Happy Thanksgiving!

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Ahhh....Thanksgiving. As I sit with my morning coffee looking out over the snow covered landscape that makes up my current real life surroundings today (yes...we got snow...again), I can't help but think of all of the wonderful things we have to be thankful for this year. As there are too many to count, I won't list them all here, but right up near the top would be friends and family...both immediate and extended...those we will get to spend time with today, and those we will have to wait until the next holiday rolls around. Wishing you all a wonderful turkey day!

This turkey day could go one of two directions for us. T was on call last night, and didn't get home until nearly 3am. Out the door again by 7:45am after catching a little shut-eye, and back to the grind of rounding on his patients before being able to start enjoying the day. C, on the other hand, is smack in the middle of a growth spurt, and has been sleeping a TON this week. Last night, he was ready for bed at 7:30, and he's been sleeping thru until 10am the last couple of mornings with a couple of long naps throughout the day. Hence...I'm guessing that between the two of them, we are destined for a meltdown at some point throughout the day due to a need for sleep and way to much going on to get it! In the meantime, it's a good thing I'm having my morning cup of joe now, because C is a bit of a mama's boy, and there's no telling how much relaxation or enjoyment I will actually get to have later today. For now...I'm going to start off with the Macy's Day Parade, work on my Christmas & Black Friday shopping list, and hope for the best! Let the festivities begin!

First Family Vacation

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

In November, we took our first vacation as a family of three. WooHoo! Technically speaking, we had traveled out of town a number of times since C's arrival in May, but this was the first trip that involved air travel and crossing more than the Minnesota-Iowa-South Dakota borders. 

After hearing horror stories about T and his siblings with ear trouble on their flights as children, we weren't too sure what we were getting into. My siblings and I never had any problems flying as kids (that I remember), but not the case at all with T's side of the fam. It was really a 'throw-caution-to-the-wind' kind of moment when we finally bit the bullet and booked our first family vacation to Florida way back in July when C was just two months old. After much research on different airline policies for traveling with infants, we opted for flying Delta. We've always had good luck with our Delta flights, and they still offer a free carry-on + have a great allowance for the kiddo allowing a stroller and carseat for no additional charge. KEY when traveling with an infant that packs more luggage than both T & I combined! Sigh...gone are the days of two carry-ons and a couple of personal items.

After about three years of fighting about it, I finally convinced T that nonstop flights, and staying in a hotel the night before flying are necessary evils to ensure a happy day of travel for everyone. Obviously, if we lived closer than 3 hours from the nearest decent sized airport, the overnight in a hotel before leaving on vacation would be completely unnecessary since we wouldn't have to leave at 2am to get to an 8am flight. I will say though, staying at a hotel the night before when flying out of Minneapolis, is absolutely the way to go. The airport parking fees there are around $23/day, and it is much more cost efficient to stay in a hotel for much lower rates, approx. $10/day, and a five minute shuttle ride (if you stay near The Mall Of America in Bloomington). Nonstop flights, however, are a must. Worth every single additional dollar above a cheaper flight with multiple connections. At least until C is much...much older and able to entertain himself during endless layovers.

Anywho...back to our flight. Another GREAT thing about flying Delta with an infant? They are 100% supportive of nursing mamas out there, which means that we were able to avoid major meltdowns by timing our flights just right so that C could nurse during takeoff/landing if necessary to help with his little ears since he refuses to take a pacifier, and hadn't figured out the whole bottle thing. Don't worry, I had my handy nursing cover, and sat next to the window, so no one even noticed, and it was all very discreet. C did far better than either T or I expected, and slept on my lap for most of the flight, barely making a peep the entire trip! #chill

Upon arrival in Tampa, we gathered our 20 bags and set up shop at the gate while we got everything organized. Before our trip, I had purchased a handy rolling travel bag to prevent the BOB from any damage during the flight, along with this gate check carseat bag which I reinforced with red duct tape before leaving. After getting everything squared away, we chose our rental car for the week (a fully loaded Ford Explorer - which I should mention has convinced T that we need one at home to haul around all of the extra baby gear), and made our way to our final destination...Anna Maria Island, a little over an hour south of Tampa.

 Traveling to warmer locals with C is a real gamble since anything over 75 degrees is generally too hot for our little man. Luckily, temps hovered near 75 degrees all week, and we couldn't have asked for better weather. A week earlier, and the temps were still consistently in the 80s, so while T & I may have preferred a little warmer, 75 degrees was perfect for the little man. Speaking of C, he was all smiles from the minute we got off the plane in Tampa, until we arrived at our final destination on Anna Maria Island. I think he sensed that he was about to have some real fun, and couldn't wait to get started! He kept this smile on his face pretty much the entire trip!


