Disney World August 2020

Shortly after returning from Disney the first week of August we were really missing it! You can read about that trip HERE. While we were on that trip the farm got a much needed rain. A really good rain. The crops were looking good and we started gearing up for harvest, but everything was a few weeks shy of being completely done. So 10 days after being home we decided to go somewhere else!

With travel being super limited right now our options were obviously limited. We considered driving down to the beach, but a 9+ hour drive is never appealing to me so I wanted to check other options too. Since we are frequent fliers with Southwest our flights are free so my continental US options are limitless but a lot of states are requiring quarantines and then there’s the whole car rental 4 kids in car seat situation that’s a huge hassle. Disney is currently offering 40% off hotel rooms for Annual Passholders so with that huge hotel discount, free flights, Annual Passes we already have and free transportation to and from the airport going back to Disney was not only our easiest option but also our cheapest! So back to Disney we went for another week!

This trip we stayed at Disney’s Riviera Resort. We have stayed there before last winter when it first opened and we swore we would never do it again, but I should know by now to never say never. I chose this resort mainly for the pool and splash pad area and because it has one of the only character meals still operating on Disney property, Topolino’s Terrace.

I don’t exactly regret staying at the Riviera this time because it suited our needs with such little else available at Disney, but all the original complaints I had with it are still there and even exacerbated at this time so we for sure won’t be back! You can read about that trip HERE.

I knew for this trip we would be spending a lot of time at the pool and splash pad and the Riviera didn’t disappoint in that area. They have 2 large pools, one is quieter that we didn’t actually go to and the other is the larger family pool. This pool has a zero entry area that’s great for little toddlers. There’s also a large water slide that the kids loved! Even baby Belle went down the big slide by herself multiple times and LOVED it. Don’t worry, I was there to get her at the bottom and she was wearing a life jacket 😉 Like all Disney hotels there are plenty of life jackets available for kids of all sizes even down to small infant life jackets. The splash pad area is really the winner here though and we thoroughly enjoyed it! The large splash pad area is completely enclosed by a fence that kids can’t get in or out of with plenty of seating for adults whether you want to lounge in the sun or have lunch at a shaded table. There is one large tunnel slide for older toddlers, a small slide for babies, and lots of water spouts to play with. Theres a bar and a full quick service restaurant right next to the pool and both will bring your drinks or food out to the splash pad to you!

The only other reason we chose the Riviera again was for their signature restaurant Topolino’s Terrace. We had dinner here twice and breakfast 3 times. Their menu is pretty lacking and we were disappointed with the food. They no longer have the amazing sausage hash for breakfast so that leaves you the option of sour cream waffles with orange maple syrup which is an interesting combination or a quiche that is good but not an everyday breakfast item. The kids breakfast options are basic Mickey waffles with bacon and sausage which is always welcomed and it comes on a cute painted pallet plate. The best part about breakfast is the characters are still there! Every morning for breakfast you will dine with Mickey, Minnie, Donald and Daisy. You can’t touch the characters but they dance around the dining room and stop for pictures and wave at each table. Dinner was by far the biggest disappointment. The first night for dinner Andrew and I both ordered the lamb which tasted just like slow cooker pot roast. Neither one of us at more than a couple bites. The next dinner we decided to try the filet Mignon because it’s hard to really mess up a filet but it was just alright. Definitely not bad but nothing to write home about. We ended up ditching all other dining reservations we had at Topolino’s and caught another dinner at Be Our Guest in Magic Kingdom and that was way better!

The parks were significantly more crowded on this trip than they were the 2 weeks prior. It was still “low crowds” by pre-COVID standards, but it was definitely a lot busier. With Florida’s COVID numbers dropping and the parks having been open a month now I think more people are getting more comfortable with getting out. I did notice that the Saturday and Sunday we were there were downright crowded. The weekend was much like a typical November crowd day.

Because Belle was 2 on this trip she had to wear a mask for the first time. I was I totally concerned because she’s never worn one before but she had no problems with it! She never messed with it and had no complaints about wearing it.

With harvest right around the corner and Baby #5 due soon this is probably our last trip until December so until then we’ll be missing Disney!

Bugaboo Donkey2 Stroller Review

It’s safe to say we’ve gone through a lot of strollers this year. With soon to be 5 kids under 5 we have been on the search for the best stroller so we’ve tried several!

It all started when we realized our original double stroller, a Graco, was actually a giant piece of junk. We moved on to a 2016 model Baby Jogger City Mini double that we actually LOVED. You can read about it HERE. We kept the city mini for a few years and they traveled many places with us. When Baby Jogger announced a new body style City Mini in late 2019 we decided this was the perfect opportunity to upgrade the strollers we loved. So we sold our old city minis and bought the brand new body style only to find out that all the new changes they made were horrible and we really regretted that purchase. You can read about that HERE. After that I was open to other strollers and did so much research trying to find the perfect one for our needs which is what this post is actually about!

