Florida 2010

We once again thoroughly enjoyed our trip to Florida.  This is a trip we’ve done every year with my parents and sister for 6 years now, but Robert joined us for the first time this year!  We had a great time, and it was fun to have him along to experience all we’ve talked about for so long.
We intended to go home by way of Pensacola to visit Robert’s grandparents for the weekend, but a few days into the trip, his grandfather passed away after a long illness.  We were sad to see him go, but did enjoy all the family we got to see (I was meeting some for the first time!) for the funeral. We also had to stay in a beach condo (instead of at his grandparents’ house like we were planning) so we got a couple of extra days on the beach we weren’t expecting!  Pensacola Beach is so beautiful! 
The kids thoroughly enjoyed the water this year, pool and gulf!  They swam like champs, and Mattie took a beating in the waves, getting up and heading right back out every time. Guess that’s why she ended up with a bad case of Swimmer’s Ear.  Jacob was not so adventurous, but was fine as long as he had his goggles on.  Lol!
Here are some photos of our trip.  When you get to the alien house, check out the little guy at the door!

Our Family Vacation

We are finally settled after being gone for a week. I think vacation is a lot of work! (Actually, I’ve also been readying our house to get it back on the market. I enjoyed our three week break- because of a burst pipe in our basement- entirely too much, and now it’s time to get it back in shape again.)
We went to Destin…officially Santa Rosa, I suppose. We stayed at Topsail Hill State Park with our friends in their camper. We had a great time! It was a bit cramped in the camper, as we felt like our kids were constantly in the way, but our friends were incredibly gracious and seemed to be fine.

Our gracious hosts, Pam & Eddie

This beach was absolutely incredible! Topsail Hill has three miles of private beach, and since it’s a preserve, there are no buildings. (I never realized how much the buildings detract from the setting.) So it was the dunes, sand, and water. Oh! It was absolutely beautiful! I felt like we were on our own private island. The beach was virtually empty all the time.

The one time we went down at the busiest there were a total of 12 people in sight, and 6 of them were our party! The water was clear (I could see my feet clearly at 2 feet deep) and sea grass free, the sand was beautifully clean and soft, and the sky was enormous. It couldn’t have been more beautiful.

See what I mean?

Apparently the winds were blowing in the wrong direction, so we had biting dog flies to contend with. That was a major bummer that drove us off the beach several times. The kids and I just started staying covered up if we were out of the water and the flies were out. It was cool enough that this worked out okay. Actually, this time the kids enjoyed the sand more than the water…completely different than in St. Pete Beach a month ago! (Maybe the 15 degree temperature difference explains that!)

That girl loves her paci and blanket!

Jacob enjoying his sandbox.

This campground has tons of space for bike riding, and we spent many hours doing that, Jacob and Robert especially! Jacob would wear out several adults and be asking for more! We have fulfilled our entire first grade year of PE, that’s for sure!

Jacob waiting by the curb for a grownup to ride with him…again. (He and Robert had just come in from a long ride.)

Robert had a couple of great fishing days about 100 yards out in the gulf. One day he saw a long gray shadow that seemed to be a shark, so he came in. The next day, this long gray shadow started coming directly in his direction. Not so good… Thankfully, at the same time a Coast Guard helicopter on patrol saw it as well (okay, kinda scary!) and started circling and finally hovering low enough to scare the shark off. Wasn’t that nice of him? The third day (uh, yes, he went back out, much to my chagrin) he managed to avoid the shark.

Mattie enjoying the sand.

One of our other favorite things was searching for sand crabs after dark. We’d go down as the sun was setting and look for them for awhile. It was beautiful walking on the beach by the moonlight! (Would’ve even been romantic if the kids weren’t there!) Robert was quite brave and caught several of them. I was the only weenie who kept shoes on to be sure I didn’t step on one by accident, much less catch one on purpose! Anyway, the kids both loved chasing them! Mattie would squeal and squeal as she found one and ran it off.

I love it when little ones crouch down like this to look at something! She spotted a crab!

Jacob on his crab mission.

And Robert with one of his catches.

After looking we’d ride bikes back to our campsite (a mile or so) in the moonlight. This was a beautifully peaceful way to end our evenings, and a great review of the moon phases!

My handsome boy, getting waaaaay too big in so many ways!

On the way home we stopped overnight in Pensacola to visit Robert’s grandparents. They really enjoyed the kids, and we got a night out to dinner without the children! (Their maid watched the kids so we could go out without them. Ahhhh!) They treated us to a local high-end restaurant where we sat at a table once enjoyed by (the first) President Bush and his wife. While we were there we stayed in Robert’s mom’s childhood bedroom and Mattie slept in her crib! That’s kind of neat, I think.

All in all, we had a great trip. Robert enjoyed it more than any other trip we’ve taken, I believe. That’s worth a lot since it’s his vacation, after all!

Florida Vacation Chapter 2

I have a few minutes before I crash tonight, so I thought I’d share about our day. We had the best one yet!

