Key West 2017

Key West 2017

We went to Key West again (the in-laws go several times a year and we usually go October or July) and Evangeline was so excited. I’m not sure if it’s the palm trees or getting to be with her grandparents for an entire week, but she loves the trip. She does amazing on planes. I’m so happy she travels well.

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We were there during the fourth of July but didn’t go see the fireworks. Father-in-law didn’t want to spend money keeping a car all week since we were at the condo downtown during the first half, so we had to walk everywhere. Fireworks scare Evangeline, anyway, so it wasn’t a big deal. We still had a blast. It’s so much fun seeing her explore and discover places we love.

We went to a local deli that’s owned by a former New Yorker and everyone there is so friendly. They were immediately enamored with Evangeline and even brought her out free fruit and cookies. Our waitress absconded with her and let her “ring up” our check, as well. Things like this make me love visiting. There’s so many local, awesome places.

The downtown condo is great because almost everything is easily accessible. We even made the trek across the island to one of my favorite spots, the Butterfly Conservatory, but Evangeline wasn’t as impressed by it this year as she was last year (which was disappointing.) Instead, she enjoyed the aquarium. She kept talking about sharks and making a motion with her arms while saying, “chomp!” Too cute.

She spent a lot of time roaming around and with the in-laws in the pool. There were a lot of condo events. I spent those napping, usually. Sitting out in the sun is not something I’m into.

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The husband and I went snorkeling, but he got sick and went back to the boat. The waves were pretty rough but I had a blast. We didn’t see nearly the amount of cool stuff or fish as the time we went a few years ago, but it was still awesome. I can’t wait until we can take Evangeline with us on the boat!

We had a sunset sail and dinner at our favorite Cuban place down there for our anniversary, which is pretty much a tradition at this point. I always love when we spend it down there but the heat, ugh. October is so much cooler!

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Evangeline has really grown to love the beach. We didn’t get a chance to go until nearly our last day there, but it was worth it. We were in Key West for longer than a week this time, so we had to switch condos. We went to the one on the Windward side of the island, which we hadn’t been to for several years. It’s my second favorite and the recent updates made it even better. We even got a princess balcony! I wish we had it longer… sigh.

We stayed up late one night, long after Evangeline had gone to bed (in the in-laws bed, no less), and played the game ‘Keep Talking and No One Gets Hurt’. It was a lot of fun with the in-laws! So funny to see their reactions. Father-in-law got really into it. We had a blast.

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There’s also a shuffleboard area at the condo, so we messed around with it a bit. Evangeline just liked scooting the pucks back and forth. It was funny watching father-in-law and my husband trying to instruct her on the proper way to ‘shuffle.’

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We set off on our own and left the in-laws behind on our last full day in Key West to go to my other favorite place, The Dolphin Research Center! I was so excited for Evangeline to see it again. She loved the dolphins and they were super active! Unfortunately, as was on trend for our vacations this summer, a big storm came in and we had to leave as they shut down the center due to lighting. Sigh.

We had a very early flight and so we spent the rest of our time hanging out in the pool or condo. The airport is right next door so early in the morning, we packed up, and walked the short distance while it was still very dark out. It was quite the eventful trip! I’m so sad that it will be over a year until we’re there again, but the husband and I agreed that we’re ready to branch out and go other places. We want to do some smaller trips. The airfare cost of flying into Key West is incredibly steep.

I really try not to take for granted how fortunate we are to get this opportunity. It’s only through the in-laws that we are able to travel to what would normally be a pretty pricey place. I’ve been going with them since I started dating my husband, and that’s nearly a decade now, so it’s so cool to visit somewhere I’m familiar with.

It makes my heart happy to know that Evangeline is getting opportunities to broaden her horizons at such a young age. I just hope we can keep it up. I never want to her to lack for experiences. Every time we come back from a trip, it’s like her brain has absorbed everything and grown leaps and bounds.

 

Evangeline’s Second Trip to Disney

Evangeline's Second Trip to Disney

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We went to Florida in June and Evangeline got to actually stay “in” Disney. My Aunt got a deal at the Swan & Dolphin hotel. We arrived in Florida, hung out, and then headed out towards Disney. We stayed the night, got up in the morning, and went to Animal Kingdom.

