Instawhat: Photo Dump


Hi there.  We’ve been busy living summer.  This here’s a photo dump of what I posted on Instagram for the end of June and most of July.  These pictures pretty much sum up our summer thus far.  See that freckle faced boy?  Poor Casper has skin just like his mommy & daddy… fair & freckled.  No amount of sun leaves a tan on him.  Not that the constant application of 55 spf helps that situation.  It does, however, help that whole skin cancer issue.  You’re welcome, Bug.


I never thought about this when we were naming him, but I am thankful that we chose a short, easy to spell, easy to write name for our son.  He’s been able to spell Eli for months, and now he’s figuring out how to write it.  This was the first time I had him try it (though they may have practiced at school).  With the exception of the letters themselves being backwards, I was was really impressed.


I manage a full service restaurant.  We all know that.  We also cater.  Catering is kind of my baby at work, and we went from rarely catering (like, maybe once a year) to catering events 6-8 times a year.  I love being able to cook something fresh for someone’s wedding or birthday.  I also love the challenge of making a beautiful, delicious meal in an unconventional setting… makeshift kitchen, cooking out of coolers, etc.  We have yet to cater an event where people weren’t really happy, and that makes all of the stress of the organization and timing totally worth it.  This particular wedding was at the same estate where Hubby and I got married, which made it extra special for me.  This couple’s first dance was to Jack Johnson’s “Better Together,” which happens to be the same song that Hubby & I shared our first dance to almost 7 years ago.  I was very excited about that.  Also, the couple had their first date at our restaurant, which I thought was pretty awesome.  It sideways torrential downpoured about thirty minutes before that photo was taken.  Yay for improvising & for portable sunshades!


Hubby and I got to go golfing.  By ourselves.  We laughed a lot.  Love that man.


Fourth of July to me is celebrating with friends and family on the beach and watching the fireworks go off over the water.  This year we were able to share the evening with our new friends from church, some of whom had never experienced the 4th the way we do it in a coastal town.  Our little boy got to play with all of his buddies… I was in heaven watching him be so excited and happy.


After breakfast one morning, Bug said, “Mommy, let’s snuggle.”  Couldn’t say no to that.  Plus, we were both wearing our tie-dyed shirts that we made together.


Random boat trip on the Myakka River.  We packed a lunch, cruised for a bit and just spent time together.  It was a beautiful day with my boys.


A long time ago, when I first started blogging, I had a Pineapple Project.  A pineapple grew from a pineapple grew from a pineapple plant I had planted and I documented the process.  That first pineapple was 4 years ago.  That same plant grew another fruit the following year.  The original plant died off, leaving a pup plant, which is what pineapple plants do.  That pup finally bore fruit this year.  Usually, pineapples start growing in the summer and are ready to eat by December or so… or, at least, my last two pineapples followed that timeline.  This guy started growing in the winter (which was very warm) and was ripe by summer.  The cold snap we had in the middle of that is probably what made him a munchkin pineapple.  He was seriously tiny, but oh-so-sweet and tasty.


We closed for three days at work to do some remodeling and maintenance work.  In three days we managed to empty the kitchen of nearly all of the equipment, re-tile the kitchen, office & dry storage areas, re-pave the parking lot, sand down and re-epoxy the bar top, paint several inside doors, paint some furniture, paint the outdoor patio floor, paint the walls in dry storage and deep clean all of the equipment and pretty much the entire inside of the restaurant.  And, proudly, the only thing that we didn’t do ourselves was the kitchen floor & the parking lot.  I wore a face mask for three days, but it was totally worth it to see the outcome.  Also, it was amazing how many customers walked across the blocked off and freshly tarred parking lot to see if we were closed.


We went on a mini-vacation with my parents to Steinhatchee.  Steinhatchee is a really small town on a rive that leads out to the Gulf in the armpit of Florida.  I don’t mean it’s smelly… it’s just in the curve of Florida before the panhandle.  The scalloping there in the summer is awesome… you snorkel on the grass flats and pick up the most delicious little bay scallops.  We had a great long weekend, but it rained a lot so there wasn’t actually a lot of scalloping to be done.


There is definitely a Hungry Howie’s on the river.  You can call in your order when you are done fishing or scalloping or whatever and then go pick it up by boat.  This made a pregnant lady very happy.


This is how Bug spends his time in the boat.  Catching, naming, playing with and then releasing bait fish and shrimp.  It is amazing how quickly those little hands can grab a pin fish.


While swimming at the beach house, Bug turned Aunt Millie in to an elephant.  He’s quite the magician.


