for at least another hour if I had not gone up to start waking them up.
  • The boys wake up a bit quicker than the girls. The girls are pretty moany and whiney in the mornings. Reagan was the first one of the girls to walk down the stairs, and actually she was the least moany and whiney.
  • Everyone ate in my bedroom while I did our morning reading. Then we started on our school work. Things did go fairly well this morning. Everyone was finished before lunch time which made things a bit easier for me!
  • Campbell did go to eat lunch with Robby so they were gone a little bit. Once they were back home, I did some more reading, and then I jumped in the car.
  • I headed to Nonna and Pops' house to help them do some Christmas shopping. I was able to buy a few little things and after Robby has placed all of my orders tonight, then I will be well on my way as far as shopping is concerned
  • The kids played a little bit outside this afternoon. I think Campbell and Keaton were having quite a bit of fun and were not ready to come home. However, Graham came in because he was cold!  I don't blame him at all because it was cold out there today!
  • I made it home a bit after 5 and soon had supper in the oven. Don't be that impressed, it was just a frozen meal from Sams. I did decide tonight that maybe I should cook supper for us and somebody else one night a week and then go to someone else's house the next night. Do I have any takers?
  • Once supper was over, we all settled in to watch a Bates movie and then started a Hallmark movie. I am getting pretty addicted to these silly movies! And I love it.

November 25, 2018

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  • This was the first Sunday at home in a while. Graham remembered the drill and was waking through our room early looking for his clothes, which were in the floor of my closet. Yes, I am still doing a bit of cruise unpacking.
  • Soon everyone was dressed-Keaton and Campbell had carefully laid out their clothes the night before. Not surprisingly though, they had both changed what they were going to wear this morning. It was fine since they were still ready in plenty of time.
  • Church and then we headed to Grannymom's house for lunch. After the kids ate, they all headed outside to play. They were all outside for the rest of the afternoon playing a game of kickball and football. Campbell said that there were a few squabbles but everyone stayed outside so it was a win.
  • When we left Grannymom's, we ran to Sams for a few minutes. The boys didn't want to go in, but I sure enjoyed every bit of our shopping. We did buy supper there so it was certainly another win for us all.
  • Since we made it home much later than usual, there wasn't too much time for our traditional Sunday afternoon nap. Robby and I did snooze for a little bit, and then he got up to work on supper. 
  • We all ate our supper, and then Robby and I sat down to watch a Hallmark movie....or two. The kids kept interrupting our movie since they were asking for the cookies that we had just baked. We waited until the cookies were very cool-well, we actually waited until the first movie was over.
  • The kids stayed up until the middle of our second movie, and then it was bedtime for all. The kids weren't too pleased about going to bed, but tomorrow is back to a normal routine!

November 24, 2018

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  • Whitman was again the first one in our room this morning. He wanted to make sure that he could eat "by himself" and wanted me to pour him some milk. After I had him settled, I ran back to the bed for a few more minutes.
  • Soon I was folding laundry and emptying the dishwasher. Robby and I took a few last Christmas boxes back up to the attic. Then it was time to fold some more laundry.
  • The kids pretty much did nothing all day long. Campbell and Keaton spent a few hours with Robby running some errands. 
  • When they returned, I headed out to the library with Whitman. He would have preferred to stay at home close to his ipad, but I didn't get him a choice. 
  • This afternoon, Robby and I went outside to work on the Christmas lights. When we did, everyone else came outside-they played basketball, rode bikes, made a leaf trail, rode scooters and even played on the swings some. I guess they just needed us to come outside.
  • We picked up the Wilsons tonight and we all went to ChickFilA for supper. Then we all walked through Hobby Lobby It was quite a sight all of us wondering around. The girls found a few things that they want for Christmas which made the trip worth it. 
  • We then went back to the Wilson's house for some cookies. The kids were in the middle of a movie when we left, so they weren't too happy with us. It was however time for showers and bed.
  • If you are keeping track, I do know that this is the second day lately that I have not gotten Reagan's picture. Tonight she offered to take pictures of everyone and didn't get her own picture nor did she get Campbell's. I promise I will do better tomorrow.

