Saturday, April 30, 2016

Spring Break 2016

Based upon my very sporadic blogging, it seems all we do around here is travel to Florida. 
So much life to catch up on!

On the drive home from Texas last spring, we decided that we were once again ready to face the mouse. The little girls would be the perfect age, and the older kids would still love it.  And let's be honest...we love non-stop fun.

Join me on our 2016 spring break journey...

We hit the road Friday afternoon around 5 o'clock. The ride was smooth as butter. Tim and I reconnected after a busy week, and traded off driving every few hours all night long until we made it to our Macon, Georgia Denny's for breakfast.

We pressed on until we got to "our welcome center" aka the free orange juice and pamphlets store, took our obligatory photo, and checked to see if the alligator was still in the pond.


After circling around a bit...bc it seems that my phone gps isn't entirely foolproof, we made it to our condo. 

Westgate Lakes did not disappoint. 
Amidst the running around squealing, checking out all the rooms, claiming beds and bathrooms, the kids stumbled upon a bidet in our master bath. And before I even realized what was happening, they convinced Ellery to wash her hands in it.

Naturally, that story became the punchline to every joke that week.

After dinner, and a walk around to check it all out, we went to bed...as we were exhausted from the drive.

Sunday morning, bright and early, we were at our days destination...Hollywood Studios.



My favorite part of the day was watching the little girls laugh and squeal with delight during the Elsa and Anna sing-along. Riding Tower of Terror as a family was a close second.

Rock n Roller Coaster.



On Monday we went to Jetty Park, at Cape Canaveral. We swam in the ocean,  played on the beach, fished, and watched the boats go out.








Tuesday we were up bright and early, off to the Magic Kingdom with the rest of America. 




Dylan took the bet to wear the braid hat.


Dancing with the Incredibles.






Ellery only had eyes for Minnie Ears from the go for her souvenier, and did not waiver....or have any regret thankfully.


Stella got her wish to meet TinkerBell!


We timed Micky just right! A Disney miracle! We popped in to see him just before the parade got finished so there was no line.



It was crazy busy, so we left for a few hours in the afternoon to grab dinner.






Doing what they do. Always looking for fish and ducks, naturally.  

Tho it was busy, we still had a blast. Buzz Lightyear still a remains the family favorite. All the girls loved "Its a small World", and we rode it a few more times than the boys could handle.

Our days at the Magic Kingdom were geared more towards the little girls, enjoying it all through their eyes and chasing down autographs.....as we did with the big kids a few years back.




On Wednesday we stayed at our resort, and enjoyed sleeping in, the pool, mini golf, fishing in the lake, and a little shopping.






Thursday we visited Epcot Center. Riding test track as a family, and tracking down the princesses for autographs were definite highlights.








On Friday, we played volleyball and went to the pool in the morning. In the afternoon we went back to the Magic Kingdom, rode all of our favorites again, and stayed til close.

Saturday, we did more of the same in the morning, and then hit the road for home. 
We left in flip flops, and spent the last 2 hours of the drive white knuckling it through a snow storm. 



All in all, it was a great trip for our family. It was refreshing to be together, just us. We played, laughed, talked, joked, and forgot about our regular life for awhile. The weather was beautiful. It was good. 

And I think we have our fill of the mouse for awhile?


Friday, January 29, 2016

The Brew Crew turns 40

We spent a week in Florida with friends last month. 
A trip 20 years in the making.
 
No kids, no work, no schedules. 
Just the gift of time, dear friends, gorgeous views, and a little adventure.

And let me tell you, we celebrated turning 40 like it was 1996 all over again…only better.  

20 plus years of doing life together, coupled with a more seasoned and appreciative outlook than we were formerly capable of, made our time alone together all the sweeter.

And oh, the laughter.
I have not laughed 'til it hurt in a very, very, long time.

These friendships are a rare, precious gift.

And truly genuine.

The last few decades have been busy ones, finding our way in this world….starting families, establishing and advancing in careers, pursuing hobbies, etc.  Finding time together has not always been easy, or in abundance.

But these friendships have been loyal.

I truly had no expectations going into this trip.
I couldn't wrap my head around what it would look like.

This idea of a kid free trip to celebrate turning 40 first took root 3 years ago around a campfire...as all good ideas do.  And after some planning and countless conversations, the dream was finally recorded on our calendars with permanent marker.

We looked forward to this trip for almost a year.
A trip of a lifetime of sorts. 
 
But after all these years,  would we have a good time together, in close quarters, for longer than we've ever been together? Would we get along, or get sick of each other?  Could we still have fun? No doubt, the elephant in the room.

