Weeks 11 and 12: Birthdays, Mermaids and a Visitor

Life is about moments. Moments that knock your socks off, moments that make you grateful for all that you have, moments that make you cry tears of joy, and moments that make you quietly smile and the last two weeks have been full of a plethora of these moments. The week started off with my baby turning seven! It was a Sunday so we got up and attended church with the Carini’s at Apostolic Christian Tabernacle. It was a very nice service followed by Pizza Hut which was Brytan’s birthday choice. The day was filled with presents, laughter and disbelief at the fact that my baby is growing so quickly.

On Thursday, the kids and I got to spend the day with the Carini’s at Weeki Wachee. It is a natural spring with a mermaid show that has been entertaining families since 1947! The park is old and the show is dated, but the kids loved it and it’s one of those things that you just have to do once! Then the Carini’s took us to this great little place for lunch and then we headed to the beach. It was a little cool but the kids stripped down to their suits and played in the sand anyway! Charlie was determined to catch a bird and Brytan kept Nick busy helping him build the sand castle of his dreams. Then around 2:30 the dolphins made their daily swim around the island beach that we were on. It was definitely a “stand in awe moment” that I will never forget. The sun was setting and everyone on the beach stood together in silence as the dolphins swam by and played together. What an amzing sight!

Later in the week I had to pack and get ready for my very first visitor on this trip! My best friend Jenni had called me back in November to let me know that she was buying a plane ticket to come and see in in January. I have been counting the days ever since. Since we are in Crystal River, which is a pretty small town, I decided to have Jenni fly into Fort Myers and I rented a car and drove down to meet her. On the way from Crystal River, we stopped and enjoyed the Tampa Zoo one more time before we leave this area. It really is a fatastic zoo that you should see someday if you can! I also picked up my rental car which just so happened to be a Fiat. Yes, a Fiat. At first I thought it would be hilarious to pick Jenni up at the airport in it but by the time I had made my two hour drive, the Service Engine Soon light had come on. I was oh so happy to trade it in for a Chevy Malibu at the Fort Myers Airport.

After I traded cars, I got to see Jenni! Yes, you guessed it, I had another moment! I have to admit, I was a little nervous that my relationships would change after we left on this trip but within 5 minutes of being with my best friend again, it was clear that nothing had changed. I am not sure if it was relief at the familiarity of our friendship or laughing at myself for ever thinking it would change. After a few minutes of “I can’t believe that you’re really here” we had dinner and headed to our hotel on Fort Myers Beach. The next morning we found the most amazing breakfast joint called Truly Scrumptious. It was a little island looking place that had the most amazing cinnamon rolls and biscuits and gravy. It was so good in fact that we ended up there the next morning as well! After breakfast we drove out to Sanibel Island and walked the beach for a few hours enjoying the weather and hunting for cool shells. In the months that we have been traveling I have to say that Sanibel has been by far the best beach for shelling that we have seen. There were literally piles of shells everywhere. They were even mixed in the concrete and roads in some areas! For dinner we ended up on Captiva Island at the Bubble Room. It is probably the creepiest restaurant I have ever been in with the most delicious food you could imagine. They have this amazing “bubble bread” that comes with every meal and eight kinds of homemade cakes. We left with two pieces for later and enjoyed them for the next couple of days!

On the last day of Jenni’s visit we went to the Ford & Edison Winter Estates in Fort Myers. What an amazing place to visit! Two of the greatest inventors of our country had houses on the same plot of land and were very close family friends. I always love to see historical sites and honestly, it makes me remember how thankful I am to be living in the year that I am. We had a really cute old lady as a tour guide and she asked us if we were on break from college. Hahahaha! Not sure if she was joking or attempting to sweeten us up for a tip! Yes, we are on a break from HOMESCHOOLING our 5 children! Despite the rain, it was an amazing day and we got some really cool pictures! Having a friend come and visit me and being able to get away for a few days was really nice but by the time I was dropping Jenni off at the airport we were both really excited to see our husbands and kids. On my way to meet Scott and the kids I got a little nostalgic thinking about how blessed I am to have them. we have been on the road for almost three months and we really haven’t gotten to the point where we snap at each other or are sick of being together. In fact, I am a little nervous about going back to reality! We spend every day together and if there is a teaching moment that happens, we stop our day and really give the kids our full attention and teach them. It has been so wonderful to be able to spend every moment together as a family and I don’t ever want to take that for granted because they are growing up right before our eyes.

After I dropped off the rental car and Scott and the kids picked me up we got to do something that Charlie has really wanted to do. We went to Clearwater Florida and got to meet Winter and Hope, the dolphins from the movies Dolphin Tale and Dolphin Tale 2! It was so cool! Charlie is my little animal lover and so every presentation and every story about an animal that was injured or abaondoned kept her entire attention and really had her thinking! She was totally in her element and loved every moment. During the time that we were observing the dolphins in their tank, the trainers came out to work with them and we actually got to see them put Winter’s prosethetic tail on and then see her swim with it. I was under the impression that she had it on all of the time but in reality she only wears it for a few hours per day. It is more of a therapy tool than a necessity, as she has taught herself to swim without needing it.

We saw Winter on Thursday, Friday was spent cleaning and packing up because…

Saturday we drove to Orlando to begin our vacation at Disney!!! More on that later…

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