Our second week in Florida was wonderful, and I started things off with a morning bike ride with Derek. It was a short walk from the condo to the Marina, and it was so pretty. Derek especially loved the parrot, Maryann :).
Once we got our bikes, we set off on a little adventure. We rode to the cute little Jolee Island, where we had found the pirate ship playground. It was the perfect place to ride around.
All throughout the island, were little trails that were perfect for exploring. We found a little playhouse, a swing, a bigger playhouse, wildflowers, etc. It was so much fun! We rode around for over an hour, and then when it got too hot out, we headed back to the condo.
Later that evening, Kevin and I went on a date to go see the dueling pianos play at a restaurant in the village. They would play any song you requested, and so just for fun, I had them play "If I Had a Million Dollars." At one point, there was a war between tables, as they had the pianists play their college's fight song. Good times! We had such a great time, and we loved listening to the piano players, and loved eating the Key Lime pie even more :).
On Sunday, we decided to drive over to Niceville, so that we could go to church with our old friends from Georgia, the Danelly's. It was so fun to see Leslie, and it was like we had never been apart. And since it was Sunday and we weren't going to the pool or the beach, it was a wonderful distraction from sitting in our hotel room :).
With it being our last week in Florida, we decided to pick a fun activity to do each day, so that we made sure to check everything off of our wish lists. One of the the things that Lily, Derek, and I really wanted to do, was go kayaking. It was so much fun!! We got there right when they opened, and so were the only people out on the water. (One thing we didn't realize, however, was that the kayaks weren't contained, and so they filled with water. It made us wish we had worn swim suits - oops!) Our favorite thing while we were out on the water, was watching the Osprey dive into the water to catch fish for their breakfast. It was awesome!
That evening, we went to Waffle House for dinner. I had been cooking every night to help save money - and because we had a full kitchen - and so it was a special treat. It was so yummy, and happened to be the perfect place to wait out a torrential downpour that started when we left our resort.
After dinner, we headed out to the other side of Destin to go on our Dolphin Cruise (see previous post for all the details and tons of pictures). It was quite the splurge, but it was something I wanted to do so badly. And hey, everyone was pretty excited about it, even if Derek and Arthur had moments where we sort of wished we had left them behind. Oh well - nothing is perfect. Lily was in heaven the whole time, I loved getting to see tons of dolphins, and then I truly loved getting to photograph the sunset on the ocean. Amazing!
On Tuesday, Derek got to do the thing that he had been wanting to do ever since we first drove into town and he saw it - go to "The Track." It was a go-cart/mini golf/etc. place that is heaven to a ten year old boy, and so Kevin took him there to have some fun. When they got there, they discovered that it was two for one because they were there earlier in the day, and so instead of getting to only do one of the go-cart rides, he got to ride a go-cart with Kevin, one alone, and they even got to play mini-golf. They both had a great time, and Derek was so happy!
While the boys were off at The Track, I took Lily and Arthur to play at a few of the nearby parks. It was pretty hot out already, but we still had lots of fun. My personal favorite, was watching Arthur try to push Lily on the swing :).
And just because, we had to stop and get a picture of Arthur as a cow. He thought it was so funny :).
That night, we went to the Dannely's house for dinner. They only live about 25 minutes from where we were staying, and it was so great to see her again - church was fun, but it is hard to talk and get caught up on each other's lives when you are sitting in Relief Society. She made us a yummy dinner, and then she, Kevin and I talked for four hours, until we realized that we had better get Arthur back and in bed. We had so much fun, I completely forgot to get a picture with her - bummer. Oh well. I am so glad we had the chance to catch up with old friends :).
On Wednesday, we took the kids back to Jolee Island to play on the other playgrounds. The kids had so much fun, but it was pretty hot out, and so after a while, I took the kids back to relax in the air conditioning, while Kevin went out to go golfing. Arthur was just soaked in sweat, and I love how he wanted to wear his sunglasses on his head, just like mom and dad.
There are four courses at the Grand Sandestin, and Kevin had played one of them last week, and was able to play two more this past week. It was crazy hot and humid out, but he still had a blast, and the course was beautiful.
When Kevin got back from golfing, we had dinner, and then we all went to the pool. It was perfect. The pool is just steps away from the building where my sister's condo is, and it is big and beautiful. Arthur has really been swimming around a ton more, and has been doing super well. It is fun to see him get better. And Lily and Derek are always off somewhere in the pool making new friends, or just doing their own thing. It is awesome to have them be so independent :).
