December 31, 2020

 We will be off the grid for a few days, but I promise that I will be back and catch up as soon as we return!

Dennie Family Resolutions for 2021

Well, it is that time again-new year's resolutions. I love making resolutions (I don't love keeping them though), and I love new pages in my notebook for the next week and month (I don't do planners). Not all my people were too interested as we discussed resolutions so I don't have as many as before, but they decent goals for the most part.


Robby:

-Weigh 190 by the end of the year

-15 New camping spots

-Build new cabinets in the living room

Tara

-Play 52 games with the kids

-Walk/Run 30 miles each month

-18 New Recipes

-22 Hallmark movies by Thanksgiving

-Learn to knit/crotchet


Reagan

-To get a phone


Anderson

-Get his driving permit


Campbell

-Try starfruit

-Make 10 new recipes

-Make meatballs


Graham

-Go to an NBA game

-Get taller

-Play basketball


Keaton

-Do a backflip on the ground

-Make 10 batches of her famous peanut butter cookies


Whitman

-Ride my bike 2 miles

-Walk a mile

-Use Academy gift card


And this is the most exciting part-the year in review. Despite Covid, we did pretty good on last year's resolutions. Let’s see how we did on last year’s resolutions:


Robby:

-More hugs (nope)

-Walk/run 100 miles in January (yes!)

-Weigh 190 by the end of the year (pretty close!-thanks for outdoor projects due to covid extra time)

-Go to a Razorback baseball game (no, stupid covid)


Tara:

-Walk/run 100 miles in January (yes!)

-Weigh less than I do now (Ha! Ha!)

-Read through NT with the church (almost finished)

-More prayer time (maybe?)


Reagan:

-Drive on the interstate (yes!)

-Get taller (probably not growing anymore)


Anderson:

-Make wise decisions with money (yes!)

-Rebuild 6 Lego sets (yes! Thanks to extra time due to covid)

-Go to a Razorback baseball, football and basketball game (no, stupid covid)


Graham:

-Get taller (probably)

-Go to an NBA game (no, stupid covid)

-Collect 10 more Funko Pops (yes!)

-Drive the car (just once-New Year’s Day last year)


Campbell:

-Make oatmeal chocolate chip cookies from scratch (not sure)

-Have a lemonade stand (nope)

-Try starfruit (nope)

-Go to the beach (yes!)

-Get a new bike (yes!)


Keaton:

-Make cinnamon rolls (just once-New Year’s Day last year)

-Do a backflip in the pool (you are not allowed to)

-Drive a golfcart (no!)


Whitman:

-Learn to ride a bike (finally!)

-Jump 18 times (surely)


Campsite Reviews

Alabama

Boondocking

Bass Pro (Leeds, Alabama, 2020)-Fairly secluded at night, lots of space, fairly level, feels like you are in the woods, but in a parking lot (7 out of 10 S'mores)

Arkansas

Corps of Engineer Camping Areas

Maumelle Park (Little Rock, Arkansas, 2020)-Spacious sites, playgrounds, limited easy paved trails, most do not have full hook ups (most water and electric) (8 out of 10 S'mores)

Federal Recreational Areas

Long Pool (Dover, Arkansas 2020)-Remote, no cell service within 5 miles, water and electric only, first come first serve, good swim hole, small-only 20 hook up sites (7 out of 10 S'mores)

State Parks

Mississippi River State Park (Marianna, Arkansas, 2020)-On peninsula, smaller camping area, limited trails, no cell service at campground, visitor center about 5 miles away (6 out of 10 S'mores)

Daisy State Park (Kirby, Arkansas, 2020)-Nice lake views, spacious but unlevel table/fire pit areas, playground, small trail, basketball court, good for groups (8 out of 10 S'mores)

Devil's Den State Park (Winslow, Arkansas, 2021)-Nice big loop, ball field, plenty of room to play, nice scenic hiking trail system (8 out of 10 S'mores)

Cane Creek State Park (Star City, Arkansas, 2020)-Small, nice lake views, moderate 14 mile bike trail, short hikes, nice campsite loop, limited activities (7 out of 10 S'mores)

Private Campgrounds

Whitewater RV Park (Mountain View, Arkansas, 2020)-Sites ultra close, convenient to city park, walking distance to downtown square (3 out of 10 S'mores)

Florida

Private Campgrounds

Camp Gulf (Miramar Beach, Florida, 2020)-Expensive, convenient to beach, sites close together, nice bathhouses, pools (8 out of 10 S'mores)

Georgia

State Parks

Unicoi State Park (Helen, Georgia, 2020)-Beautiful, large state park, level was an issue for us, close to Anna Ruby Falls (a must), zipline course ($), near Helen (Christmas town) (8 out of 10 S'mores)

Louisiana

State Parks

Bogue Chitto State Park (Franklinton, Louisiana, 2020)-Remote, large state park, splash pad area, large bike trail, our pull through felt like we were on the side of the road, possible tubing opportunities (6 out of 10 S'mores)

Mississippi

Boondocking

Harlow's Casino (Greenville, Mississippi, 2020)-Well lit, in truck parking lot, major pot holes (5 out of 10 S'mores)

South Carolina

State Parks

Myrtle Beach State Park (Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, 2020)-Very large, lots of shade, beach is walkable but plenty of parking, convenient to Myrtle Beach, nice beach, free pier to walk out on (7 out of 10 S'mores)

County Parks

James Island County Park Campground (Charleston, South Carolina, 2020)-Large campground, lots of nice, paved trails, many activity opportunities (ropes course, rock wall, water park), beautiful Christmas light display, convenient to downtown Charleston (9 out of 10 S'mores)

