Irma, Interrupted

We ended August with the start of our Disney vacation.  I guess it’s more of a stay-cation these days.  Either way, we took the trailer over to Fort Wilderness for what was supposed to be a couple weeks, but ended up being a bit shorter.  The vacation started off great, we pulled into our favourite loop and had the best spot right next to the path to the pool.  We could see the outdoor movie screen from the kid’s bunkhouse window!

That’s our trailer peeking through the trees, and to the left of the path is the movie screen, that’s how close we were!

Jack really enjoys the dog park at Fort Wilderness and gets to go multiple times a day to chase down his ball.  He loves, loves, loves dog parks.  If you say dog park around him, you better be ready to take him one because he will be all over you until you do! So as we were hooking up the trailer to head over, I let him know we would be going to the dog park as soon as we were set up, and he found his ball to be ready.

We spent time in the pool, went on a few rides, met a few characters the first two days we were there. Fort Wilderness always feels like home to us.  The kids really enjoy the pool activities and we like to drive the golf cart around and check out the trading posts. There’s just so many activities to do there.  On this visit we spent a lot of time at the stables checking out the ponies and horses.  They’re so beautiful and sweet and you can see how loved and well cared for they are.  We’ve never spent much time over there before but now I think it’s something we’ll make time for whenever we go.

Nana Lyndi and Tim flew in to spend some Disney vacation time with us too.  We were able to get to Hollywood Studios and Epcot, before we had to pack up and evacuate.  It was sad to leave our vacation after looking forward to it for so long.  It was harder for the kids and Tim to understand the gravity of the situation, especially since the weather was so beautiful.  Irma wasn’t expected until the weekend, but we wanted to make sure we got out before the heavy traffic and while there was still gas.  We were alright on gas, but our 4 hour drive turned into a 10 and half hour one because of all the traffic.

We headed towards Tallahassee at first, but when Irma’s path shifted we made our way to Chattanooga, Tennessee and stayed at Raccoon Mountain RV Park, which turned out to be delightful!  The campground was surrounded by the Smokey Mountains, and the facilities were very clean.  The employees were so helpful and organized, even with the campground completely packed to its limit.  The first night we arrived we had to boon dock, but the rest of our stay we had a site with full hook-ups.  The weather was much cooler and we had to buy the kids some pants and warm tops.  We made the best of our time and enjoyed our stay, we even made a campfire, but we were so happy to head back home when it was over, and even happier to hear that our friends and family in Florida were all ok.

 

Happy Birthday Elijah

Yesterday was Elijah’s 12th birthday.  As I sit here trying to write something about it, the usual thoughts of how fast time has past or how big he is now, pass through my mind, but what really stands out is how mature he has become. This sweet, young man who is always willing to help where ever he can, who opens the car door for me every single time, who takes it upon himself to get his school work completed while helping his younger siblings with theirs, has grown up over the past few months in ways beyond his 12 years.  We are tremendously proud of him.

Birthdays are a big deal in our family, we like to celebrate how important each person is to our family and the blessing that they are.  This year, Elijah’s birthday was very quiet, with a pancake breakfast, steak and poutine for dinner, and a family movie.

I was (pleasantly) surprised when he chose poutine for dinner, it’s not something we normally eat, who doesn’t enjoy french fries and cheese curds smothered in gravy? Elijah made the poutine gravy from scratch (it was delicious!), and we found the cheese curds at Publix.  They weren’t as squeaky as we would have liked but they worked. The fries were just oven baked fries.  The options were limited in the trailer but like the curds they worked out ok.

We let each child choose how they want to celebrate their birthday and this year Elijah chose to spend his birthday celebration with a friend at Disney in lieu of gifts. He also wanted to camp at Fort Wilderness with his Nana and Uncle Tim.  So while his actual birthday was quiet, there’s still plenty of fun and celebrating to do.

On a completely different topic, we have found a house and are under contract.  We have the inspection coming up.  We’re very excited to begin our life in our new home!

