Tuesday, 29 December 2015

December Photo Drop

Seems like ages since I wrote a post about what we have been up to.  So here goes.  This is December, pretty much up till Christmas.

An elf arrived again on December the first.  This one was called Barry.  He didn't get into too much mischief. My head was not in it this year.  Paul ended up doing most of it...lol

We splurged a little during Black Friday sales.  Paul wanted to get triple screens for his iracing.  He did make the stand for them himself, and they work really well for his game.

We went Christmas tree shopping the first weekend.  We ended up getting a tree from Lowes, just for convenience.  We also purchased some new out door lights.  We are gonna need a whole lot of adapters on our return to the UK......

The boys had fun playing with Isaacs birthday presents.  Not sure if it is a good or bad thing having a birthday a month before Christmas.  At least they have things to keep them occupied....  Isaac got a volcano kit, which they enjoyed putting together and exploding.

We spent a chunk of time this month sorting out the craft area.  The unit nearest the window is from ikea.  The other 2 units we picked up at online auctions.  Paid about $15 for them both.  We sanded them and painted them.  Think I did a pretty good job at matching the colors! There is still scope for improvement on that area, but out craft room is ever evolving, and where I spend a lot of my time at the moment!!!

Barry did get up to some mischief.  Paul had to go on a drive event to Talladega during the boys last week of school.  Made for an entertaining time for me......

Seb had his school performance while daddy was away. I had to take the other 2 with me, they were really good!   His class did an awesome job.  They sang about 6 Christmas songs, and said a poem or 2.  Sebastian even had his own line, 'T is for toys'.  He did so well. I was very proud.  His speech has come on dramatically this year.  His brothers were also very pleased! 

The joy of having all this crafting equipment is the ability to make personalized gifts for the teachers.  These are mini martini glasses with the teachers names and year on the under side, then filled with candy, and wrapped in cellophane.  The glasses we picked up at one of the online auctions we have done.  I think they liked them.

Isaac had his holiday program on the Thursday morning while paul was away. I literally had to do all the school runs, then dash straight back to Isaacs school.  I got there with minutes to spare.  He did really well, he sang and everything.  I am proud of how he did in his performance.  We are still having behavior issues, but we are constantly working on it.  

Isaac is standing at the front in white

Oliver's end of year service began 15 minutes after Isaacs holiday program.  So I was late.  Not the latest, and I even managed to park just outside school.  Oliver had neglected to mention that he was playing the xylophone......he did good.  There are no pictures of this, as they do not allow photos to be taken during services in the chapel.  After his service, he was finished for the year!  We went to Costco, and did the big Christmas shop.  This was followed by pizza and a hot dog.

The boys will have been off for 2 weeks.  Monday before Christmas we went to Gravitopia.  Paul had never been before, and he throroughly enjoyed himself.  He moaned about his aches and pains for days after....

And then it was pretty much Christmas......

Sunday, 27 December 2015

Road Trip South - Daytona and Savannah

Apologies for the delay in getting this blog done.  Consequently, it will be mainly a photo drop! 

We chose Daytona as one of the stops on the way back from the Keys as we wanted to see it.  I was fortunate enough to get us booked into a Holiday Inn right on Daytone beach.

We were on the 5th floor, and the view of the beach was stunning.

This is Daytona, so cars can drive on the beach at certain times, if the tide allows it.  Hind sight is great, we should have taken the car on the beach the day we got there.  The tide was in the next morning, so we weren't able to do it. 

The beach is stunning, if a little dangerous with all the cars going up and down.  

We chose to eat dinner in the hotel restaurant, just for convenience.  But it was a pretty good meal!  The moon was stunning from the balcony.  We decided to let the boys have the 2 double beds, and we took the sofa bed in the living room.  We were able to see the sun rise while lying in bed.  Very cool

We ate breakfast at the hotel, even though it was not included in the price. We ate outside, it was very warm.  

We checked out pretty quick, and made our way out of Daytona past the racetrack

Because it was the weekend after thanksgiving, they were not running any tours.  Otherwise we would have.  We are now debating when we will be able to go to a race there. 

Our final stop was in Savannah, Georgia.  We had driven through there a couple of times on out way to and from Tybee Island, but I wanted to see it properly.  

We were fortunate enough to get to our hotel and dump the car, before walking through Savannah to the River.

I was able to get the tickets just in time for the 2pm sailing.  It was on a remodeled boat, to look like a steam paddle boat.

They gave a nice little guided tour as we sailed up and down the river.  They even had a special guest....

Too early for Christmas in my mind....  After the boat trip we had a little walk around Savannah 

It is a beautiful city with lots of architectural details 

The whole place is stunning

We had dinner at a local brewery, where we finally got to do a craft beer sampler.  I wasn't too keen on this place.  I was cold, as we sat outside, and the food was not great.

The hotel was also not too super.  They were having work done in the lobby, which meant for a noisy afternoon, and breakfast in a conference room.

Not the best ending to an awesome trip, but hey.  We had a thoroughly great time.  We were able to leave Savannah and drive non stop back home.  We were even home in time for lunch! 

Tuesday, 22 December 2015

Road trip south - The rest of Key West

The rest of our time in Key West passed smoothly.  We rescheduled our boat trip for Thursday afternoon, thanksgiving.  It was still a little windy.  We noticed that morning that there was a cruise ship in.  

