I love taking family trips. The last two springs we’ve traveled with Ben’s family out of town for events, but we make sure to plan some fun in between the reasons why we ventured there in the first place. Last year it was Austin, TX for a wedding, and this past May we were watching Ben’s sweet little cousin graduate from high school.(I consider her my cousin too now, but I had to clarify). Ben’s sister lives about an hour and a half away from us, so big road trips and time away give us ample time to soak her up! Hattie adores her Nanny Rae, so it’s always fun to watch that interaction. Ben’s aunts and cousins are such fun women, I absolutely love being surrounded by their love-family trips really are the best!
Sadly, Ben had to stay behind to take care of some important work details, and even though I knew we would miss him terribly, I had the promise of lots of help from his mom and dad, so I was still looking forward to the trip. Honey (Ben’s mom) found the cutest beach house for us to stay in, and the pool area was so perfect for the kiddos. The whole family spread out over the complex, and we were able to meet at the pool/playground for the kids to interact. The trip to North Padre was about 7 hours, and the kiddos did fantastic the majority of the way, but little TA really didn’t understand why I couldn’t take him out of his seat to snuggle like normal, and he wasn’t digging the whole “mama’s leaning over me to nurse” scenario, so I was so relieved to finally arrive and pull him into my arms again. That boy, he sure has my heart.
Our first night there, Honey cooked crawfish étouffée for the whole family to enjoy, and like true cajuns, we congregated around the food to laugh and catch up. Kitchens are where it’s at, ya’ll. Hattie and I ended the night huddled together in our comfy bed watching the new Tinkerbell on Netflix, while TA dozed in his pack and play.
The next morning, I woke up early, laid TA in bed with Honey where she was drinking coffee and reading her devotional (the men had taken off already to spend the day golfing), jumped in the car, blasted my 90’s hits Pandora station on the radio, and headed into the city to the nearest Jamba Juice for a, you guessed it, acai bowl! When I’m near a more modern city, I always have to get my fix. It was divine, as always, and when I got back to the condo with bites for everyone, they were soon converted into acai lovers as well. We headed to the pool to spend the day splashing and sunning with the whole lot of us! Before you dive into the photo album below, let me just clarify a couple of things that you will more than likely be thinking to yourself. 1. Yes, I married into a family of beautiful women. Sometimes I hope I get that whole “pretty by association” label when in public. 2. My bathing suit absolutely fit much better pre-breast feeding. Ben bought it for me last Spring at Madewell, so whether I’m busting out or not, you better believe I’m going to get my $$’s worth out of it. 3. My children are very much so in matching monogrammed seersucker swimsuits. We’re nothing if not southern. Don’t judge.
That night Ben’s cousin Kara, and her husband Aaron were hosting a pre-graduation party for Hailey at the cutest little restaurant on the water, and like true Cajuns, decided to include crawfish, washers, the sunset, and country music. Bliss I tell you, bliss. For the first time in our lives, we ate crawfish out of chafing dishes, because, when in Texas…
Hattie spilled her drinks repeatedly and attempted to make her way to the busy parking lot for a game of “catch me if you can”, down to the water, or up to the upper deck nearly every 30 seconds. I grew four gray hairs during the course of the party. Thankfully, everyone was itching to soak up a little TA love, so I was free to chase Hattie around rotating between threats to throw her pacifiers away and bribes of chips and salsa. Parenting at its finest. What! My 2.5 year old has a pacifier? Yes. I’m failing, I know. Call Dr. Sears.
I breathed the biggest sigh of relief when my in-laws asked if we were ready to head back to the condo. Like my friend Jenna told me yesterday, I can parent without my husband and survive, but gosh, it isn’t pretty. I bathed the kiddos and my mother in law was helping me slip them in their jammies when we discovered that the heavy feet running up the staircase belonged to none other than BEN! I screamed, Hattie squealed, and I think I saw a tear in Honey’s eye. He had the secretary at his office book him a flight earlier that day once he had finished the work that he stayed behind for. We were caught off guard, and flat out elated to have him with us. Not to mention, he did a little shopping before heading our way and picked me up the sweetest dress to wear to graduation the next day. That boy, he sure does know how to be a charmer when he wants to be. Two hands turned into four in the blink of an eye, and bedtime seemed to go a whole lot smoother. I have to admit though, that queen size bed sure seemed bigger when it was just the toddler and I.
The next day we hit the beach first thing in the morning. The beaches on the gulf coast in Alabama and Florida are so strict, that I feel like such a rebel when we go to a beach where everyone just drives their car straight up to the spot that they choose. Just living for those moments of rebellious freedom over here…
We let the kids splash a bit, and then headed back to our condo’s pool since the men in the family relate sand to a form of torture. After a quick dip we freshened up and headed to Hailey’s actual graduation, which was possibly as big as my college graduation (I graduated high school with a class of 28…no, I’m not kidding). While we’re being honest, I actually spent the graduation in the hallways of the event center with Rae playing simon says with Hattie and nursing the baby in the “family” bathroom while ignoring the irritated parents of toddlers right outside of the door who knocked every two minutes-just to make sure we hadn’t magically exited through platform 9 3/4 since their previous knock. Nursing in the bathroom? Yea, well, the dress Ben had surprised me with wasn’t exactly nursing friendly. You win some, you lose some.
After graduation, we had a little family dinner at P.F. Chang, then like the addict that I am, I convinced everyone to make yet another Jamba Juice run. You know, for dessert. Or whatever.
After lounging at the condo a bit, we headed to the beach for a bonfire with the family, and enjoyed it for a moment before the red band sent us back home. Any of you follow the red band on your phone-in the weather app? She can be a real b**** sometimes…She made sure to slide right over our celebration. We thought about staying around for our own little “Sweet Home Alabama” moment, but decided against it.
We ended the night by sending the men to one condo for a poker tournament, while the ladies piled up in another to watch a movie and snack. Movie of choice? Bridesmaids. We like to keep it classy. For some reason weddings, loose bowels, Melissa McCarthy, and Wilson Philips are a match made in heaven.
Sunday morning we had breakfast, which is kind of our thing, then hit the road for the long trek back home. Do any of you use Waze? My sister in law had us all download it for the trip. You can track others on the road, and find updates about traffic, wrecks, authorities out and about, pretty much everything, it’s actually kind of neat. And scary. GPS tracking is always scary and ominous. Like drones.
Getting home after a little family trip-even if it was just for a long weekend is always sad. 1. I have to unpack 4 humans from what seems like a month long circum-navigation of the globe once I start sorting through the dirty clothes and toiletries, and 2. We have to say goodbye to everyone who has to return to their own towns and their own schedules. I vote that we should devote half of the year to regular life and the other half to vacation life. Who’s with me? But it has to be somewhere near a Jamba Juice. Deal?