Tuesday, March 22, 2011

their hearts grew three sizes that week

After staying home alone with my fab five last year during spring break while Justin circled the globe I vowed that this year would be different. So, I made hotel reservations in September. I put them onto Justin's calendar and reminded him to remind his boss that River Ridge Elementary does not care that it is the last week of Q2, spring break is happening regardless of what Apple has planned. Unfortunately, this meant some time was spent on business calls pool-side, though I must admit Justin did a great job of really limiting the time he worked. We are in complete harmony in our belief that the job is a necessary evil to pay for our life---the job is not the life. Thus, Friday afternoon once Abbie had lassoed her last steer at the annual kindergarten rodeo and Bracken had read us his masterpiece at first grade Author Celebration, we piled into the car to begin an eighteen hour journey to Orlando.

Some people may think we're crazy for embarking on such an adventure with five little kids (including Abbie, who several times reminded us that when we went to Orlando in September it was very easy and FAST because we flew) but I really enjoyed being with my family and not having a hard deadline of when we needed to be anywhere, i.e. the airport. We drove about eight hours the first day and spent the night in Baton Rouge, then woke the next morning, popped Princess and the Frog into the DVD player and let the kids soak in a little New Orleans before we drove through the city. It turned out that even though mardi gras was over there was still quite a crowd for a St. Patrick's Day parade to be held that afternoon, so I just hopped out and ran into a little cafe and ordered bags full of beignets so that the kids could taste what Tiana was making---they loved them! Day two ended at 3 AM in Orlando after an 11 hour drive by Justin the amazing. I must admit that it really only felt like 1AM because of the time zone change and the end of daylight savings. However, it was a VERY long day of sitting. Yet, I cannot complain because the kids were amazing, with the exception of Lexie being tired and frustrated without a bed during nap time, everyone was perfect. I couldn't have asked for more.

Day 1, Friday:

Somewhere between dinner at Chick-Fil-A in Houston (where we changed into pj's) and Baton Rouge

the night time paparazzi

totally un-phased by the bright flash.
i couldn't see what i was taking a picture of because it was too dark so i would just hold the camera up and shoot. justin made me stop after six or seven shots because he was afraid i would wake someone up. i guess he doesn't know that i am trying to document our lives here.

bracken's first road trip without the comforts of a booster

Day 3, Sunday:
when you can't go swimming on the sabbath, just pile into the huge tub in mom and dad's room at the hotel.

rub a dub, dub, five babes in a tub

Somehow that was the only shot I got at our first hotel in Orlando. That's right, first hotel. I guess way back in September I made those reservations at the wrong hotel. We were supposed to be staying literally directly across the street at Harbor Lake, not Cypress Harbor. Thanks Marriott for having nearly identical properties a stones-throw apart.

Day 4, Monday:

We transferred across the street to the correct hotel, "the pirate hotel" according to the kids.

a little water fun

18 months old and all grown up.

bracken and abbie playing a game they made up with two frisbees and a wiffle ball

lexie became a very independent woman on our trip, she knows what she wants and how to get it. once she had these chips she wasn't about to give up the bag. i almost lost a finger.

pizza night...which was followed by taco night, and spaghetti night (and friendly's ice cream runs, we were back on the east coast after all)

Day 5, Tuesday:

We were staying at a vacation club resort where the rooms are more like apartments with multiple bedrooms and a kitchen, etc. so we decided to run to Costco to stock up for the week.

this pretty much sums up how justin felt when our escalade sputtered to a stop less than a mile from the costco where we were headed to get gas. lesson learned.

good thing there was a bag of tootsie pops in the glove compartment

i'm pretty sure tate is wondering what fool let us run out of gas

i was too chicken to get out and take a picture of what it looked like for our huge car to sit for ---an HOUR--- in the middle of a busy intersection, so instead i took a picture of the walgreens i stared at for said hour

our knight in shining escalade came to bring us 3 gallons of gas, thank you OnStar

Justin didn't think the whole running out of gas thing was very funny at first but we actually had a really fun time sitting and talking with the kids for that hour.

Day 6, Wednesday:

The most perfect day at the beach ever! A special thank you to Abbie M. for recommending the beach, we had SUCH a great time!


what? mom how could you forget my swimming suit? i just don't understand, we are at the BEACH lady!

this is how far ruby got before abbie could chase her down. the joys of watching five kids at the beach while justin took a business call.

a conversation

russian stacking dolls

the price you pay for being tall is having to bend down in pictures with the ones you love who are not quite as tall

happy baby

sand castle concentration

that girl has got the most pinchalicious buns ever!!

they had the whole beach but they stayed close to one another

five happy kids. i need a beach in my backyard.

what's gonna work?

teeeeeeeam work!

bracken found two jellyfish and wanted to bring them home with us. yeah, that wasn't happening.

tate pretending to eat it, yum!

as we were leaving new smyrna beach, we passed a great old-school wooden playground (can we say wolftrap elementary?) and HAD to stop and let the kids play like it was 1989

yikes, that would be quite a fall

i am positive that i have never had the upper body strength to cross the monkey bars. i guess they are their daddy's kids.


this is the open-mouthed face lex makes every time I say "kisses"--- then i get a fabulous smooch!

son tire sandwich
(notice j in the background on the phone...again)

the oldest

the star of our trip. we are grateful to have made it safely to and from austin, and ALL around orlando

having the time of her life in a just-her-size city

caught red handed. bracken washing all of his treasures from his day at the beach.

what are you looking at?

