This year, we were honored to be asked to speak at the Haven Conference once again! And rather than try to find childcare for our babies, we decided to extend our stay and bring them with us as our FIRST REAL FAMILY VACATION!!
It was so fun planning and packing with the girls, and hearing the different things they were most excited about. Our girls have never been on an airplane OR seen the ocean, so both of those things were high on the list!
One thing I learned quickly is that packing for 5 is exponentially different than packing for two.
*This post is sponsored by Great Wolf Lodge in the form of a comped experience. Thank you for supporting the fabulous brands that make Reality Daydream possible!*
We got them each their own little suitcases from Target so they could be responsible for their own things. They LOVED rolling them through the airport! The only time I questioned whether or not this was the best idea was when we encountered ESCALATORS.
When it comes to traveling with kiddos, I have NO SHAME about bribery, sugar, and screen time. We need to keep the peace and JUST GET THERE!
Our first order of business was to honor our commitment in Atlanta and attend the Haven Conference, which is a big gathering of creative bloggers and online influencers! We go every year (sans kids), and love this online community that we’re so blessed to be a part of!
The girls loved being included in all the glamour, and getting to meet many of our online friends. And the funny part is that many people already knew them by name! 😉
Having the kiddos with us, I knew that we wouldn’t REALLY be attending the conference in the same way we usually do. Besides teaching our class, the only other class I attended was a creative Resin class that I brought Dell along for! She LOVES treasures, gems, and all things sparkly. So this was right up her alley… making faux agate coasters!
Mostly there was a lot of time spent at the hotel pool, and watching garbage television in the hotel room. BECAUSE VACATION.
On one of the conference days that we didn’t have any commitments, we stole away and went to the Georgia Aquarium! It was SO AMAZING. I highly recommend the dolphin show (sadly they wouldn’t let us take any pics of that).
Our one last hurrah in Atlanta before heading for the beach was to meet up with my good friend Medina and her hubby for breakfast. She is a SUPER talented UK blogger (Grillo Designs) and author that I’ve been online friends with for years. And we FINALLY got to meet in real life! She is a darling soul.
It was time to hit the road for the beach! The ocean is a 4-hour drive from Atlanta, so we loaded up the girls with snacks, books, and notepads for drawing. We also separated the kiddos by putting the two older girls in the far backseat to avoid fighting.
All of this seemed like a good idea at the time, but about 30 minutes into our drive… we had a VERY SICK Della. She threw up at a gas station, and we promptly moved her seat back to the middle row and center location, and instructed her not to read or draw anymore. But we were too late. She continued to vomit for the rest of the trip to the coast.
We were hopeful that once we got to the beach, the fresh air would do her some good, and searching for seashells would help her forget her queasiness. And it did for a bit..
…but after about 15 minutes, she just couldn’t do it anymore. I knew she must feel SO MISERABLE if she wasn’t up to looking for shells. It broke my mama heart!
The plan was to only stay at the beach (Tybee Island) for one night anyway. So Dell and I left Nick and the other two girls at the beach, and we went to a cute little coastal motel to rest. Then the others joined us and we ordered pizza for din din.
The next morning, Dell was a little better, but still vomited again. We had planned on playing at the beach for at least part of this day, but everyone seemed to be ready to head back. Della already associated the beach with feeling nauseous, and Paisley got stung by a jellyfish and was feeling a little bitter. So it was time to move on. We will have to take another beach trip to redeem this sad ocean experience.
We stopped at a drug store and got Dell some Sea Bands for her nausea (which helped!), and headed for Great Wolf Lodge!!
I’ve always wanted to take my kids here, but living in Iowa, the opportunity didn’t present itself until now. I’m pretty sure the girls didn’t even know such an amazing place existed!
Honestly I always just thought it was an enormous water park (which it TOTALLY is) but it has so many other fun things to do as well!
I think I saw Della smile for the first time in days when she was ‘mining for gold’.
There’s also a ropes course and climbing wall (we didn’t think to have our girls pack tennis shoes, so we couldn’t participate in these), bowling, arcades, ice cream, and restaurants… all in one building!!
Nick was all about this family time, and sharing these magical memories with our daughters. He was such a good sport!
The true gem of Great Wolf Lodge, though, is their water park. It is TRULY EPIC.
Nick and Paisley spent a lot of time on the water slides… you’ll have to watch this amazing video that Nick put together of our experience at GWL! The footage going down the water slides is soooo fun!
There were many hours put in at the wave pool as well.
I honestly don’t think we’ve ever had this much fun as a family before. And I know for a fact that the girls will remember this trip forever!!
We could have stayed at the Great Wolf Lodge for the entire week and never gotten bored. We have so many memories to treasure, and can’t wait to visit another Great Wolf Lodge again soon!!