After much research I decided to purchase two Bugaboo Donkey2 Duo strollers. These strollers are extremely pricey, but I hoped it would be our last stroller purchase ever. Unfortunately this stroller was a major flop also. I intended to do a video along with this post but I put them up for sale the second we got back from Disney and they immediately both sold before I could get to making a video. I’m just happy to be rid of them though!


One of the main reasons I liked the Donkey and thought it would be our last stroller purchase was because it converts from a single stroller to a double stroller and also has an awesome glider board with a seat for a third kid.

The toddler seats hold up to 50lbs each and fully recline for sleeping littles

Comes with 1 bassinet attachment for newborns and tiny babies.

Huge multistage sun canopy for optimal sun coverage

Adjustable height handle bar comes up plenty tall enough for Andrew and I both to comfortably push.

Narrow! For a full size double stroller the frame is narrow and you will have no trouble fitting through single doorways.

5 point harness. I actually never buckle my kids in because that’s a waste of time they all know how to get out but I know this is an important feature to a lot of people and I would want the 5pt harness if I had a smaller baby.


Huge and bulky! Since I couldn’t actually see this stroller in person before buying it I had to rely on dimensions posted online. I scoured the internet trying to find accurate dimensions of this stroller and even emailed customer service to get dimensions and weight with both seats attached, folded up, and all wheels attached. Ultimately the dimensions i was given from Bugaboo were not accurate. I was given dimensions of the stroller broken down so I was deceived into thinking it was smaller than it is. This stroller does not fold up well at all. Unless you remove both the seats, put it into single mode, and remove all the wheels, it is HUGE! It will not fit through the back half of the Disney buses. I’m SO GLAD we went to Disney during COVID-19 because the buses were empty and it wasn’t an issue for us to need to sit in the wheelchair spot for our strollers to even fit on the dang bus! It was such a nightmare having these strollers at Disney and having to fold them up. They also take up so much space in the back of my Yukon XL. I can’t fit them in my trunk unless they are completely broken down with all the seats removed

Hard to fold/unfold! Folding these beasts is work! You have to unlock the handle bar, fold the handle bar all the way in, push and pull a button and lever on both sides of the stroller at the same time and then push the entire stroller frame down and together while holding those levers and buttons down. Once folded down it’s still humongous. Unfolding is just as bad. You have to push the 2 buttons on both sides while pulling up on the 2 levers all at the same time while simultaneously pulling the stroller frame apart. If you don’t do this just right the wheels will lock up and not fold all the way out. Then you have to unlock both sides of the handle bar and pull it back out.

HEAVY! Same as the size dimensions, the weight I was given was also not accurate. I could tell when we got it that it felt a lot heavier than even our new City Mini so I weighed it at home and sure enough it’s the heaviest stroller we’ve ever had.

Hard to maneuver. It’s very easy to push and make wide turns with but the handle bar is flimsy and short turns or quick moves are lost on it.

Flimsy seat recline. The handle that reclines the seats feels like it might break every time you touch it.

Cheaply made. For a very expensive stroller, it’s pretty junky. The front wheel brake piece broke off randomly one day just by being touched. Apparently this is a common issue because you can buy that replacement piece. The seat recline handle felt the same and overall the frame felt weak and flimsy.

Rain cover only covers the actual child in the seat. This probably wouldn’t make a difference to most people if they didn’t know better but our other strollers had rain covers that covered the entire stroller including the handle bar organizer and under storage basket. The Donkey rain covers only cover the individual seats.

No parent consoles. Bugaboo does not make a good parent console or cup holders for this stroller. I returned the Bugaboo brand cup holder and organizer because they were useless. I ended up buying a different brand but it was still difficult to use.

Sun Canopies. The sun canopies only C-hook onto the frame so they fall off constantly. If you or a kid touches it, it falls off. If you need to fold the stroller, the canopies fall off. They also have no peakaboo window or ventilation.

Belly bars. This is a personal preference because I know some people like belly bars but these were such a pain for us! Our kids are capable of getting in and out by themselves but these belly bars are separated by seat so you have to pick the child up or take them off each time they need to get in or out because they’re small. I’d prefer not to have a belly bar at all.

Overall we felt like these strollers were a huge waste of money. 3 days in to an 8 day Disney World trip we hated them so much that we actually ordered new strollers! If these weren’t so expensive I probably would have left them at the dumpster at our hotel.

We decided to go back to the 2016 Baby Jogger City Mini! Since that model is actually discontinued I was able to find them really cheap on a random baby store’s website! We went back to Disney World 10 days later and were soooo thankful to have our City Minis back!

Disney World July 2020

We were actually supposed to have 2 Disney trips in July. The first week of July our trip was cancelled due to Disney still being closed. It was a major bummer because we really needed out of the house, but thankfully they reopened and we were able to make it there at the end of July to celebrate Belle’s 2nd birthday on August 1st!