After swimming at the beach house, Bug & I went for $0.99 ice cream at our favorite farm market, Detwiler’s.  Kid takes his ice cream seriously.

What have you been up to this summer?


Instawhat: Week of 6/16


For the first four months of this pregnancy I was so tired that I spent every free moment napping.  Finally, about a month ago, I started exercising again.  I’ve been running once or twice a week and, man, does it feel good.  Don’t worry, I’ve been taking it super easy… alternating jogging for 5 minutes or so and then walking for a few minutes.  There is a great, wide bike trail that runs throughout our county that I take advantage of as often as I can… mostly because it is full of views just like this.


We spent the weekend with Uncle Chris & Aunt Millie (Bug’s Godparents) and Chris’ wonderful kids Karley & Timothy.  Chris’ grandmother has a home right on the beach here in Venice, so we took advantage of the fact that she is up north for the summer.  That’s Hubby and the kids heading from the pool to the beach.  Rough life, huh?


Buggers and Karley enjoying an awesome surf & turf dinner on the grill.


When Hubby told the kids that he brought fireworks, they were excited.  When he told Uncle Chris, he might have jumped up and down a little bit.  Proof that boys never really grow up.  They just get big enough to use lighters all by themselves.


Yeah fireworks on old crab traps!


Sunday morning swim session/water gun fight.  What else would you do after breakfast?

What did you do this weekend?

My Second Super Scary Mom Moment

My first super scary mom moment came when Bug fell head over heels down half a flight of stairs when we were visiting my best friend Randi in Iowa.  I almost threw up and had a heart attack at the same time.  I shook for a good while after that happened, even though it was evident that he was just fine… survived, thank God, with just a goose egg on his forehead.


One gray morning a few weeks ago, Bug and I headed to this awesome new playground in Sarasota.  There was hardly anybody there even though it was like 10:30, which is prime preschool-age playtime, if you didn’t know.  By the time Bug had his accident, we were the only people there.  Cloudy skies make for scaredy-cats.  Let me start by saying that Bug is not an uber-adventurous little boy.  He is not, nor has he ever been, a climber.  He is very cautious.  This particular day, however, Bug actually wanted to climb things.  At first, he wanted my hand on him at all times.  About half an hour into our playground adventure, he was telling me, “Hands off, Momma!”  Still, though, I was constantly standing super close, ready to catch him.  Something about this playground… although it is awesome and fantastic, some of the high up spots are hard to get to for parents.  Bug climbed up some stairs and was going to go down a slide, where I was standing, but instead took off a different direction to climb down this series of ladders (he was positioned kind of between two ladders).  I told him to stop so he wouldn’t fall before I could walk around a climbing structure and another slide.  Of course, he didn’t listen and started to climb down.  He slipped and dropped about 5 feet to the ground, landing kind of on his knees and then onto his belly.

I dropped my camera and ran to my crying little boy.  I looked him over and didn’t see anything wrong.  Because he pretty much fell straight down, I knew he didn’t land on his head or neck.  I thought maybe there was a chance of a sprained ankle or wrist, but nothing major.  He was already starting to calm down when I saw blood on my arm.  I immediately looked in his mouth, since he ended up face down after he landed… nothing.  I looked at his ears… nothing.  And then I realized that there was a lot of blood and that is was mostly on my arm.  It was gushing from the back of his head.  There was a gash about a quarter of an inch long, and deep.  He must have hit the back of his head on the ladder behind him at the beginning of his fall.  I calmly picked Bug up, picked up my camera and headed to our bag.  I took out a clean pair of underwear (because it was either that or pants) and held them to the back of his head while I called my mom & Hubby & his pediatrician to see where I should take him to get it looked at.  He stopped crying and just leaned against me while I held undies on his head.  After a few minutes, most of the bleeding had stopped and we went to the car, where I cleaned most of the blood off of our skin with a bottle of water.

And then, we went to the Urgent Care clinic.  I was expecting numerous ER visits with having a boy, but I wasn’t expecting the first to be when he was only 2.  After I explained that we weren’t going to his usual doctor, who he LOVES, he was very concerned with what this new doctor’s name was going to be.  He must’ve asked 100 times before I could finally find out the clinic doctor’s name.  Once I told Bug that his name was Dr. Choy, he was just like, “Oh.” The doc checked him out and decided that although he probably could’ve used a stitch, it really wasn’t necessary.  The nurse cleaned it and gave Bug a Beanie Baby for being so brave.

