Summer Family Vacation 2013

The girls modeled their new swim suits for Daddy last Tuesday night, the night before vacation. The few days prior to vacation was busy with buying new suits and snacks, packing and being excited together about our summer family vacation together.

new swimsuits

We left on Wednesday morning for Hilton Orlando, the place we stayed last year. One of the requirements for vacation includes finding a hotel with a lazy river. As soon as we arrived at the hotel, we unpacked our suitcases and threw our swimsuits on. The girls ate a quick snack and Doug and I ordered lunch poolside. There’s no time to waste when it comes to getting the girls to the pool, because they won’t let us waste time. It’s their favorite place to be.


pool view from our room
pool view from our room

Hilton Orlando

lazy river
lazy river

Hilton Orlando

ready to swim
ready to swim

Hilton Orlando Hilton Orlando Hilton Orlando Hilton Orlando

Then while we were sitting there, Jonathan, the food and beverage manager walked by. Last year Doug struck up a conversation with him poolside and they talked for almost an hour. Doug has a way of meeting people, networking and making things happen. He’s always been this way. I love that about him. Last year, after Jonathan and Doug’s conversation, Jonathan took great care of us for the rest of our trip. We ate at the amazing restaurant on campus, Spencers, and you can’t imagine how he spoiled us. You can read about that story here.

So anyways, running into Jonathan was great! Shortly after he left us, our server asked us to follow him. He escorted us over to our private cabana for the day and brought us beers on the house, from Jonathan. It was a great start to our vacation.

Hilton Orlando Hilton Orlando Hilton Orlando Hilton Orlando Hilton Orlando Hilton Orlando

We spent all day in the cabana or in the pool. We let the lazy river pull us along in our swim rings, we went down the water slide about 500 times, and we rested under the shade of our cabana while Doug’s jawbone speaker played tunes and kept a nice vibe going. We ordered a naughty dinner, beers for mom and dad and virgin strawberry daiquiris for the girls. It wasn’t until  sundown that we decided to go in and get cleaned up for gelato and to announce the big surprise to the girls.

Once the girls were bathed and in pj’s, we walked downstairs for gelato and found our way to some chairs outdoors where we handed them tickets to Disney World . They’ve never been and as you can imagine, they were thrilled. On the way over to Orlando, they saw all the signs along the road for the Magic Kingdom and SeaWorld, and they told us several times that they’d really really really really really really reeaaaaaaaaaaally like to visit Disney World. I’ll let you see their reaction to the news: 

Beauty and the Beast, Little Mermaid and Lion King tunes played on Pandora, in the car, as we drove up to the Magic Kingdom on Thursday. Sara and I sang the entire Little Mermaid song, Part of Your World………look at this stuff isn’t it neat, wouldn’t you think my collection’s complete…. as we pulled in. Then Doug and I got teary eyed. You live through your kids when you’re a parent or maybe you just live as a kid (when at places like Disney) and blame it on living through your kids. I think Disney’s a place for kids and adults alike.  It was a great day! We started with a very long ferry ride over to the Magic Kingdom. I swear they do this for 2 reasons: (1) to build anticipation and (2) so its not easy to leave the park and you’ll spend more money. Ok, I realize that mass amounts of people travel to visit Disney World, but just sayin’.

Disney World Disney World Disney World Disney World Disney World Disney World Disney World Disney World Disney World Disney World Disney World Disney World Disney World Disney World Disney World Disney World Disney World Disney World Disney World Disney World

Disney World Disney World Disney World

Sara’s favorite ride was Space Mountain. Sophie’s favorite ride was the Goofy roller coaster. Mommy’s least favorite ride was the spinning Magic Tea Cups. Doug and I took turns riding Space  Mountain with Sara and I think my c-section scar almost burst open on that one. I used to like that ride, but not so sure now.

We let the girls choose a souvenir to take home, something tangible to remember our great day. Sophie insisted on Mickey and Minnie, because they have to stay together (she’s such a romantic) and Sara chose Minnie.

Disney World Disney World

We ended our day watching the electric parade, which wasn’t great because were almost apart of a stampede as selfish parents pushed their way through people to get to the front. So, we decided upon a caramel apple and made our way to the exit. We let the girls decide if they wanted to stay for the fireworks, but they both agreed unanimously that we should go. They were tired. Honestly, they were and we did not persuade them one bit that it was best to go.

Disney World Disney World Disney World Disney World

We arrived back at our room and found a note on the door that we had missed a special delivery and to call the front desk. A special complimentary cheese and beer plate was delivered to our door with cookies and milk for the girls on the side. A note from Jonathan accompanied it, telling us to have a great stay. Thank you Jonathan!!

cheese and cookie tray cheese and cookie tray milk and cookies Hilton Orlando

That was a great treat to come back to. The girls were sleeping with Mickey and Minnie almost as soon as we tucked them in bed.

Hilton Orlando Hilton Orlando

Friday we spent the day at the pool, lounging in chairs with a beer,  in the lazy river and on the water slide.

