Sunday, May 30, 2010

Some Gave All

On Memorial Day weekend I usually find myself thinking about our many visits to Arlington National Cemetery. I've been there as a tourist and I've been there as a daughter. I've walked behind the horse drawn caisson and flinched as the guns were fired. I've stood beside my siblings and cried tears of pride and sadness as a flag was folded and handed to my mother. I've seen the changing of the guard and I've stood with hundreds more as the sentinel walks the walk at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

If you ever have the opportunity to visit Arlington, go. The ceremony at the Tomb is moving and something every American should see. And I would like to think that on Memorial Day we could put aside all political posturing and take a moment to honor and thank the men and women who have served our honor especially those who have died defending our many freedoms. Freedoms which, incidentally, include our right as Americans to hold differing points of view. Not everyone in this world is so lucky.

There is something known as The Sentinel's Creed which the guards at the Tomb learn and live by and it goes like this-

My dedication to this sacred duty is total and wholehearted.
In the responsibility bestowed on me never will I falter.
And with dignity and perseverance my standard will remain perfection.
Through the years of diligence and praise and the discomfort of the elements,
I will walk my tour in humble reverence to the best of my ability.
It is he who commands the respect I protect.
His bravery that made us so proud.
Surrounded by well meaning crowds by day, alone in the thoughtful peace of night,
this soldier will in honored glory rest under my eternal vigilance.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Sandy Cove, Camp I Love...

I'm linking up with Flashback Friday today. For more posts on summertime memories visit Mocha with Linda...

I have lots of happy summertime memories but without question, my favorite are from summer camp. My first real camp experience was at a Chrisitan camp called Sandy Cove. The girls camp was situated on the Northeast River in Maryland, not far from the Chesapeake Bay. I can say in all honesty that some of the happiest memories of my life are tied to that place.

I started out there as a camper and went for just a week the first year. My sister came too but we were in different age groups so she was a 'Papoose' and I was a 'Maiden'. We stayed in cabins, ate in a dining hall, learned to canoe and sail on the river, played massive games of Capture the Flag, rode horses, shot arrows in the archery range, poured sand candles in the beach, made the requisite leather crafts, held 'rap sessions' (there's a term we don't hear anymore) and Bible Study under the trees, drank bug juice, dined on the infamous Sandy Cove Stew and cooked rice krispie treats in a #10 can over a roaring campfire...I could write forever here. Every week was themed-Water Week, Olympic Week, anything Can Happen Week...just to name a few. We called our counselors "Chief" and I loved mine that first year...Chief Judy.

I returned to Sandy Cove two more summers as a camper before entering their CIT (Counselor in training) program. The first summer of the program revolved around a two week 'survival course' and our group of 8 CITs along with our two fearless leaders counselors spent 8 days backpacking across roughly 60 miles of the Appalachian Trail. The very first day, almost the first hour actually, I hyperventilated on the trail in a serious way. I passed out and worried those two counselors quite a lot. I bet they still remember me : ) I recovered (obviously) and stayed on without any more issues but it did get things started with a bang.

My second summer as a CIT I worked at the waterfront, teaching canoeing. The waterfront instructor was an absolute hoot and we had so much fun. I found confidence I didn't know I had and I loved the sense of accomplishment I felt at perfecting a skill. I also loved the fresh air, the exercise, and spending days in the sun. In the final year of the program we were assigned to an age group and I worked as the relief counselor for that group all summer. This meant subbing in different cabins on the regular counselors day off. I was so sure I would be placed with the little ones (papooses)...after all, I'd always loved working with young children and I thought that was where I had the most to offer. The CIT 'chief' saw things differently however and I remember having a moment of panic when she told me I'd be with the squaws (teenagers). But you know what? I've worked and volunteered with teens in all sorts of settings since those days at Sandy youth groups, Young Life, scouts, even working in the public schools, and it was at Camp Sandy Cove that I learned to really love that particular age group.

I know this is long but I have a lot of memories and I want to write a few of them here. I went back to Sandy Cove several more summers, both as a counselor and later as a tripper (I do love that term)...As a trip counselor it was my turn to act as one of two fearless leaders on a backpacking trip with a group of young high school girls. I think I learned more about myself on those backpacking trips than perhaps almost anywhere else I've ever been. There is nothing like days and days of hiking in beautiful, rugged terrain and quiet wilderness to have some serious talks with God about who you are and why you are here.

