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Firsts and Faves: The Vacation Highlights Reel

 I’ve just dumped all the vacation photos from my digital camera, and can’t believe how much we crammed into twelve short days. Maddie experienced things that some people go their whole lives without ever enjoying, and has a huge list of “firsts” to add to her diary, including:

Animals that Madeleine saw for the first time:
Dolphins – a whole school of them frolicked directly in front of our beach mat for a good ten minutes. Amazing.
Heron – one early morning Maddie and I walked near the lake and stared, transfixed, as a heron daintily picked its way around the shoreline.
Jelly fish – Maddie discovered one washed up during a stroll on the beach. Upset she was not allowed to play with the pretty shiny ball.
Alligator, snapping turtle, and catfish – all three were competing in the hotel lake for some breadcrumbs. I think the gator – a baby at about three feet – grudgingly gave way for the catfish – not much smaller.
Osprey – We caught a glimpse of this beautiful bird while riding a boat through the protected marshlands.

Other firsts:
First ice – sounds small, but Maddie’s never eaten ice before. Desperate for a diversion, I gave her some on one of the plane rides. She loved to hold it and didn’t understand where it disappeared. One large piece accidentally fell in her shorts, near her diaper, and caused her to shriek with laughter. I think.
First forward-facing ride – we’ve been holding off turning the car seat around, since even at 15 months she’s still inching towards 20 pounds. But we started facing her forward on the plane and in the rental car, and she was so entranced and interested in everything going on. She’s a big girl now.
First airport rides – Maddie experienced several new modes of transportation, including the DFW SkyLink – just like the NYC subway, but above ground and clean! She also got to ride one of those little golf carts, and politely thanked the man afterwards.
First jet bridge – I think that’s what they’re called. It’s where the plane stops short of the airport, and you have to walk down a rickety set of stairs very late at night with several bags, a car seat, and a sleepy toddler slung over your arm.
First southern breakfast – the hotel we stayed at our first night on vacation offered a complementary full southern breakfast. Maddie tucked into the grits, biscuits and gravy, and skillet potatoes like one to the Mason-Dixon line- born.
vacation_sept_06_059.jpgFirst beach and ocean – still recovering from that one. She's just a neat freak, and can't stand the messiness of the sand.
First orange – I’d been holding off on citrus since she showed a rash with pineapple. But I let her have an orange slice at a restaurant and she tried to eat the whole thing, rind and all. Orange slices = new favorite thing. And what better place than Florida?
First lazy river ride – yes, our luxury hotel had a lazy river well-stocked with inner tubes for some leisurely floating. Maddie didn’t enjoy it too much; way too overwhelmed.
First sunburn – look, I dressed her in the SPF 50 bodysuits and made her wear a hat and sunscreen the whole time, but the tip of her nose got red. It was after a whole week, and it never peeled or anything. I still felt like a bad mommy, though.
vacation_sept_06_117.jpgFirst boat ride – our hotel ran boat rides from their private dock to a nearby beach. She sat all by herself like a big girl, pointing out birds perched on buoys and waving at them. She even tried rocking in synch with the boat when it bopped across someone else’s wake.
First glimpse of the good life – see yesterday’s entry. Don’t get too comfy, kiddo.

In addition to a slew of firsts, Maddie had some definite favorite moments during our vacation time, such as:
Plenty of doggy and kitty time- Our neighbors at the beach house had two big dogs and a few cats, who all obligingly strolled across the lawn a few times a day. “Woof woof!” and “mew mew!” let us know they were onstage once more.
vacation_sept_06_005.jpgTraveling by wagon – Our beach house came with a red wagon for hauling beach gear back and forth; Maddie loved to help push, and when tired would climb in for a free ride.




vacation_sept_06_116.jpgFaucet time – be it at the beach or at the house, the $2 faucet and tap water were her favorite water events. Brian would turn on the hose with its sprinkler head and “water” Maddie for several minutes while she cavorted on the deck.






vacation_sept_06_094.jpgDeck time – hanging out on the wooden deck was a good lounging activity. She’d sit and dangle her feet on the edge, or gaze out over the lake. It even came with a kid-sized Adirondack chair that she’d happily recline in.
Waffles – enough said.
Crayons at dinner – no, I will not have them on hand at home. I draw the line.
Stairs everywhere – Maddie loved going up and down the marble stairs in the hotel’s grand lobby. The staff did a great job pretending they didn’t mind.




vacation_sept_06_104.jpgBalcony time- As I mentioned yesterday, Maddie was besotted with the hotel balcony. Couldn’t get enough of it.
Fountains everywhere – Our hotel was literally brimming with fountains. Everywhere she turned, there was more water dancing in the air for her to enjoy. Of course, keeping her out of said fountains was not an easy task . . .

Honestly, I don’t know where the time all went. It felt while we were in it that we were the epitome of laziness, lying around and
sipping drinks by the ocean or pool. Now, though, I see how many life experiences she had in a few short days and marvel at how much we crammed in.

And wonder how I’m going to top all that new, fun stuff in the long winter months ahead.


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