HAPPY VALENTINES DAY, LOVES!
Hadley told Jamie on the way to school yesterday that Valentines Day is her favorite holiday. When Jamie scratched his head and asked why, she said because it’s all about showing love to other people. YOU WIN, HADLEY. I love that.
We admittedly have never gotten to into this holiday. I don’t want to ignore it all together because we’ve done that too in the past and it made me feel a little down. So now we just keep this special day sweet and very simple without going overboard with expectations. Hadley brought store-bought Sour Patch Kids valentines to school, we each grabbed the girls little cheap-y gifts/chocolates from Target, and Jamie and I exchanged some cliché chocolates and flowers (for me). And honestly… that’s my kind of Valentines Day. 🙂 In fact, I think we’re just hanging with friends tonight. Whoop!
Moving on with today’s post. 🙂 There are some posts that I write ahead of time, and there are other posts that I write and quickly publish in real time. This is one of them! It’s currently 9:10 a.m. on Friday, and I’m sitting on the couch in the living room with Frozen II playing for Sadie, whose sitting right next to me under a shared blanket (a fire is roaring across from us too – wonderful!) Jillian is snoozing, and I’m just hoping I can crank this out before she wakes up.
Five Days in the Sunshine State
A week ago today at this time we were around the Dothan, Alabama area well on our way to Orlando, Florida. My parents have a timeshare at a resort just a few miles from Disney World called Sheraton Vistana Resort, and about a year ago we decided to take advantage of their week at the property and enjoy the sunshine for a few days. Our big annual family vacation isn’t until November this year, so we figured this would be a somewhat inexpensive way to “vacation” while we are saving up for our actual vacation later this year.
We left at our normal 4 a.m. and pulled into the property exactly 12 hours later. My parents arrived about 20 minutes after us. It wasn’t a bad travel day at all! We used to come to this property when we were kids (when the timeshare was actually my grandparent’s) so I was instantly flooded with memories, especially of my late grandfather.
We were tired that first night, but at least we had Walmart groceries being delivered to the condo later that evening, right? I had tried planning ahead the best I could.
Well, the groceries were never delivered. Walmart flubbed big time and our order was mishandled, so I found myself at Walmart at 8 p.m. doing a huge grocery trip because we had nothing in the condo and would need things for the morning. Arg. I was there with a zillion other people from all over the world since this is the Walmart right outside of Disney property, and let’s just say that my Christian love was tested amidst my exhaustion and irritation that I was there in the first place. 😉
By 10 p.m., Jamie and I were happily in bed, ready to start fresh in the morning!
Saturday | Sheraton Vistana Resort Villas
It was cool Saturday morning, but we were ready to explore the beautiful resort! It was massively renovated just a few years ago, so we thoroughly enjoyed spending a couple of hours walking around and scoping out our options for where to spend our time.
The sunshine warmed the day up in no time. We eventually found a sweet poolside playground that the girls played on while we camped out in some lounge chairs and exhaled. We both have been running ourselves ragged lately with various things, so literally kicking our feet up and watching our kids have fun was just what the doctored ordered.
Look at this deep blue sky! So wonderful.
When we got back to the condo, we quickly ate some sandwiches for lunch and packed up to head to a “Pirates and Mermaids” pool party from noon to 3 p.m. The girls were so excited to put on their swimsuits, play some games, and swim their little hearts out. I absolutely love how this resort has lots of activities and things to do all day, every day. You could totally make a vacation out of just staying on property. Heck, we barely left except for our one park day!
Eventually Jamie took Jillian back to the room so that she could get in her afternoon nap in and he could work out (he brought equipment from home because he’s uber dedicated like that!) My parents also headed back to the room to get ready to go scoop up my sister and her kiddos from the airport.
The girls and I enjoyed the best few hours at the pool together before eventually heading back to the room to change clothes and get ready to receive everybody.
Our reunion with Jenn, Carly, and Luke was a happy one! The cousins were all ecstatic and picked up right where they left off in October when they moved to Chicago.
We ate dinner at a restaurant at the resort that evening, which ended up being our only “sit down restaurant” experience as a whole group during this trip, and for good reason. 😉 The kids were just so excited to be together on vacation and were all over the place, the food was late coming out, Jillian is spilling water cups and is overtired, the two year old is sprinting across the restaurant, the three year olds are egging each other on to stand up in their chairs, and Hadley is just dying laughing at it all.