There was a boys camp (5 miles away) and eventually the girls camp was moved there too...the camps were still separate in their day to day operations, they just shared the same large piece of property. And from the counselors perspective it was way more fun to have the boys nearby. Just sayin'

I could write a thousand and one memories from my days at camp but they wouldn't mean anything to someone who hadn't shared in the experience. Roughly 30 years have passed since my last days of summer camp and in the course of those 30 years there have been moments where for an instant, I'm back at Sandy Cove. It might be the smell of a fire, the sight of a sunset on a river, or the sound of a whipporwill singing that does it, but in that moment I am carried right back to those sweet days of camp...I can see the playing field, the chapel on the bluff, the steep path down the hill to the waterfront... I remember silly songs, cleaning latrines, counselor hunts, the camp store, standing at the flagpole, 'waitressing', quiet talks after dark, the stars, the dirt, the bugler's song in the morning and the quiet strum of the guitar at night. I remember candles floating out to sea. I remember the music...always, always there was music.

Two things in particular stand out to me from those long ago summers...the first thing is this-Sandy Cove is the place where God was made real to me. The place where the faith I'd had since early childhood finally became my own.

And the second is this-when you live with people in a setting like camp you develop friendships that are unlike any other. There were summers of laughter. There were moments of heartache. We came from different states, different backgrounds, and different denominations, yet we shared a common faith. We worked, we played, we grew in every way. Including up.

♫ Sandy Cove, camp I love ♫
Rocks and trees and beauties
that are from above ♫
♫Skies so blue
Friends so true ♫
♫Take me back to
camping days at

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

"...but only God can make a tree."

Yesterday it was HOT. And humid. So naturally that would be the day our wonderful landscape crew appeared to begin work on our hillside. Today it is more of the same and I guess they're used to it but I do not envy them one little bit.

For starters, this hillside? It is steep. Very, very steep. I guess I need to back up a little bit and yes I am going to talk about dirt and rocks. Sometimes life is champagne at sunset on a piazza in Italy and sometimes it is sweaty landscapers mixing concrete in the backyard. I could use more of the former btw.

We have a good sized chunk of property. Our front yard is a long, gently sloping, green lawn where dandelions dare not show their pretty yellow heads. The biggest part of our back property is woods, dense and beautiful no matter the season. We also have some lawn out back and so far so good. The trouble spot lies between the back lawn and the woods. In that space we have a steep hillside. Did I mention it is steep because wow, it's steep.

Besides bears, North Jersey is also known for its ginormous supply of rock. Granite in the form of boulders. Boulders the size they grew in Bedrock. Boulders that go deep into the earth and do not want to be messed with or moved without heavy duty expensive equipment. To give you some perspective, the fence in this picture is roughly 5 feet high and the boulders are the same. We have an entire 'hedge' of boulders running across the edge of back lawn where the grass ends. Viburnum and Burning Bush grow and bloom the entire length of the 'boulder hedge' and for the most part block the hillside when you are sitting on the too small deck whose re-do will be Part 2 of our 50 point plan to improve the back yard.

The hillside is a bit scraggly... it's green but nothing worth noting. The deer love it and can eat to their hearts content there. Sometimes I can look out of my kitchen window and see our four deer (well, they feel like ours) prance across the hillside from one end to the other. Because they have plenty to eat on the hillside they don't seem to feel the need to venture into the yard where the 'real' plants are so its a win win.

One portion of this hillside is bare, just dirt and rocks, and its pretty much the steepest portion of the hill. We have had no less than 837 people of varying occupation, background, and opinion come out and give us their take on what we should do to improve this little patch. We could terrace the entire back hillside and that's probably what Donald Trump or Bill Gates would do but that's not an option for us so we're getting creative. Surprisingly its not a drainage problem, it's more of an aesthetic problem.

Anyway, we finally settled on a 'fix' and they got started yesterday. I would have loved to take a picture of the poor guy who had to scale the hillside and stand at the top while the others worked a 'pass the bucket' system to get the rock up to him but I didn't know if he'd appreciate that or not. This was not a quick process in case you are wondering. And did I mention it was 97,000 degrees yesterday?