After settling in, we headed out to the beach, enjoyed a long walk in the ocean air, and watched a gorgeous sunset.

We kicked off our first morning of vacation with a trip to Anna Maria Donuts...our favorite morning spot on vacation. This was followed up by visits to some of our other island favorites, Ginny & Jane's Coffee Shop, Poppo's Taqueria for build-your-own Mexican, The Waterfront Restaurant for seafood, Eat Here for tapas, Island Ocean Star for sushi, The Village Idiot for wood fired pizza, The Old Salty Dog in Longboat Key for delicious peel-and-eat shrimp, and even a trip down to St. Armand's for a little shopping and lunch at Italian restaurant Venezia and some toasted coconut ice cream from Kilwins for dessert. Yum Yum. So many delicious options after coming from a land filled with seasonal restaurants only open during the summer months.

Sooo...what are we going to do today??

A walk on the beach...oh good! Just what I wanted!  FYI, the BOB, our amazing stroller, did great on the beach, and made for super enjoyable twice daily walks for myself, and oceanside snoozes for C. He got to sit in the main part of the stroller instead of in his carseat, so he had lots of fun watching the waves crashing into the shore and looking at all of the seagulls and people on the beach.


I can't get enough of this adorable look. C had no problem with keeping the fedora on, and I think it not only did the job to keep the sun off his face, but also fit his chill personality perfectly.

First time checking out the pool! I suggested to T that he should take it slow this time around instead of just going straight for the full body dunk as he did at the lake over the summer. This was C's first experience with a pool, and he was pretty curious about sitting on the edge and dipping his toes in.

First time swimming in a pool! After cranking up the pool heat, and spending an entire afternoon perusing the island for the pool float I had my mind set on - after five different stops at beach supply stores, I nearly gave up before finding it at Walgreens of all places! - we got our swim gear on and set off for the pool. C wasn't too sure about it at first, but after discovering the warmer water of the hot tub, he was in love. By the end of the week, when we were done swimming and took him out of the hot tub, there were real tears as he had grown to love motor boating around so much, and he didn't want the fun to end. Of course, when we got back home after making motor boat sounds all week, he had picked up a new trick, and was making the sounds all on his own. In terms of keeping our little guy protected from the Florida sunshine, without knowing it ahead of time, we lucked out. The pool area was completely shaded, except for a small area in the afternoon, due to the November sun. Sunscreen for babies six months and under is not recommended, and C was just barely six months, so this worked out perfectly. We were able to spend lots of time outside by the pool in the warm 75 degree weather without any worries of sunburns or overheating. Our visits to the beach were limited to early mornings or evenings so that the suns rays were not at their peak.


Motorboat-ing around in the hot tub in the pool float. This little guy LOVED it!

C has definitely proven to be a water loving baby, and when the swim trunks go on, he knows he's in for some fun! Good thing since we are bound to spend many many many hours in the water at the lake and the YMCA in the coming years.


After taking the plunge of the pool, next on the agenda for our vacation was to check out the ocean and the beach. C LOVED going for walks on the beach in his stroller and being able to view the world around him so much that we couldn't wait to get his toes in the sand and see what he thought of the ocean water.


C's first experience with sand! As you can probably tell, he was very curious about it, and had fun wiggling his toes around feeling the unfamiliar texture. I'd be lying if I told you he didn't try to get a bite of it as well! All in all, he thought it was pretty fun, and enjoyed the experience. T is super excited about this because he can hardly wait to build sandcastles until C is old enough to build sandcastles with him. Of all the wonderful things about being a parent, having a reason to build sandcastles again is right at the very top of T's list. #kidatheart

After playing in the sand for a while, we headed straight for the ocean. It was a relatively calm day on the ocean, so we were able to wade out a little bit near the edge and put C's feet in the water as the waves broke on the beach. He was very curious, but also a little more cautious since the ocean water wasn't as warm as his beloved hot tub. He got to sit down with papa T while the waves came in, and enjoyed taking it all in before deciding to hit the beach chairs with me to watch the comings and goings of the other patrons on the beach, and watch T struggling to use a paddle board. He assured me after we watched him struggle for a half hour, that it is not as easy as you would think. After getting up for only about two minutes, he decided that maybe ocean paddle boarding is just not for him. The water was too chilly for me to feel the need to try, but maybe on our next visit!

Other highlights from our trip included a couple of shopping trips to Ellenton Premium Outlets, meeting up with some of my family for a couple of dinners out, sitting in the rocking chairs on the deck at night listening to the waves crash into the shore, trying out some new restaurants, and mainly, just having a chance to relax in the warm Florida sunshine with our babe.  

The best things in life are the people we love...
the places we've been...
and the memories we've made along the way.

Until our next visit...

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