Sunshine, warm breezes, laughing little girl, good food (that I didn't have to think of and make :), new adventures to be had for our little adventurer, introducing little buddy man to the Sunshine State, family to love on (and entertain and answer the 100's of questions, and tell the name of everything imaginable) Ellie. The things that come to mind when I think back on our week in FL.
(Super long, lots of pictures, but I couldn't choose!)
As soon as Eric got home from school, we loaded up and headed south. We arrived at 2 in the morning and Ellie was rearing to go explore all that Lolly and Grandpa's had to offer. After calming her down and getting her to bed, a few hours later, she was up, on her way to all that was to be had and didn't stop until we loaded her back up to head home.
This year, we decided to make a trip to Sea World. It's so nice that they live only 45 minutes away and makes these kind of trips so easy. My mom and Nana kept little Will for the day and it gave Eric and I a special day with Ellie.
Ellie has started classifying somethings as bad including Tigers (after seeing 5 minutes of the Jungle Book in the dentist office), snakes (storybook Bible here), and sharks (not sure??) So, when we went into the shark tunnel she gets this real squinty eyed serious look on her face to tell everyone "Sharks baaad."
Always a laugh to be had with this guy.
Too short... Eric was determined to carry her through the line so no one would notice her height...
The grand finale of the day was the Shamu show. Sitting in the splash zone, (Eric would have it no other way) we waited for the show to begin. Now,I love to take pictures, but I never understood people taking tons of pictures of animals at places like this or the zoo, but Eric had me so stressed out because he didn't think I was getting a good picture of the whales. Boy, did I prove him wrong...
Ha, just kidding.
We had a really fun day together. I had been to Sea World tons of times, but it was so different going and watching it all unfold through Ellie's eyes.
Ellie also got to see her great-grandparents, Nana and Papa.
And my dad spent his afternoons after work building this tree house for Ellie, complete with swings, sand box (with the Jurassic Park dino set), slide, phone, and binoculars. He found a plan online, and just built it all by himself. Ellie spent hours playing on it. Thanks so much dad for making such a special place for Ellie and William to play for years to come :)
Nana gets the biggest kick out of all the things Ellie comes up with.
I can't remember if I mentioned it on here or not, but, before William was born, Harvey retired to FL. He said the space was bigger, better weather, more food, and freedom. I don't even think he remembered us when we got there, but Ellie liked trying to rekindle their (one-sided) relationship.
So besides meeting Shamu, Ellie's adventures continued with her cruising in the golf cart Grandpa got for her. I told her about it a few weeks before we headed down there, and she was set on needing a "hat" to ride it.
I'm usually the family photographer, but sometimes Eric will snap a few. We end up with some pretty special memories captured, like this one below...
We spent an afternoon at Nan's pool. Nana is big on sun exposure, so we made sure William was totally out of the sun at all times :)
Back home, Ellie and Eric got into some of Lolly's gift wrapping supplies...
We also spent a day at the springs. Or, should I say an hour. After driving there, hauling all our stuff out, setting it up, it started to rain in about an hour. Not so fun to "wait it out" with 2 little ones, but, it was fun while it lasted.
Isn't it crazy how much can change in a year? (same place, a year before)
We also enjoyed a lot of this...
Ellie laughs from Grandpa an outside dinners.
One thing I love about going to visit my family, besides just seeing them, is that there is no agenda, no plans, and we basically live outside. You kind of get into a good little routine. Ellie would wake up super early. Grandpa would get her up, and as soon as the sun was up, they'd go out into the garage, get the wagon loaded up with Homer's (the iguana) "salad", corn for the pigeons who now live with him (Homer, not my dad), and Ellie. They would then go feed the animals and take a trek around the yard. Ellie loved it and talked about it forever when we got home. Kind of like being on a farm. Kind of...
This was the fastest slide I'd ever been down.
Ellie also started calling the dinos "bad", so Lolly gave them all pleasant, happy names. She's holding Flower, and down in the grass is Smiley...
These two spent hours (literally) down there.
A lunch out at the Villages.
After a crazy busy winter, these 2 had a lot of catching up to do :) And I soaked in watching every second of it.
After lunch, this guy decided to come say hi. I swear my dad attracts gators from anywhere.
He came all the way up to say hi.
We had such a good little get-away. Ellie loved all the new adventures. Thanks mom and dad for such a wonderful week and for filling Ellie's little imagination and mind with things she'll never forget!