Jaxty's Place

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

Santa Rosa Beach 2017

I’m so grateful for my Tuesday boss and the great working relationship that we have. And I’m especially grateful that he has a lovely beach vacation home that he shares with family and favored employees for free. This year, Carl and I invited our good friends, John and Michelle to join us for a week of fun and sun at the beach. We drove over one day prior to our friends to get settled in, get some groceries and enjoy our first walk on the beach at sunset.

The next afternoon, John and Michelle joined us.

While waiting for the sunset, Carl and John played bocce ball at the beach.

Our first full day together began with Carl, John and Michelle taking a long walk. Yes, I was the only lazy one. What of it? I’m on vacation. When they got back, Michelle made us her amazing quinoa power breakfast.

Yum! Carl and John watched the Jaguar game on the IPad since it wasn’t playing on local tv while Michelle and I went out for more groceries.

After the game was over, with a Jaguar victory, we drove down Highway 30a to explore some of the cute coastal cities. Our first stop was Seaside.

After wandering around the residential area, we came upon a field with a badminton court so we had to stop and play.

John and Michelle won, which did not make me happy. Plus I broke out in a sweat. Again, not happy. Oh well. At least we had fun! We finally made our way to the town square where they had a series of cute Airstream trailer food trucks so we stopped for some delicious BBQ pork for lunch.

And then to top it off, we all split a giant Sea Salt Chocolate 100 layer cronut (fried croissant) stuffed with chocolate filling.

What an incredible way to blow our carb count for the day! We then made our way further down Hwy 30a, ending at Rosemary Beach.

After taking a coffee/tea break, and sending the above photo to our pastor, who vacations there each year with his family, we walked around this area too for a while.

We finally made our way back home where John and Michelle prepared our awesome dinner of rib eye steaks, veggies and cucumber/tomato salad.

Then it was time for some games. Our first choice was Sequence.

By the end of the night, the women beat the men three games to two.

Losers.

It was a super fun day spent with friends. We are so happy to be spending our vacation with them. More fun to come!

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Hurricane IRMA

On Sunday, with the weather worsening and the rain beginning to fall, we were finally stuck inside which led me to open our game cabinet and introduce the kids to Trouble, Sorry and Whoonu. I don’t know how many games of each we played, but it was A LOT! After the two little girls went to bed Sunday night, we even played a round of Say Anything with Logan, who came up with classic answers, such as “Beer” for “Favorite toy that adults might like” and actually won the game.

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Just as we were headed for bed, the rain and winds picked up and the electricity started to flicker. Carl and I preemptively prepared the fridge, by moving all the refrigerated items to the freezer compartments and loading it up with frozen water bottles and ice to keep everything cool in the event of the inevitable loss of power. Sure enough, around 1 am, the power went out for good. Between the wind and pounding rain and IPhone weather alert blaring at 2:30am warning of flash flooding in Jacksonville (not actually near us), it was a restless night of sleep. But we awoke in the morning with the majority of the storm past us and just light rain and some lingering wind gusts.

With no electricity (and even more annoying, extremely spotty cell service which made giving updates to family difficult) throughout the day, Zack emerged from his room and resorted to playing games with the kids.

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It eventually cleared enough for us all to head outside for a walk to assess the damage.

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The main road out of area looked like this:

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And closer to our house, that same little creek that flooded in the above picture, was flooding our street as well.

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This shows you a perspective of how far the flooding was from actually reaching our house as I stand in front of our house and look down the street at the flooding.

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So we’d have to have a massive amount of additional rain for it to reach up to our driveway and then even more for it to even reach the actual house. That is why we don’t ever feel in actual danger from flooding, although that creek puts us in Evacuation Zone A (the first for Mandatory Evacuations).

This is what our pool looked like after the storm:

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The plastic chairs are actually thrown into the pool on purpose to prevent them from blowing around the backyard and into a window.

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Gradually the weather continued to improve, the sun came out and the water began to drain from the streets, clearing the roads to travel. After successfully sending Zack out to find an open gas station, our Miami guests decided to head back home since they heard that their neighborhood was fine and they actually had electricity.

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The other two children and dog were already secured in the car when we took these photos.

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We are grateful that we were spared from flooding or other damage from this powerful storm. Others that we know were not so lucky. Our friends that live directly on the St. John’s river lost their pier and boat house (luckily they had moved their boat to land). Even more devastating, our next-door neighbors and good friends, Bill and Susan, got  3-4 feet of water in their recently renovated beach home. All the drywall, trim, doors, flooring, cabinets and furniture will have to be replaced. We are so sad for them but grateful that they have flood insurance to help cover the costs. There are other families in our church that still are without electricity during these 80-90 degree days. (Our electricity actually came back on Monday night, shortly after our guests left).

With each hurricane, we learn more and more about how to better prepare. Hopefully it will be a great long while before we have to use the lessons learned!

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The Refugees

We survived our second major hurricane in Jacksonville….Hurricane Irma. With the relentless news forecasts warning of the impending catastrophic hurricane coming to wipe out the entire state of Florida, we were a little nervous but knew that we wouldn’t know for sure the impact on Jacksonville until the storm moved closer. What seemed for sure is that southern Florida, and especially Miami, was going to get nailed. So about a week prior Irma hitting our state, I received a phone call from our dear, former neighbors from Minnesota’s son, Steve, who lives in the Miami area with his wife, Alysia, three children under the age of 5 and Husky dog, Diego.

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As soon as I saw his name on my cell phone, I knew that he was looking for a place to escape so I invited them to come up to JAX to wait for the arrival of IRMA.

