Sunday, September 8, 2013

Fun. Florida. Family.

Before sending Steph off on her mission we squeezed in one last BIG family va-kay.  Kayli was missed since she was nannying in Europe but Grandma Liedtke took her spot instead. :)
I'd never been to Florida before and was very excited for the trip and of course got completely obsessed with planning it.  Anything you needed to know, I knew.  Especially when it came to Universal Studios, I had our rides mapped out perfectly.  We went Saturday to Saturday and I really feel like we accomplished everything!  We got to stay with my Grandma's brother which was a perfect location, a quick 10-15 minute drive to the parks so we could swing home for naps easily with Ashton.
-Saturday was all traveling, it took a family of 10 travelers 4 different flights all with different arrivals to get there.  Lots of driving to and from the airport for my Dad, who got there first, to pick us all up.
-Sunday we went to church, saw the temple, had a great lunch with new cousins that we got to meet for the first time, relaxed, and explored the Disney Boardwalk.  Disney World wasn't on our list of things to do, but we got a little taste in driving through the park and walking the boardwalk shops.
Ashton especially liked exploring the Rainforest Cafe, don't worry Dude it's on my list of places to take you to eat someday.
-Monday we drove out to the Kennedy Space Center, this was way cooler than I thought it would be.  This was an Eric and Jason pick, everyone else was just along for the ride but I think at the end of it we all agreed it was really cool.  Something I wouldn't mind going back to when Ashton is older and actually lets me look at things.  
After Kennedy we went to a wildlife preserve and drove/walked around.  We saw two alligators which absolutely terrify me.  Seeing them in the wild was really cool but that is one major reason why I will never live in Florida and have had several nightmares since.  We drove out to Cocoa Beach and the boys, I mean men, went in for an evening dip.  We had originally planned to stop by a different beach, but the road we were going to take to get there was closed, we found out that night that there had been a shark attack at that beach.  So glad we didn't end up there.
-Tuesday was Universal Day! This was our big day for the trip, the one thing we all decided on doing: Harry Potter World.  Like I said before I researched this place front and back.  We timed everything just right and hardly ever waited in line for anything.  My favorite ride was probably the Amazing Spider Man.  Harry Potter did not disappoint, and we had many many rounds of butter beer.  Ashton would have been happiest had we stayed in Seuss Land the whole time.  I thought he would be afraid of all the big roller coasters because of the loud noises, but he was more upset over the fact that he couldn't go on them.  His favorite ride was the Cat in the Hat which we rode numerous times.
  -Wednesday we rented some boats and got taken out on a manatee tour.  I've always loved manatee's for whatever reason and was so excited to be able to see them in the wild.  It wasn't the right season for them but we still got to see and snorkel with a few different ones including a mom and calf.  We also got to touch one of them, they liked Jayden the most.  Again Ashton just really wanted to get in on the action.  The boat it self was a lot of fun too and they took us by this little island that had monkeys on it, Ashton especially loved that.
The guy in the very back with his hands up was one of our crazy tour guides.
-Thursday was another top of my list day... SeaWorld.  I had been dreaming about taking Ash to SeaWorld since before he was born.  I've always loved Sea World and thought it was just magical.  This was definitely more exciting for Ashton too since there was more to look at and places to run around.  We rode the Manta roller coaster, the only reason I'm documenting this is because I think it was one of the coolest rides I have ever been on.  More of an experience than a ride, like you were really flying.  We were only able to make it to one of the shows, which I was super sad about since I LOVE all the shows.  But did I mention that it rained at some point in the day, every single day, in Florida?  The rain storm hit in the afternoon on this day and they had to cancel the shows because of the lightening.  We waited until the park closed seeing if the rain would stop so they would do the big main Shamu show but it never did.  By the time we decided to make a run for it to our car the lightening was hitting so close that both Stephanie and I's hair was standing straight up.
-Friday was our last day, we headed back out to Cocoa Beach and rented surf boards, boogie boards, and a beach cruiser.  Which is incredibly fun by the way.  Who knew riding a bike on the beach could be so awesome!  Jayden and I were both pretty spooked with sharks, and some of the boys saw a sting ray in the water.  But we all survived.  We had some pretty good waves and we all felt pretty cool out on surfboards, even though I'm pretty sure we all looked awkward.  Ashton was not thrilled about the beach at first, the sand was to weird for him I think.  However, with a little help from Dad he ended up loving it.  Again he just got upset that he couldn't participate in everything, and kept wanting to go way out into the ocean.
-Saturday we were all off on different flights again headed home.  
The entire trip was so much fun.  Not relaxing one bit, but a ton of fun none the less.  Traveling with Ashton was a lot harder than I ever expected it to be.  Throwing the kid off schedule and putting him in new environments constantly definitely took a toll on the poor kid.  I think he did great considering how much was going on around him.  He got his binky a heck of a lot more than we ever allow at home and that was definitely a life saver.  In talking with my Mom on the trip I now understood why my Dad would take us older kids out on trips while my Mom stayed home with the youngest ones.  It's just exhausting!  I don't regret going on the trip one bit though and I am so glad we got to spend some good quality time withe everyone before Stephanie leaves and our family continues to change and grow up.  I'm grateful that my Dad has always encouraged us to go on big family outings like these and to keep creating such fun memories.  I'm also glad that even though we're married my Dad still allows us to tag along too.
Ashton really was a superstar traveller. Both our flights to and from Florida had horrible layovers and we were traveling for 10+ hours each way.  He was so excited about the plane ride, we'd been talking and hyping it up for a long time before we left.  The first flight out of SLC he literally ran onto the plane he was so excited. I had to throw my ticket to Jason to run after him.  Now every time he sees a plane he talks about his plane ride and how he went "up, up, up" "down, down, down".