The highlight of the trip for me was seeing all of the kids have so much fun. Avery and Madeline played so well with Elizabeth and they never stopped from sun up to sun down. Elizabeth got so much exercise that she, for once, would eat just about anything you put in front of her and actually finish her dinner! Andrew and Regan were so cute together. They would give each other hugs, laugh together, pull each others hair. They were adorable. They are kind of like two little irish twins.
Elizabeth, ofcourse, brought her bug box to FL and what a treat! There were all kinds of bugs to collect. The week started out with mommy catching Sebastian the crab. She kept him in her bug box for a day until we convinced her that Ariel would be looking for her friend and that we should let him go. She then found a butterfly, stink bug (I think that was Uncle Michael's contribution), catepillar (courtesy of Aunt Courtney), rocks, ants etc for her bug box so she was happy.
Andrew as always was the happiest little boy all week. He loves to explore and was into everything. Some of his favorite things to do were to topple the girl's sand castles, dig in the sand, walk up and down all the stairs and ramps on the patio, sit on the stairs in the swimming pool and blow bubbles (he loves saying bubble but not as much as Elmo).
Avery and Madeline were little fish all week. They were in the pool or the hot tub all the time with their flower floaties. I really had fun playing with the girls in the pool!
One of the days we decided to rent a boat. Michael, Courtney, Jan and I and the three oldest girls went out for a long boat ride to explore the island. We stopped to do a little swimming and ended up at Burdines for lunch. Mom, dad, Andrew, Eliabeth, Aunt Carol and Aunt Jean then met up with us for a wonderful lunch of fish sandwitches, fries and ice cream bars for the girls and we gave them the kids to take home for naps. Michael, Courtney, Jan and I then went out to Lighthouse Reef for some scuba/snorkleing. I didn't really know what to expect with the dive and I was plesently surprised. The dive was very shallow (approx 25 feet) which allowed us to stay down for a long time with plenty of air. The visibility was no where near that of other places we've dove but the fish were amazing! The density of fish and the health of the coral was better than that I've seen anywhere. For example, there was a lot of brain coal that was just thriving (I now realize that the brain coral I usually see is dead or dying) and the fan coral was so colorful.
All the girls took turns driving the boat and had a great time! They did a great job wearing their life jackets too - Safety First!
One of the days we went to Duval Street in Key West. It was quite the experience! Jan and I both thought that Duval Street was going to be a little more art and a few less bars and $5 T-shirt shops. We made the most of the $5 T-shirt shops as everyone got a crazy T-shirt which you will see in some follow on photos. Elizabeth was enamored by a parrot that a man was carrying around on his shoulder. He was kind enough to let her pet the parrot for a few minutes. I was glad that the parrot did not talk though as it's hard telling what he might have said!
We found a great place for lunch where we could all sit on a beautiful patio outside. The girls were entertained by the rooster that sat in the shade during our lunch.
Another fun part of the vacation was visiting the dolphin rescue center and then later on in the day, the turtle hospital. According to my mom and Courtney, Elizabeth was hilarious on the 1 1/2 hour turtle hospital tour. She loves to make comments and made comments during the entire tour that had the entire tour cracking up. She is still talking about Scooter and Bubble But, her turtle friends.
In addition to Dad's birthday, we also celebrated Avery, Courtney and Regan's birthday! We had a really fun party with cake, balloons, pin the tail on the donkey and a pinata filled with candy. The pinata would not break so grandpa gave the girls a hand. As you can see, he is sporting his $5 Key West T-shirt (it even has riemstones on it! Bonus!) I think dad wins for the tackiest Key West T-shirt. Next time we all get togheter, we are going to change the $5 T-shirt game rules. Next time, we will all pick a name out of a hat and it will e your job to find a t-shirt for that person.
And ofcourse we had to have a little family photo shoot.
We couldn't keep the kids out of the water so I just gave up and let Andrew play. He was soaked but happy!
Thank you, dad and mom, for a wonderful vacation and wonderful memories!