Vacation 2014 – Part 4 (The End)

As the end of the first week drew to a close, I was really unsure if I wanted to stay up at the lake for the second week. We’ve always gone up for a good chunk of time and this year I even had my own RV which made things so much better, but for some reason, I just wasn’t “feeling” the love for camping.

Normally, I go up with the kids for the first week and then Jon joins us for the second week, but because this was our inaugural trip with Ethyl I didn’t want to be by myself if something went wonky…..and we weren’t entirely certain that everything would go smoothly. She is an OLD lady after all and has lots of quirks.

Fortunately everything went amazingly and after a HUGE amount of hmmmmm’ing and haaaaaw’ing I decided to stay up for a bit longer.

My brother and sister in law had come up for the weekend and it was SO good to spend some time with them. It doesn’t happen enough. We are busy and they are busy and sometimes its just tough to make it all work….

As they were packing up to leave, friends of ours pulled in which was so nice. As it meant that I wouldn’t be alone.

This couple has two boys and they are just the sweetest boys ever. Their oldest son has some special needs and it was refreshing to be able to spend time with other parents who have children with special needs and to know that you are not alone in this journey of raising these unique and amazing kids. It doesn’t matter that the needs that make our kids special, are not the same…..its just nice to know that someone else gets it….that they “get” that even though you love your children desperately….that sometimes it’s tough or difficult and you may not feel that you have the energy to give to them, but that energy is required whether you have it or not, and you end up continuously running on a deficit……

I realize that most parents may feel like that from time to time and I – in no way – am discounting how tough (and yet rewarding) parenting is. But, parenting a special needs child is unique and comes with a different set of challenges……and rewards.

I sat and talked with the father a bit one day. We ended up talking about the grieving that you experience over and over again as you watch younger siblings surpass milestones and activities that your your older child hasn’t yet, if they ever will, accomplish. It’s not easy…..physically, mentally or emotionally.

There were so many fun moments, and Judah mentioned to me that his two favorite things from this summer were the walks and adventures he went on with his dad; and the walks and adventures he went on with Zac’s dad.

One night after my boys had gone to sleep, Zac and his momma caught this HUGE frog. The kids always catch little 1-2 inch sized frogs. They are all over the place, but one night….this big ol’ guy was just hopping around waiting for Zac to catch him…..the boys were THRILLED the next morning when they woke up and saw what a mighty hunter Zac was.

We were also able to capture an animal a few times, but it was completely unintentional….there are a million of these little deer mice running around, especially after dark and we woke up a few mornings to a mouse or two that had climbed into a bucket – I’m assuming they were scrounging for food – and then the bucket was too deep and they couldn’t get back out.

Jon came up on the Wednesday, after work, and picked us up. For the first time that I can remember – I was actually happy to be leaving the lake and heading home. I really enjoyed our time this year. I do, every year that we go, but this year was different…..not bad different…..just different.

I’ll leave you with another series of shots of my sweet Siah…..

I told him to smile.

Then I laughed at him and told him to give me a REAL smile…..

I almost peed myself laughing after the second shot…..but asked him to try one last time…..

And DING! DING! DING! we have a winner….what a cutie.

Vacation 2014 – Part 3

Ok, so life got busy and I didn’t end up finishing posting about our vacation.

I’m sure that some of you feel like you’ve just been left hanging……..HA!!!!

Ok, maybe not so much, but……continuing on….

It’s amazing how quickly the busy-ness and chaos seems to seep back into every facet of your life, once you leave the “vacation” and head back into reality. I guess that’s the beauty of vacation or holiday time….it’s a moment to relax, settle, absorb……just breathe.

There were lots of those moments, in between the bustle of life with 6/7 people. No family vacation is really a vacation for the parents…’s more of a break. Once I realized and accepted that, I’ve been a lot more content on our “holiday’s”.

Jon took the kids on a number of walks and this sweet boy here…..

He brought me back something from almost every walk. He is such a thoughtful little soul.

This time he brought me back some lovely flower puff things…..I have no idea what they were and they were almost dried, but I put them in a beer bottle vase and he was so thrilled to see his gift treasured.

After the first 3 days of sheer panic, this lovely fellow settled down (as long as there were no other dogs walking past) into the camping lifestyle and was almost a gentleman….almost!!!!

He has such sad eyes.

There was SO. MUCH. SWIMMING…. and Judah even sucked up his courage enough to jump off the dock TWICE!!!!

Jeremy was determined to get this rubbermaid bin to work as a boat and although it took a fair amount of figuring to work out the ballast and balance…he finally managed to tool around a little, until it dipped a little too much at one corner and then filled up and sank….

Sometime, this little one just slays me with his nerdliness…..he is such a sweet quirky treasure.

I have no idea what he was trying to show me in this picture.

Here is where you get the best peek of my little darling….ear folded over and all…and he wasn’t swimming….just wearing the goggles because he wanted to.

Oh I love him, so!

