Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Happy Holidays

We've had a perfect opportunity to spend quality time with family and friends!  It's been enjoyable for the whole family and we're sad to see them all go. 

Our great friends, John and Carrie Jermstad (from Grand Haven, MI) stayed at a beautiful hotel in St. Pete's Beach (5 miles away) with their sons Mac (left) and Hayden (right).  The kids are crazy about them and enjoyed a fun day of swimming in the pool together.  That evening we went for a boat ride out the Intracoastal Waterway through John's Pass to the Gulf of Mexico.   
Carrie and John bought the kids Grand Haven sweatshirts for Christmas.  They were so excited and put them on right away.  Jaxon even asked to wear his to bed. 
 Hayden swimming underwater. He played catch with the kids for so long. 
 Morgan, Ryann and Jaxon all played a part in making these "Juice Box Bags."  Jaxon loves to drink them and will find any excuse to keep on drinking!  Morgan loves to put her sewing machine to good use and get creative.  They made for great gifts and fun "upcycling" (just like recycling, but instead of breaking down the product and reusing the polymers, the product is just repurposed). 
My parents, Art and Yvonne Lewis came for a visit from Michigan, and stayed with us for 4 nights on the boat.  "Grandma, Grandma, Grandma" is the tune we sing each time she's here.  Each of the children want her attention so badly. 
 Tarpon Springs is the Sponge Capital of the World and the location of our Christmas Eve celebration.  The town is completely Greek themed and we enjoyed the sights, fun shops and the best Greek food! 
 Ryann surrounded by sponges!
 The town was decorated so nicely for the holidays. 
 We all had a role in making homemade cookies and frosting for Santa Claus. 
 Craig's sister, Dee, sent us a Christmas wish from Santa Claus via email that came complete with a video that included their name, age, grade and an item from their Christmas list.  It was amazing and touching and truly sealed the deal for his arrival later that evening. 
 Christmas Eve around the tree with cookies for Santa.
 Santa Claus was good to the Parrent kids this year. 
It was fun to watch them scream and get so excited about all of the presents. 
 Favorite gift for Ryann was a snow globe!
 Morgan said this Christmas was the best ever and everything she wished for and more. 
 Jaxons favorite gifts included new boxing gloves and punching bag, his own personal trampoline.  His grandparents gave him a lot of fun gifts and he LOVED the Hex Bug set and new squirt gun. 
 Christmas day included a long squirt gun fight...boys vs. girls.  It was a great day to be in the pool! 
 Dinner on Christmas day was filled with good food and cramped seating...but no one seemed to mind at all!
 My sister Michelle, her husband Rob and their two children Elizabeth 10 and Derek 6 from Britton, Michigan spent a week in Lakewood Ranch at Rob's parents second home.  We hadn't seen eachother in four months.  It was great to be together again!  Spears, Lewis's and Parrents all went to MOSI (Museum of Science and Industry) in Tampa for a day of playing and to Cheesecake Factory for dinner. 
 Taking Checkers to a whole new level....Rob (on left) and Craig were good competition!
 Cousins together again!
 Look closely at the middle of the picture...Craig is riding a bike on a tightrope!
Morgan and my mom did it as well. 
 Mike and Carolyne Spears is my brother-in-law Rob's parents.  They have a gorgeous home in Lakewood Ranch near Bradenton and we spent three days there.  It was constant swimming everyday and the Spears were so kind to turn the pool temperature up to 86 degrees. 
 The Wii game, Just Dance 2, was a big hit this Christmas!
 Bella is Michelle's dog....she is so sweet and has the run of the Spears home!
 Daring Jaxon didn't take long to get comfotable at the pool. 
 My niece, Elizabeth, has broken 7 records at school for the swim team.  It is amazing to watch her.   
 Their home was really nice and the kids were invited to spend the night one evening.  It was fun to be in a home again and the kids adjusted well.  We enjoyed all of their company and on the thrid day we brought Craig's mom, Debbie, with us to golf with Rob and his parents.   
 Elizabeth makes playing the violin look so easy.  She's only been playing for 3 months and it sounds beautiful. She can listen to a song and play it back for you...I'm so proud of her. 
"Best friends" hardly describes the relationship Derek and Jaxon have.  They were inseperable all week long and will miss eachother like crazy.   
 Saying goodbye was really hard to do.  Not knowing when we'll see them again makes it even harder.  For now, we'll treasure all of these memories and look forward to making more some day soon...
New Years is coming and our month stay is almost done here at Treasure Island. We will continue south to enjoy the rest of the gulf coast and make our way to Key West.   

