July 31, 2023-First Day of School 2023-2024

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  • Well, it was the first day of school, and don't tell anyone, but things went very smoothly. Reagan only has 2 tiny things to do for me, so she really slept through school today. Anderson basically just has English with me and 3 tiny things so he did the minimum. Graham does everything with me except for science, and well, he also did the minimum. I'm find with a gradual start that doesn't stress me out as long as everything is finished by Thursday this week.
  • Campbell, Keaton, and Whitman start their day off reading with me for almost an hour. They didn't seem to mind too much though I did have to continually call Keaton by name so I could make sure that she wasn't asleep because she was laying super still all cuddled up on my bed. 
  • Campbell has a load right now. She will finish some things which will make things easier for her, but right now it is a lot which is a lot of reading (back to that). She wasn't the last one finished today, but she did work almost until lunch. Keaton also had a lot, but she is doing her math right now so she was ahead today and always works hard. And Whitman, well, he just needs me to motivate him a little bit ("Do this," "Now, do this." "This is next.") He had a lot but was finished by 12:30 so that is a super win.
  • The rest of the afternoon was spent with me trying to do a few chores. Then it was time to head off for our adventure of the day. First Keaton, Campbell, and I went to Walmart to pick up a few things. Then we went to the main event-an eye appointment for Campbell.
  • She complained last week of not being able to see when she reads very well. Also she has had a few headaches lately. I called last week to get an appointment, and surprisingly they had one for today. I had thought that it would have been months.
  • Much to Campbell's disappointment she has an astigmatism, is far sighted, and there was something else that he said that I couldn't remember. None of these 3 things are very much, but combined he said that it would definitely make things difficult for her. It is something that contact wouldn't help, but glasses would.
  • She then picked out some glasses. The poor thing was so stressed about taking too long and getting the right pair. She even text Reagan to get her opinion. Campbell finally settled on some so they will be here in a few weeks-hopefully those will help with all the things!
  • We came home for a bit, then Robby and I ran to Grannymom's house for a minute before going back to Walmart. We needed milk and eggs that I couldn't get before the eye appointment. We picked up a few things and then came home.
  • Once we were home, Graham started icing his cake that he made this afternoon. I had just bought the icing. The boy said that he was going to make a cake because he didn't have one for his birthday. I think that he was kidding!
  • The kitchen is kind of clean so I think that a tv show is about to be turned on in the living room! Since we have to wake up early now for school, I think that we will just be able to watch one episode instead of our normal 3 or 4.

July 30, 2023

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  • Church morning this morning. The kids were fairly easy to wake up so we were there on time. I did have a moment of panic right before big church started because I wasn't sure if Reagan remembered that she was in the nursery this morning for worship care.
  • I quickly text her to check. I guess I did forget that she is almost grown and one of the most responsible Dennies. Seriously, how did they all grow up so quickly? After Graham's birthday, it is always my favorite time to tell people their ages-17, 16, 15-I love it when their ages are all so close. Though I really can't believe that at one time we had a 1, 2, and 3 year old.
  • After church, Robby picked up pizza while I ran in the store with some of the kids. We did some speed shopping. Reagan had asked for 2 things-kettle popcorn and rosemary, but we were unable to find either of those things. Thankfully, we were able to find the things that we needed though for supper tonight.
  • It was a quiet afternoon with Robby and I leaving first for supper and a Sunday school meeting at church. Then the others left for Rock Creek leaving just Whitman and Keaton at home. Keaton made good use of her time and did some more school work. She is currently in her bedroom doing her school work for tomorrow.
  • Robby and I returned home first, followed by all of the Wilsons, our kids, their kids and three extra kids. We fed everyone grilled cheese sandwiches along with pan fulls of Oreo delight. My kids would normally complain about grilled cheese, but no one said anything tonight-sandwiches are always more fun with friends.
  • The evening eventually ended which means that our official summer has also ended. Tomorrow starts school for this little Dennie crew. Wish us luck!

July 29, 2023-Happy 15th Birthday Graham!

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  • Robby was awake and back with doughnuts for the birthday boy well before the birthday boy climbed out of bed. When Graham did come down for breakfast, Anderson, Robby, and I were the only ones awake to sing to him.
  • I did my little bit of chores this morning and then read a little bit. Robby headed outside to do some work on the camper locks. He worked all of the day in the crazy heat. After he finished the locks, he then moved on to washing the camper. The camper is pretty big so it took all of the day long.
  • Really though the rest of us just had a pretty lazy Saturday. We didn't do much at all. I did work on some some school. Keaton really worked on some school and even did some for next week. 
  • Graham drove me to Campbell's friend's house tonight. Campbell and her friends were going to pass out notes to encourage people at Walmart, and then she was going to spend the night at her friends.
  • Robby ran to ChickFilA to pick up the birthday boy's supper. He also bought supper for the rest of us. Most of the kids showered, and now we are ending the night like we have the past few nights-on the couch watching our show. 

July 28, 2023

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  • This morning I was surprised by how late I slept, but I was also surprised that Anderson wasn't up yet on the couch. Last night he said that he was going to wake up before 7 to watch some car racing on tv.
  • The morning started off fairly slowly. Reagan spent a good deal of the morning trying to get concert tickets. Unfortunately, she turned down the 300 dollar tickets trying to get a cheaper ticket, and then she was 20,000th in line. It wasn't a surprise that she didn't get tickets, but she wasn't too bummed about it.
  • The girls then headed to the Goodwill Bins. They were prepared and even took gloves which I don't think that they used. Reagan came home asking to be reminded that she does not want to go back there again, while Campbell came home with 2 new cute sweatshirts.
  • When they came home, we all headed to Defy. Graham hurt his ankle some last night so he didn't jump, so he came with me to Mardels to print his name on his new Bible. When we finished there, we picked up the others and ran to the new Taco Bell for a drink.
  • It wasn't until 6:30 that Reagan, Anderson, Graham, and Campbell left for dodgeball at Rock Creek. Anderson's team won two games, but Graham won individual round with Reagan in 2nd place and Anderson in 4th. They had pizza and ice cream and all came in talking tonight. 
  • While they were gone, Robby and I went to ChickFilA to pick up some free food for Keaton and Whitman's suppers. We took the longest time to decide where we wanted to go but ended up at the Goat Indian place. 
  • We had cheesy naan bread along with butter chicken and tikii masala. It was all delicious! Now that we have finished our supper, we are watching tv in the living room and eating Keaton's chocolate chip cookies that she made earlier today.

July 27, 2023

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  • Some days just seem really long. I am not sure why this day does seem long, but for some reason I can't really remember the morning. 
  • Actually, it is coming back to me. Anderson had to be at church at 9 this morning to help move some boxes. They thought it would take them through lunch time and had even offered lunch, but really it doesn't take long for a bunch of high school boys to move quite a few boxes.
  • So Anderson was home fairly quickly. When he did come home, we still hadn't seen any of the girls yet. I am not sure if they slept late or if they just didn't come downstairs all morning long. 
  • I think that Whitman was the only one who did any school today. Actually, Keaton did some as well, but I am pretty sure that no one got any chores done today which I am not sure why.
  • At 1, I took Whitman and Keaton to Defy for a little bit. We were quite a bit down Lawson when we had to turn around for a wreck. But we did make it, and they stayed almost a whole hour jumping-Whitman was so sweaty when he finished.
  • Then it was back to the house for just a few minutes. I headed with Robby to pick up the camper-it isn't fixed, but there is a plan-an expensive plan, very expensive plan, but at least we have a plan. Though really, we don't know if the plan will fix the problem so it is all just a gamble.
  • After dropping Robby off, I went to Kroger to buy some peaches that were on sale, but they were all gone. Then I headed to the library while Campbell was church.
  • Reagan and Graham had dropped Campbell off earlier today so she could help pack lunches. Reagan and Graham were out because they were having a ChickFilA craving and had free food on their apps.
  • I picked Campbell up, and we came home. By the time that we came home, Anderson and Graham were on their way to Raymar to play spike ball with some kids. When they came home, most everyone had eaten some type of supper even if it was a very early supper from ChickFilA so Robby and I just snacked.
  • Campbell sat with us for a little bit to watch Rookie, but then when we all started to get our snacks she snuck out to chat with some of her friends on her phone.

July 26, 2023

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  • The last two mornings we have had something early, but today we didn't, so I wasn't in a huge hurry to get moving this morning. Bentley is never in a hurry to get out of bed or go to the bathroom in the morning either.
  • It was sprinkling a little bit when I did take Bentley on a walk this morning. It kind of cooled us off a bit, but it was still super humid. So when we were finished, I was super sweaty and Bentley slightly smelled of wet dog. I knew that Keaton's chore today was washing Bentley.
  • The kids all seemed to wake up fairly early this morning. Now, I think that it was Campbell who first came down the stairs at 11:30-I guess "early this morning" is just a matter of perspective.
  • I had a mammogram this afternoon, and since the minivan had no gas (seriously, no gas), Robby drove me there and got gas during my appointment. Then it was back home for us. 
  • The kids had some school today so I worked with Whitman on his spelling and then some coding. And while I was thinking about school, I completely changed some of Whitman's school work for next year. I guess I just wanted to spice things up-changing everything a few days before school starts.
  • We made supper-we really need to try to clean out all of the food in this house. Then most of us headed to the movies: Reagan, Graham, and Campbell saw the Barbie movie while Robby and I went to the Sound of Freedom.
  • Currently, we are watching a Rookie with Keaton and Whitman since they missed out on the movie tonight.

