Friday, March 31, 2017

Our Florida Trip 2017

Vacations are wonderful things, aren't they?

Traveling with kids is tough, but since my kids outgrew diapers and bouncy chairs, I've enjoyed it a lot more. Now, getting away from our home and all of its work and excess is such a great refresher. I bring my renewed calm back with me every year, and stepping into Spring at the same time is perfect.

Our yearly Florida trip, which we just finished up earlier this week, was wonderful!

The day we left was a busy one - full of gym class, packing, cleaning the house, and preparing our animals for their temporary caretakers. After school, we dropped Galli off at my mom's and set out for the airport. The kids (especially Jake) LOVE the airport/airplane experience. I swear, just flying somewhere is enough of a vacation for them!

We were flying in at sunset, so we got some AMAZING views as we traveled over Florida. They don't photo so well out of a dirty airplane window, of course!

One of my favorite flight moments was when the flight attendant passed out little packs of peanuts and Jake asked, "What flavor are they, mom? Peanut butter?" Snort!

Driving from the airport to Matt's parents house in the rental van with the windows down was AMAZING. After experiencing two feet of snow with winter storm Stella the previous week, this was a little luxury we were all excited about! When we pulled up, Matt's parents were in the driveway with some friends, and they all cheered and greeted us with hugs. It was late, and we were beat from a day of prep and travel, so it was pj's, unpacking, and bed pretty quickly!

Matt and I like to tip toe our way to the lanai with hot coffee before the sun comes up every morning while we're in Florida. It's such a quiet, calm, peaceful time to sit with the rustling palm fronds and the birds just waking up. We like to read and journal and talk about how nice it feels to breath fresh air and walk around in bare feet. When the light starts to creep in, grounds keepers on ATVs pull up to put fresh flowers at the tee box outside the lanai, and that's usually our cue to feed our hungry crew and get ready for a day of fun.

On this morning, Jake came out to greet us and actually clapped at the sight of Florida! If you only knew how often he talks about it! lol We had to get a few necessities at Target that morning, so we decided to make a stop at the outlets, too. The first of many!! I got a couple new pairs of shorts and drooled over things in Kate Spade, Vera Bradley & The North Face. We also stopped at Rocky Mountain and got some truffles and chocolate covered marshmallows for the kiddos.

These ice cream themed purses and wallets at Kate Spade cracked me up! But let's be honest, I would have loved these when I was little!

When we got back, we had some sandwiches and fruit for lunch, followed by our Rocky Mountain Treats. They were a hit! Of course we were chasing sprinkles all over the place for the rest of the day - worth it! ;)

It was *finally* time for a swim, and the boys were SO ready! It's funny...none of my kids are really big swimmers, but as soon as we are at Grandma's pool, they're all about it!! Must be those vacation vibes ;)

I snacked on this Thai Coconut Curry Hummus like all afternoon. It is AMAZING...we actually went back to the store and bought a second one because it was just SO good. This is officially my favorite vacation treat!

We swam and snacked all the way until dinner, which was grilled chicken, basmati rice, broccoli + green beans. I love eating dinner outside every night with the sounds of the fountain and the golfers going by. It's just such a nice change of pace!! We tried to hurry the kids through dinner so that we'd have time for our nightly golf cart rides...which we say is to look for alligators (and it sort of is), but it's really for riding through the golf course sprinklers like a water park ride! haha This is for sure a highlight of our trip every single year! We saw some really cool birds and one small alligator on this ride.

When we got home, we played a few rounds of Uno. Jake was getting sleepy, so I bowed out a little early to snuggle with him in bed while we watched TV. We both fell asleep pretty quickly! Matt came and woke me up a little while later when the big boys were ready for bed, so I carried Jake to his bed and went back to mine. Being on vacation is exhausting. ;)

The next day was beach day! Matt and I had yogurt parfaits during our morning lanai sitting before showering and packing up for a day of Florida heat! We drove down a mansion-lined brick road near Bonita Beach, and set up camp at Barefoot Beach. There are little nature trails and awesome natural areas in this feels like you're walking into another world on your way to the sand.

The boys wasted no time digging into the sand and building castles with tiny seashells and sticks, and searching the shoreline for treasures. It was warm and breezy and sunny, and thankfully not too hot since it was still early in the day.

As the sun grew higher and became a bit much, we decided to pack it up and drive to our veeeery favorite Mexican restaurant! We visit every single year, and it never disappoints! Chips and salsa, margaritas, enchiladas - yes please!

