Tuesday, October 24, 2017

NZ Heather Comes to Visit April 2016: Key Biscayne

Heather's Itinerary of Fun Birthday Celebration Day two!
The next day, Dallas took Dax so us girls could catch up.  Don't get me wrong, my little guy is SUPER easy and such a joy to have around, but it is hard for me to focus sometimes because I can't turn off the mommy mode.  So it's nice to spend quality time with friends checked out from mommy mode every so often.

For our day together, I thought it would be fun to show Heather one of the islands off of Miami, called Key Biscayne.  It has some of the most gorgeous views of the city looking back and some incredible beaches and places to explore.  We brought our swimsuits for when we found a place we wanted to set up camp, but first we wanted to walk around and get a feel for the lay of the land.  It was so much fun to explore an area I wasn't very familiar with.  We loved looking at all the unique wildlife and vegetation. 

We walked along several different trails and were excited to read that manatees loved eating the surrounding sea grass.

Such beautiful boardwalks!

When we got to the beach, we were welcomed by the most gorgeous colors.  My heart will forever be in love with the colors of south florida waters.  

We immediately took off our shoes and began to explore up and down the coast lines.  We loved the gorgeous views of the city and lighthouse along the shoreline.

So much beauty!

We walked down to the lighthouse and explored the rocky shoreline around the sea wall.  We saw lots of fun fish and watched a fisherman and his daughter for awhile.  We then decided we were too hot and trekked back to our car to change.

After changing, we brought our beach gear and relaxed along the water's edge for another couple hours.  It was so nice to spend the entire day catching up and laughing...always lots of laughing!

After spending the day exploring Key Biscayne, we found a super cute little restaurant on the island for dinner.  We ate yummy pizza and finished off with frozen yogurt.
It was the perfect day!

NZ Heather Comes to Visit April 2016: Hollywood Beach

In January of 2003, I embarked on one of the most amazing and life changing journeys as I went to teach kindergarten in Auckland, New Zealand.  There I met and made the most incredible friends that I continue to cherish to this day.
I was so excited when one of my New Zealand girls, Heather, called to see if she could fly out to South Florida for her birthday in April.  I immediately got to work planning out the perfect birthday trip jammed packed with all sorts of fun activities.  
It was a pretty awesome Itinerary of Fun!

Heather ended up taking a red eye flight so after we picked her up at the airport, we brought her back home where she could take a nap for the morning.  After catching up on her sleep, Daxton and I took Heather to our favorite local beach, Hollywood Beach!

Hollywood beach never disappoints! 
It was perfect weather, low crowds, calm surf, clean sand, no seaweed...basically the perfect beach day.
Heather and I relaxed and chatted for hours, while Dax played in the sand and water.

Just a few gorgeous highlights from our perfect beach day at Hollywood Beach...

Exploring the boardwalk and playing in the sand and waves

Enjoying the warm water and soft sand

So in LOVE with that color

Snuggling my little buddy

Can NOT get over that gorgeous color!
Or those cute piggies

Dax spent a good hour digging a massive hole and then filling it up with ocean water.  He was perfectly occupied while Heather and I chatted away catching up.  It was pure heaven!

After spending a few hours at the beach, we walked along the boardwalk to our favorite restaurant, the Taco Spot.  They make the most amazing carnitas and grilled corn.  It's to die for!  We all had a blast filling our tummies with absolute goodness.

And of course, it wouldn't be a complete day at Hollywood beach without getting ice cream cones!  The fun comes with seeing how quickly you can eat your cone before the heat melts it right out of your hand.

Gotta love the absolute mess a four year old makes!

So in love with those perfect golden curls!
Day one of Heather's Itinerary of Fun birthday celebration complete!

Hollywood Studios and Animal Kingdom with the Shumate Family (April 2016)

The next morning we woke bright and early for another fun day at Disney with our friends, the Shumate Family.  We spent the morning at Hollywood Studios doing all things Star Wars and then the afternoon at Animal Kingdom doing all things Lion Guard.  It was most definitely another fun day with our friends!

We met up with the Shumates outside of Star tours where we took turns riding the rides and eating yummy snacks.  The boys were super cute to smile whenever I requested, which was quite a few times!
More family selfies!

We can't do Hollywood Studios without doing all the different photo ops throughout the park.  It was so cute to see Dax fall right into character as he and daddy climbed on the speeder!

This kid continues to be obsessed with all things Star Wars related.  He loved riding Star Tours over and over with daddy!

I absolutely ADORE this picture below of Jack and Dax on the speeder!  They had so much fun pretending they were chasing rebels.

As we were walking over to explore the new Star Wars launch bay, Robert was carrying Jack on his shoulders.  Jack let out a rather large sneeze and when we looked over at Robert we couldn't help but laugh...
yes that is the remnants of Jack's sneeze all over Roberts head 😂
The joys of fatherhood!

The Star Wars launch bay was super fun, especially since April and I are married to big Star Wars nerds.  Dallas and Robert had a blast looking at all the different Star Wars memorabilia from different movies.  Dax could not wait to meet Kylo Ren and the different Star Wars characters in his Darth Vader costume!

As we were about to go inside the Launch Bay, a couple storm troopers started their patrol in the courtyard outside.  We knew we had the perfect opportunity for magic!  Dax threw on his Stormtrooper costume and quickly ran after them.  It was pretty funny to see him chase them down through the crowd.

The second they noticed Dax, they started to interact with him and ask him all sorts of questions.  The funniest part was when Dax turned to look at the camera and one of the stormtroopers realized he wasn't wearing a full "helmet".  The stormtrooper kept touching Daxton's hair asking, "What is the meaning of this!?  I need your identification number!"  By this point a big crowd was forming taking pics of the mini stormtrooper.  It was pretty awesome to see Daxton's face as the storm troopers marched on and he finally took off his mask.  It was a total look of awe and joy.
A perfect Disney moment!

