Florida Life, The Family, The Relatives

Mom’s Visit 2019

Last week, after bringing mom back to Jacksonville, our friends, Cathy and Bruce, invited us all over for appetizers and cocktails while watching the sunset from their beautiful home on the St. John’s River.

5.1.19 Sunset at Bronars (4)
Cathy didn’t want to be in any photos 😦

Cathy and Bruce are amazing hosts who open their home twice a month for our church home group of up to 25 people each time, since they are the only ones with space to accommodate that sized crowd! And Cathy is always so considerate to prepare special keto (low-carb) snacks for us….how sweet to have friends like that!

5.1.19 Sunset at Bronars (2)

It was a beautiful, relaxing evening with good friends and God’s glory on display.

5.1.19 Sunset at Bronars (1)

We are grateful for such great friends!

We also were able to take mom down to Flagler Beach on Saturday to visit our former next-door neighbors at their beach house.

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Susan and Bill Dailey

After meeting them at their home, along with our current across-the-street neighbors, Bill and Dedie, we all walked up to the bar on the pier for Happy Hour.

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While enjoying our cocktails, we were visited by dolphins swimming by, so that was very exciting for mom.

5.4.19 Flagler (7)

After walking to a local restaurant for dinner outside with live music playing, we returned to Bill and Susan’s house for some karaoke fun! The Bills and Carl did most of the singing but Susan and I had fun being back-up dancers for many songs. It was another great time with fun friends, although we sure wore Bill and Dedie out.

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Some other things during mom’s visit, included a few games nights with Zack,

5.5.19 Games

…a rainy afternoon spent watching an Iron Man marathon with Margaritas for Cinco De Mayo,

5.5.19 Rainy Day

…an afternoon matinee to watch Avengers: End Game,

Endgame

….and lots of floating around the pool!

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Mom is a low-key, easy guest who is grateful to just enjoy the Miklas Resort! We are happy to have her with us and wish that she would move down to Jacksonville. For somebody that enjoys the sun as much as mom, it seems like the perfect fit. If it wasn’t for those sweet little grandbabies back in Illinois, it would be a sure thing! Oh well. Until next time…thanks for coming, mom!

Florida Life, The Family, The Relatives, Traveling

Bradenton Trip

A few months ago, my mom asked me if I would be willing to pick her up in the Tampa area and bring her back to our house for a week’s visit. She was thinking of helping my brother’s wife, Lisa, fly to Tampa with her three young children, who was going to visit her parents, who have a home in Bradenton, FL, for a few weeks. Since I don’t get to see Lisa and the kids often and I haven’t even met my youngest niece (last time we visited them was July, 2018 when Lisa was pregnant with the youngest), who is now 9 months old, Carl and I decided we’d make a night of it and spend some time with them while they were generally in the area before bringing mom back to our house.

Lisa and Kids (4)
Lisa’s parent’s house

After arriving at Lisa’s parent’s house and visiting for a while, we decided to head over to the pool to try and wear the kids out.

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Then Lisa’s parents made us all a great dinner and we were able to visit some more.

Lisa and Kids (2)

Carl got to sharpen those grand-parenting skills by playing play-doh with the boys.

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After retreating to a hotel with mom for some peace and quiet and resting up for the night, we met up with Lisa, the kids, Lisa’s parents and Lisa’s aunt and uncle at the beach the next morning.

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We were able to get more time with the kids while we played in the sand and water.

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4-3/4 year old Robby
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2-year old, Max
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9-month old, Charlie (Charlotte)

All three of the kids were so cute, lovable and social. It was so nice to have some aunt and uncle time since visits are few and far between. We are grateful for the hospitality of Lisa’s family, who provided chairs, beach towels and a picnic lunch for us. It was a great visit!

Lisa and Kids (6)

After lunch, Carl, mom and I headed out for the 4-hour drive back to Jacksonville. Thanks to traffic in the Orlando area, we actually got home about 5-1/2 hours later. Not fun! But it was worth it to see Lisa and the kids. We love them all and miss spending more time with them. Thank goodness for Facebook!

