#894 - Christmas road trip to Maryland

Our kids had never been on a long road trip (that they can remember...Riley went on one at 5 months and then at 19 months), so we weren't too sure what to expect. I mean, these are the kids that on the way from H.S. to Little Rock (3-hour drive) would ask when we got to the next town from H.S. (15 minutes away) if we were there yet. We were hopeful this 20-hour trip would go well, but just not sure. Let me just say, our kids were AWESOME!! Sure, they had their moments, but I never once felt the urge to just pull over on the side of the road and let one (or both!) out. They played well together, for the most part, and let me add, thank you Lord for portable dvd players! Mom and Dad, I'm not sure what y'all did without those things! We always said we "wouldn't be those parents," but on a long road trip when you're looking at 11 straight hours of driving, popping a movie in for 2 of those hours is just amazing. By the 2nd day, they were saying "that's not bad" when I told them we had 8 hours to drive before getting to Grandma and Grandpa's. It's all about perspective...8 hours compared to 11 the day before isn't bad! :)
 Our trip began on Thursday, December 22, when we pulled out of Daniel's dad's driveway in our very packed car. We drove to Knoxville, TN that day and spent the night in a hotel. We had a late lunch east of Nashville, so dinner was popcorn and an episode of Andy Griffith before lights out.
 Our kids LOVE staying in hotels! The only place where they can jump on the beds ;)
The next morning we were Grandma and Grandpa bound! We enjoyed driving through some new territory as we drove into Virginia, a little of West Virginia, and into Western Maryland. I grew up on the East Coast, so I-95 is familiar to me. It was fun exploring the other side of the states I'm used to driving through. And of course, since our route took us through the VERY historic town of Harper's Ferry, we had to stop...so said the history buff in the car, a.k.a. Daniel. It was a really cool place, and I'm thankful we stopped. Maybe one day we can go back and really tour the area.

We made it to my parent's house in Bel Air, MD in time for dinner that night. We were all SO glad to be out of the car and staying in one place for a whole week! We did so much during that week, so I think I'll let the story tell itself through pictures. As usual, I took A LOT! I won't include them all, but hit the highlights.
Helping Grandma make a Birthday cake for Jesus

Wearing new Christmas outfits to the Christmas Eve service at my parent's church

Love my family!
This girl can be such a mess and so sweet all at the same time...my parents claim the apple fell straight off the tree :)
New Christmas pj's from Grandma and Grandpa
CHRISTMAS MORNING!!! Riley got the guitar he wanted and Ella got the doll house furniture she asked for.

Happy Birthday, Jesus!
Ella was pointing to Him as she sang :)

When Riley found out my parent's lived close to Washington, D.C., he got really excited and said he wanted to go see the White House. So, the day after Christmas we all loaded up and did just that! As I was scrolling through facebook Christmas night, I saw a picture one of my college roommates had posted of she and her daughters in front of the White House with the caption, "Merry Christmas from the White House!" I immediately texted her to find out how long they'd be in D.C. (she's from Atlanta, GA), and she said all week! It worked out for us to meet them for lunch, and I'm so thankful! I had never met her girls and she had never met Daniel or our kids. Such a fun little reunion!

After lunch it was time to do some touring of D.C...first stop: Air and Space Museum
We could have spent several days in there and still not seen everything!
Ella's new doll, Ashlyn, went everywhere she went :)

I had to get a pic with my boy here...the last time I sat on a bench on the National Mall, he was in my belly!
Here I am in 2008 about 11 weeks preggo

Riley loves history (much like his daddy), so to see the monuments in person was so exciting for him!

The National Tree
The next day we were able to have lunch with some of our dear family friends, the Carter's. Dr. Carter (next to Daniel in the picture) was our pastor when we lived in MD back in the late 80's/early 90's. His youngest daughter, Amber, was one of my closest friends. Her husband, Josh, is now a pastor in the area and they have 6 kids! It was so much fun to catch up and watch our kids play so well together.

And then it was finally time for some COUSINS FUN! My brother and his family went to Massachusetts for Christmas, so we were SO ready to see them on the 27th!

It had been 2 years since these crazies were together!

Game time!

I cannot look at this without laughing every. single. time!

Wednesday morning the boys went to a local state park to hike while the ladies went to tea! Ella and I had never been to a fancy tea room before, so this was a very fun experience!

She's a big fan of her Grandma!
Loved spending time with my sis

I enjoyed reliving some South African memories as I sipped on delicious rooibos tea
Ella wasn't a huge fan of her tea
But she tore up her plate of goodies!

Eating a chocolate chip scone
Fun morning with my favorite ladies!

On our final day, we let the kids burn off some energy at a local indoor jump place. The last time we were there it was Ella's 3rd Birthday and it was snowing outside! No snow this year, but still lots of fun!

We are so thankful for the time we were able to spend with my family in Maryland. It's never long enough, but during the short stay lots of great memories were made and we'll forever be grateful!

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