Florida 2017

Our time in Florida was bittersweet this year as Linda and Gary couldn't be down there at the same time as us. We debated canceling, or postponing but their schedule was too uncertain that in the end, we decided to just keep the trip as planned. We love our time down there regardless, but they're obviously the reason why we choose that destination. They boys were pretty sad they weren't down there with us too. The good news is they're headed to Florida so at least they're getting out of the cold and will hopefully get a good winter down there.

We started with our time at Disney and then drove the 3 hours to Naples, picking my mom up at the airport on the way so she could spend one week with us and help us out a bit. That day is always tough as we get into Naples at 9pm, the kids are tired, we're tired, have to pick up something for dinner, unload the car, get the kids bathed and to bed. Thankfully my mom could help while we got set up and got dinner made.

We had a fun time showing my mom all of our favorite spots. After the first pool day, we visited the zoo, then she came along to the awesome botanical gardens, as well at Vanderbilt beach and lunch at the Ritz cafe next door. We had lots of pool time and time downtown and at the parks. It was great to have an extra set of hands to stay with Colette while she finished her nap, so the rest of us could head out to the pool or the park. G was sick one afternoon so my mom stayed in with him. Both Dave and my mom were sick the same day, but I was able to get the kids out all morning and we did fine.

Lots of pool time:

A visit to the Botanical Gardens with their awesome kids area and splash pad:

We rented a boat and even pulled up to our own private beach (and we even saw dolphins on the way!):

 Annual visit to the zoo:

Beach time, we loved going around 4pm and staying until sunset, and we also spent a day at Clam Pass Beach and Vanderbilt Beach with lunch next door at the Ritz cafe.

Park time at the various fun parks:

The Children's Museum:

A visit from Ronda and Don. The kids all loved their toys!

Checking out downtown:

We lucked out with great weather this year and the majority of the trip it was between 78-82. The last few days we were there it dipped to the high 60s, low 70s, but cloudy most of the morning. The day after we left, it dropped to 59 degrees with rain so luckily we escaped that. I don't think we've ever had a Florida trip without rain!

The boys are fine to be in the pool on their own which was a complete game-changer. Last year they could definitely swim on their own, but we weren't confident enough for them to be in the water by themselves. By summer, they had improved and I was much  more comfortable but by our trip to Naples, they're totally fine to be in there on their own. It was amazing to take them to the pool and sit on a chair and read a book! Not that I got to do too much of that, but still. Taking all three kids to the pool is now totally manageable too.

Colette still loves the water and continues to amaze basically anyone who sees her swimming in the water. I could sit on the side a lot even with her, as it was a zero-entry pool and when she gets too deep, she pushes off the bottom and starts swimming. Now of course she can't swim off on her own, but I'm confident enough in her knowing her limits and she's loves going under water, yet isn't a dare devil so as long as I could get to her quickly, I'd let her explore on her own. She's very social and loves making friends with other kids at the pool. The boys too. It was just hilarious to overhear William and George in the hot tub with a group of tweens, totally owning the conversation. William is more social, but I think it's so beneficial for George to have him as his twin as he definitely is encouraged to make friends too and sees how to do it.

G unfortunately kept getting fevers every 5 or so days and headaches too, so he'd sometimes be out for the afternoon. Both he and C got a bad cough around Christmas and are finally getting over it now. W got it right before we left too. W had terrible reactions to fish, basically anytime we had fish, he'd totally break out in hives. We're not sure if we weren't as careful, but it definitely was so much more frequent than he gets them at home, even when we have fish.

A tough part this year was the lack of toys. Often Linda sends down some old toys in their golf club boxes so we didn't have those this year. They had a few things to do, but William in particular complained a bit. I did get some paper, tape and scissors from the dollar store and that was fun for a couple of days and of course they had stuff from their airplane backpacks. We also were holding off on the magnatiles from Ma, saving them for Christmas morning so after that was opened, things were much better. We also didn't bring many books, but ended up going to several of the many thrift stores around and it almost turned into a game when we hit the jackpot finding Berenstain Bear and Magic Treehouse books.

We really do love our time do there. There's plenty to do that you can break up your time at the pool but not so much to do that you feel guilty just having a pool day. It was a lot of time together and I think we all had a really good time. It does get easier and easier each year the kids get older and I feel so lucky that we're able to have that chunk of time away from home and be together. I don't think the boys realize how lucky they are (though I try to tell them!) to not only be with Mom and Dad so much, but to be doing all these fun things. We went to the children's museum, the boys went mini-golfing with Dave and we even did an indoor place space in Ft Lauderdale before our 6pm flight.

We did get to go out to dinner without the kids one night while my mom was here, which is always fun. It's always fun to look back at the photos of past years, especially seeing what a big girl C is this year!

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