The Skagit Valley is a beautiful place with so many interesting things to look at and experience. It feels like our own little corner of heaven on earth. These puff ball mushrooms were just growing in the campsite, but it wasn’t till we got home and I could google them that I found out they were edible and not poisonous. They were just so cute, all nestled into the ground.

Read about Part 1 of our vacation here.

Read about Part 2 of our vacation here.

Part 4 coming….

Vacation 2014 – Part 2

There is something absolutely INCREDIBLE about this place. It’s like….you are so far away from EVERYTHING that everything that is pressing on you or weighing heavy on you starts to fade into the background and you can just “be present” in the beauty of it all.

I love it here

It doesn’t even seem like much from this picture (it was SO HAZY from the forest fires further in Washington)……how about this one…..

The Sky Before the Storm

We had either just had a storm or were just about to have a storm blow through when I took this picture.

We’ve been coming to this particular lake since the year we got married….and have only missed 2 maybe 3 years. I really, REALLY didn’t want to come this year. I’ve just been so worn down with my life and the lives of those that I’m responsible for. Each day feels like it requires super human effort (that I don’t have to give), and I know that I have people who wonder why I’m not visiting or doing coffee – and to be completely honest……I’m just surviving each day…..barely!

I was SO exhausted and packing up for the lake just about did me in. It took about 3-4 days of early nights and (I’m so incredibly thankful to my boys) not-too-early mornings for me to feel like I was actually unwinding and relaxing.

Seeing as we weren’t quite set up, (we arrived a lot later than intended) we had a lovely breakfast of cereal and crazy….pretty much a normal breakfast for us. Note Jon and Jeremy’s sweaters… true ADHD form, both of them managed to forget to pack a sweatshirt or coat, but ever so fortunately….Xani was able to help both of them out. Nice Ugly Christmas Sweater, Jon!!!!!

First Morning

(Siah pipes up completely randomly, as he is known to do: “Milk comes from plants, Judah……right Mom?” I had to laugh because that’s all they know – soy and almond milk)

Somethings are more important that others….and coffee and clean teeth rank pretty high in my books.

Camp Mornings

This was the first time we have brought Zeus up to a community camp ground and he tends to be a bit of a nut job when other dogs are around….he just wants to play and play and play and play….so he was a bit unhappy that he was tied down and that we kept shushing him everytime a “friend” walked by.

Sad to be tied down

In Jeremy’s perfect world, he would be either Survivor Man or Cody Lundin. I asked him to put on shoes at one point and he informed me that he planned to be shoeless for the entire time we were up there as he needed to work on his calluses so he would have tough feet. At one point, he was practicing making feathersticks.

Working on Fiddlesticks

This was my attempt at a featherstick….not too shabby for a first time, eh?

My attempt at a Fiddlestick

We settled in to “camp life” fairly quickly. Jon and Jer took the chainsaw and headed out to find some deadfall so we could have AMAZING fires. At least we had this guy to look over our campsite and keep watch over us.

Chainsaw Carving

this was Jon’s first attempt at chainsaw art

Judah’s mantra for the entire 11 days was, “CAN HE BE MINE?” It didn’t matter if it was a frog, a fish, a mouse, a beetle or this particular grub/maggot thingy….He was found hiding in a piece of wood after Jon split it up…I found it to be equally fascinating and disgusting.

Gross and Fascinating

This was a very different vacation for us. Geli was at Camp Goodtimes Teen Camp for the first week, and Xandra and Jeremy slept during the day…..they never sleep during the day. It was so amazing to see them get some extra rest. I’ll admit that I was a bit worried that Jer might be getting sick, but nope…..just tired and needing a nap. The fresh air and outdoor activities seem to really agree with every one of us.

Resting....away from it all

It’s so fun to see my babies growing up. There is such an age difference between the three older kids and the two younger ones. And the two little boys are becoming such great friends as they grow a bit bigger and older. Jeremy actually remarked that he was a bit jealous of the fact that the two boys had each other, and that Geli and Xani had each other and that he was stuck in the middle alone.

I Love Him So....

The two littlest boys are becoming bigger, little boys and while they are not babies….they will always be my babies. Although I will admit that they are a lot easier to care for now that they are a bit older. I am definitely thankful to be beyond the baby stage. I love that I can snuggle all the babies in my life and give them back and get a good night sleep. HA!

Siah worked ALL DAY and a part of the next day and finally managed to chop through a tough waterlogged piece of wood……with a hatchet. Not an easy task, but he was so determined. He was so proud when it actually chopped through….he asked me to take a picture of him and his log. Note the bare feet…..we are ALL about safety!!!


Judah…..well…..he is just my sweet boy and I love him so. I really don’t need any reason to post pictures of him.

Love him so....

Part 1 here

Part 3 and a bazillion more photos coming soon.


Anther deep thought from Jon. (Patti and I are heading to Mexico in 2 days, and I wanted to get this off my chest first.)

The topic of evolution has come up so many times recently that it seems worth addressing.  It seems like every show that I have watched recently, or article, or radio news story has had some reference to an animal or human evolving in a certain way. I am adamantly opposed to, and actively speak out against “such rubbish”.

