Thursday, October 8, 2009

Days in the sun

Warning! This post will be long and dedicated to our trip to Florida in June, but first I want to rant a little about technology and how it has slowed me down. I have had every intention of posting again quickly, but my camera had other ideas. I'm not sure how this happened, but my camera has been taking pictures so that they would be brilliant if printed as a 13x19" picture. This makes the digital size huge and impossible to download or even view in some programs without being edited. So, I have been editing all 600 of the pictures on my camera in order to make them usable. Needless to say, this has taken quite a bit of time, especially with my little one plus two others running around my house. Most of the time technology does wonderful things to make our lives easier, but other times they make things much more complicated. Some days I just want to turn off the phone, the computer, and the tv and just enjoy my life. Some days I do just that.
Now, back to my original reason for this post. From June 13th through the 20th we went on vacation to Tarpon Springs, Florida. After being told in Atlanta that we didn't have tickets for our next flight to Tampa and much stressful arguing and then waiting, we were able to get on the plane at the last minute and we arrived in Tampa. Our friends, Val and Jason, who we spent the week with, picked us up at the airport and we went strait to Orlando. That night Mark and Jason wonderfully agreed to watch Gabriel while Val and I went to a dueling piano bar at Disney World named: . It was so much fun. After going I wish that Mark could have gone with me, because I think he would have really liked it. There are basically two two-man teams and they switch places with the other team every hour. They were amazing. People would take up requests written on napkins and they would just bust them out. If they don't know a song, they go back stage during their hour off and learn the song. Then they come out and perform it with amazing skill. It was a great time.

The next day the five of us went to a restaurant at Disney. And walked around through some of their stores (we didn't actually go into Disney World). We got a few cute pictures of us trying on hats and the cool Lego creations outside the Lego store.

(Mark wasn't very happy about the hat experiment)

(The boys thought this one was really cool- I mean the two big boys:))

We then went to a mall where they had a store called Adrenalina where you could pay to surf in their wave pool. We watched some of their employees and a cutie 11 or 12 year old boy surf for a little while. If you go here you can see a great picture of their store. I wish I could have talked Mark into doing it, but he declined. After a little shopping we headed back to Tarpon Springs, where Val and Jason live. They have two girls ages 9 and 2 and two boys ages 7 and 4 who are super cuties. They were generous enough to give us the boys bedroom for the week.
They have a pool in their backyard (or I should say it is their backyard) and we spent a good amount of time there. Gabriel LOVED the pool. He had a great time playing with the kids and getting tossed back and forth between the adults. He was also the only one of the three of us who did not get a sunburn. We were very careful about reapplying sunscreen for him. I guess we should have been more careful ourselves, because Mark and I were both really burned after one day in the pool. Thus the tee-shirt.

We also spent a good amount of time in the living room playing on their new Wii. Mark and Jason would spend hours every day playing games with the kids and then another couple hours after the kids went to bed of uninterrupted gaming. The night before we left Valarie and I went in the family room and watched Twilight and the guys came in toward the end and told us that they had finally beat the tank game on Wii Play. I'm not sure we showed the desired amount of excitement, but I think they showed enough for all of us. Gabriel also started walking in earnest while we were there and he got his first tooth. He was a champ about the tooth, only being grumpy for one day.

On Tuesday we all went to the beach in Tampa. Since we were on the gulf side the waves were not very big, but it was perfect for taking little kids to the beach. We all had a great time. I think Gabriel didn't like the ocean as much as the pool due to the salt irritating his eyes, but he did like the sand. We forgot our camera, so Val took some pictures for us. I thought these two were really cute.
That evening Valarie's wonderful sister, Tracy, came over and babysat so the four of us could go out. We decided to go to an indoor mini golf place. None of us were very good, but it was a lot of fun. It was a haunted/scary theme and there were black lights, so everything glowed (as you can see from the pictures). Then we went to Coldstone for ice cream afterwards. Yummy!

On Thursday we packed all of the kids in the car and went to the Tarpon Springs aquarium. A few years ago we went to the Newport Aquarium, in Cincinnati, Ohio, with Mark's family. That place is amazing. It takes a couple hours to walk through and the exhibits are really cool. The Tarpon Springs Aquarium was nowhere near as big, but we had some opportunities that I'm not sure we could have at the larger aquarium. They had a touch tank at the entrance where we were able to "pet" several small shark, some horse shoe crab, and a turtle.

In the middle of the building was a 120,000 gallon aquarium where we watched a diving show. This consisted of a diver going into the tank to feed it's occupants, including several large sharks.

On the other side of the building were two large oval shaped tanks. One had stingrays that you could pet and feed by hand. You can see in the pictures we let Gabriel pet them- he loved it! Both Mark and I fed them. It felt really weird. You put the food on the palm of your hand and they come along and suck it off your hand. There was a lot of splashing as they vied for the food, which made me jump even more, but overall it was cool.

