St Augustine July 2021 – Part 1

Every year we all look forward to our annual St Augustine week at the beach! The last few summers we have stayed in the same condo community and really love it. The unit we stayed in last year is the same one we booked again this year and it’s really perfect for our family and gives us plenty of space!

After my St Augustine weekend with friends I knew we HAD to make a stop at Buc-ee’s on the way down for our fam trip!

I was so excited for the kids and Zach to get to have the experience and it did not disappoint! We all chose a snack to try and everyone got a slushee plus checked out the epic bathrooms πŸ˜‰ Spear found his spirit animal in Buc-ee πŸ˜‰

The condo we stay in is three stories with two bedrooms on the first floor, the living area and kitchen on the second floor and the master on the third. It’s a bit of a tricky layout for little kids. I don’t love the idea of Spear on the first floor and us way up on the third floor.

In the past years we’ve had him in a pack and play in the bathroom on the main level but now that he’s in a big kid bed that doesn’t work. We had planned for him and Kye to share a room but man Kye was ALL ABOUT finding a solution to that problem.

We ended up putting Spear in the master closet and it worked out great as his own little room and there is an air vent in there and everything! Spear was excited, Kye was happy.

I was thankful I bought a couple of door helpers to keep Spear safely contained during the trip as it really helped minimize some of my concerns and stresses and allowed him more freedom in the condo. These fit over a standard circle style doorknob and these are great to help keep a little one from opening a closed door.

Zach ran to the store to get groceries as well as hunted all over town for a beach tent because we totally forgot ours at home. OOPS!

The kids and I got settled in and we had a great dinner, with Britt’s fav corn on the cob, to kick off the week!

For dessert we had a Buc-ee’s taste testing. We each tried all of the treats and rated them from worst to best. My order – 6th: chocolate covered peanuts, 5th: unicorn popcorn, 4th: beaver nuggets, 3rd: chocolate covered pretzels, 2nd: lemon crisps, 1st: snickerdoodle cookies. In a shocking turn of events Tess’s ratings were the EXACT OPPOSITE order of mine!

A GREAT perk of having the kids get older is that we truly do have more freedom. Spear had been counting DOWN for the chance to go to the beach and we just couldn’t wait until the next morning! So we finished up dinner and walked down for a bit of pre-bedtime fun with his excavator scoop arm in action!

The weather was pretty rainy this trip due to hurricane Elsa coming through but overcast at the beach isn’t a bad thing. It was nice to have the breeze and not be hot, sweaty and sunburnt! Zach and the big kids went early to set us up a spot and then came back to get Spear and me. It was literally raining when we walked down and once we got to the beach we even saw lightning. Not the best start to the first morning!

It was Sunday (the 4th of July ) so we decided to have our family worship time under our tent while we waited out the storm. It was really neat to be worshiping together on the beach!

Zach had to go to like 5 stores to find a beach umbrella in stock so we joked about our fancy umbrella all week – you know the last one left was gonna be the fanciest πŸ˜‰

The rain cleared but we were still cautious to make sure to avoid the water and such for a bit as lightning is always a concern. Britt had signed up to play flag football on a girl’s league locally (sadly it ended up not happening due to not enough players signing up). She had fun practicing with Daddy on the beach and you know he was eating up every single second of it too.

The boys “built” an epic sandcastle together, which was really more of Kye building and Spear destroying. Spear just loves a good demo project ha!

Tessie and I searched for shells along the shore. I’ve always loved to find seashells for as long as I can remember.

We also hung out and played “guess the Disney character” together and enjoyed watching Spear be his silly self with the sand castle. It was such a nice, quiet morning since the usual crowds had opted to stay in and avoid the rougher patch of weather.

