Hallie turns 5!

This August my little Hallie turned 5! She has always acted like she was 16 and now she is one year closer. :) She had patiently (or not so patiently) waited for her birthday to come after seeing how much fun Kyle’s was. The day finally arrived and on the morning of her birthday she woke up to a present and some roses. (She LOVED getting flowers. She claimed they were her favorite present of the day!)

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Opening a gift from Nana and Papa
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Little brother gave her flowers!

That afternoon we had her party at Cloverdale park. With our move only days away I couldn’t imagine having a party at our house. It seemed to work out nicely at the park. (Besides the ice cream melting more than we would have liked.) The kids played, then ate, then played some more. It was perfect.

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Hallie doesn't like traditional cake so she chose a cookie cake this year. She LOVED it! She kept saying how delicious it looked. I was happy we found a great alternative to cake that made her so happy. Plus it was easy to make which was a great bonus with our move happening.
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Showing off her cake!

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Opening presents.

Because I knew this was the last time Hallie would see most of her friends I decided to take pictures of her with each friend. Our family was blessed with great friends in Virginia. We have all really been missing them. I am the type of person that gets so emotional I would rather avoid thinking about certain things. Looking through these pictures has forced me to think about all our friends we had to leave. Now I am getting emotional as I blog. :(

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Hallie and Lydia. (2nd or 3rd cousins I can never remember)
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Hallie and Olivia. Bf's since they were 1 yr old and I met her mom at the store.
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Hallie, Camille and Lucille. Hallie loves older girls and these two were like big sisters to her.
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Hallie, Callie, Kiera, and Leann. We couldn't love these 3 girls anymore than we do!
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Hallie and Kaitlyn. These two and their joke telling is hilarious!
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Hallie and Samantha. Sweet sweet Sammy!
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Hallie and Lori. Joy school friends are truly the best!

Thank you everyone who came for Hallie’s party!  It was a fabulous afternoon. I wish we could do it again. Especially in the beautiful fall weather I know you all are having in Virginia right now.

Hallie Birthday Interview

1. What is your favorite color? Rainbow sparkles                                                                                                                                                                                              2. What is your favorite toy? Barbie unicorn                                                                                                                                                                 ;                        3. What is your favorite fruit? Watermelon
4. What is your favorite tv (netflix) show? Littlest pet shop.
5. What is your favorite thing to eat for lunch? Cereal
6. What is your favorite outfit? Dresses
7. What is your favorite game? Mouse Trap
8. What is your favorite snack? Ice Cream
9. What is your favorite animal? Horses and Unicorns
10. What is your favorite song? Walk Tall you are a Daughter of God. (I sing this to her every night before bed.)
11. What is your favorite book? Tangled
12. Who is your best friend? Olivia Livingston, Gabby Graham, and Kyle.
13. What is your favorite cereal? Marshmellow. (Lucky Charms)
14. What is your favorite thing to do outside? Play in the sprinkler and go swimming.
15. What is your favorite drink? Soda pop 
16. What is your favorite holiday? Christmas and Halloween
17. What do you like to take to bed with you at night? Pink Teddy Bear
18. What do you to eat for breakfast? Toast, oatmeal or cereal. (With our move we have been eating more cereal than normal.) 
19. What do you like to do every day? Watch movies and play with friends.
20. What do you want to be when you grow up? A mom

 

Dear Hallie:

As a mom I could not be prouder of the little girl you are. You are kind, sweet, smart and often sassy. You think you know everything which helps you be independent. You love people and hate being alone. Friends make your world a better place and you have been blessed with a lot of good ones. Always be kind and you will attract amazing people who will help make you even better. Love God and love your family. Be thankful for all of your many talents. You have been blessed with several! You are my world and I could not possibly love you anymore than I already do! Happy 5th Birthday my Hallie bug.

