August 11, 2015

summer in the south: road trippin'

On June 30th, after a journey of nearly 5 years, I attended my final M.Ed class, with my support squad in tow. Presenting my research with my mum, dad, Calvin, Lady M & Lady A in the room was fabulous. They've been my cheerleaders through every stage of this journey, and I was happy to share the celebration with them as they've earned it as much as I have. Immediately after class, we hopped in the car and my family of four headed south.

It had been three years since we last had the girls in Florida to visit my extended family who live there. Though Cal and I had each been down separately, Lady A had only just learned to walk on her last visit. Seeing as she now runs, talks a mile a minute and is prepping herself for kindergarten this fall, she had changed a fair bit since her last visit!

Having only flown the kids down there before, driving was to be a new adventure for us. We set off with excitement, and made it to Erie, PA on night one, thanks to our late start. Lady A stayed awake until we crossed the border in Niagara Falls, and Lady M - determined not to miss a moment - stayed awake until we pulled into our hotel in PA. The next day proved to be a little more eventful with the stomach flu hitting Lady A just outside of West Virginia, so we stopped a little earlier than planned that day in North Carolina. Feeling much better by morning, we pulled into Ormond Beach, Florida the next evening. The kids were amazing in the car - reading, watching movies, playing various car games, and only asking "are we there yet" a handful of times. (Impressive, because they like to ask that question on a 20-minute drive!). Much of the time was passed with Lady A listening to Taylor Swift, Fight Song, Call Me Maybe and Stompa through her headphones while singing loudly, to the tune of Lady M frequently asking "Lady A, could you PLEEEAAASSE sing in your head?".

We spent a little over a week in Florida, and it was wonderful. Always nice to reconnect with our family down there. From family dinners to trips to the beach, 4th of July celebrations, plenty of swimming and shopping, we had a great time.

My method of travel is "don't plan too much", as I like to just take each day as it comes. The rest of our lives are so scheduled between work, school, after-school activities, etc. that it's nice to just come off schedule for a bit and enjoy the freedom of loosely planned adventures.
Fun at Daytona Beach
Shoe Shopping!
4th of July, Lady A
4th of July, Lady M
The only thing we did have scheduled on our trip was one day at Disney's Magic Kingdom. Our girls had been to Downtown Disney before, but we decided at 6 & 4, it was the perfect time for a park. And it was. Lady A went on her first ever rides (beginning with the Peter Pan ride, and Ariel's 'under the sea' ride, and she was hooked! We made the choice to stay on the Disney property for a night too so we could make the most of our day passes. That allowed us to head back to the hotel in the later afternoon, go for a swim and relax for a bit before heading back to the park for the electric light parade (which I'm sure hasn't changed since I was a kid) and the beautiful fireworks display. The next morning we got up and went for another swim, visited the gift shop, then headed back to Ormond. A great first experience for the girls, and Disney still feels as magical to me today as I did when I went at their age.
Cal & I at the Disney resort
The girls checking out Cinderella's castle
After a couple more days, we began our drive home. Normally everyone feels a little sad on the way home, and is just eager to get there, but we had one more thing to look forward to. One of my best friends has lived in North Carolina for several years now, and we were planning to stop there on our way home. So we drove to Winston-Salem where we were greeted by my sweet friend Elana and her hubby, Blake. It was awesome to see where they live and work, and we squeezed in a NASCAR museum, visit to the Richard Childress Racing shops, Richard Childress winery, and Rescue Ranch. All in a day! We spent two nights there before heading on our merry way once again.

My lovely Shme & I 
It was a whirlwind two weeks, but was so relaxing and fun. We got to catch up with so many people, enjoy the sunshine, and take our kids through a number of States they hadn't seen before. What a great way to kick off the summer of 2015!

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