Beachy Memories

If your kids are like mine, they are always trying to keep every little rock, bucket of sand, broken shell and sea tumbled piece of trash that they find on the beach. Or in a creek. Or just walking down the road. Sure you can bring it home in the name of preserving your sanity, but then what do you do with it?!

I let everyone collect all the shells and sand that they want and then sometime things “blow” out of the car on the way home. What are you gonna do? With a paired down set of shells, rocks and sand, we create little jars. They are cheap at Michael’s and we try to get the same size each time – or at least the same style. Then we fill them, label them and put them on a shelf. Easy to dust and no beach memories on the floor!

And if glass scares you, grab a plastic jar instead and hot glue the lid on for a toddler / hands on friendly version.

Easy way to control the amount of crap that comes home and keep it in one place is to use a drink cup with lid. If you’re extra fancy, remember to pack some ziplock bags

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Our sand dollars were purple and hairy. We put them in a bleach bath over night and voila! White and smooth.

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Ta da! A sweet little mess free collection of our vacation!

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Also works with creek rocks:

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Montana; Water, Parading and Celebrating

A little catch up from earlier this year…!

When we finally landed home in Arizona, I realized how physically exhausted I was…but how refreshed my brain felt! I think that sums up a good Montana vacation – physically hard, mentally great.

We packed a LOT into our two weeks!

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I don’t think anyone enjoys the river as much as this fur faceIMG_4853IMG_4864IMG_4867IMG_4861

How pretty is Chico Hot Springs? The water in the pool is fed by a natural hot spring – the water is about 103 degrees. It’s strange to swim in a hot tub but a good strange.

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The Fourth of July Parade in Livingston is one of my favorite things. Seriously, how cute is this town?

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This guy’s style is so on point. He is obsessed with Baylor’s hand me down boots.IMG_9690

Patiently waiting.IMG_9712IMG_9699

Less patiently waiting.IMG_9713IMG_9746

There’s either a firetruck, ambulance, forest service vehicle or farm machine coming…IMG_9733

This guy lassoing these crazies was hilarious. I think I need one. IMG_9742

They even made the local paper! This was the picture on page 7 of the Livingston Enterprise.

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Children wait along Main Street for the next float handing out candy during the Livingston Roundup Parade, Saturday afternoon.

We spent the 4th at the lodge celebrating with all our friends and family. And of course, we have our annual flag picture.

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Gorgeous sunsets waiting for fireworks.IMG_9839

Baylor is not a fan of sparklers.IMG_4846

But Auggie is!IMG_4848IMG_4875

Auggie got to go on his first rafting trip down the Yellowstone! It was with our friends at Wild West Rafting and as usual, it was a boat full of fun. IMG_4714IMG_4717IMG_4724

Aaaannnddd We’re Back!

This has been the longest break in Goon Room history! But for good reason…we’ve been busy. A quick recap of the last twoish months:

Kindergarten, here she comes

It was surreal to watch B walk down the church aisle and receive her preschool diploma. It made me think of all the graduations to come. We decided to give preschool one more year and wait until she was six for kindergarten. I wasn’t sure this was the right decision until now. Her ability and desire to spell words, sound them out and memorize them is leaps and bounds better than it was a year ago. Kindergarten will be a snap!

IMG_3322It’s wild to see how much these two have grown since the first day of school! And yes, wearing jammies to school was intentional.IMG_3358

We bought a house!

And sold a house! I always said I wanted the ugliest house on the prettiest street and then we could redo it the way we wanted. I didn’t think we had quite achieved that until we walked into the totally empty house the day we closed…our good friend and realtor looked at me and said “are you ok??” It hit me just then; we bought a big, old, slightly funky, tired, house. Suddenly our plan of moving in asap and remodeling next summer seemed so overwhelming. And change isn’t really my gig so getting the house and our lives back into working order with a new routine and process was a tall order. But I can happily report that a month later, we are loving the new neighborhood, the house and dreaming of the big plans for next summer.

