Saturday, April 11, 2009

Madison, FL

Happy Easter! We’ve spent the past 3 days at a terrific campground in northern Florida. It reminds us of last summer when we camped because there are loads of families and kids. Everyone’s on spring break. Our boys have made friends while swimming, playing kickball, shooting pool, and especially at the small skateboard park. The latest thing seems to be the skateboards that wiggle, called ripsticks and waves. Will, Ben, and Sam have caught on pretty quickly. For the last six months at campgrounds, most of our neighbors have been retirees. Kids have been in school, so the boys haven’t had friends to play with.

We’ve been busy at school, with Robby, Will, and Ben taking their green tests #120. Sam finished First Grade today by completing his green test #160! When we were in MD, we visited Calvert and met the staff. At that time, we knew Sam was progressing quickly, so we purchased the 2nd Grade curriculum. Now he’ll start 2nd grade, and we’ll see how far he gets. Once school starts in the fall, he’ll register as a 2nd grader.

Tomorrow morning we’ll attend an early morning church service right here at the campground. We’ll celebrate Jesus’ resurrection in the beautiful outdoors overlooking the lake and peaceful campground. Then we’ll depart Florida, drive through Georgia, and end up near Huntsville, AL. Cousin Tucker flies in to spend his spring break with us on Monday. The boys have worked hard to finish their tests before Tucker’s arrival. We’re all ready for a spring break!

We left Key West over a week ago, as the temps headed into the mid-90’s with high humidity. It was sad to leave after so many beautiful sunsets, great snorkeling, and walks down Duval Street to Mallory Square. Before we left, we visited Ernest Hemmingway’s home with all the cats. He lived an interesting life, having been married 4 times and earning the reputation as one of our country’s greatest short story novelists. We bought Old Man and the Sea, which three of us have since read. Sam painted a coconut to resemble one of the colorful local fish, which is a popular thing to do here. On our way out, we bought a conch shell which is quite loud when the boys give it a blast.

We stopped for a memorable barbeque dinner at Pascal and Judy’s house in Miami. They were nice enough to let us camp out front for the night, after the kids swam all evening. Lea and Luc shared all their toys once again. We headed out the next morning in the direction of the Everglades. Sure enough, driving along we spotted many alligators on the canal next to the road. Thom picked out a cool stop, where we all went for an airboat ride through the Everglades. We spotted a few alligators, plentiful birds, and turtles. Then our tour guide sped along the shallow water for an ultra-smooth ride. It’s strange going right over the grass and mud without getting stuck.
Next we sat in for an alligator show. The host asked for a volunteer, and although Thom raised his hand, the man instead picked me. The host had me going. He told me very seriously to pay attention as he demonstrated how to place a hand in an alligator’s open mouth. The gator was 7 years old, and about 10 ft long! He then demonstrated how to jump on this alligator’s back from behind, pull up the gator’s mouth to your chest, and hold the alligator’s head with your chin! Yes, he told me I had to do all those things! Then of course he brought out a much smaller alligator named Larry. Larry was much smaller, at only about 4 ft. So I got to hold Larry, and his mouth strap was even removed for about 30 seconds! I didn’t take my eyes off him. Thom said he knew all along the guy was pulling my leg. The boys then each took turns holding Larry. Another adventure!

We spent a day in Brandon, just east of Tampa, checking out schools and neighborhoods. Thom’s had one good job offer here. It’s a nice area, but we’re really hoping to settle down in the northeast, closer to family and the cottage in Canada. We’re keeping all options open at this point.

Jim and Ann Clifford invited us over for a scrumptious dinner. They’re friends from my single days in Southern Calif, who came to visit us at Disney World back in Feb. The boys enjoyed a swim in their pool before we all settled down for chicken, mashed potatoes, wine, and key-lime pie. Mike Landers drove all the way from Orlando to join us for dinner, and he brought us our recent packages/mail. Thanks Mike, Ann and Jim!

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