Sunday, May 31, 2009

Day 8 & 9 - Headed Home

We spent the morning riding through the Amish country in PA. I have never been before so I was excited to go. It was beautiful country side with farms, gardens and rolling hills. I loved seeing all the Amish people – Kendall especially liked the horse drawn wagons and buggies. She just kept yelling “horsie! horsie, mommy! I see horsie!” We saw one wagon loaded down with little boys and girls all with fishing poles. I wanted to take a lot a pictures but I though that seemed intrusive and maybe even offensive to them. We stopped at a roadside stand and I bought strawberry jam for me and the girls, a shoo-fly pie for Na Na and Karlee picked fresh made chocolate chip cookies for her and Kendall. A few miles up the road, we stopped and bought strawberries for $2 a basket. Kendall loved them. We also visited the Bird-in-Hand bakery for some of the best doughnuts I have ever tasted. Then we drove down some back roads through Maryland, West Virginia and Virginia passing through Harper’s Ferry and stopping to stretch out legs at the Shenandoah River State Park. We stopped for the night in Salem early enough to let the kids run and play in the hotel while Ken picked up supper. The babies loved being out of their seats and rolled, scooted and sat around playing for over an hour. We had a huge whirlpool bathtub so Ken put Kendall in and let her have a bubble bath. Then I put her to bed while Ken and Karlee went to the pool.

We are headed home now and expect to arrive around 4:30 this afternoon,


Day 7 - Crayola, The Art of Childhood

Due to my middle child’s love of all things crayon, markers, Crayola, (if you don’t remember, check out the picture in this post) and my oldest’s love of all things crafty, we all very excited to visit the Crayola Factory in Easton, PA. Ken was hoping for edible crayons and disappearing ink markers. We left GGM’s at noon and headed for coloring bliss. The Crayola Factory is not the actual factory (apparently that is 7 miles down the road) but they do have a short program where they do demonstrations to show how crayons and markers are made. We saw the last show of the day so we actually got to come up and make our own markers instead of just watching. They had tons of activities for the kids – color wonder, crafts, finger-painting, coloring stations, sculpting with model clay and even a station with melted crayons. They give you a few tokens with your tickets and you can buy more to use to “buy” small packs of crayons, markers and modeling clay. The girls loved it!!! When we finished the factory, we headed over to the Crayola store to see the world’s largest crayon and to get some Crayola goodies. They both did a “choose your own” crayon tin where they got to pick their own colors and everybody (even the twins) got t-shirts as well as a few other goodies. We had a great time and I would definitely recommend it. By the way, Kendall's favorite flavors are pink flamingo, sky blue, best friends (purple) and fun in the sun. No, that was not a mistake - I meant flavors not colors. Remember Kendall EATS her crayons.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Day 6 - Family Time

We had a great last day and a half at GGM’s:

  • We went to Max’s for hotdogs, onion rings and root beer. Ken can’t stand the taste of root beer but Karlee and I love it! The hot dogs are foot long, crunchy on the outside and fried on the griddle. Served up with ketchup and spicy brown mustard (and sauerkraut if your so inclined), they are delicious!! The onion rings are handmade and Kendall ate them up.

  • GGM, Aunt Lois and Uncle Bob came to watch the girls swim in the hotel pool. Kendall really warmed up the 2nd time in and had a blast. She was much more relaxed and floated around in her floaties with Mama Sandy. GGM enjoyed seeing them playing and having fun and was very impressed with Karlee’s swimming.

  • Aunt Lois and Uncle Bob gave the girls gift cards to Barnes & Noble for their birthdays, so we went Thursday afternoon to let them pick out some books. Karlee is pretty familiar with a bookstore and how to find the kinds of books she likes. She found a Junie B. Jones book she didn’t have, books about Strawberry Shortcake & Eloise and Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder. Kendall had a blast playing with lots of different books and Mama Sandy let her “test drive” some to see if she was actually interested for more than a few seconds. She ended up getting a look-and-find Blue’s Clues book. They each used their “credit cards” at the front to buy their books. I think Aunt Lois and Uncle Bob enjoyed seeing them.