Private Campgrounds

River Bottom Farms Family Campground (Swansea, South Carolina, 2020)-Fairly remote, small campground loop, playground, jumping pillow, older KOA feel, short (muddy) trail, Columbia 30 minutes away (6 out of 10 S'mores)

Tennessee

Bookdocking

Walmart (Jackson, Tennessee, 2020)-Convenient, busy parking lot, only one entrance available for tall rigs, convenient to Sams gas (6 out of 10 S'mores)




December 30, 2020

(click here for today's pictures) 

  •  I was a little bit more productive this morning than yesterday. There was lots of trip preparations that had to happen. First a browned 4 pounds of meat while emptying the dishwasher. Then I made some cornbread mix along with gathering things for potato soup. Later in the day, Graham helped me make puppy chow-2 batches. 
  • Everyone also loaded up the camper with their clothes. I tell you, packing the camper sure is easier than packing in just the van. The clothes were soon loaded and after our Walmart order was delivered today, we loaded up the food. 
  • Now, food-gracious. I know that I have enough food to last us a few days-or possibly a week and a half. I sure don't want my kids to associate camping with not having enough food! After this weekend though I am afraid that we will all associate camping with being cold and wet!
  • I worked on the school room a little bit-organizing my sewing stuff so maybe Campbell won't make too big of a mess when she is sewing. 
  • Robby and I did run one errand tonight. I told Robby the store I wanted to go to-he drove to a different store. That was fine though because we went in there too and found a few things. Then we went to where we had intended to go. 
  • On the way home, we picked up supper for the kids. Robby and I headed up the pastys from last night-and I think that they tasted even better tonight than yesterday. 
  • Then I started a project that was a bit larger than I had intended-I had written a place about donating some clothes-I have about 9 bins of girls clothes that I don't have anyone to give them to. 
  • So I had the kids bring down the bins and I went through them weeding out nice clothes and not so nice clothes. Then I laid piles of those clothes out in the school room so they can air out a bit since they have bin in attic bins for a while. Those piles of clothes completely fill the floor of the school room-that will be loads of fun coming home to that mess!

December 29, 2020

(click here for today's pictures) 

  • I did set my alarm this morning, but Robby and I slept late enough to be classified as teenagers. When we finally did get up, Robby mentioned how sore he was. I reminded him that we had been in the bed for over 12 hours so of course he was sore. (No, we didn't sleep that long-we stayed up super late watching tv in bed before even going to bed.)
  • A bit later, Robby continued to go on about his soreness and told me that he couldn't even touch his toes. I reminded him that was not new and he hasn't been able to touch his toes in 10 years. He did work at it for a while until he was indeed able to bend down and touch his toes though.
  • I am not really sure what I did all morning long. I think that Robby was productive, but I pretty much was not. I didn't really have much on my list today, so I spent a good deal of time sitting by Whitman. He sits by the heater which is the warmest place in the house so I stayed nearby.
  • This afternoon Keaton, Campbell and I went to Walmart. Robby dropped us off-the girls were going shopping to spend their gift cards. I encouraged Robby to take his time and he did! After we had walked up and down every aisle at Target, I wrote him to tell him that we had finished-well, he was at Walmart walking up and down every aisle thinking that he had plenty of time to browse. He still had to go to Sams before picking us up. 
  • That was fine though because I sure do enjoy looking at Target-though I am not a big Target shopper. Campbell found herself a Monopoly game, lotion and a bag of chips while Keaton bought a sweatshirt, make up brush and candy. Those girls really thought out what they wanted to spend their money on.
  • When Robby did pick up us, we bought them a Starbucks drink before running into another Walmart. We browsed that store too-and yes, even though we did all of our Walmarting today, we already have an order being delivered in the morning, plus we have a Walmart pick up for tomorrow as well. 
  • We came home and Robby hooked up the dolly and car-it looks like is will be a mess tomorrow so that is one less thing we will have to do in the rain. Then we went to work on supper-pasties.
  • Well, we put pizzas in the oven too. But Robby had seen these pasties on the internet so we attempted them. They rhyme with nasty and not tasty-but they were pretty decent.
  • They are also described as a hand meat pie-we put our Christmas ham, potatoes, carrots and onions in ours. They cooked for a while-almost a bit too long and were pretty good. We did add a little bit of bbq sauce to ours, but we think that we will even try them again sometime. 
  • The Wilsons came over tonight to try our supper. We were able to visit for awhile and catch up on our Christmas stories before they had to head home and we had to work on tomorrow's lists.

December 28, 2020

(click here for today's pictures) 

