Maybe this is what all of our "vacations" will be like from now on?? In any case, while I will NEVER again travel with a stroller, two car seats, two children, two carry ons, and two suitcases in tow (unless we have a third adult, hint hint Mimi), I am a lovely shade of tan thanks to the Florida sunshine and it really was wonderful to be with our family. Special thanks to Aunt Cindy and Uncle Randy for letting us take over their home for a few too many nights and for being awfully good sports about all of our shenanigans.
We departed our house via "taxi" (it was a minivan) on a Tuesday afternoon. The cab driver was early and super courteous. Thank you very much North Shore Taxi, your service was exceptional. The amount of work required to install both car seats and load all of our luggage, not the best time ever...but we made it to the airport in one piece and plenty of time to make it through security.
Ha! It took SO long to make it through security. Ben and I were pulled aside and swabbed as were our bags and the cooler of frozen milk we had with us. Don't get me wrong I am thrilled to see our security being taken seriously, but it did take a looooong time. Lily was less than thrilled.
On the plane Ben was content to nurse and look around for most of the flight. Lily REQUIRED everything in her carry on to keep her content but overall the first two hours and thirty minutes went by smoothly. On our descent into Ft. Lauderdale we were told that the airport had been closed due to weather and we would be in a holding pattern. Cue crazy turbulence, 45 minutes of holding pattern, and the use of one barf bag (me, of course...Lily freaking loved it). Matt left me with the kids and all of the luggage, minus car seats, in the terminal so that he could go and get the rental car. All would have gone smoothly except in the dark parking garage Matt had some trouble installing the seats and Lily and Ben were SO over it. Alone in the airport with two screaming kids and more luggage than I could manage had me sweating, literally. My favorite part of the entire hour we were on our own...
....I bought us a water from a "fancy" vending machine. The kind where the tray moves up and down and you can see the bottle being moved. Lily loved it. A few minutes after buying the water Lily began insisting that I needed a water of "my own". For some reason I said, "I don't have money for another one honey." Why this is what I said, I have no idea. I just wanted her off my back. Did I mention it was 9:30pm? Within seconds she started repeatedly screaming "WE NEED MORE MONEY!!!" It was her most epic meltdown to date. I pretty much wanted to die. The first of several times over the next 9 days. But this was not the biggest fail of our vacation, not even close.
In in the end Matt got the car seats installed, picked us up, drove around lost in Davie for a few minutes, and delivered us all to Cindy and Randy's, which we affectionately call "Camp Cover", around 10:30pm. We all crashed into bed shortly thereafter until 2:30 when Ben started crying...he and I were up for the rest of the early morning hours until Matt took over at 7am.
When Lily and I got up around 8:30 there were welcome presents....and coffee!!
Matt worked until about noon. Lily and I played and Ben napped, it was a pretty typical day. In the afternoon Matt and I took Ben to the mall and Lily stayed at home with Aunt Cindy. It was nice to go out with only one kiddo but shopping isn't what it used to be! We spent about 10 minutes shopping for Matt and next two hours trying to find a present for Coocoo. We decided on a Duplo Sleeping Beauty set, it had legos and princesses....can't beat that.
Wednesday night was a repeat of Tuesday night in that I only slept until about 2:30am, sigh. Ben was acutely aware that we were sharing a room and it didn't take him long to figure out that I would go to him at first peep. On Thursday morning Matt worked until noon and Cindy and I watched the kids and took Lily to the playground. After lunch Matt and I decided to take the kids to the beach. This was possibly the biggest fail of the entire vacation...ok maybe not, keep reading.
Lily was terrified of the ocean. It was crazy hot and humid. There was a lot of sweating and crying. (Ben was completely unfazed)
On Friday we got up and packed for West Palm Beach. On the drive up we went the wrong way twice, which is totally uncharacteristic of my husband. We made it just in time to say quick hellos and then we headed out to lunch and paddle boarding for Mimi's birthday.
The lunch spot we found had outdoor seating and a pool. It was totally the kind of place that a kid free Matt and April could have spent the entire day. The kids were great at lunch and I think everyone really enjoyed themselves. Just before our food arrived the waitress pointed out that there were two manatees in the water just outside the restaurant's fence. The pictures don't show much, but I was SO excited to see actual manatees in the wild and so close up. Matt and Doe took the kids back to the hotel and the girls headed out to the water. I loved paddle boarding! It was a great workout while at the same time being really relaxing. I am totally a water baby and could have spent the entire day paddling around in the shallows. We saw a few big sting rays and a whole group of baby ones, it was just so cool. Mimi and I hopped off our boards a few times to cool off, which would have scared the hell out of my husband. For the record he would have hated the entire experience. I can't wait to go again with Mimi in Maine next summer.
