My sister-in-law Stephanie, who is as dear to me as a sister, was married last Saturday in West Palm Beach. That’s a fair distance, a different climate and a different culture, from the Shenandoah Valley. I was a little nervous about making the trip with a 3-year-old boy and an almost-3-month-old girl.
My advice to anyone flying with small children: try to get a good rest the night before, drink plenty of coffee, prepare as best you can, and purpose to stay calm no matter what happens. In fact, that’s probably good advice for doing anything with small children.
I am learning that impulsive actions don’t mix well with little people. Planning ahead, setting things the out the night before, making snacks ahead of time, keeping the diaper bag well stocked, etc., etc., etc., all those things I need to improve in, are essential for surviving the catastrophic moments that inevitably come. On the flip side, no matter how much you plan ahead, when everything seems to be falling apart is when you need to try to stay smiling, keep your cool, and pray aloud for patience. This moment is not forever. The child who is currently screaming will at some point in his or her future be peacefully asleep. We can get through this. Do the next thing….
We flew to Florida Thursday, stopping over in Atlanta, and though we must have looked quite the sight going through the airport (Ben pulling our three carry-on bags, me with David’s “help” pushing the stroller laden with Elanor and our three personal items, and this was after we checked the carseat and the biggest suitcase), we made it through all right. Elanor is such a good baby. She is happy, laid back, adaptable. She smiled and slept through the flights, and despite my concerns about the descent causing her ears to hurt, I was the one in pain with a searing headache while she peacefully napped.
In West Palm Beach, we stayed with the rest of the Adams family and several friends in a sprawling home with I think seven bedrooms, a heated pool, a spacious living area, and the Spanish architecture so common in that area.
|The view out to the pool and beyond to the neighborhood.|
The sweetest welcome signs hung on every bedroom door, and we quickly made ourselves at home. David and Elanor charmed the bridesmaids, and I enjoyed the fun of behind-the-scenes wedding preparations—we got to help a little bit, but mostly tried to keep our kids out of the way.
|Beautiful Stephanie doing last-minute preparations.|
David was the ring-bearer. I know for everyone else the climactic moment of the wedding was the bridal entry, but for me it was the moment before, when David walked down the aisle. Ben sat up in the family row, and I stood with David in the foyer while someone graciously supervised a sleeping Elanor. We had practiced with David so he would simply walk down the aisle from me to Ben, but of course nothing is simple for a 3-year-old boy. No stomping. No running. No wandering around lost. No turning around and coming back. No breaking out into spontaneous song. We practiced and practiced the slow, quiet walk, and then the moment came when he left my side and walked alone into a quiet chapel filled with watching people.
He looked so adorable in his black suit and blue bow tie (and he knew it), and as I watched him walk down the aisle I realized that my hands were trembling, my heart was pounding, and I was about to cry he was doing such a good job. Being a mom has made me so unexpectedly emotional at times. I was so proud of my little guy for wearing that suit and walking down that aisle. Apparently I wasn’t the only one super impressed, as he was a favorite with the little girls at the wedding reception, pulled onto the dance floor and embraced despite his shyness.
|Our family at the wedding.|
The wedding and reception were altogether beautiful, and all the more so because of the sense of camaraderie of family and friends all working together to make it happen. It reminded me of our wedding—you can save so much money, and more importantly have so much fun, when your community comes together and everyone pitches in to pull off the event. Stephanie was bride and hostess—she had been planning the event for months, down to the ingredients for each dish on the menu—and she gave her guests a marvelous time, of course no one being happier than herself (except maybe Christian). They were both beaming and kissing and rode off in a horse drawn carriage (whereupon David, not expecting this turn of events, started crying “I don’t like honeymoons!” I’m guessing he will change his mind when he gets older).
Sunday after the wedding was our much-needed day of rest. We drove to the beach—beautiful sand, plentiful seashells, warm waves. It was hard to believe it was mid-September with the hot Florida sun beating down, and I’d forgotten how direct and efficient that Florida sun is. Sunburns happen a lot faster there than in Virginia, which means that now a few days later I am finally getting my tan for the summer just in time to cover it up with a fall sweater. Oh, well!
|Elanor loved the beach, even getting her toes dipped into the water.|
Our flight home Monday was nicely uneventful, other than Elanor’s gargantuan blowout while about 30,000 feet above ground. Again, one of those moments requiring preparation and calmness. And a dose of humor doesn’t hurt either.
|One of the more peaceful moments on the airplane, complete with boppy, book, lollipop, and Pooh movie.|
Much as we enjoyed our time in Florida, it is so true there is no place like home, maybe especially when you have little children—and when you wake up in the morning and find that Florida heat has been replaced by cool and crisp autumn. For the last few days we’ve been gradually getting back into some sort of a routine (interpret that word loosely around here!), attempting to keep the house somewhat clean, and working through heaps of laundry. I guess my life right now could be considered a little mundane, except for the constant adventure supplied by these two little people and their daddy.