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.