  • Well, I think that I was fairly productive today. I did have a long list and pretty much marked everything off of it. I think that I am possibly trying to be busy so I can avoid a chore that I really need to do-no, not cleaning the bathrooms though that does really need to be done. I really need to organize my kitchen cabinets. 
  • My morning started out working on that silly laundry and those silly dishes. Then I moved on to emailing out Jr. Ranger books trying to get some more badges. The kids had worked on a few before our Christmas break, so I was trying to get those finished. 
  • Then the next task was trying to return the girls' lights for their room. The boys work, but the girls don't really. We tried a few things but couldn't figure it out so I ran one errand with the boys and then ran to Walmart to return them-they told me to go to another walmart because their printer is broken. 
  • Later in the day, I went to that other Walmart with Robby and the told me to call a number. Later I called the number, and I couldn't understand half of what was said to me, but they said someone would email me. Later tonight, someone emailed me asking for a video of the problem. We went that, but have little to no hopes of getting a refund. 
  • I have struck out with a few presents this year-the girls' lights don't work (trying to get a refund), one scooter has already stopped (warranty and working on return), Whitman had a game missing pieces (returned already and new one shipped), Campbell's glove stopped working (will request refund), and finally Whitman's car track is giving us problems (will also request refund)-ugh! Next year, we will buy no gifts with any type of electronics. 
  • Let's see though, all of the kids had chores today. My Campbell didn't sew anything else today, but she is helping Keaton make a bag. Of course this means that the school room is not a complete hazard. I just hope she is putting the pins back in the pin cushion or her sewing career will be very short lived. 
  • Though we moved a set of red drawers out of the school room and into my attic. So that left a spot for me to set up a table to house the sewing machine and my cricut. It will be more clutter out, but everything will be so much easier to use which makes me happy.
  • Anderson, Graham and Whitman went with me on my first shopping trip today. They looked to spend some of the money, but weren't able to find anything. Then they started trying to convince me to spend some of my money-I declined. 
  • I did put away a few Christmas presents today-I know for years, I have just left them in the floor all nice and neat until after my birthday. There are still plenty in my floor, but I did put a few away-including hanging our map up on the side of the camper. It is my new favorite!
  • For supper tonight, we went to ChickFilA. We had a big supper and enjoyed every bit of it-my favorite was the peppermint milkshake. And then Robby and I just split a cookie-actually, I don't think that I ever want to eat again!

December 27, 2020

(click here for today's pictures) 

  • I had to wake up everyone this morning to get ready for church. Well, Whitman was still laying in his bed, but he might have been awake. He has taken over Graham's weighted blanket right now so I am sure that he was super snug in his bed and probably didn't want to leave.
  • The girls stirred a little slower than the boys, but soon everyone was getting dressed. I did overhear Robby asking Whitman if those were his jeans that he had on-it didn't take Robby long to figure out that Whitman had on my pants (his jeans and my jeans do hang closely in my closet.) So glad that was figured out before we got to church.
  • Soon we were leaving for church and arrived in time to not have to search the sanctuary for a seat. I am not sure if church was long or not, but Keaton and Whitman were both laying on my shoulders-and Keaton could not keep her eyes open because her little head kept jerking.
  • We had lunch at Nonna and Pops' house-I thought we would be eating Christmas leftovers, but instead it was pizza. Of course, pizza is a Dennie family favorite so we gobbled it up. The kids also spent the afternoon gobbling up Nonna's candy that she had in a candy dish. 
  • When we left there, I had my afternoon nap though Robby couldn't sleep well because he kept hearing the girls above us. They were working hard cleaning their room. I woke up as thy were bringing bag after bag of trash down the stairs. 
  • We then hauled their new desk up the stairs and started building it. I think that Anderson and Graham really wanted to help, but there were too many girls around so they soon left. Campbell and Keaton spent a good deal of time fussing over who was getting to do what. But we were still able to quickly build their desk and get it set up. As soon as we flipped the desk over, Reagan started putting things on it to decorate.
  • Campbell soon moved on to her next project-making pizza for her supper and doing a little bit of sewing. I am not too sure that she was making, but eventually she was teaching Keaton how to use the sewing machine. I try to stay out of the way as much as possible to let them figure things out, but gracious that is sure hard to do.
  • I was about to play a game with Whitman when I opened up the new game-it didn't come with all of the pieces. Urgh, that is fine since I already have a Walmart return pile. 
  • Last week between Christmas and New Years, we went to town organizing-I am not so sure we will do that much of that this year. I already do have my list of things tomorrow-one of those is pulling out school for next week. Vacations end so quickly!

December 26, 2020

(click here for today's pictures) 

  • Yes, it is Saturday and all, but I still set my alarm. Not that we need anything at all-at all. We actually need to have a truck come and take most things away, but I still wanted to go out shopping this morning.
  • Robby was agreeable and surprisingly, Anderson even wanted to go. The girls would have gone, but they were still asleep. Now, Anderson is not a shopper, Anderson is happy staying in this house, Anderson is a homebody, so I was shocked that he wanted to go. 
  • I do think that he enjoyed himself though despite our stops at Walmart, Kroger, Walmart, Sams, Lowes and Dollar General. Now he did question his choices a time or two, but he did get a breakfast from McDonalds, a tin of cookies from Walmart, Legos from Krogers, and chocolate from one of the stops so how could he really complain.
  • My main mission was the find a few things for next years stockings. I did okay. There was some candy and some pez dispensers, but not a ton of items. Now Robby did find a few lights for Tony, but we didn't really buy much of anything else. 
  • Once we came home, I went right to work on finishing my attic. It didn't take long and Robby put the boys to good use today hauling up a set of drawers (which used to be Jason's changing table-I think) up to that attic. Yes, it is so clean now that I am adding furniture to it.
  • Afterwards, the plan was to work on taking Christmas stuff down. However, we didn't jump right on that. I ended up helping Campbell make a storage bag-it turned out really well. She did great sewing-Grannymom has taught her well. We followed the directions and soon had a cute little bin. It is way too big-we followed the directions but the pattern was just too big. Next time, we will know to make it much smaller.
  • It took us about an hour but soon we had it ready. Then I started moving Christmas items to the table. Soon Robby was working on my kitchen tree-some of the lights aren't working. He worked for about an hour while I worked on putting up Christmas. 
  • The boys had gotten all of the boxes out of the attic which helped a lot. I guess that it takes about a two hours or even a bit more to get it all put away. While the boys and Robby put boxes back in the attic, the girls helped me get the living room back into order.
  • We pulled out supper-tonight's main choice was ham and cheese biscuits. Then most everyone watched the new movie Soul. It was an odd one. After it was over, I watched a decorating show before sending everyone to bed. I watched the new show sipping cider (from Shelley) in my camper mug (from Graham) while sitting in my lawn chair (from Robby). It was a pretty perfect day after Christmas.

