A Soggy Hawaiian Bridal Shower

Photobooth - Earl Jo and KonaAdvice TableLei TablePhotobooth SetupPhotobooth - Frame Papa Nana and NellPool AreaEarl and Jo Hula Hooping Photobooth - Dee and Nell JoAnna the Hawaiian Photobooth - Frame Papa and Nell Photobooth - Jo & Nell Rings Group Photobooth - Frame Earl and Jo Kiss Through Frame Photobooth - Jo Face Megan Ball Hula Hoop Jeopardy Photobooth - Dee and Bringas Earl Sailor Hat - Jos Finger Photobooth - Frame Earl and Jo Letters

My brother is marrying the absolute sweetest girl in less than 50 days.  We are all so excited to have her become part of our family. To ensure that she felt super special, we pulled together a backyard Hawaiian themed surprise shower for her this past Sunday.  They will be going to Hawaii (Kauai and Maui) for their honeymoon so the theme was quite fitting.  In planning and crafting for weeks, I was super excited about how this shower was coming together; maybe a little too excited because typical Florida summer rain was quickly turning the party into a very soggy event.  We setup for hours only to have everything rained on multiple times; moving everything outside, then inside then outside again with the last move only being a matter of 10 minutes before the bride to was to show.  My sweet, sweet dad could see my devestation and was determined to get everything back outside and setup before the kick-off.  Surprisingly enough, the rain held off the rest of the day.  One table was soaked and the photobooth area was drenched but that didn’t seem to matter.  We all had a blast and it turned out to be a HUGE success!

Welcome to the family, JoAnna!  Based on my brother’s answers to the bridal jeopardy questions (and just generally speaking), he is incredibly blessed to have you in his life.  I am just so excited to be a part of this monumental time in your lives.  I can’t wait to share in many more.

P.S. – So excited to have my Dee (and her boyfriend) at the shower to not only celebrate with the bride and groom but to support me (even after having just moved back to college two days beforehand).  You’re amazing, Dee!  I don’t know what I’d do without you.

A Heavenly Birthday

Granny Bridesmaid granny Rose Mardi Gras

Today would have been your 84th birthday if you were still here on earth with us.  They say that time heals.  Maybe it does.  I still just feel emptiness in my heart.  I don’t think there’s a day that goes by that I don’t think about you.  I miss the days when I could pick up the phone and say, “hey granny” and hear your voice on the other end reply, “hey bébé”.

I’m going to admit something here that haunts me everyday.  It’s three simply words that continue to mull over in my mind…I didn’t call.  You died in the midst of my mom’s tragedy.  You were sick.  I didn’t want you to know about mom because you would get upset and worry making your sickness all that much worse.  So, what did I do?  I didn’t call. I didn’t call because I wouldn’t know what to say when you asked about mom and dad. I didn’t call because I didn’t want you to get upset.  In my heart, I thought I was doing the right thing.  I know now that I was wrong.  So what if you asked me about mom.  I should have called.  You needed to hear my voice in the midst of all that you were going through. For that, I am eternally sorry.

I love you with all my heart and miss you like crazy. Happy heavenly birthday, Granny!

PS – My deepest apologies for the heavy post.  You can read the “One Year” tribute post HERE that is a bit on the brighter side.

Staycation (of sorts) – Part 1

Trey Splashing Trey Floating Sun Rays Steve Hammock Palm Treee - Copy Nell Tube on Head - Copy Nell Floating to Bridge Behind - Copy Nell and Dee Walking on Bridge with Tubes - Copy Dee Kelly Springs Sun RaysNell Jumping in Tube - Copy Nell Dee and Steve Tube Train - Copy Dee Stuck in TreesTrey Holding Onto rockSteve Under BridgeSprings Foot ViewNell Tubing - Copy

It’s summertime and that means it’s family vacation time.  We have lived in Florida for ten years now and have not been to any of the beautiful natural springs that our state has to offer.  For this reason and because we didn’t want to spend much money (one kid in private school and one in college), we decided to do a staycation of sorts.  While we didn’t exactly stay home, we only went three hours north to Orlando.  You see, if I don’t get the boys away from the house, then I’ve lost them to the world of video games.  Pulling everyone away from their day-to-day routine and environment makes all the difference.  We are able to hang out as a family and truly connect.

For the springs part of our adventure, we chose Kelly Springs which is a short 30 minute drive from Orlando.  Kelly Park is a free-flowing natural spring (68 degrees year round – yikes!) which makes is popular for tubing.  The upside to this little adventure is the beautifully clear water and views, the close proximity to Orlando, the tubing experience and the laid back and relaxing environment (including our hammock – good call).  The only downsides is the crowd (the park is closed by 10am due to max occupancy) and the temp of the water (almost painfully cold at first – see pic above).

