Sunday, January 25, 2009


Late Saturday afternoon, we headed to Ybor City, near Tampa to explore! It's a very eclectic part of town, with a Cuban flavor, and the city streets and variety of shops reminded us of downtown Frederick!
We ate dinner outdoors at a New York style pizza place (where you fold the pizza in half!) and Isabella loved watching the guy toss the pizza dough!
After dinner, we drove to the Bayshore section of Tampa to watch a sunset airshow and fireworks display that was part of the Gasparilla Extravaganza! Next year, we'll go for the parade because everyone had on would have thought it was Mardi Gras!
The Legend of Gasparilla sounds like an exotic drink...or perhaps even a rare, tropical flower. But, as any Tampa resident can attest, "Gasparilla" means boats, pirates, parades, merriment and more. The name and foundation of Tampa's traditional Gasparilla Carnival come from legendary pirate Jose Gaspar, "last of the Buccaneers," who terrorized the coastal waters of West Florida during the late 18th and early 19th century. Gaspar, given to calling himself "Gasparilla," served as a lieutenant in the Royal Spanish Navy for five years until 1783 when, upon seizing command of a Spanish sloop-of-war, he with his fellow mutineers set sail for the Florida straits. And so the young Spanish aristocrat-turned-pirate began an adventurous life as outlaw of the sea.
You can learn more about Gasparilla here.

Even Cooper snagged some beads!

Cooper was so tired from his adventures that he crashed on the console in the car on the drive home!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Farewell W...

Borrowed this from Jen...who borrowed it from Holly

Thank you, President Bush, for the years you have given to our country.
We’ve been through a lot together. I think we both should have known it would not be an easy two terms - given the way it began with Al Gore and the hanging chads and all. But still, it was nice to be able to introduce my children to our new President and to not have to think about what you really meant by the word “is.” Character. How sweet it was to see it, again.

I know you aren’t very popular right now - shucks, it’s not even very cool to like you on-line, W. But I’ll say it, straight up: I like you. I’ve enjoyed living free these last eight years. I always knew you had my back. (And tonight, I have to wonder…where would we be right now as a nation if Al had indeed won?)

I’ve appreciated the way you love and value Laura. And even though you’re no theologian, I’m not either…and I like the easy way you speak about your faith in God. I like how you tear up with your pop and how your mom still tells you to take your feet off the coffee table and pull up your socks. Mama’s always right, right?

I was thinking today how most presidents are able to prepare for war. They see it coming, they draft plans, it builds…and then war is declared. That’s not how it was for you. One day, you were reading to some children in an elementary school when war was declared on us. You had no time to plan or prepare - you just had to jump into the fray and respond and protect.

I remember how you told us at the outset that it would be a long and protracted war, and that the temptation would be to lose heart and the will to continue when times got hard. Boy, did your approval ratings as you presided over a very unpopular war prove that
statement to be true.

In general, I believe that history will consider you to have been a visionary instead of a villain. Planting a democracy to replace a dictatorship in Iraq was difficult and painful; but birth isn’t usually pretty or pain free. You never left her side as she struggled to take her first breaths - even when the rest of the spectating world told you to back off, to cut our losses and run.

And that’s not all, of course. You’ve helped the nation of Africa; even as she teeters on the brink. You’ve reached outward, caring for the poor and needy around the world. You’ve given us several pro-life advances here at home, as well. You’ve given us Supreme Court
Justice Samuel Alito and Chief Justice Roberts.

Naw, you’re not perfect. You’ve made mistakes - but you gave us your best. You gave us optimism and courage during some very difficult days. I’ll never forget you and the
gracious lady by your side.
God bless you, Dubya, and Laura, too.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

More Isabella...

Isabella and I spent lots of time together today since the boys were busy on Xbox and Ripsticks and Manhunt! I finally found a Skip It for her...I've been looking for one for a long time because I remembered how much fun the older girls had with it! She mastered it pretty quickly and it's so funny because the video actually looks speeded up!

Friday, January 16, 2009

Our Little Pianist...

Isabella began piano lessons a few months ago and she's doing really well! She'll practice without any encouragement from me, which is really amazing! At Christmas time, she wanted to learn a holiday song, so in one sitting, she learned Deck the Halls. She practiced it religiously and despite not having quite the right finger placement on this one, we're really proud of how well she's done!

Friday, January 9, 2009

The Greatest Show on Earth!

Last night, Bruce and Isabella had a daddy/daughter night and went to McDonalds (of course!) for dinner, then to the circus in Tampa! I'm not a big fan of the circus (no real reason, just not my favorite thing to do) but fortunately Bruce is and they had a great time! They had third row seats so they were nice and close!
Isabella said this was VERY cool... but VERY LOUD!

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

My Birthday!

On Saturday, I turned 30-17! We spent the day in Naples, which is such a beautiful area! First we went to some luxury car dealers...not to shop...just to look at all the fancy cars they have there! Then we went over to the beach and spent some time walking around and out on the pier...the water was freezing! We drove around the older part of Naples then headed to the Cheesecake Factory for's always been a favorite of mine and now it's a favorite of the kids too! This car cost over $460,000 and had real wood on the back! Crazy decadent!

A picture of my Turtle cheesecake...taken on my new phone! Bruce TOTALLY surprised me (doesn't happen often!) and got me a Blackberry Storm! I LOVE it...and him!

Monday, January 5, 2009


This is a power plant, near Apollo Beach, that has a Manatee Viewing Center. The power plant generates warm water that flows into a small bay area. The warm water attracts manatees in the winter months when the Gulf water is much colder. It's hard to see in the pictures, but there were tons of manatees in there! Mostly they were just hanging out, but every now and then you'd see their tails flip out of the water!
This was a 900 ft pier that led to another viewing area.
Afterwards, we went to Woody's River Roo to have lunch on the Manatee River, just a few minutes from our house. We all decided that both places are somewhere we'll take visiting friends!

Friday, January 2, 2009

Happy New Year 2009!

On New Years Eve, we got together with some friends, old and new, to ring in 2009! The kids played lots of games, we all ate way too much and most of us even made it to watch the ball drop!

The kids LOVE Apples to Apples!

Mario Kart ROCKS!

Our friends, Ali and Ryan are expecting TRIPLET GIRLS!

Thursday, January 1, 2009

A Day at the Museum...

On Tuesday, we decided to head to Busch Gardens to use our season passes one more time before they expired...apparently so did everyone else in the Tampa Bay area! I've never seen so much traffic getting into the park, so we decided to go to Plan B and visit the Museum of Science and Industry and see the IMAX movie EXTREME! It was really amazing! We spent the rest of the afternoon exploring the other exhibits. We got season passes so we'll go back again and again to see the rest of the exhibits, the planetarium and new IMAX movies!

The kids in the hurricane winds simulation room and Evan in a wind tube!
Jonah's debut as a weather forecaster...

Evan on a bed of nails!