Growing up, Kate's family vacationed in Florida most years, usually in late November. It was an ideal time since it was an off-season in Florida and there were fewer people. Moreover, even though it was "cold" by Florida standards, it was always as warm as an Alaskan summer, and (for the Wills) perfect for lots of time at pools, beaches, or the water park. However, the side effect of these numerous vacations was that Kate had grown to be wary of Florida weather anytime past the end of January. Of course, two years ago in March, Kate and Mister had visited his grandparents in Venice, and the weather was perfect. (Though Mister assured Kate that it was unseasonably cool that year.) And yet, here she was again, against her better judgement, going to Florida in March of all months--two months too late and with Spring Break traffic!
But of course, that's also why they were going to Florida. Because it was Spring Break, and one of the best times for all the Millers to get together at the house in Venice. This time, however, the house was full up with the entire Miller clan, plus Cousin Emily. The number of people simply did not match the number of bedrooms or accommodations, and Kate was grateful for many reasons that the three of them could stay in a hotel.
Late Sunday night (still the same day that Mister's conference ended in Charleston...), Kate and Mister pulled into the hotel parking lot and met Mom and Dad Miller, who instantly took charge of Teddy while Kate and Mister unloaded. Kate was still feeling under the weather, and she was having her suspicions about Teddy, who was stuffy and sneezing often. What a relief it was to get out of the car and stretch, visit a little bit, set up their own space, and get to bed as soon as they could! Throughout the week, the hotel turned out to be such a boon--especially since Teddy was waking up often in the night--which, on the whole, made their vacation less restful, but it would have been much worse if they had to worry about waking up the rest of the family every time they needed to suction their baby's nose!
And in spite of having colds, Kate and Mister and Teddy all managed to enjoy themselves thoroughly: tons of delicious food, fun games to play, a little bit of very useful maternity shopping, and of course...the beach.
Yes, the day of Teddy's first trip to the beach had finally arrived. They were well equipped with a hat, high SPF sunscreen, and (thanks to the Kype's) a Little Mermaid swim diaper. Kate and Mister checked through their tactical gear: wipes? check. diapers? check. formula? check. extra bottles? check. toys! check. stroller? uhmmm...check. There must have been a dozen things on the list. They were prepared for every contingency. Finally, the crew loaded up and took off for the beach. Parking was a nightmare, and as they circled and subsequently walked and waited, Teddy gradually dozed off in his stroller. Completely asleep. Conked. Out.
So there they were at the beach. The momentous occasion when this little boy can experience for the first time the vast expanse of ocean. And he slept under an umbrella, with a little baby fishing hat over his face, sporting the Little Mermaid diaper for all to see. A disappointment? Hardly! After and hour or so, Teddy woke up in time to shiver as his feet touched the water, sit inside a sand castle, and eat plenty of sand (and of course, milk afterwards, to wash it down) all before they had to pack up again.
Did he appreciate the vast expanse of ocean? Definitely not. But he was fascinated with seaweed...and umbrellas...and sand...and birds. All in all, Kate figured that there was lots of appreciation (or at least interest) going on in his young mind, and if that didn't extend to the vastness of the ocean, it was okay with her. In fact, she thought as they packed up, if I were interested in everything that Teddy is, I think I might be completely overwhelmed with curiosity and a desire for more knowledge everywhere I turn! Though, I guess that wouldn't be so bad... she admitted. And Kate stole a glance around the white roads and palm trees and cars and people with a renewed, disinterested kind of curiosity. What makes the roads so white? Why are palm branches so big? Are they sharp at the very tips? How many different kinds of cars there are! And even more different kinds of people! I wonder what their stories are... and so began what Kate hoped would be a series of numerous moments when she would learn from, or be inspired by, her children.