And the verdict is: Daytona (now dubbed Second Vacation by Chloë) Was Good. We stayed in a huge house that Eric's cousin had rented (borrowed? I'm not clear on this), across the road from the intracoastal waterway, with cousins and aunts and uncles and grandmas and so on. The beach proper wasn't far, and Chloë won't go near the surf, but Maia loved it. They both loved the sand and the pool. Chloë was proud of being able to float around by herself in a floatie and kick around the pool a little. Maia loved being jumped in and out of the water and standing on one of the steps, up to her chest, considering taking the next step down but never quite doing it . When we got out of the pool once, we walked around to dry a little and Maia headed back toward the edge. Eric and I both said "No, baby!" but she just sat down at the pool's rim to dabble her feet in the pool and kick, wistfully, at the water.
Chloë had a reasonably good time, it looked like, playing with her older cousins (they did get pretty bossy and probably didn't realize when she didn't actually want to play their games, since she didn't say so unless I asked her) and did a lot of coloring and playing with blocks and taking walks and swimming and running around. Maia was clingy, as we expected in a house full of so many strangers, but she had some fun too, especially with the puppy an aunt brought along. Eric and I swam and took the girls to the pool and gave series of two-girl baths (the older cousins wanted in on the big fancy tub) and played games in the evening.
One night we walked on the beach together. We passed a man fishing in the dark, shining a flashlight on his pole. As we passed he called, "Hey, do you have a flashlight?" I said I was afraid not, puzzled why he needed a second light, and he walked toward us and held out his flashlight, saying, "Here, have this one. Where are you from?" We said Toledo, and he said, "Welcome to Florida."
So we came home richer by a flashlight (also some books, because there was a used bookstore in town and, well, you can't spend all your time swimming). Chloë came home richer by a set of beach toys and a pretty good tan, and Maia poorer by a set of goggles (not that she used them anyway). It was a good vacation. The girls were great travelers; Chloë got antsy, and Maia upset when she wanted milk and wasn't getting it, but there was no major whining or complaining, and mostly they played or watched movies or ate or slept.
I actually came back a couple of days early, to save vacation days, and while they were gone I cleaned most of the house (I ended up forgetting to dust one wall, and I didn't sweep the basement) and marveled at the way things would, when I put them away, still be put away two hours later. I baked and did laundry without interruption, and went shopping without needing to stop for potty breaks or snacks or naps or whininess or bedtime. And I still had time to relax and goof off. It was marvelous. I even slept ten hours in a row on Saturday and lounged in bed for half an hour when I woke, just because I could.
But when I went to the bookstore I picked up "Biscuit's First Beach Day" because I thought it would be a nice reminder of their time at the beach and Maia is in love with dogs. When I went clothes shopping I picked up a bigger (4T) bathing suit for Chloë because her two beloved ones from last year are really too small. I changed Chloë's sheets and turned down her bed, so we could lay her right in it when they got home late Saturday, and put Maia's stuffed animals in the corners of the crib so she'd have room to lie down. Eric called a little after one on Sunday morning to say they were close, and I sat up in the living room until I heard them pull in and could go out and lift Chloë out of her seat and into the house, and then take Maia for a big hug. It was good to get them back.
In the meantime, Chloë said to me this morning, "Soon it will be summer." I said, "Silly, it's summer now." She said, "No, I mean real summer. When my pool that is not too big is out." I guess Eric needs to mow so we can set up the kiddie pool in the backyard.