Summer Family Vacation 2017

Summer family vacation is my favorite time of the year. For me, it’s better than Christmas, New Years, or my birthday! This year we headed to Palm Island Resort located in Cape Haze, Florida, and about 2.5 hours south of us.

The night before we left, Daddy presented the girls with their annual vacation slide show; a video that gives clues about our destination and our week away, because every year our destination is a surprise. This is one of the highlights of their vacation, as they count down the hours to “reveal” time. This year we planned a week long getaway in a two story beach house, on one of our favorite island’s: Palm Island. Daddy gifted the girls with a few beach items, and then a gift for the the girls and me: The Little Mermaid DVD in 3D. Our vacation began with a viewing of the movie that night, and it was awesome…..we felt as though we were under the sea! I Love you Doug, you’re great with surprises.

We were up early on July 22nd, and packed the car with all the necessary items before we were off!

We pulled up to the car ferry, that transported us in our car across the island, around noon. The trip over was sublime, as we drove over the huge SkyWay bridge and watched boats cruise along in the sun. It was then that I started to unwind. The business of life, work, school, family, and planning this vacation I do love, however it takes time to unwind from all of it. It was then that I first realized, as we drove over, that I had a solid 2 weeks ahead, of nothing but pure relaxation and time with the ones I love the most.

When we arrived at the gates of the resort, we were instantly switched on to relaxation mode. We picked up the keys to our house and our golf cart at the reception center, and we were on our way. The first hour we drove around the island exploring, because our house wasn’t quite ready, and this brought on even more anticipation.

 

While we waited we visited one of the beaches, and drove around the island looking for potential properties, that maybe we will someday own.

When we were ready to settle in and view our accommodations for the week, we were not disappointed.

This two story beach house presented us with three bedroom, a crow’s nest to view the sunsets, a nice back porch, and a suitable kitchen for Doug.

We changed into swimsuits and headed to the beach for an afternoon swim.

When we arrived back to the beach house in the early evening, Doug grilled wings for dinner, and then we watched the sunset over the water, on the crow’s nest.

Because Doug is so amazing and loves to spoil his girls, every year he wraps several vacation gifts and places them on a shelf in a high traffic area, for the girls to see and get excited about. Each night the girls get to open a gift, and the gifts typically correspond with fun things we plan to do on vacation. On the first night, the girls got to open their biggest gift: full face masks with a snorkel that also allows one to go under water, while blocking water from entering in. The girls were thrilled.

July 23rd

The next day we slept in and then eventually made our way to the beach. Doug prepared and packed  every last beach item  in our beach comber, in order to provide a resort style beach feel. He packed a cooler of drinks, snacks and BLT wraps for lunch, lounge chairs, a beach blanket that allows sand to pass through it, a speaker for music, a huge tent to shade us from the sun, and beach toys.

The girls played in the ocean and in the sand, and we enjoyed several hours of relaxation before a storm hit.

We had to end our beach time a little earlier then desired, but we made the most of the storm. We went in for naps because what’s better than naps in a storm while looking out over the water, and hearing the wind and  waves crash? I was able to get some quality reading time in as well. It was perfect.

In the early evening we drove down to Shark Tooth Island-the name we gave the beach on the north end of the island, where we always find an abundance of sharks teeth.

Then we headed back and Doug made us an amazing dinner, before we watched another sunset on the crow’s nest.

Another summer family tradition is movie theater night. The girls are sent to their room while Doug and I set up an admission booth, a concession stand, and a theater screen for a movie night at Palm Island Cinema. The girls LOVE movie night.

Prior to the featured movie we watched a short pre-show of The Jetsons. This was a surprise for me, because this was one of my favorite shows growing up. Doug had overheard me talking about it one day, and purchased all the episodes prior to vacation. The girls and Doug loved the show as much as I did/do. After one episode we watched Journey 2 the Mysterious Island, a fun and mindless movie that we all enjoyed.

On July 24th, we packed the beach comber with food, drinks and all the necessary beach items, and headed back to the beach. A rotation of the Zac Brown Band, Ziggy Marley, and Chris Stapleton played on Pandora though the little portable speaker, while we enjoyed Modelo and margaritas alongside a cheese and meat charcuterie.

We stayed until near dinner time, and then made our way back for an evening of grilling and another movie. On that night we watched Beauty and the Beast, the newest version.

