Florida 2017

"But why can't we be in Florida anymore?" George whined as we got home (very late) from our trip. I think that sums up how he and everyone else felt about the trip. Sure, the travel days were tough, which is to be expected, but after much discussion, Dave and I have yet to come up with other ways to simplify getting 3 kids, 3 carseats and all our bags to our destination. I think the multiple-installations of the carseats is what really gets Dave since we take an uber to the airport and then have to rent a car upon arrival, but luckily the rest of the trip made up for all the hassle of the travel days. The boys are pretty easy on the flights now since they love watching the ipads, but still require quite a bit of assistance, getting snacks out, finding different shows, etc. Colette did pretty well -- she was pretty squirmy on the flight there, but really the biggest challenge is that we weren't sitting near Dave and the boys so trying to get stuff out of the bag for her, feed her solids, etc., is really hard to do when holding a squirmy baby. The fact I had to pump is also a huge pain, but worked out pretty well. She took a long nap on Dave while I moved back to his seat to pump next to the boys.

The return flight left at 6pm Florida time and C screamed for the first part (overtired after only taking one nap earlier that day) but thankfully slept the rest of the time. Dave upgraded us with his miles so we had lots of space, but unfortunately were seated next to someone coughing up a lung. The boys didn't sleep a wink on the plan (which landed several hours after their bedtime) as they were glued to the ipads. C woke up when we landed and after tracking down 2 carseat bags that we thought were lost and waiting for an uber for longer than expected due to a backup, we finally got home. The boys had fallen asleep in the uber but luckily transferred and were stayed asleep until morning. C on the other hand, was wide awake. I gave her a bath and finally settled her to sleep but of course she was up first thing the next morning.

But luckily that sums up the tough parts. I mean it's not a vacation sitting poolside, there's still going grocery shopping, unpacking, laundry, cooking, etc., but all of that was manageable. There was plenty of time poolside and it was so much fun to see how much more confident the boys are in the water. They still need someone near them in the pool but can have a little more freedom and are much better about getting themselves back to the wall. We took C in the pool for the first time and while she was perhaps initially unsure, she ended up loving it, submersions and all!

Our day at the beach was my favorite. We checked out a new beach this time, Clamshell Beach which you take a little tram out to. You can rent cabanas and chairs (a must for Dave, and now me too) which makes it so much easier than trying to lug and set up all that stuff. It really was a great day. We dipped C's toes in the water and filled a little inflatable pool for her to play in. She seemed to avoid eating the sand that day (but discovered it at another beach day). She didn't want to miss out on anything but finally fell asleep in Ma's arms for a good nap. Often beach days involve so much work, it's hot, there's whining about walking, etc., but this really was such a great day.

One morning, Dave rented a boat and the boys loved playing captain. I think it was the highlight of their trip.

The weather overall was warm, but it was definitely hotter at the start of our trip so I'm glad we made it to the beach. We went to some parks, the splash bad and even to the zoo on one day it rained in the morning. The other place we love is the botanical gardens. They have such stuff for kids including a little house they can sweep with big brooms, a water pumps you can use to fill up watering cans to water the garden. There's also a splash pad and big tree house so the boys really liked that. There was a theme of Colette not wanting to miss out on anything as napping on the go was tougher than I expected, but eventually she slept as well.

It was great to spend so much time with Ma and Grandpa Gary -- going out to breakfast, to their place for dinner or on adventures. It was amazing to realize that the boys even have memories from past trips but I'm sure this year will be the first year they really have clear memories as opposed to memories based on stories we've told them.

It was so special to be in Florida with all 5 of us and I think everyone was conscious of how lucky we are to be back to 'normal' -- whatever that really is, it feels great that we could do our annual Florida trip, and not only that she could do it with us, but she was such a fun part of the trip. She loved everything new and wanted to be a part of it all. We're already booked to go again next Christmas and I think it will only get more fun (and easier) as they get older.

From Ma:
George, William and Colette

WOW!  Such a fun adventure in Florida with you.  When I first saw George and William in the "jet" tub, you looked so big to me...you have really gotten taller since we saw you in September.  You have both stretched out...long limbs and big boy bodies...with muscles!
Colette looked at me with such big eyes and it took her a little while to recognize Ma, but once she did we were buddies for the rest of the week.  I love your bright smile Colette and your happy disposition.  Sweet princess Colette:)

Let's see if I can remember all our adventures.  When I saw William and George in your pool swimming I was amazed!  You are both great swimmers and jumpers!  We had a blast in the Lazy Miami especially when we were chasing dad and dipping under the waterfalls.  Aunt Ronda came to visit and had fun watching you as well.  Colette had her first swim in the pool and she liked it a lot:)  So happy to see her in the water and splashing around. Really Amazing!   Grandpa Gary came one day too to watch George and William in the water, even diving under the water on dad's back.  Now that is a great trick!

