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!