Never without his airplanes! ;)

That afternoon, we took another trip to the outlets. We got some Starbucks and wandered a little more just for fun. Henry came with us while the other two stayed back for some grandparent time.

It had been a little overcast that afternoon, but when we got back from the mall the sun was back and twinkling in that later afternoon way it does. I sat on the lanai with a glass of wine and a book while Matt grilled dinner, and then we all ate. Dinner was SO GOOD - turkey burgers with cheddar cheese and thick slices of tomato, rice and beans, cucumber and carrot slices, fresh caught tuna, baked beans, and sweet potatoes! So yummy.

just had to document that lots of MJC made the trip with me ;)

After dinner, it was time for our nightly golf cart ride! And I think I must have Instagram Storied this one, because I have no photos from it!! This was a very sprinkler-heavy night ride, though, which is the boys' favorite! After the ride (and some dry clothes) we played LRC for a handful of rounds before we declared the kids officially melting with exhaustion and ushered them into pjs and beds.

The next morning began beautifully once again! Matt and Tim golfed, so the whole day was spent and in around the pool with the little guys. That evening, Matt and I got to have a date night! We went out for Mexican again (one can never have too much), and walked through the mall for a while. I went back to Kate Spade and got the crossbody purse I'd visited twice already! It was a special date night treat!! The only photo I managed the entire day, other than the morning photo, was of my margarita (priorities??)

The next morning, Matt and Tim were able to nab another tee time last minute, but it was only for 9 holes. So Matt's mom and I decided to take the kids up to the cabana to get some lunch. My boys LOVE dining out and we do it so rarely, but it was especially fun for them watching all the swimmers pool-side and snacking on free bags of chips they gave us during the wait for our food.

The golf cart path for the course runs behind the cabana, and they have ice and water machines there for the golfers to stop and grab a drink. Funnily enough, Matt and Tim road by to get a drink and saw us having lunch there, so they stopped in for a quick hello and a couple chips.

The cabana is walking distance from my in-laws house, and I snapped some pictures on our walk back. I love their tropical foliage!

That afternoon, Jake was wearing a shirt that had been handed down through his brothers, and it reminded me of a picture I'd taken of Luke when he was about his age. We had the same thermos with us that Luke had been using in that photo, so I had to recreate it!! How sweet is this!

Ah, I love it!!

That night was our last, and we were gifted with the MOST beautiful sunset! I kept making Matt stop the cart over and over so I could get different angles of it. I took a lot of shots of just pretty trees (included those crazy bearded ones they have in Florida!) and a pretty big alligator we spotted that night!

gator!! see him? and all those golf balls? lol

everyone's favorite sprinklers! lol

Florida couldn't have given us a better send off.

The kids were really sad that night - knowing that after a quick breakfast, we'd be off to the airport. They love the pool and the hot tub a whole lot, but they love being with the grandparents even more. It's hard for them to say goodbye for so many months!

What's great about Jake, though, is that he is SUCH an airplane enthusiast, that going home is still a grand adventure for him. There's nothing in this world Jake loves more than a Southwest airplane!

The eye rubbing should have been a clue that this was about to happen....

Things were pretty peaceful for most of the flight. Luke and I read a lot (Matt and Henry were sitting in the row behind us), and I played solitaire on my phone.

I was a little antsy, though. After days away from home, a big to do list waiting for me, and hours in an airport and on a plane with little ones, I just wanted OFF that plane after a while! I was tracking the arrival time and our flight path on my phone (the one thing we can see without wifi) and just as we were supposed to be going in for a landing...our flight plan shifted.

I was confused, so I watched it for a little longer to see what was going on...and sure enough, we were being re-routed to Rochester (which is about an hour away from Buffalo.) Shortly after, the pilot told us that there was thick fog in Buffalo, and after one more attempt to spot the runway, we'd be heading to Rochester. We landed there and sat on the runway for what felt like an eternity while they gave us more fuel and we got the clear to go. I didn't mean to be ungrateful - of course the safety of my babies was my number one priority, but Jake had woken up and was super cranky, and we were all weary for home at that point. This was our flight path by the time we were on the right track:

Crazy, right? It was wild. The turbulence on the way in was a little discerning, too! When we finally landed safely, in Buffalo, the whole plane erupted in applause and cheers. Well deserved for that pilot!!

It's kind of an ordeal...collecting our bags and car seats, and getting our van ready to go from the airport. After that (way longer than expected, super stressful) flight, this was our mood:

So many levels of done! haha

But...the trip was wonderful, and warm, and relaxing. It was such a great escape from the dreary end of winter in Buffalo, and from our normal, every day chores. We're already looking forward to next year!!!

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