July 25, 2023

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  • Since Graham's retainers (yes, 2) were lost somewhere in Florida at Beach Camp, today was the day to go for a replacement. This is the first appointment that I could get that he would be home for, so of course with all of this passing time, his teeth have shifted quite a bit.
  • Thankfully, they just charged me for one retainer and not two. And we no longer will take retainers to camp or probably really out of the house or camper. Luckily for Graham, we don't pick up his retainers for about another two weeks so Graham has another few weeks of a retainer break.
  • Afterwards, we headed to Mardels to look for Graham a new Bible. We found one that he wanted, but it was half price on Amazon so we placed an order there before we walked out of the store. On the way home, we stopped by Sonic very quickly-though I am not sure if losing retainers deserve a reward.
  • The kids weren't home too long until they all loaded up with Robby to go to church. Robby drove the van full of Reagan, Anderson, Graham, Campbell, Kennedy, and Alyssa to the church house. He went along so he could drive Grannymom's car back to their house. 
  • The kids then headed on to a Traveler's baseball game today. Anderson was the only one who came home a little bit burned but he also came home with a ball. I think that they had a good time since they told us all about it when they came home.
  • While they were gone, I took Keaton and Whitman to the pool. I did some reading while they did a lot of swimming. I came home with 2 extra girls for a little bit. The girls played some games, including poker, and spent some time on the trampoline.
  • We took the friends home, and then came home to start making supper. I made most folks air fryer pizzas. Keaton did have leftovers from last night, Campbell had eaten chickfila later in the afternoon so she skipped supper, and even though Reagan had a salad she still had some salad.
  • We watched some of our tv show tonight, and Keaton and Whitman were happy that we were watching a few episodes. I think that Whitman likes us watching tv because he thinks that he can stay up later when we watch tv-though we are always staying up later around here.

July 24, 2023

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  • I had set my alarm correctly this morning, but Robby was waking me up way before my alarm rang. We were out the door by 7:30 this morning. The first stop was for gas in the suburban and camper. 
  • Then we dropped the camper off for its work. We had quite a bit of hope for the mechanic to have an idea of what the tire problem could be, but after looking at the tire that Robby brought, he said, "I have no idea." So fingers crossed that he finds something to fix or maybe we should cross our fingers that he doesn't find anything to fix. 
  • Back at home, I started on all my chores. I am trying to get back into a routine this week since next week when we start school will be a little tough. I could be convinced to delay the start of school a week, but none of the kids have offered up enough money yet.
  • This week we did start back with our little bit of summer school plus chores. It was super nice having everything here working on their chores today. Now, two girls did have a little bit of a hard time working together to straighten the floor of their closet.
  • Keaton ran a few errands this morning with Robby. She took Grannymom a frame filled with shells from our family trip. When they came home, Keaton headed out to the trampoline where she spent a good bit of the afternoon.
  • Later in the afternoon, Reagan and I took Bentley to the vet. She just had to have a shot, but we had to the wait a good bit. This was the busiest we have ever seen the vet.
  • Back at home I read some before it was time to start on supper. We had orange chicken but made it in the oven, and it was just not as good as it is when we do it in the air fryer. 
  • After supper, Robby, Anderson, and I went to Costco and then Kroger. We ended up buying a trunk full of things, but really we didn't get anything at all. 
  • Back at home, Robby is working on his dessert, cookies, while Keaton has already made hers for the evening, lava cakes.

July 23, 2023

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  • I sat my alarm this morning for 7:30, but it didn't go off since I actually set it for 7:30 pm. Robby woke me up though so there was no panic this morning. I did have to work a bit this morning to get Whitman out of his bed. Anderson was already awake and dressed watching car racing this morning when I did go upstairs to start waking everyone up.
  • Sunday school and then big church. We have one more week of not having to teach Sunday school, so we once again enjoyed our break Sunday. I think that I might enjoy the hall class.
  • After church, we headed on to Nonna's house to begin Graham's birthday celebration week. We had grilled chicken along with homemade cake and ice cream. Then Graham opened up his presents-2 shirts that he ordered for himself along with some cash. He was perfectly happy with his gifts and even wore one of his new shirts tonight.
  • When we came home, everyone helped me with the laundry which just never seems to end. Then I read some of my books before taking a quick rest.
  • Sara came to pick up Keaton and Whitman to take them to their life group. They had a swimming party tonight to celebrate the end of summer. They encouraged the 4th, now 5th graders, Whitman's group, to be leaders and they also encouraged the 5th, now 6th graders, Keaton's group to also be leaders despite being now the youngest people in the youth group when they move up. They even read a Bible verse about this, but Whitman, even though he said that he was listening, could not remember much about it. 
  • While they were gone, the big 4 left a little bit later on their way to Rock Creek for church tonight. This is just Reagan's second time to go to Rock Creek's Sunday night. Afterwards, they headed to get ice cream which is what we are about to enjoy here as well.

July 22, 2023

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  • Most everyone slept pretty late this morning except for Anderson. He was up early watching a Nascar race. Or at least I think that it was Nascar. Robby headed outside fairly early, while I went to town on the kids' laundry.
  • The amount of laundry today wasn't really that bad since Campbell and I washed and folded her laundry last night. Reagan's laundry was by itself in the washing machine upstairs. I thought about saving that for her, but decided I would fold it. It was easy to fold since everything belonged to one person.
  • When you start mixing all of our clothes together in the wash, that is when it gets a bit crazy. This morning on my two loads that I folded in the kitchen, I folded all of the shorts, then all of the shirts, then the underwear, and finally the socks. And yes, I even took breaks to do something else during this time. And yes, it took me forever, but I was happy as I was doing it.
  • During all of this I did go outside occasionally to help Robby. He was kind of hard to miss-standing on the seat of his tractor holding his pole saw reading to cut tree branches. The three times I went out there, he was needing help to get his saw unstuck. The more the day went on, the more this happened.
  • He had cut all evening last night, plus he did all morning today. There were branches everywhere so I had Anderson, Keaton, and Whitman came out and help us. I had told the other 3 that they were on crew 2 and would help in an hour. They were all ready to come out when I text to tell them they would just be on leaf duty another day.
  • We got it done! Anderson had the tractor and trailer and would fill a load and take it to one of the burn piles. Whitman, Keaton, and I would haul branches to the burn pile or to the woods. We worked right at an hour when we pretty much had things picked up.
  • Robby stayed outside working and mowing longer. We need a few more days in the yard like today, but really just leaving the yard and going camping is more fun.
  • This evening Campbell went to a friend's house for a little bit. Graham drove us there and then drove me back home. He did fairly well. He did much better on the way home-I think that maybe he was more relaxed on the way home or maybe I was more relaxed on the way home.
  • As I went to pick up Campbell, Robby and Anderson were headed out. They were going to watch a movie tonight and were the only ones who wanted to see it. I have my book to read and in a little bit it will be snack time before sending all of these people to bed.

July 21, 2023

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We are all back under one roof tonight. I am certainly glad that everyone is home, but also it is a lot of work having everyone here. Since June 9th, all of 8 of us have spent only 5 nights in this house together. We definitely have some readjusting to do.

This morning started off with a nice rain storm. I got out of bed for a minute, but after hearing the rain and thunder long enough I decided to climb back in bed since I didn't have a ton of things I wanted to accomplish today. Bentley was happy for me to be in bed with her. I left and couldn't make the bed because she was still snoozing soundly until almost 11.

Keaton, Whitman, and I went to Defy for a little bit. It had been over a month since we had been there. Then we ran to Sonic-it is Friday after all. Though all of the days lately have seemed like Fridays. Once we came home with them, I was home for about 30 minutes when Keaton and I left again.

We ran by the library and then to Micheals. We then hurried to church to pick up Campbell. Graham's bus actually about 10 minutes after Campbell's. He came from Arlington while she came from St. Louis. 

Reagan and Anderson's bus had broken down-well, their first bus broke down and then their second bus broke down so after picking up Campbell I went home for a little bit. Graham opted to stay at the churchhouse. 

So we were home long enough to throw some clothes in the wash, and then we headed back to church for Reagan and Anderson. They were already there waiting on the trailer with the luggage. It had had a flat so it was about 10 minute behind. 

The boys unloaded the trailer while the girls chatted. Then I picked up pizza on the way home, dropped off Noah's backpack, dropped off Alyssa, and finally made it home for the night. Robby had been working in the yard, so he stopped to eat.

The kids helped with their laundry some, but now everyone is quiet! I am sure that most folks will sleep well tonight.

July 20, 2023-Bull Shoals

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Another good day. I slept a bit longer than Robby this morning, but when we did get up we started moving. Robby had gotten a notification on his phone that rain was coming, so he went to town putting everything (very little) up that was outside.

The kids all woke up so we soon were on the road. We went a slightly different way back which was quicker, but it was much curvier. Keaton and Sophia had to sit up front for a little bit. We did get back on the main road after town, so Robby missed his chance for a gas station.