In the other tank there were sharks that we fed. As you can see in the picture, there was a wire grate over these sharks, but it didn't look incredibly sturdy. We used the same food for the stingrays to feed the sharks. This time we put it on blue sticks then put it down in the water where the sharks would bite it off of the stick. Mark lost his stick to the sharks as he fed them the last bit of food. It was pretty funny. The guy working there said it happens all the time, which made Mark feel a little better. Gabriel thought all of this was fantastic. I don't know if you can see from the picture, but I held on to him very tightly as we did this.

On Thursday evening Valarie and Jason were wonderful and allowed Mark and me to venture back into Tarpon Springs on our own to have a seafood dinner together. We went to a local seafood restaurant called Rusty Bellies. Sounds tasty, doesn't it? Well, it was amazing. I don't remember what Mark ordered, but I got the crab legs and they were so good. We sat outside and looked out on the water that the restaurant sat right next to. It was beautiful and very romantic.

The next day was our last full day. We were planning on just hanging out in the pool most of the day, but we went outside and found the pool infested with bugs. When we looked them up online we discovered that they were water lice.
Yeah, I was pretty creeped out too. Sorry that this is the last picture of this post, but I just had to share the creepiness with everyone. Needless to say, we didn't swim that day. We just played Wii and lounged around. That evening Tracy came over and watched the kids again while the four of us went out. We went to a mall close by, had dinner, and saw the movie The Proposal (which I thought was pretty funny). The next day we flew back home exhausted from our week of vacationing. I always say you need a few days of recuperation after your vacation before going back to work. Still, we had a great time! I just wish we could do that sort of thing more often. Ah well, on we go.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Bad, Bad Mommy

I know, I've been very bad. We have had a crazy summer and I kept feeling like I should blog about everything we've been doing, but I didn't. The longer I went without blogging, the more I had to blog about and the more daunting the task became. So, I'm going to do a series of posts about the things we have been up to this summer. They may be a bit picture heavy, but I'll do my best. I have to say, it has been one of the best summers I have had in years. I have been at home full time with Gabriel since I graduated and it has been wonderful. My house is the cleanest it has been in years and I love seeing Gabriel grow and learn every day. He is such a smart and inquisitive little boy (he's definitely not a baby any more). I know, every parent thinks these things about their child. I am no different. I know my child is the smartest ever!
On the down side, Mark has been working a ton. He has been putting in 55-60 hours a week and there are a days when we barely get to see him. We are really grateful that he has his job and that he is able to provide for our family. We just wish we could see him more. I'm sure there are lots of married women out there who understand when I say I feel like a single mother sometimes. I'm just really glad that that's not really the case. Thankfully, he has been able to join us for a few of our adventures this summer.

The first two events that I am going to mention (even though they weren't first to occur) are the birthdays we celebrated in August. On the 8th of last month our son turned ONE! Over the past few months we noticed the way he was looking less and less like a baby and more and more like a toddler.
One day old
Five days old
Three months old
Six months old
Nine months old
1st Birth Day!
By his birthday we had to admit (mostly, I had to admit) that he is not a baby anymore. Can you believe it's been a year since we brought that beautiful newborn home? I can't. This has been the best year of my life because I have been able to share the experience of being a parent with Mark. I love being Gabriel's mommy. We didn't have a birthday party (more on this later) until the 29th, but we went to a wedding reception that evening, so Gabriel did have cake on his birthday.
It wasn't the strip-the-baby-down-and-let-him-go-at-it event that would come a few weeks later, but he still loved it.

On the 30th of August my wonderful husband turned the big 3-0! He frequently reminds me that I am only 9 months younger than he is, so I won't make a huge deal about how OLD he is. At his request, we decided to have a joint birthday party for the two birthday boys. Little did I know quite how much work it would be to put together such an event. The theme was rockets/space which was inspired by the quilt my mom was making Gabriel for his birthday. I made the invitations. Here are a few examples of what they looked like:

We invited some close friends and our immediate family members which made up a group of 82 people! We rented a shelter at a local park, decorated the tables, and provided a dinner of hamburgers, hot dogs, chips, pop, and other sides.
The biggest amount of work, however, went into the four cakes that I made. Two were just cakes in 9x13 pans, but the other two were masterpieces of love. Okay, really they were rocket ships, but I worked on those rocket ships all day. There was a large one for Mark and a smaller one for Gabriel. Thank goodness I had Mark there to keep me sane. We almost lost both cakes several times and I started hyper-ventilating, but he calmed down and helped me brainstorm until we came up with a solution. In the end I was very proud of my work.

The party as a whole was deemed a success. Everyone seemed to have fun and Gabriel had a grand time destroying/devouring his cake.

One of the best parts was that I didn't have to clean my house before or after the party (except for the cake bits all over my kitchen). I am slowly becoming resigned to the fact that my baby is no longer a baby. He has two teeth, says lots of words and phrases (his favorite being "get it!"), walks like a pro, and is starting to try to climb the stairs (baby gate will be installed shortly). We love him so much and we are so grateful for the year we have had and the many to come.