Friday, July 29, 2016

Anna Maria Island 2016

At the end of June, we were blessed to be able to spend a week in Anna Maria Island, Florida with family.  And Daddy got to go this year!  David, the boys, me and Mimi and Big Deal flew on Saturday 6/25 to Tampa and all crammed in one Tahoe to drive from the airport to AMI.  The flight was much easier than last year with Campbell being older and understanding that we stay in our seat, buckle our seat belts, watch a movie or read a book, drink our juice, etc, etc, all while flying HIGH in the sky.  The boys were so excited because their cousins Ben and Summer were already at the beach!  They couldn't wait to dig in the sand, look for shells, catch bait fish, throw the baseball, swim in the pool, etc, etc, with their big cousins.  MiMi and Big Deal rented a nice 3 bedroom, 2 bath room house walking distance from the beach that also had a pool.  

Each day while Daddy was there we spent a few hours at the beach, a few hours in the backyard pool. We rode the trolley that runs up and down the island to eat cinnamon rolls for breakfast.  The whole group played mini golf once and Austin, David, Summer and MiMi played twice.  Austin beat MiMi, Daddy and Summer fair and square on the second round.  Way to go Austin! On Monday, David, Ellen, Davy and I were thankful to be able to go out to eat at the Waterfront restaurant without kids. MiMi and BigDeal stayed with the grandkids :)  Such a fun night out!  On Tuesday night we walked back to the beach for sunset to enjoy the view and take snap some pictures and afterwards went to Dips, the local ice cream place for a nice treat!  Davy and Ellen rented a golf cart this year and the Davy and Ellen took all of the kids to get ice cream ahead of the rest of us.  Campbell was in heaven - riding with the big kids in the golf cart.  He talked about it the whole trip!  Daddy and Big Deal flew back to Houston on Tuesday night. DiDi and aunt Jennifer arrived on Tuesday after driving all the way from Texas to come.  On Wednesday morning, we drove to Sarasota to explore a bit - we ended up at a playground and splash pad overlooking the bay.  We didn't even have swimsuits but let the boys play and get wet for a while.  They had a blast! Later that day we spent time at the beach - digging, sunning, playing catch, skim boarding, shell seeking, catching bait fish, reading, etc...just simple things.  We swam and ordered pizza that night.  The next morning, MiMi, the boys, the Barretts and I went to the circus show at the Ringling Brothers museum in Sarasota. It was a short 1 hour circus show - but more of a juggling, clown, gymnastics and dance.  There were not any animals, motorcycles, or fire involved like the circus we saw last summer in Houston.  It was a funny show and Austin loved it, especially since he got to sit next to his big cousin Ben who was laughing too.  We spent the afternoon at the beach and then went to eat at a restaurant right on the beach.  It was fun to let the kids run in the sand while we waited for our food. Unfortunately, the sunset was not very colorful that night.  

DiDi and Jennifer left Friday morning to drive back to Texas.  We are thankful they made such a long drive for such a short time. On Friday, MiMi, the boys and I rode the trolley up and down the island- we hit up the city pier and the store with the parrots who talk. Last year Austin was scared of the parrots and Campbell wasn't.  This year, Austin was not scared and Campbell was. Ha!  We spent the afternoon at the beach and swimming.  Then it came time to pack.  We had to be out of the house by 10am but our flight wasn't until 3 or so.  So MiMi, the boys and I went to the aquarium in Sarasota for a little while before heading to Tampa.  We saw the manatees, large sea turtles, sting rays, sharks, Nemo, jellyfish, and more.  The boys had fun petting the sting rays.  Another thing Austin was scared of last year but was brave this year. Growing up!  We drove from the aquarium straight to the Tampa airport  to catch our flight.  Since we were flying United we had assigned seats so the boys and I sat apart from MiMi.  And they did great!  This encouraged me for our flight to Denver (tomorrow actually) when I will be flying alone with them to visit Rachel, Pippa, Veronica, Christy, and maybe more.   

It was a wonderful trip full of many fun memories that I hope the boys will remember.  Although I am not a  "sit on the beach" person, I will say that a beautiful beach is the easiest, most fun vacation for our family at this season of our life  - with two crazy but fun boys!   

Walking to  our airplane

Holding  hands - looking sweet  (for  now at least)

Beginning to dig

All he wanted to do - dig in the sand

Fun with big cousin Ben!  Thanks for playing, Ben

checking out the water, but preferred the sand

Pre sunset selfie

Beginning the mound

David  and his work crew

King of the mountain

Golf cart ride to parents only dinner, backseat riders

Family  mini golf

Lining up his putt

Favorite family photo. :)

The Whole Stephens Fam

Next  favorite  pic- out  on the beach at sunset


Attempting a cousin picture - was not easy

MiMi and the grandkids

Loving his ice cream from Dips

Waiting for the trolley (Ben went fishing with his  parents)

Trolley  ride

Campbell loved wagon rides with Cousin Summer

Slide at splash pad  playground

Sarasota splash pad fun

Wanted to go up and down the slippery steps

Running in the splash pad - safe?

Soaking in our makeshift swimsuits 
Skim board  lessons

Boogie board  lessons

Face plant in the sand  during  a tantrum

Post dinner porch sitting

Thanks DiDi for making the drive to play  with us on the beach

Hanging with DiDi under the umbrella
Campbell trying to escape the parrots

Austin befriended a  50-something man on the pier who let him help him fish. Cute

Boys on the pier

MiMi on the pier

The tip of AMI, a storm is coming

Austin loves his cousin Ben

Nightly routine - MiMi swims with Grandkids while mommy preps dinner and enjoys some wine. :)

Last night - Dips ice cream

Pretty water on the way  to Sarasota

Checking out the sting rays and petting them.

Giant turtle

It took alot to get this picture

My  little airplane buddy with his kindle

And on my other side...

Friday, June 10, 2016

First Tee Ball Season

Austin played Tee Ball this spring!  He LOVED it!  Ben Hampton, his best buddy from school was on his team, The Sharks. He loved playing 1st base because that was where the action was.  The rules of this tee ball team was no outs, 12 batter per inning and each batter advances 1 base.  So, they could pretend to get a batter out, but couldn't really. Austin really improved his catching and hitting over the season.  He now loves to just toss the ball up and catch in his glove.  Or throw against the side of the house and catch in his glove.  When I would say " you have tee ball tomorrow" he would always say "a game or practice?".  They had Saturday games and practice on Sunday afternoons.  We would call it baseball and he would correct us "it's tee ball".  Just wait till next's baseball when you are 5. :)  David was an assistant coach even had a couple of games where the head coach was out of town and he was coach.  He also enjoyed the snacks after games.  Some Saturdays he even got to go watch cousin Summer play softball too.  It was a great season for our little baseball, i mean, Tee Ball player!

Waiting to play

Running the bases

Go Austin

Smile cute baseball player

Tips from Daddy

Aunt LaLa and Campbell cheering Austin on!

Ben and Austin at Jay Williams (classmate) Birthday party right after TeeBall game - green frosting

Check out that smile

Buddies Ben and Austin

Precious boys

Trophy presentation

Trophy presentation - "Tuffy" was his nick name - since he took a ball to his eye in the first game - playing first base.

Check out that metal!