Saturday, May 2, 2015


A trip to Florida!  We were invited by our good friends, Aaron and Heidi, to join them at Ormond Beach.  How could we resist?!  We had to take the girls out of school because we went 2 weeks after the rush of Spring Break-ers.

We left at 6 on a Friday night.  We stopped at 10 to switch drivers from Jordan to me.  I drove til 3:30a which should have meant that Jordan was sleeping that whole time but unfortunately, Emmy had woken up crying and screaming about every half hour.  She was very uncomfortable in her car seat.  So Jordan drove from 3:30 to 5 but couldn't stay awake.  I did from 5-9 when we were finally outside of Atlanta.  We stopped at a Cracker Barrel to recharge.  Jordan drove the rest of the way to Ormond Beach and we arrived at 1:00 in the afternoon on Saturday.  Luckily gas prices were at $1.50ish and we were able to drive to Florida for under $100!!

We went right down to the ocean which was surprisingly warm.  The kids played in the water and had a great time!  Emmy loved it too!  We were so impressed with our condo unit also! We were just thrilled to be in the balmy Florida weather.  

And a trip to Florida wouldn't be complete without seeing Brian and Dorothy!  They came to the condo after church on Sunday and we ate a light lunch together.  We were getting ready to go down to the beach when we noticed that Emmy wasn't around!  Frantically, we started searching, always with our eyes on the parking lot and busy road beyond!  Heidi searched the beach and pool area, Brian and Dorothy searched the condo unit and hallway, Jordan and I frantically sped up and down the stairs.  I scaled that stairs to the fourth floor of the condo and thought, 'ok, if she's not up here, I'm going to freak out because this is the only place left to search!'  And at the furthest end of where she could possibly be, she was there!  She had gone up 2 stories (4 flights of stairs).  I'm so glad that she had gone up though because my main concern was the road.  She had been anxious to get to the beach so we're lucky that she mistakenly went up and not down.  Oh my goodness!  What a relief!  Brian and Dorothy hugged me and said they wouldn't breathe a word of it to my mom!!  It was good for that to happen to me.  So many times I'm frazzled and running around like a crazy person.  And I had seen her opening and shutting the door.  And easily got side-tracked until we realized that she was gone.  We enjoyed the pool that afternoon with Brian and Dorothy and then went out for some delicious Greek food at their recommendation.  Hugged them goodbye until we'd see them later that week... but we never did.  The week filled up and I was heartbroken to not have seen them more. 

Most days were the same, Jordan would be out of the condo around 6 each morning and then I'd go out once he got back for a walk/run.  We'd come back for breakfast and we were usually at the beach or pool before 9 each morning.  We'd go in for lunch at noon and come right back until 5 or so.  We allowed Emmy to skip her nap the first couple of days there, but then got her to nap at the pool the rest of the time. It just so happened that another couple of friends were down there at the same time, Justin and Mindy.  We had known them for a few years through our small group at church but didn't actually know them that well at all.  So it was great re-connecting with them in Florida, of all places! The kids loved playing with Alec, Elsie, and Lila, Aria and Charleigh.  And we loved to sit and chat with Aaron and Heidi and Justin and Mindy.  We had dinner and dessert together for the twins' birthday on Monday night and ate at a restaurant on our last night but most nights we did our own thing with dinner.  We got pizza in Daytona Beach one night, strolled around and walked the pier.  But our favorite meal was when Jordan grilled us some steaks, corn on the cob, shrimp, with salad and sushi at the condo with the kids.  One night we enjoyed drinks by the pool with us three couples, with the guys checking in on our sleeping kiddos from time to time. Lots of laughs!

On Tuesday, Jordan and I went to Universal Studios for the Harry Potter theme park, Diagon Alley.  So fun!!!  We had such a riot!  We spent hours there, I don't think we missed a single detail... but we probably did!  We had an AMAZING lunch there too!  And Butterbeer, of course. We went on the Gringotts Bank rollar coaster twice!  What a hoot! Of course, we wanted to buy a set of robes, a wand, I would have loved a new witch's hat and I wanted to try all the one-of-a-kind ice cream flavors Florean Fortescue's Ice Cream Parlor, Jordan was into the skulls and dark artifacts found in Knockturn Alley.  It was so authentic and exciting!  Jordan dragged me onto the Hollywood Rip Ride Rocket.  My knees were literally shaking and my eyes were tearing up as we walked through the long, empty line.  We went on one of the least busy days of the season so there were no lines.  I was petrified to do this roller coaster.  But we did it and it wasn't terrible!  I was happy I gave into Jordan.  But then he wanted to go again!  My stomach was still twisted from the first time but I let him drag me on again!  When we got off from it that time, with Jordan looking for our locker and our picture, I had searched out every trash can and had to sit down across from one.  My knees were completely unstable and my stomach was threatening to escape from my throat.  My concerned husband was kind enough to snap a picture of my ghost-white face!  As soon as I could walk again, we went back to Diagon Alley.  It was great to have a day to ourselves.  We hadn't wanted to put the theme park off not knowing when we'd get that close again.  Aaron and Heidi had offered to watch the kids for us that day!!  We were so grateful for that!  And the kids were great!  Emmy took a long nap with the twins that afternoon and our other three went crab-hunting with Justin.  I'm pretty sure they didn't miss us at all.  We were gone from 9a to 9p so we were able to have a leisurely morning with the kids and tuck them into bed.  The days were just gloriously longer in Florida!  This was such a great day!

