Monday, December 29, 2014

Trip to Florida: Days 5 & 6

Day 5

After our relaxing Sunday, we were ready for another busy day. This time at the Everglades.

We first walked on a board walk to see the more swampy part of the everglades. Madeleine was very excited, and kept stopping to show and explain things to Sophie.

Then we went on a walk through the Everglades. We didn't see any alligators, but when they are out they are less than a few feet from you. It was still beautiful and really quiet. We all loved it for different reasons. Madeleine loved running. Matt liked the trees and I liked just being there.

Playing in the sand was also a lot of fun apparently. It looked a lot like zen art.

We left a bit for lunch, but made it back for sunset.

Madeleine ran up and down the path while Matt and I watch the sunset.

It was pretty perfect.

Our day actually didn't end there. We went to an old family friend's home for a huge Christmas party. It was a blast, and I loved catching up with old friends! We were too busy hanging out and eating to take photos, which is kind of sad since it was amazing.

Day 6
Last day.

We drove up to Orlando again early in the morning. We stopped for breakfast and the sunrise at the same place we ate that farmer's market on Day 3. I love this city of Fort Pierce! We took a bit of a scenic route to get there and Matt and I enjoyed every minute of it. We got there right at sunrise. There was a group of very elderly ladies singing Christmas carols and giggling between the songs. Right in front of our car, this group of pelicans were hanging out. They didn't move even when we were about two feet away from them! 

It was totally worth stopping just for this photo.

We didn't stay long after sunrise. We jumped in the car and went back to Universal Studios for our last day. It was so much busier than the days that we had gone before, so we stuck to watching shows and doing activities that Madeleine could do.

Ball blaster

Dr. Suess ride
We left shortly after lunch and headed back to Downtown Disney for food.

Madeleine got to ride the choo choo one last time.

And then we went to the hotel and left the next morning on Christmas Eve. We had perfect weather the whole time we were in Florida, but as we left it started raining.

We got home just time for an awesome Christmas.

Trip to Florida: 3 and 4

Day 3

I woke up at 5:30 and threw everyone in the car so we could start our next adventure. I really wanted to go a farmer's market and I had finally found one that was two hours into our trip to South Florida. Similarly to Downtown Disney, this was a wonderful accidentally find! This little town was beautiful!

We got breakfast and a some fruit there. It was so yummy, and I was thrilled to see that breakfast was served with hot sauce that was actually hot. I miss real hot food in New Jersey.  

I wish we lived near this farmer's market! After a while, we piled up in the car for the last hour drive to Boca Raton (I lived there as a kid). We headed straight to the beach. It was heavenly. Matt thought I was strange because on our honeymoon I loved the California beaches but I refused to get in the water. When I stepped back in the Boca beach water, I immediately remembered why. In December the water was 74 degrees. It was clear blue and when I got out of the water I didn't freeze to death. That's how the ocean ought to be. :D Madeleine still hates getting in the water, so we built a track for the tennis ball that I brought.

We hopped over across the street to a little museum called the Gumbo Limbo. It is a research/museum place that studies the beach and helps injured sea turtles.

It was sad seeing turtles with cracked shells and missing limbs from boats and garbage. Most of them recover and go back to the ocean.

After that we found a great Mexican restaurant and watched movies until we went to sleep.

Day 4
We woke up early for the sunrise on the beach and then went to church. 

 After church we took Madeleine to a park I used to go to as a kid to burn off some energy.

And stopped by to get proper Southern ice cream.

Trip to Florida: Days 1 and 2

(I broke one long post down into 3 smaller ones. Warning: Lots of photos and this is by far the longest)

I wanted to blog about our trip before the New Year! Matt and I had been saving up for a trip for a while, and this Christmas turned out to be the perfect time to do it. We were able to pull the whole trip off for less than $2,000! Madeleine was free since we squeezed the flight in right before her birthday, and it also dropped the prices of everything else since it wasn't quite the holiday rush. 

We were in Florida for 6 days. In those 6 days, we drove 1,000 miles and packed in a lot of fun, while still having free time. When we were flying home, Matt was amazed by how much we got done while still feeling relaxed.

We flew out late on Wednesday night and got to Florida at 1 am after a few flight delays. We picked up our rental car at Sixt, before crashing at the hotel. (Just want to say, Sixt was awesome! So cheap and the car was great.)
Picking up our rental
We slept in until 9 before heading to Universal Studios. Our hotel was less than a mile away, so we were in the park by 10. It might sound really weird but I was really impressed with Universal Studios! Everything was so fast and organized to get in, and was very small toddler friendly.