I have been having lots of restaurant food since Saturday…for me, that means lots of corn (to which I’m allergic). So, I’ve been feeling impatient, cranky, down and irritable for several days. It just makes for long days when I don’t feel well and the kids and I pay for it. (I don’t consciously choose to be irritable, it just ends up happening and I don’t really see it.) Yesterday I did a lot better and ate food with no/less corn and in turn, felt so much better today! Aaaah…what a blessing!

Monday and Tuesday we spent most of our tijme at the pool, only going down to the beach in the evenings. Today Kjirstin wanted to spend some time on the sand before she had to go home tonight, so we went there instead of the pool. We had a great time! Jacob actually played in the gulf with us (with 3-5′ waves!!) in his life jacket floating all by himself!! It took some encouragement to begin with as he was really nervous, but I let him hang on for dear life for awhile and he got used to it. I was so proud of him! He was floating up and down like a pro by the end of it! Mattie loved it too…no surprise there. :) She got quite a few face-fulls of water and took it in stride. These two are definitely polar opposites with water!!

While we were out in the gulf, Jacob got a lot of salt water in his mouth too. And he didn’t handle it so, um, gracefully at first. Tonight at bedtime I was telling him he should just keep his mouth closed when he’s out there and then he wouldn’t get saltwater in his mouth. He just said, “But I just have so many questions I want to ask you, Mom.” Is that Jacob or is that Jacob?!?! We all got a good chuckle out of that one!

After the ocean we went into the pool where Jacob got brave and decided to follow in Mattie’s footsteps and jump off the side with no lifevest…getting his head wet! (I know…very boring to some of you to read, but this is major in my daily life!) He decided this isn’t so bad for now. But we might be starting all over tomorrow…

Mattie is getting darker by the minute, I believe. She has not needed sunscreen yet, in spite of the fact that all of us are needing SPF 4-30 in varying degrees to keep from frying. This is day 3. I think by day 10 she’s going to look like we picked her up in Mexico.

I must say on these trips I realize how much I count on Robert on a daily basis. Mom, Dad and Kjirstin are a huge help with the kids, but there is a difference when there is another parent around. It’s different when he’s working out of town, because it’s all pretty controllable at home. But being out at restaurants, stores, and lots of public places is just tiring without him. What a blessing he is to me!

Off to relish a few quiet minutes while I can still keep my eyes open…

We made it!

Well, we survived the road trip!

(We’re in St. Pete Beach, FL. My dad has a conference each year down here at the Island Grand Tradewinds Resort and Mom & Dad treat us to a trip! This is our fourth year here. Robert had to work, so he stayed home this year. He knows how much we love it, so he’s happy for us to come.)

Back to the road trip…It took us 9 hours on Saturday and then 4 more on Sunday…the shortest amount of time we’ve done yet! The kids did really well during the ride. Mattie didn’t nap Friday, amazingly enough, but she was remarkably happy still! She and Jacob were soooo excited to get to jump on hotel beds ’till their hearts’ content! (What else are hotel beds for???) By Sunday, the kids were definitely tired of the car, but survived. Jacob just asked, “How many more minutes, Grampa?” a couple of hundred times.

Mom got an Eric Carle DVD with several stories we did with school recently. We read some of Elmer and the Dragon. And we worked 1/3 of the way through Jacob’s maps/charts/graphs book, so it will go down as a day of school!

We’ve spent many hours in the pool already! The kids are old enough now that I don’t have to be holding on to them in the kiddie pool, so I can actually just sit next to them and enjoy watching. Jacob is doing great in the big pool with his lifevest and Mattie was floating alone with water wings today! And both of them were jumping off the edge too! (Mattie is happy to go under and Jacob is just surviving the splash, but that’s major progress for him!) Mattie will go to the edge and say, “Two, two, two!” when she wants to jump.

And I brought our North American Wildlife book too…we’ve seen Rock Dove’s (pigeons), lizards, fish and flowers to name!! It’s been fun to carry on our Creation study! The birds are very used to people around here. Yesterday there was one about 6 feet from Mattie near the pool. She walked in his direction and he squawked at her quite loudly. Needless to say she was not very happy about it!

Last night we went to dinner and got Alaskan King Crab…very yummy! Normally Robert peels all my seafood for me, so I was on my own last night since he’s not here. Amazingly enough, I had both kids around me and peeled and ate my crab to finish first!! The kids both ate some, but it cost way too much to share with someone who doesn’t appreciate it! And, hey, why feed Mattie King Crab when there are saltines to dip in ketchup??

What a Difference Daddy makes!!

Aaaah, we have had a wonderful weekend! Thursday night we went to Chattanooga and met Robert at a hotel. Friday we took the kids (with Candace, David, Hannah, Emily, and Caleb) to the “Day Out With Thomas” at the Tennessee Valley Railroad. We came home Friday afternoon after that and have had a great weekend together since then.