November 23, 2018

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  • Whitman came into our room this morning around 6:45. He was carrying his water bottle and climbed right into our bed. This woke me up for good, and when I am awake in the mornings, I usually get hot because of the heat blasting on us. So I spent the next 30 minutes trying to figure out how to uncover me while keeping Robby and Whitman covered up.
  • When I did leave the sleeping boys, I worked on my last few ornaments. They were soon ready for the tree. Once Robby woke up, he started to work on the Christmas decorations.
  • The first thing that we did was to set up the Snow Village stuff. It wasn't too bad though I do have more little people than houses so I do think that it looks a bit cluttered. However, by the end, I had already put up the boxes and didn't want to get them back out to put the little figurines back inside of.
  • Next up was the kitchen tree which was super simple to put up and even decorate. On that tree goes all of my food ornaments so decorating it doesn't take any time at all. Then we moved on to the big tree.
  • Imagine my relief when we opened up the box, and the tree was not gold. The tree only had 3 pieces as compared to our 20 year old tree that had at least 100 branches to put on. The tree didn't take us too long to put up and even move. The kids walked through and wanted the tree near the tv and not where we had put it. We tried it where they suggested and liked it, so we moved the tree.
  • I didn't do any decorating then because it was time for a nap-I mean the football game. Well, I may have done both at least during the first half. The Wilson's came over during the second half, and Shannon helped (well she actually did all of the work) put a burlap ribbon around my tree. 
  • I then put the ornaments on the tree. Campbell and Keaton did help a little bit. It is a shame, but I have about 100 or more ornaments that I wasn't able to use this year because I just don't have enough room on the tree. Maybe we should slow down on the ornament buying-says the girl who bought over 25 this year. 
  • I did separate all of my Disney ornaments since maybe I need a Disney tree somewhere in the house. That would be fun. Maybe next year though-just baby steps. I will say that this is the first year in a quite a few years that I have actually thought that my tree looks really good. 
  • After the game, the adults ran to David's Burgers to eat supper. Then we picked up the kids food on the way home. They ate and as soon as they finished, the neighbors came outside. So the kids then played outside until after 9. It was dark and cold out there and they didn't seem to mind. 
  • The adults watched the basketball game, and then we watched a Hallmark movie. Now this was Robby and my first Hallmark movies to watch. I think that I might even be hooked. We actually finished the movie after the Wilsons left and then put the kids to bed after 11! It is a still a holiday, right?

November 22, 2018-Happy Thanksgiving!

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  • I am not sure which kiddo came in our room first this morning, but everyone was awake and moving early because there was quite a bit of excitement about today. Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday and I think that it is rubbing off on some of my people.
  • Even though we didn't really have much to do this morning, we still stayed busy the entire morning. Robby helped me make rice krispy treats in the shape of a pumpkin pie. It was no pinterest fail, but it wasn't exactly like the picture. They were still delicious, and there was only one left the last time I was in the kitchen.
  • Robby then went outside to blow some leaves, and I put Keaton and Campbell to work slicing fruit. Soon it was time to make our annual fruit turkeys. The boys and the girls each do one. As Whitman was working, I asked him if this was more fun than watching his ipad, and he quickly said "yes." However, he soon followed it with a "but...." This was the first year that Reagan was a bit more relaxed on the turkey and let her sisters do a bit more work on the turkey.
  • Soon, the potatoes were in the oven, the fruit turkeys were done, the dips were on the counter, the apple crisp was baked and the rolls were next in line for the oven. Everyone started arriving around 11ish. 
  • My kids could hardly wait to see all of their cousins. I think hanging out with their cousins for the entire day is what makes my kids love Thanksgiving so much. It was before noon when we said the prayer and dug in to all of our food. There was so much food! A ridiculous amount of food, but by the time we had snacked all day and had supper tonight, there was not as much left as I had guessed their would be.
  • The neighbors came out so the kids played with them from the early afternoon until about 8 tonight. By the time that they came in, they were freezing cold. I probably should have plugged up a heater in the garage for the kids, but they didn't really care. 
  • Campbell worked really hard to on popping our pumpkin with rubber bands. I helped her some and by the end of the day, they had used all of the new package of rubber bands. Unfortunately, the pumpkin that she tried it on was pretty short and squatty so it never popped.
  • Everyone stayed over here until after supper. Once the fam all left, Robby and I cleaned up and then sat down until the kids came in. When they came in, the cycled through the showers. 
  • Keaton was so excited about drawing names for the kid gifts tonight. Seconds after they drew names, people were looking on computers and ipads for gifts for their people. 

