Saturday, January 28, 2017

The Saturday 7: Florida, Cont.

1. On Saturday, we went to Disney Springs. The girls spent their life savings in the Lego store (not exaggerating).

They were amazed by the huge sculptures made out of Legos. And they loved the "build your own minifigure" station. I forked over $10 for 3 of their creations since their savings had run dry.

We also stopped at the Disney store to spend the rest of our gift cards.

Lena got ears too, but didn't feel like posing.

While we were there, we saw a clog-dancing show. It was like we never left home! Haha.

Levi loved the music!
That night, the girls went home with Luke and Esther, and Justin, Levi, and I went out on a date. We went to BJ's restaurant - which I guess is a chain, but we don't have one around here. It was yummy! And nice to get away with just Levi. He's surprisingly easier than the girls in many respects.

2. On Sunday, we headed across the state to Venice Beach to stay with Justin's dad. It was a difficult trip despite all my preparations. I doped the girls on Dramamine, had new books on CD for them to listen to, equipped them with coloring books and tablets and toys. They're just not great travelers. We were so happy to finally make it to the house where Dave is staying. It was beautiful and I spent the next three days begging my children not to jump on the couch or wipe their hands on the windows or drip water on the immaculate wood floors. Haha. There was a small pool in the background that was the highlight of the entire Florida trip for the girls - even though it was a little too cold for comfort. Temps settled in the blissfully comfortable 75* range, which isn't great for swimming, but is perfect for sitting next to the pool. Lucy will swim no matter the weather, and Lena follows Lucy, so they had a blast. And I reveled in sitting in the sun reading. It was glorious.

I bought the girls matching 2 piece swimsuits, but Lena refused to wear the bottoms because they looked too much like undies. *eye roll* 
Lena loved this little "hot tub" because it had a bench that she could stand on.

Levi hated the water, but loved walking around the pool with anyone who would walk him.
3. Monday was Lena's 4th birthday. (*sob*) She requested cinnamon rolls for breakfast. We added the candles much to her chagrin. She is the weirdest kid in the world and doesn't like the attention her birthday brings. She refused to let us sing "Happy Birthday" and wouldn't even blow out the candles! Various people called throughout the day to wish her happy birthday, but she wouldn't take the phone calls. The one thing she enjoyed all day was saying, "It's my birthday. I get to choose!" Lol.

She insisted on having one candle of each color even though we tried to tell her she was only supposed to have four. Haha.

The present pile. 

Don't mind her hair. I tried to put it in a ponytail, but she said, "It's my birthday and I don't want you to do my hair." Lol. I told you she milked that!
4. After spending the morning at the pool, we piled back into the car to drive an hour and a half north to the Clearwater Marine Aquarium. The girls love the movie Dolphin Tale, and when I realized how close we were going to be to where it was filmed, I knew we had to check it out. Again, the car ride was rough - and not just for the kids this time! We had to go over this horrifying bridge:

Do you see how short those walls are?? The worst part was that it was incredibly windy that day. Every mile or so before the bridge, electronic signs were flashing "High Wind Warning! Use Extreme Caution on Skyway!" Fortunately, we did not blow off the bridge, and made it safely to the aquarium. Unfortunately, Lucy's stomach couldn't handle the trip and she puked in the parking lot as soon as we got there. Oy. Poor kid.

The aquarium was expensive, but fun. We got to see Winter and Hope (the dolphins from the movie and its sequel).

We got to pet some rays. (Manta? Sting?)

When we got to the aquarium, Lena kept saying, "I wonder when we're going to see Hazel." I finally had to explain to her that Hazel was just an actress in the movie and she wouldn't actually be there with the dolphins. Haha. So Lena was excited to find this huge poster of her. 

We stopped at Red Robin on the way home and I remembered to get a picture of Levi in his cute sailor short-alls.

The sign of a good birthday!
 5. Tuesday was Justin's 32nd birthday! We celebrated with a trip to the very windy beach. The waves were so big and the riptide so strong we didn't dare try to actually swim, but the waves were washing up all kinds of shells and shark teeth, so we had fun hunting for those.

6. On Wednesday, we packed up and left Venice Beach to go back to Luke and Esther's - with one important pit stop on the way . . .
Bass Pro Shops!
It's Justin's favorite store, but the closest one to our house is 3 hours away, so when we drove past one in Florida, we had to stop.

We spent one last evening with Luke and Esther.
Luke doing a little preaching from Lucy's Bible

Selfies with Esther
Then it was up bright and early on Thursday morning to head back to dreary cold Michigan!
Tired girl at the airport
We got going a little later than I expected and ran into traffic on the way. Then it took forever to get through security. So we didn't get to our gate until 40 minutes before it was time to board. I was semi-freaking out! We just had time to use the bathroom and pop our pills (Dramamine for the girls, Xanax for me) before boarding. This time, the plane was only half full, though, so we could spread out. It was so much nicer. Levi actually sat/laid on the seat next to me for a good portion of the flight. And when he got fussy toward the end, Justin and I took turns pacing the aisle in the back of the plane since there were only a few people back there.

