“Lets Run Away.”

 

“Lets run away.”

So, that is not what he really said, but its kind of what it felt like. Thursday afternoon I asked Anthony what I had been asking him all week, “What do you want to do this weekend?” I really wanted to head to the beach, and really that isn’t hard for us. We live 25 minutes from the coast. But, Anthony threw out an even bigger idea. What if we left Friday afternoon after swim and after he finished work and drove to our favorite place (which happens to have 2 fabulous beaches)? We had a free hotel night and the clock on summer is quickly ticking down so we decided there was no time like the present to run away and make some family memories.

So with little thought we threw our stuff in the car and headed out to have an amazing time in what I feel like calling “Our Place” – Sanibel Island/Fort Myers Beach, FL.  We have gone 5 times since living here, first discovering it (or part of it) on my 30th birthday and now returning whenever we can. We always have a fabulous time, and there is no doubt in my mind that the memories of these trips are ones that we will be talking about with the kids when they are grown.

We took our time in the morning resting, stopping at the surf shop, a book store and getting our traditional lunch of ice-cream at Pinochio’s. And then we hit the beach.

The cool/unique thing about Sanibel Island beaches is that you can literally just reach down and grab and handful of shells without digging. It is really fun. You still have to search to find unique shells but the search is half the fun.

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See? Natalie is sitting in the “sand” –  I mean shells.

Truth be told, not 100% of the sand is this way, but there is always a long strip of sand that is just piles of shells, and as we discovered this trip if you take your shovel and dig into the parts that are sand it doesn’t take but one scoop and you’ve dug into another pile of nothing but shells.

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Bella spent time out in the water showing Daddy what she had learned in swim lessons. (Isn’t the water amazing) The sky is a little darker than usual because a storm was brewing off the coast, but it sure looks pretty in pictures and it gave the water a real light blue look that was pretty awesome.

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So, while they were out working in the water I took some shots of the other two. (In many shots you can see Anthony and Bella in the background, like in this picture they are the two blurry dots in the left hand corner. Oh, and see – some smooth sand.)

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This is called the “Sanibel Stoop.”

Meaning you’re stooping over to find shells, you see people doing it all up and down the shore line.

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More stooping.

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I told them to “do something funny” for this shot and Ethan grabbed his bottom and began to shake it. The girls thought that was pretty funny.

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I really like this next picture. The colors are just awesome in my opinion.

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Bella after her swim. She’d missed out on all the other pictures I got of Ethan and Natalie alone so I had to get one of her.

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So Ethan might get a little unfair attention in the next..um…5 shots…but he was just so cute. His friend Boyce has a little boogie board that he used on his birthday and its size was just so perfect for Ethan that he could actually do it. The board we have is too big. He calls it his surf board and I kind of have a vision of him growing up here in Florida and becoming an awesome surfer – so when he does I’ll pull out these pictures and tell him this is where it all began. And if that dream never comes true, well, then he is just so darn cute and was having so much fun I have to share.

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So after we left Sanibel we headed over to Fort Myers to find a good dinner. When we had come here in May we had tried for 2 nights to see the sunset but both times storms rolled in just before the “show”. Anthony and I were tired and weren’t sure if we wanted to wait 3 more hours for the sunset but we decided to have dinner and play it by ear. While at dinner we asked the kids what they wanted to do – go home or see the sunset. Without hesitation they told us they wanted to see the sunset.

I loved that they wanted to see the sunset, not just because LOVE the sunsets on Fort Myers Beach, but because it meant they were having such a good time and they weren’t ready for the day to be over. We went to our usual spot on the beach and had about an hour and a half before sunset. Many times there is a pretty large sandbar off of Fort Myers Beach and this time it was huge. We (even Ethan) could walk for what seemed like forever out into the ocean and still touch. We were having such a good time I almost decided to forget the camera and not capture the sunset but it was so incredibly beautiful that I couldn’t help myself. I ran to shore to shoot for a few minutes, but put the camera away in time to make it back out to be with Anthony and the kids as we watched the sun’s final moments. When the kids realized it was gone and that our day was done they each told us they wished it would come back out because they didn’t want our day to be over.

