Archive for the ‘Florida’ Category

East Coast, Here We Come…
April 11, 2010

After delivering the contents of our refrigerator, freezer, and a giant orca to (neighbors) Mark and Julie’s, we are off!


I will miss my dear friend,


Tyler will miss his fishing buddies (experts) Tanner and Garrett, and we will all miss McKenna’s million dollar smile and hugs!

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We are packed, loaded and on our way!


So Much to Blog About…So Little Time
April 7, 2010

We have been enjoying the beautiful weather that arrived just in time for the spring breakers, and more visits with friends and family.



…including a Saturday at Sanlan with grandma and grandpa, looking for gators.


DSC04364                (This look means “Mom, grandpa gave me a pop and I know you won’t do a thing about it!”)

…then a Sunday boat show in West Palm.


…and with the money we saved by eating in

and the current business boom

we were able to put a down payment on a cute little run-about big enough for our family…




…April fools!


…Saturday fishing and fun with our good friends, Russ, Shawn, Cassie, Joe and Pops family from Charlevoix…


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…making chocolate dipped sweets for Easter



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Then Easter Sunday dinner at “crazy cousin Dan’s” in Fort Lauderdale


As we pulled in Hilary asked “Are we going to be eating with more family we never knew we had?”

“Yes, honey.”

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But as everyone knows (right Abbey?) once you meet cousin Dan, you never will forget him…nor his best friend, Captain Mauler!

DSC04495  Hahaha



And finally, plenty of sunshine and more fun with the arrival of (my sister) Cindy, Craig and Tiffany.



Grandma and girls



With hugs and kisses we have said goodbye…

…now we are packing, one last time.

The Sailfish Capital of the World
March 28, 2010

I realize that we have been sitting still for a while, but have not yet showcased this mid-sized town that we have loved living in. Stuart is about an hour north of West Palm, which is our nearest airport, and 2 1/2 hours south of Orlando. From our rental house on the St. Lucie River, we are minutes from the ocean and downtown, and, like our hometown of Charlevoix, we are surrounded by water. In this town, once you have figured out where each of the 5 bridges take you, and how to navigate “confusion corners,” you are considered a local.

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fountain  Sailfish fountain

On weekends especially, we enjoy a stroll through town, complete with a stop at one of our favorite places, Kilwins!

Look familiar? The store next door (behind Jeanne) is Harbor Wear…little reminders of home.


Harbor Wear 

We loved having Denny (Scott’s brother) and Jeanne join us for a week in Stuart…

025  My guys

…and, I seriously think being married to brothers, Jeanne and I have rubbed off on each other. We dressed like twins for church on Sunday (completely unplanned!)


…and, now this is really scary and again unplanned, we dressed alike for dinner too!


Company is company, but family isn’t always…Scott didn’t feel bad about putting his brother to work.DSC04274

…but a clean beach is a fun place to spend a Sunday afternoon!

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But as Monday rolled around, it was back to business for the rest of us, while Denny and Jeanne soaked up sun.

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Amber’s work was done by the time Jeanne came around with the camera but the Charlevoix Rayders Middle School girls basketball games are great live entertainment here in Stuart too! Thanks for taking Amber along Mr. Prescott!

The week after Denny and Jeanne left we took in a couple of evening shows downtown at the “Lyric Theatre.” The whole family went to see an energetic performance by Stepcrew, and Hilary and I went to see the American Ballet Theatre II perform.


Swan Lake ABT2

American Ballet Theatre II

…and, once again, being downtown, we had to make an ice cream run!


Cats at Petsmart: by Amber
March 22, 2010

 DSC04249 Every Tuesday I volunteer at Petsmart. I take care of and play with cats that need homes. Right now there are 5 cats named Liz, Freeway, Muffin, Missy, and Princess Diana.



Muffin and Missy are Sisters but muffin has a lot of white on her chest and is laid back but doesn’t like to be held very much. Missy has no white fur and is very shy but curious about just about everything! She and I have created a bond and the second day I saw her, it was like we have known each other since she was a kitten. Missy also likes to lick your fingers and bite on your fingers very softly like she is sucking on you finger.

DSC04269                                                                                                      Missy

Freeway is a beautiful cat that has a light brown stripe on his chest to his belly, which makes him one of my favorite cats there for some reason. If he was my cat, I would name him cookie because I am always calling him that and he reminds me of a cookie. It is always funny because he likes the big cage (where two other cats stay) and when it is time to go and put the cats in there own cages, he clings to the big cage door for dear life!DSC04267


Liz and Princess Diana have been there for a while like Muffin and Missy but longer! Princess Diana and Liz are both pretty young and are very lovable. Princess Diana loves to run around the small room and is always ready to play.



There is a difference between putting Princess Diana in and out  of the cage. When she is in her cage, she is calm and likes to be petted. But when Princess is out of her cage, there is no stopping her playfulness and energy. Liz is good with Muffin and Missy. They can all be in the same room and not mind.


Muffin, Missy and Liz having playtime

DSC04251So every Tuesday is a new day at Petsmart to see if any cats are adopted or not. Even though they are not horses, I love them all so very much.   


