Christmas with the McDonoughs

Christmas this year was different for our family, as we were all in a warm places.  Amy and her family were Rivera Maya, Mexico.  Anita, Patrick,  Ella & Lucy spent Christmas with us in Fort Myers, Florida.  They arrived on Saturday Christmas Eve.  We were so lucky to have them stay on the boat with us for five wonderful days.

As you can see it’s being to look a lot like Christmas.  Our boat got very small in a short time, but it was great.  It reminded me of being home on the Mississippi with family. Christmas Eve we had docktails on the boat and watched the sunset.

We had our own small Christmas with the kids.

A tradition my family had when I was growing up was shrimp for Christmas Eve dinner. Kent and I found this fresh market near Pine Island.  We went back and got three pounds of fresh shrimp with the heads off for our Christmas Eve dinner.

Anita was so sweet to clean and cook the shrimp for us all to enjoy.  We dipped the shrimp in melted butter.  Anita and Kent said it tasted like lobster so good.

Kent, Anita, and Patrick went to the roof top bar at Indio Hotel.  They were having a band on Christmas Eve.  Kent wanted to show the kids what the night life is like in Fort Myers.

I got the best part spending some alone time with Ella and Lucy.  I saw a funny and crazy side of Ella, I didn’t know she had.  I loved it watching her with Patrick’s glasses and hat on she was acting so grownup.

Christmas morning was so special to have the little girls with us on the boat.  When Lucy age six woke up and saw that Santa Clause had left them presents and stockings filled with candy and toys she said” I am glad I told Santa where he could find us on Christmas, that we would be on grandmas boat”.

On Christmas Day after breakfast we packed a lunch, cooler, and other things needed for the beach.  We drove to Marco Beach thinking it wouldn’t be crowed because it was Christmas Day.  BOY WERE WE WRONG I think everyone wanted to spend Christmas day on the beach.  We finally found a parking spot, loaded as much as we could on the cart, and headed for the beach.  We had gotten the girls buckets and shovels for the beach so Ella and Lucy are ready to play in the sand and collect shells.


That is what we did on this warm and sunny Christmas Day collected shells, swam, and played in the white sand.  I guess no matter how old you get everybody like to play in the sand.   Ella age 8 is our fish she loves the water.

The girls were so excited when a dolphin came close enough to the beach that they could see it, he was feeding.  I didn’t know that they will come that close to shore.

We watched the beautiful sunset and then headed back to the boat for dinner.  We had a wonderful day with warm weather and family, it doesn’t get any better than that.  The only thing missing to make it perfect, would have been having Amy and her family with us.

Monday I had scheduled a boat excursion with Good Time Charters for all of us.  We left Snook Bright Yacht Club on the charter boat with Laura as our guide and Captain Gale at the wheel.



We are hoping to see dolphins, manatees, birds,and other wildlife in Estero Bay. Everybody was so excited when we saw the dolphins playing in the boats wake.  I still get so excited and love to watch the dolphins no matter how many times I see them.  We didn’t get to see any manatees, the bay is to warm for them to move yet.  The boat got very close so we could see the birds nesting in the trees

Birds nesting in the trees at Estero Bay

After the excursion we went to Fort Myers Beach and had lunch at Pier Side Grill.  The food is very good and you can look out at the gulf while you eat.  They usually have some one playing music.  They do have a problem with birds even with nets up.  When they bring out your food they have somebody watching the birds so they don’t get it.  We saw a bird take a french fry out of the mouth of the lady sitting near us.

After lunch we all walked out on the pier and back.  We went back to the car and got the chairs, towels, and buckets.  We sat on the beach and watched the girls swim and play in the sand.

There were two young girls with their grandpa and they had found live sanddollers and star fish.  They were planning on taking them home until we told them it was against the law to remove them from the beach.  Ella and Lucy got to touch and hold them before they were returned to the ocean.  We got to watch another beautiful sunset and then returned to our boat.

I had Lucy help me fill a bag with the soft white sand from the beach.  We took it back to the boat so the girls could put some in with their shell collection.

Tuesday we went the Shell Factory and Nature Park.  The factory started in 1938 when Harold and Mildred Crant first began selling shells in Bonita Springs.  The Shell Factory has seen hundreds of changes and it’s called ” the Grand Old Lady.  For more than 78 years the Shell Factory as been entertaining tourists and locals with a dizzying array of diversions, and amusement reminiscent of Florida roadside attraction of yesteryear.  The Shell Factory is more than a shopping destination it’s a family entertainment destination as well.

This the second time Kent and I had been to the Shell Factory.  The first was with Paul and Linda when they came in December.  We went through the shopping center and then had lunch at the Capt’n Fishbones Restaurant.

Kent was having fun trying to put a flower behind his ear.  The lady at the table behind us had fun photo booming him.  We decided this would be a great place to bring the kids.

They have a nature park and botanical gardens with over 400 animals from alligators to a zebra, raccoons, coatimundis, dinkagous, lemurs and many more.  They have an Eco lab where you will find native and exotic snakes & reptiles.