27 Hours in 15 Minutes

Dan had a business trip in Boston and we all hopped on so the kids could see family. We drove up because flying was not in our budget, and because I’m pretty sure we enjoy torturing ourselves.  We thought it would be fun to share the long 27 hour drive with all of you, but don’t worry, we condensed it to 15 mins.

 

Ten Hours is Too Long!

Yesterday we spent ten hours at Typhoon Lagoon.  Yes, you read that correctly…ten hours!  As much fun as it was, this is way too long to be at any water park.  Our upcoming annual passes for Disney do not include the water parks this time, so we’ve been trying to get in as many visits as possible.  This was not an easy decision, we love Typhoon Lagoon and Blizzard Beach, but soon we’ll have a pool in our backyard and we want to focus on that new experience.  Since yesterday was most likely our last time for a while, we decided to tough it out and go for the full day.

We arrived before the 10:00 am opening to get a really good spot in the shade so we could set up camp for the day.  We knew we’d need breaks to rest, eat up, and rejuvenate, after all it was going to be a long day.  We were prepared with a big lunch and lots of fruit, sunscreen, hats, goggles, and books. It turns out we weren’t the only ones with that idea. When the rope dropped, people with coolers on wheels and strollers stacked high with sand toys, floats and beach bags went dashing down the paths looking to get the best spot.  One little guy tripped and the mother kept running, I can’t say that I blamed her.  A lot was at stake!  A good spot can either make or break a day at the water park.Thankfully, they were no match for Elijah as he sprinted past them and claimed our spot!

We were located in a great area with a lot of shade and were able to relax when needed.  I could also watch the kids as they splashed around in Ketchakiddee Creek during my down times, which were a lot more than theirs.

As for the majority of the day, we spent it on the lazy river, oodles of slides, and in the packed wave pool, and then we did it again, and again, and again.  We walked, we climbed, and we swam for 10 hours.  By the end of the day we were all a little pink, even with all the sunscreen we used, our feet were raw and we were exhausted. Somehow I managed to lose my magic band, and a contact lens. The magic band wasn’t that important, my new one just arrived, but trying to get around with only half my sight was challenging.

Finally the evening sky let us know it was getting time to go, along with the loud announcement that they would be closing soon.  We gathered our things, and schlepped to the parking lot, gingerly favoring a sore muscle, a bump here, a scrape there or a tube burn (ouch).  Our waterlogged bodies and tender feet fought every arduous step.  We had played hard but we all agreed the consequences were absolutely worth it!

 

Blizzard Beach is Our Favourite Beach

I guess you could say we officially started the process of getting our new home today. We met with a real estate agent, and we’ve started the loan process, so things are moving along.  We went to a couple open houses on Saturday and it got us excited for the possibilities and being able to picture ourselves in a home.

On our way back from the meeting this morning we picked up this guy….

I have no idea where he came from, one minute there’s just a windshield and the next minute…there he is!  It was a little freaky. He hung on for quite a while, but eventually jumped off on to a grassy area by the road.  We’re still getting use to all the little critters around here, and remarkably, he was not the first one to catch a ride with us. One time we drove a lizard all the way to BJ’s in our vehicle. There are so many frogs and lizards everywhere, thankfully that’s about the worse we’ve had.  I’ve yet to see a snake (and I’d like it to continue that way), and I’ve only seen two alligators since we got here, one bathing along the side of a retention pond and a tiny baby one in a lake.  I was far from both, so it was kind of interesting. We don’t go very close to water that isn’t in a pool. I guess that probably shows we aren’t from around here, but that’s fine by me.

That’s why our favourite beach around here is Blizzard Beach.  No alligators there!  Lately we’ve been spending Sunday afternoons at the water park. Yesterday was no different but first we had a few things to do at home. After church Bella made everyone lunch, this is something she enjoys doing lately.  She’s really good at it. Elijah likes to do it too, but he’s been letting Bella have her turn.  Sometimes they’ll work together and make a big breakfast for everyone.

