One Last Evening in Pictures

We are home from our beautiful Florida vacation. I will not write anything about the weather here at home, because I think that topic has been covered quite thoroughly.

However. I do have two things to say:

1) To everyone on Facebook: Post about the muffins you’re baking, or about your favorite shoes, or anything other than the weather. Facebook needs you to be strong. Resist the urge to write about the weather.

2) To the lady at the mall who said the snow today is her worst nightmare: It’s time to get out more, and experience new things. I could think of some pain and suffering in the world that might be more difficult to bear than a snowstorm.

Alright, now that I’ve gotten those two important thoughts off my chest, I will share some pictures from our last evening in Florida. Maybe they will comfort you in your suffering.

If not, then maybe you should not look at them. I promise this will be my last Florida post. After this, my pictures will all look white and wintery again, if that makes you feel any better.

But not for long. Because it’s almost spring.

golf cart ride

On our last evening in Florida, we went for a “family golf cart ride”. Kaylia still fits in the basket in the back, so there’s still room for the four of us!

We headed off for the `jungle`, which really isn`t technically a jungle, but rather a strip of uncleared land beside the retirement village.




It was a beautiful evening, but I’m so happy to be home. Vacations are nice, but ordinary life is quite wonderful, too.


Learning to Find Joy in the Journey

Well, here we are in Florida. 

orange trees

You know that feeling when you get up at 3 am, drive to the airport, sit around waiting, sit around in a plane, sit around eating lots and lots of snacks which may or may not be the best thing for you to be eating, and then you sit around and wait for a rental car, and then you drive around for a little while until you figure out where you’re going, and then you add a round of sushi to the large amount of questionable snacks already consumed that day, and sit around in a car until you finally reach your destination, which makes you feel super happy, and you wonder if MAYBE, possibly…the discomfort of the day was worth reaching the destination?


That’s how we’re feeling right now.

The day went fairly well, all things considered. “All things considered” being that I never actually fell asleep last night before the alarm rang, so I’m super excited about bedtime.


As we went about our day, I’ve been thinking about the joy of the journey.

In all honesty, sometimes the joy was a bit elusive, with the lack of sleep and all, but our family has always tried to enjoy traveling. Not just getting to where we’re going, but traveling.

When I was younger, my family traveled a lot. My dad always made it seem as though packing up the van or the camper and heading off across Canada or the States was an amazing adventure. And my mom provided so many snacks that I still associate “travel” with eating.

So we’d set off, with our plans for adventure, and a lot of snacks, and we’d make memories. My dad always took a ton of pictures, which we would relive once the adventure was over by watching slides. Some of my favorite family times involved all of us gathered together, staring up at the wall as our memories were projected into vibrant color, life-sized and brilliant.

I don’t know which was more fun – the trips or the slideshows! We loved them all.

Until I was in Grade Three, my family traveled with a truck and camper, but that year, my dad decided to buy a large van. There was a bench in the back that folded down into a bed for my parents to sleep on, but for the rest of us, my dad got creative….

He figured out that if my younger sister and I slept on the two front seats, reclined as far as possible, there was room enough for placing a piece of plywood onto the dashboard, supported on the window sills. There was a cutout for the steering wheel to fit into, and all of this worked out to form an interesting type of “bunk bed” for my sister to sleep on, with us two younger girls tucked underneath.

I really wish I had a picture of that, partly because it would be awesome, and partly because I could eliminate that last awkward paragraph, attempting to explain the whole set-up.

I remember waking up to the sound of our van horn, blasting through the quiet campground air as my sister kicked it in her sleep – one of the drawbacks to a bed on the dashboard.

But it worked, and we traveled, and we made memories. We listened to my parents’ music, and they listened to some of ours. We found ways to entertain ourselves for hours as we drove across the country. We fought, and made up, ate sunflower seeds, and survived sketchy bathroom break experiences.

Besides all the memories, we gained another treasure: We learned to enjoy the journey.

We weren’t impatient to get where we were going, because we were always going.

We’d drive, and then we’d stop to go exploring.

