Anna Maria: Easter 2017

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

After our quick visit to Disney World, we packed up the rental and made our way south for our first trip to Anna Maria as a family of four. We have loved visiting in April because the weather is just about perfect for traveling with little people, not too hot or too cold, but hovering around the perfect temps of upper 70s-low 80s. T & I were curious to see if C would remember the beach house from our visit last spring, but he didn't really give us a good indication one way or the other. G, meanwhile, was just on the verge of crawling, so we did a little pre-visit prepping and ordered the essentials ahead of our visit...i.e. baby gate, monitor, etc. It is so nice not having to worry about any of the baby gear once we get to our destination! When staying at a hotel, we are pretty contained to our room, but when staying in a house, there are a LOT more things to think about when traveling with little ones! At this point, I think most of the bases are covered, so whoever visits with littles after us should be set!

Our first full day on Anna Maria was a success! We started off the morning with a trip to Pine Ave and a stop at Hometown Desserts for a fresh-out-of-the-oven scone, coffee, and a take-home coconut key lime cake to devour sometime over Easter weekend. The rest of the morning and early afternoon were taken up with stocking up on groceries, naps, and a few quiet moments rocking on the deck.

Later, the boys were so excited when Gma J & Gpa T showed up to surprise them, and we struck out for a long walk on the beach. C was a little nervous about the beach and ocean, and had to hold my hand the entire time we were walking. When Gma J asked if she could hold his hand, he replied 'I don't trust it'...I mean, this kid and the things that come out of his mouth! By the time we got to our turnaround point about a mile down the beach, we had sung the Iowa fight song, jogged a little, C told us he had walked '100 steps', and Gma J was lucky enough to have earned his 'trust' and had the pleasure of holding his hand on the walk back. We tried pizza from The Feast for dinner (a great take-out pizza option if you are staying on Anna Maria), and had a relatively quiet night otherwise. G was ready for bed at 7pm, and C followed not too much later at 7:45pm. All of this sunshine and fresh air can really wear a guy out! In C's words, 'tomorrow is a brand new day with brand new adventures'!

Saturday of our trip was extra special because our Little G turned 9 months old! He spent most of the day grinning at Grandma J, army crawling all over the house, and belly laughing at my tickle attacks. We walked to Paradise Bagels for breakfast (great 'eggel sandwiches!') and came back via the beach, where G loved looking at the sand and watching the waves crash on the shore. C, meanwhile, was topped out after his blueberry muffin, and rode back in the stroller for a break. 

Our afternoon was filled with pool time. C has been very timid of the water this trip, and it took him quite a while to warm up to the idea of swimming in the pool. I did get him a new life jacket to help him feel a little more comfortable in the water, and I think it did help him feel a bit more confident when 'floating', but overall, he wasn't quite sure what to think. I suppose that's what we get for only taking him swimming when we are on vacation! It's a good thing the YMCA offers regular swim lessons starting at age 3. We'll definitely have to get C enrolled this fall! G got to sit on the edge of the pool and splash with his legs, and he loved every minute. He was too close to needing a nap when we were by the pool to worry too much about water diapers and wet suits, but if the excitement over splashing was any indication, he's going to love swimming!

For dinner, we headed out early to Eat Here with Gma & Gpa, and were lucky to snag a table right away with no wait. Eat Here is consistently one of our favorite places to grab dinner on the island, and it never disappoints. It is a sister restaurant to Beach Bistro, considered to be THE restaurant on the island, and if you go early, there is rarely a wait. I ordered C a grilled cheese (which was awesome), but he preferred to have the mahi that Gma J & I ordered instead. 'Gramma has reeeeealy good mahi!' he says. Such a little stinker! G, meanwhile, enjoyed looking at himself in the mirror on the wall, and would give a little grin or start talking when he caught a glimpse of his reflection. Too cute!

Most of Easter Sunday was spent at the pool. Both of the boys loved swimming, and I think that C spent almost as much time in the pool as he did on dry land! G loved to kick around in his pool float, but was just as interested in tasting the pool water as he was swimming in it. Nevertheless, the afternoon of swimming consisted of lots of smiles and laughter. Earlier in the day, C had fun building sand castles with Gma & Gpa on the beach, and G enjoyed watching.

