the what and where of our Florida vacation.

This is the official post of our first vacation together. We've been dreaming of this for months now and planning for almost as long. Last year our vacation was a week moving/settling into our new house. This was our first real vacation, traveling out of the state, all together.

We left last Saturday morning, and headed for the airport.
Arrived at the airport, two hours prior to departure. Made it through security like a breeze which I was worried about with 2 kiddos, but it went very well.  Once we got to the gate they could not sit still looking out the window waiting for the plane.  When it was time to board they looked into the cockpit and said hello to the pilots. Prior to this day, I checked out a few books about planes and airports at the library so they would know a little bit about the basics of a plane.
We found our seats and the kids had the biggest smiles on their faces, sitting by the window waiting and waiting for take off.

The plane ride was a breeze.

They each got new backpacks (we told them they were their carry ons) for the plane. The night before our flight, I filled their bags full of goodies. Suckers, swedish fish, gum, mentos, all things that require chewing to prevent their ears from hurting. Growing up, my ears would always bother me so I wanted to be prepared. My ritual for a plane ride is mentos and gum and to chew chew chew as we take off and land, it helps the ears tremendously. I also put a new book, and a new toy in their bag. They couldn't open it until we got in the air. Both of them were so distracted by just simply taking off, they didn't open their goodies until mid-flight. 

To be honest, I was worried the kids were going to flip out and be scared on the plane. They were the complete opposite of scared. They LOVED it!  
This was our cab driver from the airport to the condo. She was writing, and texting while driving on the highway!!! Kev and I were like, good lord I hope we make it alive. Crazy!
We got to the condo, got settled for a little bit then headed to the beach. The kids passed out on the way there, but once we woke them up they jumped up and hit the sand. Once we got to the beach it was like paradise. We ate lunch at this place on the water called The Beach Pierside Grill. It was all outside seating, even had a local man playing guitar and singing beach songs. While we waited for our lunch, the kids played in the sand looking for seashells and feeling the water. Kev and I sat back and relaxed with our beverages, listening to the sound of the ocean.

We went to Fort Myers Beach just about every single day. To be exact, 7 out of 8 days we did. It was the best. We found massive sea shells, sand dollars, and made some pretty sweet sand castles. We bought the kids their own sand bucket bags for $10 a piece at Walmart. Best purchase ever, they used them pretty much everyday at the beach.
For dinner one night we went to the Firehouse Sports Grill in North Fort Myers. Kevin found it online and it wasn't too far of a drive. Everything inside was decorated like the inside of a firehouse. It was really neat. The owner was a retired fire fighter who is originally from Dayton, OH! We talked to him as we checked out the fire engine bar. On top of the beer taps were the gauges from a fire truck. Really cool place and good food!

I love it when the kids wear their sunglasses, they look so adorable. Plus we had a monumental moment happen on vacation. Brady lost a tooth! Turns out the toothfairy comes on vacation and pays double!!!! Oooh to be a kid again...
Kevin is usually mister mapquest when it comes to directions and going places. Being in a new city and not knowing where anything is we totally relied on the .99 cent Garmin app on the Iphone. We figured out how to change the voice of the direction lady. We liked Michelle and Elfred the best. They guided us and helped us find our way. Thank god for Garmin.....
First sand castle day trying out their new bucket gear. Have I mentioned I could go to the beach all day everyday yet???????  =)
Every morning we would eat breakfast out on the lanai and look for dolphins. We saw them just about everyday. I have never seen so many in the wild like that. We even ran downstairs and looked at them close up one day, they were sooo cool to watch. Swimming right in front of us just free as can be. We even saw manatees one day, they were huge and swimming very slowly. You could totally tell the difference between the two. Both fun to see.
This day was the only day it rained on us, and it was over by the time we arrived at the alligator airboat place. The kids were pretty excited to see alligators. I can't believe Kevin and Brady held one! He was a baby that was 3 years old. Natalie and I didn't hold it, too gross for me. I'm not big on touching reptiles, but it was cool to see up close.
Natalie wasn't too sure of the airboat ride, she didn't like the fact we felt like we were flying on water going so fast. We stopped and fed some racoons that were hanging out in the trees. Then saw about 3 alligators and the last one was huge. Like 12 feet long! The side of his head looked like the size of the kids. Big boy for sure. 
After the air boat ride we ate dinner at Junkanoo. I told Brady this place was right on the water, well to a 7 year old he thought I meant literally on the water. He said you have to step outside to walk on the beach and get to the water. It's funny to hear the explanation of them at this age. The kids had lemonade, Kev had beer and I had some pina coladas! Yum! After we ate, we went over the this little game area. They had a game where you could win a live lobster to take home with you. Our waiter said more people win them than you think. So we all took a try (at $3 a turn) to try and win a lobster. No luck, but fun to try.
After dinner we took a walk on the beach, the weather was perfect after dinner. Didn't even look like it rained that day. Just goregous.