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Stone Crabs

Walking along Shell Key Island this week, Morgan and Craig came across a buried crab cage (see next photo).  The cage was full of stone crabs and shells and must have been there for quite awhile.

 Although it looks similiar to a shell, it is a Stone Crab.
 They took the dinghy over ten miles each way to get to their favorite hotspot for shelling that day.
 Five stone crabs made it safely back to the boat, but only 4 of the claws were kept. 
You only eat the meat inside the claw.   
 Once you rip one claw off you throw the crab back into the water to regenerate a new claw. The one is kept on to defend himself and this can be done 3-4 times.  You can see the claws in the lower right corner of the picture.
 Ryann and Jaxon weren't feeling well, so Morgan and Craig had some fun time together!
 The dockmaster delivers the paper every morning and it is enjoyed by all!
 More painting projects!
 Catching fish to use as bait.
Friends, family and Christmas posting coming soon....(too busy having fun)!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Before the company comes...

Starting tomorrow we have four families coming to see us over the holidays.  Ryann said she's more excited about the company than Christmas (we'll see how she feels xmas morning).  We brought the same tree from the RV trip and as you can see the kids did ALL of the decorating and couldn't be prouder of their little tree!
 A pelican sat on the bow railing today and Jaxon said "mom, someones on the boat." 
 Morgan is sewing xmas gifts this year.  Her grandma Debbie bought her a great sewing machine before we left that included lessons on how to use it.  The kids are excited to have a break from school while our family is here and already have more time to get creative!
 If anyone was wondering what Santa's "sea" sleigh looks like, than wonder no more!  The kids were relieved to see him at the marina already.   
 Christmas in Florida....although it looks like we're in Michigan.  Another cool bike ride into town for laundry and food.  The weather is suppose to heat up in the middle of the week....just in time for all the Michiganders!
 Word is's a popular place to hang out.
 Painting shells
 Morrissey's supplied us with many grapefruits, oranges and a very large pomelo
Looking forward to our family and friends coming!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Merry Christmas

This week I seem to have forgotten to pick up my camera.  It's a great relaxing life here and the weather is finally turning around.  That being said, it's raining right now, but suppose to subside and be in the 70's later today.  I can't complain as those cold Michigan winters are still clear in my memory.
 A wide array of birds swarm our boat every day leaving us uninvited presents. 
 Christmas shopping was high on our list this week.  Since we don't have a lot of room for storage, we waited awhile, but were able to catch a ride with the dockmasters courtesy van.
 The kids hadn't been inside a mall in 5 months. When we walked through the door they all slowed down and looked around soaking it in.  A visit with Elmo will make anyone laugh!
Paul and Alice Morrissey came for a visit from Leesburg, Florida (about two hours away).  They were a big part of my life growing up and it was fun to eat lunch with them and sit poolside catching up on life.  During the warmer months they are neighbors to my parents and last summer we house sat for them. 
 The first day (in the two weeks that we've been here) the kids were able to swim in the pool.  It's Olympic sized and heated and the sun was shining bright all day!  Pictured here is Nicklaus teaching Morgan all of his crazy jumps.  He even had names for them all. 
 Ryann is determined to catch as many salamanders as possible.
 Leave it to Ryann to sit poolside with her friends and enjoy and fruitfilled refreshing drink from the bar.  She smiled her way into a few snacks as well. 
 Pete and Anna sent us a delicious package of chocolates from Nantucket Chocolatier for Christmas.  They make their own chocolate and candies and ship them around the world.  Anna was the manager there for many years.  We all felt like it was Christmas nice of them to think of us! 
We also had a great visit with my Grandpa Wes and Grandma Toni.  They live in Sun City Center, which is about 40 minutes away (for the winter months).  They stayed all afternoon and ate aboard the boat.  We really enjoyed their visit. 

The Parrent family
The BEST Christmas gift ever:
Many of you know that my (Danielle's) family members have been going through Genetic Counseling these past few months. The Breast Cancer gene, "BRCA2" has tested positive in my aunts and cousins.  My mom, Yvonne (the eldest of 6 children) underwent the testing to determine the fate of herself, daughters (my sister and I) and her granddaughters.  If testing positive, our normal chances of getting breast cancer of 7% (like the regular population), would increase to 50-85%.  The blood work came back this week and we are among the fortunate minority of the family that does not have this horrible gene.  Thank you mom for doing the testing and giving me the best Christmas gift of a lifetime!