That's what Chloe said to me while she and Halle were helping me make cupcakes this afternoon. I don't like to bake often because I don't want to eat the goodies but I know that it is love in a mixing bowl to Chloe. But now while I'm waiting on a cup of Vanilla Chai tea to steep I thought I'd blog a bit more about our trip.
The first picture is of Halle and her little cousin Cameron. He's about 15 months old now and this was the first time I'd seen him in person. He has such a sweet disposition and is so incredibly cute. He's a bit shy like Halle, but he warms up pretty quickly. I thought that this shot of the two of them with Halle's big cheesy grin was super-cute. And priceless because she would hardly hold still for a photo the entire trip. Joyce finally just resigned herself to the thought that she wouldn't get a non-scowly, eyes open, non-wiggling-out-of-the-picture shot when miraculously she started cheesy grinning for the cameras. Cameras? Yes, three to be precise. There were so many flashes as we all tried frantically to capture the moment. But that all happened in our last few hours in Lakeland I suppose I should have started near the beginning- I'll fast forward past the drive and start on Sunday.
Ooh, well I should rewind a bit and tell you that Doug and Joyce came into town on July 7th and left the following Wednesday with our precious little Chloe stuffed into their luggage. Well, it was something like that. Anyway, we were going to go to Doug and Joyce's on Saturday night but my parents and I carpooled which meant a stop in Lakeland at my brothers house and since it took us 13 hours to get there (which is about 3 hours too long) Amanda and I decided to stay the night there and head to Riverview the next day. I missed Chloe and really wanted to see her but figured that she was OK since she didn't call me the whole time she was gone- little turkey. And she was expecting us at noon on Sunday but we were talking to everyone and were running a bit late and then I got a call from Joyce who put a very distraught Chloe on the phone who wanted to see us right that second. It's funny how organized Chloe's brain can be about certain things. As long as she's expecting to be gone for a certain number of days and knows what time she'll see us she can be two states away from us with no problem. But if you throw in a variable all bets are off. So we had a very nice reunion and headed off to Pass-a-grille beach in St. Pete. We got there late in the afternoon and I made the mistake of not putting on sunscreen right away having forgotten all of my FL sensibilities; it's been 6 years since we've visited during the summer. So I ended up with a sunburn that haunted me for the rest of the trip. I really forgot that a sunburn can last that long. The girls loved it and dove right into the salt water. They didn't seem to care that the salt water was burning their eyes and they weren't creeped out by the amount of seaweed in the water that had been churned up by the previous days storm. We had a great time.
We spent the next few days with Doug and Joyce, relaxing (since it stormed every day), and playing Taboo. Then Amanda and I went to Southeastern to tour the campus. It has changed so much in the 9 years since I graduated. It's a great school and Amanda was thoroughly impressed with the facilities especially since she'd just come from her stint at MTSU. There is lots to pray about but I hope (as much as a Mom looking at losing her daughter can) that it works out that she can go there.
The next few days were spent with my brother, my parents, and my brothers 5 kids at a rental house in Kissimmee. We had a great time getting reacquainted; we hadn't seen them in over a year and a half. The girls loved playing with their cousins and the cousins fought over who got to sleep with Chloe at night. And I was able to spend some time with my oldest nephew, Ashton. When we lived in Lakeland I was always taking Amanda and Ashton to different places- Family Fun Center, Downtown Disney, Disney World- and they were like brother and sister. It's been pretty difficult for them to be separated. So I took them to Old Town in Orlando which we couldn't really do anything at because it was lightning- it ruled out the Ferris Wheel- and then to Arby's (which was supposed to be Starbucks but I couldn't find one) for a little talk time. Then we headed back to Lakeland to finish out the week. I took the girls and Ashton on a Lakeland tour. Amanda wanted to go by her Nanni and Poppi's old house- the one we lived in until she was 9 minus the year in Panama City- she has a lot of good memories there. And from there we went to Carter Road park which isn't really the name of it but that's what we call it. They have miles of rough biking trails and lakes that Travis used to kayak in, and really tall sand hills that they like to run and jump off of. Well, I've actually done it to but not this time. They had a great time but since it was about 8,000 degrees outside we headed over to Hollis Garden (still outside but by that time it was cloudy) which is one of my very favorite places to go. We had a great time looking around the garden and taking pictures. We finished out the week with a birthday party and then a party for the Button girls at Shane and Angies. Whew!
It's nice to be back and we're all pretty tired. It was a great trip but it definitely wasn't the same without Travis- I never want to go without him again.