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?

Instawhat: Week of 5/26


After not running for 4 months, I’ve been trying to get back to it… I’m attempting to run once a week.  Don’t worry, my doctor says its okay and I’m taking it really easy.  My run last week was on an ominous day.  Actually, every day for the past week or so has been rather ominous… lots of gray clouds and threats of rain with only sporadic bursts of actual rain.  I love running on days like this.  The sun isn’t beating down on you, there is a little bit of a breeze and the sky is so interesting to look at.


Bug started swim lesson on Saturday!  Ok, short run down on Bug’s swimming progress over the last year:

  • Beginning of last summer (exactly 2 years old) – Bug LOVED the water.  He would hold himself under as long as he could, jump in off the side all by himself (with someone there to catch him, of course) and by the middle of summer would even swim underwater from you to the wall about 4 feet away.  He had a swim vest thing that barely let him float and he’d kick all around the pool wearing it.  We’re all, he’ll be swimming by himself in no time!  No lessons needed!
  • End of last summer (2 years, 4 months old) – Bug realized that water is something he maybe, possibly should be afraid of.  Awesome.  Refused the swim vest.  Absolutely no jumping in.  Wouldn’t leave the steps… not even holding on to Mom & Dad.  He would still put his face under, but only from the second step down.
  • This spring (April – 2 years, 10 months old) – First pool excursion since last year (finally warm enough).  Bug would go into the water holding onto me for dear life.  He would also jump in, but only if I held both of his hands.

Back to swim lessons.  I fully expected him to freak out as soon as the teacher pulled him into the water.  I think I knew that he actually wouldn’t freak out, but I prepared myself for it.  He did fantastic.  He was excited the whole time, and each time he was in the water, he did exactly what the teacher instructed.  Now, she never let go of him, but he didn’t hold on like crazy either.  He had another lesson on Sunday and did just as well.  She dunked each kid underwater and he came up smiling.  I would like to mention, though, that my child definitely was the least attentive while sitting on the steps waiting for the other kids to have their turns.  Not that he was intentionally disruptive or misbehaving, but there was a lot of splashing and talking involved.  Credit that to either a) he’s the youngest in the class or b) he’s Scary Uncle Adam’s nephew.

The Mama Group

You guys.  I kind of, sort of joined a Mommy Group.  I mean, it’s not exactly an official, organized, we-meet-each-and-every-Wednesday-at-10am-and-do-stuff-that-you-usually-do-in-a-Mommy-Group kind of group, but it’s kind of a Mommy Group nonetheless.  (I’m going to try to work in “Mommy Group” as many times as I can in this post, k??)  It’s more of a couple-of-Mamas-in-my-neighborhood-that-started-a-Facebook-page-so-we-can-all-get-our-kids-together-to-play kind of group.  And, it’s awesome.  Thus far, Bug and I have met them at the neighborhood pool twice for swimming & lunch & more swimming.

Ya’ll should be proud.  You see, I am not exactly a go-out-there-and-meet-new-people kind of person.  (I’m also going to try to use as many hyphens as possible in this post.)  I am kind of shy in new situations with new groups of people.  My close friends are probably tilting their heads at that sentence, but it’s true.  If I am not surrounded by people that I know, then I have a hard time breaking out of my shell.  Once you know me, I am pretty outgoing.

Actually, outgoing may not be the word.  Ballsy might be more like it.  Example: I am a great wingchick.  If we are out somewhere and you see a hot guy… or girl… whatever floats your boat (when was the last time you said that?)… but you don’t have the balls to go talk to them, I will gladly do it for you.  Another example:  At my friend Ryan’s bachelorette party, we had those Bachelorette Party Truth or Dare Cards… you know, the kind that dare you to do silly things and you get points for completing the dare.  Or the truth.  Or whatever.  Anyways, there was a card that dared you to drink a stranger’s drink without asking first.  Nobody would do that card but me.  I’m pretty sure it was worth 100 points.  I’m also pretty sure I finished off some guy’s vodka tonic, which I am not a fan of, as evidenced by my face:

Yes, that is the actual picture from 2006, taken directly after downing said vodka tonic.  Thank you, Facebook.

