Now that I've told you all about E.J.'s birthday party, I want to tell you about our Fourth of July/his actual birthday! We really debated what to do for the Fourth this year. We were down in St. Petersburg for E.J.'s party on the 2nd, and we planned to drive back up to Jacksonville on the 3rd so we could be at home for his birthday and watch the fireworks down by the river again this year. But, after the party was over, we felt 1) lazy to drive right back to Jacksonville and 2) that since my cousin Molly and her kiddos were still in town (and had just been joined by her husband, too!) that it might be really fun to stick around, head down to Venice overnight and spend the Fourth with cousins at the beach. So, that's what we decided to do!
We kicked off the Fourth in traditional birthday fashion: we ambushed E.J. with a balloon drop in his crib as soon as he woke up! He thought it was the coolest thing.
A fun way to wake up on your birthday!
We let him play with his balloons for a while, then got up and got ready to head to Venice, where my Aunt Debbie lives. We arrived there mid-morning, and were welcomed by a homemade Happy Birthday banner for E.J.!
A banner in honor of the birthday boy!
It didn't take long before we all got our swimsuits on and set off for the beach. We had such a nice time playing with our cousins! Ellie absolutely loved the water. She won't swim at our beach because our waves are so big (we're on the Atlantic Ocean, Venice is on the Gulf of Mexico), but at this beach, once she got past the waves breaking on the shore, the water was calm (and warm like bathwater) and she basically swam the whole time. E.J. went in and out of the water, also enjoying some playtime in the sand. It was such a nice morning!
Fourth of July at the beach!
With my birthday boy
Ellie swimming with Aunt Molly, Santiago, Uncle Arturo and baby Milena
Fun in the waves for the boys
Our little fish!
Father/son swim time
Big and little cousins!
Beach day selfie!
After the beach we went back to Aunt Debbie's house for some lunch, and E.J. took a nap.
The big kids entertained themselves while the little ones slept!
When E.J. woke up, we went to check into our hotel. The kids and I had spent a couple of days in Venice earlier in the week (more on that to come), and had a good experience with staying in a hotel to maximize our cousin time, so we did the same for this visit. We were able to rent a suite with a little kitchen for a reasonable rate, so we decided to stay in the hotel for dinner and have E.J.'s birthday dinner there as a family. We planned to cook two of his favorite things to eat: peas and macaroni, and corn on the cob. Unfortunately, there were only two burners (we needed three) and only one of them worked, so we had to scrap the corn and get creative for the peas and macaroni. But, we made it work, and had a nice little dinner!
E.J.'s birthday dinner at our hotel
After dinner we sang "Happy Birthday" to E.J. and had cupcakes (leftover from the party).
He totally hated it.
What an unhappy child.
E.J.'s birthday brownies!
Those kids are wowed.
The birthday boy and his fancy candle!
VIDEO: Singing to E.J. on his birthday!
After we enjoyed some brownies and ice cream, we walked out to the beach to watch the fireworks. We had just enough time for a couple of quick sparklers before the show began, and it was really nice! We had a great view, but it wasn't too loud. Of course, E.J. spent the entire time jamming his glow stick flag into the sand and then "using the force" to get it out, and running around waving it like a lightsaber. Ellie spent the whole time burying her glow stick in the sand. So they were totally impressed with the fireworks display.
A blurry photo of the 10 seconds E.J. actually sat with me to watch the fireworks
Fireworks for his birthday! What a lucky kid.
When the show was over, we walked back to Debbie's house and then went back to our hotel for the night. What a great day!
The following day, we enjoyed some more beach fun with our cousins and Aunt Debbie!
Ellie and Aunt Debbie playing in the sand
Swimming with E.J.
Kids at the beach, man. How do they get sand EVERYWHERE???
We had such a nice time!
Then, after lunch, we bid farewell to our family and made the drive back to St. Petersburg, where we would pack up our things and head back to Jacksonville the following day. It was a great holiday, a great birthday for E.J., and a great visit!