We just got back from our annual pilgrimage to Florida in search of sun, sand and water and we are all sandy, sun kissed and... exhausted. For as long as we've been going to Florida we have had my parents there first for company and eventually as we expanded our family - to help shoulder the load. Unfortunately, this year my parents traveled back to Russia for the summer and were unable to join us. I'll be honest with you we severely underestimated how difficult it would be to pull off this vacation without their help. With two under three and changing resorts twice and teething and hours in the car it was definitely not the most relaxing time.
You also may have seen on my instagram account that we had a scare with Teddy the first week there that landed us in an EMT truck and surgery later on that night. Additionally Birdie got stung by a bee and our poor papa bear stepped on a shattered glass bottle that someone so carelessly left on the beach. I called my mum the second week lamenting how hard it has been and how much we miss them and she told me something that stuck with me the rest of the vacation: "Vacation with kids is no longer for you, no longer relaxing or restful. You do it for them, for those moments of pure joy and to watch them discover something that you have been enjoying for years." From that moment forward I decided to shrug off the stressful aspects, the things that didn't go right and instead I would soak up all the good and trust me, there was plenty of it to go around. And you know, they loved it, they just ate it up (Teddy quite literally by ingesting fistfuls of sand any chance he got). Every morning Birdie would wake up and beg that we go to the "peach and the lotion" (aka the beach and the ocean) and if we didn't take her in with us I'm pretty sure she would still be on the beach building sand castles.
So yeah, I didn't read a single book, I sat in a beach chair for a total of sixty seconds and I forgot to put sunscreen on because I was too busy reapplying it every hour to two squirmy littles but I made some memories with our little tribe that I'm sure we will look back on for the rest of our lives. So to all of my fellow mamas and papas hauling everything but the kitchen sink to the beach everyday with impatient and cranky littles - it's worth it, trust me. It will be worth it. And get yourself a date night when you get home :).
I mean how can you not just forgive anything when you have these eyes looking up at you???
Toddler bikini... enough said. Papa bear said it's the last bikini she'll ever wear, lol.
This boys tag line is definitely "down for whatever." There is nothing he doesn't LOVE!
Birdie was OBSESSED with all the "scizzards" as she called them. And every day she would walk around like this saying "I catch him." She never did but God bless her for trying!
I couldn't leave Winter Park without a stop at our favorite spot - Jimmy Hula's. Best fish tacos ever!
We had no idea what to expect with Birdie and Disney World. The last two times she was really too young to understand anything. The night before we told her all about the princesses and Mickey Mouse and the big castle and by the morning she was pretty amped. Once we got in the park she was nervous and excited and we got there just in time for the big first show of the morning at the castle. She enjoyed it for two minutes before having a total meltdown. We were sure that that was it for us and the whole day would be a mess. We took her away from the stage and decided to take her to go see Pooh Bear and Tigger (a big favorite of hers). She waited very patiently and I kept telling her to give Pooh bear a hug when it was her turn. The lady next to me warned me that she may freak out and I assured her that we were totally prepared for that. Well imagine our shock and happiness when after being allowed up front Birdie bounded straight into Tigger's lap and proceeded to hug them both for the next ten minutes! We eventually had to drag her away with her saying "one more hug! one more hug!" To say that my heart exploded would be an understatement. From then on she wanted to go on every ride and as soon as it was over would demand to "go again!" We headed home around 2 pm as we were all hot, tired and hungry but it really was an absolutely perfect, dreamy experience and one I think we all will cherish for years to come!
She loved her daily "soothie" at the pool. Mostly because she loved those candied cherries.
All. Day. Long.
Really, is there anything better than babies asleep on the beach?? So delicious!
Let's pretend that they are playing, not fighting over toys...
This guy covered a lot of ground at the beach. He's our little energizer bunny and never slows down.
I want to end this post by saying that perhaps the fact that this vacation was somewhat difficult and stressful had it's silver lining in that it made us see such a beautiful side of human nature. Everywhere we went people reached out and touched us and supported us and made us feel taken care of. From the people that fawned over the kids to the families that generously gave us their cabanas as shade was hard to come by in Orlando our first week there. To the EMT who took my hand and promised me that Teddy will be in good hands and that he will make sure that nothing happens to him and who ended up taking us to a state of the art children's hospital that was farther away but so worth it. To the pediatric surgeon who was the only person that evening that could calm Teddy down (as soon as she entered the room he reached up for her to pick him up). To all the different people at the beach that helped us carry things and set up our tent. We are especially indebted for life to the family that intervened when it began to storm and rain and ran up to us and said "HOW CAN WE HELP." With the wind tearing down our tent and the rain pelting us all the lady collapsed and then carried our pack-n-play while her husband and son helped Kevin take down and carry our tent while I ran back to our room with the kids. Thank you, thank you, thank you. And to all the mamas that would come up to me and say "You're doing great mama. I've been there. It gets better." Thank you, a million times thank you.
As we packed up our things on Saturday morning I told Kevin that more than anything what I learned from this vacation is that I always want to be that person to someone else. The person that says "how can I help" and rolls up their sleeves. Because at the end of the day we all need a helping hand and the world is a much better place when we're all willing to help each other.