Deciding to spend a month "off island" was easy.
How to make it work was another story. To maximize our time away, and do it cost-effectively, we relied on the generosity of the Grandparents Parvez, who let us stay at their vacation place in Florida.
We love it here!
Welcome to Land O'Lakes!
By the way, I was informed, that the proper way to pronounce this is "Landa Lakes" - not LAND O Lakes.. with the emphasis on the O sound. It should roll smoothly off your tongue, like, well... butter.
My parents' place is close to Tampa, which is a fabulous city that boasts many kid friendly attractions. This year, we visited the Museum of Science and Industry, a/k/a MOSI! (We also learned what an acronym means.)
MOSI is an amazing place to spend the morning. In addition to several floors of hands on exhibits, a butterfly garden, and a dome IMAX theater, there is also a separate facility for kids designed to introduce basic science principles.
Oh.. and there's an enormous bounce house, slider, and zip line.
Yeah.. we spent a lot of time here. Their family membership plan is a great deal.
This season, they are hosting a very cool special exhibit called "Sea Monsters!"
The kids were speechless. Or maybe they were just scared. Meet the jaws of the Megaladon shark.
On another occasion, we hit Tampa to tour the Big Cat Rescue . This place is gorgeous. Although they limit children's tours to Saturday and Sunday morning at 9:00, it is worth it to make the trip. Seeing these beautiful animals up close in a way that respects their natural instincts was very touching.
It is such an off the beaten path kind of Florida adventure, which is probably why I enjoyed it so much. Contrary to what some might think, Florida isn't all about Disney and amusement parks. It's an amazing state when it comes to wildlife and nature. The birds alone have Jordan fixated every time we visit.
We had plenty of downtime as well. Gotta have a pool in August!
Of course, kids being kids, we can't escape Florida without hitting an amusement park. (sigh)
We justify it primarily because places like this do not exist in Bermuda. Not even close. This year, we went to Leggo Land. These buildings just kill me! I chuckle thinking of my pathetic Leggo building attempts when I look at this detail.
Leggo Land also has a splash zone, which is pretty key in August.
Although the kids had a blast there, I don't think we'll go again. It's expensive and was just too far a drive from the house. Most of the amusements seem geared toward younger children.
That being said, Jordan spent at least two hours in the model race car test track. Building those cars and racing them down tracks with other kids (and grown men, who really seemed to enjoy Leggo racing) might have justified the cost of this place.
We became annual ticket holders at Busch Gardens last year, so we went again. The kids on the skyline.
One of our favorite parts of visiting Florida is spending time with our friends. They joined us at Busch Gardens. Here Jordan rides with them and his buddy on water log flume. Look at the terror. But also check out how Mama Kristen is protecting Jordan! It just melts my heart.
Another thing that does not exist in Bermuda is ice skating. Florida, however, has an amazing ability to create venues for this sport in every conceivable place. Here, the kids try it out at the Westfield Mall, in Clearwater. I love it because it's a super energetic sport that they can work on by themselves. Oh.. and there is tons of shopping! Instructors can be hired to provide very affordable lessons and skates are available for rental as well. The kids had two lessons while we were there, and they loved it.
Simple thing make them so happy. Fro Yo at the "You Say When Yogurt Shoppe" is a no-brainer.
It was hard saying good bye to the U.S.A once again.
It's such a great feeling being home and understanding how everything works, "getting" the people, fitting in and the ease of life here. Not that BDA is a bad place, by any stretch of the imagination. It's just hard sometimes being a stranger and knowing that no matter what, you will never fit, that your time is limited, your friends come and go depending on their work permits, etc.
But, all good things must come to an end!
AND IT IS ALMOST TIME FOR SCHOOL!!! Hurray!!!