May 4, 2014 was the dedication for the South Florida Temple. We had always wanted to go but didn't think it would be possible with Jeremy's school schedule. Turns out it couldn't have been better timing because Jeremy happened to have a week off from school! It was also worked out that we could include Leila's birthday into the mix. What a spoiled one year old to get a trip to Florida for her first birthday!
We left on the morning of the 3rd in hopes that we would make it to the cultural celebration that night. I was a little nervous about the drive because it was going to be 13 hours to Key Biscayne which is long for an adult...and we were taking a one year old. This is what the drive looked like:
She was really a trooper! As a total fluke we found out that Bobby and Amy were in Daytona Beach, FL and we were almost there! We met up with them for dinner before we continued on to Miami which was such a treat! Wish we had more time!
(Leila took right to Aunt Amy but Uncle Bobby's beard had her a little freaked. Maybe that will convince him to shave it! :)
We were a little late to the cultural celebration but it was so awesome! The members of the area are so excited for this temple and it brought me to tears to see their joy.
As an additional surprise we ran into Jeremy's cousin who is serving in Jeremy's mission! What a treat! It was so good to see him!
The next day was Sunday and the dedication. We were hoping that we would be able to take Leila in with us as a "nursing baby" but because you have to have a temple recommend to attend that didn't fly. So we let Jeremy go in and Leila and I had church outside.
Afterwards we headed over to the temple to walk around the grounds and take in its beauty.
We of course wanted to see some sweet families while we were in town and the Reyes family were kind enough to invite us over for dinner Sunday night. Two of Jeremy's companions that were also there for the dedication joined us. We love this family and it was so good to visit with them. Plus Hermana Reyes cooks really good food!
(Elder Wilcox and Elder Dent in the back)
They gave Leila this adorable dress for her birthday. It's designed like a traditional Cuban style shirt called a guayabera.
Sunday evening we joined a bunch of other missionaries and four different mission presidents and their wives for a devotional. It was fun meeting a bunch of different missionaries and especially awesome to see President and Sister Hale.
Monday being our first non church day in Florida we really wanted to take advantage of the beach. It was such beautiful weather while we were there and thanks to the Calhouns we were staying in a place on Key Biscayne that was walking distance to a private beach.
Clark Wilcox joined us as well which was so much fun since we haven't seen him since we left Rexburg. We loved spending time with him and Leila loved her Uncle Clark.
After a long day at the beach we headed up to Miami to have dinner and family home evening with the Castros. We love this family so much and always have a blast with them.
Natalie was so little when Jeremy was on his mission and she is so old now! She wanted to show us all her princess dresses and dance moves. It was so cute!
Meanwhile when Naomi and Leila weren't fighting over Jeremy,
they were playing so sweetly together, with a little wrestling,
and a little more fighting over Jeremy.
Of course Hernana Castro made baleadas: our favorite!
We try to learn to make them every time but when it comes down to it nobody can replicate Hermana Castro's perfect baleada!
After we were well fed we had a little family home evening and had some dessert with a candle for Leila.
Tuesday started out with another trip to the beach. This time we went to Miami Beach so we could be closer to the families we were going to see.
(I think I over did it on the sun time just a little bit the first day if you can't tell from my huge line on my back.)
Showing off her "two piece".
Leila loves the beach so much! She was so happy the whole time just sitting in the sand and playing in the water.
I think Jeremy is pretty happy with his water baby!
After we had our fill of the beach, we headed over to say hello to another sweet family, the Mackenzies. They are such fantastic people and they loved Leila. She was a little shy but was happy playing with the kids.
After our visit there, we headed over to the Torres home. They were so sweet to make us dinner and Leila was in heaven playing with their kids.
With so much sun our first couple of days, we took it easy on Wednesday. We just hung out, got some frozen lemonades, then picked up some dinner to share with the Castros.
Thursday was a little trip to Little Havana. It was fun walking around and enjoying a little culture. :)
These guys were awesome. They thought Leila was so cute and just wanted to get her to sing and dance with them. She wasn't so sure but had a great time with them.
For dinner we headed over to one of our favorite restaurants: Las Vegas. It has the best Cuban food! I literally could eat this everyday!
Even Leila liked it!
Finally Friday May 9th arrived: Leila's first birthday. It was so surreal to me to be thinking about what we were doing one year previously. Looking at Leila and finding it hard to believe that a year had already passes. It was so bittersweet. One wish for the day was just to enjoy every minute. So we took our time enjoying the morning with a little trip to Starbucks for some drinks and free wifi and then a walk around Key Biscayne.
Daddy with the birthday girl.
Face timing Gram and Papa
She was quickly worn out...
and slept the whole afternoon away! This was my first hint that first birthdays are a little anti climactic. Ha!
When she finally woke up we hit the beach for the rest of the afternoon.
Afterwards we headed over to this little pizza place called Sir Pizza that the Calhouns told us about when we went to Florida last year and we loved. We thought it would be the perfect birthday dinner for our one year old!
After dinner we went back to the apartment for Leila to enjoy her birthday cupcake. (Thank you Publix Bakery!) I was overly excited about this part of the birthday celebration and Leila really delivered a great show.
After all that frosting and a good cleanup, this girl couldn't even keep her eyes open. She was sufficiently worn out! It's hard work turning one!
This was such a perfect trip and I'm so glad we were able to do it. Everything worked out perfectly for an unforgettable family vacation!