Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Our Florida trip

Jupiter Island, Florida, playground to the rich and famous, ... 

Tiger Woods, Celine Dion, and Alan Jackson to name a few

... will never be the same after this crew:

Don't let their relative calmness fool you.  This was a rare moment of stillness for the four of them.
(Byron, Frances, Harlan, and George)

And that's only half of the number of kids (8 total, ranging in ages from 1 to 9) plus 7 adults.  To say it was chaotic is an understatement, but it was worth every coffee spill, temper tantrum, and scraped knee so that Brooke, Julie, Sarah and I could finally have our kids under one roof.

So much cuteness in one bathtub I can hardly stand it.

Unfortunately, I didn't take nearly enough pictures (and not ONE of the beach--how ridiculous is that?) because I was too busy having way too much fun and just maybe putting George in a few timeouts.  Thankfully, Frances received endless compliments on her good behavior (whew!), so I only had to worry about the littlest Homiller most of the time.

George and Byron playing airplane

Steve (Julie's husband) and their son, Byron

Aunt Julie holding class in her bedroom.

Seriously, these kids need an iPad

Harlan (Brooke's adorable little boy who looks JUST LIKE BROOKE.  I kid you not when I say I thought I was talking to her when I would look at his little face)

George, Frances and Byron dashing through a humid evening

The youngest two--Brooke's Harlan (2) and Sarah's Zepplin (1)

For the most part, we just hung out at the house for the five days--swimming in the warm pool, splashing around the even warmer ocean, soaking up the Florida sun, and enjoying some insanely great homemade margaritas.  Yep, we were roughing it.

Our view

Frances's last swim of the trip (*sniff!*)

On our last full day together, Brooke sponsored a pirate ship adventure for the kids:

As many of our group as I could capture

It was HOT for those of us not in pirate garb, but the kids loved it (Frances names it as her favorite part of the trip, which says a lot):

Sarah's Lola, Dutch and baby Z

Frances, Byron (mid-argh!), and George

The head pirate - he was fantastic (and looked the part)

The enemy pirate

Firing cannons at the enemy

Comparing their respective loot

My favorite part of the trip?  Catching up with these lovely ladies:

Some of the many outtakes (note to self: do not hire Ricky Hahn as your photographer)

My girls!

It's hard to believe we've known each other for 21 years this fall--our first semester of high school.  As clich√© as it sounds, when the four of us get together, we pick up right where we left off--laughing until we cry, crying until we laugh, and always supporting each other’s hopes, dreams and goals more than anyone else.  They are amazing bunch.  Our get-togethers have become slightly more mature through the years (less Zima (cough!) and Pearl Jam, more fresh fish and white wine), but they are no less fun (and might just be 100% legal now that we are all 21 years old : ))

So, how was the airplane traveling with Frances, George and me, the lone adult?

Hugging Daddy goodbye at the airport

To set the stage, the three of us traveled with two checked bags, two car seats, and three backpacks as our carry-ons.  In addition, we are a relatively low tech family--no iPad, no portable DVD player, no iPod touch, not even an iPhone--which I like, up until the very moment when one would come in incredibly handy and I think to myself, "why didn't we just get the stinkin' iPad when we had the chance?!"  But considering those odds, the kids did remarkably well.

It didn't hurt that we had only one two-hour flight to get through and we flew JetBlue, which is equipped with satellite TV (read: Disney Channel) both ways.  I also had the help of a fantastic blog, Trips with Tykes, (written by one of my law school friends) complete with endless tips on what to bring on a flight, how to ease through security, and maneuvering through those unexpected issues that arise (because there is ALWAYS something, right?).

Coloring and snacks--two must haves

Hands down, the best travel tip I received was from my mother who told me to look as pitiful as possible and someone was bound to help us out.  I assure you, with a wobbly airport cart holding two large car seats, one huge pink suitcase, one smallish, stained brown bag, three worn backpacks, and an array of half eaten snacks falling on the floor around you, it doesn't take much to look pathetic.  We must have looked extra needy on our return trip because instead of forcing us to take the shuttle bus back to the airport terminal, the nice man at the rental car agency (thank you, Avis!) drove us right to our check-in gate.  I was so thankful I could have kissed him (and in my sleep-deprived state, I think I may have hugged him).

So excited to fly (or at least to watch cartoons for the next two hours)

All in all, it was one of the best vacations I have ever had--not relaxing, not romantic (how could it have been without Will!), but incredibly fun and remarkable that we were all able to pull it off.  I am still amazed that my high school friends (who I met when I was still a child) now intimately know my own children.  I am a lucky, lucky girl!

Before I sign off, I must thank Brooke and her husband, Ron (whose mother owns the house we destroyed stayed in). I could never repay their overwhelming generosity, but I hope they know how much it meant to me and my children that they selflessly opened their doors to our crazy bunch.

Brooke, Ron and Harlan

Next time, I think an RVA visit is in store!

Happy Wednesday, everyone!

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