Sunday, April 7, 2013

Kidcation

I am here!  Alive and well.  And not just alive and well but happy and healthy and well-rested and so refreshed!  Because Jon and I are just coming off six days of vacation, just the two of us.  It was glorious!


I'd like to call it a second honeymoon but he didn't agree with that term and prefers to refer to our little jaunt to Florida as a "kidcation."  Our first ever break from all the kids!  Which, of course, was made completely possible by the wonderful Marmie and Poppa, who came down to Maryland to manage our household while we were gone.

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We got some money back from our tax return and knew we only had a small window of time where all of our kids were old enough that we felt comfortable leaving them for a few days, and before I was about to commit to another year-plus of nursing a baby.  And that moment just so happened to hit right around our seventh anniversary.  We also had a standing invitation from Jon's grandparents who spend the winter in West Palm Beach, so that is where we headed!

With our amazing hosts and marital heroes - Papa and Nana!
Six days!  At first it was just going to be a long weekend, but then as we were playing around with dates and figures and trying to save money on tickets it ended up being a Thursday to Tuesday.  And then we decided to maximize our stay by leaving early Thursday morning and not returning until late Tuesday night, so we would still have those as two full days.  And all is well and good until the plane starts taxiing down the runway and my mind is repeating 6 days, 6 days, 6 days as our speed increases and then I realize I said goodbye to my kids on a Wednesday and that they're not going to see me again until the morning of the following Wednesday which is much more like a week than 6 days and a week is entirely too long.  And just as we're lifting off I start to get all teary-eyed about leaving my kids for that length of time... Well anyway, I pulled myself together before the flight attendants started coming around with refreshments and although I REALLY missed my kids and thought about them entirely more often than I wished too, I didn't lose any sleep or cry any more tears during our trip.

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Taking off into the sunrise.
Ironically, our second honeymoon played out a lot like our first.  Jon immediately fell asleep on the flight and, although I had brought a book along to read, I decided to complete the Sudoku puzzle in the plane magazine instead, for old times' sake.  Naturally, for my first honeymoon I did not bring any books along to read assuming that my Love and I would spend all our free time on the flight simply gazing into one another's eyes.  I quickly learned that Jon uses air travel as sleep catch-up time and bought my first Sudoku book at the airport.  I have fond memories of pages and pages of Sudoku filling up those odd hours of our first year of marriage when even gazing into one another's eyes gets old.

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Anyway, the other aspect that resembled our original honeymoon is the lack of pictures.  Not that I wasn't entirely inspired to capture this momentous occasion but there are only so many photos one can take of palm trees, beaches, toes in the sand and sunshine.  And the occasional hold-your-arm-out-to-get-a-photo-of-the-happy-couple shot.  Unfortunately, during the moments that I really wanted to capture - like paddle-boarding and kayaking - I couldn't have a camera with me.  I'll do my best with word illustrations.

Paddle-boarding is something I've always wanted to try so when Jon's cousin Jackie and her husband (who also live in the West Palm area) suggested it we were all in, also joining us was Jon's other cousin Phil (who was visiting his sister Jackie) and his friend Ryan.  We rented equipment for an hour from a local surf shop and headed out to a tributary of the Inter-coastal Waterway.  It was actually much, much easier than I anticipated.  Unlike surfing or wakeboarding, I got up on the board right away.  And the paddling itself wasn't difficult at all.  I was surprised at how sore my ankles got after a while though.  And I'm sure you're all wondering, no I technically did not fall during the normal course of our jaunt.  But at the very end, when we returned to the dock a few minutes before our boards were due and had some time to kill, Cousin Phil and I were attempting to stand on the boards with one leg.  And I got a little nervous when Jon came up behind me ... and got tossed.  It wouldn't  have been so bad if I hadn't half landed on the board.  And if the other half of me wasn't in grimy, oil-swirled, boat-refuse water ... I scurried back on the board in a hot second.