Ok, to set the stage for this I am going to state that I am a Bible believing, God loving, Christian. The thing that strikes me the most about the whole topic of creation/evolution is that your belief or lack of belief in God seems to make all the difference.

For example, I see a bunch of systems in organisms that can’t evolve in stages – The Respiratory System, The Circulatory System, The Inner Ear, to name a few.

The Respiratory System:
The basic requirements are a vent for air to enter and leave, an organ capable of handling airflow and an organ that can transfer gases into and out of blood without letting the blood out – OR – a set of valves that allow water to be directed from the mouth to pass over gills and an intricate set of gills to extract the oxygen.  Oh, and don’t forget that at the exact same time you need a circulatory system that can make use of the oxygen to fuel the cells in the body.  A vent in the body that is not associated with any other air processing would be catastrophic; lungs not attached to tubes and vents would be catastrophic; etc.  Even if such a deformed creature did ever exist it would certainly not be “the fittest” to dominate its competitors for the bazillion years required through trial and error to oops its way into completing the pieces of the full system.  Remember its “Survival of the fittest” not “Survival of the weak, malformed half-step, that’s required to get to the next actual fit model”.

The Circulatory System:
Basic requirements are a liquid substance that can carry a variety of gases, a cell wall structure that knows the difference between good gas and waste gas, complete with an osmosis mechanic that can make the exchange with the liquid in a split second, a filter that removes expended cells, and a mechanism that continually creates more cells… oh and a complete respiratory system.  Try taking a single cell organism and injecting it with a foreign liquid and see what happens. Heck, inject it with some simple insect blood and see what happens. The result from such experiments is called ‘death’. For sure there are insects that have a small heart and an exoskeleton and no veins or arteries.  The blood just pumps out into the body cavity and back into the heart, but it still has all the required pieces.  (I’m not even going to start talking about what the kidneys do and what an evolutionary catastrophe it would be to either not have them or not have them work properly.) Please explain to me how a DNA miss-alignment at conception could result in the spontaneous development of all these systems at the same time. And if you can’t do that, explain to me how any creature could live and dominate the evolutionary game long enough to get all the pieces working together.

The Inner Ear:
The basic requirements, nerves that connect to the brain that can process a new and unique signal, a membrane that is responsive to sound waves, several finely tuned floating bones that connect to the nerves in such a way that the sound waves produce an electric signal that can be sent to and interpreted by the brain. This is one of the systems in the body that a half step may not be catastrophic, but would also not afford any benefit.  No benefit means natural selection has nothing to ‘select’. Imagine all the species that would have to exist with no hearing and dysfunctional attempts at an ear for one DNA lineage to randomly make it all the way to hearing.  The fossil record provides no such examples.

I have MANY more examples that make no sense to me.  But here’s the rub:

If you are an atheist, you don’t automatically say “Well, I’ll be! There must be a creator and therefore a God.”  You say, “There must be an explanation and dammit, I’m going to figure out what it is because I ‘know’ there is no God.”

If you are a “theist” then you say, “Obviously, your arguments are rock solid; jolly good show. There is a God and He made it all. Thou shalt suck lemons, atheists!”

The belief in the Divine is the basis of these thoughts, NOT SCIENCE! Science does not start with a conclusion and work backward. As a Christian, I start with a belief in God and my world view and my “how did humanity come to exist” thoughts are all based on that.  I will never see creatures as possibly evolving because my knowledge of God is at the core of who I am. I am most definitely biased.  Conversely, if atheism is at the core of who you are, you will never see the possibility of God’s involvement… you will never see a lack of evidence or contrary logic as proof for the creation side, but rather just another challenge of ‘science’ that is yet to be discovered, or logic that needs to be adjusted.  You are also most definitely biased.

I have yet to see a creation / evolution debate end in an alter call where people give there lives to Jesus because the creation side proved its point.  I have seen the creation side prove its point, but all that I have ever seen from the other side is regrouping and a challenge to come up with a better argument.  For that reason I stay way away from the whole debate most of the time, cause whats the point? But maybe its just me, maybe its just on my mind cause I have kids that are taking those subjects in school, I’m just opposed to every TV show, documentary, newspaper article, etc. basing all their comments and explanations on evolution.

What do you think?


Moments to Breathe

A couple of weekends ago, we were gifted with the opportunity to stay in a cabin down at Birch Bay.

We weren’t sure what to expect, but the thought of “just getting away” from everything was huge and so we threw 1 change of clothes, a set of pyjamas and our toiletries into bags. We threw some bedding into the van, grabbed our passports and headed over the line.


all packed in the van

We left our house later than we would have liked, and as a result arrived later than we would have liked. We also had to stop and pick up a few groceries once we hit the States. I am SO thankful that Jon had planned up a rough menu for us as my head was just not screwed on right and it took everything I had to just get us ready and even when he came home from work……I still wasn’t “ready” for us to go.