Beach babes

On July 25th, we switched it up and headed to the pool for the morning. Prior to that the girls got to open another gift: a frisby and light up dive sticks. The girls swam for several hours, and Doug and I lounged in lounge chairs and read while enjoying summer time drinks.

At lunch time, we went in and Doug grilled blue cheese burgers, and made homemade french fries that were amazing!!

Then we all did our own thing. I spent a few hours napping and reading, Doug and Soph started work on the lego Mini Cooper car, and Sara made a video.

In the late afternoon, we went on another journey around the island and eventually made our way to the little store, where the girls purchased Palm Island Resort souvenir shirts.

Sara got her first chance at driving the golf cart that day as well, and she did great.

The sunset was beautiful that night, and the girls even more beautiful. The waveless glittery water as the sun reflected off the ocean that slowly melted away, and walking along the shore line collecting all colors of sea shells, was hypnotizing. Nothing else mattered, and there was not a care in the world. The only thoughts in my mind during that moment and all the moments during vacation were those of pure gratitude, that I get to live the life I love with the most amazing people.

After dinner we took a night ride to the beach right near our beach house. The ocean in the dark is magnificent, and all we could hear were the waves riding in towards the beach. The girls and Doug went for a spontaneous night swim in the pool near our beach house afterwards. When they arrived back, a few episodes of The Jetsons completed our night.

July 26th was spent on the beach. This is the idea Doug came up with for transporting the beach comber, and all the beach items to the beach everyday, in order to save us time and energy in the set up process:

I love this man!

Hours of relaxation, sun bathing, swimming, reading, drinking, eating, and snorkeling filled the day quickly. It seems like the hours just flew by on vacation, and one day melted into another. No time existed really.

An afternoon nap before dinner, and our traditional walk along the beach during sunset, occurred prior to movie night, that consisted of Kubo and The Two Strings. Doug made fondue with apples, bread, and sausage for dipping, to go along with our movie.

July 27th

More beach time occurred on Thursday, and it seems as though we could never get enough time out there. The girls would live on the beach if we let them.

We found coconut’s on the island.

Another amazing but completely different evening and sunset came to us Thursday night.

Little dancers:

After time on the beach we took a long golf cart ride, went back to the house for an amazing dinner prepared by Doug, enjoyed wine and snacks, and watched several episodes of The Jetson’s before bedtime.

On Friday the 28th, we landed at the beach right by our house for the day. Doug went in at noon, and made us lunch (hot dogs and BLT wraps) that he transported back to the beach. We flew a kite, swam, collected more sea shells, napped, and read for the afternoon. We enjoyed country music on the speaker, and cold beers in our hands while watching the girls play together and walk along the beach. Life is good.

Before we witnessed another amazing sunset, Doug prepared a little snack for us…cheese fondue and shrimp in a butter, white wine, and garlic sauce. The girls got to open another gift: a paint spinner. They created some beautiful artwork prior to our evening walk on the beach.

Our last sunset of vacation was perfect, and we took it all in. We walked along the beach and talked about how grateful we were for such an amazing and much needed chunk of time together. Though bittersweet, Doug and I vowed we would visit this place more often, and perhaps purchase land there someday soon. We talked about the new little puppy we planned on bringing into our family, that would become reality later the following week. We talked about another week of fun we’d have at home together, for the remainder of our vacation, that would last another 7 days.

Doug grilled steaks, and created a delicious blue cheese wedge, creamy risotto, and green beans with bacon for dinner. While he was creating, Sophie and I drove to the restaurant on the island for potato’s so that Doug could bake more of his homemade french fries,  for the girls side dish. Then we cuddled on the couch together and watched The Princess Bride before we retired for the evening.

It was very hard to leave the next day, and of course I cried on the golf cart ride back to our car. The memories we made during that week were priceless and this post does not capture all the loveliness and every amazing moment we shared together. It’s simply a basic recollection of some of the highlights, with photo’s added in. However, the feelings of gratitude, the peace this island brings, and the memories made with my family will be forever stored in my heart and mind. This island…during that week, with the people I love the most, was a gift I will always cherish.

When we arrived home the following week we remodeled the girls room in preparation for school, enjoyed dinner out together, adopted a new puppy, went boating and swimming, and enjoyed time together in our own little paradise.

Thanks for a great vacation Doug, Sara and Sophie. I love you all so much! xoxo- Mom

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