December 25, 2020-Merry Christmas!

(click here for today's pictures) 

  • What a wonderful Christmas! The girls had plans of waking up early, but we changed those plans and made it clear that there would be no moving around upstairs until 8. They listened-Reagan said that Keaton and Campbell didn't wake up until around 6:30, but we really didn't hear any noise until 7:30 which is when my alarm went off.
  • By the time it was 8, everyone was on the steps waiting for me to grab one last gift-that I had left in the freezer (a chicken pot pie to Reagan from Graham). Then it was time to open those presents. There were 3 electric scooters in the living room that were the delight of the littles. 
  • Then there were stockings-and oh, I do love stockings. I work pretty much all year on them-will even start tomorrow if we make it to a store early enough. Their stockings now overflow into cardboard boxes so there is lots of things everywhere before the real gift opening begins.
  • I will go down the list on what everyone received today. We do a gift from us, a gift from Santa and the kids draw names and buy a gift for that person (which I pay for.) Also most everyone bought at least one gift for someone else as well. Reagan got a sweatshirt, computer, tshirt and lots of sparkling waters. Anderson opened a desk chair, an xbox game, funko pops and an xbox gift card, Graham had pretty much the same except instead of funko pops he got a basketball and football. Campbell received a sewing machine, a pan and pajamas, Keaton got airpods, bags and fabric paint, a game and a clothes for her bear. Whitman received a penguin with clothes, a race car track and a host of other things from his person Reagan. (Reagan gave him a pair of pajamas and wrapped them to look like a chair.)
  • I had thrown the monkey bread (Dennie tradition) in the oven before presents so during the end of presents, Robby was pulling that out and working on the rest of breakfast. I opened up a game, a bag, shoes and lots of stocking stuff. Oh, yes, I also opened up a big double lawn chair-it is like a love seat. I can't wait to use it! Actually, we have used it all day long in the living room-I may just leave it there for a while.
  • And Robby got two pairs of pants, a pancake batter dispenser and yoga mat-he is going to be healthy this next year. Ha! Not really. The mat is for when he has to lay under the bike rack to hook up the car-that way he won't get filthy and can just roll that mat right up. 
  • Now, did I mention that everyone got a lot of candy-candy, candy, candy everywhere. I probably should just schedule a dentist appointment in January because there will be cavities. Oh, well, I guess they will be worth it.
  • Nonna, Pops, Jason, Grannymom and Grandpa came over to eat breakfast with us and see all of the goodies that the kids had. We had our monkey bread, strawberries, eggs, biscuits, sausage, orange juice and chocolate milk. It was a pretty big spread.
  • Now, last night I think that I mentioned that Christmas is getting easier-I guess it is. It is still a lot of work-I spent most of the day picking up trash and breaking down boxes. Seriously, it is a little crazy.
  • The living room was about back in some type of order when we headed to Dana's house for Christmas lunch. She had a spread for us, and it was a pleasant afternoon. We tried to play Keaton's new game, but bless it. It is complicated-I had to watch a video at home a few times to understand it, but we finally did play it tonight.
  • When we got home from Dana's house, Robby and I had planned on working on my messy attic-we did but after our nap. So that means that the attic still isn't finished. It needs probably another hours worth of work tomorrow. I did some more work tonight right before bed, but by that time, the attic was too chilly to work in. There is nothing better than organizing and throwing things away on Christmas.
  • Speaking of throwing things away, I am already anxious to start cleaning out around here. The only probably with that is I will have to wait until the trash comes since our trash can is already full. 
  • Tonight I made chicken and dumplings for supper-I don't really know what chicken and dumplings taste like, but I have now made them and can mark them off of the list. They were warm and that is really all that matters on a cold day. Robby said that they were good, so I guess it was a win. It was certainly an easy recipe though the kids weren't too big of fans.
  • We ate and then had planned on watching a movie, but instead ended up playing with Whitman's new race track. It took a bit longer than expected but finally it worked well. Oh, and I forgot to mention that after I threaded Campbell's sewing machine, that girl went to town making herself a tote bag. The plan is maybe this weekend, for me and her to follow a pattern/directions and make a real one-but gracious, she did a great job though.
  • We let the kids stay up way too late, but they were busy arranging their stuff (Campbell), watching basketball (Graham), playing with their new stuff (Anderson), watching their ipad (Whitman), and even making list for what else they need (Reagan-she had a tape measure on her list along with bottled water.)

Christmas Ornament Countdown 2020: Merry Christmas


I hope that you have certainly enjoyed my little Christmas ornament countdown. I am sure that I will collect more ornaments over the next year, but as of today almost 99 percent of my ornaments have been showcased. I can't find at least one that I know of and we bought a few more on our South Carolina trip. So I am not too sure what my countdown for next year will be exactly, but I do promise that it will be just as entertaining.

This ornament was given to us this year by our friends, the Fergusons. It is a cute little ornament that is hanging near the top of our tree this year. It shows our little family which I love seeing, and they are all standing in front of a little camper which is adorable. 

But what I love even more than the ornament is the friendship behind the ornament. We have been blessed with the best sets of friends. Friends that are truly like family to us. We have friends that our younger than us and friends that our older than us, new friends and old friends, but all wonderful friends none the less. 

