Jaxty's Place

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

Carl to the Rescue!

Carl made a very quick trip to Memphis this past weekend to help out his dad, who is still recovering from his broken femur. The good news is that airfare was only $150 round-trip. The bad news is he had to drive to Orlando to get that super fare but it was worth it to help out at his parent’s house.

The main project was to install a second hand railing going up the stairs. My father-in-law hasn’t been upstairs in about two months, since before his accident occurred, which means that he’s been sleeping on a bed in the family room and taking sponge baths. Good times!

Memphis (14).JPG

Now he can finally get upstairs! Yippee!

Carl also installed a hand-held shower sprayer so that when my FIL finally does get in the shower, he can sit on the little shower chair they borrowed from a friend and get his business done.


Carl also did a lot of cleaning up in the yard, including a ton of raking.


Now granted, he’s not actually raking in that photo but I guess he’s entitled to the occasional coffee break.

Before you feel too sorry for him for working so hard, there was plenty of goofing off.


And as expected, Sue made him fabulous meals every night.


He also spent time hanging out with his sister.


Carl is very grateful for the chance to go and help out where needed.


We are grateful that Karl is making such good progress in his recovery and we look forward to having Sue and Karl visit in March.



I forgot to mention here that Zack got a new job after the new year.


After a full year at Chick-fil-A, he has moved on to Lowe’s Home Improvement Center. He is working every Monday through Friday from 4pm until 10pm each night unloading the delivery truck.


He is enjoying his hefty paychecks and not having to deal with the public. It’s good, hard manual labor at it’s finest!


As far as what comes next after his high school graduation in May, he has no idea...looks like he may be working at Lowe’s full-time until he makes a decision.

Congratulations on the new job, Zack!


Wordless Wednesday: Before and After

From Jeff’s wedding in 1983…


A little less hair, a few more pounds…but looking good, guys!


They really haven’t changed a bit!


CBHS Reunion

Thanksgiving week, when we visited with Carl’s friend from high school, Bobby, the guys discussed how it had been way too long since the last reunion of their core group of friends from their high school soccer team. Back in 2001, we organized the first reunion of the guys at our house in Minnesota, complete with visiting the amusement park at the Mall of America, golfing, a tour of the MN Vikings facility and a preseason football game (although actually Bobby canceled at the last minute that year since it was shortly after 9/11). The following year, they all (including Bobby) met up in Memphis and toured all their old hangouts.


Then life happened and the young families got busy and they didn’t meet again until now ūüôā . With two of the guys now living in the Atlanta area and Bobby traveling there frequently for work, Atlanta was the natural choice for the location.

Carl and I drove in on Friday afternoon and spent our first night at Jeff and Waverly’s beautiful, expansive house in the woods.


We stayed in the guest suite, complete with our own entrance, bedroom, bathroom, sitting room and kitchen. Sweet…they are lucky that we didn’t decide to move in!


That evening, Steve and Anne drove over from the other side of town for dinner. (Bobby and his wife were not due to arrive until Saturday late morning.)


In the morning, the three guys and I went for a brisk, 38 degree hike up Kennesaw Mountain.


It was cool to see the cannons left on the mountain from the Civil War.


After our hike, we all showered and dressed and then met up with Bobby and his wife, Jessica, for lunch, where we were seated at a table next to Kirk Cameron from the 1980’s TV show, Growing Pains and star of a series of Christian movies in the past few years. Jessica and I were particularly smitten and tried to work up the nerve to ask for a photo but we didn’t (other than sneaking him into our photo below).


After lunch, we went to a local escape place.


These are all the rage across the country and if you haven’t heard of them, they place you in a locked room with a series of clues and puzzles that you have to solve to figure out how to get out of the room in a designated amount of time (an hour).


Despite our best efforts and getting down to the last puzzle, we ran out of time to escape. Losers!!

We then headed over to Steve and Anne’s house for dinner and the guys spent time looking at old school yearbooks, photo albums and other memorabilia.


We ended the night sharing our favorite group game with them, “Say Anything.” It was a lot of laughs.


I love the fact that these old friends of 35-years can get together and pick up just like it was last week. And we were all impressed that the guys all married so well and the wives could join in just like we’ve been friends for years too¬†(although I’ve met them all at various times over the years, we really don’t know each other very well and some of the other wives have never met).


Carl and I stayed at Steve and Anne’s stately house the second night.


After a terrific breakfast in the morning, we headed back home.

It was a great weekend and we are so happy to have spent time with all of these old friends all weekend. It’s quite notable that this group of friends that all married young are now all still together¬†for 25+ years (33 years for Jeff and Waverly, 31 years for Carl and I, 29 years for Bobby and Jessica and 27 years for Steve and Anne)! That’s quite an accomplishment. We are going to ensure that it is not another 15 years before we all gather together again!


Belated Birthday Weekend Celebration

Although my husband was initially annoyed back in October that I purchased tickets to see Wicked in Orlando this past weekend (he didn’t love it like I did when we first saw it in 2010), he ended up being glad that I made celebrating my birthday so easy for him after I declared them to be my birthday present.


