Kids, crafts, country life and more...

This is what you get when you mix two toddlers, two border collies, a Shetland pony, two cats, a gaggle of turkeys, a former construction worker, a former lawyer and the family cattle ranch. Thanks for visiting. All images copyrighted. Do not use any text or image without permission.

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Monday, January 19, 2015

Clearwater Beach, Florida

We spent a week in Florida and had some good weather on either side of the Arctic blast that brought record lows with windchills in the 20s.  We stayed in Clearwater Beach.  We decided on Florida after seeing the Dolphin Tale movies. The Tampa area is really nice, a lot more spread out and populated than I realized, but with a great bunch of beaches.  The sand was almost like flour it was so soft and fine!

My camera on my phone had a cracked lens cover and I forgot my other camera, so we didn't get as many good photos as usual, but surprisingly, many did turn out.  It's always fun to get away from home for a while and we really enjoyed Florida.

We stayed at the Hyatt "Aqualea" on Clearwater Beach.  We could see the Gulf of Mexico and the beach from our room which also overlooked the pool which was on the 8th floor.


The first day we went and saw Hope and Winter at the Clearwater Aquarium, a marine rescue facility that was in the movies Dolpin Tale and Dolphin Tale 2.  I think Alice's favorite was the stuffed animals!

On the second day we went bottom fishing for Hogfish with Above Average Charters.  Alice slept nearly the entire ride, but Clyde was so excited.  He caught the first fish and the most fish!  We went about 9 miles off shore and fished in rocky bottoms.  A lot of the Gulf is flat and sandy but they know where the rocks are so we were pretty quickly catching.  We were looking for Hogfish, but caught a lot of White Grunts, a Scamp Snapper, 3 Hogfish, 2 "Mother in Law" fish and a Porgy.  We used shrimp for bait and the bottom was 80-82 feet down.  It was a perfect morning.  We were lucky we booked that morning because in the afternoon the cold and wind came in for a few days.  The captain fileted our fish, giving the scraps to a bunch of pelicans that gathered.  Then we took them over to Crabby Bill's where they fried them up for us.   

On the coldest day (on which Clyde was also feeling ill) we attempted to go beachcombing at Pinellas County Beach, but it was so cold we gave up quickly.  There were actually some guys out trying to surf since the storm had brought some waves with it.  Brrrr!

The next day we doubled up and visited the Florida Aquarium and Busch Gardens.  It was a little chilly, but we were happy to be in the amusement park when it wasn't crowded.

The goliath grouper was my favorite at the aquarium.  And I loved their collection of seahorses and pipefish. 

We loved seeing the animals at Busch Gardens and we got to see a live show with trained animals.

Clyde went on a few rides, but Alice is our daredevil....

All day, she just kept saying she wanted to do Cheetah Hunt, so last ride of the day, we did it.  Ben had my phone, but here's a photo of the ride.

Cheetah Hunt

Yikes!  It was the longest ride in the park at 3/4 mile.  I had fun riding with her.  I was amazed she wasn't more scared.

A giant waffle cone was a perfect end to the day.

We spent the last few days resting on the beach and catching up with a few people.  I got to see my junior year college roommate after 20 years.  That was a highlight!

There was a playground by the pier so we could chat while the kids played.  So good to catch up.  We also visited Joe Schwarz who lives on Longboat Key.  That area, a bit more exclusive, was beautiful.

All in all, it was a great time.  It's good to get away once a year.  Especially when we're working 7 days a week for so much of the rest of it!

Winter Fun

After Christmas Ben had some free time and we had some fun with the Smiths.  I wish I had a photo of Shelly wiping out!  But here's one of Marnie.

Marnie, Lainey and Alice loved the sledding.  Rylee had fun watching with us.  Then Ben did some horseback riding with the kids.

Mumsy got Clyde some "Keva Machines" for Christmas.  The day after Christmas he had the trebuchet built and the next day the catapult was done.  He's a great builder.

Alice and I went down to the Capital and helped my friend Caroline get moved into her office.  I'm so excited for her first term in the legislature.  

Merry Christmas 2014

We stayed up north until December 17th, a new record for us.  I took these photos one of the first days it snowed for our Christmas card.  Lucky I did, because it didn't snow much after that which is why we stayed so long.  It was a yucky, mucky fall.  

On our way out, we went over to the Stringer Place on a Christmas tree hunt.  We found a white fir that was about 13 feet tall that we liked, and the kids each got a little tree too. 

When we got to Eagle everything was a total mess from our half-done laundry remodel and intensive cleaning job.  I tried to have the kids do some learning activities including a math problem based on the 12 Days of Christmas.  There were 364 gifts in all and they followed a great pattern... 12, 22, 30, 36, 40, 42, 42, 40, 36, 30, 22, 12.  I had no idea.  We used addition and multiplication and they worked on using a chart. 

Our tree reached the peak of the ceiling - we totally hit the limit.  It was only sparsely decorated since we had so little time, but it was a lot of fun this year because the kids did a lot of the decorating.

The kids went to the Nutcracker with Mumsy, we had a Christmas Eve dinner at Harry's, Christmas morning at home and Christmas dinner at Mumsy's.

The most favorite delivery of all was from Santa.... Kitty!  She is loved by both children.  Alice is really learning to be responsible taking care of her. 

I went to Zamzow's to get a tag after Alice decided on the final name, and the guy said "Do you want the i-t-t-y in big letters?"  I responded yes and wound up with this: 


Because of my feeling of disorganization, Ben got me a barn shed.  It really made a huge difference in our garage!

It was a rushed but fun Christmas.  The kids are so excited they're already talking about next Christmas.  It's a fun time.