We tend to be procrastinators…especially when it comes to getting ready for a big trip.  It’s not that we weren’t excited to go, we just weren’t excited to pack, especially when you’re going to need your toothbrush, your pillow, and some of your clothes before you actually leave.    So we kept adding to our ‘list of things to do’ on the marker board and kept thinking, “We should pack!”



Friday,  Saturday and Sunday came and went, then finally on Monday we all went crazy and packed like madmen…okay, madgirls 😀  By the time Tuesday morning came around, we were ready to go!  We were even able to pull out of the drive at 6:30 a.m., which is a major accomplishment for eleven people to do 😀


Our Expert Packing Man (a.k.a Daddy) was able to fit all of our clothes for two weeks, plus shoes, eleven gallons of popc0rn, a cooler, a violin, guitar and dulcimer, and who-knows-what-all-else 😀  And all of that at about 6:00 in the morning in the dark.




 This time, Susannah and I got to take some turns driving 😀  All of our hair stood on end when this girl was driving…okay, I’m kidding 😀  She’s a good driver!


Some of Bekah’s artwork on the way down to Florida 😀  They brought along a couple of marker boards and were doodling.  You can see what she was copying (from memory) on the right.

 [Doodling in visual journals]


 Cassia and Susannah, so happy to be at our cousin’s house after 20+ hours of travel 😀


We dropped Mommy off in the Tampa area for the T-Tapp retreat and trainer certifications.  The rest of us went down near Fort Myers and relaxed  😀


The first night we were there we went swimming in her in-ground pool.  She has a solar heater on it, so the water was rarely cooler than 90°, which was delightful!  It was also raining that night, but we were getting wet anyway, so we didn’t care 😉





 It looks blurry, but it’s the rain coming down through the screen over the pool.


 Cassia, staying high and dry 😀  She rarely goes swimming ‘because it’s too much of a bother’ (meaning, it makes her hair feel weird and she doesn’t want to shower every time she swims) 😀


Charissa on the other hand, swims like a fish 😀


 It rained nearly every day, but it didn’t make it chilly at all, and at some point the sun always came out.


Not a day went by without us swimming at least once (if not twice and thrice and frice…er, four times!)  Sometimes we went straight from pajamas to swimsuits 😀


Then after the pool it was time for a drive.   We went on these drives frequently.  To look for alligators sometimes, but mostly just to drive.  Bekah had a blast driving the Ranger (as we all did), but since she was two years older than the last time we visited, she got to drive a lot more this time than last time.


I love their facial expressions 😀


Once some of us were up at the house and we noticed Bekah driving backwards in the back part of the property.  It wasn’t backing up, it was driving backwards.  Later we found out she was trying to drive ‘like Mater‘.  😀



There were geckos all over the place (lizard like creatures aren’t as plentiful in Indiana) and Anna managed to catch one…and pull off it’s tail 😛  By the way, did you know that the tail of an iguana will also come off, and then wiggle and shake for two to four hours?   We didn’t either until we tried it…okay I’m kidding 😀  We didn’t try it OR even see an iguana, but we did learn that while we were down there 😀


Since Isaiah’s 6th birthday landed on one of the days we were in Florida, our cousin Saundra made him a very cute John Deere cake 😀  Isaiah loved it!



Saundra is very good at spoiling us, and she did an extra good job of spoiling Isaiah on his birthday.  I think he liked it 😀





 Saundra cutting the cake for us all 🙂


Some of us girls had smuggled some birthday presents into our suitcases for this day, and then Saundra went to the store and got him a couple of things as well 😀





 A tractor…with sound!  What could be better?!


This is Oreo,  Saundra’s daughter’s mini dachshund.   There were two of them and they were quite adorable!


 One of Isaiah’s favorite gifts was a ‘Mater’ laptop from Saundra.  He and Noah played with that quite a lot 😀


Noah trying to spray somebody with some water…


 In the two weeks we were at our cousin’s, the boys learned how to swim 😀  They went from wearing a life jacket at all times…


…to swimming without one all over the place!   I started out showing them how to do the ‘dead man float’ and paddling for short distances, then Daddy helped them again the next day, and before the day was over, they were little fish!



  [youtuber youtube=’http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dqIr5iH_r2A&list’]


Isaiah waiting for his turn for Daddy to help him swim




 Cute little fish 😀


Pretty soon, they were ‘diving’ off of the six-foot end of the pool, retrieving the pool toys they had thrown in.

