This post is a continuation of last weeks post. If you missed reading Hoping Something Awesome Happens you can read it here.
Will Mikayla and Hope put their feet in the ocean before the week is over? Or will they just want to stay at the swimming pool all week? These questions were constantly going through my mind. I wondered if the ocean was too big for them to process. Maybe it was too loud for their sensitive ears.
On the third day of vacation my questions were answered. It was an exciting moment when Hope decided to put her feet in the ocean. Daddy smiled as the water hit her feet for the very first time. I was smiling too as I snapped a picture to capture the moment. Hope decided that the ocean was pretty awesome.
Mikayla has always had an “anything she can do I can do better” attitude towards Hope. So it wasn’t surprising when she decided to put her feet in the ocean. She thought the ocean was a lot of fun too.
I was relieved that we weren’t going to spend the week with half of the family at the swimming pool and the other half at the ocean. Even if our two turtles hadn’t enjoyed the ocean I would’ve been glad we made the trip. Our older girls, Taylor and Brynna, loved every second of their time at the ocean. I loved watching the smiles on their faces all week. I’m so glad that Taylor asked the question “Could my gift for high school graduation be a trip to the ocean?” I’m thankful that she got us out of our comfort zone and challenged us to do something that we’d never done before.
As I sat on the beach I couldn’t help but notice the kind smiles that many strangers shared with our girls. One lady smiled at Hope and then she looked over at me and she winked. It was as if she was saying “Isn’t she the cutest little thing!”. A couple walking hand in hand grinned as they watched Mikayla & Hope playing in the sand. Numerous strangers smiled at our girls throughout the week. Maybe they thought our girls were adorable when they were wearing their fedora beach hats and sunglasses. Maybe they were smiling because every seagull our girls saw was as amazing as the one they had seen minutes before. Or maybe they were smiling just because it’s fun to watch little girls loving the beach. One evening as I sat on the beach I got tears in my eyes. Okaloosa Island was a beautiful place. The waves, the sand, the seagulls, and the sky were all beautiful. But Okaloosa Island was a beautiful place for another reason. It was beautiful because it was a place where our family found acceptance.
One of the highlights of our vacation was going on the Southern Star Dolphin Cruise. Within a few minutes of departure we saw a dolphin. The captain said that on a cruise you can see anywhere from 2 to 25 dolphins. We were blessed to be on a cruise where we saw many dolphins. The girls loved standing at the stern and feeding fritos to the sea gulls. It was an amazing experience and we would do it again in a heartbeat.
Every Wednesday night they shoot off fireworks from the pier We decided to walk down to the beach and watch them. Mikayla is scared of fireworks. Even if she wears ear plugs she can’t handle the noise. She buries her head and she won’t even look at them. The fireworks started and Mikayla turned around backwards, covered her ears, and hid her face. Our cottage was quite a distance from the pier. We could see the fireworks but we couldn’t hear them. I told Mikayla that we couldn’t hear the fireworks and that she should watch them because they were really pretty. Daddy tried to convince her too but I didn’t think she would listen to us. Then all of a sudden she took her hands off her ears. She turned around and right there on Okaloosa Island our little girl saw fireworks for the first time in her life. And she thought they were pretty. It was an amazing moment that our family celebrated.
I thought we would be a few days into our vacation and the girls would be begging us to go home. I was completely blindsided when by midweek the girls insisted that they weren’t going home. Ever. Really? Who are you two? What have you done with my girls? On Friday evening Hope decided it was ok for us to go home the next day because she wanted to see our cat. But Mikayla insisted we weren’t going home. Taylor asked her when she wanted to go home. Do you want to go home next week? She said no. Do you want to go home next month? Yes. Next month was when she wanted to come home. I began to have visions of us having to drag her kicking and screaming to the van because she didn’t want to go home.
The trip wasn’t without its challenges. The girls made a scene in a couple of restaurants. One of the scenes was bad enough that I told Brett to order for us and we were going to the van. Just come and get us when the food is on the table. He said we weren’t going to do that and he took them to the restroom for a little pep talk. I’m not sure what he said to them but it worked. When they came back they sat quietly, they colored, and they ate their food. Victory was ours and it felt good.
The drive home was a complete nightmare. It was supposed to take 12 hours to get home but it turned into 14 hours. Mikayla got car sick within a few hours of our departure from Florida. Then Hope got sick. Her sickness required a change of clothes. We had to drive through 5 states to get back home. I can say with pride that our girls puked in all 5 states. It was not fun. I was very thankful for sand buckets lined with Walmart bags. We pulled into a gas station 6 hours away from home and deposited our bag of car sickness into the trash can. If only I had a pair of ruby slippers. I would’ve slapped them on my feet, clicked my heels together three times, and said “There’s no place like home. There’s no place like home. There’s no place like home.” And I would’ve found myself waking up in my bed at home realizing that this nightmare trip home was only a dream. OK. Back to reality. I don’t own a pair of ruby slippers and the only way home was to keep driving. I wasn’t happy and I had a complete meltdown. Just ask my handsome man. It wasn’t pretty.
But do you know what? Even though the ride home was a nightmare I would do it all over again. It was an amazing week. Taylor’s dream of seeing the ocean came true. Our family made a wonderful memory of seeing the ocean together. Mikayla and Hope’s dreams of seeing a dolphin came true. Taylor and Brynna got to experience the joy of riding the ocean waves on a boogie board. Mikayla saw fireworks for the first time. And our family found acceptance. We took a risk by taking this vacation. We experienced a few bumps in the road throughout the week. But the good definitely outweighed the bad.
Hope asks every day “Go back to the beach?” I tell her that we’ll go back next year. Maybe if you’re on Okaloosas Island next summer you’ll see our family. I’ll see you smiling at our girls as they’re talking about the seagulls or riding their boogie boards. You’ll see me smiling as your family buries your little guy in the sand. I just know that it will be another amazing trip to the beach. And maybe we won’t need any buckets for the ride home.