When lunch was finished, the kids helped Dan with some chores outside.  They all had the pleasure of helping clean out the black and gray tanks…yuck!  Nobody likes that job, but it’s good for them to learn how to do it, especially since we live in a trailer.  The kids have all expressed interest in owning their own RV when they get older, so now is as good of time as any to learn how to take care of one.  We’re big on teaching independence!

Once all the chores were finished we headed out to the water park and floated around the lazy river for a while and cooled off.  The kids really enjoy the Ski Patrol section there, and of course we all love Team Boat Springs.  By the time we got to the wave pool we were all pretty tired.

Bella was happy to try out her new bathing suit.  She has been on the hunt for the perfect bathing suit for water parks, and I guess for swimming in general.  We’ve gone through many different styles, her latest being boy swim trunks, because she prefers the texture to them and they don’t sag, along with a rash guard for more protection from the sun. The shorts were a hit, but she found the rash guard too bothersome around the neck.  She did like the sleeves though, so when we get into the house, I’m going to try and fix the neck a little.  Hopefully that will help.  I’m trying to find fabric like the shorts so that I can make some for her exactly the way she wants them.  There are so many sewing projects I plan on tackling once I get my machines set up again!  Very, very soon!

 

Filming Takes Practice

We finally bought a video camera this week.  My mother-in-law has been the one capturing all our moments on video over the years (thank you, Nana J, for all the dvds you’ve filled with wonderful memories!), but now that we live in different states, we’ve gone without for too long.  We’ve taken a lot of photos but it’s just not the same for capturing vibrant personalities.

We ordered the camera online and when it arrived we were confused, because the camera can fit in the palm of a hand, but the box it was delivered in was big enough to hold a small child.  I know because the first thing Josiah did when the box was empty, was climb in.

The first thing we recorded was Josiah reading.  He really wanted to see what he looked like when he read.  I guess when you’re six years old, reading is kind of a cool thing.  Between Elijah slurping on a drink, and Jack whining to go outside, our film taking needs work. I looked around and found an editing software called Filmora, so I practiced using our seriously flawed video.   It’s actually a lot of fun!

So…here’s the video.

I think I have the very basics down at least, there’s so much more to learn, but the biggest thing is to remember to bring the camera with us when we go places.  I keep forgetting we have it!

 

 

 

This Is Where We Live

 

This has been home for the past 16 months.  It’s a little unconventional, but then so are we, so it’s worked out just fine.  There have been times when it’s felt a little squishy inside but during those times we try to stay thankful for the roof over our head and being close together has really helped us bond as a family.  The rest of the time it’s been really cool to live in our trailer.  However, we are so excited that the time has come to start looking for our new home!  We can’t wait to have a pool in our back yard!

When we first made the decision to sell our old house it didn’t seem plausible, the housing market was not going so well and our house still needed a lot of work .  It’s easy to talk about change but getting things started can be complicated.  I realize now that big changes often starts with one small step in the right direction and a lot of trust in God.  While I couldn’t see the big picture, I knew I could get some boxes and start sorting through all our things.  So our first step was to slowly sell, throw out, donate, and pack everything we owned.  I started this back in November of 2014.  We didn’t sell our house for another 20 months but that small step started the process.  Big changes also take patience!  Copious amounts of patience!  

The patience paid off and now the kids are loving the Florida life! (I think I’ve mentioned how much we love it here!) How could they not with all the sunshine and swimming?  We now live so close to Disney World, one of our favourite places, that we can go whenever we want…which is quite often!  Sometimes I just can’t believe how blessed we are!

We do so many cool new things all the time that sometimes I wonder if someone pinched me, would I wake up from this dream? I hope not!

 

 

They’ve Grown so Much

Three years is a lot of time, and among the many changes that have taken place, the kids are one of the biggest.  Over the years they’ve really grown, as kids tend to do, and not only have their sizes changed, their personalities have too.   Somehow calling this guy a Milk Monkey just didn’t seem right anymore.