We headed up to the north of Duval Street, as this is where the boat trip, Fury, was leaving from.  Oh my word.  The crowds.  There were people EVERYWHERE. It was like being in London In a much smaller area.  It was crazy (not that you would know it from there photos)

 We got to check in for the boat, only to be told that due to a small vessel advisory, they were only offering boat trips around the harbor at a reduced rate.  We declined this and got our money back.  Not happy.

We wandered among the crowds, and came across the Key West Aquarium.  Not the biggest, but our kids love aquariums.  There has been an aquarium at that site for over 70 years.  

The north end of Duval Street really is touristy.  There are plenty of ways for you to spend your money.  It is actually a perfect cruise stop.  Seeing the cruise ships really opened our eyes.  We are certainly contemplating a cruise.......

We got some ice cream, and milled around the harbor for a bit.  It is really beautiful, and there is a real Caribbean/Cuban influence to this part of the island.  

Again, this is another place to do without the kids in the future.  We headed back to the hotel, to start packing up for the drive the next day.  Will certainly miss this view though, such a great resort.

We were able to get on the road by 8.30 the next morning.  We filled up our coffee mugs, and the kids had snacks in the car for breakfast.  

I drove the first leg along the really long highway across all the bridges and throu the beautiful scenery.

The Keys and Key West really are fantastic places to visit.  Shame they are so far away from everything.  But that just adds to the charm.  

Friday, 18 December 2015

Isaac is 7, in Key West!

Isaac had his birthday in key west. Nothing like spending your birthday, in November, in shorts and t shirt! I had planned for this well, and made sure all his presents were here. 

He had a great time opening them.  Isaac likes to not wear a top to bed A LOT of the time.  It's often like a bad audition for Twilight around here......

This is Isaac, so he typically loved everything.

We went for our usual breakfast in the Southernmost cafe.  After we went for a walk.  Right by the hotel is the marker for the Southern Most point in the continental USA.  This has huge queues next to it every time we went past it.  But not at 8.30am on a Wednesday morning.  A kind couple took some photos for us.

As it was Isaacs birthday, he got to decide what we would do.  Mini golf.  Amazingly, there is only one mini golf course in the whole of the keys!  We had to drive about 30 minutes to get to Boondocks.

But it was worth it.  The course is good, and they have a pub/restaurant next door where we had lunch.

We drove back to the hotel.  I picked up the cake from reception, and we returned to the hotel to find a gift for Isaac in the room for the hotel, with balloons and everything! 

We chilled at the hotel for an hour or so swore going of on our next adventure: Key Wests butterfly conservatory.  This place was busy! And not cheap either

But Isaac loves insects, and butterfly's fall into that category.  Oliver does not feel the same way

But the butterfly's liked him! 

And Paul.

There were many butterfly's here.  This place is quite small, and a little expensive.  If you didn't have loud impatient kids, you could probably spend more time in there.

We rounded off the day with a couple of games of fooseball and some cake.  I ordered the cake from Amazing Cakes and Creations.  We communicated completely by email.  I gave them ideas of what I wanted, they did the rest.  They did an awesome job.  The design was great, and it tasted even better than it looks!

I think Isaac enjoyed his birthday on the beach.  Not sure he will ever be able to do it again as a child.  With nearly all of us having winter birthdays, it was nice to be somewhere warm in November. 

Thursday, 17 December 2015

Road trip South - Key West

We made a big effort to be on the road early from Miami.  We hit a bit of traffic, but not too much.  We had to drive back through homestead again.  It was fun seeing all the race paraphernalia, and remembering it from the previous day. 

The road down to Key West is long.  Like 120 miles long.  Admittedly, The scenery is stunning.  We got a beautifully clear day to drive down.  We were unsure what to do for lunch.  We had plenty of snacks in the car.  The majority of the islands that are not occupied on the keys are designated a marine protected area, so there are plenty of state parks.  Instead of stopping at a restaurant or for fast food, we decided to stop at one of these,  Curry Hammock state park.  Best $8 we have spent on lunch while on the road. The view was beautiful.  There was a few other people around, but not many.  

After lunch we went for a little walk along the beach.  The kids played in the park too.  It was very warm.

We probably stopped for about an hour in total.  A great way to break up the drive.  It is so stunningly beautiful in the keys.

And hardly anything there.  The people that do live there are very on top of each other, as we found out.  I had booked the hotel ages ago.  The Southernmost Beach Resort is exactly as the name says, the southern most resort in the whole of the continental USA.  Given the size of our family, and our budget, we were limited by hotel room choices.  We were pretty pleased with what we had though.  This was the view from our balcony

We went out for dinner that night.  The hotel sat at the south of Duval Street.  This is basically the party street of Key West.  We found a pub type place for some food.  Key west is not the most kid friendly place..... We enjoyed it all the same!  

The hotel did not include breakfast, though they were adjoined to the Southern Most cafe.  This is where we ate breakfast every morning.  The breakfasts were very good.  Most mornings after breakfast we would go for a walk around the grounds of the resort before most people were up and about. They had plenty of hammock's around, which the kids loved.

They also had a bar area with a fooseball table.  The boys discovered this the first morning, and absolutely loved it.

Our first full day we had a glass bottomed boat ride to the coral reefs booked.  Unfortunately it was too windy, so it got cancelled.  We spent the day on the beach drinking cocktails and playing with the kids.  We went out for dinner that night to a nice ace we had spotted the evening before.  The good restaurants all had set times for meals, like 12-2 lunch and 6-10 dinner.  A little old fashioned, and certainly not the convenience of the rest of America......