The rock is in place to prevent further erosion and they built a small stone wall at the base, bringing in topsoil and a beautiful Birch tree. We'll add some flowers around the tree next weekend and Phase 1 is complete.

"I think that I shall never see
A poem lovely as a tree."
...Joyce Kilmer

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

There's a party goin' on right here...

Really its just the weekly random dozen rolling around again but hey, the more the merrier. Feel free to join in the fun...answer the questions on your own blog and then link your post over at 2nd cup of coffee...

1. Would you rather host a party or simply attend a party?

I enjoy both but probably host.

2. Tell us about the most memorable party you've been to?

Wow, how to answer this one? We're pretty much always up for a party and we do like to dress up. I think my hubs favorite article of clothing is his tux. Doesn't every man look good in a tux?

That being said, we like the backyard bbq kind of party too so, hmmm. One that was especially fun was my hubs 40th. We had a 70's theme so of course you know the music was good. I had his senior picture from high school frosted onto the cake with edible ink which was a nice touch. Everyone wore 70's attire and that was an absolute hoot. It was just one of those fun parties with the perfect mixture of neighbors, friends and relatives.

3. What is one thing you hope for in the after-life?

Wow. You mean besides 'no more sorrow, no more pain'? I hope I can sing in tune.

4. What do you enjoy most about sunshine?

I'm gonna say the sunny part.

One of my favorite sites in all the world is sunlight dancing on the beautiful it sometimes makes me want to cry.

5. When you attend a bridal/baby shower do you prefer to bring your own gift or chip in with others to buy a larger gift?

I guess it depends on how well I know the bride/mom-to-be. If I don't know her well I'm happy to go in on a gift. If we're talking baby showers and I know mom-to-be is having a girl forget it... I can spend hours looking at the cuteness that is newborn baby girl clothing.

6. Would you rather have a FREE week of having your house cleaned or all of your meals cooked for you and your family?

No question-clean house please.

7. What song describes your mood today?

Have I mentioned that it is past time for me to sort out my life?

8. What is something you received for your own bridal shower/wedding that you still own or use? (If you are not married, feel free to sub a gift you received a long time ago)

Well, the toaster I received at my bridal shower only recently bit the dust. Almost 26 years...I'd say that's pretty good. To answer the question though I think I'll say my china. I was given most of the pieces as wedding and/or shower gifts and I still use them and am still in love with the pattern.

9. Your favorite flavor of ice cream is?

Ben and Jerry's Cherries Garcia. Or Rocky Road. Or Cookie Dough. Or homemade peach. You didn't seriously expect me to choose just one did you?

10. When was the last time you felt 'tested'?

Certainly this year. And if I were grading myself I think I'd give me a C. Maybe.

11. Fill in the blank___________is a food that once I start eating I find really hard to stop.

peanut m & m's

12. _________is the best motivation.

Seeing myself in a photo. It makes me want to jump on a treadmill and run 100 miles.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Martha would not be so proud

It's quite possible I did something over the weekend that just screams 'Not Me Monday'. I'm linking up at McMamas with this one today...the idea is to write about something you did as if you didn't. Make sense? Read on and you'll get it...

Mckmama- Not Me Monday

As I was preparing the marinade for Saturday night's dinner I most definitely did not leave the instruction manual and recipe booklet inside my juicers waste can and then proceed to juice six limes and three oranges. I never once wondered why the juicer seemed to be operating more slowly than normal and I absolutely did not rack my brain trying to figure out where in the world I had put that instruction manual/recipe booklet.

And I was not completely finished with the whole juicing process and ready to empty the waste can before I noticed the booklets. I didn't discover the cleaning brush needed for the basket in there too. I am never careless. Glops of pulverized lime peel were not sprayed across every.single.solitary. page of the 115 page booklet and no, of course it wasn't at all wet and sticky. Naturally I took lots of pictures because I want to remember this incident and also share it with Martha. I was given the juicer as an audience member at her show and I know she will find this funny. She is not at all a perfectionist and does crazy stuff like this in her kitchen on a regular basis too.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Define weekend

I'm gonna make a list of stuff because none of it is related which is a nice way of saying its random except some might say that word is a tad bit overused on this blog so I'm going for something different. Raise your hand if you love a blog post that begins with the world's longest run on sentence?

