blogging about daily life from Griffin, Georgia

family vacation (7.25.10-7.31.10)

Category: Personal | Comments (0) | Valerie @ August 11th, 2010   

This vacation had been a long time coming. If my memory serves me (which lately it hasn’t, actually), this was actually the first first family vacation of the 3 of us since Brittain was born. There have been a few quick weekend trips for weddings and such, but no “real” vacation. And I gotta tell you that it was as soon as the trip down to Florida when Dan said to me, “You can sleep in every day and I will get up with Brittain” that really made me realize it was going to be an actual vacation. In fact, it was at that moment that I shed a tear…a tear of pure and utter joy. There is nothing like the gift of sleep.

We planned our vacation to Jacksonville. Not only was there no one else we’d rather spend our vacation with than Cecilia, Matt and Sophie, but we also got a free place to stay, a beach, a pool…and anything else we could possibly want to do. The party immediately started on the trip down as Aunt CC switched back and forth between riding with us and riding with Matt. During the times she was with us it made the “when are we going to be there?” questions a lot fewer and farther between.

No matter how long we go between seeing Cecilia, hers and Brittain’s bond never changes. This became all too real to me when we were about 5 minutes from arriving at Cecilia and Matt’s. At this point Cec had switched cars and was no longer with us. From the backseat Brittain said to me, “Mommy, I love you.” Of course that melted my heart and I answered back, “Awww, baby. I love you too.” Her reply was, “But you know what? I love Aunt CC even more.”

That was just the beginning. My sister had to have geared up for us coming because from the moment we all arrived at their house, she never stopped. Devoting every second of her time to my child…and Brittain couldn’t get enough. She clung to every moment and never took a single minute for granted.

Cecilia had so many things well thought out before we even arrived. This helped us not to have to come up with ideas to keep Brittain entertained, and especially in my condition, it took all the stress off of me. I was so appreciative of this. Matt had taken Thursday and Friday of the week off, so poor Dan had to put up with hanging out with the 3 girls for the first part of the week. He hung in there with the best of them, but I know everyday he was counting down the minutes before Matt walked through that door in the evenings after work.

After a trip to the beach on Monday afternoon, we realized very quickly that a mid-day beach trip was not the right decision for us. I’m not sure if we came to that conclusion because of the number of times I had to puke on the side of the road on the way, or the fact that Brittain could only stand the heat for about an hour before we had to pack up everything we had just hauled down there. We got smart after that and decided to only do evening trips to the ocean.

On Tuesday after some fun in the sun by the pool we made a trip to Cupcake Girls. That place was SO cute and had very yummy cupcakes.

Early in the week we decided to do a very low-key trip to the beach for some pictures. I say “low-key” because each time we have done this in the past it is never low-key. We were going out to dinner anyway, so we decided to just combine the trip and get some quick shots before eating. It worked out perfectly. The weather was perfect and we had a great time.

Perhaps one of the most fun parts to the trip was what we decided to do after dinner. Cecilia had the idea of having a shaving cream fight and I was all about it. (We have fond memories of shaving cream fights at Lake Junaluska when we used to go with the church for so many years.) Brittain, Cecilia and I told the guys to put their swimsuits on and we surprised them as they came out the back door. Because of the HUGE mess we made it was incredibly difficult to even get one picture, but I did manage to get one. I do wish there had been a fly on the wall throughout the whole fight…and then also when we ran all the way down the street to jump in the neighborhood pool.

Every time we’ve gone to Jacksonville we’ve driven by Adventure Landing and wondered what it was all about. We always hesitated to buy the $30 tickets not knowing just how long Brittain would want to stay. This time we decided to give it a chance. It especially helped that Cecilia had buy one, get one free coupons so we came out a whole lot cheaper. While the beginning of the trip showed signs of pure disaster when Brittain got caught under a waterfall in the lazy river, we took a break for lunch and the day somehow turned around in our favor. Dan and Cecilia had a great time riding the waterslides and Brittain and I had fun in the wave pool and taking pictures with a cheap waterproof camera we picked up at the drug store before heading there. The majority of these pictures are actually taken by Brittain, and I have to say she did a darn good job.

Another one of mine and Cecilia’s favorite childhood memories (yes, we have lots of them) was going to the Al Hambra Theater in Jacksonville to see musicals. I don’t even know how many Mama and Daddy took us to see, but we loved them. The Al Hambra is still going strong and Cecilia has told me on a few occasions how she always checks to see what shows they’re doing. It turns out that they were doing Cinderella the week we were going to be there and we knew this would be a perfect night out to take Brittain on. She absolutely loved it, and afterwards she got to meet Cinderella and Prince Charming.

We went to the beach several nights during the week, but I only brought my camera for one of them. It was so fun as Cec and I got to sit and relax, the guys played Bocce ball, and Brittain and Sophie ran around and played til they couldn’t anymore.

The night before we left we decided to go and try our hand at putt-putt. It was something we talked about doing all week, but just hadn’t gotten around to it. For a while we thought we had missed our opportunity because it started raining late afternoon and looked as if it wasn’t going to stop. But just when we had given up hope, the clouds parted and it cleared up just in time for us to go. Despite the unbelievable humidity, we still had a great time and Brittain loved every minute of playing. She had her own style, even resorting to just throwing the golf ball in the hole. I respected that.