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We had the safari fast pass first thing, which Evangeline enjoyed. We got to see the baby elephant, which was really cool! All in all, I loved Animal Kingdom. The newly opened Pandora area was quite cool. We did the one water ride, which was atmospheric and not at all scary (which my husband thought it would be for her.)

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My Aunt bowed out and went back to the hotel, enabling us to move at a pace we’re more comfortable with. We’re both pretty in tune and travel well without having to discuss things. It’s only when you introduce “outsiders” that we run into issues/etc trying to accommodate them. So we set off and took in as much as we possibly could before we got rained out…

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The next day was a lot of fun because GiGi and Gramps joined us (my step-grandmother and my paternal grandfather.) They met us at the gate to The Magic Kingdom and we were off. Our first stop was visiting Rapunzel and Tiana. Evangeline was insistent that she meet Rapunzel, her new favorite princess.

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She loves Princess and the Frog, too. Clearly she has amazing taste in Disney movies as those are two of the best ones released lately. We spent a good amount of time in The Magic Kingdom riding rides and just wandering around. I’m not a huge fan of how much busier it was in June versus November. I’d definitely come back in the “off” season… it was kind of a pain with all the people and dodging rain.

We had a fast pass for the one small rollercoaster…. Goofy’s Barnstormer. Unfortunately, I great underestimated it. Evangeline rode with my husband and screamed the entire time, “all done! All done!” Poor thing. I was with my step-grandmother, simultaneously shocked by how intense it was and horrified that I’d probably scarred my kid for life.

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She enjoyed the other rides, thankfully. We went on Dumbo again, we rode the train around the park. Of course she had to get on the carousel. We ate at the Pinocchio-themed restaurant, which was an overcrowded nightmare! I definitely understand why I saw people toting coolers/etc. If it were just us, we’d have a planned out route/etc, but my family is a bit more… whimsical.

We wanted to see the parade, but it got delayed due to rain. We were going to leave but it started up and so we stayed. Evangeline loved it. I’m definitely glad I persevered. We had a lot of fun, despite the weather. That was our last day there, we had checked out of the hotel that morning, so we headed back to my grandparents house and spent the rest of the time just enjoying the rest of our vacation.

I’m continually surprised and amazed by how well Evangeline handles things at such a young age. Despite all the activity and excitement, we didn’t have any epic meltdowns. She even remembered her first visit and she hadn’t even turned two yet! You never think about toddlers that young taking in and remembering things, but she’s a sponge. When we took her last time, I never imagined she’d be able to recognize it or know where she was and she did. When we were going through The Magic Kingdom this time, she recalled where she’d been and what she’d rode–specifically the Dumbo ride.

It’s so fun watching her grow and see what catches her eye or her attention.

Thanksgiving in PA 2016

Thanksgiving in PA 2016

We traveled to Pennsylvania to spend Thanksgiving there. It’s my family’s year for Thanksgiving but given everything that’s happened, we really weren’t planning on going up. My dad called me a week or so before and told me that his wife and her kids would be away and that he’d be on his own, so that’s all I needed. We made an impromptu trip and got to spend a few days with my dad, alone, before his wife returned. It was really nice. I haven’t had time with my dad like that nor seen him act normal in years.

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I was originally worried about how our now-two-year-old would handle the almost seven hour trip, but she did fairly well! We left early from work, picked up Evangeline, and packed up the car. We made pretty good time and Evangeline took a nap. I think we rolled into my dad’s house at around seven or so.

We arrived the night before Thanksgiving, so when we woke up, it was turkey time. Evangeline, unfortunately, had a very disrupted car ride due to the trip so she woke up around 5am… my dad was up, too. We watched television and talked; Evangeline actually went back to bed and then dad started cooking. All-in-all, it was a pretty good Thanksgiving with only minimal drama. My dad’s wife’s daughter came over… and that was weird. Sigh.

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Evangeline really enjoyed spending time with my dad. It was nice to get a lot of alone time with him where he had the ability to just interact with Evangeline and not worry or be interrupted by anyone else. I’m definitely glad we went up!

