Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Mote Marine Aquarium

Going to the Mote Marine Aquarium in Sarasota is a tradition. We have gone every year. Skyeler was just a little squirt the first time. Her favorite thing...Edgar the turtle. Each visit we look forward to seeing him again, just like an old friend. Mote Aquarium is just a small aquarium, which means it is the perfect size for us. On one side of the street is the aquarium which houses different tanks of sea life, most (if not all) found on Florida's Gulf Coast. Horseshoe crabs, sea urchins, sea cucumbers, and a few other sea creatures are hands-on in their large touch pool. You can observe sharks from the tank below or look down into the tank from above. A special pool houses the "petting pool" for the sting rays. Dan's favorite was the preserved giant squid. :) Across the street from the aquarium is the rehabilitation center. This is home to the sea turtles, manatees, and new this time...dolphins! Mote is very active in helping injured or stranded animals to rehabilitate and be set free. There are some animals, however, that are unable to be set free (Edgar, for instance) and make their home at the center. We enjoy our visits here so much!

Dan's Dad needed a new family picture for the front of our family album. The last one is seven years old :) and in front of the same statue.

Skyeler took this picture of a baby seahorse. We both tried to get a very clear picture of the seahorses, unfortunately, we both failed. They really were so cool, very intricate little creatures.

Of course I had to take a picture of Nemo!

Which means I couldn't forget Dory :) She was a fast little fishy. I tried to get a clearer picture but this was as good as it gets.

Hey, Dad, does this shark look a little familiar. Yep, that's a Bonnet head. Dad, Dan, and Dan's Dad spent a day fishing off the beach (yep, the same beach we swim at) and caught a few of these guys...smaller, of course. They max out at about 4ft and are non-aggressive. Since we DO swim at that beach, I certainly HOPE so :)

I couldn't get a good picture, but Skyeler is touching a sea cucumber. There were a few in the touch pool. Personally, I loved the feel of them. Surprisingly soft and spongy.

The sting ray "petting pool." Both Skyeler and Aly loved them. We had a hard time getting Aly away. The rays were very friendly. There was a certain spot in the pool where the rays would come more frequently. We found out that that spot is where they are fed. These creatures feel amazing. So silky and smooth. Beautiful.

Here is Edgar. He wasn't in the best position for a picture! Edgar is an albino, therefore he can't be released into the wild. If I remember correctly, the first time we saw Edgar was in 1997!

Squirt! (See the "Finding Nemo" theme) This little guy was in for rehab with a few of his brothers/sisters. They will be released into the wild as soon as they are ready. No flash allowed at this tank and these little boogers were fast and all over the place. I don't know if Skyeler or I got this shot. We both tried.

Hugh and Buffet, the resident manatees. I'm not sure why they can't be released but they have been here every time we have visited. They eat a lot of lettuce...Romaine...a LOT!

And the new editions...dolphins. I won't post all 23 pictures of the two dolphins :) Skyeler stood out in the 90 degree sun for quite a while watching them (and taking pictures of them).

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Monster Quest: The Amazon Dolphin

Rated PG (Perfectly Goofy) watch out for screaming, giggling, and uncontrollable laughter.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

How to Ride a Dolphin

When we visited Florida in 2002, Skyeler was VERY into dolphins. Before our trip that year, we found this inflatable dolphin at Toys R Us. We bought it and took it with us. I couldn't believe it when Dad told me that it was still alive and kicking! I don't know if it will last till next year...it took quite a beating this time around. Stayed tuned...if I can post a video later I will be posting Dan and Aly playing "Monster Quest" with the rare Amazon Dolphin.

Yes, I'm sure that this is how we mount it. You take the back and I'll take the front. Nice dolphin...

Ok, maybe you should take the front and I'll get on behind. Yes! We've got it. Just out for a little ride in the pool. No problem.

Oh, no! A bucking dolphin! Hang on, we'll ride it out. I've lost my partner...

Another one bites the dust... The dolphin outsmarted us :)

Alyxandra Rose turns 9!

As we were planning vacation, we realized that the best time for vacation would be to leave around Labor Day weekend. This would mean that we would be in Florida for Aly's birthday. We decided to ask Aly how SHE felt about that. Aly was all for it :) She had a big list of what we would do in Florida on her birthday. It included the beach, the pool, and presents LOL! A big reading chair for her bedroom was on her birthday list. Well, that wasn't getting hauled to Florida and hauled back home. Especially since I had plenty of other stuff to pack (um, or over pack *grin*). She got that present early :) On her birthday we went to the beach for a few hours, came back to Dad's and got in the pool, and then Dad's friend Rose joined us for some birthday cake. She had a wonderful day!

Finding her new chair set up in her room...Surprise!!