And let me tell you… brave he was.  My bug didn’t cry the whole way to the doctor, even though he couldn’t lean his head back against his car seat.  He didn’t cry one time at the clinic, either, even when the nurse was cleaning out his wound.  He was polite and chatted nicely with the nurse and doctor.  I was insanely proud of him.  And, on top of all of that… he didn’t have an accident in his underwear the entire time.  It had probably been 2 hours since I’d taken him potty, and I didn’t even think to take him before we left the playground (where the potty was far away, anyways) or right when we got to the clinic.  So, we peed in the potty at the clinic, said goodbye and went to McDonald’s for a celebratory first real injury lunch.

We called Namaw (my mom) and she asked how he got his boo-boo.  He said, “I fell at the awesome playground.”  Later that night, Hubby asked Bug how he got his big boo-boo.  He said, “I was climbing, and I fell and Momma didn’t catch me.”  Ouch.  Break my heart, why don’t ya.

A note on this scary moment versus the first… this was much less traumatic for me, even though Bug was actually injured this time.  Maybe it was because the fall itself wasn’t as scary.  Maybe it was because I saw how he landed.  Maybe it was because as soon as I heard him cry I knew he was ok.  Maybe it was because when he fell down the stairs, I was right next to him and couldn’t catch him in time.  I am just thankful that he wasn’t seriously injured.

Instawhat: Week of 1/20


Superman and his muscles.  I die.


“Mom, I’n a princess dragon!”  Almost peed my pants laughing so hard.


Namaw (my mom), Bug and I went to Mote Marine on Thursday, and then to Chick-Fil-A for lunch.  We had such a fun time.  This is Bug on the way home, ballin’ with his sunglasses on and chocolate chip cookie all over his face.  As my friend Stef said, “They see me rollin. They hatin.”


Thursday was the best day ever, except for the thirty minute I refuse to go potty unless you let me take off my underwear by myself, wait no you do it for me, wait no let me do it, oh crap I lost my chance to do it myself now I’m going to scream tantrum Bug threw before dinner.  After he calmed down and started acting like a big boy, the three of us went to Bogey’s for a fun family dinner.  We played video games and chatted and had so much fun that Bug got to stay up until 9:00.


On Saturday, Nana, Pops, Aunt Annie, Hubby, Bug & I all went out to O’Brien Family Farms in Bradenton to do a little strawberry pickin’.  Bug was totally into finding the reddest strawberries and was a pro at picking them off their stems after like 5 minutes.  We had a blast picking berries, lettuce and broccoli, and then we wandered through their blueberry bushes, played in the mud and bought some veggies from their farmer’s market.  I am a sucker for farmer’s markets, especially one like this, where they grow everything on the property.  Amazing.  Also, the most delicious strawberry milkshake ever.

I might try to actually write some real posts this week, but no promises!!

Instawhat: Week of 1/13

So, last week, I was all, “I’m totally back on the blogging wagon, ya’ll!”  And now, holy cow, it’s already Friday and I realized this morning that I didn’t blog even once this week.  Yeehaw.


Last Monday, we had some good friends over for dinner.  We grilled some bacon basil wrapped BBQ shrimp.  They were tasty.  I also made brussel sprouts for the first time.  I oven roasted them (oven on 375′ for about 40 minutes) with some garlic, olive oil & almonds and they were delicious.  Seriously.  Awesome.


This is how we play in January in Florida.  Bug insisted that it was “too hawt” to put on a shirt.  I agreed.


Now, at this point on Thursday’s visit to the coolest playground ever, the explanation to this picture would have said something along the lines of: we played at a super awesome new playground and Bug was a big boy and actually climbed on things.  However, now the explanation reads: this was taken about 15 minutes prior to Bug falling and splitting the back of his head open, warranting a trip to Urgent Care, where he, thankfully, didn’t have a concussion nor were stitches absolutely necessary.  That will be a whole post unto itself.

Happy Friday!

Instawhat – Week of 9/9


Bug is very into pretending right now.  One of his new favorites is to pretend this basket is a boat.  He sings “Row, Row, Row Your Boat” the whole time he’s in it.


Building an imaginary sand castle in the rain.  I can see it, can’t you?  It’s the most impressive sand castle I have ever seen.  I actually mean that… I’m not being sarcastic.  For once.


Silly faces in the bathtub…


… followed by wearing a bucket as a helmet.


