Florida Life, The House

Our Oasis

The photos yesterday really made me aware of how much time, energy and MONEY we have put into beautifying our backyard over the past three and a half years since moving into our house. Since there was so little that needed to be done on the inside and since we live in Florida and so much time is spent outside, the backyard has been our focus. I just thought it would be fun to compile some before and after photos to truly appreciate the changes. I tried to take a series of photos with the same viewpoint.

Before (1)
After (2)
Before (3)
After (3)
Magnolia Falls House 051
After (4)
Before (2)
After (6)

And just for fun, here are some more photos of the rest of the backyard from different angles. It’s amazing how much the plants and trees have grown and really filled in.

After (5)
From the far corner of the yard, looking back at the house.
After (9)
This is walking into the backyard from the side of the house, standing by our shed. This cute little doggie is my new best friend that I am dog-sitting this week while her owners are on vacation.
After (8)
Here’s looking back at the area that I was just standing at on the right, by the shed.
After (7)
This is our grill area with the privacy screen Carl built, covered in luscious Jasmine vines.
After (10)
Looking at the lanai from the grill area.
After (11)
Looking at the pool from the walkway.
After (12)
One more view because I just stand stand the gorgeousness.

We have one more major project happening in the backyard sometime in the next month (stay tuned for an update) and then I think we will really be done. There really isn’t anything else that we can possible do but just float around the pool and enjoy!

Florida Life, The House

Pool Update

Magnolia Falls House 051
Our pool/backyard when we first moved in.

A basic plaster pool has a lifespan of about 10 to 12 years. Our pool is now about 14 years old and the plaster was showing signs of wear and tear, especially on the edges.


Here’s a close-up of the damage around the pool.


So I convinced my husband to bite the bullet and pay the professionals to resurface our pool over the past month. It was about a two-week process. They started with draining the pool and cutting around the edge of the pool tiles (I’m not sure why they do that…after all, I’m not a professional). By the way, to replace the pool tiles would have been an extra $2,500 so we opted not to do that. I don’t mind the tiles that are currently around the pool. 


Then came the acid washing of the pool surfaces.


Next came patching and plastering over the entire surface of the pool.


Finally it was time to resurface the pool. We paid extra money to use a cool, variegated pebble finish instead of plain plaster. The pebble finish has a 25-year plus lifespan so we will definitely not have to resurface the pool again as it is extremely doubtful we will be in this house in another 25 years.


Here’s a close-up of the pebble-finish.


The last step was to fill the pool!


I really like how blue the pool looks now. It’s a deeper blue color the deeper the water is.


While the pool guys were working on the pool, I spent some time refreshing my directional sign. It’s amazing how faded and muted the colors were after just a few years in the Florida sun. I repainted each one and used my cricut this time for the lettering…so much better!


Here’s another view of the sign.


While I was at it, I also refreshed was the oars that were mounted on the fence.


Now the backyard is all ready for summer! Who wants to go swimming?


It's About Me, The Husband, The Relatives

Weekend Visit

My in-laws spent last week in Naples, Florida with Karl’s sister, Joanne. So on the way home, they stopped in Jacksonville to spend the weekend with us. It just so happened that Friday night was our regularly scheduled Card Night with friends from church (we get together once a month and play a different game each time, rotating houses) so Sue and Karl were able to join in on the fun.


We played our new favorite card game, called 4 Up-4 Down, that Pat and Don taught us previously and we just so happened to have already taught Sue and Karl during our family cruise over Christmas.

Pat also made an amazing dessert and since we have a running joke about how much whipped cream the guys always use, she presented each one with their own can.


On Saturday night, Carl and I had a pre-cruise planning session with Dee and Eddy (in April, there will be 20 of us from church going to celebrate Dee and Eddy’s 50th wedding anniversary…what fun!). So Sue and Karl took Zack out for dinner.

Other than that, there was lots of hanging out of the lanai enjoying the beautiful weather, watching the new tv out there* and playing games.


It was a short and sweet visit but we are always grateful to spend time together when we can. Thanks for stopping by, Sue and Karl!

