Monday, December 23, 2013

One-Way Roadtrip!

On December 16th, we said our final farewell to California and began our journey to our new home in Virginia! We wanted to take our time visiting some family and friends along the way, so we planned out seven days to drive across the southern states. We were curious how our kiddo would do cooped up in a car for 6-7 hours a day but she was awesome!

We knew when we had crossed the border into Arizona when the cactus (cacti?) started popping up!

We spent our first night in Gilbert, AZ, with L's cousin, Shannon and her family (too bad her hubby was out of town though). Z loved playing with Shannon's boys, Ethan and Brady. Such a wonderful family!

On Day 2, despite the surprise scenic route that our GPS came up with, we flew through Arizona and New Mexico, and reached our hotel in El Paso, TX quite early.

We let Z get her energy out at a nice mall in El Paso, it was perfect.

Excited about her first hotel room! Not sure why she chose to sleep on the edge since she had the whole bed to herself!

Since it takes a few days to get through the thicker part of Texas, we spent our next night at the inn at Dyess Air Force Base in Abilene, TX, and what a nice place to stay!! For the price of a typical motel, our room was the size of 3-bedroom apartment with 2 full bathrooms and full kitchen appliances. What a treat!

Z had a blast playing at the big playground on base.

And we enjoyed our dinner at Texas Roadhouse. Our big girl also turned 4 years old that day. Happy birthday, Z! (Check out Z's favorite songs on L's music blog here!).

And like true Californians, we made sure to stop at our last In-N-Out Burger (Arlington, TX) before heading toward the Deep South. So fun they have locations in Texas now!

On Day 4, we spent the night at a hotel in Monroe, Louisiana, and had a typical dinner at Cracker Barrel in West Monroe (coincidentally home of Duck Dynasty). Goldilocks found a rocking chair just her size on the restaurant porch.

On Day 5, we blazed through Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and stayed with our good friends, The Kelly's, in Mableton, GA (just west of Atlanta). Our picture of Sherri and her daughter was blurry but here's their gorgeous house! A was previously stationed with Jason at MCRD San Diego, and although he was away for work in Germany, we had a great time catching up with Sherri. Thanks for your wonderful hospitality!

Z had fun with playing with their almost 3-year-old daughter Caroline.

On Day 6, we spent the night with more military friends, The Robba's, in Columbia, South Carolina. A was also stationed with Jason (yes, another Jason!) at MCRD as well and now he plays in the Army Band at Ft. Jackson. Z loved running around the little lake there on base.

To top off the delicious meals they cooked for us, we took advantage of the unusually warm weather and enjoyed s'mores around a bonfire in their backyard. Thanks, Jason and Sara, for hosting us!

Day 7, we flew through the Carolinas and finally hit our new state, Virginia!

After nearly 3,000 miles, we finally reached our new home in Virginia Beach, VA! We made it! Praise God for keeping us safe on our journey!

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Last Weeks in California

The first two weeks of December were spent preparing for our cross-country move and celebrating early Christmases with our families. 
The two Panos girls with December birthdays. :)

 A and his "Mini-Me."

One last trip to Disneyland, of course!

The movers loading up the truck. There goes the harp!

Z enjoyed a Christmas tea party with Gigi.

She also was helpful in the kitchen baking Christmas cookies.

The finished product.

A family tradition of staking out a table in Dana Point for the annual Boat Parade.

Z and her cousin K.

 L and big sister J.

Fun with glow sticks.

Papa, Aunt J, and cousin B.

The men keeping warm by the fire.

San Clemente gave us some beautiful farewell weather. 

The good 'ol pier.

Hey, Santa's hanging out on the pier too.

And early birthday shopping took place.

Wearing her princess nightgown made by Aunt M.

Merry early Christmas!

Saturday, November 30, 2013


Another fantastic month for our little family! We enjoyed an awesome heatwave and went to the beach. Nothing like November in California!

Lots of playful days for Z.

Uh-oh, another Star Wars fan on our hands. 

Birthday celebration for Daddy. Z and her animals are helpful with opening presents.

 Happy girl in the backyard.

And other big news: Z gained two new cousins this month, both born on the same day, November 14th! Aunt M and her third baby (a girl!)...

And Thea N and her baby J!

What beauties! So proud of both mamas!

We also enjoyed a wonderful family wedding for A's cousin on a boat in Newport Beach!
Waiting to board the lovely ferry boat.

Our angel sitting quietly through the ceremony.

A's cousin, Thomas, and his Persian princess, Sheena. Thomas was also A's Best Man at our wedding over 9 years ago!

Congrats, you guys!

Z "caught" the bride's bouquet! She carried her prize with her for rest of the reception.

There was one little boy at the wedding and Z enjoyed dancing with him.

Our sweet princess.

The lovely couple's unique send-off in a gondola! 

What a special and memorable wedding!

We also enjoyed a fun Meadows/Panos Thanksgiving in San Clemente!
Papa on turkey duty.

Meadows girls.

Later after our delicious Thanksgiving feast, we threw an early, surprise birthday party for Z since we will not be in California on her birthday in December. The theme was Minnie Mouse and everyone wore mouse ears instead of party hats!

Enjoying the balloons as she tries out her new Hello Kitty sleeping bag.

We had pumpkin cupcakes with whipped cream on top. Yum!

What a fun day!

Happy early birthday to our almost 4-year-old!