I finally took the plunge and invested in a super big, super cool beach truck for Spear. He spent all of last summer’s trip stealing everyone else’s truck so it was time for him to have his own and I have zero regrets about the purchase πŸ™‚

Once the sun came out it was lunch time so Tess and I headed in and got lunch ready for everyone. They all ate, Spear napped, and Zach Kye and Britt headed back to the beach. Tess had her fill that morning and wanted to hang back with me!

She’s def my quality time love language kid. She wanted to get some snacks together and “lay out” aka sit in the sunshine and eat the snacks. She also painted her nails for the first time while I painted mine and we just talked and read books together for a bit! I love that vacations give me a chance to slow down and truly ENJOY my babies in a way that the rush of life at home just doesn’t allow for.

Every year we celebrate the 4th with Katie’s family and just recently found out that next summer they are actually going to be going to a different beach! RIP our 4th of July tradition!!! I do think that an upside of the pandemic is that we’ve all become WAY more flexible. Still sentimental. Still love a tradition. But understand that things change. Circumstances change. We can appreciate and love what was and embrace what will be moving forward! I’m sure we’ll brainstorm a new tradition for next year and I’m so thankful for the last 16ish years of this one!

Always gotta be festive for the 4th!

Family – Friendship – Freedom!

So glad we got one with Katie’s sweet mama too! We love the entire Hitchcock Crew!

Near their condo there is a little pond area where you can feed turtles and birds and such so we walked down there and the kids had fun feeding and chasing them!

The last several years the older kids and I have a tradition of going out once it’s dark to watch the fireworks at the beach. St Augustine is known for their HUGE fireworks production over the river side but it’s a mega pain and ya know we’re Disney people so we see fireworks plenty often πŸ˜‰ We opt to hang at the beach instead.

The kids have made buddies with a ton of kids at the same condo area who also visit every year around the same time we do so they had fun playing with them while we watched the random fireworks on the beach! Britt’s favorite moment of the day was when Kye held her hand walking to the beach – she’s like her mama and loves those little moments of affection from him!

We intentionally didn’t make plans to do anything the day after the 4th. Last year I had booked a dolphin cruise and the kids were SO TIRED that it was tough to enjoy it so this year we stuck to the beach!

We were able to have a lazier morning and slow roll getting out there for a beautiful morning! The rainy weather the day prior meant EPIC awesome waves for the kids who are ALL about boogie boarding.

I remember a couple years ago Tess did not like the beach AT ALL but now that she’s found boogie boarding she is SOLD. We still brought our toddler pool and I was thankful we did as Spear enjoyed it a ton and Tess did too from time to time as well!

We had fun building drip castles and finding beach creatures. All of the kids friends came out too and a big game of dads vs kids football went down!

Even Spear got in on the boogie board fun! We decided we for sure need to invest in another board or two for the future – before we know it Zach and I will be able to chill in some beach chairs and watch ’em all go πŸ™‚

All the kids have made such sweet beach friends over the years but I ADORE Miles! Connecting with his family last year was something so special. Another adoptive mama who “gets it” and who can relate so much to our journey with Spear AND that they are practically the same age makes it even better! We got to spend a lot more time with his family this year and I love that Spear is old enough to really be Miles’ FRIEND! He has continued to talk about Miles since we’ve been home πŸ™‚

We love doing a big brinner at the beach and Zach and I both just really tried to ENJOY the week as a true VACATION. We had lots of downtime and hang time with the kids and just took things easy! We even hardcore NAPPED it up ourselves!

Zach is so great about connecting with the kids where they are at and he and Kye loved playing video games together throughout the week.

We’ve also learned over the years that THE BEACH is the attraction on our trip. We don’t try to cram our schedule full of activities!

I did, however, really want to take Spear to the Alligator Farm! We were SO excited to have The Alligator Farm host our family for the day and it really worked out great! We got there first thing when they opened and had plenty of time to walk around and see all the alligators and animals. It was a nice cool day too and not many people because of the weather and we had a bit of rain ourselves but didn’t let it spoil the fun!