Most memorable parts of the day:

  • Steve and Trey racing down the river to see who would win.  Trey won (in case you’re wondering).
  • Steve making a bed out of tubes and falling asleep.
  • Watching some kid curl himself up in a tube and roll down the hill being encouraged by his family the entire time.
  • Trey looking for Pokemon (he had just downloaded Pokemon Go).
  • Danica being a princess; not wanting to be outdoors or get in the cold water.
  • Danica doing a high kick and a dance in the middle of the park when we announced we would be going to Disney’s Magic Kingdom the next day.

*I brought the underwater camera along and was able to capture some good pics.  I will go on record that my 16 year old son decided that he wanted to be the photographer for most of the day so some of these pics are attributed to him.  Great job, Trey!

What Shall It Be?

nell and dee skipping kauai

What does a person need – really need? A few pounds of food each day, heat and shelter, six feet to lie down in – and some form of working activity that will yield a sense of accomplishment. That’s all – in the material sense, and we know it. But we are brainwashed by our economic system until we end up in a tomb beneath a pyramid of time payments, mortgages, preposterous gadgetry, playthings that divert our attention for the sheer idiocy of the charade.

The years thunder by, the dreams of youth grow dim where they lie caked in dust on the shelves of patience. Before we know it, the tomb is sealed.

Where, then, lies the answer? In choice. Which shall it be: bankruptcy of purse or bankruptcy of life? ”

― Sterling Hayden

Freshman

Trey first and last day of freshman year

Last day of freshman year! It has flown by and has, by far, been his best school year yet. Trey has grown and flourished this year excelling academically, socially and athletically. This kid nailed freshman year and I couldn’t be more proud. He worked so hard in his classes, on the football field and on the track. He truly went above and beyond putting in extra hours and going the extra mile (literally in some cases); he gave it his all and then some.  All this hard work is starting to pay off and will continue to do so. This is one amazing young man and I am one exceptionally proud mom.  Love you, bud!

(Here’s a little side-by-side view of first day and last day of freshman year)

Friday

Sunset

Eat food from farmers markets.
Drink good tea each morning.
Read books that make you feel.
Paint, even if you’re awful.
Write, even when you have nothing to say.
Sit in the fresh air outside.
Go on hikes.
Swim in lakes and wade in streams.
Sleep as long as you need.
Work hard at what you love.
Work hard at what you hate.

Love unconditionally and wholeheartedly.

Happy Friday!

Sixteen

Danica and Trey Po Disney SignHot Air Balloon Danica in Zero Nell 1970 Nell and Dee Matching Shirts Typhoon Lagoon Trey and Grumpy Donald Nell Flower Wall Steve and Trey Donkey King Trey on Bus Nell and Trey Pop Century Nell 70

This amazing young man is now 16. I remember very clearly the day that he was born. There wasn’t much toil. There wasn’t much labor. In just five hours short hours he made his appearance into the world at 10:35 on a Tuesday night. I couldn’t believe that I had a long, skinny, blonde hair, blue eyed baby.

As I’ve mentioned here on the blog previously, when I was raising my babies, I looked too much into the future and did not enjoy the moment. This is definitely one of my regrets. That being said, one of the things I did right was when Trey was a baby. I had a sinking feeling that he would be my last and every single night, when I rocked him to bed, I held him extra tight and extra long and just gazed at him as he slept in my arms. I didn’t want to put him in the bed before I absolutely had to. I treasure those deep longing moments with him cuddled in my arms sleeping. If I close my eyes and think really hard, I can still see that sweet baby face in my mind.

How to fast time flies. It seems that you blink and suddenly your baby; your youngest is 16 and and in high school.

In those younger days we was all boy and very hard to keep up with. He made us laugh all the time. I guess looking back he’s always been the “funny guy”. This kid was ALWAYS hungry; so hungry, in fact, he wanted to eat every 30 minutes yet spit out all of his vegetables.

Today, he loves football, working out, laying in bed and watching TV,  playing video games, going to water parks and eating.  He is a thoughtful, considerate and kind young man.  He considers my feelings.  He thanks me every night for cooking him dinner.  He apologies when he thinks that he has upset me.  What mother of a 16 year old boy can say that? Not many! I am blessed beyond measure.  Trey is excelling academically, socially and athletically.  I am so very excited about the amazing young man he is becoming and am so grateful to be on this journey with him as his mom.  I think he is just down right pretty darn awesome!

