Monday, July 7, 2014

4th of July Summer Activities Post #3

This summer post is going to be out of order, but these photos were easiest to access so I'm posting these first. It has been fairly rainy in Florida lately. I think maybe there has been a tropical storm somewhere in the distance? I haven't been watching the weather, but we seem to get hit with showers almost every day at some point. (This was what we experienced last summer, too.On the 4th, it did rain on and off.
 
 That didn't stop Sissy and Dash from getting spending a couple of hours in our neighbor's pool. It sprinkled on them a lot of the time, but they didn't care.
 
 Dash was actually in the pool for about 5 hours, I think. We are fortunate to live on a street with many boys for him to play with. This particular family has 3 boys.
 
We enjoyed our festive meal (of veggie burgers, chili, and Smileys) out on our screened lanai on our new(ish) patio table.


dessert: layered "cheese"cake, blueberries,
Rice Dream (icecream), strawberries, and whipped "cream
 
 We met up with the same neighbors to have a poppers (those little snappers that pop when you throw them on the ground, etc.) war. This guy got his first experience with them.

This was his reaction to the pops.
He obviously was impressed.


It took us about 2 seconds to realize we couldn't trust Little Man with a sparkler. He was waving it all around, and I just knew he was going to catch me or him on fire before I was able to retrieve it from him.

I was happy to see Tornado right in the middle of things. Sometimes in physical activities such as these he tends to hold back or want to go inside.


It was boy heaven all night.

 We talked about how different C's life is than the other kids'. Look at him running right after all of them. He is constantly surrounded in big kids and activities. I don't know if he realizes how much smaller he is.
 
 
 
The kids voted they would rather shoot off smaller fireworks in the driveway and play with the neighbors rather than going to a big fireworks show. That was fine for Ryan's and my tired selves. It was a happy 4th!


Saturday, July 5, 2014

Summer Activities 2014 Post #2

We finally got to use our groupons for Safari Wilderness Ranch. It was about an hour drive for us, near Lakeland, Florida.
 
The best part of our day was feeding lemurs. They were unbelievable. I want one.

There were two lemur areas, one was a large netted/fenced area, and there were others in a barn with outside access.

They were so sweet the way they'd hold the kids' arms while they were waiting for another piece of a grape. They were very gentle.
 
 
The bummer part of the day was after spending a little time in this barn area, we moved on to the other lemur area. Little One here had just loved feeding them, and he did a perfect job. But the lady in the other area wouldn't let him. I told her I was letting him use my ticket (because he got in free), but she said tickets were not transferrable. She added that they don't really let kids his age feed them anyway. He was sad and confused about why he couldn't feed them anymore, and why the lady was making me hold him. This made taking pictures of the other kids nearly impossible. Anyway, it just made me sad and put a damper on my day. I hate (what I deem to be) arbitrary rules.
 
 They were so, so cute and just looked like little kids sitting around.

After feeding the lemurs and oohing over the colony of guinea pigs, we loaded onto the safari vehicle for our tour.
 
water buffalo
 
They also were able to feed the water buffaloes that came right up to the vehicle. Sissy said they were a little slobbery.

Tornado loves zebras (I think because black and white are two of his favorite colors.), so these were a treat - especially seeing the baby and momma (who even stopped to nurse).

I'm sure there will be a trip advisor review show up one day from someone who would have really enjoyed the tour if it weren't for the obnoxious poop smell. My kid felt it was an appropriate time to dirty his diaper amidst the warm air and breeze created when the vehicle was in motion. Hopefully, they thought it was just the water buffaloes.


A lot of the animals came right up to the jeep. There were so many animals that I didn't photograph. It was sweet to listen to the kids' excited chatter all day. Our tour guide was very knowledgeable and told us plenty of information at many different stops. The kids were impressed with the z-donks and learning that they are good at border control, even once fighting off an alligator.
 
It started raining at the very end of our tour (which is a typical thing to happen on a summer day in Florida). The covered vehicle kept us fairly dry. It was so hot out, the kids were dreaming about the popsicles they had seen by the cash register in the gift shop. They hit the spot.
 
The woman who was working in the gift shop, the one who had taken our tickets, gave them the popsicles as a gift because a goat had head butted Little One (in the stomach I think) making him cry. He was fine, and it was really nice of her and helped ease my poutiness over the other lady and the lemur feeding injustice.

Overall, I know the kids really appreciated this day and would love to go back anytime!

Sunday, June 22, 2014

List of Summer Activities Post #1

I told the kids we were going to discuss and make our "Summer Bucket List." One or more of them vaguely knew what a "bucket list" was - they'd heard of it before. But they wanted further explanation. I explained that a bucket list includes the things you want to do before you die. It was met with reactions such as, "What?! We're going to die?! What do you mean?" Ultimately, I said, "Let's just call it our List of Summer Activities."

