Friday, April 12, 2024

5 on Friday: vacation edition

We got back from Florida late last night. Here is a 5 things Friday style recap of our trip, written from the airport while we waited for our flight back last night!

1. The weather was unfortunately a bust. We knew it was a little risky to come to the panhandle area in early April but hoped it would be fine. It was cloudy, extremely windy, and on Wednesday there were tornado warnings. But we made the most of it. Of course the weather will be gorgeous after we leave, go figure!

Another ‘challenge’ of the trip was that Taco slept in a big boy bed for the first time and wow, we are NOT in a rush to move him out of his crib. We moved Paul into a big boy bed after he dropped his nap and we will do the same with Taco. It could have been worse but he was up during the night most nights and was up early a couple of days.

2. We stayed in a 3 bed/3 bath condo in Fort Walton Beach that had a pool so we alternated between the beach and the pool. The pool area was protected from the wind most days so that was nice. But the beach was the main draw for us Minnesotans so we spent a lot of time there. The beaches were pristine with sugar sand. We would love to see this coastline when there aren’t 15-30+ mph winds!!

The first morning was calm! We enjoyed breakfast on our balcony.

I went for a walk each morning. 

I love this pic of the boys walking on the path to the beach. After the first morning we learned that they need to wear swimsuits when on the beach. They both got soaked the first morning!

Checking out a pretty blue jellyfish

3. The weather was the worst on Wednesday so we went to a local science center that totally exceeded our expectations (Emerald Coast Science Center). They had so much hands on stuff to do so everyone from age 3 to 76 had a great time! Other outings included checking out a walking trail to a little bay where we saw a great blue heron and lots of turtles and walking the pier where we really got up close and personal with a heron. 

The boys enjoyed playing at the robotics stations

Paul was very excited to get close to this heron

Another heron in its natural habitat

4. We ate breakfasts and lunches in our condo and ate out most nights, except our first and last night when we got take out for dinner. The adults enjoyed lots of fish and shrimp.

5. It was a good getaway but we are definitely not in the prime stage for travel yet. The wheels really fell off on Thursday when Taco was up during the night and then woke for the day at 5:30 am. And then our 6:45 flight (which was pushed back twice in the last couple of months) got delayed until 8:30pm. Taco was in full meltdown mode and needed a rescue nap in the car, woke up and fell back asleep on me in the car while Paul played at a park.

Phil and I talked about how each year will get easier as Taco gets older. Paul was a total delight on this trip at age 6 and has been a great traveler since age 4. So a year from now, things should feel easier. But even though this isn’t an easy stage for travel, I still feel it’s worth it to go places and do things. The change of scenery is good for everyone and we enjoyed the time with my parents. 

Totally amazed by all the buttons! The pilots were so friendly.

. . . . 

Unfortunately while we were away my grandmother fell and fractured several bones including her sacrum. This fall resulted in her taking a turn for the worse and she will be entering hospice care today. It was a hard time for my parents to be away. They were on the phone quite often checking in on her, talking to doctors and nurses, and making decisions with family about next steps. Given her level of pain, we are hoping that the end comes soon for her. She has a very strong sense of faith and has been ready to meet her maker and to be reunited with my grandpa, her daughter, and other loved ones she has lost for years now. She has had a full, wonderful life and would have celebrated her 101st birthday next month.

I am extremely close with my grandma as her and my grandpa lived just down the road when I was growing up. I saw her in February when she was having a good day. Every time I saw her in the last several years, I knew it could be the last so I made sure to leave no words unsaid. She knows how much I adore her and how much I treasure all the memories I made with her and my grandpa. So I feel at peace with her passing and hope she doesn’t linger for long. 

That’s a heavy way to end a vacation post so I will close with two more pictures of the beautiful beach!


Nicole said...

Oh Lisa, I'm sorry about your grandma. Her sacrum! She must be in so much pain right now. What a special relationship you have with her and what an absolute blessing to be able to see her so often in the past little while. Such precious time. It's always hard to say goodbye but when someone is ready to go, they are ready. I wish for a peaceful passing for her and beautiful memories for you.

Now, the travel! I laughed about the swimsuits at the beach. The first time we took the boys to Maui, they were in grade 1 and 2 and we decided to walk on the beach after breakfast the first morning. They were just in shorts, we thought, no big deal, we are just going to look at the beach, grab groceries, go to the beach "for real" later. Well. They had such a good time playing in the tide that I didn't have the heart to tell them "we'll just come back later" and they were so soaked that M's shorts actually were heavy and falling off of them!