This year the importance of fellowship and friendship has really become obvious. You can not do this life thing quarantined. You need these wonderful friends in your life. I sure hope that you have enjoyed reading my Christmas ornament countdown blog, and I hope that you have a wonderful Christmas celebrating with your family and friends.

December 24, 2020-Christmas Eve at the Brocks

(click here for today's pictures) 

  • I hope that tomorrow we can sleep in half as long as we did today. I doubt that will happen though since my girls are already setting hidden alarm clocks around their room. Apparently, they need 2 hours to get themselves ready to open Christmas presents.
  • This morning there wasn't a whole lot to do. Whitman and I made a little dessert. The big activity was moving all of the presents downstairs from the attic. Every Christmas Eve Robby and I do that after the kids have gone to bed-we try to sneak up and down the steps without the girls hearing us. And we have to do it in the dark.
  • Not this year, I went up and down and up and down most of the morning long. I would do one thing like empty the dishwasher, and then make two trips up and down the steps hauling presents. I shoved everything into the school room and locked the door.
  • Now, I still have 3 more presents upstairs that have to come down, but other than that my evening chores will be a lot lighter tonight as compared to most Christmases. I even have stocking stuff sorted and in individual piles ready to be stuffed.
  • Graham and Robby ran a few errands and even got Graham a hair cut this morning. We were playing Graham's new game when he arrived home. When the winner was declared, Anderson, on the game, Graham, Campbell, Keaton and I headed to Nonna's house to take our load of stuff before seeing them tonight.
  • Those three couldn't wait any longer to see their Nonna and Pops-it has been since November 15th that we were at their house. We have seen them a few times from their front porch since then, but that is a super long time to go without seeing everyone.
  • After staying over there for a little bit, we hurried home and I had a very short nap. Then it was time to hurry around and get ready for church tonight. This was the candlelight service, and it really was as similar to last years as the could do it. We were worried that there wouldn't be candles, but there were and it was a beautiful sight to see-we are so very thankful for the LIght.
  • When the service was over, we headed to Nonna and Pops' house. They had a roaring fire ready for us. The birthday kiddos, Campbell and Anderson, opened their presents before we dug into supper.
  • Ham, beans and potato casserole were all for supper. We all did find out that Anderson doesn't like ham. Who knew? I sure didn't. He was fine though because he probably could have eaten his weight in potatoes. 
  • After eating, we moved on to presents. The kids just could not wait any longer. Again I didn't ask them their favorites, but I will just guess-Reagan seemed to really like her salt lamp, Anderson was pleased with his new Funko Pops. Graham was excited about one of his new xbox games and Campbell was thrilled with her comfy sweatshirt. Keaton was happy about her camera and Whitman loved his contraption set (basically blocks and balls). Robby was probably most excited about his new thermometer while I am anxious to put my state map on the camper.
  • We did sing Happy Birthday to the two birthday kids before slicing into their cake and oreo delight. Then we stuck around and played some before coming home. 
  • Once at home, we did our traditional reindeer food followed by organizing the kids presents. It took a while for me to get everything straight and things laid out for breakfast/supper tomorrow but things are a bit straight in the house right now (and after tomorrow morning, I won't feel that way again until the tree is down.)
  • We pulled our Santa, guessed some ornaments, Campbell moved the wise men to the nativity scene and we also took our customary pictures in front of the tree. Now it is time to put these children in bed-though I know that no one is going to sleep anytime soon!

December 23, 2020

(click here for today's pictures) 

  • Well today was my day to sleep in, and I surely did. When I woke up, I stared my normal routine-laundry and fooling around in the kitchen. There were no dishes to empty, but I did lay everything out to make my icing later in the day.
  • Soon I found myself playing a game with the boys-we played a game of Graham's that he received for Christmas. I smoked those boys and didn't hold back at all. It was a fun time...well, not for all of them! Everyone needs to know how to be a good loser!
  • I then ran to Shannon's house to pick up a few presents that we had delivered over there and to drop off some things for tonight. 
  • Then it was to the dentist I went. My dad would always say that he would rather get a vasectomy than go to the dentist. I can't really say that, but I would pretty much agree that would probably be an accurate statement. There are many other places that I would rather go. 
  • Honestly, I must kind of be getting old. I don't really want to go to any doctors. I was talking to the boys tonight about someone and told them that when I am old, just call and tell me to get myself to the doctor/hospital and stop being so stubborn. 
  • I hurried home since I sure didn't want to be out in the Christmas shopping madness. Robby had already been out in some of it today. He worked on his fire pit some while I ate is lunch leftovers.
  • This afternoon, I had to kids stop what they were doing and do their chores. Then I made everyone play my new game. Some of my children are an absolute delight to play a game with and others are not....and we will just leave it at that!
  • Soon though I was rushing around my making my icing. Now, I did lay my head down for 15 minutes, but that was all! I had to throw a shower into the mix because Robby said that I smelled like smoke (fire pit experiment from earlier in the day.)
  • The girls helped me with the icing and soon we were at the Wilson's house for our Friend-mas. We had chicken fried rice and egg rolls along with every cookie imaginable. Before we ate, the kids started working on making gingerbread houses. Some of my kids worked really hard (Reagan) and created masterpieces while others just bless their hearts (Graham). 
  • They all had fun doing it though and really, everyone did a good job. Graham's did fall and break so his house had a different shape than the others. After supper, I pulled out tons of cookies for the kids to ice. They all had fun doing that as well and made a huge mess. 
  • We didn't get home until late and the kids had to shower before bed so it was another late night for this crew!

