Christmas #2!

We did finally make it to Pennsylvania!!  We arrived early on the 27th after driving through the night and Caroline did not go back to sleep at all!  She was ready to see her cousins!!  All of the kids had a great time playing and after Grami, Pop Pop and Uncle Andy arrived, we were able to celebrate Christmas once again!  There was a lot of snow outside and the kids hung out in pajamas quite a bit of the time.  Thank you von Goertz for hosting all of us and doing so much to make our Christmas special!

These two just love each other!
Let the fun begin!!

Cooper opened this umbrella first and did not want anything else!

We have not been in Hershey while Hershey Park has been open, so we had to take advantage of it this time around and go to Christmas Candy Lane.  Emma and Ellie were so excited to take us, however these Texans weren't quite sure what hit them!  It was SOOOO cold and we only lasted on several rides.  I can't say Caroline and Cooper were the only ones complaining.  However, the kids did have a great time and Cooper could not get enough of the carousel!  We will definitely be back... just in the summer!

Caroline posed proudly next to Mr. Reese!
In heaven with Uncle Andy!
Grami and Pop Pop watched from the sidelines.

The kids played so well together and loved playing with all of their new toys!
Cooper would not take these boots off!
And we even got SNOW while we were there!  LOTS of it!  Cooper was napping, but the girls got to build a big snow man and even tasted some of that cold white stuff!  I also opted to stay inside...

Emma wore Cinderella's wedding dress for Halloween this past year and ever since, it has been all Caroline has talked about.  Grami decided she needed one as well and gave it to her for Christmas.   New Year's Eve just so happens to be Aunt Mimi and Uncle Paul's wedding anniversary, so the girls dressed up in their dresses to help celebrate!  They were pretty cute little brides!

Emma introduced Caroline to her new favorite thing... MAKE UP!  These girls spent hours by themselves in Emma's room and came out quite "pretty!"  Such funny funny girls!  Can you say T.R.O.U.B.L.E.!!
And of course we couldn't go to Hershey, PA without yet another visit to Chocolate World.  These kids just can't get enough of the "Singing Cows"!  And yes, all 11 of us actually fit in 1 car!!


Planes, Trains & Automobiles

Have you ever seen the movie Planes, Trains & Automobiles?!  I hadn't until Josh and I were married and now it is our annual Thanksgiving tradition to watch it.  However this past year with all of our trips, we have felt like we were actually part of the movie!  Our last trip to Hershey, PA the day of Christmas was no exception!  We are now 4 for 4 for flights being cancelled in 2012 and are hoping 2103 is a whole new year!

Here's a recap:

May - Our flight to Panama City, FL was cancelled all together and after 5 hours of sitting at the airport trying to get another flight, we ended up getting in the car and driving the 13 hours to get there!

November - Josh trained all year to run in the New York City Marathon and it was cancelled due to Hurricane Sandy.  We had to fly out later and skip NY all together.

Thanksgiving - American Airlines decided to cancel our flight to the Bahamas two days before we were supposed to go.  No real reason.  We scrambled to find another flight and salvage everything that we had already paid to the resort, so we ended up flying 1 day early and spending more money on lodging.

And now to December ...
After countless days of 80 degree weather in Dallas, it decided to snow on Christmas day!  Although nice to have a white Christmas, it shut down quite a few airports across the country and tons of flights were cancelled!  We left the day after and our flight was still on time when we arrived at the airport.  However there were TONS of people stranded all around from the day before.  The lady behind us in line had been trying to get home and had been rescheduled on 3 flights and then all 3 had been cancelled.  There was definitely a tense feeling in the air all around.  We felt fortunate and pretty much expected something to happen... given our track record, but everything was going smoothly and as far as we could tell, we only had a 30 minute delay.

Our lay over was in Cincinnati, and although quite a few flights were cancelled from there, ours was still scheduled.  We arrived a little late and made it to the next gate with time to spare.  So far so good!  The connecting flight was a little late and we had about an hour to wait.  Caroline made friends with a 3 year old boy and they kept themselves entertained for quite a while.  After talking with his parents, we found out they had left EARLY that morning (Wednesday) and were supposed to have arrived in PA at 11am.  Fast forward to 9pm, they had gotten stuck in Atlanta for 5 hours and then rerouted to Cincinnati with a 5 hour lay over and then were hoping to make it home to Harrisburg on our flight.  The plane came and everyone got off and this mom and I were talking about how relieved we were to be getting on the plane!  Just then, the gate agent came on the intercom telling us that our flight had been cancelled because there was no flight attendant to fly on the plane.  Are you kidding?!!  No mechanical error, no plane scheduling problem... nope just no attendant.  Well we had been through this before, so Josh rushed to the front of the line to see if they could get us on something else.  There was not a lot to choose from and definitely no direct flights.  We needed 3 seats and that was hard to come by!  In a split second decision, we decided to rent a car and drive!!!  A nice couple in line actually offered to ride with us and split the cost of the rental car.  I'm not sure what we were thinking getting in the car with total strangers (with our kids!) and choosing to drive through the middle of the night, but we did it!