Happy 16, bud!  Here’s to many more together.  I love you!

*Since he loves water parks, we did a weekend trip to the Disney water parks in Orlando to celebrate.  

Venetian Pool

Nell Road of TreesNell Laying in Pool  Pool Wide View  Venetian Ceiling Danica Waterfall
Danica in Front Waterfall Three Palms Dee in Front of Pool  Danica Laying in Pool Nell in Front Waterfall Nell and Dee in Front of Pool

My, now college sophomore, daughter had only one full week off between spring and summer semesters.  I decided to sneak in some quality time with her and do something a bit touristy.  When you live in a vacation spot, it’s easy to forget about all the unique opportunities right at your finger tips.  We decided to shoot down to Miami for the afternoon and visit the Venetian Pool.

The pool was created in the 20’s from a coral rock quarry, where much of the original coral rock was used to border and further accentuate the pool.  The Venetian Pool was transformed into a paradise that is included in the National Register of Historic Places, the only swimming pool to have such a designation.

Upon walking in, you feel like you have transcended into a lush tropical vacation in Italy; waterfalls, caves, a beach, shallow lounge and, of course, the massive pool.  All of this beauty is surrounded by stone landscape and buildings architected from another time and place.  This south Florida tourist spot is a must if you are anywhere near Miami.

I thoroughly enjoyed my one-on-one time with my girl.  Now she’s off to the fun things in life like micro-biology.

Favorite Things

Nell and Steve Sunshine SmallSunset Half Down Small Steve Walking into Sun Small Steve in Sunset Small Nell Sitting in Road Small Nell Running in Sunset Looking Up Small Nell and Steve Sunshine Looking at each other Small Epic Sunset Small Bunny Small Blurry Bird Flying Small Nell Running in Sunset Looking Down Small

We chased the sunset, discovered uncharted territory, held hands, talked, laughed and saw a bunny. Two of my most favorite things; nature and my husband.  This night was good.

Perspective and a Mexican Fisherman

Sunset Hand

Where are you going?  This is something that I’ve been reflecting on here recently as I think about the fact that my children are getting older; one in college and one in high school.  I technically have three years left with kids living at home full time.  This is surreal.  I want to soak up every last minute; every last second with them.  I want to slow down my life.  I want to slow down time.

At the same time, it’s exciting to begin thinking about and planning the future with just me and the hubs.  What will our lives look like?  Will we live in a cute cottage on a big piece of land?  Will we live in an old Florida home near the ocean?  Will we travel around part-time or maybe even full-time in an RV? There’s so many questions and so many unknowns.  It’s exciting.  I love daydreaming about these sort of things.

Today, a lady at work shared the following story that completely touched my heart and certainly put into perspective.  We must be sure to focus on what really matters in life.


A boat docked in a tiny Mexican village. An American tourist complimented the Mexican fisherman on the quality of his fish and asked how long it took him to catch them.

“Not very long,” answered the Mexican.

“But then, why didn’t you stay out longer and catch more?” asked the American.

The Mexican explained that his small catch was sufficient to meet his needs and those of his family.

The American asked, “But what do you do with the rest of your time?”

“I have a full life. I play with my children and take a siesta with my wife. In the evenings, I go into the village to see my friends, play the guitar, and sing a few songs….”

The American interrupted, “I have an MBA from Harvard, and I can help you! You should start by fishing longer every day. You can then sell the extra fish you catch. With the extra revenue, you can buy a bigger boat.”

“And after that?” asked the Mexican.

“With the extra money the larger boat will bring, you can buy a second one and a third one and so on until you have an entire fleet of trawlers. Instead of selling your fish to a middle man, you can then negotiate directly with the processing plants and maybe even open your own plant. You can then leave this little village and move to Mexico City, Los Angeles, or even New York City! From there you can direct your huge new enterprise.”

“How long would that take?” asked the Mexican.

“Twenty, perhaps twenty-five years,” replied the American.

“And after that?”

“Afterwards? Well my Friend, That’s when it gets really interesting,” answered the American, laughing. “When your business gets really big, you can start selling stocks and make millions!”

“Millions? Really? And after that?” said the Mexican.

“After that you’ll be able to retire, live in a tiny village near the coast, sleep late, play with your children, catch a few fish, take a siesta with your wife and spend your evenings doing what you like and enjoying your friends.”

“With all due respect sir, but that’s exactly what I am doing now. So what’s the point wasting twenty-five years?” asked the Mexican.

Know where you’re going in life… you may already be there.