It’s been a very busy end to 2016 and start to 2017. So many people wished away 2016 and were happy for the fresh start in the new year. But 2016 was especially good to us. Sure it had some bumps in the road, but it also gave us this amazing journey, time together as a family, special visits from family and friends and so much more to look forward to. 2016 was good to me.
We ended 2016 with a week long visit with my family. I last blogged on Christmas Day when my youngest sister Emily was here with us and my other sister Libby, her husband Brian and her family were in flight and my mom and Jim were en route driving. We got ourselves organized and headed to my mom and Jim’s condo Monday the 26th to start the week! My middle sister Libby has 5 kids and mine were ecstatic to see them. By the time we got there they had already been swimming and playing. My girls jumped right in and so began the week of swimming and dolls and dinghy rides! Ben came over in the dinghy and brought fishing poles. Ben took turns with lots of dinghy rides with the nieces and nephews searching for dolphins…with not much luck unfortunately.
My mom and Jim arrived during dinner Monday night after a long drive. After putting some very tired children to bed we did it all again on Tuesday! The guys took an afternoon fishing trip on Wednesday and caught a lot. We cooked up the fish and it tasted great! During the week we also fit in Sanibel Lighthouse beach, Ft. Myers beach, a lot of meals out, lots of swimming, many dinghy rides, ice cream, lots of laughs, a special double digit birthday for Grace, a NYE celebration and many many memories.
As with all families we all get busy and don’t make enough time to spend together so this week was special! Another teary goodbye in the books.
Ben’s brother Max, his wife Kyle and their girls arrived Saturday (NYE) afternoon. Molly took off running down the sidewalk full speed ahead to meet them. The girls were over the moon to have all of their cousins visit over break. What could be more special!!!! We walked into town and had lunch and lots of hugs, and ice cream. Then headed over to the house they rented and unloaded their car. I took the four girls over to my mom’s to swim with my sister’s kids.
Emily had to fly home on the 30th but everyone else overlapped by a day and we all spent NYE together. The kids swam, Jim cooked out for all of us for dinner. Max, Kyle and Ben joined us after unpacking a bit and getting settled. We did a kid ringing in the New Year around 9 PM and then we cleared out and headed back to Max and Kyle’s for a bit. It was just before midnight by the time we got back to the boat. Maddy has never been up that late! Downtown Ft. Myers had loud music and fireworks that they could see from their porthole window in their bunkroom to ring in 2017.
We had another busy week filled with playtime and lots of swimming (nighttime swimming too!), dolls, Henna tattoos, laughs and good times. Another trip to Ft Myers beach one of the days with a lovely sunset dinner by the water. Another day we took the big boat out to Sanibel and anchored so the girls could break out the lily pads and swim. As if on cue the dolphins appeared in our wake for Sophie and Zoe to see.
Thursday a big group of us went to the Thomas Edison and Henry Ford Winter Estates. Ben’s uncle Jon and aunt Mary are in Naples visiting friends and drove up to see us. Jon has a second cousin who lives near St. Petersburg and they drove down so the 12 of us all headed to the estates. Molly, Madelyn, Sophie and Zoe on bikes and adults walking as it’s fairly close to the marina. We started in the museum. Despite it being “winter break” from school we fit in a field trip day! Maddy had just studied Edison and Ford in her inventions unit so it was great to have a bit of a connection for her. We all learned a lot. First, I had no idea that Edison and Ford were good friends. I also had no idea how much work they did together, or that they collaborated with Harvey Firestone. After the museum we walked across the street to the grounds of their winter estates. Beautiful houses and grounds with ancient banyan trees and gorgeous flowers. It was a great outing if you are going to be in the area.
Friday brought another teary goodbye. We had to send everyone off to the airport just after lunch.
To keep the party going, Friday afternoon after we’d recovered from the tears and hugs, our dear friends Tim and Carol arrived for a visit. We met them in Joliet on Day 2 of our trip. They immediately befriended us and took us with them for the next two weeks. We then spent a week going home with them when they finished their loop and enjoyed our time on old Hickory Lake with them. We hadn’t seen them since then. Our first close friends on the loop and it had been way too long. We had a nice visit with the girls – Molly had another full speed ahead running performance when they arrived into huge hugs. Then my mom and Jim came and picked the girls up for a sleepover at their house. We headed out with Tim and Carol for dinner and then, as time is always too short, had to say yet another goodbye. Emotional couple of weeks!
We had a lazy Saturday catching up on laundry and organizing, the girls baked cookies with my mom, we all got dinner together and had another lazy day today.
We went to my mom’s for brunch and some playtime and then headed back to the boat. I took down the rest of the Christmas decorations today and prepared for school tomorrow. The girls are not happy about starting school again but we must! We had a delightful afternoon of docktails with a number of looper friends in this area. Mike and Leann from Rowe Boat organized it as they were in town visiting. It was great to see them again before we head south. They even delivered a final Christmas present that arrived in St. Pete after we left! Thank you! It was fun to catch up with everyone. We’ve been here three weeks but have been so busy that we’re not around the marina much and hadn’t seen anyone else that was at docktails until today.
School starts tomorrow. Ben’s parents are flying down late Tuesday and will be with us until Saturday. We’re looking forward to time with them to finish off our family visits! After next weekend we’ll think about heading south. Naples or Marco Island will be our next stop and then we’ll wait for a weather window to head to the Keys and continue on our loop. We are so thankful to have had these two weeks with family. We couldn’t have gotten a better Christmas present.
I hope to get the girls writing again this week as they haven’t done a post in awhile! Happy New Year. I hope 2017 treats everyone well.