Vacation...where there wasn't a care in the world except for what time of day our walk on the beach should be, how long the wait for fresh donuts from The Donut Experiment might take, or how much fun C would have swimming in the pool after nap time. Alas...after an absolutely wonderful vacation, we've made it home. Things are looking up back in Northwest Iowa. The grass has greened up, the birds are chirping, and the temps are hovering at a pleasent 65 degrees. But before we get into the delights of being home, here's a little peak into our getaway!
Vacation started with a nonstop flight (the only way to travel) from Sioux Falls to St. Petersburg, FL. On our last trip, the connection times didn't work out for us to fly from Sioux Falls, which is only about 1.5hrs from our home, but this time, the connections were great, so we decided to give it a whirl. Getting ALL of our traveling done in one day is really the only way to go. No single portion of our trip took longer than three hours (trip to the airport: 1.5hrs, flight: 2.75hrs, trip to beachouse: 45min), which I credit as one of the reasons we have been able to travel so easily with C. Obviously...the shorter the better, but having downtime in between legs to stretch out, eat, and play were key. After stopping for libations at the airport restaurant to celebrate our smooth journey to the airport and through security, we boarded the flight. The third person in our row was kind enough to take a family photo for us while we were waiting for takeoff. Although, it turned out blurry, it's still better than anything I could get of the three of us 'selfie-style', so I'll take it!
C did great on the flight, languishing over a sippy cup of formula on the way up and another on the way down to combat any ear issues. He even snuck in a quick rather uncomfortable looking nap sprawled across T & I's laps. He was a little more squirmy than on our flights last November, but when the flight attendant gave him a couple of water cups to play with and he discovered the laminated flight safety brochure in the seat back, we were set. It was right at C's bedtime when we arrived in St. Petersburg, and as you can tell, he was pretty exhausted and didn't quite know what to think! Staying up late and being in Florida? What next!?
Here we are waiting for our luggage to arrive. The absolute best $64 bucks I've ever spent came in the form of this carseat travel cart. It literally was a travel lifesaver. I have no idea how people travel with kids who need carseats without one. HIGHLY RECOMMEND if you plan to haul along a carseat on your travels! I did a lot of research, and went with this Britax version because it uses LATCH connectors to attach, the same system car seats use to attach to vehicles, and didn't require any screws or clunky cords. Clip on...clip off...done. T lifted C and the carseat right out of the car and onto the cart without worrying about unstrapping him at all. I can not say enough good things about this. Oh yeah, and it detaches, folds up, and can sit inside the carseat, inside the car seat bag for gate checking. AMAZING!
After a whirlwind day of travel, C had a hard time adjusting to the new sleeping arrangements, and spent probably half of the first night being scared about where he was. After letting him cry it out for a good half hour, we caved and brought him in bed with us...which NEVER happens...and while it did calm him, he just thought it was playtime...at 3 A.M...and was far too busy rolling around and kicking us in the face to actually get any sort of sleep. It took about 15 minutes of this before T & I changed our minds about letting him in bed with us and moved him back to the pack'n'play where he eventually calmed himself down enough to sleep. The next day, we didn't have anything planned other than to relax, so we all took it easy the first full day of vacation. It was wonderful that Grandma J, Grandpa T, and Uncle T were along for the first part of the trip, and C could expend some of his energy with them while T & I loaded up on coffee.
Beach time! First on the agenda of our vacation...after going to get donuts and coffee of course...was a trip to the beach. Not too difficult a trek since it was only about 100 yards from the front door of where we stayed. Upon arriving at the beach, C was immediately in love with the soft white sand and dipping his little toes in the ocean. Grandma J got him outfitted with this awesome Seaside Sidekicks Funnel Toy, Clicker Crab Scoop, and a sand bucket, and C got right down to business trying to figure out how to sneak in a taste of the sand. In case you're wondering, yes he was successful on several occasions.
