A day on the boat...
My Dad rented a boat and we spent a day on the water and at the beach with my parents. We stopped at Stump Pass Beach State Park - which is on a barrier island.
|Clark - 4 years old|
|Oliver - 1.5 years old|
The day on the boat was one of my favorite days of the trip. We had perfect, warm weather. The beach was calm so the kids could play and swim. Our kid to adult ratio was 3 kids to 4 adults. I was able to actually play with each of my kids and spend time with them without feeling like I was just doing headcounts and attending to their needs the entire time. Sometimes as a mom of three little, independent kids, I feel like I spend our outings running around making sure they are each safe and happy and I'm not able to really enjoy the outing with them. All too often vacation when you're a mom is not vacation, but work. This day was different. It was heavenly. I truly enjoyed myself.
We found so many critters on the beach. I grew up in this part of Florida and I don't ever remember finding so many critters in one day on the beach. It helps to have Matt along. He can spot living things really well and he was swimming all over the waterway finding things to show the kids. A few of our finds...
|This crab was awesome. We spent a lot of time watching it and playing with it. It could bury itself in the sand really fast.|
|another mollusk - it was alive - you can't tell in the picture|
|sea urchin - the spines weren't sharp and they were wiggling. I really enjoyed watching the spines move. I have found exoskeletons of these urchins my whole life. I can't remember ever finding a live one before.|
We also found a baby horseshoe crab, coquinas, lots of pretty shells and little fish. The kids' buckets were filled at the end of the day with treasures to take home. We let all the animals go and brought home a few sandy shells and the horseshoe crab (it was dead when we found it). My Dad let each of the kids drive the boat - which they loved. So we spent some of our time going in circles. And we saw dolphins and fished. Willa and Clark both caught sheepshead fish. My Dad caught a snook.
|Matt and my Dad saw this dolphin super close while they were fishing. The rest of us only saw dolphins from afar.|
We spent Easter at my parents' house with my entire family. We have grown from a family of 6 to a family of 10 adults and 6 kids. It is never dull (or quiet) when we are all together. The kids run around and get very excited and hyper. The Easter Bunny visited. We had an outdoor egg hunt and a huge, yummy brunch. Then we spent the evening at the beach.
|Easter baskets! Matching jammies.|
|opening their eggs|
|My mom gave each of the kids a dinosaur shirt with their dino name - Willasaurus, Clarkasaurus, Ollisaurus. They are cute shirts!|
|coquinas - image from google|
|sand fleas - image from google|
But after a little while, the beach turned into work. I don't know if my kids got tired or I did or if we got really sandy or hungry or what. But it went from bliss to being the mom... dealing with cranky kids and trying to resolve conflicts and cleaning off sand and salt and I don't know what else. I was ready to eat and leave. Amanda and her kids, Nick and his daughter, and my mom stayed for the sunset and had a lovely time. Moe and I ate a quick grilled hot dog, loaded up my kids and headed home for baths and bedtime. (Matt flew home earlier in the day since he had to be at work Monday morning.)
Sarasota with Moe...
Moe and I took my kids to Sarasota for the day to visit Mote Marine Aquarium. This was my other favorite day. We happened upon a perfect little restaurant right on the water for lunch. We sat on picnic tables, enjoyed the view, and chatted. The kids walked along the water after we ate. It was so peaceful and calming - which is nice at the end of a long, busy trip.
My kids loved Mote Marine. I love aquariums. It is something I've learned about myself. I like zoos, but I really love aquariums. I always seek them out whenever we travel. I love how different they are and how they offer regional exhibits. Mote Marine has all of the typical exhibits as well as manatees, sea turtles, and other Florida animals I grew up around. There are two touch exhibits which Willa loved. She made sure she touched every creature.
|touching a horseshoe crab|
|Clark loves sharks - he loves that Clark rhymes with shark|
|from google images|
the pool and hot tub...
I think these pictures speak for themselves. My kids love swimming. Matt took these pictures on the first day so Clark and Oliver wanted to be in life jackets and tubes. By the end of the trip Clark felt confident to play in the hot tub without a tube. My kids swam for hours everyday.
Oliver swam a little the first few days. By the end of the trip, he had discovered it was more fun to play on the pool deck and throw all the pool toys and everything else he could reach into the pool. He fell in the pool twice and the hot tub once (I was right there each time and he didn't cough when I pulled him out). That made for busy times when he was out on the patio. We had to follow him around, fish everything out of the pool over and over again, and make sure anything that we didn't want to get wet (cameras, cell phones, etc.) were safely inside.
|Willa lost her 4th tooth in the pool - 6 years old|
We visited Sunsplash Waterpark while Matt was still there. My mom came with us. Willa went on almost every slide. Clark loved the kiddie slides but not the big ones. Oliver adored the kiddie slides as well. It was fun, but a lot of work to have three little kids at a water park. My mom watched our kids for an hour and Matt and I went around on our own to go down the big, thrill slides. It felt like a little date. It was fun.
We ate lots of fresh home cooked seafood and went out for seafood. We don't eat much seafood at home so this was a treat. One night my parents, Moe, my kids, and I (Matt had already headed home) went to dinner at the Village Fish Market at Fisherman's Village. I really enjoyed this evening. We sat outside on the patio, the food was fabulous, and the sun setting over the water was gorgeous.
Cousin time... Bailey, Kate and Elle (and Nick and Amanda) spent several days at my parents' house while we were there. These were the craziest days of the trip. My kids were thrilled though. They love their cousins. They played hard, swung on the swing set a ton, swam for hours, and slept on big floor beds made with blankets and sleeping bags together. They all got along really well.
Of course my mom and I stayed up late, way too late, talking almost every night. It was wonderful to spend time with my family. I love Florida, but I don't miss Florida all that much. What I miss is my family. I am at my happiest when I'm with them.