Disney and Florida


What a difference a year makes. It's been really fun to take essentially the same trip every year at the same time so the changes year to year are so clear. The first trip was definitely the hardest when they were just 8 months old. I was still breastfeeding and pumping constantly, plus they were eating solids, crawling and G had just learned to pull up to standing. Our beach house had tile floors so it was like we could never take our eyes off of him. The weather wasn't good that year either so that was tough.

Year two was much better. The boys were 20 months, eating table food so going to restaurants was a bit easier. The condo we chose was great for swimming and we had great weather. It was also so much fun to have Dave's sister's family come




This year was definitely the best year yet. Plane travel was easy. Though I packed the backpacks to the brim with a lot of travel games and toys, I could've easily packed an ipad for each and been set. G tends to get a little antsy after a while of watching shows, but W could literally watch endlessly. The main problem is that they don't nap at all when shows are on so it was still a long day. But the trip continued pretty well and while it's still a lot of work, they're at such a fun age for the beach, they love to swim and are so independent, especially on their scooters.

We left Dec. 16 and flew to Orlando. After checking into the hotel, we took the boat over to Epcot for dinner and a few rides before it closed. We were all jet-lagged so bedtimes were a struggle while in Orlando, naps were a bit random but thankfully our strategy of bringing sleeping bags and foregoing the travel cribs worked out pretty well. Don't get me wrong, there were some nighttime shenanigans here and there but they adjusted pretty well and hopefully we can 'forget' the sleeping bags soon too.

Day 2 was spent a Disneyworld. Dave did an amazing job of planning the Orlando part of our vacation and from a planning perspective, it couldn't have worked out better. He had all our rides timed out so we never had to wait in line and we had lunch with the princesses in the castle. Might seem a little odd to take 2-year old boys to this, but Dave and I didn't realize how much we'd need a break and a sit-down lunch. To their credit, snacks were on the table immediately and lunch was out shortly later. And they had chicken legs on the menu, one of the boys' favorites! W was keen on the princesses, G not so much. When one of them asked G if she could take a photo with him, he said, 'I'm busy' and kept gnawing away on his chicken leg!



I have to hand it to Disney and the other resorts on the food though. Just about everything we had (for adults and kids) was great. I was able to find some reasonably healthy options and each kids menu had options like chicken and fish, and then further down the typical chicken fingers and mac and cheese. We had a bit of everything but it was nice to have options. One of the restaurants even had kids menus with pictures, but they cleverly only had pictures of the healthy items for the kids to point to. Then written below were things like 'soda, french fries can be substituted').




So we rode all kinds of rides at Disney and kept debating when to leave. Finally around 5pm (so just 2pm SF time), we rode the people mover and W fell asleep. We figured it was time. Dave picked him up and he mumbled, still asleep, 'one more ride'. :) We put them in the stroller and started the long trek back to the car. Both slept in the stroller but it was an absolute disaster when we had to move them to their carseats. They were exhausted and there was no going back to sleep.

Day two was at Universal, and again, Dave did a great job planning our day. The boys weren't as familiar with the characters there, but enjoyed the shows and rides. William loves the 3-d shows, wearing the glasses, G is a bit scared. Our only rain of the trip occurred at Universal and it was a massive downpour. We all got soaked, but luckily only needed one rain poncho for Dave while he parked the stroller and the rest of us waited for the show.

We stayed at a Starwood hotel on the Boardwalk which was great for the evenings. We brought the boys' scooters (Dave's great idea!) which was an essential way for the to burn off some energy after their naps. There were plenty of restaurants, a little playground and we even rented one of those 4-seater bikes to ride around the area.




Our last day was spent at Animal Kingdom, starting with a meet and greet with Mickey and Minnie.


This was our only cold day of the trip. Like really cold, low 50s. The boys and I were prepared but despite my warnings, Dave wasn't and almost had to buy a sweatshirt. It eventually warmed up. The boys loved the safari. They also had these adventure books that you could get stamps at from different 'experts' around the park. They were especially into that. William also loved the petting zoo, we stayed in there forever! We finished with lunch at Rainforest Cafe before getting in the car for the 3-hour drive to Naples. We figured we timed it with naptime but unfortunately G woke up really upset after just an hour so it was shows for the rest of the way.