We’d drive a bit more, and then we’d get out to go canoeing.

Driving was part of the experience. Travelling was the adventure, not some necessary evil to endure so that we could finally reach our destination.

My friend once said, “I wish there were some way to be unconscious until I reach my destination. I can’t stand traveling – I just want to get there as fast as possible.”

When I heard him say that, it suddenly struck me what a gift my parents had given me which I’d never even noticed: I had learned to find joy in the journey.

They taught me to have fun along the way. We learned to make memories during all parts of the trip – the journey and the getting there.


I want my girls to learn that. I hope that someday they’ll look back, and think getting up at three in the morning was part of the adventure. I hope they’ll remember snacks and sushi, and even waiting in line.

I dream of them being patient as they wait to get where we’re going – able to recognize the anticipation that grows as we wait, and the memories we form when we try to pass the time with goofiness or chatting about life, or whatever.

We bond as we go, not just when we get there.

Ben and I have reached a decision – the next time we come to Florida to visit my parents, we are making it a road trip. Yes, it takes WAY longer than a plane ride, but it will teach our girls some things I want them to remember forever:

Family, memories, and adventures are worth the effort.

Waiting for something makes it better in the end.

Learn to enjoy the journey, not just the destination.



Okay, travel tips, everybody! What do you do to enjoy the journey? 

Last Day in Florida

When Ben and I were planning my trip to Florida with the girls, we were worried about the length of time we would be gone. We knew that three weeks apart would just be hard, any way we did it.

Ben was concerned that I would be so anxious to come home by the end of the three weeks, it could turn into a negative experience.

I was concerned that my parents would be so sick of us, they would have a negative experience.

Fortunately for everyone, things went quite well. If we hadn’t been missing Ben so much, I wouldn’t have wanted to come home. And my mom, bless her heart, actually got emotional when we said good-bye at the airport, which I will take to mean as a sign that we didn’t completely wear her out! Or maybe we did wear her out, but she’ll miss us anyway…

They always say it takes three weeks to form a habit….Well, my new habit is sunshine. After three weeks of beautiful, sunny weather, I just wasn’t that anxious to get back to cold, snowy winter. (But we were very, very ready to get back to Ben!)

Our last day in Florida was perfectly beautiful. And we had a list of things to accomplish – one last golf cart ride to visit the banana trees and the jungle, one last walk to the bridge, and a visit to a private lake in my parents’ friends’ backyard.

We got everything done, with time enough to spare for a nap before heading off to the airport.

And there you have it. We have returned to Manitoba, so my blog will return to it’s former white winter state. No more bright, sunny photos.

BUT….the photos will now include Ben, and that is even more important than sunshine! We had a wonderful reunion at the airport Wednesday night. Kaylia just grabbed on to Ben, and stayed there. She had no plans of letting go. She is still crying whenever he goes away. (Like into the next room.) And Anika is giddy, and I suddenly feel more relaxed and happy than I have for about…three weeks.

We are back to normal.

Almost. There’s still sand in our suitcases. Which I might just leave there, because it makes me smile….

The New Normal

The end is in sight.

Our 23 days of Florida sunshine will be over next Wednesday. Oops, I should say 22 days of sunshine….It did rain that one day our first week here…

It’s been beautiful.

There are just an insane amount of pictures I’ve taken over the last three weeks that haven’t been put into a post yet.

It’s kind of an overview of our normal days here in Florida. (Funny how sunshine and palm trees can so quickly become the new “normal”, hey? Just wait until we get off the plane in Manitoba…)

Anyway. Normal days include:

Playing outside…

Stroller and skooter rides.

Picking oranges…

And peeling oranges. Kaylia doesn’t eat them, she just peels them. She really likes to peel them while we’re driving around the village in the golf cart, and scatters little pieces of peel behind us, leaving a trail as though we’re Hansel and Gretel and need to find our way home again.

Along with orange peeling, she’s exploring the new skill of photography. But she always holds the camera pointing to herself, because that’s the only side she’s ever seen…

And of course, there’s the daily swim. When my dad gets home from work, he whips off to the pool with the girls in the golf cart.

