Last month, just three days after Christmas, all three girls and I packed our suitcases once again and headed down I-65 to Destin, Florida.
My parents own a timeshare in Orlando that they frequently trade in their points for to use at other properties. For the third year in a row, they’ve booked a condo in Destin. They fell in love with this area when my sister was stationed here from 2015-2017 and have really enjoyed returning each year between Christmas and New Years.
This year, my dad booked a three-bedroom condo so that anyone in the family who wanted to join, could.
You don’t have to twist my arm even slightly hard to go to the beach, so the girls and I joined. Jamie unfortunately couldn’t make it since we’re saving his time off for future 2020 trips, but I do think he not-so-secretly enjoyed three days of much-needed peace and quiet at home (he deserved it!)
Truth be told though, I wasn’t up for going in the days leading up to the trip. We had “partied hard” for three straight days (Jamie’s birthday, Christmas Eve, and Christmas), and then Jamie had to go right back to work on the 26th and 27th. I was feeling achy and under the weather, had a house that had been completely neglected for four days, and toys and packaging were absolutely everywhere. I was so completely exhausted, mentally and physically.
But the day before, that Friday the 27th, all I could do was imagine the cold, sugar sand between my toes and my oldest girls running straight for the waves. Just thinking about the peace of being at the ocean for a few days calmed my soul. I knew if I could just get the laundry done and throw some junk in the van, that things would be better once we got to the beach.
So that’s what we did. I knew we wouldn’t be going anywhere fancy to eat or doing anything that we needed decent clothes for, so the girls and I quite literally just pulled stuff out of their dressers and closest and tossed it all into different suitcases. I gave them an additional suitcase to put art supplies, puzzles, and toys into. We threw baby gear into the trunk, packed a ton of snacks and drinks, scooped up my mom, and hit the road around 8:30 a.m. Saturday.
We couldn’t get into the condo until 4 p.m., so there was no point leaving at our usually 4:30 a.m. Because of this, Jillian struggled on and off on the way down, so we had to make more stops than usual.
My mom helped keep the atmosphere light, and going on that short little road trip with her was pretty great. The girls watched movies on their new iPad, we jammed to worship music to calm Jillian down at times, and we finally cruised into Destin while finishing up a podcast all about The Bachelor (a guilty pleasure my mom and I share).
We met my dad there, who had taken their car down there separately since I planned to leave a day before them. Poor guy… being trapped in a condo with five women was surely overwhelming at times. 😉
We arrived during golden hour on Saturday and bolted straight for the beach. It was wonderful. Just like I’d envisioned the day prior, the cold sand felt Heavenly between my toes, and the sight and sound of the girls on the shore made my heart feel so at peace.
We stayed three nights and two full days. One day was rainy and one day was perfect sunshine. Both days were perfect because I couldn’t have cared less what the weather did. I was just so happy to be there, somewhere so beautiful, for a few brief days. I didn’t have my long to-do list on the kitchen counter, I didn’t have four laundry baskets to gather dirty clothes from, I didn’t have a sink of dishes to tend to all day. We didn’t have Netflix or Amazon or Disney+.
We just had the beach, a suitcase of toys, a couple kid channels on cable, and each other. And it was all we needed for three days.
When we weren’t enjoying some fabulous relaxation time in the condo (which we spent a good 50% of our time doing), we were out to eat (we enjoyed lunch at Harry T’s and breakfast at Whales Tail), playing in the rain at SanDestin’s Baytowne Wharf, immensely enjoying the heated pool and hot tub (Sadie’s favorite!!), or walking/lounging on the beach.
I wanted to get home to be with Jamie as a family on New Years Eve since he had the following day off, so at 4:45 a.m. the girls and I climbed into the van and headed home. We made stops when necessary and pulled into our driveway about 11:30 a.m., just in time to unload the car, take a shower, and get ready to host a group of friends and their kids for New Years.
During the trip, I documented some videos and pictures on Instagram with Zac Brown Band’s “Quiet Your Mind” playing continuously in the background. You can see all of it under the highlight “Destin”.
