It really has been a wonderful vacation. I am so richly blessed with such lovely people in my life. I feel loved, valued, sunburned, and homesick; all the hallmarks of a good vacation.
I also have about 450 photographs, but I won't subject you to all of those. I will, however, describe a few moments not captured by the camera.
Driving home late from a girls' night out in my mother's convertible with my friend Becky, and we came upon a deer standing in the road who appeared to have no intention of moving. As we slowly approached the animal, Becky said, with perfect comedic timing, "Ohhhh, dear." Y'all, there is something to be said for friends that can make me laugh as hard as I laughed that night. That is a gift straight from God, and I treasure it.
Watching my husband swim way WAY too far out in the ocean with three kids clinging to him and squealing with delight, all the while I was standing on the shore saying, "Okay, that's far enough, honey." Then he brought them all back to shore, smiling and laughing, and they crowed all week about his bravery and strength in the waves.
Sitting at Waffle House late at night with my sisters (after also having ridden in the convertible) and having the waitress come by and say in a deep Southern twang, "Oh, y'all must be sisters!"
Watching my dad teach Tommy how to bait his own hook.
Watching my mother and my aunt giggling like schoolgirls while they tried to row a canoe for the first time.
Celebrating my birthday by eating homemade ice cream and playing cards with my in-laws while the kids played with their cousins.
Sitting at Waffle House late at night (again) with my childhood girlfriends, looking across the table at faces I have loved for 20 years, and sharing our struggles, our dreams, our mistakes, and huge pieces of pie.
Eating gumbo and jambalaya with a house full of kinfolk, literally.
Hearing the kids squeal with glee as they caught fish after fish after fish. I am proud to say that although I strongly object to pulling the hooks out of the fishes' mouths, I have successfully impaled about 89 worms for my girls' hooks this week. Go me.
And last but not least, here are all of my precious nieces and nephews, in photo form.