Christmas Ornament Countdown 2020: 1 Day Until Christmas


I'm not much of a world traveler really. Ask me to go anywhere in the great U.S. of A., and I could be ready in about 10 minutes. But ask me to venture around the world, and I'm more of a take it or leave it kind of girl. Now, Robby is completely different in that aspect-he is ready to go no matter how far or how near at anytime at all.

Reagan was not even one yet when we left her with Grannymom and Nonna. We didn't just go to the next state, but we explored Germany, Austria, Switzerland, and Lichtenstein. Who knew that Lichtenstein was even a country? I didn't until May of 2006. Oh, and I was 8 weeks pregnant with Anderson during all of this gallivanting around the globe as well.

On of our stops on that trip was to tour the Neuschwanstein Castle in Germany. Walt Disney apparently based Sleeping Beauty's castle along with Cinderella's castle off of the Neuschwanstein. The castle was grandiose and pretty amazing. 

Now, let's go to the West coast and talk about Sleeping Beauty's castle for a minute-when you walk up to it you are completely underwhelmed. Not so with the real castle. By the time Walt build Cinderella's castle, he had probably studied up on Neuschwanstein a little bit more. 

Right now our pictures aren't working on the blog from that trip. Let me just remind you of what we looked like: we were young (that was 14 years ago), skinny (that was 5 kids ago) and well rested (that was when we just had one child-there are 6 now.)

Christmas Ornament Countdown 2020: 2 Days Until Christmas


Well, we are back to Florida again. Back to searching for alligators to show the kids. Our main activities at National Parks are stamping all 8 of our passport books and getting Jr. Ranger badges for the kids. Most of the time I try to print out the books before we arrive, but sometimes we have to do it on the spot. Now, Reagan had hated this activity for years. I probably wouldn't make her do one now since she could just help a sibling, but even when she was little standing with her hand raised saying the Jr. Ranger pledge was just mortifying for her. Robby and I were good parents though because we would snicker at her and try to get her picture. Here is the link to our quick visit to Biscayne National Park.

December 22, 2020-Dennie Family Christmas Circle 2020

(click here for today's pictures) 

  • I woke up before my alarm clock this morning, but I did manage to stay in bed until the alarm was finally ringing. I should have gotten up and checked the dishwasher because I tell you nothing starts my day of worse than me forgetting to run the dishwasher the night before.
  • And I didn't run the dishwasher last night. I quickly started it hoping that it would finish before we started cooking this morning. It didn't, but today ended up being a two dishwasher kind of day. (Though tonight that means we only have a few dishes, which means that the dishwasher will fill up by lunch tomorrow causing me to run the dishwasher in the middle of the day reeking havoc on my schedule.)
  • Before everyone else was awake, I had made the icing for Campbell's cake. It was a valid recipe, but the icing was so thick that we struggled to put it on the cake. We had to make a second thinner batch but still had a hard time. I had to go upstairs and wake Campbell up to come down and ice the cake.
  • A bit later, I had to wake Keaton up to come down and help cut out the sugar cookie dough. Reagan was even awake, but Keaton was still snoozing. All of my boys did walk through the kitchen and help some with the cookie dough. Reagan didn't show up for that part, but her favorite part is icing the cookies and she will stick around forever doing that.
  • Once the cookies were done, it was then time for Keaton to make her cookies. We were a baking kitchen today-she loves her cookie recipe and is always so proud. Now on our South Carolina trip, Robby showed her to add a Hershey Kiss on tip to make her cookies even more festive so I figure that I will be buying a lot of Hershey Kisses in my future.
  • I had a few minutes to wrap a couple of presents, before we rushed out of the house to take Reagan skating. Actually, about the time that I thought, "hmm, I need to get a move on it and start loading the car," Campbell came up to me asking if I could French braid her hair. 
  • I quickly did that as I was hollering for Keaton and Reagan to load up the car. We took 2 bins of presents, plus another bag of food over to Grannymom's house this afternoon in preparation for tonight.
  • On the way, we dropped Reagan off at the skating rink. Then I dropped the other girls and the presents off at Grannymom's house. Campbell and Keaton could wait no longer for the party to start. I decided that I would run to Walmart real quick since I was so close. I soon realized that there is no just running to Walmart right now. It took me longer to get to Walmart than it did to do my shopping in the store.
  • Then I hurried home for a quick nap before my shower and leaving with all of the boys to Grannmom's house. for the Dennie Family Circle. The first activity was birthday celebrations-Campbell, Anderson, Les, Dana and Shelley are all December birthdays so they all had presents to open. 
  • Each year we play some type of game during the evening. Tonight was Dirty Santa.There was a tremendous amount of stealing-a cup and blanket were the big items that seemed to be a huge hit. They were stolen over and over again.
  • Next we devoured supper-chili and a chicken tortilla soup. The chicken soup was my absolute favorite. Then there were a few desserts-tres leches, oreo delight, peanut butter pie, chocolate pie, pecan pie, peanut brittle, sugar cookies, peanut butter cookies, chex mix, birthday cake and probably a few more desserts that I didn't even see. Of course, we barely made a dent in the desserts. 
  • Then it was finally time to open the presents-things have certainly changed from when the kids were tiny and we would do presents. Tonight, all of the kids except for Keaton and Whitman were sitting at the table talking, and we had to call them to come and open presents. 
  • Everyone left with more than enough presents, and we could really call Christmas done and everyone would be happy. I should have asked the kids their favorite presents from tonight, but I will just guess. Whitman has really enjoyed his Dope or Nope card game. (we have played it twice already), Keaton and Graham both like their comfys (oversized hooded sweatshirts), Campbell really likes her camera, Anderson will enjoy his headset and Reagan was wearing her sweatpants before we left.
  • It was wonderful evening, and all of my people had a really great time. Afterwards, we hung around for a little bit, but my little girls snuck off to Dana's house to see their puppies. Then my crew all headed home to unload our gifts.
  • We barely all fit in the car with all of our packages on the way home. The kids all started sorting and arranging their presents-though this year, Whitman and Keaton were the only ones that set out their presents in the living room. That kind of made me sad (the others displayed their presents in their bedrooms). I guess with less stuff in the living room-that will probably be good for my sanity.
  • We let everyone stay up way too late playing Dope or Nope so it was nearly midnight when the crew finally went to bed!

