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.

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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.

Damon’s $4 chair that he is very proud of (it’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.

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 😜), 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 😂.

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’t😇). 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.

Meet me in St. Louis – again!

One of the benefits of rescheduling our route for mini-man’s surgery was getting to go back to St. Louis. Since it was a long drive from Cincinnati, we decided to take a stop in Louisville. Thank goodness we did that, as little-dudes illness became much worse, and, of course, spread to the rest of us. As we drove, I could feel myself getting worse and worse.

Once we parked, I instantly hit the bedroom with little-dude and tried to rest. Unfortunately, little-dude developed a pretty high fever, which kept the both of us up.

You know he doesn’t feel good when he falls asleep without mommy

Saturday, we started to notice that mini-man was also getting sick. The day became a series of napping, cuddles, and crying. By bedtime, I was exhausted. Fortunately, little-dudes fever broke, which allowed the both of us to get some sleep.

Time to get going

We left early the next day for St. Louis to try and get ahead of traffic. At this point, mini-man was at the height of the illness, so he spent most of the drive napping and watching Elmo, while little-dude napped on me. I have to say, for one of our longer drives, it went pretty smoothly and fast. Thank goodness, as I was still feeling poorly and was able to lay down once we arrived – which turned into a group napping session for all of us.

Unfortunately, the last napping session led to a long night of very little sleep – which meant that we all slept in pretty late. One would hope for a relaxing day, but no.

A rare moment of brotherly snuggles

The boys were bouncing off the walls and needed to get out. So after I finished making dinner, we started collecting the boys swim stuff, which made mini-man very happy. Our RV Park is apart of the Queen Casino, so we have access to their indoor pool. I think it only took a few seconds for mini-man to get into the pool.

Mini-man couldn’t get in fast enough

The boys had so much fun that they passed on the way to get them lunch. We tried to stop for a quick grocery stop, but, as every parent knows, as soon as the car stops the kids wake up. At least they were well behaved and had fun shopping with us.

Zonked!

Tuesday was another late morning for us. Fortunately, out RV park is minutes from the heart of downtown St. Louis and used that to our advantage. A quick car ride later, and we were at the famous St. Louis Arch. This structure, built in 1967, symbolizes the westward expansion of the United States. Something I did not know, is that people have been able to go up to the top since it first opened.

We later learned on our steamboat ride down the Mississippi River, that the Arch center had just completed. Multi-year renovation. Why we didn’t see that at the actual Arch center is weird. Instead, we saw was a newly built museum that covered the history of St. Louis from the 1700s to modern day.

It’s pretty big

We rushed through this part to get to the tram on the other side to take us to the top. After we got in line, mini-man started crying because he hates waiting (you know, cause he’s three) and one of the tour guides came over and started making fun of him, talking down to him, then started making fun of him to the couple behind us! I’ve never seen such rude behavior towards a three year old. Then she continued to come back and try to “help”. Thank goodness the line started moving before I lost it on her. I filed a complaint with her boss later on. It’s one thing to offer help, in case the child is freaking out. It’s another to make fun of a child for being a child.

And, just as I thought, as soon as we started moving, mini-man calmed down. I thought he’d hate the tram ride, as it was a very tight container filled with five of us! But he just stared out the window the whole time and was fine.

Once at the top, we could see a lot of downtown St. Louis and our RV park, which was just across the Mississippi River in East St. Louis, Illinois. We only stayed a few minutes, as there’s nothing to do at the top. Damon could’ve stayed for hours looking at buildings but I didn’t think that was fair to the boys.

I can seie my house from here

We checked out the museum after we fcame back down. It was very detailed, but the boys were very tired and wanted their naps. Since we came later in the day, we had to wait until the next day to go on the boat tour.

Trains!

OMG! I loved this tour. First off, it’s an old paddle boat, called Thomas Sawyer, from the Mark Twain Era. Three levels, each was a great view of the Mississippi River. We tried to sit outside, but the boys overheated pretty quickly (unusual 90+ weather), so we headed inside. I grabbed some drinks and popcorn and we enjoyed the ride in the AC. I loved this because the boys could walk around, explore, stay cool, while Damon and I enjoyed the tour. In my opinion,ic much better than the day before.