This was overall quite an experience for us considering we all (minus the 1 year old) had to wear masks the entire time. The kids definitely did better with the masks than Andrew and I. They never complained about them. I found our masks comfortable and easy to breathe in, but obviously would have preferred not to wear them. Disney is strictly enforcing the mask rule. They are also checking temperatures before entering the parks. There are hand sanitizer stations set up literally everywhere in the parks and resorts. All the line queues are marked with 6ft markers for people to stand on. The buses are allowing limited people on board with plexiglass dividers between parties and same for the rides. We felt extremely safe and that Disney has actually gone overboard in precautions. We spent 9 days at Disney and have been home for over a week now and I’m happy to report none of us are sick.

For this trip we stayed at Disney’s Contemporary Resort. It is one of our absolute favorites and we stay there multiple times a year. We love the main tower theme park view rooms. The room has a perfect view of Magic Kingdom and Cinderella’s Castle. Due to COVID there are no fireworks at night right now but typically we enjoy watching the Magic Kingdom fireworks from the comfort of our room at night! One of the other major perks to staying at the Contemporary is that it’s literally right across the street from Magic Kingdom! This means that you don’t have to take any kind of transportation to get to Disney’s main park, you can just walk down the sidewalk from your room!

Due to COVID a ton of Disney restaurants are closed right now. We ended up eating breakfast at our resort every day of our trip. We alternated between Chef Mickey’s and The Wave. Chef Mickey is usually a buffet and a character meal but right now there are no characters and the food is brought to your table served family style. As many times as we have stayed at the Contemporary we have never eaten at The Wave but they have a wonderful breakfast! Andrew and I both really enjoyed the Floridian Eggs Benedict which is traditional eggs Benedict with crab cakes on top!

Usually when we do Disney we spend every day at the park but for this trip we took some time to hang out at the pool. The Contemporary’s main pool area has a small splash pad for the little kids and a water slide for the bigger kids. I say bigger kids, but there’s no height requirement for the water slide and it’s very very tame. My 3 & 4 year olds were able to go up and down it by themselves with no problem. We just waited at the bottom for them while the slid down it repeatedly for hours. One of the best things about staying on Disney property with littles is you don’t have to take up valuable luggage space with life jackets! Disney’s pool areas are equipped with life jackets for kids of all sizes all the way down to infants! You also don’t have to pack your towels! When you walk into the pool area there is a place to pick up towels, you don’t have to leave your room key, see an attendant or anything like that, just grab the number of towels you need and go. Exact same with the life jackets, they’re all hanging up in size order and you find the sizes you need and go. Just be sure to drop your life jackets and towels back off before you leave.

This was a long trip and the parks were operating on limited hours so we spent multiple days at each park really taking our time and heading back to the hotel early in the evenings. Usually our Disney trips are nonstop and action packed but this was a pretty relaxing trip. We came home not feeling like we needed a vacation from our vacation.

A lot of our favorite restaurants were closed and that was definitely the biggest bummer of our trip. We did try out a few new places though that will most likely become new staples for us!

I’m going to split the rest of this post up into parks instead of days like I normally do so it’s easier to follow since we had a lot of days

Hollywood Studios:

Disney’s newest ride, Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway opened right after we got back from our February trip earlier this year just before the parks shut down. We were really eager to ride this ride because it has no height requirements so it’s good for our entire family. Even with the limited capacity crowds at the parks this is one you HAVE to rope drop! The first day we went to HS we didn’t realize how crazy the lines would be without fastpasses but immediately after opening and all day long the wait times were over an hour long. We just can’t wait that long with 4 babies so we skipped it the first day but our next HS day we made sure to head straight there as soon as the park opened and we were able to walk right on to it with no wait. It’s a trackless ride very similar to Ratatouille at Disneyland Paris. It was so loud though you couldn’t hear Mickey & Minnie talking street all so we couldn’t follow the storyline for it, it just seemed chaotic.

Our main focus for HS was Toy Story land. MM absolutely loves Goofy’s Barnstormer roller coaster in MK and she is finally tall enough to upgrade to Slinky Dog. We knew this would be a big hit for her so we made sure to rope drop Slinky Dog every day so we could all ride it. Toy Story land was completely empty every morning because most people head straight for Star Wars or MMRR. We were able to walk on to Slinky Dog 3 times in a row before there was ever a line. Just as we expected, MM LOVED Slinky Dog and we rode it multiple times on this trip for her.

The newest ride in Star Wars land, Rise of the Resistance has a 40″ height requirement so only the twins would be tall enough. For ROTR Disney is using a virtual queue system that opens up slots at 10am and 2pm. They were doing this back in February and we were unable to get a spot in the virtual queue even right at opening. Just like February the first day trying we couldn’t get a spot at all. Our next HS I managed to get a spot right at 10am but it was for so late in the evening we were already at dinner by the time our group was called! Definitely a bummer, but we aren’t huge Star Wars fans anyway so we will just wait until everyone is taller or we can get fastpasses for it.

All the shows at HS are closed right now because the actors union can’t reach an agreement with Disney. Because of this there are very few things to do at HS and we only spent half a day there both days we went. It definitely felt like the most crowded park too, by lunch time all the rides had very long wait times. We definitely did it right for us by hitting the rides we wanted as soon as the park opened and then leaving for the afternoon.

