Friday, August 30, 2013

This holiday weekend...

...I am busy PACKING UP!

That's right!  I am running around in circles trying to get the contents of our rental house all packed up and ready to go to storage and/or the local donation center (where does all the STUFF come from???), schedule last minute appointments before we leave town, and while I'm at it...I decided to do a little mini makeover on the interior of our 5th wheel.  Fun times, I tell ya ;).

I can't believe our time in Florida has nearly come to an end.  It feels like we just got here and at the same time like we've been here forever.

When we arrived here about 6 months ago, we had no idea how long we'd be staying.  We settled in fast and made ourselves at home anyway.  No matter how long you live somewhere, it's home while you're there.  Yes, this makes leaving harder in many ways, but it's worth it. 

I haven't mentioned it, but my husband started a new job not long after we landed in Florida.  Still in oil, just with a different schedule (and in a different area of the country).  The new job has provided many good changes that we were looking for and one not so good change...his days off have been reduced by a third :(. 

So, we are moving back into our camper and planning to find someplace to park it that's close to his work.  Where exactly?  I don't know.  It doesn't really matter.  All that matters is that we are going to be together as a family more.  I can't wait :)!!!

I don't know where we are going or how long we'll be there and that is fine with me.  Call me crazy, but the unknown of it is exciting :).  It's an adventure!

The downside to leaving Florida is that we are once again saying goodbye to our parents (grandparents), siblings (aunts-uncles-cousins), and good friends.  This never gets easy...especially with my mom being sick.

It's very hard to leave, but we know that we are making the right decision.

I'm going to do my best not to mourn all that I'm saying goodbye to, instead I'm choosing to be thankful and joyful for all that I had and the time we got to spend here.

Like many others who live a nomadic lifestyle have's not goodbye, just see you later!  I like that much better...

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Any guesses...

...what this might be???

I will be SO impressed if anyone knows exactly what this is!

If you wanna leave me a comment with your guess, that would be fun :)!  If you prefer to just ponder silently, that's perfectly fine, too :).

***I gave the answer in this post <---just click on those words and it'll take you there*** 

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Mexico Beach, Florida

One of the beaches that we visit as often as possible is Mexico Beach, Florida.

It has the beautiful white sand and clear waters that this area is known for.

The kids love spending a day at the beach.

They play, and play, and play.  It is so nice :).

Some of them always dig up what we call periwinkles.  I just looked them up online and they are actually called coquina clams...I doubt we call them anything other than periwinkles, though ;).

i found this beautiful picture {here} when i googled periwinkles

You can find them in the sand where the waves sweep back and forth.  As the wave recedes, dig your toes in the sand and a rainbow of periwinkles will be exposed.  Grab them quickly, they are speedy little things and will rebury themselves in a blink.

My littlest brought me his bucket full of sand and water so that I could watch his periwinkles dig in and hide :).

The kids discovered a big hole someone had dug.  It was pretty deep and had seats made into the sides of it.  They had fun playing in it and then filled it back in before we left.  Why did we bother filling it in?  Because it was late when we left and a big hole on a beach at night is dangerous for anyone or anything (nesting sea turtles) that might literally stumble upon it.

While we were playing, we kept seeing some clouds behind us that looked like rain.  We kept an eye on them, but the rain fortunately never came to where we were.  What did come was super pretty...

...a rainbow!  At the beach!

With all the trees that Florida has, we don't very often see a rainbow.  To see one at the beach was extra nice :)!

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Lookie Lookie... more braces!  Ashlyn got her braces off yesterday...

...and she has not stopped smiling.  We are so happy for her :)! 

Monday, August 26, 2013

Independence Day {part 2}...

After a full day of sight seeing, it was time to go find our hotel.  I had chosen the Courtyard Marriott Downtown because it is right across from Pensacola Bay and that's where they do the big fireworks show.  I really wanted to be able to just park the car and walk to/from the festivities (all that traffic at night is just too much).

I'm really glad I had reservations!  The parking lot entrance was manned by a person with a list of all guests...if your name wasn't on that list, you weren't getting in.  Because of its close proximity to the bay and the fireworks show, they obviously have problems with people trying to park for free in their lot.

We got in no problem, checked in to our room, and proceeded to be as lazy as possible for the next hour or two ;).  While we were lounging in our room, the kids had time to get their Jr. Ranger books mostly done.  We had a dinner of room service pizza (much to my children's delight), and then it was time to wander out and find the festivities.

All we had to do was follow the crowd :).  Everybody was headed towards the bay to claim their spot for the evening.  There were a lot of people there, but there was also a really big open it didn't feel crowded or anything.  We picked a spot, threw down a few blankets, and got comfy.

We had made a stop at the Dollar Tree the day before and I'm so glad we did.  The kids got a variety of glow stick things and they had the best time playing with them while we waited for it to get dark.

I loved the added safety factor they provided...there was no way I could misplace a kiddo with all the glow stick bling they had on ;)!

