Downtown Savannah, GA…

Tuesday afternoon we took our children on their first ever carriage ride.

We took a guided tour of downtown Savannah. It was very interesting, and we really enjoyed it.

Savannah has so much charm and is full of history. There are 22 squares downtown, paver walkways, gorgeous trees and beautiful historic buildings and churches.

After the carriage ride, Ryan and I got some really good coffee from Cup to Cup Cafe.

Then we walked over to the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist.

What a gorgeous church to get to see and walk through. It was built in the 1800’s and renovated in the 1900’s.

Our kids have grown up in a non-traditional church in a metal building, so they were in total awe of the beauty of this church.

We walked around downtown around the squares for awhile, and then we walked over to River Street.

River Street is a happening place in Savannah.

The Savannah River runs along one side of the street, and the other side is lined with shops and restaurants.

It’s a paver street. The buildings are century old converted cotton warehouses.

We stopped in River Street Sweets to try some of their world famous pralines.

They were delicious, all of us agreed.

River was excited to have a street with the same name as her.

We live in an RV, so we don’t make many purchases when we shop. We do like window shopping, purchasing postcards and Christmas ornaments, though.

We went into Byrd’s Famous Cookies. After we were given 11 free cookies to sample, we felt we should buy at least a small box to take home. Haha.

We decided to have dinner at Spanky’s on River Street. The kids had one of their favorites, pizza, and Ryan and I shared chicken fingers and spuds. It was great food and reasonably priced. We spent around $55 including the tip for our family of 12.

Ryan and I told our kids that all we did that day were the kind of things that we, as adults, really consider fun. They said that it was fun for them as well.

We’ve now moved on to Charleston, SC. Let us know of anything you think we’d like to do while we are here.

Chasing a dream – Hilton Head Island, SC…

Monday morning we headed out to chase a dream. We drove an hour from Savannah, GA to Hilton Head Island, SC in search of the 2020 HGTV Dream Home.

I wouldn’t say we are obsessed with the dream home, but I do have the entire interior and exterior memorized in my mind. And Ryan and I do both enter the contest twice a day every day. 😁

We were not able to enter the community where the dream home is located, but we did find it and were excited to hear about it from the man at the entrance of Windmill Harbour.

We decided to hang out for awhile and check out the island since we drove all that way.

We rode around for awhile sightseeing, and then we ended up at Harbour Town.

Harbour Town is a really cool area with a lighthouse, pier, shops, restaurants and a playground.

We enjoyed walking out on the pier, seeing boats and looking across the ocean.

Our kids thought the lighthouse looked so short after just seeing the one in St. Augustine.

It was perfect weather and a great afternoon to let the kids run wild at the playground before heading back to Savannah.

Bravely had a blast swinging and sliding, and she was worn out after all that fun.

Even though we didn’t get to see the 2020 HGTV Dream Home, we had a great afternoon at Hilton Head Island!

Savannah, GA…

Thursday we made it to Savannah, GA.

We are absolutely loving this town. It is charming, multicultural and a lot of fun.

We love our RV park. It is a relaxing farm with horses, ponds and walking trails.

The first few days we were here, we just rested and relaxed. We hung out in the RV and went on walks around the park.

We also got a new control board in the mail and fixed our refrigerator that hadn’t been working since Texas. We have a tiny outdoor fridge we were using, but we are very happy to have our big indoor fridge back in use!

We took Tapestry, Cherish and Liberty to get haircuts. Tapestry loved her long hair, but she had been wanting to donate her hair for wigs for kids. Cherish had been wanting this particular short hairstyle for awhile, and she was able to donate her hair as well. Liberty’s hair wasn’t long enough to donate, but she wanted a short haircut, also. We love their cute cuts and were so happy Tapestry and Cherish were able to donate!

Sunday we went to The Seed Church. It was so good, and the people were so friendly. After church we enjoyed going to lunch with a new friend, Frances, who has 7 kids and 11 grandkids.

Sometimes we need down days. After the amazing and exhausting fun of Disney World and then St. Augustine, we really enjoyed these relaxing days.

