I know you have all been dying to know what people who live at the beach do for Spring Break! Let me tell you, we relax and have fun! No flight, hotel, rental car planning required! We were so ready for a break from our hectic pace! I was worried about entertaining these kids all week with no baseball games to distract us or school to occupy their time and give me alone time. I was most worried about them being kind to each other and me being kind to them when they are unkind to their siblings. Can you tell this has been a bit of an issue at our house lately??? I asked the ladies in my Bible study to pray for us! That was the ticket! We had a great week! We all worked together, were kind, and had a great time! It helped that we had company in several forms. First, on Monday this turtle visited our neighbor Jack's yard and we had fun checking him out. We picked him up to return him to the canal.
We had to adjust our Monday plans when we drove to the library at 10 am and found they didn't open until noon. We went back home and I bribed the kids with future movies from the library. Yes, bribery works wonders! I have to confess that I was WAY behind on my own chore box, so we dragged out all the ignored chores and did some heavy duty cleaning for THREE straight hours. I told the kids that they could pick out 3 movies EACH if they stayed on task and didn't complain. Their attitudes were AMAZING! They would finish a chore, we would inspect and find another chore to do for THREE straight hours (did I already mention that??) They never complained, not even when I decided to tackle all the black marks on the tile with a scrub brush on my hands and knees. We rounded up all the scrub brushes we could find and everyone helped out! The tile looks 100% better! We could have eaten lunch on it! We got all those pesky chores done like DUSTING (yuck) everything including the woodwork and blinds and light fixtures, cleaning the light switches and outlets, sliding glass doors and the monster mirror in the dining room, and all the every day stuff too! We all felt so good about what we accomplished!! I was SO pleased with the kids and their diligence that I took them to pizza hut for a late lunch (thanks to their book-it coupons) and then to Dairy Queen for dessert, and finally to the library to pick out their movies and books.
They are CHEAP labor!! It was happy hour at DQ, so anything through a straw was half price! After dinner, Paul's friend Michael Kellerman and his 2 boys Jacob and Noah (same ages as G and R) arrived from Chicago for a visit!
They immediately discovered they all were chess players and a tournament was begun:
Later, Michael showed them a trick to doing a head stand, and they all gave it tries for a long time!
Tuesday morning, our pastor (Matt, who played baseball in college) had agreed to do a short baseball clinic for the kids at church who play. It was a chilly day (by Florida standards), so they bundled up and all went to the field:
And generally had a great time! Here is the crew L to R: back row: Jacob, Gabe, Brent, Matt
Front row L to R: Josh, Noah, Holden, Derek, Brandon, Riley. I missed the batting practice when I ran to the post office (my new home away from home), but they learned some great techniques that should help them out immensely, if they can implement them instead of the bad habits they already have!
After the baseball clinic, Michael took all the kids to Myakka River State Park to go fishing and alligator watching. They didn't do very well with the fishing, but caught a couple:
On Wednesday, Michael did some sight seeing while I took the kids to Bible Study so they could swim in a warm pool (it worked out well for all of us!) Then, Michael took the boys up to Siesta Key. I sent my camera with them for some pictures, but neglected to put the batteries back into it after charging them...oops. No pictures, my fault! While the boys were gone, we girls went with Kate to do some shopping, specifically, it was half price day at the Salvation Army (so we are compelled to check out the deals!), and Alayna needed an Easter dress too. We had no luck with her dress after several stores. I was shocked at how difficult it was to find fancy dresses for little girls! We had a great time anyway. The hunt is the fun part!
Wednesday night the Kellerman's treated us to dinner out. This time we skipped the atmosphere and went to a place that was recommended for its FOOD! We went to an Italian place (and all the servers and workers there spoke Italian or had an accent!) and the food was great! Afterward we came back home and the kids played with Noah's Nintendo DS:
While I made a paper Praying Mantis that Kate gave Alayna. It was quite difficult for me, I can't imagine a kid having the patience to do it (it was a kids meal prize from Chick-Fil-A), but as you can see, Alayna was pretty happy when it was done!
Here is what we started with:
Thursday it warmed up and the Kellermans headed out and our clan headed to the beach to meet Kristen and Felicia and their boys. We had a great time, got some sun, and built forts. What more could we ask for??! Here is the beginning of their hole/fort:
And after several hours and recruiting help from other kids, it grew enormous! Riley's head is just above the sand level at the deep end!
This alligator was made by a couple near us. When it was all done, they used shells as the eyes and teeth and claws. It looked great, they were quite talented! You can see her forming the spiny processes on the back in the picture:Later, I got to play with Zach and Ryan (Kristen's boys) and we pretended to feed cookies to the alligator (we had to be careful not to get too close or risk getting eaten ourselves) and tried to build our own alligator. Those boys had a blast at the beach! It was so fun to watch the carefree attitudes with no agenda but fun!
Friday, Paul had the day off! WOO HOO! It was his first day off since Christmas! We planned to go to Busch Gardens, but after the long day at the beach and the heat (it was already 80 degrees that morning), everyone agreed we would rather rest by the pool with our library books and watch another movie! I was surprised, but relieved too. Alayna and I set out in the afternoon to find her dress and finally hit pay dirt at Beall's. It reminds me a lot of Kohl's.
Paul spent the day looking for a new rental house for us. We found out that our landlord wants to hike the price again and that she is ready to find new tenants who are willing to pay it. We looked at a house on Thursday evening that is owned by a couple at our church, but its really a 2 bedroom with a den that could work as a bedroom with no closet and an office that is detached but accessible through the lanai that could be a bedroom. The price is right and it is our back up plan. It is a really nice house that has been recently updated and is just a few blocks from Agape AND the beach. We're just not sure how to make the bedrooms work out yet. We looked at a couple more houses on Saturday, but still nothing that compares to the house we are currently in. We know God has a plan! We are not down, but we certainly are preoccupied by this turn of events. It takes a lot of searching to find a house! The house directly across the street is a second home for an attorney who lives in St. Louis who was only here briefly around Christmas. Our neighbors who we know best take care of the grounds for him and suggested we ask him if he is willing to rent the house to us. It is bigger than this one and it will take a MIRACLE for him to agree to our price. BUT, our God is the God of miracles, and I know He can make the owner's heart favorable to us. There are several reasons why we want to stay in this neighborhood: Harvey and Felicia Johnson just moved in down the street, they have a son Aaron who is a GREAT kid and friend to our boys in spite of being a little older than them, I have a great carpool worked out for school, we are close to church and in a central location to Sarasota, work, school, and close to the interstate! Would you please storm the gates of Heaven on our behalf for this house for the next few days? He wanted a few days to think about it and we should know something by the end of the week. I can't think of anything easier than moving across the street! PLUS, my sister and mom will be moving possibly in the month of June, so we need to be settled and know where we will be so they can find places for themselves. I know God has a perfect plan and I am excited to see where it leads us. This problem also brings up other questions, like should we just break down and buy a house? Should I go back to work so we can afford to do that? Is the market starting to turn around so that this is a wise move, or should we continue to wait? We just want God's perfect will for our lives to be so clear that we can't miss it! Please pray that for us most of all! I can't tell you how much I appreciate knowing you stand with us and behind us and intercede for us!
4 days ago