Long Time, no see

Wow. So I just logged into this and realized that it’s been over three years since I last posted. So much has happened in that time.

So since we last talked, the whole world has changed. And, as I think is true with most people, the pandemic changed our outlook on life. I think I’ll make this an overview post, and then write some other posts tailored to some of our other adventures.

In March 2020, I was dealing with an infestation problem in our rental house – rats. This led to me taking the kids on a cruise so the exterminators and our landlord could do what they needed to do.

What do you do when your house is infested with rats? Run away to a cruise and leave your husband to take care of it

Didn’t work – it took them 3 months and several exterminators to fix the problem.  At the same time, everything was shutting down, and I had to keep my kids home. In a rat, infested home. My boys love going out on adventures, so keeping them home was a challenge. We tried to combat it with adding things to the backyard- like a trampoline, a climber and a swing set. But it didn’t really help.

Enjoying the Swing Set

So as you can imagine, this caused a lot of tension in the family. Then we learned that my in-laws community was opening up and we could visit them. That day changed everything.  We were all relaxed and had such an amazing day.  We missed these days. Damon and I started daydreaming about living this life and dreading going back to the rental house. But this community was out of our budget. Or was it? You know what happens when you assume!

Playground Near Granny and Grandpa’s House

At that very moment, a townhouse was having an open house, and it was in our budget! I couldn’t believe it. The house had everything we wanted, and it was literal walking distance to my in-laws without being too close to one another. So, like a lot of people, we moved in the middle of the pandemic. And it was so worth it.

We absolutely love our new neighborhood.  It’s walkable, friendly, and so much more relaxing to be here.

Halloween 2021

Then, just as we started to organize our new abode, our favorite activity opened back up – cruising. So we flew to The Bahamas to hop on board one of the first cruises to return to service.  I think it’s funny that I was on one of the last cruises to sail, and I was on one of the first to return. We had so much fun on this trip. And we came home with a surprise.

I felt off on the trip and discovered I was pregnant with #4. However, this was definitely my toughest pregnancy (another blog post story). The hardest part was is delayed a lot of our plans and organizing. But we got through it as a group and in March of 2022, we welcomed squishy to the family.  And with him, we’re done. No more kids.


The past year had involved a lot of me getting better and being able to finally get the house into shape. We’ve been renovating the backyard this whole time, too. Thanks for the construction slowdowns, pandemic. 

2021 v 2023

We finished off 2022 with a huge, family reunion cruise. This was the first time we’d all been together as a family in over 10 years. We’d originally planned this cruise for April 2020 and had been rescheduling it ever since.

As for the future, there is so much excitement for this year. Some are small, like local community activities, and others are HUGE, like my first trip to Europe!!! We’re 6 months away, and I’m already starting to pack (lol).

Latest Adventure – Royal Caribbean Cruise, Western Caribbean Itinerary

Sooooooo excited to share that we just booked a seven day cruise on Royal Caribbeans Allure of the Seas, setting sail out of Miami at the end of April. It’s part celebrating Damon’s new job and part big blow-out vacation since I won’t be able to travel much after this.

Now, you’re probably thinking – they’re going on a cruise with two young kids, while pregnant!?! And you’re right – this is a daunting task, but we’ve taken some pretty big precautions to ensure that a good time is had by all:

  1. The Cruise Line
    1. Selecting a right cruise line is very important. Some cruises are geared more towards young couples, like Carnival, or older crowds, like Celebrity. The most popular family cruise ship is Disney. But they cost 3x’s more than other cruises, and, our kids aren’t into DIsney characters, just yet, so it wasn’t a good fit for us.
    1. We landed on Royal because they have a wide variety of activities for kids and have kids friendly pool play areas that those who are not diaper trained can use. That’s perfect for our water loving kids.
    1. The Ship
      1. I did a lot of research on which ship we would take. Not all cruise ships are outfitted with the kids play areas – these are relatively new in the past few years. So it actually made it easier to choose a cruise ship – since there weren’t a lot.
    1. Itinerary

