Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Christmas Eve Dinner and Christmas Morning...

Here's what it looked like on Christmas morning!!! The elf on top of the tree is "Adam" the elf who is our "Elf on the Shelf". Google the book if you don't know what I'm talking about. The plate had some chocolate chip cookies made that night on it and a tall glass of milk which Santa drank and ate right up!! The tree is an entirely different story.

For Christmas Eve, we ate at Gigi's Italian restaraunt. It was closeby and we still had to do some grocery shopping for Christmas day before the stores closed (at 7pm). Gigi's was quite good. The best part of it was the beautiful Christmas tree they had on display. A full-sized tree decorated with lights and ornaments stood in the waiting area. I took Tae to look at it and said, "Look closely because this is the only Christmas tree you'll see this Christmas Eve..." A nearby person, (who happened to own the place) asked where we were staying. I politely told her, "Sunset Vistas" and she then said, "Why don't you take the little tree right here and use this as your Christmas tree this year. You can drop it off in a few days. No one is going to miss it around here!!" What a sweetie!

Captain Memo's Pirate Ship Cruise

Rob and I decided to take the kids on a very special cruise this year aboard a pirate ship. As soon as we went aboard, they handed each kid a pirate hat and a gun. It was a "real-looking" cap gun without caps. They had a blast "shooting" each other and us as well. This is before we got on the boat. There it is in all it's majesty.

Rusty Rachet, the wench aboard, read the kids a story. There was alot of time where they entertained the kids and let the grown-ups have some alone time. After the story, they found some hidden treasure, did a watergun fight with the parents, told pirate stories and found a washed-up enemy of Capt. Memo who they fought, got our faces painted, danced, and did a round of musical chairs where Jenna came in fourth place. She was the last girl standing which was quite impressive to all who witnessed it.

The Beautiful Pirate Ship and Amazing View of Dolphins

Here is a view of the "poop deck" where the captain steers the ship. It was quite impressive. Rob and I looking snazzy as ever! guessed. Dolphins right outside our ship. They would stay in front of the ship as though they were guiding it. Kind of like Santa's reindeers, I suppose.

Another pic of the dolphins. There were at least three that we saw up close.

Pirate Fun!

All aboard Captain Memo's you get your face painted whether you want it painted or not! It was fun to be a pirate for a day... I suppose. The kids sure liked seeing mom and dad dressed up in pirate fashion.
These were our pirate faces. I look half-retarded, but the pic of Tae was cute. He's holding up his treasure he found on the ship.

More treasure found by these mini-pirates. They were all saying, "Aarrgh" while posing.

Captain Memo's Dance Party

Aboard the ship, towards the end of our journey, the kids got to participate in a dance party onboard. Jenna LOVED it and got to show off her cool moves. She did the YMCA, Chicken Dance, Macarena, Congo line, Limbo, and got to play tamborines. Tae joined in too, but Jenna stole the show.

Christmas Eve...

Here we are waiting on the pirate ship cruise to let us on board. We decided to go across the street in Clearwater to a park at their marina. It was awesome! The best part was the crystal white sugar sand that was everywhere. The beach and boardwalk were right there too and we got to see their beach. It was amazing!! Definitely more crowded than where we were staying, but when we go back, we'll definitely be spending some time here!! They had a jumping contraption for the kids, a giant water slide (for when it's warmer), and lots of climbing rocks. This is also where Jenna got her smoothie and the rest of the kids got treats as well. The seagulls were so bad here that the ice cream man at the ice cream store told us to make sure we stay under the overhang or if we have to walk the boardwalk, we needed to cover our ice cream with our hands and walk inbetween two people who are not eating. Otherwise- the birds would eat the ice cream. This is also where I wish we had brought our video camera!! There was this lady who was sitting in the open with a sandwich and the birds were all over her. As soon as she'd take a bite, the birds would swoop in and steal part of her sandwich. She became extra cranky and we all thought it was hillarious!

Seafood Night

Although Rob and I got shrimp cocktail as soon as we could in Florida, we still wanted some great seafood. We decided to go to this restaraunt that a lot of families seem to enjoy there. Although I forget the name, (my girls say it's PJ's?) it was unforgettable!! The surroundings were great. Majorly eclectic and fun. Reminded me of Terry's Surf Club in Cincy- only a seafood restaraunt instead of a burger joint.... This is what Tae enjoyed most of the wait before we got our table... Jenna had bought a cute purse earlier that day and wanted to bring it to dinner. Here she is showing it off...
The girls outside of the restaraunt... with Frosty and Santa.