It was CHAOS but kind of hilarious too. So… that was our one “dining out” night. 🙂
Bath, books, prayers, GOODNIGHT KIDDOS. 🙂
Once our three chickens were out cold, Jamie and I threw on our suits and headed out for some “us” time. This guy + a cocktail + a warm evening + a large hot tub = the happiest date!
My parents went to church Sunday morning to see some old friends, so the rest of us had a really chill morning together. The kids loved waking up together, having breakfast, and playing with toys (we brought a big bin from home).
The weather was just out of sight!
We eventually got dressed and headed out for a walk to the playground.
Once my parents returned, we all threw on swimsuits, packed our bags, and headed to a different pool than the day prior where they had a Luau party going on! So fun!
The pools were all heated and absolutely wonderful. Each pool had a full restaurant, bar, great music, etc. It was a really happy few hours! Five adults and five kids in the pool was a great combo: one kid per adult! (My brother-in-law wasn’t able to come because of work obligations.)
After naps for the kiddos and some cleaning up for the adults, we headed out to Disney Springs to walk around and grab something to eat.
It was a complete and total utter madhouse, so walking around as a group of 10 was kind of wild. The kids did great though, we browsed some stores, and then finally ended up grabbing dinner at some food trucks and eating at a table near the water.
This picture of Jillian trying to grab Hadley’s bow is my favorite!
Grandpa loves his youngest grandbaby! She loves him too.
We had our one great big park day on Monday, which I’m excited to share about in my next post. 🙂
This was our last full day. We were so fortunate to have four full days of perfect weather (literally, the local news used the word “perfect” to describe it every day!) and our last day was no exception. The morning air was warm but foggy, which created a nice setting to sit out on the porch to sip coffee, listening to worship music, and ease into the day.
Uncle Jamie loves Luke! (They were watching firetruck videos on YouTube.)
My parents attened a timeshare meeting that morning, so the rest of us all took advantage of enjoying some quiet. A vacation that includes an itinerary from start to finish is NOT my idea of a true vacation. A good combination of downtime and planned, well-thought out activities is our sweet spot!
So a morning like this was awesome. Jamie even took the kids on a walk around the lake and to the playground so my sister and I could have some quiet time together (a.k.a. his way of buttering me up so that he could jet away to go work out in the gym when he got back, LOL.) I called him out for this and he just laughed. I love him.
Jillian was definitely a crowd favorite with her sisters and cousins!
Once Jamie was back from the gym and my parents were back from the timeshare meeting, we all headed out for one last pool day.
If you think that’s me housing a box of to-go cheese fries with all the kids, you would be correct. 😉 Vacation mode was in a full effect! Ha!
My friends have always laughed at me because I am always that friend/mom who isn’t bothered by getting my hair wet and playing in the pool like a big dork. I love it! I actually get a little bored/hot sitting poolside; I’d rather be in it playing with the kids! And PLAY. WE. DID!
Our last night was kind of a mess thanks to a continual power outrage brought on by the clothes dryer. My sister had already purchased everything to cook a big meal, so the power outrage was throwing a kink in her ability to cook. We also had five overly tired kids (nobody napped since we spent four hours at the pool), a ton of packing to do (since we were leaving at 4 a.m. the next day), clothes to dry, power that was on and off, and a meal that we just couldn’t get cooked… it was nuts.
But we finally enjoyed a meal on the back patio during sunset and powering through to get everything packed up and kids in bed. Amen.
And at 4:05 a.m., we five DeSpains hit the road for home sweet home. We made it in 10.5 hours this time because we were flat-out just ready to get home. We ate all of our meals in the car, made quick bathroom stops, bottle fed Jillian, and just cruised. It felt good to get home early, unpack, and settle back in before returning to work/school for everyone the next day.
This was a really great trip. We tried to keep costs down by driving to the location, only doing one park day, eating at the condo when we could, and enjoying the free activities (i.e. pools and playgrounds!) as much as possible. We arrived home feeling refreshed, recharged, and really just plain grateful for that time with family. These faces mean the world to me.
What have you enjoyed doing in Orlando besides visiting Disney?
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