He needed to stop for gas plus he needed to stop for a bathroom break. We had a bit more driving until there finally was a gas station which was much needed by then. The gas light was already on for the camper plus Robby was squirming in his seat.

We zoomed on down the road until we were almost home. Actually we were at the exit right before ours when a piece of weathering stripping came off the front of the camper and started flapping against the window. Robby pulled off the road and was able to push it back to where it belonged-now he has something to fix this week. There is always a camper project.

Keaton and Sophia were busy watching the last few episodes of Survivor while I worked on the camper. Robby was catching up on some work, so that just left me to quietly unload. Sometimes I really want help with unloading and putting away the camper, but sometimes it is nice to do it quietly and on my own time.

Sophia went home, and Robby helped clean the camper. We were able to do lots of laundry and pretty much get most things back in the camper. Plus I did take all of the food out since the camper is going to have a little bit of work next week. 

Tonight Robby and I had chicken dip for supper while Keaton had pasta, and Whitman had an air fryer pizza. Afterwards, there was a lot of sitting on the couch eating ice cream and watching tv.

July 19, 2023-Bull Shoals

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It was another pretty great day around here. Robby and I were again up right at 7-he did some work while I started reading. The kids slept for another few hours until we started stirring. Then we made them chocolate chip pancakes before I took Bentley on a walk or two this morning.

Then we loaded up to go to Mammoth Springs State Park. It was about an hour and a half from here and touches the Missouri line. It was a nice drive, and we saw so many campgrounds on all of the lakes near here. 

Many of those campgrounds didn't have trees. Robby mentioned that there would be no shade while I reminded him that there would be no tress falling. This whole storm the other day as now confused me about the things I appreciate in a campsite. Is shade really that important? I think I would still opt for a shaded campsite. 

Anyway, the Mammoth Spring gushes out like 9 million gallons of water an hour. On the way there, we talked about the Spring river, and Robby said that many people like it because it is never dry. After seeing that mammoth spring which leads into the Spring river, we understand now why the Spring river isn't usually dry. 

It was pretty neat to see. We walked around the spring and the surrounding lake. There was also a train station there along with the remnants of the power generator. Right nearby was a fish hatchery that had a small aquarium in the lobby of their building so we looked at it for a bit. 

On the way out, we scrambled around on the ground looking for fish food that other people had dropped. We didn't have a quarter in the car to buy food, so we had to just scavenge. This brought back a lot of memories since I vividly remember doing that at the zoo to feed the fish whenever I would forget the quarters.

On the way home, we stopped in Mountain Home for ice cream. Keaton doesn't like ice cream so Robby didn't buy her any, but she was busy while we were eating since they gave Bentley a free ice cream (peanut butter and milkbone). We did stop to get Keaton a Sonic drink at the next corner.

Then it was back to the camper where the girls played volleyball for a short amount of time. Then they went back to playing Five Crowns and watching Survivor. Tonight we had alfredo tortellini, and then we took a walk.

The girls tried to get Bentley to get in the water again tonight, but she wasn't as interested as she was last night. We walked Bentley afterwards to dry her off while the kids rode their bicycles. Tonight's game was Skip-bo, and I was the winner. 

Right now we have just finished eating s'mores, and people are starting to brush their teeth. I still have my shower to take, but maybe I will have some time to read my book tonight before I fall asleep.

July 18, 2023-Bull Shoals

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Today was a much more uneventful day which was quite nice. The girls slept a little bit, and Robby was already on his second work call when they did wake up. He lit the oven, and we put the chocolate croissants in the oven. They were from Trader Joe's, and Keaton has been so excited to try them. 

I think that she was pleased with them. They rose so much and were pretty massive, but they aren't very cheap so they will just be a very special breakfast item. After our late breakfast, we headed out to a swimming hold.

This state park doesn't have a swimming area probably because the current of this river would take you to Louisiana. I asked the lady at the visitor's center yesterday about one, and she gave me a piece of paper with two different places. She told me which one would be better so that is where we headed.

Maybe because we are from the city, but her idea of the better one and my idea of a swimming hole at all were pretty different. The first one was mainly just a boat dock. We decided that maybe the water was higher so we couldn't see the area that she was talking about, but since we didn't want them swimming at a boat dock, we went to area number two.

It took us a while to find this swimming area, and we had almost given up. However, we eventually did find it. It was a roped off area but not very large at all. We still went to swim though. Oh, yes, when we left the camper the electricity had gone off again. (Last night when we went to bed, the electricity was also off. Robby turned on our air conditioner so we would know when the power did come back on. The main air conditioner was running on the generator so we were all still comfortable. I woke right up at 1:30 when the power did come back on so he went outside to plug us back up and unplug the generator. )

We weren't really sure why the power was off this morning. There was a huge bucket truck and team of people working on all of the downed branches today, but we didn't see anything nearby to make us think the electricity should be off. Anyway, we decided to take Bentley with us on our trip to the swimming hole, but unfortunately, and like we had expected there was a sign that said no pets. 

So Robby stayed in the car and worked with Bentley while I went to the swimming area with the kids. I blew up 3 tubes for them, but I was sitting in a lawn chair with my feet in the water so I was good. When I finished with the tubes, I had my book to enjoy.

Robby left us to go and get gas. He said that he drove one way a good ways and found nothing, so he went the other way a good ways and also found nothing. He decided he better head back to us since he was gone so long looking for gas. The kids probably swam for an hour or maybe a little bit longer.

When he arrived back, we went to the next town to get gas and a Sonic drink. When we came back to the camper, the girls took Bentley to the river to try to get her in the water. She did a little bit more today, but that dog will not go where she needs to swim. Maybe she needs swimming lessons like me. I do think Bentley had fun though, but I know that Keaton and Sophia did.

They played cards most of the afternoon. We went on a few walks, and they also watched some tv Tonight I played a round of Five Queens with them again before we made air fryer pizzas for supper. Then Robby and I played Phase 10 with them while we made cookies in the air fryer. That card game lasted 2 hours, but it was still fun. 

Tomorrow we are driving a little way to see a new state park and who knows what else we will see.

July 17, 2023-Bull Shoals

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Robby and I have been pretty stressed about the tire situation. He even toyed with cancelling this trip, but he knew if did, then he would just sit at home and stew all week. So far at least, on this trip the tires are not what we have worried about at all. 

This morning at 8:30, Keaton and I went to pick up Sophia, and then we started on our way to Bull Shoals-White River State Park. The tire issues have just made us a bit nervous about everything. We stopped once for Robby to take off his camera that he accidentally left on. Then we stopped again near Conway so he could make sure that his car straps were tightened. We have to stop and tighten them after the first few miles every trip because they loosen as we drive. 

We zoomed on to Buffalo National River. We had never pulled off and been to the visitor's center so that is what we did today. We walked through the visitor's center, and I got my stamp. Now I have been to all of the National Park Sites in Arkansas.

We ate lunch there in the camper while Robby did some work, and then we had about an hour to drive to get to the campground. We had a perfect camp site. We were right by the marina-we had originally thought that we might be able to rent a kayak, but after seeing that river flow by, we knew that wasn't an option. But there was a spot that the kids were able to put their feet in the ice cold water.

Bentley even enjoyed the water as well. Usually she doesn't like the water at all, but today she would wade in to her elbows (I'm not sure if dogs have elbows or not, but you can figure out what I mean.) Right behind the camp site was a fishing pier along with some porch swings. It was really pretty.

We didn't set up the tent but I did put out some of our lawnchairs and our new small rug. Then we decided that we should go and officially check in to the campground. After we did that, we drove back across the dam to the park visitor's center. They had exhibits, and we walked around it for a good while.

We knew that a storm was coming, but we hoped that it would go around us. We even drove to Gaston's-a lodge and restaurant right new here. Then we came back to the camper. I started a game with the girls in the front where the windows were open, and Robby sat on the bed with his computer during some work. 

There wasn't any rain, but the girls and I started to notice the wind. I don't want to over react, so we just watched it a bit. Then we started to feel the camper rock. We have been in a few storms, but really we have never felt the camper move like this. I briefly tried to figure out if the storm would be enough to blow our camper into the river or if it would just knock it over.

By the time I had made these mathematical calculations in my head, Robby was up front looking out the windows. Now we were seeing branches falling-not little branches but big ones. He said we needed to go to the bathhouse so that is where we headed.

I grabbed Bentley's leash and had her ready, but then I was waiting on Whitman to get his shoes on. Robby was at the door trying to hurry us and deciding if he was just going to pick up Whitman and carry him. I am not sure if it was instinct or if one of us told the kids to run, but run they did and we did too towards the bathhouse.

Thankfully, the bathhouse could not have been any closer to the camper-just across the street. The girls were first, followed by Whitman, and then me and Bentley, and then Robby. We had to run right next to a large tree that had just fallen. 

I will just pause and say how thankful I am for the kids-they were as cool as cucumbers. They weren't stressed or nervous at all. I know they were following Robby and my lead, but they could have panicked which would have been a legit response. Even the dog was perfect-I didn't know if she would go with me with the wind blowing like it was, but she did. Then when we were in the breezeway by the bathrooms, she was content and just licked the little kids that came up to her.

