But it was an even better spring break trip than we could have planned for. I have 400 pictures from our trip and I can't decide where to put them. If I put them in this post it will take forever to load up. So... I'm still deciding which ones to pick. I couldn't narrow it down, so I used the smaller format for several pics. You can still click to enlarge, if you want. :)
We started off Friday night with a campfire hotdog roast and s'mores makin' good time at Rebecca's house. She was a great host and we had a great time visiting with our friends and eating and watching small fireworks and playing with sparklers. That was a very stressful time for me... watching certain boys running around, in the dark, in the woods, with a handful (10) of sparklers all lit and spraying little sparks of fire into everything that was near. I just knew we would either have someone stabbed or burned or have a wildfire by the end of the night. To my knowledge, none of that happened! :)
Saturday morning we loaded up and headed to Roanoke, VA to see our friends Bobby and Michelle Hartman - who have Andrew and Alex. The kids always have such a fun time together even though we only see each other once or twice a year. The adults have a good time too.
We were very thankful for warm beautiful weather that allowed us to be outside enjoying their neighborhood. We took a walk around the block to see the monkey and elephant (yard decor) and played on their new tree house, which is really a really large tree deck.
We also made s'mores on their Urban Campfire! It was fun. And we all smelled like smoke again.
Meal time all together.
We left Sunday afternoon and headed on up to Baltimore, where we were staying with Uncle Bob (my Mom's favorite little brother). Aunt Fran was on a trip out of the country, Luke was away at school so it was just U.Bob, Katie (on spring break) and 13 of their favorite extended family members. Oh yeah, I forgot to mention that Lara and her family also met us at Uncle Bob's to play together a couple of days. We love Uncle Bob. He's the best. He even cooked for us and pretended we didn't get in his way. We played with Charlie and Elsa, his long legged companions. The kids loved the dogs and it was fun to watch Lydia blow in Charlie's nose to get him to back up... Charlie is as tall as she is. He likes attention. This is Charlie carrying his bowl... just because he likes to. Elsa likes shoes. She doesn't chew them... just moves them. One of mine went missing from our room very early in the morning while Charlie was distracting Curtis by licking his hand that was hanging off the bed. We later found it downstairs, ready to go by the door.
While in Baltimore we visited the children's museum, Port Discovery. It was really cool and had a bunch of things geared toward older kids to make them think... like Miss Perception's house and an Egyptian tomb where they had to solve a puzzle of clues in order to unlock a certain tomb. We also had drum time right before we left. It was raining that day so it was a good inside day. It stopped long enough for us to walk to lunch then we had to wait briefly to leave... but eventually it was done.
This is one of the few pictures of me since I was behind the camera most of the time. We were watching Titus build a cabin with 4 rooms, no bathroom because "they can just go outside"! That was actually opening night of the Orioles and they were playing the Yankees. We saw (and heard) a lot of interesting people going to the game. We got to see the fighter jets do their flyover too. You can see the stadium lights just to the right of Danielson. Uncle Dan presented his version of the Karate Kid 8, the senior years. :) We love Uncle Dan. He's always a source of laughter and fun tricks. He's daring and always available to teach a lesson about something... like balance, boundaries, and boats. Ok, I just made that up, but it sounds better than lessons about obeying the rules.
We took a trip into D.C. the next day. This was Tuesday. It was snowing in Georgia. It was COLD in DC and very windy. We were thankful for our winter coats! We walked a ton. We saw the important sites that meant something to the kids. We ran out of time. DC isn't something you can do in a day, or a week for that matter. We visited the Air and Space Museum and only had about an hour in there. Bennett was looking for a Gold Airplane he had read about in his homework. So, he and Jared and Curtis went searching while the girls mosied around in the present day airplanes. We did get to spend some time reading about the Apollo missions and other space missions. I just can't remember all the details. It was too quick! And it was difficult for me to keep up with Lydia in the midst of the other thousands of people. I can't begin to imagine how many times I counted 9 heads to make sure all the kids were there. 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8... who's missing? Where's Lydia? Oh yeah, Marci's carrying her. 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,... where did she go this time??? Oh, now Emily's got her. Thank goodness for responsible teenage cousins!!!!!!!!! We made it to the White House. I think Mr. Obama was in Baghdad with Aunt Fran so we didn't get to see him but Curtis thinks the girls may have been at the Library of Congress as we were leaving. Somebody who they thought was important came speeding up in a secret service covered suburban. A man in the street said "everybody is important... ". We spent some time running around the Washington Monument and laid on the ground, looked up at the clouds moving by and it felt like the whole thing was going to fall over on top of us. This was Ruth's favorite part of the trip... seeing the monument. She drew a really cute picture too that I'll save forever. Aunt Lara snuggled the little Lydia and she actually fell asleep in the middle of the grass there. We walked on down to the Lincoln Memorial and she slept in Uncle Dan's lap while the rest of the kids went on up to see President Lincoln. This is my favorite place to visit. We briefly visited the Vietnam wall but didn't have time to look for the name we wanted to see. We rode the METRO (DC's version of MARTA, only nicer) on our all-day pass (highly recommended!). It gave our feet and legs a much needed break. We got to eat dinner at Union Station and saw a train going somewhere. I was too tired to look. By the time we got back to U.Bob's house it was after 9pm and the kids were beat! But Wednesday morning we got up all happy and went at it again.