We have like one day a week where Bug just sits in his crib and sings to himself for an hour.  No fussing, but no sleeping either.  Problem is, if he doesn’t sleep, he turns into a crazy man by about 6pm.  Saturday: no nap + we had a party to go to = nervous Momma.  So, I put on a movie after “naptime.”  Bug sat and cuddled with me for the entirety of Toy Story.  It was awesome.  And, it bought me until 7:15, at which point he turned into a total wild man, obvi.


Game Day!  Go Gators!  Yay Walmart for having Gator jerseys for just $18!  And with Tebow’s number nonetheless!  Woohoo!  Also, we won…take that, Tennessee!

Fishin’ in Boca

I was all set to label this post as being Bug’s first fishing trip.  But then I remembered that we took him fishing last year.  Except for he didn’t actually fish… he just played in the pack-n-play in the boat.  Not that he really fished this time, either, but at least he was there and more involved than a year ago.

You see, Hubby & I love to fish.  I hadn’t been fishing in FOREVER and every time lately that Hubby has gotten to go, I haven’t been able to join him.  So, we carved out some time on a random Sunday a couple of weeks ago and took our little boat down to Boca Grande.  It was awesome.  We got up super early (and by that I mean 6:30… which is super early for me) and fished for a couple of hours before stopping at a cute little place on the water for brunch.  Buggy mostly just played in the boat, but he did fish a little bit with his Cars pole and helped me reel my line in.  He also got to touch the fish that we caught.

For awhile, when he was younger, Bug was very antsy in the boat.  He didn’t want to sit still while we were moving fast, which made it pretty much a pain to take him out on the water.  Now, though, he loves to sit on your lap while we are zipping around, which is SO much easier and so much fun.  He also likes to wear Daddy’s hat over his face (he can see through the little holes up top & thinks it’s hilarious).

Something Beautiful

Yesterday evening, we were at a playground.  Bug and I were playing and chasing each other when he spotted two little girls playing in the sand.  He walked up and said hi to them.  And that was it.  No more words were exchanged.  None were needed.  He sat down and started helping them build a sand castle (using the most primitive form of the word, seeing as we’re talking about toddlers here).  The three of them worked together, gathering sand with their hands, dumping it onto a mound and patting it smooth, adding sticks and leaves here and there.

For some reason, it struck me as a beautiful moment.  Beautiful because my toddler is at an age where he can play with others.  Beautiful because my child is brave enough to play with other children that he doesn’t know.  Beautiful because my sweet little boy was playing so sweetly with these girls… and not destroying their creation, but helping them create further.

It was also beautiful to be able to walk away, give him some space and just observe.

Surfer Boy

I would like to start by saying that yesterday was the first time we’d seen the sun in almost a week.  The clouds started last Thursday, followed by 5 straight days of nothing but wind and rain.  Thank you, Tropical Storm Debby.  Now, if you live in Washington or, say, Alaska, you might be used to not seeing the sun for 5 days.  Spending pretty much my whole life in Florida, I am NOT okay with no sunshine.  Yesterday’s sun (and accompanying heat) was welcome.

Tropical Storm Debby not only threw wind and rain our direction, but also waves.  Hubby is a surfer and got to spend the entire day Sunday surfing some of the best waves the west coast of Florida has seen in quite some time.  Saturday, the waves were smaller, but still pretty well formed, so we decided to take Bug for his first surf session.

We started by having him sit on a board while Hubby & I swam & pulled the board to the sand bar… where the little waves were breaking.  The plan was for Hubby to push him into a wave & for me to be on the receiving end should he fall.  2 problems with this plan: 1) Bug was not excited about being on the board by himself and 2) the tide was so high that I could barely stand on the sand bar… treading water for an hour was NOT going to happen.  We didn’t want him to be scared of the situation, and I didn’t want to drown, so we ended up going back to shore with me swimming and Hubby paddling on the board with Bug on front.  He paddled Bug around for a while and tried to have him stand on the board for a minute.

After a little break, we decided to take him out with 2 boards… Hubby & Bug on one and then me on another.  This worked out SO much better!  Hubby & Bug caught one decent wave, and Buggy loved every bit of the 6 second thrill ride.  I was on the inside, waiting to dive off and grab him if fell off (don’t worry, he had a life vest on, too).  He did fall off a couple of times, but each time he wanted to get right back on and do it again.  There was a lot of excited squealing going on.

Bug’s first surf session was a huge success.  It was also a dream come true for Hubby.  Surfing is Hubby’s one true passion.  To the point of all plans will be cancelled if there is surf… with the exception of childbirth.  Ever since we found out I was pregnant, you could just see him playing a video in his mind of taking his kid surfing for the first time.  God help any child of ours who doesn’t like water.

