Venice, Florida Christmas Vacation

 

Every other year, Bart and I trade off where we spend Christmas.  Last year we were in Nebraska, visiting his family and this year we were in Florida visiting mine. Even though it's a long trip, we always take the girls.  I just can't imagine not spending Christmas with them.  We had already decided to stop in Valdosta, Georgia to give the girls a break.  They're still not good at sleeping in a hotel room, so we decided to drive all the way home on the return.  

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We stayed at my mom's, which is not too far from my brother Walter and his partner, Ed.  Ed's son, Matthew as also in town to celebrate the holiday.  Since he was leaving for Ohio on Christmas day, we scheduled our Christmas dinner with him for the night we arrived.  There's nothing like my mom's cooking, but even better her decorating and hosting.  

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Matt, being the ham that he is!

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This was Harper's first Christmas in Florida so she was warn out by the end of the night.  The next night, my mom had arranged for us to do a private catamaran boat tour.  The carried two people, so naturally Bart and I teamed up and he drove while I took photos.  I do have to thank the tour company, Riding The Waves, for sharing some images that the tour guide took of us.  The most amazing part was seeing a pod of about 25 or so dolphins.  Too bad I only had my iPhone and couldn't zoom very well.  Still, it was the experience that I'll always remember.  PS.  In the group shot, there are 3 people who joined our group, so they're just the randoms in the photo.  

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Matt and I tried to put together a little gingerbread village, which failed horribly.  The icing kept sliding off houses and the walls kept falling in.  Guess I won't quit my day job to be an builder.  

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My mom, aka Nana to the dogs, asked me to write each dog's name on the stocking she bought them.  This is a tradition going back to when Walter and I were kids.  I'm sure if I dug hard enough I could find our stockings with glittered names and felt decorations in the storage room.  

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So it was Christmas Eve eve and we went into Sarasota, Florida to take in the light display at Marie Selby Botanical Gardens.  Despite my minor melt down over parking, it was an amazing night.  The gardens were so gorgeous lit up. I couldn't get over how many people were walking around.  It really was amazing.  

After eating so much already, Bart and I decided to go for a walk on Christmas Eve.  It was quite pleasant as it was in the high 70's.  We watched classic Christmas movies all day before our dinner and then we went to Christmas Eve service at the Methodist Church where we sang carols and worshiped the birth of our Savior.  

Christmas morning began with mom starting to cook what was to be brunch on the beach.  Unfortunately, her cookware had a different plan and decided to shatter in the oven.  So, we made the best of it, poured mimosas, fried up some eggs and enjoyed the dishes that weren't effected.  The girls both where overwhelmed with the toys they got from us and from their Nana.  Harper was thrilled to get Mille to play tug!  We pretty much were lazy the rest of the afternoon.  Ed spent the afternoon making his mother's spaghetti and meatball recipe for a yummy Italian Christmas day dinner.  My cousin Jan joined us and brought her blonde cocker spaniel Kahula (can't you tell that cockers run in my family).  Jan played with the dogs while we started a very competitive game of dominoes where we played all the way down to double zero (a rare occasion).  

One thing I was really looking forward to was getting Mille & Harper in the pool.  Mille swam for the first time 2 years ago and could care less, but I got her in the pool anyway.  Harper on the other hand decided to fall into the pool almost immediately.  It's amazing how quickly those instincts kick in because she began to doggie paddle her way to the edge to get out.  I thought for a second there I'd have to jump in with my clothes on!  I had to get her back in the pool a few more times and I think she did enjoy it when the noodles.  

Since our brunch on the beach didn't work out, I thought it would be nice to catch the sunset on our last night in Florida, so Walter took us to the Venice Pier to watch a super gorgeous one.  Of course I had to get Bart to take a few pics of me.  

These two were espically excited to arrive back home in Franklin after a 14 hour drive!