      1. When cruising in the Caribbean, there are two standard choices – Eastern and Western. Eastern usually has prettier beaches and more days at sea, while the Western cruises have more days in port. We chose a Western cruise as it goes to many of our favorite places (specifically Cozumel).
    1. The Stateroom
      1. There are many rooms sizes to consider – the smallest are interior room, them ocean view, balcony, and finally staterooms. I usually suggest a balcony room for those with young kids as it gives lots of places to spread out their toys and not feel on top of each other. It’s also a great way to give yours kids some quiet downtime without missing out on the wonderful, ocean breeze. I have found its really important to provide the kids a quiet place to relax, away from all of the excitement of the cruise.
      1. We chose the Owner’s Suite – it has a lot of room and it includes the Sky Package. This package gives you a personal escort to your stateroom (no waiting in line to board the ship, then finding the room on your own), includes drink packages for everyone, and guaranteed seats for all of the shows onboard. This makes vacation with kids much easier.
      1. Additionally, most of the suites come with bathtubs! Which means you can actually clean your kids while on board (Most of the balcony and below rooms only have showers).
    1. Alone Time

      1. This is very important part of vacation and cruises have some wonderful options, such as in-room sitters and kids clubs, where they can play with other kids their age and supervised by qualified ship staff.
      2. These are wonderful options, but not great for us as our kids don’t do well with strangers, so we invited my parents to come along with us and they agreed to watch the boys so Damon and I can go off on our own for a bit.
  • So that’s what we have planned, so far. We leave in 52 days and it cannot come fast enough. I hope that we have enough ate-up for us to have a smooth vacation. If you have any suggestions, please let us know.

    Update on the Heartswells

    Hi Everyone! Happy, belated, 2019.

    I can hardly believe that we are already in March. Time has sped by since we moved out of our RV and back into a house. Many people have asked why we stopped traveling and the short answer is – we were tired. We wanted to stay in one place for a while. Now, I know that we could’ve stayed in the RV but the problem with Orlando is all of the RV parks are far away from all of our favorite places. I wanted to be close to everything.

    So, what are we doing with the RV? At first we were going to keep it and take short trips around the south east. But shortly after we got home, we got an amazing surprise – #3 is on their way! This kinda solidified our decision to sell the RV. I get nauseous in car rides when I’m pregnant =, so driving in an RV would be no bueno for me. Plus, as I get bigger, its going to get really cramped in the RV. WE did think about storing her, but after looking at how much we would use her, we just couldn’t justify the costs of storage. Plus, i like the idea of her continuing her journey with a new family.

    But, just because we stoped traveling in an RV, doesn’t mean that our adventures have stopped. In fact, they seemed to have sped up! Here’s a quick look at what’s been happening the past 3 months

    • Moved into a new house (renting)
    • Had to furnish new house (we had nothing!)
    • Visited SeaWold Orlando (many times), Orlando Science Center, Crayola Orlando, and Disney World
    • Built a playground for the boys

    All of this was in effort to make the boys and myself comfortable and have adventures while Damon embarked on a new adventures.

    Damon has been job hunting since the new year and about a month ago a friend of his called up with the absolute perfect job for him – working in an architecture office as a Senior Manager of Architecture for Theme Park projects. He’s been working for two weeks, and he absolutely LOVES it!

    And all of our prep work has worked out for us – I’ve been able to keep the boys happy and engaged while Damon’s at work. It’s definitely a new experience for me, as I have never stayed home alone, with both boys. I’m also a home body and have two little boys who love to go out, so its been a challenge for me to go out with them. I’ve gone out with them a few times, and, for the most part, its worked out great.

    So maybe not as adventurous as traveling the country, buts it definitely what we need right now. But, don’t worry. We can’t stop traveling and have already planned a huge trip, which I’ll discuss in our next blog post, and are SUPER excited about. It’ll probably be our last big trip before we become a family of five – but I’m sure we’ll get back to traveling pretty soon after our newest member arrives.

    A lot to do; infinite time

    After driving for ten hours, we were thrilled to arrive in Orlando. The next day, I was determined to not worry about anything and just enjoy the resort.

    With that in mind, we set off for the playground and the pool. I cannot express how happy the boys were to get to play and swim. We spent hours enjoying ourselves.

    After a quick lunch, we embarked on some of our old, favorite thrift stores and walked away with some great stuff.

    That evening, we met up with Damon’s parents in Celebration for some dinner. This was the boys first time to this area and they both enjoyed the food and the atmosphere. Little-dude especially loved the water-play fountain.

    Since we’d packed so much into the previous day, we took the next day easy with some grocery shopping (the day before Thanksgiving!), and pool time.

    Thanksgiving came with some amazing weather, so we thought about taking the boys to the pool before dinner. However, once we for outside they seemed far more interested in playing with their toys. Works for us and we enjoyed a nice afternoon building forts.

