St Augustine Trip 2020 {Part 2}

St Augustine Trip 2020 {Part 2}.

You can read the first part of our trip to St Augustine here πŸ™‚

We kicked off the second half of our trip with a morning at the beach!

Spear got braver which meant Zach and I got more exhausted as the week went on. Spear has always been super social and he had NO personal space at the beach. He kept going up to people’s tents and helping himself to their toys!

He would steal a big truck and TAKE OFF down the beach! Whew, wore me OUT.

The girls and I love hunting shells together and we found quite a few little friends too! We also saw a jeep parade go by for the 4th of July and Tess said “are they celebrating the end of coronavirus?” I wish sweet girl!

Tessie enjoyed the beach SO much more this year than she has ever before, but she still loved playing in our travel toddler pool too.

When we came back up to the house for naptime the girls and I did more baking! We wanted to make blondies to take with us to Katie’s family’s condo for our 4th of July celebration.

Zach offered to take a picture of us which was so thoughtful and, of course, the husband only thinks to take a pic when Mama is a hot mess haha! But I love these moments with my babies and wouldn’t trade ’em for anything!

After naps we got festive and headed over to Katie’s family condo. It’s so neat to me how it all worked out that our families just happen to align so perfectly on our yearly trips!

We LOVE our tradition of celebrating the 4th with her sweet family. This year we had pizza and SO MANY DESSERTS. It was basically a feast of sweets and you know we didn’t complain about that πŸ˜‰

The kids played St Augustine Monopoly with Aunt Katie and helped hold the flags while leading us in the pledge. I love that they’re all big kid enough to eat together at a kids table too! It was so nice that Spear even joined them and he did pretty well with it too!

We love tradition!

The condo Katie’s family stays in has a little pond with SO much wildlife! We took some bread down to feed the turtles and it’s so neat seeing them allllll come swimming our way! My sweet Spear even picked his first flower for his mama πŸ™‚

Their condo has a great back yard like ours did this year too and the kids and I played a mean game of Red Light Green Light before heading back.

We put Spear to bed and then busted out the sparklers and black cats to wait for it to get dark for the fireworks on the beach.

With the pandemic St Augustine canceled their big fireworks but we actually never go to them anyway because it’s SUCH a big to-do and we’re Disney people…we see enough epic fireworks πŸ˜‰

Usually we have the kids watch a movie or something until the beach fireworks start up but this year our backyard became the cool place to gather. It was so funny! Zach went to play corn hole with the neighbors and Kye went with him so I was keeping eyes on the girls while they played and they just kept multiplying!

Soon a neighbor came by with popsicles and it felt just like my childhood growing up in a close-knit neighborhood. We live in a neighborhood now but it’s just not the way it was when I was a kid and this night was what I wish my kids could experience all the time!

We lucked out that our week lines up with Katie’s and we also lucked out that it just so happened to align with a guy Zach worked with for a bit awhile back. He actually is who suggested we switch over to this condo neighborhood and we’ve enjoyed spending time with his family, and extended family, the last two summers!

They do a HUGE family beach trip every year for the 4th and all their families stay at the same condo area so we got to hang out with quite a large crew πŸ˜‰ It worked out so great as their cousins and friends were all around our kids ages so all of our gang had new beach besties for the week!

We went down to the beach and ended up staying until 10:30 because the kids were just having SO MUCH FUN. It was more about the friendships than the fireworks.

The friendship experiences ended up being ALL of our favorite memories of the week. I just loved the whole vibe this year and the connections made with the fellow adoptive mama as well as seeing the kids have so much fun making friends too. Britt said her favorite part of the trip was her friends and Kye agreed! He buddied up with some boys his age and loved boogie boarding and playing football and such with them. Of course THE most precious friendship was Spear’s beach buddy πŸ™‚

The friendships were a big blessing this year – especially being SO MUCH family time for so long! I think we all were craving companionship outside of our walls at home ha!

(And yes, Tess is holding hands with a boy in the last picture…she has decided he’s her future husband haha. It was funny that the child her age was a boy, Tessie has always had a close bond with Carter, her cousin, since birth so I think she’s just naturally drawn to boys her age to play with)

We had SO much fun on the 4th but def stayed up too late and were dragging the next morning.

When we planned the trip I really wanted to DO something. We’ve been sitting at home so much and I’m not big on sitting around. I’m all about experiences!

I thought it’d be fun to try to find something new to us to experience this year and learned about Red Boat Tours. Zach wasn’t super interested in going on a dolphin sighting cruise so he elected to hang at the house with Spear and Katie tagged along with me and the big three for a morning adventure!