Brady got buried this day at the beach. He had Kev's shades on to block the sun. He was so funny just chilling in the sand while we poured sand on his little bod.
Everyday on the beach, the ice cream man would ring his bell yelling "ice cream ice cream!".  Walking up and down the beach all day. After the kids ate their sandwiches for lunch they could get ice cream, that was the deal. Amazing what a little treat does to get them to eat. Actually, they both ate very well all week. It wasn't a fight to get them to eat at all, I think they grew a few inches from all the food they ate. 
 We made a sand castle village. First we started with each of us making our own little area, then we decided to connect them all and pour water in the little canals. We must've sat there for two - three hours just digging in the sand and making the sand castles. I could sit on the beach all day everyday. It's the most relaxing thing to me.
Some days we would eat lunch and/or dinner on the beach. It's so easy and convienent, but can get a little pricey. This day we ate at Nemos Sports Cafe right on the beach. Another good place with good food and good drink prices. The kids had their meal on a frisbee, after they were finished we tossed frisbee on the beach. Brady is a decent frisbee thrower, Natalie on the other hand is learning. So needless to say Kev and I got a mini workout in chasing the frisbees on the beach lol
We parked across from this colorful wall everyday. So on the last day I had to get a photo. I love this one. Both of them in their sunglasses, sand bucket gear, ready to go. The walk was not even 2 minutes long to the beach, glad we found this perfect spot.
On Friday we met up with my Aunt Cindy from FL for dinner and a night of fun. We ate at Chilis and I'm beginning to love this place. Their food is good and the prices are excellent! Kev and I took advantage of their 2 for 1 drink specials. Really good deal. After dinner we headed to Greenwells Family Fun Park for some go-cart racing, putt putt, and games. Natalie wasn't very sure of the go-carts so she stayed back with Aunt Cindy rooting us on. Kevin drove Brady in a double car, I rode solo and those 2 turkeys beat me every lap! I had a slow slow car. It was miserably humid out that night, so we headed inside to play some games. The kids wanted to play putt-putt but I was way too hot and didn't want to get eaten alive by mosquitos. So Aunt Cindy and I sat inside and talked. It was so good to see her and catch up. The kids adored her. Gave her hugs when she left, Brady asked her if she could follow us halfway back to the condo, turn around, just so she could wave at us through the car window. Soooo cute! It was good to see you Cin, love you!!!
The just awesome.
Dinner this night was at Joes Crab Shack. Out of all the places we went, I think this was the best place. I have never seen the kids so well behaved through an entire dinner like this. The whole atmosphere of this place just spelled F-U-N. We sat by the window and the kids were just amazed at all the boats and the view of the water.
The kids ordered a fruity kiddie drink and you would've thought they won the lottery with how happy they were. They ordered the shark nibble. It was some type of fruity blue juice, with  a shark shot of grenadine in the middle. You pour the grenadine in the blue stuff and then they get to keep the shark toy! The kids entertained themselves the majority of the dinner playing sharks, AND eating all of their dinner. Amazing. Just realized I put the ocean view picture in here twice, oops!

At Joe's Crab Shack they sing and dance at random times. Another thing that had the kids' attention and kept them entertained. It was a fun dinner. This last photo with Kevin and the kiddos, Natalie is holding her drink in one hand, shark, and french fries lol She cracks me up.
Our last day at the beach. The skies were blue, the palm trees were swaying, and the ocean air was blowing. My favorite Etsy sign right now I had to pin on Pinterest, reminds me of vacation so so much. "I long for salt air in my hair" might be a soon-to-be purchase.  Our last day on the beach was cut a little short by the rain. It literally rains almost every afternoon in Florida. We were lucky and it only rained a few afternoons all week. But on our last day it decided to pour.
So in the rain, we headed to Publix (which is just like Kroger) to re-stock the food pantry and things like that.
I've got the kids toasting at dinner now. I love to toast especially on vacation. Our last night we ate dinner at the condo, grilled pork chops, corn on the cob, and mac/cheese. All week we had promised the kids they could watch a movie in the theater room downstairs in the lobby. So Kev stayed up in the condo and finished packing/tidying up and I took the kids to the movie. It's a mini theater like room with 9 recliners and surround sound speakers. They were in heaven. We watched about an hour of Green Lantern while they ate Aunt Cindy's flip flop cookies she gave them. Good way to end a good vacation.
We were just as excited to fly home as we were to fly there. We ate breakfast at the airport, went through security like a breeze again. (that always worries me) The kids got some wings from the pilot on the way home. As we landed and walked off the plane, Natalie stopped and said "good job pilot" to the pilot. He smiled and said "aww well thank you very much!" It was so cute. I'm so glad they love flying. I'm so glad we got to introduce them to it with calmness and comfort. 
As we walked in the door to our humble abode, this is what we came home to!!! My sweet Mom had printed out the pictures I text her and framed them with a little "welcome home from vacation" sign. It was so so cute! We all leaned on the counter and just looked at them all, remembering each moment. Thanks Mom, that was so nice of you to do that.
I can't say this enough, the kids were just angels this week for vacation. They were so happy. You can see it in their faces with every picture, their smiles were truly happy smiles. We had the best time. I'm so glad Kevin and I have the same view of what vacation is........going to the beach everyday, relaxation, eating at new places, and just enjoying each other. It was so much fun to be together all week. I will treasure this vacation forever and I'm so glad we created happy memories for all of us.

When I asked Kev and the kids what their favorite part of vacation was, here is what they said:
  • Kevin - doing everything together, eating lunch and dinner on the beach, being together all week long and going to the beach.
  • Brady - watching a movie in the theater room, the beach, the pool, hot tub, computer lab, go carts and dolphins.
  • Natalie - taking off and landing in the plane (she loved the plane!), taking her 1st shower, the beach, dolphins and swimming.
  • Me - seeing the look on the kids' faces being on a plane for the 1st time, going to the beach every day, relaxing, no worries, being all together, having fun, and making happy memories.
(All photos taken with IPhone)

1 comment:

  1. Hi Mandy,
    My name is Jane and I'm with Dwellable.
    I was looking for blog posts about Fort Myers Beach share on our site and I came across your post...If you're open to it, shoot me an email at jane(at)dwellable(dot)com.
    Hope to hear from you :)