Florida weather

20131207_071013When we first moved to Florida nearly three years ago this September, we were just heading into the best of the seasons. Late fall through early summer here in northeast Florida consists of sunny skies, some sweater weather, few bugs, and the rare shower in the evening. We sleep with the windows open listening to the cacophony of noise from the forest behind us and wake up to the quiet.

Even though spring in Michigan means winter might finally be over, it is typically slow in arriving with showers, dampness, puddles and mud. Spring here in Florida means a gradual warming with even more time bike riding, walking, or enjoying meals outside and sun-sun-sun! Granted, summer here is hot and humid once we get into July and August, but like Thom says, it’s our ‘winter’ where we do outdoor chores in the early morning and then move indoors to stay cool and comfortable. Thankfully we have the beach close by where the water warms up to the 80’s, and walking into the surf is as refreshing and as wonderful as it can be. But our ‘winter’ also means rainy season, and if you like storms like I do (thanks, Grampa B),you’ll love the rainy season.

I love the colors of the sky as the wall of clouds move in. I love hearing the thunder in the distance and watching the far off light show moving quickly towards us. I love the weirdness of it when it’ll be raining in the front yard but not in the back yard…at least not yet. And then it’s overhead and all around us, and the lightening and thunder and drenching buckets of rain surround us, and I’ll sit on the lanai as long as I can, watching an opening way, way up in the trees behind us, jumping at the claps of thunder that arrive so quickly after the flash of lightening.

The ocean changes with the weather; something that should be obvious but wasn’t to me. When it’s windy, the water 1-P1010176-002is typically choppy and frothy, with large breakers and high rip current. If there’s little wind, the Atlantic is calm and quiet. The pelicans come in trails, soaring low to fly against the calm water, sometimes coming so close you could reach out and feel the breeze as they pass.

I can’t decide what I like best: The calm, clear water where I can just rest on my board watching for dolphins and pelicans without fighting the breakers and the current while soaking up the sunshine, or the hot, unexpected days of the rainy season with the amazing storms, the breathtaking skies, the violent ocean. I guess I love it all.


Short but sweet

Whenever my Sarah plans a visit with me, I approach it the same way I approach P_20140427_095313_1 (Medium)anything that can change: Make a plan, but don’t plan on it. And while we sort of laugh at that fact, we both know it’s true, and we’re both okay with it. So when she told me months ago that she wanted to come down in April, I said, “Sure!” And then I didn’t hold my breath. But after inviting her daughter Emma and Em’s boyfriend, Jamee, I thought it just might happen. And it did!

Thursday night to Sunday isn’t a very long visit, but we seemed to pack a lot into that short time. We went all over beautiful historic St. Augustine, seeing Ripley’s Believe It Or Not! (very cool), riding the trolley, shopping up and down St. George St, and enjoying a wonderful lunch at an outdoor cafe. Friday night was dinner al fresco at The Golden LionSaturday found us at the beach for hours and hours having a great time in and out of the water. Emma and Jamee were a happy and welcome addition to the fun, and I thoroughly enjoyed getting to know Em all grown up. Thom had eager boogie-boarders in Emma and Jamee, and the two of them took to it like old pros.

Sunday, of course, came too soon, but even those couple of days with my BFF was just what I needed to get me through to August when I’ll see her again.

Drew and family visit Florida!

0019Even though this is the sunshine state, one never knows for sure if the weather is going to cooperate when you have company; especially when that company involves small children. I did my best to arrange things we could do outdoors, and with the help of some great friends, I was able to procure two more bikes and a bike stroller. The ocean is always there, so now we just needed some sunshine and warmth. And God provided!

Drew and family arrived late Sunday night, so after a little adjustment, the kids went to bed without too much ado. Morning actually came later than expected, and after a MOTOWN BREAKFAAAAAST! we decided to try the bikes. Thom had to work, so it 0025was left to Drew and I to prepare the tires, seat heights, etc. We had one glitch that we overcame with a little ingenuity on Drew’s part, and off we went, kids trailing happily behind their dad. Leading the way and with Kristin bringing up the rear, I looked back and couldn’t help myself grinning from ear to ear and saying a silent “thank you, God!” to the beautiful sunshine above.