Thursday was our much-awaited return to City Museum. We loved it so much last time and we’re thrilled to go back. But as the saying goes, we make plans and your children laugh at you (or something like that 😋).

My guys ❤️

Mini-man knew where we were instantly. We tried to show him some of the outdoor stuff, but he quickly led us to his favorite spot – Toddler Town. Unbeknownst to us, this area was being sanitized and most of it was off limits. Try explaining that to a three year old. We played in other areas, but after a few hours, mini-man led us back to the car. He was done.

Damon and I were disappointed. We’d planned to stay all day. We tried to take a break in the car, then go back, but to no avail. So I offered to Damon that we go back to the RV and he could go to the museum by himself.

The boys were so happy to be home. They instantly started playing and watching Elmo. Damon managed to slip out and spend two fun hours exploring the museum – going places he couldn’t go with us.

Damon in heaven

As for us, the boys and I spent the two hours just playing – both inside and out. Sometimes rethinking the original plan turns out better than you anticipated.

Playing, together!?!

When we woke up the next day, the boys made it pretty clear that they wanted to stay home and play. Knowing Damon doesn’t like toe cooped up all day, I offered to let him go out for few hours to run errands. It was fun to be with the boys by myself. Little-dude napped for a bit, which gave me some one-on-one time with mini-man.

Love our one-on-one time

After little-dude woke up, all played with Lego’s and trains while watching Curious George until Damon came home. Mini-man even got surprised with a set of Magna-tiles – which he instantly opened up and hasn’t stopped playing with.

The boys love these more open-ended toys

On our last day, we ended up staying home again – this time due to a wonky sleep schedule. The boys konked out around 7p the night before and both were up at 3a. After a few hours of playing, we all went back to bed at 5:30a. Then at 7a, little-dude popped up – so Damon played with him with him until mini-man woke up at 10. Of course, this is when little-dude was ready to go back to sleep.

How is this comfortable?

On the plus side,we managed to get a lot of projects completed and were ready to our drive the day.

Not a bad way to end the trip

Cincinnati, or Cincy to it’s Close Friends

This trip got off to a bit of a rocky start. The night before we realized that the RV wouldn’t start – we think it had something to do with the boys playing with buttons near the steering wheel, burning out the battery. After charging the battery for a while, we tried again and … it still didn’t start. After fiddling for a bit, we couldn’t figure out what was wrong. Luckily, the RV comes with an emergency start button – which essentially starts the engine using the RV batteries, which are separate from the battery that drives the RV. At least we could drive in the morning and get someone to look at the electrical in Cincinnati.

I helped hook up the car!

Then, to our surprise, the truck just started working. After driving for a bit, we stopped for some gas and the truck just worked. Maybe something just started working or we have some engine fairies. At least we won’t have to worry about it for a while.

On the road!

The rest of the drive was pretty smooth, until we arrived at the campground. Google, in its infinite wisdom, directed us down a road with no outlet or place to turn around. We assumed this led to the campground. We were close – it was one street over, and, no, it did not connect. We managed to find a stable that let us turn around and go back the right way. What’s even crazier is as we made it to the check-in point, Google was trying to tell us to turn around. It’s usually very reliable, but this time it was really off.

Saturday was a rainy day, so we took the kids to the Newport Aquarium. This place was highly recommended, so I was excited to take the boys. However, I was disappointed – from the ticketing process to the exhibits, it was just a let down.

Another picture mom?

We arrived and found a massive line for tickets, so I went online. We encountered an error, so we called the helpline only to be told that we couldn’t buy tickets because of the long line. The way the sell tickets it’s by times and the next available wasn’t for two hours. This made no sense as the website showed a lot of a availability, so we just tried again for the next time slot. Guess what happened – it worked and we walked right in. Thanks for the help, helpline.