When we made it to the bathroom area, we were there by ourselves for about 2 minutes. Those whole 2 minutes, Robby just stared at the camper. I wasn't able to look-we could already see limbs on the side and back, but there were so many large trees still right there. 

Soon other people started running up-camper people, tent camper, lots of little kids. There were probably 20 of us in the small breezeway. We could have gone in the large bathrooms, but we all just huddled together. Within 5 minutes of us being in the bathroom, the wind had stopped and the heavy rain began. 

We probably stayed near the bathrooms for about 30 minutes or so. The camper right across from ours did have a tree fall on it-thankfully, not in it. But I am sure that they had some major roof damage. 

(Just a side note here: Robby and I just reviewed the Ring camera footage. The back camera didn't pick up the storm, but the front only caught us leaving the camper. Now, if he posts that-it doesn't look as dramatic as this whole thing felt. You can see Robby looking up and telling us to hurry, but the video does not do things justice. You do hear a truck pulling a boat peel out trying to get away)

When the rain stopped, the emerged and inspected the damage-the tree limb that fell near the camper covered the tow dolly and fell on top of the power plug in thing and all of Robby's cords and hoses. Thankfully, it did really get on the camper. Most of the branch was still connected to the tree-so when the ranger did come by, she said she would move us to a different camp site. (Really that part probably wouldn't fall, but it easily could have during the rain and hail we had later in the evening.)

Moving campsites isn't always easy, but when you move campsites while being thankful to be alive and have nothing damaged then it isn't so bad. The girls rode the bikes down to the new site, and Robby and the ranger lady were able to get his cords and hoses out from under the branches. 

We went on a few walks before we were given our new spot-the people in this campground were pretty lucky. There are 2 big trees down and lots of large branches. We had the one beside the camper, but there was another one behind the camper-at first we thought a whole tree had fallen but eventually realized it was just a tree.

By the time we were settled again, it was nearly 8. I made supper-orange chicken and rice which couldn't have been easier. We needed something easy. After supper, it started to rain again-that was fine, but then it started to hail. That was not fine.

Hail is bad. We have had a bit of hail before, but even normal rain sounds loud in a camper. This sounded like baseballs hitting the roof. Robby and I quickly shut the blinds-what more is there to do? After a bit, I decided to look out the door-Robby didn't want to see. Thankfully, it only was about marble size hail or smaller. I am sure that even that size could do some major damage to things-Robby will check the roof tomorrow. We didn't even think to look at the car windows though.

Once the hail stopped, it began to rain. And once the rain stopped, the power went out. The only way we knew the power was out was that the tv went off. The batteries kick in so the lights stay on, but that can't power the tv, microwave, or air conditioners.

No worries there, Robby did eventually turn on the generator so we are all back to normal. I just finished my shower, and Sophia and Keaton are watching a show while Whitman is on his ipad. Here's to a slow and uneventful day tomorrow. 

July 16, 2023

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  • It was kind of nice this morning not having to get to Sunday school super early to set up our room. This month the teachers don't have to teach our kids' Sunday school classes. So we started off in the room helping, but then we sneaked on out to the hallway to chat during the rest of Sunday school.
  • Next was church, but then we headed to Grannymom's house for lunch. I was starving, and her Mexican casserole was really yummy. 
  • Then we headed home. Robby went to work on the yard and then getting the camper ready. And I wasn't as productive-I had a nap. However, I did wake up and clean the potties, vacuum, and work on getting some school ready. The high schoolers start school on August 8th, but I am really thinking about starting school for everyone July 31st. That just leaves me one free week after this next week. 
  • We had supper at the Wilson's house tonight. We stayed and chatted for a good while. It was nice to catch up since we had missed a few Sunday nights. 
  • When we came home, we straightened for a few minutes before watching on episode of our show.
  • Here is what all I know about the mission trip kids:
    • Campbell went to church this morning, but they had a lot of extra time so before church she bought herself an icee. Later in the day, she told me that her ear was better, but she was still taking medicine.
    • Anderson's group, which includes Reagan, led a Bible study this morning. Then they had lunch at a mall's food court.
    • I haven't heard from Reagan or Graham today. I did hear that Graham passed out flyers for their upcoming VBS.
    • Candace did call to tell me one story that happened today in Arlington. She said that she walked into the kitchen area and saw that there was some ice on the floor. She walked that way to help pick up the ice, and as she walked she slipped and started to fall. A man's hand grabbed her and caught her while asking "Are you all right?" She wasn't sure which man was nearby to catch her, but turned and saw that it was Anderson.

July 15, 2023

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  • Robby and I were awake early again this morning. Campbell had to be at church for her PLANT mission trip at 8. Graham, Anderson, and Reagan had to be there for their PLANT mission trip at 8:30. 
  • We left the house at 7:25ish so we were able to stop by McDonalds on the way. Now, my kids are used to traveling in a camper with easy access to the bathroom, so giving them a McDonalds breakfast made me a bit nervous for them. Good thing they had plenty of time before they left at church this morning.
  • We dropped off Campbell-making sure that she had her ear drops. When I did wake Campbell up this morning, her ear was still bothering her. One of Campbell's leaders is a nurse, but when I look in the pictures I also see our pediatrician friend so I don't have to worry too much about those drops actually getting into Campbell's ears. 
  • We drove slowly to the back of the church to drop off the others, but they were still early! They didn't mind though at all, nor did they mind to see us go. 
  • I have heard from most everyone-the girls are much more chatty. Campbell has been sending my pictures while Reagan has text to ask questions. She also text pretty early mad that she had forgotten her toothbrush. Thankfully, she was able to buy one at some point today. 
  • I text Anderson a question and he responded very briefly. Robby did text Graham, and he wrote back. I might check in on them a little bit later tonight. Robby said that maybe the kids wished they weren't allowed to bring their phones on this trip since their parents were probably all texting them.
  • When we came home, we went to work reloading the camper. That took a while, but it isn't difficult to do. Robby then went to his folk's house for a bit while I stayed here and worked. I marked quite a few things off of my list and even helped Keaton make a cheesecake.
  • Robby and I went to weigh the camper (we are a bit overweight), and then to Kroger for gas and food. When we did get home, I started trying to find things to take out of the camper. I did take one load out-and weighed it: 5.8 pounds. I have quite a few more loads to take out of that thing-we still don't think that is causing our tire problem though.
  • Somehow pulling things out of the camper has cause me to start organizing things in the house-tupperware cabinet, cabinet over my potty, and the paper products. I should be cleaning this house ot trying to make it neat.
  • Robby, Keaton, Whitman and I did all go to McAlisters for supper tonight. Robby and I both had baked potatoes, and they were just pretty good. Then it was on to see PopShelf where Whitman bought a bubble machine. 
  • Next we ran into Trader Joe's for orange chicken-they were out. But we high tailed it to Sams, and I ran in for some. We then came home, and Robby worked on cleaning up his projects in the camper while I got sucked into the show that Keaton was watching.
  • We do have Keaton's cheesecake for supper, and Blue Bell to eat tonight! It is our 23rd anniversary after all. 

July 14, 2023

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  • It was nearly 2 last night when we did go to sleep. But once again we were both awake before our alarms went off this morning.
  • Robby had an appointment to get the new tire while I had an appointment with Campbell for a check up. She started complaining yesterday of an earache, so we assumed correctly that it was swimmer's ear. While we were there, we went ahead and had her full check up which meant she got a shot. 
  • She was fine with the shot because that meant that that she also got Sonic. I let her order bbq popcorn chicken, and it was the best thing that I had ever eaten-maybe because I was starving, 
  • Once we came home, it was time to start to work. By midmorning most things had been washed and put away-now put away meant just thrown in a laundry basket for all of the things that live in the camper. Those things will be put away tomorrow-probably.
  • I did do some work in the camper today. I cleaned that baby-it doesn't take long to shop vac that entire thing. 
  • Soon Robby and I left with the girls for some errands. First we went to the library so I could pick up some books. Then it was to Sams to pick up Campbell's medicine which we did as soon as we made it to Grannymom's house on our last stop. We also ran into Walmart and picked up a random assortment of things before Lowes. 
  • This afternoon Nonna and Pops came over to see the kids before they left again. When they left, I helped the big boys pack their bags. Reagan, of course, doesn't need any help, and Campbell does just fine but she complains about having to pack the entire time.
  • The big boys went to Sonic for a few minutes with Brett. Then at home everyone found their own suppers-we even tried to make egg in the hole in the air fryer. It kind of work. 
  • I did some computer work while Robby finished his projects for the day. Then we watched some tv to end the evening.

July 13, 2023-All in One (Disney, Beach Camp, Seaside, and Dennie Family Trip)

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We have had a great 2 weeks on the road. The only mishap was Graham losing his retainers, but other than that we had a great time at Disney, the kids had a great time at Beach Camp, and we all had a wonderful time on the Dennie family trip. 

We woke up this morning a few minutes earlier than our alarms. While Robby finished getting ready, I started shoving our bags into the hallway. He then went to get the kids up and check their rooms while I finished getting ready.

We said our goodbyes and all climbed into the van with half of our stuff. Robby and I wisely had taken a load of things to the camper last night, but Whitman and I still had bags under our feet on the way to the camper this morning.

