Sunday, December 29, 2013

Christmas Vacation: A visit to the National Harbor

When we went to bed last night there was discussion of going to Arabian Nights today, but we decided that it was a bit too far and the National Harbor is closer and had several things that we could all do.  We decided to go there and see ICE.  This year's theme was "Twas the Night Before Christmas."  We were going to meet up with Amber's mom and sister.  While everyone else was getting ready it seemed like a great time to take some cousin pictures.
 The beautiful McElroy ladies

 kids and their tech toys

The elusive Finley smile
After a short drive (1 hour is short to us these days) we arrived at the Gaylord National Hotel.
We had time time to spare until we were able to go into the show so we explored the hotel and took it all in. It is a massive hotel and it was all decorated for Christmas, it was beautiful!  They had a kiddie train in the atrium that you ladies could ride, now it was not the polar express, but it did waste some time.

 all aboard
throwing pennies in the fountain
After wondering around the hotel we decided to go out to the National Harbor itself.  There are a bunch of stores, restaurants and things to look at.
They have this really awesome sculpture in the sand at the Harbor called The Awakening.  It would have been fun to go an walk around it, but the sand was so wet from all the rain earlier, we just looked from a distance.

They also had an "ice skating" rink set up at the Harbor.  I am using the term "ice skating" very loosely.  It was a plastic rink that you can skate on.  We thought it would be fun so you ladies and I decided to try it. The pictures might look like we were having fun, but I can assure you that it was not fun.  The plastic was really wet from all the rain and we kept slipping and sliding.  We will take you ladies real ice skating one day.

After our attempt at plastic skating it was time for us to go back and get in line to go see ICE.  It had been a long day at this point and everyone was getting a little tired and hungry so I got GIANT cookies and rice krispie treats for everyone while we waited in line.  We had gone to ICE last year with Nana and Papa so we knew a little about what to expect.  This was just as amazing as last years display.

They had the ice slide again and daddy took a video of the three of us going down.  Man it was cold.  Once we were though the display we were all starving, so we decided to stay at the hotel and eat at the restaurant in the atrium.  They had a very large buffet and we could watch the snow and light show that they did every 30 minutes.  It was a super fun day!  We have to rest up because we are headed to Washington DC tomorrow for a day and a half.  I wonder what adventures we will do while in the nation's capital.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Christmas Vacation: Virginia and Maryland

After a yummy breakfast at the hotel we got packed up and hit the road again, this time our destination was Clements, Maryland.  It was my turn to drive.  The route today took us on a lot two lane back roads, not my favorite to drive one.  We stopped for lunch at a pizza place in Virginia.  Next to the pizza place was a frozen yogurt place so we were going to get some as a treat.  To our surprise they were "closed for the season."  Now this was a new concept to us being from Florida, do you not want ice cream when it is cold outside?  So we ended up going into our snack supply.  This was the second drive that we suggested that you ladies close your eyes for just 10 minutes and then we would wake you up and this was the second time you fell asleep for over an hour :)

We finally entered Maryland!
Not long after crossing the border we had to drive over the Potomac river.  Well let me tell you I am glad you ladies were sleeping when we had to drive over this two lane very high bridge with very little wiggle room.  I will never drive over that bridge again!  

Uncle Steve lives in the middle of nowhere so after some driving we arrived at uncle steve's house.  We was still at work when we got there, but we got to hang out with Amber, Grandma, Parker, Finley and meet baby Ryan.  You ladies made yourself right at home in the playroom, playing dress up with Finley and watching Parker play his video games.  It was really nice to be there and have some down time.  When Uncle Steve got home from work we had another Christmas.
 Princess Emma "Sophia"

 Parker opening his aquabot
 Emma with her new doll
Ryan modeling her new FSU onesie
We were all pretty tired from all the traveling the past few days so you ladies slept upstairs with Grandma in Finley's room and mommy and daddy slept in the office with all of Uncle Steve's deer heads.  I was really glad to have my eye mask so I didn't see the deer staring at me :)  We are looking forward to what is in store for tomorrow, when we went to bed we were talking about going to Arabian nights tomorrow.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Christmas Vacation: North Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia

We left Cherokee a littler later than planned and headed to Virginia.  We had booked a hotel with an indoor pool for another activity.  There was also a science museum that we were going to try and visit.  Daddy was the driver today, so I got to really enjoy the scenery.  We were in the middle of the mountains and saw lots of ice on the side of them.

For the first leg of the race the girls decided to watch Annie on the new DVD players.  The best thing that Santa did was to bring headphones for the DVD players.  That way we could listen to the radio and they could listen to the movie.  Not that I don't love Annie, I just like the radio better.