    My parent joined us for dinner, which we enjoyed outside. This was awesome as the adult got to talk and the boys could continue to play.

    Friday, we met up with Damon’s parents once again for some Christmas fun. Of course, once we arrived the boys headed straight for the pool.

    After some fun playing, we headed inside to put up the tree. The boys loved helping put up this enormous tree.

    Afterwards, we got out the baking stuff and made Christmas cookies. The boys were so cute trying to help roll out the dough and use the cookie cutters. They kept cutting the dough and then putting it back together – like playdough.

    While we waited for the cookies to cool, we walked down the street to the playground. They enjoyed running around. But it was apparent that everyone was getting tired.

    Before we went home, we showed the boys how to put icing on the cookies. Mini-man jumped on this. I think one cookie is now more icing than cookies. Little-dude was content to just sit and eat the plain cookies.

    After many days of adventures, we slowed down and had a fun day at the RV resort, enjoying the pool and the playground.

    Sunday was a long day for us. Damon arranged to meet up with a guy to buy a gaming system from him. And since we were in the part of town anyway, why not hit up some thrift stores.

    Many did we score big! Lots of toys, Christmas stuff, and shorts for mini-man (he outgrew most of his current shorts and gonna need more in this warmer weather). One thing that really annoyed me was at several stores many people tried to take stuff out of our cart! We even had one kid take a toy from Colby that we’d already bought and the dad refused to give it back. I put my foot down fast and got the toy back. But, seriously!?! The nerve of some people. I had to watch our cart like a hawk to make sure our other stuff wasn’t taken.

    Damonโ€™s $4 chair that he is very proud of (itโ€™s now in his home office)

    We wrapped up our first week in Orlando with a visit to Aquatica, SeaWorld’s Water park. It was the last nice day before a cold front hit, so took advantage of it. I was worried about the boys for two reasons:

    1. They’d been up since 4a and hadn’t had naps
    2. They’d never been to anything like this before

    But the boys did just fine. We stayed for three hours playing in the waves pool and play structure. They both had a blast. Mini-man even took a nap at the end (little-dude did not – which made for an early night for him).

    We stopped by my in-laws house on the way here me to grab some toys we’d ordered and sent to their house. We grabbed to things for the boys on Black Friday and had fun playing while we visited with the Grandparents.

    And with that, out first week in Orlando is done. I can’t believe how much we did and yet, it seems we’re just getting started.

    Goin Home

    After 18 months and 47 states, we were thrilled to go back to Florida. First stop, a much needed trip to the beach, near Pensacola Florida.

    The trip from New Orleans to Pensacola, was a longer one – four hours – but it felt longer as the boys didn’t really want to be cooped up. I think they’d gotten used to going out everyday in New Orleans.

    When we stopped for lunch, we had about 90 minutes to go, when we discovered that the car was dead – again. We think that some of the cars interior features, like our heated seats, turn on during the drive, and drain the battery.

    Luckily, Damon had everything we needed to charge up the battery. While we waited, we took the boys to a nearby park. This was exactly what they needed – a play to run and play. It alined perfectly with the battery charging time, too. By the time we got back, the car was ready to go.

    Added bonus, the boys were calm for the rest of the trip. We also lucked out with the timing of our arrival – getting there just a few minutes before the park closed.

    This state park is voted the best RV park in Florida and I can see why – full hook-ups, beautiful trees and a short walk to a gorgeous beach.

    And, of course, when we went to disconnect the car, it was dead – again. I swear, this car is getting a full look over when we get to Orlando.

    We woke up the next day to perfect, 70 degrees weather. Ah, Florida in winter. After a morning of shopping, where we scored some great finds at Goodwill, and getting groceries, we went back to the RV to grab our beach stuff.

    This beach is the highlight of the RV park and we weren’t going to miss it. Unfortunately, little-dude fell asleep. We let him nap a bit, but soon decided to just carry him with us.

    Mini-man got so excited when I came out in my swim suit, that he ran and got his swim float. He knew what was coming. After walking most of the 15 minute walk to the beach, mini-man got tired and hopped on the rolling backpack for a ride. But once we got to the beach, he hopped off and started heading to the sand.

    And it was amazing – soft sand, warm water and no seaweed to be seen. There was even a small pond of ocean water, where the boys could splash about without going into the ocean. Little-dude continued to nap while mini-man and I dug in the sand. After a bit, I started walking in the pond and mini-man handed me his float – it was swimming time.

