We Have to Go Back!

Now how often do you feel like this?

Travel is a funny thing for me. I ache to do it, and when I do it, I ache to come back. As both a young child, and as a semi-comfortable adult, I got to experience the wonders of being exactly where you should be. I have a song for that, of course.

Between that isn’t necessarily travel I didn’t want to do, but it was weird head and heart spaces. Like being disoriented. A little like time travel. It’s like going away for two weeks and it feeling like two months. Maybe it’s being with the wrong person at the wrong time at the wrong place, or they’re all wrong, or maybe all right. But just alright. Not like.. fantastic. Sometimes it’s going somewhere that once knocked you off your feet, only to find it feels all different. Wrongish. You’re pretty much going through the motions but you don’t feel the same. You need something different. And hey, that’s ok too.

As long as another place, another time, another person, another experience – knocks you off your feet.

Here are a ton of photos and little stories from our family vacation to St. Augustine and to Orlando Florida. We loved Magic Kingdom and Universal Orlando - especially the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.

There was a time in my life in which every travel experience was riveting, and returning was more bittersweet than just sweet. Sometimes just bitter. It’s probably because I had money and could go to the places I really wanted to go, which you can’t when you’re the middle child of five. Who can afford seven plane tickets? I certainly can’t. Four is my speed right now. Also when I had that early 20’s money and could go where I wanted, I was also spending it with the right person/people.

In my current phase, I’m somewhere in the middle, and somewhere in new territory. These ARE the places I want to go, even when that middle child syndrome creeps up and I complain that it’s never about me. It’s that strange middle of life/generations thing. We work hard to make our parents and our children happy. We work hard to travel and work and progress and connect and keep our balls in the air, and sometimes if you drop one, it’s like you drop them all. We don’t rest very well. I should say that it’s me. I don’t rest very well. I love to travel but I work so hard, that I have to do triple duty to clear things out of the way for my trip. Then I work a bit during the trip, and like a dog after the trip. Still totally worth it.

Here are a ton of photos and little stories from our family vacation to St. Augustine and to Orlando Florida. We loved Magic Kingdom and Universal Orlando - especially the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.

So here’s the 25 cent, highlights and lowlights, cellphone only photos, version of our trip to St. Augustine and Orlando. Was it overall positive and amazing? Of course! Very little negative, if at all. I did feel sick one night, but whatever. This trip had such imagery and such stories. When I go on a trip, and know that I take 7,000 years to edit the camera photos, it’s nice to do a 25 cent version here. Maybe more like 50 cents. I’ll post more photos with more in-depth thoughts, but ultimately?

Let’s let the phone pictures tell the stories for now, shall we?

We had to get up at 5:00am for the flight. I always say I’ll only get up at 5:00am for something grand.

family vacation

family vacation

The flight was smooth. I had the middle seat between both kids because I’m a Mama now and even though the window seat is my favorite thing on earth and the only one I choose.. well.. I’m a Mama. Des entertained us with his barf bag puppet:

Oh, and I watched a whole movie on an flight! Never had. It starred Reese Witherspoon.

When we landed, it was 75 degrees! We got into a bit of trouble at Orlando International:

And then Scarlet instantly found her people:

Then we drove/dozed to St. Augustine where we all found our people:

family vacation

family vacation

family vacation

We went to the beach twice on that first day. Just to feel the sun and see the sights!

There was a tree in the water on the first day, and by the second day, it had washed onto the shore. I took a lot of “real” photos of it to share “soon.” (had to air-quote that one) I wonder this tree’s story! And how long it was in transit:

We had four nights there in my in-laws’ newly purchased beach house. There was a TON of relaxation. I loved to sneak up to the kids’ room, overlooking the palm trees, and take book naps. The food, company, beach, napping time had a great flow. We played mini golf and went downtown a few times. Cassidy and I had a hot date – clearly the only northerners there because we chose to eat dinner outside! There was chocolate, there was ice cream, and I finished a book during the trip.

That’s all part of the magic.

family vacation

family vacation

Lattes in St. Augustine!

family vacation

And gourmet ice pops.

family vacation

On Monday, we met my aunt at Disney Springs. We go every year and marvel at its growth. It’s definitely a good half day, and this is us knowing exactly what we want to do, see, eat, drink, etc. Like I like to go into Ghirardelli to get chocolate samples and a latte. And then go back in for more samples. Plus pin trading, the LEGO store, chocolate BB-8 from Star Wars, and the MARVEL store. Des loves the hot air balloons. Cassidy loves getting in trouble there, like he does everywhere.

My aunt gave me the BEST Rocky Horror Rubber Ducky EVER.

We were in Magic Town at this point. Also, Santa gave Scarlet’s best friend’s family a hotel room in the same resort we were staying at, as well as TWO whole theme park days with best friends. I mean, really. Isn’t that the stuff of dreams?

We loved being warm!

Des had the best window view as he drifted off to sleep for the two nights we stayed at Art of Animation Resort, in a Cars Suite. I mean, imagine being five. I’m an adult and this looks right out of the Cars movies to me. It blows the mind!