At some point Lily got bored with Annie and switched to her tablet.  Another great present from Santa.
We stopped for lunch in Tennessee and it was really yummy.  It was a chain restaurant of sorts, but we don't have it here.  We took our time and enjoyed our lunch.  We really didn't have set plans for Virginia.  We learned a good travel lesson today, even if google maps says it is only 4.5 hours to our destination, they do not take into consideration traveling with two 4 year olds.  So after potty breaks, a yummy lunch and more potty breaks we arrived in Virginia after the science museum has closed.  I was glad to have the pool at the hotel so we would be able to burn off some energy.

Our hotel was really nice and we were all pretty tired from the long travel day.  We grabbed a quick dinner and came back to go swimming.  I was curious to see how much the ladies retained from the summer swim lessons.  I was pretty impressed with what they were able to do and we will build on this over the summer.

The pool was great, but holy chlorine!  My brown suit is now orangish and the girls white suits are more yellow.  There was an upside to the pool, we all slept like babies!  Tomorrow we are headed to Uncle Steve's house.  We are excited to meet Ryan and spend time with the family, including Grandma who has been there for about a week now.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Christmas Vacation: Tallahassee, Georgia, and North Carolina

The big day is upon us, I think we are more excited about this than Christmas yesterday.  We are leaving on our trip to Maryland, with a bunch of stops in between.  We packed most the car last night and woke up bright and early to get a start on the day.  The girls knew that we were headed to North Carolina today, but they had NO IDEA that they were going on the Polar Express that evening.  I was the designated driver for this leg of the trip.  Daddy and I decided to trade off driving.  Since we left when it was still dark outside we were hopeful that you ladies would go back to sleep...that did not happen.  We told you that once the sun came up that we would start a movie for you on the new dvd players that Santa brought you for Christmas. We held true to our promise and shortly after 8am we turned on the movies for you.  We had lots of snacks and such in the car so we just had some snacks so we could get a little further on the trip before stopping for lunch.

Our first lunch stop at a Chili's in North Georgia
We were making really good time at this point, but not good enough that we could make a pit stop at the Cabbage Patch Hospital, so maybe next trip we can do that.  We did however, make a fun pit stop at "Goats on the Roof" in Tiger, Georgia.  It is silly place where the goats live on the roof of the buildings.  You can feed them and there are little stores as well.

 mommy and the ladies
 silly daddy and the ladies

 feed me
 Em peddling to feed the hungry goat
 peddle faster em
 waiting on my treat, peddle faster Em

 using the pulley to feed the other goats

 teamwork makes the pulley go faster
 thanks for the treat ladies
 what are you looking at willis?
 can I help you?

 Playing in the train.  Little did they know they were going on a real one in a few hours.
Goats in the Roof was a fun pit stop.  We were about an hour outside of Cherokee, North Carolina where we were staying for the night. So the drive was not that bad.  We got to Cherokee and checked into our hotel.  We had a few hours until we needed to be in Bryson City for the big Polar Express surprise.  We got changed into some warmer clothes and told the girls that we were going to have pizza for dinner and had a surprise for them.

We go to Bryson City and went to the train depot, the girls still had no idea what was going on.  We went inside the train depot to get our tickets and they had The Polar Express playing on the tv's.  Lily said "mommy look, the polar express" and I said oh wow, ladies do you want to go on the polar express and they both smiled so big and said YES!  We gave them their golden tickets and went to the pizza place across the street.

the ladies with their golden tickets!

Dinner was good and we had a little time before we need to get in line to board the train, so we explored the train depot a little.

While we were waiting in line the train came into the station. Everyone was so excited to see the train.

We patiently waited our turn and then it was time to board the train.  It was so exciting.

Being on the train was just like being in the movie.  However, we had a very special job to do on our train ride.  Since we were going on December 26, we had the very special job of taking Santa back to the North Pole.  It was a very big responsibility and we were all excited that we got to do it. When the train started you ladies were given the job to hand out the books that had the songs that we were going to sing.

We sang several songs and then the conductor came by to punch your tickets.  You ladies wondered why he did not punch letters on your ticket like in the movie.

Shortly after the conductor punched your tickets we were told that Santa was coming to visit our train car.  It was so cool for you ladies to talk with Santa and thank him for your presents.  He spent a few minutes talking with you and reminding you to be good so that he can come visit you next year. He also gave you the magical bell.

After Santa came we were almost to the North Pole.  Pulling into the North Pole was pretty amazing and exciting.  It was beautiful.  We stopped to let Santa off and then toured the North Pole.  We saw where Santa and Mrs. Clause lived, where the toy factory was, where the reindeer's lived, where the elves live and frosty's house.

After dropping Santa off at the North Pole the hot chocolate song came on and they handed out hot chocolate.  It was so yummy.

And before we knew it we were back at the train station.  You ladies loved going on the polar express and we are so glad that we were able to do this.  We headed back to our hotel and had a nice sleep.  The next day we were headed to Virginia.  Can't wait to see what adventures were in store for us there.