Thursday, February 4, 2016

Christmas 2015

We had such a fun time spending our first Christmas in Florida this year.  The weather was warm which was weird but nice all at the same time.  I missed seeing most of our family who we normally get to visit, but having my grandpa and my brother's family here was so nice.  It was a smaller, simpler gathering than usual, but I kinda liked that.  Our celebrations were spread out and not all crammed into 2 days of mass chaos and sensory overload.  I have no idea what we are going to do in the future, but I'm glad that this year we stayed home.  It was so nice to wake up in our own beds on Christmas morning...even though that wake up call was way too early, as usual.  :)

On Christmas Eve we had a very small gift exchange with my grandpa, my brother and his kids.  Each kid just got one present and they were totally okay with that.  I didn't even take any pics.  After that we had pizza and got dressed up and went to church for the Christmas Eve service.  It was a really lovely service that focused on Christ and even the boys were very into the music and especially liked the candlelight portion at the end.  The cousins all had matching outfits this year and they looked so cute. I had forgotten to take my camera that day so all I have is one iPhone shot of them all together.  My son had matching grey pants, but he spilled something on them, so jeans were the only backup.  Oh well, they are more his style anyway. 


Christmas morning at home.  My kids got a lot of fun stuff this year.  Most notable were a fish tank from Santa for my girl so she could get a betta fish and a Lego x-wing for my boy.  They both got new scooters from Santa too.

We finally decided to get our kids their own electronic devices.  This was a pretty major thing for us.  We've been pretty adamant about them not having them for a while now, but after some research into the Kindle Fire and the Free Time app they offer, we decided we would give it a try.  When they first opened them they were so shocked and confused.  I don't think they knew what to make of it!  My son's face looks so suspicious here.  I'm sure he's thinking it's too good to be true.

They are getting a little excited in this shot.  We've set time limits on the games and the kids have been great about it.  Overall, it's been a very positive experience, but don't expect them to get their own phones anytime soon. ;)

Just a shot of the aftermath. :)

Later that day we headed over to my mom's house for Christmas dinner and it was warm enough to swim! Love these cuties.

I made an exception for Christmas Day and there were no time limits on apps.  These boys were loving it.

My kids with their Great Grandpa.  Can you believe he is 90?  He looks amazing!

We went to the beach to watch the sunset.  You really can't beat a Christmas where you can swim and go watch the sunset at the beach!  Check out my niece's adorable gap toothed smile.  In the next week she would lose two more teeth on top!  She's lost more teeth than my son and she's 3 years younger.  It's crazy!


These boys are so adorable together.  I love how they just get each other.


I love this gorgeous girl!

And this handsome boy!

I love these 4 together.

I'm almost all caught up on blogging!  Next up, my girl turns 12!

Friday, January 29, 2016

December ~ Cliff Notes Version ~

December was a busy month for us too, and once again, I'm cramming it all into one post.  I'm gonna do a separate post about our actual Christmas celebrations on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day though because otherwise this would be way too long.  Just fyi, these are all iPhone shots so please excuse the terrible quality.  Here goes...

We watched the annual Indian Rocks Beach Christmas parade with my mom and grandpa.  It is so fun to celebrate Christmas Florida style.  This was the first year we'd stayed here for the holidays since we moved here.

Our friends had a little party that same day and the kids all made gingerbread houses.

More parade fun.

Showing off all his parade swag.

We also watched a boat parade with my mom.  I thought it was pretty cool, but the kids weren't as impressed.  The boats go pretty slow and we got there really early so we could find a place to sit.  It was still fun though if you ask me.

