Florida Life, The Family, The Friends, The Relatives

Bunco Party

For my visiting family’s last evening in Jacksonville, I decided to host a Bunco Party with our neighbors and friends. Prior to their visit, when I sent John a list of possible activities for the week and it included Bunco Party, he said everything sounds great but the Bunco Party. What he didn’t realize was that was the one activity that was NOT optional. Poor John. Made to socialize and made to play games…two of his favorite things.

Bunco (1)
Beautiful hydrangeas from Laurie

We invited our friends from Card Club (Dee, Eddy, Pat and Don) and our neighbors (Bill, Dedie, Bill, Susan, Jim and Pam) and some friends (Lisa and Doug).

Bunco (4)

All told, we had 17 players, or 4 tables of 4 players.

Bunco (3)

John was the permanent substitute, filling in for Susan until she arrived and for Pam while she had to leave for a while.

Bunco (2)

John didn’t want to admit it but he actually had fun, especially when he got Bunco and was able to wear the pretty necklace.

Everyone put in $5 for prizes and at the end of the evening, I won $25 for Most Buncos and $10 for First Bunco and Carl won $10 for Most Wins. All of our guests thought it was rigged and said if we wanted them to pay us to come over, we should have just asked. Sorry friends!

Family (1)

It was a really fun week having mom, John and Laurie visit. I am so happy that they all came to spend time with us.

Family (4)

I’m hoping that now that they are on the same side of the country as us, we will be able to get together on a more regular basis. We look forward to visiting them in Edwardsville, IL once their new home is completed.

Thank you all for coming. We will miss you.

 

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Carl’s 55th Birthday

Yesterday was Carl’s 55th Birthday so he celebrated by taking the day off of work and spending the day with the rest of us in St. Augustine. A while back, I saw a Living Social Deal for a Dolphin Safari and Scenic Boat Tour which I purchased for Carl, mom and I to use to celebrate her birthday and mother’s day while she was here. When I found out John and Laurie were visiting too, we invited them but John gets sea-sick so they decided to do site-seeing instead.

Dolphin Tour (11)

We loaded a little Vietnam-era boat with about 20 people to tour the intercoastal waters searching for dolphins.

Dolphin Tour (10)

We were not disappointed and saw many pods cruising the waterways. There is just something so exciting about seeing dolphins bopping out of the water, especially in pairs.

Dolphin Tour (9)

We also got a unique view of St. Augustine from the water, including the Bridge of Lions in it’s up position,  and learned some interesting facts along the way.Dolphin Tour (6) It was a great experience and we all loved it.

Dolphin Tour (13)

After our boat tour, we met up with John and Laurie for lunch at a little cafe.

Lunch in St. Auggie

We had a brief period of rain while we walked over to the fort but luckily it stopped for the rest of our exploring.

Fort (2)

Carl had never been inside the fort as an adult so he loved getting to learn more of the history of Castillo de San Marcos.

Then began the drinking part of our afternoon :). First we stopped for a drink at the Martini Bar.

Martini Bar (2)

Then it was onto a tour of the St. Augustine Distillery, where we sampled 4 different cocktails.

Distillery (3)

We ended our visit with dinner at our favorite St. Augustine Restaurant, Aunt Kate’s, thanks to John and Laurie. After returning home and playing some dominoes, I made Carl his birthday dessert of chocolate whip. The elusive son even made a guest appearance for his father’s birthday!

Bday Dinner (3)

It was a great day in St. Augustine together and celebrating Carl’s birthday.

We love you Carl and think 55 looks great on you! Happy Birthday!

 

Florida Life, The Family, The Relatives

Beach and Game Day

Unfortunately, Mom, John and Laurie decided to visit during the stormiest week in Florida in a long while. The forecast called for clouds and rain pretty much all week. So we were happy to see the shining sun when we woke up Wednesday morning. Mom decided to stay home and soak in some rays at the pool while I took John and Laurie for a walk on the beach.

John, who I mentioned was an avid geocacher, wanted to look for a few geocaches. For the first one, we stood examining a mural on a brick wall in the heat with no luck. We tried again near a bench at the beach, also with no luck. I decided that John has a dumb hobby.

After stopping for lunch at the beach, we headed home so that John could be the first person of the season to jump into the pool. Mom was technically the first one in the pool but she was on top of a float so John gets full credit.

I then bribed Laurie to sit outside by playing scrabble with her.

She must have been overcome by the heat because I actually beat her!

After taking a break to smoke steaks, served with mushrooms, onions, sweet potatoes and green beans, it was game night. We started with three rounds of the game Bang. John was the first winner, playing the role of Renegade.

We then played three games of Camp Cards and three games of 4 Up/4 Down (which John googled and found out was also called *hithead).

It was a fun day together. I am grateful that the weather held out for most of the day until dinner time when the skies opened up and it poured like crazy for several hours. Let’s hope we get as lucky on Thursday as we head down to St. Augustine for the day to celebrate Carl’s birthday.

The Family, The Relatives

Visitors!

Carl made a quick trip to Minneapolis last weekend to videotape a dance recital. He stayed with our friends, Kent and Julie.

May 12 (1)

After the dance recital, Kent and Julie were gracious enough to invite Kelly and Avram to join them all for dinner.

May 12 (2)

It was a very short and sweet trip to MSP and Carl is considering whether he will continue with that dance studio next year.