*This little road trip was how Carl spent his first two days of unemployment! He is officially unemployed now and waiting for just the right position. He did receive his first job offer this week (after three interviews with the same company) but declined it since it wasn’t what he really wanted to do. With three months of severance from the Jaguars, he is going to take his time and wait for just the right thing. It was a little nerve-raking for him to pass on an offer but we are trusting in the Lord and excited to see what He is going to provide!

 

Praises, The Family, The Relatives, Traveling

Wedding Plans!

We are in the midst of planning Anthony and Kameko’s wedding and two major milestones have been checked off the list – the DATE and LOCATION!

The date is March 3, 2019!

The location is a beautiful 7-bedroom house in Hauula, O’ahu, Hawaii just 1/2 mile from the beach that Carl and I have secured for all of Anthony’s immediate family to share for the week.

Capture

It has a big, open backyard where we will hold the wedding and party afterwards.

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The red building is where the property manager lives with his family.

If it’s rainy, the inside is large and open and can accommodate the party inside.

Capture3

We are very excited as plans and guests are starting to fall into place. We know that my mom; Carl’s parents; my brother John and wife, Laurie; Carl’s brother, Jim and wife, Linda; my aunt Gale; and Zack will be attending and staying in the house with us. We are really, truly hoping that Kelly and Avram will be able to get off of her internship/his school teaching job for the week to come also but they won’t know until both of those start in the fall. We are hoping that our nieces, Kate and Abby will join us but they will have to see what their work schedules allow. We believe Anthony’s birth-parents are coming and we are excited about that and it will be fun to share in such a joyous occasion with them.

We are hoping that a few more family members (I’m talking to YOU, Aunt Sandra and Leslie!) can come. I wish that somebody could win the lottery and treat all those family members that can’t afford to come (like my dad, other two brothers and their families) but know that they will be missed.

We are now working on all of the other details. It’s all very exciting and we are very happy for them and grateful that they are allowing us to assist in preparations and asking for our input (of course, as the financiers of the wedding, that makes it more of a necessity, ha!). Carl and I are actually planning a two-week vacation to Hawaii for the wedding. We will fly into O’ahu a few days earlier than everyone else for some wedding preparations. Then after our week together, Carl and I are going to fly to Maui to stay with a friend that moved there last year. We are so excited!

 

It's About Me, Praises, The Husband, The Relatives, Traveling

Wait For It….

The other MAJOR reason for stopping in Chicago after Minneapolis was to fulfill my obsession over the past year by seeing Hamilton!

Well over a year ago, I was working on my computer and selected “Showtunes” on Amazon Prime Music (my favorite music venue since it’s already free with my membership and there are NO commercials) to listen to while I worked. A song that I was unfamiliar with popped up and I was instantly hooked. After seeing that it was from Hamilton, I then searched and discovered the whole soundtrack was available for free with my membership. And thus began an absolute obsession with Hamilton music!

I would go on to listen to the soundtrack once or twice a week for months and months, eventually tapering down to just the occasional listening. I also watched many YouTube videos and documentaries on Hamilton: The Musical and Alexander Hamilton in general. Could not get enough!

So last year when we came to Chicago, I looked into tickets but since it was still new, tickets were selling for a minimum of $350 each. Seeing as we could take an entire cruise for that amount, we just couldn’t do it. Hamilton has a lottery each day for two tickets for $20. I tried everyday but it wasn’t meant to be.

So this year, knowing we were going to Minneapolis, I again checked out ticket prices for Hamilton in Chicago and was thrilled to find out that they were much more reasonable (still $140 each but way better than $350 each). So after convincing my husband to make a detour before returning home and asking my mother if she wanted to come too, our tickets were purchased!

We did some research and found some reasonable parking at the Palmer House so we drove down early.

We walked over to Millennium Park and then to Buckingham Fountain for some photos. Then we stopped at Miller’s Pub for dinner and drinks.

Finally, it was showtime!

