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Friday, July 28, 2017

St Augustine: Day 3 and 4 {Alligator Farm and the 4th!}

On Monday we planned to take the morning off from the beach. Whenever we go on vacation we sit down as pre-plan as much as possible. We decide which day we will do what and try to have things organized. This being 4th of July week it's a SUPER crowded week in St Augustine. So we tried to arrange things to avoid crowds and tried to spread out non-beach stuff to make sure we had plenty of beach time!

Zach talks a lot about how much Tess favors me. And I don't just mean because we look alike. She does prefer me majority of the time and always wants ME to tuck her in. He says that out of all our kids she's the one that has really clung to me the most and seems to not really care much for him (I honestly can't say if I agree to this or not because it's hard for me to remember to compare but I do think all the other kids went through a "daddy phase" whereas Tess hasn't yet). This trip was HUGE for their bond. They had a LOT of quality time together and I think Tess needed that! Zach says one of his favorite things about this trip this year is that Tess actually likes him now ;)


A couple years ago we visited the Alligator Farm. It's not something I'd recommend doing yearly but we decided to go back this year because Tess LOVES animals AND because she still gets in free! Gotta take advantage of her being two while we still can ;) I was able to find discounts on tickets on a site called Local Flavor? I'd never heard of it but when I googled around it popped up and it was legit! We spent like half of what we spent a couple years ago on the admission! Which really made us have an even more enjoyable day. Things are always more fun when you get a deal on 'em ;)


Britt's dress is from Target. We saw it when shopping together and agreed that it was a "must buy" This girl still LOVES alligators!


We went right when they opened in hopes of beating the heat...which was impossible haha








Kye was so funny with his notebook for writing down his "facts"








So the alligators were cool, of course, but omg the birds were SO awesome. There were TONS of nests and I've never gotten to see baby birds eat that way. It seems like they are attacking the mother and it's like they put her whole face in their mouths! SO weird and awesome. 






Favorite area of the park is the bridge where you walk over all the swimming alligators. You can hear them and it's so creepy! 




Our economical child kept picking up little pellet food off the bridge where people who had paid for it had dropped it haha! 


I personally am VERY impressed with the Alligator Farm. Is it an all day visit? No. Is it overpriced for admission? Yes. But if you get a deal (like we did!) then it's a worthwhile visit. It's EXTREMELY well done. I love when you can tell thought is put into design and landscape and layout and that is very much the case here. Elements remind me of Animal Kingdom with the smallest details fitting the theme. Their prices on food, drink, and merchandise are also very reasonable! I NEVER buy food at places like this but for $4 each kid got a souvenir cup WITH an icee in it AND had free refills all day. The big kids each bought their own and I bought Tess's. They are cute cups and we probably got a solid 10 refills each easily out of them ha!




As I mentioned, it's not a large park. If you're wanting to stay for the alligator feeding (duh) then you WILL have time to kill. We opted to sit and watch a little show they put on. It was a nice break, a chance to drink our slushes, and a good view of some animals. 


Tess looks thrilled haha







Britt's favorite animals have been alligators for a long time. Tess hasn't specified a favorite animal but anywhere we visit she is always the most excited about turtles!





Fun playarea to take a break and burn off some energy!





I think this is a crocodile? SO crazy how different they look!



Of all the things we did all week, the visit to the Alligator Farm has been what Tess talks about most (which is super cute...she makes her Little People "go to the Alligator Farm"). Her favorite part? The Mommy and Baby alligator together :) 

Of course Zach ruined the sweet moment by informing us that mother alligators will eat their young. Whhhhat!?!?!



Last time we came I was able to pay $5 for the kids to hold a snake and alligator for a picture. They sell tons of photo packages and I'm so glad I just asked because he let me take my own photos for SO much cheaper! This time it did go up to $6 but still totally worth it!





The kids have been saving their chore earnings and were pumped to go shopping! These pretty large stuffed animals were only $13 each! Which is so great (especially b/c I'm comparing to Disney where they'd probably be $30 or more). At first Britt wanted to get both of them and she took some convincing to put one back. 


Tess is pretty economical. We wanted her to get a HUGE stuffed snake because it was only $11 and was awesome but all she wanted was this small windup snake that was $3. Score for us!


Kye got this old school game from my childhood! $5 and just as entertaining if he had bought a DS ha!


Final choice: Sparkle-Leah!




We had a bit before the feeding time so it was a great time to get some pics...in front of the bathrooms haha!







Ready for the feeding!




They feed them RATS and it's AWESOME. I mentioned in the post about our visit to MOSH about how they shied away from telling us they were feeding the turtles mice. Well they are loud and proud about the rat feedings at the Alligator Farm. And it's def a sight to see! 









I took several feeding videos:
1
2
3
4
5
6

Something that has changed with having three kids is that I prefer to just push naps late and each lunch at home/in the room rather than go through the hassle of packing everything up. We got back in great timing and had plenty of time to eat and settle down for naps!


That afternoon we hit the beach! Y'all. I mentioned when we were packing that it was supposed to RAIN the WHOLE trip? We had such beautiful weather!!! 






