I'm more than half way through my time here in Gainesville, FL. 5 weeks exactly...but who is counting. Perfect timing for my awesome Aunt Cindy to come for a visit. Cindy works for Delta Airlines, and has been a great inspiration in all things travel. She and I have had many adventures together, we are great travel buddies.
In the past it has been just her and I. We love to explore nature, spend time in the city, have some nights out on the town enjoying local beers, and of course bring on all the food. I am so glad she was able to make it down to Florida!
Last Friday I headed to the airport to pick up Cindy and her two beautiful and energetic daughters. It was a fun, busy, and yes....crazy. (but not the kind of crazy I have experienced with Cindy in Vegas, England, or South Africa...with kids, it's a whole new kind of crazy!)
We had plans to do so many things! They were flying on buddy passes, and didn't make it to Gainesville until after 8 pm. The girls were delirious at this point....after a long travel day, that's just human. But the delirium seems to especially effect 2 and 5 year old girls!
Everyone was starving! We headed to pick up the top rated Thai food in the city, Bangkok square. We ordered one of everything...well, at least it seemed like it. Then we headed to publix, because the Baker girls NEEEDDD their MILK! (we all know, milk does NOT occupy space in my fridge).
They love milk! In 2.5 days these girls...mostly Izzy...consumed almost a gallon of milk!
To each their own :)
Our thai food was delicious, I loved the green curry. It was filled with tons of veggies, and it tasted extra thick and creamy in comparison to other green curries I have had. Cindy ordered some coconut, chicken, and mushroom soup, it was also amazing.
The pad thai was mediocre, and the spring rolls and crab Rangoon were edible. I would totally go back just for the green curry though! Abby and Izzy ate 3 tiny bites each . Of course they were full, but 20 minutes later really needed a snack!
Lesson # 1: All children...not just Julius...do not actually eat their food...even if they act really hungry and excited to eat when you order it. So..never order what they want unless you plan on eating it yourself.
Exception to rule: McDonald's- kids love that sh*t!
Since we didn't get to sleep until after midnight, getting everyone up and out the door by 0930..was impossible! I don't like mornings...so I wasn't much of a motivator to get everyone up. Julius had a baseball game at 11:00 and it is a 1hr 38min drive (according to google) to the park in Jacksonville. Thus..we needed to leave by at least 09:30 to get their 8 minutes late! haha..which is pretty much on time, right?
Lesson #2: You think your leaving...but your not...because somehow the 2 yr old's shoes are off already, or the 5 yr old saw a cat she had to chase around the parking lot.
We didn't actually get in the car until 10:14! I don't know why I remember that time...haha.
The car drive was long, but we made it, with only one major meltdown. Izzy needed Cindy's phone, but so did Abby...and then no one could have it.
Lesson #3 Unless you have a screen for all children to stare into with amazement....don't even get out your own phone/tablet/screen, because they will go crazy until they get it!
Julius' baseball game was fun. His team lost, but Julius didn't care. Abby had some wise words, "as long as you have fun, it doesn't matter if you win." Julius completely agreed, but seemed unsure if he actually had fun or not. haha.
Time to drive to the beach, because that was part of the plan! Julius' game wasn't over until almost 2:00. We were all getting hangry! We needed food asap. But we also didn't want to drive thru, because we wanted something different...
by WE, I mean..Cindy and I. Obviously the kids were saying they wanted McDonald's. (See Lesson #1)
After, what felt like years, in traffic to the beach on a Saturday afternoon, we finally found a parking spot. For some reason, Julius took FOREVER, to change from his baseball uniform to his bathing suit. (see Lesson #2) I thought we were ready to go, so many times, but somehow, we spent over a half an hour standing around the car! Then we walked to the first kid friendly place to eat on boardwalk. The walk down the boardwalk, we seemed to come upon every possible thing to slow us down. A plastic rock that the kids needed to climb on, bugs that Izzy had to stop and kill, and a parrot sitting on someones arm. SERIOUSLY, I just wanted food!
We sat outside and ordered asap. Then instead of getting food. We were getting eaten by gnats. There were millions of tiny bugs that wouldn't stay away! This increased my aggravation, as I was still hangry! The kids couldn't sit still, and because Cindy and I literally had no energy to wrangle the children into their seats, we just let them run around the boardwalk. --before you judge--we were standing there with them to avoid sitting and be eaten by gnats.
The hostess moved us inside the restaurant and our food finally came. I ate my blackened mahi-mahi with sweet potato fries in 2.5 seconds. The kids...ate 3 tiny bites, and then went back to wanting to run around. I ate some of Julius really delicious chicken tenders, because I didn't want them to be completely wasted. (see Lesson #1, again) They all undoubtedly needed a snack when we got back to the car.