Once we arrived, we unloaded a few things from the car, but mainly we left most things in the car. We hooked up the car and headed to pick up Bentley. I think that she had a good time-she was happy to see us. We weren't overly impressed with where she stayed, but she is a dog after all.

Our first stop this morning was just a bit down the road at Buccees. We did all get out and buy the traditional Buccees items-slushies, cokes, nuts, chocolate candy, a chicken sandwich, and some pork tenderloin. Yep, you read that right. Graham came up to us with his snack-a package of pork tenderloin. He did use some bbq sauce in the camper with it, but he said it was pretty good.

There was one other stop for gas. When we were there, Robby tried to do some work, but he didn't have any internet so that is why he is now catching up on work right now (after midnight). We were just plugging along through Pine Bluff when we heard Robby's tire pressure thing start beeping.

We have traveled a lot. We have been many places and on many trips. And some trips just aren't perfect. Robby and I even talk about some trips being "the trip from hell." For the most part, we are pretty relaxed people and don't let many things phase us. This trip though had been so great, so I hated to end it on a sour note.

I can't really be too sour though: the tire pressure system worked, a gas station was about 1/4 of a mile down the road, we were safe, had plenty of food, and were in the air conditioner and still made it home just a little after 10 (about 2.5 hours later than planned.)

We have now had a bit of tire problems on the camper-more than I think should be normal. I'm not relaxed when it comes to the tires-it all terrifies me. Though I do feel fairly confident on changing the tires. Before Robby had even gotten out of the car, I had pulled out the jack and lug nut thing aroo.

The flat tire was on the inside which meant that Robby did have to use the jack. However, his jack wasn't quite tall enough to lift the camper so he had to put it on something. He first tried to use his leveling blocks. 

For Robby to jack up the camper, he had to be under the camper. I'm not a car expert, but getting under something being jacked up seems to be a big no-no to me. Of course this made me super nervous, but Anderson was just as worried as I was. 

The blocks that he had the jack on were plastic so they would start to cave in causing the camper to move slightly. After two attempts, Robby called AAA. (What we should have done was take the van off, and him go and get two paver stones at Walmart right down the road.)

After about an hour and half, the tow truck man arrived. He then told Robby that they weren't allowed to work on campers. Robby's jack was also bigger than the other man's jack (That last sentence doesn't sound too nice!) Anyway, the man did have two bricks which Robby used to jack up the camper, and then take off the two tires and replace the inside tire. (If you look closely at the picture, you see Robby working and the man watching. He was nice and all, but what are we paying AAA for. He is going to reassess having AAA for the camper this next week.) 

Within 15 minutes of the camper being jacked up, we were back on the road. The last 5 minutes that the kids and I were outside, we got ate up by mosquitoes. I guess that we got in their nest or something, but we all were spraying ourselves with bug spray as Robby finished with the tire. 

The kids were great during all of this. They walked around in the gas station. They came outside when we asked. They even pulled out the football and played ball. Anderson was right there trying to help in any way he could. No one complained when they certainly could have. They did better than Robby and I for sure. Robby was just a bit stressed-he's so worried about us that he couldn't relax. I handled it all well because I just hold all my anxiety in and was a nervous wreck on the way home. My chest is still a little tight! (Kidding, but not really.)

We were delayed about 2 and a half hours due to all of this, but again we can't really complain. I am pretty sure that these last few hours of this trip will still not put it in "a trip from hell" category. No, I am sure that it won't. As we unpacked the kids were already talking about next year's Dennie family trip. 

When we did get home, the kids all needed showers due to the mosquitoes. First though they had to help us unpack the camper. They did a bit, and then Robby and I did some more. It is still a mess in there, and inside, but things are getting better. 

It was pretty late when all of the kids did get into bed. The day after us picking up the camp kids, we went to a Goodwill, and I bought a magnet toy for Whitman. He and Keaton were playing with it at midnight tonight. Hopefully, they all catch up on their sleep some tonight since tomorrow and this next week are going to be busy.

Tomorrow, Campbell has a doctor's appointment, Robby will deal with the tire, and 4 kids need to pack for mission trips.  

July 12, 2023-All in One (Disney, Beach Camp, Seaside, and Dennie Family Trip)

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Robby, James, Virginia, Reagan, Anderson, Whitman and I started our morning out a bit before 9. (Campbell, Graham, and Keaton opted to stay here while Whitman was not given the choice. He doesn't prefer to do anything and could sit on his ipad all day long). We headed towards the National Naval Aviation Museum in Pensacola.

The Blue Angels were practicing today so the traffic was pretty thick getting into the gate, but once we were there we breezed to the parking lot. We didn't realize that we were in the back of the parking lot and had a good walk to get to the practice area.

However, we eventually found a golf cart for Grandpa and a chair just in time. Originally, they were not sure if the Blue Angels would practice because of the heavy cloud cover. They did though, and it was pretty neat to see. 

Whitman wasn't too impressed; he said that he had seen the same thing at Disney. He had; however, the Blue Angels were much, much more impressive and the very light drizzle happening made it so much more pleasant. 

A few times during all of this, the announcer thought that they were going to have to stop because of the weather, but they continued doing things. As they came in for a landing, we started walking towards the museum. Reagan and Whitman followed the crowd to the museum while Anderson and I went to get the car.

We made it back to Robby, Grannymom, and Grandpa just as it was starting to pour. Robby drove around and was able to drop us off under a covered entrance so that worked out perfectly. We soon realized text weren't working so we figured that we would eventually find Whitman and Reagan.

A few minutes after this, they showed up completely drenched. They had gone in one section of the museum and then decided that they better come to the main museum to find us. They didn't have far to go, but it was absolutely pouring at this time. We had been standing together for about 2 minutes when the power at the museum did go off.

That was fun. Seriously, we made some memories. The building is designed wonderfully with sky lights so we were able to still walk around and see things. Whitman did want to go upstairs, but they did close it. We wondered around for a little bit but then decided that we should head back. The drive back was rainy, but back at the house they were not getting nearly as much rain as they did at the museum.

Keaton and Whitman had a big time today in the ocean. They were inside when we did come home because of the rain. Graham was also inside-we thought that his sunburn would really bother him, but I guess he is just that tough. This afternoon I went and sat on the beach some while Keaton, Campbell, and Reagan floated on some tubes.

The boys were all swimming in the pool when I came back to the house. After Whitman's jellyfish sting we were not able to convince him to get back in the ocean-maybe in September. We did a few loads of laundry today and tried to organize things a little bit.

Les and Shelley made supper tonight-gumbo and boudin egg rolls for supper. After all ate, the kids and some of us adults were in a volleyball tournament. This was the first time that they had played volleyball all week long, but they all really enjoyed it.

After the game, there was peach cobbler and ice cream. When Robby and I finished eating we headed to the camper with a car load of things to put away. It didn't take us long to put things up-we will have to go through everything when we get home, but the goal was to take enough stuff so that we only need one load tomorrow to get back to the camper and have enough room to comfortably ride home in the camper.

Reagan said tonight that this was a pretty perfect family trip, and I would agree.

July 11, 2023-All in One (Disney, Beach Camp, Seaside, and Dennie Family Trip)

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Another relaxing day at the beach. We started the morning with breakfast. Dana was in charge of cooking, and she had a time. First the ice maker was leaking everywhere on the floor, and then the oven stopped working. Fans were used to dry the ice maker leak, and breakfast was finished on the grill outside so things were under control.

The repair man actually arrived by the time that we finished breakfast. He said the the oven needed a new element and also said that he would return today to fix the ice maker. He never did, but it all did add a little bit of excitement to the day.

Most folks went to the beach fairly early this morning. I even sat out there for a little while until Whitman came bolting out of the water trying to unhook the boogie board from his arm. The kids down from us had just caught a jelly fish, and I guess when they released it, it found Whitman.

I walked him back up to the house, and while I looked for some meds for him, he took a dip in the pool. I did make him climb out, dry off and sit out for a little bit while the medicine dried some on his arm, but then he jumped back in the pool. The bumps were still kind of there later today, but he said it didn't bother him though I don't think that he will get back in the ocean this trip.

Robby grilled some hot dogs for lunch, and later in the day I made the chicken dip. Basically, we have just eaten all day long, and it has been pretty wonderful. 

I was sitting on the couch this afternoon kind of dozing so I decided to go to my room and take a nap. While I was laying in bed, Keaton came in the room. Then Campbell, then Anderson, Whitman, Reagan, and Keaton again. I also text or received texts from about 8 different people (over half of those being my children). So when I did get out of the bed about 2 hours later, I had slept for about 10 minutes! Ha! 

Graham didn't text or come in my room during my nap because he was out at the ocean getting fried! Seriously, he usually swims with his shirt on, but he didn't today. I am not sure how well or if he put on sunscreen, and his little back and front got super red. On our way home from supper tonight I did find him some aloevera with lydocaine so surely that will help.

For supper tonight we all went to The Gulf to eat. It was a perfect spot for everyone. They had tons of seating outside plus the food arrived super quick. Campbell and Keaton even found shirts there which meant that we didn't have to go souvenir shopping! 