I adore the lyrics to this song, as they describe my mindset so well on this trip.
I hear the waves
Sun beatin’ down on my shoulders
It’s a near-perfect day
Wishin’ I wouldn’t get any older
They say that it’s gone ‘fore you know it now
Quiet your mind
Soak it all in
It’s a game you can’t win
Enjoy the ride
A red sun is risin’
And the stars are all goin’ away
And if you’re too busy talkin’
You’re not busy listenin’
To hear what the land has to say
Taking this trip was about just that: quieting my mind. My personality likes to go, go, go. I thrive on keeping things in order, accomplishing tasks, and being with people who are easy. But my personality also craves rest. Resting to me means not just physically resting on the couch and watching TV, but it means tuning out all of the things I could be tending to and just being present with my family.
It means snuggling them on the couch watching a “kid” movie that maybe I don’t personally care for. It means doing a puzzle with them. It means swimming and going on walks on the beach. It’s mental rest as much as it is physical rest.
This trip was an inexpensive opportunity to enjoy a beautiful place, be with my people, and just “be” for a few days before getting back into the swing of things after the holidays at home.
Traveling with kids is never super easy, but honestly… it’s not hard. At all. I think the more you travel, the easier it gets. Your kids know what to do, but you also have more realistic expectations and don’t get flustered as easily. You know the prize is your destination – both the place to you are traveling to and then on the way back, home sweet home.
During the trip, my sister called to share news that she’d just seen on Facebook: my friend Allen, whom I’d gone to school with since 5th grade, had just passed away from Stage 4 lung cancer. I nearly dropped my dinner plate that I was bringing to the kitchen because I was just so shocked. I knew he was fighting so hard, but I had no idea that he was about to pass away.
I could go on and on about memories I have of him and what an exceptional person he was, so it devastated me that the world lost someone like him. My heart aches so terribly for his family. We didn’t keep up after high school, only seeing each other maybe four or fives times in the last decade, most recently back in September when he was inducted into our high school’s Hall of Fame. He was just a really, really good one. He was only 31.
His passing was yet another reminder to enjoy your family as much as you can, while you can, and to also enjoy opportunities like this. Years from now, I won’t remember feeling under the weather or the chaos of laundry all around me right after Christmas, but I will remember road tripping with my mom and seeing my young daughters live their best lives frolicking on the beach. I’m so glad I didn’t sit at home that weekend. Mustering up the strength to get in the car and go was a really good decision.
On the night before I left, my dad watched the kids for about an hour while my mom and I went down to the lobby to grab a glass a wine and watch the sunset. We talked about all kinds of stuff, and enjoying that peace and quiet with her was nice.
I’ve always heard people say that one of their biggest regrets is not spending more time with their parents while they were healthy, and I can see how that can be true. So, soaking up a quiet hour like this with my mom while watching the sunset was sweet.
I’ll finish up this post with a video from my dad that may embarrass him. 😉 He knew that I was working on this post, so he sent me a few pictures and this video. Hey, Dad! Thanks for a great trip.
Where are a few places you go that you know you can go and rest?
Hi! I’m Erica, and I absolutely adore sharing my life on this website with you! I come here almost daily to blab about all of the things related to being a regular wife and mother in today’s ever-evolving society. I share about our new home, what’s on our kitchen table, what we’re hanging in our closets, where we’re traveling to next, my crazy 5 a.m. work outs, how I make time for girlfriends, our faith, and much more. We always have a lot of balls in the air and somewhat thrive on the chaos. I believe in the power of story-telling as a form of inspiration and entertainment, so I’m here to do both! I was born and raised in north Alabama and recently re-planted roots here again after my husband transitioned out of the Army (he is now in the Reserve and it’s going so well!) I’m a super proud mom to three little girls (ages 7, 4, and 1) who seem to be the stars of the show around here (for good reason – they’re pretty great!) I’m so glad you found me and are here reading! I hope we can get to know each other here on the blog as well as Facebook and/or Instagram. xoxo