    He lasted about a minute in the pond before heading right into the ocean. Luckily, it was high tide, so the depth was perfect and the waves were small. He spent an hour going in and out of the water.

    During this time, little-dude woke up to discover the biggest sand box of his life. This was the first time in months he’d seen a beach and he loved it. He and Damon sat there building sand castles and throwing wet sand into the pond. It was a perfect combination of activities for the boys.

    As the sunset, it started to get cold, so we started to get ready to leave. When we headed to the beach earlier, Damon wanted to travel light and didn’t see why I wanted to bring swim gear for the boys – ‘they won’t want to get into the water; it’s too cold’. Ha! I’m so glad I brought the swim gear as it gave us dry clothes to change them into.

    Instead of walking back, we took the tram. It was very cold but worth it to not have to carry two cold and tired little boys all the way back to the RV.

    I really love this place and plan to come back once were settled in Orlando.

    Seeing that we had a six hour drive ahead of us, we tried to get an early start on the day. We managed to depart by 8:30a, and thought we make good time.

    The first half was pretty smooth – made it about half way by 1p. However, the boys were in desperate need of lunch and playtime. Mini-man proved this at out lunch stop. To save time, we planned to just grab lunch and go. As soon as Damon left, mini-man grabbed me to follow. He let it be known that he wanted to eat inside. Fair enough, mini-man.

    After lunch, we took a 15 minute drive to a local playground to let the boys spend some energy. While we were there, we discovered that a street we’d passed on our way to the playground bent our tow-hitch. While it looks bad, it wasn’t damaged and we were safe to continue our journey.

    These stops all added up and delayed our stop into Orlando by a few hours. When we finally arrived, we’d spent 10 hours driving. Exhausted, we were glad to stop.

    New Orleans

    Our drive to New Orleans coincided with a huge storm hitting middle America and the east coast, which gave us a whole day of rain to look forward to. As Floridians, were used to driving in the rain. But driving an RV amongst people who don’t know how to drive in the rain could spell disaster. So we took precautions – we left early and drove under the speed limit the whole way. We may have annoyed some people, but we got to our destination in one piece.

    We pulled into a Walmart to grab lunch for the boys when Damon realized the car battery was dead. I have no idea why the battery keeps dieing – Damon thinks it’s the extra things in the car (like our heated seats), that are draining the battery. On the plus side, we bought that battery at a Walmart, so we were able to return the dead one and got a replacement for free!

    Our RV park is located just a few miles from downtown New Orleans, which means it’s pretty small and tight. At least we’d be able to get to local attractions quickly. I’d been looking forward to the pool here, but the weather didn’t look promising – cold and rainy.

    Thanks to the time changes, fall back plus moving over a time zone, the boys were asleep by 7! Always nice to go to bed early, but it meant an early morning for us the next day.

    As predicted, it was cold and rainy, so we took our crazy boys to the Louisiana Children’s Museum. This is exactly what they needed. This two-story facility was filled with hands on activities perfect for the boys. We spent three hours there before they needed lunch. In fact, the museum worked so well, that both boys fell asleep after they had lunch.

    After some thrifting, we decided to head back to the RV. The owner of the park warned us that the main highways basically becomes a parking lot from 3p-6p. Don’t have to tell us twice!

    The next day was another early, cold, and wet morning. No problem – we headed to the aquarium!

    Damon was hesitant to visit as our last few visits to aquariums weren’t very successful. As we approached the building, mini-man got very excited and started talking about sish. Always a good sign.

    One saving grace was the aquarium was completely dead. Little-dude had fallen asleep, so mini-man and I were able to just sit and look at fish for as long as we needed.

    This aquarium was an amazing combination of detailed exhibits while being interesting for kids. It was also the perfect size for kids to walk around and not get too tired.

    The next day we were finally given some dry, sunny weather. We took advantage and took the boys to a local park. In addition to being an amazing playground, it was house in a beautiful park filled with old oak trees.

    While the boys played, we noticed a train going around the park and learned that just a few feet a way was a small, kids amusement park.

    After we finished the playground, we searched out the train and made the last one of the day. It wrapped the perimeter of the whole park – one of the longest kid trains we’d found. It was so calming that both boys fell asleep.

    Of course, as soon as we got back to the car, they both woke up. So we decided to head to Cafe Du Monde. Everything I’ve ever read or heard from people about New Orleans is that Cafe Du Monde is a must.

