We made our way to Florida to meet Luke, my tiny, perfect, likes-to-nurse-non-stop little nephew.
Luke is the first boy born into my sister’s family and our boys’ first boy cousin! When Leslie first told us she was pregnant, we all chatted about how unique it would be if Leslie and Ross had three girls while Ryan and I have three boys. Of course we were thrilled for another baby — boy or girl; pregnancy loss has taught me to never for one second take pregnancy and healthy babies for granted — but there was a little part of my heart that skipped a beat when we found out Leslie and Ross were having their first little boy! Little boys are riiight in my wheelhouse and it was so wonderful to meet their third baby last weekend.
(Note a melting Rhett behind me. Rhett actually handled me holding Luke fairly well but right before this picture was taken he said, “That my mommy” just to make sure Luke knows what’s up.)
Chase, Ryder and Rhett were very curious about their new cousin and I got a kick out of watching them and listening to their conversations about Luke. Chase really, really wanted to hold Luke while Ryder opted to pass. As Chase held him, we laughed when he said, “He always looks a little angry.” Newborns are the funniest little things and watching Chase try to imitate the 100 different facial expressions Luke made in a 5-second timespan had me cracking up.
We soaked up as much time with Callie, Colette and Luke as possible and filled our days with trips to Sunshine Park (our Jacksonville Beach favorite!), cups of Kona Ice, a St. Patrick’s Day visit to the zoo and even some beach and pool time.
We joked that Chase and Ryder did their own version of a polar plunge when they jumped into the freezing pool at my parents’ place after they splashed around in the surf of the ocean. They were so amped about their cold plunge and I cannot believe they did it. The water was next-level freezing and even though they hopped out of the pool in less than 30 seconds, I was still amazed they even tried. Brrrr!
Whenever we visit Jacksonville, we almost always stay at my parents’ place. (Last summer we rented a home near my parents and sister’s family for a month since we were between houses and having our gang of 5 crammed into my parents’ condo for 30-days seemed like a lot for everyone.) During last week’s visit we, once again, stayed with my mom and dad and loved spending time with them. My mom is a gem and had a new puzzle and lego kits waiting for the boys which only added to the excitement of returning to Mae and Pop’s condo.
I was especially anxious to see my dad and I’d be lying if I said seeing him was easy. He’s in pain and he’s struggling emotionally, physically and mentally. While his surgery was just under two months ago, his recovery has been filled with complications and they’re taking their toll on him. I am just praying for things to start going his way and for all of the set backs, infections and complications to cease.
My dad is an extremely active and social person and I know the “cabin fever” aspect of his recovery is getting to him. He was able to get out for an easy ride on his beach cruiser bike for the first time during our visit and his demeanor was night-and-day different after his first ride out in the sunshine. I am praying for more of this for him in the future! It was hard not having my dad along on our adventures but we know and believe this is all temporary and we’ll have our healthy, energetic Pop back soon.
One major highlight from our time in Florida was the fact that our whole crew got to see a night launch from the balcony of my parents’ condo. My mom is big-time space fanatic and frequently texts our family with updates about the moon, rocket launches, etc., so she had the launch streaming on her phone so we were able to participate in the countdown and then search the horizon for the rocket.
It blew all of us away and seeing the bright-orange flare blast through the sky was truly incredible. (Yes, they can see launches from Cape Canaveral all the way in Jacksonville Beach if the weather cooperates. So cool, right!?) Between sea turtle nest excavations, rocket launches and lizard catching, it’s no wonder our boys always beg us to take them back to Florida.
(Please note the double stroller with zero kids in it. If that doesn’t sum up life with a toddler or two, I don’t know what does.)
And yes, you know plenty of lizard hunting happened on this trip, too. The boys catch and release a million anoles during our Florida visits and truly spend hours hunting for their favorite reptile friends.
The green anoles are the “prized lizard” for the boys because they’re native to Florida while the brown anoles are an invasive species. Thank you, Creature Man, for sharing this fact with me! (When the big kids catch a green anole, I’m fairly certain the whole state of Florida can hear their excited whoops and screams.)
No anole lizards came home with us — Lucky is the perfect reptile for our family — and we were happy to be back in our own beds heading into the week. I’m already looking at the calendar and trying to see when we can make our next visit because a few days in Florida with family never quite feels like enough.
I hope you’re all having a great week so far and thanks so much for stopping by the blog today!