I have had some good luck on animal sighting boat tours before (Zach and I had an incredible time on our whale watching excursion in California) as well as some not so great luck on them (it was the ONLY bummer of our California trip with the big kids…we didn’t have great luck on our whale watching boat that time around).

I was hoping for a bit of a redemption story after the failed attempt to see whales and felt like it was a pretty sure thing to see some dolphins since I mean you see dolphins just swimming while at the beach!

The boat docks at Vilano Beach which is THE cutest town! For YEARS it’s the area of St Augustine where we stayed every summer. We love the area and if we are ever able to purchase a beach home, we’d for sure choose Vilano.

Everything about it is SO CUTE. The pier was ADORABLE and we loved taking our time walking around and checking it out.

We booked our tour for 10 am. I wanted as early as possible because it gets SO HOT. The owners actually called me the day prior and asked if we’d be willing to switch to noon but when I told them I was really hoping to beat the heat they said they’d make it work and not to worry – super impressed by that!

We kinda thought maybe we’d be the only group on the boat after that phone call but it ended up being pretty full. It was a GORGEOUS morning. Like THE most perfect weather. Not hot at all and a gorgeous breeze!

I bought these little binoculars years ago and they have come in so handy so many times! I brought them along so the kids could take turns hunting a dolphin sighting!

Tess forgot her camera so I let her use my phone to take pictures and yall I was cracking up at some of the weird angles and shots she captured.

Right away I was very impressed with the entire set up for the boat ride. I had assumed it’d be “let’s look for dolphins” but instead it was SO MUCH MORE. It was really more of an historic tour of St Augustine from the water! It was just the right amount of facts and fun as well as relaxing and not too hyped up either. He even told us some ghost stories which got me excited for the days when we can start taking the kids on ghost tours!

Katie and I kept saying how much we enjoyed it!

We saw several dolphins but really the coolest part is that we got to go under the Bridge of Lions! And the tour was timed just right where we also got to watch the bridge open and close. I thought it was SO, so cool. I think I was more into it than the kids!

I’m for sure adding the Red Boat Tour to my recommendations for fun things to do while visiting St Augustine!

By the way…I really loved my outfit that day too haha I wore this black romper, my new kimono, the perfect beach hat, and my sexi flips!

While I really enjoyed the boat ride, whew Kye and Tess were NOT in great moods. Which is so rare for them! Britt was AWESOME and so appreciative and so FUN (per usual, Britt is like her mama when it comes to experiences…she’s ALWAYS all about it). I knew Kye and Tess were tired and I’m big on taking that blame on myself when my kids are tired. I let ’em stay up late!

It was still super fun and I’m still glad we went, and it made me really appreciative of Britt for pushing through and being so fun even though I know she was tired too. Def should have planned it for a different morning though to allow for better rest for us all.

We took Katie back to her place and fed the turtles some more before heading back to NAP. EVERYONE slept!!! And we had an early Brinner night for dinner πŸ™‚

We had another evening at the beach. This time the rain got us! And remember that nice breeze we had that morning? IT WAS FREEZING.

I mean, not literally freezing, but I’m the kind of person who gets super chilly when it’s raining anyway let alone being outside in it. I wished I’d worn a sweatshirt!

Spear found his first crab all by himself and he was super excited and super cute with it. He had the crab driving his little four wheeler and thennnn the crab fell off and he accidentally ran over it. Oops.

We didn’t let the rain get us down and still had a super fun evening in spite of it and everyone was so well rested and in MUCH better moods too!

Shocker…cool mom let the kids have another “midnight” snack before bed. Vaca Emily is COOL Emily okay? πŸ˜‰

I am so, so, SO thankful we had Spear’s allergy testing done PRIOR to this vacation. We have him on a set routine for his eczema (post to come with how we’d handling it) and it really saved this trip. I have heard that the beach is ROUGH on eczema skin and, yup, he was def affected.

I cannot even fathom how bad it would have been though if we weren’t doing his medicine and creams and if we didn’t know what to look for. We caught it super quick and started his anti-itch meds and just kept using those through the end of the trip and he was fine!

Over the last few years we’ve started to do guy time and girl time. Zach and Kye go golfing one morning and then the girls and I go shopping that afternoon. Someday soon we’ll all be able to split up at the same time when Spear is able to join them for the golf round πŸ™‚

Instead the girls, Spear and I spent the morning feeding turtles off the boardwalk bridge thing near our condo (at least until I saw the sign that said not to feed wildlife. OOPS.) Spear was so funny eating more of the bagel than he was feeding πŸ˜‰

Usually we spend some time at the pool during our trip but we have been swimming at home SO MUCH and for SO LONG that I think the pool just didn’t hold as much appeal this year. Also in the past Tess hasn’t loved the beach so the pool visit has been for her benefit but this year she was a little beach girl and didn’t even ask to hit the pool!