Love, Mom

Driving a Nascar

Last Christmas I bought Ben a Nascar driving experience down in Richmond. He has tried to go two different times but has been rained out each time. The third time truly was a charm because not only did he have perfect weather but I got to go with him (which of course is a bonus lol).When we got down to Richmond we drove right on to the center lot where all the race car drivers trailers etc are usually parked. We signed in and decided to have me ride along with a professional driver just for fun. It was awesome! I really wish we would have gotten a picture of me in the car but Ben was taking his “driving course class” and so he wasn’t there to snap a pic. It was fun climbing through a race car window and then driving crazy fast around the track. I thought of my dad as I was riding along and his love of speed. He used to be a drag racer.

After Ben’s class got out he was dressed and ready to go. First he rode along with a professional driver to get some tips and then he was off on his own. He had a head set and as he raced other amateurs like himself passing was encouraged. I sat on the stands and tried cheering him on. I knew he was happy when he passed other cars. Go Ben!

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Going for his ride along.
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Getting behind the wheel.
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Go Ben!

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Kyle is the BIG 3

It was exactly a month ago today that Kyle turned 3. I can’t help but be a little sad at how fast my kids are growing up. They are so big now! I love that they play so well together and can do so much on their own but at the same time I want to freeze all my hugs and kisses, all my squeezes and loves before they get too big.

Kyle is such a blessing to our family. Ben says all the time that Kyle was made for me (due to my need of hugs and kisses). He really completes our family. I often can’t help myself from saying multiple times a day just how cute he is and how I can’t handle his cuteness. His little voice coupled with his personality and his little body just make him the cutest boy I have ever seen. On his birthday he kept saying, “Thank you mommy. I so happy. Thank you for giving me a birthday.” Talk about melting my heart!

Kyle is very sensitive. He can often tell when I need a hug and comes and gives one to me.

He loves to wrestle and play fight. ALWAYS!

His dad is his “big dominator” and his favorite person in the world.

He loves Angry Birds and Buzz Lightyear

His best friend is Bradford Wagenman

He eats all day long. His favorite food is probably fruit snacks, although there are many foods he loves.

He loves playing with his big sister and will usually play whatever she wants to play.

He still takes naps (most days at least).

He still sucks a binkie at night.

He is potty training right now and doing a great job.

He plays great by himself but also loves playing with friends. He gets along really well with other people.

He is great at puzzles and playing catch.

He still has his curls. (Although fewer now that he got another hair cut from daddy.)

He is as good at speaking as Hallie. Which is really surprising due to the fact that he didn’t start talking until he was 2. He doesn’t stop talking actually.

He loves to pick out his clothes each day. It determines what he is that day. If he wears a shirt with a monster on it then he is a monster that day. If he wears a basketball shirt he is a basketball player, etc.

He can’t go to sleep without Hallie in the room and he can’t not wake her up when he wakes up.

He goes back and forth between being brave and being scared. You just never know which he will be with each activity.

His song of choice when going to bed is “the Rabbit song” (There was a little house in the middle of the woods…”

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Opening presents from Nana in the morning.

That night we had his best friend Bradford’s family over for cake and ice cream. We are really going to miss the Wagenman’s! Kyle is going to go through major Bradford withdrawals.

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He had to wear the Angry bird shirt that Nana gave him to his little party.

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Oh Kyle I wish you knew just how much I love you!

Birthday Interview

Who is your favorite person in the whole world?  Daddy

What is your favorite color? Blue

What is your favorite show?  The incredibles

What sport do you like best? Baseball (I would say basketball for sure though)

