But sometimes in life, you have to shake things up a little bit. And this year, for a million plus one reasons including but not limited to potential oil spill gunk, travel on the part of Sam's job & VBS, our annual summer beach trip migrated into fall.
And while my long-johns clad northern friends are likely thinking, "How is that even possible?", let me just say,
"Thank you, Florida."
I am a creature of habit in the worst way. Whether it's environmental or genetic, I can blame it entirely on my father and his parents. They are the most routine-oriented people I have ever known and likely ever will. So, when the possibility of us missing our annual beach trip presented itself, I got nervous and jerky. (Or at least, I got a little sad.) We have gone to the beautiful gulf coast of Florida every year, at least once sometimes twice, for the past nine years (minus one unbearably hot and pregnant summer of 2003).
As it turns out, the possibility to go came about on Columbus Day weekend. And even though traditional fall-loving Jennie was having an inner conflict with beach-desiring Jennie, my newly adopted "que sera sera" attitude won out. And with that, we loaded the van up with the bags, the kids, and most importantly, my newly-repaired sidekick:
I could go into the minutiae, but I'll spare you. Let's just say, I loved every minute of it minus the part where Sarah screamed for four hours on the same night Sam got a violent stomach bug. But - at least those things happened at the same time. Then we moved right forward with our vacation.
I mentioned I'm a creature of habit, right?
Well here's a summary of the trip, complete with previous year's flashback photos in similar positions - because apparently I'm just hokey/unoriginal/lame enough to take pictures in the same exact spots with the kids every.single.year.
It's fun to see how they have grown over the years, right?
And it's fun to see that some things never change. Like how Abby will never be happy about wearing that captain's hat and steering a dolphin cruise boat.
And how it's pretty much impossible to ask three kids to sit still and look at the camera in the middle of a playground...
And there's the precious big brother who navigates his little sisters through the fountains year after year...(sometimes in the same faded bathing suit from the year before)
I captured Ben's bodacious booty in 2010...
Whereas in 2008, I was able to capture his sweet face.
2010 afforded me the opportunity to snap these beautiful blue eyes that tell of an oh-so-mischievous grin that you don't even have to see to imagine.
Then, living in the present, I snapped a shot of Ben that made me pause. Those are the shoulders of a boy. My first born is not a baby anymore. Far from it.
And any fears he previously had of the water are a distant memory for him, as he spent 90% of his time on the beach on that boogie board - wiping out and trying again.
And just as quickly as my first born seemed to grow up, my spirited Abby has turned into a little girl who, ironically, puts safety first - all decked out in life jacket & ring in six inches of water. But check out that vertical.
See what I mean though? She might as well be a teenager, right?
And although it was her third trip to the beach, Sarah was finally mobile enough to do something other than sleep through the sand and surf. She occupied herself by stealing the sand buckets, chasing sandpipers, and running recklessly into the water (not unlike her big sister when she was this age).
I could have just summed it all up with this picture -
Or this one - (just ignore the drool stain on my arm, please & thank you)
Because I live for these trips. And this family. And the man behind the camera.
I will repeat it again ~
Thank you, Florida, for renewing my spirit this October. And for providing me with memories as precious as your white sands and emerald waters.
And God-willing, here's to many, many more trips to your beautiful shores.