When Monday hit, we were rejuvenated and ready to go again.

St. Augustine, FL…

After our warm day on Sunday, Monday we bundled up for cold weather and headed to downtown St. Augustine.

It is such a cute and charming town.

There are streets that are pedestrian only, no cars. The streets are lined with shops, coffee, food and treats.

We enjoyed walking around, and we stopped in a shop to buy a Christmas ornament and some postcards.

After our time downtown, we headed to the the St. Augustine Lighthouse. Tickets are $12.95 for adults and $10.95 for kids taller than 44 inches. An adult accompanying children shorter than 44 inches gets in half price. We were able to save $35 by purchasing a family pass for $50.

We met up with a friend and her daughter we’ve known from Facebook but had never met in person. That was fun!

We climbed 219 steps to the top of the lighthouse, and we walked out onto the observation deck overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. Manning, Rhythm, Tapestry, Cherish, Liberty and Jubilee were tall enough to climb with me. Ryan took our little ones to the lighthouse playground to play.

The lighthouse was built between 1871 and 1874. It stands 165 feet tall. It was really cool to see.

Tuesday we went to Castillo de San Marcos, the oldest masonry fort in the United States and a national monument. We were able to get in free with Cherish’s 4th Grade Pass.

Castillo de San Marcos is a large Spanish stone fortress built over 315 years ago to protect and defend Spain’s claims in the New World.

We saw rooms that housed soldiers and prisoners.

We got to see what the soldiers wore, and we learned about some specific soldiers.

There were all sorts of rooms and interesting passageways.

We watched a video and learned all about the history of the fort. Manning especially loved watching the weapon drill demonstrations.

Seeing the cannons up close was awesome.

All of our kids really enjoyed learning about and walking through Castillo de San Marcos.

We wanted to visit the Fountain of Youth when we finished at the fort, but we were all cold and decided on a good indoor option…Ripley’s Believe It or Not.

Adult tickets are $14.99, and tickets for children ages 5-11 are $6.99. Children ages 4 and under get in free.

We saw all sorts of weird, interesting and unique things. There were some occasional creepy things as well.

We were all amazed that a man carved the Lord’s Prayer in the top of this tiny pin head.

Standing next to a model of the tallest man in the world made us all feel pretty short.

Bugs for supper, anyone? Ewww.

My very favorite thing at Ripley’s Believe It or Not was freezing our shadows.

Wednesday we relaxed at the RV park, and Thursday morning we flew a kite on the beach before heading to our next location.

We loved St. Augustine and could have happily spent another week there!

Bryn Mawr Ocean Resort – St. Augustine, FL…

We’ve stayed in some great RV parks, some mediocre ones and some less than ideal ones. None have made an impact enough for me to mention in a blog until now.

Sunday we arrived at Bryn Mawr Ocean Resort in San Augustine, FL. This park is pricier than most RV parks, but it’s pricey for a reason.

We were able to see the ocean out our RV windows, and the beach was just a short walk from our RV.

As soon as we got the RV parked and set up, we put on our swimsuits and headed to the beach. It was hot that day, and we knew cold weather was headed our way.

This beach is so much different than California beaches. It is loaded with seashells. Our kids had a blast collecting shells and making necklaces with some.

River has told many people that she doesn’t like the beach. It was her least favorite place we’ve been. This Florida beach won her over, though. She told me the other day, “Mommy, I love the beach!”

We made sand castles, dug holes and jumped waves.

I even braved the cold water and showed our kids how to swim in the ocean and ride the waves.

It was a gorgeous day, and we were so happy to experience the beautiful beach that day!

The next morning we woke up to cold weather. We bundled up in coats and headed out for other adventures.

How much does it cost to take a family of 12 to Disney World?

Disney World is an expensive trip. Many people do it because it is worth the price. Many people cannot do it or feel they cannot because of the price.

We chose to give the experience of Disney World to our children as their main Christmas gift. Also, both sets of grandparents gave that as their main gift to our kids. This was great because we were going to spend money for Christmas gifts for them anyway, and they were very excited about Disney when they received it as a gift.