Earrings from Papa Bob

Shaking her presents, which included socks (she needed them), three Star Wars figures, and a play checkbook.

A stuffed owl from Skyeler (and a new "Magic Tree House" book)

Her birthday cake...chocolate with chocolate icing...Yum-O!

Blowing out the candles

Gecko's Galore

For years Skyeler has been trying to catch one of these little guys. The day after Aly caught her gecko, Skyeler caught this one. He was a little shell shocked at being caught. When we let him loose outside the lanai, he sat motionless for quite a long time. Eventually he went on about his business. We were glad to help him out. Dad said that sometimes they have a hard time finding their way back out of the lanai area to the outside.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Ahh, Vacation!!

We were so thankful for the opportunity to take a vacation this year. It had been seven years since we had visited Dan's Dad in Florida and our time there more than lived up to all of our expectations. Aly was almost two the last time we were there, so this was like her "first" time experiencing the ocean and the beach. We enjoyed watching her as we took a walk that first night. Skyeler and I couldn't wait to get down to the beach and just soak in the sand and the waves. Since we were only going for a walk, we didn't pack up anything but a pail for some shells. In hindsight, I should have had Aly in her bathing suit. She was soaked through by the time we got back into Papa Bob's car :) I had high hopes of updating the blog every evening, but it just didn't turn out. Technical difficulties. So I will take a day at a time now that we are back and post about our vacation.

**Photographer's note - I only had the nice camera on the beach two days...portraits of the girls and scenic photos of Boca Grande. The rest of the pictures will be either with Aly's little HP digital (which we thought we could risk) and a couple of disposable water cameras, which will explain the graininess and poor quality. I couldn't have you thinking I'm such a poor photographer :)

The boardwalk to Englewood Beach. Aly getting her first memorable glimpse of the ocean.

Aly's reactions were priceless. She had Papa Bob laughing. Every wave that crashed would bring a cackle of delight.

Skyeler was so anxious to get to the beach that first night (I was too). Though she was not as exuberant as Aly in the waves, her shorts were pretty wet :)
The girls after our walk. Skyeler protested. They were pretty wet and windblown. But I insisted on getting a picture of them.

God's beautiful handiwork!

Aly managed (on our first day) to capture a lizard that was in the lanai. Skyeler was jealous. She had been trying to catch one for years. We tried to send a picture of it to Tori. "King Julian has found a new gecko for his crown!!"

After only a day in the pool and sun, Aly's freckles had tripled :) I just had to capture them.

Vikings Ho!

What is the best way to celebrate going back to school? Have a party! And if you are beginning your history lessons with the Vikings, well then, a Back to School Viking Party is in order. No, I did not think of this brilliant idea, it was my friend Maree. A backyard cookout with seven youngsters running around in various Viking costumes, banging each other with swords...who wouldn't have fun?! Aly had her own vision of her Viking costume (no surprise there!). After reading numerous Viking books during the school week, she decided NOT to dress like a Viking girl, but a Viking boy! (Did I mention she had her own vision?) Almost all of her outfit was put together by herself. Thanks to Sharon and Robin, all the kids had Viking helmets to wear. What a great way to kick off the school year. Now you can check out the pictures of Aly "the Determined" as I think that would be her "Viking" name. :)

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Charleston Falls

While driving to the Farmer's Market this summer, we ran across a park with a waterfall. We were not exactly dressed for hiking, but we stopped to take a look at the falls. It was a great park for a nature walk. Our good friends love to take nature walks and we got together for an afternoon and visited this park again with them. It was a cool day for August, but it didn't stop the kids from getting into the creek down past the waterfall. There is a small cave to explore, however, we didn't think to bring along a flashlight...maybe another day. We traveled one of the trails around and came back around to the creek at the top of the falls. After splashing through the shallows, Skyeler started looking for crawdads. They found a dead one (well, I'm pretty sure it was dead) and all the kids had to hold it. Skyeler found a live one but couldn't quite catch it. It was pretty quick plus Aly was right on top of her wanting to know where it was and Lauren was throwing rocks that way :) Alan found part of a dead crawdad but instead of picking it up, he told Aly that SHE should pick it up. LOL! We had a wonderful time and can't wait to get together to visit some other parks this fall.

Skyeler, Alan, Aly, & Lauren in the cave.

The Falls
How far back can we go??

Don't fall in!

If only a skunk would have jumped out at them...LOL!

The dead crawdad

Where did that crawdad get to?!

Photoshopped with the watercolor brush. So sweet!


Aly and Dan have been watching WAY too much Food Network! This is one of their creations...a spin-off of a Croquembouche. It was Yum-O! Do we really know what a Croquembouche is? Nope! We saw it on a cake challenge though. Dan's version was made with donut holes with caramelized sugar. Did I mention Yum-O?! :)