Well, the past two days have been very emotional for me. That tends to be the case when I return home from visiting my parents in Fort Lauderdale. The way that I inevitably deal with this emotion is to blog within a couple of days after we get back. I’ve always found it to be therapeutic to relive the events of the trip, post the photos, talk about the amazing times that were had, and in the process get closure on our time together. At least until the next time, of course. I realize that may sound overdramatic, but it’s truly how I feel. I love living in Chattanooga, but it is truly very hard on me to be so far from my parents. And additionally difficult now that I have kids who are away from their Nana and Papa.
The reason for this trip was my brother’s high school graduation. But the sad part is that Rich had already booked two weddings for the weekend of Shawn’s graduation well before we knew the date of his graduation. I was extremely sad that Rich would not be able to be there for this event, but I knew that I wouldn’t miss it for the world. And so, the girls and I headed south for almost two weeks without him.
It occurred to me shortly before the trip that I would be without a professional camera since Rich would need both for his weddings. I was upset by this fact, because if you know me at all, you know that documenting my family’s life is a passion of mine, and I tend to be of the opinion that photos from a “real” camera are prettier than photos from a phone, regardless of the quality of said phone 🙂 Now please hear me, I realize that partly this is because of my ability. I am simply NOT incredible with my phone the way that some people are. I definitely have some iPhone photos that I am very proud of, but generally speaking, I don’t adore my iPhone “work.”
So, here are the photos from #shawnsgraduationweek – all the photos I posted with that hashtag (via Instagram) while in Fort Lauderdale over the past (almost) two weeks. Warning: I went a little crazy taking photos since this was such a huge life event for my brother and I am feeling very emotional about the fact that he is growing up and about to leave home. I also went a litte crazy because this was Sierra’s first time to actually play at the beach. She’s been to the beach several times before, but she was never old enough to really enjoy it and play.
And so, in six years of blogging, I bring you my very first “iPhone only” post. 🙂
This is Alana and Sierra the morning after we arrived and Sierra had to get used to being around Uncle Shawn again since it had been 5 months since we’d seen him last. She’s still unsure at this point!
Sierra found a quiet book reading nook in the living room and settled in for some alone time. She doesn’t often self-entertain, so I savor the moments when she does 🙂
Alana found Papa’s glasses and put them on claiming that she was “wearing them the way that Papa does!”
Both girls have loved Nana’s piano from a young age. I have photos/video of Alana also playing at this age. Precious.
Enjoying our first morning out in the pool. Love my parents back yard. It’s a summer paradise. Thank you for this photo, mom!
Sadly, my mom had to work most days while I stayed at the house and let the girls play. I was so thrilled to be present for Shawn’s big week but it would have been awesome for Nana to have had more time off! It’s just not the same when she’s not with us!
We took two trips to the beach while we were down, and this was the first visit. Sierra clung to me and cried when we first arrived, just like Alana used to do. Both girls have been terrified of the beach in their first several exposures! I was thankful that she eventually let me put her down and she played happily in the sand.
Nana thinks of everything. Horseshoes at the beach! Alana’s first time playing.
I don’t usually buy matching anything for the girls, but these suits were too cute to pass up when I found them at Baby Gap last summer. Love these girls to pieces.
Nana trying to talk Sierra into the idea of going in the water. She cried when we first took her in, but she ended up loving it, as long as she was being securely held and snuggled with. Little scaredy-cat snuggle bug. 🙂
A less-than-awesome but still special self-portrait of the girls! (We needed Aunt Pixie but she was also shooting a wedding and could not come. Boo!)
Backlit Sierra. I looooooved going to the beach in the mornings for so many reasons. The primary reason was to avoid the crazy-strong heat of the midday sun for the girls’ sake. But peripheral benefits included quick and easy parking, no crowds, mild temperature sand, and directional sunlight!!!
Back out at the pool the next morning. Sierra is so bipolar about water! She’s either laid back and loving it, or frightened and fussy about it! I’m thinking she was missing Nana, who was at work 🙁
I’d ordered some Sticky Grams for my mom for Mother’s Day, and they finally came in while we were there! She’d never seen them, and she loved them! Anyone who has seen my #psychosierra photos on Instagram may appreciate that the stickygram in the background includes my favorite #psychosierra photos 🙂 I love that these are individual magnets that can be left together or taken apart – such a fun and unique gift! Now I want some for my house!
The girls had soooooo many fun moments and games with Papa, it is beyond difficult to capture people running around the house chasing each other. Bad photo, fabulous memory.
As per tradition, we had breakfast one morning at Jet Rumway Cafe and had a blast watching the planes take off and land. Amazing food, too. Every single time.
The photo below just happens to be my most “liked” photo on Instagram EVER. Hahaha! I was very, very excited to capture Sierra doing this silly baby thing…and my mom has a similar photo of me doing this at this age.
Then came baccalaureate night! It was an amazing night with a few tears but a lot of laughter.
Every part of Baccalaureate was stellar, and the main speaker – a pastor of a local church and father of one of the graduates – gave a phenomenal message.
