[Grab a cup of coffee and have a seat. You're going to be here a while scrolling. I think I set a new world record for length of post.]
It's funny how waiting over 6 months to organize your vacation photos can change your perspective on a trip. From the pictures it appears that our biggest themes were: (1) eating popsicles, and (2) trying to get a decent posed photo of all three kids at the same time to no avail.
I think this year I will have a vacation goal of never once asking the kids to smile or to get together for a photo. I will simply photograph whatever happens as it happens. (You know as well as I do that I can't do it! Is it so much to ask for all three kids to at least sit in close enough proximity to one another to all fit in the frame at the same time?)
Sometimes I also think maybe I should pretend it's 1984 and that I only have two rolls of 24 to snap on vacation. But they are only young and at the beach once! (Or for several years in a row - whatever - who's counting?) Plus, hello, are you forgetting that this year's trip was all about a wedding?!
As you may recall, my dad was gravely ill at the time we took this trip to Florida, and had it not been for (Joe's sister) Sara and Vake's wedding, including Georgia and June's flower girl responsibilities, I would've had to seriously consider cancelling. As it were, though, fortunately my absence from my family in Missouri did not affect much (or anything) that week, and I was, (and remain), grateful to have had a happy respite at the beach from an otherwise difficult springtime.
Thank you again to Sara and Vake for allowing Georgia and June to be your flower girls. As excited as they were in the months leading up to the ceremony, I wasn't sure they'd really do the honors until they had done it, but silly as it may sound, the girls simply having the opportunity was pretty much a mother's dream come true for me.
With no further ado...
First order of business was painting the girls "beach feet", a privilege that much to their chagrin is thus far reserved only for beach trips. (For some reason I am not wild about little girls with painted nails, I can't 100% articulate why, all I know is that I appear to be in a clear minority with this opinion seeing as how little kid nail salons and "mani-pedi's" are all the rage. Georgia is quite fond of reminding me that my view is in the minority. But I digress.)
Beth got me that funny shirt for my birthday. I should probably listen to it.
Day 1 was especially sleepy after not getting to our condo until the wee hours the night before.
You don't always realize how quickly your children are growing up before your eyes until you look back on six month old photos and find yourself astounded by the changes. My hair was darker, so was Waylon's, and June...where has that pudgy round baby face gone? Junie, that's IT! I'll have no more of it. Stop growing RIGHT NOW!
Shockingly, two year olds are very sloppy popsicle eaters. Hence popsicles are best served outdoors in the nude.
Part of this year's condo treasure finds? Big shovels.
Too bright for pictures, Mom!
I would like to point out that June's suits were selected with a critical feature in mind: belly button access. Rest assured that we all had adequate sun protection with long sleeved rash guards, hats, you name it.
We had fun trying out the special underwater iPhone and camera cases that I bought off Amazon, although the main reason I got them was for sand protection.
Tee hee. So much skin.
Not bad self-entertainment for someone without a lot of restaurant practice.
Nice work, June. I think your toes are safe now.
We all thoroughly enjoyed mooching off the amenities of the wedding resort where most of the rest of Joe's extended family and the other wedding guests stayed. Waylon even napped in a pack n play at his grandparents' place so the rest of us could more easily enjoy the morning.
Speaking of naps, Georgia sure took some monster ones for a kid her age.
I'm including this picture specifically so that we can always remember the awesome design scheme of this condo.
That's one sweaty head!
I just liked this shot of Joe. He slips into his Mexican-Floridian persona quite easily.
The not-oft pictured beautiful mother of the bride, aka Gran, who was in fact in the pool but will not be shown here as such. : )
Now this is the photo they should be using at dermatology conventions. (I am actually all for a little Vitamin D and think that one must be careful when choosing a sunscreen for fear that the chemicals aren't doing more damage than the sun. But when you take 5 pale Chicagoans and throw them into strong midday Florida rays for an extended period of time, well, it's just so much easier to wear sleeves!)
God, I love June, and I also want to BE June a lot of the time.
