sun, sand + saltwater

1:10 PM

We've been back from our vacation for two weeks now and every morning that I wake up and don't see or hear the ocean my heart breaks a little. It's been two years since we've taken a true family vacation. We had some bad experiences with the kids (going on one without any help and two under three is not a vacation at all it turns out) but we felt so burned out by this spring and the kids were older so we thought we'd risk it. So we packed up the car (SO. MUCH. LESS. STUFF this time around!!! more on this later) and left all our expectations at home as we drove south. 
The drive down for us from Atlanta is roughly 7 hours so we loaded up the ipad and decided to tough it out. We left at 4:30 pm, the kids were out by 9 pm and we arrived at our resort by 1 am thanks to a string of entertaining podcasts and a few cups of coffee. It really ended up being not that bad. Once there we decided on a very relaxed itinerary - pool, eat, sleep, pool, eat, sleep, rinse and repeat. We couldn't help ourselves and took the kids to Disney one of the days. We figured it's the last time Teddy could get in for free so why not? But other than that we had no plans whatsoever. Kids at this age are so much easier to deal with. They never wanted to get out of the pool and as long as we had adequate snacks and beverages for them we could stay there all day if we wanted to. It was shockingly relaxing and rejuvenating! 
For the second week we moved a little further down south to a resort that was on the beach and though the kids missed the nicer pool we were in heaven. Our bedroom had a giant glass door that faced the ocean and I would keep it open (with the screen closed) as much as humanly possible taking in the sounds and smells of the beach that I wish I could have as a permanent screensaver in my mind. There's just something magical about saltwater, sand, sun and the symphony of ocean sounds. With each passing day I felt my shoulders relax more, I cared less and less about "the small stuff" and found myself laughing more. It was just what we all needed. The day we packed up and left there wasn't a dry eye in the car, even the kids were devastated to leave. 
Our two weeks in the sunshine state reminded me exactly why Europeans are so strict about their vacations - we need them to survive. It's the one time as an adult that we can leave behind all the endless fretting, planning, organizing, scheduling and worrying. It's the one time we as grown ups can allow ourselves the luxury of napping or reading entire books in a span shorter than 9 months. It's the one time I allow myself a break from always doing my hair and makeup. And it's the one time a year that I allow myself any diabetes inducing cereal as my breakfast every morning (have you tried the frosted mini wheats little bites??!!! OMG). It's as close as one can come to feeling like a child again and my goodness if we don't all deserve that from time to time. And sure it's a big hassle - the getting there, getting set up, the kids' schedules changing, etc. And it's a big expense, there's no doubt about it. But there is countless research pointing to the fact that the emotional and even physical benefits of vacations are lasting and worthwhile. Seeing our fur babies when we got home helped take the edge off a little but there's no getting around it - being back felt rough. And for that reason I've already begun to plan/fantasize about next year!

And one more thing I'd like to mention. It's utterly ridiculous but I was sooooo nervous about posting any photos of myself in swimsuits. Heck, I was nervous about wearing swimsuits. So was Kevin. There's no getting around the fact that neither one of us looks anything like our teenage selves anymore and that's not always an easy pill to swallow. One of our days on the beach I took out my DSLR camera and started snapping photos of the kids and then Kevin playing with them. He made some comment about "don't do it from this angle..." or something along those lines. And I made plenty of similar comments as well. 
A few hours later we were sitting next to the kids and I said "This is so stupid, us wasting so much time agonizing about how we look and how we wish we looked. Thinking that we shouldn't take pictures of ourselves." We are at the beach with our kids. We are having a blast, they are having a blast. They don't notice our thighs, our rolls, our "muffin tops" or whatever else we hate about our bodies. They are not going to look back on this and think "gosh I would have had so much more fun had my parent's been thinner." How incredibly stupid it is to even entertain thoughts like this. Our kids will remember how much we played together. They'll remember us all eating fruit loops on the sofa together in the morning and spraying whipped cream in our mouth. They'll remember how carefree we were and not how we looked. And they will want these memories, they will want to see these photos and see us in them. As the old adage goes "How to get a bikini body - put a bikini on your body." Period. 

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