So have you ever thought it would be fun to take your kids on a beach vacation...in the Caribbean? Joe and I have done this just the two of us enough times now that we decided our kids would really, really love to go. Plus, we were thinking about having another baby and figured this past summer would be great because there was no way this hypothetical baby would be born yet and it would be possible to go. Nevermind that I got pregnant like 5 seconds after we decided to "try" and spent our vacation 26 weeks pregnant and either waddling around like a duck or doing my best impression of a beached whale. So, we convinced my mom and dad to accompany us on this trip, found an amazing little house to rent right.on.the.beach, booked our airfare, and not so patiently waited until it was time to go.
Well, July 2012 arrived pretty fast considering we booked our trip the previous November and we found ourselves setting off with Noah, Isabella, and the yet to be named baby girl still growing in my womb. The journey to Turks and Caicos was not without, ah, frustrations. Like on the way there when we had to spend the night in a hotel near the Miami airport. The hotel was disgusting, we didn't get there until midnight so the kids had long since turned into gremlins, and I felt that if I didn't get into a bed right then, I might kill someone (probably a kid). That will go down as one of the worst nights of my life. It took the kids until well after 2am, lots of tears, and a few shrill screams to actually fall asleep. I laid awake in the horribly uncomfortable bed until 4am, fell asleep for 2 hours, and got up at 6am. Really, it was so much fun...
But never you mind because the next day we were ready to get to our final destination. So we left Miami alive (but barely) and in less than good spirits, but determined to enjoy ourselves in Turks and Caicos. We arrived on the island of Providenciales later that afternoon and were picked up by my parents who had already arrived the previous day. By that point my ankles were the size of Texas, I'm pretty sure I had gained about 8 pounds in fluid, and my nerves were frayed. But hey, we were in paradise, so I was ready to turn it all around :).
As I mentioned earlier, we rented a private home that was right on the beach. Long Bay Beach to be specific. The home was perfect for all of us and I have to say that one of the highlights of the trip was seeing our children wake up each day and run down to the waterline in their pajamas to pick through flotsam and jetsom that had washed up overnight. Well, to see pictures of them doing this on my mom's camera anyway because I slept late just about every morning.
Most of our trip was spent just playing on the beach. The kids could spend hours playing in the surf and sand. Noah was the best to watch play at the beach. He's old enough to actually go in the water by himself as long as an adult is sitting and watching him, even though I told him not to go past his waist. The water was generally very calm and clear, so he would go out on his boogie board, goggles on, and dive for treasure. Frequently I would look up from the book I was reading to think in a moment of panic, "where is Noah!". Only to spot both of his feet sticking up from the water's surface, a testament to the treasure collecting happening on the sandy ocean floor. He spent most of his time at the beach in the water, head down, feet up. We came home with many bits of coral, shells, and various types of sea plant life. He lovingly added each one to his collection of ocean things which is not to be confused with rocks and fossils which is an entirely different collection.
One of the highlights of our trip was the company we got to keep. We were lucky enough to have my mom and dad come with us on this trip! The house we rented was more than big enough for all of us and having two extra adult pairs of hands on deck was invaluable with our kids. Well, one and a half extra hands anyway because I can't quite count my dad as two :). The kids sure loved all the time with their Mimi and Papu and I don't think the trip would have been nearly as fun without them!
The other amazing beach we went to was only accessible by boat. It was called "Half Moon Cay" and was basically just a tiny island. We went on a catamaran cruise to this little island and had an absolute blast. The catamaran was owned by a company called Sail Provo. They did a good job with getting us there, entertaining us, having adequate food and drink, and bringing us back home. My mom, who to this day can't really swim, was more than a little stressed to have our two young children on a boat in the middle of the ocean, but they were oblivious to any potential danger and simply delighted in the adventure. In fact, they were both so brave that at times it gave me a little bit of my mom's apprehension! We had quite the round with little Bella when we stopped to snorkel and she threw a fit about having to wear a life jacket in the open ocean. She wanted to jump off the boat and into the water, free of any silly life saving devices. Now, she can swim, like a fish, but the though of her tiny 4 year old self in the great big ocean and without a life jacket was, understandably, too much for me. So we held firm and eventually she agreed to go in with her life jacket on. To placate her toward the end of our snorkeling stop, we allowed her to jump off one time into Joe's waiting arms, and jump she did :).
Our trip to Providenciales was amazing and I know we'll go back some day. It really is a good place to take children. The restaurants are almost all accomodating to little ones and the water is incredibly clear and generally calm. We loved swimming in the warm water, strolling the beaches with their sugary white sand, and generally just being together. I have lots of advice and restaurant recommendations. If you need any, just ask :). There were actually 2 pictures of me taken on this trip and both of them showed what my nearly 7 month pregnant self did on this trip....A lot of sitting down, interspersed with dips in the ocean here and there to stay cool.