Christmas Ornament Countdown 2020: 3 Days Until Christmas


In 2015, the Wilsons called and asked to go on a trip with us. We thought that they were meaning a weekend trip-like to Dallas or New Orleans. Nope, they had in mind a road trip. We thought they were crazy-who would want to go on a multi day road trip (19 to be exact) with a family with 6 kids (all 10 and under). Yep, they were indeed crazy! But is seems to be a proven fact that when you combine a bunch of crazy people together, they have a great time. 

We sure did have a great time on that trip. Towards the end of the trip, after the Wilsons had to bee line it back to Little Rock (silly work always gets in the way), we stopped at Smokey Mountain National Park. We had been there before, but it is always a really neat place-I really like driving through the Cade's Cove area. I do remember that most of the kids bought thermometer key chains while we were there, and I still occasionally find them when I am cleaning behind the furniture. Here is the link to that entire trip.

December 21, 2020-Happy 11th Birthday Campbell!

(click here for today's pictures) 

  • I had a few things on my list today. I was able to mark many of them off before most of the kids did wake up. I then set around waiting to go to the store for about an hour-I was waiting on the birthday girl to wake up. I didn't want to be gone when she did wake up.
  • Though pretty much as soon as she did come downstairs, I wished her Happy Birthday and quickly left. I had some Christmas shopping to do-still have 4 presents which are causing me stress-1 should come in the grocery order tomorrow, one is missing in the mail, ones delivery date has been pushed back to Christmas day, and another one I am stumped on. 
  • I was able to pick up a few things at the store, but my most fun purchase was 20 bags of chocolate chips. They were only a dollar, so that is pretty much a steal. I bought 10, but then Robby suggested that I should buy some more. 
  • Pretty soon after I left the house, Robby and Campbell left to run a few errands. They stopped at Grannymom's house, grabbed some lunch, went to the store and even found Campbell a Starbucks drink. She wanted 5 dollar lemonade for her birthday! 
  • When they made it back home, they were only home for a little bit when I left with Keaton and Campbell. Keaton went to play at Charlotte's house for a little bit while Campbell came with me to the eye doctor.
  • Of all the doctors, I don't really mind the eye doctor-except that I really don't like people touching my eyes! It just gives me the shivers. He did decrease my prescription-I'm not too crazy about that, but we will try it out and see.
  • Then Campbell and I went to pick up her new friend for some ice cream. We went to Smallcakes-their name has small in it, but their prices sure aren't small at all. It was delicious though, and their cupcakes looked gorgeous. 
  • Then we went to Mills Park so the girls could play a little bit. Then we walked the trail there before loading up and coming home. At home, Campbell and I started to work on baking her cakes-well, Robby had to get eggs on his way to get supper for us. 
  • Her cakes are checkerboard cakes so they were a bit time consuming. And yes, I did say cakes-she is making two cakes which means 4 boxes of cake mix! I also made sugar cookie dough tonight and had planned on baking them tonight, but I ran out of steam. There is always tomorrow. And Robby made some oreo delight as well tonight. We were fairly busy in the kitchen this evening.
  • Before bed, we did finally light a candle for Campbell. We all sang before digging into some ice cream. Afterwards, we pulled a lot of Santa pieces and even talked about a few of our ornaments. The kids did go to bed a bit earlier tonight, so maybe they won't sleep all day tomorrow!-thought I doubt it!

December 20, 2020

(click here for today's pictures) 

  • We must have slept really well last night because it took a while for Robby and me to get out of the bed even though we knew that church was soon approaching. The boys were already awake working in their mission control (playing the xbox in their room) when I went up to wake them. Whitman was awake laying in his bed listening to them talk, but the girls were still sound asleep.
  • We got ready quickly and were even in the church house before it started. However, we were in the lobby chatting. That would have been fine if it would have been easy to find seat-nope, we had to head to the only open spot to land for a minute before finding a new spot. That pew was an off limits pew (stupid covid).
  • So to find a pew for all of us, we had to walk up the stairs to the balcony in front of everyone. This makes me uncomfortable, but I am sure that a few of my kids could have absolutely died. Might be a good lesson for us to make sure that we get inside the church house and sit down in time next week. 
  • Church was fine-though I think it is incredibly sad these days-pews are empty, there is no fellowship, and this is the one that really gets me-we aren't teaching those boys and girls in Sunday school-it's just sad. Maybe soon things will change, but I just don't see a quick end to any of this.
  • Enough of that though-let's talk about lunch today. We aren't used to the new schedule so even though it was just 11 when we made it home, we still dove into our pizza like it was past noon.
  • We were taking a nap-right at noon. I had been busy before noon though folding my mound of laundry. And let's talk about the laundry-I had so much that I decided to just fold it by colors. First I folded the blacks, then the greys, then the blues. I still had the reds, purples and whites to do when I stopped.
  • After my nap, I went shopping with the girls. Reagan was the one buying for her person, but when I did leave I told Robby that since Campbell and Keaton were going with me I would spend at least 50 more dollars. I don't think that I ended up spending that much more, but I am sure that I spent some more.
  • Back at home, I helped Robby some with the camper. We had some things to clean up, then I went inside and started loading it back up for the next trip-be prepared. Isn't that the boy scout motto? Well, we are around here.
  • There was even some Christmas wrapping happening around here when we all hurried out the door to go and hang with the Wilson's for the evening. We all threw together leftovers and had plenty of supper and plenty of desserts. The adults even ran out to go and look at Christmas lights for a minute.
  • We came home around 10-Anderson and Reagan were sent upstairs to wrap presents. Bless my Anderson's heart-wrapping is not his skill. The others were sent to work on their laundry-we still had those yellows, reds and whites to folds. And Robby went to work on fixing the oven. 
  • For some reason, we do our best work around here late at night-Robby was successful on the oven! The laundry was all put away so we are ready for tomorrow's load and the birthday banner is hung by the chimney with care.