YEARS LATER...we made it to the beach. We really did have a blast! Julius never wants to go. He says " Do we haaavvee to go to the beach? Can't we just stay home and watch youtube?" Then when we are there....." I don't want to leeaaave!!"
I had to bribe them with the promise of ice cream, to get them to help us pack up and leave the beach!
Lesson #4: The promise of ice cream, or ice cream like foods (frozen yogurt/Popsicles) can get children to do almost anything.
The drive home was epically long, and the GPS decided to take a kooky way back to Gainesville, that I didn't know...at all. It was country/back roads with no gas stations in sight. I had to pull over. Julius and Abby could only focus on the fact that I had promised Ice cream. But I was freaking out because I thought we were going to run out of gas!
Luckily, a nice local pulled over next to us and asked if we needed help. He directed us to the closest gas station, where we obtained the vital gas, and ICE CREAM!
We didn't get back until almost 9 pm! Kids could not settle down, we ordered pizza and had planned to watch The Good Dinosaur. Before the movie even started the kids were running around playing hide and seek.
We watched 30-45 min of the movie, and then they were up playing hide and seek again. Izzy is so stinking cute when she counts...I just loved watching them play. Cindy was exhausted and I'm thinking she fell asleep on the couch. I don't think we actually went to sleep until 1am!
We had PLANS to do something fun outside in Gainesville. It was an accomplishment to get the kids out the door by 11ish? We had a really fun day! It started at the Natural History Museum. The butterfly exhibit was delightful! It was magical to have all those butterflies flying around in one contained area.
When we left the museum, it was time for lunch. The kids had a sit down protest, which resulted in them getting Mcdonald's. Cindy and I attempted to have good food though after we hit the drive thru. We went to Zoe's Kitchen. It's basically a Mediterranean Panera. They offer loads of salads, hummus options, and something called a Piadina. YUM!
With the promise of frozen yogurt (see lesson #4), the kidos stayed seated while eating their McDonald's. Cindy and I were able to genuinely enjoy our meal. Without being interrupted by the usual "are you done?, when are we leaving? YOU are STILL eating?" commentary associated with meal times. They actually stayed seated after they were finished eating, too! Except Izzy...but she gets a pass, because she is 2, and just too cute!
After fro-yo, we went to the park!
Could this day get any more fun filled?
Apparently so...because after the kindle came out, (see lesson #3) the girls both freaked out....and NEEDED to have it! Julius actually didn't care, because he gets car sick when he looks at screens too long. - blessing- I think so :)
Abby at one point said "this is the worst day ever!" and cried like someone died, because Cindy took the kindle away.
We had one more thing planned. I was getting tired, and didn't think we would all make it. I am so glad we did. We went to the bat houses on University of Florida's campus. Where you can see thousands of bats fly out of their houses, just after the sun sets. This is one of the most amazing experiences of my life. Making this memory with Julius, Abby, Izzy, and Cindy will be something I will always think of and smile. The sunset, the wild flowers, the open sky, the clouds, and the vibe (no melt downs, everyone was happy), is an experience of a lifetime.
I don't have pictures of the actual bats flying over our heads, but even if I did...they wouldn't do this event justice. If you have the opportunity to see it in person..DO IT!
I thought this was an amazing day! I had loads of fun! We headed back to my apartment to make spaghetti for dinner. We didn't want to try and eat out again. The chances of two well behaved meals out in one day...not good.
The kids played hide and seek. We watched the Minions movie. We landed in bed by midnight?! We had to be up by 530am? Ahh!! We did it..But the kids didn't like it!
Well, I didn't either...but I guess I can't get away with this-pictured below- because I guess I am an adult.
Lesson # 5: If you can pick your child up while they are sleeping, you can actually get to places on time.
(luckily I can can still carry Julius..at least half way through the parking lot..and he wasn't tired enough to fall back asleep on concrete.)
After our early morning trip to the airport, Julius was awake in the car for a bit. I asked him what he thought about the weekend. He said "well, I got pushed into a prickle bush, after that Abby laughed at me. I was poked in the eye by Izzy, and I got a scrape on my knee at the park."
Lesson # 6: You can try your best to make wonderful and happy memories with kids, but what they remember most is--- when they didn't have their turn with the kindle, the scrape they got at the park (that didn't even bleed) or when you made them go to bed when they weren't ready. OH well! I tried!
I had a great time! Thanks for visiting, Cindy, Abby, and Izzy!
Julius and I miss you already!
This girl loves her BABA!!