Sunday, July 18, 2010


We left around 11:30 pm on Saturday evening after Owen's birthday party. We drove 15 hours through the night and we arrived in sunny Jacksonville Sunday afternoon. We were worn out, but thankful to be there! With the help of my wonderful friend, Megan, we got checked in and immediately started soaking in the Florida sun.

We unpacked, spent some time at the beautiful pool, checked out the beach, went to dinner, then went to B-E-D! We were super fortunate to be able to have my mom and dad join us for the vacation so they took the boys and we were able to crash and catch up on some much needed sleep.
Monday morning, we got up, had breakfast, and then headed down to the beach to go meet up with a childhood friend of mine that lives in Jacksonville. Patti contacted me right before we headed to Florida to see where our travels were taking us, and we were both surprised to learn that we'd be able to meet up during our vacation.
After a mishap involving me having no clue how far 4 blocks really is- and walking about a mile down the beach (and back), we were finally able to meet up with my long lost friend and her two beautiful girls. It was so nice to be able to spend the afternoon with her and catch up about where our lives have taken us. Eli had conked out by the time that we met Patti, so she graciously loaned him her stroller to finish his nap in.
That night, we took Patti's recommendation and went to this uniquely "Florida" restaurant called Clark's Fish Camp. This place has the US's largest collection of taxidermy in one place and it's pretty incredible. If it can be killed and stuffed, it was in there! Monkeys, giraffes, lions, tigers, bison, birds, snakes, fish, you name it- they had it. Their menu was nearly as eclectic as their stuffed animal collection and when we returned on Friday night with Sara and Todd, Sara decided that she wouldn't eat anything that was taxidermied in that restaurant. It seriously limited our options :) Tuesday night, after giving the boys goodnight hugs and kisses, Matt and I went out to a little beach bar with live entertainment for some "just the two of us" time. We had so much fun hanging out together!

Tuesday, we took a trip down to St. Augustine with my mom and dad and the boys. We went to Marineland and had a great time watching the dolphins and playing on the gorgeous beach. We had lunch at a little beach diner, then returned to Jacksonville. That night we all had dinner together at a fantastic restaurant. When we returned to the hotel, Sara and Todd had just arrived and were getting checked in.

Wednesday, we spent the day with Sara and Todd on the beach. We set up our canopy, rented a surfboard, and bummed around the whole day by the water. Matt and I both tried our hands at surfing. We both managed to stand up--- but not for long. :) We had a great time, even if we both were aching and bruised before the day was over.
That night, we went to dinner at a swanky "member's only" restaurant. We had a groupon for it, but when we arrived, we found out that we couldn't even PARK there without reservations. It was not busy, and we were able to get reservations right away- so they allowed us into their swanky, private parking lot. We had an amazing meal at a table overlooking the ocean, and had an awesome time laughing when Sara got suckered into a $10 bottle of water. We celebrated our anniversaries, and had an excellent time making memories with our best friends.
Thursday, Sara and Todd went their own way for the day, and I was fortunate enough to get to spend the day with my wonderful friend, Megan and her little boy, Liam. We set back up on the beach and hung out together and watched our littles eat sand. One of my favorite moments was when Eli decided to help feed Liam his bottle. :) Spending the day with Megs was one of the highlights of my trip, and I am so thankful that we finally had a chance to meet up!
Friday, we had to say goodbye to Mom and Dad. They spent over 24 hours trying to make a flight home, but they finally made it there safely. Sara, Todd, the boys and I all made our way to the Jacksonville Zoo for the day. And OH MY- what a zoo!! We absolutely loved it! We particularly enjoyed the gorillas, stingrays, and the alligators. Owen's most important goal for Florida was to see an alligator, so this day made his trip! We were so impressed with the variety of animals and the beauty of the landscaping and habitats.
The gators!

Owen feeding the stingrays

Eli trying to kiss the penguin

Saturday, we packed up to head home, but not before a final stop at the Budweiser Brewery. The boys with "Larry" the ClydesdaleWe took a fantastic tour and enjoyed some time in the "Hospitality Room" before heading on our way. We said goodbye to SarTodd at the brewery since they were flying home.
We continued on our way North and even made a stop at the Macon, Georgia Bass Pro Shop. The boys sat on boats, watched the giants fish swim around in their giant tank, and Owen of course, made a flat penny.

After that- we dug in our heels for the last leg of the trip. We finally made it back into Indiana around 5 am, and pulled into the drive around 8:30.

This was our first beach trip as a family of four. We took Owen to Hawaii when he was 6 months old, and Eli went to Alabama last summer, but this was our first trip all together. It was truly such a fun, special and memorable trip. It was so fantastic that my mom and dad were able to come as well. We were able to spend a lot of time with them, but because they were there, we also had a lot of time to spend as a couple or with our friends. I'm so thankful that we got to have fun with our boys, watch them dip their toes in the ocean, see the delight on their faces as the waves rolled around their feet, laugh as they fed seagulls wheat thins out of their hands- but I'm equally as thankful for the time that I was able to spend with my amazing husband. To have our boys "with" us, but not be responsible for their every care was the perfect situation. Mom and Dad also really enjoyed getting to spend their vacation with their grandsons, and the boys were pretty happy about it as well. Win-Win-Win!!
This vacation was truly the highlight of our summer, and I wish that I could have written this blog when more of the specific memories were fresh on my mind- but at least you get the jist.

I just have to say thanks again to my Megs. She truly made this trip possible for us, and getting to meet her and spend some time with her tiny, little, sweet self was icing on the cake! Love you Megs!

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