When Jesse had agreed to do this depoyment, I planned a 2 week trip to FL to have help from my parents and get a little vacation in during the break in my contract with Pellissippi. Lucky for us, Jesse was able to be here during that time to go with us! The only bad thing about the trip was that we were always in limbo on if he would hear anything from Big Army about him going so we had to plan our vacation day by day. She did as best as can be expected on our flights to and from FL, but I'll take a 90 minute flight over 10 hours of driving any day!
We were able to be in Bartow for July 4th this year and our family has always had a few traditions for that holiday. We always have people over, grill out and eat homemade vanilla ice cream. We end the holiday by setting up chairs on the driveway and watch the town's firework show, which is pretty good for a small town! Jesse and I ventured out to Bartow's Festival, but it ended up not being anything more than a walk around the festivities. Here are some pictures from our holiday with family and friends.
The rest of the first week was spent in my parents pool, we had a little date night full of seafood and baseball, and a family trip to the Florida Aquarium in Tampa. We celebrated my mom's 65th birthday and ended the week with a day at the beach with the Shaefer's, but only made it out on the actual beach for about 30 minutes due to weather. Here are some pictures from the rest of the week.
Our 2nd week was full of more time in the pool, some visits with friends, another (with better weather) day at the beach with the Shaefer's and a Friday night Ray's game. I was able to see my high school friends Ashley Valenti (Pup) and Hayley Hurd, people I didnt' get to see during my March visit. We ended up going over to Anna Maria Island for lunch to introduce the Shaefer's to one of our favorite places to eat and then headed back to Longboat Key for a few hours at the beach with them. Ellie had a blast playing with Kinsley and also experiencing the beach for the first time. We had planned to go to the Ray's game and it just so happened that the Shaefer's were going too, so we ended up going together for a fun evening while my parents babysat Ellie.
Overall, it was a great visit to FL and since we were there so long, we were able to space out our time with visiting people and relax more. Ellie was able to spend lots of quality time with "Mimi" and "Papa" (those are her chosen names as of yet for them) as well as quality time for our little family together. Plus, Ellie turned 19 months the day after we returned so enjoy our pics of our growing little girl!