You may know that Jeff has been a good friend of ours for quite some time. He and Eric went to high school together, although they weren't really friends then. We all ended up at the University of Florida for college, and Jeff and my roommate Kristina hit it off so we spent their freshman year (my sophomore year) as a foursome. Jeff and Kristina split after that first year, but we remained friends and Eric lived with Jeff for a couple of years. Then, we all ended up in Washington, D.C. for graduate school (law school for the boys), so we roomed together for two years there until Eric and I got married and got our own place. Needless to say, we think Jeff is good people and we just love Sarah, too. I can't wait to get to know her even better.
Eric and Jeff in college!
Jeff and Sarah opted to plan a more intimate wedding on Clearwater Beach (about 30-35 guests), with a larger reception to follow in D.C. in 2014. We were thrilled to make the cut of invited friends for the wedding, and Eric was asked to be a groomsman. We've been anxiously awaiting this weekend ever since!
Eric and I left Jacksonville on Saturday morning. Thanks to traffic in Tampa, we didn't arrive at the beach until almost 2:00, but hey, we were at the beach! Who can be mad? The check-in process was kind of slow, but they gave us some free champagne while we waited, which is the key to my heart. When we finally had the keys to our room we got settled in and then went to find the bride and groom on the beach.
Left: Beach-bound with our sunroof open; Right: The Sandpearl Resort and me enjoying my free champagne
Our room at the Sandpearl
The view from our room
After saying hello to everyone, Eric and I split from the group to grab some lunch (and a whole lot of sangria) at Frenchy's. I couldn't help but marvel at how easy it was to eat a meal at a restaurant without a toddler in tow. It also didn't hurt that the toddler at the table next to us treated his fellow diners to several loud meltdowns during the course of our meal, and guess what? I didn't have to do a thing about it. I didn't have to shove food in his face or desperately try to get him to play with a crayon or continuously pry open salt packets out of his hands. I WAS ON VACATION.
Our lunch view
This is the life.
We spent a decent amount of time at lunch watching the creeper in the bushes taking pictures of the ongoing volleyball game. I suspect he knew the group, but still...sketchy!
After lunch we hit the pool/hot tub for a little while. Jeff and Sarah had reserved delightful cabanas by the pool both weekend days, so we were also able to catch a few minutes of the UF v. Tennesee game there while we chatted with other friends of the couple, too.
Now this is how you relax by the pool in style.
Before too long, it was time to head up to the room to get ready for the rehearsal. Eric got cleaned up and joined the rest of the bridal party on the beach for a little practice. I joined them a bit later and enjoyed the lovely view while they received their instructions for the Big Day.
Bridal party off to rehearse
Rehearsal on the beach
After the rehearsal we went to Crabby Bill's for dinner with Jeff and Sarah's friends Doug (the best man), Doug's wife Sarah, Jenn (the groomsmaid) and Chris. Dinner was delicious - hip, hip, hooray for a steamer bucket and beer.
Enjoying Clearwater Beach
Hanging out with the groom
Then it was off to bed to SLEEP, without fear of any small children deciding that 4:00 a.m. was time to rise and shine. No, no, my friends! This night could last as long as we wanted. I had visions of sleeping blissfully into the late morning, then loafing around in bed as long as I wanted before finally dragging myself up, all entirely at my own leisure. And on Sunday morning, I did sleep in, all the way until....8:45 a.m. Whomp, whomp. But hey, even if it wasn't a super late wake-up time, it was all on my own accord, so I'll take it.
Eric and I went across the street for a delightful omelette breakfast to start our day.
After our breakfast at the Clear Sky Beachside Cafe
Then, Eric, Jeff, Doug and Sarah's father went out for a little miniature golf.
Happy wedding day, Jeff!
Meanwhile, I sat on the beach. Wait, read that sentence again: I sat on the beach. As in sat. Quietly. I didn't have to pull sand out of anyone's mouth, or keep any small children from meeting an untimely end by diving face-first into the waves without an exit strategy in place, or beg any spirited young girls to OMG JUST SIT DOWN FOR FIVE SECONDS. Instead, I just sat. I put my toes in the sand, sipped a contraband alcoholic beverage, listened to the surf and watched the clouds grow in the distance. I did all that until the clouds finally grew so big that rain was clearly imminent and then inside I went, just as the boys returned from golf.
Oh, how I cursed those clouds!
I also should mention, that in addition to all this luxurious lounging, I also had gifts bestowed upon me to really put the cherry on top of the perfect weekend. Eric surprised me with an aquamarine eternity band to compliment my wedding and engagement rings on my left ring finger. It was something we had discussed but he handed it to me right there in our hotel room on our first day, and I was quite surprised. I just love it. Aquamarine is Ellie's birth stone, and it was my "vision" to add an eternity band of each of our children's birthstones (should there be more children, of course) to my ring finger. In my mind, this is a perfect way to symbolize that the vows I made to Eric on our wedding day don't only apply to him, but to the entire family we create together. They are all deserving of my steadfast love, honor and loyalty and by adding rings to represent our children in addition to our marriage, I feel that commitment to the family as a whole is clearly symbolized in my every day life. Hey, I'm a sap.
My new bauble
As expected, the rain came as soon as I met back up with Eric and we got up to our room. We had a quick errand to run, so we went out to do that and grab some lunch. When we got back we had just enough time for a very quick stint in the hot tub before I had to get ready for the wedding. The boys were invading our room at 4:00 to get ready together, so I wanted to be showered and such before then. When they arrived, Doug's Sarah and I left them to do their guy thing and we went to groomsmaid Jenn's room to get ready ourselves.
Then, it was time for the wedding, but The Main Event deserves it's very own post, coming up later this week!
For now, I'll just say that the wedding was a blast and Jeff and Sarah looked wonderful and so in love, as a bride and groom should look. Congratulations to them!
On Monday morning, Eric and I woke up early and took one last walk on the beach before we had to check out and head back to Jacksonville.
So long, lovely beach vacation.
I love the beach in the mornings.
Sad to go! (Also, totally still rocking my wedding 'do in this pic. I'm not ashamed.)
We were both exhausted and it rained for most of the drive back, so it seemed rather long, but we made it. We picked Achilles up from his boarder on our way and got back home after Ellie had already gone down for her nap. My mom gave a great report; it sounded like Ellie did just fine without us all weekend (which makes me both very proud and somewhat offended). We thanked my mom and said farewell to her, then took a nap ourselves. When we all woke up, it was a happy reunion. I think I can safely say that both "kids" were glad to see us, and the feeling was definitely mutual.
Reunited with our oldest
Our youngest was pretty psyched!
We had a wonderful weekend away, and it was great to recharge and feel like our old pre-baby selves again for a bit, but we sure did miss our little family.
Stay tuned for wedding pictures!