Also, moving? Just sucks. It’s so much work trying to fit one house into another. And in 110 degree heat. On a budget. With kids. First world problem, I know, but when the first world problem is burying you, it’s a problem. In the thick of it, buying, moving and selling was daunting. But now that it’s done, I realize how incredibly lucky we were that it went so smooth. Thank goodness God didn’t think I was tough enough for more because I could barely handle the best case scenario.

SIX.

How quickly they go from getting teeth….

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To losing them!IMG_3311 (1)

Baylor turned 6! SIX. Holy moly. We celebrated a little later in June with her friends at the new house in the pool. We scrambled to get the yard cleaned up and party ready and we succeeded. The combination of pool and mostly dirt back yard resulted in a mini Woodstock, which I did not see coming. I always judge a party by the time people leave, the manner in which they leave and what is left behind. The majority of our friends were carrying exhausted, crying children out the door at 9pm and the next morning we started a pile of goggles, swim suits, towels, mostly left shoes and a smattering of other random items left behind. Translation? Total success. Peter said his favorite part was walking out of the kitchen to a couch, a hearth and the floor full of friends laughing hysterically. It was a good night.

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Thirty Three.

I do the math every time I tell someone how old I am. I just can’t quite get my head around that number. I am once again so grateful for a healthy 33 years – for a body that can carry kids, dogs, and whatever else needs to be transported – and I wish for 99 more years just like this one.

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Ten. TEN!

PW and I celebrated our TENTH wedding anniversary. It feels like another lifetime that we said I do after moves, dogs, kids, jobs, promotions, deaths, births…it’s been a busy 10 years. And I wouldn’t change a thing. There have been some  sad situations we’ve watched (and tried to support) our friends through in the last year that have made us even more grateful for a working marriage. I couldn’t have asked for a better partner, more handsome husband, loving dad, or hard working spouse. I’m grateful every day for you, Peter Wand. Ok, so most days I’m grateful for you. No really, every day. And most of each day, too. See?? We laugh! That’s how I know we’re going to make it 100 more.

Someone asked me what the tenth year traditional gift is…I’m still not sure, but for us? It’s Pebble Sheen. As in the pool surface. Because for what that sh*t costs, we can’t afford gifts. But we’ll get to spend a lot of quality time in a real nice pool!

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Montana Time.

Before we found our new house, we booked our annual trip to Montana. And amazingly, the timing was pretty perfect. We moved, we settled, we threw some stuff in bags and headed north. Our friends the D Family joined us for the first five days for nonstop fun. White water rafting, rodeos, 4th of July festivities, hiking, laughter that makes your muscles ache, and memories for a life time. It’s the kind of trip that leaves you exhausted and rested all at the same time.

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And now we are home and anxiously awaiting the pool resurfacing (see tenth anniversary gifting) and the start of school. School uniforms, here we come!

The Beach

We always have a ball at the beach and this year was no exception. Each year keeps getting better as the kids get older and they’re able to do new things.

Both of them are crazy for the water. They like to run into it, swim, dive, fall over, run from it and repeat. As Baylor and I were holding hands and jumping over the waves that rolled our way, I asked her if she wanted to try boogie boarding (body boarding? I don’t know what the kids are calling it these days). I love to go out on the boogie board. As kids, we spent hours sitting, watching, waiting, riding and paddling back out. We learning which waves were the good ones, when to catch them and how to ride all the way to the sand. Being on a board in the cold, salty water on a hot day are some of my most favorite childhood memories.

“Should we go get the boogie board and give it a try?”

“No. We should wait for daddy.”

“No because there’s a chance daddy won’t let us do it so let’s go get it now.”

A few whiny minutes later, I convinced her to lay out on the board between waves. As she began to protest, I shoved her and the board into a breaking wave and then watched in awe as she rode it all the way to the shore. When the board stopped, she waited a second before jumping up. She turned and looked at me with the biggest, toothless smile and screamed “LET’S DO IT AGAIN!!!!!!!!!”. Which we did. For the next 2 hours and then for hours more the next day.

Ahhhh. Such a gorgeous day!

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She may have my eyes and hair, but she has her daddy’s walk
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Getting brave….

