dear sister heather texted me a few weeks ago on a sunday morning and said, you should drive down to tampa while uncle dan is taking the young men to scout camp next week. and i said, YES! normally, i say no. because i am no fun. i say no because i have too many kids. i say no because we are very busy with mundane tasks here. i say no because thomas has work. i say no because i am terrible at staying awake while riding in the car. those things are all still true, and yet i said yes! i took my balls out of my purse and walked up to the plate and decided i was going to hit a home run! i kissed thomas goodbye and loaded up the kids, snacks and DVD players.
we left on saturday and the kids were remarkably well behaved in the car trip down. i said several prayers concerning gas, tires and bathroom breaks and everything went swimmingly. we stopped at a chik-fil-a in tifton, georgia for lunch and bathrooms and that was our only potty stop, which is great considering how many bladders i was dealing with.
i was especially proud of myself for driving more than 7 hours solo. that is not my thing. i had a 6 pack of diet dr pepper and a jumbo bag of jumbo sour patch kids and i sang "jesus, take the wheel" a few times in my head. and then i listened to journey's greatest hits on repeat.
the first night in all our natural beauty:
we laughed until the wee hours and looked at houses we can't afford in cities we didn't live in on zillow.com.
our sunday evening walk:
since reagan loves to be the keeper of the schedule, he had aunt heather put one together for him. needless to say, by about 2, the schedule was shot.
monday, we hit the beach. did you know that there are no waves on the western shores of florida?
it was so beautiful and fun. someday i want to go back and just people watch. there was even a mom there wearing thong bikini and playing with her kids. it wasn't me.
blythe wasn't that keen on the ocean at first. but she soon made a BIG splash by wandering off and getting lost more than a few times. at one point she was gone for around 10 minutes and we had to employ help from people around us to find her. a lady found her all the way down the beach trying to climb some rocks. it was a long, frantic 10 minutes. after that, we left the beach because my nerves were shot.
on the way home, we solved all our problems with ice cream.
an unexpected morning visitor:
the next day we went to adventure island water park. we got a baby sitter for the babies and loaded up the big kids. i was REALLLLLY looking forward to this day with no babies under foot. what i learned is that blythe is still a baby. within the first 5 minutes of arriving at the water park, blythe got lost and was NOT wearing her puddle jumper. she was so lost that i had to have security called in to help locate her. i kept thinking over and over, this is how blythe dies, this is how blythe dies. she had been gone about 10 minutes when security located her at the complete opposite side of the water park trying to get in line for the big water slides. having blythe get lost twice in two days meant there were a lot of tersely worded demand prayers being offered. when i finally saw her with secuirty i almost fell down the stairs with relief. i wanted to strangle/hug her for the rest of her life.
after the blythe's breach of security, heather and i kept our eyes on her like a hawk. we took all the kids to the wave pool and showed them the joys of artificial waves. blythe loved it so much that she drank half the pool and then vomited it back up on my hair and down her suit and inside my suit. i had to rush her to the bathroom to assess the damage where i discovered the world's worst case of swim diaper diarrhea. both our suits were beyond repair and i was in a fighting mood from all the rude comments from passersby in the bathroom. for the LOVE, i'm cleaning up with two worst bodily fluids off my baby and my own person and you think a very loud and distasteful "EWWW" is helping? i'll show you, "EW"! so, after one glorious hour at adventure island, i killed the party and we left. and then blythe threw up some more in the car. back at heather's i took a loooong shower and removed more vomit chunks from inside my suit. i couldn't cry at that point. i was beyond. now all i can do is laugh about it.
this is the one picture i took from our day at adventure island:
in true beck sister style, the next few days consisted of making fun of ourselves. we took ridiculous pictures of ourselves dancing making fun of each other's terrible dancing and thought up "recipes" that people would never want to recreate.
behold, day old pancakes with chocolate chips.
it also rained quite a bit one day...
and we were trapped inside so we laughed about that too.
but now i know that the $25 jumbo platter of chik-fil-a nuggest will feed two adults and 6 children and the playplace is just engaging enough, if not sanitary enough.
this is where we're staying next time. there will be a lot less luggage.
i'm so glad that i took the kids on this trip. it was so fun and i feel like i proved to myself that i can do ANYTHING! and by anything, i mean clean up barf in one more state. it wasn't a picture perfect, blogworthy or instagram-worthy trip with posed pictures and perfect outfits. i actually wore the same outfit all 6 days if i wasn't wearing my swimsuit and i only wore makeup once! herschel was the perfect baby, scarlett and reagan were great helpers and loved playing with june(or junior) and baby gwen. blythe wasn't a complete pill, though a pill may have helped her in a few situations. we took the kids to all sorts of places including church, which was no small thing and a specialty boutique called target, so that the kids could pick florida souvenirs. scarlett picked out a couple of strings of lights to decorate her room. we cooked and made desserts and homemade cafe rio and played uno until late at night and swam and got TWO different lectures from perfect strangers who were questioning our parenting abilities. it was the perfect vacation for sisters who just wanted to see each other.