Day 6, Thursday (St.Patrick's day):

Relaxing at the hotel and letting the kids do whatever they wanted, i.e. cartoons and swimming.

they all watched tv like this, lexie just lay with the big kids, and my mommy heart melted to know how happy my five are to relax and be together

five plus daddy

sister loves




hence the name, "pirate hotel"

quality time

this was her own idea, what a foodie!

abbie fell in love with hula hooping on this vacation

look ma, no hands! and a little lexie look alike in the bottom left

hey tate, crack kills buddy

Day 7, Friday:

We checked out of the pirate hotel on friday and headed over to the JW Marriott Grande Lakes. The kids had remembered it from a previous trip to Orlando and really wanted a chance at the lazy river so we acquiesced.

poor kids, i can empathize from my own youth, waiting in the hotel room while daddy is on a conference call

their better side

noses up against the glass, itching to get out

so close they can smell the chlorine from 20 floors up, hurry up daddy!!

once down at the pool the food must have been more enticing than the water, there was a lot of back and forth

these gals hung out at the allen buffet
(a little white trash for the J-dub but we had so much food left from our fridge at the other hotel)

this photo just perpetuates the mystery i have been trying to solve for the last eighteen months, seriously, what color is this girl's hair? brown? blond? red?

gator huntin'
(their facial expressions are very accurate depictions of each of their personalities)

sister helpin'

what a wrangler!

there's that bending down again

bracken is the greatest big brother and was willing to follow lexie all around the playground and help her with anything she was too small to do on her own

"hey mom! I found a frog!"
...boys will be boys...


we know how to close down a party, the last pool lingerers

Day 8, Saturday:

One last hit at the pool before getting on the road again.

i realized on the last day (after talking on the phone with jess) that I was not in a single picture on the trip. i told her i would get proof that i was there. voila.

It was one of the best trips we have ever taken, not having to be anywhere was exactly what we needed. A great big thanks to my whole family for indulging mom and letting us have a laid back vacation, I love you all so much!

There were many adventures along the way home, some captured on the flip cam, but none captured on my camera I guess. Oh well, I think there were 70 photo's in this post, that will have to suffice.

Happy spring break to those who are lucky enough to have it yet to come---take advantage, you won't get a second chance!


Anna See said...

Oh my goodness! What a joy to see all these pics of your precious family. What memories were made!

Anna See said...

Oh my goodness! What a joy to see all these pics of your precious family. What memories were made!

Jessie and Taylor Miller said...

jealous of your fun, relaxing and WARM trip!! these pictures were so great and so many made me laugh!

Allie said...

Now that is a documented adventure. You should turn the pictures and commentary from your trips into a book at the end of the year.

I loved all of the pictures, but my favorite was the combo of Tate/Ruby and the way too cool Abbie/Bracken sitting on the alligator in the baby pool.

You may want to revise the second paragraph under the picture with you in it. You are missing a word.

Anonymous said...

Hi Brooke,

This is Brynn from OnStar. I have to say, you're my kind of gal - love some fun in the sun! Sounds like you had a great road trip with the whole gang, and truly, that's what memories are made of. So glad that OnStar could help you out and keep your family moving! We're here whenever you need us. Don't forget to push your blue OnStar button between now and May 31 to be entered for a chance to win a new GM vehicle of your choice!

Happy trails,

megan&steve said...

That Marriott looks similiar to the one my parents stay at here in hawaii. take a road trip out here next spring break!

Heather and Dave said...

WOOOHOOO! What fun photos from a nice, relaxing vacation. You all deserved it. I am in love with that hotel's pool. What a fun vacation for you and the kids. I can't believe you ran out of gas so close to costco. bummer! Those are the funny parts of vacations that make the best laughs and memories though. Love the girls swim suits and cute salt water sandals.

Bethany said...

First of all, onstar has your blog address? That's kind of cool...and kind of weird. Second, I totally get the bending down in pictures thing. Tell Abby to bend at the knees rather than the waist...it's less noticeable that way. :) Looks like a super fun trip!!!

Ashby said...

It was so fun to read about your cute family! And I love that you guys made the 18 hour drive. Gives me hope that maybe I can do that out to Dallas this summer!

PS - Stacey and Kara are both living in the Dallas area if you are ever up that way!

The Weeds said...

Can we go with you next time? :)
Love all the pictures of the oh so darling kiddos.
Lexie and Z remind me so much of each other!

Gigi said...

Family Road Trip : what a marvelous vacation! Thank you for sharing it with us...you are all amazing, and I am so happy that you had mostly spontaneous trip. XOXO

Katie C Kirkham said...

You are such a relaxed mom! I only hope to be half as relaxed and fun as you are when we have that many little munchkins!

The guy in our ward offered to make you "I am a Child of God" poster if you are interested. I didn't ask him about price, but I totally will if you'd like.



Jessie said...

What a fun trip!!! Loved all the pictures! So funny the car ran out of gas...funny for me but that picture is hilarious!
You look great..glad you stuck one in of yourself...
Hey thanks for your comment about your mom dying...I had no idea she passed away. Your brother was 11..soooo sad. At least he had sisters though! I am sure you guys were like his 2nd moms!