Lasting Impressions

one last time
one last time

This has been a journey. I am so glad we took this step because it brought us together  in a place that once tore us apart. I haven’t written in a few days because I was enjoying taking it all in. I am sitting in our living room on our last morning here and I am reflecting on the adventure.

all the guards and kids were so happy to see goofy!
all the guards and kids were so happy to see goofy!

We spent a lot of time at the pool. The pool here is the center of the resort. Lifeguards are also the activity directors.  They do a great job of engaging kids and adults alike. Activities range from water side races, to bingo, to trivia, to limbo, to nighttime mini golf with glow necklaces. There are also excursions you can  pay for and some that are free. You can always be busy here, or always just relax. These activities kept the boys engaged and gave the adults a chance to relax. There is so much to do that we did not even come close to doing it all.
This was wonderful, but there is something bigger here.

there is information everywhere about how to help the little dudes make it!
there is information everywhere about how to help the little dudes make it!

This resort is on the Atlantic Ocean. On this coast of Florida there are sea turtle nests everywhere. There are several sea turtle biologists who head out to the beach in the early morning hours. They ride their ATV’s and are equipped with an iPad (filled with information about each nest) and a few tools necessary for their job. They document any activity from a sea turtle nest. Sometimes they find a new nest or a recently hatched nest. They excavate nests, and often find a little turtle or two who didn’t make it out of the nest.

these scientists are dedicated to their work
these scientists are dedicated to their work

As guests here, at 7AM every morning we can trek to the beach and watch their work. For the last two mornings we have been down there and have had the privilege of seeing four babies being sent out to the sea! It is so exciting. The best part though is my boys seeing someone who loves their job. The employees at this resort love what they do.

three of the turtles we were able to see released
three of the turtles we were able to see released

If you really think about the challenge of saving sea turtles it is incredible that there are any alive. Out of the possible 115 eggs laid in one nest, 90% will hatch, and 1% will survive into adulthood. Those are astounding statistics. Nearly impossible. But yet, the species is being saved through the hard work and dedication of the scientists who have a passion for sea turtles.

the boys taking in one more sunrise
the boys taking in one more sunrise

This is important because we woke the boys up early every morning and headed to the beach to see what had developed while we slept. They grunted and groaned, but once there, they enjoyed it. I am hoping that when they see these scientists dedicated to saving these little guys/gals that they will see more than turtles. I want them to see that even the little things are worth fighting for. Even when it seems impossible, it is worth it. Those dreams they have, they can achieve them. Protecting those that can’t do it themselves, they can do that too. Nothing is impossible. I hope they see the hard work put in to make the impossible possible. I also hope they see it isn’t all work. Everything they want to achieve is worth it. Every friendship and relationship: worth it. Every belief they hold dear to their hearts are worth every effort to protect.
I hope they have lasting impressions…

our family left a momentary impression in the sand, I pray the sand left a lasting on eon us
our family left a momentary impression in the sand, I pray the sand left a lasting on eon us

For more information check out this website to see how you can help!

beautiful art on the building
beautiful art on the building

Barrier Island Center

Every Family Needs a Get Away

those would be turtle tracks in the sand...just amazing to see.
those would be turtle tracks in the sand…just amazing to see.

As a family, one thing we believe very strongly is that we need to take breaks. Forced stops in our lives. We spend days at home doing 1000 piece puzzles. We go to the zoo, or the park. We take bike rides, go to the movies or just for a drive on the coast. sometimes a few hours is not enough.

We try to go on a vacation at least once a year, sometimes twice. Our favorite destination is Disney World, and I know what you are about to say, “did you win the lottery? Disney twice in a year? WHAT?!”  We certainly have not won the lottery, but in a way we have. Seven years ago we decided to become members of Disney’s Vacation Club. It is a time share program that is supper flexible for users. We can travel any time of year, and stay at any resort on or off Disney property. Our new favorite location is Disney’s Vero Beach. We will be staying there this summer. The nice thing is we pay a “mortgage” every month for our vacation time share, so we do not have a huge out of pocket expense for our hotel when we travel. And it is a ten year loan for 50 years of vacations, so the investment now will last a lifetime!

seriously amazing. she rescued these guys from a nest and we watched her set them free.
seriously amazing. she rescued these guys from a nest and we watched her set them free.

