When we got to Jax, a typical late-afternoon FL thunderstorm moved through the area and provided us with a great show of loud thunder, bright lightening, and hard rain. We sat on the porch the entire time marvelling at the storm as mom, dad and I reminisced about how much we missed storms like that. Mallory liked the rain, so we stripped her down to her diaper and let her run around on the porch where rain water was dripping (she did not seem interested in venturing out in the grass while it was raining, which was good because of the lightening). Anyway, while it stormed, a transformer in the area blew right when my aunt was putting dinner in the oven. We expected the power to come on shortly, but it wasn't until after 10pm that the power was restored. We enjoyed good take-out, though. And Mallory was worn out from our travels and all the rain-dancing.
While we were in Jax, we saw some dear friends of ours we've known for...well, forever (in my mind). I also had some girl-time with my dearest friend, Kristin, at a local bistro where I enjoyed a heavenly piece of Coconut cake. YUMMY!
We left Monday for my grandparent's house just south of Ocala, where we stayed for a couple of days. We ate lunch with great-grandma and great-grandpa. My grandmother looked great and it was so good to hug her and my grandpa. Mallory ran all over their house and enjoyed her time there. We had every meal on Tuesday with them, which was very nice. It was good to have such quality time with them.
While we were in Ocala, we had dinner at my cousin's house so Mallory could play with her second-cousin, Peighton (dad had a flat tire on the way there, but we were able to make it to their house and not be stuck on the side of the road!). Peighton had a great dress-up corner in her room with a basket full of clothes and a mirror that hung low so she could enjoy her reflection. Mallory was OBSESSED with the mirror (which I quickly purchased and installed shortly after coming home) and enjoyed playing with her "friend" who looked JUST like her! My mom enjoyed dressing Mallory up and we enjoyed watching her antics. She did surprisingly well with all the attention, given that it was over an hour past her bedtime...
We were also able to visit with my great-aunt Margaret (my grandmother's sister) who lives in an assisted living community about 20 minutes from my grandma's house. On our way back from visiting her, we stopped at Sonic (my first time!!!) and enjoyed a slushie. Mallory REALLY liked it, too! I'll DEFINITELY have to make Sonic a frequent stop here in JC.
After Ocala, we made several stops on our way up to my sister's house in Albany, GA. First, we stopped at my brother-in-law's parent's house in Silver Springs, which is also about 20 minutes from my grandparent's house. David was down visiting his parents, so we picked him up to take him back home. Our next stop was Gainesville, where we had lunch with old friends that we've known since...well, since forever (in my mind...). Their daughter, Sara, was one of my childhood playmates and she's now pregnant with her first child, only 5 weeks behind me. It was good to see her and share pregnancy stories. Our next stop was Lake City, where another cousin of mine lives. We were there for only 45 minutes, but it was fun to watch Mallory meet her newest 2nd cousin, Sammy, who is about 8 months old.
Our FINAL stop (before heading back to Elberton) was my sister's house in Albany, GA. We arrived there on Wednesday night around 6:30. Mallory had only about 20 minutes of sleep that day because of all the stops and decided she didn't want to sleep anymore until bedtime. She was definitely running on empty until about 8pm, when she finally crashed for a good 12-hour sleep. The next day, we took her to a park downtown where she and my sister ran all around a water fountain. Mallory preferred running OUT of the fountain, but she had a good time in the water, though I *think* my sister had more fun playing in the water with her neice.
We headed to Elberton on Thursday (4.5 hours from Albany) and then we left the next day to head home to JC (3.5 hours from Elberton). We covered many miles, visited with many people, and made many memories. I don't know if this Florida trip will be an annual tradition (we went this time last year, BTW), but I hope it won't be the last time we do it!!!