Sunday, August 20, 2017

Lakeridge Winery Annual Grape Stomp

We went over to Clermont today to see Eileen, Mabel and Milo at Lakeridge Winery annual fundraiser...


We had planned on stomping grapes but the lines were crazy long and it looked like a very messy business!


It was totally packed and boiling hot!


The kids loved posing in cool shades:)



First weekend as an Empty Nester. Check!

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Becoming a Bull!

We dropped Maddy off at USF this week! They were really well organized and had a whole bunch of activities lined up to help the new students settle in:)


And they even provided tissues for the parents:)


We got her unpacked in a couple hours and spent some time with her lovely roomie Emma and her family which was really nice too:)


Maddy's dorm has just been built and has tons of state-of-the-art facilities like a gym, dining facility (with sushi!), laundry room, lounges etc. She is so lucky!


Maddy's dorm decor is so stylish!


I gave her a necklace with some of Bryce's ashes. I knew she'd love it!


We stayed for most of the day as did most of the parents which was really nice to see. We took a mom/daughter selfie just before I got in the car. That last hug was so hard. I didn't want to let go...


The whole day was such an emotional roller coaster but it has gotten much easier over the past few days and Maddy is really thriving already. She has also done a great job of keeping us up to date with texts and facetime is really great too:). We have also had updates on the USF facebook page - it was hard to pick her out in this photo (allegedly she's in the "F":))


Maddy even got up early to participate in the "Charge" Community Service Event on Saturday morning. We were giddy when we saw this little video on facebook:)




We are doing well too. Knowing she is finding her way helps and we are staying busy and making new plans. And Tampa is only an hour away, right??!! Go Bulls!!

Celebrating Juneau's first Adoption Anniversary!

On Sunday we celebrated a year since we adopted Bryce and Juneau! The foster parents sent a big box of toys, a really touching card and a beautiful frame to remember our special boy. Love those girls so much:)


We got Juneau some toys, a party hat and the best dog cake ever:)


 We topped it with peanut butter and bacon - she loved it!


Cake coma face...


 She took all of her toys to her bed for safekeeping...


Since she looked so cute in her party hat, we took the opportunity to get some lovely pictures...


This was my favorite pic...:)


Love that smile:)


Post party snooze...


These two are really going to miss each other...


Happy Anniversary Juneau - we love having you as part of our family so much!

Bioluminescence Kayaking!

For Maddy's last weekend at home she chose for us to go kayaking at night at Merritt Island to see the naturally-occurring bioluminescence that appears at this time of the year:)



The particular conditions that create this phenomenon are rare - in fact there are only 7 locations in the world where it happens. We couldn't get photos but here's how it looks when you first go out...


At the beginning we thought the blue lights were waves but actually they were fish! Once you get out on the water, the schools of fish cause trails of light in the water all round you and the mullet actually jump out of the water. Everyone was laughing as the fish were hitting people and landing in the kayaks. It was amazing and really funny! The whole experience was about 90 minutes and it went in a flash - it was so much fun and a lovely way to finish out Maddy's last Summer at home:)

Monday, July 31, 2017

Countdown to College!

It's so hard to believe that our baby will be going to college in less than a month. We all had a two day orientation at USF to find out how this whole thing works. We were separated into different classes - we learned about everything from finances to how to "let it 'grow'" :)


Maddy had an amazing time. She learned about academics and the importance of college pride...

video

And now we are packing and having some family fun before the big day. The weeks are flying by...


We're going to miss you so much Maddy!

Monday, July 03, 2017

Our amazing Maine and New Brunswick vacation!

This year marks our last Summer vacation as a family before Maddy goes away to College:(. We wanted to do another National Park and Maddy has always wanted to visit Canada so we decided to start out in Acadia National Park and take a trip over the Canadian border too:) After arriving in Bangor we decided to swing by to see Stephen King's famous house...


Evidently, he's lived here for several years and everyone we spoke to has seen him around town at some point. The house is gorgeous but based on others on the same street listed for sale is probably only worth about a million dollars? Very humble for someone who has sold over 350 million books! Afterwards, we had a seafood lunch at "Maine's Best Hole In the Wall" to get into the local vibe which was totally amazing...


After lunch we hit he road for Acadia National Park! After just a couple of hours drive we arrived and had plenty of sunlight left to still enjoy some of the breathtaking scenery. We were just giddy when we saw how gorgeous this place really is!