Rather than post our list, I'll post the activities as we complete them.

The middle kids were out of school a full week before their oldest brother (who got to celebrate his June birthday at school the day before school was out).

The day after those two were out of school, I gave them their first summer reading bag which contained an assortment of books I'd been finding cheaply here and there and putting away. And they started their summer reading logs. My kids like books, but they need a little motivation and encouragement to follow through.
 
After we picked Tornado up from school, we headed for lunch at Kaleisia Tea Lounge, one of my favorite places in Tampa. We brought our books and sat in the quiet room where you take off your shoes and sit on the floor. We were only able to do this because Baby (Toddler) Brother was at his preschool (which he attends a day or two a week) at the time. I wish we could sip tea and read books at Kaleisia Tea Lounge every day.


Finally, summer for all officially began on Monday the 9th when Tornado was dismissed at 11:30 a.m. I was ready for a break from being on the road every day picking up kids at designated times.
 
We chose another lunch date to celebrate summer, this time at Fresh, Healthy Café at The Shops at Wiregrass, a fun spot to eat, shop, sit, or walk around. The kids hadn't eaten there before, and it was a huge hit.
 


We joined in on a local homeschool group's park day one day this week. It was hot out! That's Little One carrying a large stick like it's a weapon. He is all about making "q, q" (gun?) sounds while attacking us with his stick or toy of the day.
 
Sis made a friend, and I caught this glimpse of them playing princess (Sis was Anna, and her friend was Elsa.) under this tree.

We also joined the group for a Pokémon party one day, which consisted of a couple of hours of Pokémon games and card trading. Tornado enjoyed making deals with people even though he really isn't that interested in Pokémon.

The whole Pokémon thing is beyond my comprehension, but it was nice for them to share their interest with other kids (who had huge binders full of cards versus my kids' measly sandwich baggies full). They had been looking forward to this play date for weeks.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Goodness Gracious List #445-487



I had planned to return to blogging, and the only reason I haven't is that our computer has become so slow it was ridiculous to waste time sitting there. I have been scrapbooking a little instead. And I saved up money, eliminated some costs this month, and this week I got my first laptop! It's so exciting! Believe it or not, I've never had a laptop and have always wanted one! It even has a touch screen, which is a nice surprise. I'm very old school with technology, therefore Ryan has been giving me lessons and walking me through everything. So I'm so totally thankful for my new computer, my husband's computer knowledge, and for the ability to sit in bed now to blog!
 
Gratitude List Continued:
I'm thankful for a boy
who turned two this year,
 
 a girl who turned 7,
 
and a boy who turned 9.
 
I'm also thankful for Sesame Street, Little One's embarrassed, surprised expression when he walked into the decorated dining room, how much my kids love having "Happy Birthday" sang to them, party supply stores, and vegan cookie cakes (which were both Sissy's and Dash's cake of choice this year) from Whole Foods.

 I'm thankful for awesome
organic u-pick farms in Florida.

 And for all the help I have with picking!

I'm thankful for discovering new beautiful places,
(Fort Lonesome Farm)

 farmers' markets and smoothies,
 
cheap garage sale finds,
 
and a boy who loves playing ball
more than anything else.

I'm thankful for all of the
street performers we enjoy.
 
I'm thankful for Spirit Week at school
and for my cute little cowgirl.

 I'm thankful for walks in
beautiful downtown Tampa,

for a visit from Grandma,
 
for how willing she always is to do whatever the kids want to do,
 
 for visits with Ryan's
grandparents in Fort Meyers,

their very cute neighborhood, and for a
sweet neighbor who loaned us her golf cart.
 
I'm thankful for all of the kids who live on our street and for a fun neighborhood Easter egg hunt.

I'm thankful for coordinating Easter outfits.

 I'm thankful for how much fun
it is to lick the bowl,

 for an afternoon of art,


 which also included this guy,
 
 and for Florida citrus!
 
I'm thankful for Daddy head rubs. He really gives amazing ones, and Sissy and I both know this. He has rubbed my head for entire movies and entire Illinois basketball games. The entire time, I kid you not.
 I'm thankful about how much fun the
kids' Boosterthon was at school

 for 41 laps,
 
 lunch with my girl,
 
 and also lunch with this cutie.
 
I'm thankful for laser tag
(plus this photo is really cool)
 
and a fun birthday afternoon for
Dash and his siblings and friends.
 
I'm thankful for all of the sweet, funny, and smart words that come out of my kids' mouth on a daily basis. Here was a good quote today, asked in total sincerity, by Dash:
 
"Does Googie not like pets because
one of her ancestors got bitten by one?"
 
If I counted correctly, that makes 487!