I think Daddy earned a lot of his Tessie points at the beach :) Both girls loved going out far with him to jump the waves together. 





One of my favorite memories from the week was just sitting with Tess during our time at the beach that evening. Zach and I were sitting watching the kids play (which was SO awesome...being able to just CHILL!) and she came over to me and wanted to sit with me. She sat in my lap for an hour. Easy. And just cuddled and talked. I asked her lots of questions and got her opinion about things. She was so sweet and she's really just such a mellow kid. How many 2 year olds wanna sit with their mama at the beach? I soaked it up!



Every year we make cube steak and have a feast night. We decided not to do that this year. Instead I made a HUGE meal before we left. I have a new favorite recipe that is a chicken alfredo pasta. Also in the crock pot, of course ;) I made it a couple nights before we headed out and brought the left overs with us. Less of a hassle than bringing the crock pot and we just got some garlic bread and made it an easy, yummy meal!



Something on our bucket list for summer is for each of the big kids to have a solo date with Mommy and Daddy. Once Tess turns 3 we will also make sure she gets solo dates too! We decided to try to make these happen on our trip. Britt ended up not going with Zach as she kinda had an attitude issue a good bit of the trip. But Kye and I went to get ice cream after dinner! 


We had to make a pit stop on the way though for some ear infection medicine for me. Y'all. I swear. I always have random stuff. I was being a "cool mom" and jumped in and swam with the kids two times the week before we left for the trip and sure enough I ended up with an ear infection! I bought swimmers ear and am now gonna be hardcore about using it post swim!


Our new favorite spot for a date! Second year in a row!


It's just SO hot haha the ice cream melts before you can even eat it!



Kye has made a BIG change this summer. He's really transitioned into a pre-teen kid. I know he's only 8 but I guess that's when this change starts. He's getting less open with me about things and less chatty. He's less excited, or at least he doesn't outwardly show it as much. It breaks my heart a little. We didn't have a lot of deep talks on our date like we used to. I had to ask a lot of questions and felt like I was just annoying him. I savor the moments where that little boy still comes out and I know he knows I'm here for him anytime he DOES want to talk. I never want to force it or annoy him so I chalked this outing up to him probably being tired and it being late and we headed back ;) 


We kicked off the 4th with a morning at the beach! My sweet Britt is ALWAYS picking flowers for me :) 





We had so many neat animal encounters on this trip! The girls and I spent a ton of time digging for sand crabs (there were TONS of them!) and we found some clams. We saw dolphins swimming and got to pet a shark when a guy fishing caught one! Tess loves talking about all the animals :) 







Their expressions ;) 


We love collecting shells but Zach doesn't love keeping them all haha so he had an idea for the kids to put them on display and take a photo of them so we can keep the picture, and leave the shells at the beach ;) 


Zach and Kye built some epic castles and had a sand castle battle! 

Here's the videos I got of it:



The girls loved the seashell display idea and kept changing out all the shells for it!


We finished up at the beach early so we could have some pool time! The pool at the condo is so great and the PERFECT temp! Even though we have a pool at home, there is just something fun about swimming on vacation! Tess loved swimming with her Daddy


We had a new dog sitter for Levi while we were gone and y'all she was cracking me up. She kept texting me updates on how Levi was doing and said he missed us and even sent this selfie with him. I told her he was getting more attention from her than he EVER gets from us hahahah! I should have asked if she wanted to take him home as her payment for watching him ;) 


Every 4th of July since Kye's first 4th we have gone to the condo where Katie and her family stay for the week. It just happened to work out that our tradition was the same as theirs with coming to St Augustine every 4th! We love getting to spend that time with her family and the food is always awesome too ;) I feel bad that we have SUCH a CREW and just come in and take over their holiday haha but so far they keep having us back so I guess they don't mind too much!

Kye's shirt and Britt's dress were random Zulily finds. Tess's dress was a kids sale find back in Jan ;) 




Love me a "real life" photo!


BFF! 




The kids loved getting their own table and Z and I enjoyed the adult conversation ;) 


The food was good...but MAN the desserts were AMAZING 


Katie's family has so many cute traditions! We always sing patriotic songs and say reasons why we love America. This year the kids lead us in the singing. It was so precious! 


Here's the songs they sang (yes, it was quite a show!):
two 




Last year Kye was all about the lemonade and this year Britt was all about the bread and butter!


We got back to the room with plenty of time to do sparklers and poppers!


Britt wasn't too sure haha



Tess opted out, she was a little nervous about it (understandably so!)


This girl and her silly expressions! 










We put Tess to bed and let the big kids watch a movie so Z and I could hang together for a bit then I took the big kids out to watch the fireworks on the beach. 


Britt said "fireworks remind me of God"
Kye said "these are nothing compared to Disney"




We didn't stay out for the fireworks very long and I need to remember to stay out a bit longer next year. It was a great day and a super fun 4th! I hope Katie's fam is ready for us to invade with FOUR kids in tow next year (hopefully!). 
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