Sun Rays and Disney Days

We were so grateful to get to go on a vacation to Florida this month! Ryan gets 3 weeks of vacation throughout his first year, so we coordinated it with my family’s vacation to one of our favorite places, Siesta Key, Florida. With the way our week worked out, we also got to visit Disney World for 3 days…another one of our favorites! Originally with Ryan’s schedule, he would get to go to Siesta with us, but not Disney. After he pulled some strings at work, he found a way to go with us for the entire trip, and we were all SO grateful. We all needed that quality Daddy time! Here are the highlights from our trip.

PART I: Siesta Key

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The Beach

We came here last December, and Kinsie was a little beach baby. She was obsessed! Brax wasn’t even mobile yet, so he spent most of his time in the tent. This time, we had two beach babies! Brax wasn’t a huge fan of the ocean (the waves scared him), but he loved playing in the sand. All the kids loved chasing birds, getting buried in the sand as different animals and characters, and building sand castles and animals. The older kids loved the ocean until we realized how many jellyfish were in the area. Both Kinsie and her cousin Briggs got stung by jellyfish…but luckily nothing too severe. After that, they were all a little skeptical about getting in the water…and they called themselves the “jellyfish cousins.”

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The Pool

All five of the cousins are little water bugs. We spent a few days by the pool, and ALL the kids were having fun. Brax wanted to jump in over and over again…he honestly didn’t even care if he went under water. I’m also pretty sure that being in the pool with her cousins is one of Kinsie’s happiest happy places!

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The Boat Ride

We rented a boat while in Siesta Key, and it was such a fun and crazy day! We ate cinnamon rolls, got splashed by large waves, saw dolphins and manatees, got stuck on a sandbar, got lost, and had lunch at a restaurant on the water. We all loved every part of the crazy adventure…especially the dolphins!

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Lots of Much-Needed Family Time

I know, this is vague, and cheesy…but it’s true. Now that we live apart, time with family is so special. Especially with the kids…they all love each other so much and they are just giddy when they are all together. All of the kids have a special relationship and it is so fun watching them grow up together. And like I mentioned earlier, it was so nice having a full week of Ryan. The kids were all about Daddy all week!

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PART II: Disney World

Magic Kingdom

We spent the last 3 days of our trip at Disney World…and it was as magical as ever! It was SUPER crowded…more than I remember it ever being, but we still made the best of it and had a great time. The characters have always been Kinsie’s favorite part, and she still loved them, but oh my sweet Brax…he adored the characters! It melted my heart to see him stare in the face of Mickey Mouse in complete awe and give each character hug after hug. His reaction to seeing Mickey in the parade was priceless! Some of our other favorites of the day were Small World, the parade, the fireworks, and the Haunted Mansion ride. Kinsie talked about this ride ALL day, but the line was always too long. Finally after the fireworks, the line was down so we went. Kinsie fell asleep on Ryan’s shoulders on the way there, so we just let her sleep while we waited in line. We woke her up before we got on the ride and she LOVED it. She is still talking about it every day. It was a long but wonderful day!

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Animal Kingdom

This is another one of our favorite parks in Disney, and we really wanted to see all the new Avatar stuff (it was AMAZING by the way). It was ridiculously hot this day…like sticky, heavy, hard to breathe hot. But we powered through it and still enjoyed our day. We loved the safari, the characters, the Avatar ride, and the evening lights show on the water. We were exhausted at the end of the day, but it was worth it.

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Chef Mickey’s

My parents surprised the kids with tickets to Chef Mickey’s. I was probably just as excited as the kids to experience this! We went to a restaurant where Mickey and the gang danced around and came around to visit with everyone. The kids loved it and the food was on point!

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Disney Springs

We spent our last evening just walking around Disney Springs. The only other time I remember coming here, we were only there for a few minutes so we didn’t really get to enjoy it. It was so nice to just take our time and enjoy everything there was to see. We especially loved the Lego store and the T-Rex Cafe. We didn’t even eat there, we just walked around and played in the dino digging area!

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We had such a great trip and loved spending time with family, but we were also ready to be home. After lots of crowds, traffic and congestion, we were ready to be back in our quiet town. Our flights to and from Florida were both very eventful…we BARELY made it onto our flight on the way there…but after cutting everyone in the security line and sprinting to our gate, we made it. On the way back, we were on different flights from Orlando to Atlanta, but on the same flight from Atlanta to Little Rock. Ryan took Brax and I had Kinsie. Ryan’s flight was running a little later than scheduled, so as he got to the gate of the second flight, they were shutting the door and wouldn’t let him in. As he argued with the lady at the gate, I was talking to the captain and trying to see if he could get him on the plane. He was trying really hard to help us because he knew we were a family and we just wanted to get home. If they weren’t going to let him on, Kinsie and I were going to get off and we could all find a new flight together…although I really didn’t want to do that since the kids were exhausted and Kinsie had school the next day. The captain called the official Delta people and it was a long ordeal, but they FINALLY let him on. As he and Brax got on the plane, everyone applauded! Later when we got off the plane in Little Rock, everyone who passed by us said they were happy for us! It was a crazy experience, and we were SO happy to be home!

Beach Babes

At the beginning of Winter break, we were able to take a trip to Siesta Key, Florida with my family. Our family owns a condo in the area, so we used to go all the time when I was in high school and college. However, with the busy-ness of life with kids, and a med student husband whose time is not his own, we have only been there once since Kinsie was born, and she was a baby so she didn’t remember.

My parents and my sister’s family flew in a few days before we did, because I had to finish my last few days of school before Winter Break started, and Ryan had another residency interview trip to return from. In those days, we had a major ice storm in Indiana, which delayed and cancelled many flights…ours being one of them. We ended up flying the next day straight to Orlando – which really worked out better for us because we were planning on spending that afternoon and evening at the Magic Kindom for Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party anyway before spending the rest of our vacation in Siesta Key. We were all THRILLED to get away from the freezing cold weather!