It is 9 hours in a car from Cincinnati to Harrisburg!  9 hours from the time we started at 10:30 at night!  We were luckily able to rent an SUV and rent car seats.  The kids were absolutely amazing and slept the ENTIRE way!  It was the best we could have asked for.  However, the other man started out driving and I was pretty hesitant about sleeping.  I wanted at least 1 of us awake the whole time just in case.  So I talked quite a bit!  We didn't get that tired for a while, but about 2:30am we switched drivers and it was Josh's turn.  I knew he was pretty worn out and I didn't want him to fall asleep, so I stayed up with him as well.  We both were awake the entire time and pulled into my sister's driveway about 7:30am.  It was such a whirlwind!  

We could not have driven with nicer people and it turns out that it was actually a good thing!  I was using my phone as navigation and didn't realize until we were about 10 minutes away that it didn't recognize my sister's address, but was just taking me to the middle of their zipcode.  Oops!  The lady we were driving with actually used to live right by them and knew where to go by us describing the crazy landmarks that we had remembered from trips past.  We sure were lucky!  We also found out that their son worked for Hershey and with Paul.  He didn't know him, but was later able to email him and thank his parents for getting us there safely!  It all worked out!

And I also have to commend Delta Airlines for being really prompt at refunding us some of the money.  It took United 6 months (and COUNTLESS phone calls) to get us refunds for the flight cancelled in May and it took Delta 1 call and 5 days to have the money back on our credit cards.  I can't tell you how much easier it was!!

All in all we had a great trip and another great memory to add to our stories!  We are hoping that 2013 is much better and have decided to take a little break from flying for a while!


Christmas Day

It is so nice having family close!  We spent the rest of the day at Adam and Julie's and enjoyed family and Christmas a little bit more.  Julie had a wonderful lunch prepared and then we opened more presents.  It is so much fun watching the relationship between cousins.  Caroline is now old enough to actually play with Sam and she just adores him!  He is that much older (7) where everything he does is just SO cool!

 Sam and Caroline joined in a nice tea party after all the commotion!
 We were even treated to a WHITE Christmas!  Just a few days earlier the weather was 80 degrees and then SNOW!  We got about 2 inches here in Dallas.



 Santa found us!  The kids woke up about the same time as normal however, I do think Josh and I were more excited!  It was quite a different Christmas for us, but so calm and relaxing with just the four of us.  We walked into the living room and found all of the presents from Santa unwrapped and sorted by kid.  They weren't quite sure what was happening, but pretty soon after they found their piles and wanted to play with everything!
 All Caroline asked for this year was a little, pink bunny!  And Santa didn't forget!  Santa was also the only person who managed to find a Gloria doll!!  He must truly be magic!


 Santa labeled each kid's piles with a special note.  Caroline was SO surprised to find hers written with her very own picture of Clarice!!

 Cooper LOVES basketball!  Every time he sees a hoop somewhere, he has to run up to it and wants to play!  He got his very own that now resides in his room.  This kid can entertain himself for hours!

 I'm not sure who had more fun!


'Twas the Night Before Christmas

Christmas Eve was pretty quiet around here this year.  It was just us and was a little strange compared to other years, but nice to be able to start some of our own traditions.  We went to the early service at church at 4:00pm and tried to get these kids to pose for some pictures.  This is the best I got...

 Since it was just us and we had kind of forgotten about planning for something for dinner, we promised the kids we could have pancakes!  Red and Green pancakes of course!
Although we aren't in our own house, we made sure Santa knew where to find us and we definitely made sure to leave food out for Clarice {Rudolph's girfriend and Caroline's FAVORITE reindeer!}.  

Daddy and the kids left all of our visitors a note to make sure they liked all of the food and knew that they loved them!

Grandmother made sure to supply us with some of her "special" hay for the reindeer and Caroline sprinkled in M&Ms for them.  {A special tip from Santa!}

 And then it was off to bed!