Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Fun in the Sunshine State

Every good vacation involves a reptile the size of a child (says Caleb).  

The fin is that of a dolphin, not a shark [as Cooper screamed to a (then) petrified group of kids].

The tranquil moments of our trip.

Caleb almost had a breakdown at the beach.  Too much sand, he moaned!  Memaw talked him off his sandy ledge and distracted him by crafting a lizard in the sand.

Not to be outdone, Connor and I made our own creation (of sorts).  It's a sand castle, silly.

We went, went, went...until we crashed.

The family that beaches together...

The best part of Florida...grandparents!  We were blessed with two sets!

Cooper on a boat!  I'm nervous too!

Lesson from this picture: photos lie!  Don't I look relaxed and carefree as if I'm on an episode of The Love Boat?  Inside I'm a wreck wondering which boy will be the first to do a swan dive off the side without a life preserver.

Cuddles with the Grandparents after a dinner at a Japanese steakhouse.  Our adventurous eaters snacked mainly on white rice.  I could have just opened a box of Uncle Ben's and saved the money, but where's the fun in that!  Every boy knows you go to a Japanese steak house to watch things being set on fire!

A precious group (in serious need of a good dose of vitamin D)!

Last Wednesday we boarded a plane bound for Florida.  When we landed in the Sunshine State, I felt a bit like Tim Robbins' character in Shawshank Redemption when he escaped from prison.  Where he was constrained by bars of a cell, we had been held prisoner by a relentless polar vortex.  (Just like Robbins, I would have dug my way to Florida, if needed, to escape winter's clutches!)

The weather that greeted us was chilly by Florida standards.  But for a family that's worn its body weight in outer layers since forever, we were thrilled.  We shed layer after layer, exposing inch after inch of pasty skin, flirty with a nasty burn while praying for (the unlikely) tropical tan.

Quickly we fell into our usual spring break routine.  In the morning, Chris and I took turns working out.  Chris purchased a weekly pass to a local gym that caters to the senior set.  My husband's blue-haired workout pals called themselves the "Silver Sneakers" (no joke!).  If just for a week, Chris appreciated being referred to as a "young whippersnapper" instead of "sir"  or "____'s dad."

As for me, my runner's arrogance got the best of me.  On our first day in Florida, I decided to go out on a long(ish), speedwork run.  If only I had a time machine and could go back to that moment and shake myself silly.  Let's just say one runner's body didn't respond well to running in temperatures above freezing.  When I finished the run, I collapsed on the couch, red-faced with sweat gushing from every single pore and muscles that screamed "You idiot!"  I moaned to my husband, "That run was SO hard!"  Chris's response:  "It can't be the temperature; It's not that hot!"  What was he saying there?  


Bless their hearts.

Afternoons were spent at the pool, beach, playground.  Repeat.  Repeat.  Repeat.  If I had a nickel for every time I heard an adult say, "We just need to get (insert boy's name) outside to run off some of that energy."  And so we did.  Again.  And Again.  

We realized taking the kids to Florida was easier this year.  As they've grown, we're no longer chasing toddlers around the beach, ensuring sandy cigarette butts stay out of little mouths.  Now, from the confines of comfy beach chairs, we can watch the boys frolic in the sand and among the waves.  Of course, we are required to intervene at times.  Like to curb Cooper's vacation Tourettes: Cooper's ability to toss out whatever comment pops into his mind.  Cooperisms of the week:

"This ocean smells like pee!"

"Is this some sort of old people's room."

"Those rich people must be swimming in money."

And at other times we left the lounge chairs to join the boys' fun.  Sand creations became our speciality and we crafted all sorts of masterpieces together.  One day, I exclaimed to Caleb, "Let's make something impressive in the sand!"

He beamed, "Yes, let's make the Battle of Gettysburg!"

I suggested a garden-variety sand castle instead.  Perhaps we could get fancy with the moat.

But a week of togetherness was not without its challenges.  I recall one especially memorable moment where two boys fought tooth and nail over a Ballpoint pen.  One. Ballpoint. Pen. ONE!

And just when their squabbling reached a crescendo, a moment came that warmed my heart.  While running around a playground, the boys ran into Florida's #1 playground bully.  This little boy/stinker unleashed an unpopular cocktail of salty language, insulting remarks, and physical aggression.  And to give that little boy credit, he certainly didn't want to leave anyone out.  So he spewed out his "specialness" equally among my boys.  I watched as my boys, who just minutes before treated each other as mortal enemies, transform into allies against a common threat.  They worked as a pack to defend each other and emerged victorious.

They walked away from the park with arms slug over each other's shoulders.  They rehashed "playground war stories."  Compliments were tossed out.  Laughter was had.

At that moment, I knew exactly why we came to Florida.



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