Friday, June 3, 2011

Family Vacation

We had an excellent family vacation in the beginning of May in Florida.  Why Florida?  Because my oldest daughter was graduating from Pensacola Christian College and since all of us (Randy and all the kids, including Connie and Nevaeh) were going, we decided to make it into a family vacation!  Besides, going to Florida sure was a long way from Alaska as well as expensive so we wanted to make the most of it.  What made it even more memorable was the fact that not only my mom and oldest sister went, but also Randy's mom and sister.  Now if only my younger sister and Randy's brother could have made it....but maybe, just maybe there will be another time....I can hope, can't I?

I can't remember all the day to day details of when we did what but I can tell you what we did/went, just don't ask me exact days and times!

We were able to rent a house in Orlando so we had our own home away from home!  It was much less than staying at a hotel--that's for sure--and much more homey and comfortable for all; but the most important was that there were enough beds and bathrooms for everyone.  Well, Andrew did have to sleep on the couch for a few nights because I wasn't expecting him to stay as long as he did--still not the full time we were there but longer than he had planned.  He had just started a business (Precision Archery) and was only planning on staying for 3 days (and that included one night in Pensacola and travel time) but after arriving, he made some phone calls and was able to stay another 3 days.  I'm not sure who that meant the most to:  Randy, myself, Christine, the grandmas and aunts, or even Kyle, Connie and Nevaeh(!) but nevertheless, it touched our hearts.

Most of us arrived in Orlando on "Day 1", got settled into the house, spent the night then drove to Pensacola (all but Kyle, Connie & Nevaeh; because of her age, Nevaeh wasn't able to go into the auditorium).  We rented two vans and Andrew rented a silver convertible Mustang.  He asked for a yellow one because Amy keeps saying that's what she wants--a yellow convertible Mustang.  Poor Amy though; she rode with Andrew when we went to Pensacola and got sunburned very badly--she fell asleep on the drive down and it was so hot.

Meant Randy's mom, Don (a family friend), and sister in Pensacola (they flew into Pensacola but flew back home from Orlando).  Spent the night in Pensacola and then graduation was the next day. Yes, I cried.  I was fine until Christine gave a short speech and then I actually realized what a wonderful young woman she had become.  I mean, I know she had and is, but it was like I actually really saw it then.  Afterwards we went to lunch then helped Christine get her things together for her friend to take to North Carolina--where Christine will be working.  Then we all, except Don ((he had gone home from Pensacola) headed onward back to our home away from home in Orlando.  We just hung out at the house the next day; did do some shopping as we needed some groceries...too.

Randy's Mom and sister was leaving Saturday so before they left, we went to Red Lobster for his mom's 70th Birthday.  When we got back, we had cake and ice cream.  Yes, we did put all 70 candles on the cake.  I had thought about telling someone at the restaurant that it was her birthday but didn't know how she would react so I didn't.  She was surprised with the cake and couldn't believe that we actually put all 70 candles on it but I think that I can say she was pleased and happy that we took time to do something for her birthday--especially since this was "Christine's time".  We were also able to go to Cocoa Beach before they had to go home.  My mom, Randy's mom and I walked down the beach along the shoreline.  It felt so good to feel the sun shining on me and the water on my feet.  After we got back from our walk, Randy talked me into going into the ocean all the way to do some wave hopping.  I thought I was nuts to let him talk me into it but I have to admit that it was fun.  Me, who does not swim or like water because of it, actually did it AND enjoyed it!  Mind you, I told him I wouldn't go unless he kept a hold of my hand and sure enough, he was a gentleman and didn't let go.

On Monday, the rest of us were also able to go to Disney World for the day.  Have to admit that we were somewhat disappointed.  We picked the one park that we thought would satisfy everyone but what it advertised wasn't what it appeared to be, or maybe it wasn't what we had expected.  We wonder if the other park we had considered would have been better.  Because of our time, and what we wanted to do in Florida, we only had time to spend one day there.  If anyone asks us about going I would say, definitely do so for more than one day.  The kids said that they enjoyed Six Flags/Marine World better than Disney World, and we only went for one day there too on the three times we were able to go when "home".  When I asked why, they said it was the same things they saw and did from the time(s) before but it was just more fun compared to Disney World.  I have to admit that I agreed and all I did was walk around at Six Flags too; except the first time we did go to a few of  the "shows".

We did fit in some shopping too.  The first time we went to a Mall and I have to say that I think it was one for the rich.  Connie and the girls went shopping elsewhere one evening and Amanda and Amy were in "7th Heaven"....LOL  They did find a lot of good deals in their price range.  We did go to another Mall that was for us "normal folks price range" and I was able to get a couple of things I had wanted.  To satisfy the guys (mainly Randy), we went to a Bass Pro Shop.  That stop was scheduled in because Amanda and I had gotten him Bass Pro Shop gift cards for his birthday. We also went to an outlet mall but only went to a couple of stores as by that time we were tired
The restaurants we ate at:  Besides Red Lobster, we went to (do I dare say) two other places for dinner and the food was good but they were "bar type" restaurants, like the one Chili's have (the closet I can come to explaining it).  Amy kept saying how can she explain that we took her to two bars???  She was joking and I have to admit that it was kind of humorous when I realized that we had--but not on purpose!  We went to IHOP at least three times for breakfast.  Randy and I took Kyle and Connie out on a double date to Olive Garden.  We ate at the Food Court at the Mall.  I missed out on DQ ice cream because I choose Chinese but was too full to have DQ for dessert afterward as I planned.  We ate at Sonic for a meal too.  Oh yeah, when we had lunch at Pensacola it was a Pizza Hut but I guess that doesn't count because we can eat at a Pizza Hut here in Alaska.  I think that's all the places we ate but at every place we ate, we had such excellent and friendly service.  We couldn't believe how well mannered and how each waiter/waitress was "right there" constantly tending to our needs and was always asking if we needed anything.  You don't find that kind of service everywhere.  We were truly impressed and it wasn't just one certain restaurant but at each and every one we went to.

Did I mention that we had our own pool at the house!  We all took time out by or even in the pool.  Mostly at the end of the day for most.  Even the girls (including Connie) and I took a night after Nevaeh went to bed to go into the pool.  We opt out to paying extra in having the pool heated since the sun heated up the water during the day but we found out that it definitely cooled off in the evenings/night!  Randy even stayed up with us; he said someone needed to be around that actually knew how to swim while we were goofing around.  We were already in the pool and decided when he came out we were going to say how warm and nice the pool was to convince him to get in.  He believed us and jumped in!!!

It was a wonderful time to be together.  I was so glad that it worked out for the whole family (mainly Randy, my children-- and I) to be together.  I was thinking that with everyone grown up that no telling when this would happen again.  It was a special time for me.  More so that both our moms and sisters were able to come too.  We sure did miss Randy's brother and my younger sister though; it would have been nice to have all of our siblings together with our moms.  It was still a great reunion though.

In closing....Mornings were my favorite time to sit out by the pool (screened in), drinking coffee and enjoying the sunshine before the busyness of the day started.  It was so peaceful and a great time of reflection and spending time with my Lord.  I think it's important to take the time first thing in the morning devoted to God.  No matter how one thinks that they'd be able to find time later to do so, before you know it, it's the end of the day and "later" didn't come around.  It says in the Bible to give our "first fruits" to God.  I think it can be said that this includes our day--to start our day, first with God, before getting started with the rest of what is planned/needed to be done each day.

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