The animals that inhabit the park are recused, or donated by individuals who had illegally obtained them.  We saw some strange animals, birds, and reptiles and all manner of habitats and dwellings.

This is an Asian Palm Civet also called toddy cat, a small member of the family Viverridae native to South and Southeast Asia. They eat Chiku,mango,rambutan, and coffee.  The coffee seed makes their way (in whole) through their digestive path and humans collect them and make it into coffee.  Kopi Luwak is the most expensive coffee.  Prepared using coffee beans that have been subjected to ingestion and fermentation in the gastronintestinal tract of the Asian palm vice, which is called Lusaka in Indonesia. This coffee is becoming a trendy drink and there for very expensive $35-$100 per cup.  I don’t think you will find this at Stare Bucks.

We all enjoyed walking through the park and learning about the different types of species they had.  We could actually walk into some of the animals areas.

They have a dinosaur park you can explore the land of the lost with our Jurassic replicas.

They have a Soaring Eagle Zip Line that is a thrilling ride high into the North Fort Myers Sky.   Ella and Lucy loved it and I think mom and dad did too.  I enjoyed staying on the ground watching them.  It’s way to high for me.

We took a break after the nature park and had lunch out side at the Capt’n Fishbone Restaurant.  Kent order alligator bits for everybody to try.  Ella ate two of them before she knew what she was eating.  This was the face she made when she found out it was alligator. “Breathtaking”


We went inside the Shell Factory that has 5 million shells collected from beaches around the world.

They have four museums Natural History, Military, Fossil, and Shell.  They are known for Florida’s largest  Christmas house with hundreds of collectibles.  They have upside down trees, lovely ornaments , and many of them are made from shells.

The shell museum has thousands of varieties of shells in all sizes and color.  On display is the beautiful replica of “All Saints Church ” in Wittenberg, Germany.  The shell church was created by a woman from Orlando who worked on it for over 1,000 hours over the course of a year.  It is assembled from more than 96,000 shells.

All through the Shell Factory there are large displays of animals, showing them in their natural habitats.  African lions, antelopes, zebras, bears, and many others make it very interesting.

The Pirate’s Den has a grouping of dioramas of pirates in action it makes you feel like you are fighting with them.

The fossil and gem museum house a number of unique items.  This is a photo of a giant sea scorpions fossil from the Devonian Age found in Oslo, Norway.

img_5115Ella and Lucy were having so much fun they didn’t want to leave, but mom and dad were ready to go.


Kent took Anita and Patrick to the top floor at Firestone for Happy hour so they could get a taste of what Fort Myers happy hour.  The view is fantastic and it’s a great place to watch the sunset.

This is the amassing view they saw at the Firestone roof top bar.  Kent is so proud that he could be with his daughter Aniata.  The picture says it all!!!!!

I took the girls to a new popcorn store that I found, it had just opened.  They got to pick out what flavored popcorn they wanted.  Ella picked Caramel popcorn but Lucy picked sour patch, what a difference in flavors.  Of course then we had to get ice cream cones, so many different flavors it was hard for the girls to choose.  Yes I am spoiling my sweet grandbabys that’s what grandmas do

Wednesday was so special having some mother daughter time alone with Anita, we    went shopping.

While we were gone Kent and Patrick took the girls in the raft to a small beach that’s close to the marina.  They found a crab in a bottle. It must have crawled into the bottle when it was small and now it was to big to get out.  Kent broke the bottle and that crab was gone ( without even a thank you).

Anita and I stopped at INDIGO a Chinese/Japanese restaurant and picked up takeout for everybody.

After lunch with heavy hearts we had to say goodbye to the McDonough family.  We had a wonderful time with them and a Christmas to always remember.  They will all be missed so much, but we were very lucky for the time we had with them.

3 Comments Add yours


    I have enjoyed all your posts but seeing the kids at Thanksgiving and now Christmas are great. What great memories for them. We are getting excited to head south. Will leave on the 26 or 27 and are going to Guntersville, AL to visit friends that we met when in Texas. Then on to Savannah and St Augustine for a few days before heading to Ft Myers. We will be there to see you on the 3rd. If you can put up with us for three nights we will probably head north on Monday. Going to stop in Parrish FL to see other friends that we met in Texas. Then on to Gulf Shores so Bob can have a day of golf with his Marion buddies. We picked up a new car today so will have a new black ford Edge to travel in. Seems pretty strange not to have the red car in the garage. I got a little teary leaving it behind. Hope it is warm when we get there. Would love to walk the beach at Ft Myers Beach. I have stayed there so many times over the years but have not been for a long time. Would be fun to reminiscence a bit. Planning on docktails, hugs and hearing your story.

    Have missed you guys. Jeri


    1. jansyverson says:

      So looking forward to seeing you. Yes we will love to have you stay with us for three days. We can do what ever you would like to see. Drive safe miss you guys so much and looking so forward to seeing you.

  2. Burkhalters says:

    Wow, an awesome Christmas for sure!! Memories to last forever!! Thx so much for sharing your beautiful holiday with us😍. LUVYA😘

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