Anyhoo-hubs left for China at the crack of dawn today. I did not go with him. I wanted to go with him and I could bore you (even further) with the whole long story of why it didn't work out or just say I couldn't organize the right flights at the right time using any of my trillion frequent flyer points so here I sit, at home in the Garden State. Which is lovely but it is not Shanghai. I haven't given up on accompanying him on a China trip. Or any trip for that matter. And may I just state for the record here that we've had a few too many one day weekends since moving back stateside?

2. Yeah, the above was #1. Forgot I was making a list. Hubs is such a trooper. Since May 5th he has has gone from NJ to SC to FL to SC to NJ where he made like Superman and switched out vacation clothes for work clothes in the long term parking lot of Newark Airport before heading back into the terminal for yet another flight, this time to Italy. Then on to London last Wednesday and home on Friday. Now off to China this morning and the summer travel is just getting started. Are you keeping up? It exhausts me just to type this.

3. Somehow we do manage to squeeze a fair amount into these one day weekends. When he arrived home late Friday afternoon the guys were here re-sealing our driveway. He went out to 'supervise' glad he was home and I didn't need to get involved in any way shape or form. That is not my cup of tea.

4. Friday night we went out to dinner to a little Italian restaurant located on the boardwalk that runs along the shore of our town's lake. You are probably thinking, '...but didn't her hubs just spend a week in Italy eating Italian food every night?" Yes he did but a. you can never have too much Italian food and b. it was a gorgeous nite with ideal temps for al fresco dining and c. I did not just spend a week in Italy eating Italian food every night. I spent a week in NJ eating gourmet meals such as popcorn so he knew I needed a nice evening out. I had ravioli with shrimp and roasted garlic....yum! Hubs and I had a good catch up, sipped some wine and enjoyed the view.

5. Saturday we made a trip to the nursery and put a few plants outside...really just getting started and not in a big way as we need to do major landscaping to our back in the near future. Just need to find that pot of money. I don't want to go crazy putting things out there now only to remove them later. I'll concentrate on the deck pots this week. We also intend to knock the railing off the too small deck and put in a patio but in the meantime I need my flowers.

6. We went to the movies Saturday afternoon and saw Robin Hood. I liked it and thought Russell Crowe made a good Robin Hood. And I much preferred Cate Blanchett to Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio who played Lady Marian in the Kevin Costner version. There was sadly no arrow cam in this one but plenty of sword slinging and raining arrows and most importantly the beautiful English countryside which always makes me happy. The movie confirmed a couple of things I already knew which were a. I was right never to cross the English channel in a ferry or boat of any kind and b. I love England but am so glad I didn't live there in the 12th century.

7. We grilled out Saturday night because nothing says I'm home like a bbq. I made Ina Garten's tequila and lime chicken which hubby grilled and it was delicious. I used bone in chicken breasts because I think they are much more flavorful...I am not a huge fan of the boneless skinless chicken breast. I also made a green onion slaw and we grilled pineapple with honey, lime juice and black pepper and that was wonderful. I love grilled pineapple.

Don't you hate when a list ends on an odd number like 7?

Hey, I know something else I needed to tell you. Three lovely bloggers left me awards on their blogs last week. I'm pretty sure that makes numbers 8, 9, 10 on my list which is now no longer odd. Whew! Go say hi to these ladies...I read their blogs, 'met' two of them thru the weekly Random Dozen and I know one in real life which is not something I can say about many bloggers.

First up is the Sweet Blog Award from Lori whose blog is Mountain Woman at Heart...she quilts and rides motorcycles and is crafty too. One thing I've discovered thru blogging is that some people got in line twice when the creativity genes were handed out and some of us must have been in the ladies room and we missed them altogether. I love Lori's blog header because it looks like it was taken from the deck of my brother- in- law's cabin in the Smoky Mountains...beautiful!

Next is the Sunshine Award from Mary at Life in a Small Town. Mary is sorta new to blogging but you would never know it from her writing...she seems like an old pro. And Mary's small town and my hubs small town may be one and the same. wink wink.

