Matt flew into Tampa Airport on February 15th. The next weekend would be a Diocesan-wide Pro-life rally. Our hosts at the Mary Help of Christians Retreat Center were kind enough to give Matt a room for the entire week and allowed us to camp on site. This was a perfect arrangement for Matt first week "on the road". He had a private room and could walk down to join us for meals. The retreat center even had wi-fi and allowed us to ship packages and print our documents. There was daily Mass on-site and they even had a farm and kayaks to keep the kids occupied.
We kept a pretty busy schedule that week that we did not get much time to visit with our hosts. Michael had scheduled several concerts in the Tampa area through the week. We were able to use the retreat center as our base and just drive the van to the concerts. On our day off, we made it a priority to see the beach. It was a bit cool, but the kids still managed to swim.
The day of the youth rally was Matt's birthday. We did not think of it until the evening and I went in and got him a cake, complete with 24 candles. He was pretty excited, since he had not had candles on his cake in many years. He was still able to extinguish them all in one breath!
Now, the honeymoon phase is over, and it was time to go one the road for real. Goodbye private room. Welcome travel days, airstream dinette, and host families!