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Loving every moment!

(She also lost another tooth. What is it about vacation and losing teeth with this kid?!)

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Someone else wanted in on the action

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Auggie! Let’s build a sand castle! Let me take your picture while you work. Auggie. Auggie! Over here!

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Auggs! Auggie! Just one picture!

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Ok I lied. One picture where you don’t look so pissed off.

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Ok thank you! As you were.

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Sharks? SHARKS?!

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Phew. Just a pod of dolphins.

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Break Time

Whew. It’s been a long couple of weeks. Auggie boy has decided to drop that whole sleeping through the night thing and wake up multiple times a night and then for good by about 5am. I’m barely sane with a full night’s rest. Give me multiple nights of no more than a few hour of consecutive sleep AND no end in sight? Holy moly. It’s not pretty. Picture me and another mom standing outside of the preschool, barely holding back tears as we carefully and in great detail describe all the things we’ve been doing to get our 23 month olds to sleep longer and later. Teeth? Reflux? Growth spurt? Backout shades? Humidifier? Sound machine? Temperature? And couple the crabby exhausted toddler with a sassy five year old who knows how to push her momma’s buttons and you’ve got yourself a recipe for a major mommy meltdown. And melt I did.

I’ve come to learn as an adult, that I’m not great at taking a break. I’m really good at digging in when the going gets tough, which is not exactly a good thing.

I remember about a week after Auggie was born, Peter announced that Grandma was coming to watch the kids and we were going out. Going out?! Going OUT?? Who’s going out? Us?? Where? How?? But he insisted. We drove to the mall, walked around a little, sat and ate cupcakes, talked without being interrupted. It was maybe two hours, but it was a break that I so desperately needed but didn’t know it.

Which is why it was so good we planned our annual trip to San Diego months ago. Reservations were booked. Dog boarding set up. We were going despite the fact that it was one of the busiest weeks ever. End of the month billing for me, closing time for Peter, Parent’s Night at school, back to school meetings, and on and on. The beauty of San Diego though is that you don’t need much and anything you forget is easily replaced. That said, our crew still takes a lot of gear…as I surveyed the living room that was piled high with the beach wagon, sand toys, umbrellas, suitcases, wine, snacks, pack n play, both joggers and a bunch of other crap that I can’t even remember, I decided if we didn’t have it, we’d figure it out.

We piled into the truck and we were off! And despite the fact that Auggie still didn’t sleep well until the LAST NIGHT of vacation, it was the break we all needed but didn’t know it. Auggie has decided to start sleeping better. Baylor has decided not to try to push mommy to the point of needing a straight jacket. Grandma took Auggie for a day and gave me *gasp* 6 whole hours to myself (which I spent working…but at least it was without distraction!). We’re going to survive. Thank goodness for the beach.

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Yellowstone Adventures

Our Yellowstone adventure as a group of 7 looked more like the Griswalds headed to Wally World. We were packed into our rental SUV…but still, 7 people is a lot to squish into one vehicle. Not to mention Auggie was a particularly unhappy camper that day. We also imposed a “no electronics rule”. No iphone or ipad games. We were in nature, dammit. And everyone was going to look out the window and enjoy it by God.

We also had a loaned “Audio Tour through Yellowstone” CD. It. Was. Awesome. Mostly because for every feature that it described, it usually included a cautionary tale that was less cautionary for us and much more hilarious. It went something like:

And that brings me to the story of little Andy Shmandy from Portland Oregon and his dog Moosey. While visiting Noris Gysier, Moosey left the boardwalk and jumped into one of the boiling pools. Andy, defied those around that were trying to restrain him and jumped in after Moosey. He was able to climb out, but was severely burned over 90% of his body. While first responders were removing his clothing, his skin came off with it. He was transported to Salt Lake City where he later died. His last words were “that was pretty stupid, huh?”. 

No really. I’m not making it up.

The stories were so gruesome, they were hilarious. We were sure to remind each other often about each victim often. Stay on the boardwalk kids! You don’t want to be the next Andy Shmandy!