Be still, it was amazing!

Not only did we get along, but we complimented each other, and bonded in a way that only authentic friends can.  It was natural.

We had so.much.fun.

This trip was a celebration of so many things.

A celebration of the here and now, where we are at presently.  All of us healthy and able, to truly enjoy life and still have adventures together...all blessed to have support back home to even make this possible.  A celebration of the past... the fun, the crazy, all of the memories that shaped who we are today.  And looking forward, not knowing what the future holds, enjoying this trip for such a time as this.

Enough of my gushing.  It truly is hard to put into words all the big feels.  Some highlights from our week….

The 2 beautiful houses we all stayed in...

 
I loved the sidewalk to the beach...


The obligatory timandnat on the beach photo...
 


Oh, just relaxing, eating, leisurely chatting because we can.  It's amazing how much conversation and community you can have when there are no interuptions or schedule to keep.
 
 
We spent a day charter boat fishing on the Inter-Coastal waters.  We had a lot of fun catching fish, but nothing big enough to keep...so we went out for a delightful fresh sea food dinner.







 
We all laughed til we couldn't speak, playing Cards against Humanity.  So. much. fun....but the details are probably best left in my head :)



We had a blast crab hunting on the beach at night...so much laughing and shrieking when they surfaced....
 


This picture kind of sums up how well we got along together. It was really good.


We visited the Myakka River State Park for an airboat ride in search of alligators and pretty views...

 
 






We rented 2 pontoon boats, and spent Saturday out on the water. We had a blast!

 
Captain Tim learning the hard way to follow all of the signs in the water...
 

The dolphins came up fairly close and put on a nice show...

 
Lunching at a little seafood joint on the water after we docked the boat... 





We docked the boat at Long Boat Key for the bulk of the day.  It felt like Gilligans Island.  We had so much fun exploring in the clear shallow water looking for shells and treasures, watching the dophins, laying out on the boat listening to music and chatting...  in a fog of awe at how amazing it all was.





 
 

 




We found a little bar with karaoke.
A few thoughts... Chumbawamba will forever make me smile and remember this night fondly, Tim probably could have made it as a country singer in this life, I clearly could not, but still have the qualifications to get hit on by old men, and boy-howdy can we still have fun.




We went SKY-Diving!!!!  A highlight for sure. We talked and talked and talked about it.  Psyching ourselves up, and then scaring ourselves silly, making pacts about what happens at 14,000 feet stays at 14,000 feet, until our stomachs hurt.

We found a reputable place, and made the call on Friday morning to schedule our jump.  Unfortunately, the weather has to be just right.  No clouds, no wind...etc.to jump.  I think we all collectively breathed a sigh of relief on Friday, when we found out that the weather was not going to cooperate, hence, we couldn't jump. We called again on Sunday, but the weather still wasn't agreeing.

We called Monday morning... our last chance, as we would be leaving for home the next day.
They told us to come on out, (it was about an hour away) the clouds were forecasted to break up. It was looking like a good day.

And suddenly there was a whole lot of nervous energy, as we scurried out the door, each of us with our extra "just in case" underwear in hand.
 
Well, we got there, and it was still cloudy, so we stood around waiting anxiously. We finally decided to go for lunch down the road. They said they would call us once they started jumping...as there was one group ahead of us.
 
We sat at lunch and watched the sky get clearer and bluer, and finally got the call.  It was a quiet, stomach- cramping, nervous kind of ride back to the airport.
 
Our plane...
 
 
Are we sure about this?...

Charter members of the Jump Club. There were 6 of us, so we went up in 2 groups, because they couldn't fit us all at once.  Tim and I separated so we could watch each other come down...and it just felt responsible to jump out of a plane one at a time for the kids sake :)




 
 
 
 

Getting ready to jump...

 
We jumped from 14,000 feet...that's like way above the clouds.
We enjoyed freefall for 1 minute at 120 miles an hour before the chute was pulled, floated around for a while in the parachute, and then gracefully slid in at 40 mph on our butts.  It was an amazing experience, and I'm glad we have the pictures and video to remember it by, as it was a little over- stimulating :)
 
 


We shopped, dined, and had happy hour whenever we pleased...







Spent a lot of time chatting in the hot tub and pool...

 
The posed "...this is just us relaxing on vacation pic".


Beautiful sunsets...

 
There is so, so, so, much more I could say.
So many memories forever tucked away for safe keeping of this special time together.
Good times, precious memories...until next time.