Breakfast at Skillets was delicious and you were so good...and the chocolate chip pancakes the waitress brought by mistake were especially yummy:)  Then we were off to the Botanical Gardens were W and G had so much fun the water, the tree house and digging for buried treasure.  I pushed sleepy Colette around in the stroller and helped Grandpa Gary find a cool, breezy place to sit down.  Then G and W and Ma had an adventure on the grassy lawn.  W wanted Ma to wait by the horse statue while he went to get G on the bridge but Ma followed just to keep her eye on you boys.  When W saw Ma following him across the bridge he said "Ma I told you to wait there!"  I guess I can't follow directions. Sorry W:)

The beach at Clam Pass was beautiful.  Dad got buckets and we had a pool for Colette. It was a perfect day.  The ride in the trolley (really a big golf cart) was fun too!  Colette was so sleepy but just could not settle down so I just rocked her on my shoulder and she fell asleep.  What a special  moment for Ma.  That baby girl who was so sick the first time I saw her in the hospital, was happy and sleeping on my shoulder... in Florida... at the beach.  Miracles do happen and dreams do come true:)

You had pictures taken at the Naples Pier one day at sunset.  W and G, you had the BEST smiles and really  had fun at the beach.  I love to watch you two together.  Always talking, sometimes playing imaginary games, always best friends.  And Princess Colette, such a beauty at the beach.  Smiling, laughing, eating a little sand but always happy and we are so blessed to have her here at the beach with us.  Perfect evening with burgers and chili to top it off!  Colette surprised EVERYONE by eating the whole bowl of chili.  Way to go Princess!

The best times were at Ma's condo.  William wanted to know why Ma and Grandpa Gary had 2 houses...I told him because we do not like cold weather.  He seemed satisfied with that answer and we continued playing with our Playdoe, but the highlight of the evening was when dad and Grandpa Gary came by in the golf cart and took G, W, Colette and mommy for a ride in the golf cart. Again William was very observant and said " You didn't tell me Grandpa Gary had a golf course in his back yard".  Ha Ha.  What great fun. Then Grandpa Gary played "Big Bad Wolf" with the boxes that Ma saved.  It got a little wild, but I am sure that is one thing you will remember about the trip to Florida!

But all vacations must end and on the last day we went swimming in Ma's pool and you showed me how you could do flips in the pool. Very impressive George and William!  Colette seemed very content in her float and too soon it was time to leave for the airport.  I had so much fun at the "Hot Beach" and I hope you did too!  Love and hugs to my California kids💖

William...you are so much fun to watch.  You flash those big smiles and everyone is your friend,  like the little girl you met at the park. She followed you all over the equipment while you were playing pirate.  But dad says that is not unusual...the girls love you.  Imagine that!  We also had fun the night you helped me cut up the fruit for dinner.  You were so careful with he knife and did a very good job.  Thank you for the help.  You are so agile and athletic and such a good swimmer.  Ma loves you so much William and I can't wait till you come to Ma's house for the 4th of July.  Maybe the Big Bad Wolf will be here too! xoxo Love, Ma💙💚💛💜

Geeorge...you are such a great storyteller.  You are so precise and so careful about telling your stories.  You are so much fun to listen to.  It was great to hear you and William playing make-believe outside the cabana at Clam Pass Beach.  You were very specific about the imaginary story and obviously had a plan for your adventure.  You were so much fun to play with when we were using the Playdoe.  You like to draw too and I loved your explanations about the pictures you sent to Ma. You are a very smart little guy, George and Ma loves you very much.  Maybe we will be able to play in the sprinkler in the back yard at Ma's house in July! xoxo Love, Ma💙💚💛💜

Colette...the little miracle.  You are beautiful Colette and such a gift to our family.  Your smile and dimples will light up the room.  It was really fun to see you pulling up and cruising along the tables and sofa.  Big Girl!  You are such an eater too!  Never crying or complaining just happy to go along with whatever the plans are for the day.  Such a sweet girl and such a good swimmer.  You loved the water even though it was you first time in the pool and at the beach.  I am so glad I was able to see you take your first steps in the warm Gulf waters.  You will be a swimmer like your brothers in no time!  You are a precious little girl, Colette and Ma loves you very much.  Can't wait to see you when you visit Cincinnati for the first time in July.  Your cousins Zach and Lizzy can't wait to play with you!
xoxo Love, Ma💙💚💛💜

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