November 21, 2018

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  • The first thing that I remember this morning was Whitman coming in to our room. He wanted to know if he could eat breakfast, if he could eat breakfast in the living room. if I could pour him some milk, if I could open his poptart and if the dishwasher was clean. There always seem to be so many questions in the mornings.
  • Soon though I was jumping out of bed again when I heard Anderson in the kitchen. To me it sounded like he was pouring himself a bit old glass of milk. I wanted to stop him before there was a disaster with the now expired milk. Thankfully, he wasn't yet getting the milk.
  • I probably should have just poured the milk out then because later in the day, Whitman tried to convince Robby to pour him a glass a milk. Then there were more questions about the milk, why it was bad and when we were getting more.
  • Most of this morning was spent unloading the car. The kids helped off and on some, but mostly Robby and I did it. He would get things in and cleaned the car while I put things up inside. It took a while, but things were soon straight and put away.
  • After working for a while, I felt like I needed a nap. I think that I have gotten used to not doing anything all day-just walking up to the lido deck and eating at the buffet and then coming back to the room to take a nap-so today when it was back to real working, then my body was not adequately prepared.
  • Around noon, we loaded up to head to Candice's house. The kids were a bit excited to tell all about their trip. We ate our lunches, and then the kids played outside while Candice and I did some chatting.
  • As we were loading up for Candice's, Keaton and Campbell came downstairs with their winter coats on. I guess the weather here seems a lot colder than the weather in the sun shiny Bahamas. They didn't wear their big coats very long and were soon out playing in the sun.
  • Around 2, we headed to pick up Robby and then went to the Wilson's house. Layne had run by Sonic and had drinks for everyone. The kids pretty much guzzled their drinks like they had not had a Sonic drink before. Eventually the kids played outside while the grown ups talked.
  • We stayed for a while and then came home to do some straightening around this house. Then Tony and Shannon dropped Brett off over here while the grown ups went out to eat. We had Mexican which was pretty good.
  • Afterwards, we ran by Hobby Lobby and I bought some pillows for my couch (I still want a few more) and something for my tree. Then we grabbed pizza for the kids to eat back and home. We also picked up some ice cream for dessert. I do believe that the kids enjoyed the ice cream better than the pizza-my kids are most certainly in ice cream withdraw.
  • Once the Wilson family left, we all started working on the house. It wasn't too bad and soon the kids had their showers and everyone was in their beds...even Robby and I. 

Holland America vs. Norwegian Cruise Lines

I thought that I should write a little bit about the two cruise lines so I will be able to remember our thoughts on each one. We have been on 2 Norwegian ships recently and 3 many years ago, but this was our first experience with Holland America.

Ship: The ships are comparable. The Holland America ship, the Nieuw Amsterdam, does not have a grand atrium, but that is not a deal breaker in my book. Holland does have a super fancy explorations area in their observation area where you can use computers to explore you next destinations. Winner: Tie

Room: Our Holland room is a balcony and very large with much storage, but we have never had a balcony room on Norwegian so I can’t compare. However, Holland has many more options on the tv like movies and tv shows. Additionally, Holland leaves fruit in your room each day which the kids thoroughly enjoyed. Most importantly, Holland has free room service. Winner: Holland America

Dining Room: The food in the dining rooms have been comparable on both cruise lines. Holland has set dinner times which does lock you into a time. However, on Norwegian we were always limited on the times that we could make reservations because of our large party size so we were also locked into a specific time though we were able to choose an early or late time. On Holland, you set at the same table each night so you have the same servers. This means that they know get to know you-bringing the kids lemonade, ordering extra fries for the kids and bringing Grandpa coffee. However, on Norwegian they had chocolate lava cake almost every night while the desserts on the Holland haven’t been exceptional to me. Winner: Tie

Kids’ Club: Holland has older passengers so their kids’ club rarely had anyone there, always less than 10 kids with no one in the teen area. Their security was lax, and they didn't even have bathrooms in the kids’ area. Norwegian is hands down the winner on the kids’ club. Their security procedures seemed to take forever, but they were thorough and in place. Norwegian was full of exciting kid activities for kids of all ages. On Holland, we urged the boys to skip the kids’ club since they wouldn’t have fun being with the smaller kids. Winner: Norwegian

Cruise Director: So this category doesn’t really matter at all. Hollands’ cruise director was not too impressive at all while Norwegian's was exactly what you would picture a cruise director being-full of life and full of energy. However, the cruise director impacts my cruise zero percent. Winner: Norwegian (not counted in final total)

Activities: On the cruise agenda each night, we have circled about 4-6 items each day to do on our Holland cruise. On the Norwegian cruises, we would have to pick and choose what we wanted to do because of so many different choices. Norwegian was full of activities from sunup to sundown. Now, with all of these activities we often felt like we never slowed down at all-which is what we are used to. So having free time on the Holland America is a bit odd to us. Holland does have America’s Test Kitchen which was on of Campbell’s favorite things. Holland also has  some super cool computers to use to explore the ports.  Winner: Norwegian

Shows: I think that the shows on both cruises have been fairly comparable. Norwegian might have a slight edge, but not enough to count them as the winner. Winner: Tie

Buffet: On Holland, the buffet food is definitely fancier. At night, it becomes a restaurant, and they even bring you drinks. However, since the food is fancier, it is more difficult for the kids to find food that they enjoy. Holland has had scoop ice cream available at all times, plus waffle cones and not just soft serve in a plastic cone. Winner: Tie

Winner: Norwegian with a score of 2-1. I am pretty sure that our next cruise will probably be a Norwegian, However, if we find another great deal on Holland, we will jump on the boat immediately.

