Georgia

IMG_7101We spent 1 week in Georgia, mostly in Savannah, but with a couple of 5 hour one-way detours into Atlanta to pick up and drop off my mama at the airport and sneak in a visit with some cousins.

Teenage Cousins!!!!!  Our favorite!
Teenage Cousins!!!!! Our favorite!

The placed we stayed, Red Gate Farms, was gorgeous and laid back.  It was an event center and farm, as well as an RV park.  Lots of big trees, ponds, docks, swimming pool, horses, peacocks, and trails to ride.  It was also just 20 mins from Savannah DT, but it was a little pricey, and since I’m so cheap, we opted for just an electric and water site, that kept it at $35 a night, instead of $45.  Cha-ching.

IMG_7120We’d heard great things about Savannah and weren’t let down!  I think my Aunt put it best, it’s like a cleaner, nicer New Orleans, with all the charm of the South!  We did a couple of drive by tours of the city, and for Mother’s Day my mom and I went to Paula Deen’s restaurant, Lady & Son’s and got the shrimp and grits…..OMG, I think I died for a minute right there in Savannah, they were so good!

IMG_7131Another day my mom and I took the kids to the local beach on Tybee Island.  It was a pretty day, a cute island, and a nice public beach for the kids of play on.  The water wasn’t the crystal clear oasis I was hoping for and the waves were huge, but those Shaw kids can have fun on ANY beach and played mostly in the sand, as usual.

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Another day we just hung around the campsite and took the kids swimming.  It was so fun to have my mom there to spend time with and the kids really enjoyed it!

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Keepin’ Nana cool.

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One of my favorite things about Savannah is that my cousin, Sydney, and her adorable family lives there!  The girls and I got to see our newest, little cousin, Mavis, who just turned 2 months old!  She was a ball of smiles and so so cute!

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On another night, I was surprised to see my Aunt Yancy when we all met for pizza at the best pizza place on the planet, Mellow Mushroom!  I was totally shocked!  It was great to see her as well!

So happy I got to see my aunt!
So happy I got to see my aunt!

While in Georgia, we did some other things as well.  Joe and I celebrated our 10 year wedding anniversary with a date night (Thanks Mom), at a Mexican restaurant, on our never ending hunt for Mexican food that’s as good as you can find in TX (Fail so far), and a trip to the book store.

We all got haircuts and Joe shaved his 6 month beard off!

Don't worry, Joe's not sporting the Colonel Sanders look.  This was a halfway through the shave pic.
Don’t worry, Joe’s not sporting the Colonel Sanders look. This was a halfway through the shave pic.

We all went on a long bike ride and took the dog on walks, and played on the playground, and enjoyed the cool Georgia nights.  And LOVED having Nana for the week!  We were sad to leave and hope to return!  And I did get some Florida/Georgia peaches at a road-side stand while there too, just in case you were wondering.

Had to throw in a cute pic of the babies.
Had to throw in a cute pic of the babies.
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La Floridia

Ah, Florida!

We had a great time in The Sunshine State!  Originally we planned on staying in Florida for 3 weeks, but then we got here, and realized just how far The Everglades actually were!  Eek.  And with a schedule to keep in order to meet some friends further up the road, we bypassed The Everglades for this trip, but will return!

So instead, we spent 2 weeks in Florida!  After waiting out the storms in Dauphin Island, AL, we had to leave after Joe got off work one day, which gave us very little drive time with daylight (our favorite way to drive).  So we literally just picked a place in Florida that was close enough for us to get to before dark.  That was Waterfall State Park for the one night.  Pretty place, but we were not on our game!  We did end up getting there at dark, and the gate was locked since I didn’t call ahead first.  Which meant I had to walk a mile to the camp host site and ask them for the code.  Resourceful, but technically against the rules.  They did give us the code and we found a spot to park in, but it was a pill to get into, thanks to this tree!

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The next day, we took some time to explore Waterfall State Park.

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Fun family hike to see “The Waterfall”
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Then we took some time to play on the playground.

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After that, it was Adious, crummy parking spot!
After that, it was Adious, crummy parking spot!

Then we were headed to the next nearest place, we could get to before dark.  That place was Lake Waldena in the Ocala National Forest.  It was totally random.  And like almost all random places….It Was Awesome!  Minus the ticks.  Those sucked.

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IMG_20150430_200935285_HDRIt was a great spot, for the right price, and on a lake.  But what made it awesome, was that we made friends!  Good Friends.  The kind of fast friends that on day 3 you’re both like, “Hey, watch my kid for a sec!”  And all your kids outdoor play stuff gets jumbled together and you have to sort it out before leaving on the last day.  The kind of friends you have camp fires and dinners with.  And who let your kids reel in a fish, so they have that memory too.  And maybe you have a night where you both drink a little too much wine and do headstands too.