We got up early on Tuesday to get breakfast and then head to Magic Kingdom. What else can I say about it? I did two roller coasters again. This time I didn’t hate The Barnstormer. I went on it twice! And Mine Train is SO GOOD. We went on Magic Carpets of Aladdin which was new to me! I went to the Hall of Presidents.. That was a new one. We saw the parade and the fireworks and the princesses and the shows and it was all so good! I still have yet to have a Dole Whip. Maybe one day?

Here are a ton of photos and little stories from our family vacation to St. Augustine and to Orlando Florida. We loved Magic Kingdom and Universal Orlando - especially the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.

First time meeting Tiana!

Here are a ton of photos and little stories from our family vacation to St. Augustine and to Orlando Florida. We loved Magic Kingdom and Universal Orlando - especially the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.

Here are a ton of photos and little stories from our family vacation to St. Augustine and to Orlando Florida. We loved Magic Kingdom and Universal Orlando - especially the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.

Here are a ton of photos and little stories from our family vacation to St. Augustine and to Orlando Florida. We loved Magic Kingdom and Universal Orlando - especially the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.

Here are a ton of photos and little stories from our family vacation to St. Augustine and to Orlando Florida. We loved Magic Kingdom and Universal Orlando - especially the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.

No, really. Can we go back yet?

The next day was Universal Studios. This was more of a half day for us, as we were headed straight to the airport after the theme park. Not only did I face a lot of things that used to be fears – crowds, airports, muggles, etc. – I went on two new roller coasters! That’s four for me now. I went on Ride of the Hippogriff and the Woody Woodpecker one that’s really ok for three-year-olds, but my roller coaster phobia deems me as good as three. E.T. is still my favorite ride of all time! Magic!

Getting into trouble magic too.

What part of this trip looks most fun to you?

5 More Reasons to Stay at Extended Stay America

This is a sponsored post in collaboration with Extended Stay America, and I also received a three night stay in the Extended Stay America of my choice. This post also contains affiliate links. All thoughts and opinions are proudly 100% my own!

There 1 billion reasons to stay at Extended Stay America, and here I give you five more after an amazing family trip we took! #ad #getaway #vacation #rental #myESA

As you may know, I took the kids on an awesome getaway vacation to Maine last week.

We had such a blast. It fostered our sense of adventure, while also providing a unique scenario we had never encountered! I have stayed in hotels with Cassidy. I have stayed in hotels with just Scarlet. The four of us have taken trips together, but, I had never been on a solo parent vacation with just the kids. It’s such fun to explore together, and to get to know each other’s unique personalities away from the home. I knew that Des was more set in his ways than Scarlet, but it provided a chance for all three of us to discover what it was like to travel together as an explorative trio. Cassidy, you were missed!

Extended Stay America

We chose an Extended Stay America in Scarborough, Maine. This location is south Portland and I had only been there once during New Year’s Eve well over 10 years ago! I wanted to explore the city and explore the amazing foliage. We were NOT disappointed. It was absolutely gorgeous. We left on a Friday after Scarlet had her track practice. We felt so welcomed there from the start. It was late at night and we were greeted warmly by the front desk. The check-in process was easy.

(Thank you so much for all your help on Friday night!)

I consider myself a savvy traveler and I love added value when going for a weekend getaway with the kids. In fact, that’s $1 billion worth. All of Extended Stay America’s 625 hotels nationwide are now renovated and improved. They have over 20 years of experience so they know what travelers want – things like free Wi-Fi, free grab-and-go breakfast, fully equipped kitchens with full-size fridges, premium cable TV channels, and spacious, yet affordable suites. All that and MORE too!

With $1 billion invested towards your stay, why stay anywhere else for your trip? Here are 5 MORE reasons to choose Extended Stay America for your holiday, vacation, getaway, work, rental, or whenever you need a home away from home:

1 – It fosters our spirit of adventure. Having the kids stay with me at Extended Stay America was so exciting. We felt free to do anything we wanted – and explore a place that was new to all of us. The hotel gave great advice about local events and activities for the kids. We felt more willing to try new things; having such a great home base back at the hotel.

2 – Staying at Extended Stay America allowed us to bond as a family. (3/4 of a family)

3 – Extended Stay America was a home away from home. I loved the comfort of having our own kitchen that we could customize to have everything we needed for meals and cleaning up. Then when Des was tired early and couldn’t stay awake at a restaurant, I could grab dinner nearby and we could go back to eat in our room. We loved that! (See them in the photo?)

4 – Extended Stay America has pet-friendly rooms! Even though Cassidy stayed home with Athena, it’s awesome to know we can take her with us in the future. She loves going adventuring with us and is the ultimate road trip dog to have around!

5 – Extended Stay America partners with the American Cancer Society. I already feel GREAT about them for all of the reasons I mentioned, but this makes me feel even better. I love that they have invested $1 billion into renovating and improving their hotels, and I love the great feeling you get during your stay. Thank you so much for your generosity and helpful tips – because of your folder of local things to do, my little one got to see two MOOSE! He had seen them before (6 of them, actually) but he was only two and doesn’t remember. We won’t forget our time with you, and we can’t wait to go back!

Click HERE to book your stay!

Look on Extended Stay America’s website. Where would you go for your stay?