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.

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