It’s been a while since my last deployment update, so let’s do some catching up!
As soon as we found out James was deploying, I started planning things for Charlie and I to do to help keep us busy. Between family and friends coming to visit and an upcoming trip to San Francisco, it was working out nicely that every few weeks we had something happening or someone visiting. I knew this deployment was a perfect time for me to make a trip to Florida to visit family and timing wise it made the most sense to go about two weeks into the deployment. The only problem was that I was terrified.
Charlie was six weeks old when I vowed to never, ever, travel long distances alone with him. Ever. I’ll spare you the gory details, but let’s just say we drove from South Carolina to Florida and there were a lot of tears. From both of us. My poor sister made that trip with us and even now, over a year and a half later, I still feel like I owe her big time for being subjected to that chaos.
It took over a year for me to get brave enough to make the long drive to Florida again with Charlie by myself. And once again, I found myself trapped in a car, driving down Interstate 95 with a screaming baby (okay toddler, but the crying is the same). And once again I vowed to never, ever, travel long distances alone with Charlie again.
But three months of solo parenting on the horizon convinced me to go against my vow and drive down to Florida to visit family. Turns out that desperate need for child rearing support trumps a potentially traumatic car ride.
So, two weeks into this deployment I decided to make the trip I swore I’d never make by myself again, and we headed to Florida! I’ve learned from my first two trips that it’s best to break up the drive and make shorter travel days. Luckily my mother-in-law lives in Jacksonville, which is a perfect midway stopping point on my way to Clermont (outside of Orlando) to see my parents.
I was so anxious before we left. I remember sitting in my car in the garage about to leave and texting my mom that I felt like I was having an anxiety attack. I was truly terrified to make this drive. I know how silly that sounds, and I feel silly writing it out, but it’s the truth.
But, it worked out kind of perfectly! We drove four hours the first day and made it to my MIL’s house. It was great to get to spend an afternoon and evening with her, as well as the next morning. My MIL lives by a cute pond so we took Charlie for a nice long walk around it when we got there to allow him to burn off some of his pent up, stuck-in-a-car energy. The next morning we found a fun park for Charlie to run around before getting back into the car for the rest of our journey.
The drive from Jacksonville to Clermont was also smooth, thankfully. I can’t tell you what a relief it was to pull up to my parents’ house. We made it and had no major meltdowns on the drive down! Woo!
Not only was our driving experience better this trip, but Charlie also slept much better too! He’s struggled with napping when away from home, but he napped and slept through the night and was his normal happy self the whole trip. It was such a relief and I was even able to relax a little!
While in Clermont we pretty much played outside the entire time. We are SO OVER winter and it was great for Charlie to be in a warmer climate and able to run around and play outdoors. We went to the local farmer’s market, went to literally every single park in town, went to the library, and spent a few afternoons visiting with my grandparents (Charlie’s great grandparents).
We also took Charlie to some of my favorite spots as a kid. It was really neat to show him some of the lakes I grew up on and take him to places I have vivid memories of as a child. (Shout out to the Citrus Tower!)
After spending a few days in Clermont, it was time to start our journey back home. Once again we drove halfway to Jacksonville to spend a little more time with my MIL before heading all the way home.
The trip went way better than I expected. It was a great to spend time with so many different family members and a much needed distraction from this deployment!