Saturday, July 21, 2012

To Florida and back

 We went to Florida at the end of June for a wedding. David finally met his match and married her. We were so excited to be there to see it. Of course, all the ladies in the house had to have their fingers and toes done for the occasion. Here we are the morning of the big day, mani/pedis in the backyard.

Frances tried to make herself as useful as possible in the moments before our departure to said wedding. 

So here's where it starts to get a little touchy. These are literally.. literally the only pictures I have from David and Grace's wedding. I wasn't a bridesmaid and was chasing babies all day while Stephen, who was a groomsman, was doing wedding stuff or helping me chase babies. It was a little wild for our little/crazy family. While we waited for the big event, the girls, Uncle Nathan and Stephen and myself toured some of the buildings in the fort where the wedding was held. It was hot. Hot. So finding these vents blowing cold air was pretty exciting. Finding that they made your dress poof out was even more exciting. 

We spent quite a bit of time practicing this dress technique. I am heartbroken that I didn't get any pictures of my sweet brother and his new bride. Or any pictures with my brother and his sweet bride. But such is life and as someone who barely remembers her own wedding I am more than understanding. I will remember it always. There are some pictures of our family.. but they are on a disc that Tracy gave me and that I forgot in Florida :) Whoops. It was an absolutely beautiful and precious wedding. The girls were flower girls and you could really feel the Lord's hand there. So excited to have another sister-in-law. 

From there we went to Palm Harbor to spend some time at our favorite place. Every time we go to Elsie's house we are awash with memories of our first years together, when we used to spend every weekend there escaping our life in Sarasota. Swimming in the pool, taking long naps and watching cable while visiting with Bill and Elsie. It was heavenly then and it is almost as wonderful now. I miss Bill every time we turn down the road and don't see him coming out of the front door to welcome us. Nevertheless we had a fantastic time with Elsie and Judy and the cousins. We had our own private fireworks show on the 4th courtesy of Uncle John.

 Ada and Margot sort of fell in love with their cousin Tag. They haven't spent much time with him before now but he certainly made an impression.

Any time we had trouble finding the twins, you could almost be sure to find them in the "Princess bathroom". Great Grandma Elsie's bathroom is pretty magical. 

Ice cream sundaes were eaten every night. Lots of swimming was done every day and I am pleased to say that Ms. Ada can actually dog paddle now. She was a swimming fiend while we were in Florida. She was determined to learn how to do it without a life jacket and she practiced every chance we gave her. This is the first time we have seen her take such an extreme interest in something and boy.. she has some serious focus. I think she might give Uncle David a run for his money in that department. 

And then... then there was that week in Sarasota. That week that we left the kids with Mary and Larry and drove to Sarasota for Stephen's teacher workshop.. all alone. No children. Not a single child. We splurged and spent the first night at the Ritz.. the actual Ritz Carlton in Sarasota. Yes, it was worth every single penny. We are definitely making that a new tradition .. somehow .. some way. 
We spent the rest of the week staying with Nathan and that was pretty fantastic too though.. it was not the Ritz. He refused to give us turndown service every night. 
The trip was not what I expected. Not what we expected. Stephen was really busy and we never really saw eachother during the day and then in the evenings he had lots of homework. I learned so much being on my own though. I was forced to get myself up and out and I did the first day. Then the second day I crashed and had an emotional meltdown. I was lonely without my kids and my husband, it was hot and raining and honestly.. I had forgotten how depressing Sarasota is. No idea why.. but it was depressing to us. Might be because we spent some of our most difficult years there.. it's our starting place but it's not really our happy place. Once I got that out of my system though it was great. I owned every moment. If I decided to stay in and read, I owned it. If I went to the beach and read and swam and then came home and took a long nap - I owned that too. This is not an easy task for someone like myself. The biggest lesson I learned, really learned like learned in the fabric of my soul was this. "Contemplative simplicity is not a matter of circumstance; it's a matter of focus." (Ann Voskamp). I have read this and it struck me when I read it but when I was in Sarasota I really learned what that meant. Suddenly I am not longing to be anywhere else. I am very happy being here, in the present. In my home. With my family. My precious family that mean more to me than I knew before that trip. 

The other awesome thing that came from that trip was the amount of time that our girls got to spend with their grandparents. What a blessing to them. I know Mary and Larry worked their booties off but man the girls were so thankful. They loved every single minute of that time. They even got to watch a monarch butterfly make a chrysalis  and then they were there when they butterfly emerged and flew away. Those are memories that will be with them forever. The heart knowledge that my girls got to know their paternal grandparents in such an intimate way just makes joy spring for me. Particularly my Frankie-pot. She became best friends with her Grampapa this trip. The thought of the two of them walking the neighborhood and her being carried all over creation in his arms just makes me grin. I always wanted a grandfather and I guess it's real important to me for my girls to really know theirs. Mission accomplished. 

Now we are back and most mornings look just like this. Stephen has been a rock this summer. When is he ever not a rock right?

Frankie is just as much a joy now as she was the moment she was born. She is precious. She is funny. She is adventurous and boy is she stubborn! She is in the mix no matter where that mix is happening. She is loud and she makes her desires known to whomever is within earshot. I can't get enough of this baby. She makes my heart sing and the older she gets, the more personality she reveals, the more I love her. 

I have been super bad at writing lately. That is probably because life has been super hard. No particular reason other than my own struggles. Anxiety has been the monster that tried to kill me this year. I am fighting the good fight, I am doing all I know to do but the battle means that it is hard to write about sometimes. It's hard to just exist and breathe normally some days so.. sitting still and writing something that someone else might want to read is pretty difficult. This week I feel on top of things. Despite having had 2 migraines that kept me in bed all day. Mentally I feel more clear. I feel together and not foggy. Not panicked. I think I am going to try to start writing about life even if it comes out of my anxiety ridden head. Maybe it would be good for me to talk about it.

For today, I am happy and healthy and breathing normally. Here's hoping this is a new trend.