There was a lot of planning and anticipating that went on before we left on our trip. And the packing, ohhh the packing...
(Silas in his hatred-of-all-photos stage)
Miriam was 3 and 1/2 months when we left on our trip. This turned out to be the ideal time to travel with her. Young enough to nap in her stroller and not be too distracted while nursing in many, many locations... And young enough that we didn't need to think about bringing baby food, sippy cups and all the paraphernalia that goes along with feeding. My own self and my nursing cover where all I needed to keep her fed and happy!
None of our kids could remember the last time they were on a plane - it's been awhile! The flight attendants were so great and they let the kids come up to the front to check out the cockpit. Micah was feeling quite anxious about the flight and I think talking to the pilots helped ease his mind :)
After 2 flights, getting our baggage and rental car, and making a late-night stop at McDonald's to feed some hungry children (and grown-ups too, who am I kidding!), we headed off to our final destination. We are SO fortunate to have family living just outside of Orlando (Winter Garden) - my sister Nichole, her husband, Brad and their 2 kids, Josh & Kailyn. Staying at their house was what made this vacation affordable for our family. Plus it was so great to spend time with family. We also had the perks of having the expertise of Disney-veterans during our days in the parks, not to mention a free nanny service! My 13-year old niece Kailyn took care of Miriam about 90% of the time and she honestly DID NOT get tired of it. As much as I loved babies as a teenager I don't think I could've handled it for as long as Kailyn did. It was Ahh-mazing!
The first couple of days we just relaxed and enjoyed some of the local sights, including the football field at the HUGE high school down the street.
After some debate we left our big camera at home and took an older smaller digital camera on our trip. But in the end we didn't use it even once and took every single vacation picture on our iphones. So they may not be amazing but with 4 kids in tow we were all about compact and convenient.
My parents were also in Florida visiting when we arrived and we got to overlap with them for a few days before they headed back to Manitoba. Here is part of our entourage at the Farmer's Market (and me nursing in the midst of it!)
We explored a nearby lake and spotted some alligators as well as some Canadian moose if you can believe it... ;)
Brad & Nichole showed us a local school that has a grove of orange trees - free for the taking! So sweet and juicy...
After we had sufficiently relaxed, it was time to start using our 5-day Disney park pass! Here is Silas scanning his card for the first time...
Magic Kingdom here comes the Toews family! (Silas is excited... really, he is)
Kailyn was getting her baby fix that day. We commented over and over that her arms must be tired but she denied it! With her holding Miriam it freed up both our strollers for tired older children :)
Keziah ready to drive her first car in tomorrowland...
Micah giving Grandpa a rough ride.
Stopping for lunch. We are quite the crew...
Spotting Mickey and Minnie performing at the castle.
It was a long first day at Disney and our last day with Granny & Grandpa!
We were all pooped - especially this little guy.
The next day Brad & Nichole showed us around a place called Give Kids the World - a place that holds significant meaning for their family. They brought their son Noah here on his wish trip shortly before he passed away. Now they spend as much time as they can volunteering here. It's a pretty fun place for kids to be!
Next stop - Epcot! The previous days were warm but this was the first day it started getting HOT...
Test track was our favourite Epcot ride - gotta love those g-forces :)
Miriam just went with the flow...
Oh no. Bruce ate my children.
Next park was Animal Kingdom. The Expedition Everest roller coaster was a favourite! Silas had to miss out on some of the bigger rides but he was a pretty good sport about it as long as he got a treat and some extra iphone time while he waited.
Kailyn & Josh introduced the kids to Disney pin trading.
Micah trading pins with a Disney employee...
Stopping for a lunch break.
We enjoyed watching people's reactions when Kailyn was carrying Miriam around. One lady in particular could not stop staring and we overheard her asking her husband if he thought she was the mom!
One of Micah's souvenir purchases.
It was very sweet watching how 11-year-old Josh interacted with Silas.
Silas resisting a photo yet again.
We had a few more days off in between Disney park days. Josh showed the kids where he likes to go fishing.
Miriam was her usual cute self - hanging out in her stroller. A lot.
Erik had a pretty cool opportunity to go with Brad to an NHL game featuring Tampa Bay Lightning and Winnipeg Jets.
They had pretty good seats!
One day we drove to Daytona Beach. It was an absolutely perfect day at the beach. We could've spent a few more days there I think!
The next Disney Park was Hollywood Studios. This looks like a statue but it's actually a real man in costume.
And the most-feared ride - the Tower of Terror. Micah absolutely refused to go on it - mostly because of his fear of "haunted" things (he wouldn't do the Haunted Mansion at Magic Kingdom either). I really didn't want to go on it either because I hate dropping rides - but I put my brave pants on and did it. Ironically this was a ride that Silas was big enough for and so we convinced both him and Keziah to go on. It was intense. I think we ruined Silas for rides after this one and he was scared to go on pretty much everything after this!
But as scary and intense as it was, it has been hands-down the most talked-about ride since we came home. Micah even told us that he regrets not going on it.
This was the photo taken during the ride (we're all in the back row).
Uncle Brad and Miriam having a moment together.
Our last day we went back to Magic Kingdom and rode our favourites as many times as we could. Splash Mountain was at the top of our list:
And Space Mountain - Micah's favourite:
Meanwhile I took the girls to meet the princesses. Keziah was star-struck.
And then it was time to say good-bye to Disney! Hopefully not for too long though!! And hopefully Silas will be a little less camera-shy next time around...
But before we left the Disney property we took a quick swim at the Polynesian resort to cool off after a hot day.
Kailyn got in some extra cuddles with Miriam that evening - they were sad to say good-bye to each other.
Bye-bye Florida. We hope to come back again!
Travelling with 4 kids was an adventure. It was busy and a bit chaotic at times, but totally worth it. We made some amazing memories that will stay with us for a long time to come.