*Since I haven’t shown a photo on my blog, here’s out new addition to the lanai, which I initially resisted but am now in love with! Thanks, Carl!


If I am going to lay around watching tv, I can’t think of a better place to do it!

Florida Life, It's About Me, The Husband, Traveling

Safety Harbor Weekend Away

Last year around this time, Carl and I were invited to St. Petersburg, FL for the weekend for the Ted Williams Museum and (Baseball) Hitters Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony. This year, we were again invited, although the event was moved to Safety Harbor, FL and the organization put us up in the historic Safety Harbor Resort and Spa.

Where Healing Waters Flow

On May 18, 1539, Spanish explorer Hernando de Soto reached the shores of what is now Tampa Bay, landing near these mineral springs used by the native population for nearly 10,000 years.  Believing he had found the legendary Fountain of Youth somehow missed by Ponce de Leon, de Soto established a camp here, naming its crystal-clear waters Espiritu Santo Springs–“Springs of the Holy Spirit.”  Each of the five springs on this site was identified and said to cure certain ailments, a claim drawing thousands of visitors yearly to the “Health Giving City” of Safety Harbor.  In the twentieth century, Espiritu Santo water was bottled and sold commercially, and later a health spa and hotel were built over the springs. The Safety Harbor Sanitorium opened its doors here in 1926, offering porcelain bath tubs and a large swimming pool for “taking the waters.” The Safety Harbor Resort and Spa, as it is now known, continues to be a prominent visitor attraction in Pinellas County.

I couldn’t help but wonder as we wandered the halls of this historic hotel noted for it’s healing powers and health retreats if my grandma Donna had been a visitor here. It seems like just the type of place she might have come to.

We decided to make a whole weekend of it (as opposed to just one night like last year) and went down on Friday.


On Friday, we took a long walk around the cute harbor city with small shops, plentiful restaurants and quaint houses.

The town boasts this massive 300-500 year old Live Oak tree.

It was fun to walk to dinner just a few blocks from the hotel and enjoy the beautiful night.

We laughed a lot at this sign. Why is this even necessary??

On Saturday, we enjoyed an even longer walk, going a full 5-1/2 miles down the waterfront and around the city. After going back to the Spa and hanging out at the pool for a while, we refreshed ourselves with a well-deserved nap. Then it was time to get ourselves ready and head to Spectrum Field (the Phillies training facility in Clearwater) for the big event.


The main attraction is the autograph signing session where fans wait in really long lines to spend about 30-seconds with many baseball greats. Carl and I were just there for the food, sampling all the items at the different food stations.


Then the main program took place, with several baseball legends, including Richie “Dick” Allen and Tony Perez being inducted into the Hitters Hall of Fame.

Tony Perez, Dick Allen, Ron Guidry, JR Richard

The evening ended with a fireworks display over the field.


It couldn’t have been a more perfect night, weather-wise. Not too hot and not too cool….it was just right!

On Sunday, we met up with my cousin, Kim, and her daughter, Kassie, at her church since it was on the way home. We thought it was interesting how after the worship portion, the stage went dark and then the lights came back on and there was a large screen. As the pastor started talking, it took us a few seconds to realize that he was not actually there but it was an almost 3-D like video of him speaking! Freaky!


Afterwards, we took Kim and Kassie for brunch to visit and catch up before heading home.


It was great to spend some time with them and we are grateful it worked out it everyone’s schedule. It was a nice weekend away and when it’s mostly free, it’s even better! I love these fun opportunities that Carl and I have to spend time together.

Praises, The Husband, Uncategorized

Another Disappointing Season

Almost exactly 8 years ago on my other blog, I shared this story about Carl and his passion for the MN Vikings. At that time, the Vikings were headed to the Championship game against the New Orleans Saints. We were making plans for an all-expenses paid trip to Miami for the Super Bowl. Sadly it was not-to-be that year as the Saints won that game. I thought it was worth sharing this story again.