Animal Kingdom:

Our favorite thing at AK, the Festival of the Lion King show, was not open. The Finding Nemo show was also closed, both due to the actors union disagreement. Our favorite Disney character meal, Tusker House, was also closed and we were so sad about not getting our curry chicken and rice for breakfast. Nothing at AK required rope dropping, the lines across the entire park for the entire day were consistently under 15 minutes for everything including Flight of Passage. We were able to have dinner at our favorite AK dinner spot, Yak & Yeti, and it was just as good as always! The kids all had Teriyaki chicken with mango salsa & rice and Andrew and I both had Chicken Tikka Masala which is my favorite dish ever. They also have the best fried wontons for dessert!


Epcot is borderline sad. About half the restaurants are closed and none of the country pavilions in the world showcase are staffed by natives of those countries right now. Walking around Epcot was like walking through a ghost town. On the positive side, there were zero lines for any of the rides. They even offered to let us ride Frozen multiple times because nobody else was in line. Epcot also has one of the few character meals right now, Garden Grill, so we did take advantage of that for lunch one day to see Mickey, Pluto, Chip & Dale. The characters aren’t coming directly to your table but they will walk by frequently. We definitely had a dinner at Via Napoli, our favorite Disney property restaurant of all, and it was wonderful as usual. We also decided to give Coral Reef another try one night, but it was mediocre at best. We have eaten at Coral Reef before and although it wasn’t bad, it wasn’t good either. With limited options this time we decided to give it another try and we had the same experience as last time. Nothing major to complain about, but we won’t be back again as there are a lot of better restaurants in Epcot.

Magic Kingdom:

MK is probably the park with the most normalcy to it right now. With the exception of several dining locations being closed (Crystal Palace and Cinderella’s Royal Table, 2 of our faves! Waahhh!) basically all the rides are up and running so we spent several days at MK. Wait times for all the rides never exceeded 30-40 minutes at the longest with most being straight walk ons so we were able to easily ride everything we wanted multiple times.

MM got to ride 7 Dwarf’s Mine Train for the first time and just like Slinky dog she really loved it!

We spent Belle’s 2nd birthday at MK complete with dinner at Be Our Guest. We actually ate BOG for dinner on all of our MK days because it was basically the only thing open for dinner there and we love their filet Mignon. Belle loves Olaf and wanted an Olaf cake for her birthday. For a 1 year old she’s been talking about this Olaf cake for months now! Originally the Contemporary bakery was supposed to make her an actual Olaf cake, but they ended up not reopening so we were forced to improvise. We ended up buying a large Olaf ornament and sticking it on top of the traditional Mickey birthday cakes. Belle didn’t know any different and she really loved her thrown together Olaf birthday cake!

In case you missed it, Cinderella’s castle just got a new paint job! I was skeptical at first but it’s really pretty in person and I love it now!

We had a lot of fun on this trip with the ride pictures if you can’t tell!

While none of the parks have their usual designated parade each day, all the parks had characters riding around all day long at random times! I actually prefer the way they’re doing it now as opposed to the mass crowds for the one 3pm parade!

We love Disney so much we may just decide to go back next week 😉

July 2020 Wrap Up

I try very hard to only post about positive things going on with us. The internet is full of major negatives everywhere you look! It’s one of the main reasons we do not have any form of social media besides our blog. It can just really get you down in the dumps. But I do like to be real, and July was a HARD month for us. Nothing major happened. We are so blessed to have a stable lifestyle and healthy family, but parts of July were definitely a struggle.

The main trouble we had this month was on the farm. Until the very last couple days of July it had not rained on the farm since the middle of May. We spent the majority of the summer in a drought and it was hard on our crops and very hard on Andrew. No rain means dying crops with no irrigation and increased input costs on fields that can be irrigated. With over 4,000 acres that means around the clock work for Andrew. The farm is our livelihood and when it suffers we all suffer. Thankfully, the last few days of July and into the beginning of August we got the rain that we so desperately needed to lighten the load and lift spirits!

The first week of July also brought my anatomy scan ultrasound for baby #5. This is the big mid pregnancy ultrasound that checks all major organs and developmental progress. Thankfully everything was perfect! On the downside, Andrew was still not allowed to go with me. This is our 5th baby and the first time he has not been able to go to my ultrasounds and doctors appointments. He never misses them. It’s been very hard for him to be excluded and very hard for me to be alone. Every milestone I wonder if something will be wrong and I’ll have to deal with it by myself while he waits in the car.

We also missed out on several vacations this month. The first of July we were supposed to be at Disney World, but they stayed closed until July 10 so our trip was cancelled. Two weeks later we were supposed to head to Panama City Beach, Florida for a week at the beach, but the major drought on the farm caused us to need to cancel that trip. As strange as it sounds our kids are so used to traveling, airports, and living out of suitcases that staying home was hard on them too. They kept getting our suitcases out of the closet and asking when we were going to the airport next.

We are definitely aware that these are major first world problems and we are so thankful for everything we have, but that doesn’t negate the affects it had on us personally. We had a lot of great things happen in July too so I’ll finish this post with all the positives!

