Jaxty's Place

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

He did it!


Zack actually graduated high school!


We are so very grateful for Lighthouse Christian School for getting him through his last two years of high school and awarding him his diploma.


We are not sure how he would have done it without the blessing of that school.


The extremely small class sizes, personalized educational plan and love and patience of the teachers was invaluable.


It was just what Zack needed to get through this major milestone.


We are so happy that 3 out of 4 of his grandparents could be there for his big day.


Since it was “Red Nose Day” for charity, Grandma Sandy thought it only appropriate that we got one picture with our red noses.


Zack’s graduation present was his very first suit…something that he has really wanted for the past year. He sure looked good in it!


Now Zack looks dapper when he asks “who wants to hire me?”


Congratulations Zack on your accomplishment!



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Final Mom and Sis post…for this time!

A visit to Jacksonville wouldn’t be complete without a trip to the beach.



On Wednesday, we spent several hours at the beach relaxing.


Some of us live in Florida and have plenty of time ahead to soak in the sun so I opted to sit in the shade and read instead.


A visit to the Miklas family also wouldn’t be complete without plenty of game nights.

Games (1)

We taught Sis Camp cards and played Rummikub, Sequence and Dominoes as well.

Games (2)

We went to “Tuscan Tuesday” with some neighbors (at a local pizza/Italian restaurant). We enjoyed home-cooked dinners together the other nights, sharing some of our favorite low-carb meals with mom and Sis. Sis was such a sweet and thoughtful guest, always trying to help out where needed and she was a pleasure to spend time with all week. Mom is a good guest in other ways…always quick to open her wallet and provide lots of fun experiences and lunch/cocktails out. Thank you mom and Sis for a great visit. I had a great time and you are both welcome back any time.



At the beginning of March, I posted the following on Instagram…


My mother commented that she wanted to play Bunco when she came to visit. Since we had such fun the first time, I decided to celebrate mom and Sis’ last night in JAX by inviting our neighbors and some friends over for another Bunco night.


Seeing as we were without air conditioning all week* during mom and Sis’ visit, I kept my eye on the rising temperatures. Of course, it reached 92 on the day of the Bunco party.


We did our best to keep our guests hydrated and it actually was not unbearable at the outside two tables.


The inside head table was a little toasty so people would be rooting to lose so they could move to one of the tables outside…ha!


After we completed 4 rounds and awarded prizes, with Carl winning $5 for getting the first Bunco and me winning $10 for the most wins, half the guests left but our favorite neighbors stuck around for a few more hours.IMG_6493

It was a fantastic evening of fun, laughs and a cocktail or two (or twelve in some instances)! I’m so grateful for great neighbors who make life in JAX so fun. And I’m glad that they enjoy spending time with my relatives as well. Good times!

*Some friends from church recently replaced our aging a/c unit, giving us a fantastic deal. However, right before mom and Sis arrived, they discovered an issue that needed to be addressed but couldn’t get to it until later in the month so we were without a/c for a few weeks. It really was not bad temperature-wise until of course, we had a houseful of company one night. We all managed to get through it and they will now have something to harass us about for years to come!


Amelia Island and more

On Thursday, mom, Sis and I spent the day exploring parts of northern Florida together. Our main destination was Fernandina Beach on Amelia Island but I decided to make a few touristy stops along the way.

Our first stop was the Kingsley Plantation.

Kingsley Plantation (also known as the Zephaniah Kingsley Plantation Home and Buildings) is the site of a former estate in Jacksonville, Florida, that was named for an early owner, Zephaniah Kingsley, who spent 25 years there.  The longest span of ownership was under Kingsley and his family, a polygamous and multiracial household controlled by and resistant to the issues of race and slavery. Free blacks and several private owners lived at the plantation until it was transferred to the State of Florida in 1955.  The most prominent features of Kingsley Plantation are the owner’s house—a structure of architectural significance built probably between 1797 and 1798 that is cited as being the oldest surviving plantation house in the state


and an attached kitchen house, barn, and remains of 25 anthropologically valuable slave cabins that endured beyond the U.S. Civil War (1861–1865).


The foundations of the house, kitchen, barn and the slave quarters were constructed of cement tabby, making them notably durable.

It was a very interesting and informative visit that taught us a little about Florida history.

Our next stop was the beach at Big Talbot Island State Park. I had heard that this was a pretty place to stop and see driftwood. I had no idea what that meant exactly but it was way cooler than I thought.