We make friends; I make dinner!
We make friends; I make dinner!
Kelley
Kelley
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She caught the biggest one!

We miss you Kelley and Bo and Harlo!

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The girls and Harlo (AKA: Carlos, via Bean).

We did a few things while there too!

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2 mile hike through the Ocala National Forest.
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To this gorgeous lake!
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The ground was covered here with Deer Moss. I’d never seen anything like it before and was amazed! It made the forest look like a fairyland.
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We also did some science projects with electricity, guided by Daddy.
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And went to The Ocala Library and playground, which was awesome!!!
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And kept tadpoles as pets for the week.
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And took naps.
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And had family picnics and movie nights.
Bean got a new bike!
Bean got a new bike!

We left missing our new friends, but headed to Disney World!  So the kids kept up their spirits.

Joe and I were apprehensive about going to Disney (not really our kind of thing), but our 7 year old had seen the commercials while watching TV at Nana’s, so it had to be done if we were going to Florida.  So I made the reservations, the expensive, overwhelming reservations.  And I started researching fast passes and rides, and the different parks, and Disney tips, and places to stay, and, and, and…

We arrived on a Monday evening at the Disney campground, Fort Wilderness, feeling totally overwhelmed and unprepared.  But it’s all about suiting up and showing up, right!?

The campsite they gave us was a real B@@@T to park in, but that seems to be the theme of this trip.  We did get parked and set up, with just a mild break down on my part.  I mean, I was due!

The next morning was Magic Kingdom!  We got up early and packed the jogging stroller with enough provisions to survive an apocalypse.  We walked to the bus stop in our campground, and took the bus to the ferry, that took us to the front gates on Magic Kingdom.  Note to self: Just GETTING to Disney takes about an hour.

IMG_20150505_110133398_HDRWe quickly learned to navigate the park and got set up to go to our Fast Pass places (I mean rides…whatever).  We did lots of stuff in our 10.5 hours there that day!

IMG_20150505_112730326I’m going to call these rides by the wrong name, but that’s just how much I care.  So just deal with it Disney Nerds!

Enchanted with Belle

It’s a Small World

Peter Pan

Space  Mountain

Meet Cinderella and Rapunzel

Meet Goofy and Donald

Dumbo

Mad Hatter Tea Party

Carrocel

Buzz Lightyear

Barnstormer

Under The Sea

Lelo and Stitch

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She walked the whole day like a champ with slushi and cotton candy in hand!
She walked the whole day like a champ with slushi and cotton candy in hand!

 

IMG_20150505_180835402”The second day, just I took the girls to Animal Kingdom, since we thought the baby would not enjoy 3 straight days of Disney, and I’m also cheap like that.  It ended up being a great thing!  This day, Joe just dropped us off at the front gates.  That was awesome!

IMG_7031We were more seasoned by this point and knew enough to schedule all of our fast passes mid-day and close to one another.  I had also reserved a character dining breakfast that day at Tusker House as our first stop.

IMG_7041Immediately, it was much easier going with just the girls and no Jonah!  We enjoyed the breakfast buffet and meeting Daisy, Donald, Goofy, and Mickey.  However, the characters just buzzed over to us and just posed for a pic with the kids.  Loralai was really hoping that she would get to eat next to them and spend more time talking to them.  I think she missed the fact that they in fact did  not talk at all.

IMG_7028 IMG_7009While in Animal Kingdom, we did the following..

Tusker House

Rapids

Lion King Show

Safari

A Bugs Life 3D movie

The Tree Walk

Birds of Prey Show

Walked through and saw the animals (whatever that’s called)

Danced in Africa

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On safari

My goal this day was to get in and out before my already tired kids fell apart.  Joe picked us up by 4:30pm.  It was a fun 6.5 hour day!

Day 3:  Joe took the girls to Epcot.  He wanted to take them to Blizzard Beach once we had some experience, but alas, “downgrading” tickets is NOT allowed!  Disney! So he booked all their fast passed at midnight the night before and had a great day!  So if you are totally winging Disney like we were, and are afraid that you have to do everything 6 months in advance, rest at ease.  You in fact can switch your plans the night before and still have a fine day.

Here’s what Joe did while at Epcot with the girls, while I enjoyed Jonah taking a 2.5 hour nap in the RV.

The seas with Nemo and Friends – great aquarium at the end.

Test Track – designed a great looking car and rode like champs.

Circle of Life – Good show about how our actions affect the environment….also the building was unfortunately filled with food.

Saw several great side shows…and found the Margarita tent!

IMG_20150507_134249066It was 4.5 hours of fun in the burning sun!  And best of all, WE WERE DONE WITH DISNEY!!!

