Whenever I go on vacation with my family, something crazy always happens. Whether it's locking my six month old baby in the hotel room by accident, or being stuck in a Cuban resort during a hurricane, we bring home many memories. Souvenirs, if you will. The craziness usually starts in the airport before we even board the plane, and the adventures continue from that point on.
My family and I spent a week near Miami, at the Westin Resort and Spa, where we go every year. The kids love it, and I do, too. The pools are beautiful, the location is perfect (10 minutes from Aventura Mall, 10 minutes to Bal Harbour Shops, and nooo I don't base my vacations on shopping destinations... um... not completely, anyway!) and we're right on the beach.
I choose Florida as our winter getaway destination every year because being the worrier that I am, I like knowing that if we had a medical emergency, we'd have excellent health care, like we do in Canada. I never thought we'd have to see a doctor on vacation, but like I said, adventures are part of the package when we go away!
Little D woke up with a terrible cough our second night in Florida. It sounded like whooping cough, or croup, and he was crying in pain. We called down to see if there was a doctor nearby, and the hotel sent up EMT. Thankfully, I had time to put on a bra and fix my hair before all the men came into the room. We didn't go anywhere with the ambulance, because it was 4 a.m. and D's oxygen levels were good. He went back to bed, and the next day, rather then going to the hospital to spend hours waiting to be seen, we called a doctor to come to us, in the hotel room. A brand-new experience, and one that was very, very, very expensive. Did I mention expensive? Thank GOD for health insurance. D got a shot of antibiotics, and after a lot of tears, he was good to go. We picked up his prescription, and he spent the rest of the day outside, swimming, smiling, and happy as can be.
Of course, none of this was easy on me, especially seeing my baby in pain, but my little boy is a trooper, and he handled everything so well.
The rest of the week was fun, like vacations should be. We swam all day, collected sea shells and had lots of ice cream. We fell asleep with the balcony door open listening to the sound of the waves crashing on the shore. It was pretty heavenly.
Holidays with children are never easy, though. They're fun and worthwhile but like all aspects of parenthood, completely exhausting. Now that I'm back, I need a vacation to recover from my vacation, if you know what I mean. So does my mom! My boys are six and four, and happily entertain themselves in the pool, playing together. But all the drinks I consume are done in under five minutes, because I'm always needed to break up a fight, to take one of the boys to the bathroom, or to just play, which I'm not complaining about. The quality time I spend with my boys is the best part about going away. Being able to give them all my attention is what makes my vacation so wonderful, even if I hardly have time to sit down.
However, gone are the days when I would spend hours shopping in Nordstrom with my mom and sister, or spend time people-watching in Bal Harbour after dinner. Gone are the days where I would spend hours on the beach tanning, flipping over every half hour to make sure my tan was even and perfect. I'm glad I'm saving my skin now, but the shopping thing? Not awesome. I chased my boys around Saks, with little D running in one direction, and big C laughing as he was being chased around. I managed to buy a few items from Nordstrom in the quickest shopping trip of my life, so I was happy.
My favourite part of family vacations is bringing home a suitcase full of memories. It's the little things I noticed on this trip that melted me, like seeing my boys holding hands throughout the day, or hearing their giggles during the pool games they invented. I loved the stories we shared, the fun car rides we had, and almost getting lost in what I'm sure was a very bad neighbourhood. We ate at our favourite restaurants, made sand castles, and relaxed.
My boys bonded even more with their cousins, and they loved having other little people around to help take care of. Four kids together on the beach? Nothing but fun chaos!
I loved seeing big C swimming like a pro in the pool, giving his little brother the confidence he needed to take off his floaties. By the third day, little D was swimming under water in the deep end, no floaties in sight. Children always grow on vacation, in more ways than one. My boys always seem older to me when we get home, as if their vacation made them wiser, somehow.
We had a cabana one day, a luxury I could most certainly get used to. When the boys got tired of swimming, they'd go in the cabana, eat a snack, drink some water, watch TV, and play on their ipads and ipods. Happy children? Happy mom!
Sadly, all vacations end. And although we were excited to be coming back home, my boys made me promise that next year, we'd stay away for at least two weeks or "one hundred days." I wish, boys... I wish! Coming back to freezing temperatures and no palm trees is actually quite depressing.
Now that February is here, I know spring is not too far away. I'm not putting our summer clothes away, in the hopes that we'll get to wear them sooner rather than later. I am so ready for flip flops season, you know?