Yesterday, before Savannah’s riding lesson, we stopped for an impromptu hike in the woods. It was absolutely refreshing. We didn’t have much time, but it was enough to recharge us all, especially me. I used to complain A LOT about the lack of nature where we live in south Florida. My biggest complaint were the lack of trees. It can be depressing seeing land developed all the time. But these little patches of untouched nature are there, you just have to seek them out.
This last year, we kind of got into a rut. Things got harder with a growing toddler and it was just easier to stay close, unless my husband was with us. I started to lock myself into being stuck at home, because Wyatt needed to nap. Mind you, I never did this with any of my other kids. They adapted to our lifestyle and napped wherever they could. But, we hit a rough patch with Wyatt sleeping through the night. By rough patch, I mean he doesn’t sleep through the night, STILL. He never has. Oh my gosh, will he ever? He’ll be 2 in June and he wakes anywhere from 2-4 times night. Because of this, mornings would drag on slowly. I am the type of person that does not like to slept in. I can’t stand to see daylight wasted. I also like to have early, quiet mornings all to myself. But with all his sleep issues, I just couldn’t make it out of bed at my normal time. Mornings would drag on slowly and we weren’t really starting our day until about noon. That just didn’t sit well with me and really affected my mood. It was clear he was not going to sleep through the night just yet, so I just had to adapt. And I did. For now, my body has learned to survive on about 6 hours of interrupted sleep.
With the new year approaching, I feel the need for some changes. These past few months, I’ve been working to clear our home and life of clutter. This is easier said than done, because my husband is not a fan of my purging lifestyle. Neither are my kids. But, I’m a happier person when I’m organized and can see the big picture. And trust me, for a person who is living on very little sleep, you want to keep her as happy as possible. Also, I’m implementing big changes into our homeschool. That’s another part of our life I wasn’t happy with, but I’ll save that for another post!
A few weeks ago, we traveled to Sarasota to visit the Mote Marine Laboratory & Aquarium. I’ve been wanting to go for years, but just never made it happen. Which is crazy, because it’s barely a drive away! I had read they were opening a River otter exhibition and that finally motivated me to make the trip. Savannah LOVES River otters! I really never could understand her fascination and affection towards them, until I saw them interacting with another. They were very cute and playful! Also, it was next to impossible to get a picture of them, because they were always on the go.
Besides the Rivs, as Savannah calls them, the manatees Buffet and Hugh, were the biggest hit. When we visited them, they were cruising through their tanks eating lettuce. There was someone outside their tank counting how many leaves they ate. I could not imagine sitting there for hours counting lettuce!
There were also sharks, sea turtles, seahorses, jellyfish, an octopus, lion fish, an eel, stingray touch tanks, and several other aquariums full of interesting sea life. The jellyfish were my favorite. They always appear to be doing a mesmerizing water ballet.
I think what I love most about Mote Marine, is the research that goes on behind the scenes. It’s not just a place to go and see marine life on display. In their research, they are helping to conserve and sustain marine life. Also, at the same time educating the public. We plan to go back soon. I’m sure we could learn something new every visit. If you are in the Sarasota area, make sure to stop by Mote and see all the wonderful things they are doing for marine life!
One of my favorite things about homeschooling is that school does not have to be held within the four walls of our home. So, last week we headed out early to Captiva Island and we spent the morning digging for sand fleas, periwinkles, and shelling in the warm sunshine. The water is a little cold for my taste, but that and no bathing suits didn’t stop these three from dashing into the water at full speed.
Living near the beach is nice, but hauling all the gear and packing it back up is not. During the summer months, we bring beach chairs, an umbrella, dry food bag, a cooler, towels, floats, and way too many toys that need to be washed down before packing them away. Too many toys that don’t get much play time, but get plenty dirty and plenty scattered all over the beach. This year, I decided we will be paring down on all the toys. In my search for less, I stumbled onto these beach buckets. I ordered three a few days before our beach trip. They were a big hit with the kids and passersby! Everyone wanted to know where they could get one for their kids or grandkids. Usually, we have to dig a trench and fill with water to keep their little critters alive. These buckets made it so easy. You just fill with water, a little sand, toss in your live shells and small fish. The top is perforated for easy refilling of water and the handle has a nice big grip, for ease of carrying when filled to capacity.
We were there for a few hours and they never stopped filling up the buckets. When it was time to leave, they easily released all the live shells. For the shells they could keep, they just popped the lid back on, filled with water, and strained out all the sand. These are the best little beach buckets! If you are planning a trip to the beach anytime soon, I can’t recommend these enough!