Between swimming, eating and napping, G had no problem stealing the show while trying to put together the crawling motion. He figured out how to get up on his hands and knees and move a little before falling into his tummy and army crawling dragging himself along with his left arm. Gma J was cheering him on and telling him to get his caboose up in the air, and C was mimicking her getting right down in G's face and telling him to 'come on dat 'boose' such a great cheerleader for his little brother, and quite entertaining to watch!

In other news, we convinced T to smoke chicken for Easter, and it was delicious. C enjoyed keeping an eye on the 'yardbird' with Dad throughout the day down by the pool, but when it actually came time to eat, I don't think he even tried it the little stinker! G was more fussy than average today, and we decided he must be working on another tooth. Oooor maybe vacation is just catching up with him and he's extra tired. Either way, he was ready for bed at 6 pm, and after holding off as long as we could, he was asleep in bed by 6:30pm. C was extra tired too, but he at least made it out to the beach with Gpa, Gma and I to watch sunset, then back to the house for a 'Florida shower' (outdoor shower) before enjoying a piece of key lime coconut cake from Hometown Desserts and some milk before bed. It doesn't get much better than this for an Easter Sunday!

Monday, we started out the morning bright and early when G decided to wake up at 5am in need of some nourishment. After a bottle, it was back to bed for a while before we heard C out in the other room around 7:30am. I later learned that he was up at 6:15am when my Uncle J came downstairs and spotted him quietly playing with his trucks. At least he was staying out of trouble! Remember that baby gate I mentioned earlier? Essential! C typically likes to practice his Navy Seal tactics in the morning when he knows it's too early to get up, so for peace of mind, it is absolutely necessary to make sure we have him contained in case we don't hear him get up. Luckily, he isn't much of a troublemaker, and he is perfectly content to play quietly with his cars and trucks until someone else gets up. When G got up and we came out to the main room, C got right in his face (which G loves) and said to him 'hi Graham, what you been doin?' Too cute. 

Anyways, after we all got going, we headed up to Pine Ave to The Donut Experiment for some fresh made-to-order donuts. Last minute, before putting in our order, I tagged a special one for C with vanilla frosting and rainbow colored sprinkles, and when we got our order 15 minutes later and I asked him which one he wanted out of the entire box of 10 donuts, he picked the very one I ordered for him, just proving the theory that mommy knows best! T & I's favorites of the day were probably key lime, vanilla with a raspberry drizzle, and salted caramel. Afterwards, C told me 'Thanks Mom, those donuts were AWESOME!'. G was not about to miss out on the fun, so I did let him try a tiny little crumb sized piece to see what it was all about, but he was a bit skeptical after the first taste, so we didn't push it, and let him just take in the scene.

After returning to the house, it was naptime for G, then naptime for C & T. I took G for a walk in the Ergo on the beach while the other boys were sleeping, and he ended up falling asleep as well. Amazing how much a little fresh air and sunshine can wipe a kid out! When everyone was finally up from naps, we packing into the car and went to meet Gma, Gpa, and Uncle J at Tide Tables restaurant for a mid-afternoon lunch before heading out for a boat ride. We had never previously visited Tide Tables (it's all outside dining at picnic tables right off the fishing docks in Cortez), but try to make a point to try out some new restaurants each time we are in the area, so were excited to see how it was after hearing some pretty good reviews. I'm happy to tell you, it lives up to the hype. We will definitely be returning! The grouper bites are amazing, and the blackened grouper sandwich I had was seasoned perfectly. Notice a trend here? Grouper fans unite! 

After lunch...where G also got to try fish...of the gold variety...(I accidentally forgot to bring along Cheerios...whoops!), we hit the water and went for a boat ride. The day was beautiful, and the boys were in complete awe. They loved sitting by Gpa T while he drove us around, and both of them probably would have been content to stay on the boat all day! In a particularly exciting part of the day, we had a mom and baby dolphin swim right up next to our boat maybe only 10-15 ft away. Highlight of the day for sure!

Back at the beachouse, C convinced Gma J to take him out to the beach for some sandcastle building and to watch the sunset. He had so much fun building castles and searching for the perfect shells to decorate them with. G even got in on the action when Gpa T let him put his feet in the sand and ocean. Every time we have been at the beach, G mostly looks down studying the sand. He was pretty excited to finally get his toes in it! After the beach, C got to enjoy another Florida shower, then it was off to bed to get rested up for a brand new day.

