Monday, December 29, 2008

Hmmm...what day is it?

I'm definitely in that zone where we've been gone so long and I don't know quite where I am or what day it is. Monday? Really? It doesn't feel remotely like a Monday. I feel a strange pull to stand at my own kitchen sink and do dishes. Then I would feel centered. Ha!

It did start to feel kind of Monday-ish, however, last night when after the Norton Christmas celebration was over, Delaney started to feel bad and threw up a few times through the night. Then it hit Jesse today so I spent most of the day reading my book while keeping an eye on him. It was the "over-quick" variety, so it hasn't actually been too horrible (except, I'm sure, for our hosts who have to put up with our children who seem to throw up every single Christmas while they're here). Just a reminder that we are back in reality. It really did seem like all illnesses and colds and troubles were suspended while we were in Florida. Do families who live in Florida get stomach viruses in December?

Anyway, we and our germs will be heading home tomorrow. Only one more packing and unpacking to go!

Friday, December 26, 2008

News flash: Florida has better weather than Ohio in December

That would seem like a no-brainer, (right?) especially since it seems that half of the population of Ohio has come/is here/is coming to Florida in the winter. That would be a clue. But still, after a week here (and we know that we really hit the jackpot on Tampa winter weather this week), I'm a little surprised still each morning as I head out on the balcony in my short sleeves and soak in some Vitamin D. What a very, very nice thing to get a break from the constant cold.

When we debate each day whether to find a new place to explore, or try another area of beach, or find a new adventure, for our kids, the vote always comes back to "let's just swim in the pool!" It has been the greatest blessing to have this big heated pool. They are just thriving in it. Levi and Sara are swimming like fish now and Delaney and Jesse just jump in with their inner tubes over and over. Leah has even ventured off Her Step for some piggy-back rides. Pool tag with adults is the favorite game, as is diving for pool toys. Sara has just simply amazed us, going from an inner tube the first day to now swimming under water without one breath the entire length of the pool -- over and over and over. We made her get out to eat yesterday because we were worried she would get too weak from all those calories she was burning.

Today we ventured down to St. Petersburg Pier, which was beautiful. We watched the boats, toured the small aquarium, hit the gift shops and restaurant, and rode the trolley. Jason's family had a good time riding the family bicycle around the area, but we opted to head back and -- what else -- swim one last time before starting The Packing.

We're heading back north tomorrow, for a Christmas visit with Eric's family. We can't wait to see everyone and share our stories and shells, but we are definitely sad to leave!

Here's a few more pics, from the pier today:

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Shells, sand and seagulls, oh my!

You guessed it -- we've been at the beach. We (the seven in our family) went yesterday to scope out Honeymoon Island -- a small island that has been saved as a state park and has lots of great wildlife; it's just west of Tampa. It was cooler yesterday (high of 63:), so we just spent time checking out the great sea shells around the north side of the island. Delaney was in shell heaven and we collected way too many.

Today we went back (all 16 of us -- yes, Karyn and John are here!) and had a memorable day in the fun and sun. There was hiking, shelling, much dolphin-sighting, warm sun but much too much wind to be perfectly content, wading in the cool ocean, meeting visitors from mostly states other than Florida, sand-castle building, burying each other in the sand, and, last but never least, the seagulls. When it was about time for our packed picnic lunch, I got out the pretzels and the kids starting eating. We noticed some seagulls creeping near and the kids wanted to feed them. I said -- casually -- "no, don't do that because then more will keep coming and want to be fed". Levi did not heed that warning and tossed one of them a pretzel. To say the least, BAD IDEA. A true flock descended and wanted more. As we started getting out sandwiches and the rest of the food, they basically turned into crazy-commando-seagulls. They flew about 4 feet overhead the whole time and kept swooping down. Finally, one of them literally came in and grabbed Izaak's (nephew) peanut butter and jam sandwich FROM HIS HANDS. It was insane! Angie gave him her sandwich and he started eating it, and another seagull took that one. I'm not kidding. We ended up having to hide the food and if you wanted to eat, you had to do it under a towel or blanket. Once we quit eating and got them to finally mostly go away, if anyone even opened the bag that had the covered food in it, they would start to gather again. I must say I will be surprised if the children do not have a few nightmares about swooping seagulls.