Words and photos do not adequately do it justice but it is an approximately mile-long beach covered in bleached skeletons of massive felled oak trees that gives a post-apocalyptic feel, like something right out of Planet of the Apes.


It was well worth the stop and 15-20 minute walk from the parking lot down to the beach in 90-degree heat. And it was actually much cooler by the water.


We then finally made our way up to Fernandina Beach on Amelia Island and stopped for a late lunch (complete with afternoon cocktails) on the inter-coastal waterway.


We walked along the dock and visited some of the small shops.


We couldn’t pass Florida’s Oldest Bar without stopping in for a drink, of course.


After the 1 hour plus drive home, we had one last stop for the day, which was to show Sis Clark’s Fish Camp and it’s extensive collection of taxidermy.


We stopped to say hi to the live alligator inside as well.


And since we were there, we decided to have another cocktail…why not?!


It was a very full and fun day exploring Florida with mom and Sis.




St. Augustine with Mom and Sis

On Saturday, my mother and her cousin, Sis, arrived for a week’s visit.


To take a break from hanging out at the pool and enjoying cocktails, we made the trek down to St. Augustine on Monday.

We did the usual St. Augustine must-sees, like Castillo San Marco



and the San Sebastian Winery taste-testing.



However, for the first time, we stopped and enjoyed an adult beverage at the Martini Bar, with view of the Mantanza River.


Thanks to my “Local Flavor” half-price deals, we also enjoyed the Old Town Trolley tour around the city, with historic information about various aspects of St. Augustine life. It was very informative and I learned new information and discovered a few new “must-see spots” like the oldest Live Oak tree in St. Augustine, dating back to the 1500s.


Notice how this massive tree has a palm tree growing in the middle of it, from a seed dropped by a passing bird.

At the Ripley’s Museum (the original, first Ripley’s location) lot, we also discovered a 14-foot in diameter Redwood tree stump that had been carved into a 4-room house.


Ripley’s also had this hiding behind some bushes in the corner of their property.


An exact replica of Michelangelo’s “David,” an 18-foot tall hand-carved marble statue weighing 20,000 pounds has made its way to Castle Warden, home of Ripley’s Believe It or Not! odditorium. It is one of only two in the world carved as the original was – from a solid piece of pure Carrara Marble quarried from Pietra Santa in Tuscany, Italy. It’s the same quarry where Michelangelo acquired the marble for his masterpiece.

After our exploring of St. Augustine, it was time for dinner at Aunt Kate’s.


It was a great day showing Sis around St. Augustine and enjoying the really beautiful day (until dinner when the breeze was a little too cool and brisk to really enjoy sitting outside). Thanks for the fun girl’s day out, mom and Sis!


Spring Break

Anthony’s home for spring break!


That means that he is doing lots of surfing.


Since Sue and Karl weren’t able to come for their annual Christmas visit, they came for a week’s visit as well. With Karl’s recent broken leg, we convinced them to actually take an airplane instead of spending 12 hours driving in the car each way. Since they flew into Orlando, they only had to spend 2 hours in the car each way :).


We spent lots of time soaking in the Florida sunshine in the backyard.


We had a cold snap for two days and were able to enjoy a cozy fire one evening.

SueKarl (2)

We spent the evenings playing games together and watching a few movies.

SueKarl (1)

I did take Sue and Karl to the two 55+ Adult Communities (Dell Webb and Cascades at World Golf Village) in the hopes of convincing them to move to Florida. Although Sue and I found a house that we really liked at Cascades, it’s going to take some convincing to get Karl on board with a major move.  We’d love it if they were closer so that we could spend more time together and help them more as they need it, but it’s out of our hands. Time will tell what they decide!

We are grateful to have had Anthony, Sue and Karl with us for a while. Thanks for coming to JAX, family!



Kelly Visits Memphis

Since the in-laws weren’t able to come for Christmas, the kids really missed spending time with their grandparents. So I was very impressed and proud of Kelly and Avram for deciding to go to Memphis for a long-weekend to visit with the grandparents and Aunt Leslie.


While in Memphis, they visited our first house together, the one were we lived when Kelly was born.


They did some thrift-store shopping at some of Grandma Sue’s favorite places.


They played games together.



And of course, there was lots of yummy food and some “adult beverages” for those that wanted them.


I’m so glad that my kids enjoy time with their grandparents and take time out of their busy schedules to visit and/or call them on occasion. I think we did something right to raise such thoughtful, caring children that value family-time together.


I’m glad that you all had a great visit!


North vs. South

It’s temperatures like that that make me grateful to be living in Florida now.