[youtuber youtube=’http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NsHKY7CbknI&list’]

 We were always on the lookout for them, of course, but I was amazed at how well they did 😀




Isaiah was having some yogurt for a snack in between swimming  😀


Leah, Bekah, Anna, myself and Noah jumping in all at once 😀  I love how Noah is about to do a belly flop!


 When you’ve been swimming so much, you get tired, so you entertain your brothers with a game while you’re relaxing  😀


We took off one day to Bonita Beach.  We hadn’t been to the beach yet and really wanted to swim in the Gulf.   We knew from last time we went to Bonita that you had to pay for parking and the beach was crowded.  But if you go down the road just a little ways, there are access points to the beach (and free parking!).



 And the water was DEFINITELY salty!



 The first time we went to the beach, Daddy, Susannah and Cassia didn’t want to swim, so that’s why these two girls were high and dry 😀





Charissa with some shells she found



 Cassia in the middle of all of our loot…


The boys’ enjoyed rolling in the sand and getting it all over their clothes before they rinsed off in the water again 😀




 So pretty!



 Cassia was writing letters while we were swimming.




 One of Noah’s favorite things to do was to sneak up on the birds and then run and holler at them until they all flew away 😀




   The girls made ‘air floats’ out of their swimsuit skirts…


 I tried it myself and it works pretty good 😀


I love this picture of the boys, gathering up shells and sand to throw in the water.


 Throwing sand on each other…



Every once in a while someone would step on something big and then shriek while quickly swimming away because we didn’t know just what exactly it was we were stepping on 😀   Or the girls would grab a hold of one of us and hang there so their feet wouldn’t touch the bottom 😀


 Anna’s MudLove bracelet


 [Leah and Anna]

(by the way, Anna made her swimsuit herself for 4H this past year and did a really good job on it) 😉



 Back at our cousin’s house, one of our favorite things to do was to drive over to her son and daughter-in-law’s house and drive around the yard and trees.  This was a picture we got while we were on our way over to the house.



The road to the house…very pretty!



This picture was taken one day when Anna and I drove over to the other house…the blue sky and fir trees looked just perfect!  Much better than this picture shows 🙂


 Bekah trying to get a souvenir palm leaf from their tree


 A dragonfly Anna caught on camera



Driving along the woods



Anna really liked these flowers and took lots of  good pictures of them…





The dirt road that becomes a washboard every time it rains  😀   Then a tractor comes from the nursery that owns the road and grades it so it’s all smooth again.



 Another neat picture Anna took


 The alligator!!!  We knew that alligators liked to hang out in the swamp by our cousin’s son’s house, so we would stop by the swamp nearly every time and shut off the motor and watch to see if we could spot one.   Once I was sitting in the ranger looking at the pictures on the camera while Bekah and Anna were looking for alligators.  Anna had really been wanting to see one.   All of the sudden Anna runs to the Ranger and says in a quiet-but-very-excited voice, “Oh my goodness, oh my goodness!  I just saw an alligator!”

 By the time I ran to the edge of the water it had slipped back down, but we waited a little bit longer and it’s eyes slowly, slowly poked up out of the water.  The picture below is one that Susannah, Cassia and Anna got on another trip back there, so they got to see more of the alligator than I did, but it sure was neat!


 The alligator watchers 😀


I’m not sure, but I think they were having fun 😀





 Another picture of the road


 The neighbor’s horses


 I love this picture…partly because of Isaiah’s goofy face and also because it’s proof that Cassia went swimming!!!  Hehe!  She’s not wet in this picture, but I assure you that she really did get in and swim!




 This one is even better 😀







 Charissa and Bekah, intent on something


 …then they noticed I was ‘shooting’ them 😀


 Another one of our after-dark swims 😀  These were so fun, not to mention relaxing.


 When we went back up to the Tampa area to pick Mommy up, we went across the Sunshine Skyway bridge.  Some of us love it, and some of us don’t 😀  It’s very high up and so exhilarating 😀




The day that Mommy came home, Saundra made cake pops for us to ice and decorate.


Then she had these cute flowerpots with styrofoam in them for us to stick the cake pops into 🙂   She also printed off a banner so we could all sign and decorate it with ‘welcome home Mommy!’ and ‘Congratulations!’ messages (she passed her certification…yay!!! 😀 )



The next day, we went to the Gulf again, this time with Mommy, and this time everyone brought their swimsuits 😀   Charissa must have tasted the salt water, felt something creepy under her feet, or….?!  😀





 Boys and Dirt…so happy together 😀









Noah loved chasing the birds.  Once he was playing in the water with me, then he said, “Wait!  I’m going to sneak up on them and scare them!”  So he ‘snuck up’ on them, and started hollering and running around 😀


 The boys wanted to go in deeper,  so we girls brought them in 😀






The walk from the parking lot to the beach was so pretty 🙂  They were like pathways between people’s  beach houses…very pretty.


