Marco Island

One evening during our vacation, we tried to visit a particular beach in Florida.  It landed in a complete bust, but we were already 45 minutes from Naples and sunset was nearing, so we decided to drive the few extra miles to visit somewhere new – Marco Island.  We were there for all of about two hours, and we only visited the beach, so I can’t say anything at all about the island itself.  But…the beach!

Oh!

As we crested the boardwalk to see the water ahead, velvet air met velvet earth and I could practically feel the creamy softness in the breeze drape over me like a comforting blanket, and I smiled.  I’ve never seen a place like it.

We raced waves and built castles and collected shells and saw a marvelous sunset and congratulated ourselves on our good fortune in getting lost.

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Home!

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We are home.

Let me say it again…

We. Are. Home!!!

I love Florida.  I love the beach.  I like traveling.  But 17 days…

Whew!  We are all super happy to be back.  And the fact that Tahd has to leave again on Monday and we might go with him?  No, that’s not overwhelming to us at all! ;)

To their credit, my kids traveled beautifully – much better than I’d even hoped.  Even our very last flight – the nighttime one where they boarded us and pushed back from the gate and then kept us on the ground for over an hour before we even took off –  my kids handled even that flight like pros.  They were flexible with their naps, not too cranky, no one threw up, and they’ve transitioned to home well.  In fact, Jude slept last night from about 1-6 without waking up, the first time since he was about 2.5 months old.  I’m hoping for a repeat tonight, but we’ll see.

I’m not transitioning quite as well, though.  Vacation as a mom, I’ve learned, is a lot like work!  When I come home, I’m ready for a little break of my own, one where I’m not constantly within arm’s reach of a child and nightly holding my breath that no one melts down during the wee hours, thereby waking up all the other hotel guests.  But because of Tahd’s work schedule and some extenuating circumstances, a break for me isn’t really in the cards.  So I’m trying to power through.

I realized my “power through” plan wasn’t going as well as I’d hoped when I found myself, through gritted teeth, telling Jude to just GO TO SLEEP!!! last night after I’d nursed him to sleep but awakened him during the transfer into bed.  He started wailing and I realized I was on the brink of losing it, so I patted his belly, told him I’d be back, and closed the door, something I always swore I’d never do.  Last night, though, letting him cry was the best option, and I “escaped” to the kitchen to chop vegetables for a late dinner while Gabe and Isla watched tv.  I felt a little dejected that escape involved working in the kitchen, but since Tahd was still gone for the day I figured it at least served a purpose, so I chopped and chopped and chopped.  With vigor.

Wouldn’t you know it –  Jude went to sleep on his own about the time I finished chopping, which actually didn’t take very long at all.  I peeked in on him and the sweet little thing was completely passed out, legs flopped open and arms splayed overhead.  I breathed a little sigh and made a mental note of his contented, relaxed posture so I could remind myself of it later when the guilt crept in.

Today, he – of course – was fine, happier and even more playful than yesterday as he relearns the routines of home.  I don’t see myself converting to a baby sleep trainer anytime, but it is comforting to know that when I’ve reached the end of my rope, we can still be okay.

I think the next three weeks are going to be tough.  Tahd’s work is very busy and he’ll be traveling a lot and we have to finish unkept summer promises and we have a family funeral to attend, but they’re also Gabe’s last few weeks of freedom so I want to celebrate them, too.

Here’s to the enjoying the ever-fleeting days of summer…hopefully without losing my mind! ;)

Bits and Pieces – The Travel Edition

 

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We’re {still} on the road.

(side note – I’ve written this post over several days, so not all the dates are accurate as of today. also, none of the pictures match – they’re just random things from the trip. sorry.  more to come later.  probably! )

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Don’t get me wrong – I’m loving this trip!  The fact that we’ve gotten to go on it is the one giant bonus to having a traveling husband, since this trip has been brought to us by hotel points and frequent flier miles!  On the flip side, twelve days in a hotel room with three kids…two of whom are babies…and five more days to go feels like…a lot!  Sleeping arrangement are creative.  Jude’s currently asleep in an armchair, and because I can’t put Gabe and Isla in the same bed at night since I’m quite sure one would torment the other to death before morning, I haven’t even slept next to my husband this entire time.  This is the stuff of memories, right?

