We are currently in the family sports car (the red minivan which, compared to the E-350, is our smaller, less practical vehicle) driving to Virginia to deliver Grace, Hope and Faith to their other mother. They don’t see her very often, but every July, they go and spend a month with her. While we are thankful to have them full time most of the year, a month is just so long a chunk. We also know the time is important-important for their hearts, important for their future, and can be important for David and I if we choose to make the most of what it is.
So because of this, we have decided to use some time to have what we are calling the second half of our Honeymoon. See, the first half was amazing, and perfect, and so full of joy, but we knew that time was short before the new blended family would have to split up for a while so we returned home quickly to savor the time. It was the right decision because we have had a wonderful first month together as a family, but David and I are craving time with each other to just be newlyweds. Sometimes, with all of the hustle and bustle that comes with our family, it feels like we have been married so much longer than a month. Routines, discipline, refereeing, teaching, working, life-ing. For this reason, I offered Madalyn, Meredith, Josiah and Charlotte’s other dad a little extended summer time with them next week. The drop off was hard but beautiful. There were tears before we left, hand holding on the way, and group hug before they parted. How quickly all these kids became siblings is amazing to me, but I am not surprised. We were meant to be a family.
As we drive today, David and I keep looking over at each other with gleeful grins painted across our faces. Today is the perfect day to embarking on part 2 of our honeymoon because today is an important day to us. As utterly hard as it is to believe, it was one year ago today that David sent a message to a woman on the other side of the world, even though he had decided he was done with the world of online dating, because of his brother’s urging to try one more time with the woman whose username he had scribbled down and saved. It was also the day that woman sent a message back, even though she had decided online dating was not the way for her, because this message and this man just seemed different-worth the risk. June 29, 2016, a lifetime ago, is the day David and I “met”. Little did we know how much all of our lives would change because we decided to send just one more message. God was working something bigger than our faith could even fathom.
Today, after we say our goodbyes, we will begin Honeymoon: Part 2. We will spend a day in Virginia together and then drive back to Florida. We will stop two hours short of home in Palm Coast. David lived there with his parents while we dated and, because they are on vacation, they have offered us their home for the week to get away without the financial strain of a full on vacation. David will still work in the mornings and I brought a big stack of blank thank you cards and to do lists, but our afternoons and evenings will be spent relaxing, and dating, and making the most of our time. It seems only fitting that, since we are continuing the honeymooning this week, I post about our first, actual, honeymoon.
After the wedding, (which I know I haven’t posted about yet!) we drove the 2.5 hours to St. Augustine (which ironically we are driving past right now on our way to VA). Obviously, we arrived late. We had reserved a stay at a place we found on Airbnb. It was a cute little house that had an upstairs unit and a downstairs unit; we were the upstairs unit. When we arrived, we went upstairs to look around. I was still in my wedding dress and David was still in his suit. We looked around excitedly and then David kneeled by the bed and called me over to him. He helped me down and right there, still in all our wedding attire and in the room we would spend our first night as husband and wife, we prayed. We prayed and thanked him for the day and for each other and for our family. We prayed for that night, and for that week, and for our lifetime. We were overwhelmed in all the best ways. And now I fast forward because the rest of that evening is for us!
The next morning, there was no question about where we wanted to spend our first day. Flashback with me to December 20. A 30 year old woman with renewed hope in her future, wearing a new dress that made her feel like a princess, was proposed to by the man she was smitten with. It was evening and they were standing in front of a lit up Castillo De San Marcos which served as the illustration of a beautiful speech about a heart that was only made stronger by the blows it took and stood as an impenetrable fortress for anyone held inside it. She said, “yes, of course I will!”. So naturally, we spent the beginning of our honeymoon revisiting this spot that means so much to us.
