The travel diaries, Orlando

Last month we took our last family vacation before our oldest child graduates. I already told you about the craziness getting there and coming home, so I’ll get right to our trip. We rented a vacation house through Orlando Vacation Homes 360 that was big enough to fit my mom, my brother Luke and his family, and the five of us. The house was comfortable and roomy. We also had a movie theater room and outdoor pool. Unfortunately it was too cold to use the pool, but the house was wonderful and if we had questions they responded right away.


We spent our first two days exploring Universal and the Island of Adventure. Paul was approached by Olive Oil who asked if he was a sailor. He responded, “As a matter of fact, I am.” If it wasn’t for Popeye, we might have had to leave him behind. Lol

We went to the Harry Potter village and sampled the sweet frothy butter beer. My favorite ride was there, it was a 3D roller coaster ride. I also liked the Spiderman ride which was similar. Angel and I got tricked into riding The Mummy which was too much of a roller coaster for us. Paul had to buy the picture because Angel and I were so terrified that we would never do that again. It was very funny for everyone to remember how frightened we were, forever. Angel and I didn’t go on the huge rocket roller coaster. I told her that would rather eat worms, so she brought me back a bag of salted worm larvae. I didn’t really mean it, Angel!

We spent the weekend at Universal with my best friend that moved to Florida. Afterwards, we went to see their house. It was great to have a cook out and bonfire with them in January. It was windy and cool while we were at Universal with highs in the low to mid 50’s which helped keep the crowds to a minimum.


We spent Monday at Sea World with my extended family. It was sunny and 70. We had a great time there because it was virtually empty. We didn’t have to wait in line for rides, exhibits, or shows. As you can see from the above picture, Paul and I were able to swim with the fish. We ate lunch at a restaurant with a large aquarium. The food was great although rather pricey. Yes, we could even order fish while watching them swim nearby. I ordered the lobster bisque and salmon with caper sauce. Mmmm, it didn’t disappoint. The shows were the best I have ever seen at any zoo or aquarium.


Our last full day in Florida, we decided to take the kids to Cocoa Beach. It was a cloudy day with highs in the low 70’s. My son really wanted to try surfing while we were there. We ended up renting a wet suit for him. It cost a total of $20 to rent the surf board and wet suit for the afternoon from Ron Jon. I had the misguided assumption that I could use the surf board for a short period of time to check surfing off my bucket list. Once I hit the water with my toes I knew that was not going to happen. The water temp was 65 degrees. Kind of like Lake Michigan in the summer. Paul and the kids went swimming anyway. I almost chickened out, but everyone was teasing me because I said that I would go in. So I did go in up to my chest. It wasn’t that bad once you got used to it. As for staying out a long time in deep water, forget about it.


One great thing about a dreary day at the beach is that we had it to ourselves. What a great time to take pictures too!

We were able to save a lot of money on this trip just by eating at our vacation house in the evening. We were thinking of taking sandwiches to eat in the car at the parks, but that is not practical. You could probably do that at Sea World, but not at Universal because it is a long hike back to your car. Almost every evening, my mom would bring out the jelly beans that she bought. Pretty much cured me of my addiction. Along with the normal jelly beans, there were some other flavors including soap, dirt, and vomit. Guess who got the vomit jelly bean? Yup, I did. I honestly don’t know how they can make it taste so real. Gross!

All in all, we had a great family vacation. We didn’t have the warm temps we were hoping for, but it did work to our advantage at the parks and beach. We spent a lot of time talking and laughing. We didn’t come back with a wonderful tan so the people at home were not hating us too much. I would recommend renting a vacation house. It is very affordable when you split the cost. Plus you don’t have to cram a family of five in a tiny hotel room. I thought that Universal was a great park to take teenagers to. Sea World had a lot for all ages to enjoy. One other tip if you are driving in Florida, take money for the tolls.

Happy traveling!

The travel diaries, Virginia Beach

The trip to Virginia Beach was the first vacation that I took as an adult with kids. I probably shouldn’t have gone. I was probably only invited as a nice gesture, but I took the opportunity and ran with it. I was invited by my mom who was going on the trip with Luke and his future wife Emily. I think that they seriously thought that I wouldn’t go. Paul couldn’t take a week off of work as he was a one man show back when his business was in its infancy. People thought that I was crazy for going because I decided to go with a newly turned two year old and a newborn. We loaded up a rental van and headed across the country on an over 2,000 mile round trip road trip.

We didn’t make any reservations in advance, we just looked at a map and drove as far as we could in a day. Our goal was to see the ocean. The trip in and of itself was pretty uneventful until we got closer to the ocean. What I really liked was that we decided to eat at a restaurant at the top of a hill in West Virginia. It was a winding drive to get to the top of the hill. It was exciting because WI is pretty flat. Another thing I noticed, in WI we have about 2 bars for every church. Bar, bar, Lutheran church. Bar, bar, Catholic church. But when we went to WV it was church, church, church, church, and bar that was shut down. What different cultures depending on where you are in our big country.

When we were almost to the ocean, I think we were touring a fort or something when I ended up feeling sick. I laid down on the grass while everyone took the tour. The long body jostling miles 2 months after having a C-section, the sleepless nights of being up with a newborn, and keeping up with an energetic 2 year old finally took its toll on me. The day we planned to go to the ocean, I ended up in the ER. I had a foreign doctor with a southern accent that I needed a nurse translator to understand. He wanted to hospitalize me. I got hooked up to an IV and they put a catheter in me. He wanted me to go on some heavy duty antibiotics that I would have to stop nursing my baby with. I refused. I told him that I only had a bladder infection and that being hundreds of miles from home that I couldn’t just stop nursing as I had in no way prepared to buy bottles and sanitize them on the road. Plus we were going to see the ocean TODAY! I got some regular antibiotics and we were on our way.

We finally got to the ocean in the afternoon. The doctor said that I could not swim so I walked in the ocean for the first time up to my knees. I remember hearing a mother screaming up and down the beach because she lost her child and was afraid he might have drowned. Someone was kind and offered me their canopy when they were leaving as I didn’t have an umbrella to protect my baby from the sun. We stayed at the beach for 2 hours and then had to leave to meet up with a friend of mine. So our long trip to the ocean was again cut very short because of me.

The next day we did some touring of the area. I remember going to tour a president’s plantation house in the afternoon. We got there right before the last tour of the day. My mom and I were going to take turns with the kids. We planned to go on separate tours but since it was the last tour of the day we couldn’t do that. Once the tour group of about 20 people got inside, they locked us in. With a 2 year old and a newborn this incited some terror within me. Sure enough while the tour guide was explaining about the original antique rug that we were standing on, my son spit up all over it. My 2 year old had a tantrum at the end of the tour. It was great being locked in while she was screaming and crying. Oh, and the dirty looks. I can laugh now because I will never have to go through that again. Phew. On the way out, we walked through a pet cemetery. I guess that really was a thing.

After that we drove through the night to get back home. I crossed going to the ocean with little kids off my bucket list. What a trip!