Thirty nine years. Forty-seven years. That’s how long my husband has been a fan of the Minnesota Vikings. Thirty nine Forty-seven long and often painful years. Thirty nine Forty-seven years of waiting and watching and hoping and praying.

It all started when he was 7 years old and his dad took him and his brother to a Chicago Bears versus Minnesota Viking game at Soldier Field. It was the Purple People Eater years…with 3 trips to the Superbowl in 4 years and domination across the gridiron. Offering to buy each boy a souvenir pin, his brother, Jim, picked a Bears pin and Carl picked a Viking pin. And thus begun a lifelong rivalry between brothers and loyalty to their chosen teams (although Jim has now switched his loyalties to the New England Patriots after his move to Boston).

When I first met Carl in college, his Tommy Kramer (the quarterback at the time) poster was my first glimpse into his obsession. I soon found out that Sundays during football season were off-limits. Watching games was an intense and emotional experience…one that I found too overwhelming and soon learned was better to just stay away from. When we married, I learned to just leave the house on Sundays to avoid the yelling and intensity. A loss on Sundays meant hours of bad mood and anger. And I learned to never, ever make plans on football Sundays. Boy, Kelly is lucky she wasn’t born in the fall on a Sunday. It would have been a toss-up for Carl to attend the birth or watch the Vikings. Actually, he would have demanded that the game be put on in the labor and delivery room :).

In college, when we would talk about the future, our future, we would jokingly imagine Carl working for the Vikings. That would be the ultimate accomplishment for him, we’d think. So, in college, Carl wrote to Mike Lynn, the general manager of the Vikings at the time, asking what an economics major needed to do to get a job with the Minnesota Vikings. Mr. Lynn’s advice was to get a Master’s degree in Sport Management, work hard and make connections in the sport’s field.

At that time, there were only 11 colleges/universities in the country with Sport Management programs, the only one in Illinois being at Western Illinois University. So while I completed my senior year of undergraduate work at the University of Illinois, Carl went off to WIU to complete graduate work in Sport Management, returning to the U of I to visit me every few weeks or so. After that long year of traveling back and forth, I graduated with my Bachelor Degree in Speech-Language Pathology and Carl graduated with a Master’s Degree in Sport Management and we were married a month later in our college town of Champaign, Illinois.

After graduation and our wedding/honeymoon, we headed off to spend the summer in Wichita, Kansas for Carl’s internship with the Wichita Wings Soccer Franchise. And thus began a 10-year career in various professional soccer positions…next with the Memphis Storm (Memphis, TN), University of Memphis Athletic Department, U.S. Soccer during the World Cup tournament in the U.S. in 2004 (Chicago, IL) and finally D.C. United (Northern Virginia). During that time, Carl also earned his C.P.A. certification and worked in public accounting for a number of years in between sports positions, solidifying a solid sport management and accounting expertise. All the while, Carl was making contacts and connections in the professional sports industry.

It was in 1998 while living in Northern Virginia and working for D.C. United as the Director of Finance that Carl got his big break. The Minnesota Vikings were sold to Red McCombs. Carl used his contacts to try to find someone who had a relationship with anybody in the new management. He did talk with a friend from soccer that had previously worked with the guy that was named the Vikings new general manager. Carl sent the general manager an email, dropping his friend’s name. When nothing came of it, we resigned ourselves to live happily ever after in my dream house in Virginia with Carl working in professional soccer for ever and ever. It was after the New Year in 1999 that Carl got the call from the general manager of the MN Vikings. The Vikings had a vacancy in the finance department. There was an opening for Assistant Controller. Was he interested? WAS HE INTERESTED?? Hello…this is what he waited his whole life for. The call that he always dreamed of. They flew him out to Minnesota for an informal interview but basically the job was his if he wanted it.

April 12, 1999, on Kelly’s 9th birthday, Carl began his life-long dream to work for the Minnesota Vikings! And was it a dream-come-true? Well, yes and no. Although Carl loved where he worked, he did not love what he did for them. Although he was promoted after a few years to Controller of the Minnesota Vikings, in charge of all things finance, including payroll, bookkeeping, audits, budgets and money-stuff like that, it was boring and repetitive work. He would have loved to be involved in other aspects of the team, like Salary Caps or Stadium Management. But truly, at that time, with the country in a recession and people losing their jobs all around us, he was grateful for a job with good benefits and fun perks (like an all-expense paid trip to the Super Bowl for him and his wife).

