So I knew we couldn’t venture to Florida and not do a theme park. It seems kind of sacrilegious or something.
The big kids really wanted to go to Universal for Harry Potter World, but I was steadfastly adamant that I would not go while pregnant because I wanted to ride the rides, or without J and someone else who could help with the toddlers who obviously couldn’t ride all the big rides we’d want to ride. Eventually we will get there, but this was just not the time.
I kinda leaned toward Disney because I know it is so super toddler and pregnant-momma friendly, but I also suspect Disney will be in our future again for a longer duration since J typically attends a conference there each year.
Which landed us with Legoland. We’d been there once before and super loved it, but it wasn’t during water park season, so it sounded like a really fun and exciting adventure. Plus, we’d be going with M’s godmother and her two boys, so extra hands for riding the bigger rides that Sweet M and Bean couldn’t ride (or their pregnant momma!).
It was a mega hit and I am so glad it’s the choice we made for this trip! It was low key enough to not be too stressful, but exciting enough to keep six kiddos under the age of 9 thoroughly engaged all day.
Also, it was Bean’s very first theme park so that was exciting. And she got there at opening and left at close and didn’t take a nap because she’s a wild party animal like that!
It was so much fun to spend the day with our dear friends and watch our little loves play in the water and ride rides until their hearts were content. And I super loved that Legoland had play areas all over the place and within lines of bigger rides, for the younger tykes who weren’t quite big enough for some rides. They had so much fun playing and never felt like they were missing out on the excitement and thrills that their big siblings were partaking.
The kids and I managed our first actual vacation without J, and while we all dearly missed him (but that’s whether it’s us traveling without him or he traveling for work without us), I think it was incredibly successful. Not too shabby for four kids and being obviously preggo at this point.
This trip is going to get broken up into a few posts because I’m pressed on time and it’s taken me this long to sit down and write. And maaaaaybe we’ve had a string of illnesses and unfortunate events that has prolonged it all as well, ha. That’s for another day.
I decided to break up our drive to Savannah by staying over in Asheville, NC. The distance to Savannah wasn’t too shabby, but I figured it’d be nice to break it up a wee bit. And I really wanted to go through Knoxville because I’d read an article somewhere about Yassin Falafel House and it being rated the friendliest restaurant in the U.S. Add on top that the owners are apparently Syrian refugees and there is falafel – it made perfect sense that we should create an entire route in order to stop there.
Our first stop of the morning was Starbucks because I left home early enough that I still needed more coffee, and kids were ready to get out to stretch and go potty. I was pretty happy that we made it to Franklin, KY before needing to stop. We are becoming champion travelers. And I was worried about Bean and Sweet M a little bit, because although they’ve done a few big drives all ready, they’re still Hawaiian babies at heart, and don’t understand being in the car for more than an hour. Or the cold. Or dismal weather. Or all the things we shouldn’t understand anyway because they’re not what makes us happy (can you tell I’m over winter over here?).
The kids played Hungry Hippo at Starbucks (another perk – Starbucks typically has games to play!) and we took our time. I really didn’t want to have to hurry at all or feel stressed on this trip. I wanted it to be smooth sailing. And really, I totally understand that it’s basically me setting that tone with everyone, so again, lots of coffee makes the world go round.
We were all eager for falafel though. Okay, maybe the boys weren’t totally excited, but Miss H was sharing my enthusiasm because I was really talking it up and she loves to indulge me because she likes her status as favorite oldest child.
Guys. Yassin Falafel House did not disappoint. I will find a reason to go through there again some day with J because I know he’d love it too. The kids all loved everything they ate. The employees were so friendly, not mention just the customers as well. So many commented on how sweet my kids were (and I’d agree, no one was screaming!), and how blessed I am (I am, I know). One employee even offered to help me out to my car (other than babies I just had a small bag of pita and hummus to go, and was definitely not struggling – they’re just that nice.) Seriously. If you’re in Knoxville. Or Tennessee in general. Or like even the midwest, find a reason to stop in. And no one is paying me to say this. For real. You’ll be happy you went.
