Just when I was showing signs of rebounding from my bloggy coma, we went out of town for a week. We are officially there and back again with lots of sunny photos to show for it.
This was our yearly summer vacation. It was our 10th (!!) year of going to the same place (Cape San Blas, FL) with the same crew (The Harper family) and having the same kind of time (flawless, wonderful). Jesse and I were fortunate enough to be asked on this trip by our campus minister/boss at Georgia Tech Christian Campus Fellowship (where we met) in 2005 so that we could help play with/supervise his 3 boys (then ages 8-15).
After that, we called DIBS and just never stopped showing up. The whole situation has grown ever-more beneficial to us over the years as, A: the boys have grown up to be 3 of our best friends whom we LOVE being around as grown ups (now ages 17-24!), and B: they are dreamy "bruncles" (brothers/uncles) to my kids and help us out a ton while my kids idolize them. The sitted have become the sitters!
A smattering from our week (some you may have already seen if you follow me on instagram, but many are new releases).
the first night (note her floaties). there are THREE dukes women in this photo.
usually rolling up the trunks was enough to assuage the chafing the the ocean/sand always causes judah. and this photo is adorable, obviously
right. so this. first of all he is a tiger. this is because the flower girl from our wedding--who has since become 12 years old and kicked cancer's ass-- Audrey Arrowood (whose parents mentored us and whose entire family is BFF) snuck my kids away one night and face painted them. and SECOND, he is wearing layla's swim bottoms as a speedo because the chafing got out of control and no amount of trunk-rolling would work, and was he LOSING it and it was so sad. so we just made a swap and ended up with this moment which i am 100% will never come back to embarrass him.
right after he changed, judah felt a little bashful about the speedo. then Grayson did this to his shorts (despite tons of fellow teenagers all over the beach) and judah stopped caring and my heart just soared. jesus, please put people like this around my kids forever and let them BE people like this!
waiting for a table at the not-so-secret-anymore best restaurant, The Raw Bar. just the funniest face Judah has ever made. I have NO clue what was happening.
that's more like it.
and THAT's really like it. (note the different clothes...we go several times over the course of the week)
in order to get mommy/daddy relaxation and rest levels up to vacation-standard we had to full on sell out to the iPads some mornings. I dont regret it. and the condo came equipped with this perfect viewing cabinet!
girlfriend is a gamer in the ocean and sand.
nerdy goggles and a lack of floaties.
Insert aside of pure joy: my mom and dad gifted Layla swim lessons this summer. Layla took 7 private lessons before we left for the trip, and had to be dragged through each one; showing little to no interest or improvement, and not a little bit of irrational fear of "draining".
I was fairly certain she'd be in a floatie until age 12 and that the generosity of my mom had been wasted. and then randomly on the 2nd or third day, she said she wanted to take off the floatie and "practice swim lessons" which we laughed at and figured would be her tip toeing across the shallows. Instead, this happened (working on higher-res versions):
and then 2 days later after we had given up trying to get her to put her head under finally stopped bugging her about it and just decided to be content with the doggy paddle, she literally out of nowhere starts doing this (trying to get a higher-res version to load):
and she never stopped. she can officially, and totally swim! the floaties didnt see daylight again after this (though they will for the baby, because we will never have another kiddie floatation device besides this kind because they rock so hard and are much safer and useful than water wings ever were!).
We think that little punk was just wanting to do it herself and not be told by anyone. OR that seeing her buddy Neli Arrowood-- the big 4 year old-- rock the skill of swimming helped motivate her through competitiveness . I assume she got those traits from Jesse as I am super coachable and laid back about competition.
we got obsessed with catching coquina shell creatures and watching them burrow, each of which Judah named "Shelldor" and then a corresponding number. we got up to at least Shelldor 51
walking Judah out to the beach goes like this:
he sprints way way ahead of me on the boardwalk....
and I find him waiting patiently up on the bench once I catch up. i say, "oh hello, little boy, you look fun, would you like to me in my family?" he is usually happy to join. love it.
sugar belle LOVED the dune vines and all their applications.
the whole fam!
they slept HARD. gotta love the beach for that!
i'm fond of them.
majestic vine prancer.
the focus. the precision. the abs.
holy sassy competition cheerleader/aerobicizer pose.
future rhythmic gymnast olympian.
sugar on top.
queen of the mountain
the queen reigns ALONE
but she is merciful in the end.
did i mention the harpers are crazy soccer players/fans and the world cup was going on? the USA vs. BEL game was tense for everyone. i got through it with lots of guacamole.
will the third possibly be as spectacular as these two are?!
he spent 20% of the vacation in flight.