—–> Be sure to read this post for all of my St Augustine travel tips including more in-depth info on The Alligator Farm!

Spear LOVED every second of it! I made sure to bring a toy alligator with us from home and that added to the fun. I love experiences like these where ALL the kids enjoy it and find areas of interest!

We even got some change to feed the alligators. I’m not sure if the rainy weather was keeping them away or if they were just full but we didn’t have a whole lot of luck with feeding them.

Britt still very much LOVES alligators and considers them her favorite animal so this morning was right up her ally and she took it very seriously making sure we followed the map and saw all the must-see gators.

I love that it’s got so many easy paths to follow and Spear was able to have the freedom to run ahead a bit and do some exploring on his own!

Tess was VERY tired at this point in the trip so that double stroller continues to come in handy for her πŸ˜‰

The last times we have visited The Alligator Farm we had an AWESOME experience getting to hold a real alligator, and even a snake! They’ve always been awesome about allowing us to pay for the opportunity to take our own photos. You can see our prior pics here and here too ( I am DYING over little Kye and little Britttttt)

This time, however, was super disappointing. They told me I could take my own photos but then blocked me out in a way where I couldn’t even see the kids and then they did the whole photo process SO FAST that the kids couldn’t even really enjoy it at ALL. She handed them the alligator and didn’t even let Tess get a chance to touch it. She wouldn’t let them even look at me at all. She snapped, snapped and was DONE. Literally a less than 1 min thing.

I bought the picture bc I LOVE the memories of the ones we have from prior trips and wanted Spear included but it was super, super disappointing and discouraging. In fact I even reached out and let my contact know and shared it on my IG stories and they were WONDERFUL about responding and apologizing and I feel confident it’ll be a better experience moving forward for guests!

We had a great family morning together exploring The Alligator Farm! I just love experiencing places we’ve visited throughout the years as parents and then to get to return with ALL of our babies – it’s just so special! We appreciate The Alligator Farm for hosting us and we will for sure be back in the future!

We made several stops on the way home attempting to purchase another boogie board but everywhere was sold out! We got back and had leftovers for lunch (Kye LOVES Mr. Keith’s ribs on the 4th!!!).

The girls had some Daddy snuggle time while Spear napped and watched National Treasure. Kye and I have an annual beach tradition of going to get ice cream together. Last year was such a weird year with things being closed or not allowing seating so we found a new-to-us spot called Rita’s and LOVED it so we knew it’s where we wanted to go for our quality time together! We chatted video games and how the Nintendo Switch has been a good investment for our family πŸ˜‰

Another annual beach tradition is going shopping with the girls! They LOVE matching with mama so they wore the tie dye shirts Tess and I made during our “camp week” and we went to shop the outlets. The deals were SUPER slim this year but we did manage to find quite a few goodies including a new bookbag for each of them as well as some super cute hats. Tessie was ALL jokes while Britt was ALL about the shopping!

I learned last school year that Britt is a wear the same thing over and over kinda kid so I didn’t mind this year investing a bit more into quality pieces since I know she’ll wear them!

Zach took the boys to the beach for a bit and we grabbed CFA on the way back and had plenty of time to show Daddy all our goodies before bed. One of my fav things growing up when I’d go shopping was showing my dad my purchases and Britt loved showing him everything! “Chef” Spear greeted us at the door!

The first half of our trip was SO wonderful. I love quality time with my crew and these little moments are so special for us all πŸ™‚

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Emily Parker

Hey Y’all, I’m Emily! I’m a stay at home mom and consider parenting to be my passion. Disney is my happiest place and I love making memories as a family together. I’m a big believer in transparency and share all of my real-life moments as a mother of four.

My work has been featured on Love What Matters, Today Parenting and Babywise.Life. I’m also honored to be a member of the Babywise Friendly Blog Network.

You can read more about our family on my About Me page. Also be sure to follow along with me on Instagram, FacebookΒ and Pinterest!

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