Some time at the playground and a quick trip to show my kids off to my co-workers, and we were back home for lunch, naps, and finally a trip to the 0004ocean. Thom was already there with the umbrella set up, in his wetsuit and in the chilly water. The waves were great but the water was COLD! Drew tried a couple times to go in, finally saying he couldn’t do it; he was already feeling “hypothermic.” But watching how much fun Thom was having and being ‘this close’ to the action, he resigned himself to becoming numb and took the plunge! Standing on the warmth of the shore we could NOT believe he went for it! After a few failed attempts to catch a wave, he timed it perfectly and caught right on. We watched for over half an hour as he and Thom fought and caught the huge breakers in that chilly Atlantic Ocean. Meanwhile, the kids, especially Dez, enjoyed playing at the shoreline, running from the waves or jumping as they crashed. Dez was a slippery little thing, and he did have a couple scares, but all in all he had a ball. I was in heaven watching Drew in the water, Kris and the grandkids on the beach, and the pelicans and gannets soaring and diving, all creating wonderful entertainment!

The next couple days flew by with more biking, beaching, shelling, swinging, dancing, bubble-blowing, chalk-drawing, crying (yes) and laughing. Meals in and meals out were a great success with the kids behaving beautifully. Drew said the best part for him was it was the first time in four years he and Kristin were both able to sleep in after 7:00 am!

It was a perfect visit. Thom and I had a great time, and I think Kris, Drew, Dez and Evie did, too.

Gotta love the salt life!

       More photos here: 

Welcome any time!

It was so wonderful to have my mom spend last month with us. She’s 87 now, thoughAt Cherie Down Park if you ask her, she’d say she feels like she’s in her 60s or so. She likes to say that fish and company smell after three days, but I beg to differ. Perhaps some company smells after three days, but not my mother. She’s the easiest, most pleasant person to have in any home. Here’s how she spent her days:

She’d wake up around 9:00 a.m., laze a bit and then shuffle on out around 9:30-10:00 in her bathrobe and slippers for her morning coffee, her “Nectar of the gods!”  She’d have a piece of raisin or peanut butter toast, a small glass of milk, and then she’d sit and read the paper, maybe start on a crossword puzzle.  She’d then exclaim how lazy she is and how guilty she feels not being dressed yet.

If she spent more than an hour getting ready for the day, it was because she had to shower. When that was done, she’d come out to the living room and drop into the chair and bemoan how hard it is and what a pain it is to get all clean.  (I was never sure if she was just kidding or if it really wore her out. I’m thinking it really wears her out! She’s 87!!)

She’d find her book that she’s read at least three times or a crossword puzzle or P_20140129_211507perhaps her knitting, settle herself in the chair, and then she would proceed to entertain herself. She’d glance at whatever was on tv, she’d visit with whomever was in the room, and she’d have to pat and talk to the dogs as they begged for her attention. She’d snack here and there but wouldn’t eat much. If you found the living room empty, it was because she was in front of her laptop playing – and winning – at bridge. If you asked if she wanted to go to the store or for a drive, she’d happily oblige saying, “Just point me where I’m going.” After dinner (God bless the cook!) she’d watch tv, do her crosswords, reminisce a bit, tell me I worked too hard.

Once she had her bedtime snack of peanut butter and honey toast with milk, and after she told you how spoiled she was, we would say our goodnights, and I would hear the echo of my childhood in her quiet, “God bless you.”

She’d tell you how lovely your home is, your town, your partner, your dogs, and how happy she is for you.

My mother has a gracious and joyful spirit. She remembers mostly the good and happy times, and she loves to relive them. She repeats herself often, forgets what you’ve told her and needs to be reminded of your grandkids’ names. But she is all the things I hope to be when I’m her age: Happy, grateful, kind, loving, non-judgmental, sweet.

And welcome any time.  

Meg’s long-overdue short visit

We’re standing at JAX airport watching all the passengers filing by us, coming in from who knows where, some being greeted, some not, most on their phones. I scan each face as they turn the corner, not quite able to make out features from a distance but knowing I’d recognize her walk. Thom asks, “Is that her?” “No.” “Is that her?” “No.” “You know, it’s been over a year. Maybe she’s changed.” “No. I’ll know her when I see her.”

Then, around the corner, I see her coming towards me. Even now, when they’re all grown and away from me, the sight of any of my kids reminds me that some serious pieces of my heart are out there, walking around, most likely oblivious to that fact. But I see my only daughter after being apart for over a year, and suddenly my heart fills back up.

I move forward, talking to myself, “There she is. There’s my girl. There’s my girl”  I wrap her in my arms, breathe in the familiar scent of her, feel her skin against my lips — utter completeness that I didn’t know I was missing until just that second. And I have perma-grin!

And so we spend the next four days at the beach, with a couple side trips to the Daytona Flea Market, some meals out, movies in, and more beach. The days fly by just like I knew they would, but I make sure to fill them with whatever she wants. I hope she had a good time. I think she did.

More pics here and a video here!