I discussed it with the kids and they’ve decided to forgo the cute, little nicknames that I always found kind of corny and they want me to introduce them as themselves.  So drum roll please…

First up we have Elijah, while he could still be called a Professor, with his head always in a book, he’s not so little anymore.  He’s now inching his way out of the tween years, and making his way to the vast unknown…teenage-hood.  Thankfully we still have another year before we get to explore that fully.

Then we have Isabella, previously known as the Mighty Princess or just Princess for short.  She’s now 10 years old and a little spitfire. She almost always has a smile on her face, but don’t let her sweetness deceive you, she’s a tough little cookie and always ready to stick up for her brothers.

Then we have the littlest, Josiah.  While he’s no longer a milk monkey, he’s definitely still a monkey.  He’s now a whopping 6 years old!  He’s always trying to find ways to get alone time with his mummy, and is still determined to marry me.

Speaking of change, I quit my job a year and half ago.  I’m now officially a stay-at-home mum.  This wasn’t a decision I took lightly, but it was something that was necessary.

I had a fantastic job where I worked from home and an amazing boss, my father in law, and a much needed paycheck.  Being able to work from home seemed like the perfect situation, but in reality I was struggling…really struggling.  I hated pushing my kids aside so often to get work accomplished but we needed the income to pay the bills.

We had made the decision to home school our kids so that I could cultivate their potentials and build strong relationships with them. They could get a good education at a regular school, but homeschooling is about more than education.  It’s about family and nurturing and having the time to explore individual interests.  During those busy days of juggling between the kids and work, it was becoming clear that what we were doing just wasn’t working.

After a lot of praying and seeking God’s will, we came to the decision that I would leave my job and focus on the kids.  Changes had to be made.  We sold our house and moved.  Dan has always wanted to live in Florida, so after a few hurdles, here we are living in the Sunshine State.  We’re really enjoying our new life. There are so many things to do around here and we’ve met a lot of really great people.

Speaking of things to do, we spent this past weekend with these two clowns…

The local library has a summer reading program where the kids log their reading hours and at the end they host a big party.  They had a make-your-own sundaes station, lots of prizes, and a very funny clown show.

Each child was also given a little stuffed animal and a lot of coupons for free meals at various restaurants or discounts at venues like the Crayola Experience.  Elijah and Bella also went home with a prize from Universal, and a stack of encyclopedia type books that will be great for science.

Yesterday we went to Chipotle Mexican Grill for the free lunch they earned with all their reading.  I was impressed by our library and the summer reading program gave a lot of kids an incentive to read.  We really enjoy our local libraries, both here and back in Massachusetts!

Guess Who’s Back

Yes, it’s true, Honestly Mummy is back!  Cue the applause, light the fireworks, and shout for joy, it is really happening.  My children will be the most excited as they still browse the Honestly Mummy posts – a lot.

So of course, one of the questions I’ve been asked many times over the years is, “why did I stop the blog?” I guess the most honest and simple answer is that I was burnt out and my heart wasn’t in it anymore.  It’s not the only reason, but it was the root of all others.  At the time there wasn’t a conscious decision to stop, it was more like taking a small pause to give myself a chance to catch up with life, but it turns out life doesn’t slow down, and here we are three years later.

When I stopped writing I had an 8 year old, a 7 year old, and 3 year old.   We were closing in on the end of our home school year, a chaotic time for all involved.  It was the big push to get all the curriculum finished in those last 2 months.  That was back when we use to take breaks during the summer.  I wouldn’t say we took summers off, but we took much bigger breaks than we do now because I need them.  I was homeschooling two kids while working full-time from home.  My job started getting much busier, and all the stress started to wear my health down.  Life was overwhelming.  Life is still there, but I’ve learned how to handle the unexpected better.  We’ve made changes, big changes, which have set us on the path for the life we want to live.

To say a lot has happened since that last post back in April of 2014 would be an understatement of gigantic proportions!  Now we’re back, and I’m looking forward to starting this adventure all over again.