Thursday, July 07, 2016

Spring Break

We couldn't wait for spring break this year!  We had a fun trip planned to see family.  We got in the car and drove to FL to see Madgie and Patch (with a quick stop in TN for the night with Mama Kay and Papa).  After a long car trip, our windows really needed cleaning.  Luckily, we had help with that task!
Once we got to FL, we hit the beach!  This little guy couldn't wait to play in the sand!
And the big kids had fun with the boogie boards.

The weather in FL, especially Jacksonville because it's fairly far north as far as FL goes, in March is very unpredictable.  It was a little chilly for the beach, but the kids did not seem to mind at all.  They loved being in the water, although it was a bit too cold for me.  It was a bit too cold for Matthew too.  He would go down to the water's edge, but he wanted to be held as soon as he was down there!

We did go on some long walks to collect sea shells too.  The kids loved doing that.  We did have to leave the shells there know....for other kids to find!
The kids really enjoyed playing in the sand though.
And relaxing on the beach....just relaxing!
Another great part of our trip was getting to see Nana and Mimi again!  Matthew enjoyed playing ball with Nana.
We had a really great visit with them.  The kids really liked seeing them again and had a good time talking to them.  And it is always special for me each time I get to spend time with my grandparents!

And we got to help celebrate Mimi's 101st birthday!  She is so amazing.  You would never guess she is 101.  She is sharp, witty, funny, very up to date with her current events, plans social events at her independent living facility, and plays bridge several times a week (even winning the big tournament last year).  She continues to amaze us and we are so blessed to have her and Nana still in our lives.  Happy Birthday Mimi!

Ben helped her blow out the candles.  I did my best to make her a Texas Sheet Cake, but we ended up not having the right ingredients so we improvised and it came out more like pudding than cake :(  But, we all had a good laugh about it while we tried to eat it with spoons!
We had a really great visit with them and I love seeing my kids with them.  I was glad Matthew was playful and happy to see them too, although he is so easy going that I should have expected that.
It is a special thing to see my kids getting to know my grandparents as they were very big parts of my life growing up and to this day!

But then it was time to give hugs and say goodbye.
Ben and Abbey helping Mimi with her wheelchair.
There was also a lot of relaxing reading time too.
One day in the forecast was predicted to be a bit chillier, so we headed out to the zoo that day.  It was actually pretty chilly!  Our first stop was the sting ray exhibit, which Ben loved.
They were swimming all around in this big shallow pool and you could reach in and touch them.  They felt a bit slimy, yet soft.  Ben could not get enough of touching them.  Juliette did it too, but Abbey seemed to stay away from this one!
She was ready to move on from this area!
We got to see the tiger really close up to where we were.
He came down right in front of us to go to the bathroom, which the kids thought was hilarious, of course.
Matthew was finally a great age to take to the zoo.  He loved seeing all of the animals and telling us the noises they make.  He was at such a fun age to see the animals and repeat their names and sounds.  It was so cute!
The kids also enjoyed the carousel!  It was a really fun trip to the zoo.  I haven't been to the Jacksonville Zoo since Abbey was 2 months old, but it looked great and we had a very nice time there.  
After the zoo, it was still pretty chilly outside.  So while Matthew was napping, we just went outside and walked along the beach.  Love this picture!
We also got to see Uncle Al while we were there.  He came over one afternoon to play and have dinner with us.  Matthew enjoyed having Uncle Al read to him!

After dinner it was time for Matthew to go to bed, but not before he gave Uncle Al some big night time hugs!
Al on the porch of the condo with the beautiful moon over the ocean.  Great picture.  Thanks for coming to see us Uncle Al!!
Thankfully the weather got warmer as the week went on so we were able to head back out to the beach again.
Matthew and Ben spent some quality time throwing the football around on the beach.
And building sand castles.
I love this picture!  Ben is laughing and wondering why Matthew stepped all over his sand castle!
Better get to making a new one, I guess!
Wow, that was tiring!  Good thing Big Brother can help a tired baby out!
I can't get enough of these two - so sweet together!
Time to relax on the beach for a bit.
Time to refuel with some snacks!
As Matthew goes up for a nap, Patch and Ben throw the football - careful Patch, don't hurt your shoulder!
Unfortunately, the pool at the condo was being redone while we were there so we were unable to use it.  Fortunately, good friends let us use their beach club so we could swim in the pool!  Thank you Obringers!!  The kids love the beach, but playing in the pool is also a fun treat!
Matthew liked the pool too.
Sun bathing on a lounge chair is always fun - looks like this girl takes after her Mommy in that regard!
Cuties on the beach!

