Doo-dee-doo. Don't mind me. I've just been a bad blogger again and sort of dropped off the face of the earth for a bit, no? Let's skip the explanation (there is none) and apologies and get caught up, shall we?

So our family embarked on a very special journey last week. It was our first official family vacation and actually, the first 'real' vacation of any kind since Nate and I celebrated our first anniversary in San Diego back in 2008. Sickening. MUST make this whole 'real' vacation thing a habit somehow because it was mind-blowing-awesome.

I'm sure I could make the report about our trip very elaborate, taking up about 3 separate posts, with all sorts of details. But I'm not really feeling that type of thing right now, so I whittled down the 630 pictures I took from the trip down into about 35 pictures here. It sort of hurt my brain to choose the cream of the crop pictures, by the way. I'll also include some text and funny stories and tips on traveling with a toddler, too, just to go above and beyond a picture dump. Aren't you proud of me? :)

The deets: we flew out of Milwaukee on Wednesday, August 17 and returned home on Sunday, August 21, so that was 4 nights and 5 days away from home. We went to Fort Myers, Florida, and stayed at The Pink Shell Resort with our buddies, The Millers. They have an adorable child I've mentioned many times on this blog named Tilly and seriously, she and Truman together are almost too much cuteness for my heart to handle. At just 3.5 months his elder, Tilly really did capture Truman's heart because he is still talking about 'Til-Til' and requesting to see pictures of the 'poo', which of course means 'pool'. Is there anything better than two adorable children, with four fun adults, playing in the sun/sand/pool without a care in the world? Well, besides trying to get said toddlers to sleep in foreign and weird cribs in a totally different environment---that put a damper on the whole 'carefree' thing.

We arrived to the resort before the Millers and we just HAD to check out the pool immediately! This is one of the three pools, and possibly Truman's favorite. Zero entry, tons of fountains, and made of salt water. Amazing.

Um, the fake palm trees even sprouted water. In heaven. And trying really hard to be in SOME pictures during this trip since I'm normally so bad at remembering to step in front of the lens.

Our little beach bum. All grown up and loving the life in Florida.

My boys.

We packed a cheap pair of water wings with us but were skeptical they would work, since they are for kids over 3 years old. But seriously, these things are both adorable and totally helpful in keeping a heavy toddler a float in water that isn't zero entry.

On vacation = lots of ice cream. This is my new favorite Truman picture of all times. And yes, I know that is a bold statement.

Thursday morning, the children discovered the sliding doors to our balcony. And also, note the fun pajamas by both.

The dads went off to golf (surprise) so Hannah and I were on baby duty. We hit the beach and then pools over, and over again from about 8 am until 11 am. Then it was time for lunch and naps. Really, this morning routine was super easy and amazing and I miss it already. Why can't we always spend our mornings on the beach and at the pool??

Strutting his northern stuff.

Tilly became enthralled with putting sand on Truman's hat. He didn't seem to mind.

That afternoon after the men came home, we all went to Sanibel island to explore another beach.

There were a ridiculous amount of shells here, so many that it was almost painful to walk out into the ocean on them. But also beautiful.

Why does my little man look like a red head here? And also, how is it possible to get a tan when I slathered on SPF 55 multiple times per day on that precious skin?

Let's discuss the fact that Truman is 100% boy and would be happy if we allowed him to throw sand, shells, and all beach toys 24 hours per day. This is him telling me that 'MOM THIS IS SO AWESOME, WATCH ME THROW THIS SAND!!' before he let a handful go.

I remembered to get one of our whole family, too. Proud of myself. Also, I tan easily. My husband does not. End of story.

Thursday evening was the night the Millers made dinner for us all (we had a full kitchen in our two bedroom condo---highly recommended!). The children were particularly adorable out on the main balcony while dinner was being created. Also, I love evening light near the beach.

And then it was Friday morning! Truman pulled his usual 'let's wake up before the sun rises' stunt in Florida, but honestly----being up before sunrise when you can watch the sky turn colors over the ocean is WAY better than in Wisconsin. And this image of my boys eating breakfast and chatting in the wee hours of the morning makes me happy.

See? Sunrises are awesome.

Tilly is up and I force them to sit next to each other for a shot. Obviously they are thrilled.

The men went off to golf yet again, so Hannah and I did our new fave routine of beach/pool/lunch/naps. I wanted at least one sand-writing shot. This one fit the bill.