We are rounding down the “to do” list on the house, so we’ve had a little breathing room this weekend. Robert has spent many hours just playing with the kids. He and Jacob have wrestled many hours. He and Mattie have sung and danced about as many! There has been much giggling in the house this weekend and it’s been delightful! Jacob is remarkably happier and his attitude has been SOOOOOO much better than the past few weeks! Aaaah, what a sweet relief that has been!

And an extra blessing from the Lord…Robert gets to work in town this week, so we get ten days with him before he has to return to Georgia! We are all thoroughly enjoying this and praying that the company will bring his crew back to work in Morristown soon.

I am so thankful to be married to a guy who loves us so much and loves being home with us!

We came home in one piece!!

Jacob and Ali ready to go!!!

Well, we did it! We went skiing and came home in one piece! I have not skied in 15 years, and I was quite anxious about the day, to say the least. I had to borrow equipment and clothes, and I don’t really like doing all that either. Anyway, I was glad we did it at the beginning of our trip so I only had to be anxious for three days!

It did take quite a while to get all of us out the door…Jen and her four, Mom, Kjirstin, Jacob, and me (after getting Mattie settled with a sitter). We got out with everything but Jacob’s boots…so back we came. Second try, we got there successfully! After getting 8 kids pottied and all bundled up, then the 5 adults pottied and bundled up, we managed to make it out to the slope!

We thought it would be fun to teach Jacob to ski…Jen’s 4 and Marcy’s 3 kids were all skiing by his age. And Jacob wanted to learn. So, Jen took on the chore. Well…we’ll just say it wasn’t quite as easy as teaching him to ride a bike! For the first 45 minutes, he kicked and screamed and cried. Poor Jen! I offered for her to feel free to give up, but she assured me that most kids started this way. (And it made sense…Jacob does NOT like to be unsuccessful at anything!!) So, fighting the urge to take him in and, um, discipline him, I let her keep fighting. And he did at least stop kicking and screaming when he was told we’d have chocolate ice cream after diner if he’d ski some by himself.

After ten runs up and down the bunny slope, he was getting it (though he didn’t know it at all!), we decided we’d all head up to the top of the big hill. It’s no harder, just a lot longer. Well, by the end of that run, he had stopped kicking and screaming, though he was certainly not happy about the situation. And Jen was still earning many jewels in her crown!

We decided it was lunchtime. Jacob wanted to quit, but I wanted him to try one more run now that he’d had some food and was quite a bit happier. I let him choose the bunny slope or the big hill, and he chose the big one! Lunch had created a whole new attitude in him! By the end of that run, he was skiing for 20 or 30 feet by himself (tethered to Jen so we didn’t lose him!) and loving it!! He was actually asking to go on a huge jump! We let him quit after that, but I’m so glad we stuck it out and pushed him until he was successful. He was so proud of himself!

He did it!!!

Meanwhile, Mom, Kjirstin and I were all acclimating ourselves to the slopes after a long separation! Mom did great! We all took a few runs down the bunny slope just to remember how it all worked, but managed to take several runs down the big hill with no face plants! I actually did way better than I anticipated, and really had a great time! I could have done 15 more runs, but had to leave to go home for Mattie.

Look at Ali go!!!

We all woke up the next morning with some reminders of muscle groups long forgotten, but it was good for us all. All of that anxiety for nothing!! I’d love to try to go once a year. Maybe I’ll even head down to Ober Gatlinburg with Jacob next season!

All the girls enjoying a lunch break.

Our plane flight

Well, we’ve had a couple of interesting experiences in the past few days! On Monday, the kids and I flew to New Jersey to visit my family. It was a good flight once we finally got going, but it took us awhile. We got to the airport to find a 1 hour delay. I went ahead and got the kids through security since it wasn’t too much longer to wait. Taking all three pairs of shoes off, putting all three carry-on bags through the machine, removing any lotion bottles from the bags, taking off my belt and watch, and folding up the stroller, all while hoping Mattie doesn’t run away was quite a feat! And all this with fifty people waiting behind me in line!! So, we made it through there and got to our gate. Jacob and Mattie were having a good time running around in the airport, though Jacob was VERY excited and impatient about getting on the plane!! So, we’re supposed to be boarding in 15 minutes and they announce it will be another hour. Ugh. And that doesn’t go over too well with the impatient four year old! So, we pulled out the entertainment intended for the airplane ride and turned on a Thomas movie for Jacob and got Matie a pencil and paper. We finally get to board, only to find out we can’t take off for thirty more minutes! Argh… the only thing worse than sitting in a terminal is sitting on a very small airplane with two small children!!! By this point, it was 3:30 and Mattie had not napped! Needless to say, keeping her happy was quite a chore. Anyway, we finally took off and Mattie finally fell asleep, for a few minutes anyway. It was a good flight, all things considered. Jacob absolutely loved the flight!! We finally pulled in at my sister’s house at 8:30 that night with two very tired children!

Mattie has done well with all the new people, but was a bit shellshocked at first. Every time she woke up, a new person was here to love on her. Both kids have had a great time so far.

I need to go school the boys, but I’ll write about our skiing day later!