Here is a break down of how much it cost for our family of 12 to go to Disney World. Keep in mind, some of this was paid by us and some by grandparents. All of the kids’ souvenir money was gifted to them from grandparents, aunts and uncles.

Rainbow Chase RV Park (7 nights) – $379

Disney Tickets (5 Days) + Memory Maker Photo Pass – $5,126 (Bravely got in free.)

Gas driving 2 vehicles from TX to FL – $360

Gas driving to and from Disney World- $25

Parking at the Disney Parks- $125

Groceries for lunches & snacks – $97

Mickey Treats – $83

Water (4 bottles purchased at Disney) – $14

Dinner in the parks – $400

Dinner outside the park – $60

Souvenirs (3 Christmas ornaments)- $68

Postcards – $100

Kids’ Souvenirs – $600

GRAND TOTAL – $7,437

I was overall happy with that amount considering our family size. I feel like we did a decent job balancing saving money in some areas and splurging in others.

Here are some ways we saved money…

For us to stay in a Disney resort, even a Disney RV campground, would have cost us anywhere from $1,000 – 3,000 more than the generic campground we chose.

We brought peanut butter crackers, trail mix, almonds, beef sticks and other filling snacks into the Disney parks with us. This saved a lot of money and time. We often chose to stand in a longer line for a ride during lunch time and eat snacks as we walked through the line. The first day we purchased water at the park. It was $3.50 for one standard size bottle of water. We brought bottles of water, stored in our stroller, with us the rest of the days. We did eat in the Disney parks for dinner Monday – Thursday. We spent around $100 a night for those meals. We were completely satisfied eating our snacks throughout the day knowing we’d get a good meal each evening.

Here’s where we ate and what we ate for dinner each night:

Pizzafari @ the Animal Kingdom – $102.95

-9 kids cheese pizzas with grapes, Sprite and a cookie @ $7.19 each (kids)

-Shrimp Flatbread $13.49 (me & baby)

-Pepperoni Pizza w/ Caesar salad $10.49 (husband)

-2 Fountain drinks @ $3.99 each

-6.5% tax

Cosmic Ray’s Starlight Cafe @ the Magic Kingdom – $92.04

-3 footlong chili cheese dogs w/ fries @ $13.49 each (6 kids halved these. They were huge.)

-3 orders chili cheese fries @ $6.49 each (for 3 little girls)

-rotisserie chicken, green beans, Mac & cheese @ $14.49 (for me & baby)

-grilled chicken club w/ French fries @ $11.99 (husband)

-6.5% tax

San Angel Inn Restaurante @ Epcot – $109.16

-Kids Tacos w/ 2 sides @ 10

-Kids Mac & Cheese w/ 2 sides @10.50

-6 Kids Quesadillas w/ 2 sides @10 each (Our 4 littlest girls shared 2 of these plates & it was more than they could eat.)

-Empanada de Chorizo @ $13 (husband)

-Sopa Aztecs @ $9 (me)

-free chips & salsa for all

-6.5% tax

(Lolli treated us to this meal and, of coarse, she tipped as well.)

Woody’s Toy Box @ Hollywood Studios – $87.83

-8 Kids grilled cheeses w/ tots, mandarin orange & bottled water @ $6.19 each

-kids turkey sandwich with tots, mandarin orange & bottle water @ $6.99

-Totchos @ $8.99 (husband)

-Grilled 3-cheese sandwich with tomato basil soup @ $8.99 (me and baby)

-2 fountain drinks @ $3.99 each

-6.5% tax

Average $97.97 per meal

We had so much fun and made so many great memories, it was worth the price to us!

Disney World – Florida (Part 3)…

Thursday we went to Hollywood Studios.

The weather was amazing, overall, the whole time we were at Disney World. I know it doesn’t always work out that way, so we were very thankful.

Lolli, Aunt Sara and I took our 7 oldest kids on the Tower of Terror. One of our oldest was terrified and hated it. Our youngest who rode, Mercy, absolutely loved it and laughed through the whole thing.