 


For all the fun we had in Orlando, the boys were definitely a bit 'off'. The lack of routine, being jet-lagged, all the excitement, more than usual junk food, it definitely had its effect. While normally these guys are far from angels, tantrums are actually fairly rare. Luckily it really wasn't that bad, but there were plenty of what I call '2-year old moments'. Not wanting to get in the stroller, running off, sitting down on the ground and refusing to move. It was tough. 

It was nice to arrive in Naples, though the following morning was spent getting supplies. Toys and stuff for the boys at the consignment store, food and random odds and ends. A pain to do, but felt so good to be set up and after a day, the boys' behavior had improved immensely. They really do best with a routine and even having a bit of a routine at the Naples condo was enough.




Having two full weeks with little planned but lots of sunshine was great. The weather couldn't have been better -- 85 each day, and it sounds like it cooled off with some rain right after we left. The boys got on more of a sleep schedule, going down by about 9:30, waking up around 8am. Naps were wonderful! W slept 2-5 each day and G about 2:30-5 most day, longer than at home. Dave and I got a nap most days too so no complaints. Waking them up at 5 was always kind of hard, and we only had an hour of daylight so we usually tried to get back out to the park.

Dave got to see Star Wars with his mom and golf twice with his dad. We saw his parents often.

Highlights:


  • Plenty of beach days. It's so nice for them to be at an age where you know they're not just going to dart into the water. They still want you to play with them but we don't have to be on our toes quite as much. They even liked going in, and actually swimming in, the ocean. They put on their goggles and would swim between Dave and I or Dave and Ma. George especially loved this, it was so much fun!




  • Pool time. They are swimming so well that it was a blast to be in the water with them. I love to swim and get so much joy from seeing them become more independent in the water, but even more so, that they love it as much as they do. You can't keep W's head above water and once G warms up, he's the same way. There was a zero entry pool at the condo which meant there was a pretty big area where they could still touch. That meant they could climb out and jump back in all on their own. 




  • Zoo day. We always have fun at the zoo and for the third year in a row, we got to feed the giraffes. This year we took the little boat ride too.



  • Botanical Gardens. I feel like botanical gardens always get a bad rep but Linda convinced us to go to this one and it was great! So much fun for the boys and such a beautiful place to walk around. I think we ended up spending three hours here. The boys loved pumping the water and cleaning up the house with the little brooms. There was also a cool little scavenger hunt that they could do on their own and an awesome tree house that I was amazed they were able to get up. We had a great day!
 
 
  • Breakfast at Skillets with Grandpa. The boys loved to get pancakes and bacon and sneak bites off of Grandpa Gary's plate.

  • Christmas, of course! Linda always make a great breakfast so we were spoiled by that. W had trouble waiting to open presents, and actually the next time we were going over to Ma's house, he said, 'we can open more presents!'. We swam in Ma's pool after breakfast, then went back to our condo for naps, and then returned for an amazing dinner from Ronda and Don.




  • Date night for Dave and I! This was much needed. For all the fun we were having and wanting to be with the family, there was little down time for either of us. Ma had a big night, she was in charge from the moment the boys woke up from their nap at 5pm, until we got home around 10:30 (and they had just gone to bed). I think they had a great time though they did not give Ma an easy time at bedtime. 

We headed to Ft. Lauderdale on New Years Day as the only direct flight home is a 6:20am flight so we stayed at a hotel near the airport. I found 'Funderdome' which was a great place for them to get their wiggles out after the nap/drive from Naples and before we hit the hotel for the rest of the night.




I was a bit worried about the next day. We'd have to wake them up at 5am for the flight, have a 6.5 hour flight and land at just 10am... that's a long day to get through so I called for backup. My mom was there when we got home, fridge stocked and ready to take over with the boys for a bit. Luckily they both napped well and then she took them out in the afternoon. Dave and I had a ton to do with unpacking, laundry, taking the tree down, putting away Christmas stuff, opening endless deliveries and Christmas cards that arrived, etc. It was exhausting but so nice to have someone take over with the boys.