    And I can see why. Despite being busy, we found a table quickly and got served instantly. As soon as the server brought out the beniets, little-dude dove right in. I think he at half of our order! After I had half of one, I offered it to mini-man, who, to our shock, tried! And liked it! He kept shouting ‘YUMMY!’. You know it’s good if the picky three year liked it.

    Afterwards, we walked around the French Quarter a bit, enjoying the architecture and the atmosphere.

    Our last in New Orleans was absolutely perfect outside and we had nothing planned. However, mini-man started talking about wild animals, which inspired us to visit the Audobon Zoo.

    And I am so glad we visited. This was by far the best zoos we’ve ever visited. The quality of each exhibit and habitat was outstanding – lots of detail, an ability to get close to the animals without compromising animal comfort, and a variety of exhibits to explore.

    Everywhere we walked, there was something new to see. Although it’s a large zoo, it felt small and cozy. My favorite things was the oak tree lined pathways. These are old trees and I appreciated that the park maintained them and worked them into the expert of the park.

    My other favorite part was their attention to children. Many zoo provide a playground and that’s it. In addition to a playground at the front, the zoo offered a water play area and climbing structures, with slides, in each area of the park. It was a great way to see the animals with the boys and let them play at the same time. It was the very first time we’d stayed at a place from open to close.

    We did so much at this stop and I feel like we got a very good feel for the city of New Orleans. I’m glad it’s close to Orlando. We hope to come back soon and spend some more time there. But, for now, it’s time to get to Florida!

    A Hop, Skip, and a Jump to New Orleans

    With the holidays fast approaching, I really wanted to get to a stopping place for the year and avoid traveling during some of the busiest driving days of the year. With that in mind, we decided to speed up our journey to the South by spending just a day at each stop.

    First up, was our 41st state – Delaware. With the boys and I all being sick, our day started off late so Damon could get a little sleep before driving. Luckily, it was only a short, one hour drive to our next stop. We thought it was smooth sailing once we got on the road, but once we got on the highway, Damon realized we needed cash for some upcoming tolls. I always keep cash on me, but since I’d been sick, I had no idea where my wallet was. We proceeded to spend the next 20 minutes pulled over, on the side of the highway, looking through the RV and van for my purse. I finally found it in a backpack. Damon had the idea to put a bunch of valuables in it and assumed I’d put it away and find my purse that way. Of course I got sick, and he forgot about the bag. Annoying, but at least we found it and had plenty of cash to continue the drive.

    Normally, it isn’t a big deal to just run to a bank and get more cash, but when your driving a 40ft RV, maneuvering small streets and parking lots can be stressful and complicated. Glad we could avoid that.

    The rest if the drive was uneventful. After we set up, we all took the chance to rest and recouperate.

    Our only day in Delaware gave us some gorgeous weather, so we headed to the playground. When they had some fun, the boys constantly get cold and it limits their ability to play. So we loaded them into the van and headed out to lunch.

    This allowed us to drive to some local thrift stores, where I scored this adorable singing snowman and penguins. Damon thought I was nuts but, to me, it embodies the magic of Christmas. However, once the boys saw it, they claimed it as their own. It’s so cute to see them dancing to these cute penguins.

    Thanks to daylight savings, we were up pretty early on Sunday, which have us an early start in our drive to West Virginia. It also turned into a blessing in disguise – the one time a year the Maryland bridge is shutdown for a 10k race happened to be that very day. Thanks to the way start, the delay wasn’t too bad.

    Once we arrived, it was our one nice day, so we hopped into the van, grabbed some lunch for the boys and headed to Harper’s Ferry National Park.

    This park is home to historic Harper’s Ferry, a civil war era town with roads and buildings still intact from 150 years ago. It was also the meeting point of three major trails, including the Appalachian Trail. Technically, we walked along that very trail through the town, which is pretty cool.

    It was fun to walk around with the boys. They liked walking around, but they got cold very quick, so we only spent an hour there. But it was enough to get a good overview of the town.

    Once we get back, little-dude passed out, so Damon took mini-man to play some mini-man golf. One thing I love about staying at KOAs are the great activities they have for kids.

    The next day was true to it’s word – it rained all day. One of the downfalls of RV life is it can get a little claustrophobic when it rains. To help with this, we took the boys out for lunch and shopping. We needed the shopping desperately, but you can never tell how kids are going to react to stores.