Playing frisbee, which was actually not too easy with the wind!
Madgie and Matthew - awwww!
Before we could blink, our week in FL was over and it was time to head to TN to see Mama Kay and Papa.  Just a few last pictures with Madgie and Patch before leaving (this was around 4am!).
We had so much fun this week - THANK YOU for having us and being such wonderful hosts, as always.  Everyone had a blast and we loved being with you!  Love you!
Next stop....Mama Kay and Papa's house, where the kids immediately got out the beads!
Mama Kay had made an awesome Easter Bunny cake that she let the kids decorate.  They had a lot of fun doing it and it turned out super cute!

The next day we went to an Easter Egg hunt.  We got there super early to make sure we got a good spot.  The kids are ready to go!
They separated it by age, so these 3 were in a different area than Matthew.  This was probably a good idea so the little ones had time to really collect eggs, but I was sad to not see them do their hunt as I stayed with Matthew for his hunt.
Matthew was ready to go too.
Since we got there early and all the eggs were already out, we had to keep stopping Matthew from picking up eggs because it wasn't time yet!
This was confusing for him because once it started, he wouldn't touch the eggs!  I guess we had told him for so long not to touch them that he didn't want to touch them at all, even once it started!  So he just pointed them out to Mama Kay and I!
Eventually we got him to pick one up and he was good after that.

Wow, he got a lot of eggs!
These guys did well too, although I hear their hunt was done at a much faster pace!
Then they sat down to open up the eggs and find all kinds of goodies inside!
Matthew was thrilled to find candy in the eggs!
The kids with the Easter Bunny!  It was a really fun event - thanks for taking us Mama Kay and Papa!
A friend from our neighborhood also has parents that live in the same area of TN and she was visiting her parents at the same time.  She happened to put on FB about going to see bald eagle babies so I asked her about it and we went and found them too.  You can see the bald eagle from this picture.
You can just barely see the babies in the nest - every now and then a little furry head would pop up.  It was really neat to see them and the nest was huge.
We also got down to the business of dying eggs.  Mama Kay almost had us dye regular eggs, until we reminded her about hard boiling them - :)
Sometimes I wonder what goes through Matthew's mind.  Why are we sticking eggs into these little cups of colored water?  Oh well, I guess I should do it too.  He's so go with the flow and does whatever the big kids are doing.
Juliette and Daddy working together.
Ben and Abbey working hard to make beautiful eggs.

We also spent some time just being outside, taking walks, reading books on rocks, you know, just being in nature!
Easter crafts!
Then it was Easter morning!!  The kids woke up and were ready to go!
This guy found an egg on his way to find his basket!
Wow - what awesome baskets the Easter Bunny left us!
Look at those bunnies!
What?!?  There is candy in these eggs too?!?  I LOVE this holiday!

He wears the ears well.
OK, time to hunt for eggs.  Ready, Set.....GO!!!
Good job finding one, Matthew!

Good finding!
Ben, did you know that there is candy in these eggs?

See?  I told you....CANDY!!!
Matthew in a Matthew sized rocking chair.
Then it was time to do the outdoor egg hunt, which is where the real eggs are hidden.
We had quite an interesting thing happen....most of the eggs had slugs on them!  So the kids found them, but didn't want to touch them!
Luckily, Papa didn't mind picking the eggs up and brushing the slugs and snails off of them.
Good finding Matthew!

Then he put the egg back where he found it!

Then it was time to go to Mass - the reason for the season!  The kids cleaned up nicely and were well behaved in Church.

I was trying to get a nice picture of them after Church, but they were not that interested.
This one turned out pretty cute.
After Mass, we had some time to kill so we went on a Saint walk.  Behind their Church is a really cool path with little statues for all kind of saints.  It was really interesting and fun to quiz the kids about what they knew about the different saints.  And we found a particularly good one that we didn't know before and joked that I needed to pray to this Saint more often - Saint Monica - the patron saint of mothers with difficult children!!!
And we also found Saint James!
My baby and I :)
Mama Kay and Papa treated us to a very delicious brunch at the Yacht Club.  We all had a great time and ate way too much!  Thank you!  Then we walked around a little bit outside after that.  We took a great shot of the kids with Mama Kay and Papa!
Our attempts at a family picture were not quite as successful.
Then it was time to head back to the house for naps.
Mama Kay and Papa got some new personal kayaks that the kids really enjoyed playing around on. 
You could even use them as paddle boards.
We had so much fun over Easter weekend!  Thank you so much for all of the fun events and letting us spend Easter with you Mama Kay and Papa!  We had so much fun and loved being with you.  

And that wrapped up our spring break!  We headed back to Chicago and back to real life.  What a great trip - we did so much and got to spend some good quality time with both of our families.  Thank you all for a great week!!

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