I find that aspect of all of this to be one of the more frustrating things. I just can’t keep things straight in my mind right now. I’m too exhausted. I’m missing things and other thigns are slipping in between the cracks and in a lot of ways, it ends up costing our family. the fact that I can’t organize things like I used to is costing us….it’s costs us time and money and energy and adds stress. I HATE that I feel like I’m adding to the overall burden. But, I’ve reached my max….almost 2 years in and I’ve realized that i very definitely do have a “limit”. I cannot do it all. That alone is humbling and depressing and so very VERY frustrating. It’s not that I thought I COULD do it all, but I know that I can handle a lot…..and knowing that I’ve reached my limit……*big sigh*….it’s tough!

Anyone who comes has a big family, knows that “vacation” has a very loose interpretation of the word. It’s more like a change of pace or change of scenery for the parents. There is still much to co-ordinate, and meals to make and clean up from. Meds to dispense. Kids to put to bed….and hopefully, if we are very blessed….a small bit of rest to be had.

We arrived at the cabin and unloaded everything. The kids were SO excited to be there. They immediately set off exploring the cabin and the property; and we were so warmly greeted by the neighbors. It was so nice.

We made assigned the kids rooms and made up beds and dispersed bags to the appropriate rooms and finally got the kids in their pyjamas and settled and then Jon and I headed to sleep. In spite of the busy-ness of arriving…..the place felt peaceful. I could hear the waves crashing and could smell the wet sea air. It’s a good thing that Jon and I went to sleep as soon ans we could because the boys were up bright and early.

I think Jeremy was the first up….he was the most excited out of all of us to be there. He was alomst quivering with excitement.


The kids occupied themselves while Jon and I prepared breakfast.


Judah found these Duplo blocks and spent a ton of time building “legos” with them. It was so cute to see him play like this. We actually pulled out our own Duplo blocks once we got home and he has spent many happy hours playing with the box of Duplo.


After breakfast, we headed on down to the beach…..


It was still pretty cold at 9am in the morning, but the boys were determined to be outside, at the water’s edge. Judah was thrilled to be getting dirty. He’s a true boy.


The boys walked up and down the beach front….


I think that we must have re-located half the rocks on the beach out a few yards…


It was so nice to see everyone relaxing and smiling and just forgetting about everything for a while.


We skipped rocks and found crabs and watched excitedly and with great anticipation for the tide to go out.


Siah got a bit cocky and what do you don’t see, is the next picture where he is running for the shore with his boots full of freezing cold ocean water. He waded out far enough and a wave came in strong enough that it washed right over the edge of his gumboots.

Judah was So excited to be out splashing int he water too. He was initially cautious and then his excitement and curiosity go the better of him and in the end, he ended up falling into the water despite our repeated warnings and got soaked…..


Geli found a path out to a sand bank and loved the feel of the cool sand in between her toes. My kids have always been water bugs. I think it must be in their genes….they are so attracted to the water and seem to thrive in any water environment.


By this point, we were getting chilly, between the cold water and the cold wind…BRRRRR! SO we headed back inside to get a bit warmed up. We played some games and ate some popcorn and just relaxed.


Jon even got in a short nap…


Here is Geli goofing around with a water bottle. The bottles boasted that they used 50% less plastic and well…it certainly seemed so as the bottles were so flimsy.


After a while we realized that the tide had gone WAY out and had left some amazing looking tidal pools that were just begging to be explored.


The birds were out and the sun was shining and it looked amazing.


It was so incredibly beautiful out there. There were miles and miles of beauty just begging to be photographed.


We found the coolest looking shells and weird shrimp looking things, crabs and other sea creatures, including sand dollars.


Jeremy had noticed a fire pit back up in the yard and was desperate to roast some marshmallows. We headed back up and the kids made a huge mess of themselves.


I don’t know how you get marshmallow spread out over your face from your eyebrows to your chin….it’s a skill, I tell you.


There were SO Many great photo opportunities. If you are interested in checking out my WAY TOO MANY photos….click on this link.

It was an amazing time and I was so grateful for the opportunity to get away. What an absolute blessing. It was exactly what I needed exactly when I needed it. It was a little slice of heaven in our crazy lives.

Thank you! THANK you! THANK YOU!!!! for this incredible opportunity. We are so blessed.

The Ups and Down of Life

I feel so……so……so caught up inside myself.

There is so much going on and I don’t know where or how to unpack it all. I had a phone chat with our social worker from BC Children’s yesterday and kind of fell apart on her.

I’m tired. I want some help for the kids (and myself if I’m being honest) and “the help” (therapy type help) available, is at BC Children’s….an hour away from here. (We have no extended medical to help cover the expenses for other help and so we’d be paying out of pocket for other help, which we may just have to do…..)

There is a sibling support group that is just about to start, but…’s on Thursday afternoon’s for an hour and a half FOR THE NEXT 8 WEEKS.

That’s not really very helpful. If we missed traffic (which would be a miracle – we’d be in traffic for at least one way), we would be driving for 2 hours to go to a meeting for 1.5 hours. And I’m not sure what Geli, I, Siah and Judah would do while the older 3 were in the session. Then we’d be leaving at dinner time (and sitting in that lovely traffic I mentioned) all the while hoping that the baby wouldn’t fall asleep in the van so that he wouldn’t be up until midnight. There would be dinner to figure out and homework to work around and well….it’s just more of a problem than a help…..