    Turns out, they had a blast. Exploring Walmart and Costco was a lot of fun for them. Unfortunately, halfway through Costco, both boys started to run out of steam and we had to carry them through the store. One eventually fell asleep while the other was reenergized when we found a box of kinetic sand for him. That, plus a toy train we found, and he was good to go for the evening.

    We started early the next morning, to tackel a five hour drive to Mt. Airy, North Carolina. The bonus to early starts is it’s easier to go longer distances with the boys. The downer for this trip was more rain. Rain makes it harder to drive and colder inside the RV. It also didn’t help that the windshield wiper broke and stopped moving early in the drive.

    After a quick lunch stop, we made it to our campground – Mayberry. This place has everything named after the Andy Griffith Show. We later learned it’s because the town of Mt. Airy was the inspiration for the town of Mayberry on the show. Pretty cute.

    Once we parked, the boys made it known they wanted to play, so we hit the playground. Mini-man had fun swinging while little dude had fun splashing in mud puddles. Gotta love having boys.

    They next day was perfect outside – 70 degrees and blue skies all around. The boys and I played outside while Damon ran a few errands. It definitely proves were making the right decision to head south, towards warmer weather. Say what you will about Florida, at least you can enjoy being outside most of the time. And with two, true Florida little boys, it’s really hard to find them entertainment that isn’t outside.

    Curious to see Mt. Airy, we headed to the small town. Unfortunately, we didn’t really see anything that resembled Mayberry, but we might have just been looking on the wrong street. We stopped looking when we found an adorable playground and jumped at the chance to let the boys get out some energy. It worked, as they were both out shortly after we got home.

    An early night meant that the boys were up bright and early. Not always great in the adult sleep department, but great in the driving department. Especially when rain was expected. One nice thing about this drive, is it was less than three hours. After a 5 hour drive the other day, 3 goes by really quick.

    Once we hooked-up, per our new routine, we headed to the playground. However, our fun was cut short, thanks to an afternoon shower. While we hurried back to the RV, mini-man decided to take his time and enjoy the rain.

    The next day brought us continual rain. The boys were hyper, so we went out. We had fun at the thrift store, where the boys found some pom poms and I found a $6 mystery box filled with lots of fun toys, including a lot of Legos.

    Then we had the bright idea of giving the boys cookies so we could grocery shop…ya that worked out well. We did get to witness an interesting site – women lining up for Thanksgiving table decorations and grabbing them as they were pulled from the box. I don’t think the decorations made it to the shelves. It was pretty funny to see these women go nuts over these things.

    After a short sleep, the boys were up early, so we got an early start to Alabama. The drive was smooth, but stressful dealing with two, very energetic and demanding boys. I was exhausted the the end of the drive. Damon tried to take them to the playground to give me a break, but it only lasted a few minutes.

    After so many days on the road, I think we’re all getting tired. Thank goodness we’re in New Orleans for a week.

    Bar Harbor, Maine

    Damon and I first visited Bar Harbor 4 years ago on a river cruise (mini-man was technically there, too, but he was very small ๐Ÿ˜œ), and loved it. It’s an amazing little town and we couldn’t wait to show it to the boys.

    The morning started very early – the boys were up at 4a. After a leisurely breakfast, we slid everything in and hit the road by 7.

    The one advantage to an early drive is an early arrival. We parked around one o’clock and were floored by our spot, which we booked as a water view. Turns out, the camp only has a few of these prime spots and they’re so popular that they boom up two years in advance! I guess someone dropped their reservation as we were booking and managed to snag it first. Woohoo!

    The next day was absolutely gorgeous, so we headed straight for Bar Harbor. What we didn’t know was there was a marathon happening that day! Luckily, it was over before we got there, but it meant the town was pretty busy.

    We found a parking spot and started walking around the small downtown. Damon and I were reminiscing about our first visit there – pointing out various places we remembered from 4 years prior. We even went back to the same place for lunch. It was fun to take the boys, who enjoyed eating outside and enjoying the weather.

    After lunch, we tried to walk some more but the boys were wearing down, so we headed back to the car.

    On our way home, we drive through Acadia National Park, a beautiful area where we got to see a lot of trees changing color. Damon and I love drives like this as we get to see stuff while the boys are comfortable in the back.

    Our last day showed rain in the after, so we took the boys to a playground in Bar Harbor to get some energy. Mini-man, in true three year old fashion, took his pants off before playing, as he hates pants and doesn’t car that it’s cold outside. Both the boys had lots of fun.

    Next to the playground was a cute restaurant that offered local cuisine, so we stopped for a bite. The food was good but the service was lacking. The hard part was trying to calm the boys down while we waited for the food to arrive.