Who is your best friend? Bradford Wagenman

What do you want to be when you grow up? A dump truck driver

Where do you wish you could go on vacation? Utah

What is your favorite flavor of ice cream? Chocolate

Home: End of the Epic Trip

After driving for two weeks and visiting every state in the northeast. After making a dozen memoriable stops and eating way too much fast food our trip came to an end back in Virginia. As I have looked back on these photos more than a month after getting back I am so grateful we did this! We made amazing memories that the kids still talk about. Hallie now loves to talk about Rollercoasters and whenever playing pretend she says they are in New York. Kyle got to make memories with Nana and Papa that he now remembers. He still talks about wrestling with Papa and “kicking Papa’s butt”. lol I am grateful Ben took two weeks off of work and organized this whole thing. He saved up the money for a year and a half and made this possible. I am grateful my parents took two weeks out of their crazy schedule to go with us. We couldn’t have done it without them nor would we have wanted to. I loved seeing my kids with my parents (since that doesn’t happen very much with us living across the country) I loved seeing all the beautiful country side. Staring out the window for hours was actually enjoyable. I loved making memories with Ben and the kids and I loved seeing new places and experiencing new things. What an awesome opportunity we had!

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Saying goodbye to Nana and Papa. Kyle was not happy about a picture.
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Hugs goodbye at the airport. I love these two!

 

Pennsylvania

After Niagara we had a long drive to Pennsylvania. We decided to stop at a place called Knoebels and let the kids play. My friend Stacey introduced me to Knoebels last year when I went to visit her while she was staying at her grandmas in Danville, PA. It is an old school amusement park where you pay per ride rather than an entrance fee. We camped for a night and spent a day and a half riding the rides. The kids were in heaven! Big thanks to Nana and Papa paying for all the rides. :)

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Learning how to catch and throw a ball.
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Taking turns with dad and papa. Papa was very serious in his training of little Kyle. haha sounds like my childhood all over again. "Turn, point, and throw."
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Ben actually rode a ride or two with the kids.
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Kyle was the brave one in the water boat. Hallie decided it wasn't for her.
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Playing a game of T-ball waiting for dinner to be done.
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Driving like they were grown ups.
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Again with the driving...

We had such a great time at Knoebells. The biggest adventure was Hallie riding a grownup rollarcoaster. I really wish we would have gotten a picture of her. She saw the big coaster and decided she wanted to ride it. She barely, if even, made the height requirement and off we went. She chose the very front row and was all smiles until we took off. She was so serious and then started saying she hated it. I was laughing and loving the ride. It was a great rollarcoaster. lol After we got off she said she liked it. Silly kid. She even got a special coin from the park when they found out it was her very first coaster. That made her feel special and very proud! And although she didn’t want to ride that big coaster again she did decide to ride two smaller coasters. Both times she had the same serious face on and then after she would say she loved it. haha I loved seeing my kids have so much fun!

 

 

Intercourse, PA:

No that is not a type o. There really is a place called Intercourse. The funniest part of that is that it is Amish country. We were able to spend an afternoon touring the Amish country and seeing how the Amish live so differently than the rest of the world. We had a Amish tour guide on our little buggy ride and he told us all about the Amish life style as we rode through the beautiful country side.

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Our group with our nice tour guide.
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The kids were just excited to go on a ride with horses.
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So cute and so happy.
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They love farms.
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Beautiful land
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Drinking homemade lemonade.
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6 horse plow

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I love that the Amish can live in the world but not be of the world. The LDS church teaches this principle of being different and not being afraid to stand out. As the Amish man told us about his community I was drawn to the many similarities that the Amish and mormon people have in common. And although I don’t want to wear the clothes that they wear and ride the bikes they have to ride etc. I am grateful for the similarities we share. I am proud to be mormon and stand out. We asked the tour guide lots of questions and he answered them without any hesitation. I love when my friends ask me questions about being LDS. So if you have questions…ASK! I love it!

As you can see from the pictures we had a beautiful sunny day! This is the day we discovered the a/c in our RV didn’t work. haha 2 days before our trip was over. Up until this point we didn’t need it because of the rain. I was dying when it got hot enough to need it and it didn’t work. We tried getting it fixed but to no avail. We called the rental place and they paid for us to stay in a very nice air conditioned hotel with a swimming pool. Score! It was nice to have such a comfortable bed and shower for a night. Thank goodness the next night we would be home in Virginia. No air conditioner is no bueno!