Dennie Kid State and Country Count:

Dennie Kid State and Country Count (June 2, 2018):

Reagan-Complete at 12 years old

May 22, 2018, last state Alaska

Territories-2 (Puerto Rico, Virgin Islands)

Countries-3 (U.S., Canada, Bahamas)

Anderson-Complete at 11 years old

May 22, 2018, last state Alaska

Territories-2 (Puerto Rico, Virgin Islands)

Countries-3 (U.S., Canada, Bahamas)

Graham-Complete at 9 years old

May 22, 2018, last state Alaska

Territories-2 (Puerto Rico, Virgin Islands)

Countries-3 (U.S., Canada, Bahamas)

Campbell-Complete at 8 years old

May 22, 2018, last state Alaska

Territories-2 (Puerto Rico, Virgin Islands)

Countries-3 (U.S., Canada, Bahamas)

Keaton-Complete at 6 years old

May 22, 2018, last state Alaska

Territories-2 (Puerto Rico, Virgin Islands)

Countries-3 (U.S., Canada, Bahamas)

Whitman-Complete at 5 years old

June 2 2018, last state North Dakota

Territories-2 (Puerto Rico, Virgin Islands)

Countries-3 (U.S., Canada, Bahamas)

Florida Gators and Caribbean Cruise 2018: By the Numbers

Toothbrushes Bought-6
Boxes of Lemonheads Eaten-5
Jr. Ranger Badges-36
Loads of Laundry-10
Rice Krispy Treat Recipes Eaten-2
U.S. Territories-2
Times I Banged my Head on the Cruise Bunk Bed-6
Cruise Ice Cream-8 people x 3 ice cream stops at day x 7 full days=168 bowls and cones of ice cream
Longest Car Day-1008 miles
Nautical Miles-2034


Florida Gators and Caribbean Cruise: Day 14 November 20, 2018

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Robby left the room around 5:10 this morning to take Grannymom and Grandpa to the airport. I had already dreamed that he was flying out but came back because a man at the airport asked him for too many forms of identification so Robby just said that he would drive. I also dreamed that I pulled Keaton’s loose tooth.

That dream was fairly accurate except I had nothing to do with her wiggly tooth coming out about 30 minutes after we sat down in the car.She was pretty pleased with herself, and if I do say so, she looks pretty adorable missing that front tooth.

We were all at breakfast when they opened at 6. It was quite a chore waking everyone up. Though Whitman has been in a pretty funny mood so he woke up easily. Last night he crawled in our bed and then asked, “what are you two doing up here?” We had just turned off the lights and were both on our phones. I guess he thought that if he had to put his device up, then so should we. This morning as he was putting on his clothes, he asked, “so where is our first stop?”
Unfortunately, we didn’t have many or any stops scheduled for the day. The only plan was to drive as far as we could. We were well on the way by 7 headed North towards home. We had a quite first hour with a little bit of rain slowing us down occasionally.

Then the kids worked on some of their school work before we passed out ipads. I tell you, passing out ipads is just wonderful. The car can be pretty noisy but once those ipads are passed back and we turn on wifi, then the car is happy and peaceful once again.

We drove for a while before stopping for a bathroom/gas stop. I drove us into Georgia and to a Redbox where we picked up some movies. Soon the movie was playing and we were near where the storms came through on our way down to Florida. There were tons of signs knocked down all near the interstate. We are not sure if they were from that day or not, but gracious they have had some storms through her at some point.

There was a rest stop that was calling Reagan’s name so we ran in there for a minute. I needed to go too, but wasn’t going to say anything until someone else did! After that potty stop, there was evntually lunch.

We pulled into Arby’s to get some roast beef sandwiches for the road. Whitman was not pleased about the idea of curly fries so I just made him a peanut butter tortilla. That made him so happy that I made him two. I figured if ihe was busy eating then he would be quieter longer.

I drove for a little bit and at one point everyone was asking for a snack. I saw the clock and thought that we were going to have to have at least 2 more snacks before supper even. Finally, Robby told me that he had already set the clocks back to Little Rock time.

The kids were rather quiet through Alabama and Mississippi since they had their ipads. I had a podcast to listen to which I really wanted to enjoy. There is one more about “celery” so I will try that one too before I make my final judgement, but the topic of celery for 30 minutes doesn’t sound too wonderful.

After my podcast, the kids watched another movie while we drove to Tupelo. In Tupelo, we had planned on driving right to the store Five Below and let the kids each pick a gift to reward them for a long car day. It wasn’t that easy….we drove to Tupelo, but couldn’t find the store. We hunted for about 30 minutes, and Robby even had to call the store twice.

