Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Swimming with Mana & Tease

Steve used his first vacation day of the year cashing in on our vouchers we bought back in December as a family Christmas gift. It was to go swimming with the manatees out on Crystal River. We went way back in 2006 as a school group, but Steve missed it. So, we went out in search again for the manatees...we were worried since it was such a warm winter. The girls put on their wetsuits and we all got settled on the pontoon boat (which I loved) and off we went, our captain was a hoot too!

After an hour, this is all we saw except a turtle or two and hundreds of birds. We were getting hot and a little more worried.... but we were making the best of it. This gator is really only about 3ft. long.

From that point on though, Olivia was our watchman for critters. Steph sat on the front of the boat, eyes peeled.

Time was running out, and so we stopped at a water hole and everyone got in the cold spring fed water. We saw a huge snook and after a while we loaded up and headed back.... then right around the corner, literally...

...this is who showed up. Mana and Tease...yep, that is what we named them. They swam for a while, looking for a channel to go down and settle for an afternoon snack.

Once the boat stopped and everyone got their gear, it was swimming time. It was AMAZING! They were so sweet and huge. Everyone got to touch/pet her. The girls loved it! So did Steve.

Steve was the last one to get out of the water. Another one of the reasons our captain was so great is that our tour went an hour over, just so we could get to have this memory. Super great. We used Native Vacations as our tour guides. Check them out...super reasonable if you buy the tours through Groupon!

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Fossiling on Peace River

Three mommas, six kids (14-7) and a slow moving, low river equals a day of exploring. We went south about an hour out of Lakeland, and found a spot along the Peace River. We got out with all of our gear which included colanders! Yep...they are great for washing away the sediment and leaving fossil behind. "We" is going to be used to explain our days events, but I was not a part of the "we". Because if you look in the first picture right above the head of the boy with the black shirt on, it is a very large gator slide. I was gator patrol for the day. And I oohhed and ahhed at the sharks teeth found, little as they were. It was still cool that in the middle of Florida, in fresh water, you can find sharks teeth. Yeah, it is pretty crazy! We found stingray teeth too. What a great day, and we saw NO gators!

I was watching for eyes popping up out of the algae and grass!

This was just three of the many we recovered.

Olivia had a hard time since she slid down moments after arriving and sprained her wrist. It was pretty painful. For everyone.

This was the mud spot choice of the day.

I loved all the Cypress trees that lined the river.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

More friends and water!

Faith and her kids were here for a few days and we had to hit the beach...and a few other places. This was part two of spring break. We went over to Pine Island and even a cloudy day ended up great. We saw critters... horseshoe crabs, blue crabs, and birds! When I told Olivia that the creature she was holding was a distant relative to the roach, she gagged! ha!

Watching the tide come in was an amazing sight.... the wonders of His great hand!

What an optical illusion. Stephanie looks ten feet tall!

This was her sand art!

Time with friends and hay!

Last days of winter of 2012... sunny and hot! Windy too! Alma and Chloe were here from NC and so we made our spring break stretch over a longer period of time and mixed in a few days of school...we are winding down anyway, so we called it a day of PE! HA! Seriously, the kids went and jumped hay bales for hours. I know, that is real close to serious redneck fun and even hillbilly entertainment to some...but they loved it. I became especially exciting when they all(7) piled up on the golf cart with Olivia driving (what?...yes, that is my response too!) and they ran into the dumpster on the nursery property! It bent the steel bar across the front that protects the engine area ... and apparently turned the dumpster a full 90 degrees. She lost her license. No one was hurt. We were picking splinters out of shins and hands, elbows and feet for days! But it was so much fun!

Good family fun!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Let's play ball!

Our family has joined the ranks of Spring Ball. Softball and all the fixings fill our trunk, fill up our calendar and fill up our competitive sports tanks! The girls play on separate teams because of their ages. Olivia's team is called "Wildwood Auto Repair and Wrecker Service"... this is a mouthful when one is trying to cheer, so we just yell, "GO BLUE!" or their number! Olivia can crack a good one when she puts her muscle behind it, and she can get around those bases!

