Win and Relaxation

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The place we stayed in the keys was absolutely perfect.  It was located directly on the Gulf and lined with palm trees and hammocks; the perfect location for doing absolutely nothing; exactly what this family needed.  The sunsets never cease to amaze me.  I stand there in awe every time taking a ridiculous number of pictures as the colors evolve every few seconds.  I don’t think I will ever get tired of watching them.

The real reason we went to the keys was for our annual showdown with Key West High School.  This year was a bit different than last.  This year we won (yay!), but unfortunately my son got a fever just an hour before the game started.  The win was great, but a bit bittersweet night for us since he was feeling so bad.  We spent the weekend in the keys relaxing with family as planned.  As soon as we got home on Sunday, I took him to the urgent care and sure enough he had bronchitis.  They gave us an antibiotic and we are hoping for a quick recovery.

All is well that ends well.

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Twenty Years

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It is truly amazing how quickly twenty years of marriage has flown by.  The first decade was spent having and raising young children and seemed to go by at somewhat of a normal pace.  The second decade has gone by in the blink of an eye.  It feels a bit strange and surreal; like a couple of years went by but definitely not ten.  It seems like we went to sleep one night with young children and woke up with older teens.  We now find ourselves embarking on being empty nesters with two adult children.  I really am having trouble wrapping my mind around this time warp.

Let’s back up over two decades for just a minute.  I’ve been told that my marriage and what we have is an anomaly; truly unlikely and almost statistically impossible.  The hubs and I met my junior year, his senior year of high school.  We became best friends and then started dating.  After dating for four years (on and off), we got married at the young age of 20 and had a baby right away at the age of 21.  Being together since the age of 16, getting married young and having a baby at a young age.  Any one of these factors alone sets us up for failure, but all three?  Impossible.  Right?  Well, somehow we made it.  Not only have we made it this far but we are happy; seriously happy.  We are just as happy now as we were way back then, maybe even more so.

I don’t know that there is any one “secret” to my marriage.  I am just as awestruck as anyone looking in from the outside, to be honest.  I feel incredibly grateful for what I have and I definitely try not to ever take it for granted.  I will say that getting married young and having children young as opposed to waiting until we were older and “set up” in life had its real advantages in our marriage.  In those early years, we truly fumbled through life.  We were so young and had absolutely no idea what we were doing.  I think when you get married young, you expect each other to change.  You expect each other to grow.  This expectation allowed us to come together and actually grow up together.  Neither one of us had the answers.  We just figured it out as we went, but we did so together.  It was an adventure.  It was our adventure that turned into an absolutely beautiful life with an amazing marriage and two awesome kids.

What will the next twenty years hold?  I have no idea. I do know that it will lead us into a brand new season in our lives.  We will have two adult children, become empty nesters, put our children through college and watch them spread their wings and start their own lives.  Then it is us again.  Back to the beginning, in a weird sort of way.  We still won’t have the answers but we will figure it out together.  It will be our next adventure.

* Steve, I cannot thank you enough for sticking by me all these years.  I absolutely love doing life with you.  I cannot wait to see what the next twenty years hold for us.  No doubt, it will be something beautiful.  I love you with all my heart.  😉

 

 

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!

Perspective

Palm in the Sky

It was spring but it was summer I wanted; the warm days and the great outdoors.
It was summer but it was fall I wanted: the colorful leaves and the cool dry air.
It was fall but it was winter I wanted; the beautiful snow and the joy of the Christmas season.
It was now winter but it was spring I wanted; the warmth and the blossoming of nature.
I was a child but it was adulthood I wanted; the freedom and respect.
I was twenty but it was thirty I wanted; to be mature and sophisticated.
I was middle -aged but it was twenty I wanted; the youth and the free spirit.
I was retired but it was middle-aged that I wanted; the presence of mind without limitations.
My life was over but I never got what I wanted.

-Written by a fourteen year old boy (yes, fourteen!)

What’s in a Decade?

