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Category Archives: vacations

fried shrimp & hushpuppies

We drove down to Santa Rosa Beach again this summer.  I love going back to the same place… every year seems to get better and better.  We always spend the morning at the ocean and the afternoon at the pool.  In the evening, we eat our weight in fried seafood.  That pretty much sums up the entire week.  And now I am counting down the days until next summer when we can go again.

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The Summer Kickoff

A short two hour drive to Chattanooga, and then lots of swimming, eating, walking, more eating, Lookout Mountain, a swinging bridge, Fat Man Squeeze, gazing out over seven states, Ruby Falls, more walking, and tons of iPhone pictures… not a bad start to the summer.

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The Beach.

We are thankful that we got to spend a week at the beach in Florida again this summer with MeMe and PaPa!  I LOVE the beaches along 30-A… anybody who’s going down and wants to swing by and pick me up on the way, just say the word.  I can pack in a flash.

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Orlando 2012

We just got back from Orlando from what we affectionately call our “non-Disney trip.”  We went to Disney last year and decided that there was just so much to do in Orlando that we needed to go back and do some of the non-Disney stuff.  After a loooong drive in the car, the first item on our agenda was to unpack the bathing suits.

Day 2:  Sea World, baby.  Torin FINALLY mustered up the courage to ride some of the bigger rides.  She started with Journey to Atlantis, which was the flume ride that plunges into the water.  In her words, it was “awesome.”

Look!  It’s me laying out by the pool!  Oh wait, never mind.  This isn’t me.  It’s Shamu.

Day 3:  Discovery Cove.  Sure, I was broke after I bought tickets for this, but it was my absolute favorite park ever.  The best thing about Discovery Cove is that they only allow a certain number of people into the park each day, so it feels exclusive.  There were no lines to stand in and no crowds to fight.  I felt very safe with my kids walking around, and I was never concerned that I was going to lose them in a mob of people.  Between the dolphins, the reef, and the lazy river, we could’ve stayed here forever.

Day 4:  The vacation almost came to a screeching halt when Parker got sick and Tropical Storm Beryl dumped a ton of rain on us.  We improvised and had a read-in.  Thank goodness I packed extra books.

Day 5:  Parker was feeling better and the rain stopped, so we were finally able to go to Legoland!  He had been looking forward to this day for a very, very, VERY long time.

The dynamics of our family became quite clear on this trip.  Dave finally got his roller coaster buddy (woo-hoo!).  And we learned that Parker likes to keep his feet on the ground, just like his mama.

One of the cool things at Legoland is the Ford Driving School for kids.  Parker failed to yield, drove on the wrong side of the road, did not stop at the stop sign, and went the wrong way into the roundabout.  He’s got a lot to learn in the next eight years before he does this for real.

Another roller coaster for Torin…

It’s the Lego White House and the Lego Obamas!  Torin loved this.

There are still a few things that we want to do in Orlando, but that will have to be yet another trip someday!

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Mammoth Cave.

Here are a few highlights from our trip to Mammoth Cave this morning!

What struck me most about Mammoth Cave was its sheer size (hence the name: the “mammoth” cave).  We did the Historic Tour, which covered only about two miles, but there are actually over 365 miles of passageways, and geologists think there could be 600 miles of yet undiscovered passageways.  That’s a lot of space for a lot of bats!

We did a whole lot of hiking on our tour – and by hiking, I mean walking hunched over like we had permanent back damage (especially during the “Tall Man’s Misery” passageway).  Only the kids were able to stand in the full upright position, and they thoroughly enjoyed giggling at the rest of us.

We also went through a passageway called “Fat Man’s Misery.”  I didn’t take any pictures of the actual passageway because it was really dark (plus I was too busy trying to breathe and remain calm), but I am pleased to report that I only had to turn partially sideways for this.  Everyone in our group made it through Fat Man’s Misery, but there were certainly people who polished the rocks more than others.  :)

The cave was also an excellent place to practice our shadow puppets.

It was so nice and cool when we were 300 feet below the ground.  Coming up out of the cave to 100 degree temperatures was quite a shock to my system, but it was good to see daylight again!

Check this out… my favorite part.  Due to some weird fungal disease affecting bats in Kentucky, all visitors are required to walk across a bio-security mat as soon as they come out of the cave.  It’s basically a mat covered in Lysol foam.  I am thinking about adopting this idea for my house.  Nothing says “Welcome to Our Home” like a Lysol mat at the front door, right?  Especially during strep throat season?  I love the idea.

We made it!  I am so glad we took this little day trip.  It was an educational experience for all of us, and hopefully  Torin & Parker will remember it for a long time.

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Summer’s swan song.

We wanted to squeeze every ounce of fun out of this summer before it came to a close, so the grand finale for the boys was a weekend in Chicago!  I dropped Dave and Parker off at the airport on Friday afternoon.  They met up with Uncle Dave when they got to the Windy City.

Narrated by Parker:  “The first day we went to a museum.  I saw a T. Rex, and elephant, and a whale.  Also, I saw some space stuff and a u-boat.”

“The dinosaur’s name was Sue.”

“Then we ate pizza.  Then we went to the top of Willis Tower.  I stood on the glass floor and danced and stomped but it did not break.”

“We went to Wrigley Field and saw a baseball game.  And we went to the Lego Store, but we did NOT go to American Girl.”

“We also went to Soldier Field.  There weren’t any soldiers there.  The sun was in my eyes in this picture.  I had a good time with Daddy and Uncle Dave.  The end.”

[One more thing: Don't feel too sorry for us girls.  Torin and I certainly didn't sit around all weekend and twiddle our thumbs.  However, we made a pact that our exact whereabouts shall forever remain a secret.  So if you happened to see us last weekend, mum's the word.  Thanks.]

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How we spent our summer vacation.

Last week we grabbed the grandparents and drove down to our favorite condo at Blue Mountain Beach.

We did lots of swimming and practiced our cannonballs.

We completely wore out the boardwalk with our wrinkly feet.

We played with our shell friends.

We almost lost Parker in the ocean (more than once).

We overindulged.  But it was worth it.

And I almost cried when it was time to come home.

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