We're back from a wonderful beach vacation to Naples, Florida! We had a great time - lots of laughs, memories, crazy moments and smiles that all made up a nice getaway. I thought I'd share some highs and lows of the trip and traveling with two kids under three. We were gone from home for 14 days so I'd say it was quite an adventure!
++ Highs ++
+ You get to hear your kids say things like, "THIS IS INCREDIBLE!" When you're out in the ocean with them on a raft. Kevin (the fun parent) was pulling Olive on a magic carpet ride float in the ocean and she was in heaven. He said he wished he could just freeze time and keep her little forever.
+ It's nice to get away from home and get a break from cooking, cleaning, but the laundry follows you wherever you go. No hiding from that job. We did a little cooking, lots of easy snacks and special treats like KEY LIME PIE! I have never found a good recipe for this stuff so I really enjoy eating it at the beach every year.
+ Sometimes things will go way better than you expect them to and you'll enjoy a 17+ hour car ride each way with your kiddos. Olive & Fletcher did amazing on the trip and it wasn't nearly as hard as I imagined it to be. I sat in the back with them on the way home and it worked well. We really enjoy road trips so it's exciting to think about traveling with them (and less baby gear) in the future.
+ You learn to shop FAST! We hit the outlet malls, Marshalls, TJ Maxx, Homegoods, etc. We divided and conquered, alternated who stayed in the car with sleeping kids, pushed strollers, tried on clothes super quick and ended up finding some great things. Gone are the days of leisurely strolling through the shops and browsing.
+ Car naps are better than no naps. We're at an awkward dropping the nap stage of life (RIP the afternoon nap) and Olive will sometimes fall asleep in the car. It's fine if it's the afternoon and it usually helps her get through the evening in a pleasant happy mood.
+ Eating early means less waiting and less whining. We hit early bird specials and take out that helped feed everyone early and we got to enjoy some fun new restaurants. We got donuts super early in the morning, packed lunches so we could control our meal times and snack times and then got reservations wherever we could to ensure less waiting in the heat with little kids.
+ We used a car top carrier to help free up room inside of the car. Kevin found a great bag, mat and straps for the top of the car and it was perfect. We packed it full of things like strollers, baby gear, bags, diapers, etc. Basically if we'd lost the bag while driving down the road we would have been in bad shape! Everything inside was an essential item. We got into our hotels late at night and then the debate began whether or not to unload the bag or leave it as is. Kevin thought the bag would be fine if we parked in a highly visible spot. I assumed it would get stolen because obviously criminals! He was right and I was wrong. We want to thank the nice people of Gainsville and Chatanooga who did not steal our bag loaded with essentials.
+ Trying new things - restaurants, foods, water activities, tourist attractions and more. We went to the Naples Zoo for the first time and were really impressed. Olive fed the giraffes and is still talking about the snakes, lions, sloths and lizards.
+ We saw rainbows EVERY single day! Rain or shine the rainbows would appear.
+ Olive refused to wear a swim diaper and thought it was ridiculous I'd suggest a diaper plus swim bottoms. So we're making progress in the potty training department because she was not going to wear a diaper and a swim suit. Fair enough.
+ I love driving through Georgia because nearly every exit has a CHICK-FIL-A!!
-- Lows --
- Every single quick pit stop takes a solid 30 minutes. The really good ones take an hour and make you reminisce about the days when quick pit stops were really a thing. We traveled a lot before we had kids so we just laugh now at the amount of time it takes to pack up our family and GO! It's always worth the time and effort to pack up and go, but it can be tiring.
- We stopped in Northern Florida for Starbucks, gas and restroom break. We A. couldn't find the Starbucks and went right instead of left on the exit. B. Stopped at a less than great gas station with bathrooms that I decided my hands would be cleaner if I did not wash them in the sink C. I handed off Fletcher to Kevin and he fire hose spit up all over Kev. So when I came out of the restroom to this scene I gave Fletcher a wet wipe bath, changed his outfit and helped Kevin clean up. D. We finally found the Starbucks and had to wait 20 minutes for them to make my drink. E. We get back into the car and start to head back to the interstate. Fletcher fire hose barfs all over himself and his car seat so we pull over, do a 2nd outfit change in 30 minutes, 2nd wet wipe bath and regroup. An hour later, a little wearier and frustrated we got back on the road.
- Having a 3 year old who loves the beach is wonderful until you have to leave. Olive threw a giant fit and had to be carried to the car. She went limp and went out with a bang. We got a mix of judgy looks and sympathy looks from other parents. She regrouped a ways down the road and said she just really loves the beach and was sad to leave. Luckily, she only did this one day and then was fine to head out every other time.
- Putting sunscreen on squirmy kids. The worst. Well maybe trying to reapply sunscreen at the beach when you're nervous it's wearing off might really be the worst. It's also tricky to try to keep an infant cool at the pool. The ocean was easier with the strong breeze, but we had to limit pool time because baby got hot.
- Screwing with sleep schedules. No black out curtains mean that Olive popped out of bed every day shortly after 7:00. She usually sleeps until 8:30 at home so this was a rough adjustment. Fletcher didn't sleep great either so I felt a little zombie like and enjoyed lots of iced coffee + one afternoon nap.
- When you're switching between beach bags & diaper bags trying to make sure you have anything and everything your family could possibly need you might forget something important. Like WET WIPES. No mom should ever be far from a plentiful wet wipe stash. Luckily we weren't far from a store and could pick up a pack mid diaper change.
- You hire a kitty sitter to come take care of your cat who is requiring daily meds. You meet her, train her and think everything is set. Then you get a call a few days into the trip saying she has to quit because said needy cat is hissing and growling at her and it just isn't working out. Soooo embarrassing. You hire a 2nd kittysitter via phone and hope she can hold down the fort while you're gone. 2nd kittysitter is a dream and has no problem with the cats. Day is saved and maybe we don't have a cat from hell?!?!
- I packed one book to read, a few projects to work on and the laptop. Silly me thought there'd be some down time to do things I wanted to do. Turns out that only happened twice during the trip and I should have just left my bag of projects behind in Indiana. I did pack a bag of toys and art supplies that were well used all week. I ended up doing far more coloring, play-dohing, pretend playing and fun things than my projects which really is what vacation is all about.
- We drove 12 hours on the way back home and stopped at a hotel in Chatanooga for the night. Our room was nice and we were exhausted. Olive crashed just a few minutes after we laid her in bed and Fletcher decided to boycott sleep. Since Kevin was driving, I told him to go to bed. I stayed up with Fletcher and then we both went to bed around 1:30am. He was back up hourly needing to eat, diaper change or just be cuddled. I was soooo tired and then THE FIRE ALARM WENT OFF AT 5:00am!! It was soooooo loud and both kids were up screaming. Olive was yelling MAMA MY EYES THEY ARE NOT WORKING! There was a strobe light going off in our room with the fire alarm and Fletcher was just screaming. Kevin got dressed and went out to the lobby. No one knew what was going on but no smoke and some people were evacuating. He came to the room and only Fletcher was screaming now. Turns out some punk kid pulled the alarm and our kids were now wide awake at 5:15am. So we packed up our stuff, got on the road and prayed they'd fall asleep. I took a nap and Kevin drove us home thanks to coffee. Lots of coffee. We made it home by lunch time so that was nice, but I'd prefer to never experience that hotel fire alarm thing again.
See what I mean about it being an adventure!?!? It was a blast, but I think I could sleep for a day or two straight to get caught up. Now I've got to get busy with laundry, reading blogs, commenting, replying to all of your sweet comments, mailing out birth announcements and planning some meals.
Hope you have a wonderful day!!