One of our favorite games during the vacation was to find bad reviews on the Trip Advisor app. Some are hilarious and for every majestic sight on the planet it would seem there's a miserable git with a negative opinion to share. There's one for the Grand Canyon that says "Dragged here by the missus when I should have been playing golf. It's just a big hole in the ground. A big hole, mind." And the Eiffel Tower has "just a big chunk of metal...overrated" and my personal favorite "I was hoping it would fall and kill me so that the tour could be over." We laughed our heads off and continued to find new ones for the places we visited during the trip:) 

We started out our first full day with a beautiful hike from the top of Sand Beach...



...down past the amazing Thunder Hole (a sea cave that causes thunderous sounding waves just before high tide)...




Well we got soaked and liked it a lot. We finished up the hike at Otter Point. The skies were clear, the ocean smelled amazing and the scenery was so beautiful...


?!?!?

 Everything feels so alive in Acadia...


In the afternoon we took a boat tour to some local islands. We went all the way out into the Bay of Fundy and saw all kinds of sea birds and literally hundreds of adorable Atlantic Puffins! (which made me deliriously happy)...


 

...and seals too:)


Shouldn't you always when you're taking a boat!? Anyway, we though it was a totally amazing experience and the day ended perfectly with a beautiful sunset on Cadillac Mountain...


The following morning we took a walk out onto the massive sand bar that's exposed at Bar Harbor during low tide. Who doesn't love poking around in rock pools? 


Mike was very happy with his new hat and really enjoyed watching some folks get stuck when the tide came in and having to wade their way back to shore...



Then we went to see some of the amazing beaver dams and lodges and checked out the bottom of Sand Beach...


And in the afternoon we took the drive over to Canada! 


We immediately fell in love with Fundy National Park...



...since we quite like trees:) and since Canada are celebrating their 150th birthday this year our pass was free!! Thanks Canada Parks! We got a room right in the middle of the park itself for a couple of days too which was perfect. In the morning we drove out Hopewell Rocks (near the border between New Brunswick and Nova Scotia to find out more about the tides which are a huge deal in these parts. Hopewell Rocks holds the world record for the location with the biggest difference between low and high tide. Within hours of these pictures, over 260 billion gallons of water pours in increasing the sea level by 50 feet! We timed our trip so that we could spend an hour or so actually walking on the ocean floor:)


Well we were. And we saw some adorable Peregrine Falcon chicks...


And waited for the tide to rise...Mike took some more selfies in his new hat...


There's so much to see just by driving around. Mike loves covered bridges:)



We had dinner by the gorgeous Bennnett Lake with a family of Canada geese...



The motel was great and had hummingbird feeders by every room which were constantly occupied...:)


At least this one was appropriately themed:). In the morning we saw a lovely and very tame snowshoe hare who posed for pictures for me:)


We hiked the challenging Coppermine Trail...



...and spent the rest of the night trying to find some moose (mooses?meese?:)) to no avail. Mike did see a moose's behind briefly but we missed it. We had plenty of fun looking though and Mike did get a selfie with a moose sign so there's that.



They are running a wildlife photography contest for next year's edition of Fundy National Park's brochure which I have decided I am totally going to win. I started work that day during our morning hike with my new-found groundhog friend...



Then we saw a momma grouse and her chicks crossing the road!


And after Mike had just given us a dissertation on how unlikely it was that we would actually see a beaver, we got out of the car at McLaren Lake and literally saw about 6 of them! It was amazing to watch them feed and take stuff back to their lodge and build their dams. We loved them although it's obvious that they create a massive amount of damage. 


video

The next day we finished off Fundy with a beautiful lake and waterfall hike...


And said goodbye to Canada :(. On the drive back to Acadia we stopped in Moosehorn National Refuge still desperate to find a moose...



...and took in some more coastal scenery as well as some roadside curiosities along the way like the bizarre Wild Blueberry Land?? Maine loves their blueberries....



We ended the day with a Maine lobster and blueberry beer back on Acadia:)



To make the most of our last full day at Acadia we started out the following morning at Cadillac Mountain, the site of the first sunrise in America every morning:)


 

...and hiked Jordan Pond for a couple of hours:)





Our flight home was delayed but we had stayed in the very comfortable hotel right by the airport so we got some time to relax and read before traveling home. But apparently not all of their Guests have enjoyed the stay as much as we did...;)



Acadia and Fundy were both amazing and I'm glad we made the decision to stay and do them properly rather than try and squeeze in Nova Scotia too. We totally overindulged in eating, hiking, reading, meeting people and chasing wildlife. It was a perfect vacation and I hope we get a chance to continue the tradition even when Maddy is no longer living at home. We've all worked really hard this year so far so this particular vacation was just what we all needed. Can't wait for our next trip!!