I was so excited! The first thing Matt and I did was jump on a roller coaster. We went on "mild" days so the lines were only 5 minutes long! This particular roller coaster was a bit funny because you could pick a song to listen to while you rode it. The thing that had me cracking up was the fact you could listen to very chill relaxing country music, while doing vertical drops.

After that we walked around and rode a few more ride around before heading over to Diagon Alley. Diagon Alley was the highlight of Universal Studios for me. 

The moment we walked in there, it really did feel like magic. I think that they really did capture the feeling that JK Rowling was describing when Harry walks in their the first time. You walk in not knowing what to expect, and you enter this busy "town" that is so unique. The atmosphere is exciting and I loved seeing all the little witches and wizards walking around waving their wands. In different places, if you do the right wand swishes then magic happens! A page turns. The magic frog opens. Water dumps. Small things like that.  

Leaky Cauldron
We headed right over to the Leaky Cauldron for lunch. The food was pretty awful but the drinks were amazing. Butterbeer is like butterscotch cream soda and pumpkin juice reminded me of wassail. 

We stayed there a while, watching the different shows, riding the rides, and exploring the different shops. Madeleine loved it there I think almost as much as I did.

This is one of my favorite photos
Ceiling in one of the shops
"Pram Parking" There was stroller parking all over, but this one was really pretty. 
Knockturn Alley was equally as impressive. It was so dark and creepy compared to the rest of the area. I loved the moving wanted posters of criminals that were all over the place.

In Gringotts, Griphook was sitting up at his desk. You could ask him questions and he would give you sarcastic responses back!

We finally left Diagon Alley and went on the rest of the rides in the park. 

Matt and I are Simpson fans, so we had a lot of fun in that area too. Seeing the Kwik-e-mart was great, and Matt loved the Simpson ride. 

Sign in the Kwik-e-mart

We stopped by the kid's area at the end of the day. Madeleine hated it, since there was water at most of it, but in the back there was a huge room of foam balls. We hung out there for a while, before heading out for food and buying snacks for the next day.

Her favorite ride was probably the cart with flames at the grocery store
Day 2

The next day we went to Island of Adventure. We got there right when the park opened so by lunch time we had basically gone on all the rides we wanted to. It was wonderful.

Madeleine eating breakfast in the child swap room at the Spiderman ride
We decided to eat the lunch we packed at Hogsmeade. We were not nearly as in love with this places as Diagon Alley, but it definitely had it's charm.

Seeing the Hogwarts Castle was the highlight of the day, and walking through it was incredible.

At Honeydukes

The best part of the day was actually when we left Universal and headed over to Downtown Disney for dinner. I wanted to eat at Rainforest Cafe and the closest one was there. Neither Matt and I had heard of it before, but I'm so glad we stumbled on it. 

There were hot air balloon rides, live music, and a lot of little rides. We loved all of it. Madeleine had fun running through the giant Lego and Disney stores. The highlight was going on the choo choo train for toddlers.

Matt and Madeleine dancing
 We got back to the hotel around 8 and just cuddled and watched movies to prepare for the next day that was magically in a completely different way.

Friday, December 26, 2014

Turning 2

Madeleine turned 2 today! Matt and I feel keep patting ourselves on the back for keeping her alive for these two years. It seems pretty amazing.

I woke up early this morning before she woke up to grab a few things for her birthday. It totally didn't work out according to plan and she was awake when I got home. I was trying to surprise her with breakfast in bed, but she was starving. So we gave her cheerios until the cinnamon rolls were done. I lit the candles and we sang to her...and then she burst into tears.

Matt and I just looked at each other. What was she crying about? Then she started picking up the candles and handing them to Matt.

After she took them out, she blew them out. To quote Matt,

"Ask yourself, how would you feel? You woke up on your birthday and your mother made you delicious food, BUT IT'S ON FIRE!!!"

We headed over to the Please Touch museum in Philadelphia for the first time. Matt and I were bored, but Madeleine loved it. She spent 3 hours there before we made her leave because we were starving. 

She put baby dolls through the MRI.

She went on a carousel. 

She spent hours shopping at the pretend grocery store. It was wonderful. The older kids loved playing check out and the toddlers were the crazy grocery store shoppers. Madeleine made friends with one of the check out girls and they had a little system going. It was pretty cute.

Ballpit Excavator

We finished up her day with lunch/dinner at the Cheesecake Factory. :) Madeleine got to pick out a cheesecake and then they sang to her. She was thrilled by the sprinkles, and again, took out the candle before blowing it out.

In conclusion, we love Madeleine. We love how intelligent and creative she's become. We love how compassionate and considerate she can be, including the neck hugs after she accidentally goes Hulk with her incredibly sharp fingernails. Looking forward to the next year! I'll put a regular update on her development when we go to the Dr. in a few weeks.