I am glad that Grandmother Mickey got the see the girls agian - they have all changed so much especially Kendall and the twins. We had a great time and can't wait to come back and see her agian soon.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Day 4 & 5 - Favorite Foods and The Big Apple

Day 4 - We spent Tuesday visiting with my aunt and uncle and going to some of our favorite food spots. It was cold, windy and rainy so there was not too much to do outside. We went down to Ocean Grove - a little village by the sea that has lots of cute little shops. Not too many of them were open yet as school is not out and summer has not arrived in New Jersey. We did eat lunch at a local diner that had delicious broccoli cheddar soup, huge sandwiches and yummy breakfast specials like peanut butter cup french toast (which I really, really wanted to try but ended up picking something else.) Then we visited our favorite cheese shop where Ken was disappointed to learn that they were out of his favorite cheddar. However, he found a few others that he thought he might like. We walked down to the beach and then on our way back stopped at a great bakery, The Ocean Grove Bake Shoppe, where we got yummy cupcakes, gooey bars, and blondies. Karlee and Kendall wanted to show Aunt Lois and Uncle Bob how they could swim so we headed back to the hotel for swim. After swimming and a stop at GGM's, we headed to Bahr's for some seafood.

Day 5

"I am Eloise. I am six. I am a city child. I live at the Plaza."

This is the beginning of one of Karlee's all time favorite books, Eloise by Kay Thompson and illustrated by Hilary Knight. When we asked her the one thing she wanted to do at GGM's she answered "go to the Plaza Hotel." So we decided that we would take a quick day trip into the city, see a few sites including the Plaza and FAO Schwartz and then head home. Scott, Shanna and Mom came with us and Scott and Shanna are even staying overnight ans seeing a show tomorrow before they come home. So we left out this morning to Staten Island to take the ferry across to the city. It was drizzling when we got to the ferry but stopped by the time we arrived in the city. We headed to the subway to go to Scott and Shanna's hotel to drop off their bags. Then we headed to the Plaza. Karlee was absolutely enthralled!! She loved it - she absolutely loved it! She visited the boutique and got to pick out some Eloise books and movies and send Eloise a postcard since we missed her at the hotel. She even got her picture taken with the doorman. After the Plaza, we crossed the street to FAO Schwartz, the famous toy store. It is huge - covering several floors. We were short on time so we went through very quickly and let the girls pick out a Barbie. Then we headed back down to the ferry to come back to GGMs.

Here are some things that I learned in NYC:
1. The subway is not very stroller friendly - especially big, huge, boat double stroller friendly. I think we spend more time trying to get up ad down into the subway that we did seeing the sites. On several occasions we had to carry the double stroller up or down the stairs or go all over the place hunting for an elevator or escalator (one that worked!! because we found a bunch that didn't).
2. People in New York are very friendly (except for the wacko homeless guy on the subway but I 'll get to him later). On more that one occasion, people offered to help/did help carry the stroller up and down the stairs, gave directions, pointed out the elevators, helped us understand the subway, fixed our lunch order. In fact, on our first subway excursion, a group of guys serenaded Kendall trying to get her to stay in her stroller. It was awesome - five guys singing oldies a cappella - The Lion Sleeps Tonight, Up on the Roof, Barbara Ann. The were selling CDs so Ken bought one to remember our trip (and help out the guys - they were so nice and helpful with directions and Kendall).
3. Homeless people can be very scary! We got to see our very own certifiable wacko on the subway. He had pencils sticking out of both ears, one shoe, one foot wrapped up in a bunch of cloths, a black garbage bag that he pulled McDonald's cups out of and scattered all over the floor, newspapers and other trash. He walked in circles, talking to himself and spitting out the window and on the floor.
4. It is an amazing thing to see your children experience something that they really look forward to for the first time. The look on Karlee's face many. many times was priceless. I am so glad that we got to go and have such a great time.

Marker Incident #2. - I thought that I had made my point with Kendall about the markers but apparently not!

Monday, May 25, 2009

Day 3 - Memorial Day: A parade, a Picnic and the Pool

Day 1 & 2 has been updated - check it out!

We had a great memorial day today. We are in New Jersey at my Grandmother Mickey's (GGM). She is my mom's mom and will be 90 in November. She has some heart problems and has been feeling pretty bad lately. So, we were hoping our visit might perk her up. I think it has worked so far today - she had a great day. This morning we went to a Memorial Day parade in my grandmother's town - she walked down to the parade route (about 2 blocks)and sat for the whole parade. Karlee and Kendall had a great time - the Veterans in the parade were passing out flags so they had a blast waving their flags and gathering candy. GGM had brought bags to keep their candy in. The firetrucks were really loud and hurt Karlee, Kamryn and Kourtney's ears but Kendall wasn't fazed a bit. After the parade we went to the neighborhood park and let Karlee and Kendall play and swing. Then we went to GGM's church for a picnic of hamburgers and hotdogs. We enjoyed visiting with some old friends as well as my Uncle Dale. This afternoon, we let GGM rest and we went to ride around and get the girls to sleep. Ken and Karlee stopped at the Pier Village for root beer and a treat at the Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory. Then we headed to Strollo's Lighthouse for Italian ice. My mom and her friends used to ride their bikes to Strollo's every Saturday during the summer, so it was neat to take the girls there. If you have never had a real Italian ice, you are missing out!! I had lemon, Ken and mom had cherry and Scott, Shanna, Karlee & Kendall had blue raspberry. Yummy!! Later we headed to the pool at the hotel for a swim and then back to grandmother's for dinner -leftover pizza from Freddie's Pizzeria (another of mom's childhood memories).

