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Eloise at the beach

It’s funny. When I was a little kid, I never understood why my mom and dad grew frustrated and overwhelmed (and occasionally grumpy) while getting us all ready to go on a family vacation. And once we had reached our destination, it was always a family joke: how long would it take for Mom to say “That’s it! We are never doing this again!” Now I get it. Oh, boy…do I get it. Last week, on our first vacation as a family of three, it only took me two days before I was the one shouting, “Why did we do this? We should just go home!” (Along with a few other unprintable, colorful choice words.)

Let me back up a step.

I live for traveling. Love exploring new places, love staying in nice hotels, love escaping every day routines and relaxing for a few days. Mike and I have made it a priority to get away a few times every year, and we have always been excited to share that experience with Eloise. Last year, because I was an extremely nervous mommy-to-be, we traded in travel for baby prep and a packed work schedule. Bad idea. Bad, bad, bad. As a result, I’ve gone a tad overboard in the trip planning department for 2013 and have a few fun getaways in mind for my little family. The first of which happened last week. I’ve been planning this vacation in my head since…forever. I love the beach. Always have. It’s my happy, calm place.  A detox. So, naturally, I couldn’t have been more excited to take Eloise to Florida. We chose Marco Island. Short flight, beautiful resort, perfect weather. But.

The week before we left, Ellie came down with her first ever cold. She was miserable, we were freaked out. Didn’t make for the world’s least stressful first air travel experience. I was more nervous getting to the airport the morning of our trip than I was arriving at the hospital for labor and delivery. I’m not even kidding. Ellie did OK on her first flight, especially considering how sick she was. But, as all parents who have been there before can attest, even 10 minutes of your child screaming on a plane is the world’s most uncomfortable situation. So, not a good start. Our first two and a half days on Marco were brutal. Where was our happy girl and who was this incessantly screaming child who we couldn’t calm down for the life of us? Should we just abandon ship and go home? Save ourselves the embarrassment of having the entire hotel hear her meltdowns? Having her screams echo the full length of the otherwise peaceful beach? Having to walk out of restaurants? It was definitely a debate. But in the end, we opted to stay and I’m so glad we did. We figured things out…what exactly was bothering her and how to help. And before we knew it, Eloise, the comeback kid, was happy and smiley (and quiet!) once more. Overall, we had more fun times than bad ones. Seeing Ellie giggle as she wiggled her toes in the sand alone made it all worth it. And now the bad vacation moments are actually a little funny. War stories for our parental arsenal. It definitely wasn’t the most relaxing vacation Mike and I have ever taken, but we sure learned a lot about being parents over those 7 days. It’s amazing what a bonding experience diaper rash can be.

Click on the image below to start the slide show and view some of our happiest vacation moments.