Not pictured:

The Harley Davidson Factory in PA. Ben and my dad took a tour and were fascinated. :)

Upstate New York (part 2) and Niagara Falls

After tasting some amazing Vermont cheddar and the best apple cider we had ever had we crossed Lake Champlain on a ferry and drove onto Plattsburg, NY, where my good friend Lindsey lives. We had such a great time visiting with Lindsey’s growing family. Last time I saw her family her little Irelyn was only a few months old. Now Lindsey was about ready to have another little angel join their family. I wish we would have had a few more days to just hang out together like we used to, but the trip was scheduled and we had to press on more quickly than I would have liked. Love you Linds, thanks for a great short visit!

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All of our offspring (minus the two in our bellies).
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Such cute kids!!!
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Lindsey had just gotten a brand new kitty. Hallie was in heaven. Usually she chased the cat around the house making it terrified of her but she finally relaxed and Linds got a great picture.

 

Niagara Falls:

After leaving Plattsburgh we drove to Niagara Falls and Canada. As I briefly mentioned in my first vacation post it rained almost the entirety of our trip. We had a few rain free days and we were very grateful for those but the vast majority of days were spent under umbrellas. In fact we spent several days looking for rain jackets that fit and didn’t cost $100. (And yes I did check the weather forecast! Only I checked it like 3 days prior to leaving and evidently everything changed in those 3 days!)

So when we arrived at Niagara Falls it was sadly no surprise that it was raining. We put on our rain jackets and tried to see as much of the famous waterfalls as possible. We were blessed with about an hour of no rain which made it more enjoyable although it was so misty we really weren’t able to see much of the falls. That was disappointing, but we made the most of it.

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The mist blocked most of the view of the Horseshoe Falls.
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Kyle trying to take a peek.
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The roar of the water and the big drop offs scared Hallie for the first 30 min we were there.
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Trying to warm up with hot chocolate.
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My handsome dad!
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Matching orange jackets. haha I swear we didn't plan that, but hey you will always be able to find us in a crowd!
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My parents and Hallie. Every time my parents took a picture Hallie had to be in it. :)
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Leading up to the falls. I was surprised to see how little there was to keep you from falling over. Just this simple fence that went to my waist.
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These falls are called American Falls because they are solely on the American side.
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Brave Ky Ky never shying away from the edge. He and Hallie really trade off when it comes to being brave or being a wuss.
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My kids are huge!
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And adorable!
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Selfie

The coolest part of seeing the falls was paying a little extra money to ride the elevator down the mountain and walk right up to the American Falls. It was AMAZING!! My funnest memory on the trip. My mom stayed up top with the kids while my dad and Ben and I went down. We actually got to stand in the stream of the water. It was crazy and we were soaked! My dad has the pictures of us actually in the waterfall getting drenched. (He was the only one brave enough to take out his phone and take pictures at that point.) He even got a video of it but who knows when I will get that. Just take my word it was awesome! If you ever go to Niagara Falls don’t leave until you do this.

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After touring the American side we drove over to Canada. The Canada side is much different than the American side. The American side is a National park but Canada was more Vegas style. Well not exactly Vegas but it was crowded and full of tourist rides and waterparks etc.

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Horseshoe Falls from the Canada side.
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Closer view of Horseshoe Falls.
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You can't go to Canada without trying on a moose hat!

Other memories:

I prayed for at least a small window of no rain during the day so we could enjoy ourselves more. God answered my prayer and we got an hour! It was a tender mercy to me.

After we got that hour it started raining slowly and then more and more steady. By the time we were headed back to the RV on the Canada side we were stuck in a torrential downpour. We got mixed up about where the RV was parked and boy was that an adventure! The kids were troopers as we tried finding our way in the huge storm.

