Back in February, my friend Jaime and I were commiserating about the awful winter weather and how badly we could both use a warm vacay. Truth be told, we commiserate a lot together. But I digress! She mentioned her uncle had a condo in Destin that might be available. Before I knew it, she was booking the unit for the week AND inviting Emery and I to join her and her boys! Umm, let me think about that for a sec,,,,, YES!!
J planned on driving from Indy to Florida, but recommended that E & I look into flights because 12 hours in a car would likely be a little much for an 8 month old (agreed). She would bring some of my bigger items in her truck (i.e. pack and play/ Emery’s “crate,” diapers, carseat base, etc) so I wouldn’t have to lug as much through the airport alone. Not gonna lie,, I put off booking our flights for a LONG time due to my general anxiety about flying solo with my baby. I’m not a huge fan of flying in the first place, so this was pretty over the top for me. My list of concerns was ridiculous: packing, checking luggage, the actual plane part, layovers, etc. I eventually bit the bullet and booked the flights, and thankfully felt some relief. But every day leading up to our departure was still full of fear. I wished I could just magically transport the two of us down to the beach and avoid the whole travel part! No dice.
We returned home from our trip to Chicago on Monday afternoon, giving us very little time to put the finishing touches on our suitcases and preparations. We were, however, able to enjoy some quality time with the hubs, who would be staying back home because of work. Mamas & babies only on this trip! After putting E to bed and packing up the car, I hopped into bed as it was recommended by many that I get a good pre-flight night’s sleep.
E was still on central time, and unfortunately woke us both up at 530a, well before my alarm clock. Never fails! It worked out fine though because the early wake up gave us time to say our goodbyes to Daddy, have breakfast, and get on the road by 8a.
Thank goodness Jaime took the PNP and the carseat base, because Mama’s hands were FULL heading into battle!! I decided to bring our stroller (which I gate checked) for when I needed to take E out of the Ergo carrier. And I had bought this sweet backpack carseat carrier from Amazon, which was a lifesaver. Carseat on my back, baby on the front, stroller/ diaper bag in one hand, suitcase in the other. Let’s do this.
We arrived to the airport plenty early, so I did my best to keep E visually stimulated for the hour and a half pre-board. This included his favorite food group: carbs 🙂
We boarded the plane and took our window seat (which ended up being the wrong one, so we switched). I pulled out all his goodies in Ziplock bags and put them in the seat back. When the plane started moving, I gave him his juice bottle, which he anhiliated quickly, leaving me with nothing to give him as we actually took off. This is when the cries began. E’s new thing is to arch his back and throw his head back when he’s mad, and that’s exactly what he did. While trying to refill his bottle with water, the passenger next to me made some odd comment, telling me I should relax because he didn’t know any better. Um, thanks but obviously I’m going to be a bit unnerved with a crying baby on his first flight. He at least offered to help me with the bottle. After 10-15 minutes of tears, E finally passed out on my chest and we enjoyed the rest of the flight snuggled up together with a little playtime post-nap.
We had a quick layover in Houston, where I found us more carbs before boarding flight #2. We were shoved in the last row of a mini plane that bounced around frequently with a window shade that didn’t go up. But we were fuss-free and actually had a bit of fun drinking my Mighty Mango Naked juice together! First flying experience: success!!
We landed in Fort Walton Beach and were immediately met by Jaime, Luke and Jacob at baggage claim! This little heartthrob took some of my precious cargo off my hands 😉
After a quick 20 minute drive, we arrived in Destin. We stopped at The Crab Trap for a late lunch/ early dinner. Popcorn shrimp and a celebratory Woodchuck Cider for all! && more bread for the little one.
After lunch, we drove up to Publix to get some grub for the next couple of days (“Turn right, then turn right.” Oh you’re right across the street? Kthx). Once we returned, we made our way down to the beach, which was literally a hop across the road. No words can describe how excited I was to put E’s toes in the sand for the first time. It didn’t hurt that it was the most gorgeous beach I had ever laid eyes on.
Wind? Whitecaps? Pssh.
Wednesday morning we had some business to tend to right off the bat. Sadly, there was a death in Jaime’s family the day we arrived and she needed to get home by Friday instead of Saturday like we had planned. Thankfully, after a quick call to American Airlines, we were able to switch our exact flight from Saturday to Friday for just $8. Clearly we were both a little bummed to have to leave such a beautiful place a day early, but life happens. There’s too much to be thankful for to be sad over something so small.
Plus, we had this:
We picked up a few more goodies at Target that morning (pool floatie included!) and headed to the pool upon our return. Well, let me rephrase. The other family went to the pool. This family was stuck inside the condo for TWO AND A HALF HOURS while someonE took a coma! Figures he chooses Florida as the place he’d like to take his longest nap ever 😉 The second he awoke, we sunscreened up and headed outside!
