Friday, April 8, 2016

Florida 2016

We just got back from our trip to Florida, and we have so much to share!

Matt and I were freakishly prepared for this vacation. We owed most of it to a stress dream I had in which we forgot to pack and were so late to the airport we were sure to miss our plane. I woke up that morning and packed 90% of what we needed. Over two weeks in advance. It was a good thing, too, because our flight was so early in the morning.

On Friday night, we had the kids fed, bathed, and in bed around 7:30. We finished cleaning up, packed a few last minute things, and went to bed ourselves by 9. Matt and I were up by 3am (oh my gosh) so we could shower and have everything done before waking the kids up at 4. I don't know how we pulled it off, but we were at the airport around 4:15, and everything was accounted for.

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The start to any long distance trip is always a crazy situation as we have so many bags and car seats to deal with. As usual, I walked in and found a seat with the little boys and all of our luggage. Luke rode along with Matt to pack the van and ride the shuttle up to meet us. While they were gone, I put an ID tag on all of our luggage to be safe, and the little boys asked about 7,000 questions.

The airport was smooth sailing. We were through security in no time, had a moment to stop and check out the airplanes, and leisurely walk to our gate. We boarded shortly after during family boarding, and ended up with two rows - Matt sat with the big boys, and I had Jake behind them. The flight attendants gave the boys some Southwest stickers and activities to play with and Jake was in heaven!


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I think the hardest part of the whole trip was gathering all of our things post-flight, making it over to the car rental counter, and waiting in line for our rental. It was so stressful that I was ready to renounce traveling for good. However, once that was over - we had a great time.

We barely made it in the door to my in-laws' house before the boys were putting on swim suits and sunscreen, and I spent a little time unpacking and setting up our rooms. Because we'd traveled so early in the day, we were totally settled in, drying off from our first swim and eating lunch with the palm trees by 12:30. It was an awesome feeling knowing we were there rather than waiting for the snowfall expected back home.

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In the afternoon, we took a trip to Target for some Starbucks and necessities, and then went back home for more swimming and dinner.

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On Sunday morning, after waking up early and watching the sun rise, I suggested that we go for a walk. We took all of the kids and walked up to the clubhouse in the development, and spotted an alligator in one of the larger ponds. When we got back, we got dressed and ready to go, and took the kids to putt-putt. It would have been fun if it hadn't been so busy, but trying to explain golfing courtesy to a two year old was a nightmare. He was so excited to be there, and he just wanted to hit the ball into the hole over and over again. When we told him to wait, he would throw a fit - every hole. We spent more time distracting him than playing - we stopped keeping score after the first hole. The big boys loved it, though, and are dying to go again sometime.


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On the way back from mini golf, we stopped at a farm stand and found some fresh salsa and beer cheese. So naturally, we had to stop for things to eat it all with, too.

After lunch, Matt went golfing with Tim, and the rest of us played in the pool. The kids were loving the pool so much this trip! When the guys came back, we ate dinner & strawberry shortcake on the lanai and went to bed.


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We'd planned to go to the beach the next morning, but it ended up raining. So instead, Ellen and I took a trip to the outlet mall - the first of, hmm 3 visits? Or was it 4? :)

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We spent some time riding around on golf carts and in the pool, and then in the evening, Matt and I went to a nearby restaurant for a little date night. We got to sit at a little shaded table outside, and it was SO NICE! It was breezy, perfectly warm, and the food was awesome! We both got flat bread pizzas and swapped slices of them. We only did a little shopping at the outlets after...I think that was when I got a pair of jeans, and a couple things at Vera Bradley. And finally, we stopped to buy some chocolates and get some gelato from Norman Love. YUM! It was all SO good.

When we got back, we went out for some dusk golf cart rides to look for alligators, and caught an awesome sunset!

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The next morning ended up being our beach day. It was gorgeous out, and it was Jake's first time to visit the ocean! It was so nice there, but the heat was really exhausting, so we didn't stay too long.


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Tim had an appointment that morning, so he wasn't able to join us at the beach. So as we were wrapping things up, we coordinated with him to meet for some lunch at Maria's - we've been there every trip so far, it's our favorite!


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We had chips, and enchiladas, and margaritas - SO GOOD! It wouldn't have been an evening in Florida without an evening alligator hunt golf cart ride, so we finished the night with those before heading to bed.


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On our last day, after breakfast and spending time on the lanai with our last warm morning, Matt and I took Jake with us to the outlets for one last shop. It happens every year - I see things at Vera Bradley, decide against them, and then I always go back! We also had some time to check out the fountains with Jake, and we found a couple discounted shirts for the boys at Gymboree.

One of the last things we did was visit a really cool playground nearby - the kids loved it! It was insanely hot, though, so we only stayed long enough for the boys to try everything out. When we got back to the house, it was time to pack up and get ready for our flight home. It definitely felt weird putting jeans on again!


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At the airport, we had a pretty long wait and an awesome view of the airplanes, and Jake was OUT OF HIS MIND over it! For over an hour he kept exclaiming about seeing an airplane take off or land, or asking about which one was ours. It went on and on and on! He was crazy about them!


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Our flight back was kind of late, which meant that we got to see the sun setting from above the clouds - it was so amazing. On this flight, I sat between Jake and Luke, and I helped Luke do some of his school work before both he and Jake fell asleep for the rest of the ride. There was some intense turbulence on the way into Buffalo due to wind, and all 3 boys slept right through it!!

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With all of the sun, sand, palm trees, Mexican food, pool time, golf cart rides and alligator hunts, we had so much fun on our trip! The boys are already asking about going again next year :)

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