The Rockin’ Roller Coaster is one of my favorites. It does typically have a long line of over an hour wait, so we were really glad we chose fast passes ahead of time for it. All of us adults took turns riding with Manning, Rhythm, Tapestry, Cherish and Liberty. We all loved it!

Toy Story Land is super cute. We spent a good bit of time in that area.

River was so excited she was tall enough to ride the Alien Swirling Saucers. It was fun for all ages.

The Slinky Dog Dash roller coaster was a blast. All our kids except River and Bravely were able to ride it.

We had dinner at Woody’s Lunch Box. The sandwiches were great and were less expensive than most places at Disney World. There was plenty of outdoor seating. We were happy with our choice.

We walked over to the Star Wars area too late to ride any rides, but it was really cool just to see.

If we would have had time, we would’ve ridden the Millennium Falcon. It sounded like a lot of fun.

We had both a thrilling and laid back day at Hollywood Studios, and we really enjoyed it!

Friday morning, we headed back to the Magic Kingdom, ready to soak up all the magical moments possible on our last day of Disney.

We spent most of the day riding rides we had not experienced yet. We just had to take Bravely on another carousel ride, though. She learned to say, “I ride!” during our time at Disney, and she was happy to belt that phrase out when she wanted to ride a specific ride.

A ride we had not ridden on Tuesday that we enjoyed Friday was the Astro Orbiter.

Others we really liked were Peter Pan’s Flight and Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin.

(Is anyone surprised they caught me taking photos of our kids? Ha!)

Our guide on the Jungle Cruise was hilarious, which made the boat ride very entertaining. I read afterward that most of the guides’ humor is scripted. I was surprised. Our guide was really good!

We were exhausted that last day. We took the kids shopping and let them spend the rest of their Disney money, we rode The Barnstormer one last time, and then we started making our way out of the park earlier than we had the evenings before.

Lolli and Aunt Sara were the perfect laid back, caring and fun adults to have with us. We were all sad to say goodbye, but so happy for the fun memories we made!

I don’t think we could have possibly had any more fun at Disney World! ✨

Disney World – Florida (Part 2)…

Wednesday morning we headed to Disney’s Epcot. I should state that we like our beauty sleep, and we aren’t the earliest risers. We met Lolli and Aunt Sara around 10 or 10:30AM each day.

There was little traffic going into the park and parking was easy. We waited in a short line to get bags checked and made it quickly through the entrance.

Disney World offers a Memory Maker Photo Pass. It costs $169. You can have your photo taken by many photographers around each park and have them scan your photo pass card. The photos are then transferred to the Disney World app you can download onto your phone. Any photos that are taken on rides can also be scanned and added to the photos on your phone. I was told by several people that this is worth the money, and I have to agree, it’s definitely worth it.

Epcot has some neat rides. The rides we enjoyed most were Soarin’ Around the World, Frozen Ever After and Gran Fiesta Tour Starring the Three Caballeros. I was personally amazed by Soarin’ Around the World.

I liked the character set up best at Epcot out of all the Disney parks. There is a station for a specific character. That character is there all day. There are lines, but the lines were definitely shorter at Epcot than the lines at Magic Kingdom.

Our girls just love Minnie Mouse, so we felt the short wait was worth it to see her. She did not disappoint!

Our kids also enjoyed meeting Joy and Goofy.

As a child, I loved exploring all the different countries at Epcot. Our kids really enjoyed that as well.

Each of our kids were given gift cards and cash from grandparents, aunts and uncles. Each kid had $60 to spend at Disney World.

They really got into shopping at some of the different countries. They bought all sorts of neat souvenirs such as hats, bags, purses, fans, mirrors, personalized mini umbrellas and hacky sacks.

Lolli treated us to dinner at San Angel Inn Restaurante in Epcot’s Mexico. It was beautiful and delicious.

After dinner, while shopping in Mexico, one of our kids started vomiting. We decided to go ahead and wrap up the night at that point.

We think it was a 12 hour bug, and we were thankful it hit at the time of day it did, and extra, extra thankful it didn’t spread to any of the rest of us during our time at Disney World!

