Stuart had planned to go to Jacksonville this week. He had hoped to make it over there before his grandmother passed away but unfortunately he didn't make it in time. Then he made plans to attend the funeral on Thursday by himself but we started talking about the rest of us going too so that we could visit with the other family members that we haven't seen since 2005. We thought about how hectic it could be travelling by plane with two children, not to mention all the STUFF that newborns need. Plus we had to consider the price of short-notice airline tickets. We just weren't sure if it would be a good time for a big family trip like this.
As we were leaving Tuesday night to meet Santa Claus, Stuart told me that he had talked to his cousin who offered to get us all airline tickets with his family's frequent flyer miles. Well, it was a done deal. So we got back from our meeting with Santa Claus around 7:30 or so and I had to start packing for myself and two children so that we could be at the airport around 9:00 the next morning.
Now I'm a bit obesessive-compulsive and usually start days ahead of a trip by making an itemized list of each item that needs to be packed. Well I had to let all of that go for this trip. I started by scrambling to get the laundry caught up just so we would have some clean clothes to pack. I threw things in the suitcases and amazingly we made it to Jacksonville with everything we needed except for Nicholas' booster seat. Fortunately there was a Wal-Mart right by the airport and we picked up another one for $18.00. Not bad packing for such short notice.
The flight over was great. Because there were extra seats available on the flight, the airline gave us an empty seat so Rachel could ride in her infant carrier. In order to get all four of our seats together, they had to give us the last row which they had reserved for the flight attendants to be able to store they luggage or have a place to stretch out. It worked out well since we were right by the bathroom and Stuart got an aisle seat with no one sitting next to him at the window seat. Nicholas made instant friends with the flight attendants. They talked to him each time they passed him, brought him a warm cookie from first class, and even said goodbye to him by name when he left.
During the flight, I heard Rachel make a poopy diaper and once I was sure that she was finished, I unstrapped her to go to the bathroom for a diaper change. That in itself is challenging enough in such confined quarters. But once I had her lying down and the dirty diaper off, we hit some rough turbulence. As if that wasn't enough I then realized that her diaper had leaked and now I needed to strip her down and change her whole outfit. It was interesting and a test of my skills but amazingly I was able to laugh through it all. Rachel handled it all just fine except her eyes got wide a few times when she got startled by bumps.
We attended the viewing for Stuart's grandmother last night. We got to see most of his family members there and everyone was excited to meet Rachel for the first time. Of course, Nicholas didn't go into the viewing room. I kept him out in the lobby along with Aunt Donna and his cousins. We let the kids play with some rocks in the base of a decoration but they got a little rowdy with them and started zooming them around like spaceships but a few ended up flying through the air by themselves. At one time I caught myself saying, "No flying rocks in the funeral home". Sounds kind of weird without the context behind it. Afterwards, we enjoyed dinner at Mojo's BBQ which was very similar to the Red, Hot, and Blue Memphis BBQ restaurant that we have here.
This morning we attended the funeral. It was a dreary, rainy morning. The service was planned as a small graveside service but due to the rain it was moved into a buildling at the cemetery. Stuart and his brother went into the service while Donna and I let the kids play together in their mini-van. After the service, Stuart drove by his grandmother's house and took some pictures to remember it by. He had hoped to have someone let him inside the house to reminisce and take some more pictures but unfortunately it never happened.
Our hotel room is nice and it's right on the beach. It is very clean and the beds are the best I've ever slept on in a hotel room (or maybe I was just totally exhausted last night). This afternoon, Stuart and Nicholas enjoyed a snack from McDonalds while enjoying the nice weather out on the balcony of the hotel. Nicholas had fun pretending that he was stuck in jail in the railing of the balcony.
Nicholas was itching to get out on the beach and find shells to add to his collection. We waited in the lobby for Grandmother, Aunt Donna, and Jessica to join us. While we were waiting, Nicholas sat and chatted with Grandfather Chance. I like this picture of Grandfather talking to Nicholas who is listening attentively to what he has to say.
The weather was too cool to actually get in the water but it was nice enough to walk along the beach. It was so much fun. Rachel slept the whole time in a baby sling (an essential tool for a mom of a Baby Must Be Held) and Nicholas had a blast playing with Jessica. They found some neat shells, dug in the sand, chased sea gulls, and built sand castles. Here are some great pictures that Stuart took during our little jaunt.
This next shot is funny. Stuart had his back to the water and was about to take a picture of Nicholas. Just as he pressed the shutter, a wave got his shoes and jeans soaking wet and you can see the resulting picture for yourself :)
Nicholas talks about wanting to learn how to surf (although I think he's only seen surfing on the Backyardigans cartoon). He got a chance to meet a real surfer but he suddently turned shy and didn't want to talk to him even though the surfer offered to let Nicholas stand on his surf board!
Running from the waves...
Now, check out these pictures I got of Stuart being silly. He's such a ham!
Finally, here's a picture of Nicholas and Jessica playing with glow sticks before bedtime.
They have so much fun together but they get kind of crazy when they start feeding off each other's energy. I'm so glad that they are such good buddies. I hope they stay this close as they grow up through the years.