Meanwhile, back in Jacksonville, my mother arrived for a visit on Saturday.

Mom's Day (1)

It was nice to spend Mother’s day with her relaxing out by the pool with cocktails. Carl was home in time to buy us Chinese food for dinner.

On Monday, my brother, John, and his wife, Laurie, arrived as well.

Arrival

They recently relocated from Portland, OR to southern IL and are waiting for their new house to be completed so they decided to come visit Jacksonville.

So yesterday, we began with a tour of TIAA Bank Field (formerly known as Everbank Field).

Everbank Field (4)

We saw some of the old standby sites, like the view from the Pool Deck area and Carl’s office.

Everbank Field (3)

But this was the first time that I was able to take a peek inside the owner’s suite.

Everbank Field (2)

Side note: Since John, Laurie, Carl and I all graduated from the University of Illinois, they were interested to learn that the owner, Shad Khan, is a fellow Illini. Cool!

Since John, an avid geocacher, saw there was a geocache just a few steps away, we walked over to see the Veteran’s Memorial outside the stadium.

Veteran's Memorial

It’s the first time I’ve ever seen that during my almost 4 years here!

After our tour of the stadium and a quick stop for lunch, we went on a tour of the Sally Corp. This is a local factory in downtown Jacksonville that makes animatronics for amusement and theme parks (we learned that there is a difference between the two…with theme parks being centered around one theme).

Sally Corp Robot Factory (1)

We learned about the whole process and saw several examples in action, including this T-Rex.

Sally Corp Robot Factory (2)

It was an interesting tour that I read about in an article in 10 FREE Things to do in Jacksonville. So glad that we went.

We then went back home and played a round of Settlers of Catan.

Catan

I was the winner…so yay!!

Finally, we ended our night with Taco Tuesday with our friends and neighbors. There were 13 of us and lots of tacos were consumed, with John winning the race with 6 tacos consumed. Way to go John!

 

 

It's About Me, The Friends, The Husband, Traveling

Third Port-of-Call: Cozumel, Mexico

Our final port-of-call was Cozumel, Mexico. After completing his scuba-diving certification right before our cruise, Carl was excited to find out that Cozumel is in the Top 10 scuba locations in the world. And even better, he found out that Russ, who was coming on the cruise, was a certified scuba diver as well. So the two of them arranged to go on a two-tank dive in Cozumel.

Scuba (2)

After getting off the ship, they walked to a boat launch and then drove with their group about 1/2 hour to the first location at Cedar Pass. After getting suited up, they were under water for 45-minutes where they saw some sea turtles, a lobster and lots of fish and coral.

Scuba (1)

After getting back on board and taking a 60-minute break to dissipate the nitrogen build up in their bodies, they went to the next location with a huge drop off called the San Francisco Wall. They were under water for another 45-minutes and saw more coral and fish, including some giant grouper.

Scuba (3)
Carmello, the dive master

They had a fantastic time and Carl is so excited to have a new dive buddy to go with in the near future.

Scuba (4)

Since Russ ditched his family to go with Carl, I decided to help his wife, Allyson, take her four kids snorkeling. We took a taxi to the Money Bar, which is supposed to have some of the best snorkeling in the area.

Money Bar

It was the least I could do to help Allyson after Carl stole her husband away for the day. We all had fun in Cozumel and Carl can’t wait to go back again!

It's About Me, The Friends, The Husband, Traveling

Second Port-of-Call: Grand Cayman

During a previous family cruise that stopped in Grand Cayman, we were scheduled to take an excursion to Stingray City but due to a broken boat motor, it ended up being canceled and we never got to go. So with a stop in Grand Cayman on this cruise and interest from everybody in our group except Ben’s grandma, I decided to organize a private excursion to Stingray City through Native Way Sports.

Cayman (1)It was just our group of 21 on a charted boat with a fantastic crew. Our first stop was Stingray City, a sandbar visited by dozens and dozens of stingrays who are used to large crowds coming to feed them so there was no danger involved.

Cayman (16)
My stud muffin!

Cayman (14)Our guide, David, promptly picked up a Stingray, taught us about it, then let us all touch it and feed it.

Cayman (8)

Next, the boat brought us to the coral reef for about a half-hour of snorkeling. We all saw plenty of fish, an eel, a stingray and lots of coral.

Our final stop was at Starfish point, where, you guessed it, we saw lots of starfish!

Cayman (20)

This excursion was the highlight of the whole cruise for most of us. It was such a neat experience and I’m so glad that it all worked out this time.

Cayman (26)

Thanks to Native Way Sports for a memorable experience.

 

It's About Me, The Friends, The Husband, Traveling

First Port-of-Call: Jamaica

After one sea day, our first port-of-call was in Jamaica.

Jamaica (1)

For the past 9 months, our church has hosted a family from Jamaica while pastor-in-training, Sheldon, completed an internship after going through the Sovereign Grace Pastor’s college. Sheldon, Sara and their two young boys just returned to Jamaica last week and, along with two other new pastors, will be planting a new Sovereign Grace church in Jamaica later this year. So it was really fun to catch up with them on their home turf.

Jamaica (6)We met up at the Margaritaville at the port for lunch together.

Jamaica (12)We are so glad that they made the drive over to visit with us during our stop in Jamaica.

Jamaica (11)We can’t wait to see what God is going to do with them and their church plant in bringing the gospel message to their fellow Jamaicans.