And finally (I know!)...Nel left me an award on her blog yesterday. Her site is Fastenau Facts.

For this award I'm supposed to list ten things I love and I did that once before on my blog so I'm gonna link to that post. At this point you probably feel like you've been reading this post since the dawn of time but I'll leave the link anyway.

Thanks for the awards ladies...I'm not going to tag blogs because I think we are all in agreement that this might just be the longest post about nothing in the history of blogger. Just know that if I follow your blog I love it, you bring me sunshine, and I think you're sweet!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Catch a tiger by the tail

My husband is in London today. It's his first trip back since we moved. Tonite he's going to see his buds at the Indian restaurant we loved in the little village where we lived. I'm only
extremelyslightly jealous. Yesterday I got an email from someone new to England. A friend there suggested she visit my blog and she did and I wrote her back and spent some time thinking about how it felt to be new and all that was in front of us that we had no clue was in front of us. The combination of these two things has left me feeling a little bit homesick.

Hubs phoned yesterday after he got checked into his hotel and he did have a small rant about the iron being bungeed to the ironing board in his room and the outlet being in an inconvenient spot which is always the case with outlets in the UK. I used to have a six foot extension chord plugged into my bedroom wall so I could dry my hair in front of the bathroom mirror because there were no outlets in the bathroom itself. Gotta be careful with 220 volts and water in close proximity I guess.

Thinking about those little annoyances should help but for some reason the quirkiness is something that makes me miss it more. Its a funny thing because when you leave you imagine all the things you will not miss and for sure using an extension chord to dry my hair ranked right up there. Yet, I think about that and I smile. Go figure.

So how about I talk some more about my vacation? Aren't you so glad you stopped by here today? Really there is not too much more to tell because other than the wave runner outing we spent most of the week sitting in beach chairs, swimming in the ocean and then maybe mixing it up with a swim in the pool, reading stacks of books, and walking for miles. Oh, and eating a lot of seafood.

If you've never been to a beach in this area you might have a hard time imagining the shells. The beach is just a mass of shells and of course alot of them are broken but there is also no shortage of beautiful whole shells of every size shape and color. No we did not bring home any live starfish...that's a big no no.

My daughter said it felt like cheating because you could literally just look down at your feet and pick up something pretty all along the beach. You didn't really have to work too hard.

We were on vacation after all.

There is a public beach in Marco called Tigertail and we like to go there to collect shells and also because you can walk to the far end and its likely you will not see another soul. Its pretty amazing to think there are beaches that are not wall to wall people and noise but there are and this is one of those beaches.

Apparently you can walk around from the car park but we always take the 'short cut' which involves crossing some water along with several school of assorted fish. This little bit is also the teensiest bit squishy which I do not care for. At all. I try not to think about the critters under my feet. Shudder.

We saw this guy just as we were taking our first steps. I started referring to him as a squidray because he looked like a cross between a squid and a stingray. My girls are petite so coordination was required.

As soon as we got to the path we saw millions of little bitty crabs. eww. I love crabs but they must be cooked. And these little guys scattered as soon as we stepped onto the path but they made so much racket. I couldn't even get a picture because I was too busy trying not to step on one in my bare feet. ick.

When you get out to the beach it is worth all the trouble. It is one of the most peaceful places I've quiet and beautiful.

We did have a little bit of company...

I love to watch the pelicans...such funny creatures.

I started this post last night and things always look a little better in the light of day. The sun is shining, my pup was supposed to have a little surgical procedure today which was cancelled because the mysterious 'bump' is no longer a mysterious bump, hubs will enjoy seeing friends in our old stomping grounds...

and will especially enjoy his very spicy curry with a side of diced chilies because they will remember that's how he likes it...and as for me?

I think I have a few shells to clean and sort.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Only one? You've got to be kidding

It's once again time for the weekly Random Dozen hosted by Linda over at 2nd cup of coffee. I found this week's questions slightly stressful...not because I didn't have answers to give but because there is a little play on the concept of one. I'm not good at picking one thing or giving one word answers to questions. If you read here I think you know I require a lot of words, even if you are asking me a yes/no question.