Ones asleep and ones into the penguins. At least we’re all in a picture together

The actual aquarium is nice, but it really annoyed me that I paid for mini-man to go in and none of the exhibits were at kid height. Even in the kids section, the exhibits we’re above most of their heads. Why charge for little kids of they can’t enjoy the exhibits. We wound up carrying the kids most of the time just so they could see stuff. All-in-all, not a fun experience. I would recommend this place for those with older kids or as a date place, but if you have young kids, skip it and go to the Children’s Museum in Cincinnati.

The next day was another rainy day, but we enjoyed just staying home and playing on the floor with the kids. Sometimes, that’s all you need – just a quiet place to play with your kids.

I’ve never heard of this set, but the boys love it

Monday was, yup you guessed it, rainy. So we decided to check out the Duke Energy Children’s Museum, which is housed in a 1940’s art deco train station. This building is gorgeous! I wish we could’ve seen more but it was under construction.

Reminds me of Radio City Music Hall

The station is no longer an active train station and now houses multiple museums. We visited the children’s museum and it was awesome. The museum spans multiple rooms and is filled with activities – climbing, balls, pretend, building, and water play. The boys had so much fun, we ended up staying for four hours!

We chose to let the kids play instead of going to lunch, so after the museum we took the boys to an early dinner. We also hoped it would make it easier to take the boys grocery shopping.

They’re sitting next to each other

Ha! We ended up dragging two, crying little boys through the store. That is until we got to the ice cream – once mini-man spotted his favorite ice cream he calmed down. It even led to some dancing in the produce section.

During a much needed down day, where we played at home, Alex led Damon to another family in the park who are finishing their full-time RV experience. They exchanged stories and gave some recommendations on what to do in the area, including a local train exhibit, called Entertrainment Junction.

Toot toot!

We checked it out the next day and it did not disappoint. This awesome place housed one of the largest train layouts we’d ever seen. Additionally, there were ride on trains, climb on trains, train tables, and a bunch of stuff to entertain the boys. We had a wonderful time as a family. We would’ve loved to stay longer, but the boys had horrible nights sleeps, and soon started wearing down.

But that didn’t stop us from hitting a few stores on the way home. Our first stop was a bust, but mini-man did have fun trying on a pair of too-big roller blades. Guess it’s time to get him some skates of his own. Then we stopped at IKEA for some food plus a couple of things we’d been wanting to get.

Love his choice of helmet

Out last day, we hung out at the campsite. I honestly don’t remember too much of what we did – at this point, I was exhausted. Little-dude was starting to get sick, so I wasn’t getting any sleep. I remember at one point, mini-man wanted to go swimming and started putting on his swim suit. Unfortunately, we didn’t have access to a pool, so Damon tried to help by putting together the kiddie pool. Didn’t work at all. I am very grateful that we have access to a pool at our upcoming stop in St. Louis.

He likes to fill up the pool

But before we get there, we have to stop in Louisville.

Cleveland, Rocks!

At least according to the all-knowing Drew Carey. We started our long journey to Cleveland early in hopes of getting a starting while the boys were still asleep. It half worked – little-dude woke up just as we were leaving, but mini-man stayed asleep.

What seemed to help was dividing the day up into smaller parts and stoping about every 90 minutes. Our first break was to meet up with a guy who was selling his Rokenbok set (I’d never heard of this stuff until Damon found it at a Goodwill and the kids just love it).

We then set forth to the half-way point of our journey – Elkhart, Indiana – for lunch. We managed to find a McDonalds with a playplace, and truck parking (bonus!). It was the perfect stop as it gave us adults a break and the kids could climb and play.

I’m up high!

Our third stop was turned into just a restroom break for Damon, as both kids had fallen asleep, which always makes the drive easier. They both woke up just as we arrived at the campground, both needing to get out of the RV. I have to say, despite this being such a long drive – they both did very well.

Unfortunately, the long day plus the long naps meant that the kids were up late. Fortunately, we have a nice campsite that we can enjoy and they could play. It’s really cute to see mini-man set himself up at the picnic table with his paint set and just go to town.