I figured my mommy-solo morning was a great time to walk down and swim and we had the whole place to ourselves which was fun! The maintenance man even showed up while we were there and turned the hot tub heat down for us to a safe temperature for kids to enjoy and they all loved that too.

I even brought pool snacks with me. As a kid eating snacks by the pool is one of my favorite summer memories! I was thankful for the opportunity to reinforce Spear’s water safety lessons with him as it’s so vital to practice often!

My sweet friend, Danielle, also hooked me UP with this towel recommendation. Yall. I will NEVER buy another brand of towels AGAIN. These are a GAME CHANGER! (FYI I got the fitness size for the 5 of us and the Yoga size for Zach). They fold up small, are quick-drying, and are just truly amazing. Are they cheap? Nope. But man they are gonna save us long term from buying all the crap towels I’m always replacing!

It was a super successful morning! We ended it with a picnic patio lunch! We all had so much fun and I loved that it was a bit of a beach-free day πŸ˜‰ Kids in the pool? I’m good. Kids at theme park? I’m a pro. But the beach just isn’t my jam with my kids!

As soon as Zach and Kye walked in the door the girls and I hit the road!

For Christmas we gifted the kids a trip. Kye and Zach were able to go on their ski trip in February but the girls and I have been so sad that we’re not able to go on our Disney Cruise. I have all these fun coordinating outfits for the cruise and decided to just WEAR THEM.

By the time we go on the cruise who knows if the stuff will fit the girls anymore (Britt already had a huge growth spurt and I had to rush around exchanging what I could for the next size up). So I busted out our tie dye shirts to wear for our shopping outing.

The girls LOVE to match and I LOVE that they LOVE to match. It just adds such an extra fun element to an already fun experience. They are ALL about GIRL TIME and I am too! It’s always so, so much fun together!

We headed to the outlets to do our yearly shopping. Truly – it’s not much of an actual shopping trip. I started having it be a shoe trip because shoes are an easier thing to shop for with kids and something they enjoy picking out and also something that I don’t care about. If they want wild and crazy shoes for PE I’m cool with it!

I know as they get older we’ll do more actual shopping but for now they love looking for shoes and browsing for gift ideas and picking out a couple new books. And that’s fine by me. I just love quality time with them and setting up a tradition that I know will be enjoyed more and more with each passing year.

We had SUCH fun hunting the perfect back to school shoes. It was crazy how much the prices varied from store to store for the same pair of shoes! We ended up getting each girl a pair they loved and got two pairs for Kye too. He wears sneakers every day so I like to get him a pair in blue, black and gray each school year.

The girls did so great with their masks and did very little complaining about them. We also went into Justice for the first time ever and yall I just do NOT like that store and the vibe of their clothes! I did let the girls get a BFF necklace set and they ended up both breaking due to the endless times the girls kept “attaching” their BFF portions together. So stinking sweet.

I’ve gotten TONS of questions about Britt’s shoes. Aren’t they awesome? You can find them here for a price less than I paid at the outlets!!!

Last year we struggled with dinner options so this year we decided to eat at the food court. They had a pizza place that ended up being pretty LEGIT. Even if it was our THIRD time eating pizza that week haha

We chatted and enjoyed our time together! I love just watching the girls interact. That sister bond is something so special and fun to see. Tess was cracking me up with her facial expressions.

This annual shopping outing began a few years ago when our local Gap Factory Store closed. I used to LOVE shopping there so it became a tradition to shop at the one in St Augustine. Of course, corona-luck, it was closed when we went. Hey, the upside is I saved money!

We had SUCH a fun afternoon together. I adore my girls!

In the past we’ve tried to do lots of one on one dates with the kids while on the beach trip but it’s just a LOT to try to fit in so this year I just really, really wanted to make sure to get some solo Kye time in.

He’s growing up, heading to middle school, and it’s more important than EVER to really stay connected and give him alone time to allow him to share his heart and the opportunity to open up. We have gone to a local ice cream place in year’s past but it was drive through only (they had TONS of outdoor seating so the drive through only thing really annoyed me).

So we drove down a little bit and went to a new-to-us spot. Rita’s Italian ice and Frozen Custard. It’s funny b/c we drove by it earlier in the week and I commented on how I don’t like frozen custard haha Yet they allowed outdoor seating so they gained my business!