This time we went back to Baltimore to hit the Science Center. I'm still sad we didn't get to do the Aquarium, but I guess that leaves a reason to go back sometime. The Science center was pretty neat. We all enjoyed the night sky at the planetarium and learned a lot too. Ruth was told she would go to Harvard because she answered a question about the sun correctly... then she asked me if she really had to go to Harvard. It was funny. They had tons of hands-on things to do and even had a kid room where Lydia and Titus felt more at home. Water!! That's always a hit! We also watched a 3-D movie "Under the Sea" and had big things of popcorn as a treat. Uncle Dan and Emily got to ride the hoveround wheelie things like the policemen at the airport. I don't even know what they're called, but it was fun to watch. Em crashed hers once so we could make fun of her. I'm sure that's the only reason she did it.
Here's Aunt Lara on a bed of nails while Ruth, Titus, Briella and Maggie watch to make sure she does it correctly.
We said goodbye to the Baltimore skyline on our way home and Bennett wanted to know if we would really never come back. I wish we could visit more often... it really is a fun place to play. They also have cruise ships that leave the Baltimore Harbor... and go to Bermuda.... but I digress!
We got up Thursday morning and had everything packed and ready to go by 9am. Uncle Bob had the cleaning lady coming at 9 so we had to be gone. I think he planned it that way! :) Katie was a big help while we were there too. The kids love her. She even fixed eggs for breakfast and entertained us while we played Phase 10.
On our drive home we stooped in Richmond, VA and played at another kid's museum for a couple hours (the Children's Museum of Richmond). It breaks the drive up a bit and gives the kids some fun things to do at new places. This one was pretty neat too. They had a "backyard" set up with sand, hula hoops, musical things, a kayak (no water) and inside was all the usual stuff. My favorite was the shadows...
We drove on for a couple more hours while the kids napped and then stopped for supper and found a hotel with a pool. Dinner took FOREVER at the Cracker Barrel and smelled so full of smoke I vowed never to eat in another North Carolina eatery like that. Of course, I'll forget in time for our next trip but I'm so very thankful for Georgia's no smoking law!! It was not a good meal. We made it back to the hotel in time for 5 minutes of pool time, but the lady said she would leave it open for the kids until 1030 so they could swim a few minutes. Curtis played with them and Lydia and I went back to the room to warm up the beds. She was tired too and didn't want to swim. Friday morning, however... they all swam for a good hour before we packed up and headed south again. We played at the Children's Museum in Greensboro for a few hours. They have a beanstalk to climb. Curtis went to the store for dinner-to-go food and made our supper while we played. It ended up being a good idea because it was NOT the day to stop and eat a picnic! This was Good Friday and if you were anywhere in the south that day you know it really wasn't a good day at all. It was probably very much like the Good Friday when Jesus was crucified. The skies were black. The clouds opened and the rain fell and fell. It also hailed several times on us. Never of any size I though our windshield would be damaged, but significant noise! There were terrific winds and the many, many tractor trailors next to us swayed left and right. I am thoroughly convinced that we drove through a tornado while in South Carolina very near the Georgia border. I was praying as we crossed the bridges over Lake Hartwell, Jesus please keep us safe... and the kids were all asleep. They had NO idea I was actually shedding tears for their safety... and we both agree that we have never driven in a storm so fierce. I pray we never have to again.
As we crossed into Georgia and got off I-85 there was an ever so small break in the blackest of black clouds. The lights streamed through and it was a Glorious sight. I told Curtis Jesus was returning on Good Friday... it would have made a good story. :) By the time I got the camera out and found a place in the road where you could see it well, it was about gone. But this is what we had.
We made it home after a brief stop at Wal-Mart and Sonic... and fell into bed. What an exciting end to a great week. Our Spring Break trips are like no other. Some of our favorite times were playing in Andrew and Alex's tree deck (some game they made up about who has the frog) and riding on their scooters, playing with our cousins at Port Discovery, seeing the Washington Monument, and playing at the kid's museums on the way home.