Sunday, December 28, 2014

Christmas in Florida

Coming to you live from my basement, new home of my computer, as it is needed for the video capture device Eion got for Christmas. The bad news, this is massively inconvenient currently. The good news, the kids are getting my old mac and I will soon be in possession of a new command station upstairs, where it belongs!

The video capture allows Eion to "tape" the tv screen when he plays video games and then post those videos to youtube. Based on the incomprehensible number of hours my own children spend watching others "game," there is a market for such a thing. I find it odd, but Maggie and Eion are stoked. [Should you want to watch my children play video games, their youtube channel is Eion B Plays xbox.]

As soon as school let out last week, we headed south to Florida, where we naturally brought colder temps and rain. But no matter, it was better than here!

We went to St. Augustine for two days. It is a beautiful city. The first night, we went to the Mission Nombre de Dios, which was conveniently located across the street from our hotel.

The next day, we had breakfast at Couteau's, a waffle restaurant. They were made from brioche dough and sandwiched ice cream. Needless to say, they were amazing!

The biggest attraction in town is the Fort, which I believe is the oldest in America. Very cool and educational.

Personally, I had no idea the building blocks consisted of billions of coquina shells.

The guides there, some employees and some volunteers, had a cannon demonstration and were available for questions. The discussion of how they were able to aim their shots was fascinating. The accuracy was much higher than I would have ever imagined. More and more, I am loving national parks. They are just better than a commercialized pirate museum or a Ripley's Believe it or Not collection. And more affordable too!

Streets of St. Augustine

We went to a replica Spanish boat called El Gallion. It turned out to be a replica only in looks as under the wood, there was a fiberglass hull and a motor. Some sailboat. At $54 for the family, it was minutes of expensive fun. We should have skipped that one.

What was a fun surprise was the Lightner Museum. It is just one man's personal collection of, well, stuff, that he donated to the city when he died. With everything from Tiffany glass to shrunken heads, we all found items to catch our interest.

That night was some sort of festival of lights and the old city portion was so crowded that it was akin to the 7th circle of hell. We opted for pizza and an evening in the hotel. After a full day of touristing, we needed the rest anyway.

Sunday was not nearly as pretty as Saturday, so after a breakfast at a yummy French bistro, we packed up to head to my in-laws. 

Mmmm, croque madame.

On the way out of town, we went to the lighthouse for a quick run up the stairs.

The grandparents live in The Villages retirement community in central Florida. From there, we went out for a day of activities. First stop, the Chihuly museum in St. Petersburg. 

Tim and I love his work and have gone to several different exhibitions over the years. But neither the kids nor Doug and Nancy had ever seen the fantastic glass. There was much bitching and moaning from the children about going to a boring museum, until they got inside. Everyone thought it was beautiful.

After an ahoy matey lunch, complete with stone crab claws, something for which Tim had been hankering, we went to the Clearwater Aquarium.

It was not the best aquarium in the area but we had a half off coupon, so it wasn't too costly. And the kids always love to pet sting rays.

And I even (kind of) got my pictures with Santa!

We spent the remainder of the week relaxing, playing mini golf, going to the pool, and, the highlight of one girl's trip, Morrigan learned to drive the golf cart!

Brave, brave Doug!

On Christmas day there was much excitement! 

Florida style tree

In a somewhat controlled flurry of activity, the kids dug into all their booty. Smiles all around with the video capture, Maggie's Doctor Who slippers, and Morrigan's weeping angel necklace being especially prized.

The next day we were up and out the door by 6am for the long drive home. But the travel was worth it for a lovely holiday. Hope your Christmas was as enjoyable as ours!

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Christmas Break!

It was a busy, short week leading up to Christmas break. Eion had a big presentation due at school. They were having a "wax museum" where the kids researched a historical figure, dressed as that person, and presented to the class. Eion chose Steve Jobs and by all accounts, did a great job. When I went to the museum today, several other parents told me their kids came home talking about E's performance. Though it may just be that he used an ipad.

They also had a sing along, on which I bailed, and a class party, on which I did not bail.

Wednesday was tacky Christmas sweater day at middle school. The only problem the girls had was choosing the fine specimen from my collection to wear to school!

They also had their first play practice a which we found out they are in group one, who starts rehearsal when school starts up again in January.

If I don't get back to you in the next week, have a Merry Christmas and we'll catch up soon!

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

End of an Era

Not sure why but I am feeling very retrospective in posts this fall. Maybe it is that we seem to be on this threshold - almost done with Halloween, done with Santa. It occurred to me today that this will be the first year without Santa pictures. The kids have probably been done for a few years, but since we would always go to the Club Santa brunch, I was able to muscle in a few extra pictures. Since we quit the Club, I don't even have that option. And I know there is literally no way in heaven or earth that I could successfully organize a mall Santa visit. No way.

It is funny, looking back on the pictures with fat man, I'm not sure why I felt it was so very important. Honestly, most of these really didn't turn out well. But there was blood, sweat, tears, and sometimes bribery involved, making it a darn shame to waste them.

So we'll say au revoir to the Santa years with a look back at misadventures of the past…

2001 Morrigan and her friend, Grace. We tried so hard to wake Grace up, leaving me to ask, all these years later, what in the Sam Hill were we thinking. Let sleeping babies sleep!

2002 - Morrigan and Grace again. Santa looks unamused with the lapfull he has.

2003 - I had learned a bit. I didn't even try to wake up Maggie.

2004 - Morrigan in one of my favorite Christmas dresses ever.

2004 - And Maggie is having none of it.

2005 - Maggie was apparently having none of it yet again. But as life was teaching me humility that year, I didn't even attempt to get her picture!


2006 - This was Eion's mood, which explains the next picture, sans E.


2007 - No Eion again. I see a trend forming...


2008 - As close as we got.

2009 - Only took four years to get them all together.




2011 - It is all starting to go bad here. You can see the lack of enthusiasm.

2012 - Eion is all in.

2012 - His sisters, however, were only willing to stand near Santa, and even then, 
with much coersion involved.

2013 - Eion was the only one left who card enough about the goody bag to still pose. 
No incentive big enough for the girls.