Thursday, November 3, 2011


Well, we're here! North Captiva Island that is. Here I thought I'd have all this down time to blog and catch up on some photo projects, but boy was I wrong! We've been busy and on the move pretty much every minute of everyday. Nick snuck off tonight to do some fishing, so it's go time for this Mama!  I wish I could just jump ahead and share pictures from our adventures today, but as I've said before, I'm a sequential order kinda gal, so if I don't start at the beginning it just feels wrong and things get all out of order in my brain.

So, back tracking a few days, we headed out early Monday morning. Yes, Halloween. I felt really guilty about Nugget missing trick-or-treating because I knew she would love it even more than she did last year. But we just didn't really mention anything about it, and she didn't even know what she was missing. I did my best to make the most of every Halloween opportunity we had prior to leaving, like trick-or-treating at our grocery store, celebrating at school, and going to the ECFE Halloween party.

We had to leave early on Monday, like 4am early! I swear kids know when somethings up because Brother had a tough night that night, and I think I only caught about 3 hours of sleep. Nugget on the other hand...oh how I love waking her up for vacations. Tiptoeing into her room, stroking her hair, and whispering into her sweet little ear 'It's time to get up Love. It's time to go to Florida.'  And instead of waking up all grouchy, a little smile spreads across her face and she lets me scoop her up and carry her downstairs. Love her.

Aren't these clouds just delicious? It was so beautiful watching the morning sun shine through the little plane window. I just want to run among the fluff, chasing my little Nugget girl and laughing as we fall down, hugged by their softness. When I was a little girl I thought that Heaven was in the sky, atop these clouds. Wouldn't that really be something if it was? Delicious.

Pardon the crap quality of these photos, I took them with my phone. My camera was up in one of the overhead bins, and you can see that it would require some work to get up and get to it. 

My kids are amazing travelers. Not sure how we lucked out on this one, but we are sure thankful we did. This was Nugget's fifth round trip on an airplane, and Brother's second. Within minutes of taking off, Brother was asleep in my arms (not hard to do when your plane leaves at 6:40am!) and Nugget was ecstatic to bust into her Dora backpack and find all the special surprises I had waiting for her.

We've learned a lot through all of our traveling, so I thought I'd share some of my top tips when traveling with kids. You ready for 'em?

1. Throw your kids' schedules out the window. Traveling is stressful, and things always happen that you can't control. So, if you have no to low expectations and aren't stressing over other things, you'll be pleasantly surprised.

2. Travel as early in the morning as possible. It took us awhile to figure this one out, as we often searched out flights around Nugget's nap time thinking that would be ideal. But it backfired every time. The only time Nugget has ever taken a nap on a plane is when we're descending, just about to land. No joke. This has happened more than once. Nothing worse than having to wake up an overtired babe who just took a five minute cat nap. And the earlier you leave, the more time you'll have to settle in and enjoy your destination on the first day.

3. Have your kids sleep in whatever clothes you want them to wear on the airplane. One less thing to do in an already hectic morning when you're sleep deprived.

4. Waking up your kids should be the LAST thing you do. We load up the car, secure the house, cross our t's and dot our i's BEFORE going to get the kids. We just scoop them out of bed, take them right out to the car, and off we go. Nugget was so excited that she stayed awake, but Brother fell right back to sleep. Bonus when you have an hour ride to the airport.

5. Check the car seats. This was the first time that we decided to say to-heck with them. It's free to check them anyway, so why not? We always thought it'd be better for Nugget to have her familiar car seat, and again, maybe take a nap in it. Nope. It was just a pain in the neck to have to haul around the airport, and you can't even put the little tray down as the car seat sits up to high. This time Nugget sat in the seat like a big girl, and really enjoyed the freedom to move about a bit. It was way less stressful for us. Yay!

6. Ask an employee at the airport for the 'Family Line' when going through security. There is no sign, so don't go looking for one. We never knew this existed until we flew with both kids for the first time. We were loaded with crap...carry ons and a double stroller to name a few. Someone approached us about the secret family line, led us around the crowd, unhooked the little rope thing, and wham. There we were in the front of the line. How sweet is that?!

7. A little Minnesota Nice goes a long way. Employees want to be waiting on you at 5am just as much as you want to be there with two kids at 5am. Be friendly, smile, say thank you, and you just might score yourself some little perks. And even if you don't, you should just be a nice person anyway.

8. Bring lots of snacks, movies, new trinkets, etc to keep your little ones happy. I scour the dollar isle at Target for weeks prior to traveling, and also stash away new cheap books that I pick up here and there. I allow Nugget to take them out one at a time, and she stays entertained almost the whole time.
This time her Dora backpack included two new books that I got for free off the 'give a book, take a book' shelf at ECFE, princess lacing cards, a mini playdough she got from Halloween, stickers, paper, crayons, coloring book, suckers (for help with ear pressure during take off and landing), and a few snacks. I also brought my laptop and some dvds.

Check out this fun idea I got from Matt Logelin...

Putting stickers on the in-flight magazines? Genius! Nugget thought it was a hoot. I found these color-it-yourself stickers at JoAnns, which added to the fun. And I bet it makes the next person who reads it smile.

9. Bring an empty sippy cup with you. Obviously, you can't bring water, milk or juice through security, and the cost of such beverages is outrageous at an airport. But, with a little Minnesota Nice, the flight attendant will fill it up with whatever it is your little one desires. And free!

10. Hum....trying to get to an even number here...what else? Oh, I know. If you happen to be that parent with a kid who screams the entire time, stay calm and offer to buy everyone around you a drink. And whether or not you really do, it will make others smile and see that you are only human, and it's not like your begging your kid to scream just to show off and be noticed.

So, there you have it. We made it to Florida safely, and even better, ALL of our luggage arrived too! Let me just tell you that we had a lot of crap. Ok, I'll humor large suitcase, one small suitcase, a carry on bag, diaper bag, duffel bag full of Nick's painting supplies (more on that later), fishing pole, a hiking backpack and two car seats. Ugh.

I wish we could say we arrived in Florida and there we were, but when you travel to an island more is involved. From the airport we picked up our rental car, ate lunch, grocery shopped, picked up paint, and drove to the marina. Then we boarded the ferry to take us to the island. Once on shore, we got our golf cart, loaded it up with all our crap (minus the car seats which we were able to leave in the rental car) and drove to our rental home. It was probably 6pm by the time we finally got here. 12 hours from the time we left our home, and we were beat (No, I'm not that bad at math. Factor in a two hour time difference.) But not beat enough to rush out and catch the sunset. Oh how we love it here! This is our happy place.

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