Sunday, July 5, 2015

Sea World Adventures

On Thursday, July 2nd - we packed up our kids and headed to Sea World for the day.  This was my first time ever going to Sea World, so I was just as excited as the kids.  I had done a ton of research on what to pack, and I am proud to say we were completely prepared - not over prepared at all (surprisingly)!!

The one thing I learned from my research: Plan your day around the shows!  There are 5 shows (the end of the evening being the fifth and final show).  We arrived right when the gates opened and bought Priority Parking (it was only $5.00 more and we were RIGHT in the front, right outside the gate!).  We had to wait to enter as it wasn't quite time to go in. 

The first thing we discovered was the Sting Rays - they were pretty awesome!  You could buy food and feed them, but we chose to just lean over and touch them.  It turns out, so many people buy food, that if you just stick your hand in the water like you're "going to feed them" they think you do, so they swim up to you and brush over you!  Carter was all about it and wanted to touch them :)

The Dolphin Show started at 10:00, so we had one hour to spare before the show.  We went down and were watching the dolphins swim- the kids thought that was pretty cool!

While walking to the Dolphin Show, there was a flamingo parade in the street!  Not really sure that is what it was called, but they were all walking along the path as if it were a parade!  So neat.  One of the workers stopped and gave our kids some collector cards! 

The Dolphin Show was spectacular!  There were seats in the "Soak Zone", seats in the sun and seats in the shade.  We originally sat in the sun, but soon moved to the shade.  Collin was getting really warm, and both Josh and I remembered when his body temperature changes too quickly, he could seizure...ARG - not that!  So Josh poured water on his head, in his hat, and we made him drink lots more- more than we had them drinking...he soon cooled down and was able to enjoy the show.  We also forgot this was their first REAL time in the heat - all the other times this week we've been outside has been spent in the pool.

To help cool them down, we went to the Antarctica display which was a fun informational ride and viewing of some penguins!  They want you to really experience what it is like, so when we got off the ride, we were in the freezing air!  It was very refreshing, but soon made us cold!  Callie was shivering, but she still enjoyed it!

The kids were able to meet a penguin, which of course, they loved him!

Thankfully, after we fed the kids lunch back at the car, the boys fell asleep for a couple hours.  We brought Callie into the "kid zone" and let her go on some rides while her brothers slept.

I totally fed a squirrel too - they were so friendly and came right up to us - it was so neat.

We missed the first Shamu show because the boys were sleeping and we really wanted them to see it, so we went the 5:00 show instead.  I would have loved to have sat in the "Splash Zone" - but nobody else wanted we sat further back!

Shamu and his pals were so fun to watch.  It's amazing to think these ginormous creatures can be trained to perform for everyone!

After Shamu we got in line to ride the Sky Tower; however, it shut down due to lightening...we heard thunder so we headed into a store to keep the kids safe...good thing, because it started to downpour rain-something that happens in FL everyday in the summer!  It was a quick 30 minute storm and we were ready to rock and roll.  We missed the Sea Lion show due to the storm and were too late to the Pet Show from being locked inside.  So we headed back to the Sky Tower!

The kids loved going up really high seeing the entire park.  They were supposed to remain seated, but of course I let them get up to look out - it was easier for them to see.

Best quote from the day goes to Collin!  When the Sky Tower ride came to a stop, the ride attendant got up from her seat and had to walk past us to get to the exit door.  As she walked past, Collin announced, "PEW - She stinks!"  I almost spit out my water I was so shocked he said that.  The people next to me were laughing pretty hard.  Thankfully, I don't think she heard Collin say it :)  But hey - kids do point out the obvious.

This ride was a blast - it was a Jelly Fish ride - more like "Flying Tea Cups" - Callie did not want to spin when we were up high, so I had to fib a little and tell her it was spinning naturally in the air due to the movement (sort of true), because the boys LOVE to spin.

We were going to give the kids more time to ride more rides, but they wanted to go in the Splash Pad - so why not!  We had their swim suites and I packed a change of clothes...all was perfect!


The only thing we bought the kids all day was Dip 'n Dots (to help cool them down when Collin was over heating) and one prize for being so well behaved.  The morning was tough due to adjusting to the heat, but they really turned it around and were absolutely amazing!

Carter chose a Killer Whale - nameless.
Collin chose a Sea Lion - named him Wallace (not sure where he came up with that name but I love it-very creative!).
Callie chose a rainbow Killer Whale - name her Shine!
We can't wait to head to Busch Gardens in a few days!!!
If you plan on heading to Sea World, here are a few things we suggest for first timers!
1. Plan ahead by researching which shows you want to attend!
2. Pack a backpack with the following inside:
- Sunscreen
- several bottles of water
- one towel
- kid swim suits
- kid change of clothes
- tons of snacks for the kids (nothing that will melt)
- large ziplock bag with several smaller zip lock bags and large inside as well as garbage bags - we used the garbage bags as rain coats (in the summer it will rain), zip locks to put our phones and cameras inside to protect from the rain!
3. Double Stroller was clutch - we just left it outside different exhibits without worrying if someone would take it.
4. Sunglasses and hats for the gets really hot!
It was an incredible trip and the kids had a great time.  A very different experience from our Disney trips, but well worth it as well!

McRae's attempt the impossible...

In June, we decided to attempt the impossible!  We decided pack our beautiful family of five into the car and head to Florida!  Crazy, I know!  We broke our trip up, never having traveling more than 5 hours with our kids, so we made our first pit stop in Illinois to visit our incredibly wonderful and amazing friends, Blake and Brittany Pawlikowski!  Talk about beautiful family so full of love and laughter!  Their two children are some of our favorites: William and Charlie (such strong, handsome little men!) who are so full of spark and life.  Our kids play together as if they've seen each other everyday, but really, we only see each other a couple times a year.