Last Day in 30s

Today is the last day to be in my 30’s. Overall, this decade was pretty good to me. I was much wiser, made better decisions and accomplished more goals than in my 20’s. My 20’s was a decade of navigating a new marriage, having babies, finishing college and starting a career.  They were years of indecisiveness and uncertainty but they were the building blocks for what was to come.  My 30’s was a decade of accomplishment; moving 1,000 miles, pushing the career envelope and it paying off (thank God!), raising one child successfully to adulthood, getting another to a successful place in high school and establishing a very happy marriage.  The 30’s was also a decade that drew me much closer to God which has made all the difference in my life.

I have been told that the 40’s are even better; that life begins at 40. Well, I’m as ready as I’ll ever be to take it on. I’m excited to see what this next decade will bring.

January

Nell Walking to Waves Nell Walking to Waves 2

Going to the beach in January is unheard of.  Well, this is the reason I live in south Florida.  Typically, January and February are the coldest months that we see.  Cold for south Florida is a low in the 50’s and a high in the 60’s to 70’s.  Well up until a week ago it was was still very much summer weather with high’s in the mid 80’s.  While everyone was screaming for cold weather, I was at the beach riding the waves and soaking up the sun.

This past week the weather has adjusted itself to the typical January chill.  I have worn closed toe shoes for over a week now and I’m totally over it.  Bring back summer!

I’m on a Boat

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My dad has worked so very hard for over 40 years; selflessly, tirelessly and wholeheartedly giving everything he has. The only thing that he’s ever wanted is a nice salt water fishing boat. Because of my mom’s accident (11 months ago today!), he had to retire suddenly and much earlier than he expected.  Because of this, he didn’t think he would be able to ever have his dream boat. Well, I’m excited to say that after all his hard work and the horrible year that he’s had (that none of us can ever imagine) he got his dream boat this past weekend. The entire family went out on the boat on Sunday. Dad’s favorite thing is to have all of his family together, but this time he had all of his family on his dream boat. He was in heaven. I cry tears of joy every time I tell this story. He so greatly deserves this gift. He is the most amazing man and I am beyond excited for him. I foresee many more days with family in the boat enjoying the water and each other. God is totally in the process of taking something that was a tragic and absolutely horrific situation and right before our eyes is turning it into something good. Just to be a part of this story has been so amazing; a true privilege. You just never know how things are going to turn out in any situation. Life is certainly not easy for mom and dad. But we are starting to see so much positivity and blessing in their lives. I can’t think of any two people more deserving of a blessed life.  Now, let’s hit the water!

Tropical End to Friday Night Lights

After lots of hard work my sons football team made it to the playoffs which landed us in Key West. Unfortunately that is where the season ended. I am so incredibly proud of him. He has given his all and put in lots of blood, sweat and tears since June. Proud, proud, proud; I couldn’t be more proud. I already cannot wait until next football season. There’s just nothing like the Friday Night Lights!

Plus, hey, we got to hang out in the Florida keys for a couple of days. Not bad. Not bad at all.

Nell Under PalmTrey Pier (1) Tropical Hotel View Trey Feeding Fish Tiki Underneath Tarpon Huge Robbies Price Board Robbies Dollar Bills Robbies Beach Number 47 Nell Beach Chair Nell and Tre Pier Nell and Steve Pier Laughing Key West Football Game Hotel Dusk Beach View Football Field Selfie Nell and Steve Beach Chair Line

Costa Rica Day 4 :: Explore

Big Wave Dee Crashed on Beach Dee Gazing on Rocks Dee in the Sunset Dee Running up from Beach Dee with Hands up Epic Sunset Nell in Cave Nell Jump Nell on Rock Nell under Short Palm Nell Victory on Rocks Steve and Trey Out in Water Steve Catching Wave Steve Running into Ocean Steve throwing Dee in Water Trey Catching a Wave Wave in SunsetSteve Gazing at Ocean from Patio

Well if you made it this far, then you managed to look through the ridiculous number of photos I posted.  The good thing (for memory purposes) is that I literally took 2,000 photos on our Costa Rica trip  The bad thing is that I took 2,000 photos on our Costa Rica trip and have to go through each and every one of them.  Honestly, there are just so many good pics from this trip that it takes me at least two to three passes through the photos to decided what to post.

