Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Our Tradition - Florida 2009

Neil and I started a tradition when we were pregnant with Tyrus. Every President's Day (February) we go down to my parents house in Florida. They live about an hour from Blue Springs State Park. The Park is located on the St. Johns River and every winter, when the ocean water gets too cold, Manatees make their way to the park to get warm. It is so amazing to see hundreds on Manatees swimming around. In a way, the park is like their vacation because the same manatees come back every year. The park rangers will track them all year and they recognize them by the scars on their backs. Every manatee has a name. For example, there is a mother and child pair that comes to the park and their names are Georgia and Peaches!

This year the weather in Florida was not very Manatee seeing friendly. The temperature on Saturday was 80 degrees and I actually wore shorts and flip flops! Unfortunately, only 12 manatees were in the park that day. We have been before when there was over a hundred! One year we were even lucky enough to watch Sea World release a rescued manatee back into the wild.

We left on Friday. I got off work at 3:00 and we pulled out of our driveway at 4:30. The van is AWESOME!! We have so much room. We set up a little movie theater for Ty and we even brought Mary's swing. The kids did great in the car. We packed a ton of snacks and had plenty to drink. Ty fell asleep right when we got on 75 and slept for about an hour, but when he woke up he was up until we arrived at my parents. Sweet Mary slept right on schedule. She even went to bed easily once we arrived. We woke up on Saturday and started getting ready to go to the Manatee Park. My Dad offered to stay at home and watch Mary. So, Tyrus had me, Dada, and Grandma to give him tons of attention for the first half of the day! We were gone for about 5 hours, but my Dad did great with Mary. They played, ate, and took a nap. On Saturday night Neil and I got to go to dinner for Valentine's Day. We went to our favorite little seafood restaurant. It is only 4 miles from my parent's house. My Dad took Tyrus to the beach. When we got back from dinner they still were not home. We all started getting really worried when the sun went down and they still were not back. I just pictured someone coming by and snatching Tyrus up and my Dad not being able to catch them. Or Tyrus taking off running and my Dad not being able to catch him. Or Tyrus drowning in the ocean. I really should have more faith in my Dad. He and Tyrus had so much fun!! Tyrus came home covered in ocean water and sand! He was sitting in the front seat with my Dad and they had the music really loud - they were so cute. Tyrus collected a ton of shells! My Dad is so patient with him. He is really good at not rushing him when he is interested in something. I should really work on that. It must be a grandparent thing because Neil's parents are the same way. We all went to bed early on Saturday night.

On Sunday my Dad went to the Daytona 500 with his buddies. My mom and I took Tyrus back to the beach while Neil watched Mary. When we got back from the beach we cooked dinner and then my Mom and I took Mary for a walk. She LOVED walking outside and fell asleep in the sling. At one point on Sunday my Mom and I took a bike ride that was very nice. They have a lot of trails and places to ride in their little community. My Dad didn't get home until really late on Sunday and Mary was already asleep. Tyrus stayed up late because he was on vacation.

On Monday my Mom and I went for another bike ride and my Dad took Tyrus back to the beach. I put Tyrus in the car to go and he said, "buckle up Mama". He sat in the passenger seat with my Dad driving. On the way home my Dad let him sit in his lap and drive the car. You could tell by the smile on his face that he thought he was pretty special when they got home. While they were gone we packed the car and got ready to leave. We pulled out of their driveway at 11:30 and pulled into ours at 5:30. I drove the entire way! The kids did great and stayed awake almost the whole way.

Last night, after we got home, I was in the kitchen and heard Tyrus talking to someone. When I walked into the living room I saw that he had my phone and was speaking to someone on the other end. When I took it from him I realized that he had called my Mom. Mama said that when she answered the phone Tyrus said, "I at home Gammaw". When she asked him if he was going to come back to her house he said, "Yeah, I go get dressed!"

We plan on going back in July. I can't wait until that visit because my sister and her family will be there. I did not have time yesterday to post pictures from this visit, but I will do that tonight. I hope everyone had a great 3 day weekend!!

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