The girls did awesome on the plane, and Justin and I remarked how incredibly grateful we were to have flown instead of driven. They do terrible in the car, but great in the sky. Our flight home was very smooth with almost no turbulence and my Xanax had me feeling good. Haha. When we got off the plane, my phone hadn't switched to Michigan yet and said it was 77*. It was quite depressing to look at it a few minutes later and see it said 36*. But we were happy to be home.

7. Lucy had a rough time going to school on Friday, and she's still not caught up on all the work she missed, but it's first grade. I'm not too worried. Haha. It's nice getting back into the routine of our daily lives. (Although I'm dreading getting back to potty training.) But it was a really really great vacation. Not as restful as it would've been without kids, but seeing everything through their eyes is so fun. It will probably be a while until we're able to take such a trip again, so we'll have to live off these memories until then! I would be horribly remiss if I didn't fervently thank so many of the people who made this vacation a reality for us. First, my brother Luke and his wife Esther. They went above and beyond to host us. From buying the kind of food we like, picking us up in two vehicles at the airport, making us dinner the nights we were home, hooking us up with Tony to get into Disney for free, giving us free lodging and sharing their one bathroom with us, entertaining our needy kids, babysitting our needy kids, and letting us use their extra vehicle all week - even to drive 300 miles to and from the coast! We cannot thank them enough!! Also, thanks to Justin's dad who hosted us, bought us more groceries, paid for restaurant meals, played with our kids, paced with Levi, took Justin fishing, and cleaned that beautiful house after we left it. Haha. (And thanks to Ed and Mary for letting us use their house!) Thanks to Tony for going out of his way to get us into Disney. Thanks to my Dad for giving the girls a huge stash of change that contributed to their Lego fund. Thanks to my mom and sister for dropping us off and picking us up from the airport. Thanks to my many facebook friends who gave us flying and Disney tips. The list could go on and on! We're so grateful for all of you!

8. A few bonus pictures that didn't fit anywhere else:
Checking out the alligator in the pond behind the house. *shudder*

Levi loved those wood floors. He spun in circles and scooted himself all around on his butt. Who needs to crawl?

Dinner with Grandpa

Uno with Grandpa

Levi and my Amish brother

Enjoying scrambled eggs

Morning swim time. (Too early for Lucy to pose.)

The beauty we left behind

Little baby. Big tub.

Last poolside lunch.

Friday, January 27, 2017

Lena's 4 Year Interview

What do you and Mommy do together?
We go to the store and go to see Niki and go to see Libby, pick up Lucy from school, bring Lucy to school, and snuggle

What do you and Daddy do together?
I go grocery shopping with him to get you some stocking stuff and treats . . . like chocolate . . . mostly chocolate

What makes you happy?

What is something scary?
A monster and going to the doctor and having shots

What are you really good at?
Puzzles, eating, brushing my teeth

Who is your best friend?

Who’s the prettiest person you know?

What do you want to be when you grow up?
A mom . . . actually an artist

What do you think about before you fall asleep?


Pink and purple, yellow . . . all the colors in the rainbow

The monkey book

Hannah Montana and Dolphin Tale


Pizza, hot dogs, macaroni and cheese, peanut butter and jelly, waffles, toast, bagels, and cheese roll-ups

Fruit snacks

Favorite drink
Juice and water . . . and strawberry lemonade

TV Show
Curious George, Caillou, and Daniel


Butterflies and monkeys, flamingos

Christmas Bells and my other program song

Every day . . . and the days that we go to Niki's

3, 4, 1, 2, and 100, a million

Breakfast Food
Waffles and toast and go-gurt

Once Upon a Child and the Lego Store

Where’s your favorite place to go?

Favorite way to wear your hair
In a braid . . . and piggy tails

Saturday, January 21, 2017

The Saturday 7: Florida Edition!

1. The beginning of this week consisted of me cleaning and shopping and packing, so we're going to jump right into the vacation recap. It's long and detail-filled so feel free to skim!

2. My mom dropped us off at the airport on Wednesday at 1:30. We checked in and went through security without incident (other than Justin's bag getting searched - haha). And the girls were very patient waiting to board. They played with their sticker books and ate snacks.

I was a little anxious before boarding, but not terrible. But as we got on the plane, I was amazed by how tiny and cramped it was. The anxiety started rising a little. There were two rows of 3, and we hadn't really discussed how we were going to sit. The plane was about half full by the time we got on and I felt like we had to hurry up and claim some seats because people were pressing in behind us. So Justin and Lena went one way, and Lucy, Levi, and I went the other. I'd read online that if you sit on the aisle with a baby no one will choose to sit by you (we flew Southwest where you pick your own seat). But then the flight attendants started announcing that it was a full flight and every seat needed to be filled. An old man climbed over me and Lucy to get to the window. He was super nice. Justin and Lena had gone all the way in so Lena could sit by the window so a lady sat on the aisle of their row. She was nice, too, talked about how she has a grandson the same age as Levi, and helped us pass him back and forth throughout the flight.