On Thursday, I made reservations to play tennis. If we went after 11 am, we got to reserve a court for an hour for free, and although we don't get to play very often, we really love tennis. Derek had really been wanting to play as well, and so we took him along. We had a great time, and spent the first part giving Derek some lessons. Once he was worn out, Kevin and I played a match. Between the incredible heat, and the fact that I hadn't played in years, Kevin completely destroyed me. I still had a blast though :).
That night, we were all going to go to the beach, but Arthur was in a really bad mood, and Derek wanted to go to the pool, and so we split up. I took Lily to the beach, and Kevin took Derek and Arthur to the pool. Lily and I had such a great time together. We played on the boogie boards for a while, and then we left just in time to beat a huge rainstorm :).
The next morning, I got even more one on one time with my girl, as it was her turn to go on a bike ride. As we were riding, we realized that it was essentially the first time she had ridden a bike with foot brakes, and so it really threw her for a loop. I had her practice stopping and starting a bit, but she eventually got the hang of it, and only crashed a couple times (once into a bush, and the other time into a parked car).
Lily's favorite part of the bike ride, were all the fun discoveries we made. The fort, the swing, the cool playhouse - she was in heaven!
After an hour, she was getting tired, and so even though the weather was still great, we decided to head back. Just as we turned our bikes in, I felt a drop of rain on my face. What started with one drop, turned into a downpour in seconds, and so the two of us hung out at the marina - under cover - while we waited for the storm to pass. How fortuitous that we had decided to end our ride, so we didn't get stuck out in the storm! After the rain stopped, we walked back to the condo, and saw the coolest bird off to the side. (Things like that made me wish I had brought along more than my phone to take pictures.)
After Lily and I got back, Kevin headed out to play golf with Derek. There was a course that let a junior play free with the adult, and so the two of them went out to have some fun. And the had a blast! I love that Derek is getting old enough to go out golfing with Kevin - it makes me so happy to see them getting to do things like that together :).
Saturday was our last day in Destin, as we were leaving after church on Sunday to head to Tennessee, and so we had to take advantage of going to the beach one last time. We woke up early and got there about 7am to beat the crowds and the heat, and it was perfect. The kids adore the beach, whether it is playing in the waves, digging in the sand, trying to catch fish, or just taking it easy (which they rarely did). I feel so blessed to have had two weeks where they just got to have fun here.
Getting to the beach early, pretty much means that you have the water to yourself. The few people that were already there, were either running along the beach, or were older people who were relaxing in chairs in the sand. And so, it was like our own, personal ocean.
Arthur decided that he wanted to help me build a sand castle, which translated into me building the castle, and him dumping buckets of water into the moat :). (Behind us you can see all the chairs and umbrellas that got set up behind us while we played. They stayed mostly empty the whole time we were there, and were finally getting a few people using them by the time we left.)
Lily spent the bulk of our last day at the beach catching fish and other creatures. There were big schools of tiny fish that would swim in the shallow water, and she tried so hard to catch them in our net. And she even succeeded a few times :).
While Lily fished, Derek floated and played in the water. The sea was pretty calm, and so there weren't any big waves to play in, but he still had a great time.
And like I mentioned before, when Arthur wasn't playing with Kevin out in the water, he was idling up backers and dumping them in the moat of the sandcastle - over, and over, and over :). When the tide started coming in, he would sometimes just sit there and let it wash over him, which he thought was awesome.
As we had been playing, a storm was building off to the West, and suddenly, not only could you see the storm, but an amazing rainbow over the ocean. It was amazing. And for the icing on the cake, we saw a dolphin playing in the water near us. It was as if Florida was saying goodbye to us.
When we finished up at the beach, I began doing laundry and packing in earnest. One huge blessing of staying at my sister's condo, was the tiny washer/dryer combo. It was little, but I used that thing a ton. Because the loads had to be small, I did laundry almost every day - and with going to the beach and the pool all the time, there was a lot of laundry :). To have the washer and dryer was a huge blessing. The other saving grace was the drying rack - especially with all those beach towels! When we got there, we noticed that Wendy's rack was broken, and so we bought her a new one. It was the least we could do, considering how amazingly generous she was to let us stay there.
After two weeks of living in a place, everything tends to get pretty spread out. Luckily, I had started working on things on Friday, and so I finished up enough, that Kevin and I could go out on a date to see the new Star Trek movie. We went to another one of the theaters where you had a waiter, and it was awesome. Free refills on popcorn, and I never had to get up to get them :). The movie was excellent too.
On Sunday, we went to Sacrament meeting, and then loaded up the car to leave. It was an amazing two weeks in Destin, and I will be forever grateful to my sister, Wendy, for making it possible for us by letting us use their condo. We made some amazing memories, and it was the perfect gift of relaxation and fun, after a very stressful year.