After paddle boarding we went back to the hotel for quick showers and then headed over to Grandmother's house for some lasagna and play time with the cousins. Lily was completely in love with Savannah and she seemed equally taken with Lily. It was very sweet. We stayed about 30 minutes too long and in the last picture, even though it is blurry, you can actually see my son become a basket case. A sign of the night ahead.
Friday night in the hotel was pretty terrible. Florida is in the midst of it's rainiest summer/fall on record. The humidity was out of control and proved to be too much for the a/c in our room. Is there anything worse than cold and clammy? Ben slept in 30 minute blocks from midnight until 6am when I raised the white flag and took him for a walk around the hotel pool. After breakfast Matt took Lily to the pool while Ben and I attempted to take a nap. He slept for about an hour but I never did manage to fall asleep. Prior to the trip I bought Lily a pair of water wings on clearance and threw them in the suitcase at the last minute not really expecting her to give them a try. Turns out she loved them. Aunt Becky helped her out in the pool until she got the hang of them but after that there was no stopping her.
Later in the day the entire family came together to celebrate Grandmother's 80th birthday. We had a very nice luncheon and cake at our hotel. I only had to leave with Ben a few times and Lily was exceptionally well behaved given how long we were seated at the table.
Saturday night we were all over stimulated and I was feeling really guilty about all of the "junk" that Lily had been eating. By junk I don't mean just snacks, we try to order her a balanced meal when we are out but it isn't always easy. I decided we should pick up dinner from the grocery store so Matt and I made a run to Publix and put together a picnic fit for a queen. We all ate on the bed and really enjoyed the down time.
After dinner we did story time and Lily was out like a light. Ben didn't last too much longer. We were fortunate that the baby monitor we brought worked at the restaurant's patio, which was just outside our room, so Matt and I were able to do some more visiting with the family while the kids slept. Around 9:30 I was completely exhausted and I excused myself back to the room to pump and go to bed. Only I never did get to go to bed. Ben cried hard to be picked up around 10:30 and never settled down. I tried EVERYTHING. The kid would not sleep.
I have never been more excited about breakfast and coffee in my life. After breakfast we took the kids to the pool for one last swim before checking out of the hotel.
After swimming we packed up the car and headed over to spend a little more time with the cousins and then we went to Doe's favorite restaurant in the entire world, Sonny's BBQ. Grandmother and Aunt Jane met us there as well and after a teary goodbye Matt and I put the kids back in the car and headed back to Camp Cover.
One of the recurring themes of the week that I have yet to mention is that Lily kept having pee pee accidents. EVERYWHERE we went she made a point to wet her pants. By the time we headed back to Camp Cover on Sunday afternoon we had 11 pairs of wet undies in our suitcase. It sucked so bad. I was expecting the sleep setback with Ben but I was not prepared for Lily to regress after weeks of dry undies.
On Sunday night Cindy made a lovely home cooked dinner and we all just relaxed and watched the rain. Sometime after dinner the most amazing event of our whole lives took place; Lily POOPED on the potty. I ran around screaming like a loon, we made phone calls to brag, and zoo toys were discussed at great length. I was so proud of our girl it was all I could do to keep from running up and down the street yelling her praises!!
On Monday Mimi arrived from West Palm Beach and Matt and I headed to the Pelican Grand Hotel in Ft. Lauderdale. I left detailed feeding instructions and 30oz of milk for Ben, more than two thirds of my freezer stash. I was nervous about how he would be for Mimi during the night but I needed to get away for a night and was really looking forward to a good night's sleep.
The hotel was amazing. We have stayed in our fair share of hotels and I have to say that this is the first time that I have ever said to Dingle, "We have to come back here!" I loved it all... from the views, to the furniture, the lazy river, and the rocking chairs. It was so beautiful!