Disney World – Florida (Part 1)…

We’ve spent the past five days at Disney World, and we had an absolute blast!

On Sunday we went to Disney Springs, a cool outdoor area with shopping, food, etc. Our kids thought we were just walking around for fun, but there they experienced an awesome surprise. My mom and aunt flew in to join us for our time at Disney World!

Our kids were in such shock, and they were so excited!

We chose to come to Disney World one of the least busy weeks of the year. There were still crowds of people, but not overwhelming crowds. We decided which parks we’d go to which days based on what fast passes were available each day. Most rides have a fast pass line and a standby line. You can get 3 fast passes per day, and those lines are typically substantially shorter than the standby lines. Once you use up your 3 passes, you can add more if there are more available. The most popular rides only have availability at least a week in advance. The earlier you reserve, the better. We were pretty late reserving, but we still got fast passes for some great rides.

Monday morning we put on our Disney shirts and mouse ears, and we excitedly headed to the Animal Kingdom.

I would suggest telling kids ahead of time that there aren’t a ton of rides and that the Animal Kingdom is somewhat like a cool zoo. Because we chose it for the first day and had hyped up Disney so much, I think the kids were a tad let down. They didn’t say it, but I could tell.

Most of our kids, especially our little ones, were terrified by the 3D film “It’s Tough to be a Bug!” It’s fun for older kids and adults. We did enjoy the Kilimanjaro Safaris, Rafiki’s Planet Watch and TriceraTop Spin. Finding Nemo The Musical was amazing…really amazing! I would have paid up to $25 per kid just to see that musical.

The rides Expedition Everest, Primeval Whirl and Dinosaur were all closed for technical difficulties. That was a bummer and, in my opinion, made the Animal Kingdom not worth the time and money. I type this to give an honest review, but we all kept good attitudes and we did have a good time all day.

We told the kids that the Magic Kingdom the next day would be all the more exciting, and wow, it sure was!

Tuesday morning we got up and drove to the Magic Kingdom. My mom and aunt stayed at a Disney resort. Our family stayed at Rainbow Chase RV Resort in Davenport, just 12 miles from the Magic Kingdom. It was an easy drive in, and parking was easy. You can take a tram from the parking lot to the park entrance or you can walk. We chose to walk because we had a loaded stroller we didn’t want to empty and fold. The walk added about 1,500 steps to our day, then another 1,500 back that night. We went through a bag check, short lines, and entered what we thought was the park. We were then directed to ride the monorail or ferry over to the actual park entrance. We waited about 10 minutes in line and rode the monorail. We did not purchase magic bands. We had tickets similar to credit cards that I carried in a belt bag for our whole family. We scanned those for entrance into each park. I was happy with that choice.

Most of the lines were pretty short. Some rides we got on right away, most we waited 5-20 minutes in line and a select few we waited longer. We had a fast pass for Pirates of the Caribbean, Space Mountain and It’s a Small World.

Pirates of the Caribbean was a little scary for younger kids, but was great fun for most of us. Bravely loved it.

I was excited to take our oldest 5 kids on Space Mountain roller coaster. I remember going to Disney World as a kid, and my older sister was so terrified of rides she would not ride anything I considered really fun. My dad felt bad for me because I was just tall enough to ride Space Mountain, but no one wanted to ride it besides me. He did not do many rides and definitely not wild ones, but he volunteered to take me on it. He has told the story over the years that he had his eyes closed praying, “Lord, get me off this thing,” and I had my hands in the air yelling, “Faster! Faster!” I was the happiest girl in the world getting to ride such a thrilling ride! Our kids just loved it as well!

Lolli, my mom, volunteered to watch our 5 youngest kids, and Aunt Sara rode with us.

It’s a Small World is one of the cutest rides, in my opinion. I remembered it from my childhood as one I loved.

We loved walking through the Swiss Family Robinson treehouse.

Everyone enjoyed the carousel, and Bravely was overwhelmed with excitement. It was definitely her favorite ride out of all Disney World rides. She clenched onto the handles as tight as possible, screamed and cried when the ride was over.