In the end, the early flight was perfect. Though they had been up for about 10 hours by the time they finally laid down to nap at noon, it got them close enough to their SF schedule that we got right back on track. I think one of them woke up early the next morning but Sun clock worked and they went back to bed several times until finally waking up around 7am. So grateful!

It was such a great trip and it's nice for things to be getting a bit easier with them. Next year they'll be even more independent, may not be napping and will hopefully travel just as well. It's such a great tradition to be able to see Dave's parents in Florida each year.




The boys have already said on numerous occasions that they want to 'go back to Florida' and 'go back to Ma's house'. They're so lucky to have such involved grandparents.





To Ma's boys!


What a great visit we had at the "Hot Beach" in Florida!  It was so much fun to play cars and trains with you, William and George.  You tell such wonderful stories that are full of details and always include lots of facial expressions and enthusiasm. 

I came to your pool on Monday and you amazed me with your swimming.  Both of you were jumping off the sides and swimming like little fish!  I can't believe how big you both are... you have grown a lot since I saw you in September.   Grandpa was so amazed at your scooter skills!  You guys can fly on those little scooters.  At Fleischman park you two showed Grandpa all your tricks...playing in the water, climbing the rock wall, swinging,  going up and down the slide. It was really fun to play with you that day in the Florida sunshine.   We had a big breakfast, opened Christmas presents and went swimming in Ma's pool on Christmas Day and Aunt Ronda and Uncle Don came over to prepare dinner for all of us.   We had so much fun playing and enjoying a wonderful Christmas Day together.  Thank you for my manatee ornament.  It will have a special place on my tree!
Our trip to the zoo was perfect!  Feeding the giraffes and the little ibis birds was an adventure and it is great that you can walk around the zoo most of the time ...it is so much better to see the animals when you walk.  That BIG snake was really cool!!!   A beach day at the gulf coast is perfect for Ma and the boys.  I love when we play in the sand and build castles and dig holes to fill up with water to swim in.  We even found a little crab and we put him back in the sand so he could hide from the sun.  Then you put your goggles on and took a big swim in the ocean.   I can't believe how good you can swim in the salty ocean water.  No problem for William and George.
Another fun trip was our adventure to the Naples Botanical Gardens.  It was fun to watch you play in the water and pump the water into your little watering cans to give the plants a drink. You are both so curious...always asking questions (this time about the herb garden and the butterflies) and interested in new information.  It was amusing to watch you, William and George, play imaginary games while making lunch for us at the little cabin.  Then I watched you both climb to the TOP of the Tree House.  WOW what good climbers you are!  That is a hard job but you were both brave and determined to sit up there...and you did!  That was a great day!   It is always fun to be with my little California boys and I am always sad to see you leave.  You bring such laughter and joy into our lives and lots of youthful energy.  I love you both so much!  I will see you soon!





William
You are a little man!  Such a talker and when you flash that smile...my heart melts.  I think you were the instigator of the nighttime raid into the travel backpacks...but even that was funny.  I could hardly keep a straight face when I walked in to find you and George having so much fun playing on the floor in your bedroom with your sleeping bags and all the travel toys strewn all over the room.   You are such a smart little guy, you  can tell Ma everything you need and want.  I also was impressed with the way you ordered in the beach restaurant at the Ritz Carlton telling the waiter what you wanted for lunch.  Such a big boy.  You are a bright star in Ma's world!  Love you William!

George
You are so big and strong!  You are very methodical and careful as to how you will proceed on an adventure.  When you give me big hugs...I am overwhelmed with love!  You are so kind and you look out for your brother all the time.  When we were at the playground at your condo, William bumped his head coming down the slide.  You immediately ran over, kissed his head and told him it was OK.  What a sweet boy you are George!  I am  amazed at how you can build and use your imagination to play.  You are so creative George.  And boy can you eat!  Mom and dad will have to keep the refrigerator full for you as you grow up...with yummy, healthy treats to keep you big and strong.  You are a bright star in Ma's world!  Love you George! 


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