    The rain hit as we headed back to the RV, so we spent the rest of the day preparing for our long drive to Boston!

    Heading Back to the US.

    We left Toronto early and made our way to Ottawa. After a late night, Damon got us on the road while the rest of us stayed in bed and slept (the beauty of driving an RV).

    We arrived and, once again, the van was dead. Damon worked on it in the morning and, thankfully, a camp handyman was able to give him a hand. While they worked, the boys and I headed to the nearby playground, which became the perfect distraction.

    During our only day in Ottawa, we decided to visit the Canadian History Museum, which housed the Canadian Children’s Museum. It was highly rated and I could see why. Unlike traditional history centers, the Canadian Children’s Museum, combined the best of Children’s Museums, like building, pretend, and hands on activities, with historical elements. We saw houses from around the world that the boys could explore in, a life sized boat that they could walk on, and a market where they could shop. We spent two wonderful hours there.

    We visited the more adult area of the museum, but they just weren’t as great as the kids section. As we were leaving, I noticed a look out area, so we went to check it out. From the top, we got an amazing view of Ottawa, which is the capital of Canada. I love the blend of nature with the traditional architecture.

    Damon woke up early the next day to get us started on our six hour drive to New Hampshire. I joined him when we were about an hour away from the border, which was a nice way to pass some of the drive. When we came to the check point, we were nervous as we’d heard, and experienced, coming back into the US was harder than leaving. In the the end, it wasn’t too bad. We had to show some more paper work and have the RV inspected, but that was about it. We learned that just because we bought certain fruits in the US and took them into Canada, doesn’t mean they can come back. I willingly gave up my $3 tomatoes to avoid a $500 fine. #worthit

    After our inspection, we stopped for lunch and playing for the boys, which always helps make the rest of the drive easier. We arrived at our campground about an hour before sunset. We learned that it was the last day their pool would be opened (they’re expecting snow next week), so we jumped at the chance to take the boys swimming.

    The next day was rough. In addition to being cold and rainy, I was in my seventh day on horrible sleep (and about two months of really lousy sleep). So I started cleaning in order to stay awake. Damon took the boys to lunch while I finished up. It was nice to see the RV all cleaned up. Of course, it didn’t last -the boys started taking toys out the instant they got home. The rest of the night was long and I didn’t go to bed until 1a. And, as many of you know, a momma with no sleep is a cranky person.

    Due to combined lack of sleep and some illness on the boys part, we canceled our train ride up the mountain and just relaxed at home. Here’s hoping that out next stop is just as pretty and we have the energy to see some of it.

    Back to our Original Route – Toronto!

    Now that mini-man’s surgery is behind us, it’s time to get back to our original route. to save some time, we eliminated a few stops. Since Toronto was far from Elgin, Illinois, we decided to go to an area just outside of Detroit, Michigan first.

    This was still a long drive – six hours – so, we made sure we prepared as much as we could the night before. Damon got up early to finish, and had us on the road by 8a. Just like our six hour drive to Cleveland, we broke up the drive into shorter sections. Our first mini-stop was to meet up with a lady who was selling her Rokenblok – our collection is getting quite large. After a quick stop for gas, we headed to our lunch break.

    As we crossed the line into Michigan, the road instantly became very rough. So rough that things started to fall down. Then we heard a crash! Our microwave door flew open and the glass plate inside flew out and shattered. Damon pulled over and helped clean up the mess.

    By the time we stopped for lunch, the boys were more than ready to get out. We went inside to McDonald’s, just outside Kalamazoo, Michigan, where the boys spent over an hour playing in the playground. They really needed that outlet.

    The rest of the drive was long, gray, cold, and wet. We were very glad to get to our campsite. Once we arrived, we got a not-so-great surprise – our car was dead.

    We discovered in the morning that it wasn’t just a dead battery – the whole cars electrical system want working. We couldn’t start the car or open its doors. We tried jumping it several times but nothing happened.

    So we called for a tow truck to take the car to a local maintenance shop. A few minutes of inspection and we found the problem – a blown fuse. Under normal circumstances, this is an easy fix. But of course, with our reputation for really breaking things, we blew the one fuse that was only made for this particular make and model of car. Translation – it’s a very hard fuse to find.

    After a few hours of searching, the garage found the part we needed but it was going to take a day to get. At least our schedule was flexible, so we extended our stay for another day.

