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every moment that we laughed

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Day two. Morning didn’t come till 10:30, which is acceptable when you’re on vacation at a beach house in paradise. It may have been too early for Jace, who was drug out of bed to come catch a “snake”, which turned out to be them spraying him with a hose.

Life’s dangerous when you’re the only boy amid eight  girls. I guess their dad should have had Jace’s back, but all the adults were in on it too. Poor guy.

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Most of the group darted off to the beach, but Jada and I took our time, lounging and getting ready slowly, enjoying the quiet of the house and the relief of air conditioning. Eventually we got sick of not being in the sunshine and left.

 

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The girls caught tons of crabs. [I totally just forgot the word crabs. I wrote turtles and then spiders. I guess they’re kind of a hybrid of the two.]

 

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The poor things probably went into shock from being picked up, carted around, carried in buckets, buried in sand, and turned upside down.

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I left them to play with the crabs and started to take a million pictures, willing my camera to capture the beauty a little more accurately. It is impossible to take a picture that represents how gorgeous it was there, to capture the peace and joy that I felt there. But I sure tried.

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We decided we’d had enough beach for the time being and went back to eat lunch. Feeling  adventurous, we traded our sandy bathing suits for real clothes and went adventuring, courtesy of the free trolley that runs around the island.

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We were in Manatee County. It doesn’t get any better than this, guys.

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We went to all the little beach shops along the road. Actually that’s not true. We went to about fifty of them, which was only 2% of the shops. There were SO MANY. We found all kinds of treasures.

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If anyone needs a squeak toy that looks like a devilish dolphin or a dolphin-ish shark, let me know. They are abundant here.

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Julia found the beginnings of a new bathing suit.

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Jada found a new set of teeth.

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And I found a new best friend.

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We found lots of animals straight from a taxidermist.

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(I’m not really sure what those are. They look like puffer fish birds with googly eyes glued on. But they were once a real animal…)

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We went to a shop that advertised “Best Homemade Ice Cream”. The building was what caught our attention.

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I’m not sure if it was the best ice cream, but it was certainly good. Caroline had a blue shaved ice and was mocked the rest of the day. One shop keeper even said something about it, to her mortification.

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Everything was painted bright, cheery  colors; the island had such a good feeling to it.

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Jace never missed an opportunity to cause trouble. He found an open water valve and started shooting it at passerby's. I don’t think they found it entertaining, but we sure did. Hey, they were all in their bathing suits anyway.

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A lot of the shops we went into were just random assortments of signs, jewelry, and things that can only be described as knick knacks.

 

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Jace was a good sport as we smelled perfumes and tried on jewelry and sifted through clothes. He had his iPod, and {in typical guy fashion} that was all he needed.

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He even almost smiled once…but he didn’t.

And this one store knew how it was done, how it SHOULD be done.

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I only made one purchase the whole day. I got a new necklace. I’ve been wearing my old necklace for the last six months or so, and I rarely take it off. I got it from my best friend, and wearing it has always represented the strength she had and the support she gave me. It lasted through oceans, pools, showers, and all kinds of physical activity.

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While it’s still intact and I still love it, I just thought it was time for a change. Time to rely on my own strength, to have staying power through my own challenges. To be able to withstand whatever storms come my way. And I also really like starfish.

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After a long hot day of walking around, it was a relief to come back to the beach house.

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Today I ran by myself. No brother, no dog. It probably wasn’t the safest idea, considering we don’t live here and have also never been here before. But I don’t ever subscribe to the idea that I will get lost/injured/kidnapped. And I haven’t yet. So ha.

I did not want to go running one bit. I spent all day in the sun and walking around and swimming in the ocean. I was hot, sticky, salty, and tired. But I went anyway, my desire to develop habits and my need for endorphins overpowering my negativity. And I was rewarded for it. I ran down the two lane highway that circles the island (no, I did not run around the whole island) as the sun was lowering. I got to see wood paneled beach houses with towels and bathing suits hanging out to dry. I saw well manicured lawns accompanying well manicured residences and bodies of water on either side of the highway. I came around a bend in the road to see the golden sun hovering above the water, seeming low enough for me to reach. It was shining right in my face, reflecting off of the water, making the palm trees look black in the shadow. It was gorgeous—so much that I almost forgot that I didn’t want to be running.

My legs were tired as I climbed the worn, weathered, wooden stairs, but it felt good to be home.

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Last night was another episode of adults eating out and kids eating pizza and watching movies. Except this time I was a kid. We baked cookies and made the kids all stay in the condo upstairs while we partied downstairs. Aria was thrilled to have so many girls her age around and coped with the excitement by running around screaming, much to the distress of our babysitting team.

Today we made the long trek back to the mainland, back to their real home, to find Domino sitting underneath our car. He’d chewed through the rope that was tying him in a friend’s backyard and had somehow managed to find his way the two miles home even though we’ve never been here before. He’s brilliant…or just unshakeable. Just kidding. The kids were really happy to see him.

This weekend has been so excellent. It’s been a peaceful break from the stress of moving out and finding a new place to live. It was nice to have space, to not be crammed in our car for three days. And it was a nice end to our time in Florida, enjoying the beauty and the friends that make Florida a place we’re going to miss.

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[Title from What Does it Take by Davedays]

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