Miami, Florida


¡Bienvenidos a Miami!

Last weekend our family drove down the coast of Florida and ended up in the Miami area for teachers' conference. Some of our best friends from college who live in the area offered up their guest bedroom for the weekend, and we gladly took them up on it. Besides the 3 babes running around, it felt just like we were back in college.

I love to pack light. Once, on a mission trip to Mexico in high school, a group of us (including our responsible chaperon - hi Plugs!) had a contest to see who could pack the smallest amount for a 10 day trip. We wore only the clothes on our backs, and each had but a small satchel containing the essentials. One of my favorite sections in the Bible is when Jesus sends the disciples out to do mission work with nothing but the cloaks on their backs and the sandals on their feet. It feels so good to not be weighed down by possessions.

This trip was not like that.

Diapers + wipes, back up onesies for various baby fluids, more spit up towels than I care to admit, nursing accessories, toddler eating + sleeping essentials, our nutritional system, and oh yeah - clothes for me. It felt like we were moving all of our worldly possessions. Traveling with an infant is no joke!

Anyway, our time in Miami was short but sweet. Our friends showed us some of their favorite spots, parks, and restaurants, which I loved! It's so eye-opening to step into a friend's life for a few days, to get a better idea of what their daily routine looks like.

Once the conference started, I stayed behind with our two little ones, only slightly nervous about being away from home court advantage. It was tempting to just put on the iPad and entertain ourselves around the house all day until everyone else came back. After all, everyone would understand that I had 2 very small children in an unfamiliar and expensive city with lots of traffic.

Then one morning the rain just so happened to ruin our plans to visit the community pool near our friends' house, and we did an early lunch and nap. Once both the kids were napping, it hit me that I was going to have to entertain them for at least 3 more hours once they woke up. In someone else's house. So in a rash moment of determination, I opened my laptop and searched for free things to do with children in Miami. One destination caught my eye - Little Havana. The culture, language, music, food, and colors all seemed like a perfect opportunity to experience the "real" Miami, learn a little bit myself, and show Pippa why I speak Spanish to her.

I dressed Teddy in his best "old man in Florida" outfit, we hopped in the van, and I prayed I would be able to find a parking spot that didn't cost $20. 30 minutes and countless tolls later (thank you Sun Pass!) we found a quiet street to park the van for FREE, and began our leisurely stroll down the famous Calle Ocho. I was hoping to catching a glimpse of Pit Bull, but no such luck. We watched the old men play dominoes in the park, inhaled the intoxicating scent of Cafe Cubano, licked some authentic Cuban ice cream at Azúcar, and took pictures with the giant colorful chickens. I would love to come back sometime with other adults to indulge in a mojito or two!

Other highlights of the trip include:

* seeing our Lutheran school - Divine Savior Academy
* Amelia Earhart park, complete with a petting zoo!
* mojitos at Bayside Harbour
* building sandcastles at South Beach
* wandering the trendy Art Deco beachside neighborhoods in South Beach
* cooking meals and sipping wine with old friends

I can't wait to head back to Miami and discover more of this incredible city. Plus we had the BEST Cafe Cubano on the way home, and I really need to find that tiny gas station where we bought it and get another one...

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