Hmmm...perhaps this should have been my answer to #7?

You're invited to answer this week's questions on your own blog...just be sure to link your post over at Linda's for all the world to see.

1. What is one really fast, know-by-heart "go-to" meal to fix in a pinch?

Teriyaki chicken with baked rice. Easy and really delicious. Not a lot of ingredients and I typically have them all in my pantry. And most importantly everyone loves it.

2. What is one item you won't leave home without. (Purse and license do not count.)

my phone...hubs will say I can't always get to it in the Black Hole that is my purse but I do have it with me and that's the important thing, right?

3. Where is one place you never tire of visiting?

Just one? London.

Also Italy, Marco Island Florida, and a certain small town in South Carolina where my girlies reside.

4. Share one factoid of your family's history.

As in my immediate family or my ancestors?

I know. I overthink.

Hey, that could have been my answer to that considered a quirk?

Here is a nice straightforward fact: my parents were living in Hawaii when it became a state.

5. Complete this sentence: "Once upon a time I ...."

had lunch with David Cameron, the new Prime Minister of England.

Just to clarify, it wasn’t just the two of us...there were approximately 20 guests. The luncheon was held in a private dining room in the House of Lords...

I was nervous and giddy and the only American there so I tried not to say anything ridiculous. I was seated beside Felicity Dahl who was Roald Dahl's second was a very exciting day. At the time I was President of the American Women’s Club and we had done some fundraising for the National Society for Epilepsy...they organized the luncheon and I was invited as their guest. David Cameron served as a board member for the NSE...he and his wife had a sweet son with epilepsy who sadly passed away just over a year ago. Mr. Cameron was a guest and also spoke briefly at this particular luncheon, which was held to kick off a campaign for the NSE.

6. If you could win a one year's supply of anything, what would it be?

This feels like it should be easy but its not…how about a housekeeper? I have all the time in the world to clean house but I do love it when someone else does it for me.

7. "One quirky thing you may not know about me is ...."

I wish my hubs was home to provide the answer to this question. I don't think I have a lot of quirks but I'm pretty sure he would disagree. I talk to myself. Don't most women do that?

8. You have one dollar in your pocket. What will you buy?

Remember when you could really buy something with a dollar? Does a dollar even buy a pack of gum now? USA today costs $1 and I like their crossword puzzle so maybe a newspaper. That answer sounds super lame when I read it back but even a bag of peanut m & m's is more than $1 now.

9. "One thing that always makes me laugh is ...."

the Etrade commercials...I love the babies in these ads

10. What is one thing you could do today to help yourself reach a personal goal?

Hit the gym. Walk the dog. Steer clear of the sweets. And the carbs. Bet you can’t guess what my personal goal is? And I already explained that I am not capable of naming just one thing. Obviously.

11. What is one thing you could do today to bless someone else?

I have a few notes to send so will hopefully get those done today.

12. What is one thing you're looking forward to soon?

The Eagles concert on June 10th...they are one of my favorite bands and they'll be performing in the New Meadowlands Stadium along with The Dixie Chicks and Keith Urban. Can't wait!

Monday, May 17, 2010

I feel the need...the need for speed

One of the fun things we did last week was a wave runner tour of the 10,000 islands. No we did not go to all 10,000. Technically Marco is considered the biggest and northernmost island in the chain which touches on the Everglades.

Let me back up and just say that on occasion I have to be talked into doing things like riding a wave runner. I am not like the rest of my family who asks the cute cabana boy things like, 'How fast are we allowed to go?' My family knows this about me so by the time I arrived at the rental center the cute cabana boy let me know that my family was not going to allow me to drive. Apparently they did not want me slowing them down. My daughter1 would drive and I would be her passenger. Which was fine with me because I have been on the back of a wave runner with my hubs before and told the cute cabana boy that he was the one they should be worried about. I think cute cabana boy had already figured this out.

This is cute cabana boy. He looked a lot like Chris O'Donnell...

I was distracted by our upcoming adventure so I neglected to hit the zoom. Plus my girls would have found that embarrassing and I'm pretty sure mom on the wave runner was embarrassment enough for one day.