After exploring the fort inside and out, we walked over to St. George’s Street to walk just a bit before going back to get ready for dinner. It was there that I laid eyes upon yet another dream come true:
A store dedicated entirely to greatest snack in all the world. At our wedding just the day before, we had given bags of popcorn as favors because I love it that much. This store had a wall with about 50 different flavors of popcorn lining it AND they gave free samples! We left the store with arms loaded with different flavors of popcorn. Spoiler alert: we went back to that store before left St. Augustine and got even more to carry home with us. Souvenir money well spent! (We also found out they have a website and will ship me popcorn! Do yourself a favor-go to kernelpoppers.net and order yourself a bag of Loaded Baked Potato popcorn. I will await your “thank you”.)
That night we got all dolled up and headed to a Steakhouse in the area. We had a large gift certificate that David had earned while working in Palm Coast that I had held in my planner for months. We arrived to find a sign on the door saying that they were on vacation and would be returning…the day after we went back home. Regroup! We ended up at a restaurant that had been recommended to us called The Raintree. We loved it. Afterward we took a walk and ended up back at the fort again. It wouldn’t be the last time.
We ventured out the next day without a plan other than wanting to end up at the Lightner Museum at some point in the day. While walking there we decided to take some roads less traveled. We found the most adorable little street that was stone lined, tree covered, and tucked right in the middle of historic St. Augustine. There was an old, renovated, two story home on the street that we couldn’t help but peek in the windows of talk of how fun it would be to live there. Turns out it cost a million dollars so dreaming was the extent of that. We walked on to the Lightner Museum and fully enjoyed exploring it together and geeking out in the Downton Abby display. We took our time and held hands and soaked in every moment together.
Later in the day as we walked St. George’s Street again, we passed a store with a white dress in the window. David pointed to it and said “That dress was made for you.” I promptly disagreed, as I usually do, so he turned around and walked into the store. He found someone who worked there and told them he was looking for the dress from the mannequin in the window. They led us to them and had one in a size close to mine. His eyes lit up as he said, “Try it on!” I did, and it was nearly perfect, but I just wasn’t sure. He loved it, but I didn’t want to spend the money and then not wear it much. We left the store and went on with our day. I told him later that I did love it and if it had been one size smaller I may have felt like it was worth the money, but they didn’t. He asked about the dress on the mannequin and I told him those were usually sizes way too small for me. He decided we should check and took off for the store again. We arrived and the lady that worked there reiterated what I had said; that they were usually small sizes. He asked her to please check anyway. It was the size we had been looking for. I tried it on and found that David was right, the dress in the window, that very one, was perfect. I still tried to say no and tell him he didn’t need to spend his money on a new dress for me and he stopped me and said, “It’s not my money.” We bought the dress.
That night we went to a gorgeous Colombian restaurant and I, of course, wore the white dress. We loved this restaurant even more and had fun telling our waitress our story after she congratulated us on our newlywed status. After dinner we returned yet again to our spot at the fort. This time we were here for a purpose. The wedding day was a whirlwind of perfection, but passed so quickly. We had written our own vows and we didn’t want them to be lost in it all, so we brought copies with us. We sat at the edge of the wall in the spot where we got engaged and read our vows to each other again, without distraction, so we could focus on every word and on each other. This was definitely a honeymoon highlight.
The next day, our last day, we packed up and checked out of the place we stayed. We went to breakfast and then spent some time at the Colonial Quarter. After that we drove to The Fountain of Youth and wandered around for the afternoon. Despite our plans to dress nice again for dinner, the rain persuaded us to just sport the sweaty, rained on look we had. We ate an early dinner at Cellar 6, said goodbye to St. Augustine, and began the trek back home. I blogged about what awaited us when we arrived a few weeks ago and that can be found here: Back To Reality
We had an amazing time and we are excited to make the most of our alone time now by continuing it, in a way, in the week ahead. But in all honesty, here’s to the hope that we will continue to honeymoon for the rest of our lives! Enjoy the rest of the pictures from our honeymoon below!