Travel with little kids is so trying. I think ultimately it's worth it but it's a lot of work. But you are right, it just gets so much better every year. I think Taco is 3? It will definitely get better and probably sooner than later. I think when the boys were 7 and 8 or so they were pros at travel, so you're not far away from that.

Bummer about the weather! That's too bad but you sure made the most of it. When we were in Mexico the first day was high winds and rain, and it was disappointing. The rest of the trip was sunny and lovely but so windy that it was hard to use the beach - until the very last day when it was perfect. Isn't that always the way? And in Vegas we had the worst weather, and the day we left was absolutely perfect!

Elisabeth said...

You know my feelings on all of the above, my friend, since we've been texting throughout the week but still...

You must be EXHAUSTED. Travelling with kids is just such a rollercoaster at that age. You also don't really get any down time, especially when sleeping isn't ideal. It IS worth it, but it's okay to admit that it's HARD and EXHAUSTING and often much better for the remembering self (that isn't awake in the middle of the night with an upset child out of their element) than the experiencing self.

I wish the weather had been more hospitable. It makes such a big difference. But you really made the best of the situation and Paul is old enough to remember so much of this vacation!!!

Praying for peace for your whole family, and pain relief for your sweet grandma.

Kyria @ Travel Spot said...

I know your grandma has mentioned that she is ready to go, so I am sure that this is a relief for her, even if it is hard for everyone else. Big hugs to you and all of your family.

On a more pleasant note, two things that jumped out at me from this post:

1. The boys are both getting so big! Paul is basically a man, and Taco has really filled out recently. I think that buzz cut also helps him to look very mature (despite his meltdowns). I remember flying to meet my grandma when I was young (alone) and LOVING meeting the pilots and getting the little wings etc. That was such a fun trip for me.

2. When you said that the boys have to wear swimsuits, I am not sure why, but in my mind, they were naked and someone on the beach was forcing you to put clothes on them! Then I realized you meant instead of clothes so they would not get wet. You see where my mind went there! I was giggling and also thinking of Baker Beach (remember going there) where clothing is optional!

Stephany said...

I'm sorry to hear about your grandma, but I know she is ready to go and I hope it is a peaceful time for her. <3 You have a special relationship!

I'm bummed that the weather wasn't great while you were in Florida - dang it! April can be such an up-and-down time for us, weather-wise. But I'm glad you were able to make the most of it. Taco is starting to look like such a little BOY, less like a toddler.

Here's to better family vacations to come!

Jeanie said...

Oh Lisa, your gran. I'm so sorry -- that's not the way anyone wants to exit, in pain. Hospice seems right -- they will do all they can for her. Can she do Hospice at home with a family member or otherwise? I hope you will get to see her before she passes. I know how very close you are and that she would love to see you if you can. Sending love and hugs during these challenging moments.

That space center sounds like a godsend. Yup. Probably in another year or two Taco will be ready for a longer trip!

Mom of Children said...

I am so sorry about your gran- I remember reading how close you are with her. T's gran is also very ready to go, we were told. My grandparents passed a long time ago.
I think it is so special to travel with the kids... It's not easy and can be exhausting but I think the rewards are great. They get to see the world through you. The beach looks beautiful and Taco and his smile!! I remember how he used to not like his picture taken- my hope is that Rainn will overcome his allergy toward the camera soon and starts smiling ;)

Laura said...

I'm so sorry to hear about your grandma...I bet she has seen so many things in her years, though. It would be so interesting to hear all of her impressions of how life has changed, etc. I'll be praying for a smooth transition and for the family as you mourn her passing.

Re: traveling with younger kids. IT GETS SO MUCH BETTER! We did a Florida beach trip and a California trip, both flights, when our son was a toddler (yikes, those definitely were "trips" and not vacations, for sure). But now that our kids are 7 and 10 even little road trips are so enjoyable. We still very much have to moderate our activities (one kid goes a mile a minute, the other is easily overstimulated) but traveling is now such a joy overall. It's also really fun to see the experience through their eyes. We recently had to cut short our spring break road trip due to some needed van repairs (bummer!) but my daughter said "But mom! we got to swim in the hotel pool and they had FREE breakfast! what more can you want in a vacation??" I love her perspective :)

Birchwood Pie said...

Welcome home! Wow that heron got so close.

I came into the boys' lives when they were in grade school and traveling was still a bit of a handful in those days. But it really did get easier every year.

I'm so sorry about your Grandma. I'm sending love and prayers.

Jenny said...

