Saturday, September 12, 2015

Our big summer road trip

Disclosure: I understand that most of you don't care about the details of our family vacation but I am still going to put the details in here for me as a way to document our trip and for my kids to look back at. I am doing this for ME and MY KIDS, not you! If you don't care about the details feel free to skip over this post or just skim through and enjoy the pictures :)
Our big family road trip took place pretty much right after school got out.
We started out by heading back to Iowa where we spent the night visiting my mom. Early the next morning we picked up Tim's mom and headed out making our way towards Virginia. The boys did great in the car... between iPods, Aidan's LeapPad, and DVDs they stayed entertained for the majority of the drive. Generally I hate how much technology is in our lives and get very frustrated by how much they are on all of their devices but in this case it was definitely a blessing! We had a few issues finding a hotel for the night when we were ready to stop and that pushed us forward for some extra miles but in the end it all worked out and we stopped with enough time to grab some food and head off to bed.
Day 1- was all driving!
Day 2- driving and some family fun
We got up early for some breakfast and headed back out for the last leg of our drive. We took a quick break when we found this great overlook in West Virginia.
Having driven the majority of the miles the first day the second day went pretty quickly and before we knew it we were pulling into our destination- Tim's brother's house in Yorktown, Virginia.  When we first arrived the kids were home and the boys headed straight to the backyard with them. They loved playing with Comet and jumping on the trampoline. I think everyone was happy to finally be out of the car and able to move around.
They had a great time playing with and getting to know their cousins. Aidan really seemed to build a quick bond with Ali.
While waiting for the adults to get home from work we left Grandma in charge of the kids and Tim and I made our way back to our hotel (we stayed in Williamsburg) to check in and unload the van. We had just enough time to do that and get back shortly after Steve and Donna got home from work. We went out to an awesome Mexican restaurant for dinner and after that we spent more time in the backyard just hanging out and catching up.
Allison still had school the next day so it was decided that we would take that day to see some of the things that we wanted to see. Brandon would take Grandma to have lunch with Steve.
Day 3- Naval Base Tour Cruise, Battleship Wisconsin, Nauticus, Virginia Beach
We got up early and headed to Virginia Beach through "the tunnel". The kids were amazed by going through the tunnel and knowing that big ships could be going over us. We decided to go to Nauticus where we could go on the Naval Base Tour Cruise and also see the Battleship Wisconsin.
the highlight of the Naval Base Tour Cruise was seeing the new sub coming in from sea trials and being escorted by the Navy police boats.
We got to see so many cool ships in the shipyard and in port at the Norfolk Navy Base. Aidan loved seeing the big container ships. The biggest highlight was getting to see a new sub coming back in from doing their last round of sea trials. They were being escorted on all sides by Navy Police boats. Our tour boat got close enough that the Police boats started honking and the person on the front was waving us back. At that point we turned away and our captain asked us to all show the soldiers our appreciation for all they do. Everyone on the boat stood up and clapped and it was pretty cool to see the solider on the front salute us for it! I thing everyone on the boat was in awe of the whole situation- even the crew who told us he had never seen anything like this. We were pretty lucky to experience all of that and I am sure the boys will never forget it!
Up next was the BattleshipWisconsin. The boys loved exploring all of the different areas that were open to the public. They were definitely interested in the living quarters and seeing how the soldiers lived while on the ship. It was so much fun to experience that with the boys!

After exploring all we could of the USS Wisconsin we went inside the Hampton Roads Naval Museum and Nauticus where we could learn more about what we had just seen. Isaac and Aidan had fun with some of the hands-on exhibits! Who knows... maybe one of them will take after Uncle Steve and join the Navy!

Once we had our fill of learning it was time to head to the beach!
This was Aidan's first time seeing/playing in the ocean! I think it is safe to say he loved it!

Aidan's first time at the ocean
Everyone had a great afternoon!

As the day was wrapping up we rented a bike and toured the boardwalk before heading back to the hotel.