We were able to sneak away to Gaston’s White River Resort over the 4th of July weekend. We had a great time at the river and then headed over to Mtn View to Gunner Pool on Sylamore Creek in the National Forest.

Lorelei and Maggie Mae started summer tumbling camp in July. This is the first time MM was old enough for anything and she was soooo excited. She’s by far our shyest child so I was a little concerned she wouldn’t do well in her class. Parents weren’t allowed inside due to COVID so I just had to drop her off at the door and couldn’t stay to watch. Curiosity got the best of me though and after about 20 minutes I came back and peeked in the outside window to see how she was doing and I was so happy to see her bouncing around inside playing with the other girls and doing the tumbling stuff her teachers told her to! It was like watching a completely different child! She absolutely loved it! She gets to start ballet and tap this fall and she’s just as excited!

For my Grandmothers birthday we met my family in Mtn View for lunch and ice cream on the square and enjoyed the afternoon.

We were home so much this month we got a lot of school work in! The twins are learning to read and doing so well with that! They can easily read short word sentences. They love Bob books and they really boost their reading confidence. Belle doesn’t do any school work but she’s always in the room with us playing while the other kids are doing their stuff and it amazes me what she has picked up on. For a 1 year old she knows all her colors, shapes, the ABC song and can even count to 20. I find it absolutely hilarious to hear her counting because it just seems so grown up for a baby but she’s so proud of herself.

On another Belle note, we started potty training this month and she’s basically potty trained. I have to admit I stopped her because at the end of the month we went to Disney and she wasn’t ready for that yet so we used diapers there but she does great using the potty all day while we are at home!

The last few days of July we headed off to Disney World to celebrate Belle’s 2nd birthday on August 1. I’ll post about that in a separate post! It was an experience!

Can You Backpack Through Europe With Small Kids?

The short answer is yes, absolutely!!

When we told people we were planning on spending 3 weeks in Europe as a family of 6 with 4 kids under 5 and nothing but 2 backpacks we got a lot of *unsolicited & mostly unhelpful* advice!

Everyone was quick to tell us that we were crazy, but we’re a pretty adaptable bunch so thankfully we didn’t listen!


For me, Kayla, I have a 48L REI Crestrail. This pack has a huge main compartment, top compartment, and lots of side zippers and pouches. The back has a metal frame for support and structure and lots of padding. Plus it buckles around the hips and waist for weight distribution. I had no problems carrying this bag stuffed full while also baby wearing a 1 year old. For reference I’m 5’8 and 120lbs.

Andrew’s bag is a 75L Deuter. Obviously, it’s significantly larger than mine and he also baby wore our 2yo so he was pretty maxed out with his full bag and child attached to his body. His bag also has a steel frame for structure, 2 split large main compartments, large top compartment, lots of side pouches, padded straps and back, and buckles around the hips/waist for weight distribution. For reference Andrew is 6’3 220lbs.

We stayed in each city for 1-3 nights so during the day we left our big bags in our AirBNBs and took out with us a 30L Eddie Bauer Adventurer. This is our go to travel backpack for all our short term trips. It’s been on many flights with us to many destinations and is a true work horse. It’s very comfortable, lots of pockets, and can hold an incredible amount of stuff!

How & What To Pack:

Packing cubes are always your friend! I packed all 6 of us a weeks worth of outfits (shirts, pants, underwear, socks) and then we washed and rewore throughout our trip.

Because we were in Europe for winter which is very cold and wet, we all had 1 pair of waterproof insulated boots that we wore every day. Andrew and the kids all had leather Keens and I had Sperry duck boots.

We carried with us just our toothbrushes, hair brush, a day or two worth of diapers and wipes and small travel size of toiletries. When we ran out of something we simply found a store to buy more. That is probably not the most cost effective way, but we were really trying to limit the amount of weight we were carrying around from place to place so that was best for us. There are drugstores on pretty much every corner in every country so it’s not hard to find whatever you need! Including a pharmacy for adult and kid medicines. Belle ran a fever for about 24 hours in France and it was no problem finding a pharmacy to get her some children’s Advil and the pharmacist explain the dosage for her weight.

How To Get Around:

Trains! Trains! Trains! Europe is so well connected with a fast and efficient rail network. Large cities have incredible public transportation options like buses, street cars, and metros. Europe is so much more easily accessible and family friendly to travel through than the US it’s crazy! Long haul trains will have luggage storage areas, overhead bins, and clean bathrooms. While metros, street cars and buses don’t have bathrooms or designated space for luggage you can still bring them aboard. I was thankful to have backpacks that didn’t take up space but we saw tons of people on the buses and metro with large rolling suitcases.

Let’s talk strollers for a minute. We did not bring our strollers because it just would have been too much for us but lots of families in Europe rely on strollers for everyday use. We found Germany and Portugal to be extremely stroller friendly. Germany in particular has lots of elevators in their train and metro stations for strollers to get to their platforms easily. Germany is extremely handicap accessible and their infrastructure as a whole is great. Paris was horrible for strollers and wheelchairs. Almost every elevator we saw was out of order. We witnessed so many people carrying strollers ups and down the stairs at the metro stations. I don’t know what someone in a wheelchair was supposed to do! It was horrible.