The nice thing about Vero Beach is that it is a beach resort. Truthfully the most relaxing vacation you will go on. Your options are swim in the ocean, or swim in the pool. There are many other activities, but no parks, no lines (except for the awesome water slide!), and no rush.

They also have a Sea Turtle Conservation team on site, so it is an educational trip as well (sorry kids!). We are so excited to stop.

For Mama, the most stressful part of these vacations is packing. With my husband and three boys in tow, it is super important to be organized. I always have a mini panic attack, and packing usually starts a month out. This time, it didn’t, and I was cool as a cucumber. I made sure to have a plan a few months ago so that I would not be stressed. I truthfully start with a basket in my room, and as I go through the day to day, if I think we need it for vacation, it goes in the basket. This way, a month later I am not saying “Where did I see that?” It is my quirky way of doing things.

this is before we started packing
this is before we started packing

I always make a list. I probably have several packing lists on my computer. This time, I wanted to pack lighter. I do not think that happened, but what did happen was a chance for me to share my organization with my boys.  The list started like this:

I always just brainstorm a list, thinking of things we may need. Essentials, things for the pool and the beach, then what do my boys need to have (don’t worry we have a washer in unit). And then the things I know my husband will need. (he always decides for sure, I just suggest.) and then finally things for me, and then things for everyone. It makes it easier to sort if I start with topics, then add to them.  I asked the boys to look at the list and tell me if I missed anything they would want. I told them the things they needed, and one by one they collected the items, and we packed their bags. The other thing we do is the boys bags are BIG, so we utilize their bags to pack board games and puzzles and things we can do on rainy days, or in the evening. I love that we do this as a team and everyone knows what they are bringing. There was a time I would have packed for them. I realize now, I need to enable them to be able to do it on their own.

wow, we edit a lot!
wow, we edit a lot!

After packing (as if I am finished!) the list looks like this:

We pack, scratch off, change, add, we forget things and then we remember. We highlight things we still need to pack, and cross off what is packed. We take things out of the bags because it is still summer, and we have de-cluttered our wardrobes, so we need clothes! Right now, the bottom of my stairs is filled with bags. I so hate the feeling of un-organization packing can bring, but I love the excitement that we are going somewhere!

Don't worry, daddy's bag is in our bedroom.
Don’t worry, daddy’s bag is in our bedroom.

We don’t enjoy flying.The stress of what you can and cannot pack, the kids, the air pressure in the ears, the motion sickness for some, it just is way stressful.  Once we went through security and one of the boys did not follow through. that was a stressful time. I just do not like the uncertainty of flying. If we can, we drive. Usually we drive straight through and arrive at our destination in less than 24hours. We stop for the bathroom or a snack, or a meal. We stop to stretch.This time we have decided to stop along the way, breaking up our 24 hour trip into 3 days. It is going to be exciting and maybe stressful. We have planned stops, and made sure they had pools and ocean views!

it is clear so they can see what they are looking for!
it is clear so they can see what they are looking for!
The box open like on their lap in the car
The box open like on their lap in the car

To keep the kids occupied for the trip we have a DVD player, headphones, I-pods with their favorite songs, books, paper, colored pencils,  kindles, snacks, and Lego boxes that I made.They are craft boxes that I glued a green Lego board to the cover of, and made a pocket for the Legos so they can play them on their lap! These come in handy in the car, and in the resort when each child needs their own space to play or stash a favorite toy or treasure!

sitting by the pool felt like being in the tropics or on an island somewhere!
sitting by the pool felt like being in the tropics or on an island somewhere!

We also know that we are not millionaires and we have not won the lottery. We are very careful about planning activities that work for our budget. We will do Walt Disney World with all of the bells and whistles. We buy tickets way far ahead, plan reservations, utilize the dining plan, and ask for gift cards for birthdays/holidays to help defray the cost. We also have been enough that we do not need to do everything every time. That is why a pool/ocean vacation is so great for this trip. We know we can have a lot of fun, for very little money, and make amazing memories! That makes the trip less stressful for Steve who works so hard to earn for our family. I appreciate that our cell phone service is weak there so we are limited to wi-fi in the room, and family outside.  I think every family can find a way to either have a getaway vacation, or even a “stay-cation” to have some time to breathe and just be.