My good friend Kelly and I were talking one day about how fun it would be if we could surprise our girls and get them together for her daughter's 13th birthday in Ohio.  After some thought about it and research into flights, I realized it would only cost about $50 for a one way ticket!  Just so happens that my mom was headed back to Ohio for Christmas and then just a week later my brother was driving here for Christmas.  So...you guessed it, we sent her to surprise her friend and it worked!  They facetimed each other and my daughter was at her front door and she came to answer the door and was shocked.  How fun!  She spent the week hanging with friends and family in Ohio and made the long drive back with my brother.  To tell her about this surprise trip (I didn't tell her in advance because I didn't want her to have to keep a secret from her bff that long) I made a scavenger hunt and she had a bunch of clues all around our house.  At the end she found a box with the last clue cut into a puzzle.  She was so shocked!  Of course, the whole time her brother didn't really realize that this was a gift just for her and he was outraged at the unfairness of it all.  To make it up to him I made him his own scavenger hunt the week she was gone.  At the end of his were tickets to see Star Wars.  I'd had him convinced that he wasn't going to be able to see it since we don't normally let him watch movies rated PG-13 so he was very surprised and excited.  We also took him putt-putting that week and tried to make his week extra special.

The day before my mom and daughter left for Ohio we opened gifts at her house since she wasn't coming back until January.  My girl opens gifts like a girl, and my boy opens gifts like a maniac.

My grandpa got these amazing chocolates.  They were almost too pretty to eat!  My girl made cards for everyone and this one was my favorite.

This year was the Christmas of BB-8.  He was obsessed.  He was so excited that every single one of his gifts from my mom was BB-8 themed.  He even loved the shirt and he hates getting clothes!
My girl got the cutest outfit from my mom and her own CD player for her room.  She was very happy.

A week later and the cousins were all together!  They had a lot of fun.  I miss them and can't wait for them to be back for Easter!

We went to the Clearwater Marine Aquarium and got to see Winter.  Another dolphin that lives there named Nicholas was happy to show off for us during a session with his trainer and that was our favorite part along with the ferry ride across the intercoastal waterway.  I think my boy's favorite part might have been the puffer fish.  The kids all had fun trying to pet the stingrays too.

The kids had fun swimming in the hot tub.  The pool water was pretty cold but they would dare each other to jump in and then get right back in the hot tub.

Just some other random cuteness from December.  My girl decorated her bedroom door to look like a snowman.  They love any sort of game with their dad that includes wrestling or him trying to get them off of him. :)

Next up, Christmas!

Thursday, January 28, 2016

November 2015 ~ Cliff Notes Version ~

I'm determined to catch up on my blogging so I'm at least writing about the correct year!  So here goes November in one giant post.  It was a jam packed month with visits from my sister and my mother-in-law.  First up was a visit from my sister who hadn't been here yet since we moved.  It was also my sweet niece's first time at the beach!  The weather was perfect and it was still warm enough to get in the water which we took advantage of.  

 Here is my girl practicing her skimboarding.  The water was so still that day.  

My littlest niece absolutely loved the beach!

The coolest thing we've found at the beach yet, seahorses!  They were amazing!  They would hold on to pieces of seaweed with their tails.  They are one of my favorite animals and I've always been fascinated by them ever since I was a little girl so I was especially excited about it.

All my nieces love my daughter because she's the oldest.  This little one had fun swinging with her.  She has the cutest smile and is such a busy little thing.  She kept us on our toes!

We went to Legoland again.  My niece loved it and it was fun watching her enjoy it.  My kids loved it too, of course.  Cute story...when we were getting off one of the rides that day my son looked at me and whispered, "You were the prettiest mom on that ride."  Oh yes, he is gonna be a heart breaker.  I love that kid.

My husband had a birthday!  My girl did the cake.  She wanted a fishing theme since that's something he loves to do and she likes to do it with him.  I like that picture in the middle of my 3 favorite people in the whole world. :)

My girl was in her first real play.  She joined a drama class at our co-op and they did the play Not So Grim Tales.  It was really cute.  They didn't have a lot of time to practice and for a lot of kids it was their first time in a play so taking all that into account I thought it was fabulous.  Of course, Little Red Riding Hood was the best.  She had some pretty serious stage fright going into it and I am so proud of her for overcoming her fears.  She is taking drama again this spring so I'm looking forward to seeing what she does next!