When we finally made it to Five Below, the kids were beyond excited. Don’t be surprised, but Reagan, Anderson and Graham all picked candy. Now Whitman picked not just one foam sword but two. Keaton chose a diffuser to have on her shelf in her room.

Once we were back in the car, we made sandwiches for our supper. Then I passed out the ipads and candy. Robby turned on one of his podcasts which was better than mine...and I have to say that since it was a preacher man.

We listened to sermon after sermon for the rest of the way home. It certainly passed the time. I also did a bit of research about cruises since it is never too early to start planning the next trip or the next 5 or 6 trips.

We made it home around 10:30. You will never believe it, but we just pulled out what we needed from the car, came in and all went to bed. Sixteen hours in the car can make you a bit tired!

Florida Gators and Caribbean Cruise: Day 13 November 19, 2018

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Again, I woke up 15 minutes before my alarm went off. That was fine though because I had plenty of time to reconnect with technology some more. Robby had internet on the boat, but I would only have it for a few minutes and it often didn’t work. I was able to catch up quite a bit last night but do feel all caught up this morning.

Campbell and Keaton went to breakfast with Grannymom and Grandpa this morning. They were excited about the coke machine down stairs. Soon we were all eating our breakfasts and drinking some coke. That is another thing that we have been without on the cruise-cokes. Robby did buy everyone a few times while we were off the boat.

We had about 30 minutes to drive this morning before we arrived at Legoland. This was Anderson’s day that he had been waiting for, and I think that it met all of his expectations. We were near the front of the line to enter the park.

Once the gates opened, we headed to The Dragon roller coaster. Reagan had to say that she was 14 so Keaton could ride with her. We had told the lady that Reagan was 13, but she said, “if you tell me she is 14 then they can ride together.” So we did! And for the rest of the day, Reagan had to say that she was 14 since I was already being the adult rider beside Whitman.

The next thing was a jousting ride. I remember the kids riding this ride when we were at Legoland California. They are getting a bit big for this park, I guess. We knew that going in, but we also knew that Anderson needed one more visit.

The weather was pretty perfect today. It was warm in the sun but pleasant in the shade. Often the sky was even cloudy, but I am pretty sure that we probably still have a few pink noses. Keaton’s face is crazy dry this morning probably from all of the sun that she got on our beach day. Or maybe because she can’t keep her hands off of her face since she is working hard at pulling one of her top teeth.

Next there was a Egyptian themed shooting ride that we all rode on. I did pretty good on that one, There was also Ninjago ride that was comparable to Toy Story at Disney. Except you used your hands to shoot. By the end of the ride, I could barely lift my arms. Maybe I need to hit the gym when we get home-maybe after Thanksgiving, or maybe after my Christmas shopping is done, or maybe after the first of the year.

I don’t even remember this ride, but Graham tells me that it was wooden, fast and rocky. It was called Coastersausus and was dinosaur themed. I am having to use the map to determine where exactly that we went today.

The big 5 went to Driving School. This is also another ride I remember us doing in Legoland California. I think that Reagan was the only one who could go to the big kid driving school. Now, I have 5 kids old enough to go and one will be driving in 2 years.  Eek! It is just slow go carts that the kids drive around a mini town.

They had little kid Driving School that Whitman could go to, but he opted to do a firetruck ride. We had so much fun on it that we made everyone else come with us when they finished their ride. The firetruck ride required you to pump your firetruck to the end of the road, jump out and pump water to put out a fire and then pump the truck back to the starting line. The boys beat the girls, but we all had fun.

Flying School was the next roller coaster. We even rode it twice. It was one that you hang from the top so your legs just dangle. When it was over, we had walked to the end of the park and were at the entrance to the water park which is closed.

Before I knew what was happening, the kids and I jumped in the Lego Race line which was fairly lng-about an hour. It was the longest line that we waited in the whole day. They have all kinds of lego things to do while you wait so the time did pass fairly quickly. It was a virtual reality ride, but Whitman and Keaton weren’t tall enough to wear the headsets so they couldn’t wear them. That also meant that I couldn’t wear one since I had to watch them.

Reagan was in our car and seemed to enjoy her virtual reality headset. I on the other hand probably needed a headset because I could see what was happening and screamed my heart out on the big drop. The picture shows me smiling like a something that smiles really bit, Whitman is beside me grinning and Keaton looks fairly worried. You couldn’t see Reagan’s face because she had on the big headset covering her eyes and most of her face.

When we climbed off of this ride, Robby had bought a cup which we continually refilled all throughout the day. I tell you, we got our money’s worth out of that cup. We stopped and had a little snack from my bag. Then walked down to the area that is full of all of the cities that are built with legos. It is pretty memorable. Whitman loved pushing the buttons that made things move or especially pushing the buttons that made things squirt water out at him.