Warning: picture overload ahead

I love that you immediately see elk when you drive into the park. They are really really close to the cars and you realize how big these guys are.

(Side note: run fast little elkies! Please don’t come home to my home in the stuffed form!)

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First stop: Noris geysers. But first, a warning illustration. Who the hell draws these?

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Everyone of these pools is hotter than the boiling point of water. But they don’t bubble because of the altitude. The color comes from a special form of bacteria that only survives in super hot water.IMG_7278It’s like the surface of the moon

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IMG_7303 IMG_7305 IMG_7318We caught one of the geysers going off

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The Griswalds Do Yellowstone!

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Not the happiest camper….

IMG_7291  But he does like a camera so that helps – take a look at his shoes. He loves them because they look just like “dada’s”, but he wears them between his second toes!

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“Pose in front of the boiling hot water!!”

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The Grand Canyon of Yellowstone is amazing. The only problem is that it never looks real in pictures. The dads win parent of the year award for carrying each girl UP the 200+ steps from the bottom of the canyon. Jeff still can’t feel his shoulder. Auggie fell asleep in the car so someone had to hang back and nap with him. I was happy to fill that position.

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These two kill me.

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Can you see the lip gloss on her eyes??IMG_7332

We did pretty well with the wildlife sightings. This guy was just off the road scratching his head on a tree. It was awesome. IMG_7264 IMG_7269
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We passed a horse drawn wagon. Some go out for tours, others for overnight camp outs and they are original to the park.

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The wildfire devastation is still very visible. Some is very old – from the fires in the late 80’s. Some is more recent.  I was really surprised to learn that they don’t thin the forest to prevent large fires. They found after the “Summer of Fire” that a lot of the pine cones will only open when introduced to the extreme heat of forest fires, thus self regenerating the forest. IMG_7355 IMG_7365

Baylor and Morgan had the way back seat to themselves. They are fold down seats so they were a little isolated in the back. At one point they asked the moms for lip gloss. We made the mistake of not asking for it back. Eventually we looked back and realized they had “done” their hair and used some of the lip gloss as eye shadow. Then they passed out.

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Traveling Friends

My friend Beth M always catogorizes friends into three groups: friends, good friends and friends you would travel with. The last group is the biggest complement because it means that you like your friend enough to spend tons of time together for days on end.

We are so lucky that we have lots of friends that fall into that last catagory. And this summer, we were lucky enough to have our friends, the D family, came to visit us in Montana. As if we couldn’t love this family more, after sharing a glass of wine in Big Sky Country really put it over the top.

One of the best parts of having them visit was that their daughter, Morgan, shacked up in Baylor and Auggie’s room each night. And they. all. slept. Like all night. So clearly we have to move in together.

We did a little of everything – rafting, hiking (well, tried to, that’s a long story), Yellowstone Park, roamed around Livingston, and just enjoyed laughing with each other. It was a fantastic week!

I can’t stand this picture. It kills me. The girls are THRILLED to be playing the hardest game of Go Fish (no numbers, only names, they can’t read. You get the picture.) ever and Jeff is physically in pain over it. I’m laughing as I type.

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 I’m not sure what this is about…but I like it

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 Someone finally finally won the game and put poor Jeff out of his misery

photo 3 (43)More to come on our Griswald-esk trip through Yellowstone National Park.

Big Sky July

In a moment of stressing about packing lists, I realized how far we’ve come and how much we’ve done in a short time to make a dream of ours come true.

Let me back up to last summer. After a long flight and drive to the ranch, Peter and  were sitting in rocking chairs on the deck waiting for Auggie to doze off. It was after 10pm and the sun was almost down. It was cool and quiet and…perfect. We started seriously thinking about how we could make a transition that would allow us to spend more time in Montana. After a lot of conversations, we came up with a plan.

