Fun in Florida!

Mar 2, 2015

We are fresh back from vacation and I know what you are thinking... "ANOTHER trip?!" Well, yes. In case you don't remember, I once travelled the world for a living. Unlike sleep and sanity, longing for a nomadic lifestyle isn't something that just disappears when you become a mother.  In this family, we sacrifice fancy cars or nice clothing for the ability to explore this world. Besides, my doctor prescribed a vacation. Maybe not in those words exactly, but he did say without me making any mention of travel that "It's not too late to go somewhere!" Those words, combined with a stash of airline reward miles and a husband with downtime at work prompted us to book a last minute departure to Orlando.
Our goal was to fly to a warmer climate as far as our reward miles would take us. After much contemplation, Florida was the winning destination. It just so happened that Ryan's parents would also be there for those dates!
We left Saturday morning bright and early... Too early. These days it's hard to imagine that I used to wake up at such hours of day to go to work. At the airport, we tried to get as much energy out of our crazy toddler before our 4 hour flight to Houston. It worked, and she fell asleep from take off until about an hour and a half into the flight. The remainder of the flight went much as you'd expect things to go when traveling with a bored baby who wants to run but is confined to your lap. Needless to say, we were more than ready to land and let her run wild through the airport for a couple of hours. 

The flight to Orlando was better. Aaralee cuddled her daddy until she was fast asleep and stayed that way until it was time to get off of the plane. We'd finally arrived in Florida! It was off to our hotel where our baby was promptly scooped up by Grandma as we settled in.
Our first two days in Florida were spent where any sunny day should be spent... At the beach.
Ryan's parents had tickets to the Daytona 500 on Monday so while they headed to the race we followed suit and drove to Daytona Beach. We drove around the stadium as the race started, just in time to watch the fly over and for my husband to be able to say that he'd heard the cars. After that, it was onwards to the beach! The great thing about Daytona Beach is that you can drive your car right on the sand. We parked the car to dip our toes in the water, not expecting that our daughter would want much to do with it given our previous experiences. We were wrong. Despite the cold water and being fully dressed, she absolutely loved the water, the waves and the sand. She ran along the beach and splashed in all of her glory.

That was the deciding factor for the next day's itinerary.
We loaded up the car early in the day and drove to beautiful Cocoa Beach. We found a nice beach park where we played until Aaralee was good and tired, at which time Ryan and I put her into her stroller for a nap as we enjoyed some oceanfront dining in peace. After a bit more beach time and a stop at the famous "Ron Jon" surf shop we headed back to Orlando and straight to bed.

The first two days had been a whirlwind, so we opted to relax by the hotel pool the next day.  We got in a bit of swimming before getting rained out, at which point we headed for some outlet mall shopping. We left with bags full of children's clothing, both thankful and upset that we don't yet know the sex of our second child.  We finished the day off with Krispy Kreme donuts, a treat that I've longed for since I last had them in Maui 2 years ago. 

Wednesday was the greatest day of our trip. We went to Disneyworld! I won't say much else as I feel like it deserves a blog post of its very own... so stay tuned.

Thursday was our last full day in Florida. I put on a summer dress with the knowledge that it will be quite some time before I can do the same back home. Ryan's parents had just returned from a quick trip to Key West, so we dropped off Aaralee for some swimming pool time with them while we went out to enjoy a few baby-free hours to ourselves. We ventured to the Pinterest addict's paradise of Hobby Lobby, where I strolled down every aisle and left with a few fun purchases. Taking advantage of our lack of screaming child, we went for lunch at a nice sit down restaurant and slowly savoured every bite of food.  After a quick stop at Costco, we returned to the hotel to reunite with our baby and prepare for our last evening out.  I convinced Ryan that we should have dinner at the Rainforest Cafe, so we headed off to Downtown Disney Marketplace where we placed our name on the ridiculously long wait list.  Fortunately there was plenty to do while we waited, so we visited the shops and let Aaralee run and dance before it was finally time to eat.  We got back to the hotel late, packed our bags, and prepared for the long journey home the next day. 
Home day arrived and we made our way to the airport. Our original itinerary routed us through Cleveland and Chicago before our final flight home to Edmonton. It was not ideal, but such is life when traveling on reward miles.  After a discussion with the lady at the check in counters we managed to get on a direct flight to Chicago!  Aaralee slept most of the way there, and all in life was wonderful. We had 5 hours to kill before our flight home, but if you are going to be stuck in an airport all day, Chicago O'Hare is the place to be stuck. We had plenty of dining options, Chicago mix popcorn,  and an enclosed play area for Aaralee to run off some energy.

 We kept her up until it was time to board our flight, and things were looking promising. It was bed time and we were hopeful that she'd sleep the entire flight.  Everything went as planned, and she fell asleep during take off. Ryan held her across his lap and we felt like the luckiest parents in the world... and then,  an hour into the flight (thanks to her daddy's lingering cough) she woke up.  She wasn't screaming, but she wasn't happy unless I stood in the aisle holding her, so that's what I did. For 3 hours, I rocked her back and forth and walked up and down the aisle of the small aircraft.  I was exhausted, she was exhausted, and it was the longest 4 hour flight I've ever experienced.  I'd never been so relieved to land in cold, snowy, Edmonton.   Our days of flying with her on our laps were glorious and free, but I think that I'm ready to have her seated in her very own spot.  
Overall, it was a great trip and I'm thankful that we had the opportunity to go on one last getaway before we become a family of 4!


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