    The lack of car made our extra day rather difficult. We’d run out of most of the boys favorite foods and needed to shop. We hoped that we’d get the car back early so we could go out. No such luck – we didn’t get it back until 4p. Not too bad in the grand scheme of things, but difficult when you have two hungry kids. Normally, we called a ride service, but this was a small town and we couldn’t find anyone offering rides. Once Damon got the car, he grabbed some lunch for the boys but it still left us without groceries.

    We decided to go shopping during our trip to Toronto, once we crossed the border, which ended up creating another long day. Sounds simple enough – drive an hour into Canada, shop/lunch, then two hours to the campsite.

    Well, it took much longer than that. First – we all slept in later than we expected, which pushed our departure to 11a. We made it to the border just fine and made across with no complications – which surprised me since we’re driving a 40ft monster. Then we lucked into a Walmart with a McDonalds, so we could stop for lunch and shop all-in-one. However, we had a bit of a list and, of course, this Walmart wasn’t the same as the ones in the states. It had different products and it was layed out different. It took us over two hours to get everything we wanted.

    When we got back to the RV, Google showed the rest of our route had doubled to four hours! When we finally made it the campground, I’d hoped we were in the clear. After Damon set up, he came in and we started to hear the sound of water rushing. Then we saw water puddling in the kitchen. We turned off the water instantly, but could see where it was coming from. We think the water pressure of the water spicket was high and burst our hot water line. Just what we needed.

    After sleeping in and getting a few chores done, we ventured out into Toronto. Since we were short on time, we decided to check out some thrift stores. At our first stop, I scored some awesome sweaters – the really nice, thick kind that just don’t seem to exist in the South (unless they’re hundred of dollars). Damon saw what I found, and excitedly found some he liked too. The boys even walked away with some finds – bells for mini-man and a flip cell phone (a real one from 10 years ago) for little-dude.

    Friday was our latest day of sunny (but still cold) weather, so we decided to check out the Toronto Zoo. What we didn’t anticipate was how cold it was going to be. Most of the time, the boys were content to stay in the stroller, eating and watching iPods. Damon and I just turned it into a nice “date like” walk for ourselves. The other unfortunate part was the group of 500 school kids – all you heard were grown-ups yelling at them to behave. Couldn’t have been fun for those kids. We tried to get away from them, but 500 is a hard number is avoid.

    Aside from these set backs, we did enjoy seeing the animals and the boys did get out of the stroller towards the end – so that’s a win.

    Cold and hungry, we took the boys to lunch – which they greatly enjoyed and seemed to reenergize them. So we went back to the thrift store, where got some great sweaters for the boys and mini-man literally walked out with this huge art set that he just had to have ๐Ÿ˜‚.

    Saturday we decided to keep the kids home and just have some fun playing. Damon went out for a bit to run some errands while I stayed with the boys. Part of the frustrating part of being in Canada is you can’t always find want you want – like my yogurt, which isn’t sold anywhere!?! After getting about half of the things we wanted, Damon came home and we decided to try again the next day.

    That night was one of those worst night parents experience. One kid falls asleep, the other one is up. When you get the second kid to fall asleep, the first wakes up and wants to play. Then the second wakes up a short time later. I was up until 230a and Damon was up til 5a! And, for some reason, the boys were both up by 9. I let Damon sleep until noon since he’d been up all night.

    After noon, we set forth to find more food. We’d recently learned that the following day (Monday), was Thanksgiving in Canada, and almost everything is closed. Not wanting to go a day without a our essentials, we went out.

    After a quick stop at McDonald’s, we headed to Costco – which was slammed! People were circling and honking to find parking spaces. We cheated and took a spot near the loading dock (it didn’t say we couldn’t๐Ÿ˜‡). At least we knew what we wanted and got out quickly. As we were checking out, I ran to the bathroom. When I came back, Damon was signaling me to hurry. Turns out, Costco’s in Canada only accept MasterCard (we have Visa). I always keep emergency cash on me for time like this, which is why Damon was signaling me. However, it was US currency and our cashier didn’t know how to process it. We apologized profusely to the people behind us while we waited to a manager. They were all very nice and had a laugh about it.

    I was worried about our Walmart stop, but it wasn’t nearly as bad and we got done pretty fast.ans wouldn’t ya know it, the boys both fell asleep on the way home. This led to another late night – 2a for both this time.

    We left the campground early to get a jump on the four hour drive to Ottawa. Fingers crossed for a smooth journey.