Friday, August 30, 2013

Friends and Family

This post may be a bit long and picture-heavy, but it will officially wrap up my St. Petersburg recaps, which means that we're all up to date and I can finally start talking about things as they happen in real time again. Well, after I catch up on all the stuff that has been happening while we were playing catch-up. IT'S NEVER-ENDING.

In our last days/weeks/months of our time in Florida, we did a lot of visiting with friends and family. That was the nice part about living in St. Petersburg: we had the ability to reconnect with old friends and see family much more than we have seen them in a long time. I am particularly thrilled to see the bonds Ellie has formed with her extended family. She is a lucky girl to have so many people who love her and want to spend their time getting to know her.

The first visit I wanted to be sure to mention was from my friend Megan and her husband Andy in early July. They were down in Sanibel from Cleveland for a week-long family vacation, but took a day out of their trip to drive up to St. Pete to hang out with Ellie and me. We grabbed lunch and did a little wandering around downtown, then hung out at the house. I loved spending that time with them and showing Ellie off to them again now that she's so much bigger!

Left: Ellie and Megan; Right: Andy and Ellie doing some sightseeing; the whole gang!

In mid-July, Ellie and I went over to my friend Fran's house so Ellie and Fran's daughter Hailey could share a little playtime. It was fun to see them together now that they're both walking, and I think they had a good time playing together. Future BFFs in the making, I'm sure!

Top: Ellie and Hailey at play; Bottom: Ellie and Hailey on Jon's lap; giving each other a hug!

We also had lunch at Olive Garden with Gramz and Toni, which was quite nice. Ellie tried her hand at coloring and tasted her very first Olive Garden chocolate mint, and after lunch we went for a nice walk over to Target.

Ladies' Day Out with Gramz and Toni!

Heather came over one afternoon on her day off in the hopes that we would be able to go to the Dunedin splash park together, but alas, inclement weather closed the park just as we got there. We hung out on a blanket in the park for a while, hoping it would blow past, and Ellie had fun with Auntie Heather's hat while they both snacked on Cheerios. Ultimately, the weather turned from dark and slightly rumbly into an apocalyptic monsoon before we knew it, so the splash park was a bust. The afternoon was fun anyway, though!

Let me in!!!!

Feeding Auntie Heather some Cheerios

And vice versa!

No, YOU eat it, Auntie Heather!

We also spent an afternoon at my mom's house a couple of days before my birthday, where Ellie did her very best to feed the chickens (much to her disappointment, the chickens don't want to eat out of her hand like Achilles does), splashed in the fountain and did a little skinny dipping in her kiddie pool. Then we all went out to dinner and Ellie discovered the joy of ketchup on french fries.

Chasing the chickens

VIDEO: Trying to feed the chickens!

Having SO MUCH FUN in the fountain!

VIDEO: Splashing at Grammy's House


We were also able to grab dinner with Aunts Kelley and Phyllis at Grimaldi's at Countryside Mall. Before dinner we also did a little playing in the play area and had some fun in the Disney Store, where Ellie quickly befriended the cashiers. Girl wants a discount, what can I say?

In the play area with Auntie Kelley

Just a gang of Minnies, hanging out

Peek-a-boo, Aunt Kelley!

Being loved on by her aunts

And last but not least, right before we left for Jacksonville we had dinner with the majority of Eric's family (missing my sisters-in-law Stephanie and Phyllis) at Toni's new home. It was particularly nice to see our sweet nephew Charlie again, as we hadn't seen him since Ellie's birthday. He's getting so big! He's crawling now and is just as cute as can be. His eyes are so striking! We're very excited to see him (and the rest of the family!) again next weekend in celebration of his first birthday! I can't believe he's almost one year old already!

iPhone time with Auntie Kelley


Our handsome nephew!

Kissing cousins!

"State your business, kid."

Playing with the kiddos (I really was happy to be doing so, even if it doesn't look like it!)

Gramz with her great-grandson

Kisses for Nonnie

And that was it! It sure was nice to have that time with loved ones, although even that didn't seem like enough. There are always more people we want to see or more time we want to spend with the ones we did see. Isn't that just the way it goes?

But that's the appeal of being back in Florida at all, even if we're not in St. Petersburg. By being just a few hours' drive away, we'll be able to be around family much more regularly and with much less hassle. As it is, we've already had a couple of visitors here and more who have expressed interest in coming up, and, as I mentioned, we already have plans to head back to St. Pete next weekend for Charlie's birthday party. I still miss New York like crazy, but this is the one thing that the Big Apple couldn't offer us.

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