There's a lot to say in this letter, little guy. I just spent a lot of time with you- 9 whole days in Florida. I learned a lot about you. And, I already miss you. It was amazing to spend so much time with you, to watch you play. It's only been two days since I last saw you, and I already miss my buddy.
Your first trip to Florida was a huge success. You LOVED the beach. You ran up and down the sand, splashed the water, played with bigger kids, and giggled as we each took turns building sandcastles with you and dipping your toes in the water. You also went in the pool with your mom and dad. It was thrilling to watch you with them. You trusted them as they dunked you under. The look on your face was priceless. You were in true bliss. We also watched you run around on the grass, playing baseball, blowing bubbles, etc. You were just SO happy, Ryan. So happy to be free and running around. You were so excited about everything, and watching you discover new things and places was just so much fun. I had a smile on my face every time we were together.
Every morning I would hear you wake up, and you would instantly call out "mama?" "dada?" You were ready to start your day.
The days were pretty much the same. We would play with you on the beach for a while, and then we would take you up for your lunch. We took turns sitting with you while you napped. When you woke up, we'd either go back outside, or play in the condo until dinner.
After dinner, we would head back to the condo until your bedtime. We would watch Elmo at your request (you soon learned that Elmo would play on everyone's phones), play hockey, read books, play with the bubbles until you were ready for night night. and then, you would give everyone a hug and a kiss goodnight.
I had the distinct honor of riding home with you. A full two days in the car. I have to admit, at first, I was not looking forward to it. As much as I love spending time with you, I was worried you wouldn't be a happy boy, and that the ride home wouldn't be so fun for any of us. But you were GREAT, Ryan. Sure, you got a little cranky now and then, but all of us did. You just sat and watched your Elmo. When you weren't watching Elmo, I tried to make you laugh by letting you play with my fingers, tossing a ball back and forth, or other silly little games. At one point, you were reading a Sesame Street book. You kept asking me "what's that" and pointing at Big Bird. You couldn't quite say Big Bird, so you started saying "baba". But then you started calling ME baba! I was in the bathroom at one of our stops and you pounded on the door, yelling baba. Another time, at dinner, I walked away from the table and your mom and dad told me that you started asking for baba. I'm not sure if this will last, but since you can't say my name yet, I will take it!
I helped you fall asleep in the car by rubbing your foot. It worked- fast. You were instantly asleep. Once you even slightly woke up, and stuck your foot in my hand so that I would begin rubbing it again. I guess we know what to do to make you sleep!
Ryan, this trip was amazing. I loved every moment we had with each other. I loved watching you giggle at Uncle Jonathon and Aunt Sara when they were acting silly with you. I loved how much you trusted your mom and dad, and how you frequently gave your mommy kisses. I loved how you called out for Papa whenever you saw Grandpa Carolin or Grandpa Gumbel. I love how you want to "cheers" when we have cups in front of us. I love how you posed for pictures, how you let each of us love on you. I love how happy you were, and how happy you made each of us. It was truly a gift for each of us to be able to spend time with one another and with you.
This was the first trip of many, Ryan. Now that you have had a piece of Ft. Walton, we cannot take it away from you.
I can't wait to see you again soon. Love you, Ryan. Thank you for making my trip so special.