Thursday, April 22, 2004

My sister Mary and her husband Tom have been talking more and more about leaving Las Vegas and moving someplace nicer. We think they should move to Gulf Breeze. My sister has two daughters, Savannah and Summer. Savannah and Gabrielle are the same age and are the best of friends. And with a name like "Summer," the youngest should grow up at the beach! This post is dedicated to my sister and her family.

Though we can go to the beach year round, we prefer warm water. Now that the Gulf temperature in our area has reached about 70 degrees, we thought we'd brave the chill and start our summer. So we started our day today with a trip over the bridge to the beach.

The kids eagerly await beach swimming season each year.

Gregory jumped right into the water. The adults however, are wimps. We like the water to be at least 80 degrees.

When Gregory was not body surfing, he tried to get his Dad into the water.

It finally worked when Kurt tried to get Gregory to stop body surfing long enough to look at the camera.

Soon Kurt was running through the waves like the children. Here Gregory has challenged the Sea to battle.

We never did hear the identity of the victor. I have my suspicions, however.

Gabrielle loves to build sand castles.

But she managed to find plenty of time for splashing.

This is the first year Gabrielle hasn't worn a "floaty" swimsuit.

And it was the first time waves crashed over her head when she went out too far. But, Gabrielle says she still loves the beach!

However, for such a "girly girl," she sure likes the sand (and dirt).

For awhile, she would cover herself with sand and then run back into the water to clean up.

And then head right back in to see how much sand she could get stuck to her body.

In the meantime, Gregory enjoyed his "great sea adventure."

Kurt hiked down the beach to talk to a couple of guys who were fishing. (We truly are determined to conquer this fishing thing.) He found out there is a delicious fish swimming about this time of year. Best of all, these large silver fish adore the sand crabs living on the beach. With a special rake "thingy," one can obtain all the bait one needs. And since Florida residents do not need a fishing license for salt water fishing (unless on a boat), Kurt thought Tom would love to hear that one can fish, completely free of expense, after obtaining the right equipment.

Of course the idea of not spending money on bait tickled Kurt so completely, he had to see if he could find some sea crabs immediately. So, after commandeering some of the kids' sand castle tools, Kurt went hunting.

He never caught any sand crabs, but then, the man DID say it required a basket and a rake.

Tuesday, April 13, 2004

Jesus is risen!

What a great celebration is Easter! In rememberance of the new life we have in Jesus, we dyed Easter eggs.

When we took out the Easter egg dye packets however, only the blue and yellow tablets were intact. The others were smashed. We used the blue and yellow tablets and then poured varying amounts of the dye "powder" into 3 other bowls to see what would happen. We got different combinations of a green/pink/plum color.

Naturally the left over dye called for some wool!

Originally the kids wanted the fiber for their spindling. However, they both liked the blue and yellow fiber best. So to avoid problems, I kept all the fiber myself! (I told them I'd spin it up and then we would use the colors in socks for the two of them. I've not yet mastered socks so this should be good).

I've been a little burned out from spinning boucle yarn so much over the last few months. It was great to spin some nice basic yarn! I spun the Easter fiber up and then Navajo plied it. (I haven't done any Navajo plying for almost a year.) The yarn ended up between 15 to 20 wpi, plied. Each color produced a 15 to 20 yard skein for a total of about 80 yards.

Now I plan to spin some natural colored yarn from some of the undyed fiber. This is the fleece our guild members bought to make hats for the Destin Spin In last year. I never made my hat, so now I will use the fiber for socks for my kids. Socks for the kids are more practical than a hat for me anyway. I just need to find a good pattern for kids' socks!

Easter morning, Gabrielle dressed up in one of her favorite dresses. (This is the dress I hand smocked when Gabrielle spent a week in the hospital a couple of years ago.) Our church does a special Easter outreach in Pensacola each year and Gabrielle wanted to look beautiful. It is a big event with tons of fun activities for the kids (pony rides, face paint, etc.) and live music, etc. for the adults.

Unfortunately this year it rained heavily and the celebration had to be canceled at the last minute. We ended up spending the day quietly at home with just the family. It was rather nice.

Sunday, April 04, 2004

We had quite the adventure camping over the past 4 days at the Black Water campground. This time, we brought the kid's bikes.

There were only 10 or so campsites within our circle. The circle thus provided ample safe biking. Even Gabrielle had a great time on her bicycle!

It was so good to watch the kids get so much exercise!

Our campsite was 5 minutes from the Black Water River. Naturally, the kids wanted to swim.

We saw the usual warnings.

Being diligent parents, what did we do?

Provide excellent supervision, naturally. Here Kurt is working on the "eyes on the back of his head" technique.

The kids had a great time!

And no one spotted any alligators. I did see another kind of reptile, however.

Sunning themselves on a branch in a nearby lake were a family of turtles.

The first weekend in April is free fishing weekend, where no fishing license is required to fish the freshwaters of Florida. So we brought along our fishing gear.

Kurt spent most of the morning trying to figure out how the reel worked, while the kids waited.

I came to take picures and found it thus. Fortunately, I asked a hiker in the area for a lesson and received some instruction in the use of our equipment.

Nevertheless, we had hotdogs for lunch.

The ultimate adventure this weekend involved a small yellow blow-up boat. The Black Water river is famous for canoeing. But we didn't have a canoe. We had a small yellow blow-up boat.

Someone had to bring the boat and family up the river and then bring the car back to the campground. I volunteered. Kurt loaded up the boat.

We drove upstream. Kurt and the kids planned a three hour tour. A three hour tour. . . (Yes, this is from the theme to Gilligan's Island. . .)

The kids were very excited.

Kurt assembled the oars. . .

My family set off down the river. . .

What did it matter that everyone else had a canoe. . .

A blow-up boat is like a canoe. . . Isn't it?

I shouted my "good-byes" and went back to camp for a couple hours of knitting and spindling.

Meanwhile, out on the river. . .

Kurt soon found out that a yellow blow-up boat doesn't glide through the water like a canoe. It took a great deal of muscle to guide it in and out of the current.

After the first oar broke, Kurt's anxiety grew. There was only one oar left. If that one broke, the current would send the little yellow BLOW-UP boat into any number of hazards that could POP it. They would be stranded far away from civilization and without any means of summoning help. They started to pray.

After a few hours, Kurt realized the little yellow blow-up boat was not as fast as a canoe. The setting sun reminded him of the river night life, and ALLIGATORS.

As the sun continued to drop, Kurt knew he would never make it back to camp before nightfall, and ALLIGATORS.

Meanwhile, anticipating the arrival of my family, I had leashed the dog and headed for the beach. We started what turned into a 2 hour walk, winding our way up the river bank as far as we could get.

The sun disappeared behind the trees. Finally, Kurt spotted some guys fishing! He beached the boat and asked for a ride back to the campsite. They agreed relunctantly. Abandoning the boat, Kurt and the kids climbed into the back of the truck, which promply died. After some work on the engine, the truck and my family bounced back to camp. They jumped out at the ranger station and then gratefully ran the half mile back to camp.

In the meantime, I had decided to head back to camp for a flashlight. We met and the details of their adventure were relived.

Then, the kids found a new activity.

The Black Water campground provided a nice playground in the center of the campsite circle.

The kids at least, lived out many more great, imaginary adventures within the safety of the campground.

All in all, however, we really did have a good time!