There was a Star Wars section but we made Anderson wait until a bit later in the day before going back to see that. After walking around there, we headed to the pirate show. It took place on the lake and had skiers doing tricks as they fought off the pirates.

The show was neat-Campbell, Graham, Whitman and Keaton sat down low so maybe they would get wet. They all got a little sprinkled. A pirate did come up to Whitman and “argh” at him. This scared him and he jumped at least 10 feet in the air. It was quite entertaining to all of us!

After the show, we headed back down the hill towards the park exit. But first, we did walk through the Star Wars legoland. Then the kids rode the carousel and the boys did a little shopping. You could also trade minifigures so everyone did that once.

We also walked through the girl legoland area. They only had one ride, but it was closed. So then a few ran to do the first roller coaster again while I took Whitman to a play place that he had seen. We then met back up and headed out of the park. I did get myself a Christmas ornament making this the 5th ornament that I have bought on this trip...and that means that I have bought well over 25 ornaments this year! Eeek! I need not just a bigger Christmas tree but more Christmas trees.

On our way out of the park, Graham, Anderson, Campbell and I walked through the Legoland Hotel. Wow! We wanted to stay there. I took a few pictures, and I think that Anderson may want to own that hotel now! It was pretty awesome on the inside. I am not sure what the rooms looked like, but the lobby was really awesome.

When we made it back to the car, we drove just a few miles to Five Guys and ate a quick bite of supper. I think that everyone was hungry since we had missed lunch. The burgers were good and hit the spot.

Then it was just about an hour before we arrived at the hotel. We did pass Disney World on our way there which made us all a bit sad...but we will return next year. Once we made it to the hotel, Graham and Anderson bunked with Grannymom and Grandpa who will leave for the airport very early in the morning.

Robby will drive them and then come back to collect us. We have a long ways to go tomorrow!

Florida Gators and Caribbean Cruise: Day 12 November 18, 2018

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I guess after being around all of the older folks on this cruise, I have started to take on a few of their characteristics=-namely waking up early. I first woke up at 5:45 but was thankfully able to go back to sleep for a little bit. However, I was wide awake when Campbell’s room service came a bit before 7:20.  

All of my girls were awake and moving pretty early this morning. Reagan is usually my slowest in the mornings, but she didn’t want to miss the last buffet. I think that you could certainly get used to buffet breakfasts with choices galore.

After our breakfast, we headed back to our room. Robby had taken a few things and put in their bags and left a few things for our bags. We zipped everything up, did a double look to make sure we had everything and before too long they were calling our color.

The lines were not long to get off of the boat, and we found our luggage quickly. The only difficult part was waiting on the shuttle bus. After one or two went by filled to the brim, we crowded on the next one. When I say “crowded” I really mean crowded!

The drive to the car was short, and the car started easily-that is always a relief. Once in the car, we drove for a bit. We stopped for gas, and then Robby and I ran into a grocoery store. We picked up lunch stuff for today and for the rest of the trip. Robby also splurged and bought stuff to make rice krispy treats for the ride home.

Back in the car, we only had to ride for about an hour until we made it back to Big Cypress National Preserve. We were a bit determined to see some more alligators, and this time we did. Below the boardwalk were tons of alligators. They weren’t moving too much, but they were indeed there. Whitman thought that they were just rocks even when he saw them slowly move.

We ate our picnic lunch at a picnic table. It was warm out but while we were eating a cloud covered the sun, and it was perfectly pleasant. The boys played football and as we sat out there, we went through a whole container of cookies.

Then it was back on the road for a few more miles of driving. Actually, for about 3 more hours of driving. I was sitting in the way back with Campbell and Keaton so I just snoozed a way for some of it. We did stop at 7-eleven for gas and snacks. My kids were enamored with the huge Snicker bag gifts that they had in the gas station. I do think I could have probably accomplished all of my Christmas shopping in that little store.

The drive wasn’t really bad at all. My boys knew that we were headed towards Legoland which made them happy. Campbell and Keaton were happy because I was back with them with my computer and phone. Reagan was in the front which delighted her. Whitman was just content as usual.

Once we made it to the hotel, everything came in the hotel. That took two whole carts and lots of hands. After unloading and sorting, Robby went to do a load-or 6 of laundry. This hotel has free laundry and obviously it was picked for that purpose.

While I repacked some things and Robby kept the laundry moving, Grannymom watched Campbell, Keaton and Whitman swim. They had a blast despite the coolish temps outside. By supper time, most of the laundry was drying, everyone had showered and we ate Papa Johns pizza that Robby had picked up.