After eating we were all full, but not that I full I guess. Shelley made oreo delight so kids were coming out of the wood work to get a bowl of it. Reagan was already in bed with her teeth brushed but came down for a bite.

We tried to work on the puzzle a bit tonight, but I think if we were here for about another week we could get it done, but after struggling for a good bit tonight, folks decided to go to bed. Maybe we should just take it home to Grannymom's house and all work on it there.

July 10, 2023-All in One (Disney, Beach Camp, Seaside, and Dennie Family Trip)

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First we will begin with a Bentley update: Robby did get a picture today of her sitting in a chair. The lady said that had become Bentley's favorite chair. She also said that when Bentley was not there, she was sitting with the other puppy or playing with the 9 year old. Since there are kids around, I am pretty sure that Bentley is content.

Robby was up and working pretty early this morning. Soon though we headed outside of our room. I think that we ate our breakfast on the deck, and before too long I convinced Whitman and Graham to go and make a sand castle with me.

Our sand castle was a bust-it broke pretty immediately, but that was fine. Whitman soon headed to the water. That boy loves the water as much as Campbell does. He could stay in the ocean or pool forever. Campbell was actually in the pool all evening tonight.

A few of us played Code Names today on the deck. It is one of my favorite games, but it is a little bit slow to play. Anderson and Keaton were on my team, but we did lose.

Robby took Whitman back down to the ocean a little bit later. Then when Robby came back up, Whitman soon headed out again with Graham and Anderson. At some point Graham came back in, but Anderson, Cambpell, and Whitman were swimming when it begin raining.

And rain it did! We should have known it was going to be a rainy day because early this morning, Keaton was out walking with Grannymom, and it poured on them. She said that she had to change shirts when they went out a second time to start collecting shells.

The rain lingered for most of the afternoon and a good bit of the evening. Anderson, Whitman, and Graham were still swimming in the pool when the thunder and lightening started. I told them to get out, but the big boys wanted to finish their game. So I held my breath as thunder and lightening happened all around us while the quickly finished their game. 

Grannymom made meatloaf, mashed potatoes, green beans and rolls tonight for supper. As we were finishing, the kids noticed a rainbow outside so we all went out to take pictures of it. This evening Anderson and I worked on a 1000 piece puzzle. So far, we are not on track to finish that puzzle by the time that we leave!

July 9, 2023-All in One (Disney, Beach Camp, Seaside, and Dennie Family Trip)

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Robby and I woke up before our alarms rang this morning. We then started stirring around in the camper. I took Bentley on a walk, and then started waking up the kids. We had told them that we would wake them up before we left this morning.

Anderson had already asked to be woken up because he wanted to watch a car race. As soon as he did wake up, he turned on the tv and watched the race. We were almost to our first stop when his race stopped, but I was still surprised that it was already finished. I had just assumed that a car race would last a long time.

We pulled out this morning and headed to Sams in Pensacola. When we arrived Robby headed for the gas pumps. While he waited on one pump, I took Bentley potty. After not getting that pump and having others jump in line, he waited on another pump, and Reagan, Graham and I went in to buy a bag of ice,

Then while he was pumping gas (it was incredibly slow), we walked into the pick up spot with a buggy, and picked up our groceries. It all worked out perfectly though we did completely fill the buggy with our groceries. I was glad that Graham was with us, because he immediately went to work lifing the cases of cokes and water into the shopping cart.

From Sams, it was about a 45 minute drive to drop of Bentley for the week. She is spending the few days with a pet sitter in Foley. The lady's flower beds needed serious work which concerned me, but the lady looked nice, and the inside of her house did not smell or look trashy when I handed her Bentley's food. We even recieved a picture where Bentley was playing so I am sure that she is fine.

Then we parked the camper at Gulf State Park in Gulf Shores. As soon as we turned the engine off, the kids started hauling their bags out to the picnic table. That gave us more room to pack more things up. When it was check in time, Robby loaded the car with all of the kids but Reagan, and most of our things. 

He took them to the house, and they unloaded everything. Then he came back to pick up us and the food that we had to bring. When I arrived at the house, I found spots for all of our things, and soon started on supper.

It didn't take too long for Whitman and Cambpell to find their way to the beach. They swam in the ocean some and ended up in the pool. Anderson and Reagan worked a 300 piece puzzle as Robby and I worked on supper. Keaton helped with supper prep and chopped a ton of tomotoes for me.

Tonight's supper was chicken and beef tacos along with refried beans, cheese dip and all of the other fixings. For dessert we had baked a few cookies and opened up a pack of mini cheesecakes from Sams. After we cleaned up the kitchen, Robby and I went on a walk along the beach and all of the kids walked with us. They were pretty fun to listen to-the big 3 were talking about what their assignements are during their next trip (they leave Saturday).

When we came back, we sat out on the back patio for a good while watching the neighbors shoot of fireworks and listening to the waves. It was pretty pleasant outside. We stayed out there until almost 10, before heading in to bed.

The three boys are in one room with Whitman sleeping on an air mattress, and the three girls are in another room. Robby and I are on the bottom floor near the kitchen in case we need a midnight snack.

July 8, 2023-All in One (Disney, Beach Camp, Seaside, and Dennie Family Trip)

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Today was a lazy day around here, but we sure seemed to stay busy. Robby and I were up before 7, but stayed quiet for a good while. Around 10, we started stirring people to get ready for our morning outing. Anderson opted to stay back at the camper, so we didn't even wake Whitman up to ask what he wanted to do.

We drove to Seaside which is about 10 miles from where we are staying. They were having their farmer's market so we walked around that. Then we looked over at their beautiful beach for a bit before looking into some stores. There is a little food place there that is so neat-It reminds me of where we bought sandwiches when we were in Napa Valley 20 or so years ago.

There was also a book store on the town square that we went into. It was so insanely crowded that we could barely see anything. Reagan and I both love bookstores-maybe because we are the only ones who do enjoy reading. I could have stayed in there a lot longer if we didn't have to fight the crowds.

Walmart trip 1: After the bookstore, we found Robby who was moving the car because the parking meter was up, and we headed to Walmart. We needed mustard, cheeses, and shaving cream, but we left with a whole buggy of things. Graham wanted a beach ball, Campbell wanted a snorkel, Robby wanted a mat, Reagan wanted a volleyball...I don't think that Keaton or I bought anything for us though. We also bought an ice chest to keep our drinks cold in the house-there are a lot of us so we go through a lot of drinks in a day (For example: Anderson could drink well over 5 water bottles a day on a trip plus a gatorade or two.)

Walmart trip 2: We had been back for a while, when Graham came to tell Robby that the new ice chest was leaking from the water release thingy. Robby tried to screw it in better, but apparently we bought a dud. So we had to empty one of my packing tubs onto the table. Then we poured the drinks and ice into it while we went to exchange the ice chest.

Walmart trip 3: We returned the ice chest, and Robby just opted to buy 2 styrofoam ice chests instead. On the way home, Robby noticed the oil light came on in the car. He had one thing of oil with us in the camper (Seriously, it is hard to explain, but we have a little bit of everything in this camper.) But he wanted to go ahead and be done with it, so off he went to Walmart again to buy oil for the car.

And this is when I learned to dump the camper very quickly. Before Robby thought about leaving, he was cleaning out the tanks. He has a special thing that allows him to pump water into the tanks-he has a water gauge that tells him how many gallons of water have gone into the tank plus he always sets a timer. If he puts too much water in the tank, well, let's just say that we have heard horror stories of this happening. What really do you clean black tank debris (black tank is where the potty water goes) with? Do you use a towel? Paper towels? Or do you just abondon it and buy a new one?

Well, those were about to be our choices today. Robby must have gotten distracted because he didn't set a timer, and he just up and left while spraying water into the tanks. I was sitting outside reading when Anderson burst out of the camper to say that brown (sorry) water was filling the sink and shower.

I knew what was happening, and in my mind I knew what I needed to do, but these are things I have never done myself. I ran to the other side of the camper not know exactly what to do. There are so many hoses and levers and pipes and my goodness. I wasn't sure how to turn off the water, so I decided the quickest way to get the water out was to pull the dump lever-grey tank didn't pull out anymore, black tank didn't pull out anymore, finally I pulled the lever on the thing that allows him to clean the tank and water started leaving.

By this time too, I had also stopped the water coming into the camper and unhooked that hose for good measure. Whitman reported that the water was gone, and thankfully I just had to clean the sink and shower and not the floor of the entire camper. I am so glad that Anderson was sitting nearby and heard some gurgling sounds. If he had not, I just don't want to think about it.

When Robby got back, I made him give all of the responsible adults a lesson:Anderson, Graham, and I. Robby had not been home for long when it started raining. Rain is fun and all, but for some reason it always rains the day that we need to put our things away. 

Tonight we should have been able to put up the tent and rug since we leave tomorrow. However, those things are now having to dry out from the rain. And this just wasn't any rain; it was a storm. Keaton, Reagan and I were holding the tent down while Robby and Anderson were putting up the tv and closing the awning. Chairs were blowing, things were falling off the table, the wind was whipping, it was madness! 

Thankfully, the rain stopped and things were able to dry out a good little bit. For supper, Robby heated up leftover pizza in the air fryer for the boys, Keaton and I had potato soup while Reagan and Cambpell had fetticine.