Oh, this one brings back memories. Poolside dining. Waylon in that middle ground stage of eating where he couldn't yet handle much table food. Here he is consuming some kind of pouched organic mush that probably hadn't been invented when Georgia was that age. I promise the Coke was not his.
Serious flower girl practice session. You can tell that she is focusing on the "smile at the crowd" part here.
During Sara and Vake's ceremony, the officiant described (much more eloquently than I could hope to here) the miraculous nature of love, likening the bride and groom to two seashells washed ashore next to each other amongst the millions. We were all then invited to walk to the water's edge to toss in a shell and make a wish for the couple. What most of the wedding attendees probably did not realize was that Georgia and June, as part of their flower girl responsibilities, had the honor earlier in the week of collecting the shells that were then placed underneath the guests' chairs for this purpose. Now, this was not a large wedding, so you wouldn't think gathering the shells would take that long, but the girls took the job quite seriously and managed to spread it out over several days. They had a great time doing it, though, so naturally I had to snap a bunch of pictures of their primary shell hunt. (Sara and Vake, I hope seeing these after the fact makes the whole thing that much more special to you!)
Look! They've perfected their "Sanibel Stoop"!
For babysitter/kid-sleeping reasons, the kids and I did not make it to the rehearsal dinner with Joe, but we made sure to toast the couple nonetheless.
Okay, keeping it real here, folks. Overzealous toasting soon resulted in shattered glass and spilled milk. Sigh. No "fun mom!" deed goes unpunished.
Finally, wedding day! Since we are so rarely all 5 showered and dressed at the same time, this felt like a big deal feat to pull off. Also, Georgia never ceases to amaze me with the things that cause her to feel anxious and those that do not. Example: playing tee ball where you can still see mom on the sidelines = terrifying, jumping in a golf cart when you've never been in one before and driving away with the wedding coordinator, a perfect stranger = not at all terrifying. Go figure. Whatever, we'll take it! The girls did great with their 15 second command performance and arrived to receive their promised reward of lollipops.
Having just turned 9 months old, this was Waylon's second wedding, and he did pretty well (i.e., he managed not to spit up on our fancy clothes). Although the ceremony was short and sweet, I was still nervously shoveling Cheerios in his mouth while trying to pay attention.
And then we all took some pictures. It was windy and bright.
A reminder - these are real, live children we're talking about here.
How am I supposed to narrow down these pictures when there is something great and something wrong with each of them?
The reception was just getting underway when we all took a brief interlude to go meet the babysitter and put Waylon to bed for the night. Before doing that, though, I wanted to make sure to heed my sister's parting words of advice for me upon embarking on this trip: "Make sure to have someone take some pictures of you with your children when you're all dressed up!" I think she should've been more specific and added, "before they are utterly sick of being photographed, hot as all get out, and wiped from the days' activities." I have to include these photos because they are the best we could get under the circumstances (and highlight some pretty awesome facial expressions, don't you think?)
Waylon down, monkey acquired, back to the reception we go!
Okay, so here is the cruel part of the wedding night. The after party that Waylon decided to host. Ugh. I don't know if it was the time zone change, the light in the room, or sharing a room with his parents, but his overnight sleep habits were off and he thought it a good idea to get up at 4 a.m. Not wanting to wake anyone else, he and I took a nice romantic moonlit walk on the beach.
This is a terrible shot but perfectly captures the moment. Notice the trail of spit up. How quickly I have forgotten that he used to throw up on us ALL. THE. TIME.
But, at least we got to see some beautiful sunrises together.
And really, how can you stay mad at this little tush, just learning to pull up at the time?
Back to the beach!
Total third child. I extracted this and others like it from his mouth all week.
I thought this was sweet -- the girls playing wedding over and over again, alternating between the roles of bride and flower girl. Apparently driving was involved.
One of our favorite vacation memories - a simple night watching the Muppets. (I swear we are not Muppets obsessed, we just don't have time for a lot of movies, plus at ages 4 and 2, the girls really preferred repetition anyway.)
Travel with three kids under 5 is always more of a "trip" than a "vacation" per se, but it was a great trip.
The End! You made it to the end! Congratulations!
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