Instead of breaking records for the number of below zero days in a season or the amount of snowfall in one day, Jacksonville is breaking records for warmest December days on record.


While my Minnesota friends are posting about bitter cold, I am sitting by the pool reading a good book or walking along the ocean with my husband. And I could not be happier!

I am so excited that Kelly gets to escape from the MN winter to join us in Jacksonville starting tomorrow. We can’t wait to see you, Kelly!


A Very UnMerry Christmas

For as long as Carl and I have been married, we have celebrated Christmas with his parents. Of course, it was easy the first 5 years since we were living near them (and even with them the first Christmas) in Germantown, TN at the time.


1987, which is actually our second Christmas as a married couple but although we were together in 1986, there was not one single photo of all of us.


1989, pregnant with Kelly and celebrating in our first house.


1990 and Kelly’s 1st Christmas!

When we moved to the Chicago area in 1991, Sue and Karl either drove up to us for Christmas or we drove back down to Germantown on the 26th, alternating each year.


1991 in our second house in Carol Stream…we even brought Grandma Miklas from the nursing home to celebrate with us.


1992 in Memphis at Jim and Linda’s apartment

After we moved to Virginia in 1996, Sue and Karl continued to make the trek to our house, especially since we had two of their grandchildren. They were blessed at this time though since Jim’s job with the airlines gave them free flights for a few years.


1996 in Ashburn, VA, our third house

When we moved to MN in 1999, they still came, despite the frigid temperatures and often mounds and mounds of snow!


1999, in our fourth house in Chaska, MN

I remember the one year that the neighbors had to help push their car up the hill by our house since the roads were so slick. They were troopers to faithfully come for 15 years.



We were all thrilled to escape the MN winters with our move to Florida in 2014 and continue to celebrate together.


So we were all so very saddened this week when my father-in-law, Karl, fell outside while raking the yard and broke the femur in his right leg. He underwent surgery on Thursday to have a plate and pins put in his leg. He is expected to spend around 5 days in the hospital and then go to a rehab facility for at least a week before going home to recuperate. Needless to say, they won’t be coming to spend Christmas with us, for the first time in 30 years :(.

It will be very strange not to have them with us for Christmas this year. And before you all suggest that we go to them, we discussed it but do not feel that Sue needs the added stress of 6 adults (our family of 5 plus Kelly’s boyfriend who is flying into JAX on the 23rd) descending upon her house while trying to care for Karl. His first few weeks will require as much rest as possible and he’ll probably be hopped up on pain pills as it is. And being in a two-story home, he’s probably going to have a make-shift bed set up somewhere on the main level. So for those reasons, we don’t think it’s wise to go to them.

We want Sue and Karl to know how much they will be missed and we are praying fervently for Karl’s quick and complete recovery. We look forward to returning to our tradition next Christmas!




Leslie’s Visit – Part Two

Sunday was the real reason for Leslie’s visit….NFL football! We also invited our friends, Dee and Eddy to the game, so after church the four of us (Carl and Zack were already at the stadium) headed off to the stadium in Eddy’s car. About half way there, I remembered that I forgot this in my church bag back in my car parked at church (I brought it into church because I had an extra pass and wasn’t sure which one I was supposed to give to a friend):

Sunday (9).JPG

Dee, Eddy and Leslie were all very forgiving and gentle and I am grateful that they didn’t make me stand on the street corner with a sign while begging for donations to pay for the $30 we had to come up with for parking. Such good friends!

Our first stop was Carl’s office to get free water to replace our bottles we had to dump out at the entrance to the stadium. We couldn’t afford the $6 a bottle of water at the concession stand after paying for parking. 


Carl escorted us to our seats which were apparently in the Denver Broncos section as we were surrounded by loud, cheering fans. Although in actuality, most of the stadium seemed to be covered in a sea of orange since Jacksonville fans are now comatose at this point in their 2-10 season.


After posting this photo on Instagram with the hashtag #jagsgamedaylive, I then spent the rest of the game looking for my photo on the giant screens, which was way more entertaining than the game for me:


After halftime, Leslie and I made our way over to the BudZone to harass our favorite merchandise seller.


After the game, we met back up with Carl and Zack for a ride home.


After getting home, it was time for cocktails, dinner and Camp Cards.


It was a great visit with Leslie and we are so glad that she came to spend a few days with us. We look forward to the day when she and her parents move to Jacksonville to be near us :). (Not that that’s happening but we can wish, can’t we!?)