Thursday, July 28, 2011

My Aloha Apron

This is the apron I received from my partner and I LOVE it, especially the matching headband!  One of the things I love most about these swaps is the different styles that I get, and this one is unique.

She sent so many goodies with my package.  I got some frozen treat makers (enough for the whole family), along with a ring full of laminated recipes for some good old fashioned popsicles.  One of them is a pudding pop with Oreos that my man wants me to try first.

She also filled a mesh bag with summertime toys for my kiddos.  You can't see it well in the picture, but I got some spreaders with matching table cloth weights - I'm so excited about those.  Maybe I should host a backyard luau and put all of my new treats to use.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Hippie Chick

On the way home from Key West, we stopped by a Tie-Dye store, hoping to find some dye.  They didn't sell any dye, but already tie-dyed clothing, cloths, bags, etc.; along with lots of hippy clothing and accessories.  The shop owner was a wonderful lady who said our children were "magical".

My redhead flower child fell in love with this dress and she's worn it almost every other day since we've been home.  Isn't she cute?


What started with inviting one friend over turned into four extra boys at my house today. 

My table and my island were completely clean and clear this morning, and by this afternoon .... this.

Just how many cups do 10 kids need?  Notice the three empty jugs of Hawaiian Punch, some spilled juice spilled under my violet and cake top, and corn syrup/food coloring - ingredients for fake blood.  I love my boys; and their friends.  Seriously.  What I love more is they cleaned ALL of it up themselves without my help.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Key West, Last Day

On our last full day on the Keys, we drove back to Bahia Honda State Park.  We had to drive through Big Pine Key and there are flashing lights and the speed limit posted all over the road, because of the Key Deer that live there.  Several times we read, "Speed Kills Key Deer".

On the way back to the condo, we decided to take a road off to No Name Key, which my 7 year son pointed out, indeed, does nave a name, where more Key Deer live.  Boy, those things were a dime a dozen.  Everywhere you looked, you would see Key Deer.  They were even walking down the middle of the street!

We saw this one with a plastic bucket type thing around her neck.  I'm not sure if it was put there on purpose to protect her, or if she got it stuck around her somehow.  You know the environmental posters with a duck and the plastic rings that hold 6 packs together around the necks?  That's what this reminded me of.  Speaking of environmental posters, my husband's work has started putting those in all the bathrooms and around the halls about littering.  There is this one picture that I think is supposed to be a horrid reminder to dispose of my trash properly, but I'm sorry, all it does is make me giggle.  It's a picture of a pelican wrapped up in a trash bag; and I don't know why, but it reminds me of my kids when they wear grocery bags ... they will put them on like pants and use the handles as suspenders.  I'll have to post a picture some time.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Key West, Day 6

We heard from the guest book at our condo that Fort Zachary Taylor had the nicest beach on Key West, so we headed there on day 6.  We got in for FREE because July is Florida State Park month.  If you find a ranger and read to them, which we had the kids do at Bahia Honda State Park, they give you a return pass to any Florida State Park, which Fort Zachary Taylor is!

It was a lot of fun running through the old Civil War fort, which saw action in WWI and WWII also.  I didn't realize it when we left the condo, but my girls didn't wear shoes this day.  That ground in the Florida sun was HOT.  Derek being the good dad that he is carried them all over the roof of the fort, even up stairs.

The kids had a lot of fun playing on the cannons.  This particular one in the photos above and below is a Parrot Rifle; it shot a 300 lb bullet shaped shells.

The latrine and some of my kids using it.  Not really.

The beach was much nicer at Fort Zachary Taylor.  There wasn't as much seaweed, but it is a man made beach covered with rocks.  I thought they'd be smoother than they were, but it hurt to walk out and get to the water.  At least, it hurt Derek and me, but I guess that's because we weigh more.  You can see the rocks through the water in the photo below.

There was a cruise ship docked and we got to see it go out to sea while swimming.  My youngest was so excited thinking it was Zach and Cody's ship. 

The water here was much deeper than the other areas we went to, which was nice to cool off.  There was a rock formation about a hundred feet off shore that we swam to.  There were all kind of fish swimming around and you didn't even need snorkeling gear to see them with the water as clear as it was.

This was some of the kids favorite beach.  Although Derek and I weren't fan of the rocks, the kids loved exploring and climbing on them.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Key West, Day 5

Day 5 - Ernest Hemingway's house.

