We stopped for breakfast about an hour into the trip—this was a goal we had set earlier in that week and it worked!
We stopped for a potty break and to administer morning snack at the Florida Welcome Center where Noah tried orange juice for the first time and LOVED it! (They offer free cups of orange juice or grapefruit juice at the Florida Welcome Center, and on this day, they even had free Shutterfly coupons for an 8x8 book! So my mom & I each grabbed one of those!)
About two to three more hours down the road, we stopped for lunch and my boys discovered their love of Burger King. J
We arrived in Ocala around 2:30pm our time, and it made for a long travel day but we still made pretty good time considering the amount of stops we made.
My Nana had prepped Tater Tot Casserole for dinner—it’s a super simple and kid-friendly recipe that I’ll make and share in the next week or so. The boys loved it and I was so surprised at myself for not making this recipe at our own home! It’s one of the favorite recipes of my younger brother and we ate it a good amount while growing up. It just slipped my mind that it is so easy to put together. We have out-of-town family coming to visit in a week, and I just might have to pull this together for one of our meals.
I ate mine with Chili sauce that my Nana and Popa make each year. I’ll have to get the recipe for that because it is SO GOOD and Aaron would love it.
We played outside in the warm Florida weather. The boys threw their little Spiderman ball around, and a Marshall figurine from PAW Patrol also joined in the “flying” (aka throwing). I gave the sweaty headies a bath afterwards, and then gave them Greek yogurt for bedtime snack. Greek yogurt is my FAVORITE thing to feed them for bedtime snack because it packs so much protein and really helps Michael’s blood sugar stay level overnight.
The boys had a blanket pallet on the floor next to the queen bed my mom & I would share during the trip. I put a movie on our travel DVD player for them as they fell asleep.
Mom & I got to have a nice visit with Nana and Popa that evening and catch up on some family news and events. My two cousins have each recently had little boys and it’s fun to see the pictures of the growing, smiling babies!
The next morning, I walked around the neighborhood with Nana and her dog. After breakfast time, we loaded up and headed to a nearby park. The boys loved every inch of that park and played and played for an hour or so. Noah is my fearless one and gladly went down the tallest slides. Michael is my conservative child, and would walk up the stairs to the top of a slide and then decide he’d rather walk back down the stairs. Eventually he found a stick that looked like a wrench and proceeded to “fix” all of the park equipment. I was glad to have my mom and Nana there too because trying to keep up with two kids at the park, with a growing belly of my own was hard!
We headed back to Nana’s house to have a snack and play for a bit. I had a headache and proceeded to take a rest/nap to try to alleviate the pain. I really fell asleep hard, and my mom was a champ for feeding the boys lunch while I slept. I woke up after a while and ate lunch when everyone had finished, and then when it was time for the boys to take their afternoon rest, I rested again.
That evening, we headed to one of my favorite restaurants down in that area. We had a reservation, which was good because this place was as crowded as I’d ever seen it. We had trouble finding a parking spot, and eventually, I got out of the van and stood in front of a spot so my Popa could swing around the parking lot and pull in. We figured no one would run over a pregnant lady, so it ended up being our strategy that worked to ensure we got a spot.
It took a looooooooonnnngggg time at the restaurant. A lot of waiting. And then some waiting. We got a table fairly early on in the wait, but then we must have sat there for another hour waiting for our food. The boys did fairly well during this time. It was a long hard wait for a kid. About four different parties in the restaurant were celebrating birthdays and one table had these gigantic mylar star balloons. They happened to be at the table next to us, and Noah kept staring at them. The wife of the birthday man saw Noah looking and offered a balloon to each boy before this party left. They were ecstatic and I was less than thrilled. I don’t LOVE balloons, and I didn’t really want my kids to be the owners of two large and loud shiny flying objects.
The next morning, I went with Nana and Popa to church and my mom stayed back at the house with the boys since there was no kids program at church. When we got back, my mom had the boys performing a pretend parade while holding their balloons. She’s so creative! After church, we had a nice lunch at the house and I thought we’d be able to do our afternoon activity prior to a nap. I was wrong. Clearly my boys needed a rest if we were going to enjoy anything else that day. So we rested.
After a good rest and a snack, we headed to the petting zoo! Michael (conservative, remember) held my hand with a death grip and chose to stand with me several feet away from all animals. This wasn’t a petting zoo where you could walk inside the fence, which was fine with me. Instead, you’d stand at the gate of whatever group of animals, and they’d come up to the fence and you could feed them. Noah and my mom and Nana, all fed goats, llamas, cows, emus, donkeys, sheep, etc. Michael got brave enough to throw food into the fenced area with chickens, ducks, and peacocks. Then he was all about “feeding the animals” (still meaning, throwing feed into the gates and watching the birds peck it up. He also got much joy in watching the ducks waddle around. Just wait, little one. Mommy will soon develop a waddle that can rival that of a duck.
We came home and played for a bit on the screened porch while dinner was cooking. We had lasagna and salad and crescent rolls and fresh fruit. Michael and Noah can tear up some fruit! They both enjoyed the lasagna and had seconds. Michael particularly enjoyed the dried cranberries in the salad. We played outside on the porch again until it was dark and the boys’ hair was so sweaty that I could shape it into mohawks on top of their heads. I took them to get a bath and then promised them each a crescent roll for snack. We set up a movie again as they went to sleep, and I started packing up our bags. We’d leave the next morning after breakfast.
The boys were up at their usual early time on Monday morning, and we headed out after eating cereal for breakfast. We made really good time, even with stopping for gas, and then again 30 minutes later when Michael finally had to go to the bathroom. We made a big detour in Tallahassee while we searched for an old country store where my mom’s grandparents used to get smoked sausage back in the day. We found the store and mom & I both bought some sausage to take home for a prize for our hubbies. I got one pound of Hot smoke sausage for Aaron. I also grabbed some Swamp Seasoning blend for him.
We found a Burger King for lunch after some help from a GPS and hearing lots of made up songs about Burger King. The trip seemed to fly by after that. We made good time back to Alabama, and Noah fell asleep shortly after the first major town we came to after crossing the state line. He stayed asleep until we were on the highway near our neighborhood. Michael was glad to have the travel DVD player all to himself during the last two and a half hours of the trip.
Mom and I had good talks during our road trips and it was fun to see her in the role of Grandma all weekend. I’m glad we made the trip and I think the boys had a really great time. We were happy to be home and done with the long car rides. The next day, the boys and I enjoyed a relaxing rainy day doing laundry and grocery shopping. Lunchables were a good incentive in the store for good behavior, and the boys both had really good naps that afternoon, which meant I did too!
This weekend, Aaron & I get to take a weekend trip by ourselves and the boys will stay with my mother-in-law. They are excited for a “sleepover” and I’m really excited for a little trip with my husband! We have lots of things planned and I’m hoping we can get to all of them, but we’ll enjoy ourselves even if we don’t get to everything, so it’ll be a fun weekend regardless.
Until Next Time,
Much love, Reba