family vacation

this week has been amazing. there aren’t enough adjectives to describe what a wonderful family vacation this has been — from the beach to the mountains.

on a whim a month ago, we decided to travel to asheville for pk’s 40th birthday which is around the corner. we NEEDED a getaway. his mom/stepdad and sister/brother-in-law joined as well so we could make it a big family weekend to celebrate all the birthdays (Andy’s, Cheryl’s and pk’s) while visiting a really cool town and see Andy, Amanda and Turner (AAT). more on that trip in a bit.

on even more of a whim, we tacked on a few days at the beach beforehand; isle of palms since it is the closest beach to Asheville. it’s been too long since we’ve been to the ocean and eli had never really been (outside of the wedding in key west last fall but he was 4 months old and it was cool so he didn’t get to experience the beach). so, we booked a reservation at wild dunes (thanks Ty!) and packed our bags. the road trip was long, but as usual eli rocked it. he is so good (and our dual DVD players in the car didn’t even work – fail on our part!). we had two full days at the beach and enjoyed every single moment. family walks, ocean & beach play, pool-time, naps and yummy seafood – we had a blast relaxing as a family. just the three of us with no worries or plans (i know that’s hard to believe for me!). it was perfection. we didn’t even go into charleston as there was just too much relaxing and enjoying to do at isle of palms. despite some gloomy weather on one afternoon and the short duration, the two day beach visit was perfection. we have a stroller full of sand and seashells (Eli loved both) to remind us of our first ever beach trip with the little man, but the laughs and smile on his face when the waves rolled into him are what will forever be etched in my mind as one of the most beautiful moments of my life.

friday morning we packed up (basically we brought our entire house) and headed to Asheville. first stop, unloaded at the hotel and then re-loaded up and went to AAT’s house for family night of play, wine, homemade (amazing) pizza (by homemade i mean Amanda made the dough and the sauce from tomatoes they grew – it was insanely good), cake and more wine. at one point after dinner i was sitting in the living room giving Eli a bottle (yes he still gets an a.m. and p.m. bottle — working on that soon) in hopes to get him to wind down. i just sat and watched and listened with pure love and joy as pk and his brother, sister, mom and significant others relived memories, laughed and genuinely enjoyed each other. it tugged at my heart (and my ovaries) to see such a beautiful family bond. three states and three generations — and in an instant they are in one room and back to their family unit. the shine in Cheryl’s (cici’s) eyes was enough to make the trip 1000% worth it. i don’t think she could have dreamed of a better birthday day gift (and i don’t think Pk could either). you can’t buy this sort of memory and happiness.

saturday we swam at the hotel pool, played at the splash fountain (brilliant) and then lunched at a great little local taco place (right up Eli’s alley — give him a cheese quesadilla and he’s a happy boy), then wandered downtown asheville for several hours (secretly hoping Eli would be strolled to sleep but there was far too much stimulation). alas he did take a late nap (thank goodness for the fellow diners at dinner!) and we had the most amazing birthday dinner celebration at chestnut. festive libations, local and indulgent dinner and dessert, followed by family photos on the lawn/park (more on that below). this morning we loaded up (after a fitful night of sleep — pretty sure Eli is ready for HIS bed!), had a great breakfast at a local spot (love the local/natural options in Asheville and isle of palms!) and hit the road. we wrapped up the trip with a stop in Corbin to visit my nana (and gave Eli some play time to break up the trip). he loved seeing gram, poppy, nana and uncle randy – what a treat to see so much family in one weekend!

tomorrow we will get back into the routine of life — which is good and bad. i have thoroughly enjoyed a week of literally no plans. While my OCD personality is ready for a little more structure and to focus on some things I have lingering, it was a much needed vacation from life.

to wrap up this lengthy post, i must share my favorite moment of the week (aside from Eli experiencing the beach for the first time). yesterday we sat on the stairs in downtown Asheville overlooking the fountain and took the same picture we took 2 years ago (in October). only this time instead of Eli being in my belly (which we didn’t know at the time!!!!), he was snuggled up in our arms. priceless.

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