I'll admit to feeling sorry for myself last year, when we were 'stuck' at home for spring break due to the presence of a certain infant. So this year I was quite happy to pack up the van and drive the three to Sarasota for a week of fun in the sun with the grandparents, especially with the prospect of Tim joining us for the second half. Although it was at times a bit frustrating to deal with a baby who didn't want to nap well or be parted from her mommy, we really had a terrific time, as the below images attest.
Clare loves the beach. I think if we had simply gone there every day, she would have been satisfied. The fact that Siesta Key is rightly named America's #1 beach year after year is the cherry on top. The white sand is incredible, composed of quartz that never gets hot. Beautiful, clear water through which we saw several large fish. Some days the water is very calm, like below, which suited Danny quite well. This was Danny's only visit to the beach, because as much as Clare loves it, he does not. Fortunately, Donna and Larry were extremely accommodating, so Tim and I each had the opportunity to return to the beach for some one-on-one time with Clare. Both visits were fantastic and equally enjoyed by both parent and child!
I do wish I had some pictures of time spent at the pool, because while Danny had very little interest in the beach, he has suddenly become an avid fan of the pool. In years past, he would swim somewhat grudgingly, often a victim of my need to get the kids out of the house and Clare's passion for the pool. This week, for reasons passing understanding, he turned the corner and couldn't get enough. He was always the first to ask to go, and the last to get out of the water. He wore goggles 100% of the time (including while walking to the pool), which may have made the difference. Whatever the case, I love it and hope it continues throughout the summer.
Legoland! The best way to summarize Clare's and Danny's excitement for this trip is with this anecdote. The night before our planned visit, I explained to both kids that we would all be wearing hats at Legoland, thanks to the fact that we had spent a tad too much time in the sun at the pool. I also mentioned to Clare at bedtime that we would be leaving early, so she and Danny should go ahead and get dressed when they awoke. After an early wake-up call from Laura, I opened my bedroom door at 6:34 a.m. to find Clare and Danny standing in the hall, dressed and with hats on, just waiting to leave.
I think the Florida location mostly lived up to their expectations. It was missing a couple of spots from the California site that they enjoy, but we managed to spend a good 8+ hours there and had to drag Danny from the "Build & Test" site (below) in order to hit the souvenir shop and head home.
Proof that Laura did spend some quality time with the grandparents! (Donna graciously kept Laura all day while Larry and I took the other two to Legoland.)
This past week Laura added "up" and "down" to her vocabulary, and is working hard to distinguish "book" from "ball" (they sort of sound the same right now). She asked to go up on laps and read books frequently, which is encouraging on the reading front. She only allows you to actually finish the book about 25% of the time, but it's progress.
Larry rented a boat for Tim's first day on vacation, so the two men took the big kids out on the water. They did not capture it on camera, but apparently multiple dolphins frolicked quite close to the boat, to everyone's delight. Clare relished speed (just like she has come to adore roller-coasters at Legoland), while Danny often asked his daddy to slow down. Nevertheless, they both enjoyed it.
Meanwhile, Donna and I checked out the Casey Key Fish House for lunch with Laura:
While Clare was busy on her private tours of the beach, Danny was treated to some golf with Grandpa. He has yet to reclaim his two-year-old self's love of the sport, but he never turns down a chance to play, so there's still hope.
On Saturday, while the gentlemen golfed, Donna and I took the kids to an Easter festival hosted by St. Michael's Church on Siesta Key. Clare took the opportunity to wear her sun hat that Grammy bought for her, and which she loves:
There were a number of classic games like egg-and-spoon and sack races, as well as an egg hunt. (Note Danny's determined face in the sack race!)
The lucky older kiddos enjoying souvenir t-shirts from Grandma and ice cream at Grandpa's newly-discovered favorite shop, Abel's:
This final snapshot is a bit random, but it's the best illustration I have for a couple of terrific walks that I took with Danny. Donna and Larry's condo is located in a country club with lots of paths and ponds for walking around. Danny and I went gator-hunting a couple of times, and it was fun to see how genuinely interested he was in all the wildlife. We saw a lot of turtles, and many different species of birds. The gators were more elusive, but on our final walk we finally saw a big one, swimming away from us in a nearby pond. According to a couple of men walking by, we had just missed seeing him cross the street, and they claimed he was 10-12 feet long. We'll be looking for him again when we return at the end of May!
MANY thanks to Donna and Larry for such a splendid spring break!