Oh and my little stud with rolled up pant legs, because this suit is impossibly long. He could totally pull off the man-pris but I prefer that he doesn't:)

Snack break with goldfish crackers. Did I mention that snack foods were god-sends during this entire trip?

I noticed this fun sign by the pool, leading to the beach. Please note the yellow sign, second from the bottom. We are a long way from home, no? Also, as noted on Facebook when I posted this picture, pay no mind to the fact they spelled Cincinnati incorrectly. Whoops!

Friday afternoon, when the dads were back and kids had napped, we all went to the pool for some family/friend fun. Except the wives requested that the husbands man the parenting detail while we enjoyed some 'us' time lounging in the sun. As expected, that lasted about .2 seconds as we followed the kids/husbands around and snapped pictures. This is my second favorite shot of the whole trip. Pure happiness.

And after a little family walk on the beach, I remembered to step in front of the camera again instead of behind it. Truman is very excited.

And Tilly is seriously the most hilarious toddler ever. She loved sunglasses and T's water wings. Very intense, this one.

After that, it was our turn to make dinner and the babes had to show off their bods a bit in just diapers. I just can't help myself---blackmail pictures, yes. Adorable? Double yes.

After dinner we went to the nearby pier and got ice cream, then walked around a bit. Truman was on a sugar high at this point, and I just love this shot of him and his daddy. Again, the evening light here is divine.


Note to self: since makeup is not really allowed on vacation, at least try to keep your hair from being totally wind-blown to avoid the crazy mommy look. But whatever, this is a cute picture anyway. Even though my jaw is basically dislocated here from Truman's body.

Sunset at the ocean is also magical, just like sunrise.

Saturday--our last full day together---the men decided to skip golf and hang with us all morning. Very good decision, if you ask me. They would have missed this adorable moment when both Tilly and Truman wanted to get up on the beach chairs. And of course, I scrambled to get my camera for this shot---oh so worth it, right?

That night we all went out to dinner and it was yummy and quite entertaining, with the children. For instance, Truman was very pleased with his appetizer of goldfish and wanted to show it off to all of his new-found girlfriends: the teenage waitresses.

And the only one of our whole crew. Don't we look vacation'd?

Sunday morning, waiting to go home at the airport. My men looking handsome as always.

And please note Truman's arm tan lines. And the gut. That is still there, for sure.

As far as the actual traveling part went, here is the scoop: one of my requirements for this trip was to find a location that would allow a direct flight down. After my last escapade with a 12 month-old Truman (hint if you aren't clicking the link or remembering the drama---it involved massive amounts of poop and an impossibly small airplane bathroom. And a lot of sweat), I knew that I could not mentally tolerate a layover of any kind. The less time in the air, with the least amount of stops the better, really. So a flight from Milwaukee into Fort Myers takes approximately 3 hours and although this was Truman's fifth round trip by plane, it was certainly the longest by far. I sort of freaked out while packing because I seriously could not comprehend how I was to entertain a 17 month old in a confined space for 3 whole hours. Also, I had images of those tiny bathrooms flash before my eyes and shudder at the thought.

My biggest advice for flying with a toddler (which is a million times different and likely harder than flights with kids under one year) is come with an endless bag of goodies. I had all sorts of fun snacks stashed away, plus a whole sippy of milk (no issues with security this time, unlike the many times I brought breast milk and fretted over the idea of needing to dump it out). Also, I went out and bought about 4 brand new Elmo books for Truman's delight mid-flight, and didn't reveal them before we were in the air for added excitement. We even bit the bullet and purchased a portable DVD player after much debate, and also bought about 4 DVDs (Elmo included, of course, and Nate picked Blue's Clues---not really sure why?). This DVD player can also be used in the car for future road trips, so that pretty much sold me on it's worth in our lives. And overall, both flights were fine with these tools for entertainment. On the trip home he was incredibly overtired and had simply had enough by the time we were descending, plus he refused to drink his milk so I'm sure his ears were killing him. We all survived just fine but let's just say I still don't anticipate us flying with Truman every month or anything crazy like that.

We also brought our own car seat, since our Sunshine Kids version does fold down and has a carrying bag. We used a tiny umbrella stroller for Truman in the airport and of course Nate had to bring his golf clubs. So if you are keeping track, not even including actual luggage we already had a heap of crap to lug around with us. Somehow we managed to each bring one 'small' carry on bag jammed with our clothes and all of Truman's gear, and then we each had a small personal bag to carry on as well. Mine was the diaper bag of goodies, of course, and basically we didn't have to pay to check anything except the golf clubs since car seats and strollers are gate checked for free. SCORE!