It was still a bit breezy, but we kept warm floating around in the water!
Everyday, the Mamas had to do some coercing to get the boys to go to the beach. For some reason, pool > beach in their kiddo minds. So despite a little sassiness, we eventually made our way down to the water, where we ended up spending well over an hour walking, kite-flying & playing in the water/ sand. It was perfect.
Later we enjoyed a frozen pizza and made a trip to the outlet mall down the street, after which the Mamas drowned their crazy kid sorrows in all of this:
If only they weren’t so darn cute.
I should note that Emery’s sleeping was wayyyy out of whack the entire trip. The condo had one bedroom (which was generously offered to us), so E slept in the pack n play next to my bed. It’s SO hard sleeping SO close to your little one. Every move I made I felt like I was going to wake him up. And wake up he did. At 430a on day 1, 230a on day 2, and 530a on day 3. We survived, but at the time it was a bit brutal. Thankfully he napped almost every time I toted him around in the Ergo.
Day 3 was my favorite day (“What day is today?!”). We woke up and had coffee/ breakfast per usual while E played on the [sandy] floor.
We headed down to the water bright and early to soak up as much beach time as possible. The day couldn’t have been more gorgeous. The wind was gone, the sun was out, and the water was crystal clear. Can I live here? Please?
Babywearing = naptime. On the beach. Under the sun. Toes in the sand. Not complaining.
Once E awoke, we went straight to the ocean!
And we got some of my most favorite pictures ever.
Including a non-selfie with my girl (thanks Luke!).
We played in the sand. And ate some of course.
I think E had fun 🙂
The afternoon is what we had been looking forward to all week,,, DOLPHIN CRUISE!!
But first. Let me take a selfie.
We drove down to the marina and snapped a group pic while waiting to board our cruiser, the SeaBlaster!
And the boys played in the cutouts!
When J had asked if I was interested in going on this boat ride, knowing good and well I may say no because of Emery, I hesitated for about 2 minutes. Sure it’s a boat. Everyone’s at risk of flying off. But we would have a baby lifejacket in tow, and there would be no death defying stunts. So again,,, YES. Sign us up.
The ship’s crew were fantastically attentive, and the whole atmosphere of the cruise was so. fun. We were told when we signed up that we would get a free drink, but apparently this meant we could have as many as we wanted! Oh darn 😛 No worries, we were responsible. We were given saltines to feed the seagulls, who took them directly out of our hands. And we listened to throwback music, which was hard not to love. All the while, we headed out further into the water in search of dolphins. And holy moly, did we find some!
J & I decided that running a dolphin cruise would most definitely be the best job in the world. It was so incredible to watch. There were at least 15 dolphins out there, a baby dolphin included! Lots of people commented on how this was the most they’d ever seen. And as if watching them swim wasn’t enough, when the boat sped up, the dolphins followed! WATCH!
(you can watch more videos on my YouTube channel here)
We cruised for a total of 2 hours. The older boys drove the boat. We laughed and enjoyed the warm sunshine. It was glorious.
We followed up our boat ride with lunch at Margaritaville and some trampoline jumping at the marina. We also randomly ran into our friends Mark and Denise, who spend some time in Destin during the cold midwestern months! Such a small world.
It’s safe to say that after all that activity, we were exhausted by time we got back to the condo. We put the boys to bed and finished up the remaining beer & wine in our fridge while packing our things. 530a came early the next morning, and after loading up the truck, we started our trek away from the beach we had absolutely fallen in love with.
Apparently after flying with a baby once, you pretty much get the hang of it. Either that or my baby is amazing, because our two flights back went absolutely seamlessly. Our flight out of Pensacola was on a little plane, but only half full, so we had a whole row to ourselves (in which E napped). And though our plane out of Dallas was a big/ full one, the lady next to us was wonderfully kind, and E napped again for well over an hour. The drive home from the airport was probably the most stressful part of the day, and that wasn’t even that bad! Just call us a well-oiled machine 😉
And that’s it! What a week. My emotions have truly come full circle. From flying anxiety which morphed into vacation excitement which morphed into complete gratitude. I truly couldn’t be more grateful for the time spent with one of my best friends and our boys. How special for us to even be able to take a trip like this. I now have memories that will be forever etched into my mind. And E has checked off so many firsts! So stinkin’ fun. I already cannot WAIT to get back to that beautiful beach. Destin 2015,, who’s in??! Maybe we’ll even pack the Daddies next year.
Luke & Jacob ~ thank you so much for inviting us to Florida! We had so much fun with you! Thanks for watching Emery when I needed a little help, and feeding him too! You two are such special boys. We love you!
Jaime/ Aunt Yaya ~ no words, Mama. None. Except,, Alvin’s Island 🙂 I love you and am so blessed to have you and your family in my life! Can’t wait for our next adventure!