The last day in Orlando, we rented a golf cart and cruised around Fort Wilderness.  We went swimming and went to a campfire circle and movie, where Chip and Dale made an appearance.  Bean took a pony ride.  And just drove a speedy 14 miles and hour in our golf cart around the grounds.  And that was the BEST day we had while doing Disney!

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Pony rides! L was too tall to her utter devastation.

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So our final critique of the infamous Disney World?!  Meh.  It’s a theme park.  It’s not anymore amazing than going to Astroworld was as a kid growing up in Houston.  I had visions of the staff treating us like royalty.  But they didn’t.  I thought there was be cool characters hanging out on the streets and interacting with visitors, but there wasn’t.  I thought the rides would be world class!  But most were just so-so.

But we did it.  And I’m glad we did, cause now we know and we will have this to throw in our kids faces, when they say they don’t get to do ANYTHING!

Out campsite at Fort Wilderness in Disney.
Out campsite at Fort Wilderness in Disney.
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Dauphin (Not Daulphin) Island

This was such a great 11 days!  We had a blast on this perfectly sized, little island off the coast of AL, where our friends, Allen and Sharon live and learned so much while we were there; including how to correctly spell “Dauphin”.

Here was our campsite.  For the first few days it rained A LOT!
Here was our campsite. For the first few days it rained A LOT!
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Upon arriving, we stayed at THE RV Park on the Island. Is was very treed with wide spaces and this awesome playground that the kids utilized a lot!

We went to the Estuary right off!  It was such a cool place and we learned so much about the sea animals that live in the area.

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Here Sharky Sharky….I want to pet you!

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We also spent a ton of time hanging out on the sugar sand beaches!

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This was the boardwalk from our campsite to the beach.
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Darby LOOOOOVES the beach!!!
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Deep holes with sand walls built up around, that’s how we like to play at the beach.

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Those rigs in the distance are drilling for natural gas.

We also visited a 200 year old fort.  Were we watched an awesome blacksmith who gave us a live presentation and then GAVE us 3 key chains we watched him make!  And of course I didn’t get a picture of that!  But here are a few shots of us learning about fort life, while I tried to wrestle a baby into submission.

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And one day, my 7 year old GREW UP a little more, when she learned to ride her bike without training wheels!!!!
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This was taken right after, when she was feeling pretty good with herself! Sob!
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Wild blackberries grew all over the island and we had so much fun picking and eating them!
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ESPECIALLY Jonah!

Then the Very Best part of our time started on Dauphin Island when we moved to Allen and Sharen’s driveway and our good friends Leigh and Kara showed up with Leigh’s boys!!! FRIENDS!!!!

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Driveway Camping, is our favorite kind of camping!
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One night the 3 of us went out for a night on the town! I was blow away by all the events that were going on this weekend! We hoped around from place to place, all with free drinks and food and tons of people! It was so much FUN!!!
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Leigh of course came to see me, but she also was participating in the craft show going on this weekend. She had some really amazing stuff! I was so impressed, that I had to steel a pair of earrings she made and keep them for myself! Here she is teaching Bean how to make jewelry. Juliet was hooked!
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Baby’s PLaY!
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The kids just took this room over for the weekend.
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This was a fun baby game, that kept them both busy!
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My Braden! And one of Loralai’s favorite people on the planet!!! I honestly did not see her for the last 4 days we were there! She played with Braeden, slept with Braeden, and went EVERYWHERE with Braeden. They were adorable!
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Me and Leigh
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More Beach Time with Friends!
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Goodbye HUGS!
Allen also has his own concession stand at the Ferry and we stopped and got LOTS and LOTS of ice cream while on the island!  The BEST!
Allen also has his own concession stand at the Ferry and we stopped and got LOTS and LOTS of ice cream while on the island! The BEST!
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In addition to EVERYTHING else that was happening this last weekend (craft show, motorcycle show, etc), there was also a GUMBO COOK OFF! YES! And Allen was one of the cooks, so we got to help! And it was so FUN! I think I was born to hand out gumbo to people!
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While I tried to charm people into voting for our gumbo, these cuties hung out under the big oaks and enjoyed the day.

We had so much fun during our time on Dauphin Island.  We loved seeing our friends and having locals to tell us all the great spots to go.  I loved the size of the island!  Just 9 miles long, but with lots of huge trees, a bird sanctuary, estuary, water slides, indoor pools, great beaches, and cute shops.  I think we could live there!  :)  But with so much more country to see, it’s too soon to make any big decisions.  One thing’s for sure, we’ll be happy to return next year, when we’ll take the FIRST PLACE spot for the best Gumbo on Dauphin Island!!!!

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