Christmas Ornament Countdown 2020: 4 Days Until Christmas


I write my Christmas ornament blog posts ahead of time, and this one I had to completely rewrite. This ornament is from 13 years ago when we went to Charleston with two little babies. I actually remember very little about that trip except that one of those little babies pooped in the bath tub. And I also didn't remember seeing the Rainbow Row houses that are pictured on the ornament.  Here is the link to the blog posts from that trip-and notice how much shorter they were-I guess we weren't as interesting or I just had a lot less time than I do now. 

This last week, we had the chance to swing by Charleston for our second visit there. Let me just tell you, that is such a neat town. I really could stay there longer and explore more. I really liked the Charleston Market-even though we were there in the middle of Covid, on a Monday on a chilly day so it wasn't a super happening place. This trip to South Carolina was really a lot of fun and no one pooped in the tub this time!

Christmas Ornament Countdown 2020: 5 Days Until Christmas


My Reagan was the cutest big headed baby there ever was. I can vividly remember the picture of her sitting on a saddle at the LBJ ranch. She was less than a year old and was just stinking cute. On the trip, we traveled all around Texas seeing lots of neat sites. As I look back on that trip, I am realizing that a lot of those places are spots that we need to take our others back to see as well. Here is the link to that quick little Texas Trip.

December 19, 2020-South Carolina Road Trip-Day 10

(click here for today's pictures) 

Last night was my first time to get naked in a Walmart parking lot. Yep, I'm over 40 and thought that maybe I would never be able to say that, but yes, indeed I now have! It wasn't really that exciting since I was just taking a shower before I went to bed.

I also have never slept in a Walmart parking lot until last night. We went to sleep fine, but I woke right up at 1:30 and thought that it was time to wake up. I was well rested and could see the sun peeking through our window shades. It turns out that wasn't the sun but was the street lights.

We have this aluminum type insulation on all the windows. We just started with the ones in our bedroom, but eventually cut them for all of the windows. The insulation is supposed to help keep the heat in or the heat out which is probably does, but it also acts like a blackout curtain -except the light still does peek in from tiny slivers around the edges.

Not only did I wake up ready to go at 1, I also did at 4. I think that I am like a kid on the morning before Christmas. I do love IKEA but I also know that when we do get home, Christmas really begins. Yes, I have a ton on my list, but I enjoy marking things off of a list.

It was about 8:30 when we pulled out of the Walmart parking lot. Keaton and the big boys were awake. She was awake because Robby moved her from that top bunk down to my bed. I was almost dressed in the bathroom when Robby pulled out...I just had my contacts to put in.

Let me tell you that putting contacts in while driving in a Walmart parking lot is not the easiest things in the world to do. I did it though and was soon handing Robby his breakfast and joining him in the front. The rain started probably about 15 minutes after leaving Jackson and didn't stop until we made it home.

We were at IKEA before it opened up this morning. That was great because the kids all had to get ready, plus I was able to properly store all of the blankets which was one less thing I had to do when we got home. 

IKEA seemed super busy, but I guess everyone just got there at the same time. Robby grabbed a few things-toilet brushes, towels, ice cream scoop. I grabbed 8 gingerbread kits. Reagan grabbed a few things-plants and pots (fake-she has my green thumb) for the girls' room. Campbell and Keaton found some bags. Whitman found a shark which Robby had to go back in to buy for him for his Christmas. And Anderson and Graham were super happy to tell us that since they didn't buy anything they deserved a special treat.

Our main purchase was a desk for the girls' room. I had thought that they wanted another one, but the one that was picked out looks nicer so that is good. I did tell that girls that it would probably be after Christmas when we put the desk together.

We were in IKEA until noon-about 10 of those minutes was waiting in line to check out. When we did finally check out, we loaded our purchases in the car and then ran back in to eat at the cafe. Poor Whitman could not understand why we were doing it all again. He eventually was pleased when there was a plate of food in front of him.

From IKEA we just rolled right on home. There was some traffic and the rain slowed us down some, but we were soon home unloaded. The kids did their clothes and then had a break. By the time we called them back to help us, I had things ready for them to carry out and put away.

Once the thing was emptied, I went to town cleaning it before sweeping it. I will need to sweep a few more times because it was a sandy mess. I guess that even though we were never right on the beach, we were still close enough to the beach to have sand everywhere and bring it all into the camper.

Then I moved inside and worked on putting everything away. I was able to clean up most things and even started working on tomorrow's list. Soon though Robby and I were both exhausted and were sound asleep in our chairs until 10-like a bunch of old people!