1. Toddlers’ eyes and sunscreen do not mix. On two separate occasions, Isaac spent a couple of miserable hours weeping in his stroller and wailing, “Eye! Eye!” We decided to go with longsleeved shirts and pants rather than exposed skin.
2. Northwest Airlines routinely overbooks its Thunder Bay–Minneapolis route. Arrive early, or risk being bumped — as we were — to the next day. At least we got vouchers.
3. Despite their name, sandwiches do not taste better with sand in them.
4. Global Positioning Systems rock, and I will never drive in an unknown city without one again.
5. Our rental car was “upgraded” to a white Chrysler 300 — which ensured that we fit in well with the geriatric populations of Boca Raton. On the plus side, given that I normally drive my parents’ hand-me-down Buick, I felt right at home.
6. Isaac can sit, perfectly content, for hours at a time on the top step of a swimming pool, playing with a cup.
7. Ice cream cures almost anything that ails you.
8. Rowan asked, as we watched planes take off for two hours in the Thunder Bay airport, “Where’s the hill?” “What hill?” we asked. “The one the planes go up up up up...” he explained.
9. A disposable diaper can hold a vast amount of chlorinated water.
10. I have never been on a beach holiday where I cared less about getting a suntan.
11. Boca Raton is a strange, strange place, filled with gated communities and strip malls.
12. Shopping for bathing suits tests many of my feminist principles.
13. My dad and his wife were extraordinarily gracious and generous hosts.
14. Let Rowan press the buttons on the elevator, EVERY TIME.
15. Although I worried that we might get bashed, I also couldn’t resist asking the car rental guy if Rachel really had to pay for the privilege of being a second driver on the car. My exact phrasing: “Even if we live in the same household?” Once he confirmed that we were indeed “on the same insurance policy,” he put her on for free. So, folks, at Avis, the codes for “same-sex couple” are “same household” and “same insurance policy.” Stick that in your Pride parade.
16. I like the idea of shopping at Target better than actually shopping at Target.
17. No theme park beats making sand castles on the beach.
18. When on holiday with small children at your parents’ place, it is vital (or at least recommended) to commiserate and commune with your friends who are also on holiday with their small children at their parents’ place. Go to the zoo. Get the grandparents to babysit. Have dinner out. Drink lots of wine. Go to bed at midnight and get up at 5:30 with your toddler.
19. Although I have a mild phobia around butterflies, I enjoyed walking through the butterfly garden at Gumbo Limbo nature preserve.
20. Isaac climbed all six flights of stairs to the top of the observatory deck at Gumbo Limbo, and then insisted on bumping down the same six flights of stairs on his bum, followed by a horde of impatient 11-year-olds.
21. You never know what will end up on your camera when you hand it to a four-year-old.
22. Isaac is now big enough to go on a carousel horse on the merry-go-round, just like his brother.
23. The best thing about parenting principles is letting so many of them go while on holiday.
24. Isaac literally fell asleep as our return flight to Minneapolis taxied to the gate, after three and a half hours of ridiculous in-flight energy.
25. On our flight home to Thunder Bay, Northwest offered us $400 each in vouchers and hotel accommodations for the night if we would volunteer to fly out the next day. We seriously considered it, but decided we were too exhausted. Both kids slept the entire flight home.