Stephanie is the shortest and youngest on her team. That alone is new territory for us. She likes playing, but finds the others a little intimidating. She has surprised the coach and made it home both times she's been on base. Figuring out what the coach is yelling is half the battle! It is fast pitch...which usually means it is all over the place! It is going to be a good season!

Serious practice before the game with her Dad.

Well, not the shortest, but the newest out of all these girls.

Olivia on the other hand is the oldest and most experienced with one season of baseball from the fall... lots of errors, strikes and overthrows will be observed this season...but lots of cheering too!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Tallahassee or bust!

Our spring weekend getaway with our home school group was to our great Capitol city, Tallahassee. Ten families headed north and we had a weekend filled with fun! From amazing sights, to historical views, to educational findings, to good eats.. all were to be found!

One of the most amazing places we went to this weekend was the San Luis Mission. It has been recently renovated to its original buildings and land. The staff was filled with fascinating facts, and the kids were like sponges. I did not get pictures of the blacksmith, because my battery died in the camera. We spent the most time there as the kids kept coming up with ideas for him to demonstrate. It was absolutely cool!

This wooden door was beautiful. One of the most special artifacts found in the digging was a quartz cross, assumed to be worn by one of the spanish priests who had came to live amongst the Appalachee Indians.

The council house I did not get a pic of either, and it was incredible. They had the whole thing figured out long before the 20th century came along and air conditioning was invented. It was a magnificent structure.

We had to hit the local Krispy Kreme donut store the first night.... oh the madness. It is a place to put into practice your self control. Oh my!

Outside the New Captiol building. We did not go in because Congress was still in session.

This is the original Capitol front steps. We were not a fan of the window coverings, in reminded everyone of the ice cream or barber stripes. But apparently, that is was hung there when it was dedicated long long ago.

This is impressive. The stained glass in the dome causes people to stand and stare. Our kids did not disappoint when it came to hunting for clues in the captiol scavenger hunt, nor when it came time to sit and listen to the speaker. They behave and are so respectful, it makes a Momma proud!

The flag room was Olivia's favorite. Mine too, they had an old bottle colllection that was enough to make me want to be a collector!

This bronze statue exhibit is outside of the Museum of History. It includes the Indians and the colonists who tried to live in peace together. It was gorgeous.

Bones and fossils make a museum complete!!!

Between the Capitol, the Museum, the Mission, the mall, and the freezing pool (which they all went in-CRAZY!!!) at the hotel, it was an amazing weekend. Times like these make home schooling be the icing on cake of education!

A chocolate kind of month!

Pure torture for someone who loves chocolate. Between the billboards we drive past weekly and the factory we drive past weekly, Stephanie and Olivia have been waiting for years to stop by a whole store filled with chocolate! They commonly have Russell Stovers on their gift list over holidays and Stephanie got that same DNA urge that her Uncle Jason shares...CHOCOLATE AT ANY COST!

For Valentines, we went. It was photo worthy!

This is the box she wanted...$30.00... but she got the dollar sampler box instead! Don't feel sorry for her, she also purchased about four other bags/boxes to devour!

Olivia was a good sport, not really a chocoholic, she mainly likes the gummy/sugary candies!

One of our school days with Emma and was a neon kind of day.... they look like they'd been time-warped back to the 80's!

This was just one of our activities we did for Valentines Day Chocolate study... it was fun playing with food!

We "leaped" over February!

Please forgive me. I did not jump off the blog wagon forever... time just flew by. So, I will catch you up on our six weeks of activities!

February found us trying to recover from January's viruses. We had to get back to school good and hard! Softball season began with practices and March is going to come in like a lion with our calendars being full even if the weather is full spring already, and I doubt it is going to leave like a lamb! Maybe a sheep full of wool in this Florida heat!

Thanks for those of you who still read, grab a coffee or soda and settle in for a picture history of our last six weeks!