Back to the whole point of this post… I am super excited that I sucked it up and was my own wingchick concerning the group of neighborhood Mamas.  I have never been super keen on the Mommy Group thing, mostly because it makes me nervous.  I tried doing some classes at our local library, but I had a hard time making myself meet the other moms & kids there, and to be honest, they didn’t seem that interested in meeting us, either.  With this group, I’ve met some really nice moms who are my age and live nearby.  Bug has met some kids that are adorable and well-behaved and around his age.  One of the little boys is almost 4 and is quite the swimmer.  Since we all know that Bug is an imitator, I view this as a fantastic plus and a great motivator for him to learn how to swim.

So, in short, turns out groups of other moms are actually pretty awesome.

**Side note – I like how the only picture in this post is of me immediately post-alcohol consumption.  I obviously need to take more pictures of my child.  Sorry, Great Nana.**

Are you a part of any Mommy Groups… official or not?

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?

2012 Vacation #1: Captiva!

I have a brother.  I don’t think I’ve ever written about him here because, well, I just don’t get to see him all that often.  He’s pretty awesome, though.  He lives in a suburb of Chicago with his beautiful wife & their 6 year old twin boys.  Up until the twins were born, we went on a family vacation every year.  Note that I said up until the twins were born.  We haven’t been on a family vacation in over SIX years, people.  It doesn’t help that I work for my family, which means that it is near impossible for my Dad & I to take time off at the same time.  But, this year, we decided it had been way too long and we got to spend an entire week together!  My bro & his family was here for a week and our parents took the whole family to Captiva Island for the last few days.  We used to vacation here as kids, and when we were there in August for my cousin’s wedding, we though it would be a great place to spend some time as a family.

We started out by spending a couple of days here in town, just hanging out at my pool and at Mom & Dad’s house.  Somehow, in spending like 6 straight days together, we only managed to get ONE family picture.  That’s what happens when there are small children running around.

The cousins all had an absolute blast playing together.  We spent lots of time out on the beach building some serious sandcastles.

And then, in true little boy style, destroying them.

We spent each morning swimming and relaxing on the beach…

We spent each afternoon swimming in the pool and eating ice cream.  I didn’t get a single picture of Bug swimming.  Why?  Because he spends all of his swimming time underwater these days, but since he hasn’t quite figured out yet that he has to come up for air, somebody (me) has to have a hand on him AT ALL TIMES.

We brought our boat down with us and Hubby & Papa took the twins on their first fishing trip one evening.  They were super excited to tell us that they learned how to “launch” (cast).  They didn’t catch anything, but Papa & Hubby did, and they got to help reel the fishy fishies in.

The last night, Grandma & Papa babysat and Hubby, my brother, my sister-in-law and I all got to go out on the town.  We went to Tween Waters Inn, which is a place where my uncle’s band played like 20 years ago, to watch some live music and a have a couple of adult beverages.  There are pictures from that evening, but let’s just say that I’m not allowed to post them.  It was wonderful to spend so much time with my brother & his family… and to watch Bug interact with his cousins.  He wanted to emulate everything that the big boys did, and they were so good about letting him play with them.  Family vacation are the best.

Are you planning any family vacations this summer?

Beach Days Are Here Again

I know I have posted about the beach before.  Like here. And here.  Oh, and here & here.  Trust me, this won’t be the last time either.  If you’re new here, let me fill you in on something.  We live in a beach town in southwest Florida.  You know, the part of the country where it got below 40 like twice all winter.  The part of the country that allowed Bug & I to swim IN THE OCEAN on March 1st.  It’s pretty much summer here already.  Crazy town.  I love it.

