Cats at Petsmart: by Amber

March 22, 2010 - Comments Off on Cats at Petsmart: by Amber

 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 - Comments Off on Closer to home…

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.

Tan Your Toes in the Abacos

March 3, 2010 - Comments Off on Tan Your Toes in the Abacos

DSC03919Just 250 miles east of Florida’s treasure coast lies a group of Bahamian islands called the Abacos. This group of cays or keys (small, low-elevation, sandy islands formed on the surface of coral reefs) boasts 130 miles of, bays, beaches and secluded inlets, and was the perfect backdrop for our friends, David and Kelly’s destination wedding. Had we been in Michigan, we would have bid them farewell, but since we were less than 1 hour away (by plane), Scott, Hilary and I, were happy to join them, along with some of their family and other friends in Hope Town.


We landed in Marsh Harbour, jumped in a taxi, and then onto a Ferry to get us to Hope Town on Elbow Cay. We were greeted by the red and white candy striped lighthouse that majestically looks out over the islands, the pastel houses of the New England-style village, many friendly locals, and the bride and groom.



Government building:The signs just over the doors read “Post Office, Commissioner, Police.” In the basement, we were told, is the one jail cell that is rarely used.


DSC04068 DSC04072

DSC03960  DSC04032

DSC04078 Coral Reef Houe

 Rather than numbers, the houses here have names…

DSC04050…and the beaches are absolutely breathtaking! 




There are coral reefs in abundance to explore that you can get to by boat, as Hilary did with our friends Andrea, David and Laura…

DSC03956 DSC03959

…or just steps off the beach, as Scott and I enjoyed.


While Scott has always enjoyed snorkling, it was my first time, and I discovered, there just is not a glamorous way to do it! Here we are “backing out” towards the reef. After I figured out how to breathe,  and my heart, and nerves settled…it was amazing!


…and then I broke the snorkle clip…ugh!


The wedding was beautiful…

DSC03989  DSC04025




…as was the sunrise each day!

…and finally, we spent a very lazy Sunday (from sun-up to sun-down) on the beach with our toes in the powder soft sand, reading, walking, playing, swimming, snorkeling and soaking in the weather we hope to have in Florida very soon!

DSC03945 DSC04107


Dog days of…Winter

February 25, 2010 - Comments Off on Dog days of…Winter

While our friends Kelly and David have jetted off to the Bahamas to tie the knot, Amber has had the privilege of spending time each day with their dogs, Elvis and Madonna. Amber speaks dog (also cat, and horse) very, very well, and is having a blast!





We even pulled Hilary away from her schoolwork a couple of times to enjoy a run with the dogs, and some fun on the beach. DSC03831


Edison and Ford Winter Estates, Fort Myers Florida

February 20, 2010 - Comments Off on Edison and Ford Winter Estates, Fort Myers Florida

My favorite kind of History lesson is one I can see with my eyes, and while Henry Ford left an enormous impact on industry in Michigan, his dear friend, Thomas Edison, made his mark on Massachusetts, New Jersey and Fort Myers, Florida. Our family toured their winter estates and gardens, a museum in their honor, and Edison’s Botanical Lab. Edison home and Guest House "Genius is one per cent inspiration and ninety-nine per cent perspiration."

-Thomas Edison 

The girls on Edison's back porch Thomas and Mina's Bedroom

Library and Sitting Room Kitchen and Butler's Pantry

I have far more respect for the person with a single idea who gets there than for the person with a thousand ideas who does nothing….

                        -Thomas Edison


DSC03781 Ford's front porch

 The Ford Estate

“You can’t build a reputation on what you are going to do.” – Henry Ford

Ford Living Roon Henry and Clara's bedroom

DSC03768  Hils and Henry

Coming together is a beginning; keeping together is progress; working together is success.

-Henry Ford

Us with Tom in front of the biggest Banyan tree in the country.

The Laboratory…

Lab info

The Lab

Edison, Ford and Firestone each pitched in $25,000.00 in 1928 to build the lab for researching a domestic source of rubber. The impact of  WWI and their concern that the supply of rubber to our country could be cut off prompted the research. Each of their industries would have been greatly impacted.

Light bulb

While Thomas Edison did not invent the light bulb, he was the man who made it better, more affordable, and reproducible . He tested over 3,000 filaments before he was satisfied. He was awarded 1,093 U.S. patents in his lifetime. His purpose for invention was to “transform middle class life.

His greatest accomplishment is said to be his discovery of how to economically generate and distribute light and power -the world we live in is “plugged in,” thanks to Thomas Edison.

His favorite invention; the phonograph.

Office in the Lab

Edison was a man who (like me) believed in “power naps”notice the cot in his Laboratory office. 


Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.   – Thomas Edison

Road Trip to the West Coast of Florida

February 20, 2010 - Comments Off on Road Trip to the West Coast of Florida

Sugar CaneAfter a long, cold January, and plenty of time for our family to get established in our rental on the east coast of Florida, it was time to take a trip to the other side of the state. It was a bonus that friends we’d met while boating in Charlevoix have a winter home there. The drive was uneventful as we traveled through the innards of Florida, right through sugar cane country. We saw the huge plumes of smoke from the controlled burns on the fields and stopped at the edge of the Saint Lucie/Okeechobee Waterway to take a closer look. We also stopped to get a closer view of Lake Okeechobee, a course we would have taken had this been our “Way Big Great Loop Adventure” (come back in 10 years for that one!)

Lake Okeechobee

We arrived at Mike and Karen’s beautiful new home just before dinner.  Amidst the painting crew and in spite of the lack of furniture (thanks Mike for moving that last bed over for us!) we found our friends with an open home and open arms for our crew.  Karen said she is not yet sure how to decorate in Mediterranean style…I offered to take a trip with her to the Mediterranean, so the two of us could figure it out together…

DSC03742 A room with a view…





Sunset at Humphrey's

DSC03712After an amazing sunset from their patio, dinner, and a good night’s sleep, we enjoyed a boat ride before we set off on our adventure for the day. I always enjoy seeing towns from the water and Fort Myers, the “City of Palms” does not lack in beauty, or places to visit by boat.

The boys

 Fort Myers  

  boat ride

City of Palms

Joe's Crab Shack

“This is mission control Houston…”

February 12, 2010 - Comments Off on “This is mission control Houston…”

“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.

DSC03526 DSC03525

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.

DSC03527 DSC03532

DSC03536 DSC03534


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 - Comments Off on A trip across the ocean and back in time…

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 - Comments Off on Science Field Trip: Florida Oceanographic Coastal Center

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


DSC03383 DSC03388

DSC03390 DSC03389

DSC03393 DSC03402

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 - Comments Off on Fishing With My Friends in Florida:

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