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.


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

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.


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.


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).

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.


Daily Coupon Deals, Florida Life, Praises, The Family, The Husband, The Relatives, Uncategorized

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.