I’m out of blog titles since Ben posted that we crossed the Gulf of Mexico.  The crossing went well, save a few bumpy hours in the middle.  The dolphins were amazing!  But we are very much enjoying the sunshine, especially since this cold front moved through.  I had a lot of people text me over the weekend to tell me how blustery, cold and snowy it was in Chicago.  Can’t say I’m homesick for that.  We shivered yesterday morning when it was in the 50s and breezy.  Excited it’ll be back to 75 again tomorrow.


We’re enjoying our time in St. Petersburg so far.  We got here last Thursday afternoon and the girls swam in the large and heated pool at the marina Thursday, Friday and much of Saturday.  We are technically across the bay from St. Pete in Gulfport, FL.  Friday after school we took the dinghy out and around the bend into downtown Gulfport.  There is a free dock there where we joined some other boats and tied up and walked into town for lunch.

Very cute little downtown with shops and restaurants, playground and beach.  We had lunch at O’Maddy’s and then took the dinghy to see Mike and Leann from Rowe Boat.  They have a dock at their house as well so we tied up there and visited for a bit.  As Ben said last night, we are staying in their marina and very happy to be here.

Saturday morning we checked out the Farmer’s Market in downtown St. Pete.  I love a great farmer’s market and was thrilled to stock up on fresh produce.  The girls got a kick out of watching two guys core and slice fresh pineapple.  And the pineapple tastes amazing.  We also sampled and stocked up on Florida navel oranges.  Yum.  Also loaded up on HUGE bell peppers (only $1 each!!!), avocados, limes, lemon, cherries and tomatoes.  We got a type of avocado I’d never seen before.  It’s larger than a grapefruit…a lady at the market told me these are a different type of avocado, less creamy than the smaller ones, usually more watery, used in salads, etc.  We grabbed one and thought we’d try it out.

Sunday we took the girls to Treasure Island beach to see the sanding ovation sand sculpture competition.  Very cool sand sculptures and the first place winner happened to be walking past his sculpture as we were standing there.  Molly asked him how long it took to build it: 30 hours!  After that we hit up Target and TRADER JOE’S!  It’s the first Trader Joe’s we’ve seen since we left Chicago and it’s fair to say we went a bit nuts.  We were happy to load up on staples that we love.  Silly that a little store could be so exciting.  And yet it was.  Oh and in case anyone wondered…shopping with Madelyn in tow has not gotten any easier.



The winning sculpture


Back to school this morning.  The yacht club here has exercise classes every morning at 8:30 so I headed to a crazy hard workout once I got school lists made for the girls.  Ben got school started while I was gone.  Both kids had a great morning and got through their work peacefully for  a change.  Molly is working through a unit on the muscular system. And today we wrapped up their skeletal unit by finishing up a chicken bone in vinegar experiment.  They were both excited and grossed out to touch and bend the chicken bone.  Science experiment success!  After school the kids had some tv/screen time, Ben explored a bit in the dinghy and then we headed into Gulfport and took the girls to the park.  Our plans of making spaghetti went out the window when we walked past an adorable Italian place with pasta made in house, locally sourced ingredients and a good looking drink menu.  Sold.  Easy early dinner and back to the boat for a little free time.

Molly and her cousin Grace FaceTime often.  I love that Grace calls when she has a free minute (given no organized extra curriculars we have a lot of free minutes!).  It’s awesome for the girls to keep in touch.  And the last two times they have talked they’ve talked about school! Grace always asks Molly what she did in school that day.  Both a couple of days ago and today they discussed in depth what each did in math that day.  And tonight as I was sitting on the couch I could hear Molly down in her bedroom asking Grace if she knew it only took 17 muscles to smile…way fewer than it does to frown.  She learned that today!  Yay!  It makes me smile to hear her repeat things that clearly struck a chord with her.  She went on to tell Grace that each step we take uses about 200 muscles.  The girls then figured out how many muscles we would use to take 10,000 steps.  They each have white boards and were doing math on white boards while on FaceTime!  WIN!  Last school win for the day – Ben’s Aunt Janet gave me a ton of materials to use with the girls.  Included is this amazing Non-fiction Inquiry book she uses with her 5th graders.  It organizes the readings asking the kids to jot down questions, answer questions, discuss and eventually write an essay.  It teaches them how to answer a question, find evidence, and then show how each piece of evidence supports their answer to the question.  Molly finished her essay today on why she would have chosen not to be a homesteader. She learned about the Homestead Act and more about Westward expansion…building what we’ve learned about the Civil War.  Anyway, I was really proud of what a great job she did writing the essay.  Thank you Aunt Janet!!  Math and Science are my strong suits…it’s such a help to have great resources like this to use with the girls for subjects I don’t really know how to teach.  Maddy and I have started using the Junior Great Books series for reading.  I did Junior Great Books when I was a kid!  And loved it!  And now I get to do it with Maddy.  The girls have been busy writing in their journals about Disney.  It will be a blog post soon. Molly took quite a few days to write every detail.  Maddy is in process on hers so look for that post soon on their site.

It will be just the four of us for Thanksgiving Thursday.  We plan to have a low key day, enjoy the warmth, have dinner at the restaurant here and relax!  My mom arrives Friday night and we’re very much looking forward to her visit.   Happy Thanksgiving (in case I don’t get to another post before then)!

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