Have you ever had a truly perfect day? I have. Officially. It happened while we were in Florida on our beach day. I will tell you all about it.
But first, the other stuff. We stayed in a little AirBNB cabin on our way down in South Carolina. It was a perfect stop after a loooong day of driving.
Then we got back in the car and drove some more. And some more. And some more. And I loved it! Aside from the physical discomfort of being enormous, it was the BEST road trip I've ever been on! The kids were fantastic. All self-sufficient, and they needed to be because I could barely tie my own shoes, let alone crawl around the van giving them what they wanted. It was great. We listened to LOTS of Pete the Cat and We are the Dinosaurs. We also spent a lot of time with the windows open, (our AC is struggling... gotta get that fixed soon) which drowned out all noise and made it so that we all had some time for quiet contemplation ;). Loved it.
Our first night and day we spent at our resort swimming and playing. We walked to the grocery store down the street at sunset for more water and bought some thin mints which were so delicious. Look at that belly up there!
The sad thing is that within minutes of walking into the townhouse, Merit started throwing up. I thought we'd gotten past stomach bugs, but no. Poor little thing :(.
Each bedroom had its own TV. We don't have TV so it was utterly THRILLING for the kids to just click a button and have all those weird PBS kids shows available to them right when they woke up. Gage felt very, VERY grown up. Loved it.
The next day Merit was totally fine, so we spent it at Clearwater Beach. The place where Steven and I got engaged :). It is a special spot to us and we loved taking our kids there last year, and this year it was PERFECT. I am not exaggerating, it was a perfect day.
We finally got there, parked, set up under our umbrella, settled in, bathroomed and swim-suited. Steven had to grab some cash to pay the cabana guy for our umbrella, and at my suggestion (oh how he loves it when I'm pregnant) got ice cream bars for all of us.
There was MAGIC in the air as we all sat right in the dry sand with our feet in the ocean, eating ice cream and watching the waves. I loved every second of it. And I loved my chipwich too.
The big kids swam with me for a while, then we came back in and found shells, made sandcastles, blew bubbles, dug holes, watched dolphins, ran from water to umbrella to water to umbrella with buckets full of sea treasures to add to our castles.
A sweet teacher from Ohio was there with a big group of her friends, all teachers. She came up to me and I thought she was going to tell me how much sand Merit was eating, and I was ready to act surprised, ha. But no, she said something like, "I just have to tell you how much fun it has been to watch your family. You have made us so happy." Wow. I resolved right then to TELL PEOPLE when I think something nice about them. Always, always, always.
The girls took long breaks from the water, wrapped in towels, in the shade, eating oreos and playing with sand.
Will was in HEAVEN. He would not say that - and if he heard me say it he would say, "I'm not a ghost!" Ha. But no, he was VERY happy. Will LOVED the sand. He liked the ocean, but he loved the sand. When we got home and asked him his favorite part he said, "Finding shells." He spent hours, truly hours, beach combing and finding the most beautiful shells.
I was in heaven. Really, this is heaven to me. A content, happy family enjoying the blessings of a beautiful place with no distractions - just the incredible wholeness of an earth made to bring joy.
I loved watching Steven - he was completely absorbed in the kids. I loved letting myself get absorbed in them. It's hard for me to not be a Martha and constantly be in the background, tidying or cooking or preparing. But at the beach I was just there. I loved every second of it.
As the sun started to dip, we toweled off and started digging holes.
And I noticed that even with all the sunscreen I'd slathered on them, the kids were getting pink. And hungry, and tired. And a little on the woozy side. They were ready to go. I was a little bummed because I REALLY wanted to see the sunset. I have a thing for sunrises and sunsets. But I also felt like it was time to head, so we walked to our favorite beach side restaurant, the one that was just yards away from the very spot where Steven proposed TEN years ago.
If you want well-behaved children in a restaurant, keep them in the sun all day after a long NY winter of no sun. They will be very, very quiet. Ha.
We walked down the street to get them milk shakes before the drive home (but not Steven and I - we were saving ourselves for Rita's).
And then we made it home! And everyone just toppled into bed after warm baths.
The end of a TRULY perfect day.
We took our time getting home. We found a great playground in Savannah and then finally got to Aunt Haylea's house in Virginia. I wish I had more pictures!
See Kjel's face below? That says everything about how we felt leaving Haylea, Gentry, Grayson, and Chief the Rottweiller who we ALL fell in love with. See Merit giving his tail a big old kiss? Even she loved him and she is not easy to win over.
Gage and I got another round of the stomach bug while we were in Williamsburg, and Haylea took incredible care of us. She even let me take a long bath in her tub to try to get my throwing up - induced contractions to settle the heck down.
She is a gem. She and Steven got to spend a lot of time together talking, and he loved it.
And then we came home! Home is so glorious after being away.