“I’mma go surfin” is now the new favorite phrase in our house.

When did you first share your passions with your children?  When did they first participate?

Lowry Park Zoo

Buggy’s spring break was a couple of weeks ago, which meant we packed the week full of fun activities.

**Side note – spring break in preschool?  Yes.  Or, you can pay $34 a day to not have spring break.  I vote spring break + free.  Thank you for family that lives close by.**

This was Bug’s spring break:
Monday: Splash pad with Nana & Great Nana
Tuesday: Beach with the Momma
Wednesday: Pool with the Momma (which lasted 5 minutes before Bug decided he was more interested in playing “bastaball” (basketball).
Thursday:  Lowry Park Zoo
Friday: Playtime at the farm with Grandma & Papa
Seriously.  Good week for a boy.

So, back to what this post is actually supposed to be about.  The zoo.  Nana & Pops took Bug & me to the zoo in Tampa.  It was awesome.   Lowry Park is geared really well towards small children.  I was a little worried that an almost-2-year-old might get a little bored, but I was way wrong.  Bug had a blast.

I was surprised and impressed at how interested Bug was in the animals.  So interested, in fact, that we couldn’t get him to look at the camera for even one picture.  All I could get was the back of his head.  We spent the couple of days prior talking about how we were going to go to the zoo and what kind of animals we were going to see there.  If you asked him what we were going to do tomorrow, he’d say “animal!”  (I normally try to spell his words the way he says them, ’cause it’s cute & funny, but he actually says that one correctly.)  If you asked him what kind of animals we were going to see, he’d start spouting off zoo animal noises… roaring like a lion, hooting like a monkey, hissing like a snake, trumpeting like an elephant.  The only problem we had was coming with a giraffe noise.  After our zoo visit, we decided that giraffes eat a lot and therefore make a chewing noise, which is awful cute to watch the Bug imitate.

So anyways, Bug loved the animals.  At each exhibit, he’d ask “up peees” for someone to pick him up so that he could see whatever animal was waiting there.  He especially loved the giraffes and the monkeys.  We got to see one Siamang swing across a rope, which was really cool. We saw lions and elephants and camels and snakes and rhinos and penguins.

There were two parts of the zoo that Bug didn’t like.  First was the lorikeets.  They are these beautiful, colorful little birds that you can feed with nectar.  You walk into their cage/home/area and hold the nectar out.  They come perch on your hand and eat away.  Bug was helping me hold some nectar and doing great, until some of the birds got in a fight over Nana’s nectar and one flew onto Bug’s head.  I’m sure it hurt, because their feet have some sharp little talons.  He freaked out, but not for long.  We didn’t leave the area right away, because we wanted him to see that it was okay.  He wasn’t crying anymore by the time we walked out, but he didn’t want to get near the birds again, either.  The other thing he didn’t like was the petting zoo.  You can walk right in and pet goats and a llama.  My kid does not like goats… just like his grandma.  He refused to pet them and got mad when I tried to pet them.  Too bad, because we really wanted to get a picture of Bug petting a llama… they are Scary Uncle Adam’s favorite.

Quite possibly Bug’s favorite part of the zoo featured, what else… WATER!  They had two different splash fountain areas and at the end of our visit, we changed Bug into his bathing suit and let him loose.  He couldn’t have been happier… or more fearless.

I have mixed feelings about zoos in general… or really about anybody who keeps large exotic animals in an enclosed space.  I won’t even go look at the tigers they bring to our local county fair.  Makes me angry.  I know that zoos like Lowry Park are trying to preserve endangered species, which is why I have mixed feelings.  One of the reasons that I love Mote Marine (the aquarium here in Sarasota) is because a majority of the large animals they house are rescues.  For the most part, they haven’t purchased creatures just for the sake of entertaining the masses.  That being said, I was pretty impressed by the enclosures at Lowry Park.  Most of them are pretty large, though certainly not large enough for the animals to run at their normals speeds for more than a moment.  The monkey enclosures have lots of climbing structure and aren’t caged in and it appears as though they have tried to replicate the natural habitats… as much as is possible in super hot & super humid Florida.

Bug is really funny when it comes to park and fairs and museums… he is normally a pretty chatty kid, but when we’re doing something with a lot going on, he gets pretty quiet.  He takes it all in.  He really pays attention to what’s going on.  I love that about him.  Needless to say, there was no nap on the way home, because Bug couldn’t stop talking about the zoo.  Apparently, his first zoo trip really sunk in, too, because that night, before bed, the only books he wanted to read were animals books.