Other than that, we are entertaining ourselves by checking the weather in Ohio compared to here (it seems as though someone is doing this by the hour around here). : ) Hope everyone is staying warm, and merry Christmas Eve Eve.

Some pics:

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Not lost, just relaxed

Hmmm...I think I may have mentioned something about blogging our vacation. Why was I more motivated to do this last year than this time? Not sure. I think part of the reason is our vacation house's computer room is in the lower level and I don't pass the computer much and think "blog this memory". Or something.

ANYWAY, we're here! The drive down was fine, no one threw up, Eric and I got a few hours of sleep each as we drove straight through and arrived in foggy -- BUT WARM -- Florida in the early morning hours of Saturday. My brother and his family were either behind or in front of us (not on purpose!) most of the way but we didn't see each other until we got to the rental house. My favorite memory of the drive is watching the kids skip and run and have a great time at 3:30 a.m. at the Florida Welcome Center rest area. They had just woken up a bit so we took a break as they enjoyed their first time ever in the state. "Take our picture by the palm tree, mom!". They got a lot of smiles from the surprisingly-many other travelers who were taking a break at 3:30 in the morning. At least I just chose to notice the people who smiled at us.

My mother's family that lives in Florida came to the house today to visit with us, and we had a great time catching up with them. It was about 80 degrees and nice and sunny here today, and the kids swam about three different times and will sleep well tonight. It's really a good setup for the 16 of us (except for the inexplicable lack of chairs/seating?) and we are so thankful to enjoy this surreal Christmas week. I try not to even think about the cold and wind in Ohio, but someone is checking the northern weather around here about once an hour it seems. I guess that's part of the fun of spending a winter week in Florida.

I'll post some pics tomorrow. Good night!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Heading somewhere warmer than here

So today, as we are finishing the last-minute-throw-whatever-you-see-into-the-bag packing, the sun came out. It was startling, after days of ice and rain and ice and freezing rain and gray, gray, gray. The wind changed direction and warm breezes started melting everything. I sent the kids out to feed the kittens, and they came back in, exhilarated.

"Mom! It smells so good out there!" said Delaney.

"Oh, yeah?" I said. "Does it smell warm, like spring?"

"Yes!" she said. "Is it going to smell like that in Florida? I can't wait!"

Me either.

(The cute hats were delivered to our doorstep this week by our thoughtful neighbors!)

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Deja Vu?

Does anyone remember last year close to this time, when, oh, I started this blog to document a big road trip?

Little did I know that Big Road Trip #2 would come so soon. My dear father, from whom I have inherited bones which get colder than others' bones starting in October, has gotten my dear mother to go to Florida during her Christmas break the only way possible: by taking all of her children and grandchildren too.

I'll do my best to record our trip here, again, since reminiscing over last year's posts has given me great joy, and because my memory does not seem to be improving. This is our very first go-to-one-place-and-stay-there-for-the-whole-week vacation, so any readers may tire of my "The kids swam while I read a book" posts. : )

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Sing, sing, sing

For your (ok, the grandparent's) viewing pleasure, the homeschool choir concert.

First, the preschoolers (Leah in the middle):

Then, Jesse, Sara, Delaney and Levi's group with two fun songs:

Friday, December 5, 2008

Have I mentioned this?

A few Sundays ago, at a morning Church meeting, the choir sang a unique and rousing song praising God for Jesus as our friend and Savior. After the "amen's" and applause died out, my dear, lover-of-a-well-done-song son Levi YELLED out, in the silent pause before the next part of the service...


I'm not kidding.