Upstate New York

On to Palmyra, New York. Another very important spot in LDS history. Joseph Smith Jr. saw God and Jesus Christ in this little town in a spot we now refer to as the “sacred grove”. For more of the story of Joseph Smith visit here. This was a very special visit for us. We felt the Spirit of God as we toured the different sites and had it confirmed to us once again that Joseph Smith was truly a prophet of God just like Moses and Abraham. God spoke to him and revealed important truth that had been lost after the Savior’s twelve apostles were killed. Things such as the purpose in life and what happens after we die. The eternal nature of families and how God and Jesus Christ are two separate people and they are still very much involved in our lives just as they were in ancient days when they instructed prophets back in the old testament.

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My kids are seriously the cutest! I think the Temple spirit impacted them because Hallie kissed Kyle and he let her!

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The Palmyra temple

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After walking the grounds of the Temple we went and took a tour of the smith family farm.

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Where Joseph would have slept when Angel Moroni appeared to him.

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Alvin was building this home for his bride. After he died the Smith family decided to finish it and move in. It is just up the lane from their old house. It was so much bigger and nicer. I am sure the Smiths were so happy to move in.

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The Sacred Grove:

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The Sacred Grove. It was so amazing to be there and feel the spirit. I even started singing "Joseph Smith's first prayer" and I am NOT a singer. lol
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Again the spirit impacted my kids and they held hands while walking for a bit.

The Hill Cumorah:

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Hallie got a new hat.
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Can you get more studly than that?!
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View from the top of Hill Cumorah.
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Hill Cumorah memorial.
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I think this looks like a good place where Joseph could have found the plates. :)

Fayette, New York:

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Peter Whitmer Sr. home where the church was organized on April 6, 1830

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The room where the church was organized.

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Visitors' center at the Whitmer farm. I love visitors' centers. :)

Not pictured is the printing press office that we went to in down down Palmyra. I loved the tour and learning about how everything fell into place for the Book of Mormon to be printed there. (All the pictures are on Ben’s phone and who knows how long it will be until I get them uploaded.)

Vermont

Next we went to Sharon, Vermont. The birth place of Joseph Smith Jr. The LDS church has a beautiful visitors’ center and memorial there.

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This shows how big the original house of the Smith family was. I can't imagine so many people in such a tiny house. Life is so different now.
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An original stone from the foundation.
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Another original stone from the Smith home.

After spending time at the visitors’ center we stuffed ourselves silly at a cheese factory. Oh it was glorious.

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We went around and around at the sample table.
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The kids loved the cheese popcorn. I love Hallie's face in this picture like she got caught.
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Next we visited a maple store. We got cider that was amazing and cider donuts that were equally good.
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Typical site in the RV. Everyone on an electronic device.

We were able to camp at some beautiful camping spots. Here are on camping next to Lake Erie.

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Beautiful sunset that the picture can't do justice.
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Love my man!
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Love my little stud!
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Love my little dancer.

Maine and New Hampshire

Next up was Maine and New Hampshire. In Maine Ben and Papa ate Lobster rolls and the girls went shopping.

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New Hampshire: Ben’s friend Clint lives in New Hampshire and has a business selling Solawrap and Geo-domes. They are amazing. One day I would love to have a garden in a geo-dome.  We had a great time visiting with the Ellsworth family. Thanks for hosting us Clint and Britt. Here is the website: www.harvestpathway.com/

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Connecticut, Rhode Island and Massachusetts

Next up on our agenda was a visit in Plymouth and Boston, Massachusetts. But first some stops in Connecticut and Rhode Island. Both beautiful states!

Connecticut:

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Rhode Island:

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Plymouth, Massachusetts: One of my very favorite stops! I would love to live there one day. It was fabulous.

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Plymouth rock.

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Boston, Massachusetts: Another one of my favorite stops. I would love to visit Boston again when we have more time to explore. It was a beautiful city.

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I LOVED walking through this old part of Italian boston.
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We tried to go to Paul Revere's house but it closed right as we got there. So disappointing!

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Authentic Italian Pizza

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The Boston Massacre. They have changed that building into a subway station. You walk in and go down to the subway. It was crazy and completely unexpected.

I can’t wait to go back to Plymouth and Boston. :)

Benton, Brittany, Hallie and Kyle