We all put on the very attractive life jackets and I'd been wearing a baseball cap all morning on the beach but had to stow it because apparently we were going to go fast...nothing like some lovely hat hair to complete my look. Why don't I look adorable in my life jacket like daughter2?

Cute cabana boy gave us the basic operating instructions but the only thing I really heard was to leave a lot of space between the wave runners in case someone stops suddenly and also the part about if you go flying off to move away from the wave runner so your hair and/or life jacket are not sucked up underneath the machine. Won't this be fun?

In fact it was lots of fun. Lots and lots of fun. Actually, while I generally have to be pep talked into stuff I do love to go fast. Daughter1 was an excellent driver and hubs only scared daughter2 once or twice. He liked to drop way way behind us so he could then zoom up at supersonic speed. Cute cabana boy pretended he didn't notice.

In all our trips to Marco we'd never been out to the islands. Technically you don't go to the islands, you ride around them. There are mangroves on these islands and they are interesting trees. They grow in salt water and the roots go as deep as the trees are tall. They are able to filter the salt water themselves and the mangrove forests along the coastline here help protect Marco from storm surges and hurricanes.

We didn't see any manatees but we did see lots of beautiful birds and some crazy jumping fish and we got up close and personal with some dolphins...he's right beside us here-

It's not easy to take a picture of a moving animal while sitting on a bobbing wave runner in the Gulf but we tried...

We rode for about an hour and a half and only saw a handful of boats in all that time. It felt like we were the only people on the water and it was a gorgeous day.

I may have needed a little coaxing to get started but by the time we returned to the beach I was thinking maybe we needed to buy a wave runner once we got back home. And I guess a house on the Gulf to go with it...I mean we'd have to park it somewhere right?

Sunday, May 16, 2010

By the Sea By the Sea By the Beautiful Sea

Whew. Where to begin? I'm back home after a week of vacation and am drowning in photos....graduation photos and beach photos both. Wait, don't go...I'm not going to post them all. I can't promise you I won't post any but I for sure will not post all. That's mostly because I have a lot of pics of my girls on the beach in their oh so cute bikinis but it doesn't feel right to me to put those out in the blogosphere. There are also a few of me in my swim suit which I guarantee you will not be going on the world wide web for altogether other reasons, so you can relax now.

We wrapped up the graduation celebrations late Saturday night and flew to Florida Sunday morning. Marco Island is just south of Naples and is one of our favorite family vacation spots. We've been there many times and its a special place for us...we all have lots of happy memories from holidays in Marco. Here is the view from our balcony-

I tried to talk my hubs into retiring straight away but then he reminded me that we still have one in university and we have a house we're still settling into in a state far far far away from this little slice of heaven and btw, he's not quite old enough or even ready to retire just yet. We both love the water though so someday. Do you see how easily sidetracked I am?

With another school year winding down and hubs travel schedule getting ready to go into overdrive we all wanted a vacation somewhere we could put our toes in the sand...

read lots of books...

talk for hours

eat fantastic seafood

wonder at the beauty of a sunset on the Gulf

and reconnect as a family.

Marco is just such a place. Most mornings hubs and I would walk to the point and look for shells. The beach is literally covered in shells but there are a couple of places where piles are dumped by the sea and we especially like to hunt in those spots.

Of course hubs is not content to pick up some of the billions of shells sitting in plain sight...he must climb out and over the rocks to get what? Better shells?

Dolphins love to play at this end of the island and early morning is a good time to see them.

We did a fun wave runner tour one day which I think I'll save for part 2. Yes patient readers...there's more. I'm sure you can hardly wait because we all know how much fun it is to see other people's vacation photos. I've been working away at my scrapbooking backlog but that is s-l-o-w going and I've got a ways to go before I catch up to present day. In the meantime my blog has become a good place to record
every random thought I havewhat is happening in my life as I live it. Blogging helps me hit the pause button for a see the specialness not only in life's big moments like a university graduation, but also in life's little moments. Like a walk on the beach.

One day you are walking on the beach with your little chicks...

and before you know it...

you are walking on the beach with your little chicks.

Sometimes the little moments are the big moments.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Can the Random Dozen be answered while on vaca?

Why yes it can. Actually I have no time to talk...must get back to my lounge chair....In the meantime, why not answer the random dozen questions on your own blog this week? Link back to Linda at 2nd Cup of Coffee to share your answers...

