Tuesday, April 26, 2016

2016 Spring Vacation

The past few years we've gone to vacation in Mexico sometime in March or April. With my mom having seizures last year, adding another child to our family, and customs being so difficult we decided to not go back this year. It was a sad fact that we also couldn't afford it now that we needed to pay for seats for L & C on the plane.

Last summer my step-dad's mother Mary passed away. All of the time I knew her she lived in Naples, Florida and we visited her almost every Christmas. We loved going in the winter and escaping the grey of central NY to experience beautiful beaches and sunshine. When Mary passed away my mom and step dad decided to use the money they inherited from her towards a condo in Florida. They spent a few weeks last summer looking at places and ultimately purchased a condo in Sarasota.

Since we had access to the condo and the offer for my mom to spend the week with us there, we decided to go for it. We purchased the tickets, rented a van for the week, and spent the first week of April in Sarasota.

We were supposed to leave on Monday morning at 5:45 am. Somehow we missed our first flight out of Syracuse. The security was so inefficient that it took over 45 mintutes to get through. It rarely takes more than 10. Not to mention, it was super early in the morning. Well, when we finally arrived at our gate we found out we had missed our flight. They were able to bump us to another flight, but it meant adding an extra flight and taking three flights instead of two. The girls were pretty good on the planes. We could tell Lucy wasn't feeling great and felt warm to the touch, but she handled it all so well. The only exception was when we were getting off our second flight and both girls were melting down. W was trying to run through the airport with Clara in his arms throwing a tantrum. I finally made him stop, hoisted her into my ring sling, and she calmed right down. W ran ahead with the stroller as we only had about 40 minutes to change terminals and make our flight. In that moment I so wished we were at our destination then rather than having to take another flight. Apart from that, the traveling went really well.
My favorite pic from the trip. 
When we arrived in Sarastoa, a few hours later than anticipated, Lucy was running a 103.5 fever. We gave her some meds while we waited for the rental car stuff. An airport employee who was super nice helped us with our bags on a cart and then took them to the rental car and entertained the baby while we installed carseats. Since the address my mom gave me was a little confusing we did some extra driving, but it wasn't a huge deal. We arrived in the early afternoon and went to the pool for a swim at the condo before ordering some takeout for dinner. We had a great dinner on the lanai. My mom and I ran to the supermarket that evening to stock up on some stuff after the girls went down.  
The spot we set up in the airport.  
We got the glider board for our stroller so everyone could use it comfortably. It was great!

On Tuesday we headed to Siesta Key beach after breakfast at the condo. We packed some lunches and drove the 20 or so minutes to the beach. When we got there we decided to leave the stroller and carry our stuff. We used my mom's umbrella on the beach but forgot chairs. This made nursing the baby a little more difficult and uncomfortable. The beach was so huge and such a far walk to the water that we didn't go all the way. We found a good spot and set up our stuff. When it came to lunch time it was a bit of a struggle since the sand blew into the lunch boxes we brought for the girls. Everything was so incredibly sandy so we abandoned ship and found a restaurant nearby selling food with picnic tables. We left around 12:30 and headed back to the condo for naps. When the girls woke up from their naps we headed to the pool for some afternoon swimming. That night we had some amazing take out fish tacos.
Siesta Key beach from the restaurant area. 

Stella and her blue eyes. 

First time checking out the ocean. 

With my mom, Grandma Dukes.  

Wednesday morning we headed to a playground near a big cat sanctuary since it didn't open until noon. It had some really nice equipment and we had our picnic lunch there on a blanket. The girls had a great time playing and Stella loved watching them on the swings. Lucy was again feeling hot so we gave her some Tylenol and that seemed to bring the fever down. Around noon we headed to see the big cats. Since Barnum and Bailey started in Sarasota, they have some of the animal there were once in the circus. There were bears, lions, monkeys, tigers, and lots of other animals. The girls had a great time watching the animals and they were very impressed by a parrot doing gymnatsics. We again went home for naps and then headed to the pool after. That evening we had takeout from a latin restaurant that was amazing. Lucy loved the empanadas and everything was delicious. We realized that evening that the Starbucks we went to earlier near the playground gave me change for a 10 rather than the $50 I paid with. Once the girls were down W, Stella and I drove to get our change and then went to Target for some things.
Ready to go!

Stella loved watching her sisters on the swings at the playground. 

Grandma Dukes and Clara. 

Checking out a bear. 

Thursday was the only predicted day of rain so after breakfast we headed to the aquarium. It was really busy and didn't start off the greatest. As soon as we finally got in the girls both melted down. I think the noise, darkness, business, and their hunger got to them. After the first room they were fine. My mom wore Stella all day and she was just so happy. She didn't complain once and just loved looking at everything. We saw sharks, stingrays, jellyfish, sea otters, manatees, and sea turtles. The girls seemed to really like looking at the animals and both picked a little gift from the gift shop. After the aquarium we went back to the condo for naps before an afternoon swim at the pool. That night W and I went out for a nice dinner. We brought Stella with us and splurged on some amazing seafood. Our waitress wasn't the greatest and the other diners seemed to glare at us for bringing Stella, but the food was delicious. Stella was so well behaved the whole time, but you'd think she was awful by the way the other diners looked at us. At one point I was holding her and smiled and the lady at the table next to us. In return she glared back. Geeze!
Lucy and a Shark

My mom wore Stella the whole time. We got a new carrier so she could face out more comfortably. 

Friday was our last full day of vacation so we went back to the beach. Since this was our second trip to Siesta Key beach, we had things more figured out. We knew this time we could wheel the stroller so brought that. We also had chairs and a better system for eating our packed lunches. We stayed at the beach for a really long time and left around nap time. It was such a great trip. The girls loved playing in the sand and building things and Stella took a nice nap on the beach in her carseat. The only exception to the fun was all of the potty breaks. It seemed as soon as we got settled all the way out on the beach someone had to go potty. I got a lot of exercise that day walking back and forth to the bathrooms. I so wished our travel potty made the cut when we were packing that day. After naps we went swimming at the pool by the condo. That evening we again got take out and enjoyed our dinner at together on the Lanai. We ended the evening with packing and another trip to Target to get some last minute things.
Ready to go to the beach.

Beach days are exhausting.
The flights home went much better than the trip there with the flights, but of course it couldn't be too easy. When we arrived home in Syracuse we found out that our suitcases made it but not our carseats. Since the rental companies wouldn't let us rent carseats without a car we ended up having to rent a car to get everyone home. They actually gave us a van for the same price as a car so W took L & C home in the van and I brought Stella in my car and picked up Thai on the way home.
The lanai looking out towards the pool. 

L & C sleeping on Daddy's lap. 

In the airport. 
The trip was so much fun. We went to the beach, spent lots of time by the pool, went to an aquarium and saw a big cat sanctuary, and W and I had some nice time by ourselves or just with Stella at the pool and out for dinner. My mom was (mostly) helpful and the girls had so much fun doing new or different things every day. I'm so glad we went and I can't wait to return.

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