Day 4- family time, Yorktown Battlefields, Williamsburg, Yankee Candle Flagship Store
We started the day off by spending some time with everyone at Steve and Donna's house. We took in a quick lunch together before they had to head off to Brandon's graduation ceremony. While they attended the ceremony we explored the Yorktown Battlefields and some of Williamsburg.

We wrapped up the day with everyone back at the house having pizza and waiting for Tim's other brother and his family to arrive. Once they did we spent time hanging out and catching up with everyone. The ladies also took off for a quick trip to Wal-Mart to help Donna get some last minute items for the graduation party the next day.
Day 5- The reason for our visit...  Graduation Party and lots of family time
Saturday was spent at Steve and Donna's celebrating Brandon's high school graduation and spending time with family. One of Tim's cousins drove down from the DC area to spend the day. It was great catching up with them and watching all of the kids play and get to know each other.

Day 6- Norfolk Navy Base Tour and Virginia Beach as a family
Sunday we all loaded up and headed to the Norfolk Naval Base. We explored the exchange where several members of the family purchased souvenirs. After grabbing some lunch we loaded into two vehicles and blue-toothed together so Steve could give us a quick tour of the base.
We made a quick stop at Fort Story to see the lighthouses and then it was off to the beach as a family.


Everyone had a great time at the beach but before we knew it we needed to pack up and head back to the hotel so we could get ready to head back home the next morning.
Once back at the hotel Aidan got a little silly while helping pack!

the beach must not have worn him out... he was full of the sillies!
Day 7- all driving!
Steve drove Grandma Judy up to us in Williamsburg early that Monday morning where we all loaded up, had a quick breakfast together and said our goodbyes. It was a long day of driving but once again everyone did great! We stopped at another great overlook/rest stop in West Virginia and then pushed on as long as we could tolerate finally stopping in Illinois for the night.

Day 8- more driving!
Once again we got up and got going for the final leg of our vacation. We were back to Grandma Judy's by lunch and got her dropped off and unloaded. We had a quick lunch with my mom and then headed for home so we could get back in time for the boys' baseball team pictures!
We got home with plenty of time to unload, start laundry and make it to the pictures/games on time.
It was a long drive out and back but we had so much fun and made lots of great memories! The boys loved Virginia and can't wait to go back. There were so many things that we wanted to see that we just didn't have time for so I am sure another trip there will be in our future!

Friday, September 11, 2015

Where did summer go?

As I am sure is the case with most of you, our summer completely got away from us because it was filled with all kinds of fun activities.
Each of the boys kept us busy with baseball games nearly EVERY night and tournaments filled our weekends.
Aidan's first year of t-ball (and his best bud, Cailyn aka Sissy, was on his team)

Isaac had a great year on an amazing team

Riley really grew as a ball player this year and had some fun in the process.

Plus, Riley and Aidan participated in the Park and Rec Summer Track and Field program and had practices and meets during the days. Isaac decided not to participate in it this year but said at the first meet that he was going to again next summer. I think he realized he was missing out on some of the fun by just watching.

What a great experience they had with many friends participating.
Between all of that, work and maintaining a somewhat clean household we managed to stay plenty busy this summer.  We really wouldn't want it any other way. I love that my boys enjoy living an active lifestyle and it is so much fun to watch them participate in activities that they love! Plus, we have become great friends with many of the other parents and families and it is really hard when we aren't seeing them every day once it is all over!

It felt like the summer was just getting started and here we are with the kids back in school for two weeks already!
First day of 2015-2016 School year- Riley (8th Grade), Isaac (5th Grade) and Aidan (1st Grade)
With the start of school brings the start of 5th grade tackle football for Isaac (first year for tackle) and cross country and fall baseball for Riley. Aidan decided against flag football but is excited for basketball to start later in the fall.
Other than sharing some memories from our summer vacations (which will be coming in the next post- more for me to document for myself than because I think you care to see it), I think that just about brings us back up to speed after my three month leave from the blogging world:) 
The summer always seems to pull me away but now that school is back in session I can get back to more of a routine and can work on posting more again. I really do miss having this outlet when it takes a back burner to everything else.