Jaxty's Place

My place to ramble about my family, my crafts, my travels and life.

Happy 21st Birthday!

Our second child, Anthony, has reached the momentous milestone of his 21st birthday!

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After finishing his second year of college this April, Anthony immediately flew to Seattle to spend two weeks on the West Coast visiting with a friend from college.

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From there, he was blessed to return to Camp Homelani for his second year working for the Salvation Army camp in Hawaii.

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He had another amazing year living just a few steps from the beach on the North Shore, making many new friends, like this guy….

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After camp finished for the summer, he stayed with his friend Josh for another week to celebrate his 21st birthday in Hawaii, the place that has claimed a special place in his heart.

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On Friday, he will be leaving Hawaii and flying to Chicago for a long weekend to visit his birth family. Next Tuesday, he will be returning to Jacksonville for a week. And then Anthony and I will make the 3-day/30-hour drive from JAX to Phoenix with his pickup truck. The redeeming part for me is that I will then get to spend a week being pampered by my Aunt Sandy in Tucson so it will be worth it in the end.

We are so excited to welcome Anthony home next week and are very grateful to God for giving Anthony so many amazing opportunities.

Happy Birthday, Anthony! We love you! We look forward to celebrating with you next week!

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My Maid of Honor

Back in 1982, at the University of Illinois, in my former life, I was studying to be a Speech-Language Pathologist. One of the first friends that I made in the program was Jean. Being a small program with everyone required to take many of the same classes, Jean and I had many classes together for our four years of undergraduate work.

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Jean and I and another friend who neither of us can remember her name (but Carl thinks it’s Pam)

After living in the dorms for my first three years of college, I finally moved into an apartment with Jean and another of her friends, Clair, my last year of college. Since I met Carl my first month of college and we were always together, Jean was very familiar with my future-husband. Jean and Clair drove up to Chicago for my wedding shower thrown by my mother and step-mother.

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Jean even was the maid of honor in our wedding.

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I’m not sure what Jean thinks but I still love my lavender¬†bridesmaid dresses!

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Carl and I visited Jean and her family through the years. The first time was our first homecoming at the University of Illinois in 1987, during my androgynous phase, where I was sporting an incredibly horrific boy’s haircut and wearing a men’s polo shirt. Jean was as cute as ever though!

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This time was in Chicago when Jean was married and mother to her first child, Calvin and we had just brought Anthony home.

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I also visited her twice when we lived in Virginia and Jean and her family lived in Pennsylvania.

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However, most of our married lives, we’ve been separated by busy lives and many, many miles, usually living in different states from one another. So I was thrilled when Jean contacted me recently to say that she’d be in Jacksonville visiting her sister, who coincidentally lives about 3 miles from me, and would love to get together.

Jean and her daughters, Anna and Sarah, came for dinner on Sunday night and it was so good to catch up with her after 19 years.

I am so thankful for time spent reconnecting with a long-lost friend! Thanks for visiting Jean and girls!

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I’m Ready for Some Grandkids!

On Friday morning, while drinking my tea and perusing Facebook, I came across this cry for help.

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With nothing on my schedule except for cleaning my own house, which I’d gladly skip, I texted my friend, Allie and told her she could bring her kids to my house for the day for some swimming so she could get the house cleaned in preparation for their relocation to Tennessee. A little while later, she dropped off a carload of her 5 youngest children – aged 2 to 10 years (she has two others as well…one who was working and one who stayed to help her clean).

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After a few hours in the pool, the kids had worked up an appetite and were ready for some lunch so we ate some pizza on the porch.

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A little while later, the Popsicles came out.

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Finally, the kids had enough pool time so we went inside to watch a movie and eat popcorn.

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Little Wesley was out like a light within a few minutes.

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After the movie, we played a few rounds of Whoonu.

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Finally, after about 6 hours, mom returned for the kiddos. If it took her 6 hours without the kids, I can’t imagine how long it would have taken her with 5 extra little ones running around. I was so glad to have been able to help and had a fun day hanging out with some sweet kids.IMG_7026However, I will admit that after they left, I made myself a cocktail and spent some time enjoying the peace and quiet in the pool with my husband, who was home from work by that time. It’s great to be able to spend a fun day with some kids and then send them home. Ha! Just like being a grandparent.

 

We are really sad to be losing a lovely church family to Tennessee but look forward to having a chance to visit them in the Nashville area after they are settled.

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I’m Gonna Keep On Loving You!