1. Please share one memory of your high school graduation. Pics would be great!

I don't have strong memories of my high school class was huge, about 950 kids...I remember going to dinner afterwards with my family and then a party after that. But I don't remember much about the actual ceremony at all.

2. What is one "emergency use" item you keep in your vehicle at all times?

my mobile phone? I guess I feel like if I have that I'm safe

3. In your region, do you celebrate graduation open houses? Addendum: (If so,) how many open houses/bridal showers/weddings are on your upcoming events calendar?

no, not that I know of...we will be going to a wedding in October which we're excited's a destination wedding and we'll be seeing lots of old friends there so should be a great time

4. Tell me one truth you believe about motherhood.

'Children and mothers never truly part -
Bound in the beating of each other's heart.'
Charlotte Gray

5. What was the last thing you broke?

a fingernail?

6. On average, how many pieces of junk mail do you receive daily?

a lot...maybe four or five per day...a-nnoy-ing!

7. Do you like to shop by catalog?

I love to look at catalogs but I rarely buy from catalogs...I need to touch and try on.

8. Is lawn maintenance at your house a "his job," a "her job" or "his/her job" or "that's why we have teenagers" job?

oh, definitely a 'his' job...I like to garden but I have nothing to do with the actual lawn care. ew.

9. Which room would you like to redecorate in your home?

my daughter's room...which is used mostly as a guest room except my kids don't like it when I refer to their bedrooms as guest rooms.

10. Do you read a newspaper regularly, or do you read most of your news on line?

I love a real newspaper, mostly for the crossword puzzle but I still prefer to read my news in paper form as opposed to online.

11. Do you believe everything happens for a reason?

yes...sometimes things happen thru no fault of our own, sometimes things happen as a consequence of our actions, and sometimes things happen for a reason we may not understand this side of heaven.

12. Are you more worried about doing things right, or doing the right things?

doing the right thing. for sure.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Welcome to the Real World

Well, not quite yet...I'm actually looking out at the beautiful Gulf of Mexico as I type this and we think next week will be soon enough for the new graduate to start dealing with the real world. If only sitting in the sand watching the waves lap your freshly polished toes were the real world. Sigh.

Graduation weekend was perfect. For starters, the weather was positively amazing. Crystal clear blue skies and a breeze. Friday night we had dinner with a big group of daughter1's friends and families. The parents all said the same thing, "Weren't we just moving these girls in to their dorms?" And the soon to be graduates all said the same thing too, "Can we really be graduating?"

Yes they really can be graduating. And they did. Saturday morning while they were at rehearsal hubs and I wandered thru the farmers market downtown, had coffee by the river and took a walk. We met up with all the family for gift giving and a celebration lunch a little later in the day. Lots of fun and laughter and hugs, and maybe a tear or two.

A couple of hours before the ceremony start time we headed over to campus to begin the picture taking frenzy. Lots and lots of family pictures and lots of pictures with the friends too. The campus is gorgeous and there are beautiful gardens and fountains and buildings everywhere so no shortage of photo ops.

Daughter2 would say we managed to hit them all.

The ceremony was held in the football stadium and the graduates walk thru the campus and all the way down the 'mall' to the stadium.

You could see them approaching, a huge purple 2010 banner waving out in front, and of course the band was playing Pomp and Circumstance which is always good for a few tears. You feel it all welling up inside of you at that moment.

The program was so beautifully done and except for the uncomfortable stadium seat, it was altogether perfect. Note to self-when daughter2 graduates in a couple more years bring a seat cushion. They called every single name and, fyi, its nice to be near the front of the alphabet. Across the stage she went, smiling and accepting a handshake from the university President along with her diploma. And that was that....from student to alum in a matter of minutes.

We made our way down onto the field when it was all over and took more pictures and hugged all the friends and congratulated everyone and admired their hard earned diplomas.

The graduates were in a state of semi-shock...'Did I really just graduate? Is college really over?'
I'm so glad we planned a mini vacation this week...

...its amazing how the sight of the sea combined with the knowledge that we are now paying tuition for just one can help ease the pain of sending your baby out into the big wide world.