   We went to the Gulf a third time, this time to watch the sunset


 We saw this really cute couple on the beach…so we asked them if they would come home with us and be our parents 😀  😀  😀




 [Isaiah and Anna]


 [Leah and Anna]


Noah skipping rocks on the water


 Bekah looking for shells






 ‘You should draw here’  😀



Anna with her journal


The sunset


 Silhouette of Noah


We were getting ready for a family picture, and Leah was giving us directions on how and where to stand 😀



 Family picture no. 1


The sunset again…making the clouds all golden and pretty 🙂


 Family picture no. 2 … tallest to shortest.

Family picture no. 3 … oldest to youngest


 Family picture no. 4, whereupon we lean upon Susannah


 Lovely Florida sunset again  🙂



 ‘The heavens declare the glory of God and the firmament showeth his handiwork.  Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night showeth knowledge.  There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard.”  Psalm 19:1-3




 I like this picture 😀


 The sun peeking below the clouds…


 The earth started tipping…


…and went completely upside down 😀  Last time we were in Florida we discovered that if you hung your head upside down, the colors of the sunset became more vivid.  Or so it seemed 😀   I think we probably amused the man sitting in his chair enjoying the sunset.   Imagine 9 or 10 people hanging their heads upside down, exclaiming over the sunset 😀


 The sun is gone…now what?


 None of us were ready to go back home…the weather was perfect in Florida, our cousins are so much fun to be with, the pool was wonderful, the beach was beautiful… but all vacations have to end sometime.  Noah spelled ‘N D Anna’ on the back of our van in an attempt to spell our state’s name 😀  It’s so much fun seeing little people try to sound and work out how to spell new words 😀


We set up the camera on the back of Jack and Saundra’s truck, Anna set the timer, and then ran to get in the picture 😀   It didn’t flash or make any sound, so there we stood, smiling at the tailgate of a truck, not sure whether to go check the camera or not!   Then we all had to say goodbye and give lots of hugs…and more hugs.   Nobody wanted to leave!


Our next stop was Sonny’s Barbecue where we picked up lunch to bring to Uncle Mark and Aunt Teresa’s 😀   Daddy and Mommy went in to get it while we sat out in the van.  But minutes turned to more minutes and more minutes turned to ages…


…and girls and boys became restless, and restless girls and boys finally burst out of the van and played/sat/rested on the grass while we waited (and waited and waited) for Sonny’s to find, butcher, and barbecue the hog and chickens we ordered 😀    By the way it’s not Sonny’s fault, in case you weren’t ever going to go there since we just said it took so long (because we know how you read our blog for the sole reason of reading our restaurant reviews 😉  ).  It was our fault, because we’d never ordered from them before and so we took awhile to figure out who, what and how much to get!


When we finally arrived at Uncle Mark and Aunt Teresa’s lovely ranch, we had lunch (which was delicious, by the way! Thank you Sonny’s!), then after talking a while under their gazebo, we walked down to the lake and visited some more while watching the sun go down 🙂


Of course the dogs came with us!   They are so fluffy and pretty!  This is Muffin and she is my favorite 😀



We love getting pictures of the Spanish moss on the trees…we don’t have it up here in Indiana!










 Uncle Mark always has the best games 😀


We heard mooing and meowing and all other kinds of noises going on behind us, and when I turned around I saw Uncle Mark teaching them how to throw and catch a football.  Whoever mooed or meowed or said ‘ooooooo’ the longest got the football next 😀




 Isaiah with the football




 Mommy and Aunt Teresa


 {visiting…with a little meowing going on in the background 😀 }


The lake





 Uncle Mark, Noah, Charissa and Isaiah





 Buddy again…



Anna got this picture of Isaiah  drinking some Penta water that Aunt Teresa gave us.  When I was going through pictures to put here on our blog I thought that it was so cute and would make a perfect Penta water ad 😀  So I played around with Gimp and made this 😀