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As we piled into the car and settled in for the 4 hour drive home we were tired but happy because we made memories. Good memories.   I asked the kids this morning when I woke them up earlier than normal to shower before church if being this tired was worth it and they unanimously agreed that it was. (Although sadly enough Bella woke up to fever, so she, Ethan and I stayed home and rested and agreed that we were thankful her virus had waited a day to surface.)

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Swim Lessons

 

This summer Bella decided to try out swimming. She was a good swimmer already but didn’t know the real techniques and all the strokes so we decided if she eventually wanted to do swim team we should put her in lessons to learn those things. After looking around at all the programs I decided we would do the lessons out at Sea World Aquatica. We have annual passes this year so I figured that after lessons we’d play a bit so it would make it fun for all the kids rather than just sitting for an hour a day waiting for Bella to finish practice.

It was really hard to get good pictures of the lessons. With the Olympics being on I think I was envisioning some awesome breast stroke picture (close to the water with her looking all intense, lol) – but well, she’s not an Olympian (yet) and because the lessons were held in the wave pool and her group was in the deepest part I was in no position to get such a shot anyway. Her instructors were pretty impressed with her skill to begin with and then in the 2nd session they were very happy with her progress and technique. So now the decision we have to make is do we move right into a year round swim team or do we take a break and just do a swim season.

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So, going to a water park every day for 2 full weeks (done 3 weeks apart) sounds fun right? Well, it is, although its exhausting. I have to say both weeks I barely got anything else done around the house. We would only stay about 2 hours after her lessons but all of us would be so tired we’d spend the rest of the day laying around watching movies.

During lessons these two would play at the edge of the 2nd wave pool where I could see them.

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After lessons we’d head over to one of the kid areas of the park that is for kids 48 inches and smaller. You actually can’t go on most the slides if you’re taller so that disqualified Bella (Natalie BARELY makes it), but I think Bella didn’t mind because it gave her time to rest after her lessons. She could however go down this slide with her sister and brother because a person taller than 48 inches can ride it so long as one person is.

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Ethan loved this area of the park and I think he would play here for hours if myself and the girls didn’t pull him away for rides down the rapids.

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I thought this series of pictures was funny when I saw it on my camera. I was standing on one place and continuously shooting as she flew down the slide. She was going pretty fast and these 3 were taken on frame after the other. I think the water splash is cool.

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So, although I am glad to not have to go for an entire week again this summer I am glad we did it both for the skills Bella gained and also for the fun we had. Normally we go to our neighborhood pool daily during the summer and I realized last week because of our trip to Texas/Oklahoma (that post is still forth coming), beach trips and Aquatica days we haven’t been to that pool in 6 weeks. But, as you see from the picture below they don’t seem to be missing it too much. 

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Being four is fun!

 

Ethan has been anticipating his birthday for months. His excitement was so infectious that his older sisters got up early to decorate the house and help make breakfast. When we were all ready the birthday boy was still sound asleep so we decided to wake him up by singing him Happy Birthday.

He was so cute when he woke up, his eyes got really big and he said, “Am I 4 yet?!”

Yes buddy you are, and we can’t believe it!

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After breakfast we headed out to the beach, which has been his request for the past few months. Today there was a 50% chance of rain so I was worried his most specific request wouldn’t be able to happen, but I decided we would just head to the beach and even if we only got an hour before the rain set in. Before we went to our typical beach spot I bribed him (with a promise of McDonalds later) if he would let me take a few pictures by the pier. He said okay so off we went.

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I got a lot of these faces (above), which are cute, but not exactly what I wanted. But he did give me a few good ones too.

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Once we got under the pier Ethan was too busy splashing in the water to look at me much.

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But I caught him a few times.

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We all had so much fun celebrating Ethan’s birthday today.

We are so glad he is apart of our family, he makes life interesting and keeps us laughing.

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He makes life more of an adventure.

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Happy 4th birthday little guy, we hope you had a blast!

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