Panama City Beach

After our fun in Orlando we packed up the hillbilly minivan and headed to Panama City Beach.  I went to high school in PC and haven’t been back in almost 15 years.  My high school best friend lives there and the girls had never seen the beaches in Fl so we decided to add it to our trip.  We had a bit of a rocky start to our trip with a broken air conditioner in our condo but after a “this is where we pull together and support an exhausted mom and dad” pep talk we reloaded the hillbilly mini and headed down to our air conditioned, 15th floor, beachside condo.

We spent time at the beach, in the pool and cruising the strip in a golf cart.  We had a blast.  All of the girls really took to “Ms. Kelly” and it was amazing to see her for me as well.  

   
 

Day 1 Universal Studios

At the crack of dawn we woke the girls to take advantage of our “get in to the park an hour before it opens” benefit from staying at a hotel on site.  

  
We had a great day touring both Hogwarts and Diagon Alley.  We had breakfast at The Three Broomsticks, rode some of the rides, shopped in the stores and even got our magic wands.  The girls had a blast.  I’m pretty sure I heard the words “best day ever” more than once from more than one child.

After we were potter’d out we headed to the world of Dr Seuss!   Finally Phoebe was in her element, loads of rides and things that she loved and everyone else did too.

   
  
Just before folks started melting down we headed back to the hotel for an afternoon of swimming.  They swam and swam and swam. Back to the room for relaxing and Phoebe is asleep before dinner.

  

Orlando!!

After we picked up Jason we planned a day of rest. 

  
 We checked in to our hotel and hung out by the pool for the day while we planned our visit to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter.

  

Aunt Michele

My sister moved to a small town in Florida about a year ago.  So we decided we couldn’t go to Florida and not stop by.  The town was super cute and super tiny.  We met at a Pizza Hut and had dinner the first night and made plans to meet them the next day at a petting zoo.  It was a great visit, other than Piper getting bitten by a pig:(

  

Finally……Florida

The girls and I traveled back roads all the way through Georgia and finally crossed in to Florida!

  
The girls were getting tired of all my driving and there were some complaints about sore butts but really I can’t complain, the girls did amazing.  Just look at the love,

  

Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama

After Dallas we kept driving to Louisiana and Mississippi.  

In Louisana we stopped in Monroe to visit the Louisiana Purchase Zoo.  It was a great little zoo and it was a fun way to learn about the Louisana Purchase.  The girls saw their first real (and really big) alligator!  

  
We stopped to see the Mississippi River which was super cool!  

  

 Then we kept driving and made it to Auburn University.  Bad news is that it was graduation day and it was mayhem!  We got to go to the campus and walk around a bit before heading to the hotel.

   

American Girl store

After a loooong 6 hour drive we finally made it to Dallas.  We had been driving in traffic for over 45 minutes (not rush hour just heavy) and Phoebe was at her wits end.  The other girls were over driving for the day as well and I was happy to see our exit.  As we exited we had to travel down a long frontage road and we passed The American Girl store, Piper and Landis started to squeal!  I told them that this was why we came to Dallas and SURPRISE!  Lela rolled her eyes and gave a big sigh.  Sometimes I think they like to dislike something just because the other likes it, Lela is this way about the color pink of which the American Girl Store has a TON.

  The next morning we got up late and headed over to the store.  The girls are still on Arizona time so getting up to get breakfast in before lunch has been a challenge:)  The store front is huge and the girls (from here on assume Lela is not included when I say girls) were so excited.  Once in side it was literally like a kid in a candy store.  Lots of vignettes to look at, tons of dolls to see, tons of accessories for the dolls, even a VW bug complete with spare tire and car sounds.  We went upstairs to check out the hair salon and bistro, then back downstairs for more shopping.  It was a great store although I wished the clerks had been a little more enthusiastic considering it was our first visit and we were from out of town but that is just me, the girls were over the moon.  So we did a little shopping with me steering them to the “sale items” without success.

Landis got her doll another ballet ensemble, a purse and a hair brush.  Piper found a matching outfit for herself and her doll and Phoebe settled on a matching pair of pajamas and getting Grace’s ears pierced.  By this time Lela was about to stab me with daggers shooting out of her eyes if she didn’t get something to eat so we headed up to the bistro.

  The bistro was super cute and very pink.  The dolls all had a seat at the table and were served on their own little cups and saucers.  All the food was served “fancy” according to the girls.  You ordered a two course meal and had the option of adding dessert.  The girls got to keep the napkin ring holders and some flowers that came with their meal.  The dolls got to keep their cups and saucers.  It was fun and sweet and I think the girls liked it.  Phoebe was starting to crash at this point with a fever and just wanted to get Grace’s ears pierced, so we headed to the salon and Grace didn’t even cry when she got it done (hahaha).  After that we headed to the car to drive on, all in all it was totally worth the trip.

Deming, Midland, Dallas and Monroe

The girls and I have traveled in to 3 states so far.  Texas by far being the biggest and the most dreaded.  I don’t think I have driven across the entire state in quite some time and you forget how expansive it is and how boring the first half of it can be.  The second half has trees and wildflowers blooming all over this time of the year so it makes it a little better.

We are currently in Monroe, LA staying at a roadside hotel.  As we were checking in there were a couple people in front of us.  Landis quietly said to me, “what kind of accent is that” about the woman in front of us.  I chuckled and told her it was an american accent but a southern one.  She was confused as to how the person in front of us was speaking English, hahaha!  Welcome to the south.  Lela is not impressed with the abundance of bugs but Piper is appreciating the flowers but she isn’t sure it is worth the humidity (and it isn’t really that humid….yet).

  Poor Phoebe has a fever and a sore throat:(  I am hoping that her fever broke in the night but I dunno just yet.  It is early and they are all still asleep and she still feels warm but I am hoping that is snuggled in my bed warm and not fever warm.

All in all we are having a good trip.  I expect the next bits to be more fun.  Today I am hoping to hit a local zoo and botantical garden in Monroe and then we are off to Meridian, MS.  After that we are going to go to Auburn University and then to Ocala, FL to meet up with my sister.  They are all really looking forward to seeing their Dad this Saturday (me too).  Then the real fun begins.  I am so fortunate to be able to take the girls on these adventures and so thankful to my sweet husband to making it so.

We are off to see the Wizard

The girls and I have left Phoenix on our quest to find the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.  Our total drive will take us 6 days, driving about 4 hours a day.  Even that seems too long for Phoebe but we manage.  Today we started the first season of Little House on the Prairie and everyone BUT Phoebe liked it, but as we all know nothing will take her beast if she is upset.  Speaking of upset I drove away with two girls sobbing and one whimpering.  No one, including me, really likes to leave home although we do enjoy adventure.  It is a predicament for sure.

  

Ah…the land of lose lose

Yes, it seems we are going to be visiting the land of lose lose a while longer.  This is the magical land where every answer is the wrong answer, every comment is the wrong comment, every offer is rejected as the worst offer ever.  Lela and I visited this land a lot when she was in her 3s and 4s and it seems Phoebe is on an extended stay.  Maybe we will see the magical unicorn and be transplanted in to the more enjoyable land of compromise, one can dream.