The kids would just go-go-go all day long, from 7am to 10pm.  Occasionally they would nap on a lounge chair by the pool but not for long!  Jordan and Natalie learned to ride the waves in.  We could see dolphins almost everyday in the water.  Once when Jordan was out, a dolphin was just 10 feet away from him!  So he started going out towards it and flapping his hand in the water.  He was prepared to grab the dorsal fin and go for a ride!  But it got away!

One morning when I was on the beach, I crossed over these large tracks that drove into the ocean.  I was so confused!!  They looked like quad tracks or something.  And I could see where the 'quad' had been parked up on the beach... but no quad.  I really studied it on my way past them and again on my way back to the condo.  I went back to the condo, Jordan and the kids were ready to head out, and when we got back on the beach, we were told that a sea turtle had laid eggs on the beach that night.  Those were the tracks and the nest that I had seen.  So we all walked back to the area to check it out.  By that time, they had roped off the nest.  Jordan and the kids got their pictures taken by the large turtle tracks.  The regulars said they'd never seen such huge turtle tracks!  Amazing!!  There were notices posted around the condo that during the month of May it's 'Lights Out' at night so that the turtle hatch-lings can safely and naturally make their way to the water.

The kids had money to spend from grandparents so we did a lot of souvenir/dollar store shopping as well. I hate those places!  Such a waste of money!  They mostly got toys and stuffed animals to play with but Natalie spent $5 of her own money on a key chain for her teacher!  Charlie bought a plastic fishing pole that the hook broke off from as soon as we got back to the condo.  But Jordan was able to affix at pop can tab into a hook shape and weeks later we would learn that Charlie had went fishing in the neighbors coy pond with that pole!  And unless it's a fish tale, he told us that 'the dad' at the house had told him to put the fish back.  I'm pretty sure that all of the souvenirs have busted by now except for that cheap fishing pole and a realistic looking squirt frog that sits in our bathtub as it waits for Emmy, it's owner, to spray it all over the bathroom floor.

We left mid-morning on Friday to go on an excursion to Fernandina Beach.  Jordan had learned about all of the sharks teeth on those shores and the fossils you can find.  We crossed many bridges to get there and it felt like we got further and further from civilization.  We passed through a very nice town in a remote area and we ate at a Subway unlike any other.  They had leather seating even!  And onward we went to our destination, anxious to comb the beach!  But by the time we got there, a storm was rolling in.  We ran out to the beach for 5 minutes and booked it back to the van as the storm rolled in.  We were so disappointed to have gone so far out of the way and not get to enjoy ourselves.  Isn't that the way that things go on the way home?  It was a gorgeous area and we'd definitely love to go back and try again.  Around dinner time, outside of Macon, we got caught in a nasty storm for about 7 minutes.  We had golf-ball sized hail thumping on the van and 65mph winds.  We were stopped alongside the road under some trees along with other cars praying that our windows wouldn't shatter, it was so loud.  Charlie told us after that he was praying too and Emmy had kept yelling to 'turn it down'.  Just ahead of us when we started to drive again, a few trees were blown over!  We were so grateful it wasn't any worse and surprisingly, no damage to the van.  The drive through the night wasn't much better than the drive down.  Emmy was so uncomfortable:(  So once again, neither of us got great sleep to prepare us for our driving portions.  It was eerie at one point but beautiful: I was driving and it was so dark out.  It was the middle of the night in Tennessee.  We were in the mountains and once in a while, I could make out tiny lights below us.  The roads took us up and down and all around and I really had no sense of how high we were or what was around us except for the sides of a mountain and the small section of road revealed in front of me because of the constant turns concealing what was up ahead.  And then a lightning show started.  And it would flash and I would see all around me!  Just huge rock, or mountains in the distance, or an even larger town than I had realized in front of me, and once it showcased a large bridge in the distance.  It never rained so whenever the lightning would flash, I could see something other than just road.  It was deeply awakening as my mind had just settled into the quiet and into the darkness.  I was surprised at how long I had just driven with no music, no noise, and nothing to see.  But everything was awakened in me when I could suddenly see again.  It was majestic and moving.  I wish I could have shared that moment with someone else in the car, but I think it was meant only for me!  We drove up on Cave City just in time to switch drivers and for the kids and Jordan to notice the huge dinosaur alongside the highway.  We had camped near this life-size dinosaur exhibit 3 years ago.  We were bummed that it wasn't going to work out for us to spend time here on the trip home.  So we drove the short distance to the park for an excursion anyway. We got out and snapped a picture with one of the dinosaurs and half-joked about breaking into the fenced-in dino park!  We're pretty sure it'd be a more awesome experience at 2am than at midday....  We kind of regret our 'good morals' policy sometimes ;)  We stopped once more for gas and we were home by 8:30a on Sunday.  Not bad timing!

 Charlie feel asleep as soon as we left the driveway!
'Windows down, we've reached the coast!'


This is me 'weak in the knees' after the roller coaster ride, ugh!
 Big Charlie and Lil Charleigh!

 She fell asleep while eating lunch!


 Crab hunting!!


 Last night out!

 Very sad to leave:(  We toyed with the idea of me staying for a few more days and Jordan flying home since our condo was available  for longer but in the end, we left altogether.

2am Dinosaur excursion!

Jordan and I needed a third driver and Emmy would have been a perfect candidate since she was wide awake anyway!

This was such a great trip!  We talked a lot about how fast our kids are growing up and that really, in 10 years Natalie will be an adult and who knows how many family trips we'll be able to arrange at that time.  So we just might become Spring Break Travelers after all!