We went down a day early to spend the day at Universal to use our annual passes again. This time we took the suggestion of a friend and used motion sickness patches and took a dose of Dramamine that morning.


After the first ride, we looked at each other and asked “did you feel anything?” When we both agreed that no, it did not make us nauseous, we cheered and high-fived each other!


We rode several roller coasters and most of the virtual reality rides with little effect, until late in the day. It was awesome! I enjoyed our day much better than the last time, when I spent the day fighting nausea the whole time.


It was a fun day at Universal, with beautiful, warm weather. We stayed at a new Airbnb this time and were not disappointed. It was in a much nicer, residential neighborhood and although we did not have our own bathroom this time (it was shared with two other guests), the hostess was very friendly and accommodating and we had everything we needed for our stay.

The next morning, after brunch, we had time to kill before the performance in the afternoon so we decided to drive down to Disney Springs since we had never seen it during our 4 visits to Disneyworld in the past.


If you like shopping or eating, it’s the place to go. If you don’t like shopping or eating, it’s just an interesting place to walk around for a short time.


We even shared a Gharardelli Caramel Square they passed out in the Ghirardelli Store…9 whole carbs between us (although Carl says I had 6 carbs and he had 3)!

It was neat to see the different architecture and Disney statues but I can’t say that I’d go back.



It was fun to pass the time though on another beautiful, sunny morning.


We eventually headed off to downtown Orlando for the theater for the main attraction…WICKED!


It was a fantastic performance and I thoroughly enjoyed it (again)! Although I have had the soundtrack since the first time we saw the musical 7 years ago, it was nice to have a refresher of the storyline. Carl even enjoyed it much more than he thought he would.

It was a great weekend in Orlando with my husband. I’m glad for a fun way to celebrate my ¬†birthday belatedly! Happy 50-something birthday to me…I think I’m just going to stay 50 until I turn 60!




Goodbye Harry dog :(

[Warning: Super picture-heavy photo post to follow but I had to many great ones to share.]

Our adorable little West Highland White Terrier (Westie), Harry, has been a member of our family for nearly 17 years. When we lived in Minnesota and the kids were little, we drove down to a farm in Iowa to pick him up as soon as he was weaned from his mother, “Sarah’s Little Sophia” or “Sophia” for short. His father’s name was “Sweet Simon Lars Petersen” or “Simon” for short.


Being a purebred, his registered name is “Sir Harrison of Chaska” but he was just our Harry dog.


My mother warned me that it would be a lot of work to have a toddler and a new puppy in the house. And she was right! (Yes, I admit it, mom.)


Dealing with the crazy Russian who never slept and never stopped moving and trying to housebreak and train a puppy was exhausting!


But we all loved him and it was worth all the work in the end.


On his first birthday and looking like the Harry we know :).

Harry has been with us through countless holiday celebrations.


Thanksgiving with mom and Rob


He loved to come to the lake with us and would have a blast jumping from the dock and playing in the water.



He allowed us to dress him up for Halloween…


and Christmas.


The only toy he really loved was a plastic dumbbell and he had numerous versions of it throughout the years. I think he liked how it fit in his mouth so perfectly.


He loved to sleep in crazy places…and the smellier the better. The dirty laundry basket in our closet was his favorite.


But he also liked to lay on top of shoes….


Christmas presents…


recycling paper…


or packing supplies for our big move to Florida. I think he wanted to make sure he wasn’t left behind.


He endured years of snowy winters in Minnesota and didn’t seem to mind. In fact, on sunny days, we’d watch¬†him out the window frolicking and rolling around in the snow.


He was briefly engaged to my dad and aunt Sandy’s dog, also named Sandy, but she broke it off when he wouldn’t stop sniffing her butt.


As he aged, he developed arthritis, which made getting up and down stairs difficult for him. In the past year, it’s even been difficult getting up and down from a sitting or sleeping position.¬†We were grateful that Harry could retire to Florida, where he no longer had to deal with stairs in our one-story home.


We watched him age tremendously in the past year, with his mobility becoming more and more difficult. He also had terrible skin allergies since our move which made his belly turn black, clumps of hair to fall out and caused him spend most of his waking hours scratching and scratching. He would even wake us up in the middle of the night with his scratching. And in the past few months, his frequent/daily urinating in the house has become unbearable. I just can’t clean up any more pee! ¬†He spent his days sleeping 80% of the time, just waking to eat, scratch or go to the bathroom. So after allowing him one more Christmas so that all the kids could be with him one more time, we made the difficult decision to put him down last week.


It was incredibly difficult but Carl and I did it together and he died peacefully in my arms snuggled in a warm blanket. ¬†I’m sure the full impact of his absence hasn’t hit us yet but we are grateful that he is no longer in pain or discomfort.


He was our favorite dog and he will be missed. Thank you for your years of joy that you brought to our family, Harry dog! We love you and miss you already.


