This blog post has been a long while in the making. My family had a reunion back in September, which took us to Florida, and we had a blast, as the following documentation will attest. Buckle your seat belts, folks, there is a lot to get through!
Florida beaches are the best. This was Bug's first time in the ocean, and we had to drag her away every time we went.
No swimsuit? No problem.
Three-year olds can get away with anything...
We paid a visit to a private Chihuly collection, and it was gorgeous. It would be so fun to take a glass-blowing class! One of these years...
I might have gone a little camera crazy inside the gallery. I couldn't help myself.
One of the highlights of the trip was seeing Bug bond with my siblings. She had a blast with everyone in turn, and pool time with Scott was especially fun.
She will always be a free spirit. It's a hard line with Bug sometimes. We firmly believe in disciplining her, but at the same time, I sometimes worry that if we push too hard or stand too firm, she's going to lose some of her vibrant, fiery passion for life, which would be completely devastating. Some days we rock at the parent thing, other days we fail abominably, but the best part is, Bug always forgives us. I never fully grasped the mantra "become like a child" until I had a kid and could see on a regular basis how innocent, pure, forgiving, and loving they are even when their parents may not deserve those things.
Wow. Random tangent. Moving right along...
Next stop: DISNEY WORLD! This trip to Florida has been in the works for 2.5 years, which means that I've been looking forward to taking Bug to Disney World for that same amount of time. Kids and Disney World requires many adults to pull it off, and I'm so grateful my parents are basically the best grandparents around and did so much to help us make this the best experience possible for Ainsley.
Disney knows what they're doing. How do you keep hundreds of toddlers entertained while they stand in ridiculously long lines? You provide entertainment while they wait. This was an activity to keep the kiddos entertained on the.....can you guess?......Winnie the Pooh ride!
I didn't put up the pictures, but Bug was especially excited to meet Rapunzel. Cinderella was just a bonus. Ha! It was fun to see Bug get totally shy when she got to meet these two princesses. Never thought I see the day when Bug had no words...
Teacups with Scott and Natalia. Not going to lie - Natalia was Bug's favorite person this trip, and this was the first time they met each other (this Florida trip, that is). She calls her "Italia" and they had a blast together.
Sometimes she had to share Natalia with Scott, but it usually worked out in her favor.
Mickey and Minnie sightings during one of the parades
Here's looking at you, kid!
She was truly in heaven when we got to Rapunzel's tower. She is obsessed with Rapunzel right now, and she loved seeing the "floating lanterns." Stayed tuned for our Halloween get-ups this year. Only the love of a mother for a persistent three-year old daughter could get me to dress up as Mother Gothel, who is, hands down, the WORST Disney villain of all time. She is pure evil and so, for the first time in my life, I'm dreading Halloween. Steve has graciously agreed to be Flynn Rider, Bug is going to be Rapunzel, and Beck is going to be Pascal. Pretty excited about that last one.
Bug and the Mister with the floating lanterns
Steve snapped this picture during our boat ride through "It's a Small World." We still miss Scotland, but we find ways to bring back pieces of that grand adventure pretty regularly.
This was probably the fifth or sixth round of the carousel. She rode it multiple times during the day, but this was just before we finally called it a day and she was pretty exhausted at this point.
Beck spent most of the day sweating in his stroller, but we pulled him out to make sure there was some photographic evidence that he was actually here.
Saying goodbye to Mickey and crew at the last show we saw on our way out.
Back to the beach! Beck actually enjoyed himself once we decided to take him in.
Our cute little crab
A view of the shoreline
Beck has been around for 2.5 months now, and this picture was the second one we have of all four of us. Thanks, Mom! Pretty awesome photo skills to capture the bird in there, if I do say so myself.
Onesie turned swimsuit. Nice.
We're rockstar parents.
My dad found a shark. I'm not even kidding. He found it on the beach and it provided endless entertainment for the Irvine crew.
This takes me back to Lake Powell when we'd spend a week each summer on Starry Night (our old houseboat) and instead of sharks, we played with rats. Gross, yes, but true nonetheless. Good to pass on these traditions to the next generation. Truth be told, I prefer sharks to rats.
Tell me this isn't funny....I dare you.
This trip was part-reunion, part-celebration for my mom, who retired after a lifelong career of being the world's best medical technologist and keeping the major blood banks in the Salt Lake valley running smoothly. We surprised her one night with a little party in her honor, which consisted of cheesecake factory cheesecakes and FITZero.
My mom is my greatest example. If anyone deserves a party to celebrate a lifetime of hard work and dedication, it is her. And party we did.
Next stop: Universal Studios to visit the land of Dr. Seuss, as well as the wizarding world of
See what I mean? She'll share them, but only if they'll swing her on command.
One of the coolest merry-go-rounds I've ever seen.
She loves this book, and the watery ride was perfect on a super hot day!
She went on it multiple times and was soaked by the time all was said and done.
Cat in the Hat!
I saw it happen on Mulberry Street
All aboard! We almost got the whole family in a picture, but alas, Steve and Beck aren't pictured (we're still not sure how that happened). The rest of the gang with the Hogwarts Express.
Wandering the streets of Hogsmeade village. It was so fun to see how they recreated the shops and the atmosphere Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley. We all had a blast.
And who wouldn't when Butterbeer is involved?!?
Welcome to Diagon Alley!
Gringott's Bank, and a whole slew of other shops.
A peaceful scene greeted us each morning.
Poolside shenanigans with a super soaker.
We took Bug mini-golfing for the first time, and here is what we learned.
1) Bug cheats
That's pretty much it. Bug moves any ball she wants, wherever she wants, whenever she wants, and she'll decide that hers is the red ball on one hole, but the purple or green ball on the next hole. The rest of us had to be on top of our game to not only get the ball in the hole, but keep track of disappearing balls and switching balls all at the same time.
It was extreme mini-golf, if you will.
Plus, she has enough attention span to last one hole. We played eighteen.
This is how we found her halfway through our game.
One cool feature of the course was getting to feed alligators.
They weren't little baby alligators, either. There were probably nine or ten gators chomping at the bit for the food we purchased to feed to them.
I was particularly proud of this shot.
I was feeding these gators, Steve was the photographer at this point. I wanted to get them out of the water so I dangled the food mercilessly in front of them until they came out of the water to fetch it.
Back to the beach! She would've spent all day every day here if we'd let her.
Some photo fun with water, reflections, and silhouettes.
We finally convinced her that she needed to be buried to have the full beach experience.
So we gave her a mermaid tail and called it a day.
And there is a small glimpse of our fabulous trip. Pretty sure we have a thousand photos from this particular adventure, but we tried to pick out a few highlights to share. The photos can't come close to capturing the amount of fun we had with family, but we made awesome memories and the photos bring it all back whenever we see them.
Until next time, Florida.