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In a desire to not get caught up in the evacuations of millions of people in southern Florida trying to escape and to avoid and sitting on stalled highways for hours with a carload of young children, they drove up on Wednesday, well ahead of the storm expected to hit on Sunday and Monday. We were blessed with warm, sunny days leading up so that the kids could spend their days swimming in the pool (and boy did they spend hours and hours swimming!). At night, we cuddled on the couches for movie nights.

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We played Old Maid and Crazy Eights with the kids.

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We did Tequila shots with the adults because we are cool that way :).

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We shared meals together.

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From Wednesday through Sunday afternoon, it was almost like a mini-vacation together! Lots of fun, laughs and food and cocktails together with little responsibilities from work and/or school.

We are grateful that we had this special time together with a fun and energetic young family. It was definitely a taste of grand-parenthood and I really enjoyed it! We are glad that we could be a blessing to this young family and await the massive hurricane together. More tomorrow….

 

 

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Kick Off

Can it be football season already? It’s hard to imagine when it’s still 90 degrees out with 85% humidity in Florida. But yes, it really is that time. Since it was only preseason and since it was the JAX Jaguars, Carl was able to get an unlimited number of tickets to the season opener game at Everbank Field last Thursday night. He offered tickets to our entire church and over 135 tickets were claimed (this is only some of the crew)!

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One of the diehard Jaguar fans, Nathan, who has his own season tickets, organized tailgating in one of the parking lots beforehand. He did a terrific job with a tent, two propane grills, music and games set up for the kids.

I had really debated going myself since:

  1. It’s football.
  2. It’s soooo hot.

But I couldn’t pass up the fun social occasion with our church family. And when Anthony (who is home from Hawaii for one week) said that he would come too, that clinched the deal.

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I can honestly say that I don’t think I watched the game at all. I spent most of my time socializing with friends or looking for my photos to appear on the Giant Screens.

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If you post photos to Instagram using the hashtag #jagsgamedaylive, you can eventually see your photo appear on the screens, rotating through a few times. These are some of the other photos I posted to Instagram…

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Our friends, Michelle and John, who we rode with to the game and Ben, another young friend.

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Our friends, Dee and Eddy, with Carl stopping by to say hi.

From what I hear, the Jaguars really looked bad and it’s going to be a long and painful season. This pretty much sums up what I feel about watching football…

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It was a fun evening hanging out with friends. I am grateful to Carl and Nathan for helping to put together a great evening of fellowship! Next time, let’s do it somewhere inside with air conditioning!!

 

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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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MSP Weekend

It’s that time of year…dance recital season! Carl flew to Minnesota this past weekend for the first of three studio’s recitals on Saturday (three shows total). He was blessed to stay the weekend with our old neighbors and friends, Neil and Lou. We appreciate their hospitality so much…thanks Lou (who is a blog subscriber).

When he wasn’t watching hours of girl’s dancing, he was able to visit with old friends, including my former BFF, Deb.

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He stopped by our former church on Sunday morning and saw many familiar faces, including Andrew and Emily, who visited us in JAX our first year.

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But most importantly, he visited with Kelly on Sunday, seeing her new apartment, which is in a converted historic mansion turned into 16 rental units.

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They hit the streets of Minneapolis to watch the annual May Day parade.

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Because it included this performer….

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Kelly’s boyfriend, Avram!

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He was also able to meet Avram’s parents, who both participated in the parade, and see Avram’s mother’s “art car.”

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He met several of Avram’s other relatives as well, including his brother and grandparents.

He saw Avram’s family’s float called Mr. Chompers…

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and even got to ride it in the parade for a bit.

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It was a beautiful Minnesota day to spend outside with our lovely daughter. I wish that I could have been there too.

Oh, and Carl loved his rental “car” this weekend….

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I’m glad that he had a great weekend in Minnesota. One set of recitals down, two more to go!

 

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Bunco

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

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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.

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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.

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

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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!

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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!

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Cumberland Island, GA

On Saturday, Carl and I made the 1-1/4 hour drive up to St. Mary’s, Georgia with our friends, Dee and Eddy. Twice a day, a ferry shuttles visitors to Cumberland Island, only accessible by boat.

Georgia’s largest and southernmost barrier island offers a rustic getaway with over 50 miles of trails and roads, as well as 18 miles of undeveloped beach. Cumberland Island is home to pristine maritime forests, undeveloped beaches and wide marshes. Cumberland Island is also home to about 140 feral horses that roam freely on the island.

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Since it was a 45-minute ferry ride each way, Carl was smart enough to suggest bringing a deck of cards so that we could pass the time playing our favorite Camp Cards.

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Once on the island, we took a leisure 4.5 mile walk around the southern end of the island.

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The first part was through the cool, tree-covered pathway.

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The second part was on the beach along the Atlantic ocean coastline.

At the southern end of the island, we explored the ruins of Dungeness, the Carnegie family mansion and extensive grounds. The 1880s property was destroyed by an arson fire in 1959.

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This is the mansion in all its glory prior to the fire.

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It was in that area I caught my first glimpse of some wild horses, grazing in the marsh in the distance.

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Here, let me get closer.

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There were lots of interesting buildings to see and we enjoyed listening to the self-guided phone tour on Eddy’s cell phone.

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While stopping for a snack break in an open field, we saw a few more horses much closer.

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After over 4 miles and four hours exploring the island, it was time to catch the ferry back to mainland. We played more Camp Cards and saw dolphins on the return trip!

It was a beautiful, warm, sunny day that was just perfect for exploring this beautiful place just a short drive from home. Thank you Dee and Eddy for a great day together!

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