Friday, July 8, 2016

Pennsylvania rest stop

6 days before departure
Jon and I arrived in PA late Thursday night and spent the night with my parents. The goal of our time in our home state was to say some final goodbyes to family and friends, soak up as much of our hometown as possible, and rest up for our major venture southwest. So on Friday we hung around the homestead and did Central PA-y things like swim in the creek.

Marmie helped the kids make “boats” out of empty plastic water bottles that she tethered in the middle of the creek so they could “bomb” them with rocks. The plan was to play near the creek, so we didn’t dress the kids in swimsuits. Duh. Kids can’t play near water on a hot summer day. By the end of our time, both boys were having swimming competitions to see how far they could go upstream.

This girl. She's a little too into having her photo taken.

This is right about the time I decided we had enough pictures.
That night we headed up to Jon’s parents’ to spend the weekend in the mountains and by the pool. It’s so peaceful and lovely up on “Nonnie’s mountain” (as the kids say). It was the perfect way to unwind after a hectic week of moving out of the house.

5 days before departure
On Saturday, we were scheduled for family photos. It actually went fairly well considering there were 10 kids involved. My children are the worst with posed photos. Two in particular will intentionally NOT smile when asked. We were able to capture this picture when Poppie started spanking Nonnie behind the photographer. Fun times!

That night we had a big picnic with both sides of our family, which gave the kids a chance to get some cousin-time before our extended absence.

4 days before departure
Sunday was church, more goodbyes with our PA church family, another family photo op...

Whereas Julia loves to have her picture taken, Joci fights it with every ounce of her being.

... and yet another picnic—this time with Jon’s aunt and uncles. And of course, more pool time. My kids have very little experience with pools. But they couldn’t get enough of Poppie and Nonnie’s. They were the first ones in and the last ones out each and every time. Which meant lots of lifeguarding by Jon and I. But I’m glad they enjoy the water so much!

The "big kids" liked the water guns too!

All the adults watching the kids' whiffle ball game.

Aunt Katie teaching Julia about selfies.

Playing well into the night.

3 days before departure
Monday is was back down to Marmie and Poppa’s. We let the kids have some extra play time with Marmie’s collection of yard sale toys “for the grandkids.” For some reason, they seem so much more entertained by the grandparents’ toys than their own!

Marmie is so organized!
That evening, we visited a famous local playground, had lunch at my favorite restaurant, and then finished off the evening with a deep in the community pool.

2 days before departure
I woke up another year older on Tuesday. To celebrate my birthday, we headed to one of the happiest places on earth—Knoebels. The first thing we saw when we pulled in was their newest ride, Impulse, which is a straight drop and a few loops. No big deal. Naturally, Jack was in line before the girls were even out of the restroom.

Jack is in the front row of this thing!
After my mother-in-law arrived, she felt that riding Impulse would be an excellent way to usher in my 33rd year. And since my life is a constant flux between need-to-show-my-kids-mama’s-still-got-it and I-am-not-the-same-person-I-was-before-kids, I allowed myself to be persuaded. It was fun, I’ll admit. But after half a Dramamine and an iced coffee later, my head was still spinning. Kids, Mama may have the heart, but I just don’t have the head that I used to!

Poppa and Lia in the back row of the kiddie coaster.

We told the kids we were going to see my birthday cake ... Joci couldn't understand why we weren't eating it.
It really was a fun day though. The cousins, Gabe and Aviel, came along and, according to Jack, it was “the best time Gabe and I have ever had!!” And it wouldn’t have been a trip to Knoebels without Marmie and the girls dressing up and play-acting at the castle. One of my little ladies is particularly into role-playing. The other one is not quite sure. I’ll let you figure out which is what!

I've always wondered why I got my love of dress-up. This. This is where I got my love of dress-up.

Aviel and Lia were mermaids.

It also wouldn’t be a trip to Knoebels without someone convincing a small child they’re ready to ride a roller coaster. And since Jude outgrew his fear sometime between last year and this, that particular status fell to Julia this summer. Everyone was lining up for the Twister, one of the wooden rollercoasters, and I was off getting a second iced coffee. When I returned, Julia was not in the onlooker crowd.

I was told she didn’t cry or scream. She just kinda froze. And her only comment upon disembarking was “I didn’t like that.” Well, kudos to you, girl!

Daddy outdid himself with this year's round of frog. After he won 3 stuffed animals I was getting a little nervous that we'd have one disappointed child. But he pulled through with the fourth ... and all four made the flight to Hawaii.

Marie knows how to have a good time!

Poppa, Nonnie, and Jon. I begged off this one to "watch the kids."
Despite being exhausted and down to our last ride ticket (for about the third time that day), we stayed ‘til close and finished out the evening with one last ride on the Ferris wheel. We had to fill our Knoebels tank to overflowing since it might be 4 years before we make it back!

"Hey Marmie and Poppa, can you watch the kids while we get a quick photo?"

Final goodbyes ... post Skloosh.

1 day before departure
It took most of the morning for us to organize our stuff and pack the car. We had amassed a bit more volume between birthday gifts, Knoebels prizes, and last minute stuffing.

Waving goodbye to Marmie and Poppa as we round the bend!
Our final day on the mainland was jam-packed with a bunch of dull must-dos—we picked up a rental car immediately after arriving, then checked into our hotel. 

How we roll.
And then we had to drive another hour south to drop off our minivan at the shipping center. Unfortunately, this all overlapped with DC rush hour so we ended up spending most of the day in the car with very little to do (since everything was all packed up.)

Last drive through Annapolis.
Thankfully, our favorite spicy family had invited us over for one last hurrah that evening. You may have noticed these friends show up a lot in our final days. We just love them so much and are REALLY going to miss spending time together letting the kids run wild and commiserating over raising so many children!

And I thought it was difficult to get 4 kids to smile for the camera ...
By the time we gathered up our offspring and snapped one final photo (or about 50 photos trying to get the best shot, which never quite happened) it was long after dark. We still had to drop off some errant library books and drive back to our hotel—swinging by the old digs for one last wave!

The kids were so hyped up over time spent with besties, sleeping in a totally awesome hotel room, and our impending adventure that they were bouncing off the walls (and beds.) I think the last child standing drifted off someone after 11pm and I’m sure I followed a few seconds later! It was going to be a very short night—3am and the race for our flight was not far off!

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