We went out on Black Friday and had lunch. We did a little shopping… and dad even picked out boots for Evangeline, which was hilarious. She really loves those boots, too. When we finished, Evangeline had a nap and then it was off to see my other family members.

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We did Evangeline’s birthday and Christmas with everyone up there on Friday since we wouldn’t be back any time soon. Evangeline got a ton of stuff! We spent several hours with my grandparents and my mother, where they watched her open up her gifts. The atmosphere has definitely changed and when I sit in that room and remember how it used to be, it’s painful… but I also remember that it was kind of a lie. It’s better now, even if it’s different. We stopped by again so they could see her some more early Saturday before her nap.

I was pleasantly surprised that there was very little drama and my family seems to have taken a huge step back. It’s about time. I felt in control of the situation and things were definitely more on my terms this time.

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I got to see my cousin a bit after Evangeline’s nap on Saturday. She played with my cousin’s kids and we just kind of hung out. It was nice. Things aren’t the same as they used to be and they never will be; I left. Nothing can be the same now. But that’s okay, as I’m much happier than I ever would have been had I stayed. I no longer question my choice.

All-in-all it was a pretty good visit. It wasn’t great when my dad’s wife returned, but that’s fine. It took us forever to get the cigarette smoke out of our clothes/etc, though… which was just awful. Dad said he was going to try and visit, but we’ll see.

Two Years Old

Two Years Old

img_6102My sweet baby girl is officially two-years-old! We had a pretty low-key day on Saturday (our actual birthday)–we had to move her party to Sunday so father-in-law could attend. He was able to get out of work early enough to go out to dinner, which was nice! Evangeline and I shared a piece of tasty cake and we all had a nice evening. The in-laws bought me a cute pair of earrings and gave me a $50 giftcard to Ulta, which is pretty awesome. They don’t typically do presents, so I was pretty surprised!

For Evangeline’s birthday, we didn’t go all out. It was just a very small gathering with some Elsa-themed decorations. I had her cake made by a local bakery which I picked up the Friday we returned home… it was a cute little cake and quite delicious, too!

I’m not hugely great with parties and my birthday has always been a pretty dismal time, so I am trying my best to make every birthday for Evangeline special, even if it’s not a huge affair. Intimate, family gatherings can be nice, too!

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I was so happy when Evangeline woke up from her nap and saw all of the decorations in the kitchen! She stepped into the room and just stopped and stared. Her little voice said: “Oooh, woooow…” it was too precious. The in-laws had inflated the balloons and then come to the house shortly before she woke up. I couldn’t have timed it better. Even more surprising was the fact that they didn’t just bring the one gift that I had hand-picked and told them to get (they requested this, I am not a control-freak) but others they had picked out themselves!

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Evangeline actually blew out her candles! I had to re-light them and take photos again because my camera wasn’t being cooperative and even so, ended up with sub-par photos… sigh. All my own fault, of course. If I hadn’t been an idiot and drained our bank account, I’d have my camera and we wouldn’t be having financial issues right now but I digress…

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She opened presents with a little help from grandpa. He would rip a tiny part of the present and then Evangeline would feel confident finishing it off. Without that, she’d just hold it up helplessly and say, “help, help.” It’s so cute and helpful that she can vocalize these things now.

We didn’t go overly crazy with birthday presents. She got a big present, some books, and two little presents along with some character sweaters she’d love. The Elsa outfit she wore I had bought at the Disney store months before. I’d forgotten how freaking cute it is. I can’t wait for her to wear it again!

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She had a piece of cake that she didn’t finish, because she’s her father’s daughter and isn’t terribly into typical sweets. The cake was freaking delicious, though. The blue icing also wasn’t messy at all. It didn’t stain or show on your lips or teeth. I seriously love that bakery. They custom-mixed the color to match Elsa!

I’m so happy and thankful that her birthday went off without a hitch for another year. She had a great time playing with her grandma and grandpa; we even went out for pizza for dinner, which she absolutely loves! I just can’t get over the fact that she’s two now… I cleaned out her closet, packing up all my breastfeeding things, the bottles, and her baby items. That was rough. Even though I’m just packing them away right now, there’s a very really possibility I will never use these things again and even worse, that time with her is forever over. Ugh. Right through the heart.

