Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Marco Island/Tamiami Trail (Memorial Day)

I have wanted to go to Marco Island since FOREVER and it ended up that Memorial Day was perfect! It's about two hours away, but you drive on the Tamiami Trail the entire way-so it's a really fun drive. The Tamiami Trail basically takes you from the Atlantic side of Florida to the Gulf side of Florida and straight through the Everglades the entire time. Sterling promised we could go back because we didn't get any pictures. On the way there the kids were fighting nonstop (we had friends with us and so all three carseats were in one row, it was horrible) so we didn't stop for anything, and then it was raining/hurricane weather the entire drive back. But we passed two blinking panther crossing signs, one huge statue of Bigfoot?, some incredible swamps/mangroves/rivers, a hilarious little post office (the size of an outhouse), and two MASSIVE statues of a panther and an alligator. As well as about three visitors center. So we will definitely have to drive the Tamiami Trail again.

Luckily, we made it to Marco Island, crossed over the gorgeous bridge, and took instructions from the incredibly nice old man at the gate to Tigertail Beach--to walk around this lagoon to get to the Gulf and find lots of shells. It was great advice, but it was a WALK! It felt like I was in a desert and the sun was beating down on me, and apparently to Will it felt like that times 1,000...which made it feel...a lot worse. But in the end we made it! The Gulf of Mexico!
Our friends Brent and Janessa came and I am so glad! They were SOOO much fun to have and our kids love them so much!
Once Will could see water, he was revived.  
It was such a pretty beach!
 I was nervous that it would be PACKED for Memorial Day so we left Miami at 8am to get there at 10am. It was almost empty in the morning, and was only starting to get really busy at around 3pm, which is when we left.

Molly got to ride across the great sand desert, lucky duck. 

One of the main reasons I wanted to go to Marco Island was because I had heard they have the most beautiful seashells! Miami beaches sometimes have a couple here or there, but not very big ones and not very many. Case in point, last week at Crandon beach we found an entire bucketful of seashells, all about the size of a quarter or smaller and it took us (five people) the entire day to pick out that many. But I had heard that the shells on Marco Island can just be ginormous and there are sooooo many. The kids were in HEAVEN.
There was sand, then a stretch of beach like this, then another stretch of sand, then ocean. The sand was INCREDIBLE. Much more sugar-soft than some of our beaches. Although, Miami Beach is pretty soft. Anyway, I am glad there was sand to walk on because it was not fun to walk over the shells!

Family pic

Ruthie is such a good swimmer these days!

This is my favorite picture from the day. IT IS COMPLETELY UNEDITED. The water was that clear, the sky that blue, the sand that beautiful. Oh, it was heavenly.

Big shell!

Will and Molly and I made some attempts at sand castles. The seashell-y sand made it much more difficult. Mostly we just decorated everything with seashells and it was still a grand time.

This is only the second time that Molly has really started trusting her puddle jumper and not relying on being held. She was CRAZY. She rode the waves, kicked her feet, flipped from front to back, and generally grinned and made us all laugh the entire time. NO FEAR from that little one. She was all about the warm Gulf of Mexico!
her foot!
Awww, daddy/daughter photo.

She's got a frog kick going on!


Our pile of 'big; shells. Everyone picked five to bring home. But somehow they managed to smuggle a lot more than that. Haha. We found a LOT of bigger ones, but you can't take them if they are still alive (obviously) and they all were. It was fun to find them though!
Standing over their loot.

Looking for shells.
Me and my little man. Don't mind the massive farmer's tan! 

And straight into the water--all by herself!

We went on a walk up and down the beach because we heard you can find incredible shells, sand dollars, and such. But we didn't. We DID see two stranded jelly fish (Ruth remembered being stung and was very stern with Will and Molly to NOT TOUCH IT!) and a horseshoe crab. Janessa and Brent saw a manatee. I think I saw it make a few waves, but I'm not sure. We saw TONS of tiny little fish. 

We called it quits at 3pm and as we loaded up the car, these clouds rolled in. This is driving over the bridge off of the island and back onto Florida. 

The Everglades with rainfall like only Florida can muster!
And some more blurry Everglades.
We had so much fun! I want to go back really bad--mostly to experience more of the Tamiami Trail, but also, those shells! It was such a fun beach! Poor Sterling, the tops of his feet are FRIED. We put sunscreen on FOUR TIMES (it was HOT and that sun beating down on us was NOT messing around) but I think his feet are just not used to it--he always has socks and shoes on. Luckily, I kept the redhead covered enough that she emerged unscathed. :)  It was such a great Memorial Day and I'm so glad we found the time to explore more of Florida while we are here!