I was fine until we started taking off. I forgot how the plane kind of dips as it goes up and makes your stomach drop a little bit. At that point, my anxiety went through the roof. I immediately dug into my bag for the xanax. Haha.(I'm going to take it before we even board on the way home so it has time to start working!) The girls did fine the whole time. They played with their tablets and the activity books I had packed and didn't get bored or gurmpy. Lucy complained a couple times that her belly hurt (despite the dramamine she had taken earlier), but it wasn't horrible. And they both said their ears felt clogged on the way down (despite chewing gum).

Levi did fine for the first hour, but then he was bored and tired, but would not go to sleep. So Justin and I passed him back and forth, distracted him with snacks, and did our best to keep him entertained. He never screamed or got loud, he was just antsy and irritable.

The flight was a little bumpy, but once my xanax kicked in, I felt better. I don't mind landing because I like being on the ground. Haha. Although I feel like the pilot really slammed on the brakes. We all flew forward in our seats. Is that normal?

My wonderful brother and his wife picked us up at the airport in two separate vehicles so we could fit all of our kids and luggage, and we headed back to their house.

3. They have one extra bedroom for us, so we're all sleeping together. It's fine except that Levi does not sleep. He's been getting up every two hours every night that we've been here. I'd usually let him cry, but I don't want him to wake up the girls or my brother and Esther. So I get up and nurse him every two hours. It's ridiculous.

4. On Thursday, we went to the Crayola Experience. It was really cool and we spent hours there.

Big light bright!
Fun for all ages!

Waiting for her crayon to melt
Finished product (crayon molds)

The girls also got to make crayon labels - give them a name and wrap the crayons. I think that was their favorite part, but I didn't even get a picture. Oops.

5. And finally, what you've all been waiting for - Disney!! Luke has a friend who retired from Disney and could get us in for free! It was easiest for him to meet us at Epcot, so we went there first. 

We wanted to get right to Magic Kingdom, so we didn't do anything at Epcot except take a couple pictures:

Then we hopped on the monorail, which the girls loved.

We thought it would bring us right to Magic Kingdom, but instead, it dropped us off at a ferry stop. So then we got to ride the ferry!

Reaching for the water.
6. By the time we got through security and into Magic Kingdom it was 11:00 (we didn't meet Tony at Epcot 'til 10) and the girls were hot and tired of walking already and being grumpy.
We made the immediate decision to rent a double stroller, then set off. I knew we'd want to spend most of our time in Fantastyland, so we headed that direction. Our first ride was the carousel.
Their attitudes swiftly improved.
Then we did the teacups.
I love this picture.
The girls loved it, and Levi did great on all the rides. Once in a while, it would get loud and he would start whimpering, but for the most part, he loved them.

Dumbo was one of the girls' favorites.

We rode it twice.

Their other favorite was the Buzz Lightyear ride. 

Thanks to the free Disney gift cards I got from my credit card rewards, we got lunch in the park.
Our $50 meal!

Levi did great the whole time. He loved riding in the stroller, going on the rides, watching everything. But he started to get really tired and just wouldn't fall asleep. Finally, we got on the people mover, and this happened:

The library in Belle's castle!

The girls refused to get their picture taken with any characters. I wanted my picture taken with Belle, but the girls wouldn't go with me, and I thought it'd be weird without them. Haha.

Small World selfie
The girls each got an $8 hot dog for dinner, and Justin and I got soft pretzels. Lucy hurt her foot coming off the Magic Carpet ride at 6:30 and she was done. But I wanted to see the show on the castle, so we stayed for that.
My excellent photography skills at their best
Daddy pack mule helping the girls see over the crowd

When the show was done, we headed out of the park and watched the fireworks from the ferry. It was the perfect place to see them since my kids all hate loud noises. We had a beautiful view (that my phone does not capture well):

The girls stayed awake on the ferry/monorail/30 minute car ride back to Luke and Esther's! But they did fall right to sleep when we put them to bed at 10:00. It was a great day. We had beautiful weather. No rain, glorious sunshine, the high temp got to 82. It was a little hot at times, but not terrible. I loved it. 

7. Today's plans include shopping at Disney Springs (with a much awaited trip to the Lego store) and enjoying the 80 degree weather in Luke and Esther's backyard. Justin is currently fishing. And he and I might even go out on a date tonight (thanks to L&E's generous offer to babysit)! Tomorrow, we head to Venice Beach for a few days to stay with Justin's dad (who is "wintering" there through February). I've already forgotten about the snow and cold and I really don't want to go back to it! 
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