While exploring the Star Wars launch bay, we also got to see a fun Star Wars show.  It was filled with all of Daxton's favorite characters including Boba Fett!

He about lost his mind when Darth Vader and Kylo Ren came out on the stage.  He could not have been more excited!

The highlight, by far, was meeting Kylo Ren with Dax dressed up as Darth Vader.  He was super star struck, but we did have to hold him back from hugging Kylo as we entered.

The first thing Dax said to Kylo...
"Kylo Ren, I am your Grandpa!"
We all started laughing pretty hard and I could tell it was one of the prouder daddy moments for Dallas.

Our whole group with Kylo Ren
(LtoR) Kylo, Dax, Dallas, Me, April, Jack, Henry, and Robert

After our morning spent doing all things Star Wars, we made our way over to Animal Kingdom.  Jack loves the Lion Guard series so we wanted to make sure we got to spend some quality time meeting Rafiki and exploring the animals.

Another traditional photo op
Our little family at the Tree of Life in Animal Kingdom

Dax and Jack had a blast climbing on all the carved logs around the Tree of Life.

Fun highlights from Animal Kingdom included...
Drumming on every drum available.

Taking the train over to Rafiki's Planet watch and meeting Rafiki himself!  
Jack even sat down and meditated with Rafiki for awhile😂

Dax and Jack were able to be sworn in as members of the Lion Guard.  They swore to protect all those around them.  I love Jack's face in the below middle pic as they were getting sworn in!

We also spent a good amount of time exploring Dinoland, which is Daxton's favorite.  He loved the dino dig area and all the different playground equipment for them to climb, slide, and jump off.

Of course, one of our favorite rides at Animal Kingdom is the Safari.  We see something different every time we go, which is pretty amazing.  The animals put on quite the show for us!

We especially loved all the giraffes eating next to our safari jeep.

By the end of the day, we were exhausted and ready for our drive home.  Dallas and Daxton both even fell asleep on the end of the Safari ride as we were waiting for jeeps to be unloaded.
Needless to say, it was a VERY fun weekend at Disney with the Shumate family!

Shumate Family we love you so much!
Thanks for the fun weekend!
It was so fun to remember such great memories with you guys.  Love and miss you heaps!!

Magic Kingdom with the Shumate Family (April 2016)

There have been so many changes since I last updated our blog.
I fully realize that no one really uses blogs much these days, especially with the convenience of Instagram and chatbooks, but I miss our family journal.  With instagram I narrowly choose the highlights...yes, even though my instagram feed is filled to the seams, those are just our highlights :)  I miss being able to write, more in depth, about our experiences and adventures as a family.  
So here goes another fun looking back at our adventures here in Florida...

April 2016
Disneyworld with the Shumate Family

The first weekend of April, we decided to join the Shumate Family at Disneyworld to celebrate Daxton and Jack's birthdays.  Their birthdays fall within a couple weeks of each other, so we thought it would be fun to let them play at Disney together.  We stayed at the All-Star Movies resort on Disney property and ended up being able to get rooms right next to each other.  Jack didn't know we were joining them, so it was super fun to knock on their door Saturday morning and let Dax surprise his buddy!

We all hopped on the Disney bus and headed over to Magic Kingdom for the day.  I'm SO glad we got a group shot at the beginning of the day, because little did we know what the weather had in store for us!

Our whole group in front of Cinderella's castle
(Lto R) Robert, Jack, April, Henry, Me, Dax, and Dallas

The cutest little buddies ever!
I love their excited faces and I can't get over how long Daxton's curls were!

Family selfies at the entrance to Magic Kingdom.
It's a family tradition and we have about a thousand of them I'm sure.

Once we took some pictures in front of the castle we made our way over to Tomorrowland, where we road Buzz lightyear and the People mover.  Then we made our way over to Fantasyland to ride the Barnstormer, which was Jack's favorite.  As we were taking turns riding, a massive rainstorm hit.  It lasted for a great part of the day and no matter how prepared we thought we were, we got drenched!  We used rain ponchos, umbrellas, and raincovers for our strollers and we still managed to get soaked.  It was quite the adventure!

We decided to seek refuge from the storm for a late lunch at the Skipper Canteen in Adventureland.  The food ended up being super yummy!  Jack and Dax loved the opportunity to goof off indoors and eat yummy treats.

I couldn't get over how adorable Daxton's curls were from the rainstorm.

After lunch we headed over to Tomorrowland for more rides...
The daddies loved riding on the cars with Dax and Jack.

I'm sure Dallas loved getting whiplash from Daxton's awesome driving skills :) 

Next was the teacups, which again, the daddies got the privilege of taking Dax and Jack.  I have sworn off that ride due to my need to throw up afterwards!

After spending a few more hours exploring Magic Kingdom in the rain, we started to get waterlogged and cold.  We headed back to the Disney bus stop, where these buddies looked pretty cute waiting for our ride.

Once we reached our hotel, we explored the gift shop and the hotel grounds a bit before taking a late afternoon nap.  The boys loved trying on all the different Mickey hats in the gift shop.

Each of the Disney hotels are so much fun!
All are designed with different themes and priced for all different option levels.  The All-Star Movie resort had all sorts of different structures for the kids to explore and play on.

It was pretty cute to see them get so excited to see different characters throughout the grounds, even if they were just statues.

We stayed in the Love Bug building where the kids had a blast climbing on all the tires and running through the splash pad area.

At the end of our busy and wet day, April and I made sure to treat ourselves to a yummy drink poolside.  Even though it wasn't the best weather, it was still tons of fun being with our family and close friends!

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