Another month, another plane ride to another wedding! We’ve been looking forward to my BFF Rebecca’s wedding for a LONG time. Rebecca and her husband (!!!) Eric first met and fell in love in Afghanistan in 2011 and have been living in Virginia Beach since they returned stateside. Rebecca planned a simple and sweet beach wedding, encompassing everything that they love – their family and friends, the water, and great food. Peanut and I were both in the wedding party, and we were so excited to help “Aunt Rebecca” celebrate her special day. Nugget was excited to ride on the Metro again.
And he had fun running around the gate. We saw the airport fire truck pulling out of the fire station, so obviously that was the highlight of the weekend. Ha!
We arrived in Florida a day late and a hundred dollars short. No, seriously, we did. Poor little Peanut started showing signs of being sick at 6:00 p.m. on Wednesday night. Our flight to Tampa was scheduled to leave at 9:00 a.m. on Thursday, but there was no question – she really needed to go to the doctor (which opens at 8:30 a.m.). Southwest allowed us to change our flight to Friday morning instead (for the low, low price of $100). And sure enough – double ear infection. Ouch. Poor kid! She left the doctor’s office with a prescription for antibiotics and permission to fly the next day. So, off we went to Florida on Friday instead of Thursday. Once we got there, we didn’t waste a second – off to the beach! Peanut was thrilled to see Aunt Rebecca.
So were Nugget and I! We found Rebecca swimming with her sister and some friends. Eric was walking the beach with his metal detector and announced, “I’m trying to find Rebecca a ring!” Gosh, I love those two hilarious lovebirds.
Nugget enjoyed a swim with Aunt Rebecca and some of her friends, while I stayed on the beach with Peanut.
Peanut can be kind of unpredictable in her water comfort level. The Gulf of Mexico was really warm and calm, but she didn’t want to swim. She got drilled in California in August and has been avoiding the water ever since – oof. But it was probably better for her ears that she didn’t get her head wet, anyway.
She did have fun playing in the surf. As long as she was having a good time – that’s what matters!
Eventually her little brother joined her and they had a great time stomping and splashing in the small waves.
We headed back to our little beach cottage to clean up, and then Peanut and I joined the wedding party for a rehearsal. We managed to get through the ceremony before the skies opened up and we moved inside Rebecca and Eric’s rented beach house for dinner – a fabulous Mediterranean spread. No pictures from the rehearsal, but it was hilariously slapstick.
Saturday morning dawned bright and sunny. The wedding wasn’t until 5:30, and Peanut and I weren’t expected until fairly close to zero hour, so we decided to devote the morning to squeezing in a little adventure. (You know me…) Rebecca had recommended a local Pinellas County park, Fort de Soto, for hiking, kayaking, shelling and general beach fun. Naturally, we gravitated to the kayak outpost.
The kids were READY to get out on the water. We loaded up and immediately shoved off for a morning on the Fort de Soto Water Trail.
Most exciting development of this excursion: Peanut got her own paddle! As I mentioned in this post, Steve had been “duffing” Peanut in a single kayak, but she was putting his legs to sleep, and she seemed like she would be trustworthy enough to not jump over the side of the boat if she had her own seat, so we decided to try her out in a double kayak. The kayak rental employee agreed that should work and suggested that she take along a particularly small and light paddle that he had lying around. (More so that she could feel involved than anything else.)
Verdict? She loved it! I don’t think she was any help at all in either the steering or forward propulsion departments, but she had a good time and stayed in the boat, so – a win! Now I’m looking at kids’ kayak paddles for her to tote along when we kayak the Potomac next summer.
As for me, I still had my little duffer in a single kayak. Per usual, we were both swimming in our life jackets. <–see what I did there?
It was a gorgeous day out on the water. We were constantly scanning the area, looking for the manatees that we’d heard were having a party in the park only the day before, but didn’t see any. A bit of a disappointment, but I reminded myself (and everyone else) that wild animals don’t adhere to a schedule. We had great luck out whale watching in California, but there are no guarantees on the water.
And let’s be honest – any day out paddling with my family under bright blue skies and in such a beautiful place is a GREAT day.
The water trail was well-marked with signage and we followed the trail from point to point, watching the fish jump and pointing out beautiful birds.
I could have stayed out there all day! I’d have loved to have more time to explore in the mangrove forest, too – but we stuck to the trail.
We were rewarded when we caught a glimpse of this guy:
A beautiful snowy egret! Nugget and I paddled closer to take a good look.
Such a stunning sight!
Eventually, sadly, we had to turn back. We needed to get a move on, and Nugget was starting to lose his patience. He has about a one-hour shelf life in the kayak – anything more than that is pushing it. I’m just grateful that, at two-and-a-half, he is so adventurous and game for anything. If we have to keep our kayak excursions to an hour for now, I’ll take it.
After the kayaking, we made a quick trip to the beach at Fort de Soto, but it wasn’t quite the shelling destination we’d hoped for, and it was getting close to lunchtime – so we headed back to civilization for a bite to eat and naps for everyone. (Well, naps for the kids and for me. I think Steve worked while the rest of us slept.) And then it was time for the wedding!
Peanut and I headed over early to get ready with the west of the wedding party, and before we knew it, we were walking down the sandy “aisle.” Peanut was radiant! At five years old, she has long been crazy for weddings – Rebecca’s was actually the fourth one she’s attended – but this was the first time she actually got to participate. She took her flower throwing extremely seriously.
Little sweetheart! My heart was singing to see her so happy. She was so obviously proud of her role and thrilled to be included in her godmother’s special day. She also made the most of her moment in the spotlight, stopping frequently to strike poses and blow kisses – haha! The groomsmen were having a particularly hard time holding it together and not laughing as she did her prance down the aisle. Eventually, by a combination of wild gesturing and yanking, I got her “offstage” in time to give Rebecca her moment – and she was a glowing, wildly happy bride.
It was. The best. Wedding. Ever.
Peanut and Nugget got to join in the fun for a little while, then we rushed them back to the beach cottage, where we had lined up a babysitter for them, before heading back to the wedding (a five minute walk away – so convenient) to dance the night away. It was a wonderful, happy, sparkly night that I know Rebecca and Eric will remember forever. We were so happy to have had a small part in their joy.
And with that – summer is really and truly over. But what better way to send off the season than with a beautiful barefoot wedding in the sand?
Have you ever been to a beach wedding?