After eating, we all headed to Blue Mountain Beach Creamery. We all had 2 scoops of ice cream. Whitman and I were the only ones who chose to eat ours in a bowl. My two scoops seemed more like 4, but Reagan's ice cream-it was at least 6 scoops. It was craziness! We even took Bentley since we felt like we needed to spoil her a little bit today.

Back at the camper, some more folks had showers, and Robby just put some laundry in the wash. We picked up what was dry outside and loaded up the car so hopefully tomorrow's start can begin on time.

July 7, 2023-All in One (Disney, Beach Camp, Seaside, and Dennie Family Trip)

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Robby and I left the camper at 6:30ish this morning to go and pick up our campers. We arrived around 7:15, and it didn't take long to find the kiddos. We were able to see Tony and Shannon for a minute before the others started loading into busses, and we felt like we should get out of there.

The kids were pretty talkative on the way home. Everyone had a great time. Even though we weren't able to talk to them during the week, we did see them in pictures so I felt like we hadn't missed too much. Before too long at all, Campbell had a ton more pictures from her life group leader. And later in the day, Reagan downloaded all of the pictures that she had taken so I have even more pictures today.

When we arrive back to at the camper, Keaton, Whitman, and Bentley were still sleeping soundly. Of course we woke them up with all of our coming and going. The kids emptied their bags of laundry outside, and Robby and I started on that. It was only 3 loads of laundry so that wasn't too bad at all.

When it was done, I folded it, and everyone put away their clothes. The girls packed in suitcases, so they were moved to the car after they got a few things out. The boys packed in duffel bags so I found room for theirs in the camper. It has been a little bit of an adjustment doubling the number of people in the camper. We have managed though.

Graham was the first one asleep, Campbell was the next one out, and Reagan didn't last too much longer. Anderson was the only camper who didn't take a nap today. I even had a nap. Now, this being a much slower day than Keaton was used to, she was a little bit on the bored side! And maybe I should say, she was very bored.

We did go with her and Anderson this afternoon to drive around some. We even stopped at Del Taco for lunch before going into Goodwill. While we were there Anderson bought a flag, I bought a magnet toy for Whitman, and Keaton found a shirt.

This evening Robby picked up pizza from Hungry Howies. Some of us ate inside while others ate outside despite the slight sprinkle. Afterwards, we went drove to the nearest beach and walked on it for a little bit. The beach was super beautiful.

When we came back, we all sat outside for a little bit. The kids said that it wasn't this pleasant in the evenings while they were at camp, but it is really nice outside tonight.

July 6, 2023-All in One (Disney, Beach Camp, Seaside, and Dennie Family Trip)

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Robby was awake before I was this morning, but not long after I was up and ready, we were taking the golf cart to the front so he could come and pick it up to return it. I woke up Keaton to ask if she wanted to make one last loop to see if she could trade any pins before we left, but she said he didn't. A bit later, I woke her up again to ask if she wanted to ride with Robby to fetch the golf cart, but again her answer was no. I guess she was pretty tired.

We loaded up the car and headed out of Fort Wilderness. I told Robby that even though we still have two more times there, I will be sad when we leave for the last time this year. But we both agreed, that we kind of have mixed feelings-we love Disney and the campground so that will be sad to not be able to come back for a very long while. Also though it will be kind of exciting to be able to plan trips to somewhere other than Florida the next year.

We had 5 hours to drive today. We stopped once for gas (or maybe twice), and then we also stopped so Robby could tighten the straps on the car. After the first 100 or so miles, those straps stretch out a bit so he likes to tighten them.

I listened to some of my book-I still have 3 hours to go, but I believe that I only have it for 3 more days. I have the copy of the book at home so I can finish reading it there if my audiobook does expire. Robby listened to a few sermons as he drove. Really, the day went fairly quickly.

We are in a newish campground in or near Santa Rosa Beach. Now this place doesn't have any trees which will make it hot tomorrow, but it is super nice. Since the rain came the other day, all of our outside stuff Robby had just thrown in the back of the van so when we arrived today, we set most things up so we could organize things a little bit better because tomorrow this camper is going to get full. We double the amount of people living in here, and I think that we had gotten accostumed to spreading out a little bit.

The kids swam for a few minutes tonight. Then we came back to the camper and had orange chicken for our supper. Afterwards, Robby and I sat ourside-he worked and I read. Our evening snack was s'mores, and we will probably have an earlier bedtime than usual tonight because tomorrow is an early morning.

July 5, 2023-All in One (Disney, Beach Camp, Seaside, and Dennie Family Trip)

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Since this is our last full day, we made it our busiest day. The morning started off with Whitman, Keaton, and I doing a tour at Epcot. While we went on the tour, Robby sat at a table and did some work (someone has to pay for our trip.)

We went to the Behind the Seeds tour in the Land Pavilion. Remember the Living with the Land boatride where you go through the greenhouses. We walked through those green houses learning all about everything. It was really neat.

We learned that they grow only about 1 percent of the food for Epcot with cucumbers being their main crop. We tried cucumber, which both kids tried. I am not a big cucumber eater so I couldn't really tell the difference, but they said these cucumbers had less seeds, thinner skin and a different taste because they were English cucumbers (possibly). 

We learned about the pest that they introduce into the greenhouses to stop other pests. It was some kind of wasp, but it was tiny-it kills the other pest by laying its eggs where the other eggs were. We fed the fish which was cool because they splashed us when they got their food. 

And on our way out, we were able to touch a Sensitive plant (that was its name). They called it Stanley, but when you touched the leaves, they wilted. It was super cool, and I want one for the house. Whitman said that he could sit there and play with it all day long.

That was all just in an hour. We then had ourselves a chocolate croissant along wtih a tiny little chocolate bundt cake. Then we went to ride Gaurdians. We had waited for about 10 minutes when they stopped the ride. They weren't making you leave, but we had our next activity booked so we did leave. On our way out, we were able to get a Lightening Lane pass to come back later in the day.

Our next stop was at the French Quarter. We signed up for a mosiac making class for Whitman and Keaton. It was two hours-they picked their shape (a Mickey and a Minnie). Then they laid out their glass pieces to arrange them. The next step was glueing those pieces onto the shape followed by smearing it with grout.

While we worked, they gave us beignets and water. Actually, since we just paid for 2 mosaics-we did just get two beinets so Robby had to go and get him and me one. Out table was a mess with glue, grout, and powdered sugar by the time that we had finished.

While the kids were working, it got dark and started thundering. We had put away quite a few things this morning, but the rug and tent still needed to dry so we had left it out. However, we didn't want it to get wet, and since we were right near the campground, Robby took off to put those things up. 

He said that in the front part of the campground it was raining, but it wasn't yet raining in the back. He was able to put everything away, and then came back to pick us up. That was a fun little art project. And tonight, we had to scrub all of the grout off all of the tiles. They had sent us some wipes to do it with, but we used half a container of our wipes as well. They really look good, and it was a lot of fun.

Afterwards, we came back to the camper where Keaton and I did some looping and pin trading. I ended up giving Whitman and Keaton five dollars to spend at the arcade. I figured since we have been spoiling them rotten the last few days, why stop now especially when that will all stop for sure on Friday when we get everyone.

Robby did a load of laundry, and as soon as that was dry we left. We decided that since we had 3 hours left for the parks to be open, we should hit 3 parks. We would have gone to Magic if we would have had time but didn't make it.

We started off at Animal Kingdom and rode Everest. That ride seems to be in the back of the park so it was a haul back to the car. On the way to Epcot, we stopped at McDonalds to pick up some hamburgers and nuggets to eat on the way. At Epcot we used the pass from earlier and zoomed right onto Gaurdians.

Then we hustled back to the car and hurried to Hollywood. We had about 14 minutes before the park closed when we scanned in. Keaton has taken over Anderson's job of walking incredibly fast in the front of our group. We had to keep up with her today, but she got them to Rock N Roller Coaster on time. 

They decided to ride single rider so I decided that I didn't like that ride enough to ride with a stranger so I opted out. I set at a table and listened to some of my book while waiting on the riders. When they finished, Robby and Whitman went to the car while Keaton did some last minute pin trading.

Back at the camper tonight, Keaton found 2 things out scavenger hunting while Whitman was in the shower. We asked him what took him so long in the shower, and he said that he was washing his eyelashes. Bless him! 

It is almost 11 so this is the earliest we have slowed down in quite a few days! We still have a bit of cleaning and packing to do tonight, but it is almost bedtime for this crew.

July 4, 2023-All in One (Disney, Beach Camp, Seaside, and Dennie Family Trip)

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It was another hot day at Disney World for us. Robby ust said that he has had 3 showers today. I could have taken that many as well. At one point, I could have probably wrung out my clothes. Even when we came in once, Whitman, who is super chill about most things, said that he was going to go and put on a dry shirt.

We started our morning heading over to Magic Kingdom to see the Air Force fly over the castle. They made two passes, and this was neat to see. Now, I would have thought that the planes would have been spewing out red, white and blue smoke, but no, not today. 

As we stood in the shade, waiting to grab our spot in the sun when the time got closer, we told the kids that this was a once in a lifetime opportunity to see these planes over the castle. And it was, but this was when we get so hot today.