Closer to home…
March 16, 2010

We have been looking forward to March since the day we settled into our Stuart house. March has been a month of visits from family which makes us feel a little closer to home. My sister Gerri, her husband Mick and their three kids Alyssa, Haley and Keegan were our first visitors.

DSC04147We were so thrilled to have them! With Mick’s culinary skills and gramdma’s talent, we ate extremely well! The teenage girls spent one night with grandma and then grandma spent a couple nights here so she wouldn’t miss out on any of the fun OR Mick’s Eggs Benedict. We had a great time swimming, sunning (with goose bumps much of the time) and playing games. In spite of our fun, we still managed to get our work done.


The following weekend, Scott’s parents joined us for a couple days…and our niece Kelly, her boyfriend Chris and their dog Cornelius, have spent a couple Sunday afternoons with us.


 DSC04240Hilary spent a day with Kelly at the school where she teaches Health and Chris teaches PE and coaches varsity Football. It was a great experience for Hilary to be a “minority” for the day, and she and Cornelius seem to have grown quite fond of each other.


With a little more family coming in March and three more families during Spring Break we will have had a good dose of home…just in time to head north.

“This is mission control Houston…”
February 12, 2010

“We are now at T – 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, Booster Ignition, 2, 1, and Liftoff of the Space Shuttle Endeavour on it’s way to the International Space Station to deliver a bay window view to our celestial backyard.”

Nasa photo

Photo credit: NASA

Tyler is wrapped in his favorite fuzzy blanket. I’m in my pajamas, robe and fleece coat. It is 4:14 am and we are sitting on the dock facing due north as we witness the launch of the space shuttle Endeavor.  A “fire ball in the sky” is the best way that I can describe it. It’s fiery tail was visible until the Solid Rocket Booster burned out and separated. We could clearly see the separation, just a few minutes into the flight. We watched for almost ten minutes, until it disappeared from our sight. My video did not turn out all that well, because at 75 miles away, my camera could not figure out how to focus. I’m sharing my best picture…Shuttle

…and a much better video can be viewed at the NASA web-site. The mission is STS 130.


Just 12 hours before the launch we were on a tour of the Kennedy Space Center. We drove by the building where the astronaut’s were taking their afternoon naps, in preparation for the early morning launch.  There was so much to see, so much to take in, so much to learn, that one day is not nearly enough to understand all the history, current events and future plans of what NASA has in store.


We also have NASA and space science technology to thank for many of the things that our children take for granted. Cell phones, laptops (and the batteries that power them), and artificial limbs are just a few…



Here Tyler is standing in a node, much like the one that the space shuttle is delivering to the Space Station right now. These giant “coffee can-like” structures are where the cosmonauts eat, sleep, and work in the space station everyday.

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The Saturn V rocket is the largest and most powerful vehicle ever launched in the history of space exploration, and was used during the Apollo and Skylab missions…It is also, one of the most massive things I have ever seen! I wish photos could show the enormity of it!


DSC03540Apollo missions that have landed on the moon…


There were a total of 6 moon landings, two men each.

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My own little “Rocket Man”…I guess there is a chance that he could see this place again in his lifetime… “but I think it’s gonna be a long, long time!”

A trip across the ocean and back in time…
February 3, 2010

We recently had dinner at the home of our new friends, Mahmoud and Alia Hadid. Mahmoud, is our landlord (fishing buddy, chef, and landscaper…from a previous post) and is an ex-patriot of the Middle East. He was born in Nazareth, spent much of his childhood in Greece, and then moved to Washington D.C. with his family during his teenage years. He speaks many languages, and travels abroad 6 times a year. As far as we are concerned he is a walking history book (he has lived it), which is great for my two daughters who are studying World History this year. His wife Alia is originally from Kuwait, where she lived until they married in 1992.

 After touDSC03457ring their home, the gardens and the grounds, it was time for dinner. Alia prepared a delicious Mediterranean meal for us, and their beautiful, eclectic home is mostly Italian Renaissance. They are both talented artists, and have an art and artifact collection that not only spans the globe, but also dates back to the time of Christ.










(Roll mouse over photos for descriptions)

Olivewood pot from Nazareth: (with some newer ones) for grinding grain, very much like the one Mary Magdelene would have used


    Grecian Pillars - Italian Renaissance painting

  Artemis: goddess of the sun

Alia's most recent piece  Mamoud's first piece, (hanging) a gift for his mother

Authentic piece of the Kiswa that covers the Kaa'ba in Mecca Artifacts, jewelry, weapons...that date back to the times of the Byzantine and Ottoman Empires - except for the bug


This is one of several prints in their home of Momoud’s great, great…grandfather (no kidding), Dhaher Al-Omar ruler of Syria during the 17th century.

Daher el-Omar is considered by many Arab nationalists as a pioneer of the Arab liberation from foreign occupation. He succeeded in creating an autonomous territory in the Galilee, helped by the governors of Mount Lebanon (the Vilayet of Tyre), Egypt, Russia, and to some extent the consuls of France.

He is also remembered in reference to his approach to minorities, showing tolerance towards and encouraging Jews and Christians.

                                                                                                                               Internet Source: Wikipedia

 In the mid-1700s, Dhaher al-Omar, an Arab native and ruler of the Galilee and Acre who was hostile toward Ottoman rule, rose to become the most dominant figure in northern Palestine.

                                                                                                                                                    Internet Source: Nablus Guide


By special request, I am including a picture of his new, reconditioned pride and joy, a 1973 Rolls Royce; Mahmoud is also a collector of automobiles!

Now back to the 21st century…and time to leave. As we said goodbye, our gracious friends gave each of our children gifts. Hilary, Amber and Tyler were so surprised, and so grateful! A place, a dinner, some friends that will not be forgotten, and a History lesson included!

Gifts... More gifts...

and more gifts.

Science Field Trip: Florida Oceanographic Coastal Center
January 27, 2010

It has been at least 6 years since we visited FOCC on Hutchinson Island’s south end. With it being just two miles from us, it was time for a science trip. FOCC has plenty to see and do at it’s 57 acre site including nature trails, a game and local fish lagoon, Rays on the Reef Ray Pavilion, where you can feed and touch sting rays, and the Frances Langford Visitor’s Center. They have many educational programs and are committed to research and preservation of this very diverse part of Florida.



We arrived just in time for lunch(for the sting rays!) The menu; fresh fish, calamari (squid), and shrimp. After we all had a chance to touch the sting rays (their barbs have been removed) as they swam by, Tyler decided that since Amber was the animal lover, she could do the feeding… she’s definitely not afraid of getting her hands dirty!


Later on, we spent a good amount of time inside the Francis Langford Visitor Center where there was plenty to see, touch, and observe.


For our young (or young at heart) followers, can you find the:

  • Sea Urchin (trying to camoflague itself)
  • Sea Anemone
  • Sea Turtle carapace (shell)
  • Sea Cucumber
  • Eel (which scared Amber when he shot out of his hiding place!)
  • Seahorse


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We also saw an extensive collection of fish from this area and in the Carribean, that were caught and donated by Frances Langford.

Did you know that the Dolphin is a fish? Restaurants in this area often serve fresh Dolphin, but had to answer to those who were upset (and confused) by seeing it on the menu. Some of those same restaurants now have Mahi-mahi on the menu (the adopted Hawiian name for the fish) for those patrons who mistake it with the playful mammal that we envision jumping through hoops and kissing Sea World visitors.

Dolphin - center of photo - greenish in color with a flattened nose and long dorsal fin 


Blue Marlin



     The parts of the Blue Fin Tuna that the shark didn't getSailfish


Fishing With My Friends in Florida:
January 22, 2010

By Tyler

I didn’t fish much in Michigan, but down here I learned the best way from my friends, Garrett and Tanner. You will need three fishing poles, hose, dock, large bucket, large cast net, cutting table and knife.

fishing supplies

First, you throw the cast net. You don’t need to bring any bait so please, don’t. The cast net is for catching the bait. If you catch a big fish, skip to the big fish part. If you catch a small fish put it in the bucket with water right away or hook it on one pole. Don’t hook it in the stomach, hook it by the top fin and then cast the fishing pole fast because you don’t want it to die, you want it to swim. Then repeat two more times, so you have fish for the other poles. If you have three fish swimming around, then there is a better chance that one will get eaten.

casting the net


Got a Mullet!shark bait!

Big Fish Part

If you catch a bigger fish in the net or on the pole you can use if for shark bait or cut it and clean the guts out and eat it. The shark bait catching part is kind of gross, so I’m not going to type any more.


                                      The (cool yet gross) End

three boys

Tyler’s announcement; “I never want to leave!”
January 20, 2010

If you know us or have followed us for long you might have noticed that our Tyler (age 8 ) is a pretty deep thinker with the vocabulary of a college student. Every single day he surprises us with something new and sometimes, (true confession here, and yes, I do have a master’s in education) I have to leave the room to go look a word up.

After discovering that we not only had neighbors, but that two of them were boys (brothers) ages 8 and 10, Tyler couldn’t wait to meet them. The “boy radar” must have been out, because on Saturday morning into our driveway rode Tanner and Garrett on bikes. The boys rang the doorbell and Tyler opened the door and greeted them with, “Come on in guys. Let’s play!” The polite boys hesitated slightly and asked, “Shouldn’t we introduce ourselves first?”

…boys, neighbors, boys, real boys, not girls…

Our poor son. He has spent a great amount of time pouring himself into books, Legos and video games to escape a girl world. He has only sisters and more girl cousins in Charlevoix and girl friends (I separated that on purpose) than he can count on all his little fingers and toes. He has some boy friends too, but the poor child goes to school in Petoskey, so play-dates with boys are few and far between.

3 Boys Fishing

…you can fill in the rest from there.  Tyler is having a ball and learning to fish from two (young) master fisherman. Oh, and the “never want to leave” part, that would come right after he asked me at the dinner table Saturday night, “Mom, is there a chance that you might have a late pregnancy?”

“No, son. I’m sorry. But I think I know why you are asking. You want a brother, don’t you.”

“Yep. But if I can’t have a brother, then I never want to leave!”


Tyler’s fishing post coming soon…