**What about all the souvenirs we want to buy? -Buy all the things! Seriously! We would stuff our backpack full of everything our little hearts desired then every day or two we would find a post office and ship it all back home! European countries have FedEx, UPS, DHL, and regular national postal services. We used FedEx in France and found Deutsch Post to be the most useful and easily accessible in Germany.

**I’ve heard Europe, specifically Paris, isn’t very kid friendly –We did not find this to be true at all. We are quite the spectacle everywhere we go. Large families, especially with a lot of really little kids, are not the norm anywhere so we get a lot of attention and the vast majority of it is good attention. We even found most restaurants had high chairs which was something I read was hard to come by but we never had a problem. Another issue with a stroller though is I’m not sure what you would do with a stroller while you went in places. Restaurants and shops are tiny so you would not be able to bring one inside which would mean you would need to leave it on on the street? Another very kid friendly thing we experienced in airports (Lisbon, Paris, and Berlin) the airports are sooooo kid friendly! They have special security areas for families only and families are given priority boarding. I actually thing Europe is a lot more family friendly than the US. One of the pictures below is a restaurant owner hugging my 2yo because he was just smitten with them.

If you have specific questions about something I left off, just ask me!

June 2020 Wrap Up

I’m a week late, but we were finally busy again in July! Crazy busy actually. Everything seemed to start back up all at once!

The twins are still taking music lessons weekly. During their lessons the little girls either stay and wait with me or they go to work with Andrew depending on what he’s doing. The twins are doing so well. I’ve really been impressed how quickly they have picked up reading music, especially being only 4!

We still have weekly swim lessons. The twins are really swimming now with proper arm strokes and everything. MM has come around and actually enjoys the water now.

Lorelei has been in ballet and rap since last fall. She was supposed to have a recital in May but since classes were halted in March that was postponed. I assumed she wouldn’t get to have her recital, but she got to go back to dance in June! She was really excited to go back to dance and they even had an in studio recital for the girls that they filmed for the parents. Lorelei was just happy to get to wear her costumes!

T-ball was another spring activity that was postponed. Much like dance I didn’t think it would ever actually resume but we got the call they were going to move forward with a short season through the month of June. They ended up having a game twice a week for the month of June. The twins played and really loved it this year compared to last!

In farm news we started and finished wheat harvest which was a relief. Our wheat did exceptionally well this year. Our new farm shop is almost complete now. I don’t think I kept everyone updated on all the craziness but our shop has been built 3 times now due to a tornado and then a very high wind storm! We also got 2 new grain bins that are just about complete

We homeschool through the summer because we are gone most of the winter and the twins have been working hard. They are both reading short words now. Reading has been our main focus this summer and we will continue on with that until this fall. We used Logic of English Foundations for phonics and reading and it has been very beneficial. It’s a very straight forward program with very little glitz and glamor but I will definitely say it works! MM has really been wanting to do school so when she turned 3 I got her the same The Good & The Beautiful Preschool workbook that the twins used last year but she’s just not ready for it. She was really excited to have her own workbook and we trudged through about a week of it but it’s designed for 3-4 year olds and was just over her head. I didn’t want to discourage her so I found Horizons Preschool for 3s that is much more level appropriate for her. We’ve been using it for about a month now and she loves it!

July will bring a lot more adventures for us and we can’t wait!

How We Are Team No Electronics With 4 Kids

I know what you’re thinking, that’s her kid in the picture watching tv, but she said they don’t do electronics? Keep reading down to my international flights section 😉

Before I had kids there were a lot of things I swore I would never do as a parent. A lot of those things went out the window when the twins were born, but one thing I have really put my foot down with is that we don’t do electronics in this house. My biggest pet peeve is trying to talk to someone while they are casually scrolling their phone at the same time! Or even worse having a meal while other people at your table have their phones out. Because of Andrew’s job his phone is basically glued to his ear. It rings nonstop at all hours of the day, but even he doesn’t answer his phone while we are eating or if he and I are having a conversation.

With 4 kids in a hugely technology oriented world, it’s hard to get by with no electronics. Research shows that kids under 2 should have no screen time and kids under 5 should have less than an hour a day with the least amount possible being the best. Considering we don’t have a generation of adults yet who grew up with lots of electronics options, my uneducated guess is that the jury is definitely still out on how much is too much. Here’s a few simple things we have done to help eliminate screen time for our kids. For reference my kiddos are 4,4,3, & just shy of 2.

1. Phones are off limits. My 4 year olds know how to use the emergency call feature on my iPhone to call my husband and my parents but otherwise they aren’t allowed to use our phones and never have been. My kids don’t even know games exist on phones, they think all you can do is call people and buy things for the UPS man to bring haha!

