And next post will be my giveaway! It will actually be shortly after I finish this post. Hopefully.
I'm feeling optimistic today, can you tell?
|I feel like this is the quintessential Florida picture . . .|
|Edward, GrandDad and Sophie|
|Daphne and Uncle Thomas - she wasn't too sure about his beard . . . Thomas is going to make a fantastic Dad one day. I'm looking forward to seeing him in action as a Dad . . . I think he'll be in his element . . .one of his elements, anyway.|
|First popsicle - ever! Thank you Nana!|
|Sophie's first popsicle.|
|Family dinner - such a great time together!|
|The "famous" cranes that live in my Dad's neighborhood. They had a baby!|
|Thomas and Leigh-Ann|
|Alex, Leigh-Ann, Angela, me and Daphne at Universal City Walk|
|Daphne was just like "Whoa! That dude is tall!"|
Monday was a nice day at home away from home. Karen had a little blow up kitty pool that Mike and I set up for the kids in the front yard. It had a sprinkler in the front of it so we hooked that up as well, but when we turned it on, Edward screamed and ran for the house. Even after we unhooked it, he refused to get in the pool. Or maybe it was because the pool looked like a gigantic crab . . . Daphne thoroughly enjoyed the water and Sophie had a good time as well. Dad thought it was all hilarious seeing the kids in their little sunhats and sunglasses sitting on their towels on the front walk.
|Edward is demonstrating the proper way to wear sunglasses when out in the sun.|
|My little Stepping Stones - so cute in their sun hats!|
|Edward was all about the pool until the sprinkler came on.|
We did do a touristy thing and went to Lowry Park Zoo, which has been voted by Parents magazine as one of the best zoos in the country for kids. I can definitely see why. A lot of the animals were really active, which was really neat. The kids loved it! We even got to meet a giraffe up close. And by up close, I mean by about a foot away. They had this really neat elevated platform where you could go and feed the giraffe, or just visit him, which we did, and take pictures. Sophie and Edward were definitely in awe! The elephants were another favorite - Sophie had actually been asking to see the elephants since we arrived. We didn't see the whole zoo, which was fine, but it was a good time. Dad and Thomas went as well. Edward ended up riding on Thomas' shoulders for a lot of the time that we were there, which was really cool. Good bonding time between Uncle and Nephew.
|Edward and GrandDad - so precious!|
|Uncle Thomas and Sophie - I love the pictures of hand holding - it's so sweet!|
|This guy was amazing - he was all over the place swinging about - it was really neat!|
|Daphne is chillin' in the stroller|
|Edward getting a ride with Uncle Thomas|
|Up close and personal with the giraffe. They are extremely beautiful creatures - I had never really noticed how amazing they are until I had this opportunity. Incredible!|
|Sophie he was pretty incredible too.|
|The elephant had a cooling bath . . .|
|Edward is not getting a ride with GrandDad|
|Daphne was helping me push the stroller - I love hand pictures!|
|GrandDad, Edward, Sophie, Uncle Thomas and Mike|
|Mike and I really wanted to go for a swim after seeing the penguins.|
|Sophie walking and talking - she uses her hands to talk a lot. Can't imagine where she gets that from . . .|
|It was Leigh-Ann's first time to play - it felt so neat to welcome her to the family in this way.|
|Mike was indoctrinated in the Pirate Game ways a few years ago after we were married.|
|Family picture - something obviously is of much greater interest to Sophie and Edward than taking a picture. Daphne is asleep . . .|
|Sophie was jumping for joy about the sharks.|
|We do a lot of this in our family . . . Mike is such a great Dad!|
|Up close and personal with an injured sea turtle.|
|It was lunch time for the manatees. Daphne was enthralled with the manatees.|
|Sophie and Aidan watching the dolphin and talking.|
|Edward, me and Kenna!|
|Aidan and Kenna!|
While we were down in Sarasota, we decided to take a very short trip to the beach (we were there for all of five minutes), just to take the kids to the ocean for the first time. We went to Lido Beach after some driving around, and were able to find a close parking spot for free (score!). We lathered the kids up in more sunscreen, walked out to the beach. They were pretty afraid of the water, which I expected, so Mike held Sophie and then Edward and walked out a few feet. The water was absolutely beautiful and the sand was so white . . . Unfortunately I had my camera on the wrong setting, so the pictures are terrible. It was very bright out, we'll just say that . . .
Saturday was the BIG day - the wedding!! I'll save info on that for later! I know I'm keeping you waiting . . . hehehe.
And of course while we there we hung out with family - Nana, Uncle Mike and Aunt Sarah and Cousin Haley, Uncle Chris and Aunt Vicki, Aunt Brittney and Cousin Braden. I love to hang out with family and I think we had a good time. Nana (Karen's mom) and I had the chance to get to know each other better this trip, which I thought was really special. She is such a sweet lady and I really enjoyed her company tremendously. It does help that she really appreciated my cooking . . . I am so glad to have that opportunity to get to know Nana better and I look forward to seeing her again on our next visit.
|Grammy Karen and Cousin Braden|
Dad took us out to eat for breakfast quite a bit while we were visiting, which was really nice. We went to Cracker Barrel a few times, and also to Freddy's in Plant City, which has a delicious breakfast buffet. I was hoping they would have fried green tomatoes, but that wasn't on the menu that day. The kids, Mike and I really enjoyed all the visiting with Dad.
|My wonderful family at Cracker Barrel|
Almost forgot! The trains! My Dad has a model railroad that he built in his sun room. I think this is his third model railroad that he has built of this scale, and he has put a lot of time and work into it. I am so amazed when I see it because my Dad did all the wiring for the tracks and the layouts, and built it all from scratch. It really requires so much talent. He hasn't finished all of the scenery yet, and I'm really looking forward to seeing the finished product. Sophie and Edward really loved seeing the "choo-choos" and running trains with Dad. Mike is also a big fan of trains and really enjoyed running trains with Dad. I'm just waiting for Dad to put the little farm I bought him on his railroad . . .
|Dad running trains|
|Dad built all of these buildings and "weathered" them.|
|I just wanted to give you an idea of how complex his railroad is - and he did all the electrical wiring for it. All the trains run on switches and stuff. He has told me, but when I hear electronics/mechanics talk, my brain kind of tunes out . . .|
|Dad did all this scenery by hand. If you look closely, you can see where he carved the rocks and stuff.|
Sunday we headed back out on the road. . . .