Saturday, January 20, 2018

Loxahatchee National Refuge-MLK Day

The last few years we've been in the Everglades for MLK Day--free national parks! But this year, by a grand unplanned event, we headed to Loxahatchee National Refuge and went on a true Florida "hike" which was all of .5 miles and completely flat and boarded. But, I have to say, this was EPIC. This was swamp and crocodile country like the imagination of Roald Dahl, or Lloyd Alexander, or Jim Henson, or Frank Oz. I took pictures to try and capture it, but a flat picture does not capture the expanse of green and moss and weird trees. 

The kids were great--Will got a pair of binoculars from the visitor's center (in exchange for Sterling's license) and he was in HEAVEN. And Molly was our official thing-finder (we were listening to Pippi Longstocking on our way and the kids were all about being Thing-Finder's). She must have been at the perfect height to look through the slats because she saw everything! Turtles and moss and gigantic snail shells and 'knees'. We learned that knees were parts of the tree root that went to grow up out of the swamp, but then went back down. There were tons of them. It was really weird.

Oh and also the Visitor's Center was AMAZING. There was an entire room that was circular and had a star-filled ceiling and it was all black and when you started the story things would light up to tell the story. Like an alligator. Or a raccoon. My kids all laid on the floor next to Sterling and watched all the lights and listened to the entire story while I nursed the baby. It was seriously so cool.
Soooo many vines.


Old Man's Beard moss coming off everything in sight.

This boardwalk was just so cool. Those are my people up there, and that scene is so familiar. It's weird to think that in a year or so this will be less familiar. Will and his blue (yesterday he was so proud he had on a blue shirt, blue pants, blue sweatshirt AND blue undies!), Ruth and her leggings plus a dress plus a shirt over top. Molly bouncing and prancing and skipping along and shrieking and singing and climbing. Everyone fighting over the binoculars--Will not able to pronounce them. Pretending that there are fairy kingdoms and cities all along the way and that they use the moss leaves to float around in the morning. Having Molly breathlessly ask "And where are they now?" as Ruth gives an I-know-all answer to all the fairy stories. It was a good day. And they are some awesome, awesome kids. Not to mention Sterling, who obviously kept that fairy story going like it was his job. He did that on one of our first dates--with my nieces Hailey and Cassidy. We took them with on a whim because I felt bad Lindsay Ann was so sick. He ended up carrying Hailey down the entire mountain after carrying Cassidy up the entire thing (I carried Cassidy down, but she was probably under 2 and I hadn't carried anyone the first half). He is so good at engaging with kids and their imaginations. And I think it was really good for him to take a day away from the books to just breathe.

All about the knees.
 I'm trying to get as much 3 year old spunk out of her right now as I possibly can and I love our mornings together, just us and Russ. She is obsessed with braids in her hair and asking me a million times to make sure her shoes are on the right feet. She says excuse me, but she yells it repeatedly--so I think the point is kind of lost on her. Haha. She creeps down the stairs each morning and calls down "mommy! Guuuuuessss what I'm wearing!" and then jumps down pleased as punch about whatever she's picked. It's the best.

Will checking out the landscape. Pretty sure there were fists flying a second before about whose turn it was. Oh man.

Supposedly those tiny green leaves that grow all over the water are really great for....something. But some way? HAAHAAHAAA

I never actually read about this tree, but Sterling did and told me how it wraps around other trees to grow. So weird.

If you look closely, right where the lily pads and the marsh grass meets, there is an alligator. This was the first time I begged for a turn with the binoculars, and it felt like I was sitting right there with that gator! So cool!

There was a MASSIVE binocular thing on the watchtower to look through. We didn't really see anything other than birds, but it was neat.

We saw a full rainbow when we stopped at Walmart on our way home and the kids were ENCHANTED.
Loved that we could get out on a day that was cool and refreshing and somewhat sans bugs (for Florida) and have such a good break. Sterling and I just planned 4th year and all of his externships and Step 2 and OSCE exams and application due dates and interviews and....I'm going to be flying solo for a big chunk of next year. And I think it's made me extra sappy about right now. Third year has been really good to us.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Sunday Afternoon Jan 2018

This girl and that hair. And when did she grow up into this old person? I can't handle it.

Ruthie asked to use my camera. I believe in cool, stretchy skirts on Sundays and marvel t-shirts and Life is Good hoodies, apparently. It's going to be weird when palm trees aren't a perfectly normal part of the background of our lives.

Then Will wanted to take a picture with the camera.
Three of my kids and my husband are in that slide. Let me tell you how it went. A whole lot of chatter at the top before anyone even attempted going's a good thing we were the only ones there...and then a riot of laughter and slow scooting down the slide. Thirty minutes later (I may exaggerate just a bit) they all made it out with massive smiles on their faces. Sterling reports that tunnel slides are not made for people who are 6 foot 4. Glad to know that he did the science and researched it for us.

This was a delightful Sunday afternoon (yay for 9 o'clock church! And actually we had Regional Conference so it was just 10-12 and no meetings!) wherein we talked about what type of dog we want once we a)have a backyard and b)don't have anymore babies (Ruth's memory, not mine..haha!). Will wants a Forever Puppy and softness is a high priority. I learned that it's not just me--even Sterling acknowledged that carrying Russell is the exact equivalent to carrying a twenty pound bowling ball. And we all know how fun it is to carry bowling balls around. I mean, I do it all the time and I couldn't be happier. Sterling also spent twenty minutes convincing Russell that his first words will, in fact, be 'dada'. Russell laughed at him a lot, so I'm not sure how convinced he was, but it was epicly adorable. Will asked his endless stream of 'why' questions (I keep meaning to write his questions down the minute he asks them---he asks things I have no idea about, like how do they fill and empty water towers?) and it was nice to have daddy around to actually explain them. Ruthie showed amazing endurance when she kept walking even when her new sandals started rubbing a blister. And everyone's favorite color was acknowledged and dissected. I think it was capital day! Here's to more glorious Sunday's before the weather warms up again!