The trip started on December 26th. We arrived at the airport, and met the Maloney's at an airport bar. (Naturally). Our flight was slightly delayed - which gave us time to scarf down some dinner and then we were off.
Our flight was uneventful, and we landed in Tampa around 11pm. Matt had hooked us up with a minivan rental car, so we got settled in to that and took off toward the vacation rental. Our parents and Joe and Austin had landed a few hours earlier, so they were already at the house (and had already made a grocery run for supplies and beer :) The rental house was about 90 minutes from the airport - so enough time to catch up with Kelly and Matt, and cruise down there. It was funny - we were staying on a Key, and it was SO OBVIOUS when we were getting close to the house - the road was lined with palm trees and other Florida vegetation. (Oh, and our parents and brothers were out front waving cellphone flashlights to greet us).
Vacation had begun!
My mom had a tasty appetizer spread waiting for us, and the guys made sure we had cocktails in-hand before too long (despite it being 1am at this point!) After a drink and a snack, it was off to bed for us.
The next morning, we awoke to this:
The house itself was gorgeous - big bedrooms, huge windows overlooking the ocean, two decks, a grill, a kayak, a guest house, three bathrooms. It was perfect for our group of eight plus a baby. The proximity to the water and beach was amazing - I'd never stayed that close to the water. The photo above was taken from inside the house (and without a zoom!)
Our days were spent leisurely - enjoying the sun, the water and our family. In the evenings, two of the adults would cook. We drew names to make dinner assignments - I was paired with my dad (on NYE!), my mom and Kelly were together, Austin and Scott and Joe and Matt. We drank pina coladas during the day, and wine and Hemingways at night.
This was Jacob's first vacation - and we had the best time. He LOVED having his grandparents and aunt/uncles nearby (and Scott and I loved the six extra babysitters!) They fed him bottles, changed his diapers, and took him around the property and water. My parents took Jacob every morning so that we could sleep in - and did we ever. I think the earliest I woke up each day was 10am (can you say: "long term sleep deprivation?") My parents took walks with Jacob, and introduced him to the Florida wildlife. Jacob
One afternoon, the three ladies took an hour or two to run to the nail salon for a quick service and glass of wine :)
The "kids" (my brothers, Scott and Kelly and me) went out one evening to a local bar - Flounders - for drinks and local fare. We tried oysters, gator nuggets, calamari, conch fritters and shrimp. It was like old times - teasing each other and having fun.
On NYE day, my dad and I took a drive to a fresh "lobstah" place he found on Yelp - and bought Lobsters for our Surf and Turf dinner. It was a fun experience (luckily he did all of the cooking :)) That night we did a blind wine taste test (which was on my 32 by 32 list!) which I lost :)
We rang in the New Year on a deck in Florida, surrounded by my beautiful family. It was a NYE I won't soon forget.
And it was a trip I won't soon forget.
There is much else I should mention (how Joe had a ball waiting for Jacob on his pillow because he thought that Jacob might like a ball at the beach... how Matt and Kelly bought Jacob an inflatable little pool which was a godsend that week... how Austin and my parents lugged massive tubs of water from the sink to the ocean so that Jacob's little pool could have water in it that wasn't salty on his skin... how Matt and Kelly surprised us all with a massive grill-out on our last day in paradise.... how my dad taught us all how to cook lobster... how we all danced to Harry Chapin's Taxi on NYE.... how Scott surprised us all with a fireworks display at midnight on NYE.... how Jacob came out of his room each morning looking around like "who's here that I can play with?"
It was a really special week. My parents gave us the vacation - including our flights!!- as our Christmas gift... and it was THE BEST. An amazing and generous gift, and we loved every second.