I am already running below empty and I can’t fathom adding 8 weeks of that stress into our lives….so where does that leave us………?

Not in a great place, that’s for sure.

I know that we need to get beyond “this time” and that things will look different in a year from now and hopefully things will be easier but I am so tired and worn out, I’m not sure what shape I’ll be in, in a year from now. We’ve been looking forward to “this season changing” for what feels like a very long time and it’s all seeming so very surreal and even unattainable at very low times. We have to believe that things are not always going to be this tough. We are not looking forward to the future as a “magical time of amazing-ness” but we are trying to hold onto HOPE with what little strength we have left, but sometimes, even that feels so very difficult to do.

Our social worker asked me what things I could take off my plate so that I wasn’t so overwhelmed and to be honest…..I have no idea. I’m already doing the least amount of housekeeping that I can and still have us be functional. And that right there… so tough to deal with. I like a clean, neat and tidy house. I feel like I’m drowning….not even like I’m treading water anymore, but that I’m sinking deeper and deeper under. I have no time or energy to keep on top of all that it takes to keep our family running smoothly and my “coping mechanism” is to “fill another box” with the crap that gets piled up on my counters and then take it down to my bedroom.

It’s definitely not a cool way to deal with things. I think I have 6 boxes downstairs with “crap” that needs to be sorted through. It’s all I can do to stay on top of my laundry and well….besides the fact that I have the worlds smallest laundry room and 7 people’s clothes and towels and linen won’t fit in it…..we just need the clothes to wear. The boys only have about 3 pairs of pants each and depending on how messy they are we could plow through 2 or even all 3 of them in a day. NOT COOL, boys! NOT cool!

Obviously we have to eat and trying to feed a family of 7 economically, while eating a gluten and dairy free diet….well, it’s extremely challenging and sometimes I just wish that we didn’t have to eat.

A significant portion of my time is spent homeschooling Jeremy and breaking up fights and squabbles between the two little boys. A few people have asked me if that’s something that I should off load and just send him back to school. Maybe even a different or new one……to me, this is not even an option. For the first time in his life, Jeremy is EXCELLING in school. He hasn’t gotten a mark that’s been less than an “A” for 2 months now. He feels smarter. He’s ACTUALLY retaining the information that he’s processing. If he doesn’t LOVE school, he at the very least enjoys it, now. As much prep work as it is for me…..and let me tell you, teaching ONE CHILD has a significant amount of prep work and time spent overseeing what he is doing…(I can’t fathom teaching 30+ kids with more than one of them with Learning Differences or other social issues)…..this is something that I believe is CRITICAL right now. I firmly believe with all my heart that Jeremy is learning valuable LIFE SKILLS that will impact him for the rest of his life. To cut this time short, would be devastating, in my opinion. Even moving him to a new school…..he doesn’t “YET” have the skills needed to make a change, and I believe that he would end up in the same position that he was in….behind, feeling stupid and bullied……

So basically, I get up in the morning…….. I sort of teach school. I try to care for my little boys. I attempt to feed and clothe the family. I clean, and it is an extremely loose interpretation of the word, the house and then it’s bedtime…..

For “ME” time….I “try” to work out 3 times a week and while that’s a good thing…I feel like it’s an hour and a half of hellish torture that I enjoy once it’s finished.

Regardless……something has to change, I’m at a breaking point….I’ve been thinking about getting someone in to help out for a few hours a week….maybe twice a week….to help with the little boys and maybe some housework….I dunno….I’m not sure where to find someone, or how exactly to go about it all, but I have been thinking about it….so….that’s a start, right?

Jon and I are missing each other….it’s been so long since we’ve had any time to just “be” together and that’s tough. Even our evenings are crazy. The boys have been particularly needy over the past couple of weeks and haven’t been settling until after 9pm even though we’re starting the bedtime routine at 7:30pm….I dunno if they’ve been feeding off the extra stress……or what the issue is? Whatever it is….it’s not cool!

We did, however, get the chance to get away as a family. Last weekend, we were able to go to a cabin down at Birch Bay for two nights and it was a wonderful time away. It wasn’t so much of a rest….as it was a change. A chance to get away from the house and feeling a need to clean and tidy. The kids played. Nothing “could” or “had” to be done….probably the biggest downfall was that we wanted to pick up a few clothes while we were down there, but again… (or pretty much doing anything) with 5 kids is……..interesting…..and we didn’t get done what we had hoped and that left some of the family feeling like they were disappointed. We should have just gone down and not hoped to pick up a few things….that would have at least not set us up to fail…..


that’s Jeremy in the bottom left of the picture

I have a TON of pics from our time away and I’ll share some of them in the next post. It really was a beautiful place and right on the beach…….like RIGHT ON the beach. The smell of the air, the sound of the waves, the seagulls crying…….it was amazing. Truly, truly amazing. I love the beach. It really is a “Happy” place for me. We are SO THANKFUL to the family that made it possible for us to get away. It was INCREDIBLE! SO, SO INCREDIBLE!