My sweet brother on the big screen (in a video presentation about what has most impacted him in his time at Calvary Christian Academy).
The teachers, administrators, and pastors praying over the graduating class. Moving and powerful. Most amazing school ever.
The next morning I grabbed a self portrait while hanging out with my girls! Love them to the moon and back.
As I was getting ready for graduation that evening, Alana asked me if she could wear some of my lip gloss. I put some on her and could not believe how much older she looked. No more lip gloss for this pretty girl – way too grown up!
Right before Uncle Shawn walked out the door for his high school graduation, I got this photo of he and Alana. We had a babysitter for both Baccalaureate and Graduation, so the girls stayed at the house and I wanted to make sure I got a shot of these two on this momentous occasion! 🙂
Shawn on the big screens again, but this time live! He spoke for a few minutes and gave his class a meaningful charge as they move forward. I am beyond proud of him.
Receiving his diploma! So surreal.
Immediately following graduation! Thank you for this shot, mom!!!
Post-graduation self portrait!
Love love love these people!
Once graduation was over, Shawn had about four graduation parties over the next few days, so we didn’t see much of him that weekend! We had some down time around the house, with plenty of relaxing, games, and movies. Here, Papa and Sierra are spending some quality time reading together 🙂
Uncle Shawn and the girls! They adore him.
Back outside for some more pool time! It’s been so fun for me to see Sierra in the bathing suits Alana wore at this age. Too adorable!
The beloved sand and water table!
The adorable canoe that my parents bought for Alana when she was only two and Sierra didn’t exist! She’s been loving this thing for a couple of years now!
Relaxing with Nana over the weekend! Yay for no work! Sierra was playing in the hose water with Nana, and truthfully, I was pretty proud of this image that I captured. 🙂
We realized that our time together was winding down, so we fit in a trip to the beach over the weekend. It was gorgeous, and we had so much fun! These were the shots I took while walking across the street to the beach that morning. Love that light.
My sweet and beautiful Alana…
The Goodyear Blimp. Alana cracked us up attempting to say the word, which kept coming out like “plimp” 🙂
Thank you for this photo, mom!!! You rock!
Here Uncle Shawn is presenting the girls with their gifts from his recent trip to North Africa. He gave Alana this beautiful scarf, and a little hand stitched, decorated camel for Sierra!
This was particularly adorable! I walked into the back room and Alana was very busy doctoring Papa, who wasn’t feeling too great. She had COVERED him in stuffed animals to keep him company, put pink sunglasses on him, and was taking his temperature with a princess wand. Oh man I love this photo.
This shot is from Lime Mexican Grill…a place we frequent when we are down. I was so excited to have a lunch date with Shawn and dad while mom watched the kids at home. Thank you for letting me enjoy some quality time with my guys, mom!!!
Then a quick afternoon trip to Menchies was in order…since Nana and Papa hadn’t been before. Fun times, getting caught in a torrential downpour 🙂
Then we were off to a graduation party for Shawn on Monday afternoon that my parents were co-hosting with some other families. It was an absolute blast, and I FINALLY had a chance to hang out and talk with Liz, Shawn’s best friend for years, who will be moving up here to go to Covenant College (my alma mater!) in the fall!
Loved getting to see the kids that I already knew from this class, and meeting some new friends as well! They were incredible with Alana and Sierra, and it was so much fun to watch the girls thriving with all of the attention!
On Monday morning, Shawn and I ran to the mall together to do a bit of shopping. He will be going to Taylor University in the fall, and the weather will be a bit different than South Florida! On the way back, we hit up Jamba Juice and I grabbed this shot of Sierra enjoying her first ever “pink star!”
On Tuesday we picked Rich up at the Fort Lauderdale airport and he was able to join us for our last day and a half in Florida. The girls were SO excited to see Rich, and I grabbed this series of Sierra bouncing on Rich, then kissing him, then poking him in the eye, and then standing on him 🙂
Our time with Rich went by WAY too quickly, but we hit up a couple of our favorite places while we still could! We were off to Einstein’s for breakfast…
Some pool time as a family…
Some Lime Mexican Grill and Coldstone Creamery with Shawn…
And some delicious dinner and dessert and game watching/game playing all together and with Liz! We attempted to play Clue AND watch the Miami Heat playoff game against the Celtics, which led to the most drawn out and disjointed game of Clue we’ve ever played 🙂
And that concludes my review of our trip!
Now for my thoughts on using only an iPhone on a vacation:
1) I loved the concept of using only my phone simply for the fact that I always, always have it with me. It’s beyond convenient to be able to capture moments and memories with the phone that I always have in my hand or very nearby.
2) I can’t stand not having control of shutter speed in particular. Moving objects, like my kids, are nearly impossible to take sharp photos of, so I am constantly taking unusable photos! I think the bottom line is that I plan to keep using one of our pro camera bodies whenever I have the chance. And when I don’t, I want to continue trying to hone my iPhone taking skills since I have a long way to go!