Friday, July 12, 2013

Vacation, part 3.

Almost done!

After spending a few days in Disney, we packed up and drove a couple of hours where my family lives. Our primary reason for visiting Florida was to see family, so that's exactly what we did. We went to my grandparent's house to hang out and that was a blast. I remember having really great times with my grandparents when I was younger, so it's important for me that my kids get to know them and have memories with them as well.
 Olivia spent a lot of time trying to catch lizards. She tried hard. It got to the point where we started offering her $1 if she could catch one. She never could, but she said next time FOR SURE she'll get one.
 Jackson spent a lot of time playing with the gate at the front door. He did this our last visit 4 years ago too. I don't know what the fascination with the gate was, but he had a great time
 See? These are what Olivia was trying to catch. They actually started taunting her. She'd run one direction, and five or so would run to where she just was. It was kind of hilarious. :)

On Sunday we had a family barbeque celebrating my cousin Stephanie graduating high school. I was bummed we couldn't time it so we could have seen her walk across the stage, but I'm glad we got to hang out. She's the most like me, personality wise, so we get along great. But my two younger cousins, who are around Olivia's age, came over too and Jackson tried hard to impress the girls.
 They are into gymnastics and so can do all kinds of cool tricks, but Jackson can break dance. Kind of. So he wowed us all with his moves.
 It was good catching up with my uncles and aunts and of course, Stephanie. I love how we're kind of coordinated here unknowingly. After the dinner, we headed over to my uncle's house so the kids could all swim together. Which is a big deal because both Olivia and Jackson have been in swim classes over the winter and spring, so they were super excited to show Grandma how well they can do now. I barely had enough room in our bag for their floats, but I'm glad I brought them!
 Is he not the cutest?? He insists on wearing his goggles at all times in the water!
 He swam all over the pool with little to no help at all.
 And of course, lounged on the tubes.
 Olivia even swam with the big girls. She was learning all kinds of flips and stuff from my cousins.
This? This is HUGE. When Jackson started swim lessons, he refused to jump in and wouldn't get in without help from the instructor. We had lots of conversations about how he has to be able to jump in to get to the guppy level, so he tried and tried. Right before we left, he finally did it and even  his instructor was so proud of him. Well at the pool this day, he says, "MAMA! I'm going to do it!" and he did and it was awesome. He jumped right in and swam to the other side, totally beaming. It's really great to see your kids master something and feel proud of themselves.
Even Olivia jumped in a bunch of times! She is a little less scared of doing things like this and watching the bigger girls kind of helped her get out and start jumping. This girl can swim laps without stopping. We may have a future swim team kid here.
 Isn't she adorable? I could bite those little cheeks.
 They played bumper tubes and thought that was totally hilarious.

 After efficiently pooping them out, we headed back to our hotel (which is an entire post on it's own because it's still ongoing...long story). The very next day was our designated beach day. The plans were to go to Madeira Beach, which is where I used to play when I was little and where Matt and I honeymooned, and pretty much play it all by ear.
 It doesn't matter how long I've lived up North, every time I'm in Florida I feel like I'm at home. I had to take a picture of the St. Petersburg sign because this? This is my original home town.

Once at Madeira Beach, the kids were getting hungry so we decided to get a parking pass and then walk over to John's Pass. Matt went and checked on the dolphin boat tours because Jackson wanted to really go on one, and as it turns out- there was one leaving in a few minutes with room. So we decided to buy a few snacks and a water and get on the boat.
 Jackson was SO excited because he really likes boat rides and it was a totally gorgeous day for a boat ride.
Olivia also was excited and was hoping to see a few dolphins. Matt and I have been on this twice now, and we've always had good luck seeing them, so we were pretty confident. It was then that Olivia told me she really wished she had her own camera. I'm not budging on saying no to a cell phone, iPad, iPod, etc... but a camera? I can understand why she wants a camera and I had a cheapy when I was her age. So... maybe a good Christmas thing. Anyways.
 We saw a BUNCH of dolphins but because my camera was almost dead, I didn't get many pictures. I think Matt got some on his phone, but hasn't sent them to me yet.
We did see a mama dolphin and a bunch of babies, so that was really cool. Olivia was so excited and Jackson kept asking for us to lift him up so he could see better. So the boat ride was a success. I was bummed we couldn't get on the shell island tour- but it was full that afternoon and even if we went, I didn't have much room in our luggage to bring back big shells.
 Instead, we went to the boardwalk and had a great lunch. Matt ate more seafood than he could almost handle but it's far better than what we can get at home, I'm told.
 We walked the boardwalk for awhile, and the kids got to buy their beach souvenir. Jackson got a shark tooth necklace and Olivia got a starfish necklace and both got shirts. They had been saving their allowances for months and were pretty proud to be able to buy their own souvenir. After that and some ice cream, we finally went over to the beach.
 Olivia looking totally fashionable with this cute suit we got at Gymboree for $2 she finally fits.
 Jackson being his usual self.
 I made them play in the sand for awhile until their lunch was a little more settled. Jackson was kind of excited to be buried. He declared, loud enough for everyone to hear, "This is the best sandbox EVER!!". The people next to us thought that was hilarious and they turned out to be really nice to chat with.
 Olivia wanted to be buried, and to have a mermaid tail, but was disappointed that Matt isn't that great with sand art.
They decided to make sand castles and test out the water.
Adorable cuties on the beach.
 Good grief we are ridiculously white. Oh yes, and Matt is here wearing Jackson's goggles because he was diving down to get shells for Olivia and the salt water was killing his contacts. Such a good dad. Walked around with bloodshot eyes for the entire day so she'd have shells.
 When they weren't making sand castles, they were trying to find "perfect" shells.
Jackson was a little scared because there were signs posted that it was again stingray mating season so to shuffle your feet as you go into the water. Well, he knows what a stingray is from our aquarium visits, so he was petrified to go into the water. If I carried him out there, he would swim just fine with me. But he would not walk in and out by himself. Which was just fine. Olivia had no problems at all- I think she really liked the beach and thought the waves were great.
Me and Olivia at the end of our beach day. I kind of love that we are able to bring the kids to the places that were memorable for me as a little kid. As they get older we'll be able to go to more places. Actually, we were talking about the next time we go to Disney we'd do a week long thing, do a park each day and then a water park. We were going to go to Typhoon Lagoon with them, but it said that you can't bring flotation devices, so until they can swim better on their own without floats.

