Saturday, May 19, 2012

Adventures on the Road

Our vacation to go to my cousin's wedding turned out amazing. We had so much fun.

This was our first real road trip with Sophie. Prior to this, we'd only driven 2.5 hours to Corpus Christi with her and flown everywhere else. This was driving from San Antonio, Texas, to Crestview, Florida, which is a good 12-14 hours. AND Sophie was newly potty trained, so we had no idea what to expect. However, Sophie did not have any accidents on our trip and, best of all, every place we stopped was an exciting adventure for her.

Carseat, oversized sunglasses, princess blanket...just how I roll.

We left out at 6:15 a.m. and drove across town to beat San Antonio rush hour traffic, then stopped to have breakfast tacos at Taco Cabana. Sophie was excited for tacos and excited to point out all the suns on the wall! She was excited to go potty!

Then, we drove over halfway to Houston and stopped for gas in Weimar, Texas. When we walked in the door, the convenience store had a bull that you could ride for $1, so after we went potty, Sophie rode it and loved it!

Hilariously, the song "Danger Zone" by Kenny Loggins played
during the entire bull ride. Only in Texas.

At truck stops, she marveled at the big scales you could weigh yourself on in the restrooms. She pointed out when we were shown on the security camera TVs-"We're on TV, Mommy!" She napped a little and watched videos and played games on her Fisher-Price iXL while we drove. She never complained once. What normally would've been a long, ho-hum drive was actually fun since we saw it through her eyes. :)

We stopped in Biloxi, Mississippi, and spent the night at one of my favorite casinos, the Beau Rivage. When we went down to have dinner, Sophie saw all the slot machines and wanted to play. I told her those were "Big Girl Games." After a delicious meal, I went to play slots and J took Sophie to the Kiddie Arcade, aka the "Little Girl Games."

Amazingly, after losing almost $80 on quarter slots, I hit it big and won $1350 on one of them! It was so exciting! I've never won that big before. When I went back up to the room, I told Sophie, "I won at the Big Girl Games!" Sophie ran and got some little plastic fish and a ball and said "I won at Little Girl Games, Mommy!" LOL. We were all winners!

Sunrise, Gulf of Mexico, Biloxi, MS

The next morning we went for a swim in the beautiful pool and looked out over the ocean, then got dressed and checked out. We headed to Mobile, Alabama, about 30 minutes away, to meet my cousin Cindy for lunch. It was great to see her and catch up. Then, we drove on through Mobile ("We're in a tunnel, Mommy!") and Pensacola, Florida, and finally arrived at our destination: Crestview.

Several of my cousins and aunts and uncles live in Crestview, but the wedding was actually taking place in a little town called Florala, Alabama, which is 25 miles north. It's where my parents grew up and I'm related to most of the town on one side or the other by marriage. The only place to stay in Florala is a bed and breakfast, but that is where my cousin Caitlin was having the reception and her wedding party was staying there, so we had to drive back and forth from Crestview everyday.

Main Street, Florala...small town, big chair!

After checking in to our hotel, we drove up to Florala and checked on my dad and uncles who were putting up lights for the outdoor reception at the B&B. Then, we drove to my grandparents' farm to see my mom and aunts and the bride and her sister, who were working on wedding decor. Then, we drove back down to Crestview to have dinner at my uncle's house.

The next day, J and I had planned to take Sophie down to the beach in Ft. Walton, 25 miles south. I was born there and the beaches there are some of the prettiest in the world, but I can hardly ever break away to go when we visit. My cousin's wife, Ashley, and her four-year-old niece Kelsey, ended up coming with us, and actually directed us to the exact stretch of my beach my parents always brought me to when I was Sophie's age.

Nothing like the white sand beaches of Ft. Walton. I played here at Sophie's age.

After our fun beach excursion, we drove back up to the farm for dinner. It was fun to see Sophie playing and running around and enjoying the farm. I only wish my grandparents were alive to see it. She's more of a farm girl than I ever was, for sure. :)

Sophie runs around on the farm her Papa grew up on in Alabama.

My grandparents would've loved to see her enjoying the farm so much!

The next day, Sophie and J stayed at the hotel to swim and hang out, while I headed up to the farm to help prepare wedding decorations. My aunt does interior decorating as part of her job, so she literally made every flower arrangement, bouquet, corsage, and table decoration, with our family's help! It was A LOT of work, and I remember now why I paid someone to do all that FOR me, but it turned out beautiful. And it was fun to hang out with my cousins, my aunts and uncles, and my mom and dad and work on all of that together.

