Thursday, December 17, 2015

South Carolina


South Carolina was home to some lazy days for this nonstop crew. We based ourselves in Hilton Head, a place I have heard of all my life but not actually been to. What a neat beach town...although completely different than the images in my head had always produced! It much bigger than I expected, complete with two separate roads around the island and every store imaginable. I was surprised by how many of these uber-expensive resorts (even Disney!) are not actually beachfront but in love with the way the city has made the beach entrances their own tourist attraction. We did school on the beach and seriously...how many people don't want to do that in December?!?!?! The kids and I also had our own mad science day...we took the m's off of m&m's, we made our own Borax icicles and turned volcano making into blowing up the vinegar jug instead!

Georgia



What fun we had in Georgia! We hit a huge milestone for this theme park loving family...our 5th Six Flags in 2015! To say we made good use of our season passes is an understatement...I feel like Six Flags needs to give us an award of some kind :) Being December, this one was celebrating Christmas in the Park which is an event we go to every year and seeing it at new parks is always a neat thing.

We found so much to do in Atlanta that we ended up buying the City Pass. It's a great way to get admission to all the top attractions for one price and for a family of 5...definitely a great deal! Most of the attractions are all within walking distance of Olympic Park (which itself is such a neat place to see!). First stop...Atlanta Aquarium. Matt has been waiting to go here for years. It is the worlds largest aquarium and home of a whale shark! Luke's day was sealed when Scuba Santa swam right up to him and touch hands through the glass!!! My overall, honest opinion of Atlanta Aquarium...yes it is a massive building but they have a ton of wasted space. For the price of admission (which I found crazy high for an aquarium) there could be more to do. I expected to spend the day here and we were done in less than 3 hours. Would I come back...probably not. But would I recommend it to others...probably. If your kids like aquariums it is definitely a neat place to spend a few hours... but try to find a coupon :)

Stop 2...World of Coke...Now this was a hit! It started with everyone receiving scavenger hunt booklets to complete throughout our visit, complete with a prize at the end! The kids had an absolute blast in this place. We met the Coca Cola Polar Bear, watched a 4D video, sat on the American Idol couch, amazed ourselves with all of the creations made out of Coke bottles and cans, saw the actual bottling process, drank ourselves silly at the tasting bar (where they have all of the products Coke makes worldwide on soda fountains for you to drink as much as you want!) and even managed to set off the alarms around the vault housing the original Coke recipe (Thank you Luke for being THAT kid!).

Stop 3...CNN. Now this very Conservative family is Fox News fans (I say we...I mean Craig and we all have to listen to it by default!) and NOT liberal media fans. But...touring CNN Headquarters was definitely a fun thing that the kids really enjoyed! Seeing the news being anchored live, looking the the 1000's of tv's (literally) and riding the world's longest freestanding escalator made this stop another hit ;)

Stop 4...College Football Hall of Fame...this just screams my peoples names! We are big 'ol Hall of Fame fans having been to quite a few so far. Now we can check off College as well! This one was extremely interactive and catered to kids. There was so much to do and the newest technology enabled the whole experience to be personalized. Definitely a come back to on our family fun list!

Last stop...Savannah. I was the only one excited to come here as it has always been on my bucket list of places. Of course we picked the only nasty, rainy day we had seen in weeks to come to the city where you are supposed to walk around under the big 'ol trees and enjoy the scenery...grrrrrrrr! Once we arrived, my whole crew thought it looked like a neat place to explore...and then the skies opened up changing our plans. We did manage to squeeze in lunch at Paula Deen's "Lady & Sons" which was every bit as delicious as you'd imagine. Savannah will for sure be a city I come back to and actually get to enjoy (I just might not drag my people along with me!)

Saturday, December 12, 2015

North Carolina


North Carolina was the most relaxing, enjoyable stop for us...it was the cousin state! My cousin Shannon (on my Dad's side) and my cousin Natalie (on my Mom's side) both live there. We spent the better part of a week just hanging out and spending quality time together.

First stop was Seymour Johnson Airforce Base...home of Shannon, Nate, Brynn, & Keelynn. Nate is a pilot in the Airforce and arranged for us to stay on base in family camp. The boys thought this was so fun! Riding bikes and seeing jets take off all day long was such a memorable experience for us all. We had such a great visit...multiple dinners together, a visit to see Santa, shopping, tons of playtime and getting to see Uncle Nate take off in his F15 (which was the highlight of our visit!)

Next stop was Charlotte...home of Natalie, Gary, Tyler and Derek. The boys have been counting the seconds till we got here as Derek & Tyler are the exact ages as my three. Brian and Derek are actually only 7 days apart. Tyler is right between Matt & Luke...5 boys ranging from 8-11 ensured that lots of fun was to be had! We got to see hockey practice (so fun! Derek is an assistant captain for his team is Tyler is a goalie!), spent time outside playing, and had tons of wrestling, yelling, chasing, giggles and fun! We had such a great 2 days with The Pritchard's and cannot wait for them to make a trip to Texas to see us!

The only activity we actually did in Charlotte was a pretty cool one...we drove on the NASCAR track in the Jeep! The speedway put on a drive thru Christmas lights display every year. It was so cool to get to drive around the track and up the curves (Craig got to live out a fantasy...complete with his family in tow! Ha!)  We definitely consider North Carolina to be a HUGE SUCCESS!