2. No access to TVs. We have 2 TVs in our entire house; one in the living room and one in the master bedroom. The kids do not have access to either. The remotes are kept out of reach and the living room tv actually stays unplugged. Really no one in our house watches tv, we don’t even have cable/satellite. I would really love to ditch the tv in our living room but it’s really nice to have during the winter when it’s nasty outside and we can all watch a movie on the couch together.

3. No tablets. Our kids actually do have the kids Amazon Fire tablets. We got them last year for some international flights. They have been with us to Portugal, Germany, and France and those are the only 3 times my kids have used them. All of those flights were over 9 hours long and they were definitely useful! Even with a few kids movie selections on the plane seat back tv that’s not enough for a 12 hour flight in the middle of the day. I did not let them have free reign of their tablets though. I downloaded movies from Disney+ onto them and that’s all they had to watch. We do not take them on domestic flights, even long-ish domestic flights. For domestic flights I bring books, dry erase activity/school books and magnetic blocks.

4. No computers. We have several computers in our house, a desktop and 2 laptops, but our kids have never used them. I cannot even imagine my toddlers trying to navigate using a computer but I know many do. I was quite shocked when I first began exploring homeschool curriculums how many of them were computer based even at the preschool level.

We started these practices from day 1 so it’s really all our kids know. I do think it has helped tremendously though because they play really hard and they know how to wait patiently at restaurants, doctors offices, church, etc without the help of electronics to occupy them. I do not bring toys with us when we are out places, but I do bring a quiet snack to church because we don’t send them to children’s church, they go to the main service with us and it’s right before lunch when they’re getting hungry and it helps them to sit and listen if they can also munch on something.

Don’t fret if you want to go electronics free with your kids, but they’re already accustomed to it though; it can be done! I know several people who have removed electronics from their lives and I promise their kids survived it! Much like taking a pacifier away from a baby, after a few days of an upset child it will subside.

May 2020 Wrap Up

Finally in May we started to see some return to normalcy. Not a perfect normal, but at least able to leave the house again!

On May 1st we finally had our first ultrasound to see baby #5. My OB always does a dating ultrasound as soon as you get a positive pregnancy test, then a heartbeat check ultrasound a few weeks later. Because of COVID I didn’t even get to go in for my first appointment until I was 10 weeks! It was so hard to wait that long not knowing if the pregnancy was even viable. Typically I would have had 2 ultrasounds already. Thankfully everything was going perfect and the baby was measuring perfect and had a strong heartbeat!

May 3 was the first Sunday in May which is always Andrew’s family reunion at his Dad’s farm. This year was obviously quite different. Instead of tons of people from all over the country it was just our family, Andrew’s Dad, and his 3 siblings and their families. It was still a lot of people, about 18, considering we all have kids, but definitely different. We still had our usual church service, sang worship songs, and fried fish for lunch.

May 8th was our little Magnolia Mae’s 3rd birthday! I cannot believe it’s been 3 years since she came into this world screaming. She’s still just as dramatic now as she was the day she was born. We bought her a big slide and had a small family party for her. The Magnolia tree we planted for her in our yard is 3 years old now too and it has finally surpassed her in height this spring.

Around the middle of May we got quite a bit of rain so we decided to head to the beach for a quick trip since Florida beaches and restaurants are finally back open! We had a great trip and it was so nice to be away from home for a few days!

Once we got back from the beach we finally got to start back to swim lessons! The twins also got to go to their first music lesson! Lorelei is learning the violin and Rhett is learning the guitar! They both really loved it and can’t wait to go back next week!

Since Andrew wasn’t allowed to go to my ultrasound with me at my OB’s office at the beginning of the month we decided to go to a privet ultrasound clinic to see baby #5 so he could be there too! This is our 5th baby and that’s the first time he hasn’t been at an ultrasound with me so he was really disappointed. Our private ultrasound was wonderful though! We were able to confirm that baby #5 is most definitely still a boy (we did an early blood dna test back around 8 weeks to find out the gender). He is growing like a weed and looks perfect! He was waving his arms around, sucking his thumb, and kicking his little feet!

Destin Florida May 2020

As soon as the farm got a big rain and Florida reopened their beaches and restaurants, we were outta here! Even though it was just a quick 4 day trip, it was a much needed break from being cooped up in the house for 2 months! Especially with our travel obsessed family!

Several years ago we had a really bad vacation experience in Destin so we have avoided it like the plague. We much prefer Panama City Beach, FL (the Holiday Inn Resort there has an awesome kids splash pad) or Gulf Shores, AL. This trip did bring a little light back to Destin for us but I still don’t think we would go back.

We drove down to the coast on a Friday and arrived in Destin just in time for dinner. Our first stop was the Back Porch restaurant. It was a pretty typical beach chain restaurant. The food and service was mediocre but the outdoor beach side seating offered a great breeze and views!

