We just got back from our Florida Family Vacation (more on that a little later). We got home a little later on Sunday evening, so Steve picked up hot dogs for dinner. As we sat at the table eating, Jack said to me, "I eat my hot dog; that make you happy Mommy?" I said yes, and then I asked what makes Jack happy. His reply: "Cupcakes." So this past Tuesday, Jack and I made cupcakes (yellow cake, chocolate frosting - who wouldn't be happy?!) After we ate the fruits of our labor, we were getting ready for nap. Jack was bouncing around and being silly. I commented that I am a lucky mommy. His reply: "I'm a lucky Jack." It's good to be home.
I finally have that summer feeling. The workshops for work are on hold. My main priority is my family. And best of all, I'm spending a lot more quality time at home.
Steve is still very busy with grad school, but he was able to take a week off of both work and school so we could go on a real vacation. We decided to go to the Keys. We also invited Grandma Sue and Pepere to come with. We took off the Monday after Cathy and Mike's wedding (more on this later) and stayed away for an entire seven days.
We spent our first night in Ft. Lauderdale right on the beach. We were able to get up and have the beach all to ourselves Tuesday morning. This was definitely my favorite beach of the vacation. The water was crystal clear and the sand was so soft. And the beach was free of seaweed! On Tuesday afternoon, we climbed into the rental car and Steve drove us down to Marathon Key where we settled in for the next four nights and five days.
We spent a ton of time at the pool. I think this might have been Jack's favorite part. He "goes under" by putting his mouth, and sometimes his nose and eyes, under. He loved checking out the drains by walking around the edge of the pool. He also loved jumping from the ladder into someone's waiting arms. To say we have a water baby is an understatement.
We got a day trip in to Key West where we had lunch at Margaritaville and visited Hemingway's House. Everyone was awesome about doing this for me. This was probably the most uncomfortable day we had. It was typical July Florida weather: very hot and very humid. To make it more awesome, Hemingway's wife Pauline, who lived in and designed the home, traded all of the ceiling fans out for her chandelier collection. She was very into looks, not function. Jack and Steve made it through the visit by playing with just about every one of the 48 cats that inhabit the estate. Grandma and Pepere endured the tour with me. We did go to Margaritaville first, so maybe the margaritas helped!
I think I could have a nice retirement gig as a docent at Hemingway's Key West home. Our tour guide told me he didn't read Hem's books, he found Hem's life much more interesting. I did not tell him that most of Hemingway's books mimicked aspects of his life. That would have been rude.
During our time in the Keys, we also visited Pidgeon Key (the home for the workers who built the seven-mile bridge and the rest of the rail line); the Dolphin Research Center (where Jack and Steve pet dolphins); Bahia Honda State Park and Beach (where Steve and Pepere got some snorkeling in); and lots of fun restaurants. After we got Jack to sleep (either for naps or bed time), we were able to see some sunsets, and Grandma Sue and Pepere even got in a boat ride (ask them about it, it's a funny story).
Steve planned a wild night for our last night of vacation. He booked us a suite on the strip in South Beach. We had a great room at the Beacon Hotel, which is right across the street from Miami Beach. We had a nice walk along the beach before the rain hit and we went to dinner. We met up with Pepere's childhood friend, Ricardo, and his wife Nety. They are such nice people! They drove in to South Beach for us (which is akin to driving into Wrigleyville on a Saturday afternoon along with everyone else going to the Cubs' game and Lincoln Avenue Rib Fest). We had a great Cuban dinner and then headed back to put Jack to bed before checking out Ocean Drive. We had great intentions, but we all must have been pretty tired because we all fell asleep. Guess we will have to go back to see the neon another time.
I've saved my favorite story for last. Jack was an incredible traveler. I was a little worried about how he would do in the airport and on the plane. We've all heard the horror stories of the crying child on the plane. Jack was awesome though. He was so excited about take-off and flying through the clouds. On both plane rides he napped like a champ. He even was great about getting through the airport! He got to ride on Steve's roller suitcase with his little backpack on (unfortunately, no pictures of this, sorry!). The hardest part was chasing him around the gate areas while we waited to board. He just wanted to explore and touch everything. He was definitely a good enough traveler that we will fly again, and hopefully soon!
Here are some of the key shots from our trip. The whole experience reminded me of why I work. I love that we are able to do things like this, and I plan to make sure we do more of these things in the future!
Playing Zappers at the Marathon Resort
Exploring Key West
Too Cute Not to Include
Playing with a Hemingway Cat
Karen at the Hemingway House
Going Under at the Pool
Playing with the waves on Miami Beach
So I mentioned earlier that Cathy and Mike got married. They had a beautiful wedding on July 9 in Rolling Meadows/Arlington Heights. I don't know that I have many photos after we got our hair done. I was a little busy being matron of honor and getting my party on. Let's just say that Cathy and Mike know how to throw a great party. I am so happy for them. So now Cathy is an Augustin, which means there is only one "true" Watts girl left. Good Luck, Connie. Carry that name proudly!