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My Florida blessings!


I’ve been so busy during January, I haven’t even got to brag about all God did for me lately! With the cost of airline tickets, we didn’t really think we’d get to see our Florida family at all at Christmas. Then hubby gets an email from an airline we’ve used in the past and they were having a special and we could afford to go Jan. 3-10. So I squealed and he made the reservations.

We got there late on a Wednesday night and basically just hung around the Orlando family on Thursday. On Friday, we rode the train up to Winter Park. They have the neatest walkable community. We got right off the train and the kids ran toward the museum. Yes. You read that correctly. This is a miniature museum with about five “rooms” and one is devoted to antique toys and games. It happened to be closed this time for some remodeling, but I had been there this summer when I had Gram duty for a few days. The kids love playing with the old toys … Yes, hands on. On the floor playing with toys I remember and some even older than me.

Our next stop was Miller’s Hardware. Yup Harrison folks you read that correctly. We asked, and they aren’t related to anyone from our Miller’s Hardware. Their tag line is, “The Woman’s Hardware Store.” And they had everything from Green Egg grills, to huge $500 wind chimes from different countries. Plus all the normal stuff and every kitchen gadget you could ever want. Plus old fashioned candy.

We visited other places in town, but my favorite was a pontoon boat ride on two connected lakes that featured the famous Rollins College and fancy, fancy mansions built around the lakes. The Walgreen family, The Sinclair gasoline company and I wish I had taken notes. But I’m sure you can google it! My favorite story was about Mr. Rogers — of the Neighborhood fame!

Rollins College started in the late 1800s for the wealthy kids of families who rode the train down from the northeast to winter in Florida. Fred Rogers wanted to be a music major and brought his baby grand piano to college with him. But poor guy, the piano wouldn’t fit through the door of the dorm room.

So his family came down, purchased a huge home on the lake that he used as a dorm room, as well as his sister when she came to college. Of course it was nice because the parents had a place to stay when they came to visit.

There’s so much more to share, but you just need to go! That evening our Winter Haven family came up and we all had supper together. This year, Florida schools got two weeks off for Christmas, but Winter Haven and Orlando did not get the same two weeks off. So it was fun to have the WH girls spend Friday night with us and their cousins.

Then we all met back up Saturday to play glow in the dark mini golf while it was raining outside. Then it was time to trade the grandparents. So we spent Saturday and Sunday night in WH. Going to church with family is always a blessing I don’t take for granted, because it is so rare.

Sunday afternoon and evening we spent in Lakeland walking around a former railroad yard that has been developed into almost 300 acres of parks, walking and bike trails and so many different areas of playground equipment, I lost count. The girls had brought their scooters and as we walked they would stop and explore. One area was actually a wide walkway in the trees that took us to a treehouse built by the Kiwanis Club.

What was humorous to us was the fact that as they developed this flat land, they made hills and kids were rolling down the hills like they had paid thousands of dollars to go to DisneyLand. And we take our hills for granted. Of course there were built in slides and swings and lots of park benches and gathering places. The acreage appeared to be privately funded and three buildings anchored the site, including a railroad museum (VERY COOL!), a restaurant and an event center.

Monday morning I got to ride with the girls to school. That is always fun for Gram! Then a hand-off was made again sort of halfway between Orlando and Winter Haven. To our surprise, our Costa Rica son was on his way to Orlando due to his Visa run. (Not the credit card. Until they receive their permanent papers, he has to leave the county every 90 days so he can continue to drive in the country.) He often picks another Central American country to go to for a few hours and then returns home. But this time his brothers talked him into coming to Florida. He, too, found a special price and what a blessing and surprise. Of course he left some sad ladies in Costa Rica and we missed them.

Then Tuesday night we all got to surprise the baby of our family with a 40th birthday party at Culvers. That was the night tornado warnings were out for the state — which is rare. So we pretty much had the restaurant to ourselves for a big family and friends party. I thought it was very funny that his “older” brothers enjoyed teasing him with reading glasses and Werther’s candies.

We flew home the next day on Wednesday and our missionary son went back to CR on Thursday morning. What a week. While it was cold in Harrison, it was also cold there. But I use that term loosely. I promise 50 degrees is different in Florida, and a light jacket felt great!. But our hearts were so warmed by the time with family and seeing the blessings God provided — as scripture says, “More than we could ever ask or think!”


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