A Six Week Family Trip to Nashville, Tallahassee, Orlando, Savannah, and Washington DC

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I remember sitting inside in early March last year for the uhm-teenth day in a row and getting stir crazy from cold weather and no sunshine. I needed a daydream to lift me out of the cold weather dreariness, so I started looking up houses in Florida on Airbnb. Jeff and I had floated the “snow bird” idea before, but it had never worked out.

This time, I got my parents on board (my mom was set to retire from teaching, so she’d be free to hang out in Florida for a month), and we put money down on a five bedroom house in the Orlando area before we could talk ourselves out of it—we had officially made plans to spend a month in Florida with my parents, my brother, my Grandma and our family of four.

The plans were made so long ago that they felt like they’d never actually happen—during the time in between making plans and actually going, we bought a sailboat, did a ton of sailing and went to Costa Rica.

I was a little nervous about going, honestly, because even though I’d have my parents there to help out (my dad did go back to Michigan for a bit to work, but he was there for about half of the trip), I wasn’t sure how I’d feel about being with my girls every second of every day. I’m used to having a lot of focused time every week while they’re at daycare.

We set out late on February 7—the plan was to drive as far as Indianapolis while the girls were sleeping. Zel fell asleep soon after we hit the road, but we may have celebrated our road trip victory a little too early. Arden decided that she didn’t want to sleep, and she only wanted to shout, “Get out!” for hours as she tried to get out of her carseat.

Day two was much smoother thanks to a tired little midnight bedtimer, so we made it to the Nashville area without much trouble. We stopped there for the night to catch up with Jeff’s aunt Missy and her family (sorry Missy—why didn’t we all get a photo together?!), and then we set out for Tallahassee where my brother lives. After eight hours of car travel, our girls were so excited to get out of that car and see their Florida cousins. We all got ice cream, and the girls ran off their energy before heading to the hotel. We had a fun weekend exploring Florida State’s campus and giving the girls some much needed cousin time before heading out on the final four hour drive to the Orlando area.

The Florida house was everything we hoped it would be (except for no real desk for Jeff—he worked remotely the whole time we were there, and he had to do his best with countertops and tables). The back of the house opened right up to a private patio with a plunge pool, and the neighborhood pool had a lazy river and twisty water slide/splash area for the kids to play in. We went around that lazy river and down that water slide more times than I can count. I would hold Arden to go down the slide, and every time we got to the bottom, she’d shout, “Again!” At one point, she was so tired that she was practically sleeping on my shoulder down the slide, and still she managed to mutter, “Again.” If you’re looking for a place to stay near Disney World, we definitely enjoyed Windsor at Westside (as long as you’ll have a car).

The trip did have a few hiccups. I decided to take the girls to Disney World on my own one day (which was actually fairly hiccup free—the girls were really into it and stayed on their best behavior; they also thought the People Mover was a really crazy roller coaster after riding it, so their expectations were low enough to set up a pretty easy day). I was so exhausted when we all got home that I decided to head to bed early. That turned out to be a good thing—I ended up waking up around one in the morning to an ambulance ride and a few hours at the hospital with one of our house guests (All was fine, but we were definitely tired—and major props to my mom for staying so calm and taking fast action while there were multiple medical issues going on at the same time in our household. Mom, you’re amazing.).

I also finally convinced my parents to let me care for my brother so they could go out without worrying about his care—he has a Metachromatic Leukodystrophy and has a feeding tube that I’ve always been incredibly intimidated by. After convincing my parents to teach me the basics of his care before heading out, his pump ended up throwing an error. My parents (have I mentioned how amazing they are?) sprung into action and worked out a way to have a new pump delivered within hours. It was definitely an eye opening experience to see what they do for my brother every single day. It’s really incredible.

And then our third hiccup—we pulled the girls out of daycare to make the trip, and we found out a few weeks in that Arden lost her spot at daycare. That caused me so much stress, and I swear I lost three days of focus just trying to call around and figure out back up options, but it all worked out in the end, and the girls just started back at their school this week. It was awesome to hear everyone shout their names as they entered the room—I think they felt so at home with that big warm welcome.

And we did have some amazing days at Disney World. We went to a character breakfast the first Saturday that we were there, where Arden was hilarious terrified of all of the characters. I didn’t take my professional camera to Disney, but I took my video camera along and got some fun clips of Zel at the Bippity Boppity Boutique, where they transformed her into a princess. I’ll have to share that video when I get around to putting it all together. In the meantime, here are a few highlights. Scroll down to see a video from “a day in the life” in Florida.

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We planned to head out to watch a rocket launch on Jeff’s birthday, but we all got a bit lazy about it on the day of, so Jeff and I walked down to the pool to watch it from afar. I know it doesn’t look like much here, but it was still really cool to see!

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After we left Florida, we stopped in Savannah for a night and spent the morning exploring the city before heading on to the Washington DC area.

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Jeff does own shirts other than his NASA shirts, but it’s pretty clear that these are his favorites (that and pineapple shorts). And so you don’t think he’s just an incredible nerd who wears NASA shirts every day, he does actually work on projects for NASA, so he’s an actually an incredible nerd who wears NASA shirts every day and works on projects for them.

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We spent the work week in the DC area while Jeff worked out of his office there. I spent a few days trying to explore old favorite spots from the time when Jeff and I lived there, but it was cold, and the girls weren’t overjoyed by any of it, so I finally gave up and took them to a huge indoor playground for the last day.

After six nights sharing a single hotel room as a family, we were all so ready to be home (bedtime is tough when Arden knows we’re all still up), so we drove eight hours straight to get home on Friday. It was such a nice feeling to walk into our own house after being gone for so long. I never really noticed the smell of our house, but I absolutely noticed it when I walked it. It’s nice to be home.

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