This was at the beginning of our license plate game :)  It's full now!

Had to pull over on the side of the highway to go potty!

Blake & Britt recently just moved into a new home, which is GORGEOUS!  That's when you know you have real friends, a true, solid friendship with someone - they aren't fully moved into their home yet, haven't slept more than two nights in their new home and they opened their doors to us without question or second thought!  Thank you both for that.  I am sure the loudness of our five kids together, running around, playing, and making a HUGE mess of toys added some stress, but you two are more generous and flexible!  Thank you for that!

We went to a park nearby their house, and I kid you not, it was the most incredible park I have ever seen.  I wanted to be five years old again!  They had so many interactive parts of the park!  You could step on a fire hose and the fire truck structure would make the fire engine sounds.  You pushed a button and it sounded as if a train were coming through!  There was even a small section that had tons of interactive musical instruments for kids to explore.  The basketball section of the park was beyond awesome!  They weren't your normal basketball hoops, but more kid friendly with different sizes and heights!  The absolute best part of this park was the entrance!  It was a locked gate that parents could open and close...meaning: NO KIDS COULD BREAK OUT!  The entire park was in an enclosed gate as well! I kept thinking, "Wow, Austin needs something like this!"  Let's be honest though, it would probably get ruined by our young teens who really don't care about anything but themselves and destruction of property :(  I'd love to have something like this park though - it seriously was incredible and my kids had an amazing time!


Jail Birds!!!

We left our mark :)

On Saturday morning, June 27th, we loaded our kids into the car to begin our long venture to Florida!  Illinois was a great drive, but as soon as we hit Indiana it sucked.  Turns out, I don't like Indiana!  The road construction SUCKS - we followed our GPS through a small town to go around it, but we were soon stopped by a local cop - turns out, the road ahead was under 5 feet of water and we couldn't get through...we had to turn around and go through the forever long construction. 

Celebrated the kids' birthdays!!

Such special friends!

Our kids were super rock stars though!  We drove for a very long time the first day and made it all the way down to Macon, GA - further south than we originally planned!!!  We can thank the caffeine for that!  We stayed at a cheap motel, kind of shady, but the kids were asleep!  Thank goodness we locked the top lock on our motel door - Collin woke up and wanted to go to his own room and his own bed and unlocked the lower lock and attempted to walk out...we woke up to the sound of the door being held back!

Because we drove further, we only had 4.5 hours left until we were to our final destination!  We were able to sleep in a little and hit the road for Leesburg, FL!  Our first rest stop was the Florida border rest stop - Callie got out of the car and immediately said, "It's too hot!" - we were in for a long vacation if the complaining was already starting.

About 2:30/3:00 on Sunday afternoon, we arrived at Papa Don and Grandma Sharon's house!!  The kids were so excited to see them and to finally be at our destination!  Overall, our kids were amazing travelers and we have no major complaints.  Did the kids fight in the car, yes of course they did!  Did the kids argue and whine, yes!  But they were so easily redirected!  Callie did win the puking award...she got car sick three times while Carter did twice.  Maybe Collin won - he was fine the whole trip!  Thankfully we have a lot of experience with our kids getting car sick!  I have created the most epic traveling "car sick" all of the five total times our two out of three kids were carsick, we didn't have to stop or pull over!  Honestly, when you have a five year old and three year old throwing up in the car, you'd think you'd have to pull over, but we've got this down to a science!  We won't travel ever again without our bag!

Lots of car games and activities for our kids as well!  I did create a "road trip binder" that included tons of free printables I found online - thanks to other talented moms who have taken the time to create these for others!  I had a few people ask me in a FB messenger about where I got these, so I'm including them here:

Our favorite was the "Would you Rather Disney" -

I found some fun printables for the boys:

Some fun for the family:

A few other things I did - Each kid had a bin with a lid that attached.  They were actually the Easter baskets my mom gave the kids this year (thanks mom!).  Inside, I started out with coloring books, markers, a book and snack.  At different stops, I cleaned out their bins and put new surprises in them.  Things such as: magnetic activities, different snacks, drinks (no spill kind), things to color, bingo cards for traveling, play dough - YES PLAY DOUGH with cars and little toys from home!  I had some fun books for Callie that had paper dolls to punch out with fun stickers to decorate with!  Everything stayed in their bins (or an attempt to) - so I just had to empty garbage and refill when needed.  The boys threw their lids on the floor and dumped their bins more than once...but the idea was great and I will do it for our drive home!  I still have several surprises I prepacked so I don't have to go to the dollar store to refill!

For Josh and I  - the only real game I packed for us was the State License Plate game :)  I can't believe I even got Josh in on the game of playing!!!  What a trooper - that or he's used to traveling with me now to know I won't just sit :)

My absolute FAVORITE part of our road trip was of course, Nashville, TN!  We decided to stop in Nashville for our dinner stop!  Josh went on the phone and looked up places to eat in Nashville - having never been there before, we were clueless.  Josh found the most EPIC place to eat and I couldn't have loved the idea more :) 
"Cori's Doghouse" Josh saw this and thought, "I know this all too well, why not!"  It was the cutest (of course) restaurant that made delicious specialty hot dogs from around the US!  If you are ever in Nashville, I kid you not, you need to eat here -and you need to order their onion rings!  Here's the website:
And of course I bought a tshirt RIGHT away upon walking in :) 

Josh's Hot Dog :)

My Delicious Hot Dog :)  It had bacon, BBQ sauce and onion rings on the dog - SO YUMMY!

With all this activity and excitement, our trip has begun...I'm dreading the drive home....