In just under a year, Peter has passed the Montana bar, been admitted and we have booked a rental house for all of July. We can both work from here and he’s working on a Montana client list – ensuring lots of summers in Big Sky country to come – and I’m sure a few “client meetings” during hunting season too…

The logistics of getting here were a little daunting. We settled on having Peter drive the 18ish hours with Mac and all our crap stuff while I flew with the kids. I’ll save you the details…but there was a barf bag involved in my part of the trip. But we made it all in one piece! The house we rented sight unseen has turned out to be great (with a few additional baby proofing measures post Auggie’s minor tumble down the stairs. Hearing Baylor scream “Auggie fell down the stairs!!” was as close as I’d like to come to knowing what a heart attack feels like).

 

We’re unpacked, settling in and awaiting the arrival of our friends/house guests! And this morning, we’re waking up to this:

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Disneyland!

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This picture sums up our whole trip. We were in line at the gates when the park opened Friday morning and were on the first ride of the day on the Astro Blaster. And this was our girl’s face waiting in line. It was all I needed to know that she was over the moon that we were finally in Disneyland!

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Man. Not sure if my look could scream “I’m a MOM ON VACATION!!” any louder. Oh wait, I was carrying the camera that Peter was using…

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If Autopia is any representation of how Baylor will drive at 16, we are in serious, serious trouble.

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Brave B rode the Matterhorn and then we ventured to Pixie Hollow for some face painting

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Since the day Baylor was born, all Mamie could talk about was taking her to ride the Tea Cups. So we saved a seat for her.

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On a recommendation, we hit the Bibbity Bobbity Boutique. Thankfully part of the recommendation was to bring our own dress. She came in looking like Baylor and went out looking like Cinderella!

Before….

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 And After!

IMG_6453How cute are the clips?

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So the thing I didn’t know about Disneyland is that the characters don’t really walk around any more. You have to go to them and visit. Which is guess is nice because you know you’ll get to see them…but the fact you wait in line for an hour+ is not so fun.

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Finally, Minnie herself!

(Side note – B is a little bit terrified of the characters with costume heads. Good to know when you’ve just paid several hundred dollars to see CHARACTERS WITH COSTUME HEADS)

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And because we couldn’t get enough waiting in line, we saw Mickey too

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Thankfully the wait to see Tinkerbell was much shorter. And honestly more fun because Tinkerbell talks unlike Mickey and Minnie. Which was Baylor’s immediate response after meeting Minnie. We were really dumb kids and that thought never really occured to me. PW and I were tap dancing for answers…we landed on the fact that she’s a cartoon and can only talk on TV. The look on her face said she wasn’t buying it, but she stopped asking – phew.

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She is so our daughter. 10 seconds after these two girls sat down, she was in the middle of them introducing herself. IMG_6475 IMG_6480

By dumb luck, we caught Cinderella walking towards her castle!

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The new and improved Mickey Mouse Ears.

Until next time Disneyland! And by next time I mean like 3+ years from now!

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California Love

This past weekend marked our 30th something pilgrimage to Coronado, CA. It was as lovely as ever, always a family affair and always so much fun.

This guy capital L LOVED the ocean. We could not keep him out of it. Wave to the face? No biggie. Freezing cold? Not a problem.

IMG_5632 IMG_5627 IMG_5617Our view from the beach

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The only place this guy looks small

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Baylor is equally crazy for the ocean and sand castles. I love the urgency on her face to get the water to her sand castle.

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Mason looking a little afraid. Rightly so.IMG_5559

We ran into her buddy Tessa – you would have thought they hadn’t seen each other in years…

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If this isn’t the perfect “big sister little brother” picture

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Auntie Ali, Uncle Gary and Mason looking crabby

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The Noni

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PW took nap shift one afternoon which left me alone. On the beach. With trashy magazines. And boat drinks. HEAVEN.

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The view from our room. Noni goes to great lengths to get joined rooms, beach side, with patios. It is worth every ounce of effort!

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The Del at night

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Spying on the spectacular beach wedding

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This wedding was spectacular. They had chandeliers hanging from the structure and table skirts that looked like beautiful seaweed. It was stunning.IMG_5588

Amazing sunsetIMG_5587After a full day running on the beach, playing in the waves THEN hitting the pool, Baylor rolled over and asked what I was looking at on my phone. I turned to answer her and found this:

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So here’s to the end of summer, another great vacation and many many more!