anniversary trip to St. John, USVI

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When we toasted our 5 year wedding anniversary in April, J and I decided spur-of-the-moment to book a trip to St. John, where we were married, to celebrate at the end of the year. Reservations made, we looked forward to this tropical getaway all summer long. It was what helped keep our eyes-on-the-prize when the weeks were long and time spent together as a family seemed too infrequent.

Last week was the week! Balancing illness (with an emergency trip to the island health clinic!) and the heart-breaking news of a dear friend's passing while away, we did our best to eek out a week's worth of QT squeezed into one cozy hotel room and focused on being grateful, being present.

We opted for the most family-friendly of island accommodations, The Westin, to ensure plenty of amenities for the kids and no cliffs to fret over. After smoothies on the beach each morning, we loaded into a Wrangler and set out to show our littles the most significant spots we adore on the island, opportunities that left me breathless more than once: High Tide by the ferry dock (welcome drinks), Skinny Legs (rehearsal dinner), Hawksnest Beach (ceremony) and Caneel Bay (honeymoon). We watched their eyes widen to meet donkeys and spy a "pirate" on the street corner, ride in open-air taxi-trucks, dance to local music, make strides with their swimming, indulge on the best fish we've ever had, marvel at the sunset's colors and wake with an up-for-anything sense of adventure each new day.

Despite still very much being in toddler-chasing mode, I did bring my camera along and used it if I was confident my kids weren't going to, say, get stepped on by a donkey (shoot, that did happen). But mostly, I tried to enjoy and appreciate the opportunity to just be. Together. Crazy hair, bug bites, $14.45 loaves of gluten-free bread, holiday season pressures and grief lingering and all. We loved it so much we bought a Westin timeshare and are counting the days until we get to go back.

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