That night, we attended the wedding rehearsal. Sophie and her fellow flower girl Zoey followed directions well, but got a little bored standing up front while everyone worked out the ceremony details, so they began swinging their flower girl buckets around a little, much to my chagrin. However, when I tried to tell Sophie to please stop, my aunt, the mother of the bride, told me to let the girls do whatever they wanted to...swing their buckets, sit down, whatever. It would be cute no matter what.

Finally, the big day came. Sophie and I had to be up at the B&B at 2 p.m. to get her hair done. The wedding didn't start till 6. I was a little worried about keeping her entertained and out of trouble for four hours, especially when the lake and a playground were just down the hill from where we would be.

Getting her hair done. This was the first time she had ever had her hair curled,
a fact my cousins, former child pageant girls, couldn't believe!

I needn't have worried. Sophie was in the zone-very focused on her flower girl role! She played games while the stylist did her hair and then hung out in the B&B, either playing games or going with me to check on my cousin Caitlin's progress and see her in her dress. I ended up running around doing things for Caitlin and Kenna, her sister who was the Maid of Honor, or my aunt. Everyone was impressed with how well behaved Sophie was-frankly I was pretty impressed LOL.

Waiting to go down the aisle.

At 5:20, we got her into her dress and at 5:40, we crossed over to the church. I thought Sophie would run to J and my parents when she saw them seated in the church, but she merely waved and said, "Hi Daddy! Hi Nana and Papa!" and continued to her spot on the side of the church. In. The. Zone.

I was seriously proud of her! J, smiling at right, was too.

She waited patiently and then, when it was time, went sweetly down the aisle throwing flower petals like a pro. She got into place by Kenna and Zoey and quietly stood there holding her bucket for the first few minutes of the service, looking out at all the people who just a few months before would've made her cry from shyness.


And then, probably getting a little bored, she began to swing her bucket. One of the bridesmaids, thinking she would nip that in the bud, reached out and grabbed the bucket mid-swing, and attempted to take it away from her. In the audience, J and I froze and silently freaked, "Girl, what are you doing? If you get the bucket away from her, she will cry and ruin the wedding!"

Never fear...Sophie just looked at the girl and tugged the bucket back away from the bridesmaid without making a sound. The audience, made up of mostly our relatives, burst into laughter, totally on Sophie's side of the debacle. The bridesmaid turned red, completely embarrassed. I felt sorry for her. Sophie didn't swing her bucket again and kept one eye on that girl for the rest of the ceremony!

Zoey, the other flower girl, had her own moment of levity when she kept patting a pillar standing up behind them and knocked it over! Kenna caught it and had to stand it back up while everyone laughed. Then, Zoey sidled right up to Sophie and began pulling feathers off her dress. Sophie just stood there and looked at her silently and bore up well, considering she was besieged on all sides LOL.

Zoey, Caitlin, and Sophie

The moral of the story is, don't have little kids in your wedding if you want all the attention on you. :)

Sophie, Nana, and Papa after the ceremony.

Now that Sophie had performed her job beautifully, I could finally relax and enjoy myself (being the mother of the flower girl is kind of stressful!). We headed back to the B&B and spent the next three hours dancing up a storm! Sophie stayed out on the floor dancing with J, me, my parents, and trying to do all the line dances and everything!

Ashley (my cousin's wife), me, and my cousin Cari at the reception.

J, Sophie, and me get the party started!

My sweethearts.

Boogie-ing with my little dancing queen!

Thankfully, Sophie isn't old enough to be embarrassed by us yet. LOL.

The next day, we began the drive home. We drove all the way to Lake Charles, Louisiana, and spent the night at another fun casino, the L'Auberge du Lac. Sophie and I spent an hour at the gorgeous pool, and Sophie kept showing me her new dance moves in the shallow end until the pool closed for the night. J got her ready for bed while I stole off to the casino for a little bit (good thing I don't live close to any casinos or I might have a problem LOL), My lucky streak continued-I won $283 on quarter slots, only investing $40 to do so.

We arrived home safely the next day. The entire trip went better than I expected at every turn, especially Sophie's performance as flower girl in the wedding! Sophie continued her trend of growing up and showing us new sides of herself on every trip we take. I look forward to more adventures on the road with her and J in the future.

What has been the best road trip you've taken with your kids?