Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Home Again...

We are home!! I can't beleive what we accomplished in 32 days. The last leg of our trip was everything family and Disney. Brad and his mother (Mimi) joined us in Vero Beach for some well-deserved R&R. Just enough rest to get us ready for Disney World. 

We celebrated Bradley's 10th Birthday at Disney World. His only wish was to ride the Rocking Rollercoaster for the first time. I rode with him and cannot give you a review since my eyes were closed shut the entire time. I really dislike going upside down.

Our weeks of mild tempatures really did not prepare us for the heat and humity. There are much better months to head to Disney - November and February are our favorites! We spent an afternoon at DisneyQuest, which is a five-story gaming center for kids. It was a blast and a bonus to be out of the heat. Tip - go there at 11:30 am when the rest of Disney World is at the parks. You will be one of a few guests and will not have to deal with the night crowds of Downtown Disney.

We even got to ride the new Snow White Mining Train in Magic Kingdom!! Another tip - rest during the day and go to the parks after 7pm. While the majority of the Park is gearing up for the nighttime parades, shows and fireworks, you can pack in a ton of rides with wait times usually less than 10 minutes. What is the best time to ride the new rides, Space Mountain or anything else with long wait times such as Peter Pan? 11:30pm!! Everyone is leaving and the Park seems to not change the wait times. Example: Mining Train said it was a 45 minute wait. We got on the rollercoaster in 15 minutes and was able to ride twice before the park closed at midnight.

After a great week of family vacation, Brad gave me a true gift! (Yet another reason he is the original Mr. Awesome.) He flew back to Houston with Eliza which meant for the last days of our trip and long drive home I did not have to take care of a 2 year old!! The kids were thrilled because that also meant they could stop watching Barbie in the car!!

We headed to Legoland - a much anticipated location that we have always talked about visiting. Lego City and some of the other parts did not disappoint but honestly the time to take your kids is between the ages of 4-6 years old. We missed the window a bit and it wasn't too impressive after 4 days at Disney. 

The kids were overly impressed with the Holiday Inn Express in Winter Haven. (For all the fabulous places we stayed the past four weeks this place won them over.) The hotel gives each child - under the age of 12 -  a Lego package when they check-in and there is a TV at each booth in the restaurant. The kids got to build Legos and watch TV during dinner which is not normal in our household.

Our last destination was one of my favorites and a first for us. We stopped in Sandestin! The sand and water on the beach is pristine and a wonderful place to celebrate the end of our journey. The entire resort had so much to offer and definitely made it on the Hancock list of future vacation destinations. It was very special for me to actually be able to play with my older children without worrying about a very active two-year old. Sandestin was the cherry on top for the end of our adventure.

The ride home was uneventful with everyone watching movies that Eliza could not watch and only a handful of sibling fights. (And our last dozen hot donuts from Krispy Kreme,)

A great trip always ends with you ready to come home. Our house was full of love and ready to welcome us along with endless hugs from Eliza. It feels so good! The pets all survived though my garden (and waistline) were not as fortunate. This past month was truly a blessing and something we will never forget.

Next Summer? Robert has declared we have to take a summer off and can pick up this adventure in 2016! We will see what happens, but for now we have a lifetime of memories.

Thanks for coming along for the ride!
India, Adair, Bradley, Robert, and Eliza

Sunday, August 3, 2014


As I sit here with our family together and think about the past three weeks, I feel so blessed for the opportunity to share this time with my children. I have gotten to know each one of them a little bit better and they have certainly learned a little bit more about their mother. (The good, the bad and the ugly.)

You don't have to go on a 32 day road trip to know your children, but for a full-time working, overcommitted Mom this was one way to make sure my children had 100 percent of my time and attention. I couldn't say "just a minute" or "hold on" while I thought of the mile-long list of to do's waiting for me. My list was filled with what they wanted to do and what I wanted to share with them.

We laughed, cried, screamed, teased, snuggled, learned and just had quality time together. Each one of them impressed me with how they stepped up to the plate and helped me, their siblings and their selves. I don't think we give children the credit they deserve or enough opportunity for them to be independent.

I have a renewed appreciation for the human race - from the strangers that would offer to help me with luggage and doors or pick up our trail of junk to the numerous hotel staff and waitresses that would take the time to sit down and get to know us and our journey. Complete strangers truly went out of their way to help me as a Mother with four children flying solo on the road.

Also, I've been overwhelmed by the outpour of invitations and offerings from friends and family across the globe who offered their homes, vacation homes, invited us to meals, suggested so many great places to visit or just kept me in stitches with texts, posts and messages.