Ernest Hemingway spent several winter's at his home in Key West.  We got to tour it and the beautiful grounds - which I found out weren't pretty at all when he lived there, pretty much just sand with a few palm trees as there was no running water on the island.

Kids on Mr. Hemingway's balcony with Key West lighthouse in the background.

Of course, none of the kids knew who Ernest Hemingway was, so they weren't all that excited about it.  Although, my youngest asked when she saw the pool, "When that man gets back home and cleans his pool, can we go swimming with him?"

He had a lot of cats, in fact 47 of the cat's descendants still live in the home today.  Above is a cat fountain - the top is made from an olive jar and the bottom was a urinal from Sloppy Joe's!  BTW, we ate at Sloppy Joe's one day for lunch and it was so good.  I really, really wanted to try their famous Sloppy Joe sandwich, but couldn't bring myself to do it.  I think Manwich and school cafeterias have ruined a Sloppy Joe for me forever.

I read online that one of Ernest Hemingway's cats had six toes.  There is a restaurant that was our favorite breakfast joint called the Six-Toed Cat right next door.  Several of the cats on the island today have six toes.  I was wondering how in the world you'd be able to tell a difference .... but when I saw one I knew!

Six-toed cat

There was a pool/guest house in the back with his office overlooking the pool area.  Above is where Hemingway wrote 70% of his works.

Another cat curled up amongst books.
Did I tell you that most of the tour guides and ticket booth guy looked like Hemingway?  Then again, this week Sloppy Joe's is holding their annual Hemingway Look-Alike contest and we were told half the island looks like him this time of year. 

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Key West, Days 3 and 4

On day 3, we celebrated the 10th birthday of my son.  He just wanted to hang out at the pool and eat pizza for supper, so that's what we did. 

Day 4 - Derek looked online to find a better beach around Key West, and found Bahia Honda State Park.  It was voted best beach in America .... it was in 1992, but that was still a good sign.  Boy, was it beautiful! 

There was still seaweed on the beach, but as you can see in the picture above, the water was clear blue.

There was one section that was probably the size of two football fields, where the water was clear and a little over ankle deep.  Way out, there was some more sea grass growing.  I could handle this much better that the stinky stuff growing across the street from our condo.

Sea grass that looks like a map of USA, here's Florida.

You can see how far off shore we were and how shallow the water still is.

This scene reminded me of a Corona commercial. 

 We all came back to this site our last full day in the Keys and Derek and I set our chairs up in the middle of the water and relaxed for hours in the sun.

In the early 1900s, Henry Flagler brought the railroad down to the Keys.  A section of the railway is still standing through the Bahia Honda Chanel.  Years later, they added a road to the top to the unused railway.  That road looked so rickety but luckily, there is a much wider and more sturdy road that you travel on now.

Bahia Honda was the best time at the beach for all of us.  I would love to go back, and hopefully seaweed free.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Key West, Day 2

My plan was to blog everyday about our vacation; but with the tiny laptop and slowness of uploading pictures, it proved difficult.

On to day 2.  I learned something on the 2nd day while taking a sunset/snorkeling Catamaran cruise - that 50% of my children get seasick.  We took a 3 hour tour 7 miles out to sea to America's only living reef (and the 3rd largest reef in the world).  Everyone was fine on the ride out, but as we were snorkeling the wind picked up and the water got pretty choppy.  On the way back, three of them felt pretty bad.  Matt "fed the fish" seven times in a 45 minute span.

Even with the tummy troubles, we all loved snorkeling on the reef!  It was beautiful to see a the land under the water.  Derek and the boys saw more than I did; but I saw a school of bright blue fish swimming around and lots of jellyfish.  They were a kind that don't sting, though, so the boys had fun playing with those.

One the ride out - they gave all the free sodas, beer, and wine everyone wanted and the kids drank their fill.

They also provided all the snorkeling gear.  It was Coast Guard required to wear the float thing around your neck, but you didn't have to blow it up.  The water was pretty rough, though, so we all put air in ours.  It surprisingly held you up and kept you above water.  They also put a noodle through the girl's vests to keep them up even better.

On the way back to shore, they put the sail up on the Catamaran. My youngest boy was so curious about everything on the boat and pretty much talked the crew's ears off (when he wasn't throwing up); so one of the crew let him "help" by keeping the rope out of the way.

We saw an amazing sunset out on the water and more beautiful sailboats.  If you ever go to the Keys, I highly recommend a snorkeling cruise.  We went with Sebago, and they were so good and so nice to the kids.  We will definitely be doing this again!