Then they come home dripping and smiling, jump in the shower, and then we eat supper while the sun sets.

As perfect as this sounds, having Ben around could still improve it! But alas, we meet him at the airport in snowy Manitoba.

Really, why do we live in Manitoba again??? I could get used to these endless sunny days.

I think I already have, actually…

Our Vacation That is Not Exactly a Vacation…

The sun is shining and the location is very beautiful. We merrily zoom past all the Disney billboards, and on this trip, we will not get sucked into the pressures of spending our money on Mickey Mouse-related activities.

This trip is more about living normal life…in a tropical location.

And so we spend our time enjoying the view while eating breakfast.

And going for walks.

We color with chalk…

And we have tropical tea parties beside waving palm trees:

Anika was happily reunited with her little Florida friend, whose grandparents live just down the street, so she ran off to play. Kaylia ran after her, crying hysterically, “I need my sister!”

Which sounds really sweet and loving, but it took me by surprise, since they spent the day fighting. (See, pictures can be deceiving….It may look like we’re having the perfect time, but it is not always happiness and unicorns in this land of sunshine.)

But anyway. We will carry on, and enjoy our sidewalk chalk and tea parties, and let that fuel us with the strength to get through the moments of life that are not quite so picture-worthy!

Buckle Up For Landing

We made it.

My word, travelling with a two-year-old can be interesting at times. For the most part, we had a good trip, but when it was time to buckle up for landing, Kaylia lost it.

From the moment the seat belt sign went on till the second it went off and I released her, she was screeching,

“I’M STUCK!! Get me out! This is not mine! There is nothing in here for me!!! I don’t want this!!!”

I’d say she’s a fairly effective communicator, for a two-year-old.

Here’s a few pictures from our day of travel:

Running loose and free while she has the chance.

Having lunch with our travel companion, Auntie Kim.

Doing her fake smile for the camera.


So thankful that we’re here, and that the sun is shining! My hubby’s sitting in an airport, waiting for his flight to Belize. Thank goodness my girls are so wildly active that I’ve had no time to think about missing him!

Almost Out of Here…

Well, our first big adventure of 2012 is almost upon us.

On Monday, the girls and I are flying to Florida, and on Tuesday, Ben and the Pursuit students are flying to Belize. We’ll all be gone for three weeks.

As Kaylia said into her toy cell phone, “We’re packing up our things, and going up in the sky.” Not unlike the Rapture…? Except no packing will be involved in that departure.

Anyway. If you like sitting in snow and looking at other people’s beautifully sunny vacation pictures and reading about what a fantastic time they are having…then this might be the blog for you. (Assuming that we’ll have a fantastic time….)

Three weeks without Ben will be fantastically difficult for me. It’s our longest stretch yet, and I’m trying not to think about it or I will wail. I’m focusing completely on sunshine and palm trees. And my wonderful parents, who we’re hoping will not be completely sick of us by the time we leave.

And now I will go pack.

Because it’s almost time for some of this…


Yesterday was our big sight-seeing day. The whole time that we’ve been out here, we’ve stayed in Sebring, doing fun, “regular” types of things like swimming, eating, shopping and playing.

But Saturday was the day to head out on the road to see Florida. We talked about doing Disney, but we took Anika to Magic Kingdom the last time we were here, and we don’t want her to think that every time we come to visit my parents out here, she gets to go to Disney. Plus, there’s so much to see that costs a whole lot less than Disney does, so Ben planned out our route for the day.

We drove along the east coast, and stopped to see a lighthouse, went to Juno Beach and walked to the end of the pier, toured a 100-year-old mansion in Palm Beach, and ended our full, busy day by having supper at Jill and David’s house in Fort Lauderdale!

So, here are the details on our stops:

We had a two hour drive to get to our first location, and it was fun just to see different scenery. Cows grazing among palm trees is not something we see very often:

Our first stop was a little bit of a disappointment. The lighthouse was supposed to be this really neat, old place to see, and Anika was all excited about climbing to the top, but this is as close as we got:

It was closed for painting, which was really too bad, but it meant more time for the beach!