The Donut Experiment was packed beyond belief the entire time we were on vacation...literally standing room only every day! The look on C's face pretty much says it all...disbelief! We visited three times...every new guest arrival warranting another visit, and twice spent over TWO HOURS waiting for donuts...yes, they are that good. We rarely get donuts while at home since there isn't anywhere near us that even comes close to the level of deliciousness that these bites offer - warm cake donuts covered in whatever frostings and toppings your heart desires. This place is the real deal. It has never been so busy when we've visited, and we are convinced that it would be an excellent addition to Okoboji. In case anyone's wondering...yes...they are franchising!
Those papers laying in front of the checkout? That's about 30+ orders that went in before ours. A good two hour wait. These craft donut makers are efficient, and were moving as fast as they possibly could go. The only way this process could have been sped up would have been opening a second location! For a glimpse of the deliciousness that was enjoyed, some of our favorites are: caramel with sea salt, vanilla with raspberry drizzle, chocolate with graham cracker, and key lime pie just to name a few.
T & I took advantage of Grandma J & Grandpa T being along to sneak out for a date night at Beach Bistro (a non-baby-friendly restaurant we had been wanting to try for some time) while C enjoyed some bonding time with the grandparents and Uncle T. He didn't even notice we were gone until we came back home and he saw us come in the door. At that point, he realized that 'hey...you guys left me!'...and his face crumpled and tears started flowing. I swear, this kid is like a faucet. He can turn it on or off on a moments notice. Dinner was lovely, and so much fun to enjoy a date night at somewhere fancy instead of our winter standbys at home of take-out pizza or Mexican. If you are lucky enough to make it to Beach Bistro, don't leave without trying the key lime pie! Their deconstructed take on it might just have made my non-key-lime-loving-self a convert. Delicious!
A couple of days into the trip, Uncle N and his girlfriend C arrived to join the fun. As I've mentioned before, C has a big time crush on Uncle N's girlfriend, and he was so excited about their arrival that he decided to start talking using multiple consonants (He literally wasn't even saying single consonants until the day before this, and on the day we arrived, he wasn't even doing that. He had been trying very hard to figure out how to make sounds for a while, so it has been so much fun to finally hear his voice). I'll have you all know, that C's first word was ma-ma, followed immediately by da-da-da, ga-ga-ga, ra-ra-ra, and na-na-na. Since our return, he has backed off on the talking a little bit, and seems to have decided that da-da-da is his favorite only busting out the other consonants on special occasions. I'm sure it won't be long until he'll be feeding us all sorts of stories!
Most days of our trip included several hours spent poolside, where C enjoyed showing off his back floating skills, and boating around in his pool float. He has zero trust issues when it comes to swimming, and was all about back floating with his feet up in the air while T or I zoomed him around the pool. We definitely have a water loving baby! When he got to sit on the side of the pool and put his toes in and splash around was quite possibly the highlight of his trip!
I should probably also mention that every time I turned around, it seemed that T was sneaking in a dunk. C does pretty well with it, although he hasn't quite figured out that he needs to keep his mouth shut so he doesn't swallow too much water.
So many smiles! We enjoyed spending time at the beach, and C LOVED getting his toes in the sand and sitting at the edge of the ocean as the waves broke. He loves the water, and was having the time of his life going from ocean...to pool...to hot tub...to bath.
C learned all about how to catch sand fleas and fish off the beach from the boys.
No...T didn't catch this shark...Uncle N did within about 20 minutes of arriving. This was no doubt frustrating for Uncle T who had been standing on the beach for several hours with no luck!
Later in the week, Uncle N & T went out deep sea fishing about 30 miles, and brought back a pretty impressive haul of grouper. This was probably the highlight of T's trip as it was his first experience with ocean fishing since on our past trips there was never anyone along who knew how to operate the fishing boat.
It was a bit hard to capture a good photo of C on the beach since he was so fascinated by all of the seagulls flying around! He would look up and watch, then clap his hands in delight as they flew over.
One of the few family photos that actually turned out!
The last day of our vacation, we spent walking on the beach, playing by the pool, and even made it out to dinner for sushi at Island Ocean Star. C thought it was pretty fun to sit in the booth with dad, and even more cool to walk around the docks at the marina looking at some of the yachts stored there after dinner.
We had a great trip, and had so much fun with all of our friends and family that were able to join in on the fun.