Fall Visit to Tampa!

Fall Visit to Tampa!

img_5205We headed off to Tampa, FL for our second-ever visit to my family that lives down there. Last time, it was a pretty quick visit cut somewhat short by our horrendous travel issues. This time, we were going for an entire week! Luckily, everything went great with the plane and we arrived just before lunch. My aunt picked us up, took us to Cuban, and then we headed to the house where we spent the evening chilling out and just settling in.

Saturday we went shopping at the outlets. We went to a different one this time and it was a lot nicer, but the stores were smaller. I snagged a really nice purse for $50. I’m sad that my Fossil purse is pretty much dead, but it’s been through a lot and I’ve been using it sans a zipper since Key West. Birds or not, it’s time to call it quits on the purse. We picked up some stuff for Evangeline and since they had a LOFT outlet there, I grabbed some tops. I’m still looking for pants that fit…

Sunday, we spent the first part hanging out at the house and then the second part at this amazing beach in St. Pete! We went there last time, too… when Evangeline had the flu and was running a fever, but we had no idea she was actually sick. This time, she loved it! She ran around yelling “beach!” “sand!” and kept throwing sand all over the place. We finally got her in the water, too. It was awesome to watch her goofing around and just having a blast.

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Monday was our trip to the aquarium in downtown Tampa with my dad’s dad. We had a lot of fun. Evangeline immediately started calling out “fish!” and pointing at all of the cool fish. They had some super cute otters, there, too. We barely got to see the penguin they had out for some sort of talk they were doing. Someday, I will get to see penguins…

When we got back from the aquarium, we hung out at the house. It was really nice having plenty of time to see everyone and just sort of have moments where we weren’t constantly going.

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Tuesday was one of the most exciting days of all! It was Evangeline (and my) first time at Disney. We went to the Magic Kingdom and she had an absolute blast. She danced at almost all of the street parties, she met Ariel, she went on a couple of rides, bought some cool stuff, and even got to see parts of the Christmas program that included Elsa and a second one that had her changing Cinderella’s Castle to ice! That part was super impressive. Unfortunately, my aunt had no idea they had started the Christmas stuff, so we didn’t have tickets to Mickey’s Christmas Party which meant we had to leave at 7 since the park closes early for it. We had zero meltdowns all day despite being there from around 10-7!
img_5883Wednesday was another pretty calm day. We hung out during the morning and then we headed out to do some local shopping with Gigi, my dad’s dad’s wife. It was nice to see some local places and for Evangeline to get that time to spend with her. Evangeline loves shopping and if you mention it to her, she will run and get her shoes! It’s hilarious. Unfortunately, she wasn’t in the best of moods but there was a carousel in the mall which made everything better.

On Thursday we had one mission–see Elsa. We went super early and despite getting there only a little after 9am–when the park opens!–we still had to wait in line almost an hour and a half. Unfortunately, we should have just gone on the ride first because while the wait to see Elsa will eventually go down, the one for the ride never does once it goes up. Sigh! So Evangeline didn’t get to see that, but she did get to meet Elsa and Anna and she loved it! She just kept hugging Elsa. It was too sweet.

The rest of the day was spent sampling food from the Wine and Food Festival, which wasa lot more fun for the husband and me than it was for Evangeline. We only had one snag, where my aunt threw a fit because I don’t like French food and she apparently had this huge deal planned around French food. I kept asking the husband why he allowed it to happen, since it was ‘involved’ in the planning… to which he replied, “she said it was for dessert, not food!” sigh.img_5815

Either way, we had an amazing trip. It was a lot of fun. I’m so glad Evangeline is able to experience all of these new things and that she’s getting to know family that I never did. She’s grown so much in the past week; she’s describing things, speaking in sentences, and her language development has just shot forward so far. I know she’s approaching two, but it’s still just an amazing thing to witness.

We’re doing her birthday party on Sunday, so that her grandfather can be there. It won’t be the small ‘big deal’ last year’s was, but I still hope she enjoys it.