The Magic Carpets of Aladdin, Dumbo the Flying Elephants, Mad Tea Party and The Barnstormer were all really cute and fun. There were a surprising amount of rides that were for all heights and we were all able to do. Then there were rides like The Barnstormer, a roller coaster, that even River (our 3-year-old) was tall enough to do. She absolutely loved that roller coaster, and it was fun for older kids and adults. Ages 6 and under have to ride with an adult on most rides. We were so happy to have Lolli and Aunt Sara with us. Our ratio of adults to little kids always worked out just right for rides.

The Monster’s, Inc. Laugh Floor was really funny and fun. Manning joined right in the humor when he was called out on the spot.

We brought our own snacks into the park to eat throughout the day each day, and then we ate dinner at a restaurant in each park. At the Magic Kingdom, Lolli treated everyone to a special snack of either a Mickey ice cream bar, a Mickey ice cream sandwich or frozen lemonade. Our kids were on cloud 9.

Our kids really enjoyed the People Mover. It’s a simple ride with a short line that takes you on a little tour above ground around Tomorrowland. It goes through Space Mountain, which is fun to hear all the screams and get a glimpse of in a different way.

Our kids do not watch much TV and have only seen a handful of Disney movies, so they weren’t dying to see characters but they hoped to see some. They were given autograph books as Christmas gifts and were excited about getting character autographs. We really were surprised we did not see a lot of characters. There are stations set up around the park with different characters, and those are usually filled with long lines. Our kids didn’t want to wait in those lines, and we were thrilled they didn’t. If you have kids who are really into the Disney characters, I would suggest using some of your fast passes to meet the characters. I saw that there were several of those available as fast pass options.

We ate dinner at the Starlight Cafe. It was nice, very spacious and had really good food. Our kids either shared footlong chili cheese dogs and fries or got an order of chili cheese fries. Lolli and Aunt Sara had burgers, Ryan had a chicken sandwich and I had rotisserie chicken with green beans and mac & cheese. I’d eat there again. (All Disney food is pricey. I am going to post our money saving tips in a different post.)

Finally, we ended the day watching fireworks at Cinderella’s Castle. It was crazy crowded. People started claiming their places over an hour in advance. Honestly, I don’t think I’d show up very early to claim a spot. We got to the area 5-10 minutes before the fireworks started and found a spot. At the last minute we were told we, and many, many other people near us, had to move behind tape lines – we had no idea. It was so crowded in every direction by that point, it was impossible to even move out of the area. We ended up stepping as close as we could to the tape lines just as the show started. This infuriated people who’d been waiting there for over an hour behind us, understandably. That is why I don’t think it’s worth getting there very early to claim a spot. People will end up outside the tape lines. People will put their kids on their shoulders and hold up their phones in front of you no matter where you stand. Might as well just show up and end up wherever. The firework show was definitely worth embracing the massive crowd, though. Tapestry says this was her favorite experience in all of Disney World. It was truly magical to watch!

Here we roll again…

We enjoyed spending the past two weeks with Lolli & Pop, my parents. We played lots of cards, talked, watched the Sound of Music and took care of practical everyday stuff. Only having a shower in the RV, most of us were excited to take baths. This little chick took her first steps and is walking more and more everyday.

Yesterday we got up at 4AM and set out on our longest drive ever.

We had planned to spend the night in Biloxi, MS, but we changed plans when we saw the stormy weather forecast. We drove all the way from Texas to Tallahassee, Florida.

It took about 12 hours with a few stops for gas, snacks and going potty. We packed protein bars, peanut butter crackers, trail mix and water. The kids did great. Manning always makes a playlist of music and audio series on his iPod nano for everyone to listen to on travel days. Bravely is a traveling champ. She loves riding and stays happy.

We drove through a couple patches of heavy rain, and it was overcast the whole way until we hit Florida. We were so happy to see blue skies and sun peeking through the clouds.

This morning we left Tallahassee and drove 3 1/2 hours to our RV park near Orlando.

Tonight we took a drive to check out Disney World from afar. The kids can hardly wait until we go to the first Disney park on Monday. We are looking forward to a week full of fun!