Day 6 – Day At Sea

By Thursday we were ready for a slower day…..we only had two full days of our holiday left. This was a 7 day Eastern Caribbean Cruise that we were on.

I woke up before the girls & Judah did; and headed out to my balcony to sit in the quiet for a few moments.

We had been given two rooms on the ship that were side by side….for whatever reason, we had believed that we would have adjoining rooms and it was a bit of a surprise to find that we didn’t, but we adjusted fairly quickly.


It did mean that we had to split up and so Jon took the two boys into one room with him; and the girls & Judah and myself were in the other. It did require some juggling when putting the littlest boys to bed and….well, it wasn’t ideal but we did work it out. I think that if we’d been prepared for to have two separate rooms that it wouldn’t have been such a surprise, but we decided that it didn’t matter if we had to be in two different rooms, because we were just so blessed to be able to even be on this vacation and we were determined to enjoy every single minute of it and to not waste time over silly things like sleeping arrangements.

Judah woke up and I quickly got him so that he wouldn’t wake the girls and we hung out on the balcony for a while. It was AMAZING to have the balcony. I LOVED sitting out there early in the morning or relaxing with Jon out there after we put the two little boys to bed. It was such a treat to have.


(I only have iPhone photos from this day. So while the quality is not perfect; it’s good enough for memories.)

Finally Jon woke up and went and got me a coffee…..YUM! I stopped drinking coffee back in March, but I had coffee while I was on holiday’s and it was a nice treat….sucked when I had to quit again once I got home…but a nice treat nonetheless…


Once all the kids woke up, Jon took a few of them up to the buffet and picked up some breakfast for us all and we ate back in our room and out on the balcony. It was so nice to not be in a hurry rushing off to anywhere.


It was looking like it was going to be an AMAZING day on the ship and we had a few special treats planned.


Jon had booked a spa special for both Geli and I to have together. We got to choose 5 spa services and get pamperd for an hour and a half. We both chose to have a neck and shoulder massage, a scalp massage, a facial, a hand massage and a foot massage. We walked away from our time at the spa feeling very relaxed and very special.


We had signed up for a babysitting slot in the Flounder’s Nursery and were told on Wednesday night that a spot had opened up between 1-4pm on Thursday for Judah and so we took it. We grabbed a quick bite to eat for lunch and then placed ALL the kids into their respective “clubs” and Jon and I had some actual “down time” just for us.


It felt so amazing and yet really weird at the same time. I was quite worried about Judah because he had started screaming as soon as we left him in the nursery and he alternated between screaming and falling asleep in one of the workers arms, but he wouldn’t let them put him down or he’d wake up and start screaming again. Needless to say, he didn’t enjoy his time in the nursery, but Jon and I really did enjoy our time off.


The rest of the cruise we not really a vacation for Jon and I. Taking a trip with 5 kids is not a “holiday” but it is definitely a vacation from the daily grind. But we were just so thankful and grateful for the opportunity and what a wonderful and amazing opportunity it was. I’m not complaining, it’s just the reality with a big family….it’s like we work hard to make it an amazing memory for the kids. And it truly is a MOST AMAZING MEMORY!

I don’t remember too much about that evening, but I’m sure that we headed back to our rooms fairly early because we were going to spend the whole day at Castaway Cay the next day and we were really REALLY looking forward to it.

To see the whole set of photos from this day, click here…

A Day at Sea

By Monday (October 3rd) we were more than ready for a quieter, slower, more peaceful day. We had been going, going, going for the past 3 days and it was wearing a bit on all of us.

The night before, we had been notified that there was going to be a special breakfast with the Disney Characters the next morning.

The kids needed to be woken up almost every morning of the cruise, they were just so tired out from the previous day’s activities. This is not necessarily a bad thing, but on this particular morning, we slept in longer than we should have and had to rush to make it to breakfast on time.

“Rushing” is not necessarily the most amazing way to start the day, eh?

We did manage to make it down to breakfast on time with our camera’s and autograph books and we ordered breakfast and waited. It was so cool to see how excited the kids were to see Mickey and Minnie and the others. From the 14 year old all the way down the the 4 year old….the air was just buzzing with the anticipation and excitement. For the record, my one year old was NOT excited about meeting Mickey and Minnie….not that he had any clue either way, but when they did come around……he was….well, he was terrified, to put it mildly! He did not like them AT ALL! It was pretty cute!

Before Breakfast even arrived at the table, the Character’s started visiting…


We met Minnie and Micky,


and Pluto….


and Goofy…


It was so fun!

While we were finishing up our breakfast, our head server came over with some special hats…


So Cute!


Maid Marion…


Robin Hood…


Pirate Jon…


This one has me a little lost…..Any Ideas?

After breakfast, we wandered the boat a little, did a little swimming, played in the arcade, had a small bite to eat and then made everyone take a nap. The kids had been hanging in there pretty well, but they were a bit snippy with each other and I figured it was something that a small nap would help…..and it did!