4th of July night, this pre-dug hole was an amazing babysitter! (not deep or steep enough to be one of those cave-in stories, worriers!)
hahahaha classic. i dont feel bad about this because she threw sand in everyone's eyes nonstop.
he spent the other 80% asking deep questions about crabs.
catching the frisbee is important.
patriotic kite flying. a la ben franklin!
hardcore sunset bros.
i'll take two scoops of that, si vous plait. with free refills!
i think donovan is taking the blame for an errant frisbee toss here, but the damage is clearly done.
what's a girl to do when she's trying to model and her hair is blowing in her face?
obviously, she gets local teen heart throb, Bruncle Grayson, to be her stylist. she's very posh, you see.
now we're cooking.
she is getting sleepy. verrrrry sleepy.
so much LOL from me. i stood above the hole taking pics (for like the hundredth time) and she was so over looking at the camera. i demanded she look up and she refused. so i started the mommy count to consequence: "ONNNNNE,....TWWWWWOO...." and by three her head snapped right up to the camera like so. sheer perfection. straight busted.
the sun escapes without incident for yet another night.
MWAHAHAHAHA not so fast, el sol!
fighters lovers. my two and the littlest two Arrowoods.
someone swears she had a dramatic burning encounter with a sparkler and only grape soda can help.
speaking of soda, we got a pair of these bad boys, "Turtlebacks" before vacation and they are awesome. I am not a sand fan, especially on my frosty beverages, and these are by far the best devices i've seen for keeping the drink upright and sand free. get a set for yo-self!
no pressure, but if Judah and Neli ever get married, this pic and exit sparklers will be mandatory.
more hang time.
layla and her beloved Garrett.
sand castle building. jesse gets super handsy and possessive when he captains one of these efforts, which inevitably ends in tears for him since the kids are hands on and opinionated...and destructicons.
more mid-air and great hair
heaven help us.
my blue eyed babes.
boys! great gosh i love them.
no girl could be happier with her choice of spouse. i live in swoonsville.
i just told him that he's the father!
pretty sure no one told him to hold the baby like that. heart melt!
girl time. she's tops.
her kisses are extremely aggressive. know this.
i hate my eyelids. so close to a great pic of 3 kids.
family pics were a struggle for us.
this photo keeps getting funnier as Grayson, who first did this pose at age 8, is now the biggest Harper. we will never relent on tradition.
boys and their muscles.
another tradition pic where they point stoically at nothing. (except judah who has never smiled this cute or directly at a camera in his life, but in the one pic where it's a no-look straight face he delivers!)
gang's all here! (no one be creeped out by the awkward ordering that left a fake little family on the right side of the pic...and another on the left with my two plaid dads.)
this is the only time a pose like this is allowed by her on the internet.
almost a great shot. the best we could hope for, really.
because: true story 98% of the time.
we all felt like this on the way home (but aint nobody can look this good doing it!)
Jesse and I agreed that year #10 was probably our favorite ever. Our kids are at record-high levels of fun, the Harper boys are full on beloved peers, the weather was spotless, we were diaper-less ffor the first time in 6 trips, the Arrowoods were able to come at the same time, the World Cup was on, but not all day every day, and I was not insecure about bikini fat-rolls because my belly is rotund with uterus!
Until next year, Cape! (we'll have diapers with us, FYI).
** Several people asked about why the non-camera phone pics look so good. A: beach sunset lighting is almost foolproof. but mostly B: THIS LENS is everything for portraits if you arent a professional but have a DSLR and want a great, but affordable lens besides the main do-it-all one. it's the only other lens i own.