The line was super long which made us super pumped because we knew it was a popular spot and probably super good. And yup, it did NOT disappoint. It is for sure our new go-to for our solo time together at the beach! We both loved it! It was like a slushee with ice cream in it which we both also love but had it’s own unique twist.

I think it’s important for me to mention here that connecting with a preteen isn’t easy, even when you have a close bond like we do. I think it’s super important to present as many opportunities as possible TO connect. In the car we don’t do electronics or tv, it’s a great place to talk. At night I take my time tucking in each kid and always ask “anything you want to talk about?” And I also try really hard to do things one-on-one when possible.

On this outing, Kye wasn’t really talkative and didn’t have a ton to say. We didn’t get deep and it was more fun, casual conversation and that’s fine too! By having lots of those little moments it helps build on the bond and allow for those deeper talks. On this date? Mommy practiced her listening skills and patience as Kye talked allllll about his new Minecraft world thing πŸ˜‰

Our last day at the beach was spent with double-beach time. Most of the week we alternated, morning at the beach or evening at the beach but since it was the last day we wanted to soak up as much beach fun as possible!

It was also the most chaotic day Spear-wise. I think the more comfortable he got with the sand and ocean and environment, the more wild he became. Mama burned some fierce calories, and met a lot of friendly faces, chasing this kid down the beach!

The boys Kye be-friended started up a game of football and it was Zach’s dream come true. The dads and kids played and he was in Heaven. Kye had fun too πŸ˜‰

I also love that Kye just does Kye. When his group of friends went to boogie board and he felt like building a sand castle, he built the sand castle!

By this point in the week the beach friendships were pretty well established and the girls were solid with their little crew. They all played and got along SO WELL!

While it was such a blessing it did add an added level of “beach anxiety” too because when your kid is lumped in with other kids it’s tougher to keep eyes on them all at once! Communication is SO KEY at the beach because we had to constantly be telling each other which kid we had.

I’m thankful Zach gets just as nervous as I do about it! At one point he went RACING out to the water to get Britt and her friends because they had floated too far and he was nervous they were getting caught and taken away!

We ate lunch at the beach and then headed up for nap time/ rest time. A great thing about the layout of the condo is that all the kids slept on the first story. This year Spear was in the bathroom in the pack and play but I told Kye to get ready because next year he’ll be in a big boy bed for sure (I mean probably, maybe for sure ha!) so they will have to share a room!

For our last dinner we had chicken and waffles! Zach picked up CFA nuggets and we brought our waffle maker from home! They were good πŸ™‚

We had one last night on the beach and it was the most perfect weather for our send-off and Kye said it was THE best waves of the trip too!

Tessie had us all bury her in the sand and then Britt wanted to be buried too and we made up this storyline about the “sand sisters” and it inspired Britt to want to write a book and she’s been working on it since we got home. I love that she’s taken to writing! When I was around her age I wrote stories CONSTANTLY and submitted them to magazines and such. We may have another writer in the fam πŸ™‚

Spear loved to “boo boo board” and Tess got pretty daring with it too this year! The girls cracked me up wanting me to take boomerangs of them in the water. I love seeing my kids play so well together and enjoying each other while making memories!

Peace Out Beach! We’ll see ya next year!

We had a few ice cream sandwiches to finish off so we had one last “late night” snack before bed. The girls LOVED their tie die outfits and shoes so much that they literally slept in them πŸ˜‰

We have a pack and play tent for travel with Spear (worth. every. penny.) and it works super well to keep him contained and unable to climb out! I’m on the hunt for a twin size tent to keep him in that big kid bed too haha

I LOVE when rentals have a guest book to sign. We have one at our Disney Rental House and LOVE seeing all of the notes and memories from families who enjoy our home πŸ™‚ I always have the kids fill ours out when we stay places.

I also took a lot of time to fill out a very detailed comment sheet that was left. As a rental home owner I REALLY appreciate feedback on our home as we want to make it as comfortable and enjoyable as possible, but no rental owner wants a negative review on the internet either! Feedback? Yes. Negative Review? No. So I left detailed notes for them to help them out and give that feedback but then focused on all the positive and wonderful things we loved in the online review as the little things here and there that could be improved upon didn’t hinder our stay or take away any of the fun we had AND we totally plan on renting this unit again!

We had a great week and it was such a nice relief to be able to keep going with a tradition during a year filled with so many disappointments. Crossing fingers life is back to normal next year! I’m really hoping to do more St Augustine exploring with the kids and try out some new things with Spear next summer too!

A video recap of our trip should auto play in this post!

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