We drove to Juno Beach, and it was amazing. Last time we were out here, we went to Coco Beach, which also has a pier, but you have to pay to walk to the end of it. And our response was, “What?! As if we’re paying just to walk to the end of a pier!” But as we were heading home, I realized that my one regret for the whole trip was that I hadn’t walked out to the end of the pier. What’s a couple bulks compared to walking out into the middle of blue sky and blue ocean and sunshine, and feeling all surrounded by wonderfulness?

So this time, we had our cash ready, and we made up for last time! And it was beautiful. It kind of stank like fish, but other than that, it was perfect!

I took many, many…many pictures at the beach, so I’ll sort through those, and maybe post the rest of them tomorrow.

After that, we drove to Palm Beach – such a fun drive!

Anika’s really into mansions lately – it comes from all the books she’s been reading. The other day, we drove by a really big house, and she eagerly asked if it was a mansion. She was very disappointed when we said no, not really. She sighed this big, dramatic sigh, and said, “I’m longing to live in a mansion when I’m older. I’ve been searching for one all my life.” 

While we’re somewhat concerned about this materialistic obsession, we thought she’d love to see this old mansion museum – it would help her to picture stuff that she’s reading about. And she did love it.

They say you need two hours for touring it, but with 2 kids, and 2 adults tired out from an afternoon at the beach, we found that cruising through it in half an hour was just about right!

And then we drove to Jill and David’s house. It was so good, and we were so glad we went! Our time together was not nearly long enough, so we’ll just continue it the next time we come out here!

Jill has worked on summer staff at Red Rock for a few years, and she and David just got married in September. We had met him, but hadn’t really spent any time with him. But it took about 2 seconds to feel comfortable and at home at their place. The first thing I heard when I walked into the house was him calling to Jill from the kitchen, “If I was a colinder, where would I be?” And that is exactly the kind of thing that Ben would say to me.

Jill has always been so great with little kids, and Anika was very excited to see her again. David proved himself to be just as good with our girls, and it took a very short time for them to warm up to a new situation, and start zipping around the house.

After supper, we played some Dutch Blitz, and then much too soon, we had to start our 2 1/2 hour drive home.

It was such a good, fun, full day. We could easily have spent much more time at each place we went, but I guess that’s okay, because it’s always best to quit while everyone’s still having fun, right?! And we’re really hoping that there will be a “next time” sometime soon, because now we know what kinds of things we love to do out here!

Looking forward to getting some beach pictures up next!


We’re here! And it’s beautiful.

We had to get up at 3:30am to get to the airport on time this morning, so needless to say, we’re all a little sleep-deprived. But the day went surprising well! The girls were great, and my 2 1/2 hour night was apparently enough to get me through the day. Who knew. (Why am I sleeping 8 hours a night, anyway? I could be getting so much more done in a day…)

So anyway, here’s a bunch of travel pictures for you to enjoy!



This whole trip is happening because Ben has a camp conference to attend in Florida. Since my parents live in Florida for part of the year, they suggested that I bring the girls down for a visit. When Ben’s done with his conference, he’ll join the rest of us at my parents’ house.

Personally, I think I get the better deal. Ben has to work/attend a conference, and write papers for his Masters while he’s in Florida, and I get to spend the time with our girls, swimming, shopping and vacationing. We’ll see if it ends up being as perfect as it sounds!

My parents came to pick us up from the airport this afternoon:


The drive to my parents’ house was beautiful. Even though we were all super tired, when my parents asked if we wanted to take a different way home so that we could drive over this really amazing bridge, I said, “Sure!”




The girls finally fell asleep, which was good, because Kaylia had definitely reached her limit for the day. But she was extremely chipper upon waking up when we got to my parents’ house, and Anika headed off to the pool with my dad.


Crazy day, managed to enjoy almost all of it, glad it’s over, ready to enjoy the rest of our vacation!