And in case you are wondering, what did working for the team do to his passion for the Vikings? It actually helped to soften him. Being involved with the team on a regular basis and having day-to-day frustrations with his job made him less emotionally attached. Given the choice, he would watch Anthony play hockey over watch an away game on television (nothing would keep him from a home game though…one of those great perks of working for the team was season tickets).

So for any young person with a far-reaching life-long dream, know that your dreams can come true. Your truly can do anything that you set your mind to. Carl is living proof!

(Written in 2010) Hopefully this post helps explain why this season is such a big one for our family. It’s been a long time coming. We’ve waited a long time for this. All the Viking fans have. We are hoping that this is the year they will go ALL THE WAY!

(Written in 2018) Well, that year wasn’t the year and this year wasn’t the year either. We really were hoping to FINALLY see the Vikings in a Super Bowl. And even better, at the new Vikings stadium in Minnesota. We even bought our airfare just in case. But no, another year of disappointment. And what’s even more amazing is that the Jaguars, Carl’s current employer, almost went to the Super Bowl this year as well.  In fact, they did better in their championship game than the Vikings did. Two out of the final four teams were our ticket to the Super Bowl and neither one panned out. Darn it. I hate football.

The Family, Uncategorized

New Year, New Updates

For the first time in forever, I did not send Christmas cards in 2017. There wasn’t really any reason why I didn’t, other than I just never got around to it. As I get older, I find a desire to simplify my life and not get stressed out over things, especially things that I don’t really want to do. So that includes removing undue pressure to send Christmas cards to 100 of my closest family and friends. (Apparently it also includes eliminating the pressure to blog on a regular basis and after this post you can expect me to go back to my slacker ways).

Since I didn’t send out Christmas cards (and a Christmas letter), let me catch you up on some random family news.

Kelly: Kelly is finishing up her graduate work in psychology. She should have her coursework completed this summer. Next fall she will need to complete an unpaid internship and write her thesis paper. And then, if all goes well, she will get her Master’s degree next December. In the meantime, she’s holding down three jobs: substitute teaching for MSP public schools, nannying for Ollie and working as an AuPair coordinator. Keep up the great work, Kelly! 

Anthony: Anthony found out that he only had two classes to take his last semester (Jan to April, 2019). So by taking one extra class each of the next two semesters, he will be able to graduate early, in December, 2018 (with our luck, it will be the same weekend that Kelly graduates).  He is very excited to move-up his relocation to Hawaii by one whole semester. He’s also informed us that upon graduation, he will be proposing to his Hawaiian girlfriend, Kameko. All-righty then! We can’t wait to meet the future Mrs. Miklas.

Zack: After dropping out of tech college back in September, Zack had a January 1st deadline to 1) be enrolled in tech school/college 2) be working full-time or 3)enlist in the military. He went with Option 2 and just began a new full-time job at a local lumber yard, pulling orders and stocking lumber racks. We are hoping that the boredom and tedium will eventually lead him to Option 3 but for the time-being he is working Monday through Fridays from 7:30am to 4:00pm.

That’s all the latest news of the kids! Happy New Year!



It's About Me, Praises, The Family

My 53rd Birthday

We returned from our cruise on my 53rd birthday. I was so happy to have Kelly and Avram return to our house to spend one more night together before heading back to the tundra of Minnesota. We got in one more afternoon of games.


Then we ordered Chinese food for dinner but failed to get any photos of that. The kids gave me some cards and chocolates, which was very sweet, especially my hand-made card from Anthony. I think he was trying to make up for the whole dinner-ware fiasco on the cruise ship :).


Then we ended the evening with a fire in the fire pit.


Anthony even serenaded us with a song on his ukulele.


It was a great day to celebrate me!