As always, the hardest part for me is getting the photos uploaded, but I know that I can share the tales of our trip quickly.
Actually, right now we’re all flying back home so I can type this up ahead of time.
So, where do I start?
Well, I guess I should really back up… with our move in December the older boys moved to a new school and a new school district. The new school runs on a modified year round schedule. Summer break is only a month, but they have an extra week off in the Fall and in the Spring. I thought that we should take advantage of the extra time and go somewhere this Spring.
I actually started out thinking that we’d drive to Florida to see parts of my family. Then Nana and Papa told me that they’d help pay for our flights so we booked the trip on Southwest instead.
Our flight out took us to Orlando with a stop in Milwaukee (go ahead and look at a map, I assure you that it wasn’t really “on the way”). We left Phoenix in the morning and landed in Orlando at night. The kids did really well. The only issue we had was that they were starving when we got to Orlando–they didn’t want to eat lunch when I offered it but that was the only chance they had. Thankfully, Aunt Katherine (my sister) found the golden arches and they had dinner of cheeseburgers at 10 o’clock at night.
We spent the first couple of days at my sister’s house… she has four kiddos as well… J age 8, A age 7, P age 3, and j age 1. Part of the reason that we took this trip is the fact that I’d never seen her little ones and she’d never met the Bean or V. It has been four years since the older 4 cousins had seen each other. They’d gotten along really well in the past and this time was no different.
The first day we were in town we took the crew to Bounce U. I used to take the older boys to Pump it Up before they were in school, but it’s been a long time so the bouncing was a treat. Then, that afternoon they all went swimming. It’s something else to have 7 kids swimming and playing together. I have to say that they all did well. There was only a little fighting and I don’t think that there were any tears! Oh, and I think that they also went to the park. We’re not even home yet and I’m already having a hard time remembering all of the things that we did.
The next day we played outside with bikes and basketballs in the morning. Then we went to McDonald’s–that doesn’t really sound like an outting, but anytime you go anywhere with that many kids, it’s an adventure. Honestly, I remembered this McDonald’s from our last trip though.. It has a play area that’s tall enough for me to walk in. I have to bend over, but I don’t have to crawl. I appreciate that as a mom!
That afternoon we did more swimming.
And that night we went to see the gators! We went to a restaurant called the Black Hammock. And they have several alligators that you can visit outside. They also had several parrots and other exotic birds. For an appetizer we all shared some gator bites. And, as the sign said, “it tastes like chicken”. Only I’d say a little gamier and a little more chewy… but, it was batter dipped and fried so everyone liked it! David liked it so much that he ordered it as a meal. Daniel was very excited to see fish and seafood on the menu and he and his Aunt split a pound of peal and eat shrimp. He would have liked it more if they didn’t have to be pealed.. And if there were about another pound or so on the plate! Desert was the best part though. After dinner, the owner of the restaurant brought out Max, the little 15 inch long gator that lives in the restaurant. He helped each kiddo hold Max for a picture. Beanie and P were both a little intimidated and just watched from the sides. But, j wanted to grab for that little guy. The owner flipped Max over and something about the way that gators are formed puts them out when they’re flipped over.. J was on the floor right next to Max and was already to have a new toy!
That night Nana and Papa came home from their latest adventure (they’ve been on 4 trips already this year!). So, when the littles got up the next day we loaded up to head to the beach. Nana and Papa have a condo that’s about an hour away from my sister’s place. It’s a short walk to the beach from their condo and they have several pools, golf and tennis all on the property.
We headed down to take advantage of that ocean! I’ve spent time on both coasts, but I guess I wasn’t old enough to really notice or care about the differences in the ocean until this trip.. (sad, but true!) The waves are pretty mellow in FL and the water is warmer (still cold though). The waves were perfect for the boys to boogie board on and not big enough to beat them up.
V loved playing in the sand and Bean had fun in the sand and running up to her ankles are so in the water.
Dave really loved the waves. He was doing really well, too… until that darn jelly fish! He came running out of the water crying and holding his leg. Honestly, this was the biggest reaction to an injury that I’ve ever seen from one of my kiddos ever. He was screaming and crying and slapping his legs. So, Nana and I took him to the fire department. We had a hard time finding anyone and Nana accidentally called 911–whoops! But, once they got him inside they finally got him to calm down. He’d been stung on both legs, one of them all the way up his thigh under his swim trunks. The fire fighters put bandages covered with vinegar on the stings and checked his vitals to make sure this wasn’t an allergic reaction, it was just a sting. I think that the combination of the unknown with the fatigue of travel had really done a number on the little dude. But, he was back to himself before we left the fire house.
I went back to the condo with him to give him some advil and clean him up a bit. After playing his video games for a bit, when the others came home, he was ready to go again.
That afternoon the little ones napped & so did I! And Papa took David out to play some tennis… and then Nana took David & Daniel out to play some golf. Oh, and no surprise here, we all went swimming, too!
So, the next day my sister’s family followed us down to the beach. They did some family photos, but there were a few communication errors. I thought we were doing photos of the cousins in matching shirts.. And we didn’t get that shot. I guess we’ll try again in another 4 years.. Ha! And all of the FL people wore khaki’s and white shirts. I haven’t owned a pair of khaki pants since they were required for a job–I don’t think I’ve voluntarily ever bought them! I do own a white shirt, but I didn’t pack it. So, if you see family photos that have one odd one out, that’s me.
After pictures, there was more playing on the beach.. And more jelly fish stings. This time we were prepared though! Nana brought vinegar with us. Immediate treatment and the knowledge that it wouldn’t last forever meant a *much* more minor freak out. After both of my big boys were stung we moved to the pool v. the ocean though. That afternoon we took 4 of the 8 to a kid’s fest in Port Orange. It was way fun! There was face painting and games and one booth let you make your own flower barrett for your hair. There was also lots and lots of candy and one booth even had free sno-cones! And there were free train rides. I think the only disappointment was the rides that we actually paid for, the one that Dan wanted to ride on wasn’t working and he had a hard time figuring out the bumper cars that he ended up on instead. One of the last booths that we went to was for a local water park. The kids played a game and all one a ticket good for either mini-golf or laser tag. And as we were chatting with the woman at the booth she told us that the following day was their first day of the season so it was only $10 to get in.
So, that decided our plans for the next day… the only problem was that one of K’s kiddos was sick the next morning. Her 7 year old was running a fever so she couldn’t go along. Uncle James stayed home with A and the baby. So, we had 4 adults with only 6 kids.. Now those are good odds. We ate a picnic on the way in and then were off to play! I’ve never taken my kids to a water park. One of the big reasons is that they have still been developing as swimmers. The other big reason is that the little ones want to do entirely different things than the big ones. But, with all of the extra people, it wasn’t an issue. There was a great play area for the little ones with four pint sized slides.
More to follow.. (at some point?!?)…