Ancient History

Follow Me?


Sea level

sam_water.jpgIn January of 2006, Aidan and I flew to Chicago to visit the American Girl Place. We had a great time on our whirlwind trip, just the two of us getting away for a weekend of mother-daughter bonding over dolls and Mike Ditka.

From that time, my husband and I thought it would be great if we could take similar trips with our other children—short vacations with one or two kids to places we couldn’t go on a whim. Recently we were presented with an opportunity to go to Florida. My husband had to travel to his corporate headquarters in Naples. We decided to take our two oldest sons, Ryley and Sam for a long “weekend”—Thursday through Monday. We’d be joining daddy at the beachfront condo where he was staying. It would be their first airplane and ocean experiences. Baby Beatrix also went along for the 4,000 mile round-trip ride. She goes where I go. Our other three children were under the loving care of their paternal grandparents.

I managed to get two boys, a baby, her stroller, her carseat, three rolling carry-on suitcases, three backpacks, six shoes, three Ziploc bags filled with our liquid paraphenalia, and my electronics through the unsmiling and gold-badged gauntlet of 21st century security. The flying public surely felt safer when they witnessed the four of us being pulled aside by TSA agents so they could conduct a special search of Sam’s Superman backpack. After his blue elephant, comic books, and Rice Krispie treats were thoroughly stirred with a safety stick and latex-protected hands, we were on our way to sunny Florida.

We were lucky enough to be booked on flights that weren’t full, which meant I could use an empty seat for Beatrix’s car seat. The Denver to Orlando leg of our trip featured her jumping in my lap and the lap of the lady seated next to me. Her name was Marla and she graciously offered to hold and otherwise entertain Beatrix. The boys sat behind us and spent their hours ordering drinks, doing word searches, playing magnetic checkers, sleeping, and in Sam’s case, making a puppet out of the barf bag.

The puppet’s species: Bovine. The puppet’s name: Orlando.

Orlando, the barf bag cow mooed as we made our descent into the greenest and most water-logged place I’ve ever seen.

Beatrix fell asleep. I put her in her carseat. She stayed asleep as we deplaned, retrieved the gate-checked stroller, and dashed to our next gate for the flight to Fort Myers with Marla’s help. Thankfully, that flight had empty seats so I didn’t have to disturb her.

An hour later, we were waiting outside the Fort Myers International Airport for hubby to pick us up.

First Impressions of Gulf Coast Florida:

~McDonald’s has sweet tea!
~Cops everywhere
~White sand beaches!
~Palm Trees!

We were hungry and tired when we arrived at the condo. True to the description, it was right on the beach. The sight of the water, sand, and trees was energizing. Within minutes, the boys had their swim trunks on and were sprinting to the waves. I lagged, snapped pictures, wondered how I got there, thanked God. ryley_water.jpg

Thousands of miles from the high and dry of home, I was on vacation. The next two days featured strolls on the beach, sea shells by the thousands, sand in and on everything. Luckily, the condo had a washer and dryer, so I could rinse away the pervasive grit before we left for the second half of our trip—a drive back to Orlando for two days at Sea World.

On the way, we visited the home and fish farm of one of hubby’s high school friends. They fed lunch to us and showed us around. It was great punctuating our trip with friendly faces.

shamu.jpgIt seems odd that we were in Orlando but we didn’t go to anything Disney-related. We decided to save all that is Disney for a time when our whole family can invade together. That is one of the reasons we decided to make our final days of vacation all about Sea World. They are running a promotion where you get the second day free, so we didn’t feel like we had to rush around the enormous park trying to jam everything in to one crazy day.

The grounds were lovely and well-kept. The shows, while bordering on gorgonzola-cheesiness, were well-produced. Dolphins smiled, sharks waved, manatees slumbered, seals were croupy and thrashed for expensive fish thrown by tourists. It was nice to be able to focus on our two big boys. The sense of herding I usually carry when I go out with the kids was gone, but I still missed our kiddos at home. We kept in contact several times a day, and it was clear they were having tons of fun with their grandparents.

We arrived home in the tender hours of Tuesday morning, thanks to flight delays and bad weather. I never went to bed, however, because Tommy (who stayed at home) was having an asthma attack. I took him to the emergency room, where he was admitted to the hospital for breathing treatments and steroids. By the time I got home and crawled into bed, I had been awake for slightly over 28 hours.

I was at the point where I was beginning to hallucinate a little. My brain was wooly and my eyes were as gritty as the beach sand as I sat in Tommy’s hospital room, waiting for hubby to arrive for his shift. I had the sensation I was swimming in impossibly warm waters with rainbow fish. Above me, palm trees undulated. A voice snapped me back into the room. It was hubby and his dad. I had been asleep, dreaming of the wavy heat and light that is unique to all that is level with the sea.

10 comments to Sea level

  • I think it’s so wonderful to take those special trips. My goodness hope Tommy is doing ok now and that you have caught up on your rest!


  • Beautifully written! I love how you parent. I think these small vacations with more focused time with each of your kids are a lovely idea. I might try this and I only have 2! Were you by chance on Sanibel or Captiva Islands? I have been there and they are lovely. Glad you are home safe. Hope everyone is healthy. We are still having a blast in Mexico. Hi to your family!

  • Shayne

    What a wonderful idea to do these mini-vacations with just one or two (or three) kids! I know it was meaningful for you and for Sam and Ryley to have this special time together. The pictures are beautiful and it looks so relaxing!

  • What a wonderful vacation! I love that area of Florida, having had a chance to vacation there a few years ago when my sister lived there.

    Traveling with a baby is quite a task, isn’t it?

  • I love the way you see things. What a delight to read!

  • Sounds like a wonderful time! I’m so glad the flights out went well, I had been praying for you!

    I hope Tommy is doing well, and hope to see you next week.


  • What a wonderful opportunity to individualize attention. I find that so important and so hard to do.

  • What an adventure! I don’t know how you managed to fly with three children, all by yourself. I am most impressed.

    I hope Tommy is fully recovered – and that you are too.

  • Great pictures. Wonderful get away. What a blessing. P.S. Every time I see pictures of your boys, I can’t help but think my boys would get along with them so well.

  • edj

    Great post. I really enjoyed it! I hope you’re all now recovered from the joys of travel and lack of sleep and asthma.

Leave a Reply

You can use these HTML tags

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>