On Vacation…

20131122-164452.jpgAfter two weeks home from the sandy shores of Florida, I’m ready to go back… I miss sandy feet, wet bathing suits and sun-kissed skin. This Oklahoma fall is beautiful, but the Emerald Coast does wonders for the soul! As Norah has been saying, “I just want to go back to Foooor-dah!”

Our vacation started off exciting! The kids did great in the airport and were super obedient. We had a late morning flight- no waking kids up early and really no stress. We listened to music, watched Dora, colored, and played cars on the “bah-pane!” (according to Jonah).

We flew Southwest into Pensacola (brand new Southwest location.) It was nearly 6pm when we arrived and kids still had not napped. Jonah was SUPER rambunctious and Norah was doing her best to keep it together.  After we got our rental car, Jonah zoned out for about 15min.  We grabbed dinner with some of our favorite friends, the Chavez family, and then headed down the coast to Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort.

A couple years ago, we spent 2 nights here while visiting the Chavez family. We loved it and while I am not one to “repeat” vacations, this place is too amazing to not revisit… especially with babes.

We rented a 3bd/3ba condo in Westwinds. It was right on the beach and offered a heated pool, kiddie pool, and hot tub. The view was spectacular!

20131121-170003.jpgOn Wednesday morning, we headed to IHOP for breakfast. The kids were exhausted and we weren’t interested in trying to keep their actions “picture perfect” at a nicer place. They were more than happy to have ‘Smiley-face Pancakes’ and to climb on the empty chairs.

After breakfast, Daddy went grocery shopping while I took the kids to the beach and pool. It was a perfect day and the kids cracked-up at the waves catching their toes. Norah loved throwing the sand (is that just kid instict?), but quickly learned that sand in the face isn’t fun. Jonah really didn’t care for the sand rubbing between his swimsuit and skin, so after we played a bit, we headed to the pool. It was wonderful- not just heated to “kid-temperature.”

After naps, our friend’s arrived to join the fun. Norah loved playing with Macy, Jett and Juliana! We decided on Fudpucker‘s for dinner- this is a “must” when you visit the Destin area. Can’t say I love the food, but the kids loved the alligators and the atmosphere was so laid back that we didn’t feel guilty bringing five kids in :). We ended the night at Bruster‘s- free ice cream cones with sprinkles for kids 40” and under!

Thursday was cold and windy- the perfect day for shopping! The Silver Sands Outlet was less than a mile from the condo and they even had a CrewCuts. We tried to catch the sunset after naps, but the sand was SO cold and even my Michigan blood wasn’t warm enough to brave the wind.  We settled for snacks by the heated pool.

After warming up, we met the Chavez family in Baytown Wharf (on Sandestin property) for dinner and playing. I’m sure this place is crazy during summer, but it was empty in November! The kids (and Josh) loved driving the remote-controlled boats and riding on fastest carousel ever.

Friday morning, we made it a point to get everyone out of the condo early and eat breakfast at Another Broken Egg. This place is so yummy! After breakfast and lots of chocolate milk (which Norah now thinks she likes because her friends like it),  we explored Jolie Island. This is a little adventure “island” on Sandestin property. There are trails all over, hidden playgrounds, play houses, and swings. It feels magical!

The kids crashed into bed at nap time! Perfect, because Tony took family pictures for us before sunset! We can’t wait to see them- he’s so talented. Check out Cook Imagaes! A big thank you to Julianna for being a great “smile-coach assistant!”

Saturday morning, the Chavez family had to head back to reality in Pensacola. We were so sad to say good-bye to late-night talks and all the fun! The day was beautiful, so we headed out to the beach and pool. Bring on the sun tans!

That evening, we were sitting around the hot tub with our feet in and I had one of my proudest mommy-moments. I suggested Norah jump in with her clothes on, she was shocked and elated. Oh my, her giggles will stay with me forever.

Sunday was another BEAUTIFUL swimming day! The kiddos loved playing with Daddy and having his constant attention. It was such a wonderful taste of summer, when our Tulsa summer was so busy.

That evening, we finally made it to the beach for sunset. The colors were spectacular, radiating the beauty of God’s love for us. Norah sat in amazement as she gazed at the sky and all the colors.

After sun went to “cool off” in the ocean (Norah’s take on the sunset), we went back to Baytown Wharf  to eat and play. We enjoyed some “okay” BBQ with a beautiful view of the bay and yachts. After dinner, we walked the SUPER long pier, split some gelato and had some hilarious life talks on the family-sized swings. Then, Jonah and I sneaked down to the hot tub while Norah and Daddy watched Barney. 🙂

Monday morning we discovered the Gordan Davidson Nature Trail- a beautiful nature walk on Sandestin property! After a winding walk through the flora, we happened upon this super cool fort. Norah said she “felt like Dora” on an adventure.

After lots of adventure, we cooled off by the pool and beach. Sad to say “see ya later” to the beautiful sand!

That evening, we were able to borrow a golf cart. This was Norah’s favorite part of the whole trip! She LOVED sitting in the front seat, driving all over the Sandestin property, waving to EVERYONE we passed. Jonah screamed in excitement! We ended our golf cart adventure with some delicious Kilwin‘s chocolate. Their hot chocolate is divine! Vacation is just wonderful 🙂

On our last morning at the beach, Norah and I woke up early to watch the sunrise by the beach. We cuddled in a blankie and quietly watched the waves roll in. Suddenly, the dolphins started jumping. It was breath-taking! Norah and I gasped as what seemed like 5 or 6 dolphins jumped over the waves again and again. The beauty of God’s creation is breath taking!

I will treasure this vacation forever! Special laughs and memories- the moments that I wish my kids would stay little forever. Someday, I’ll be able to bring a magazine or book on vacation again, but until that day comes I will treasure the busyness and joy of two wonderful, silly, little ones!

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Resources:

Vacation Rental: vrbo.com

*We booked right before we left for vacation and got an amazing deal with a private owner. Westwinds is one of the only places with a heated pool in November. If you can find a rental with a golf cart included, it is worth it- so fun! This is the lady who let us use her golf cart, she is so awesome to work with- we hope to rent from her in the future!

Crib Rental: coastalcribrentals.com

*$60 to rent a real crib for the week. They leave it at your door and pick it up after your stay. It was easier to put together than a pack n play!

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