After a great dinner at Carrabas we rolled ourselves into Mr. Yogato, an ice creamish yogurtish place that Cecilia had been telling us about. None of us were in the least bit hungry, but the shop has these cool and hilarious things you can do to get a percentage off your order. One of the things they list is if you can moonwalk then you get 10% off. Come to find out, Matt can moonwalk! I mean, you think you know someone and then you find out something like that. So, even in his flip flops, he broke out his Michael Jackson move and put on a brief show for us. We loved it (and we got 10% off)!

When we woke up Sunday morning we knew the dreaded day had arrived. As quickly as I was trying to get things together I found myself sort of purposely dragging my feet. We DID NOT want to leave, and it was killing me watching Brittain with Cecilia knowing what was about to go down. After finally finishing loading the car and saying our goodbyes we put Brittain in the car for what was sure to be the longest trip ever. As soon as we buckled her in Brittain started sobbing…and then I started sobbing. And while you might think that this ended quickly…it didn’t. Our tears of sadness lasted for quite some time and each time Brittain cried out, “I miss my Aunt CC,” all I could do was agree with her.

It was truly one of the best trips ever and I can’t thank my sister and bro-in-law enough for having us. We love y’all so much and can’t wait til we can see you again!

family gathering

Category: Personal | Comments (0) | Valerie @ August 6th, 2010   

The timing of this particular weekend worked out really well. Aunt Janice and Uncle Terry had planned a special family dinner for the whole family. While this was something we did on a regular basis when Grandmama was alive, after she passed away it became increasingly difficult to get everyone together. Aunt Janice and Uncle Terry have done a great job keeping the tradition alive by at least planning something special once a year or so. They planned the night well in advance so even Cec and Matt could make the trip up. That next day happened to also be the day that Daddy was to sing a solo in church, so because Cec would be in town not only would she be able to hear it, but she and I decided to take advantage of her being here by us singing a duet during another part of the service. (Steve was really nice to program these 2 things into the service for us).

It was so great to have everyone together. It had been quite some time since we had seen Uncle Mickey, yet to my surprise, Brittain went to him as if they hadn’t missed a beat. It was so sweet. Of course the southern, home cooked meal was delicious. The evening was wonderful and we wouldn’t have missed it for the world. Thanks to Aunt Janice and Uncle Terry for going to so much trouble.

4th birthday

Category: Personal | Comments (0) | Valerie @ August 5th, 2010   

For some reason I was more excited about this birthday party than I had been for the previous 3 we’ve given for Brittain. I’m not sure what the reason was, but as Dan and I hung paper lanterns into the wee hours of the morning before the party, I couldn’t help but feel like a kid again. While planning a child’s birthday party is stressful for anyone, I’ve found it to be especially difficult with her birthday being in the dead of summer. I had several great ideas, but all that would involve a large facility to house everyone, or would require everyone to be outdoors. Neither of these were feasible. I did keep getting stuck on this carnival theme with games and prizes, but when we just couldn’t figure out how that was going to work, Dan had the idea of hiring a clown. We teetered between knowing if it was a fantastic idea or a terrible idea (based on how Brittain would react to a clown), but we went with it and hoped for the best.

The day came, and despite the upstairs room that went from 61 degrees before everyone arrived to 87 degrees once everyone piled in there, I think the day went off without a hitch and fun was had by everyone, chaos and all. Even Brittain had a good time…in her own way.

It’s hard for things to sink in when there’s more than 50 people in your house and your attempting to be some kind of hostess despite 25 kids running around. It wasn’t until we finally stopped to sing Happy Birthday and for Brittain to blow out her candles that everything kind of hit me at once. While there was this big part of me that couldn’t believe she was already turning 4, there was this other part of me that couldn’t believe she had only been part of our lives for 4 years. It’s hard for me to even remember my life before she was in it because the day she was born was the day I felt my life had new and real meaning. Not that my life wasn’t meaningful before, but there was suddenly a depth to me that I never knew existed. I never knew that I could love so deeply. If there was ever a time in my life where I wondered if there would ever be more to life, I found it when Brittain came into our lives. Then, there was this sudden other feeling that came over me that I don’t even know a way to describe. It was a mixture of emotions…happiness, sadness, that unknowing feeling. Only a couple of days before I found out I’m pregnant. While the news of this was absolutely thrilling, there is also so much I’m afraid of. Especially while I was standing there with Brittain as she blew out her candles I suddenly knew that this would be her last birthday of just the 3 of us. Next year there would be a new addition, and as wonderful as that is going to be, there was also a brief bittersweet moment knowing that things are absolutely going to change and come March, Brittain will no longer be my only “baby.”

Brittain, I hope you always go through life knowing how much I love you and how proud I am of you every single day. Happy 4th birthday, baby.

I managed to get pictures of all the guests with clown noses:

The party continued with an after party of Wii bowling. Mimi and Doot even came by and played for a while. Normally, Jenny and I win every game. We always seem to get better as we drink, while the guys got worse. I was definitely off my game this time and I can only attribute it to the lack of drinking I’m now able to do. In the end I think we lost every game. :-( But that certainly didn’t make the night any less fun. I think these pictures say it all: