Jaxty's Place

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

Happy 21st Birthday!

Our second child, Anthony, has reached the momentous milestone of his 21st birthday!

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After finishing his second year of college this April, Anthony immediately flew to Seattle to spend two weeks on the West Coast visiting with a friend from college.

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From there, he was blessed to return to Camp Homelani for his second year working for the Salvation Army camp in Hawaii.

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He had another amazing year living just a few steps from the beach on the North Shore, making many new friends, like this guy….

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After camp finished for the summer, he stayed with his friend Josh for another week to celebrate his 21st birthday in Hawaii, the place that has claimed a special place in his heart.

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On Friday, he will be leaving Hawaii and flying to Chicago for a long weekend to visit his birth family. Next Tuesday, he will be returning to Jacksonville for a week. And then Anthony and I will make the 3-day/30-hour drive from JAX to Phoenix with his pickup truck. The redeeming part for me is that I will then get to spend a week being pampered by my Aunt Sandy in Tucson so it will be worth it in the end.

We are so excited to welcome Anthony home next week and are very grateful to God for giving Anthony so many amazing opportunities.

Happy Birthday, Anthony! We love you! We look forward to celebrating with you next week!

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Have a Seat….

When we moved to Jacksonville almost three years ago, we left behind our 15 year old family room couches and Carl’s beloved recliner since they were worn and not in the style that I was going for in Florida. I found a nice imitation leather sectional and new accent chair for the family room and I painted/restained our old tables for that room.

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Since Carl gave up his recliner, I let him have the use of the corner lounger section on the right side in the following photo.

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That left me with the section on the left. So for TV viewing, I had to sit with my feel resting on a cushion on the coffee table (you can see the cushion peeking out from under the table) or lying on my side.

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It was functional but not overly comfortable, especially for me. So a few months ago, when I noticed that the material covering the couches was starting to disintegrate, I started dreaming of a replacing this crappy set with something that was more comfortable and durable.

Here is the worst section on the back of the sectional….

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And here is what the entire seat cushions look like across the sectional….

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I returned to the store where I bought it, just because it is the closest furniture store to our house. When I told the saleswoman my sad story of needing to replace crappy furniture just under three years old, she said “let me pull up your account.” After looking at it, she said “oh, you paid for the 3-year protection plan.” We NEVER pay for the protection plan so I was surprised. Yay, me for thinking ahead to this very moment! I was even more surprised when she said “we had a lot of complaints about that set. We don’t work with that manufacturer or carry any imitation leather products anymore. Since you paid for the protection plan and it is under the 3-year warranty (just barely), we will give you a store credit for 100% of what you paid for that crappy furniture.” Okay, maybe she didn’t say it exactly like that but you get the point.

SAY WHAT?! Thank you Lord! I just love those cool little blessings when you least expect them. I was prepared to fork over the full amount for replacement furniture and here we are getting all of our money back after using the furniture for 3 years because Kristy-of-3-years ago made a great financial move in paying the extra $100 for 3-year protection. The new furniture arrives later this week so stay tuned for new photos :).

 

 

 

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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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Let the Sun Shine, Part Two

After receiving all of the renderings from the awning company, we fell in love with the Bahama Shutters. I used Photoshop to create a rendering with the Bahama shutters and a red door awning.

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That was the clear winner! However, we did not fall in love with the price. After doing some investigating, I found that we could order the Bahama Shutters on our own and Carl could install them, saving us over $500 dollars.

This spring, Carl installed the Bahama Shutters.

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We love them! They have made a huge difference in the heat coming into the house, with no noticeable difference now felt in my office. Since we got them 3/4 of the way down the window, there is still plenty of light in my office and I can still see out my window while working, which is really nice.

Earlier this week, after about 8 weeks in production, the door awning was finally installed. We actually didn’t go with a bright red as shown in the photo above. The guy said that type of fabric with a solid color is more likely to show fading and wear. The fabric we choose is actually a very fine black and red tweed that he said would hold up in the sun much better.

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Here is a photo of the whole front of the house.

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You can see the extra shade the awning is providing in the afternoon sun in the photo below….the top two-thirds of the door is now shaded. Time will tell if the heat at the front door is kept at bay with the awning.

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This is what the awning looks like when walking out the front door.

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Side note: I’ll be so glad to NOT see Anthony’s pick-up truck parked on the driveway when he and I drive it back to college next month! After having it sitting out front for the past school year, I’m not going to miss it!

It’s nice to see my glass door once again, without the paper shade covering it.

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We are really happy with our improvements to the front of the house. Functional and pretty…a winning combination!

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Let the Sun Shine

This is what our house looked like when we first saw it and fell in love with it.

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The big problem was those lovely, large front windows and beautiful glass front door are all west-facing. That means that the brutal afternoon Florida sun came pouring into the house all afternoon, heating up those rooms. My office is the behind the window on the right in the photo, which means that I bake while trying to work in the afternoons. My office would be a good 10-degrees warmer than the rest of the house.

We tried using room-darkening shades on the front windows and a black paper shade on the back of the door. This is the paper shade after being on the window for a year…notice how the lower portion is not exposed to the sun and therefore is still black while the rest is¬†completely bleached out from the hot sun. I like how it even shows the shadow from the lead in the glass.

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So earlier this year, we had a company come out and give us estimates for awnings for the front windows. Below are some renderings they gave us of what it *could* look like.

Option One:

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Option Two:

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Option Three:

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And then, after they sent all those, we threw a last minute curve ball and asked them about Bahama Shutters for the windows so they sent us this….

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What do you think that we picked? You’ll have to come back tomorrow and find out!

 

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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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The Rest of our Chicago Trip

Some other highlights from our week in Chicago….

Kelly and Avram went clubbing downtown Chicago with Bryanna and friends. It’s nice to see cousins bonding over dancing and drinking.


Game nights!

Bryanna and her boyfriend even came for dinner and a game on our last evening. So nice of them to make time for Aunt Kristy.

Visiting with friends – Scott and family. We even ate REAL Chicago pizza and didn’t even feel guilty. Now the cookie cake for dessert is a different story.

Watched a few movies.


Relaxed around the pool at mom’s complex.


And Carl even got regular work-outs in!


It was a great week in Chicago and we are so grateful for the time spent with family and friends. I am so grateful Carl had the whole week off and we made the trip up north. Thanks for all the hospitality, mom!

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Architectural Boat Tour

On Wednesday, Carl and I took the Metra train downtown to take an architectural boat tour. After I did that last fall with my aunt Sandra, I thought Carl might enjoy it so we used the anniversary gift of money from my mom to buy ourselves tickets.


After getting off the train, we were going to walk a few blocks and then take an Uber to Navy Pier. However, it was a beautiful day and we had time to kill so we ended up walking the whole three miles to Navy Pier. Since this tour originated from Navy Pier, it included a speed boat ride up and down the coast, showing the skyline.


After cruising the coast, we went through the locks to enter the Chicago River. Then we learned about the many of the high-rises along the river. Since this tour included the speed boat ride, we didn’t go as far down the river as the tour with my Aunt Sandy, but it was still very interesting. It was a great anniversary present. Thanks mom!

After the boat tour, we walked down Michigan avenue and around the city.


We had really hoped to win tickets to see Hamilton on that day but it was not to be. Super sad face.


I discovered the soundtrack to Hamilton on Amazon Prime a few months ago and have been obsessively listening to it at least once a week (sometimes more) since then. I was so excited to find out that it was playing in Chicago. Until I found out tickets were running from around $300 on up each. Since we could go on a weekend cruise for $500, we just couldn’t pay that much for tickets. However, I found out that they have a lottery for 44 tickets for $10 each every show. So Carl and I had 7 opportunities while we were in town. But with an average of 10,000 people entering every lottery, we didn’t win. Darn it. The show is coming to Orlando in 2018 though so we WILL be going. In the meantime, I’ll listen to the soundtrack another 150 times.

It was a fun day exploring a beautiful city on an equally beautiful day.

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Independence Day

Carl and I started our Independence Day holiday by attending a local parade that we heard from friends was the largest in the area.


Carl and I were very sad that my sister-in-law, Lisa, and my two nephews (neither of which Carl has met, the youngest I haven’t met) were out of town with her family while we were visiting. But that didn’t stop my brother Rob from hosting a BBQ on the 4th of July.


Rob’s daughter, Bryanna, and her boyfriend, Jimmy, joined us.


Rob did an amazing job, grilling hamburgers, hot dogs, chicken wings, butterfly shrimp and vegetables. Nicely done, Rob!


It was nice to spend time at Rob’s lovely home. Nothing like good food and good company!


On the way home, we decided to take a small detour to visit the house we lived in with Kelly when she was ages 1 to 6.


The house looked exactly the same, with the same paint job from 20 years ago! We think it might be the same owners living there. I guess they must really like the house just the way Carl and I left it :).

Since it was so close, we also found the townhouse we lived in during my high school years.


After mom took us to a different unit and claimed it was where we lived and we repeatedly questioned the people in the clubhouse over the location of the clubhouse moving since it wasn’t where we remembered it to be, we walked over the hill back to our car and realized our former unit was right in front of us. Mom and I have the worst memories ever!

Then, since it was vacation after all, we decided to be naughty and get Dairy Queen.


If you are going to eat carbs, that’s a great way to go!

Instead of watching fireworks, since it was Kelly and Avram’s last night with us, we just stayed home and played some games. It was so good to spend time with them both and we are very grateful they came to Chicago. God Bless America!

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