 Daddy throwing the football…


at to me 😀



 Bekah tried giving Uncle Mark a Spanish moss hairdo


 Isaiah added it to (notice flying red football in the corner)  😀


 Sunset on the lake







We gave a mini ‘concert’ to  Uncle Mark, Aunt Teresa, and Lauren (a very sweet girl who works for Aunt Teresa and we got to meet for the first time!).   We played some fiddle music and sang a few of our favorite songs 😀




Here’s a video of one of the songs we played for them 🙂

[youtuber youtube=’http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f0i89rTXEFU’]



We made s’mores over the stove that night for dessert…they were delicious! 😀



   {Spanish moss in the morning sunlight}



After spending a delightful day and night with our adopted aunt and uncle…we were sad to go home, and I think a lot of us were glad we had a two day drive to work ourselves out of our ‘vacation mode’  😀


Cassia was having some fun with the camera (and so was Charissa!)


 Daddy, Anna and Noah enjoying their bananas 😀


Mommy with her knitting


 [Almost everybody]





 We drove on the edge of the Smoky Mountains and got to enjoy all the lovely fall colors.  Seeing the color again made me a little bit more ready for home…I love Fall.







 Do we looked smashed and tired?!  We did feel smashed and tired, but not as smashed and tired as we expected to be during and after 20+ hours of travel 😀



This picture is actually a couple of years old,  and we got home when it was dark outside, but we need a good ‘home’ picture to end this post 😀


And so ends the story of our latest gallavatin’ adventure  😀   If you are still here, and looked through all one-hundred-and-twenty-or-thirty pictures, you deserve a medal 😀





p.s. I just realized that I forgot to write about when we did a prayer walk with our cousin at her church…and that was too neat to not write about 😀  Perhaps another post a little later is in order 😀


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A Trip Down South…and Back
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10 thoughts on “A Trip Down South…and Back

  • November 8, 2012 at 7:15 pm

    Wow! What a great post!!! We really enjoyed all the pictures and videos! 🙂 You posted so many awesome pictures. I don’t think I can pick a favorite…I liked them all. I certainly got a good laugh out of some of them though…you are all so entertaining. 🙂 It looks like you guys had a very memorable trip…well how could you forget with all those pictures right? LOL! 🙂 Thanks for sharing them with us. I’m sure it took a lot of work to sort through all of the pictures you took!

    I love the expression on the girl’s face (Lauren?) at the beginning of the video of you guys playing your instruments – she looks totally surprised! 🙂

    • November 8, 2012 at 9:34 pm

      You’re welcome, Karen! And thank YOU for commenting 😀 It’s always fun to hear what our readers think about our posts and it makes uploading and sorting through pictures completely worth it 😀 Hehe! Which ones made you laugh? 😀
      Yes! That was Lauren 😀 I loved it, too! She is a really sweet girl to know 😀

  • November 8, 2012 at 8:38 pm

    I love that s’more idea!!!

  • November 8, 2012 at 8:50 pm

    I finished the whole thing! Aren’t you proud of me?! lol Loved every bit pf it.

    • November 8, 2012 at 9:36 pm

      Yes I sure am! 😀 As we girls say to each other when someone has done something outstanding, ‘Your certificate is in the mail!’…or sometimes we upgrade it, ‘Your trophy is in FedEx’ 😀 I think you deserve the trophy, hehe! Thanks for commenting! Glad you liked it 😀

  • November 10, 2012 at 2:54 pm

    I got through them all! And they were great! I’m so glad you all had a fun trip. We are getting ready to go on one in a few days, but I don’t think it’ll be as fun as yours was! 😀 Loved all the pictures. Your pictures seam to have the ability to make your family feel so real and loving, but maybe that’s because my family is a lot like yours and I identify with you all…. Aren’t swimming skirt bubbles the best thing ever? LOL!

    • November 10, 2012 at 8:54 pm

      Thank you, Heather 😀 Oh how fun! I love family trips, don’t you? LOL about the swimming skirt bubbles! Yes, they sure are! Now if ever we happen to be wearing our swimsuits when we fall overboard some ship, we’ll be able to float, right?! 😀
      Have LOTS of fun on your trip!

  • November 13, 2012 at 5:29 am

    Thank you for taking the time to post,I can assure you we all LOVE it!!

  • November 13, 2012 at 6:21 pm

    OK it took me a couple of days but I finished it! YES! I love all the pictures especially the one towards the end on the way home of your dad’s hair in the car. See ya on Tue.!

  • November 13, 2012 at 6:57 pm

    I loved all of your pics and the captions. You have a lovely family. Now I’m missing summer!


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