Oh, and we got our own rental car and installed our car seat in there for Truman, and the Millers also got their own car, too. The whole process of landing from the plane, getting luggage, finding the rental car, installing the seat, and driving to the resort seemed to take forever but it was still our best bet instead of doing a cab or something. Plus it was really nice to have cars there so we could explore the area a little bit and the boys could golf.

And there you have it---our first real vacation as a family. I hope we make this an annual event because it was much needed and completely worth all of the time we spent planning and prepping for it.


  1. That sounds fabulous! We actually just took our first vacation as a family of 3, and spent 5 days with my brother, his girlfriend, and my sister down at the beach in NC. My aunt and uncle live down there and had us all stay with them - we had a fantastic time!! And even with SPF 60 slashed on, my little water baby ended up with some tan lines. Yikes... hoping they fade sooner rather than later! Truman looks like he had a great time at the beach, and Sanibel Island is just beautiful. Yey for vacations :-)

  2. What a fantastic vacation. Love your pictures! Truman and Tilly are so adorable together. Isn't it amazing how a vacation can re-energize you?

  3. He picked Blue Clues because it's awesome! :) We love Blue. and Steve. Some days.

    Yes, he does have red hair in that pic a little bit (and your hubs did too at one time -- I remember it) :) Glad that the plane ride went so well. Gives me hope that some day, I will survive a plane ride to Disney with two.

    And you look great! I wish I could tan even half as much.

    I also love the "WTF" expression on T's face when Tilly is trying to put sand on his hat -- priceless.

  4. This reminds me so much of our Mexico trip - down to the fact that I chose it because it's a direct flight, and Mia is 4 months older than Annie. Ooh, that trip was so much fun and I'm sad that we probably won't be able to do anything QUITE that big for a few years. We will have to figure out a way to still travel, but the thought of actually paying for a plane ticket for Annie makes my stomach hurt. (even more so than it already does) At least we have quite a few options within a drive, even if they are on a lake and not on the beautiful ocean - luckily, kids don't mind :)

    Glad the flights went okay too - your flight back also sounds like ours - Annie was just DONE... and so were we!

    Oh, I'm also so glad you decided to rock the bikini. Seriously, I'd never stop wearing a bikini if I were you - you look awesome! Sadly, I'm more of the pasty white variety of your husband, and no one needs to see that much skin on me at this moment.

  5. I am flabbergasted everytime I see pictures of little toddlers wearing a hat because my toddler? Oh hell NO! He hasn't worn a hat for more than 3.5 seconds since he was about 8 months old. Just rips those suckers right off. Anyway, jealous of your little man's cute hat wardrobe. ;)

    Looks like an amazing vacation, and I am totally thumbs up to you for just going for it with the whole toddler travel thing. I always said I would travel with my children and all that and now with a two year old and another on the way, we still haven't gone anywhere as a family further than about 3 hours by car. LAME! Props to you!

  6. Looks like an awesome trip! Tilly and Truman are adorable together. Love all the pics!

  7. LOVE LOVE LOVE the ice cream cone picture. Totally a new fav of mine, too! Looks like you had a fabulous time :) Well deserved.

  8. That was a much needed vacation and it looks as though you all had a blast. So glad the kiddies enjoyed themselves too.

    Gah, reading about the traveling portion of your trip makes me so stinkin' nervous. We're planning to head down to Florida in February with a 21 month old and a 4 month old and I seriously believe we may have lost our minds. I can't fathom all those carseats and strollers and entertaining this crazy toddler of mine for 3 hours! Until then, I'm not giving it a thought. Ignorance is bliss :)

    Welcome home, Julia and fam.

  9. Great pics. Looks like you had a fab time. We are off to Marco Island and Naples through RSW in a couple of weeks. 12 days of vacay, CAN NOT WAIT! I'll be reading your post on babies first flight before going. Maddie has flown a couple of times but it can't hurt to brush up on your killer blog! Love it as a resource! Take care, hope you are well.

  10. I'm so glad you had a really great family vacation! The beach sounds divine right about now. Truman looks like he gets along fine in Florida and with the girls ;)

    Also, I am jealous of how easily you tan. I'm practically a vampire.

  11. Awww...just found your blog and how amazing are you family vacation pictures!

  12. LOVE the pics! The ice cream one is priceless. A boy after my own heart :-)

    Glad you had a fabulous time on vacation!

  13. That sounds awesome! It sounds like you guys had a totally relaxing time--which is the BEST for vacations in my humble opinion!


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