Oh no Lisa, I'm so sorry about your grandma. Hospice care is wonderful though- they will make her very comfortable. I'm glad everyone is at peace with the situation. Such a bummer that it happened during your vacation- but other than that it must have been great to have your parents with you!
Yes, it's so hard to travel with little kids. One more year should make a huge difference. And I'm mad about your weather! It looks like the boys had a good time though. That's one of the good things about little kids- they don't get hung up on what the weather is "supposed' to be like, and just appreciate what they have.
I hope you're able to relax a little this weekend!

Diane C. said...

I'm so sorry to hear about your grandmother! What a hard hard time it must be, even when one has had time to prepare and get used to the idea of a loved one passing. Sending thoughts of comfort across the internet.
I'm glad you were still able to make such great memories with your family on your trip, though. I've been thinking lately of this idea of weather and trips because I was contemplating going to Malaysia when we are in Taiwan this winter, and someone said, "But that's monsoon season." And part of me thinks, "But we would still be in a foreign country, and get to experience life there." Maybe it wont' be as perfect during monsoon season, but I think it will be just as much an experience. Weather is so hard to predict when you have to book things months and months in advance.

Grateful Kae said...

I'm bummed for you that you didn't have picture perfect weather, BUT it sounds like it was still a totally great trip overall! The science center sounds really cool. And honestly, little kids can only last so long in hot sun and the beach anyway. So maybe this is just as well! Annoying about the wind though- I don't like windy conditions. But that white sand on those beaches there is so beautiful, so even just looking out at that would make the trip worthwhile to me! This is I guess one perk to how we often prefer longer trips... we will joke, well, it probably can't rain for 2 weeks straight! haha. (But, even on longer trips, if it happens to pour on the one day you have planned for a certain activity, it can certainly still be a big bummer. I've been following on a Facebook group about Kauai, and it sounds like they got pummeled the other day with MASSIVE rainstorms causing severe flooding and significant damage, causing even temporary airport closures, bridges out, tons of cancellations and obviously unswimmable beaches and unsafe hiking conditions. How terrible! And imagine if you're there, spending alllll that money to be there, and then that happens during your trip?? ughhh.)

San said...

I am so sorry to hear that your grandma fell during the trip. These things seem to happen at the most inconvenient times... and she must be in so much pain. Maybe it'll be the 'last straw' that will lead to a quick and peaceful passing. Sometimes you just know 'it's time' and I am glad you've been in such a good place with her over the last few months knowing that it might be the last time you see her. I am hoping for peace in all your hearts when it happens.

The trip to Florida sounds delightful, despite the windy weather and some challenges traveling with kids. I think you're right though, it's still worth it to travel and the kids will get used to being in unfamiliar situations and it will get better each time you travel! I love all the pictures from the beach that you've shared.

Anonymous said...

So sorry to hear about your grandma, falling is really a big deal for elderly. It’s great that you got to see her many times and are at peace with her eventual passing. But I can imagine how stressful it must have been for your parents while on vacation. Traveling with small kids is challenging, even big kids sometimes. We started traveling when Lizzy was less than 2 years old, I don’t miss those days, but I also enjoyed it in different ways looking back at old pics. I guess doing less and more downtime could help. Hope it gets easier for you as the boys get older and more flexible in term of sleeping schedule.

Anonymous said...

Oh this is coco

J said...

Oh dear, I'm so sorry about your grandma. I hope she passes easily and doesn't linger too long. My great Aunt is on hospice technically, but there's nothing wrong with her (other than she is bed ridden) and she could live that way for quite awhile I think. She'll be 100 on the 23rd. I'm glad that you have such a good relationship, and that you were able to spend time with her. I'm sorry this happened while you were gone, I know that must have been difficult, especially for your parents.

Your vacation looks wonderful, despite the weather. I dislike wind on the beach, though, because who wants sand in your teeth/eyes/hair, etc.? Traveling with little ones can be rough. I remember going on a short vacation when my daughter was about 3, and she woke up every couple of hours, begging to go home. Guess what? We went home. Thankfully it was a long drive, not a flight, so we had some freedom.

NGS said...

I hope your grandmother and the rest of your family finds peace.

Soon, Lisa, soon! Travel will be so fun and they'll be so excited about everything!

Ernie said...

I'm so glad you found a few options on vacation so you were able to enjoy the indoors. The meltdown and tired kids on vacation are never easy. Hopefully another year or so and these getaways will become easier. I wish the weather had been better for you.

So very sorry to hear about your grandma's fall. The timing is so lousy with your parents out of town. I hope she was able to feel comfortable.