We didn’t make it too far out of Knoxville before M declared he had to poop. Kids are fun. So we stopped for gas and then went into Wendy’s for frosties so he could do his business. No kids were sad about an impromptu ice cream break. Promise.
We made it to our hotel in Asheville around dinner/bedtime (my kids go to bed early – most people’s dinner time!). I could not for the life of me get Bean’s pack n play to set up. I was literally in tears. So I finally threw her in bed with me, so needless to say I got zero sleep because as much as she loves me, she does not love sleeping with me. I’m not sure where we got this baby, because all the other kids would still sleep on top of me if I let them (well, one still does). She woke up about every hour (she typically sleeps 11-13 hours straight – eep!), and would kick me and tell me “off now!”
Anyway, the next morning while Sweet M, Bean and I were cuddled in bed watching cartoons – hadn’t even gotten up to pee yet! – our hotel room phone rang and scared the bejeezus out of me. I rushed to answer it (the big kids were still sleeping) and it was the lobby telling me that someone had called because of a noise complaint from our room for jumping. I let them know we weren’t even up yet, but the gentleman was pretty dismissive.
In all of our years of traveling, we’ve never had a complaint, noise or otherwise, against us, so I was a little shaken. I woke the big kids up and rushed everyone out of the hotel asap, forgetting that piece of shit pack n play in the process. I was flustered.
I was trying so hard to let it go, but it was really gnawing on me. Like, there are for sure times when my kids are level 10 cray cray and we probably should have someone complain about us, but this was not it. Like not even almost. So I finally called J pretty upset and told him what happened, and he promptly called the hotel. Turns out that over an hour after we’d left, the same person called complaining about us again. Except we hadn’t been there for over an hour, so…they either weren’t complaining about us, or had simply seen kids go into that room the night before and assumed it’d be a problem and were sour patches. Either way, the hotel fully reimbursed us for our stay there, which was very unexpected but nice of them.
And then we were almost to the beach, so it was all behind us…
I’m really embarrassed to admit that most of J’s family hadn’t met Bean or Sweet M. Okay, I will give us some slack on Bean, since she was born in Hawaii and we haven’t been back on the mainland that long, but Sweet M is nearly 3. Eep.
I guess in fairness, that road does travel two ways, but we’ve always known that we are pretty much the ones responsible for maintaining relationships with both sides of our families, and we are okay with that because family is important to us. But it definitely gets harder the more kids we add, haha.
Which I guess leads me to our first part of this.
The Galvans are adding to their brood! We officially hit second trimester during this trip. But I was still in the fairly exhausted stage regardless. I’d been hoping to be more peppy, but in the end it didn’t matter since everyone passed the plague around – we will get there in a bit, ha.
We are super excited to add the last little member to our family (yes, yes, for real! And I originally wrote “exhausted” as opposed to “excited,” so that easily sums up why this baby truly is Finito). We discussed a 5th. We wanted a 5th. But we didn’t exactly plan for a 5th. But it’s safe to say that God always has better plans than we do. But really, we are over the moon. We haven’t had a kiddo yet that we haven’t adored to pieces.
Anyway, we left for Dallas at about 8pm, after our big kids’ Winter Follies performance and drove straight through the night, arriving the next morning. We’d planned to stop if needed, and J and I both assumed we would need to, but he was full of energy (probably siphoning it from me like our kids are) and made it straight through. Though in fairness, he did pass out for hours once we got to his sister’s house, ha.
It was so nice to have some sunny Texas weather. It was chilly, but nothing compared to back in the Midwest, so we weren’t complaining. The kids were in love with the dogs there, and were happy to have a little cousin to play with and to spend time with their tia and tio.