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Virginia


Virginia was a quick stop for us as unfortunately it was Winter. Jamestown and Williamsburg were "closed" for the season (the reenactments) and we had just done Mt. Vernon this Summer. Having just left DC for the second time in less than 6 months, this kids were kind of over historical buildings so we opted for somewhere fun...The Air and Space Museum. This is actually the second Smithsonian Air and Space Museum...the first being in DC. This one is 3x bigger and has so many more planes and interactive things to do! Craig took the boys for the first part while I ran around finishing up last minute Christmas stuff WITHOUT MY PEOPLE! When I joined them, I was sure they'd be ready to go...wishful thinking ;) All said in done...this was a fun pitstop with some learning thrown in for good measure!

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Washington DC


Well we were here in June and we are back again! This time rather than sightseeing, we were on a mission. Luke is a history obsessed 8 year old and memorized the President's all on his own. His dream has been to say them in order in front of the White House! We actually forgot when we were here this summer and he has been begging to come back and do them so here we are! Little man ended up getting all nerved up being filmed but the end result is precious and he was so proud of himself!

Time for my rant...I was SO disappointed in the White House at Christmas. As the national, most well-known landmark in America, one strand of greenery across the balcony was a pathetic attempt at celebrating a National Holiday in this country. It was like a slap in the face and would've honestly looked better completely undecorated. And then there was the National Tree...this was even WORSE! There were no actual decoration on the tree instead throwing some ribbon down the sides with stars representing a Jewish star, completed by a GIANT menorah behind it. I truly left Pennsylvania Ave. with a bitter taste in my mouth and even more disgust than I already had for our President.

Ok...rant over...our other stop in DC was a surprise for the kids. We spent the afternoon at the Gaylord National at "ICE", their winter wonderland ice spectacular! Oh my goodness...this is one of the neatest (and coldest) things we have ever done at Christmas! We have contemplated it a few times in Dallas but Great Wolf Lodge always wins and let me tell you, now that we know how amazing it is, we will be adding it to our to do list back home! A massive winter walk through, set at negative 4 degrees, with everything you can see made solely out of ice! You truly felt like you were walking through the North Pole! At the end was a two story ice castle with ice chutes coming out of it that you can play on as long as you can tolerate the cold! Every year the theme is different and this year's happened to be "Santa Claus is Coming To Town" which really enhanced the North Pole effect! If there is a Gaylord Hotel near you, make a point to go to ICE!!!! It is worth every penny!

Friday, December 4, 2015

Maryland

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We made it to Maryland! While we spent time in various locations in Maryland, the main city we visited was Annapolis. I have been her a few times, as has Craig  and the kids were excited to see it based on our reviews :) The highlight for the boys was seeing the Naval Academy and a boy they know from home who is a freshman there! His younger brother is one of Matt's good friends and seeing "Dale" was such a special treat! Especially seeing him looking all official in his uniform :)

Another fun activity in Maryland was the 6 LB Milkshake Challenge the kids did! Yes, you read that correct, 6 LBS of ice cream!!! Their eyes about popped out of their heads when the cup bigger than Luke arrived and they spent well over an hour getting through 4 LBS of it. Sadly they didn't finish but they sire had fun trying!!!

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Delaware


Surely I am not the only person who when I think of Delaware, I do NOT think "beach vacation"?!?!? I don't know what I pictured when I think actually do think of Delaware (but in all reality, does ANYONE actually think about Delaware? I mean, they are kind of the forgotten state!), but the gorgeous beaches we stumbled on were certainly not it! Rehoboth Beach is a beach town with so much to do! There are boardwalks, outlet malls, waterparks, mini golf courses and the prettiest, cleanest beach I have seen in awhile! I would definitely come back here for a beach vacation as crazy as that sounds! We didn't do much in Delaware thanks to the never ending rain. We did get to see the monument depicting Delaware as the very first state which is a very fun history lesson in itself, went to the movies and of course felt the freezing water of the Atlantic in December! Oh yeah, we also managed to somehow end up with 3 hermit crabs, ugh!!!! According to the kids, "you can't go to the beach without bringing home hermit crab pets!"

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

New Jersey, Part 2


I told you earlier...we liked New Jersey so much we were gonna come back someday! Well...we're back!!!! Ha! Our original plans had us heading to NYC for five days after Thanksgiving. Thanks to ISIS and Obama (not really fans of either!), we decided to forgo NYC this trip. While I was  disappointed (I had Rockette's tickets from Craig & boys for Christmas), this was actually my decision. Craig and I have worked hard to shelter our kids from the harsh realities of the sad state of America right now and felt it was in the best interest of keeping the kids in this bubble that we skip NYC right now. Seeing police and snipers armed with machine guns, causing unnecessary fear for our kids was not something we were willing to do right now. Plus...we all know how much my kids enjoyed "Filthadelphia" so they were perfectly fine with this decision. We will definitely return to NYC in the near future with our kids to show them all the city has to offer, but know at least we still saw New York this summer and feel like we didn't really miss anything :)

Back to New Jersey...we decided to make use once again of our Six Flags season passes and visit for Holiday in the Park. This has been a yearly tradition for us for the past 5 years in Texas at both parks and we were so excited to see how the east coast compared! We had an amazing two days seeing shows, riding rides and enjoying the millions of lights! The boys were completely disappointed that the 1 coaster they were dying to ride, the one they have wanted to ride for years and is only in NJ, was CLOSED for the winter! UGH....talk about a let down...now we have to come back to New Jersey for Round 3 at some point in time ;)