Sunday, September 27, 2009

Fantastic Family Vacation

We packed our bags and loaded up the car last Friday to head to Orlando! We were on our way to vacation at the beach, at Disney, Sea World and the beach again on Friday. What a time we had! We were so ready to shake loose the worries, stresses and concerns of our daily lives and have some fun. We did not realize how we had gotten so wrapped up in circumstances of issues, work, school and other people and had let those things affect our family.

I think God expects us to do what we need to do to maintain a healthy balance within our families. It is up to us to keep things in check as we go through life. If we don't, all those outside things can start taking a tole on individual members or the family as a whole.

We left home with the intention of not doing school at all but it turned out that we had two days that were perfect opportunities to do some fun learning and nature studies. Our trip to Sea World was by far the best day, it was so much fun to see and touch creatures from the sea that Riley had never seen before. He was able to touch a Cownosed Stingray in the touch tank. Of course it took a bit for him to work up the nerve but after some gentle guidance from Mom, he put his hand in the water and was able to touch a couple. It was amazing how smooth and soft they were. They were so gentle as they swam by and would turn their nose up to see if you had food or not.

We were also able to feed and pet some Dolphins! How exciting it was to be so close to such a graceful creature! Riley was really excited and jumped in there to pet their chin and drop the dead fish in the Dolphin's mouth. He loved it! As they would swim up they would open their mouths, making their clicks and noises, it was as if they were smiling at us and saying hello! Such happy creatures!

From the multiple aquariums they have in the park to the touch tanks and to the wonderful shows at Sea World there were multiple learning opportunities for Riley that day.

Our last day in Florida we were really hoping to find a good beach where we could snorkel and find lots of shells and sea life, you know really study nature. We tried catching a ferry from Fort DeSoto state park to Egmont Island but missed it. Before we left that island we toured the fort and went out to the beach. There we saw a Southern Stingray and what looked like a Gulf Pipe Fish. We met a couple who also missed the ferry, they recommended that we try catching the ferry from Honeymoon Island to Caladesi Island State park. This is an island off the gulf coast of Florida which is uninhabited. It is a state park and ran by the rangers. The ferry goes every hour and is only $10.00 per adult and $6.00 per child. We made it there just in time for the 2:00 ferry! We grabbed our gear and got on board.

The ride over was a short but we saw lots of birds on the way. After we docked and made our way to the beach we encountered a Gopher tortoise. They dig a burrow several feet deep and willingly share it with other creatures such as the Southeastern Rattle Snake! Hmmm, I wonder if they make good neighbors!

As we got in the water which was so clear and calm, we quickly started finding shells and creatures. Chris found a shell with a large crab inside. Riley and I both found a couple of shells with mussels inside them. One of them didn't like us messing with him so he squirted us!

We had a wonderful time and were able to bring home a few shells from our snorkeling adventure. Chris found a huge clam shell that was about as big as his hand and was still connected. He also found a large Pin Shell that was still connected. He was willing to go a bit further out than Riley and I were. We were so thankful for the kind couple who gave us a great suggestion in going to Caladesi Island! We know God sent them our way that day!

I would say we had two good days of learning that we will count as school days. We will be printing pictures and making a scrapbook with info on each of the creatures we experienced on our trip to Florida. In asking Riley what his favorite part was, he started with the trip to Magic Kingdom but then the list grew and he had several favorites and our day of snorkeling was one of them! Amidst our days of learning we were able to relax, have fun, laugh, and get to know each other again. What a wonderful time we had!