We left right before dinner time and we were all exhausted. You don't realize living up north, how much non stop sun and swimming can really suck all your energy right out. In fact, both kids fell asleep in the car before we were even out of the parking lot. :)

Also- I've gotten lots of emails about Disney and my experience. First of all, it was not a complete bust. I'm glad we went, I'm glad my kids had a fantastic time, and I have some really get pictures and memories to put into a book for them (I'm only 3 vacations behind in scrapbooking...yikes). Did I know you could get free cups of water at service counters? No. Because I saw nobody with them. Did I have to buy that much water? Well yes- it was 105 and both kids and I have to be hydrated throughout the day otherwise we get sick. So I'd spend $1000 on water if it kept both kids from getting sick. I get that you pay a lot of money for the experience. I totally get that. But once you get into the park, they shouldn't nickel and dime you the entire day. Paying almost $100 for a family of four to basically have hotdogs and burgers is a bit ridiculous. I will say though, that the next time we go we'll likely stay at a Disney resort and do the dining plan. It makes so much more sense and after getting to know how it works better after talking to people once I'm there, I recommend it. I also recommend going for 3 days because you get better deals on ticket prices. We were only going to have 2 days and if we were able to stretch out the vacation for another day or two, we would have gone to 3 parks. The next time we go the kids will be older and bigger, and we'll be able to do Hollywood Studios and Animal Kingdom. The vacation fund is empty so we're slowly putting money into that. Hopefully next time we can take a full two week vacation and see family AND do Disney.

Tomorrow- I'll talk about our last full day, we went to Weeki Wachee Springs and saw mermaids. :)


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Gulfport said...

Yay! I'm glad the rest of your trip was great and I'm so glad you'll give Disney another chance. It can be really wonderful - I prefer going in the Sept/Oct and February. Not so hot. Yeh, we bring our refillable bottles and get them filled. It's amazing how much just staying hydrated can cost. Looking forward to hearing about the mermaids!

YoPaulie said...

What happened to Parts 1 and 2? As an FYI, Disney provides Personal Flotation Devices at no charge at water parks for little kids, there is a liability issue if Disney allowed people to bring their own, and something happened on their property. said...

Just a thought about the water.... I highly recommend EVERYONE takes a filtered water bottle with them, I personally prefer the Camelbak Groove as it is not too big, can be clipped onto anything with a caribiner and almost always eliminates the odd taste of Central Florida water. There are water fountains all around WDW that are ready to be used to fill up and most are refrigerated so the water comes out cold.

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Anna (herding cats-burning soup) said...

Aw yall look like you're having such a good time! Glad you had a good visit :)

Ruth said...

That is great your kids are able to know their great grandparents. I never got to meet mine. Dead before I was born.
Such good memories you will always have.

Kattrina said...

I'm loving your vacation updates! I am heading to Disney in Feb to run the Princess Half Marathon and I'm already dreading how much money Disney will steal from us (including the $160 they charged for the race!!!). Looks like so much fun though!

Shannon @ Bungalow960 said...

You saw dolphins. I'm going to send your post to my sister and say HERE YOU NEED TO GO TO FLORIDA TO SEE YOUR GOD DAMN DOLPHINS.

Shannon @ Bungalow960 said...

You saw dolphins. I'm going to send your post to my sister and say HERE YOU NEED TO GO TO FLORIDA TO SEE YOUR GOD DAMN DOLPHINS.

Jen Mc said...

I love all your pictures. I hope you had as much fun as it looks like you did.