I spent the past week in Jacksonville, Florida with my family and it was filled with sunny days, so much swimming, boogie boarding, tide pool exploring, cookouts, good food, delicious drinks and very little time to slip away and blog. I rolled with it and fully embraced vacation mode that wasn’t really vacation mode since two kids were involved (there’s a reason they call travel with kids a “trip” rather than a “vacation”) and it was really, really good for me.
(Yes, that was the best family photo we got of our little foursome during our trip. Ha! Someone please share tips for getting good pics of squirmy kids… and by “good pics” I mean pics where kids actually look at the camera.)
I drove down to Florida with Chase and Ryder on Friday afternoon and wasn’t sure how the drive would go with two kids all by myself. (Ryan had to work early last week and joined us with Sadie for the second half of our trip.) I knew Ryder would be the X-factor based solely on his age and his hatred of his car seat for a long duration of time but the boys both did really well! I played lots of kid music, packed a bunch of toys and snacks and the 6-hour drive (without kids) took us about 7.5 hours thanks to some traffic and necessary stops and breaks for our crew. (FYI, this is my all-time favorite travel snap basket and I fill it with the boys’ toys so they’re easily accessible in the car and then it works well as a toy staging area once we arrive at our destination. It’s the BEST.) My dad greeted me with a glass of wine the minute I arrived and it kicked our time away off on the right foot!
Beach Days + Pool Time
We majorly lucked out with sunshine every single day during our visit! I couldn’t wait to get my hands on my niece and cannot believe how much she’s grown in the two months it’s been since I last saw her.
Since both boys are all about exploring everything around them and Ryder is becoming more and more independent these days, my hands were a little more free on this trip which meant I was able to scoop Callie up and snuggle and play with her more than past visits which made my auntie heart swell right up!
Roughly 95 percent of the photos I snapped from this trip were taken on the beach, so I’ll wrap our beach recaps into one little segment in this post. This beach trip felt like our best beach experience with the boys to date. I think the boys’ ages have a lot to do with this because Chase is 100 percent obsessed with everything about the beach and Ryder is much more mobile and loved splashing in the water of the shallow tide pools.
I’ve always been a water girl since I was very young and spent my fair share of our time at the beach boogie boarding in the surf with my family which was SO FUN. I told my dad during my visit that I don’t feel like I’m a “lounge on the beach” kind of beach-goer. For me, I’m happiest at the beach when I’m actually in the ocean and I loved the fact that this trip granted me time to get my hair wet, boogie board my heart out and swim within 10 feet of the dolphins splashing nearby. I think it may be time to dust off my wet suit and plan a scuba diving adventure!
Going into this trip, Ryder was loosely on a two-naps-a-day schedule but he’s always been able to go with the flow which admittedly is pretty sweet since I’ve definitely been in the boat where we were a slave to a baby’s nap schedule. (Let’s just say Chase missing a morning nap was not an option both for his sake and our sanity.) Ryder naturally started slipping into one nap a day a few times before the trip and during our time in Florida he did amazingly well on one nap a day. Though Ryder will still take two naps a day if we put him down in the morning, his afternoon naps are very hit or miss (mostly miss) at the moment. When I switched him to one nap a day during our time in Florida, he took a solid three hour nap almost every time and seemed happier all around in the afternoon. I guess he was ready for the one nap a day transition!? Taking Ryder to the beach kept him happy and distracted through his usual morning nap time which I’m sure was the key to our success during this trip.
Our beach time usually took place first thing in the morning with a break in the mid-afternoon for nap time. We then often made a return to the beach and spent most of our time at the pool in the early evening until it was time for dinner.
(Ryder could not get enough of the pool and wanted to jump into our arms from the side of the pool over and over and over again!)
Since we don’t have regular access to a pool in our area other than our friends’ neighborhood pools, seemingly unlimited access to the pool was such a treasure! The pool felt like built-in entertainment for the kids and we ended up using my sister’s stroller car seat caddy to transport all of the pool necessities (towels, toys, floaties, snacks, etc.) which worked like a charm.
Chase has always been a little timid around water (he was never into baths as a baby and still doesn’t like getting his hair/face wet though swim lessons are helping a TON) so I was really, really happy to see him make huge strides in the pool regarding putting his face in the water. He loved getting “lessons” from Pop and learning how to use his arms in addition to kicking and spent hours in the pool pretending to be a shark and coercing all of us into swimming races.
Callie is our boys’ only cousin and to say Chase is enamored with her would be a serious understatement.
Chase is so kind and gentle toward Callie and talks with her in the sweetest voice until we have to tell him not to completely smother her with too much love. Ha! Thankfully Callie seems to be infatuated with her cousins as well and seeing our kids together is just wonderful, though it certainly doesn’t make living away from family any easier.
Ryder and Callie had us laughing a lot because they seemed to realize they were both tiny little people but stuck mostly with grabbing each other’s faces as their primary form of communication.
Aside from beach and pool fun, we managed to go on a few additional adventures during our visit! We donned our red, white and blue the day after the Fourth of July and made our way to St. Augustine for a trip to the Alligator Farm which was high on Chase’s list of must-dos during our time in Florida.
(Dress: Marshalls but the brand is Japna / Shoes: My new fav platform sandals from Francesca’s — currently 30% off and so comfy!)
I ended up wearing Ryder in my baby carrier for 90 percent of our visit which meant we sweat all over each other but other than battling the heat, the Alligator Farm was a huge hit with everyone! It was incredible to see the alligators up close and I couldn’t get over the enormous size of some of the gators and crocodiles.
We ate a bunch of delicious food during our trip to Jacksonville as well but highlights for me (aside from mostly homemade eats) included pizza from V Pizza and doughnuts from Mini Bar Donuts.
Clearly Ryder was eyein’ them up! My favorite was the Rice Krispie mini doughnut but I thought all of the flavors I tried were great.
During a particularly hot morning, my mom and I took the boys to Hand’s On Children’s Museum which wasn’t much to look at from the outside but was a total kid paradise inside.
Chase loved the pretend post office station and the pirate ship and Ryder just loved the ability to explore everything without getting scooped up and redirected or told “no” all the time.
As far as workouts were concerned during my time in Florida, I managed to sneak in a few with my mom and dad. I took a Fourth of July morning Jazzercise strength class with my mom and loved it!
Her Jazzercise friends are always so kind and welcoming and I truly love the workout! Jazzercise is so upbeat and just plain FUN.
My dad, Ryan and I took our workout to the YMCA since we’re all members and our membership can be used anywhere. Plus, Chase was itching for some interaction with “big kids” and it was a great way to give him the chance to play with some kids while my dad, Ryan and I worked out together.
We left Florida early Sunday morning and arrived back in Charlotte in the early afternoon. The rest of our day yesterday was spent unpacking and getting ourselves organized for the week ahead. I’m hoping to get back into a blog groove this week as well since I’ve missed connecting with you guys! I hope you’re all doing well and for my American readers out there, I hope you had a great Fourth of July!