Whitman’s eyes were really bothering him again tonight. Tonight he was upset about them-they must have really hurt him. We tried drops, we tried another shower but it just took a while for him to calm down and forget that they were bothering him so.

It was nearly 8 when the last load of laundry was dry. I put everything away and then we worked on making rice krispy treats. Since there wasn’t a large enough pan, we used a pizza box lined with syran wrap (that we had to buy) smeared with butter (also bought). It was quite the adventure-this is now the second time during all of our travels that we have made rice krispy treats in a hotel.

Once the treats were ready to be wrapped up, we bedded down in this hotel room. It was just 10, but I think that my crew was all pretty exhausted. I am a bit disappointed that we don’t have a cooking show to watch tonight, but maybe when we get home.

Florida Gators and Caribbean Cruise: Day 11 November 17, 2018

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Time changed last night so I woke up right at 6:30, thinking that I was already late. Instead I was awake an hour early. I spent that hour planning out how we would go about packing up to get off of this boat. I may have done a bit of solitaire playing as well.

Soon it was time to get up and start getting ready for the day. It was fairly easy because we all threw on our bathing suits. The girls and I went to the buffet to eat our breakfasts. I still can’t find any eggs benedict, but have given up on that and moved on to yogurt and granola each morning. I think I would be one happy gal if I could have yogurt and granola every morning at home for breakfast. I didn’t even get around to having a blueberry bagel with strawberry cream cheese on it. I guess there is still tomorrow morning.

Around 9, we boarded a tender to go to Half Moon Cay which is Holland America’s private island. There was another Holland boat there today so the island was not quite that private, but it was still beautiful.

The tender was packed with at least 150 of our closest friends. The ride was short even though it was a bit hot. Thankfully, that was actually the warmest that we were all day long. We soon found a spot on the beach, but moved further away from the tenders and closer to the lunch spot.

The kids could not wait to get in. We probably should have made them wait a bit longer and double and triple checked all sunscreen. I have a few folks that are a bit red places. The top of my back was adequately sprayed, however the bottom of my back is pretty pink.

The water was the most beautiful, clear blue that I had ever seen. The kids were surprised when I told them that I had never swam in water the gorgeous before. The water was shallow so we could go way out. The kids had so much fun playing in the water.

Whitman could have worked on his sand castle for hours. Everyone was content-pretty nice. Now, at 11ish we headed to the eating area to get in line for lunch. The line wasn’t too long, and it was easy for us to find a spot to eat.

There were a few choices, but the hot dogs and hamburgers were already topped with sauce and tomatoes so my kiddos weren’t too crazy about them. Most folks had chicken breasts along with some fruit.

After lunch, Whitman and I headed to the splash pad. He fell once, and after he did, he was finished playing there and wanted to go back to everyone else. As we were walking to them, we met them walking to us. Robby was going to let them rent a toy for a tiny little bit.

They went up to the window and came back with a snorkel and floating mat. I was pretty surprised to see two things...until Robby told me that the guy just let them take them since he wasn’t the normal guy. That was great news for my kids.

They then played the next hour with the snorkel and floating mat. We had to be back on the boat by 2, so a bit before that we headed back to the tender. We tried to beat the crowds, but were just in the middle of them.

Back on the boat, we dumped our towels and went upstairs to the pool the swim a bit more. Reagan and Keaton did stay in the room to take showers. There was another scoop of ice cream or two and another few games of ping pong.

Then Robby and I headed back to the room to work on packing. We packed and packed until it was almost supper time. This was our last supper night and golly, if Keaton didn’t give the friendly little wine steward a hug when we left. Those people were just so nice-I even urged Robby to tip them, but he was quick to say that we tip plenty plus he didn’t have his wallet.

Campbell and Whitman went to kids’ club while the rest of us headed to the show. The boys left after the comedian, and Keaton and Reagan left after a song or two of the band. After the show, I had just sat down to work on the blog when Robby called.

The kids’ club folks had called asking us to come and pick up Whitman. I hurried up there, hurried so fast that I got myself lost! Ha! When I walked in the door, Whitman was just sitting there staring at a movie with his eyes watering. He was fine and had been fine, but his eyes were watery from all of the sand and salt today.

Campbell wasn’t ready to go, of course, but I took them both for one last scoop of ice cream. Then it was back to the cabin for one last cruise night-Reagan has on a movie so we will watch a bit of that and then a cooking show before bed!

Florida Gators and Caribbean Cruise: Day 10 November 16, 2018

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Right after I publish the blog last night, Reagan looked at Whitman and asked, “are you crying?” He was not, but then we looked at the top bunk, and Keaton was up there sobbing. I asked what was wrong and she said that she didn’t feel good. I had her come down and sit in my lap for a little bit.