We started our Tuesday with a trip up to the north end of the island for coffee and breakfast at Ginny & Jane's (a local favorite), and C got to enjoy a delicious blueberry muffin and smoothie while G looked around and around at all of the crazy decor. Ginny & Janes is a SUPER eclectic place, and filled with all kinds of random knick knacks and art. It's basically a parent's nightmare, as most of it is tiny or breakable, but our boys were so busy oogling everything hanging off every single surface of the coffee shop that they were too overwhelmed to try and touch anything.

Later in the day, C got to sneak in some swimming while G enjoyed an afternoon nap, and did some exploring around the house. He found the third floor and the kids room, and absolutely loved it. After climbing up the ladder to the top bunk beds, C got T in on the adventure, and had him lay down on each of the beds with him trying each one out and exclaiming how 'beautiful' the room was and how 'awesome' the beds were. So funny!
We made our way to The Waterfront (one of our must-visits on Anna Maria) for dinner with the family, and C was fascinated with the giant fish tank with Nemo and Dorey, dragging anyone who could be persuaded get up to go look at it all throughout dinner. He was adamant that he wanted fish & chips for his meal, and surprisingly, he did a pretty good job with it! Love our Florida kids meal options!

After dinner, we walked out to the end of the City Pier for some live music, and C was showing off his moves dancing. G wasn't about to be left out, and he was kicking his legs just about as fast as they would go. Uncle J even gave C a few dollar bills to tip the musician, and he was brave enough to walk them up to the tip jar.

We got back just in time to head out to the beach for sunset, and C was a walking zombie. I think the early morning wakeups are starting to get to him! At least he's been taking good naps and going to bed on time!

On Wednesday, T snuck away for most of the day to golf with my Uncle J, and the boys and I hung out at the beachouse with Gma J & Gpa T. We kept busy having a little picnic of grapes, apples, cheese, crackers and hummus on the deck, then headed down to Longboat Key to check out my relatives newly renovated condo - amazing work! - then it was back to the beachouse to meet up with T and get ready for dinner. Little G thought he was famished at this evening, and he devoured three pouches of food like they were going out of style. The boys went to dinner with Gma J & Gpa T at Poppo's Taqueria, and Gma & Gpa handled the bedtime routine while T & I snuck out for a date night. We ended up on Longboat Key at Harry's Continental Kitchen, a restaurant we'd been wanting to try for a long time. I had the scallops, and T enjoyed grouper. It's got an 'old Florida' vibe, and while it was good, it didn't absolutely blow us away, so after dinner, we snuck over to Euphemia Haye's Haye Loft for drinks and dessert paired with some live piano. So much fun! When we got back to the house after dinner, Mama J informed me that C told her at bedtime that he never wants to leave, so I'm going to say that the trip has been a success! One more brand new day in Florida, then we are off on our way back home to the Midwest.

Our last day in sad to leave, but also getting excited to get back home and into our routine. C has woken up with the sun this entire trip, and T & I were completely exhausted since we are used to him sleeping until 7:45ish when we are home. On the bright side, it meant we were up early enough to head to Ginny & Jane's one last time with Gma & Gpa and Uncle J for some coffee and breakfast before hitting the road for the airport. After we left, C was holding my hand as we walked back to our car, and he told me 'I really love that Ginny & Jane's'. Me too C, me too.

Back at the house, while we were getting everything packed up, G was getting into mischief, and C was poring over a map of the island he found. G came over to investigate, and C told him 'Look at my whole city!'. I don't think I'll ever get enough of these adorable toddler conversations!

After getting everything packed into the car, we were on the road to the airport. G stayed true to form and flirted with ALL the strangers he possibly could, and was smiles and laughs all the way onto the flight. C was particulary excited that Gma & Gpa were flying with us, and was a bit more shall we say...full of energy...on the flight than is typical for him. Overall, the boys did great, and we all made it in one piece back to Iowa. While we were deboarding, I had G in the Ergo baby carrier, and he was being a complete ham. There were a couple of older ladies behind me, and he was just looking at them and laughing. Not because they were doing anything particularly funny, but for some reason they were cracking him up. This kid is going to have the ladies eating right out of the palm of his hand when he grows! For now, I think we're all just happy to be back on Iowa soil! Until next time Florida!
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