My mother-in-law came the week of Thanksgiving and stayed with us.  When she's in town it's always like we are tourists in our own city and it's great!  We went to Weeki Wachi Springs and saw the mermaid show which was fascinating.  While we were there we also go to take a boat ride on the river.  The water is so crystal clear it's amazing.  You can see straight to the bottom and see all the fish and plants.  My girl was pretty excited about the mermaids.  I might have been just as excited as her.

We went to the International Mall and saw Santa.  That's where the snow is falling on them.  We also went to Gaylord Palms in Orlando and saw the Ice show.  They have all these amazing ice sculptures, but it's only 9 degrees inside.  I thought my face was going to freeze off!  Back in the warmth of the hotel we checked out a Cirque show in the atrium complete with fake snow.  It was fabulous.  I want to stay at that hotel some day. 

On Thanksgiving Day we went to the beach for sunset.  Our friends were there too.  What a fabulous way to end a holiday!

Next up, December and Christmas!

Monday, January 4, 2016

Girl's Weekend!

I have always wanted to do a girls weekend.  My husband has been doing guys trips for as long as I've known him, but until recently I'd never done a girls trip.  I was determined to make it happen but to be honest I didn't really think it would.  Trying to coordinate schedules was hard and then there was the budget and then of course childcare for our combined 16 children (yes, one of us has 6, 2 of us have 4 and I'm the oddball with only 2).  The husbands were able to be convinced though and we have one single mom in our group so she was able to get her parents to help out with watching her 4 kids and it actually happened!  I really wanted to see some fall leaves and we wanted a place between Ohio (where everyone else was coming from) and Florida.  We picked Asheville.  I know, I just went there over the summer but the whole time I was there I kept thinking it would be the perfect place for a girls trip and it was.  I was originally going to fly there and the other girls were going to drive down and meet me, but the flight schedules weren't working out so I ended up flying into Cincinnati and road tripping down with them to maximize our time together.  I can't tell you how nice it was to have so much time for uninterrupted conversation.  I mean, that hasn't happened in like 15 years!  We talked about anything and everything from 'gaper's delay' to old boyfriends, homeschooling to changing churches, our kids to our husbands, motherhood to money, you name it and we probably talked about it!  

We stayed in the cutest log cabin in a town called Waynesville which is just outside of Asheville.  I was just secluded enough without having to be scared of bears.  Okay, so it was still a little scary, especially at night and the fact that they had left a note about making sure your garbage was contained because of bears.  You had to drive through a creek to get to the cabin which was my favorite part.  The cabin had a little bit of a grandma vibe to it which was fine with us and it had a great screened in porch on the front that we didn't get to use but once.  It rained almost the entire time we were there but it didn't deter us.  We went to a street craft fair in Waynesville, shopped at all the shops, and had dinner at some Italian restaurant.  In Asheville we went to shops too, and drove around a bit looking for a certain flower shop I had gone to in the summer and when we finally found it, of course it was closed.  We had coffee at the coolest bookstore and talked some more.  We never seemed to run out of things to talk about.  We had dinner at the Lab aka Lexington Avenue Brewery (I only remember that because I bought my husband a shirt from there) and it was so fun.  I can't remember every detail of what we did, I really should write my blog posts sooner.  I do know we stayed up way too late talking and we cooked ourselves a nice breakfast one morning.  Oh, and we went to the Tupelo Honey Cafe on our way out of town and went to some more shops while we waited for our table.  Asheville has some of the cutest shops I've ever been to.  It's a very artsy town which I love. 

I didn't take my nice camera because I only packed the tiniest carry on that had to fit under my seat. I got some phone shots though. We never did get a good photo of the 4 of us, maybe next time.  I hope to make this an annual tradition!  I had a good time taking nature shots because as much as I love Florida it is so fun seeing landscape that is totally different but just as beautiful in its own way.  I do miss fall when living here but taking a weekend trip seems to be the perfect cure for it.  






I can't wait for our next trip!

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