Thursday, June 23, 2016

Florida- Day 4

Day 4 needs a bit of set-up and backstory before I begin.

I started blogging in December, 2008.  I had been blogging for a long time (like several years) before I realized that there were "famous" bloggers that had many, many readers and did things like "link-ups".  One of those bloggers is Kelly at Kelly's Korner.  She lives in Arkansas and for years has been having link-up posts where there is a specific topic (i.e. working moms, your favorite dessert recipe, Christmas decorations, etc.)  and you can share the link to your blog so bloggers with similar interests or in the same area can find each other.  

I don't remember the exact topic of the link-up, but I "met" my friend Valerie through one of those link-ups.  I did painstakingly go through months of Valerie's blog posts to find the first comment I ever left for her. It was May 16, 2012 at 11:45 am and it was in response to what she had written as her title to her link on the link-up.  It was something like "mom to five month old boy."  I was intrigued because at that time Elliott was five months old.  And now that I found the date I realize he was EXACTLY five months old.  Anyway, I clicked on her blog and read her "about me" section and realized that she had her son Oliver and I had Elliott on the exact same day- December 16, 2011.  So I left a comment for her and then she left a comment for me (on May 16, 2012 at 9:10 am, not because she is a time traveler, but because she was in South Carolina and in a different time zone) and then we became regular blog readers of each other and then we talked on the phone a few times and then we became Facebook friends and then I became Facebook friends with her friend Julia and then fast forward four years and Valerie now has three kids and lives in Savannah and on June 4, 2016, Valerie, her husband Josh, their three kids Oliver, Caroline and Veronica, and Julia drove from Savannah to Tampa to meet us.  Phew!  Got all that?

We had been planning the big "meet" for weeks.  Originally it was just going to be a Sunday get-together, but then they came down on Friday evening and so we met for lunch on Saturday as well.  It was like Christmas morning finally getting to meet these ladies.

The birthday twin boys and Caroline.  I never did get a picture of Veronica at lunch.  Or Josh.  Or Michael.  But, whatever.
They were fast friends.  And Elliott spoke with a little southern accent for a few days after playing with Oliver.

We went to a place called Whisky Joe's.  The food was excellent and it was right on the water, but this bird was very screechy and made us all quite nervous about poop accidents.
Awe.  My beautiful friends.  They both have the loveliest skin I've ever seen.  And I was wearing a real, legitimate nightgown that I was trying to pass as a dress.  They are so cool that they didn't even care.

Julia (who I'm diligently working on making my sister in law) is good at selfies.
After lunch they headed to the beach and we headed to Michael's brother's house for Bryant's graduation party. We were there for the rest of the day.  We seriously left at like 9:30 that night and we were the first people to leave the party.  And people gave us grief for it.

I had a glass of sangria at about 4:00 pm and a shot of amaretto around 7:00 pm.  See boozer Michael?  Yeah, I was the designated driver.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Florida- Day 3

In case I haven't mentioned it already, the reason we went to Florida was to attend the high school graduation of our nephew (Michael's brother's son) Bryant.

It is just total coincidence that my brother and Michael's brother both ended up living in Tampa at the same time.  Michael's brother was sent there by the army and my brother ended up there because his wife Kendra matched to her fellowship in oncology there.  

Anyway, we had been talking about going to the graduation for several years and I'm glad that we were able to do it and it was just extra convenient and wonderful that we got to see my brother at the same time.  Michael's brother and his family moved to Honolulu (today actually) so we have no idea where our other nephew and niece will graduate from high school. 

The graduation was on Friday, June 3rd.  Have you noticed yet that each day of the trip matches the date?  I noticed on day 2, June 2nd.

Since we were getting all fancy for the ceremony I wanted to take a nice family picture.  I thew around the idea of going to the beach to do them but the reality is that it would have been way to much work.  So we had Bella's baby sitter take some shots in the backyard.  

I wanted this plant to be in the background, but it was too sunny at that time.

Much shadier.
I 2,512% appreciate that Stephanie took horizontal and vertical pictures for us with no prompting whatsoever.  She has four kids.  She knows.

We had pre-arranged for Elliott to stay at home with Stephanie and Bella while the rest of us went to the ceremony.  I can think of few worse things in the entire world than Elliott sitting quietly in an auditorium for hours and hours.

It was a good call because we got there more than an hour early and the ceremony took about 2 hours.
We texted this picture to Michael's brother while we were waiting. He was sitting in the same row as us but about 14 people away.  We told him we missed him.

Stephanie texted this picture to me.  The kids were taking a little break after playing with the water table.
I took a whole bunch of pictures during the ceremony, but I will not bore you with all of them.  Here are some highlights.

Pictures after

And then we sat in the parking lot trying to get out for almost as long as we sat in the graduation.  It was RIDICULOUS and the most poorly planned thing I've ever seen in my life.

Michael and Spencer went back to his brother's house to hang out with his family and I went back to my brother's house to get Elliott.  Then we all met up at dinner.

The whole group.