My father-in-law was kind enough to give our family four tickets to attend the Capital One Bowl in Orlando as a Christmas present, as Georgia was picked to play against Michigan State. We decided to use this as an opportunity to visit our friends and family who live in Florida. Also, Mimi had never been to the beach and was very anxious to check this off her list of things to do. Here's how it all went down:
We first went to visit my childhood friend Maria who now lives in Florida with her family. I have known Maria literally my entire life as we lived next door to each other the first 10 years of my life; in fact, I am actually named Laura because while pregnant (with me) my mother would constantly hear Maria's Aunt Millie calling up to her sister (Maria's mother, named "Laura") from the alleyway that separated our homes and the name stuck with her. Here is Maria hamming it up with Max:
Next up -- THE BEACH! We drove out to Clearwater Beach to relax beneath the hot December sun. It was wonderful for all of us -- Max had only been to the beach one time last year and while he enjoyed it, he was not even 2 years old yet. Mimi, however, had never been (a point she made to us CONSTANTLY) and Brian and I cannot EVER get enough white sand in our toes, salt water air in our nose and grouper sandwiches in our bellies! Even better, Brian's Mom lives nearby and joined us for some fun in the sun, complete with a picnic lunch (including a grilled cheese sandwich that Max unwittingly shared with a very aggressive seagull):
It was time to say good-bye to the beach but for good reason as we were on our way to my Dad (who retired to Florida) and his wife Celia's home for a fantastic Italian styled New Year's Eve lunch (with Dad's famous freshly baked New York Cheesecake). This was also the first time Mimi was meeting her Grandpa Dom and Grandma Celia, and it went great. Everyone really enjoyed spending time with each other, and I was particularly happy to get to spend time with my Pops.
Next stop? The land of Disney (shh... don't tell the kids, they had NO idea and we got out unscathed with not one souvenior in hand!). We arrived in Orlando on New Year's Eve and had a nice evening with the kids, going out to a great dinner at Landry's Seafood House. The place we stayed at had a room within a room that was designed for kids and they LOVED their hotel room. It was so convincing that while in the main part of our hotel room they would suddenly declare "I'm going to my hotel room." This is what it looked like:
New Year's Day brought the first win for the Georgia Bulldogs in 2009! It was certainly a great day to be a Georgia Bulldog and a lot of fun for our family to experience a game together, now basking in the warm January sun. It was Mimi's first time attending a football game and expressed interest about what was actually happening on the field. Max tried to keep up with the game and also kept an eye out for Hairy Dawg and UGA, well at least that is until exhaustion took over Max and he slept for a while (and thankfully missing a *rousing* rendition of Led Zeppelin classics as interpreted by the school band during halftime).
Last but certainly not least was a visit to Brian's sister Beth's home for a visit with her family. They have property nearby their home which is for nothing more than having a whole lot of fun -- it is stocked with horses, pigs, chickens and acres of paths made for 4-wheeling. We packed all of that fun into one day! The kids LOVE spending time with their cousins and Joey had a captive audience in Mimi who marveled at his skills. Here are some pics, you'll see what I mean:
We certainly packed a lot into a quickly planned trip to the Sunshine State and as we journeyed back toward home we both agreed that there are many more visits there in our future -- and soon.