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The only picture I have of paddle boarding.  In case there's any doubt, the girl in the bikini is NOT me.
The other non-photoed event was kayaking.  I love kayaking.  To me it's thinking time.  So quiet, calm and peaceful ... unless you're with Jon.  I think he was trying to burn off Easter dinner.  It took all my energy to maintain an acceptable distance behind him.  And of course my carpal-tunneled wrists were completely numb five minutes into our adventure.  It was a nice escape though and it got much easier on the return trip when we weren't fighting the current.  I was cruising along, watching the fish jump and scanning the water for a glimpse of a manatee (something on my Florida bucket list) when suddenly my entire kayak was lifted several inches OUT of the water and tossed from side to side.  It was all I could do to hold on and keep from falling in, all while screaming and watching my husband's eyes grow wide in the distance.  Several seconds later it stopped and I shakily paddled to Jon.  It took a few minutes to finally dawn on me that I wasn't in danger of a shark or gator attack and that while I didn't get my wish of seeing a manatee, I certainly had a very close encounter with the docile sea cow.

I felt bad about leaving my Littles over Easter but it was the only time that worked with both Marmie and Poppa and our schedules.  I knew the grandparents would give the kids a good holiday and we got to spend Easter Sunday with Nana and Papa at their church.

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Love this tree behind the church!


Nana also served up a fabulous Easter dinner for us, the cousins and some friends.  And of course, we can't forget the Egg Fights.  This year's champion was Cousin Jackie!


Disappointed.

Champion round!
We also made a stop at the Henry Flagler Museum.  This was his second home, that he built for his second wife.  It reminded me of the estates I toured in England so when Nana and Papa gave us a brochure and two free tickets I knew it had to make the to-do list.  It was very impressive!  And since I was right in the middle of yet another Georgette Heyer novel it was easy to imagine the characters I had "befriended" dancing in the ballroom, breakfasting at the table or socializing in the drawing room.  What can I say, I love homes and history!

This reminded me of the statues/busts as Chatsworth, England (where the Pemberley scenes were filmed for the most recent "Pride and Prejudice.)

Drawing room.

Master bedroom.
If you ask Jon, I'm sure he'll say his favorite part of Kidcation was the convertible.  The unofficial theme of our trip was "doing all the things we can't do with kids."  So a barely-has-a-back-seat convertible was high on the list.  Needless to say we spent a lot of time just cruisin' the town, Jon working on his "convertible tan" and me scoping out all the beautiful Spanish-influenced architecture and fascinating Banyan trees.

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I actually did bring a scarf along just to use while cruising, I just didn't use it in this picture.
In addition to all the above there were also beach trips, afternoons spent reading by the pool, game nights, lots and lots of eating out and even a few trips to Target. Amazing how often we find ourselves there even on vacation.

Mike's grandparents condo.

Jupiter Beach.

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Reading -  my favorite beach activity.
Thankfully Jon had a few boys to play frisbee with one day.

The other 3/5's of our family fared well back home.  Actually, I was more worried about Marmie and Poppa than the kids.  Six days with 3 under 5 is a lot for anyone, but especially for people who are used to spending their days in the peace and calm that is retirement.  I only called every day.  Except for the last day, because by that point the boys were getting on the phone and hearing their sweet little voices was making things a little difficult.  As long as we stayed busy I didn't think about them too much.  Although it didn't help that my mom gave me a book of prayers for your kids the day we left...

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Marmie and Poppa forgot to bring a camera, so this is the only picture we have of their version of Kidcation: my babies on Easter Sunday!
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Hold up!  Can't forget Baby #4, healthy and growing at 23 weeks.

We pulled into the driveway a little after 11pm and, over some Marmie-made cookies and treats, swapped stories of our adventures.  Of course, I had to check on my kids.  And I didn't bother with turning the doorknob extra slow or skipping over the creaky board in Julia's room.  So naturally she was up and reaching for me within two seconds... which is exactly what I wanted.  We had some extra midnight cuddle time.  And since we were the first two up in the morning we also had another chance to make up for lost time.  Daddy needed a little more help getting awake but thankfully the boys were more than willing to jump right into our bed!

There may have been promises of special beach treats for good listeners ...
I knew the boys would be fine but I was a little afraid my now-18-month-old would have forgotten about me.  Well either she didn't or she quickly remembered because all is well and back to normal.  Back to breaking up brotherly squabbles, back to wiping bottoms four times a day, back to folding and re-folding loads of laundry...  The only difference is now I'm doing it all with a tan.  I'm convinced the world is a happier place when approached with a tan.  So warmer weather, please come quickly.  The effects of Kidcation are fading all too fast!

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