Painting outside in the dark

Saturday, we accomplished something new – mini-mans first haircut. You may have noticed that he has long hair. That is three years worth of hair growth for him. It looks like he inherited my hair growth and thickness. A while ago, Damon and I started to notice that his bangs were bothering him and the back of his hair was constantly getting tangled.

Really well behaved for his first time

On our way to Goodwill, we noticed a haircut place next door that had no waiting. We talked about getting mini-mans haircut and this seemed like a great opportunity. Damon and I were both nervous as to how he’d react – he’d never done this before. To our surprise, he sat there and just watched. He seemed fascinated with the whole process. And when it was done, he looked so cute! I think he feels better too.

He looks so different

After our stops, we headed home and spent the evening planning our new route. Now that we need to go back to Chicago, we needed to figure out where to go next. After planning so many stops, we were back to having no place to go. Thankfully, we are passed Labor Day and parks now have tons of availability. If you check out our leg #5 post, you can see our updated itinerary.

New route!

Sunday was a mini Great Movie Ride reunion, when we met up with our old friend Jasmine at the Greater Cleveland Aquarium. It was great to catch up with her and talk about our travels, kids, and Bitcoin.

I’m a shark 🦈

The aquarium was adorable. It was Jasmine’s daughters first visit, as well, and she loved seeing all the fish. My kids, just wanted to be held the whole time, but they still liked looking at the fish.

We’re all looking at the camera!

On our way back, both boys fell asleep, so i took the opportunity to go shoe shopping. This is my biggest vice – i love shoes! Damon dropped me off at DSW, and I headed straight for the clearance section, which was filled with amazing, colorful shoes from the summer. Pro tip: When its back to school time, they put the cute, summer heels on sale!. I hadn’t been to a DSW in years and loved looking at all the shoes. I had a pile within minutes. I did manage to narrow down my finds to just two pairs (I remembered d that I lived in an RV and probably couldn’t store more than two) – a cute pair of flats and some amazing Jessica Simpson red heels.

Shoes!

Labor Day Monday was our originally scheduled leave date. However, after looking at the campground bookings, and seeing what Cleveland had to offer, we decided to extend our stay. Plus, with literally everyone leaving, we had our pick of sites and moved our rig to a campsite with some nice shade and fun area for the boys to play in.

Since everyone else was leaving in the morning, we decided to take the boys out for a while. We did some grocery shopping and hit some thrift stores. When we returned, almost all of the RV’s and tents were gone. It’s amazing how much difference a day makes. Now that we’re past this holiday, every campground has unlimited availability.

What a difference a day makes

On Tuesday, we trekked an hour into Cleveland to check out the Cleveland Children’s Museum. While an hour in the car with two boys can be taxing, it was worth it. This children’s museum opened about a year ago in an old mansion and it’s amazing. The main floor had a water room filled with balls, tunnels, and scarfs – lots of hands on fun. The adjacent room had a huge, two-story tree house with multiple rooms, each with a different activity – like a grocery store, a hospital, mechanic, and garden. There was so much to do on this floor that we never left it. Damon explored the other floors, which had art, reading, and a room dedicated to doll houses. It was really one of the best children’s museums we’ve visited.

Lots of fun!

Unfortunately for me, something was effecting my head, making it very difficult to get rid of a particularly nasty migraine. Looking back, I think the rainy weather might’ve had something to do with it. By the time we got home from the kids museum, I was in a lot of pain. I was hoping a good nights sleep would help, but, alas, it did not. In an effort to combat this, I spent a large part of the next day in bed, trying to relax away the headache. While I did that, Damon played with the kids.

More painting outside at night

As Thursday was our final day, we made a list of things to accomplish – cleaning, Sam’s club, lunch, and packing up. It seems to help when we put together a list – we accomplish a lot and makes our travel day much easier.

We had a lot of fun at this stop and I’m looking forward to our next destination – Cincinnati, Ohio, where we have a lot planned.

Time to go!