The second those planes were out of sight, we zoomed on over and bought ourselves some slushies and a snack. We sat in the air conditioning to cool off. Then we rode the train back to Main Street and came back to the camper.

I finished one book last night, and I am halfway through with my new book. I am not a super fast reader, but when you don't have a phone for most of the day, you figure out other things to do. My phone is fine, but it is has been with Keaton most of the time. 

She sits in the camper for about 20 minutes to cool off, and then she leaves on her bike with my phone to scavenger hunt and with pins to trade. There are so many people out finding things, but she is managing to find a few things as well. Now, most things that she finds, we put in the box to bring back and hide the next time that we are here. She is having the time of her life. (Currently, she is watching the phone because they are hiding a backpack soon-11:15)

(Backpack update-it is now midnight, and Keaton and I just returned from an unseccessful hunt. We did make some memories though. And we saw an owl, I had a frog (or possibly a leaf) jump on my leg, and we saw a rabbit, an armadillo, and a frog the size of my head in the road.)

This afternoon Robby and Keaton put our chairs out on the parade route so we would have a good spot. At 4, the golf cart parade began. Seriously, I have never seen anything like it. There were at least a hundred golf carts-some playing music, some with bubbles, all with red, white, and blue decorations. It was something to see. 

Tonight we were able to vote for the winner. Keaton and I voted for the golf cart covered in a wooden replica of the steam boat in Magic Kingdom. These people went all out-meanwhile, we have an inflatable whale pool toy bungeed to the top of ours and didn't even add any lights.

The party on the beach started at 7 tonight, and we walked through that madness a bit after on our way to catch the boat for Magic Kingdom. The Magic Kingdom Main Street and area in front of the castle was full this morning for the flyover, but tonight it was suffocatingly full. 

We didn't stick around there long because our group had been called for Tron so we jumped in that line. It was shorter than usual, but we enjoyed it more because we didn't have to wait outside in the sun. When we left the ride, the fireworks were going off so we rode the Peoplemover to watch the rest of the fireworks.

While we were on that, we were able to go through Space Mountain while they had the lights on. That is just a good reminder that I never really want to ride Space Mountain-I do ride it because I want to be a "fun mom" but seriously, I hate that ride more than any other.

After the peoplemover, we went out a backstage exit to get to the boat. There were about 20 thousand of our closest friends exiting at the same time, but since we were taking the boat back to campground, we didn't have to wait long at all.

Whitman had some popcorn when we returned, and I started on the blog before we went driving around on the backpack hunt. Tomorrow is our last full day here so who knows what all we will end up doing.

July 3, 2023-All in One (Disney, Beach Camp, Seaside, and Dennie Family Trip)

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Keaton wanted to wake up earlier this morning than yesterday mornning, so by 10 we were out making a few loops in the golf cart. We were searching for something from the scavenger hunt, but after driving through 8 different cabin loops we never found it. 

We came back and helped Robby put the laundry in the wash. Then there was some more looping around in the golf cart. After the laundry was dry and folded, we drove to the outlet mall to check out all the things at the Disney outlet. 

We usually find something, but today was the first time that we didn't buy anything at all. Keaton does love Loungefly backpacks, and there was one there, but she decided that she didn't need it. We always find ears there, but today there weren't any that we didn't have. Reagan will be glad to know that we didn't buy any because she feels that Disney ears are taking over their room.

Speaking of Reagan, and the other 3 campers-they arrived safely at camp around 1. They stopped for breakfast this morning-from what we can figure out from the credit card, they ate a chickfila and mcdonalds for breakfast, and panera bread and chipotle for lunch. Anderson probably used cash, but we are really just guessing on that-there were less credit card charges than Dennie kids so we aren't really sure.

Shannon sent me a few pictures so we were able to see the kids. It did look like Graham was working while Reagan, Campbell, and Anderson were playing games. 

Back to Disney, after leaving the outlet, we went to Hollywood Studios. It was hot today-like my clothes are nasty sweaty-even though it was 11 when we came back to the camper, we were still wiping sweat off of ourselves. 

We didn't push it too much at Hollywood-actually, all of the rides had longer waits that we would have liekd so instead we ate. We first bought a drink that Robby had read about-a strawberry hibiscus drink. But here's the thing-it had free refills. We downed three of those babies and could have drank a lot more refills had the whole game been here.

Then we moved over to the other side of the park and bought a Jack Jack's Nom Nom cookie. It was just a chocolate chip cookie, but it was probably 4 to 5 inches wide. We split that baby and thouroughly enjoyed it. Though eating a warm chocolate chip cookie was probably not the thing to do in this heat.

We stopped to see a few characters before traipsing in the heat back to the car. Keaton and Whitman could care less about seeing the characters, but we are in Disney after all. And they are good sports about it-probably because we are spoiling them rotten on this trip.

Back at the camper, Keaton took off on her bike with my phone. She was in and out for at least 3 hours. She would find something and hide something and just ride around. I do believe that she had a blast doing this. 

We had air fryer pizzas for supper, and around 9 we went to the beach to watch the fireworks. This was the spectacular 4th of July fireworks show. Now, maybe because we were not right in the middle of it, but it was just a 12 minutes firework show. And honestly, I think that our kids have seen fireworks in so many different places and seen so many Disney fireworks that they aren't easily impressed, and Robby and I grew up watching the Osbourne fireworks so we aren't impressed easily. 

After the fireworks, we caught a bus to the Magic Kingdom. There we were walking against thousands of people to get in the park while they were leaving the park. But the party was still happening-they had 3 different djs in different parts of the park. 

Keaton and Whitman did the speedway, we all rode Buzz and then Thunder Mountain before walking back to the boat. It is another late night, and tomorrow will be a little bit of an early morning. 

July 2, 2023-All in One (Disney, Beach Camp, Seaside, and Dennie Family Trip)

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Another fun day at Disney World for us. Robby and I woke up fairly early this morning, but we stayed in bed long enough to watch church at home before he left to take a shower in the bathhouse. I did eventually start making noise so I could wake up Keaton and Whitman.

I guess since we stay up so late at Disney, waking up early isn't the easiest. We had talked about rope dropping in the morning at Hollywood, but instead we decided that we will pass on that and go to plan B. It is 11:15 right now, and evne though Keaton and Whitman are in their pajamas they are going strong.

Before we left the campground this morning, we did drive around a little bit on the golf cart. I can not explain how fun this place is-it is so busy. Keaton loves the scavenger hunt and has been looking for things all day long. Unfortunately, she has only found one thing today. This is fine though since most things we do find we put in the box to bring back next time to hide. We did grab Whitman for a stop at someone's campsite today for snow cones.

Then it was on to Epcot. Our Gaurdians of the Galaxy group had been called. This ride is always a bit much for me-I love the parts on the roller coaster where we are going straight and really, I couldn't ride the ride a second time. Robby never seems to understand this when I say it-until today. We sat in the very back row, and he felt it today!

Of course, we then stopped at our drink spot to sit and have a beverage. We rode Figment before walking through the butterfly exhibit. There were a lot of butterflies in there, but there were also a lot of butterflies flying on the plants nearby so I am not really sure which was more impressive. Then we went to Soaring before sitting down for another coke. Don't judge us-it is hot out there!

After this, we walked back to the car. It was a bit hard to leave since the wait times were not crazy anywhere at Epcot today. Maybe the heat keeps the locals away, but the crowds weren't too bad at all which was a good thing for us.

We then came back to the campground where we had about 3 hours before needing to check in for dinner. We splurged tonight since there were just 4 of us and went to the Hoop Dee Doo Review. Robby thought we were getting there early so they would assign us a good table, but when we did arrive there were a hundred people in line in front of us easily.

However, our table was slap dab in the middle of the place. It could not have been more perfect. It was so in the middle of the place that twice all of the performers circled our table while dancing. The main guy stood by us quite a bit, and some of the singers even sang a song right behind Robby and Whitman. 

The food was plentiful-salad, cole slaw, cornbread (my favorite), mac and cheese (Whit's favorite), mashed potatoes (Keaton's favorite), beans, ribs, fried chicken, and strawberry shortcake. Whenever we got the end of a dish, or even near the end of it, they would take it away and fill it back up. 

The show was really fun. Whitman and Keaton enjoyed it too-Whitman has always loved musicals. Poor Campbell did see where we were at and wrote to ask when we were taking her there. Robby is checking the blog, and it does look like we have actually taken her and Keaton and Whitman to the Hoop Dee Doo Review before. 

Reagan, Anderson, Campbell and Graham are now on their way to Florida for church camp with Rock Creek. They will travel all night long in busses and arrive tomorrow morning. Reagan won't really know anyone, but she is adaptable and will have a blast, and I know that the others will enjoy it as well.

They went to church this morning, and then ate lunch at Grannymom's house. Campbell must have been pretty bored today because she made cookies for them to eat this afternoon and even had some ready for Pops who took them to Rock Creek tonight at 9.

We will pick them up on Friday morning after camp in Florida, and then play at Seaside for a bit before meeting the Dennie's for the family trip. 

After our show tonight, we were the ones who needed the walk more than Bentley. We walked about a mile at 11 tonight before starting to slow down for the evening.