This week has been a great way to finish our trip. We have enjoyed the beach time and lazy schedule. I had plans for us to study the ecosystem of the Marsh and tour a sea turtle rescue center. None of which occurred. 

We slept late, swam till we were prunes, played more putt putt golf than the law should allow, and really rocked it in the water slide races.

The kids learned Gyotaku, Japanese Fish Painting, with real fish. Word of caution: the t-shirts smell terrible after the art dries!

The boys are very popular at the Pool Party and Adair wins Sister of the Year Award for patience with her little sister in the pool.

The highlight of this week was having Brad meet us at Vero with his mother. The entire trip has been missing a very important element - my awesome husband and super dad, Brad!! Poor guy wasn't living the bachelor life these past three weeks, but rather dealing with a very persistent kidney stone and the unpleasant procedure to rid him of it.

We are blessed to have him with us and look forward to enjoying this week before we head home.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Here's Robert...

We are at Vero beach. My favorite part of the trip is hanging with my family.

In DC I really liked the natural history Museum with all the rocks! 

I'm off to find Mickey Mouse and better not be late or he will start celebrating! 

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Miss me?

This is Adair again. I want to tell you about going from learning to fun. Sure going to museums is very cool but beaches are pretty awesome too. I was glad for a break when we finally got to Hilton head. We ended our learning part of the trip in DC I've been there before but we got to see things I didn't know were there. We went to almost every monument. We saw museums at the monuments that no one knew were there. As soon as we got to Hilton head I noticed we all sort of relaxed. Yeah yeah don't tell me that everyone does. Being at the pool and beach made everyone really happy.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Bradley's Perspective

Today my mom is making me write the blog. We are at Hilton head at the Disney resort in south Carolina. We were having fun at the Beach. If you have kids I would recommend this trip but if your kids are over 16 then let your kids drive.

Are you having fun my mom told me to say that... Oh yea!

Life in the Low Country

After the hustle and bustle of Northern VA, South Carolina's Low Country is the perfect place to recharge. 

We have done nothing but hang outdoors under the oak trees and swim until the evening hours. The smiles, giggles and fun returned to this brood. 

The boys played bean bag toss and shuffle board, while Adair patiently played Mermaid for the majority of the day thanks to one demanding two year old. 

The boys found a hiding place in the kitchen so they don't have to help with chores.

I have enjoyed shrimp and grits every day and the beauty of the Marsh. Tomorrow we might even make it as far as the beach! 

The decision to head to Hilton Head early was the right one for this family. 

Lesson Learned: Flexabilty is the key to this adventure!

Friday, July 25, 2014

Final Chapter of the History Tour

What a week in Washington, DC! Wednesday we spent the entire day at Mount Vernon touring and really enjoying the new Education Center and Museum. It provides a nice overview of the Revolutionary War with some great interactive exhibits that the kids loved. (Snow falling on you while Washington crosses the Delaware is pretty cool!).

Cameras help engage them for our last leg and thank goodness for the bubble blankie!

Eliza enjoyed Mount Vernon's gardens as much as Mommy. 

Wednesday was also the night that Robert finally protested no more museums!! I wish he had used the skills he had learned about a peaceful protest but he chose a full-out war over the smell of the shampoo and my insistence that he shower. (I had no idea a 7-year-old could have such terrible B.O.! Did he acquire that skill at camp?) We are very lucky that we were not thrown out of the hotel or on the front page of the paper because the protest was LOUD (his and mine)!

A good night's sleep always refreshes children and mother. Thursday we headed to the Spy Museum...a Robert bucket list item since he was 3 years-old. The museum did not disappoint as we trained to be international spies, learned the history of espionage, and enjoyed seeing the many gadgets from James Bond movies. The kids had a ball and found plenty of gadgets to take home thanks to the awesome museum shop.

We finished our DC tour at the American History Museum to see the Star Spangled Banner and visit the American President's and First Ladies' exhibits. Even Adair cheered a little bit when she heard that was the last museum of our tour. (Eliza has been chanting for two days No More Museums!)

Lesson Learned: Krispy Kreme has been our secret weapon for stamina both for children, mother and grandmother. I don't think I can eat another hot donut EVER!

Change of Course - Due to the unpeaceful protests of the whole group I'm changing our itinerary and foregoing Asheville, NC. (Very sad to miss Biltmore Estates but feel this family needs some water, beaches and R/R).