It was amazing! I loved every minute of it. Obsession fulfilled! Although I knew the soundtrack well, it was even better to see the actors and choreography and to catch some things I missed.

Although I had tried to have Carl listen to the soundtrack before, he never really got into it. So he found himself a little confused at times. After reading a synopsis at intermission, he found the second half much more enjoyable. So my advice to everyone thinking of seeing Hamilton is to familiarize yourself before seeing it. Listen to the soundtrack several times. Read through the song lyrics (some of the songs are so fast paced that it’s difficult to understand if you are unfamiliar). Or at least read the synopsis.

Hamilton is coming to Jacksonville during the 2019-2020 theater season. You can be sure that we will be going again!

It's About Me, Praises, The Husband, The Relatives, Traveling

World’s Okayest Brother

One of our main reasons for detouring to Chicago was to meet our newest nephew, Max. Last year when we came to Chicago, he was on vacation with his mom so we didn’t get to see Lisa or the boys.

So this year I was thrilled to squeeze those chubby cheeks!

My brother, Rob, even took the day off of work to visit with us and wore the shirt I sent all three of my brothers a few years ago for Christmas.

Ok, I take it back….he’s more than okay!

Rob and Lisa made a great lunch for us with burgers and shrimp and salad.

We spent the rest of the time chasing the boys around the back yard.

I spent time in jail, playing super heroes with Robby.

It was a great day spent with Rob and his family. Now we have to plan another trip next year to meet baby Charlotte, who is arriving in July!

Later that day, we visited with Rob’s eldest daughter, Bryanna, at the restaurant she works at.

Bryanna

It was a great meal and we enjoyed the chance to chat with Bryanna. In an unexpected surprise, Bryanna’s mother, Alex, even stopped by and we got to chat with her for a bit. It was a great family day. Stay tuned for the other MAJOR reason that we went to Chicago in the next post.

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

Part Two: Chicago

After leaving Minneapolis on Monday, since we were so far north and the additional airfare was very reasonable, we decided to make a side trip to Chicago. That gave us the opportunity to say hi to some family before heading home.

My dad offered to pick us up from the airport so we rewarded him with Portillo’s Hotdogs. Carl and I were naughty and even ate the buns.

We noticed that the street outside of Portillo’s was lined with Fire Department ladder trucks with American flags hanging over the roadway.

My dad realized that it must be for the funeral of a Chicago fire fighter that died in the line of duty on Memorial Day. After a quick google search, we realized the funeral procession would be passing by in just a short time. Since we had time to kill before getting to my cousin’s house, we decided to sit and wait.

Eventually the procession drove by. There were hundreds of police and fire vehicles of every type filled with mourners on the way to the funeral.

The streets were lined with people showing their respect and some holding flags, including the black flag with red stripe, which signifies the death of a fire fighter. The fellow firefighters stood at attention and saluted as the casket drove by on the back of a fire truck.

It was really a moving and powerful thing to observe. We witnessed some sweet moments as well, such as when a man pushing a shopping cart brought over two cases of water for the firefighters standing along the street and another when a firefighter walked over and gave plastic firefighter hats to some waiting children. We are so grateful for the brave men and women that serve our cities to try and keep us safe and we mourn the loss of Juan Bucio with the city of Chicago.

After getting to my cousin, Jeff’s new house and visiting for a few minutes, dad got bored and left. Thanks for the ride dad! It was nice to spend the afternoon with you.

We spent the rest of the evening visiting with Aunt Gale, Jeff and his girlfriend, Jill. My mom met us after a while and we ordered authentic Chicago pizza… more delicious carbs for Carl and I!!

Aunt Gale, Jeff and Jill all said they are coming to Hawaii for Anthony’s wedding so we are holding them to it!

I am glad we had time to visit with them and see Jeff’s beautiful, new house. Too bad they won’t be there long as Jeff’s “Design and Build” business is taking off and he’s already building his next house! Congrats, Jeff! See you all in Hawaii.

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).

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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.