I’d really wanted and planned on getting up early the following morning and driving to Waco to eat at the Magnolia Table, but pregnancy and travel, dude. It hit me hard. So I ended up vetoing it and just relaxing with family.
After a few days in Dallas, we headed over to Las Cruces to visit J’s mama and some of his other siblings. His mom was super excited to meet crazy Sweet M and always-hungry Bean, who by the way, also loves beans like they’re going out of style, haha.
Jaime got put to work in the kitchen per his usual daily life (probably why I married him. Or maybe because he’s so good looking? Or makes pretty babies? Or is such an amazing papa and partner. I don’t know, take your pick. He’s an all around stellar human if I may so myself).
The kids were happy to play and explore outside, although it was fairly nippy for NM standards. But it didn’t keep them from collecting sacks full of pecans for us to take home, and they happily cracked them open and fed them to me, so I wasn’t complaining.
We spent Christmas day in J’s childhood home, and I know he especially enjoyed that. The kids loved being surrounded by so many people and it wasn’t even a fraction of them all (J does have 12 siblings….). The introvert in me survived. It’s funny how much I love and need to constantly travel, and also how mentally and emotionally exhausting it for me because, well, people.
We also visited with J’s good friends and it was nice to catch up and see so many people who we love.
Then we headed up to Albuquerque to visit the kids’ godparents. This was the part of the trip the kids were most looking forward to, and the part where they all got sick. Of course.
It started with H and then got passed around. Fever. Snot. Cough. General lethargy. As much as it sucked, I will say I am so thankful it wasn’t puke. I just cannot deal with puke. Ugh.
But we still got to visit, and the kids had a pretty good time. They loved the lizard and the dogs and their godparents and their kiddos. B was stoked to play video games (he’s deprived and doesn’t have any gaming systems). J was super happy to just hang out and be with his friends. I know he really misses those connections in his day to day life. Which I didn’t fully understand until we left Hawaii and I realized how much I miss those people (I swear some day I will stop talking about Hawaii and all the lovely people. May not be until I’m dead, but it will happen).
I did get some pepperoni and green chili pizza, so despite the pregnancy exhaustion and sick kiddos, I can’t say it was a bust. And of course the company was great. And I mean, there were some amazing views. But don’t tell J I said that because he’s been trying to move me out there for years, haha.
We cut our trip short though to return home with our brood of sickies, instead of sallying forth up to Colorado for some snow boarding as we’d planned. And it turned out to be a wise choice because the plague continued for another week.
But really, two weeks of friends and family was worth it all.
Okay, that’s definitely the wrong country, but for whatever reason, that is always what comes into my head when I think of Cordoba.
Cordoba is a gorgeous city in Andalusia, and the home of the Mosque-Cathedral of Cordoba. Despite identifying as Catholic myself, I don’t particularly love that this beautiful mosque is indeed used as a Catholic church in this day and age. Yes, it was the site originally of a Christian church before the great Mosque was built in 784. I won’t give you entire history schpeel here, but regardless of how the history of it has all played out, I still think it should be utilized as a mosque. Not that it matters what I think, the Catholic Church is not giving it up, ha.
I really wanted my kiddos to see the Mosque-Cathedral of Cordoba. It’s one of the grandest places I’ve ever been, and I really just find the whole building and experience to be majestic and humbling.
Of course the babies won’t remember any of it at all, and the big kids may only retain vague memories in the long run if anything at all, but it still matters. To me, it matters. For them to have experiences that make them realize that the world is so much bigger than them; that history and cultures are deep and intertwining and beautiful and heartbreaking and worth being knowledgeable of. It matters.
They’ll have photos and the next time they’re watching Rick Steves and see him wandering about Cordoba, they’ll be able to say, “I was there! I saw the elephant tusk on the ceiling!”
And maybe one day one of my kiddos will develop a love for history. Or maybe a passions for different cultures. Or maybe they’ll just enjoy experiences that take them outside of their comfort zones, and travelling the world in order to enjoy and learn about things they can’t find in their own backyard.