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Lately (moving)

Sterling's mom-mom asked for some updated photos of the kids. Since we missed Sacrament Meeting on Sunday (uh yeah...Molly was awake from 1:30-4:30 after we'd already been up til midnight. Sterling fed the kids breakfast and then said he was going to snuggle with me for one minute, and we both fell fast asleep. It was a beautiful thing. haha) I figured we might as well take a moment for some photos! 
When I pull out the gel he only allows faux hawks, silly man. This photo of him gives me all the feels. He's too big! He's so handsome! He's growing too fast! He's such a good little man! He's the greatest!
They couldn't keep their hands to themselves for photos, so I had them fold their arms. I didn't realize how gangsta that would come off, haha! 
That dress of Molly's I pulled out this week. LONG LONG LONG story--but we're moving. Our dyer has been broken since February and then our microwave broke. We stopped paying rent (after giving seven days notice, as per our lawyer-friend told us) and he didn't say a word to us for two months. In the interim we got nervous about getting kicked out by our HOA(Sterling received a notice stating that they weren't being paid). Also-we have never had a time withOUT problems with our landlord, so we needed to move. Plus, he didn't contact us to re-sign our lease, which means it automatically goes to a month-to-month contract. We didn't want to be at the mercy of his whim's and have to find a lease for under a year and move during the middle of second year. Much better for everyone involved that we move BEFORE second year starts. SOOOO...I got a little crazy antsy (things move so SLOW with the moving process here!) and pulled out all the kids' totes and went through everything we own. The dress Molly is wearing is 3T (she wears 12 mo shorts and 2T tops right now) but Ruth thought it was adorable and showed it to me, and I looked at it and thought, that would probably fit. And it does! It makes me think of Devaney every time I see it, because it was originally Devaney's. Fun stuff. 

We're moving to a place that is cheaper, has a third bedroom, is in the same complex as my best-Miami-friend, and we have already spoken with the owner MULTIPLE times. He got so fed up with our paranoia (our current landlord has made us really particular about leases!) that he said he'd cover ANYTHING that goes wrong in the first thirty days at full cost. HAHA. We love him already.

I know, it's all the same photo. But I see something different in each one and I just can't delete! I love them all!

She is NOT allowed to look this old. Oh, how I love her!
He kept posing so fast that half my pictures came out blurry. Next time I'll have to do action mode to get a face shot of him! 

AND HOW IS SHE THIS BIG?!?!?! Her little shoes and LONG legs! Every time I look at those legs I cry a little bit inside because they are officially toddler legs. Where did my baby go?!?!?
Molly is such a character lately. Okay, always. But now she is throwing words into the mix and it is just so much fun! Right now I especially love her "Ta-DA!!!". She does it for everything. Shuts a door "ta-DA!", picks up a toy "ta-DA!", twirls around "ta-DA!". It's the cutest thing ever. She also says "okay" all the time, but she says it really timid and it is just the sweetest thing ever. I'll tell her to go sit up to the table "Oh-tay mama" in this teeny, tiny, little voice. Heart melts. At the dinner table it is always 'more please', which sounds like 'MO-PEAS! MO-PEAS! MO-PEAS!' in such fast succession that I'm impressed she can breathe and talk at all! haha.

Sterling took a few photos of me, but then I looked at my puffy eyes that had not slept all night and decided that was a BAD idea. I did just get highlights in my hair though, so that's fun. 
His eyelashes here!!!!
I keep going back on my insta account and looking at this photo. It is just so much perfection. Oh, that boy. He is really struggling with being three lately. It is HARD to listen and not get angry and not hit your sisters. We have quite a few time outs, early bedtimes, and not being able to get treats. There was a doozy at Target on Monday. I had to get a couple of candy bars for some piano students. He saw some Spiderman flip-flops. He already has sandals, so I said no to the sandals. He wanted to carry them. I said he could carry them around the store, but then we would have to put them back. Of course, that did not go as planned. I have never heard such ear-splitting, never-ending screams. He did not get the sandals though, and for that I am still a little bit proud. I walked out of that Target head held high. Kind of. We scrambled out as fast as possible. HAHA. But other times he is SO sweet and plays so well with his sisters! Yesterday he scrubbed the tub and the first thing when Sterling got home he said was "DAD! I washed the tub ALL BY MYSELF!" He was SOOOO proud. He also had to eat another pancake this morning because Ruth had four, and he couldn't let her beat him, haha. Good times.
Other than that, not much has been happening. I took the van in this morning to get fixed, so I feel like I should be packing or something since I'm stuck at home. But we still have to wait for an HOA approval and that can take up to twenty days, and we don't have to be out until the 21st--so I don't want to go too crazy and then have to live without anything for a month. 

Ruth asks every morning "Is it the first of July yet? Are we going to Utah?" A little while ago I told her we would go in 'six more Sundays' and she's been holding me to it. Haha. She also copies letters onto her coloring pages and when she hands it to me says "I learned some new letters for you, mom!" haha. 

We had an AWESOME beach day last week--the kids had SOOO much fun monopolizing our friends Jeff and Diana. Molly was LOVING the warm water (it felt like sitting in the bathtub) and we saw a crab as big as a dinner plate--and collected TOOO many shells. That are still sitting on my microwave in a bucket, unwashed. Haha. 

A lot of my piano students want to take through the summer (what?!?!) so we're plugging along with that and trying to soak in every single minute of sunshine. That is something I will never tire of. Oh sunshine, you are the greatest thing ever.