Thursday, August 30, 2012

The Keys, Part 1

Ahhh, Islamorada is my happy place.  And if you wonder why, look no further than this:

That was the view standing on the pool deck looking out over our pool and beach and the Atlantic beyond.  It is paradise.

We had never been to the Keys with kids before.  My family has been going to the Keys for years and years.  When I was younger, my grandparents would rent a house for the entire month of February, and the rest of the family would take turns going down to visit.  However, when we were little, my parents would never take Hunter, Graham, and me.  They said that kids weren't allowed south of Orlando, so we would just have to wait until we grew up to go to Islamorada.  It was always a grown-up vacation for them.  I think I was 14 or 15 the first time I got to go, and I immediately fell in love.

I thought that Brad and I would continue the tradition of no-kids-allowed Keys vacations, but we don't really have time to take the time off for a grown-ups-only and a family vacation, so we decided we would introduce the kids to one of our favorite places.

We rented a house for a week with my sister, Hunter, and her family (we invited my brother and his family, but they went on a beach vacation with Elizabeth's family earlier in the summer and couldn't make it).  We brought a boat -- which is a must in the Keys.  We also brought along our babysitter -- which is a huge bonus for some grown-up time on a family vacation, and, hey, an extra set of eyes is always nice when you have so many children around water.

Our house had a pool, and I think that was pretty key to our vacation fun.  We could wake up in the mornings and head straight out to the pool before breakfast if we wanted!  The kids swam like fish all week, Harper learned to swim while we were there, and they practiced their snorkeling skills in the pool before we headed out in the boat.

The kids LOVED getting to spend time with their cousins, Taylor and Harper.  We see the twins pretty often, but we have never spent an entire week under the same roof.  They all slept in the same loft, and I think they felt like they were at camp!  They really didn't have much to do with us the entire time -- unless they needed something, of course!

We took Mary Beth, our summer sitter, and she was fabulous to have around.  She really blended in as part of the family.

Brad got a coconut down from one of the trees on our beach one day, and the kids decided that they wanted to try it.  I think it took Brad a good twenty minutes to hack into that thing.  I worried that we were going to end up making a trip to the ER, and wondering if I should try to go ahead and figure out where, exactly, the closest one was.  And then the girls didn't exactly love the coconut milk...but they did like the meat.

More fun pool/cousin pictures...

Hunter and the twinkies...

That's part 1...more to come later!

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