I think I left part of my heart in Florida. . .

Really, I think I did.  It was as if I didn’t realize how the dreary skies and cold temperatures were affecting me. . . but after spending several days in sunshine and 80 degree temps, I was ready to go house hunting.

I have been visiting Naples, Florida since I was 10 years old.  In those days I went with my parents and my siblings.  As I got older I would bring friends along, or my fiance (who is now my husband), or my husband, or one child or the other.  This time, however, was the first time the whole family went.  Chad, the kids, and even my in-laws.  Something felt different this time.  It was oddly. . . surreal.

There is so much to do and see in Florida, but the real reason we go is to visit my most wonderful grandparents.

Visiting them isn’t what makes the experience so surreal. . . it’s the fact that I’m visiting them with my family.  It feels like just yesterday I was playing in the pool with my brother and sister, or roaming the beach as a child and now I’m watching my kids do what I used to do.

For a moment I have to pinch myself and remind myself that this is real.  Here I am with my kids, my husband, and my in-laws. . . Same place, same grandparents, but different scenario–this time, I’m the Mom. Throughout our week I reflected back to my childhood and I imagine I felt a bit like my Mom felt.  Showing off my kids to my grandparents, watching them watch my kids and feeling thankful for the gift of the time away.

I just love getting away.  I love that there is no plan, no agenda, no schedule.  I love waking up in the morning and deciding from there what we will do.  On one day we decide the Everglades. . .

And as we are driving around we find a park and since there is no schedule. . . . we stop. . .

I don’t know what it is about leaving your town or even your state, but there is something so freeing about it.  No one knows you and all caution can be thrown to the wind and you can be a kid again.  Or. . . at least I could. . .

It seemed like there was beauty everywhere we looked.  Maybe the sunlight just illuminated it or the warm weather made everything more inviting, but it seemed that every sight took my breath away.

As I watch my kids experience this different world from our own, I wondered if they would remember it.  I wondered if there is a place in their young hearts where they tuck memories away that will be readily available whenever they want.  I wondered if some day they will take their kids to their own special place and remember the days we spent making memories of just being together during these beautifully unstructured days.

And before we know it the hours have ticked away and its time to say good-bye.  Like I’ve done so many times before I stretch my arms out for hugs and swallow hard against the lump in my throat as my eyes fill with tears and I say good-bye to these two most precious people.  I hate good-byes. . . I’ve never been good at them. 

And so rather than good-bye we say. . . until next time. 

As I watch them walk away I hope they know how much I truly love them.  I hope they know how thankful I am for the huge role they play in my life.  I hope they know that they are never far from my heart.  I also feel proud as I take the hands of my children and walk side by side with my family toward our car.  Proud that they are a part of this story of Naples that began, for me, so many years ago.  And I wonder if Naples will play a role in their future and if they will ever describe a trip as “surreal”. 

Sometimes, I think too much.

We refused to go away sad, though.  So we took our final night to pay our respects to the Gulf and offer our thanks for the beautiful scene that played before us each evening.  Oh, it was good. . . it was very good. . .

Good-night Naples. . . until next time. . .

  • Trophy Life - April 14, 2011 - 11:18 am

    it was worth the wait for those really incredible pics! my favorite is your brave girl holding the alligator like it's a stuffed animal! loved seeing the pics and hearing about your time with grandma and grandpa, too!ReplyCancel

  • Adopted Aunt - April 14, 2011 - 11:37 am

    O how wonderful!!! Feel blessed that you could do this and keep it close to your heart. make a pic book for the kids. Beautiful words, Beautiful pic. Thanks for sharing. On my way down can't wait for my smiles and hugs:) Missed you all. Just hope Charlie left the gator in FL!!!!!ReplyCancel

  • Sassytimes - April 14, 2011 - 12:09 pm

    Ah, I've missed you. I'm so glad you had such an amazing time on your vacation. I agree about the feeling you get when out of town/state/on vacation…it's almost like a feeling of being invisible. No one knows you, so you can completely relax. I love that feeling.

    That photo of the spider web is amazing.ReplyCancel

  • Micah - April 14, 2011 - 12:50 pm

    Thanks for sharing the pics, Summer. We honeymooned to Marco Island and spent a day in Napels. Seeing your pics brought back memories…especially the everglades. Someday we'll get back there too…probably with kids in toe! So glad you had a great trip!ReplyCancel

  • mommathieszen - April 14, 2011 - 12:56 pm

    That last comment was not really from Micah, it was from Angie…ReplyCancel

  • Kim - April 14, 2011 - 10:17 pm

    Great post, great time, great memories!ReplyCancel

  • Sassy - April 29, 2011 - 1:56 pm

    Wow now this is pretty cool! lol I just wrote a Florida post titled very simlar


    Very cool!

    Your pictures are great and I can't wait to read more of your blog! šŸ™‚ReplyCancel

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