This was our first time traveling with 2 kids. While the kids were absolute champs, traveling with two is quite different than just one! Our time at the airport was complete chaos with all of our luggage including 2 car seats, wrangling the two kids, trying to prevent Brax from spitting up all over the airport seats while trying not to spill our coffee on ourselves, the kids, or even the floor (can’t waste that gold!) Kinsie was excited to roll her own suitcase through the airport. She spent the flight singing Christmas songs to everyone and watching episodes of Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, and Brax slept the majority of the flight. During the time he was awake, he was happy but crazy (per usual!) He made loud happy squeals, smiled at everyone around him, and squirmed so much that we were sweating by the end of the flight. Like I said…the trip wasn’t bad, just chaotic!

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Once we flew into Orlando, my parents picked us up and we headed straight to Disney World. We didn’t buy regular admission tickets, just for the Christmas Party…so we were able to enter the park at 4pm. As soon as we got there, the first thing we did was meet Mickey. Brax was beyond tired at this point, so he really needed to nap, but I really wanted him to get to meet Mickey. He LOVED him! Kinsie and the other kids of course loved him too! During our time at Magic Kingdom, we rode a few rides, watched the parade and the fireworks (our favorite parts), ate Christmas cookies, and had a dance party with the reindeer! We were there until after midnight, and Brax slept on and off in the stroller, and Kinsie not only stayed awake the entire time we were there, but walked the entire time! Even when we held Brax and offered the stroller to Kinsie, she wanted to walk. Finally as we were leaving the park after midnight, Kinsie passed out in Ryan’s arms. We drove back to Siesta Key that night and arrived at 3am. It was a long, exhaustic, but wonderful evening!

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Kinsie was only 9 months old when we went to Siesta Key last, and while she loved the pool and the sunshine, she was not the biggest fan of the beach – mainly because she was too little to run around and enjoy it. The closest we have come to the beach since then was last summer when we went to the Dunes for a family reunion. Kinsie loved that beach, so I figured she would be in heaven on Siesta Key Beach…one of the world’s best and most beautiful beaches. Boy, was I right! She spent all-day every day at the beach. Ryan and I took turns in the condo with Brax for his naps, but Kinsie always stayed on the beach either with one of us, or with my parents. Brax obviously couldn’t enjoy it as much as Kinsie, but that kid has fun doing just about anything. He enjoyed it the best he could!

Kinsie loved spending time with her cousins. They spent a ton of time playing in the ocean, finding sea shells and seaweed, chasing seagulls, and making sand castles (and sand hippos too). We were there on my mom’s birthday, so we had a cookout on the beach on that day. Brax ended up coming down with an upper respiratory infection while we were there, so he was a bit needier than usual, but he still did very well considering. Ryan and I really wanted to get the chance to go fishing on the dock, but it was difficult to find the time. We tried to go during Brax’s naps, but he didn’t sleep more than 45 minutes at a time since he didn’t feel good. On the last night of our trip, we were able to make it happen once the kids were in bed. We didn’t get many bites that night, so we went back with the kids the next day before going to the airport. Ryan finally caught a snapper, so we were excited that we at least got something during the trip!

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We all had such a great time. The weather was perfect while we were there, making it hard to come back to Indiana. We can’t wait to go back again!

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Beach Babe

Over Memorial weekend, we took a trip to one of my favorite places, Siesta Key, Florida. We got to spend about 4 days there with my parents, my sister and her family, and our good friends, the Davis family and Nate Phipps. This was Kinsie’s first real trip and her first time on a plane. Ryan has always had ear trouble on planes, so I was a little worried that Kinsie would struggle too, but she was an absolute champ. She slept most of the plane ride, which was good because otherwise she probably would have been stir crazy since she is constantly on the move! She could not have been a better little traveler on the way there and on the way home!

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Kinsie had so much fun staying up late and playing with her cousins. She is a party girl, so she was loving being around a lot of people and doing lots of different things each day. The first day that we went to the beach, she wasn’t too sure how she felt about getting sand all over her, but after that, she loved it and had a blast! She loved watching the sea gulls and would laugh each time she’d see one fly over her, and she was intrigued by the waves in the ocean and when the water touched her toes. She turned out to be quite the little beach babe!

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One thing that we’ve recently learned about our girl is that she LOVES to swim. She could have spent the whole day in the pool if we let her. She loves to kick, splash and even stick her face in the water and blow bubbles. She would constantly try to dive out of our arms and drink the pool water, so we had to keep a pretty tight grip on her!

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We also got to take a ride on a pontoon boat while we were there. Kinsie was not a fan of wearing her life jacket, but in general, she doesn’t like being constrained in any way, so this came to no surprise to us. She and Kerigan both took a little snooze, but then woke up and loved the rest of the ride. While we were stopped to go fishing for a while, Kinsie got to take her life jacket off and got a kick out of “driving” the boat with her daddy.

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This trip was truly a blessing for us. With Ryan being in med school, vacations are not going to be a common thing for a while. It was really important to us that Ryan get to be a part of Kinsie’s first Florida experience. We are grateful for every moment together as a family, especially in such a beautiful place. My family has been going to Siesta Key since Krista and I were babies, and it has become such a special place for us. I’ve been through many seasons of life and have had some of my best memories take place there. To name a few, Siesta Key is where Ryan and I got engaged, and where I found out my sister was pregnant with my nephew Briggs (Both of these events happened on the same day I might add!) I am so glad that I got to bring my husband and daughter to this beautiful place and continue to make memories that I will always carry with me.

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The whole crew

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Our engagement – May 2011

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3 years later