Matt and I floated around the lazy river for a few hours on Monday afternoon with a few beers and I was in paradise. Seriously, I am smiling just thinking about it. After the pool we headed out to dinner and to catch the water taxi. This is where things start to go horribly wrong...but we didn't know it yet. We ate dinner at the restaurant's outdoor patio along the canal and finished up just in time to catch the water taxi that docks at the restaurant. We were missing the kids but having a pretty good time without them. The water taxi loop was longer than we anticipated so we decided to hop off, grab a beer, and catch it on it's way back. At the bar we started talking to an older couple who seemed normal but turned out to be less than. After a very uncomfortable hour I basically got up and bolted from the bar and headed to the water taxi spot. We made our way back on to the water taxi and then walked back to our hotel. It was around 11 and I was so ready for bed when I realized I no longer had my phone. Crap. We tracked the phone using an app that Matt was very proud to have purchased and realized that I dropped my phone rushing for the water taxi. Even though I was completely exhausted I wasn't going to be able to sleep until we got the stupid phone so I got our car from the valet and we drove the three miles to retrieve the stupid thing. By the time we were "home" and settled it was almost midnight. Dingle had mentioned that he didn't feel very well, but because he had more to drink than I did we both assumed he had overdone it a little...and then I started to not feel so good. That is the understatement of the year, I wanted to die. I will spare you the details but neither Matt nor I slept, at all, until 6am. Moral of the story, do not order the conch fritters. So on our ONE night away from our screaming baby, a night that I fully intended to sleep for 10 hours straight, I had to settle for three measly hours. Making this the most epic fail of the trip.
We hit the beach and the pool for a couple of hours on Tuesday morning before heading back to Cindy's. We almost didn't tell anyone about the food poisoning because I knew they would be so disappointed for us, but I just couldn't hide how tired I was. We spent the rest of the day playing in the kiddie pool and lounging around the house.
On Wednesday Mimi left for Maine and I decided we should try and squeeze in one last family outing before we headed home the following day. I found a little water park nearby that sounded perfect for toddlers so we packed up the kids and headed out. The weather wasn't perfect but I figured it was definitely warm enough for the water park and that the cloud cover was sort of a blessing. Ready for a laugh, when we got to the water park...it was closed. HA HA HA. Fail number 267. Lily took the news surprisingly well so we settled on a cool looking playground and the promise of ice cream. I was by far the most disappointed. After playing for an hour or so we left in search of ice cream and I found a frozen yogurt place that lets you add toppings by the bucket full. Just as we were pulling into the parking space it started to rain, within seconds it escalated to TORRENTIAL DOWNPOUR OF BIBLICAL PROPORTIONS...I was not surprised in the least. We sat in the car for a few minutes to wait it out, an expression that toddlers do not understand. Rather than listening to Lily scream her freaking head off we opted to get out of the car and make a run for it. Let me tell you there is nothing like sitting in an air-conditioned ice cream store in soaking wet clothes with a toddler who has just peed her pants for the 52nd time in three days. These are good times people, I'm telling you!
After ice cream we headed pack to Camp Cover for our final night of vacation. Just for good measure Ben made sure to sleep in 30 minute blocks. In the morning we made the rounds and crammed all of our belongings back into our suitcases. Thanks to Cindy we had some delicious snacks to take on the plane and after a very teary goodbye we headed to the airport. Thankfully the flight home was so smooth I all but forgot about my previous use of an air sickness bag. Lily was sort of a handful but none of the surrounding passengers gave us dirty looks as we deplaned so I call that a win. Managing all of the luggage and such was a real pain in the ass for some reason, maybe because the strap on Lily's car seat bag broke...a detail that should surprise no one at this point. I don't know, that seems like a small detail, but for a few minutes we really struggled. We managed to find our airport taxi and arrived home to more piles of cat throw up than there are readers of this blog...multiplied by infinity.
I have never in my life been happier to clean up cat barf.
Vacation was, as I am sure you have surmised, an exhausting undertaking. That is not to say I wish we hadn't gone. We are deeply grateful for the love and overwhelming hospitality of our families, specifically Aunt Cindy and Uncle Randy. It was wonderful to introduce Ben to the Florida Sithers. It was so important to make Grandmother feel loved and special for her birthday. We had great weather, I got to go paddle boarding, and Mimi got to be with her whole family on her birthday. I am nothing if I am not honest, and a puppies and rainbow post about how great vacation was just wouldn't have felt right. The truth is much funnier anyway.
Thank you from the bottom of my heart to my Dingle, who is truly my partner.