Thursday, August 30, 2012

The Keys, Part 1

Ahhh, Islamorada is my happy place.  And if you wonder why, look no further than this:

That was the view standing on the pool deck looking out over our pool and beach and the Atlantic beyond.  It is paradise.

We had never been to the Keys with kids before.  My family has been going to the Keys for years and years.  When I was younger, my grandparents would rent a house for the entire month of February, and the rest of the family would take turns going down to visit.  However, when we were little, my parents would never take Hunter, Graham, and me.  They said that kids weren't allowed south of Orlando, so we would just have to wait until we grew up to go to Islamorada.  It was always a grown-up vacation for them.  I think I was 14 or 15 the first time I got to go, and I immediately fell in love.

I thought that Brad and I would continue the tradition of no-kids-allowed Keys vacations, but we don't really have time to take the time off for a grown-ups-only and a family vacation, so we decided we would introduce the kids to one of our favorite places.

We rented a house for a week with my sister, Hunter, and her family (we invited my brother and his family, but they went on a beach vacation with Elizabeth's family earlier in the summer and couldn't make it).  We brought a boat -- which is a must in the Keys.  We also brought along our babysitter -- which is a huge bonus for some grown-up time on a family vacation, and, hey, an extra set of eyes is always nice when you have so many children around water.

Our house had a pool, and I think that was pretty key to our vacation fun.  We could wake up in the mornings and head straight out to the pool before breakfast if we wanted!  The kids swam like fish all week, Harper learned to swim while we were there, and they practiced their snorkeling skills in the pool before we headed out in the boat.

The kids LOVED getting to spend time with their cousins, Taylor and Harper.  We see the twins pretty often, but we have never spent an entire week under the same roof.  They all slept in the same loft, and I think they felt like they were at camp!  They really didn't have much to do with us the entire time -- unless they needed something, of course!

We took Mary Beth, our summer sitter, and she was fabulous to have around.  She really blended in as part of the family.

Brad got a coconut down from one of the trees on our beach one day, and the kids decided that they wanted to try it.  I think it took Brad a good twenty minutes to hack into that thing.  I worried that we were going to end up making a trip to the ER, and wondering if I should try to go ahead and figure out where, exactly, the closest one was.  And then the girls didn't exactly love the coconut milk...but they did like the meat.

More fun pool/cousin pictures...

Hunter and the twinkies...

That's part 1...more to come later!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Back to School

The kids started school last Wednesday, so that means that we have been back to reality and routine for a full week now.  We have had time for some of the newness to wear off, and the kids are realizing that we are actually back in school. You know, homework has started.  Mornings are early (really early).  It's not all fun and games.

Summer is so much cooler.

Tyler - 4th Grade

Sanders - 2nd Grade

Gibson - Kindergarten

But!  There is something to be said for being back in school with all your friends -- definitely no boredom around here anymore!  There is something to be said about that old routine that gets everyone up and going in the mornings -- no more laziness!  And we have so much to look forward to with this fall -- football games, trips to Clemson, birthday parties, field trips, lots of holidays, lots to learn, picking back up with our Bible group, a few more waterskiing weekends before it cools off.

Okay, school days aren't so bad...

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

More Summer...Now That It's Over

The kids went back to school today, and I am not exactly sure where our summer went.  I feel like ours takes a long time to get going with all of the farming that happens at the beginning, and then - BAM! - it's over.

Of course, it is plenty long enough for the kids to get tired of being with one another and start bickering nonstop, so there's that.  School is definitely a welcome break from the constant arguing and meanness that can come out of too much together time.  Or is that just my kids?

But, anyway, let's catch up on the rest of summer...


I got this picture from a friend who used to work at our packing house.  He was in Philadelphia and happened to see this while walking down the street.  If you will notice, you can see two of our tomato boxes (the Seasides) in the picture!  It is pretty cool to see that your produce reaches so far away!

I don't think I ever introduced you to Mary Beth, our babysitter, or the person who spent the most time with the kids this summer.  Thank God for her, really.  She was such a blessing to us and our babies.  She kept everyone entertained, and it is so nice to know that your children are entertained when you are working ridiculous hours and can't spend any time with them.

I did get a chance to have a movie date with my three favorite little people.  We went to see Madagascar 3 in 3-D.  We went to Five Guys, got frozen yogurt, saw the movie, the whole nine yards. It was a nice little break in our summer routine.

The kids had a blast celebrating the Fourth of July in a little golf cart parade they have every year near my in-laws' beach house.  My kids were on a float with their cousins, and I think they came in third in the parade.  Mary Beth helped them make their patriotic t-shirts.

There were swimming lessons again this summer, and although everyone could swim pretty well beforehand, they are all swimming like little fish now.  I am a huge believer in lessons every year -- they can only get better!

We got in a little visit with our good friends Mark, Jen, and baby Jane.  I hate that they live so far away and we only get to see them in little bits and snatches.  The kids loved meeting Jane, and I loved getting the chance to catch up with some sweet friends.

Do you ever look at your children and wonder how in the world they got to be so old?  I have been wondering that a lot lately, especially when Mary Beth sent me these pictures from their recent hike.  I am telling you, these people look like little grown-ups.  When did that happen?  WHY are they growing so fast?

 I am really enjoying my time with #shereadstruth.  I look forward to my quiet time every day.  We are now on a study of Proverbs.

Brad has finally gotten to a point where he has slowed down.  I have even gotten him to do some reading -- which is amazing, if you know Brad.  He has read the entire Hunger Games trilogy.  I think I am going to move him on to Gone Girl next.

The kids have gotten to spend plenty of time with cousins.

Speaking of growing up, we have had two birthdays in our house.  Sanders turned 7 on August 2.  She and I enjoyed a special Mommy/Daughter day for her birthday -- full of shopping and eating, perfect girl stuff!  This girl is beautiful and fun and loving.  I hope she always stays exactly the way she is.

And Gibson turned 5 on August 13.  Like I said, where did my babies go?  I have had a bit of a hard time that my baby is five-years-old.  I had a hard time when he turned two, and I am having a hard time again now that he turned five.  Five just seems so old, and kindergarten, too?  When I pretend cry and tell Gibson that he is too old, he tells me that he is still my baby and that he always will be -- so then I really do tear up.  He knows how to get his mama, and if he wasn't fifty pounds and too heavy for me, I would still carry him around like he was my baby.  He is a sweet, loving boy, too -- although he definitely has that rough and tumble boyness to him.

I don't know what Brad and I did, but we got some good babies...but talk to me in their teenage years, I may have changed my mind by then.

I went back to blonde, in case you were wondering.  For now.  My plan was/is to be dark in the winter and light in the summer, but with what a pain it was to go back blonde, it may just have to stay blonde.

Finally...we ended our summer with a nice little family vacay.  We went with my sister and her family to Islamorada.  I want to do a full post on that soon (maybe my one post in September!!), but for now, I will give you the Instagram version of the trip...

We left at 4am Saturday, August 4...obviously not everyone was awake at that point.

We pulled Hunter and Joe's boat down there, and with all of the stops for gas and then once we hit major traffic on US1 when we finally got down to the Keys, it ended up taking us 12 hours to get there.  Brad was really excited about that...especially because he had to drive the entire way.  I do not pull trailers behind cars.  Period.

But, it was worth it:

Oh, and we took Mary Beth, which was an awesome idea.  She was a major help and pretty much just part of the family.

We caught lobster and fish and ate them both:

And we basically had the most relaxing time ever before having to come home and face a new school year and the reality of routine.  I am already trying to plan next year.

So that was our was yours?
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