Hilton Orlando Hilton Orlando Hilton Orlando Hilton Orlando Hilton Orlando Hilton Orlando Hilton Orlando Hilton Orlando Hilton Orlando Hilton Orlando Hilton Orlando Hilton Orlando

Around 3:30, we headed back to our room for naps and to get ready for dinner. We ate at Cafe TuTu Tango, a tapas restaurant on I-Drive and one of our favorite places to eat, although it’s become a little “tourist trappy” these days. The food was still pretty good though. IMG_0146

We played pool and foosball by the pool after dinner.

Hilton Orlando Hilton Orlando

Saturday we decided to take the girls to see Despicable Me 2 at the big theater near our hotel. We’ve been wanting to see the movie since it first aired and additionally we felt the girls skin could use a little break from the unrelenting sun. Afterwards we stumbled upon a terrific greek restaurant, Taverna Opa for a late lunch. The hummus, saganaki, falafel, greek salad and gyro platter was authentic, fresh and so delicious! We’re pigs.

greek salad
greek salad

We made our way back to the hotel around 3 and headed straight for the pool. We found some lounge chairs right next to a beautiful couple and their 8 year old daughter. Sara, Sophie and their daughter Sadie became instant friends. Just the day before, Doug and I noticed them across the way and talked about how they must live a healthy life style. I guess you might say that we envied their physiques just a bit. We found ourselves talking with them and then because our conversation was so easy and we have a lot in common (good food, similar interest in books, and a love of Anthony Bourdain), we spent the rest of the day with them. We missed our dinner reservation at Spencers and had beer, wine and smores for dinner instead, with our new friends. We did laps around the lazy river with the girls in the dark and sat around a fire pit while the girls danced to the music of whatever was playing on Doug’s jawbone speaker. There was an instant connection between us, like we’d always been friends.


Because Jonathan (the food and beverage manager) that I was telling you about earlier had special arrangements made for us at Spencers that night, which we missed (and we don’t regret), he made arrangements for a complimentary breakfast at the bistro the next morning. So, as we said goodnight to our new friends, we planned on breakfast and swimming together the next day. Of course the girls were so happy about that!

Sunday, after breakfast with our friends, we spent the day by the pool, until it was time to head home around 3. We said our goodbyes to the Caril’s and talked about how we could make this our summer tradition, to meet at the Hilton Orlando. It was great to meet such wonderful people and we only wish there wasn’t so much distance between us.

new friends new friends new friends

The girls’ heads bobbed and clashed on the ride home. This is the sign of a successful vacation:

We arrived home around 5:30 p.m. and after the girls had dinner, baths and were in bed, Doug and I grilled wings and watched a movie together. I love being in the hotel room together, the 4 of us, but it was nice to have some alone time together.

Monday, our last day of vacation, we spent some time getting some things done around the house, which oddly, we love. We wrapped up around 2, when Sopha and I headed to the doc. Soph has been having tummy troubles, and an X-ray of her abdomen was ordered that afternoon. Fortunately, she will be ok and the X-ray revealed the need for Milk of Magnesia. Poor thing has been in the bathroom a lot lately. We met Doug and Sara (after their movie, Turbo) at the mall and then headed for thai and sushi at Ban Thai for our last night of vacation together.


It was a great summer family vacation. Disney was fun, but being together as a family, Despicable Me 2, the pool, and meeting new friends was even better!

We have only 3 weeks left of summer vacation, which makes me feel very sad. Sara will start 3rd grade, Sophie will start kindergarden and I will start the nursing program. I’m excited about all of that, but I already miss vacation and the aspect of life I love the most, undisturbed time with Doug and the girls!

Have a great rest of the summer friends and family!


  1. I had no idea you were a blogger extraordinaire Lorena. Great read. It was so nice to see and hear about the things you guys did on your trip. I did chuckle a little at the “physiques” part. Oh please, you guys look great. A beautiful couple with two beautiful girls. Like you mentioned noticing us, we noticed you guys. We noticed how cute you guys were with your girls. The smiles on your faces watching them play. Doing things with them. So many times on vacation I see parents who don’t spend time with their kids and just lose track of them after the first Piña Colada.

    I mentioned many of the same things you wrote to my wife when we were driving home. Like it felt like we had been friends for a long time, that it really sucked to meet such cool people with similar interest but live so far away from them. Then I thought, it could be worse than Tampa to West Palm. Sadie is already talking about the Clearwater Marine Aquarium and asking us when she’s gonna see Sara and Sophie again. Cute. Summer tradition sounds like a plan also.

    Glad to hear that everything is ok with Sophie and her tummy issues. You guys got quite a work out Sunday. Anyways, enjoy the rest of your Summer and good luck starting the nursing program. Tell Doug I say hello. And tell the girls Sadie is ready for some FaceTime with them.


  2. Thank you Victor! I love writing as a hobby, but wouldn’t consider myself extraordinaire, haha. That was very kind! Please do let us know when you are in the area! I think you guys will love the little town we live in and Winter the dolphin lives only 20 minutes from us!
    Yes, we’d love to FaceTime sometime soon. The girls haven’t stop talking about how much they miss Sadie. It was so great to meet you guys and we do look forward to more fun times together! Talk soon.

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