Her tummy is super sensitive but since this didn’t follow her normal routine, I worked on distracting her. In the meantime, I did tell her that she could sleep in my bed with me. Later, I asked if she was better but did tell her that she could still sleep with me. She said that she was, but we stayed up to watch one cooking show to give her tummy a bit of time to calm down. I really think that she was just so exhausted that she got upset. Either way, she slept all night-I don’t think that either one of us slept well though because a twin size bed is a bit small for two.

At one point, Keaton hit the water glass on the nightstand and it spilled on Reagan and Reagan’s bed. Reagan jumped up and started cleaning it up. Now, rooming with Reagan is like sharing a room with Robby. She makes sure that the curtains are closed so no light can come in. Last night she even laid a towel over the ipads becuase their lights were blinking. She even said that the light on the tv was bothering her as well. These are things that I never notice at all.

This morning, Campbell, who had spend the night in Grannymom’s room, came back to our room at 8:15 to get her bathing suit. She then went for an early morning swim with Grannymom. After coming back to the room a bit later, she left again for Grannymom’s room, and Keaton was not far behind her. Whitman wanted to go back to his room so I took him, and then I got myself ready for the day.

I went to eat with Keaton and before we could get all of our food, Reagan joined us. We ate near the pool which was  already a happening place. The pool deck was very crowded most of the day long. By the time we were finished eating, the boys were upstairs playing a few rounds of ping pong. The boys have enjoyed ping pong and are probably getting decent at it since they have been playing some pretty tough competitors.

Once we finished, I went down and brought Whitman backup for him to eat. Soon Keaton and Campbell were upstairs at the pool getting ready to get in. After Whitman ate, I took him back downstairs to change into her suit. They swan until lunch and then some afterwards.

Everyone else pulled up chairs around our table. The boys would eat some, play ping pong and then come back to eat some more. Keaton, Campbell and Whitman would swim some and then they ordered a pizza. Reagan would come and go as well and even brought her ipad to the deck. Robby grabbed me a crossword puzzle so I worked on that some.

Around 2, Graham and Robby went to watch a movie. The girls went as well but soon came back with bags of popcorn for everyone back in the rooms. Then they went off to explore some. I worked on my blog while Reagan and Whitman watched a movie. Unfortunately, I am not doing a great job at blogging because I keep getting sucked into to their movie and watching it along with them.

This day has been a perfect sailing day. The water is blue and clear. Even though the boat is rocking a bit, it is smooth sailing compared to the other day. There are even little fish that seem to fly away from the boat. It is pretty neat to see, if I only I knew what kind of fish they really were.

Campbell and Keaton went to the kids’ club for about an hour this afternoon. When I picked them up afterwards, it was time to put on our clothes for gala night. Robby said that he bought too many dress clothes, but did even have on a jacket tonight. I would have worn my dress tonight, but Campbell had already claimed my sweater so I just put on my grey funeral pants.

Dinner tonight was fairly fancy. Reagan and Graham had shrimp cocktails. Robby tried a apple sweetbread. He quickly tuned his nose up at it and passed it down to me. I did like the apples, but after trying the sweetbread, I also turned my nose up at it. Robby kept telling me it was bread, but after looking it over it looked like meat of some kind. We eventually asked the waiter and indeed sweetbread is from the throat of a cow. I personally think that is a very misleading name-cow throat would be much more accurate.

Graham and Reagan were my adventurous eaters tonight since they also had the surf and turf. They both ate some of their shrimp, and Reagan tried a few bites of her lobster and said it tasted like shrimp. I am not too sure that Graham tried any lobster at all-hey, at least he ordered it. I didn’t even do that. I stuck with spinach pasta.

Afterwards, just about everyone ordered the chocolate cake except for Whitman who had ice cream and Keaton who had a fruit plate. Campbell went to kids’ club after dinner. Whitman did not want to go because they were watching CoCo and that movie scared him.

So Keaton and Whitman joined us, Grannymom and Grandpa, Graham and Reagan, at the show tonight. It was full of singing and dancing so Whitman may have found where he wants to work. I did ask if he wanted to sing and dance on a cruise ship, and he said no because he would be too far away from me. I did assure him that I would come and visit him often.

Whitman spent the night in Grannymom’s room tonight so after dropping him off, my girls took their showers as we waited for chocolate night this evening. We also turn our clocks back an hour tonight so the chocolate thing will actually be pretty late!

Keaton and Graham went to play ping pong and were to meet us at the chocolate surprise. They couldn’t find us so they walked around looking for us missing the chocolate surprise. We snuck them some chocolate back to the room. During the event, the workers walked around holding trays of chocolate snacks. There were a few different choices, but it was pretty nice to have some real chocolate desserts.

After the chocolate surprise event, it was bedtime for my crew. I had to set my alarm for 6 in the morning! Eeek!