We woke up just before the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party was about to begin and so we hurried down to have “a spot of tea” with Alice…..


There was “apple juice” tea and oatmeal cookies and we all learned how to have a proper Queen’s tea party….we even learned about manners. And then the Mad Hatter came in and things livened up a bit….

“Clean Cup! Move Down!”


The kids wanted to get their picture taken with Alice and the Mad Hatter and so we lined up after the tea party.

By the time the tea party was done, we had enough time to rush back to our rooms, and get dressed for dinner and head back on down to dinner….sometimes it felt like all we were doing was eating.

The kids were so excited because they got things like hamburgers & fries and chicken nuggets & fries for almost every meal (except breakfast).


Can you see the Ketchup Mickey on Siah’s Hamburger?

Or How about Goofy’s paw print?


The Gluten free dinner’s were okay. They were pretty bland and definitely not creative, but once I started asking for specifics….like I chose salmon one night and it came really dry and completely unseasoned…and the next night I asked for it again with a lemon dill sauce…..and it was AMAZING!….it was much better. I didn’t figure I was going to get dessert but this night they brought out the MOST DELICIOUS Chocolate mini cake. And Jon thought to take a picture….YUM!


The nicest part was that it was both Gluten and Dairy free and so Siah could have it and he was SO EXCITED. When he saw this picture on my screen, he said, “Mom, that cake was DELICIOUS, right?” Yes, baby! Yes, it was!

When we got back to our rooms, we were greeted by this friendly fellow…


It looks like Judah is going to “take him on”…

As we went to bed that night, this was the view out our balcony…..


The temperature was still hot and muggy but it had been a grey and cloudy day. We were looking forward to our day at the beach in the Grand Cayman’s and as the ship gently rocked….we drifted off to sleep!

If you’d like to see the whole set from this day, click here!

Do ya have any questions for us, about our cruise? Let us know and we’ll try our best to answer them for you!

Day 2 – Key West

After a good sleep, we woke up on Sunday morning ready for the day.

We headed down to the restaurant for Breakfast.

Breakfast Boys

We found that to get through breakfast took just over an hour which was longer than we’d like, but it was mostly because we had to special order the food for Josiah, Judah and myself….but, the food really was delicious.

Morning Girls

After Breakfast, we had some time to explore the boat because we weren’t docking into Key West until just after noon.

We decided to head on up to the pools to see what fun we could have up there for a few hours.


There are three pools on the boat. The adult only pool (that we never even got a chance to check out), the Goofy Pool (that’s the one that Jeremy is in, in the photo above) and a Mickey Pool (that is more suitable for littler kids).

Here I am

Attached to the Mickey Pool is a Water Slide and Josiah must have gone down the slide over 30 times…


Over and Over and Over….

Mid Stride

He had SO MUCH FUN! And we were loving watching him have so much fun! The girls were a bit bummed that they were too tall for the water slide, though! Because Judah is still in diapers, he wasn’t allowed in the pools, but they had this cool little water play area over to the side of the Mickey pool and we let Judah play a little in there.

Having so much fun

He had a BLAST playing with the water fountains, but he kept trying to sit on them….it was so funny!


We were really enjoying the hot weather and the sun.


It was so nice to just be able to sit and relax….although I was worried about us burning in the freaking amazing sun. Thank God for Sunscreen!


The ship was getting close to Key West and so we decided to go and get ready to go ashore.

Key West

We hadn’t chosen to go on a “Port Adventure” at Key West, but we did decide to just go ashore and see what we could see and find. We couldn’t go very far because Angelica couldn’t walk very well and definitely not very far; and the HEAT…..well, it was a whole lot hotter and more humid than anything we were used to.

Chillin' with some Gelato

The kids found Key West to be a bit difficult because of the heat and humidity but we did still manage to find some fun things to do and see.


We got some gelato…and sat on the steps of this old museum (I think it was a museum!) to eat it.

The baby slept!


Found a tiny baby coconut that had fallen to the ground…Jeremy was pretty excited about it.

Baby CoconutClinton Square Market

It appeared quite busy and so we carried on down the road until we found this alley…

Mallory Square

There was a whole bunch of things to see and shops to look through and the best part…according to the kids….there was shade and even a place to sit.

Diver Jeremy

We managed to pick up a few souvenir’s at the little shops. I LOVED the old cobblestone roads…cruel as this might sound, I’d LOVE to go back there WITHOUT the kids. There was so much to see and some really cool pictures to take (if we had the time and just a few less things to juggle).

Cobblestone Road

We got back to the ship and had just a little time to relax before we needed to head on down for dinner. I pulled out my camera and snapped a few pictures. I couldn’t understand why the pictures looked so fuzzy! My camera was all fogged up because it had been so warm outside and we were now in the cold air conditioned room.

So Sweet

Regardless of the fog, I still liked these pictures of Judah….

Foggy Lens

Here is one shot of Jeremy…

My Beautiful Boy

We managed to get all dressed up and down to dinner on time.