The fireworks were beautiful, as we knew they would be :)...

We had a great evening!  It was so nice to just walk across the street and go to bed when it was all done instead of having to sit in all that traffic.

The next morning, it was raining when we woke up.  So, we did the only thing we could possibly do in that situation...we rolled over and went right back to sleep. Hehehe...

The rain did quit late morning (it had been raining HARD) and we were able to get checked out of the hotel and on with our day.  It wasn't quite time for the tour of Fort Barrancas, so we drove across the bay to the Naval Live Oaks Visitor Center.  The land there was purchased by the US Gov't in 1828 and Live Oak trees were grown for the Navy to use in ship building...very interesting!

The VC was small, but nicely done inside.  There were lots of hands on exhibits that the kids enjoyed...

Naval Live Oaks is also part of the Gulf Islands National Seashore (just like Fort Barrancas where we picked up the Jr. Ranger books) so the kids were able to finish up and get their badges while we were there.

We didn't have much time to spend at the NLO, we had to leave to get to our much anticipated tour at the fort!  We made it just in time to join up with the Ranger and a small group.  Rather than reinvent the wheel, I'm just gonna let you read what it says on the NPS site.  This is basically what the Ranger told us while touring the grounds, too...

"Fort Barrancas sits on a bluff overlooking the entrance to Pensacola Bay. The natural advantages of this location have inspired engineers of three nations to build forts. The British built the Royal Navy Redoubt here in 1763 of earth and logs. The Spanish built two forts here around 1797. Bateria de San Antonio was a masonry water battery at the foot of the bluff. Above it was earth and log Fort San Carlos de Barrancas. American engineers remodeled the Water Battery in 1840 and built a masonry fort on the bluff between 1839 and 1844, connected by a tunnel to the Water Battery. This is the current Fort Barrancas. A $1.2 million, eighteen-month restoration project led to its reopening in 1980."-NPS

With all the rain that morning, it was really humid.  Hot and humid...mucho.  We still had fun, but I would honestly recommend going during any other time of the year than the summer.  It would be way more pleasant without the extreme heat and the biting bugs...they were there, too.

the bugs were after my girl :(
 Yep, we are definitely planning a return trip sometime in the middle of winter :).

P.S.  Happy {very late} 4th of July!!!

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Independence Day

This year, for the 4th of July, the kids and I decided to take a little road trip.  Pensacola, Florida, is a town that we hadn't really explored that's where we decided to go.  I got online and found out where the fireworks show would be held, booked a hotel about two blocks away, and we hit the road.

The day of the fourth was very stormy at our house and all the fireworks in our area ended up being cancelled.  Pensacola is about 3 hours west of here and we were just far enough away that it didn't even rain on us.  Nice!

We left first thing that morning so that we could do some other things in Pensacola before time for the fireworks.  The first place we went was the National Naval Aviation Museum.  I didn't know how much the kids would enjoy this...but they all LOVED it!  Parking and admission are both free, so that makes it even better ;).

The museum is packed full of interesting aircraft and various displays.  There was a ton of hands on exhibits that the kids really enjoyed...I think it was these things that took it from interesting to fun for them.  They got to sit in the cockpit, push the buttons, pull the levers, and even aim the guns.  BIG fun!

Before leaving, we bought tickets and went to watch their IMAX movie "The Magic of Flight".  It was about The Blue Angels, the navy's elite flying team.  It was just so-so...the movie itself was pretty good, we learned some interesting things from it.  The problem was a thread or something was apparently on the projector lens and it kept dancing around throughout the entire show...very distracting!  We did get an awesome homeschool discount on our tickets, so I can't complain too much.

Nearly right across the street is the 1859 Pensacola Lighthouse and Museum.  We drove over there next to check it out and found out it closed for the day in less than an hour.  The admission for the 6 of us would have been $30 and we didn't feel like we could get thirty bucks worth of touring done in that little bit of time, so we just admired it from the outside ;).  It was very pretty...

We made one more stop before going to our hotel, Fort Barrancas.  This fort is part of the Gulf Islands National Seashore...that means Jr. Ranger time :)!  We had planned to just pick up the Jr. Ranger books for the kids to work on at the hotel and come back the next day to tour the fort.  The visitor center was locked with a sign on the door saying that the Ranger would be back within the hour, so while we were waiting we walked down to the fort to have a look around.

It was so neat, we were the only ones there (that we saw) and it really made for a special experience.  I could see the looks of intrigue on the kids faces as we walked the old tunnels.  Imaginations were surely running wild :)...

not sure what that look was for, hehehe...

After a look around the fort, we went back up to the VC to get the kids books.  The Ranger was there and told us about a guided tour that we could take of the fort the next day.  The kids were all for it, so we left with plans to come back the next day to take the tour and turn in their completed books.

***I'm gonna stop for now, this is getting a bit long :).  I'll be back soon to tell you what we did the rest of the evening...***