Here are my random, perhaps incoherent-from-lack-of-personal-time-and-adult-conversation musings from our trip…

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I still love the beach.  And sunsets.  The combination of the two is positively epic.

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Whole Foods and their prepared food section is genius, and perhaps the only reason we’ve been able to eat real food this entire trip.

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I think I’ve done more laundry since we’ve been gone than I typically do in a month at home!  There’s a chance it only feel that way, though, because I’m not able to forget about the loads in the washer and get around to them when I’m inspired, due to the fact of public laundry facilities.  I never thought I could miss mildew.  BUT I DO.

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Jude eats sand.  Every time it’s within reach.

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We drove to Key West last weekend, which reminded Tahd and me ever so much of his college day when he worked on Cape Cod.  The same two lane road, the same congested traffic, the same festive, flamboyant party town.  With much warmer waters.  I’d love to go again, but without kids next time.  It’s definitely Provincetown South.

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It’s so much harder to juggle a camera with three kiddos.  It was so much easier with just Gabe!  Some of my favorite photos I’ve taken in the past have been on trips, but this time around it’s awfully hard to use my camera while Jude is strapped into the baby carrier, frantically reaching for whatever corner of the camera or strap is closest.  He’s clocked himself on the corner of the camera while thrashing around more times than I care to remember.

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I’m sad I haven’t captured more of our experiences, but I’d rather have a baby than pictures, so I’ll say it’s a good trade.  ;)  There will be more time and opportunity in future years.

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The Overseas Highway from Miami to Key West was listed in a CNN Travel article as one of the most scenic in the country, and was one of the reasons I wanted to make that trip.  It was certainly lovely, but having driven through New England autumn roads as well as parts of the lush, scenic mid/southeast, I’d never rank it that high!  I was surprised to feel this way, but it really didn’t overly impress me.  Color me underwhelmed.

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We will have stayed in six different hotels in two and a half weeks.  Whew!  Two of them are new chain for me – Hilton Garden Inn (beautiful!) and Crowne Plaza (nice, but a bit of a letdown).  I think my favorite hotel on the trip (so far – we still have one more to go) is the Doubletree.  They give out free warm chocolate chip cookies anytime you request them.  Amazing!

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It’s been fascinating to watch Florida’s popup storms moving across the horizon.  Almost daily, we’ve been able to watch isolated rain showers move over the horizon.  It was especially interesting on the way through the Keys when we could look around and see three or four showers occurring in different locations over the ocean while we were completely dry.

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For clothes, I packed four to five bottoms and six tops for everyone.  This has been a perfect amount.  If my kids were a little older, I could have packed a little less and planned on them wearing some outfits two or even three times.  As it is now, they spill too much for that.

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I also packed two swimsuits for each of us.  It seemed a little silly since I was trying to pack as light as I could, but I’m really glad I trusted my gut.  It has come in really handy, and I’ve never had to endure the yucky feeling of tugging on a cold, damp swimsuit.

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One thing I could have skipped?  My workout clothes.  They haven’t gotten used even once!

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Isla likes to “wash” her hair with sand.

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We saw our first wild gators, and we saw a few wild turtles, too.

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Surprisingly, I think Jude has been my most adaptable traveler.  I would have predicted it to be Isla, but her newly evolving, fiercely independent streak (as well as her ability to shriek and her love of taking off her shoes all. the. time!!!!) have required more attention than in the past.

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Gabe’s a pretty seasoned traveler for a 9-year-old, but I can tell he’s feeling the effects of having no undivided attention.  When we’re home, he usually gets some time with us after the little people go to bed.  In a hotel room, we don’t have that luxury.