Walt Disney got his inspiration for Cinderella’s castle from the castle in Segovia. And it’s not surprise as it’s beautiful and picturesque, and just the sort of castle you’d expect to see in a fairytale.
We took a day trip to Segovia from Madrid, which was a one hour straight shot bus ride, and it was totally worth it.
It’s a gorgeous town with its fairy tale castle and famous aqueduct.
It also has a gorgeous cathedral if that’s your thing (its my thing, but with small children it’s less my thing…)
It has winding little cobblestone streets and musicians tucked away in doorways. The food is delicious and the people friendly. The town isn’t remotely as big as Madrid so you can trek the whole thing in no time and still have energy to spare (thank God. 4 kids is kind of exhausting all on its own.)
You know what’s more difficult than getting my children to brush their teeth?
Getting my husband to take a vacation where he is truly on vacation.
Last fall my dad offered up his timeshare to us and I knew we needed to take advantage of it. We are always so busy, it’s good for us to relax and unwind.
Especially J. He works crazy hard and never takes a moment to just breathe. Which is kind of ironic because he’s the slowest person in the world.
When I asked J where he’d like to go he of course answered “the Carribean.” But that’s currently off the table due to Zika and our desire to reproduce again, so I told him to try again.
I vetoed again. Cold. Blerg. Although snowboarding is his idea of fun, being stuck in a condo with an infant and nothing else to do didn’t seem quite like my idea of fun. Or at least I didn’t want to drive 15 hours one way in order to do it.
I suggested New Orleans.
J was reluctantly on board, but lucked out because there was nothing available during the time we wanted to go.
So I went back to his snowboarding idea and chose Wisconsin Dells. He and the big kids could snowboard, M and I could snuggle, and the drive was only half as far as Colorado.
Added perk: my dad and step mom only live a few hours away, so they were able to come down and spend the weekend with us.
J and the big kids hit the slopes for Miss H and Mr. B’s first snowboarding experience. They absolutely slayed it!
They snowboarded into the night. And that’s saying a lot: despite their Norwegian blood they tend to abhor the cold. But they persevered because they were having so much fun!
Sweet M and I got in lots of one on one time, which is a rare occurrence when you’ve got three kidlets. I don’t think I could ever get my fill of that tiny man and his sweet face.
The kids got lots of pool time. They’re all waterbugs, but admittedly B lamented that he would rather be on the beach in the sand.
Me too, mi amigo. Me too.
We spent a day at Mt. Olympus. The kids thoroughly enjoyed it, although J and I were pleased we had gotten heavily discounted tickets through our resort as we’d have been a bit disappointed if we’d paid full price. The site was very nice and clean, and the staff friendly. I think their primary focus is on their outdoor park which I’m sure is amazing during peak season when it’s open. The inside park was still fun and there were two great waterslides that H and B were able to utilize with an adult. Plus, the actual swimming pool was well heated and enjoyed by all.
An indoor “theme park” was also included in our admittance. A handful of carnival like rides and a play space. They also offered arcade games and rock wall climbing, which we carefully avoided.
Probably the best little gem we found was Wizard Quest. Since so much of the Dells is summertime fun, finding things open and out of the cold was a bit challenging; but we did!
Wizard Quest was this great place set up into four realms: Earth, Air, Fire, and Water. There were five quests: one easy, two medium, and two difficult. The kids chose the medium level Earth quest. It was easy enough for us all, working together, to finish, but it definitely took our entire 1.5 hours of time. And we may or may not have had to ask one of the employees for some hints time to time.
The set up was great, and so much hands-on, teamwork fun! We were so busy focused on our task that I didn’t really take any pictures. And the ones I did, as you can see, are super poor quality. Alas, we’ve got the memories!
I would definitely return here, even if it was just a drive through coming or going from my dad’s house.
It was a really fun, relaxing, low key week. Just what the doctor ordered!