So far this month, we’ve been to the beach twice and the pool twice and the splash pad downtown twice.  My kid WILL be tan by the end of the summer, darnit.  I say this, but it won’t happen.  Have you seen my kid?  Ghost-baby-Casper-white all around.  It doesn’t help that we load him up with the 70 spf and make him wear a rash guard most of the time.  Hubby and I are both fair-skinned frecklies (especially Hubs), so we pretty much wrote off our kid being tan before he was even conceived.  We also wrote him our of any sports where you have to be bigger than 5′ 9″ and 150 pounds.  Poor guy.  Soccer & surfing are pretty much his only hopes.

Anywho, back to the beach.  We kind of have a good beach routine down.  We play up in the sand first.  I get Bug a bucket full of water and we get the sand wet and make sand castles (and destroy them, obvi).

Then, we head down to the water’s edge and dig in the wet sand there a little bit.  Sometimes we pick up sand and throw it around… but never at people… because we don’t throw sand at people, Eli. Then, Bug makes a beeline for the water.  He’ll straight up run right in until his head is underwater.  Who cares that he can’t swim yet?  Not Bug!  Who cares that the water is still pretty darn chilly?  Not Bug!  Who cares that Momma LOATHES cold water?  Not Bug!

Is it beach/pool/splash pad weather where you are?

Swimmin’ Boy

Last weekend we celebrated the 6th birthday of Bubba, aka Timothy, who is the son of Bug’s Godfather.  When I say we, I really mean Hubby & Bug… I only got to stay for about 20 minutes before I had to go to work.  BUT, in those 20 minutes, I had the pleasure of watching my boy do his favorite thing… swim!

He has this awesome swim trainer thing that pretty much allows him to, well, swim.  This kid is something else in the water.  He’ll stand on the steps, jump right in, kick his feet and wave his arms.  He can swim a few feet out from the steps, turn around and swim back to the steps with this tubey thing.  And, look how happy he is!

Buggy swam for almost an hour with his buddies Karley & Timothy… what a lucky guy!  Side note: do you like Hubby’s beard?  He’s planning on keeping it around until his test at the end of October.

Vacation! Part 2 = How to Fish With a Baby on a Boat

Part two of our first family vacation took part at Camp Mack’s River Resort on the Kissimmee River in Lake Wales, FL.  Sounds fancy, huh?  Let me assure you… it was not.  Which means it was perfect for us.  We aren’t exactly fancy people.  We were right on the Kissimmee River and a 5-minute boat ride from two great bass fishing lakes.

We rented a little cabin that was built out over the river.

The cabin was on stilt pilings… one of which (okay, maybe two of which) was held together by 2-by-4s and some string.  I’m not going to mention whose room that piling was under.  The good old boys (emphasis on old) that hung out around the bait shop told us not to worry about the pilings.  So, we didn’t.  And… we survived.

Hubby had the brilliant idea to put a Pack-N-Play in the boat for Bug to play in while we fished.  This was brilliant for 2 reasons: 1) he would be forced to stay under the shade of the bimini and not get sunburned and 2) he wouldn’t be able to jump out of the boat.  My husband is one smart dude.

So, how did the very busy & active Bug do on the boat confined in his play pen for 3 straight mornings?  Fantastic!  The first day he wasn’t too happy to start out with, but then we gave him some food and he was good to go.  The second day he was perfect… he even took a nap!  The third day was a little touch & go with a bit of complaining, but he was still a very good boy.  Disclaimer:  he was only in the play pen without a life vest while we were anchored & fishing.  Anytime we were underway (moving) he had his life vest on.

He was so tuckered out after the first morning of playing & eating (mostly eating) in the boat that he conked out on the ride back to the house.  He very rarely will sleep in our arms, so this was kind of a nice treat for Momma.

The fishing was great.  We ate (my) fresh bass for dinner.

Bug even liked it!

When we weren’t fishing, we played in the pool…

…played with pots & pans and (un-opened) soda cans…

…read lots of books…

…and did lots of relaxing.

Hubby and I even got to enjoy a couple of beautiful sunsets on the balcony.  All-in-all, I’d say it was a perfect first family vacation.