The Retired Persons' Dance

While at the St. Pete pier, we decided to get some grub for lunch. While there, we noticed alot of old people walking right past us and into this other room (hall). There was a live band playing songs like, "Kokomo" and "Sweet Caroline". The old people rocked!! There was tons of dancing and my kids (and I) were having a blast dancing in our booth and watching them bust out some moves. On "Sweet Caroline," they were all shouting, "So good, so good, so good!" and I thought I was going to die laughing. I told Rob I would love to be like that when we're old. He said, "Just shoot me now!" Well- at least Tae and I enjoyed it!!

The Pier at St. Petersburg

There were lots of places to go shopping. When we first got to our condo, we heard of an amazing place to check out. It's called John's Pass Pier. With it being only 1/2 mile away, we took off. There was tons of shopping, (mainly touristy stuff), restaraunts, and the pier itself was amazing. We saw dolphins jumping out of water immediately and felt as though we had finally arrived. Another great pier that we visited was in St. Petersburg. Their pier was also fun. It had an aquarium on the second floor and it was a minimal cost. We hopped on the chance that it might be fun and we are glad we did. This aquarium was especially neat because it had a touch and feel section. The kids got to hold crabs, starfish, and sea urchins. We saw an eel, some sharks, and an especially beautiful fish called a Picasso fish (?) It was very colorful and although I didn't get a pic of it, definitely look it up online... it's worth seeing!

Manatees at Tampa Electric?

Another fun (free)adventure for The Ro Fam was off to see the manatees. We found a place that had a museum of sorts that dealt with manatees as well as two observation decks for us to view them. The funniest thing was that it was near Tampa Electric, the power plant. The manatees ,(during this month especially) migrate to warm waters which just happen to be by the power plant. Here we are near the facility and below are the pics of the manatees. We saw dozens swimming all together. It was crazy to see that many manatees all in one place without being forced to.

Fort DeSoto pics

The kids on the pier at Ft. DeSoto...

This is a pictue of our family at Ft. DeSoto beach. We are literally surrounded by the Gulf of Mexico and it is simply gorgeous. Seashells were absolutely everywhere! The beach sand was sugar white and the water was the prettiest blue-green color. I could have stayed on that pier forever!!

Fort DeSoto

Fort DeSoto Historical Battlegrounds are right on the tip of a peninsula. It is surrounded by the Gulf of Mexico and is super cool and the beaches there are extra pretty. We climbed 90 stairs while there, which was a feat for the kids. Rob and I enjoyed looking at the canons and the fort. We also saw how it looked in the 1950's through many pictures. It doesn't look the same now...but is really neat to see. This is one of the many free adventures we chose to go on while in Florida.

Great Explorations- Dr's and Pizza

The kids got to play in a hospital. I told Rob I'd like to save this pic for when one of them graduates from medical school. Wouldn't that be so cute? In my opinion, Addison looks right at home in a lab coat. There was a brick oven pizzeria there as well. Rob and I ordered different toppings on our pizza and the kids had to serve us. They had to take our order, make the pizza, bus the table, and ring in the order on the cash register. Rob (towards the end) asked for a "Jenna Pizza" and made Jenna sit on top of the crust and pizza sauce and put herself in the oven. She willfully did so and enjoyed every minute of the attention!

Here are the kids with their pizza creations! They did a phenomenal job!

More from Great Explorations

The girls got to be on the weather by sitting in front of a green screen. Jenna ate this up!!!
Even Tae enjoyed the fun!

Jenna and Addison- anchorwomen extraordinaire!!

Here they are in front of the green screen!

More pics from Great Explorations

The kids are all firemen and policemen in this one...
Tae didn't quite fit in the firemen pants. Needless to say- he still thought it was cool to try them on.

Jenna climbed all the way up the fireman pole and then slid down. That girl has abs of steel!! She even is wearing the heavy firefighter jacket!

Here is Addison on a pulley-rope seat. The goal is to try and lift your entire weight. All the kids tried- and all the kids failed. They thought it was super cool when Mom and Dad lifted them up with the pulley though. Tae called us "super strong!"