The first concert I ever went to see was REO Speedwagon when I was a freshman or sophomore in high school. So when Carl texted me last week to say he could get 6 free tickets to see REO Speedwagon and Styx at the new Daily’s Place Ampitheater, which is now part of Everbank Field, where the Jaguars play, I was very excited. When we asked the neighbors if they were all interested, they all jumped at the chance as well.

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When we arrived at the stadium to meet Carl, he was still working out at the YMCA. With time to kill and a passing trolley going to a local bar, it didn’t take the neighbors long to hop aboard and head on over for the first drinks. After one drink, we took the trolley back to the stadium so Carl could give them a tour of the offices.

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We went towards the player’s locker room/training area, where Carl instructed us to be very quiet, since we weren’t really supposed to be in that area.

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It worked well for about a minute-and-a-half but then they all started to get rowdy and the security guard came out and glared at us so we left. We walked on over to the Ampitheater and grabbed another cocktail. Dedie and I selected the “Dragon Juice” in a special mug. Little did I know at the time that it cost $18!! Shoot, I’m glad that I didn’t pay for it! (Thanks neighbors!)

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We then found our seats and enjoyed a great show.

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It was a fun evening with fun people! We look forward to attending more concerts in the near future. There are quite a few 80s bands coming and we are hoping to go to more shows soon.

Carl even wore his special booze and cigar Hawaiian shirt. Better there than the time he accidentally wore it to church!

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The Rest of our Chicago Trip

Some other highlights from our week in Chicago….

Kelly and Avram went clubbing downtown Chicago with Bryanna and friends. It’s nice to see cousins bonding over dancing and drinking.


Game nights!

Bryanna and her boyfriend even came for dinner and a game on our last evening. So nice of them to make time for Aunt Kristy.

Visiting with friends – Scott and family. We even ate REAL Chicago pizza and didn’t even feel guilty. Now the cookie cake for dessert is a different story.

Watched a few movies.


Relaxed around the pool at mom’s complex.


And Carl even got regular work-outs in!


It was a great week in Chicago and we are so grateful for the time spent with family and friends. I am so grateful Carl had the whole week off and we made the trip up north. Thanks for all the hospitality, mom!

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Architectural Boat Tour

On Wednesday, Carl and I took the Metra train downtown to take an architectural boat tour. After I did that last fall with my aunt Sandra, I thought Carl might enjoy it so we used the anniversary gift of money from my mom to buy ourselves tickets.


After getting off the train, we were going to walk a few blocks and then take an Uber to Navy Pier. However, it was a beautiful day and we had time to kill so we ended up walking the whole three miles to Navy Pier. Since this tour originated from Navy Pier, it included a speed boat ride up and down the coast, showing the skyline.


After cruising the coast, we went through the locks to enter the Chicago River. Then we learned about the many of the high-rises along the river. Since this tour included the speed boat ride, we didn’t go as far down the river as the tour with my Aunt Sandy, but it was still very interesting. It was a great anniversary present. Thanks mom!

After the boat tour, we walked down Michigan avenue and around the city.


We had really hoped to win tickets to see Hamilton on that day but it was not to be. Super sad face.


I discovered the soundtrack to Hamilton on Amazon Prime a few months ago and have been obsessively listening to it at least once a week (sometimes more) since then. I was so excited to find out that it was playing in Chicago. Until I found out tickets were running from around $300 on up each. Since we could go on a weekend cruise for $500, we just couldn’t pay that much for tickets. However, I found out that they have a lottery for 44 tickets for $10 each every show. So Carl and I had 7 opportunities while we were in town. But with an average of 10,000 people entering every lottery, we didn’t win. Darn it. The show is coming to Orlando in 2018 though so we WILL be going. In the meantime, I’ll listen to the soundtrack another 150 times.

It was a fun day exploring a beautiful city on an equally beautiful day.

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Independence Day

Carl and I started our Independence Day holiday by attending a local parade that we heard from friends was the largest in the area.


Carl and I were very sad that my sister-in-law, Lisa, and my two nephews (neither of which Carl has met, the youngest I haven’t met) were out of town with her family while we were visiting. But that didn’t stop my brother Rob from hosting a BBQ on the 4th of July.


Rob’s daughter, Bryanna, and her boyfriend, Jimmy, joined us.


Rob did an amazing job, grilling hamburgers, hot dogs, chicken wings, butterfly shrimp and vegetables. Nicely done, Rob!