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I really like chatting with strangers.  I’ve never observed this before in myself, but I’ve been enjoying talking to fellow travelers, finding out where they’re from and what has brought them here.  We met a fun flight attendant from Michigan, a funny older gentleman from Jersey, a mother from Paris who had no clue what I was saying when she asked me Gabe’s name, and lots more I’m not remembering right now.

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It’s easier to meet people because of Isla.  She talks to everyone!  She’ll just walk up to them and tell them what she’s doing. It’s hilarious!  People respond to her very enthusiastically, too, which makes the interactions all the more fun.  For a while last week, when people were asking her what her name was, she’d respond with, “I don’t have a name!”  It got a laugh every time!

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Apparently we drove through the Everglades three times – twice when we were traveling between West Palm Beach and Naples, and once on our way to Key West.  Tahd and I both thought it looked basically like driving through Illinois.  I’m guessing “highway Everglades” is a lot more tame than “off-road Everglades.”

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Gabe thinks hotel breakfast bars are positively gourmet!  Anyone for a cardboard waffle?

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Tahd was super overwhelmed by the amount of sand we’ve been tracking home from the beach.  He pitched a little fit and then I pitched an <extremely mature> fit about him pitching a fit and somewhere along the way, we ended up okay with it all.  Just keepin’ it real… ;)  He’s still my favorite, though.

 

 

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Nobody got a sunburn.  Do you know how epic this is? I’m careful with the kids, but when it comes to sun, I’m well-acquainted with the burn because I burn super easily, even with sunscreen.  This time?  Everybody’s good – me included!  I think it helped that we didn’t spend a lot of midday time in the sun early in our trip.  It allowed us to start getting used to the more direct southern sun more gradually.  We’ve been out during midday this week, though, and with sunscreen, it hasn’t been a problem.

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The trip is lovely and the memories will be great, but I’m really looking forward to coming home, too!

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I have so much to say!  It’s just that…

this…

sunset1smallSo I basically have no words.  I don’t know how people in Naples ever say anything at all with this around them every night!

Back when I find my words again.  And if I don’t find them, I’ll at least come back with some pictures soon!

Win of the Week – The Balloon Edition

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I wasn’t sure what to write for last week’s win until Saturday.  It all started on Friday, though, when I had the grand idea to have a cup of coffee with dinner.  Not being a regular coffee drinker, I’m not accustomed to how caffeine affects me.  And after an entirely sleepless night, NOW I KNOW!  lol

When Jude woke up and I realized it was already 5 AM, I decided to throw in the towel and take him with me on a little adventure.  A nearby town was having a hot air balloon festival, and I was hoping to see some balloons in flight.  We’d gone one evening last year, but it was so windy that the balloons couldn’t even inflate, let alone launch, and someone told me the winds are typically most still for the 6 AM launch windows so you have the best chance of seeing it then.

We arrived just a few minutes past 6:00, perfect timing!

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The fog was super strange and magical on our way there.  Apparently 5:30 AM is quite lovely.  Who knew!

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I am so disloyal.  I thought this balloon was pretty ugly and wondered why anyone would ever make a green and gold balloon.  You’d never know I live in Packer country!  I bet it was most everyone else’s favorite!

 

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While the balloons were readying for takeoff, the announcer explained that if you were to buy a balloon today, it would cost between $35,000 and $40,000!

 

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I waited to leave until this balloon took off.  I love the chevron and the rainbow was fun.  It was one of my favorite balloons!

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This was not my favorite balloon, but it was one of the last ones to take off while I was there, and I realized just before it left that if I walked quickly across the field I could probably get a shot of it from the underside.  Something about looking up on it makes me smile.

The Big Win came later in the day when I realized I had not been cranky toward my kids.  I’m sure I wasn’t perfect, but I expected a lot worse of myself following a restless, sleepless night.  I’m kind of lucky it happened, too, because if it hadn’t, I never would have been up in time to see the balloons fly.

 

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