Weekend Project

This is a before shot from when we completed the backyard landscaping.


Not exactly the same view, but here is the after:


Not only does it hide the pool equipment, it gives us a place to hang pool towels.


I found an assortment of cute hangers at Hobby Lobby that I hung after I painted the fence with some paint that I had from other projects.


Or course, Carl installed the posts and created the fencing for me first.


Teamwork! I love the cute and functional addition to the pool area. The pool just has to warm up about 20 degrees so we can start going in it again.



More Free Food

In July, 2015, on my previous blog, I told you about my score with Secret Dining. At that time, in my first year as a secret diner, I had dined out 12 times for a total of $945 in free dining.

Since that time, between July, 2015 and the present, I have dined out 23 more times for an additional total of $1500 in free dining!



There have been a few other people that have dined with me on occasion (Zack went to Sweet Frog with me, my neighbor Susan went with me to Painting with a Twist, I took Leslie to Famous Toastery during her visit and I took Anthony to lunch at Miller’s Ale House this week) but for the most part, Carl has been my dining companion.

We have had some amazing meals…Seasons 52, Capital Grill and J. Alexander are our favorites and not places that we would typically dine at if it weren’t for free. Miller’s Ale House is a great, casual place and with so many locations we can eat there often for free (since you have to wait 7 months between visits at each location). It’s still a lot of work to complete the dining report but it’s worth it to me to have these great FREE experiences.

I am grateful for this fun opportunity. Thanks A Closer Look!


2017 Travel Plans

I don’t know what it is about the new year that makes me want to start making all my traveling plans. But I have spent that past few days dreaming of all the exciting things that we are going to do this year. Here’s a recap of what we have planned so far…


  • My birthday gift to myself was tickets to the Broadway play “Wicked,” which is coming to Orlando in two weeks. We are going to go down a day early to visit Universal Studios first. I booked a new Airbnb this time so hopefully it is better looking than the last one.
  • The following weekend we are driving to Atlanta for a high school reunion with Carl’s three good friends and their wives. Two of the guys already live in the Atlanta area and the other guy, Bobby, who we visited with in Memphis over Thanksgiving, is flying in on business. They four guys have had several previous reunion weekends (2001 in Minnesota and 2002 in Memphis) but it has been 15 years since the last one (mainly because Carl and I haven’t planned anything since then!).


  • Carl is going to take a weekend trip to visit his parents in Memphis due to his dad’s accident and recovery at home. Hopefully he will help them start to make preparations for a move to Jacksonville to be closer to us!¬†


  • A 5-night Royal Caribbean Cruise, thanks to the very generous Christmas bonus that I received from my favorite boss at PH&Companies. We will be leaving out of Tampa and stopping in Key West, FL and Cozumel, Mexico aboard the Brilliance of the Seas. Can’t wait!!


  • Carl will be flying to Minneapolis for a very quick weekend trip to videotape the first of our 3 dance recitals this year.


  • These plans are still in the works but we have our other Minneapolis dance recital and I am hoping to accompany Carl for a long weekend to visit Kelly and some of our friends and then we will fly over to Chicago for a few days as well to meet my new nephew being born this weekend and to meet Anthony’s birth-relatives.


  • We again plan to spend a week at my boss’s vacation rental in Santa Rosa Beach, FL.
  • Anthony and I will be driving his truck from Jacksonville to Arizona once again! After being without his truck all school year, he has decided that he wants it back next school year so that he can get a part-time job and resume his regular rock-climbing (which he has been sorely missing this year). Now that my Aunt Sandy is in Arizona year round, I will be able to stop and visit with her for a week once again! Do you hear that Aunt Sandy…I’m coming to see you later this year!

That’s what I know for this year so far but I am hoping that there will be some other weekend trips to various places throughout the year. It’s always fun to have things to look forward to and I’m most excited that we have another cruise scheduled for this year. Yippee!


Happy 2017!

For New Year’s Eve, Carl and I volunteered at the St. Augustine Beach Blast.

We got there early, parked in a distant parking lot and took the free shuttle to the pier. Since we had never seen the St. Augustine pier, we walked down to the beach to check it out.

It is a really nice beach and we look forward to going back in the summer. After eating our free volunteer meal, it was time check in for our shift. We spent 4 hours in the ticket booth. It was steady busy which made time pass quickly.

Halfway through our shift, we had a perfect view of the pier for the 20-minute firework show.

It was one of the best we’ve seen!

We were also right by the bandstand, where we got to hear three live bands. Unfortunately, two out of three of them were pretty bad and along the “screamo” line. The other bad part was trying to get the shuttle back to our car. With at least a hundred people in line ahead of us, we decided to just walk the 2.5 miles back to the car. It was a beautiful, pleasant evening and we were glad to get some exercise so it turned out to be a blessing in disguise.

In addition to our free meal, we received a t-shirt, drawstring bag and 10 tickets for drinks for volunteering. It was a fun event and we would do it again.

I wish you all a blessed year filled with God’s love, peace and grace. Happy New Year!