What a great day! My aunt and uncle arrive from Indiana late tonight so we will enjoy seeing them tomorrow.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Days 1 & 2 - From Bad to Better

Day 1 was the bad and it wasn't even really a whole day (thank goodness) but Day 2 was much, much better. We got started a little bit later than we had planned (between 4 - 5 p.m.) and didn't actually get on I-85 until about 7:00. The older two had been a little trying - Karlee got in the car around 4:00 and was "ready to go". Well, as you just read, we were not quite as ready. So, she proceeded to ask every five minutes "Is it time to go yet?" while climbing in and out of the car that Ken was trying to pack. Normally this would drive us crazy anyway, but asking Ken while he was trying to figure out how to fit all our "stuff" (in my defense, I am packing for FOUR children - two of them babies) in the van was just about to put him over the edge. This lasted a least an hour and was a good indicator of how the first leg of the trip would go. Once we got out of the drive way the questions abruptly stopped as Karlee declared. "I"m hungry" - a statement Kendall immediately echoed. So they worked their way through the snack bag between our house and Watkinsville. Now, any mom who has traveled with young children knows that you must have an arsenal of "treats" to combat boredom, tantrums, hunger, etc. I - being the super savvy mom that I am - had several. Most were simple things but new (at least to the girls) or favorites. There are as follows - 1. The purple bucket (containing: marker stampers which Karlee saw in the house before we even left, new coloring books, a lift-the-flap book for Kendall & Junie B. Jones book for Karlee, doodle pads, stickers and Leapsters) 2. The snack bag (containing: smarties, pretzels, Scooby-Doo graham crackers, Reese's snack mix, fruit snacks, craisins, M&Ms and peanut butter crackers.) 3. Kit Kittredge: An American Girl DVD. Twenty minutes into our trip, I had used up numbers 1 & 2, leaving me with only Kit Kittredge for the next two days and I doubted it was going to work for Kendall anyway. Well, back to the actual trip. About 45 min up the interstate, Karlee finally fell asleep, the twins settled down and Kendall stopped shrieking anytime she wanted something/we got on the phone/we asked her a question and Ken and I finally had a chance to talk about how far planned to travel that night and call some hotels. Kendall was being very good - just jabbering and singing to herself. Once Ken and I had made some reservations, I turned around to check on her and she was completely ORANGE!! She had colored every part of her skin that was exposed with an orange marker. And she proudly announced "Mama I paint my toes too!" She had done several "coats" on them. We cracked up - she is such a riot - but no markers for Kendall today. We made it a little north of Charlotte and it was way after eleven before we finally got everyone to bed.

Saturday started out a little slow again but quickly improved. Everyone was fed and in good spirits as we headed out. We had an uneventful morning except for one more marker episode. I did not let Kendall have any markers due to the small issue with coloring her whole entire body orange yesterday. But she cried and I felt bad so I gave her two – both yellow. And sure enough about 30 minutes later, her hands and arms were yellow. She didn’t do quite the job she did yesterday, but it was still impressive. Kourtney and Kamryn have been super content to sit in the back and watch their Baby Einstein video as long as they are fed every so often. Around lunch time, we stopped and picked up some sandwiches and then drove about 15 miles to the Virginia Welcome Center for a picnic and some fun on the playground. After we were full and played out, we climbed back into the car and headed to Norfolk. We arrived too late to do the Nauticus discovery center but we did get to tour the USS Wisconsin which served in WWII, Korean War and Desert Storm. We crossed the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel late that afternoon. The CBBT is the longest bridge-tunnel complex in the world spanning over 18 miles from shore to shore. It takes you over and then under the Chesapeake Bay on a series of bridges, causeways, tunnels and man-made islands. Then arrived at our hotel around dinnertime. Ken picked up pizza and spaghetti for the girls and yummy local seafood for us – shrimp, scallops and crab cakes. Then he and Karlee took a dip in the pool before bed. All said it was a very nice and pleasant day and we look forward to the Cape May Ferry tomorrow.