(These outfits are from Busy Bees Smocks)

We stayed at the Hilton Sandestin Resort which is actually in Miramar Beach, a few minutes outside Destin. This is a Hilton beachfront Resort inside a gated golf course community. The resort was very nice. We had a room with 1 king bed, 1 full sofa bed, and twin bunk beds. There was plenty of room for our family of 6. The resort offers 2 outdoor pools and 1 indoor pool. There is no kids splash pad. Sandcastles restaurant opens daily at 7am and offers a great breakfast selection. The poolside grill opens at 11am and has excellent lunch options and snacks. My main complaint with this resort is the beach area. The resorts designated beach area is relatively small and they fill the entire space of it with their rental chairs and umbrellas 3 rows deep. We always rent the chairs and umbrellas so that isn’t my issue, the worst part was that they were always full! You can rent them for a week at a time when you arrive so if on your first day there’s none available you’re just out of luck and there’s no other beach space for you to set up your own umbrella and chairs. Even with us out on the beach before 8am and the first people at the rental stand we were still stuck with the second row of chairs instead of the first which obviously didn’t kill us but wasn’t ideal.

(These swimsuits are from Little Britches Boutique)

We had dinner at the Crab Trap our second night. Once again the food was just mediocre but our service was good. The worst part was the parking! The parking lot is tiny and it’s shared with the public beach access so it’s basically nonexistent. My disdain for that situation was also exacerbated by the fact that I had a 3 year old who really needed to potty while we were trying to find somewhere to park!

(These outfits are from Sweet LaRose Boutique)

The next day was once again filled with beach and pool time. We had breakfast at the hotel restaurant Sandcastles and lunch at the poolside grill. That night for dinner we decided to try Dewey Destin’s Harborside. This was the best pick of our trip. The service was top notch and the food was the best we had the entire time!

(These swimsuits are from Classic Southern Smocks, the girls yellow dresses are from Sweet LaRose Boutique, Rhett’s shirt is from Walmart and his shorts are Carters)

Unfortunately we had to leave after 3 nights. We could have stayed an extra night because it was still raining at home but it was raining in Destin also and supposed to rain for the next few days so we decided to just come back. Overall it was a nice break and a nice return to some normalcy for us! We hope our Disney trips this summer don’t get cancelled!

(The girls dresses and Rhett’s shirt are Wildflowers. Rhett’s shorts are from Carters)

April 2020

Well we really didn’t do much this month… This is probably, and hopefully, the only time I will start one of these monthly updates with that sentence!

COVID-19 continued to throw our plans off. Swim lessons and dance lessons are still cancelled. The twins were supposed to start music lessons but that too has been postponed. We are really missing our weekly Walmart trips and going out to eat. I know it sounds crazy to most people with small children, I hear it all the time, but we go out to eat multiple times a week. We’ve been taking our kids out to restaurants since they were all tiny babies. They behave very well in public and are great at restaurants so it’s something we really enjoy doing.

April is never a big travel month for us because it’s the heart of spring planting season. With so much rain this month though it didn’t seem like much of that happened either.

Easter was definitely a lot different than anticipated. We still dyed eggs and the Easter bunny still came but we definitely missed being at church. Our church as been doing online services only since the beginning of March so we were able to watch the Easter Sunday service but it just wasn’t the same. We are really missing church overall and can’t wait to get back!

Our 2 youngest girls (2 & 1) both came down with a mysterious illness. Fever, sore throat, and body aches (The 2yo was complaining her head and legs hurt). I pulled a tick off both of them about 2 days before their symptoms started so I assumed it was a some tick borne illness and we took them to their pediatrician. She said their throats were pretty red so she did throat cultures and flu test but they were negative for everything. They never developed any of the classic rashes that accompany tick diseases and a tick fever wouldn’t justify the red sore throat. They were not tested for COVID -19 but looking back now I’m not sure that wasn’t what it was. We haven’t been anywhere but Andrew is still around a lot of people at work, he still goes to the grocery store and brings stuff home, and we still get food to go. So to me it makes sense that the 2 youngest who still stick their hands in their mouth and lick everything they see would be more susceptible to that. It was over pretty quick though. The fever only lasted a couple days and the body aches a few days longer. We will never know for sure but I’m not sure what else it could have been

We finally got a break in all the rain and were able to get our garden planted! I told Andrew it HAD to be smaller this year! He loves a big garden but he’s not home during this time of the year to deal with it so I’m the one that actually has to take care of it and I’m just not up to it right now. Or ever really but at least I have pregnancy and 4 kids as an excuse! Ha!

Really all this COVID-19 stuff has been kind of a blessing in disguise for me. We found out we are expecting baby #5 at the beginning of March and I’ve been incredibly sick! It has been kind of nice to be forced to stay home and not doing anything the last few months. I’ve had all day “morning sickness” during all of my pregnancies and this one has been no different! Thankfully I’m not actually throwing up much, just feeling incredibly miserable and nauseous all day long and it’s especially worse in the late afternoon and evenings. It makes our dinner and bedtime routine a real struggle. Getting everyone dinner, baths, and into bed is the busiest/most work involved part of my day. Andrew usually doesn’t come home until after the kids are already asleep so I’m all on my own for that and for some reason thats the time of the day when I feel the worst. Here’s to hoping this part is over soon!

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