Well, anyway, here you are.  This is day 4 of our Costa Rica adventure.  We rented a house in the Punta Leona gated resort with no rental car.  This wasn’t really an issue since the resort had two amazing beaches, 800 acres of rainforest, restaurants, stores, etc.  But, hey, we figured we should head off the grounds to explore a local town at the very least.  We chose to get a taxi and head to Jaco (pronounced Ha-co).  While the town was a great place to shop for souvenirs and eat a nice authentic Costa Rican meal, there wasn’t much else to rave about.  To be honest, we were pretty disappointed.  But that was ok because we were able to not only begin the day with a quick exploration of the caves at low tide, but also catch probably the best sunset I’ve ever seen while body surfing 5-6 foot waves.

Costa Rica, you never disappoint.  What a great way to end the day watching the sky being painted with the prettiest of colors while having a blast in the beautiful ocean.  Perfection.

Costa Rica Day 3 :: Rainforest Adventures

Nell Zip Lining Upside DownDee Canyoning 2 Dee Zip Line Small on Big Mtn Dee Zip Lining Upside Down Handleys in Zip Line Gear Monkey Middle of Palm
Dart FrogMonkey on a Palm Nell and Dee Riding Horses Rainforest Nell and Dee Riding in the Rainforest Nell Canyoning 2 Nell Canyoning Bottom View Nell Canyoning Nell on Horse Drinking  Steve and Trey ATV Top of Mtn Steve and Trey Top of Mountain Steve ATV Face Steve Nell Dee Waiting to Zip Line Steve Upside Down Zip Lining Steve Zip Lining Trey Canyoning Trey Zip Lining Upside DownNell Looking Over Balcony

 

Everyday in Costa Rica was amazing but day three may have been just a tad better than the rest.

We were told by many as well as read online that you will most definitely see wild monkeys in your backyard.  Up to this point, we had seen parrots and exotic birds but no monkeys.  I will honestly say that I was getting quite disappointed.  On day three, this all changed.  Steve was out on the patio just looking out at the ocean.  The kids and I were inside getting ready for the day.  Steve storms into the house yelling, “Nell, monkey’s!  Nell, monkey’s!  Nell, monkey’s!”  We all raced out to the patio and he was not joking. There were about 30 adorable little white face monkey’s migrating through our backyard.  There was the alpha male in the far left palm tree calling out to the others. There were even a few mama and baby monkey’s.  I probably took 50 pictures but only posted two here.  It was amazing to see.  They were everywhere and just so dang cute!

After watching the monkey’s in amazement we went out on our big rainforest adventure.  One of the coolest things about this trip is the timing.  We timed it perfectly and totally by accident.  Apparently, we were in Costa Rica during the rainy season and during the lowest season.  It was perfect!  The reason why?  Well, one reason is that we went to the 850 acre rain forest adventure park (Ocean Ranch Park) and we were literally the only people there.  How crazy is that?  We ended up getting a private tour with two guides and had the entire rainforest park to ourselves.  Dee and I rode horses to start while the boys rode ATV’s.  We all did waterfall canyoning which is much tougher than it looks by the way, but a ton of fun. Then it was off to zip lining.  Honestly, we added the zip lining on after the fact as we didn’t initially set out to zip line since we had done it before when we went to Mexico.  Man, we were so glad we did. We thought the waterfall canyoning would be the coolest part, but we were wrong.  The zip lining was totally the best.  I really believe it was because we were the only people there and instead of doing just 2 or 3 zip lines, we got to do all 10 with the last one being a half mile long and well above all the rainforest trees.  Also, I am totally convinced that you can live forever if you are stuck in the rainforest.  Every remedy you could ever need resides in this beautiful place.  There was everything from a Bengay plant (it literally smelled like Bengay when you broke the branch), war paint leaves, dart frogs (poisonous frogs used by warriors to rub their poison on their darts) and cancer treatment roots.  I was blown away.

What a spectacular day!  Of course, everyday ended with us peering off the patio overlooking the ocean.  There was nothing more relaxing and peaceful than just sitting there watching the sun set and listen to the waves crash.  Pura Vida!