Genesis Our Host

I really, REALLY liked getting dressed up for dinner. In fact, I’m thinking about having a dress up dinner at our house once a week.

All Dressed Up

After dinner, we went back to our rooms to change and when we got there we found this….


While we were at dinner, each evening, the Room Hosts would turn down the beds for the night and leave some amazing folded towel animals. It was a lot of fun to come back to the room after dinner and find out what animal they had created each day. There was even a class at the end of the week that Jeremy went to, because he was so excited about the “Towelgami”.

Jeremy and Josiah went to the Kids Club, and Xandra went to the Pre-Teen Group (and stayed until midnight, the crazy girl). Angelica and Jon and Judah and I relaxed a bit and attempted to get the room a bit more organized.

Angelica was still feeling pretty weak and tired; and she stuck pretty close to Jon and I for most of the trip.

It was a pretty good day and as we headed to bed for the night, we were looking forward to the next day which was a whole day at sea while we traveled to The Cayman Islands.

If you’re interested in seeing the whole set of pictures from this day, then click here.

The set of pictures is a bit out of order because there are downloads from 3 cameras.

Orlando and Day 1 of the Disney Cruise

We woke up on Saturday morning and sometime in the night we had played musical beds…

Well, actually just Geli and Jon switched rooms because apparently Jeremy was breathing heavy and it was bothering Angelica.


As it was the beginning of one of her chemo cycles, she was on the steroid Prednisone for 5 days and it makes sleeping difficult…so little annoyances become HUGE annoyances. Anyway, she crawled into bed with me and Judah; and Jon went and slept in the other room with Jer.


We got everyone up and repacked all our stuff because we had to have it ready for pick up at 8:30am as that is when it was being picked up to be sent to the boat. We grabbed a quick breakfast and then headed out to where the shuttle would take us to the ship.


It was about an hour’s bus ride from the airport to Port Canaveral and when we got there we got in touch with my cousin who lives in Florida. She lives about 2-3 hours away from Port Canaveral but Charlene and Jeff and all 4 of their kids had piled into their van early that morning and drove up to see us. We snapped a quick picture while we were waiting to connect with them…


It was SO HOT! So much hotter and WAY MORE HUMID than we were used to, but it was WONDERFUL at the same time. We were LOVING the heat and the sun. This next picture has nothing really to do with the story, but my little dude is just so cute so I had to throw it in….


Charlene picked us up and we drove to the closest Mcdonalds as we figured that would be the easiest and most comfortable place for all “9” of our kids to hang out and burn off some energy while we (the adults) got a chance to connect and chat.



It was SO AWESOME to be able to connect and hang out and see them and chat and…..well, I could just go on and on. It was such a HUGE bonus to this already wonderful trip and I am so grateful and thankful that we got the opportunity and that Charlene and Jeff went so out of their way. You guys are amazing!


We managed to get a few pictures of both Char and I and of all 8 million of our children…


We even got some nice stranger to take one with the Jon and Jeff included….


I so wish that we lived closer to each other. It would be so fun to be able to get together more often. Jeff and Charlene are amazing people and their kids are such cool little people!

They took us back to the Port because the kids were starting to freak out about “getting on the boat” and so very reluctantly we said good bye.

It took a while to get signed in and registered and our pictures taken and all of the other stuff required to get us on the boat and the kids were thankful for the couches and movies playing all over the Disney Terminal.


Finally, FINALLY…it was time. All the papers were signed and the kids were registered and we could go onto the boat….You walk through that Mickey and into the walkway that takes you right into the boat.


And with that, our Cruise…..Angelica’s Wish Trip officially started. It was SO exciting. We went up to the Promenade to be apart of the big Kick off Party….


There was music and dancing and shiny metallic streamers to shake and…….. well, it was pretty emotional to just be there.


Right in the middle of all of all the excitement and partying, Judah just couldn’t take it any more and he just fell straight asleep. My sweet boy, he’d done so well with all the travel and the different planes and bus ride and hotel and he just couldn’t take it one moment longer.


To say that we were excited is such an understatement. It was AMAZING to just be there. We sat up on the deck while the party carried on and watched the boat push off from the dock. It was a bit surreal to realize that we were finally here after months of thinking and dreaming.


It had been a pretty exhausting 2 days of travel and so we just sat for a moment and relaxed….


Then it was time to go and get dressed for dinner. They require you to dress up a little for dinners and I loved it….it made the dinners just a little bit extra special to have to get dressed nice and then the kids were on their best behavior because it felt extra special…We were seated at table 28 and it was RIGHT BY THE WINDOW. Just after we sat down to eat, we were treated to an AMAZING sun set..


That first day is a bit of a blur because we were so tired, but we basically walked around the ship a bit after dinner and then we headed back to our rooms and finally with much effort (because they were a little buzzed on the excitement of it all) got the kids into bed. The next day we were going to be getting off the boat at Key West and we couldn’t wait to go and see what Key West was like….

If you’re interested in seeing the rest of the pictures from that day, click here!