It was nice to spend time at Rob’s lovely home. Nothing like good food and good company!


On the way home, we decided to take a small detour to visit the house we lived in with Kelly when she was ages 1 to 6.


The house looked exactly the same, with the same paint job from 20 years ago! We think it might be the same owners living there. I guess they must really like the house just the way Carl and I left it :).

Since it was so close, we also found the townhouse we lived in during my high school years.


After mom took us to a different unit and claimed it was where we lived and we repeatedly questioned the people in the clubhouse over the location of the clubhouse moving since it wasn’t where we remembered it to be, we walked over the hill back to our car and realized our former unit was right in front of us. Mom and I have the worst memories ever!

Then, since it was vacation after all, we decided to be naughty and get Dairy Queen.


If you are going to eat carbs, that’s a great way to go!

Instead of watching fireworks, since it was Kelly and Avram’s last night with us, we just stayed home and played some games. It was so good to spend time with them both and we are very grateful they came to Chicago. God Bless America!

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Chicago Trip

At long last…a new blog post. In fact, I have a whole bunch coming all week. Last week, Carl had the whole week off of work. So we decided to take advantage of the days off to fly to Chicago to visit family and friends. And even better, was the fact that Kelly and her boyfriend drove over from MSP as well to be with us through the 4th of July holiday.

On Sunday, my Aunt Gale hosted a BBQ for my dad’s side of the family. 

My dad and his new roommate, Tony, came. It was nice to meet Tony and I’m glad my dad has someone that seems to actually enjoy living with him!


Two out of three of Gale’s sons were there.

Jeff, the oldest, and his girlfriend, Jill

Justin, the middle son; Jessica, his wife; their boys


It was great seeing everyone.


We are grateful to Gale for hosting and to Carl for manning the Grill. Family time is the best time!

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MSP Weekend #2

Carl spent the past weekend in Minneapolis again for our largest dance recital. Six shows, 15 hours of dancing and 250 routines!! That’s a lot of dancing to watch…poor guy.

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When he wasn’t doing that, he was able to visit with some friends again. He had dinner with Kent and Julie and even got a ride on their boat.

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He saw his friend, Paul. He attended our former church.  He visited with Kelly and Avram.

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He also was able to stop by both rental properties to meet the current tenants at both places (who we haven’t met in person) and do some minor maintenance issues at the Bloomington house that came up in the inspection at the “sale” prior to executing our Contract for Deed.

Our former neighbors, Neil and Lou, were again gracious enough to allow him to crash at their house but again HE DID NOT GET A PHOTO! (Hi Lou!) Carl was actually in the neighborhood at the exact moment that the new owners of our former house were having a hot tub lifted over the top of the house and placed on the back deck by a huge crane. Very exciting!


And while he was doing that, I was laying on the couch watching hours upon hours of “Gilmore Girls.” I am obsessed! It was a good weekend all around :).

 

 

 

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Zack’s Graduation Weekend

Thursday evening was Zack’s graduation ceremony but we still had the whole weekend with the grandparents to celebrate Zack. On Friday, my cousin, Kim, from Tampa drove over for the night and we all spent the whole, hot and sunny day floating around the pool together and enjoying some cool cocktails.

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Zack requested Jucy Lucy burgers (a Minneapolis masterpiece) and french fries for his celebratory dinner #1.

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After dinner, I presented him with his stack of congratulatory cards that have been arriving for the past few weeks and he ended up with a nice pile of cash and checks thanks to his generous relatives and friends. He plans to buy himself a new computer and then spend the rest on Publix fried chicken.

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Then we all went next door to our neighbor’s house for a grad party since their daughter, Mckenzie also graduated high school this week.

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Zack got a congratulatory hug from Mckenzie’s mom, Susan.

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The adults all got congratulatory cocktails from Susan.

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After visiting at the party for a while, we returned home to play some camp cards until Carl couldn’t take any more celebrating and we all went to bed.

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On Saturday, we spent another day floating around the pool until Kim had to leave to return home and the rest of us went out for celebratory dinner #2 at Zack’s choice of Olive Garden.

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That evening’s game was a complete round of dominoes for which I accumulated the massive amount of 495 points and sealed the position as worst domino score in my life.

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On Sunday we had to say goodbye to my mom, Sandy. Carl’s parents are still here until tomorrow morning.

It was a really fun weekend with three out of four grandparents here to celebrate Zack. We are grateful that they all could come. It was a great time together!

 

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