Every year since we’ve had our boys, we keep telling ourselves that we would take a family vacation, but for one reason or another, it seemed like it was mom and dad, who needed the vacation.
This year we decided to change that. It had been a couple of years since Angie and I had taken any significant time off of work, and you know? Time is short, and the kids will only be this little for so long.
So we decided we would take the kids to Florida over spring break. We didn’t tell them we were going. We really didn’t want them saying anything to anybody about the trip. We just didn’t know how they would react and more than anything, I didn’t want them to keep asking if we were going “tomorrow”.
Singing along with the radio on the way to the airport
So we held out on them. We didn’t tell them until the morning we left for the airport. I think they had it in their mind that they were going to one of the Grandma’s houses for spring break. They didn’t really react they way I had though they would, but once we got in the car, they couldn’t wait to go.
We thought we were doing a good thing by packing them each a backpack with their game system in it so they would have something to do. We were met with “This is too heavy, you need to carry it!” It was fun when the security guard stepped in and told Little Guy that if he didn’t carry his own bag, he couldn’t get on the airplane. If she wouldn’t have said that to him, it would have been a meltdown. It may have had something to do with our flight leaving at 7pm too, but I thought it would be better that way.
Heading down the ramp to board the flight
They didn’t stay awake very long
We arrived in Ft. Meyers late at night. The boys were a bit tired, but powered through until they got to grandma’s house in Florida. Once there, they saw the pool and wanted to go swimming immediately. At midnight. Needless to say, we didn’t go swimming, and they didn’t exactly go to bed right away either.
The next morning we woke up and headed out to spend 4 days at Disney World. The boys had a blast getting to meet all of the characters, and go one a lot of the rides. I’m not going to break this down by day, or moment to moment. One thing I would have done differently would have been to bring an iPad along. Even though we used the FastPass option a lot, the lines were still incredibly long on some of the days. On our last day there, I saw an all-star dad pull out his iPad and give it to his kids. They didn’t put up an ounce of fight due to waiting in line for so long. Was the one moment when I thought to myself, I wish I would have thought of that!”
After our four days at Disney, it was time to head back south to the grandparents place. The boys woke up the next morning and swam for a good portion of the morning.
We spent the afternoon at one of the beaches and watched the boys build sandcastles and pick up sea shells.
As the sun began to set, we came around a corner and noticed a photo shoot going on. I made the group sit down so I could watch for 30 minutes or so. While it wasn’t my shoot, it did give me an idea for a shoot sometime in the future!
On our last full day in Florida, we went out on grandpa’s boat towards the Gulf of Mexico. We visited an island called Cayo Costa. It is hands down, one of my favorite spots to go in Florida. It is only accessible by boat, so the crowds are extremely small. Angie and I spent the day walking up and down the beach taking photographs and walking in the Gulf. On our way back, we laid down on the beach and listened to the waves crash against the shore. For me, it was like nothing else in the world mattered at that moment. It was one of the best moments of peace I’ve had in quite some time.
On the boat ride back to the house, I asked the boys, “What was your favorite part of the trip?” Big Dude came back right away with “umm, the beach, and meeting the Disney characters.” Little Guy didn’t have an answer right away. It wasn’t until we were back home and on the way to daycare that he said “Dad, you know what my favorite part was? The characters at Disney.”
It was fun to hear him say that, because we had suffered through one tired kid tantrum on the last day when we had stood in line to meet Mickey Mouse. So much so, that he refused to get his photograph taken with them when we went through as a family. It wasn’t until he got to meet Chip & Dale that his attitude changed. We were lucky that the character spot for Mickey was still open, or I don’t know what kind of epic meltdown we could have seen.
I’m so glad that we decided to take the boys. While it may have been too early for some, I had wanted to take them while the “magic” still lived in them.
I hope that someday they will look back on the trip and remember something from going down there.
One thing I can say, is it won’t be our last trip. Even though there were times of stress, I wouldn’t have traded anything to see the looks on their face the first time they say Mickey Mouse or when they saw the Gulf of Mexico.
Here’s my one take away on the whole trip. We need to take our kids on trips. Big or small, it doesn’t matter. We need to take the time off of work to spend more quality time with them. We only get them in our lives at this stage for so long, and then they move out to be on their own. I don’t want to look back someday and wish I had taken the time off. There is never going to be a perfect time to go, but we have to force ourselves to look at what’s important in life too.
We only get one time around at this thing, so we had better take advantage of it when we can.
Stay awesome everyone,